(abducted, redacted and “traducted” from Виктор Драгунский)

Our literature class teacher, Mrs. Whymont, was sick for quite a while and Mrs. Gracie came to substitute her. Normally, Mrs. Gracie taught us science and geography but the circumstance was exceptional and the Headmaster had finally convinced her to replace the sick Mrs. Whymont. Mrs. Gracie entered the class, we all greeted her, and she sat at the teacher’s desk. In the meantime, Sam Brown and I continued our battleships game. Just a moment before Mrs. Gracie’s appearance, the game’s odds turned to my favour: I already annihilated Sam’s two cruisers and sunk his three submarines; it only remained to locate his aircraft carrier, which was an easy task. I though a bit and was about to open my mouth to announce my next (certainly, lethal) move, when Mrs. Gracie, who in the meantime opened the register, called out loudly: ... continue reading


A formidable force

— WHYYY?! — a desperate scream filled the vaulted ceilings of the Throne Room. The screaming man was already seized by the guards who quickly led him away. Psychologist Royal of King Thyon IV made an unhappy grimace. He had been in office for a mere week and that was already the fifth case. And, according to the recounts of the veterans, such cases were all but singular. The Counselor thought it was about time to commence his work. — Your Grace, — opened the Psychologist addressing the King. — Do not you reckon that you might be, perhaps, too cruel to this poor fellow? In fact, he did no wrong. — He brought terrible news, — uttered the King with a gloomy face. — Hence, he deserved to die. ... continue reading

When I was in my twenties, I used to have the peculiar ability of lucid dreaming. It came unexpectedly and then gradually faded away almost entirely when my sleep patterns changed. The trivial statement that lucid dreaming merely amounts to controlling your dream doesn’t minimally render this amazing experience. It doesn’t even remotely resemble playing an Xbox. No, it feels as real as dreams can feel... but at the same time, some arcane part of the brain is aware that it’s just a dream and can steer it.

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Quasi una tragedia

I got my first computer when I was ten. It was an 8088 PC XT-compatible machine with two 5.25” floppy drives (no hard disk) and a black-and-white screen. I had a few DOS games that I inherited with that PC: timeless classics like Digger, Pcman, Sokoban… I discovered Prince of Persia a few years later and wrote a program that would respond to a keyboard interrupt and dump the game memory to a file — it was really annoying that every time the Prince was pierced by the spikes planted by evil Jaffar in every imaginable place, the game restarted da capo. But my favorite game was Thexder. Thexder’s character was a robot that could transform into a spaceship — in the later configuration it was able to fly over bottomless abysses, while in the former it could blast alien enemies with a self-homing laser beam. I spent hours flying through lonely corridors filled with alien stuff to the sounds of poignant music playing in the background, very much in tune with the desolate views, rendered in CGA’s brilliant four colors (well, shades of grey, really). When the robot’s earthly remains fell to the ground (nothing lasts forever), the grim view of motionless debris was accompanied by the Moonlight Sonata, faithfully reproduced by the PC speaker. I let Thexder die a cruel death an uncountable number of times to hear Beethoven’s immortal triplets.

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One small step

— What a cute baby! He seems so much bigger since the last time I saw him. And these cute first teeth! They are so sweet at this age. What a sweet little man!

— Shh, don’t disturb him. He is doing differential geometry. It’s incredible to think that only half a year ago he didn’t know what an exterior derivative was... They develop so fast!

— It would be even faster if he had a sibling. Mine is learning so many things from her sister.

— I am a bit worried about algebraic topology. He avoids it, and sometimes I even have the impression that he has difficulty... Perhaps, I should take him to a doctor.

— Nonsense! Every child develops at his own pace. He will make it up quickly. Besides, have you ever seen a grown-up that doesn’t know algebraic topology? Everyone learns it eventually. Trust me, there is nothing to worry about.

... continue reading