PrevNextTop84-11-27Letter from Jim

11-27-84

Dear Jón,

Snyrting in Iceland; I don't know what to say. Are you now sniffling in Norway? How has your health been maintaining? A lot of stress on the body moving from place to place.

I've just been alerted by the radio to the fact that it is now officially Christmas season, and that there are only 23 shopping days left! ♫ America ... America. God shed His grace ... ♬ How are the Norwegians preparing for Christmas? It seems that I should know the answer to that, as the high school at which I taught had a couple exchange students from Norway one year, and they did a Christmas-in-Norway skit at an assembly - if I remember correctly. Ah well, such deciduous data does not remain long in an ephemeral mind.

You want a weather report? Rain, rain, rain. Every once in a while it clears up and we have a gloriously beautiful day, and then rain, rain, rain. Consequently, I'm doing very little bicycling, but still pumping iron. I find it difficult to remain real active with the days getting so short. And for you, they're even shorter!! What do you do all night?

Last couple of weeks I've been working on a COBOL utility for translating object files from our 1.n version format to 2.n format, so users upgrading to 2.0 won't have to recompile their sources. Just run them through this utility (which takes about as long as it does to recompile them - funny world). But the awesome thing about it all is that I'm writing this utility in COBOL!!

```IDENTIFICATION DIVISION
CONFIGURATION SECTION
DATA DIVISION
INPUT-OUTPUT SECTION
```
WOW! I'm learning COBOL; what a frickin' stupid language. Just forget the concept of passing parameters to a generalized function - no way! Today I just discovered you can't even say:
```IF A + B = C
GO TO TRY-IT-AGAIN-SAM
```
Nope. No good. You must first:
```ADD A TO B GIVING TEMP
```
and then:
```IF TEMP = C
GO TO TRY-IT-AGAIN-SAM
```
Oh well, it's been a gas. There actually is a 'style' to COBOL. As you program you just have to pretend you're teaching a 3rd grader how to multiply.

Let's see, what else is in the news these days? The Ramayana (sp?) is making headlines everywhere it seems. I think that's happening this week. I saw a good film entitled “Amadeus” about Mozart. But the film was really an exposé on genius vs mediocrity and the duality of admiration and envy. It was expertly done. I don't know how authentic it was. Genius is a very wonderous thing, isn't it? Does man occasionally possess it, or does it possess man?

Well, so much for the local news; shall we move up to the national level? Jon, you know how I love to read the paper and Newsweek and keep up with the current events and all, but do European countries get exposed to the same kind of crap that's belched out over our airwaves? You know how the media tends to get hooked on some issue and then keeps America in suspense as it dangles juicy over-ripe sensational gossip over our noses. Well, lately the topic has been heart transplants. For three weeks America was on the edge of their seat while Baby Fae was kept alive for 20 odd glorious days with a baboon heart. Now that she's dead and National Enquirer is scavenging off the remains, the rest of America has moved on to a Mr. Stanley or some poor soul who's getting his life ecstatically extended with a mechanical heart. And guess what? He's doing great. Why he's even had his picture on the front page of USA TODAY. And I tell you, he looks like a million. I'm only going on like this because I know, as a nutritionist, you are interested in these scientific achievements we're developing to make us a healthier, happier species.

I am now anticipating this year's hottest selling Christmas Gift. Not E.T., not Cabbage Patch dolls - nope - This year it'll be his and her transplant dolls. Think of all the accessories, monkey hearts, internal combustion kidneys - you name it - installed in minutes. Tell me, Jon, there's no place like America, is there? In local papers the heart transplants have been meeting fierce competition with the San Jose rapist whose victims are nursing home residents - all women over 80. So, you see, we indeed in the Christmas spirit over here. How are things over there?

I think the world's getting to me, Jon; I've been laughing, at times almost uncontrollably, for the past 20 minutes. Do you have anything to suggest? Lots and lots of green potatoes, you say?

My pen-pals in Singapore are all excited about Christmess. Don't worry, the content of my letters to them is not the same as what I disclose to you. You are one of the few, (I should say two), people I can talk or write to in an uncensored fashion. But, anyway, back to Singapore. Ya, they've been telling me how this is the time of year the box with the Christmas tree comes down and they insert branch A into node B and pretend it's snowing outside when it's really raining and 80°. I'll bet you that everyone of my pen-pals would give an atri-ventricular valve to swap places with you, Jon. So I command you to have FUN!

Well, I'll mail this letter off and try to send a Christmas card off when I'm more in the spirit.

Take care ...
Jim

PrevNextTop84-11-27Letter from Jim