During my final year at university, the final summer really, I was working vehemently on my thesis. This meant, for most of the days, that I was sitting at My Computer and:
and, most importantly
- looking after a few potential internet relationships
But on some days I got some real work done. For those interested in the minor details, real work meant that I tried to conjure a model for city growth, with a basis in Complex Systems and Evolutionary Economics. This particular day I was comparing algorithms for calculating Euclidian distances. Should one calculate all the values beforehand and put them in a lookup table, or should one do the expensive calculation (lots of multiplication and square roots) every time it was needed? As I was waiting for the timed test run to finish, my hand, completely on its own without conferring with my brain, reached out for the mug of coffee standing there, waiting by the mouse. Had my brain been conferred with, the hand would have been told that the coffee in the mug was prepared two hours earlier and was, in no possible interpretation of the word, drinkable. But my hand did not know…
Not only was the coffee cold, it was the last cup from a percolator, which meant that it was, to a considerable degree, consisting of coffee grounds. I spat out the cold, black saw dust over the monitor, on my notes regarding array access and into my twelve-dollar keyboard. After the "coffee" left my mouth the curses followed. At first they were regarding the taste in my mouth (dead beetles and spider-webs), but soon the object of hatred was the destroyed notes and the keyboard which was emitting frightening sparks.
Here's something to learn from this tale: Curses, emotion and malfunctioning electrical equipment don't mix. My emotional outburst brought forth something that should not be. The flashes of blue between space and control increased until they were man-high. All of a sudden, He was standing there, in front of me; Mochifer, foul overlord of everything cold, black and distasteful, Prince of the half empty, Ruler of the domain of really bad coffee.
Trembling with fear, I dropped my favorite coffee mug to the floor, shattering it to pieces. Slowly moving towards me the demon started to speak. With a voice sounding like a coffee mill grinding gravel he said:
zintoo, you disappoint me. The destruction seen here, the taste in your mouth, your failures as a lover, has nothing to do with half-cups of cold coffee. They are all your own failures to take responsibility for. For you to remember this and never forget it, I will teach you a lesson. I will take these clever algorithm enhancements and make them irrelevant, thus neglecting all the work you've put in.
The creature of coffee was gone as sudden as he had appeared. The monitor cleaned up nicely, my notes probably didn't contain anything worth saving and I had a spare keyboard in my box of useful stuff. The computer emitted a beep, the timed test had finished…
There was no measurable difference between the algorithms!