Coyote's Guide to IDL Programming

IDL E-Mail from Pablo Neruda

QUESTION: After having a couple of his questions answered on the IDL newsgroup by the legendary legerdemain of JD Smith and Craig Markwardt, Todd Clements was moved to exclaim, "I'm beginning to wonder if there is an IDL question you [guys] can't answer!"

ANSWER: That got me to thinking about Pablo Neruda and his wonderful book, The Book of Questions, I sometimes quote from in the IDL courses I teach. Here is an example from the book.

Whom can I ask what I came
to make happen in this world?

Why do I move without wanting to,
why am I not able to sit still?

Why do I go rolling without wheels,
flying without wings or feathers,

and why did I decide to migrate
if my bones live in Chile?

Imagine my suprise then when--just a week later--I received an e-mail from Mr. Neruda himself. It seems he had been fooling around a little bit with IDL and he was moved to write a poem. Here it is.

How many contours will I get if
I let IDL select them?

Who in his right mind thought we needed
something like the Table Widget?

Why is it so difficult to get PostScript output,
and why are object graphics lines so thin?

How hard can it be to write code that is
incomprehensible? Do I need to know more, or less?

I'm pretty sure even JD and Craig would have trouble with these questions. :-)

But, of course, once something like this starts on the IDL newsgroup it is hard to stop. Craig was moved to respond with IDL-ku verse:

At times like this I turn to the ancient poetry form, IDL-ku. Like the haiku it must adhere to the terse 5-7-5 syllable structure, but must also be a compileable IDL program. The equals sign, "=", can either be silent or short-hand for the one-syllable, "is."

yes, _ref_extra = $
useful, NOT a, figment (from)
JDs, imagination

arrays, alter (shape)
at, unexpected, moments;
remember, reform (them)

display: the image;
for robust=results, please do $
use, imdisp OR plotimage

Nuggets of wisdom from the ages... Not answers to every question, but then again we must leave some mystery for the new people.

If anyone else is so moved, we now have a place to publish this most personal poetry. :-)

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