Obligatory "ignore this space" : https://sacoronavirus.co.za

Making stuff from odds and ends is something I've always particularly enjoyed: what I had failed to comprehend, though, was that craft markets existed for the same reason the book of Jonah exists.

It's important we don't get into debates about the figurative and the literal or we are simply wearing down the few who do practise what they preach. Those four words with which the last sentence ends is the reason the bible receives mockery. We do not need to believe in a literal interpretation, as adults, to get an idea of the figurative meaning. This done, we simply need to assert that there was no such person as Jonah, and go on teaching the facts of life to children by getting them to make and sell white elephants.

This may seem a cruel thing to say, when craft markets give children and young adults a reason to make things, but I was quite happy to make things for school projects out of odds and ends, and I seldom gave thought to what became of them afterwards. I was more than happy to help someone out who was participating in a craft market, and my attitude hasn't changed.

Coding is much the same and simpler to describe. As I can achieve my own ends with a few lines of code, it is seldom I have a project of my own devisement. Also, with my own projects the tools I make use of are paramount; whereas, for example, if someone wanted to see how a relational database could be used to make a Turing language, with a corresponding representation of the flow graph, I would find an appropriate relational database and not worry myself too much that the tool I am making use of is not one I see my way to making.

No-one giving me any useful project for the tool I thus created, I'm likely to misplace it.

If I wanted a beat counter for a tune that's playing in my head, I'd give it to Bash, first of all ( a=$(date +%s%N) h=0 while read A ; do b=$(date +%s%N) h=$(( $h + 1 )) echo $(( 100 * $h * 60 * 1000000 * 1000 / ( $b - $a ) )) ; done ).

To save myself the trouble of writing this each time, I'd need to give this script a name; which is no longer saving myself much trouble at all; unless I write a user manual, I'd need to look at the code to figure out how to use it.

If I needed to print labels on a paper cone, for instance, I'd need someone else to choose the tool. I know too many tools which would allow that to be done empirically, and unless I'm sitting by myself, allowed to wonder whether it's worth doing it by calculation, for the sake of the exercise, I'm liable to be criticized, while I'm busy, that a different tool than the one I chose would either have been quicker, or less wasteful of paper.

Some cynical man sitting in the corner, watching the antics, might ask which of the tools available isn't propping up America's national debt.

This might make a world-wise graphic designer pass comments on the fun of making one's own letters, in such situations, and refer to ways of making copies that do not prop up America's national debt.

And there I thought I was just having fun with a friend who had roasted sunflower seeds for sale at a craft market.

The lesson of the craft market is that you have to make cuts in order to fashion something anew. I started that business when I was five years old: I took a screwdriver and a hammer--with my mother's approval--and started gouging away at a plank of wood in order to make a boat. My dad had used the same method to make the hull of a yacht, but that activity I have no actual recollection of.

Thus my instincts brought me to learn things before school, which other people learnt only at the other end.

And without propping up America's national debt.