Freesteel Blog » Cambridge interlude

Cambridge interlude

Monday, March 5th, 2007 at 3:50 pm Written by:

My two weeks in Cambridge is now complete. The first week was getting the drop-cutter code into a good enough state, and the second was spent getting distracted by people when I was really trying to work on Tunnel. I was keeping house for my 94 year old grandfather who was getting radiotherapy treatment for a stubborn cancer on his scalp. The treatment involved getting picked up by a taxi at around 8:30am, receiving a 15 minute fraction, returning from the hospital before midday, eating lunch, finishing the crossword, and talking quite a lot. There were so few side-effects I wondered if he was being treated with a placebo.

Francis, the other half of publicwhip and former employee of NC Graphics, came over for lunch several times. The mood was subdued because of the sudden death of Chris Lightfoot the week before, with whom we would always go out to lunch whenever I was in Cambridge. His funeral came on Friday, attended by a couple hundred individuals — a turn-out suggesting that this was no ordinary 28-year-old. Francis was one of the six carrying the coffin. Everyone wore smart clothes, except me. Chris was pretty untidy too in his life, so I could say I was respecting that, unlike everybody else.

Chris was a programmer, among other things (he helped set up my server seagrass on which this freesteel experiment is hosted). The funeral was right proper Christian service. I remember one part of the tribute, which went:

Chris was often very critical of the code he encountered, although there were some programs which he evidently approved of. One day his friends got together to work out what was the difference between code he liked and code he didn’t like, and the best approximation they could come up with was to measure how much of the program Chris had written himself, and if it was more than 50%, he liked it.

I think we’ve got our whole memorial response the wrong way round. When someone dies, we should hold an event where we discuss how horrible the person was, and how much better we are without them, so that they will not be missed.

I guess that’s why they theme is a little more subtle: “Giving thanks for the life of…”. We are comparing it to the world in which he had never been born. It’s all a bonus, even if it is short-lived.

I spent all of Thursday morning banging in bolts into the concrete floor of Francis’s bike shed out the back of his house, which has a roof and no bike stands at all. It took three hours to drill six holes for the Sheffield stand which cost me £84. Francis went out and bought a bike that afternoon so he would have something to lock to it.

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