Keep Debugging, My Friends



We’ve all heard the legends about The Most Interesting Man in the World…but did you know that he’s also a software developer?

  • His C++ code never causes a segmentation fault; instead, it apologizes and faults itself.
  • Lenna has a poster of him on her bedroom wall.
  • He never assigns IP addresses to his network packets. They still get there anyway.
  • He is such a rockstar developer that actual rock stars envy him.
  • He can comment out random lines from a software project, and everything still works perfectly.
  • His version of ‘brute force’ gives a firewall an actual black eye.
  • When he commits his source code, he only needs to do it once.
  • When he invokes recursion, it just skips to the final result.
  • His software is so flawless that his employers have needed to create malware for it.
  • He has only practiced rubber duck debugging once…but when he did, that rubber duck magically turned into Linus Torvalds.
  • Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Condo Chronicles: Scantily Supernatural

In general, stairwells tend to be the black sheep of a building, especially in a condominium. A meticulous amount of detail is dedicated to many interior portions of a building: the lobby, the elevator, the hallways, the apartments themselves. When a real estate agent guides a young couple through a building, the agent is more than happy to show them each of the previously mentioned areas…but rarely will an agent take these hopeful purchasers through the stairwell. Typically built with lesser materials, the stairwell is a neglected branch in terms of basic maintenance and care, much like a derelict grandfather that’s been stuffed into a backroom amid soiled diapers and unwashed dentures. Its dingy floors and poor illumination invite the visits of those who seek the comfort of shadows, like lazy addicts who seek quick relief from a smoke. Even though our condo building had hatched only a few months ago, our stairwell was already beginning to emerge from its pupation stage, with faint nicotine stains on the wall and dehydrated stains of unrecognizable goop on the steps. It certainly wasn’t the kind of environment that would entice anyone to strip down and physically bond with it …which made it all the more confusing why a young woman would decide to strip naked and place her ass on what could only be described as a petri dish.

Yet there she was on the stairwell perpendicular to me, with legs bunched tight and crossed arms. Even though a part of her face was shadowed by her disheveled blonde hair, I thought that I could make out a mark on her cheek. With her visage now turned towards me, she gave me a truly malevolent glance, blue eyes piercing through running mascara; it didn’t help that the pervasive fluorescent lighting gave her white skin a ghastly sheen. In that moment, I never felt more that I should have a nazar on my person, as protection from her potentially arcane scorn. In fact, based on her scrutiny, you would have thought that I had done something truly egregious by walking into the stairwell; it seemed like the kind of expression that a woman would reserve for a pervert caught in her bedroom, donning her panties on his head. In an state of shock, I reached up to touch my crown. Nope…not guilty.

Squinting with hatred, she repeated her last statement in a slur of increased exacerbation, adding a snarl for emphasis. “What do you want? Can’t you see that I’m busy? Well…what are you waiting for?!? Get the fuck out of here!

My mind, under more normal circumstances, would have been able to process such events with a bit more alacrity. However, given the hour and my frazzled mood due to our leaking windows, being ridiculed by a nude angry woman tipped the scales of my fragile state; consequently, my usual articulate self evaporated as my brain blew a fuse. Instead of inquiring any further, I simply whispered a meager sorry, accepted my banishment with my tail between my legs, and closed the door to the stairwell with all the poise of a gloved museum curator. Only after taking a few steps back from the door did my psyche eventually regain some sense of itself. Wait a minute…you can’t just leave her in there. What if she’s a rape victim? What if she needs help? What if she’s delusional from intoxication and despair? Coming to grips with the situation, I decided that I might need a little help with this one, and I hurriedly walked back into my apartment nearby. As I entered my abode once more, Rhonda was busily placing the needed towels along the window sill and along the floor. Hearing the door open, she turned towards me with a questioning look, furrowing her brow at the garbage bag still in my hand.

“What’s happened?” she asked, studying my face.

“I just ran,” I began, “into a naked chick sitting in the stairwell.”

Rhonda stared back at me with skeptical incredulity. “You know, if you don’t really want to take the trash down, just say so…”

“I’m serious! She’s just sitting there, with running mascara! I think that she might be some sort of rape victim! Go grab a Bible and I’ll swear on it!”

“But we’re atheists,” Rhonda reminded, “And we don’t have any Bibles lying around.”

Exasperated, I tossed the garbage bag to the side as my hands tried to do the talking for me. “Okay, go get your Kindle, and I’ll download it. Or download something that you care about, like Twilight…”

“I don’t think that it counts on the electronic version of a book…” Rhonda commented.

I didn’t pay any attention to her interruption. “…and I’ll swear on that! Just come with me and see! I’m not fucking around!”

At this point, I could tell that she was starting to reluctantly take my word for the truth, despite the compulsion to dismiss me. She turned away from the window in order to face me. “You’re not joking? There’s a naked woman in the stairwell who’s crying?”

“Yes! That’s what I’m saying. I think that she has a black eye. I’d go to her, but if she’s been assaulted or raped, she probably doesn’t want to talk to a dude. She certainly didn’t want to talk to me! So, please, come out there with me.”

With a heavy sigh, Rhonda capitulated with only an indication of shrugged shoulders. “Okay, I’ll come…but you better not be fucking with me! And if that chick is actually out there, she’s probably some dumb slut who picked up the wrong dude at a bar…and even though I’ll help her, I’m going to give her such shit…”

“Okay, whatever,” I replied, “Let’s just help out. Come on!”

After quickly throwing on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, Rhonda joined me at the front door, and together, we creeped down the hallway towards the stairwell. Hmmm…maybe I should have also put on some real clothes instead of these pajamas, I thought to myself. After all, I wouldn’t want to disappoint all of my fans. I momentarily chuckled at the thought as we reached the stairwell’s heavy door. Rhonda looked back at me for verification, motioning towards it with one hand. I nodded, and with a loud thud from the door handle’s torque, she yanked it open.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Condo Chronicles: Buyer’s Remorse

“Hey, honey…Are you awake? Did you hear that?”

In truth, I had been awake for a while before she had even asked me that question. Recumbent under the covers of our bed, I had been stuck in a half-lucid state for the past few minutes, in that rare frame of my mind where you can have an enlightening conversation with your subconsciousness. As always, I had entered this trance slightly discombobulated, questioning my temporal conditions. (It wasn’t unusual for me to awaken with such odd notions.) Perhaps the last few decades of my life had only been a dream? Had I dreamt through my twenties to only emerge and repeat my youth in middle age…so that (as mentioned in True Detective) the future was behind me, as it had always been? Or perhaps I was currently having a vision of the future from the slumber of my teenage years? I would always get past that, though, and my mind would wander into some other odd, tangential direction. I was in the midst of exploring another hidden corridor when Rhonda repeated the same question from before.

“Peter! Wake up! Do you hear it?”

Just keep pretending that you’re asleep, advised a subconscious voice. She’ll eventually go away. I laughed at the thought. Clearly, this new apparition from my depths didn’t know Rhonda all that well. I struggled to open my eyes and turn my head towards her, with the same effort that a newborn chick invokes to overcome its shell.

“Ehhh…huh? What sound? Where?”

Rhonda pointed at the doorway in conjunction with her answer. “From the living room. I think that it’s happening again.”

We waited for a few moments, so that I could get a chance to hear it for myself. Yep…I heard it. Pleep…plop…pleep. That goddamn motherfucker was back. “Yeah,” I grumbled, “I hear it. I’ll take of the living room. You check on the other rooms.”

I sat up in bed and looked at the alarm clock. 3:13 AM…But, hey, who needs sleep? Mornings in spring are usually very pleasant, but only a farmer could appreciate it at such an early hour. Unconsoled by the thought that a distant migrant worker was sharing my fate, I swung my bare feet over the side of the bed and accidentally stepped on the tail of our cat. He cried in a startled panic and ran from the room. Good…now we’re all happy. Merry Fuckin’ Christmas in June. Blindly stumbling through the darkness, I eventually made my way into the living room. In the tranquil blackness that surrounded me, I could observe the beautiful skyline of Manhattan through those windows, despite the moderate rainfall that was pouring down…but at such an hour, I wasn’t exactly in the mood to appreciate anything. Fuck those fuckin’ windows. After smacking my hand against the wall a few times, I eventually found the light switch and invoked the necessary illumination. My eyes adjusted to the piercing light that insisted on stabbing my retinas, and I focused on my adversary across the room.

“There you are,” I drawled across lazy lips. “You bastard. I knew that you’d be back.”

It had been three months since our debacle of a condo meeting in the garage, and during that time, Rhonda and I had come to learn quite a deal about our new home. We had gained the knowledge about our walls, which were apparently thinner and less soundproof than we had hoped…since we were now privy to the nuptials of our adjacent neighbors. (Namely, that she was a typical moaner and that he was a heavy grunter.) We observed that the wooden floors, despite being beautiful, were so delicate that they could be scratched by a sudden gust of wind or breath. Most importantly, though, we had become well acquainted with the lesser strengths of our builders, of which window installation happened to be one. During any fall of precipitation, our home suddenly transformed into the cabin of a sinking ship, and during the first few encounters, it had invoked the same feelings of helplessness and dread that would befall dying sailors. If I wasn’t in my pajamas, I’d be more eager to abandon ship…after enough repetition, though, the dread of such an event had ameliorated to the point of simple sighs, since we were now resigned to our doomed fate. I could hear Rhonda behind me as her feet shuffled across the floor.

“So, I thought that they had fixed the windows for good?” she croaked with fatigue.

“Guess not…I’ll call Richie tomorrow about it. Fourth time is the charm, right?”

Rhonda shook her hood as the water dropped from the window’s frame and splattered against the sill and floor. A puddle had already formed directly beneath the frame. “It’s too early to try and be funny…uh…what’s that smell?”

I sniffed and smelled nothing. Curious, I scanned the room and found the likely culprit sitting by the front door. Her damn bloodhound nose…how does she do it? I noticed a standing bag of kitchen garbage resting against the front door, and I lazily flopped my hand towards it with the motor controls of a toddler. “Must be the garbage over there,” I guessed, “Though I can’t smell it myself.”

“You really can’t smell that? It’s filling the whole place…Tell you what, I’ll take care of the window if you take down the trash to the garage.” Observing my reaction that conveyed the simple question of Why me?, she explained her viewpoint. “I’m not dressed! I don’t want anyone to see me.”

I raised an eyebrow dubiously. “Someone is going to see you at 3:13 in the morning?”

I could see from her expression that no words should be offered in response. Her visage, which both pleaded and threatened me, gave me all the impetus to make the right decision. Desiring to avoid any chance of a murder-suicide ritual, I cursed under my breath as I walked towards our discussion’s subject. I yanked on the Leaning Tower of Pee-yoo, hoisted it into the air by its finger-strangling ribbons, and exited the front door with a sweet-voiced thanks on my heels. Still cursing the gift of her olfactory senses (and missing the cheek-warming comfort of my pillow), I reached the end of the hallway and opened the door to our nearest stairwell. I was halfway through the door when I came to an abrupt stop, startled by the fact that I wasn’t alone.

Sitting naked upon the stairs and sitting sideways to me, a young blonde woman was staring at the wall before her, her legs bundled tight and crossed arms covering her breasts. She seemed to be squinting her eyes as she slumped somewhat forward, in an apparent attempt to descry some hidden image from the concrete slab in front of her. Despite looking slightly cold, she seemed perfectly calm as she turned her head to regard me with an inquisitive glance. Her heavy eyelids refused to open, as if the mere thought of such travail meted out exhaustion. Instead, she lifted her hanging head in order to get a better look at me.

What do you want?” she hissed.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Tricks of the Trade



Helpful tips for anyone stuck in a cubicle (especially if you happen to be a developer).

  1. There’s a good chance that some of your colleagues will simply start copying and pasting your code, which is fine…as long as they give you some credit. In order to protect yourself from credit theft, be sure to pepper your code with little jewels of watermarking, like this one:

    // This function allows me to provide ‘B==D’ to one of your parents
  2. Have an unlisted number or an untraceable call app at the ready. When a chatty neighbor starts hanging out at your desk with no end in sight, use your handy tool to call their office phone or smartphone. While they’re distracted and/or away, make your way to the bathroom or hide promptly under your desk.
  3. Always befriend at least one person on the DevOps team. It’s easier to accomplish if you know of his/her nemesis, so you can constantly talk shit about them in your ally’s presence.
  4. If you wish to become invisible to a tiresome manager, just be sure to adorn your work area with various performance charts and graphs. As the perfect workplace camouflage, it’s impossible for the brass to focus on you amongst such pretty, shiny distractions.
  5. Put the mandatory sounds of your smartphone to good use. If you catch one of your junior developers goofing off, feed their paranoia and get them back to work by stealthily invoking the audible click of your camera several times.
  6. Always start a software project with random calls to “sleep()” scattered throughout your code. (Or, if you have frequent code reviews, put them in a somewhat innocuous place, like a “log()” function.) Whenever your boss demands better performance, request a few days of development time and remove the “sleep()” calls after your impromptu vacation.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Condo Chronicles: To Be Continued

Nearly a third of our gathering had now scattered to the wind, as the remaining contingent was continually encircled by our new furry attendees. Contrary to my previous thoughts, I was now hoping that Vinny would now brandish his sidearm and handle this problem accordingly. In fact, I was now irritated enough to be fairly lenient at the thought of arbitrarily executing people around the garage. Richie, on the other hand, was calmly attempting to approach the darker-colored shepherd when a woman’s thick German accent came from nearby.

“Ve are zo zorry! Zey are zo bad sometimes…but, do not vorry. Zey are very nice dogz. Just move very slowly around zem.”

A tall, pale lady of slender build and an older Arabic gentleman walked leisurely towards us, smiling and waving to everyone present. If they descried the annoyed looks on all of our faces or were aware of the present canine menace, they gave no indication of it. Their expressions seemed both affluent and a tad aloof, especially when it came to any inclination towards controlling their animal companions. They stopped near the loquacious dog who was continuing to proclaim his inherent dislike of Babbu, and the emaciated banshee focused her gaze on the two men in the center of this group.

“Allo, everyone. Und now I should introduce us, yah?” began the apparition, who had to raise her voice in order to compete with her barking wards. “Ve live in ze penthouse, and ve are…”

Up to this point, Richie and Raymond had kept a cool candor in the wake of the loonies’ procession, but there was no mistaking that their shared shroud of patience was beginning to wear thin. I assumed that we were all experiencing similar feelings, but it was the acerbic Babbu who took hold of the diplomatic mantle and spoke assertively on our collective behalf.

“Hey! Bitch! Get a hold of your stupid dogs! Before we have to shoot them!”

“Or get stabbed!” interjected Mike, motioning at Babbu. “Use your knife, bro!”

Sans her valiant steed, the vision of Famine opened her mouth in shock, placing a hand over her wounded heart. I was confident that her face would have become flushed if her thin frame had possessed enough blood to do so.

Donning a scowl, her husband stepped forward with a finger raised against Babbu. “That’s completely uncalled for, sir! You should show some respect to my wife…”

“I don’t give a shit! I’ll sue you if that dog gets any closer!” interrupted Babbu.

“THAT’S ENOUGH!”

Along with the dogs, all became silent and turned to face a flustered Raymond, whose tone indicated that any and all patience had left the garage tout de suite. With a flushed face, he rolled one hand into a tight ball at his side while raising the other open, and he cleared his throat in a visible struggle to purge any hostility from his voice. As to where it went from his throat, my guess was that he was attempting to strangle it in the clenched fist at his side.

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank all of you for coming…but I’ve decided to postpone this meeting for now. We’re now missing a considerable number of people, and it wouldn’t be fair to them if we continued it in their absence. So, I propose that we try again next week. Same place, same time. How does everyone feel about that?” When nobody responded after several thumping heartbeats, Raymond took the lack of response as an affirmation. “Very well. God bless all you. Richie and I will see you next week.”

With the stated sanction from Raymond, people suddenly snapped out of their shock-induced coma, and realizing their chance to escape, the crowd began to rapidly disperse in various directions. Even the dogs adapted to this new ambiance within the garage, and they lazily trodded back to their clueless owners, who were now chasing down Raymond. I grabbed Rhonda’s hand again, and I pulled her towards the nearest stairwell. “Come on, let’s get back upstairs before the National Guard shows up. Plus, this floor is turning my toes into icicles.”

She nodded her head as we both started walking towards the stairs. “Okay,” consented Rhonda. “But that’s why you should listen to me and start wearing two layers of socks. When are you going to realize that I’m always right?”

“Ven you make ze shoes for me from ze dogs,” I replied. “And did I hear her call one of them ‘Hasselhoff’?

Rhonda laughed. “Yes, you did.”

As we approached the door to the stairwell in order to leave the bleak interior tundra of our garage, we passed by one parking space that happened to be vacant. The clear space provided me with an unobstructed look at the garage’s concrete wall, and with only a passing glance, something caught my eye that was barely distinguishable. A miniscule spot blinked at me from the wall’s grey skin.

“What is it?” posed Rhonda, with a slightly concerned tone. She tended to be spooked at the possibility of any and all surprises.

I started in the direction of the blinking spot. “I don’t know…let me see…”

Colors and shadows flashed through the thin mark as I began to identify the linear nature of its overall shape. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the portal to an alternate dimension that I had been seeking most of my life. “It’s a crack in the wall…all the way through! It’s thin…but I can definitely see the street on the other side. I’m able to spot cars and people. Jesus…this building is supposed to be brand new. And it’s already starting to crack?”

“Don’t be so down on the place,” chided Rhonda. “New construction ends up cracking a bit and making odd shapes in the walls. It’s called ‘settling’. It’s totally normal.”

“Maybe you’re right…” I replied with a pensive shrug.

“I’m always right…”

With a flick of the wrist, I gave her a quick smack on the ass as she yelped in surprise. I couldn’t help but smile as she stabbed me with a questioning look that demanded answers.

Where I come from,“ I explained, “there are penalties when a woman lies.

“Can you not quote Princess Bride at every opportunity?” she inquired with some annoyance.

As we opened the door to the stairwell and entered its dark confines, I couldn’t help myself. “As you wish.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Condo Chronicles: The Calm Before The Storm

With a furrowed brow, the behemoth inhaled another ample breath, as he prepared to roar yet again. “Listen, fellas, you need to stop this nonsense…immediately! You’re scaring my wife, and I will tear the limbs from your bodies if all of you don’t calm down! Right now!”

The entire room froze into place with bated breath, including the two maniacal instigators of this fiery conflict currently at play. As I could sense with the others, a part of me was inclined to flee from the scene…but there was another portion that refused to leave and had nailed my feet to the ground beneath me. This train wreck, even though possibly dangerous to myself and Rhonda, still was too fascinating to tear away frm. Noticing that he had my attention along with the rest of the room, the giant lowered his arms and raised his chin in a supreme triumph, needing only a beard on his bare face in order to resemble the almighty Zeus. He was about to issue another thunderbolt of a proclamation when a gentle but firm voice addressed him from behind.

“Honey…Stop being such a bully! You know better!”

I could see his mild-mannered wife pulling on his shirt, and he turned to face the disapproving miniature presence. His towering physique leaned down to hear the quick utterance of a susurrous scolding. True, I couldn’t make out an actual word of it, but I knew almost instinctively from its tone that it was likely a stern reprimand. As with the case of every human language, every expression has its own musical cadence, and just like a pop song repeated tirelessly against your battered eardrums, you only need a few notes to recognize it. If asked to, I could audibly identify a Russian mother berating a small child from a sampling of uttered phrases, though I know only a few actual words in that tongue…and much like that example, there were a few key notes being played by the small spouse that evinced an almost pedantic nature. Consequently, the music did sooth the beast, and the giant turned to face us once again as a changed man. Though his face betrayed no apology, he did seem to be a little less tall now.

“To all of you,” he began, “ I apologize for my outburst. That was very un-Christian of me to threaten all of you like that. Sometimes I lose my head when I get frustrated, and then I get a little crazy. I promise that I’m not going to tear any limbs off of anyone. I just…I just want the yelling to stop.” He paused. “I hate yelling.”

“Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to see you angry,” confessed Raymond jokingly. Some general laughter, fueled by relief, broke out among the various homeowners in attendance. “Tell me, my Goliath of a friend, what are your names?”

The giant’s countenance softened and molded into a sheepishly apologetic expression, looking almost comical on his menacing frame. “Oh, right, I’m sorry. Good point. My name is Brian Steelkilt, and this is my wife Carol. I would introduce you to our son, but he’s still a work in progress.” He placed one of his large mitts on his wife’s slightly swollen abdomen, caressing the area with a paternal solicitude. “We’re expecting him in a few months.”

Raymond joyously clapped his hands a few times. “God bless you! Our building family will actually get its first child! Congratulations to you both!” Rhonda and I joined the general smattering of applause that broke out, and a few amiable shouts of Congrats were echoed around the garage.

Surprised by this sudden emergence of warmth from the very people that he had threatened only moments ago, Brian’s facial color changed from a warpaint red to a blushing pink hue. “Thanks, everybody…that’s really nice of you.”

I noticed that this interruption had only caused Babbu and Vinny to suspend their quarrel for the time being, but their gladiatorial postures still betrayed their bloodthirsty desire to recommence combat. Their anxious looks at each other caught the eye of Raymond as well. “Okay,” began the loquacious property manager, “back to our slight quabble from before. Now, sirs, can we put aside our differences for now, especially in order to calm the situation for my friend Brian and his expecting mother? I think that it’s a sign of providence that our Goliath was defeated by a loving, beautiful mother-to-be instead of a cast rock. So, how about we just agree to disagree, gentlemen?”

Vinny tersely shook his head. “That’s a no-can-do, guys…he’s still got a knife.”

“You idiot,” shouted Babbu in a defiant excitement, “I already told you…”

Up until this point, the police captain Richie had been attentive but taciturn, obviously allowing Raymond to be the official spokesman of their joint leadership. However, at this point, I could see from his body language that his patience had cracked like the surface of a frozen lake (which must feel like this goddamn floor, I thought), and his resignation immediately retired from the scene. He stepped between the snapping pair, showing a palm to Babbu but turning his body in order to address Vinny. “That’s enough,” he commanded the two of them. “Mr. Singh, please calm down. Vinny…I am not your CO, but have you attended your community awareness training yet?” When Vinny didn’t respond after a few moments, Richie continued. “Well, if you had, you would have learned that the Kirpan is an important article of the Sikh faith, and it’s to be allowed on his person as a religious right. Is that understood?”

After hearing Raymond speak at length, I had gotten the general impression that he was fairly competent, but I didn’t get any sense of a leadership quality. After only hearing a few words from Richie, however, I understood how he had perhaps attained such a rank within his precinct. His mere presence gave an immediate impression of authority. It worked even more on Vinny, whose disposition was clearly altered and gave way to calm.

Though somewhat begrudgingly, Vinny nodded at Richie. “Understood, sir.”

Richie, in turn, nodded back before raising his voice to address everyone present. “Okay, so that’s settled. If the two of you wish to continue your discussion, you can do so afterwards. In order to not waste the time of everyone here, let’s now get back to the meeting. Raymond?”

“Absolutely,” began Raymond. “Thanks for the assist there, Richie. Now, I think that we should quickly go around the circle and introduce ourselves. It helps me so that I can associate a name with a face…”

“Brummer! Hasselhoff! Komm zurück…Schnell!”

Along with these quick shouts, I suddenly heard a commotion at the other end of the garage. Claws could be heard raking across the concrete, as two quadrupedal creatures scrambled toward us from the shadows. Only a few feet from Babbu, they stopped close enough in order for the overhead light to reveal their identities as two large German Shepherds. The darker-colored one fixated upon Babbu, barking ferociously at him; the lighter-colored one began to run around the outer perimeter of our circle, as if to select a separate target for his own machinations. At this point, the truce arbitrated by Richie and Raymond immediately fell apart, and the simmering sense of panic among the homeowners ignited into a small conflagration. Some of the homeowners erupted with shrieks of fright, and a few people even began to run towards the stairwells in the corners of the garage. Rhonda and I stood our ground, clasping hands and discussing our next step in a silent exchange between our eyes.

Vinny once more started to reach for his sidearm. “I’ll shoot it. Babbu, get out of the way!”

“If you hit me, I’ll sue all of your police buddies and your family!” retorted Babbu.

I could clearly see Mike as his husky frame undulated in fright. “Oh, shit, man…this situation is all fucked up!”

The escalating cries and the loud yelps from the menacing canines reignited the flame that had been doused in Brian, and his irritation served as an incantation, channeling his inner demons once again with their horns raised. Protectively, he put his body in front of Carol. “If somebody doesn’t take care of those dogs, I will! And nobody get in my way!”

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Condo Chronicles: Ominous Portents

“Why are you here?” demanded the Sikh gentleman. “Did you follow me? I will sue you for harassment, buddy! I promise!”

Giving no quarter, Vinny started walking towards him. “You try it, pal! My union’s lawyers will eat you alive!”

I looked at Rhonda and mouthed the words What the fuck? as we tried to understand the situation unfolding before us.

Raymond quickly placed an arm against Vinny’s chest in order to prevent any escalation. “Whoa, whoa, hold on a second, Vinny. Gentlemen, surely we can come to some sort of understanding.” Calmly, Raymond redirected his attention to the newcomer. “Excuse me, sir, who are you?”

In response to being addressed in such a civil manner, the Sikh gentleman ameliorated his stance and regained some of his composure, though the anger never left his eyes. “My name is Babbu Singh, and I apologize for my outburst…but this maniac deserves no respect. He should be stripped of his rank and thrown out of the police force!”

“This,” shouted Vinny in response, “is the lunatic that I was talking about at the bar! Some cute, drunk chick squeezed his butt and gave him a little wedgie…and he yelled at her until she broke down and started crying. What kind of an asshole does something like that? I almost whipped out my mace!”

“She touched my Kachera!” screamed Babbu, with his eyes glazing over with a slight madness. “They are holy undergarments that should not be ridiculed or disrespected! And I still demand that she be tried and punished for hate crimes!”

I surreptitiously questioned Rhonda. “You still think that he’s a nice guy?

“Hate crimes? What the hell is wrong with you?!?” shrieked Vinny. “She was flirting with you, dummy! She was probably trying to fondle your junk…you were gonna get laid, towelhead! Who gives a shit about getting a skid mark in your magic underpants? So fuckin’ stupid…That’s it! I’m gonna tase him just for being a goddamn retard!”

Jesus,” confided Rhonda, “Can you believe that this guy carries a gun?

“She was oppressing me…just like you! You heard him! He’s going to murder me!” proclaimed Babbu, swiveling his head in order to address all of us. “I’m going to bring you up on charges, buddy! And I’m going to record all of this!”

As Babbu opened his suit jacket and retrieved his phone from an inside pocket, I saw the shimmer of something metallic, dangling in the clutches of a holster. I couldn’t exactly make it out from my angle, but Mike appeared to have the best view. Upon identifying the mysterious article, the girthy gangster was suddenly infected with the spreading contagion of insanity. He placed a protective arm in front of his girlfriend Lisa, and he pushed the both of them back as he pointed towards Babbu’s mid-section. “Woah! Check it!” bellowed Mike. “Bin Laden’s got a knife! He’s gonna start slicing us all any minute!”

When this heated argument had begun, the pleasant candor from the start had quickly become evanescence, as the paroxysmal debate compelled the diameter of our enclosed circle to slowly widen. In particular, the various homeowners had begun to put distance between themselves and the two combatants. Now, with Mike’s proclamation, our tense gathering began to teeter on the edge of panic.

Noticing that the entire room was now focused on his every move, Babbu turned to face his accuser. “What are…are you talking about my Kirpan?” With a flourish, he pulled back his jacket in order to display an ornate sheath and blade in a tight holster. “You mean this? Do you even know what this is? And did you just call me Bin Laden? Just for that, I’m going to bring you up on hate crimes as well!”

“Put the knife on the ground,” commanded Vinny, in a tone without any jest. “Put it down, now.” Vinny slowly moved his hands down his sides, creeping smoothly towards his sidearm.

Babbu noticed that the situation was becoming serious, and the tone of his voice softened a bit…but only a bit. “Listen, you ignorant rednecks, my Kuchera isn’t even sharp. It’s a holy relic that I must keep on my person. And if you don’t back down right now, I will call my lawyer and have the both of you in deep shit!”

I grabbed Rhonda’s hand and gave it a firm squeeze. “Rhonda…I’m thinking that we might want to get out of here…

From my peripheral vision, I noticed some movement from a couple to my left. A petite woman had been flanked by her giant husband since the onset of our gathering, and at this moment, the giant firmly moved his wife to the side as he stepped forward. His pallor shockingly shifted from a normal shade of pale to a seething cauldron of red, as the boiling in his mind seemed to sublimate the sweat from his bald head. He used the both of his hands in order to point at the two parties of this ridiculous debate.

“That’s it! I’m gonna kill everyone here!”

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Pop Culture Coding Examples



If politicians are aiming for more kids to code through efforts like Code.org, they’re gonna need to connect with them. And what better way to connect with them than through pop culture?

  1. USING CONTAINERS

    var DuggarFamily = new List();

    while (DuggarFamily.size() < 19)
    {
    var NewKid = new Person();
    DuggarFamily.Add(NewKid);

    if ((DuggarFamiliy.size() % 3) == 0)
    NewKid.getsMolested();
    }

  2. MANIPULATING “BITS”

    int IsMale = 1;
    var BruceJenner = new Person(IsMale);

    if (BruceJenner.Age == 65)
    BruceJenner.Male ^= BruceJenner.Male;

  3. DEMONSTRATING LOCKS

    int nButtSmacks = 0;
    var oChristianGrey = new Person();
    object oAnaSteele = new object();

    lock (oAnaSteele)
    {
    Monitor.Enter(oAnaSteele);
    Interlocked.Add(ref nButtSmacks, 3);
    }

  4. SWITCH STATEMENTS

    int CurrentYear = getCurrentYear();
    string DisneyDirtyGirl = “”;

    switch(CurrentYear)
    {
    case 2007:
    DisneyDirtyGirl = SluttyConversion(“Britney Spears”);
    break;

    case 2013:
    DisneyDirtyGirl = SluttyConversion(“Miley Cyrus”);
    break;

    case 2016:
    DisneyDirtyGirl = SluttyConversion(“Bella Thorne”);
    break;

    default:
    DisneyDirtyGirl = SluttyConversion(“Ariel”);
    break;
    }

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

Condo Chronicles: The American Dream

“So, ladies and gentlemen, congratulations on being condo homeowners at this new address!” proclaimed Raymond. “I’m sure that you’ll enjoy your new home here at Casa de Perros, here in this wonderful ethnic neighborhood of Little Peru. Yes, for those of you who know Spanish, that does translate to ‘House of Dogs’…and, yes, we did know that before we started using it.” Raymond smiled at the few laughs that came his way. “As it turns out, dogs were an important part of the ancient Incan culture in Peru, and the name is a tribute to that heritage.”

In response, a few of the white couples nodded their heads approvingly. The phrase how progressive could be heard a number of times among them.

Raymond continued. “I happen to know quite a bit about Little Peru since I’ve been visiting this neighborhood for decades. Richie and I go way back, having grown up in the next town over. We saw the empty lot on this spot for a long time and talked about how much a bunch of God-loving families would love to live in this upcoming neighborhood. So, Richie rounded up some of his friends from City Hall, and I rounded up a few business friends. Together, we formed a partnership that was able to construct this wonderful building for all of you!”

As some of the other owners politely clapped their hands, I nodded my head approvingly and leaned in close to Rhonda’s ear for a whisper. “The police captain and people from city hall helped to build this place? Man, this place is as legit as it gets.”

“Though, ladies and gentlemen, “ continued Raymond, “you shouldn’t actually ask me any questions about the building work. Richie knows more about that, since his dad used to be in construction. Instead, you can save the more general questions for me, since I’ll be your property manager. Who’s better at managing your property than one of the guys who helped build it, right? And contrary to what you may have heard, not all property managers are thieves. I certainly don’t have it in my heart to steal from blessed families like yourselves. Actually, the real thief that you should watch out for is time. It robs us of everything, doesn’t it?”

As several couples clasped hands and exchanged glances after reflecting on Raymond’s philosophical musing, I noticed one portly white fellow briefly talking with his wife before finally raising his hand. Put your hand down, buddy. We’re not in fifth grade. His attire was reminiscent of hip-hop culture, with enough space in them to be considered large on Biggie Smalls. In fact, they might have actually been worn by Biggie Smalls. I nudged Rhonda. “Ten bucks says that chubby is gonna ask if he can go to the bathroom.”

Rhonda suppressed a laugh as Raymond addressed his questioner. “Yes, sir. Do you have a question?”

“Yeah,” began the inquiring fellow. “I was wondering where we can find our butler?”

Raymond looked perplexed before responding. “Uhhh…your what? What’s your name, sir? Go ahead and introduce yourself.”

“Oh, yeah, no problem,” he said awkwardly, clearing his throat before continuing. “Yo, my name is Mike, and this is my girl Lisa. We was wondering about the butler situation. You feel me?”

“I’m not sure…do you mean the building super?” asked Raymond, with a raised eyebrow.

Mike shook his head. “No, man. You know…the guy at the front desk when you walk into the lobby. Like in those big buildings on the waterfront in Jersey City. You feel me?”

I stepped close to Rhonda, lowering my voice. “I think that 2 Live Chew is talking about a concierge. And I dare you to go feel him.”

I thought that Raymond was having a similar thought (without the need to ‘feel him’), since his countenance suddenly switched from perplexity to comprehension. “Ah, I see,” began Raymond. “I think that I know what you mean…”

“Sorry, everyone! I finally got here!”

Raymond and everyone else turned their heads at the sudden interruption. Quickly approaching our enclosed circle, a dark-haired gentleman headed towards us in a grey police uniform and in knee-high leather boots. His slicked-back hair and his long thin nose made his head particularly aerodynamic and aquiline. His boots made quick clicking sounds as he moved quickly across the cement floor, proceeding with a cadence that would inspire jealousy from any goose-stepping soldier.

“Hold up, fellas! Sorry that I was late. I had to respond to a call from a bar, and my bike’s engine choked up a bit on my way here. That incident at the bar took most of my time. Some loon was yelling at a woman over God knows what…it took me forever to diffuse the situation and get him to shut up…I was this close to shooting him with my Taser!”

I looked at Rhonda questioningly (and somewhat frightfully), and she nodded her head in affirmation. “Yep,” she said, “That’s the cop from the floor below us.”

As the Gestapo-reminiscent officer took a place by Raymond, the latter held out his hand to greet the newcomer. “I’m sorry, sir. You are…?”

“Vinny Rizen,” said the newest guest to the circle, shaking Raymond’s hand in the process. “I just bought my place in the building, too. On the third floor.”

Raymond’s moustache pulled at his lips to sport a broad smile. “God bless you! Welcome then! For a second, I thought that you were one of Richie’s guys. But then I remembered your name in the building’s files. You work in another town, along the waterfront. Right, right…well, good to meet you. We were just about to make introductions between everyone…”

“Stop! Stop! Hold up!”

As Vinny fumbled with his ringing phone, everyone else once again turned to see a figure dashing towards them, frantically waving in a clumsy run.

I sighed. “For fuck’s sake,” I quietly rasped, “when are we actually going to start this thing? At this rate, we should just go ahead and build a goddamn campfire with some tents…I can feel my warmth draining through my shoes, into this cold floor…”

“Tell me about it,” agreed Rhonda. “Wait a minute…I think…yep, that’s the Sikh guy. I talked to him in the lobby that one time. He seems nice…”

The lanky fellow in a dark suit and a blue turban was panting when he finally arrived a few feet away from me and Rhonda. He waved both hands at everyone while he stood catching his breath, shining a warm smile at everyone around us. He was in the midst of scanning the group with a kind gaze when his vision stopped on the penultimate arrival to the group. His amiable pose gave way as his attention focused on Vinny, and his face transformed into a vicious scowl, with his lips curling to form the next word at the motorcycle cop. “YOU!!!”

The hissing tone finally distracted Vinny from his phone, and he raised his head in order to meet the menacing look of the Sikh gentleman. Vinny’s visage also twisted to match the disapproval of his challenger. “Oh, shit…Of all the fuckin’ luck! Not you again!”

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy, muttering bastard on occasion.

Typical Daily Schedule of a Developer



9:00 A.M. Eat breakfast in cubicle/office

9:30 A.M. Attend the daily Scrum meeting

9:31 A.M. Immediately zone out after stating my progress report and fantasize about a fight between a ninja and a pirate for the remaining duration

10:00 A.M. Be visited by fellow developer Steve, who tells you how fellow developer Bob doesn’t have a clue about his job

10:30 A.M. Check out latest source code and begin reviewing the code introduced by the junior developers

10:45 A.M. Weep

10:50 A.M. Fix the mistakes of your junior developers

11:30 A.M. Be visited by fellow developer Bob, who tells you how fellow developer Steve is an imbecile

12:00 P.M. Prepare to eat lunch when a production issue suddenly strikes

12:30 P.M. Attempt to fix the production issue while hungry and in panic, resulting in only more unfolding disasters

2:00 P.M. Eat lunch finally and bitterly

3:00 P.M. Go to meeting about upcoming project A

3:10 P.M. Project manager Mark interrupts the meeting to talk about his new project B and to point out that project A has many flaws

3:20 P.M. Everyone argues at the meeting and threatens to murder each others’ families

3:50 P.M. The meeting is postponed until the next day

4:00 P.M. Finally start to write some code for your own project

5:00 P.M. Your boss asks you to come into his office for a conference call

5:15 P.M. Your boss has a conversation with you, asking if there any obstacles that are delaying your portion of the current project

6:00 P.M. Leave work

7:00 P.M. Prepare to eat a warm dinner when another production issue forces you to remotely log into your system from home

8:30 P.M. Eat a cold dinner between clenched teeth

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.