"And now, Mister Vimes, tell me the truth. Tell me of everything. Tell me the truth that is more valuable than small amounts of gold."

"I'm not sure I know it anymore," said Vimes.

"Ah. A good start."

-- Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant

Because nothing has to be true forever. Just for long enough....

-- Terry Pratchett, The Truth

Sorry for starting with two Pratchett quotes, but you'll notice there isn't even a pun in them. Sometimes I wonder if the off-kilter sense of humor and the cynicism and the sarcasm aren't put into those books to ward off certain types of reader. But then I reread Small Gods and I find it amazing that, well, some of his books haven't made any summer reading lists that I'm aware of.

But this isn't meant to be a Pratchett-fest. This is, instead, a glimpse into my current version of the truth, or least, it's version of me.

I'm sitting here in the lab -- looking at the clock, I see it's around 10:00 now -- and I'm working. There's a 10 year old FORTRAN program sitting on my desk, with red marks all over it where I traced out its execution and make notes to myself. And I'm happy with it. There's a half-completed update of the program (written in C) sitting on my computer screen.* And I'm smiling about it. I'm listening to Brahms' G-Major piano/violin Sonata.** And I'm happy. There's the quiet overtone of a set of vacuum pumps*** across the hall, where our cryostat currently sits open to the air, with a dewer full of liquid helium beneath it.****And I'm content. On another part of my computer screen, there's an email from an old friend, telling me that they're OK. And I'm at peace.

Sometimes I think I must be one of the most blessed persons on this planet. I have work that I find satisfying, and I have friends that care about me. I'm living in a beautiful place. And there's this whole, giant universe around me, asking me to play with it, to look behind the scenes and try to understand what is going on in my own limited way. So, the Truth more precious than gold*****, at least for now, is that I'm happy. And while that may not be true forever, it's enough for now.

* Well, right now, it's under this entry, but, well, it's still here.

** Erica****** and I are going to try to play the first movement of it sometime this December. It should be loads of fun!

*** OK, the pumps aren't really all that quiet. One of them thinks it's the drummer for a small pop group. Or it sounds like it, at least. It's hard to tell what the pumps are really thinking.

**** We had to warm up the cryostat to deal with a couple of issues, like a plugged 3He return line running into our dilution refrigerator. But what's life without these little hang-ups?

***** Well, small amounts of gold, at least.

****** For those of you who don't know Erica, but do know Neil: Erica is Neil's girlfriend. And, in case you hadn't put two and two together, she's a violinist.*******

******* I suppose that would make me a pianist. And you didn't think I knew any dirty words.

Presented with apologies to Terry Pratchett. I also know that some people will think that this post is in bad taste; after all, how can anybody be happy right now, with the horror going on in New York? OK. The picture above is incomplete. I just am choosing to focus on the positive right now. In many ways, I still feel exactly as I did when I wrote this. But, right now, here at work, I'm putting those feelings aside, and concentrating on getting this job done. There's something deeply satisfying about that, ya know.

Brian Naberhuis
Last modified: Tue Sep 18 22:00:51 PDT 2001