The Scent Of Lavender

I have never known why, but the soothing scent of lavender always makes me sigh. I gulp the aroma by the lungful. Its storied calming effects act on me immediately. As the tension leaves my muscles, I sit in front of my computer and begin again.

As I learn my next command, mv, gorgeous sunlight is pouring through my window making geometric pools of warmth on the barely beige carpet. I learn that mv doesn’t really move a file anywhere as I originally suspected. Rather it is simply a way to rename a file.

I practice with eager, fingers-flying-across-the-keyboard delight and concentration. Down the list of commands I fly adding cp, less, more, cat and rm to my repertoire. I stop right before the section entitled “Pipes and Redirection.” This title intimidates me. I come up for air and regard my surroundings with astonishment!

The sun set while I was working! The sun’s geometry left my carpet degree by whisper soft degree. I was enveloped in darkness! The only source of light in my silent living room was the white glare of my computer screen and the muted flick flicker of my lavender scented candle. Everything else was black. My environment had completely changed. I was largely unaware of it because I was so absorbed in my command line training.

Sun rise. Sun set. Sun rise. Sun set.

The only way to get good at something is to put in the hours.

I will end this post with a few more haikus I wrote to summarize some of the new commands I learned today. It is ridiculous how much fun it is to turn computer science into poetry. I think I have found a new (albeit obscure) hobby.


What’s In A Name?

To rename a file

“mv” is the way. Now smile

File one is file two.


Less is More

Type “less” to see more

And “more” to see less. Don’t stress!

It’s there on the screen.



Swift cats lick soft paws.

This “cat” prints out all to screen.

Don’t blink. You’ll miss them



This week I have been inching through a crash course on using the command line interface (CLI.) Inching because with a full time job, I only have a moment to work on my burgeoning computer skills at night. Some days I have so much to grade and prepare for my students I do not get a chance to work on my prerequisite skills at all. According to its author, this crash course was supposed to take 1-2 days. One week later I am half way through.

This causes me to panic a little bit. But then I remember that software camp does not start until March. I still have time.

I have noticed while working through the course that two things make using the CLI difficult. First you have to be aware of where you are. The directories (folders) of a computer are like the branches of a great tree. You must be adept at swinging from branch to branch. But it is all too easy to forget where you are and where you were trying to go. It is almost as if you must swing from branch to branch, keeping a log in your memory of every branch you swung on so that you can get back home in one piece.

The other thing that is difficult about the command line is remembering all the commands. Some are intuitive and obvious. For example mkdir will make a directory. But some of the commands are not obvious. For example popd and touch do not give any hint at their function.

So what’s a girl to do?

Answer: Make mnemonic haikus of course!

I’ve decided to make a series of haikus to help me remember the trickier commands. The process of writing these haiku forces me to engage with the commands and summarize them in 17 syllables. This process really encourages me to think about the essence of the command and what it does so that I can distill it into the rarified form of haiku.

Here are the three that I have written so far. More will follow as I complete the crash course. Enjoy.

Title: Vista

The forest for trees!

You need directories to

Find the path and see.

Title: One Step Forward…

To move through the stack

Push and pop d will do that

One moves, one brings back.


Title: Touch

Type touch to make new

Empty files that bring you,

A place for your thoughts.