Many thanks to Tristan Morris for creating a beautiful illustrated hardcover print edition of the site

moderately geeky  moderately geeky

Case 189

The Dense Forest

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Suku and her apprentices had come to a secluded temple in the heart of a immense old forest. Here the trees grew so thick and tall that a raindrop falling on the canopy would take a full day to reach the ground as it dripped from leaf to leaf. (As a consequence, the monks in that place could walk outside during a thunderstorm and remain as dry as toast, but the next day they would have to set out with umbrellas open and galoshes on tight, even if the sun was shining.)

On their last night in the temple, master Suku was reviewing the code of a senior nun.

“Your methods are exceedingly long,” said the master. “This one is several hundred lines at least, with nested loops and logical branches many levels deep. It should be refactored into at least thirteen separate methods.”

The senior nun laughed. “If I coded your way, a maintainer would have to first study a dozen different routines to understand the main one. But with my way, all the code is visible in one place. And they call you a master!”

- - -

The next thing the senior nun remembered was waking alone in the forest. She put a hand to her throbbing head and discovered both a fresh lump and a satchel draped around her neck. Pinned to the satchel was a note:

A shame you slept for so much of our journey through the woods... many paths wind and cross each other, and it would be easy to lose yourself forever. But fear not! We have left you precise directions home.

Inside the satchel the nun found a thick roll of paper, such as merchants used in their cash registers. The text on the outside of the roll began:

Stand. Face the clump of moss. Bend right knee, lift right foot three inches. Step out eighteen inches with right leg pointed at the nearest oak. Place right foot down. Shift weight to right foot. Bend left knee—

The senior nun’s concentration was broken by the sound of wolves howling, very near.