Friday, March 29, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 126-130 Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

Three days later, Vickie sat down side by side with Cliff at the conference table.  “Okay, if“If we want to call this section of code both here and here, I think we should pull it out into a subroutine.”

            It was three days later.  They hadThey’d been working and working outexercising together for a whole week.  Vickie had never enjoyed herself so much, though she’d never let the man responsible know.

            Now he leaned over her, warm and companionable, and markedhighlighted a section of code on the print  out. screen[M1] . “If we pull this line, and this and this, I think we’ll have essentially what we need.”  He bit off the edge ofHe reached to one side, grabbed his tuna salad on whole wheat with sprouts and ranch dressing., and bit off the edge. [M2] 
            Vickie chewed on the tip of her eraser.  “What parameters?”

            Cliff pickedreached across her to pick up her sandwich, also a tuna on whole wheat with sprouts, and mayonnaise[M3] . waved it under her nose. “You should eat this instead.  of eraser. More nutritional value.”

            “Yeah, but higher in calories.”  She patted her tummy. “Too many fudge sundaes are starting to take their toll.”

            “Really?” He brightened. “Can I have it then?”

            “You’re worse than my dad’s dog.  Oh, okay,” she conceded when he started to pout theatrically, “You can have half.”  He brightened visibly.  “. The design calls for the same sort of thing to be done here, and, move your soda, here.  Should we combine functionality?”

            It’s mostly ice anyway.” [M4] He put the soda on the floor. to one side. “You’re playing devil’s advocate again, right?  I thought we’d decided to limit subssubroutines to one and only one function each.”

            “Yeah, just testing.  Can I have your brownie?”

            “Victoria Lynn.  You won’t eat your sandwich, because it’s too fattening, but you will eat two brownies?”

            “I was just thinking of you, Cliff, and your boyish figure.”

            “Victoria Lynn Johnston…”

            “Yes, mother?”  She smiled sweetly.


            “Can I have your peach then?”

            “Half.”  He sliced it awkwardly with a plastic fork.

            “Watch it!”  Vickie wiped peach juice off the print out and design documents. flat panel screen. “Have some respect.  You paid $80 an hour200 for the people who designed these docs.this monitor. We’re only worth $3080 an hour.”

            “We’re actually free right now.  Well, except for the cost of lunches.”

            “And breakfast today and yesterday.  And, if we’rewe work as late tonight as we were last night, dinner, too.”

            “Okay, you’re on.  Where do you want to go?”

            Vickie didn’t even have to consider.  “Let’s go to the“Mmm. Chinese? Italian? Sushi?”
“What’s wrong with pizza?”
“The pizza place in town.”

            ?” Cliff made a face.  “Not the one where they“They mistook the cardboard circle for a crust and made it into a pepperoni pizza?”.”

            Vickie had heard the story from Tess, too.  “Well, it’s not like it got to the table.  They thought the crust was still frozen and set it.”
“Because it caught fire in the oven to broil, and it caught on fire.  But no, I was thinking of.”
“Okay, what about the place where they make that divine stuffed spinach pizza.”?”

            Cliff’s eyes lit up.  “And that terrific double cheese garlic bread?”

            “Yep.  But,” her eyes narrowed, “But not until you write this subroutine[M5] .”

            “Oh, that’s easy.” “Easy.” He swung a chair around to the nearby terminal and sat down with a  graceful plop.  Afterthe keyboard in front of him and after a few minutes of key‑strokes, he turned. tapping, grinned at her. “All done.”

            “Not again.”  She groaned.  “That’s the third time!”

            “You haven’t tested it yet.”

            “I know it will work.  They all“It’ll work. They all work. It isn’t fair, you know.”

            He polished his fingernails on his shirt, admired them for a moment, and then smiled wickedly at her.  “Fastest coder in the MidwestEast.”

            “You really missed your calling.  You shouldn’t be heading up a multi‑million, multinational corporation.  You should be a grunt programmer, you techno‑dweeb, you.”

            “Compliments will get you nowhere.  I’m still waiting for the calling routine.”

            She pulled the keyboard over.  Ten minutes later, she looked up expectantly.  He was just polishing off her brownie.

            “HeyThat’s my brownie[M6] !”

            “I’m doing you a favor.  Your girlish figure, you know.  Drink your soda, and let me check your code.”

            “Well, don’t“Don’t you dare comment on the indenting.”

            “Speaking of comments, where are they?”

            She scanned her code, and blushed.  Even the most immature programmer put in some comments, to explain the program logic; otherwise the code might as well be worthless.

            “Uh, it’s self‑documenting?”

            He looked sternly at her.

            “Would you believe I was going to go back and put the comments in?”

            He shook his head slowly and glared.

            “Uh, well, you see…”  She nudged the thick print out overhis soda off [M7] the edge of the table.  It fell to the floor with a loud thud, pages scattering. splash and the clack of ice. “Oh, gosh, Cliff.  Clumsy me.  Could you pickclean that up?”  While he was distracted, Vickie grabbed the opportunity and gleefully commented the hell out of the code.

            Cliff finished foldingpicked up the print outlast ice cube, then stopped and gazed at the screen suspiciously.  “This wasn’t commented before.”

            “Oh, Cliff, of course it was commented before. . You must be having delusions, yes, that’s it…delusions brought on by a guilt complex developed from stealing my brownie.”

            He leaped up, grabbing hisher half‑full soda and holding it over her threateningly.  “Yeah?  Well in about a second, you’re going to have delugions.”

            She laughed, delighted. . “No, no, please!”  She wiped the tears from her eyes.  “That soda’s half yourmy day’s salary.  Don’t waste it!”

            He gazed at the cup in his hand as if seeing it for the first time.  “You’re right.”  He placed it, reverently, on the table.  “And the equivalent of two lines of code from you.”

            “Why, you…”  Vickie’s imprecation repertoire suddenly evaporated.  “Oh, yeah?” she sneered.

            “Snappy comeback.” .” Cliff had finished compiling and linkingsat, pulled the calling routinekeyboard over and started the compile and subroutine, and was testing.  link. Then he ran their test.
Vickie sighed.  That man could make code jump through hoops, roll over and beg.  Was there anything he couldn’t do?

            Apparently there was.  “Hey, Vickie.  It’s not working right.  See, when I put in this value, it’s supposed to return a true, but it seems to bypass this section altogether.”

            Vickie stared at the offending source code. Well hip-hip-hooray, he wasn’t perfect. The problem jumped out of the source code at her.  She stabbed at a line with her finger.  “Here.  See?  It’s supposed to say ‘if be ‘greater than or equal to,’ but it just says ‘greater than.’ to’. And,” she stared more intently, “this is your subroutine!”

            He made a face.  Then he shrugged. “Well,“So you say. I guess it’s a good thing we’re working together.”

            “You guess it’s a good thing?”  What an ego.  “? It would havewould’ve taken you ten minutes to find that bug.  Ten minutes.  At least.  And you just guess it’s a good thing that we’re working together?”

            “Okay, okay.  Here.  Have a sip of my soda.”  Suspiciously, she took a drink.  “Hey, not so much!”  He pulled the cup away.  “Okay, now you’re paid.”

            She kicked him in the leg.  If it had landed, he would have had a good sized bruise.  The agile creep, however, leaped nimbly out of the way.  How did he move that much mass that fast?

            She sat down, grumbling, at the terminalkeyboard, and corrected the code.  After recompiling and testing, she moved on to the next module.  Cliff was right with her.  He pointed at the screen.

            “Should we use a system library call here?”  She was already typing it in, so she just nodded.  A few seconds later, she continued, “and a…”

            “…duplicate error check,” he finished.  She nodded again, pleased.  The code was coming so easily, it felt like it flowed from her fingertips to the keyboard.  Cliff pulled the general subroutines book from the shelf.

            “Say,” she stared at the design doc, “I think we’ll need the sector find subroutine.  Oh, thanks.”  Cliff had the book open to the page she wanted, and she proceeded to type the call in. .[M8]  When she had completed the coding, she sent it to compile, and swung out of the chair.  Cliff, in a synchronous, fluid motion swung into the chair, and executed the test just as the compile finished.  It ran perfectly.

            They got through three more modules.  Then, suddenly, as they were writingSuddenly the defragger, the CRTdisplay flared into a screenful of scrolling gibberish.  Just as suddenly, it stopped. Vickie cleared the screen, andto a single line glowedpulsing alert icon.

            “E‑mail,” Cliff offered.
            “I know.”  She baredVickie hovered over it with her teeth.  When he didn’t offer any more wisecracks,mouse. The tag displayed, “From John” so she punched in the mail access.  “It’sclicked. A window popped up. She read, “System alarm from Tess,” she relayed, surprised.  “‘John. Vickie, it’s after 9:00.  Get out of here.  p.m.. Go home!! Love, TessJohn.’  Oh, Cliff, isn’t that nice of…nine o’clock!”

            Cliff had already cleared the table and was half‑way out the door.  “Pizza time!” he crowed.

            Vickie shrugged, then smiled and logged out.  “Oh boy. Overtime pay!”

 [M1]Technology has made greenbar obsolete.

 [M2]Again, cause before effect. As originally written, he bit off the edge of a ?? because the reader hadn’t been told there was a sandwich there yet or even that they were eating lunch.

 [M3]Getting rid of repeated description.

 [M4]Setting up the replacement for the greenbar.

 [M5]I’ll have to revisit this before final publication. If they’re in a gui-driven object oriented environment this won’t work as well.

 [M6]Just said “her brownie” in the preceding sentence. Don’t have to bash it.

 [M7]And we make the replacement for the greenbar. Sigh. Miss that greenbar (not J )

 [M8]There’s a difference between adding enough tech for verisimilitude and self-indulgence J

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 121-125 Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

Vickie reached back into the attic of her memory for the year of ballet she took to overcome a young girl’s coltish awkwardness.  ‘I’ll show him what stretching can do, she thought with a trace of malice.  She moved quickly through the first series of exercises she learned so long ago and stole a glance at Cliff.  

            ‘He’s notWho wasn’t even looking,’ she.
She fumed.  ‘Not that I’m here to impress him.  Certainly not.’  [M1] She began the second set of exercises, heel set on the barre.  She stretched, feeling tendons pop. 

            ‘But you’d think heAnd snuck another look.
Still nothing.
He might at least appreciate the effort.  Phooey. She switched legs, sneaking another peek at Cliff.  ‘IsWas he really that rapt over selecting the weight for the bench press?  Or iswas he pretending that he’s nothe wasn’t looking? A trickle of sweat (I sweat, he perspires.  I thought I was a lady.  Phoo!) Phooey!down her spine told her she was warmed up enough to tackle the gym. machines.

            Cliff looked up, for all the world as if just noticing her presence.  “Ready to go to it?”

            “Yup.  I’ll hit the stair machine next, then do a short round of weights.”

            “That sounds like a good combination,” he said Cliff. . “Mind if I tag along?”

            “Not at all, if.” And then the (*imp of her redheaded grandma*) [M2] made her add “If you think you can stand the pace.”

            They mounted the machines and waited for the computers to reset.  “I thought you weighed one‑twelve,” Cliff remarked as Vickie entered a one‑one‑six onto the flat keypad of the stair machine.

            “Who asked you to peek?” she said with a touch more acid.  “Besides,“It’s the last two days. I’ve been working my tail off for you; who has time to diet with Overseer Cliff around?”

            “Have you really been working that tail off?” he said with an air of innocence.  Vickie could almost see him mentally putting on a (tarnished) halo.

            “Never mind my tail.  Let’s get going.”  Exasperation mingled with a tingly realization that Cliff had almost certainly been watching her warm‑up.

            The stair machines beeped almost simultaneously and they began the treading on the pedals that, quickly becamegaining a steady rhythm.  Vickie looked over to Cliff’s read‑out and saw that he had picked the Herculean heavy‑training level routine.  ‘Macho creep,’,” she muttered to herself.  ‘I’ll show this bucket of testosterone how it’s done!’ !” Vickie re‑entered her training routine to match Cliff’s.

            “Hey, watch it,”.” Cliff warned. frowned at her readout[M3] . “Let’s not overdo this, either.  Nobody profits if you get injured.”

            “This?  This is my normal, take‑it‑easy workout pace,” she replied, curling her lip.

            “Okay, then.  It’s your“Your funeral.”  [M4] Cliff grunted as he stepped up his pace.

             Vickie matched him.
She took quick inventory of her body.  Knees beginning to complain.  Breath becoming shorter.  Thighs tightening up.  She told her body to relax and buckle in, and summoned all her Irish stubbornness.  Her breath began coming harder, gulping oxygen in response to demands made on her legs.  Beside her, Cliff was soundingpurring[M5]  like a Porsche in its element.

            “Tired, yet?” panted Cliff.

            “Not a…bit of it,” she gasped out.

            Cliff’s muscles writhed as he hunched his shoulders like a huge bear.  He put his head down between his shoulders and began charging like a linebacker, pushing the stair machine beyond its programming.  Vickie put her face up, straining to match and exceed his pace.  Her legs felt on fire and her arms felt like lead from gripping the rails.  

            Vickie and CliffThey churned out the steps as the minutes ticked away, too intent on their competition to notice the end of the routines nearing.  The room began to fade Vickie’s eyes fogged—and fogthen cleared as thea runner’s high took effect.  Vickie feltfilled her. Her body springsprang to new levels as her second wind came.  She noted with dispassion that Cliff was beginning to fade.  ‘Hit the wall, I expect. Only the insistent beeping of the timer penetrated the curtain of sweat as the routine ended.

            Cliff stopped, panting hoarsely.  The pedals slowly sank to the floor as he tottered to the bench nearby.  He sat with his head down, gulping great quantities of air.  Vickie stopped, too, riding the pedals down.  Suddenly, she felt very wobbly. , then stepped off—and wobbled. She grabbed the machine’s rail to get her balance, then walked tentatively to the bench and plopped down beside Cliff, mopping at her brow and feebly brushing her hair back out of her face.

            “Well, that  was certainly fun,” Cliff said after he could breathe a little more normally.

            “Exhilarating.  Wouldn’t have missed it for anything,” Vickie replied.


            Vickie sat on the bench next to Cliff and couldn’t think of a word to say.  It was frustrating, really.  One minute she wanted to kiss him and the next she wanted to beatcompete with him.  Ron had never affected her this way.

            Oh, sure, Ron had been fun, when things were going well.  She hadShe’d enjoyed going to movies with him, and out to bars, and the usual things you did on dates.

            But Cliff, well, from the very beginning Cliff was different.  Vickie smiled to her self. herself. Yes, Cliff was very different.  She enjoyed just being with Cliff, whether they were talking shop, or competing, or…other things.

            Vickie sighed.  If only she could be the model corporate lover.  If only she didn’t really care.

            Now“Well.” Cliff stood, stretching.  and stretched. Muscles sprang into relief, hard against the damp singlet. [M6] Vickie held her breath.  He was gorgeous.  She felt cheated, being so close to him and yet not being able to touch him.  Touch his body or touch the real man, the real Cliff.

            “Well.  I’m tired enough to sleep now.  You?”
She smiled and nodded.
How about I drive you home?”

            Vickie spoke without thinking.  “I have my car here.”

            “Oh.  Sure.  Right, I don’t know what I was thinking.  Well, let’s get out of here.”  Did she imaginegoing.” He picked up his workout bag and Vickie was left wondering if she’d imagined the disappointment in his voice?.

            He walked her all the way out to her car.  He hadn’t , which he’d never done thisit before, and. But when Vickie eyed atgave him strangely.  He caught the glance. questioning look he only said, “I just want to make sure you get off okay.”

            “I’ll be fine, Cliff.”

            “I know.” He paused. “Do you want me to follow you home?”
            She looked at him carefully.  The Was he suggesting…? But his head was angled such that the parking lot lights flooded the area, castingcast a shadow over his face.  She couldn’t be certain.  “No thanks, I’m sure I’ll beProfessional was the best bet. “It’s okay.  See you tomorrow.”?”

            “Right.  See you tomorrowTomorrow, then.”  He was still standing there when she pulled out onto the street.


            * * * * *
The two men sat companionably in the restaurant’s private room.  One grinned at the other and asked, “Have you told her yet?”

            The other scowled.  “No.”

            Apparently that was all he wanted to say, but the first one knew how to pry.  “Well, I can see why.  She scares the crap out of me, too.”

            The other man shook his head.  “I’m just not sure how she’ll take it.”

            The first man was suddenly sober.  “Why is“Is it so important?”

            “Why?” “Important? I don’t know.” The other man was studying his hands,  clasped loosely in his lap.  Then he looked up, his eyes intense.  “I don’t know.  But it’s very“Yes, I do. It’s important.  No, it’s vital.”

            Then he sagged. “But I don’t know why.”
The first man sat back in his chair, smiling and nodding mentally. . He knew why.

 [M1]In general I'm getting away from internal dialog as dialog and toward internal dialog as exposition.

 [M2]possible followup -- a redheaded grandma would give her a concrete external example of why she acts the way she does.

 [M3]tell vs show

 [M4]I've also rethought completely spelled out sentences and decided in favor of short and sharp.

 [M5]Sounding: weak verb; purring: stronger verb

 [M6]One of my problems early on was thinking a single action would call exactly the same consequences in everybody's head as it did mine. In this case the mere act of stretching rippled muscles in my head. But I didn't show that explictly.