Tanner Helland Writes: #2
This is one of a series of personal letters written to / from
Tanner Helland during 2003–2005. These letters cover—in immense
detail—events in my life during that period, including many unfinished and aspiring designs and creations. As a
person however, I have changed from the inexperienced, often immature person I was and my skills in programming and
web-design have changed just as radically.
These letters have been republished to give deep insight into the way I tick, and to show a lot of background work
that lead up to the concepts and skills needed to produce this website, which ultimately I failed to do so back
It’s amazing that I've actually got sometime to write, so I guess I should use it wisely :)† I
just got your letter today (May 15th); apparently there was a huge
delay because it got forwarded from the states to here and it took it an extra two weeks to come! Argh! Damn
Canadian Postal Service :) Anyway, I'm at the library right now, waiting for my companion to finish
preparations for tomorrow’s “Zone Development Meeting” (when a whole zone of 14 missionaries gets together).
Luckily, he is a slow typist so maybe I'll actually get some of this written! I quite enjoyed your letter. Hopefully
I'll manage to reply to the majority of it, but since writing by hand is painfully inefficient it may not be 5 pages
I hope the team has gotten back to work by now. You’ll have to let me know if any of the team members actually
produce something too :P Haha. Remember—I'm expecting you guys to be almost done by the time I get
back! Don’t let me down :)
I enjoyed the picture too, despite it being B&W. It even looks like Clint,
heh heh. Too bad he didn’t end up needing our “going away” gifts since it seems he never really left
Actually, I've done a bit of ASM programming as part of my engineering studies. It
brought back many painful memories to see things like “LEA” and “STR” :) I've
even—gasp—been forced to write an entire program in real machine code i.e.
1001011001011… It was about 20 lines long but oh how it sucked. Heh heh don’t miss that any!
An ASM-style scripting language is actually a good idea. A really good idea. Many modern
compilers use the:
High level > ASM > Machine Code
…style of compiling, which tends to be slower but much easier to program. Many would-be RPG scripting programmers
make the mistake of trying to write:
High level > Machine Code
…compilers which makes for some hard parsing, etc. So if you did want to make the
BD scripting language more high-level, you’d already be 50% done rather than 0%
done. So good thinking :)
For an excellent reference on designing and implementing a simple ASM language, look up
"LC2″ or "Little Computer 2″ on the net. LC2 is a standard design for teaching about
ASM programming and basic engineering. You may find it useful. The accompanying book (I
believe Sanjay Patel is the author) is also really good. Part of the genius of LC2 is that almost any program could
be written using it… and it only has 14 different token byte values. Cool, eh?
Anyway, enough of my incessant rambling. :)
Canada is pretty nice so far. My companion is a zone leader out here—his name is Elder Mortenson and he’s from
Some facts about the mission itself: we cover the southern half of Alberta and a chunk of British Columbia. There
are ~180 missionaries in this mission, a total of 60,000+ worldwide. A typical
day consists of waking up at 6:00, studying and getting ready until 10:00 am, teaching, proselyting, doing service
etc until 9:30 pm and bedtime at 10:30. The only days that are really different are
Sundays (because of church services) and Mondays, which is our day off. So really Monday is the only time we have
for writing letters, etc, besides freak opportunities like right now.
Sounds exciting, eh? :)
I really enjoy it, though. There’s something spiritually fulfilling about spending all day every day talking to
people about what the purpose of life may be. I've had many amazing experiences in the last month, and it’s been
really cool to help a lot of people clean up their lives and become happier. Really that’s what the purpose of
religion should be—to help make lives better—and I'm grateful to be a part of that. I had a lot of worries that
my time out here wouldn’t be fulfilling or worthwhile, but it’s turned out to be a great experience. All the
time we spending studying—4 hours a day, every day—gives me a chance to really consider life and death and
existence and God and all that stuff that usually gets ignored. So I'm really excited about being out here for
another 23 months!
Although, I do miss parts of the life I've temporarily left behind. We aren’t supposed to listen to music except
on our day off, and then it can only be classical radio. Yawn. BTW check out the
band “Evanescence” or “Evanescense” on the internet. Their hit song (“Bring Me to Life”) is
phenomenal. I bought the entire CD after hearing only that song, and all 11/12 tracks are incredible.
Download it or buy it—you’ll love it. It’s some powerful music.
But since I won’t be listening to it for 23 more months, I find other ways to entertain myself. Right now I'm
working on diagramming out a trilogy of books¹ based on my original complete idea for the
TGP SLC². I figure that by the time
my 2 years are up, I should have a good collection of story outlines compiled and then all I do is flesh them out,
publish them and get rich :) I've always wanted to write a novel or complete game script, and maybe if
I actually plan one out from start to finish I'll get it completed. Maybe, ha ha.
Last but not least, I can receive e-mail but I can only send e-mail to immediate
family. So if you even wish to reply to a letter via e-mail, feel free! I'd love to hear from you any way possible,
although I can only write back via smail. Oh well—at least it’ll save you some of
the hassle. This rule may change to either no e-mail or complete e-mail after July, so stay tuned for that!
Well keep letting me know how your life is going. It was a pleasure to hear from you :)
Until next time,
Elder Tanner Helland