Archive for February, 2018

Before the cave, part 6

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

On the walk back to the village Ilara was lost in thought. She was nearly home when she was startled out of her reverie by her mother’s voice.

“Where have you been? Have you been wandering away from the village again?”

“Why would I do that?” Ilara answered innocently. Technically it wasn’t a lie, so it was ok.

“Well, just don’t go wondering off. Especially now. The Elders say a herd of wild mammoths is passing this way.”

“What do you know about mammoths?” Ilara asked, trying her best to sound casual.

“Well, they are good to eat, but very hard to catch.”

“Do they ever talk?”

Ilara’s mother gave her a strange look. “Has your grandmother been telling you stories?”

Before the Cave, part 5

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Before the mammoth could reply, there was a loud rumbling in the distance. Ilara could just make out a cloud of dust. As she strained her eyes to get a better look, the cloud grew larger, and the rumbling became louder and more distinct.

“They will be expecting me I suppose,” the mammoth said.

“Expecting you?”

“The herd. They don’t like when I go missing. Particularly mother.”

“My herd doesn’t like when I go missing either,” Ilara nodded sympathetically. “Particularly mother.”

They looked at each other with a look of quiet understanding. Then the mammoth slowly turned and lumbered off.

Before the Cave, part 4

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

“You mean we read each others’ minds?” The mammoth looked intrigued.

“Yes, and no. Only the stuff that we would say to each other if we were talking.”

“Well that’s good. I wouldn’t want my privacy invaded by a lower creature.”

Ilara was too excited by this new development to be offended. “You think of humans as lower creatures?”

“Well, yes. As a rule you are puny and small, you have tiny ears and feet, no tusks, and no noses to speak of. It’s a wonder you survive as a species. I expect you will all die out soon.”

“And yet here you are speaking to me.”

“I suppose I am, in a manner of speaking. You as an individual seem pleasant enough. There may be hope for your species.”

Ilana found herself oddly pleased by this. There was something satisfying in being the hope for one’s entire species. She bowed ceremoniously. “The hope of my species, at your service.”

Before the Cave, part 3

Monday, February 5th, 2018

“You’re the one whose mouth isn’t moving,” Ilara pointed out, trying to sound polite, and knowing she was not doing a very good job of it.

“My mouth isn’t moving,” the mammoth replied, “because I am not eating. I do not eat when I talk, and I do not talk when I eat. Besides, your nose isn’t moving. Of course with such a tiny nose, like whatever that little thing is on your face, I am not surprised.”

Ilara was starting to get very annoyed. She was about to respond with a really great insult when she had a thought. “Do you talk by moving your nose?”

“Doesn’t everybody?” The mammoth sniffed, eyeing her suspiciously, and paying especial attention to her tiny nose, which had not moved even once during this entire conversation.

“I don’t think,” Ilara said, “that this has anything to do with my nose or with your mouth.”

“You mean,” the mammoth replied, “with my nose or with your mouth.”

“Yes, that too.”

“You mean that either.”

“Yes, that either, um, too.” She didn’t see any point in quibbling. “I think we just sort of can tell what each other is thinking.”

Before the Cave, part 2

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

“Hello,” said the mammoth.

This puzzled Ilara. As far as she knew, mammoths don’t talk. It seemed to her that this mammoth was breaking some fundamental laws.

And what’s the point of having laws if you’re just going to break them? In any case, the mammoth clearly wasn’t doing what it was supposed to.

Still, the would try to be reasonable about this. “I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be talking,” she said. “You’re a mammoth.”

“And I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be talking,” the mammoth replied. “You’re a human.”

Before the Cave, part 1

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

Ilara knew she wasn’t supposed to wander too far from the tribe. But then, she did a lot of things she wasn’t supposed to do.

In this case, the whole idea of “supposed to” seemed unfair. After all, it wasn’t as though she really had a choice. This was where the sighting had been, so this was where she needed to be.

And right now what she really needed to be was very quiet. The tall grass was dry, and easily rustled. If she made any noise that would ruin everything.

She was so busy being quiet, and trying very hard not to move, that she didn’t realize she was no longer alone. Until she felt, more than heard, the giant presence behind her. Startled, she whirled around.

She knew she was supposed to be afraid. But oddly, she felt no fear at all.

The mammoth was looking at her curiously. It didn’t seem afraid either. That was a good start.

“Hello,” she said.

And novel undertakings

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

For a change of pace, I am going to try to tell a long-form story within these pages, a bit each day. It will be a fictional tale, but one that has been on my mind of late.

My friend Kris Layng has agreed to provide the occasional illustration. I am quite sure his beautiful images will lend greater resonance to my humble words.

Mammoth undertakings

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

I have now written about a month of posts on computer graphics programming for non-programmers. And it feels as though I’ve scribbled enough on these particular cave walls — for now.

I will very likely take up the torch again. But if I do, I think I’ll head off into a different direction, and try to illuminate some other unexplored passageways.

Speaking of caves, one of the wondrous things about computer graphics is that it’s like that old Denisovan parable about the woolly mammoth: If you stand too close to the mammoth, it is difficult to see it clearly.

What you can glimpse from that viewpoint looks a lot like disparate parts from different animals. Yet once you step back, you begin to realize how all those various parts fit together, and the combination is rather elegant.

Computer graphics is like that: It’s a great big beautiful woolly mammoth of seemingly disparate parts. But if you take a few steps back within the cave and lift your torch high enough, all of those parts mesh together to form something completely glorious and beautiful.