John C. G. Sturdy's home page

Who I am

[John's Face]

I'm John, and this is the top of my web tree, in which the main contents are:

In full (avoiding false modesty about qualifications), I am Dr. John C. G. Sturdy, M.A (Cantab), PhD (Aquae Sulis), and I was born in 1963. (I include my initials to avoid confusion with my late father, the Revd John Vivian Mortland Sturdy, M.A. Oxon, (also M.A. Cantab, M.A. Cantab.))

Decoded a little, this means I did my doctorate at Bath University, having done my first degree at Cambridge.

What I am

I am a Christian, of the Anglican variety. (However, there is a coercive social system which also goes by the name Christianity, and I don't wish to be associated with that.)

My personality type, when tested, first crashed the testing software (I suppose this must make me an SEGV!), then was revealed as a strong INTJ (Introverted(100%) iNtuitive(85%) Thinking(85%) Judging(80%)), the classic ``Scientist'' type (also described as The Portrait of the Mastermind (iNTj) :-) This is a personality type I'm happy to be!

In terms of study and work, I'm a computer scientist who works largely in, on and around program development and programming language interpreters. I'm naturally inquisitive, particularly liking to look in depth at the principles underlying things (particularly representation and significance).

How and why I am

When I can remember what means a lot to me, I'll write it down here -- I've just made a few notes for now. However, my essays let out a few clues about this.

Integrity and loyalty are the personality values that I think of as most important, and consider them to be described well as in ``one who, having made a promise, will not go back on it even if it turns out to be to their own disadvantage'' [Psalm 15:4]. Of course, those who work this way are taking on a burden of responsibility.

Where I am

For me life is preferably an outdoor activity, and I lived outdoors for a small part of my student life. I now make my home in a reasonably remote house outside Limerick in Ireland.

I've written a few pages about some of my favourite places (and also some of my less-than-favourite ones).)

What I do


I currently work as a programmer in the BDS group of the Computer Science and Information Systems Department at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Before that, I was a postdoctoral research fellow, and before that, a programmer in industry for over a decade.

Pray and worship

As a Christian, my life includes corporate and individual worship and prayer.

I'm not settled in any one church; last time I had transport that would get me there readily, I worshipped at St Michael's, in Limerick City Parish, and also sometimes at the Cathedral itself. I also sometimes go to services and studies at Glenstal Abbey, which I live near.


I'm continually aiming to learn more, particularly in computer science, philosophy, theology, spirituality, mathematics, natural languages and linguistics; and also to pick up new practical and physical skills.

My biggest single piece of study so far has been my PhD, on the causal links between self-as-agent and self-as-object in a hierarchical structural field, using procedural and functional interpreted programming languages.



I was for a long time an enthusiastic learner of change-ringing.


I like to communicate, in natural languages as well as computer ones. Also, I can write and read Standard English Braille.


And therefore, according to one theory, am. However, this does seem to be somewhat flawed, in that I appear to continue to be even when I'm not thinking. And, anyway, after further thought, it seems more important that We think, therefore we are.

I like to think, sometimes writing thoughts systematically in essays as a base for further thought. But I wouldn't like to have knowledge and thought without wisdom and compassion.


I like to help people to do things... at least, for things that I'm interested in. So if you're interested in getting into any of the things I'm interested in, contact me and I'll try to give a helpful reply!

The pages I get most mail about are about a A Christian approach to Cognitive Therapy and converting a bike to a trike. Although I generally take a ``wholistic'' view of things, I don't believe that everything's causally interconnected, and don't particularly see these pages as closely linked (despite my having a beard and often wearing sandals).

Everyday things like shopping

I don't like to have to do this, but it works out as being useful. I've made a list of shops I use (originally written to help a new neighbour, now on-line to be useful to new neighbours in the generic sense).

Other interests


My main creative activity is calligraphy, with a free-flowing ornate uncial-based hand as my best. I also write some poetry and some journalling of thoughts.

I also enjoy being creative using computers, both in programming (my favourite programming language is Lisp) and in writing web pages.

Since I like writing HTML, and take a toolsmithing approach to things, and like writing elisp, it's scarcely surprising that I've written quite a collection of web handling tools, mostly in elisp.

In some of my own time, I've started the Cambridge streetmap pages -- an online city street-by-street. There's not much of it yet -- Contact me if you'd like to contribute. I'm doing the technology, and also authoring a few streets to get it started.

As a former professional PostScript® programmer with an interest in simple graphic arts, I like creating fancy PostScript® effects and pages of starkly simple artwork, and have started designing a font family based around my favourite styles of handwriting.


I will modify just about anything that's modifiable (emacs, attitudes, Land-Rover, house, lifestyle, bike...).

Marmalade the Land Rover View from a Wayfarer under way

I started to get interested in travelling abroad just as I became too old for an interrail pass! But I'm still interested in exotic, far-away places, and would particularly like to travel all the way along the Trans-Siberian Railway, and to visit Outer Mongolia, a place of great open spaces. I've done a long cycling holiday, done some basic gliding, have started to learn to sail, and sometime I want to learn to ride horses. For my everyday transport, I mostly use my Land-Rover, Marmalade, or sometimes cycle; public transport rarely goes anywhere I like to go (partly because I don't like going to places that lots of people go to).


[My tent] The tunnel I like being, and living, outdoors, including camping in various forms... sometimes in a tent, sometimes just in a sheltered place, sometimes under an awning on my trike-and-trailer combination. This appeals not only to my preference for being outdoors, but also to my liking for simplicity... I leave the clutter behind at home for a while (although a lot of it is stuff that it's handy to have somewhere!).


I take various forms of exercise... anything except running...

[My trike] [My bike]

I enjoy cycling, but have spoilt myself by getting a car. (After I did this, I developed RSI and now can't ride much on conventional bikes, as the handlebars aren't good for my hands.) I used to ride a fixed-wheel bike and a touring trike (which I built myself -- I like such tinkering!), sometimes with a trailer. It seems that many trike riders also ride fixed-wheel bikes, and that these are often older riders... I think that, as with me, these cycles are the preserve of people who'd like a change from the usual kind.

[My recumbent] [Recumbent with fairing]

Now, because of my RSI, and because of having wanted one ever since I saw a picture of a recumbent in a book (Richard's Bicycle Book) 20 years ago, I have bought myself a recumbent, and am happily resuming cycling. It's an Optima Rider, and is extremely comfortable.

For the winter, I've built a fairing for it, and although it's heavy, it's wonderful to be able to stay dry while cycling.


I sometimes go to the gym at the University Arena, to work out on the exercise bikes and weight machines there.

I also have a set of weights, and a bullworker, at home. This is helpful for fending off further RSI.


I once did a 5km sponsored swim, but looking back I can hardly see how I managed it.


My reading is largely in the areas of meditation, study and personal growth.

I'm also trying to keep up with advances in Computer Science.


I sing bass (gothic, modern, and Orthodox liturgical), and play various instruments, mostly medieval, mainly the harp; I made some of these myself, such as the lyre shown here, which I made from scratch. I had to learn to sing, in my twenties... if you think you can't sing, but would like to, take heart, it is possible to learn (with a few exceptions).

Often regarded as separate from music in general, change-ringing is another of my activities.


I occasionally do intermediate-level Ballroom and Latin dancing. My favourite dance is the quickstep, then next the waltz.

I used to do medieval and Tudor dancing; I'll happily join in ceilidhs and barn dances.


I like cooking, especially things with chilli in and other peppers and spices them, such as gulyash, etc... however, I'm now on a low-cholesterol diet so I'm having to modify my cooking and eating practices.

Truck driving

[an articulated truck] I did a course on driving trucks a while ago. As well as being interesting, informative and enjoyable, it also improved my road use in general quite a lot; the differences that stand out are better advance observation in general, and much more use of the mirrors in particular. Unfortunately I failed the test, but more recently I took it again, and worked as an agency trucker for a while between computing jobs.

Other things


I tend to dress somewhere between casually and scruffily... my clothing of choice is shorts and tee-shirt in summer, tracksuits in winter (although friends have talked me out of my scruffiest old tracksuits); or combat trousers, because the pockets are handy; I tend to go for whatever is practical, and if I usually look like I'm ready to mend a bicycle, it's because I usually am ready to mend a bicycle. Dressing tidily from time to time is fun (partly because of the surprise I cause at the contrast!) and I get up in the usual DJ (tuxedo to USAicans) with academic gown when appropriate. I cause more surprise when I put my warrior kit on, however (sorry, no photo on-line)!

Computer use

[My desk]

I am known for disliking mice (the computer kind, anyway; I like small furry animals)... I am a traditional Unix and Emacs person... and for disliking WYSIWYG systems. I prefer keyboards over pointing devices, and like to see an explicit and complete representation of what a program is manipulating... to see the logical structure of a document or other file; unsurprisingly, I like HTML to represent my documents!

I have written more about my computer use on a separate page.

Some time I'll write an essay about the importance of working with the real structure of a represented object, and more generally about the importance of understanding what underlies the surface of anything. Not surprisingly, my favourite programming language is Lisp.


I come from a large family; we've started to build a Sturdy family page, but not all of the family have their own pages yet.

My father, John Vivian Mortland Sturdy, died on July 6th, 1996, and I have written a short obituary which I will extend into a fuller celebration of his life.

My mother, Jill Sturdy, died on August, 1998; we also have her obituary available on-line.

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Last modified: Mon Jun 16 10:10:22 IST 2008

John C. G. Sturdy <Contact me>