|Published under the terms of CPOPL (CodeProject Open Poetic License) © Bill Woodruff, 2014
The House, the Tools
I wanted to build a house; the glorious warm and dry days of spring invited me to start the work, and I wanted my family safe and warm in that house before the fierce storms of winter. You might say my family's future welfare, and that of people that depended on me, depended on getting that house safely constructed before winter.
I went to the owner-builder store and purchased what I had heard was an excellent all-purpose house-building kit. Friends had recommended this kit to me because the company that made it had just come out, for the first time, with an affordable kit for people like me who were building houses, not palatial mansions. And the company had a great reputation for its kits for building mansions and airports and very complex structures.
My friends thought I was lucky to get in on the ground floor, so to speak, with this new kit that would, they felt, be the best affordable kit available for me.
Yeah, I bought the kit, and I had so many ideas and sketches in my notebooks that had piled up over the years … a kitchen with a special enclosed sun room attached … a deck that wrapped around that fantastic oak in the backyard near the kids' rooms.
In the kit were many wonderful tools; these tools were organized in a special kind of 'intelligent' toolbox. You pressed some buttons on the toolbox cover: then the tools re-arranged themselves inside the box. So, when you opened the toolbox, they would be lined up in the order you would most likely want to use them.
And, there was a special window, in the cover of the toolbox, where you could see inside the toolbox and see how, when you pushed a certain button, that rods and levers would move inside the box to arrange the tools.
For a while I was so fascinated by the movements of the rods and the levers, which moved in a hypnotic kind of precision and elegant interaction, that I just spent days pressing the buttons and watching how the tools were picked out of their hidden internal storage and placed, or how some of them were put back or altered in response to the sequence of my pressing the buttons.
Yes, that's right, the tools themselves were quite smart ! A little like one of those clever screwdrivers that let you easily change the tips without ever losing them … but, in reality, a whole lot more complex than that.
I started reading the manual that came with the kit then; I discovered that most of it was about the hidden codes that manipulated the tools, and about how the tools were moved and placed in the special shape-shifting compartments in the toolbox. I learned a lot about that toolbox and its structure, I can tell you that !
I had a revelation then … rather than just using the tools to build my house, I could be more productive if I learned to use these hidden codes to build custom tools that would then make the building so much simpler !
I don't know how many days drifted by as I pressed my face against that little window into the toolbox and pressed buttons that over-rode the tools that came with the toolbox and created new tools. It was kind of hypnotic almost, the sense of power that came over me … the perfection of that discrete logical-mechanical universe !
I discovered that there was an almost geometric order in the way that certain tools were like 'parents' that could be combined to produce 'child' tools which could inherit some of the behaviors of these 'parents.'
I finally finished my set of custom tools; I was ready to start building !
So, I called the contractor and told him I wanted to prepare the site and pour the foundation as soon as possible.
What he said kind of shocked me: "Are you crazy, the winter rains are going to start next month … no way you're going build any house until next year !"
Yeah, that's right, I had forgotten about the inevitable coming of winter … busy as I was with my custom tool codes.
I called up the Company that made the kit … not to complain: oh, let me assure you I was so satisfied with the aesthetic experience of playing with their kit that complaint was the furthest thing from my mind …
What I just wanted to say to the Company was a simple 'Thank you' … for opening my mind to an intellectual adventure comparable to living in a foreign country.
I was very surprised to find out the Company had gone out of business !
Can you figure that out ?
“I'm an artist: it's self evident that word implies looking for something all the time without ever finding it in full. It is the opposite of saying : ‘I know all about it. I've already found it.’
As far as I'm concerned, the word means: ‘I am looking. I am hunting for it. I am deeply involved.’” Vincent Van Gogh