Can You Miss a Train? Really?!?

It has been 41 years since I have missed a train (I am currently 40 years old).

When I was younger, I was more naïve. I used to tell friends and family that I would not look at a train schedule, since then there was a chance I might miss my train. MY train. After all, if you do not know what time the train is coming, then you can always claim, as you wave good-bye to the train which just left the station, that in fact your train is the next one, and then sit down to sip your coffee in the cold wind. But now I know better. I check schedules.

I know that as I leave the house for my regular morning commute (sometime between 7am and 7:45am), that MY train leaves at either 7:18am, or 7:38am, or 7-fifty-something, or 8:02am. Or something like that. It’s not that I don’t like schedules, it’s just that I don’t care.

Two Kinds of Writing

I have two types of writing in my life: the kind that works, and the kind that never seems to work. You see, I write this (and several other) blogs, and I write emails every day, for both personal and work business. That is the kind of writing that can be good or bad, effective or ineffective, but there is no saying that it just does not “work”. Once you type a sentence (assuming your spelling and grammar are reasonably close to what was used by your 11th Grade English class, the writing is done and deployed.
The other type of writing I do is using a language called C#, which was invented by Microsoft less than 10 years ago. It is a young language, albeit based on other computer languages which have existed for, perhaps, a paltry 50 years. Compared with the natural languages we all use in our daily languages, with their vast histories and evolutions, C# is downright primitive. Perhaps that is why it (and other computer languages) is so difficult to use effectively. It is exacting. A single error in grammar means you can’t utter the sentence. A single error in thought means your sentence goes off and starts a war with some unknown part of the network. When I write my business applications at my cubicle desk each day, I am reminded of how easy it can be to miss trains, when you are living within such an unhelpful world view.
Occasionally, I stumble across something that works. I hear that Python is better in this regard. I think they say it is more “expressive”. Perhaps many of you use tools at work which are similarly unhelpful?

World of DVR and Disambiguation

In today’s World, we do not have to miss trains, if we don’t want to. It is the World of DVR, where we can send a robot out into our Cable Universe in search of the exact programming, thoughts, and emotions we wish to experience today. And then save them all for us. Nothing gets lost, as long as we are clever enough to know what we want.

We see another example in a simple search of the Wikipedia. Try searching for “C#”, the computer language mentioned above. Immediately, you hit what the Wikipedia calls a “Disambiguation Page”. In this case someone on the other side, one of the zillions of authors of the online encyclopedia, has realized that you might be looking for something very specific, but you may be about to miss your train. They provide a net – a way to get you onto one of the several trains which are currently leaving the station, very efficiently. Helpful.
In the case of the DVR, catching the train relies on your own obsessiveness. In the case of the disambiguation page, catching the train relies on the obsessiveness of someone who is probably far more obsessive than you are – a Wikipediologist. The World is filled with these sorts of helpful devices and people. Occasionally, this is how we do not miss our train.
But be honest. How many of you can keep up? Do you miss trains routinely? How many of us fling up our hands, and are now just letting email, connections with friends, smelling roses on snowy walks, and all manner of fine cups of coffee, just slip away, even after we have paid the fare?
There is another way to never miss a train, nicely summed up in the title of a book I have never read: Wherever You Go, There You Are. If you be where you are, trains will come your way. In the words of Morpheus (The Matrix), “when you’re ready, you won’t have to”.. make that darned train – ‘cuz there is another train waiting amongst the beautiful sights to enjoy while sipping coffee, in the cold wind, on the platform.

So, really – can YOU miss a train?

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