i thought lisp would be fun to learn

There was a point during those early months of our startup when we tried something radical. Steve had been single-handedly building and administering reddit until this point and I wanted to help. Sure, we could discuss the site functionality together and I could whip up some mockups in Photoshop, but when it came time to write the software -- I was back to drawing aliens.

One day, Paul suggested I give Lisp a try.

First, some background:

I'd aced a couple Pascal classes back in high school and started enough Quake2/Half-life clans to know HTML and basic Javascript. I knew enough CSS to be dangerous, but was worthless when it came to cross-browser compliance (I'm looking at you, IE). I'd also taken a couple Java classes at community college and a VisualBasic class at UVA. And that was my "programming experience."

Hopefully you've caught your breath now and cleaned off the coffee/soda you've sprayed on your monitor. Don't let it get in your keyboard.

So, it was with this background that I agreed to give Lisp a try. I wanted to help Steve. And how hard it could it be? You should have seen what a Pascal master I was -- a semicolon-wielding god.

And Paul was quite enthusiastic about it. His confidence was inspiring. Only later did I learn that he was doing it because of a John McCarthy-funded recruitment program. Convert twenty people to Lisp and you get a gold watch.

Anyway, I pulled out my trusty notebook (typically reserved for doodles and bad poetry) and started taking notes.

Steve insisted I use Emacs and he set up my Lisp environment for me. I liked the GNU icon.

To his credit, Steve was uncharacteristically patient ;-) with me as he explained all the keyboard shortcuts that would make my life more efficient -- once I memorized them. In the meantime, it was going to be a frustrated series of sweaty and frantic finger pokes. By the end of that first day, I had filled my first page of notes.

If you look carefully, you can see how that day ended for me.

Needless to say, I didn't become the Lisp superstar (or even mediocre Lisper) I'd hoped to be.

In fact, I gave up quite soon thereafter. But it was for the best; Steve wouldn't have been very productive if he'd been answering my inane Lisp/Emacs questions every ten minutes.
program LIFE_OF_ALEXIS (input, output);var    to_do : string;begin    writeln('What what would like to do today?');    readln( to_do );    if to_do = 'learn Lisp' then        writeln('Just quit now.')    else        writeln('Don't you have some aliens to be drawing?');end.