There are several rather obscure, underused, or nerdy words which have entered my vocabulary. These include (but are not limited to) grep, huzzah, w00t, and frob. Recently, I have realized the need for a new addition: “duck.”

A bit of context. My academic advisor, Dr. Baas, is a fount of deep CS wisdom. He frequently emits it in various slightly odd (but extremely quotable) bursts in the classes he teaches. These quotes are often passed from student to student in a sort of computer science oral tradition about things which actually matter. It was in this manner which I received this particular bit of vocabulary. On one occasion in lecture, Dr. Baas apparently told a class that everyone should obtain a rubber duck and place it in a location near where they program. The idea is that when one runs into a difficult issue in one’s code, one reaches for the duck and explains the situation to it.

This is a sound idea which works, and one which I’ve often forgotten about in the past. The duck rapidly became a beloved concept by several CS students here. This may have been aided slightly by an unrelated student organization mass mailing small rubber ducks to a large part of campus in order to promote an event.

So the duck sits on my monitor. However, instead of explaining things to the duck, I have a tendency to look at it and immediately contact the first person I see. This person then proceeds to ignore me and does something else while I explain the problem in detail. That person is my duck.

It is a badge of honor, a title earned by putting up with my crazed jargon-filled ramblings. Wear it with pride.

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