On learning new languages
Despite my role as a translator in my EverQuest RP server guild (I had a lot more time back then), I am by no means a prodigy at picking up foreign tongues in the big RL. I often think about how great it would be to speak more than one language with any degree of competence, but a sub-par language program at my high school, the cultural attitude of Americans toward other languages, and my own overwhelming laziness all conspired to abolish my fantasies of laughing quietly at the jokes the German guys on the bus seem to be constantly telling.
Somewhat ironically, then, I am taking a class this semester that has taught me the basics of a new language. However, it is not a language that will let me effortlessly blend in among the locals of any human civilization, past or present. It will not win me friends overseas, enable me to resolve conflicts between superpowers, or make it where I can play Minecraft with a language pack randomizer switched on. It will, however, perhaps pave the way to writing my own Minecraft mod to randomize language pack selection on bootup.
Yes, I am learning a programming language. Which one, you ask? Why, the one. The one that is so holy it has no name. The one that deifies the code in a way most ancient civilizations could get behind: inexplicable laws and swift judgment. I speak of C.
In addition to teaching me how to program infinite loops and appreciate code monkey jokes, this class has also shown me just how inept I am as a programmer. Granted, I am still very new to it, but I still don’t think I should take an average of sixty times longer than my instructor to write a program. I like to think I’m not the slowest person in any given class, but that assumption is being sorely challenged. School was never difficult for me, even in high school when I didn’t get to pick all
idiot English courses, so getting my ass handed to me by a 100-level introduction class is a humbling experience. By humbling, I of course mean screaming, wailing, raising-my-fists-to-the-indifferent-heavens frustrating. I admit that enrolling in an entirely foreign subject matter on top of full-time employment, book writing duties, book editing duties, and the occasional need to not do anything for awhile was perhaps not the wisest choice, but that’s the whole point of things, isn’t it? We kill off years of our lives with stress so the remaining lives can be of a higher quality. Provided it actually pans out that way (ie I am able to get a better-paying day job in a field that doesn’t require as much customer contact), it’s close enough to being worth it to merit some effort. Plus, if I actually learn enough code to write my own games one day, I can add a completely new way to pour hundreds of hours into a creative project with no guaranteed return.
If it doesn’t pan out, there’s always Zoloft.