The Second Draft

By Ashton Wiersdorf

Write one to throw away.

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9 May 2020

Starting Fresh

I’ve been building a compiler for a small lambda calculus that compiles to x86. It’s pretty broken, and I decided to start from scratch. I checked out a new branch in Git, and then deleted the entirety of my compiler before I had a chance to do anything else.

It hurt. But it was a good kind of hurt.

I don’t usually just blow everything away like that. Even this time, I’m keeping many of my auxiliary functions. I’m not rewriting the parser or some of my x86-helper routines. Those can stay.

I just wanted a blank slate. It’s nice having Git because I know I can always go back, but I’m not sure I will. I might glance back at my old branch occasionally, but by and large I’m starting fresh.


Fresh starts are important. I think one silver lining found among the clouds of this COVID-19 madness is that this is a chance to start fresh for so many people. Yes, it’s hard, and yes, there is lots of sadness, uncertainty, and grief. Take advantage of your life being paused and let this be a fresh start for something.

My wife is working on a writing habit. I’m working on developing research-oriented habits. I’m trying to read a paper every day—it’s not going super well, but I am improving!

It’s dark enough outside. Look for the silver lining and start fresh.

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