TITLE: Magic Books and Connections to Software AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: November 07, 2007 8:02 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Lest you all think I have strayed so far from software and computer science with my last note that I've fallen off the appropriate path for this blog, let me reassure you. I have not. But there is even a connection between my last post and the world of software, though it is sideways. Richard Bach, the writer whom I quoted last time, is best known for his bestselling Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I read a lot of his stuff back in high school and college. It is breezy pop philosophy wrapped around thin plots, which offers some deep truths that one finds in Hinduism and other Eastern philosophies. I enjoyed his books, including his more straightforward books on flying small planes. But one of Richard Bach's sons is James, a software tester with whose work I came into contact via Brian Marick's. James is a good writer, and I enjoy both his blog and his other writings about software, development methods, and testing. Another of Richard Bach's son, Jon, is also a software guy, though I don't know about his work. I think that James and Jon have published together. Illusions offers a book nested inside another book -- a magic book, no less. All we see of it are the snippets that our protagonist needs to read each moment he opens it. One of the snippets from this book-within-a-book might be saying something important about an ongoing theme here:
There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.
Here is the magic page that grabbed me most as I thumbed through the book again this morning:
Live never to be ashamed if anything you do or say is published around the world -- even if what is published is not true.
Now that is detachment. How about one last connection? This one is not to software. It is an unexpected connection I discovered between Bach's work and my life after I moved to Iowa. The title character in Bach's most famous book was named for a real person, John Livingston, a world-famous pilot circa 1930. He was born in Cedar Falls, Iowa, my adopted hometown, and once even taught flying at my university, back when it was a teachers' college. The terminal of the local airport, which he once managed, is named for Livingston. I have spent many minutes waiting to catch a plane there, browsing pictures and memorabilia from his career. -----