Just to Write

I feel as if this blog were a summer residence of sorts.  I do not live on it.  I do visit often or as often as I’d like to.  And when I do I first must dust the cobwebs, and vacuum the dust before I can do what I really want to.  What I really want to do is write.  Write and write with near abandon.  Just the shear joy of writing makes if worthwhile to write.  Just like this post.  This post is a creation of spontaneity and a love of the art.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Unfortunately, today like many days are filled with non-writing tasks.  Clearing the decks, organizing the mess of everyday, healing myself of this *ahem* nasty cold.  But how I yearn to write just like in the old days.  A keyboard on a strong wooden table, in sunlight or the light of a desktop lamp.  I know… what can I say… I am if not a romantic.

That is all.  I just wanted to share this with my readers.  That and the realization that I should spend less time dealing with the chores I am not interested with.  And spend more time doing things more beneficial to all.

I am also lucky to have met someone, who has helping me challenge my thoughts of what I do.  And to pursue the passions that I have.  I think I shall have to do just that.  One of those things is write more and worry less.  You can’t please everyone with your writing.  And you never will.  The moral of the story is to write about things important to you.  Enjoy the journey and do not worry if you please others.  I shall have to do just that.

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday.  What a day it was.  Started off with a dentist, ended up with me walking through slush in the driving wet snow.  Not exactly the funnest of days.  But I guess appropriate for the beginning of Lent.

I’ve decided that this Lent, I will work on resolving a nagging deep personal issue.  I will not go into the details, but it is a serious issue that needs resolving.  Along the way, I also want to dedicate more of my time and works to the Lord.  After He gave me all my gifts, my life and everything.  It is only fair I do something in return.

I plan on doing a lot of writing and editing of writing, inspired by Catholic faith.  I think this will not only be a good direction for my spiritual development, but also my personal too.  Considering that I am an editor of the Alexandrian and a writer it just makes sense.  And also the amazing comments from my readers… I feel like I should do this:

So my plan is to spend my free time each day writing a part of my novel, or working on the next issue of the Alexandrian, or working on expanding the magazine.  Hopefully by Easter, I will have a quite collection of work that I can offer up.  And for the benefit of my readers and friends.

Innovation in Increments

I have the good fortune of working in a Research & Development group. That means I get to learn about new ideas, experiment with them and apply them appropriately. Unfortunately I can not discuss my current project, other than it involves automating the creation of mobile applications. While I can not say that I am building something that is so deeply innovative that it has no precedence. But then again what most people do not realize that innovation happens mostly in small increments. You take an interesting idea, see if it makes your life easier and better. If not you review your work and options, and you try again. If it works, you get innovation!

So while I can not comment on my own work… 🙁 I can point some interesting work happening in the libre software community.

Canonical’s New Take on Scrollbars

Many of today’s computing innovations like tablets deal not with radical new technologies.  But rather making technology more usable for non-developers and non-engineers.  It might not sound like much, but Canonical is working on improving the usability of scrollbars in their Gnome desktop: http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/615

Take a look at the video in Mark Shuttleworth’s post.  I definitely think that abstracting the line indicator and the actual control is a great idea.  It also makes it more touch friendly and intuitive.

MeeGo and Qt Lives for KDE and the N900

While not so much an innovation per se, I am happy to hear that the development of Qt and MeeGo will continue.  The KDE crew came out and pointed out that Qt back when KDE started was a great framework and is even better now.  Back when I started using KDE, I was amazed at how well everything integrated together in look and feel terms.  This was all possible with KDE settling on one good UI framework, Qt.  Now that it is more cross-platform and rounded out, it still is a great compelling framework to learn and use.  There are some governance issues that need to get worked out, but it is nothing that won’t be resolved nicely soon.  I indeed intend on learning Qt, as soon as my own schedule clears up.

[Another analysis on the Nokia/Qt/MeeGo/KDE question.  Man isn’t life in the libre software world messy at times.]

As for MeeGo, sounds like Nokia will be supporting the N900 as an official development device for MeeGo.  So maybe Mr. Elop changed direction, but at least there is a way forward for MeeGo handset developers.  Hopefully that’ll mean that we can get started hacking on MeeGo.  And once more devices come out, all developer efforts can get carried over.  Maybe, just maybe we’ll finally have a good libre software platform for new disruptive devices, that won’t be threatened by the domination of one massive vendor.  I’m looking at you Google, Microsoft and Apple.

Catholic Writing Reprint: Learning to Love God

Author’s note:  This short story is reprinted from the Fall 2010 edition of The Alexandrian.  It concerns about an epiphany I’ve personally experienced and that has deepened my faith.  The original publication can be found here: http://thealexandrian.org/journal/learning-to-love-god

Learning to Love God

Dorian Pula

I decided to take a short break from cleaning in the kitchen. I dried the plate in my hands, put it away on the shelf and hung the moist dish cloth over my shoulder. I wandered out of the kitchen and into the living room. The hardwood floor heated by the summer sunlight warmed my bare feet. The floor creaked every few steps I took.

The house stood empty, still and silent. The ticking of the wall clock filled the living room. I stopped a metre or so from the grey piano in the living room. A flimsy picture rested against the piano’s music stand. The picture portrayed Christ as a king wearing a regal cloak and crown of red and gold against a background of golden rays. I stared at the picture and wondered how different artists portrayed Jesus in different ways. Sometimes He looked welcoming and friendly, sometimes powerful and regal, and sometimes hurt and bloodied.

In my own mind I portrayed God as a loving but stern Creator. I envisioned Him sitting on some throne in the heavens, great white beard flowing and commanding the universe with a stern look and pointed finger. I thought how foolish it would be for His creation to go against His commandments. How foolish it would be to upset someone who could make you unexist as easily He made you exist. Not that this thought ever stopped me from doing foolish things against His will.

Still I tried to follow the two most important commandments that Jesus taught. I understood the love thy neighbour part. I learned to accept, respect and even love others. One can learn to love humanity even with its flawed attempts at happiness, love and peace. But how does one love God? After all I always envisioned God the Father, sitting from a far, looking fatherly but more or less abstracted from the day-to-day affairs of the world.

As I stood there and stared at the picture I wondered if I could ask God that question. I did not expect any real answers. After all in my mind God, not only felt distant but that also He had better things to do than to answer my idle questions. But decided to try anyways. And so I prayed for wisdom.

The air became unbearably hot, dry and dusty. The walls closed in forming a narrow street in ancient Palestine. An angry mob surrounded me wearing cloaks, tunics and sandals. The mob jeered at a convicted man half-escorted, half-manhandled by rough Roman legionnaires. I felt safe as my cloak hid my identity and let me merge in with the crowed.

I watched silently as the convicted man limped down the street toward to his execution. His figure bent under the heavy wood beam fastened to his arms. His torn and blood splattered clothes hung loosely over his torn, disfigured, swollen and bruised body. One of the soldiers pushed the man forward, causing him to fall on his knee in front of me. I recognized the man as the Lord when turned His face towards me. The black crown of thorns cut into the Lord’s swollen forehead and dark blood dripped down the creases of His face. As He laboured to stand up, I imagined my own body turning into the symphony of pain and torment that He endured. I recoiled at the sight of the gruesome, blood stained and tortured Lord. Horror filled me as I realized that some His wounds were in fact my own sins.

I looked at the Lord with pleading eyes. Why did you choose this? Why does the King of the Universe who defined the very laws of existence choose this fate? Why take this pain, cruelty and humbling from a wretched race who rejects You time and time again? Why this? There must best be some other way.

Because I love you, I respect you and honour your will even when you reject Mine. The Lord responded with a serene look that was out of place.

This is madness! Only a madman would do this. I shouted at the Lord in my mind.

Or a man madly in love. The Lord replied and first century Jerusalem melted back into the comfort of 21st century Toronto.

The house stood empty, still and silent. The ticking of the wall clock filled the living room. A hot burning tear streamed down my cheek. The comforting aura of technology and human ingenuity gently prodded me back into reality. I continued to stare at the picture. But I felt different. My heart overflowed with warmth, joy and gratitude. I wiped another tear that started growing in my eyes. Now I understood that God wasn’t some remote deity who merely watched His creation from afar. Instead God is so madly in love with His creation, He let His creation kill His only Son. And by His death and resurrection He redeemed and saved His creation, unworthy as we all are of this mad love.

Negotiations – Rejected Sci-Fi Short Story

Author’s note:  This short story was submitted to the 365 Tomorrows site.  But was rejected due to the content not meeting the editor’s requirements.  This was a particularly challenging piece, as I had a severe word limit on the submission.  This is the final product of hours of painstaking editing.  Enjoy.


A Science Fiction short for 365 Tomorrows by Dorian Pula

“You are no position to negotiate”. I speak into my headset’s microphone. I sit alone in the cockpit of my long-range starfighter, the Retribution. Outside the canopy, reflected sunlight from the cold red Martian desert below blots out the distant stars. My small fleet of the Retribution and a few Hunter drones drift in high orbit over the United Sons of Mars occupied colony of Mariner’s Retreat. The starfighter’s control console acts as an interactive map showing tactical data and sending commands to my assault force on the surface.


A video feed from a Griffin heavy assault walker drone on the surface floats on the HUD, hiding the view outside. The delegation of USM minister-experts and Black Guardsmen soldiers on-screen stare at the imposing four meter tall six-legged Griffin. My voice thunders from the drone, rings through the ruined USM bunker, and echoes off the twisted steel, broken concrete and shattered glass. The soldiers form a circle around the Griffin, pointing plasma rifles and rocket launchers at the drone. I smirk at their vain efforts.


Their efforts could not stop a few drones breaking through their defenses. Nor could they stop their subverted factories from manufacturing ever larger swarms of drones. Now their fortified positions fall as endless waves of drones crawl over the burnt shells of their predecessors and overwhelm the enemy with sheer numbers.


In the background a series of screams signal the silencing of yet another bunker. Unseen drones pull overwhelmed soldiers out of their entrenched positions and subdue them. I capture the conscripted soldiers rather than kill them. And my drones ignore the panicked civilians. My quarrel is with the USM experts and their Black Guardsmen.


Three years ago the USM invaded Mariner’s Retreat promising a scientific utopia based on equality and fairness. I tried to leave Mariner’s Retreat with my fiancee Anna and her parents but the invasion cut us off from the starport. We watched as the last transport full of refugees lifted off under heavy fire. Upon capturing the city the USM experts imposed their “utopia” on us. Black Guardsmen hunted down the resistance, murdered them and dumped their bodies in some remote Martian canyon. Everyone else got conscripted into the army or slave labour in the mines. I slipped out one night with an ancient plasma rifle, spacesuit and a small bar of platinum. Anna stayed behind to care for her aging parents, waiting until I returned with rescue. She later died in the mines, broken by the endless labour before I could save her.


I slide three fingers across the console. Three green glowing triangles follow my fingers and stop as I lift my hand before a cluster of red blinking dots. Three Hunters coast over the ruins and stop over the bunker. Their presence cloaked by active camouflage and masked by the chaos of battle.


“I will ask again. Do you unconditionally surrender?”, I ask firmly.


One of the experts pushes forward, his bearded face red in anger and his body shaking in rage. I recognize him as the Minister of Labour who sentenced hundreds to death in the mines. The expert roars, “The United Sons of Mars will never surrender to a mercenary scumbag!”


“This is your last chance. Do you surrender?”




A single tap commands the Hunter drones to launch their missiles at the target. The screen turns to static as the explosion rips apart the bunker and everything inside. The sporadic pop of rifle fire becomes less and less frequent. A few moments later a dead silence falls over Mariner’s Retreat.

No Need to Complain

This post is dedicated to my good friend Rudy.

As I drove back from work on Monday with Rudy, I drove poor Rudy crazy with my complaints about work. Sure there are less than ideal situations that I have to deal with everyday. But I’m sure that everyone else who works, also comes up against the same. True, I was and still am recovering from a nasty cold. And I tend to be crankier in such situations. Still there really was no need to complain. And Rudy sensing a good opportunity to jump, cut me short in his trademark style.

Dorian, remember how we talked about you complaining too much?


You’re complaining too much.

And he was right. I do complain too much. Yes, I do have tight deadlines at work. Yes, Life hasn’t exactly played out according to my plans. Yes, everyday seems to pile on more workand things to do, on top of the existing staggering pile. Yes, I sometimes wonder if I’m not behind my peers on the important things in life. Still I complain too much. And I’m good at it too. But I shouldn’t…

When I look at the things I am complain about, they really are good things in my life too. All that work at work, means that I am needed to build these apps and solutions for both my firm and our clients. At home, all my tasks and projects mean that I have a full, abundant, un-boring life. Could life be a bit more relaxed? Of course it could! But it is nothing to complain about. It could be worse.

I could be living without all my comforts. I could be without the work and getting paid regularly. I could be without some many things, like so many other people in the world are without. And yet I am fortunate to have all that. Even if it brings the occasional headache.

And I’m fortunate to have friends like Rudy, who remind me to be thankful with what I have. Thanks!