Unhappy Holly Days

So this is writer’s block: I can’t
Stop thinking of that pointy plant
That’s lurking by the basement door.
(I may have mentioned it before.)
It’s like a tic, or Yule Tourette’s.
I’ve tried to quit. I get the sweats
And wake up screaming, pillow drenched
In perspiration, fingers clenched
And twitching, typing H-O-L…
Hell! Why, oh, why can’t I not spell
The name of that benighted hedge?
It gives my Christmas verse an edge
That separates it from the pack
Of season’s greetings on the rack,
But at what cost? It can’t be worth
The nightly pain of giving birth
To yet another mention of
That bladed bush no man could love
Without a suit of armor or
A handy analgesic store.
My holiday would be more jolly
If I could forget, by golly,
Perhaps I will, come New Year’s Day.

Anytime I Want To…

Anytime I want to, I can quit.
It’s optional; today, I’m opting in.
Whenever I decide that this is it
It’s over: Take the coda, fade to Fin.
Anytime I want to, I can stop.
Nothing would be easier for me.
Two falls, three falls, I’ll come out on top.
I only have to make the call. You’ll see.
Anytime I want to, I can turn
Back into what and who I was before
And then you’ll see how easily I spurn
These so-called “demons”; they’ll be shown the door.
Anytime I want to. Any time.
I want to. Anytime.
But not this time.

Prompted by November PAD Chapbook Challenge 2011 – Day 6

In the Underbridge (Part IV)

(Continued from Part III)

“So, what should I wish for?” asked Fletcher. “A pony?”
“Where would it live?”
“In my room!”
“That’s baloney!”
Elena reminded him, “Mommy would make you
Take care of it. How many days would it take you
To realize ponies in houses don’t fit?
You’d both end up buried in hay and horse–”
Fletcher cut off his sister mid-sentence. “Point made!
No ponies. Ooo! How ‘bout a samurai blade?
Or a flamethrower!”
“Fletcher! I think you should wait
Before making your wishes. The risk is too great
That you’ll make the wrong choice and regret it forever!
A wish chosen hastily never works. Never!
“How do you know?” Fletcher asked. “Have you tried it?”
“All stories with wishes have strongly implied it.”
“Implied it, shlim-schlide it,” scoffed Fletcher. “I wish
You would let me decide for myself!” With a swish
Of its tiny green tail, Fletcher’s turtle said, “Granted!”
“Wait, what?”
“Your first wish,” said the tiny enchanted
Reptile. “You’ve made it yourself, as requested.”
“You see?” crowed Elena. “I knew you’d be bested!
But you wouldn’t listen to me, so you’ve wasted
Your first stupid wish from that turtle you tasted!”

(Continued in Part V)

The (Sarah Palin)* Geekset Recursion Hypothesis

*I am informed by those who should know that there are two sure-fire ways to draw attention to a blog: (1) Develop a reputation for concise, topical and well-reasoned analysis; or (2) Mention Sarah Palin in the title of the post.
Option 1 sounds like a lot of work, so I’m going with Option 2.

The (Sarah Palin) Geekset Recursion Hypothesis, hereinafter referred to as the (SP)GRH except when I forget or if I need to boost the word count, may be stated as follows:

In any set of geeks there is contained a subset whom the rest consider geeks.

In this context, “geek” is a term of art, roughly equivalent to wonk, enthusiast, die-hard or any of a wide range of -heads: Deadheads (followers of the Grateful Dead), Parrotheads (devoted fans of Jimmy Buffett), Ditto-heads (disciples of Rush Limbaugh), and so on. Whether the appellation is pejorative is a function of the Relative Degree of Exclusivity, as we shall see.

For example, there is a vast collection of people in the world. For the purposes of this illustration, let’s restrict the definition of “people” to humans (sorry, cetaceans, nonhuman hominids and the three most self-aware of my neighbor’s eleven cats), and call that the Master Set. No, on second thought, that smacks of eugenics — by which I mean the discredited theory espousing the inherent superiority of the genetically “pure,” as opposed to Eugenics, who are fanatic, non-alumni supporters of the University of Oregon athletic teams. Let’s just call it Set Zero.

Within Set Zero, there is a subset (Set One) of people who own computers; within Set One is a group of people (Set Two) who go on the internet at least occasionally; Set Three is comprised of people who use email.

At this point, three subsets from Set Zero, we have crossed the Geek Threshhold into the outskirts of Geekdom, which brings us to:

(SP)GRH Corollary 1: Geekiness is relative.

In fact, geekdom is measured in Relative Degrees of Exclusivity (DegEx). Note: While the actual Geek Threshhold is a fungible border, usually located at a remove of between plus-two and plus-three Relative Degrees of Exclusivity from the beholder, it will never be farther than DegEx+3.

To someone who doesn’t own a computer (Set Zero), a person who regularly communicates via email (Set Three, at a distance of DegEx+3) might reasonably be considered a “computer geek.” Note that a member of Set Two, at-least-occasional-Internet-users, may not necessarily consider an email user (Set Three, DegEx+1) a geek, but they might apply the term to members of Set Four (DegEx+2), people with Facebook accounts, and definitely to Set Five (DegEx+3), habitual Facebook posters, to say nothing of Set Six (DegEx+4), avid players of Farmville.

Another example, somewhat closer to home: Define Set Zero as readers of this blog post. Set One could consist of readers who remember learning about sets from the inside covers of elementary school math books, and Set Two contains those whose eyes didn’t immediately glaze over upon reading the word “recursion.”

Set Three, then, might be everyone who is annoyed by my slipshod use of set theory terminology. Alternatively, Set Three could consist of all those members of Set Two who believe the only redeeming feature of this post is its use of the words slipshod, fungible and (if I can work it in) fortnight. Either way, no one closer than DegEx-2 (i.e., members of Sets Zero or One, but not Two) is likely to dispute the statement that everyone in Set Three — either one — is a geek. Whether that’s good or bad — where it falls on the Epithet/Encomium Continuum — is determined according to the following table:

A geek with…

DegEx Value
..is treated with…
“He does what, now?”
Benevolent Condescension
“I’m sure her friends call her a geek, but….”
“Definite geek potential there.”
Fellowship and Good Cheer
“Yeah, he’s a geek.”
Respectful Admiration
“A geek’s geek.”
“Now, that’s a geek!”
“Jeez, what a geek.”

The (SP)GRH can be a useful tool for determining your own and assigning others’ place on the social pecking order, but please note that it is, at present, purely hypothetical. Research, involving computer simulations as well as field work among known geek populations (e.g., Reality TV viewers and Triathlon Clubs), is ongoing, but definitive results will take time.

At least a fortnight.