Posts Tagged poetry

Every iOS developer take-home coding challenge

I can load and parse your JSON.
I can download icons async.
I can show it in a TableView
just to show you that I’m able to.
I’ll go old school if you like it;
I can code it in UIKit.
I can code Objective-C,
if that’s what you expect of me.
You can catch { me } if you try;
I can code it SwiftUI.
I can code it with Combine:
receive(on: .main) and then assign.
I can read it with a Codable,
Local resource or downloadable.
I can code a search bar filter
or reload; I have the skill to!

I can code it every way
to go from model into view
But I have loads to do today
Can we just code things in an interview?

I’ve been looking for a new job lately, and I’ve found that about 80% of the take-home coding challenges I’ve been given amount to ‘Write an iOS app that reads the JSON from this URL or file, and displays it in a list, including the icons from the URLs in the JSON. There should be [some additional controls on the list and/or a detail screen shown when a list item is selected]. You may use [specific language and/or UI framework] but not [some other technology, and/or any external libraries].’

It’s time-consuming, and gets a bit boring after a while, especially when the requirements are just different enough that you can’t reuse much code from the previous challenges, but not different enough that you can learn something new. One company even had me do the whole thing twice, because they’d neglected to mention which UI technology they preferred the first time. Luckily, by then I had existing code for almost every combination, so I didn’t have to waste too much time on it.

This poem is meant to have a ‘Green Eggs and Ham‘ vibe, though I couldn’t come up with a good ‘Sam-I-Am’ part. The best I can do is:

I do not like this soul destroyer;
I do not like it, Sawyer-the-Employer!


I do not like this coding prob’,
I do not like it, Bob-the-Job!

I did have a few take-home coding tests that were more interesting. One company had me implement a data structure I was not familiar with, so I got to learn about that. Another asked me to make specific changes (and any others that seemed necessary) in an existing codebase — a task much closer to what I’d likely be doing in an actual job.

Having also been on the hiring end of a JSON-to-TableView experience (it was not my choice of challenge, but I had no objection to it as I didn’t know how common it was at the time), I know how difficult it is to come up with ideas for such challenges, and I’m not sure what the solution is. I most enjoyed talking through problems in an interview, in pseudocode so there’s no pressure to remember the exact syntax without an IDE or documentation to help. This takes a clearly-defined amount of time, gives the interviewer a better idea of how I think, and gives me an idea of what it would be like to work with them. There’s also more immediate feedback, so I don’t waste time working on a detail they don’t care about, or just trying to convince myself that it’s good enough to submit. I realise that some people might find this more stressful than the take-home test, so ideally the companies would give the choice.

I am now at the point of my job search where I don’t think I’ll need to write any more JSON-to-TableView apps🤞🏻which is just as well, as I wouldn’t be inspired to do a great job of one.

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My Poetry Show on JoCo Cruise 2021

I’ve been going on the JoCo Cruise since the ‘shadow cruise‘ was just an iPhone handbell choir. As it developed into something people could book spaces and times for, and have on a schedule that packed 26 days of events into a week, I participated in a few friendsshadow events, but hesitated to run my own in case it conflicted with something else I really wanted to do, or had me nervous or practising instead of enjoying other events.

This year, the cruise went virtual, and my excuses went out the window. I registered to do a poetry show, promising that I would ‘recite some poems that rhyme, some that don’t, and maybe even sing a few things. Topics may include science, love, poop, and life.’ I came to realise I could not only read my poems from my screen to avoid any nervousness about remembering them, but I could also share my screen. There are projectors on the cruise, but they are in short supply, so I wouldn’t request one for just one or two poems in a shadow event. On the virtual cruise, I could share whatever I wanted, including things from the internet, which wouldn’t be reliably available on a ship. And I could use props that I wouldn’t bother to bring on a cruise. So I did! I made slides for poems that worked best with visual aids, I showed off my rhyming dictionary, and I closed with a cover song that requires a video. And of course, I recorded everything. Here’s my show!

I also performed a few poems at the open mic — hastily-adapted versions of a poem I wrote for the Vienna open mic Open Phil, and the one I opened my show with about the differences between the real cruise and the virtual one. Joey Marianer and Phil Conrad (who also hosts Open Phil) hosted the open mic, so the open mic videos are on Joey’s channel.

It sure was weird watching Joey upload videos, when usually I’m spending most of my free time from March to May processing videos from the cruise. On the subject of cruise videos, the videos of the official events will allegedly only be up until May 1, so watch them while you can!

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Wake Up Gasping — an album!

Last year my friend Phil from SkyStudio Wien called me up out of the blue to ask if I wanted to record some poetry, so I did! I went in for another session later in the year, and that time I was more prepared — I gathered up everything I could find that I thought was good and made some kind of sense without too much explanation. We ended up with 39 poems recorded, so in order to bring the total up to 42, I added Why I Perform At Open Mics (previously released on Bandcamp as a single) and a few songs recorded in studios with Joey Marianer. It comes in at just under an hour — some of the tracks are very short #NanoRhymo poems. It’s called Wake Up Gasping.

A lot of these poems have been previously published on this blog in some form, but some haven’t. I included some poems I wrote before I started this blog (the oldest, Shooting Star, being from around 1996) and some I’d written more recently but which I’d only performed with sound effects (Negative Return, sometimes followed by Down while the noise was still trailing off) or just always thought would work better spoken than read (A Couple of Problems.)

The title comes from a line in A Skirmish [With My Least-Favourite Body Part] which I always thought would be a great name for a hard-hitting collection of powerful, emotional poetry. I do not think that’s what this is, but at least with 42 tracks, it looks like I was holding my breath for a while and finally let everything out.

The cover art is by Joseph Camann of The Camannwordsmith Patreon. I started out without much idea of what I wanted on the cover, which was great because his art is mostly abstract, but after looking through some of his existing art for ideas I thought of having the lost astronaut from Down floating through a colourful space-y background. Joseph has a lot going on: music, stories, paintings, poems (sometimes read to puppies), reaction videos, even wearable art, in case you’d like something like this album cover but on a dress.

Some of my tracks have unusual characters in the titles, and I’m happy to report that Bandcamp did not have problems with any of them.

In other news, about 48 hours from now, I’m doing a 50-minute poetry show over Zoom as part of the ‘Shadow Cruise’ of the virtual JoCo Cruise 2021. It will include some poems from the album, but also (thanks to screensharing) some which require or are enhanced by visual aids or additional explanations. I will also be singing a few songs, and reading one poem especially written for the event. Feel free to join — there’s no signup, ticket, or even pants required! As with most JoCo Cruise events I’ve been to over the years, I will post a recording of it on my YouTube channel later if you can’t make it.

Check out the rest of the cruise schedule, and the cruise Discord, too… this year’s cruise is obviously quite different from the usual one in many ways, but still hopefully similar in enough ways that you’ll get a feel for how much it influences my life. One important way it’s different is that it’s completely free and you don’t even have to get out of bed for it, let alone go to an airport and cruise port.

You should also see me participating for the eleventh year in a row in the Fancy Pants Parade. For a while, I was the only person to have submitted a video, but I encouraged some friends to (including some clients of Chromatic Verse Wearable Art, by the same person who designed my album cover) so that I wouldn’t just win by default. Now I can win by crushing the hopes and dreams of my friends! Later, I will post a short making-of video about the pants I appear in.

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Things I forgot to blog about, part n+1: NanoRhymo #2

In November 2018 I created NanoRhymo (inspired by NaNoWriMo), in which I wrote and tweeted a very short rhyming poem every day. I did the same thing in April 2019 for Global Poetry Writing Month. I started pretty late with NanoRhymo in 2019, and didn’t end up with a poem for each day of November, but I’ve started it again on January 1 and made up for the missing poems. In November, I mostly stuck to writing something based on a random rhyme from the rhyming dictionary I made, — either a new one I’d found each day, or one generated earlier for the @RhymeScience twitter feed. In January, I’ve often been inspired by other things.

I’ll continue writing a NanoRhymo a day for as long as I can. Here’s what I’ve written so far:

Day 1,  inspired by the rhymes later, translator, and (in non-rhotic accents) convey to:

When you’ve got a thought to convey to
many mortals, sooner or later,
then you ought to get a translator.

Day 2, inspired by the rhyme chunked and bunked, and the folk etymology of ‘chunder’:

Sailors lying in their bunks
would shout “Ahoy there, mate… watch under!”
and then let loose digested chunks
on hapless seamen sleeping under.

That’s why even now, down under,
[I am lying; truth debunks!]
some refer to puke as chunder.
[This is half-digested junk
Please accept my weak apology
and not this doubtful etymology.]

Day 3, inspired by a friend’s experience learning flying trapeze:

My friend Robert Burke tried the flying trapeze.
It meant lots of work mulling hypotheses,
and then much amusement and catching catchees,
to end up all bruised on the backs of the knees.

Day 4, inspired by the rhyme spermicides and germicide’s:

Looking at small things up close and myopically,
one might prevent overgrowth with a germicide.
But looking at large things afar, macroscopically,
one must prevent unchecked growth with a spermicide.

Day 5, inspired by the rhyme explainable and containable:

As soon as the bug is explainable,
we can hope that it might be containable,
and our neural nets will be retrainable,
and our code is so very maintainable
that this progress is surely sustainable!

Day 6, inspired by the rhyme freaking and unspeaking:

Mouth agape, stunned, unspeaking
Eyes wide open, silent freaking,
What could this strange vision be?
a music video, on MTV?!

Day 7, inspired by the rhyme trekked and collect:

Over much terrain they trekked;
specimens they did collect,
to show just how diverse life was
before we killed it off, just ‘cause.

Day 8, inspired by the rhyme interleaved and peeved:

If rhyming couplets leave you peeved,
here, I tried ABAB.
Now the rhymes are interleaved!
This rhyme and rhythm’s reason-free.

Day 9, a rewrite of Day 8 that can be sung to a possibly recognisable tune:

If rhyming couplets leave you peeved,
Then try to make them interleaved
Or don’t, and then just let the hate flow through ya
Just AAB, then CCB
This rhyme and rhythm’s reason-free.
At least it can be sung to Hallelujah.

The most Hallelujest Joey Marianer sang that version:

Day 10, inspired by the rhyme platitudes and latitude’s, and my general dislike of casual hemispherism:

I’m just fine with the end-of-year platitudes —
“Happy Holidays”, nice and generic,
but please, be inclusive of latitudes:
“Happy Winter” is too hemispheric!

Day 11, another Hallelujah, inspired by Joey’s singing of the previous Hallelujah:

A kitchen scale, a petrol gauge,
a cylinder, a final page
will tell you up to what things have amounted.
An abacus, a quipu string,
some tally sticks, to always sing,
are all things on which Joey can be counted.

Day 12, inspired by the rhyme deprecations and lamentations, some deprecated code I was removing from the software I develop at work, and also complaints about macOS Catalina dropping support for 32-bit applications. I imagine it sung to the tune of Camp Bachelor Alma Mater:

Hear the coders’ lamentations
over apps that will not run,
due to years-old deprecations,
updates that they’ve never done.

Day 13, inspired by the rhyme whoop’s and sloop’s, and the tradition on JoCo Cruise of ending the final concert with the song Sloop John B:

Have some more whoops on me,
hearing the Sloop John B
as JoCo Cruise comes to an end.
You still have all night.
Hang loose, or sleep tight.
Well, we feel so broke up
but you’ll stay my friend.

Day 14, to the tune of Morning Has Broken:

Something is broken;
look at that warning!
Unbalanced token.
Unknown keyword.
Raise the exceptions.
Erase all the warnings.
Raze preconceptions wrongly inferred.

Day 15, inspired by Hilbert’s paradox of the Grand Hotel:

The rooms are all full for as far out as they can see;
such a big guest house to fill, but oh well.
What’s this? Nonetheless, there’s a sign saying vacancy!
There’s always more room at the Hilbert hotel.

Day 16, inspired by the rhyme feeling’s and ceilings, and the song Happy, by Pharrell Williams:

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof. 👏
Please applaud if you think you’re a chamber with no ceiling. 👏
Clap along If you feel like happiness is the truth. 👏
Please applaud if you think there’s veracity in good feelings. 👏

For day 17, I let Pico, emacs, ed, vi count as the NanoRhymo, even though it does not mention the text editor nano.

November ended with no more rhymes, but I started it up again on January 1, simply because I was inspired to, and I continued to get ideas every day since. I’m not promising to keep this up daily all year (indeed, I promise not to keep it up during MarsCon and JoCo Cruise 2020) but I’ll post NanoRhymi whenever I feel inspired to.

Day 18 (on January 1, 2020) was inspired by the rhyme unworthy and incur the:

Don’t worry that you might incur the
sentence, “That person’s unworthy.”
Just try what you wish, and try plenty,
and have a great year twenty-twenty.

Day 19, inspired by the rhyme verb and kerb, but using the North American ‘curb’ spelling because it’s closer to the verb derived from the noun:

If you’d punch down, or kick to the curb
for verbing a noun, or nouning a verb,
researching the past will amount your disturb.

So many of the words we used today, including some in that poem, were once strictly parts of speech other than the ones they’re used as without a second thought today, and people objected to their shifts in usage just as they object to all manner of language change today.

Day 20, inspired by the rhymes occur to, Berta, and (in non-rhotic accents) subverter:

If it were to occur to Berta the subverter to hurt Alberta,
she’d prefer to assert a slur to refer to her to stir internal murder.
(Stones break bones but names make shame — heals more slowly, hurts the same.)

Day 21, inspired by the rhyme unconcealed and unpeeled:

While you’re growing in the field,
all your goodness is concealed,
till some lovely creature picks you,
doesn’t think they have to fix you,
lets you chill, let down your shield;
then, when you are fully peeled,
your sweetest inner self revealed,
that cunning rascal bites and licks you.

Day 22, inspired by the rhymes for fish, dwarfish, and (maybe in some non-rhotic accents with the cot-caught merger) standoffish, the ‘teach a man to fish‘ metaphor, and of course, my own poem, They Might Not Be Giants:

If a person’s always asking for fish,
don’t give them one, and go away, standoffish.
Teach techniques that they’ll expand on.
Be the shoulders they will stand on.
Not a giant — generous and dwarfish.

And then the same thing as a limerick:

There once was a man asking for fish,
who got one from someone standoffish.
Then shoulders to stand on
and tricks to expand on,
were given by someone quite dwarfish.

Day 23, inspired by… certain kinds of transphobic people, I guess:

Some folk seem to be offended
by the thought the queerly gendered
might themselves become offended
when they’re purposely misgendered,
so they’ve boorishly defended
all the hurt that they intended
towards the “easily offended”
who are “wimps” to try to end it.

Day 24, a double dactyl inspired by a conversation with someone who’s considering hormone therapy with one aim being a reduction of schlength, during which we noticed that ‘endocrinologist’ is a double dactyl, and also inspired by Paul and Storm’s habit of calling Jonathan Coulton ‘Dr. Smallpenis‘ (with the ‘e’ unstressed) which began on JoCo Cruise 2013:

Dr. Jon Smallpənis,
helps you to shrink all the
parts that aren’t you.

Piss off, dysphoria!
Spironolactone could
soon make you tinkle the
whole darn day through.

Spironolactone is a medication that blocks the effect of testosterone, which as a side effect can increase urinary frequency.

Day 25, inspired by the rhyme eleven words and heavenwards:

Dear Father, a prayer I remember, amen.
Another, sincere from a vendor, again.
As if by reciting just ten or eleven words
I’ll lift myself quite transcendentally heavenwards.

Day 26, inspired by what I was actually told at my first comprehensive annual checkup:

Sit up straight!
Lose some weight!
Take these pills!
Cure your ills!
Your heart is beating!
You’re good at breathing!
With those two habits kept up,
We’ll see you at the next year’s checkup.

They really did seem impressed by how well I could breathe. I wasn’t too good at it when I started, but I have been practising my whole life, and if I’m good then I may as well continue the habit.

Day 27, inspired by this Smarter Every Day video about activating smart speakers using laser light instead of sound:

Here’s a technique that is quite underhand
to beam gadgets speaking they might understand,
and give an unsound and light-fingered command.

This one works best in accents without the trap-bath split, so that ‘command’ rhymes with ‘understand’ and ‘underhand’.

A small, transparent plastic container with a label saying: 105030064 Bodenträger Safety Safety Trans. 20 Stk.

Day 28, inspired by a container of those little dowel things to hold up shelves, which was labelled ‘Safety trans.’, and the song The Safety Dance, by Men Without Hats. This parody is presumedly to be sung by Women and Nonbinary People Without Hats:

You can trans[ition] iff you want to.
You can leave your assigned gender behind.
‘Cause your assigned gender ain’t trans and if you don’t trans[ition],
Well your assigned gender stays assigned.

Day 29, inspired by a video about Jason Padgett, who survived a vicious beating to end up with (among less attractive brain issues) savant skills and a kind of synaesthesia:

Acquired savants suffer pain,
to wake up with a better brain.
Get a bump, or have a seizure,
then end up with synaesthesia —
not the grapheme-colour kind,
rather, an amazing mind!

Day 30 is a version of day 29’s poem which can be sung to the tune of Hallelujah, with a second verse reminding people that synaesthesia is actually pretty common, affecting about 4.4% of people, (I have the grapheme-colour kind) and doesn’t necessarily confer superpowers:

Acquired savants suffer pain,
to wake up with a better brain
by healing from an injury or seizure.
They sometimes get amazing minds
associating different kinds
of input in a thing called synaesthesia.
Synaesthesia, synaesthesia, synaesthesia, synaesthesia.

But synaesthetes are everywhere,
not magical, or even rare.
It doesn’t make them smart or make things easier.
It just makes Thursday forest green,
or K maroon and 7 mean.
Your ‘the’-tastes-like-vanilla synaesthesia
Synaesthesia, synaesthesia, synaesthesia…

This refers to time-unit-color synaesthesia, grapheme-colour synaesthesia, ordinal linguistic personification (also known as sequence-personality synaesthesia), and lexical-gustatory synaesthesia, but there are many other kinds.

Day 31, a parody of ABBA’s Fernando for which I am deeply sorry:

Did you hear he goes commando?
I remember long ago another starry night like this.
In the firelight, commando,
he was wearing his new kilt and playing bagpipes by the fire.
I could hear his sudden screams
and sounds of mountain oysters sizzling in the fryer.

Day 32, inspired by two tweets I saw, each quoting the same tweet where someone had contrasted pictures of Prince Harry in the army with pictures of him with his wife, and claimed that getting out of the army and getting married was somehow emasculation caused by ‘toxic’ Hollywood feminism:

The two tweets happened to rhyme with each other and follow the same structure, from the ‘fellas, is it gay’ meme, so I put them together, and added a few lines:

Fellas, is is gay to have a wife?
Fellas, is it gay to be a human being with a life?
Fellas, is it gay to wear a suit?
Fellas, is it gay to dress to socialise instead of shoot?
(Fellas, is it toxic to be gay?
Fellas, why frame questions with a word she didn’t say?)

Day 33, another Hallelujah parody, inspired by Joey’s observation that NanoRhymo scans:

You want to practise writing verse.
The secret’s to be very terse.
You don’t have to try hard, just have to try mo’.
You write some dogg’rel every day
and some you’ll toss, but some will stay.
An atom at a time; it’s NanoRhymo.
NanoRhymo, NanoRhymo, NanoRhymo, NanoRhymo.

Day 34, inspired by a Twitter thread which began with my friend Rob Rix expressing frustration with type inference, and one of his followers suggesting the term ‘type deference’:

I love when it complies,
regards me with deference,
and bravely compiles
my unguarded dereference.

Day 35, inspired by… tea. I feel so rich when I make a pot of tea and top it up all day, having unlimited tea without feeling like maybe it’s wasteful to be using my eighth teabag of the day:

If hot tea’s an oddity,
the tea bag’s your commodity,
but if you drink a lot of tea,
you should make a pot of tea.
(To add some boiling water t’
whenever you want hotter tea.)

Day 36, inspired by my efforts to write an AppleScript to copy all my NanoRhymi and GloPoWriMo poems from Notes into a spreadsheet in Numbers, which initially failed because I had accidentally addressed the script to Pages instead, and Pages don’t know sheet:

👩🏻‍💻Hello there! Your finest Greek corpus, to go!
👩‍🍳The what now? Not understand corpus, no no!
👩🏻‍💻The active Greek corpus, the frontmost, the first, display all the corpora you have; am I cursed?
👩‍🍳I’m sorry? Your question is Greek to me… how?
👩🏻‍💻Okay then, just show me your bookcases, now!
👩‍🍳Bookcases? I have none; you’ve made a mistake.
👩🏻‍💻Ah, frack! You’re no linguist! You’re actually the baker!

The spreadsheet, by the way, shows I’ve written about a hundred of these small poems in total so far, in the course of my NanoRhymo and GloPoWriMo stints. I haven’t gone through it checking for notes that didn’t contain completed poems, so I don’t know the exact number yet. In the next roundup of these things, I’ll probably start numbering them based on that total, rather than the ‘days’ of any particular run of them.

Day 37 (today, as I write this), a parody of Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off‘ inspired by another tweet by Rob Rix, in which he notices that a calculation done in Spotlight Search which should give the result zero does not, and remarks, ‘computers gonna compute’:

’Cause the bugs are are gonna ship, ship, ship, ship, ship
And an on bit is a blip, blip, blip, blip, blip
I’m just gonna flip, flip, flip, flip, flip
I flip it off ⌽, I flip it off 🖕🏻

That’s all of the NanoRhymi I have so far; I’ll post more here occasionally, but follow me on Twitter if you want to see them as they happen.

In other news, please consider buying one or all of the MarsCon Dementia Track Fundraiser albums, which are albums of live comedy music performances from previous MarsCon Dementia Tracks, sold to raise funds for the performers’ hotel costs for the next one. The 2020 fundraiser album (with the concerts from MarsCon 2019) is nearly four hours of live comedy music for $20, and includes my performances of Chicken Monkey Duck and Why I Perform at Open Mics.

For yet more music, Joey and I will be participating in round #16 of SpinTunes, a songwriting competition following in the footsteps of Masters of Song Fu. I’ve been following it since the beginning, but never had the accompaniment to actually enter.

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Things I forgot to blog about, part n+1: Performances (ft. Joey Marianer)

After MathsJam, Joey Marianer came back with me to Vienna, and we performed at Open Phil, as we do. We didn’t perform on radio this time, but Joey did record something at Skystudio (another Phil production!) which I’ll blog about when it comes out. Anyway, we started with I Love Your Body, the one that I actually sing in. The first verse is a poem I wrote about not treating someone’s body like a piece of meat (which Joey set to music) and the second verse is a poem I wrote about treating someone’s body like a piece of meat (which Joey set to music).

Then Joey sang a freshly-written Hallelujah which is largely irrelevant to people on the internet in January, so I won’t embed it here. I then recited my mathematical love poem ≥3, while Joey just sat there awkwardly, because we really don’t have any more duets:

I’d previously performed this one at Café Concerto and then on JoCo Cruise in 2017, but probably only once or twice since then.

We finished the evening with Joey’s musical rendition of my poem They Might Not Be Giants, while I stood there awkwardly, because I’m good at that:

Joey was reading from the copy of Chalkdust on the music stand, and got a couple of words wrong, perhaps because of the relation between distance and print size, but you can read the original words and hear Joey singing them elsewhere. I still need to add closed captions to these videos, but until I do, the words to the poems and songs are in the video descriptions and at some of the links in this post.

My next ‘things I forgot to blog about’ post will be about the NanoRhymo (a tiny rhyming poem every day, not to be confused with NaNoWriMo) which I made a halfhearted attempt at last November, but picked up again in January. I’m currently still posting them daily on my Twitter, but I’ll collect them all here, as I did with the previous NanoRhymo and GloPoWriMo.

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Things I forgot to blog about, part n+1: MathsJam Things

Happy new year! There are so many things from last year that I’ve forgotten to blog about. For instance, my poem They Might Not Be Giants (which is, by the way, available spoken and sung on videos and on a poster) was published in Chalkdust 10. Chalkdust is a magazine for the mathematically curious, which we were frequently encouraged to submit work to during the 2017 MathsJam Annual Gathering. I gave a talk at that gathering where I recited They Might Not Be Giants and also presented a few of the haiku I found in the Princeton Companion to Mathematics, so that was an obvious thing to submit.

Joey and Angela standing together and smiling, Joey wearing a grey hoodie with a black 'there exists' symbol, and a nametag saying Joey, and Angela wearing a blue dress with a sparkly neckline that looks like a 'for all' symbol, and a nametag saying Angela.

There exists Joey for all Angela

Through a combination of luck and procrastination, I submitted it just in time for it to be in the latest issue available at the 2019 UK MathsJam Annual Gathering, which I also attended, along with Joey Marianer. We wore ‘matching’ clothes; a ‘forall’ (∀) neckline dress and a ‘there exists’ (∃) hoodie, so that if we aligned our nametags well (which I didn’t) we could make an unproven statement quantifying our coexistence.

Now, Joey and I have a habit of noticing words which scan to ‘hallelujah’ (that is, double trochees*) and writing short parodies of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ about them. Having some experience singing the original song, Joey sometimes sings those parodies, as you can see in this playlist:

MathsJam has a Competition Competition, so naturally, I wrote a Hallelujah about that:

Well, sometimes competition’s tough.
At MathsJam, that is not enough —
they have a competition competition.
But what if all the MathsJams fought,
and all such fights together wrought
a meta-meta-meta-competition?
Competition competition competition competition.

And then we decided to enter a competition into the competition competition, where our competition would be to write a Hallelujah parody about competitions. I wrote these instructions for our Competition Competition competition:

You know that oft-sung Cohen song?
We challenge you to write it wrong —
instead of “hallelujah”, “competition”.
And if your lyrics really slam
we’ll sing them in the MathsJamJam.
We call this Hallelujah competition:
Competition-competition competition “Competition”

There was quite some competition in our competition Hallelujah competition; Hallelujah! Some entries used a word other than ‘competition’, and we ended up giving a prize to the best non-competition entry into our Competition Competition competition, as well as the expected prize for the best ‘competition’ Competition Competition competition entry. As promised in the competition rules, Joey sang some of the competition entries (and the two Hallelujahs above) at the MathsJamJam, with the accompaniment of whoever else felt like joining in:

Lyrics and credits for the other entries are in the video description. Joey came to Vienna after MathsJam and performed with me at Open Phil, including singing They Might Not Be Giants both on-stage and in Phil’s studio, but that’s for another post.

* I noticed that ‘double trochee’ was a double trochee, and stopped writing the blog post at that point to write a Hallelujah:

You heard there was a secret song
that if you play, they will sing along.
You want to make a splash at karaoke.
It goes like this, the halfs, the thirds…
you can’t remember Cohen’s words,
so sing about a random double trochee.
Double trochee, double trochee, double trochee, double trochee.

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GloPoWriMo 2019

Last November, instead of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I created NanoRhymo, where I wrote a tiny poem every day inspired by a random rhyme from my rhyming dictionary, April was GloPoWriMo (Global Poetry Writing Month — NaPoWriMo/National Poetry Writing Month to people from unknown nations who think ‘national’ gives their invented holidays a more realistic sheen) so I decided to do the same thing. Here are the poems I wrote.

Day 1, inspired by the rhyme propounds and zounds:

I see the news, and holler ‘Zounds!
That’s downright nuts! That is not cool!’
To see the thoughts that he propounds
I *hope* it’s all an April fool.

Day 2, inspired by the rhyme shenanigan and Flanagan:

There once was a rascal named Flanagan
who magnified ev’ry shenanigan
and when they were caught
repented, quite fraught,
then made their escape and and began again.

Day 3, inspired by the rhyme excavations and replication’s, and also a line from Jurassic Park:

After careful excavations,
came some reckless replications,
running rife, now run away!
Cunning life, uh, finds a way.

Day 4, inspired by the rhyme mutuality’s and theatricality’s, and the idea that the then-imminent Brexit needs to be summarised as a comic opera:

As now we face with Brexit
an end of mutuality,
I need theatricality
to show what’s going on.

It’s really quite complex, it
must be faced with joviality;
I can’t take the formality
or show-stopping fatality…

Before my poor brain wrecks it
by facing the reality
I need some musicality —
the show’s still going on!

Day 5, inspired by the rhyme asylum and subphylum:

This spineless chipolata
brings disgrace to Vertebrata!
I wish to seek asylum
in a different subphylum.

Day 6, inspired by the rhyme while I and styli:

Some scoff at using styli.
I’m not so highfalutin’,
so please excuse me while I
tweet from my Apple Newton.

Day 7, inspired by the rhyme lawmen and for men:

There’s no need to call the lawmen
and exclaim “Oh no! Us poor men!”
when things aren’t tailored for men.
Cast aside “misandrist” strawmen.
Watch how much you hold the floor, men.

Day 8, inspired by the rhyme airway’s and their ways:

I don’t agree with their ways!
Why can’t they learn new skills?
Their ‘breathing’ thing is hokum!
I won’t pay for their airways!
Why can’t they just use gills?
They’ll learn to if I choke ‘em!

Day 9, inspired by the rhymes ineffectually and intellectually, deficiency and inefficiency, and ineffaceable and untraceable:

If you’re ineffectual, although you’re intellectual,
then your inefficiency might stem from some deficiency —
memories ineffaceable which should be made untraceable,
ineffable reverberations crowding useful thought.

Day 10 (a day late), inspired by the rhyme detectable and connectible, and of course the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration’s announcement of the first image of a black hole:

Eight radio telescopes, made connectible,
made a black hole’s light detectable.

Day 11, inspired by the rhyme mending’s and endings, and of course the Beresheet lunar landing:

One small stop, and mission’s ending.
One giant lapse, no lunar mending.
Look at what you learn and hail your
huge success you earn through failure.

Day 12, inspired by the rhyme unlabelled and disabled:

While some propound that we transcend
ignore the boundaries to end
discrimination: life unlabelled
as woman, Asian, bi, disabled,
how you see me, and I myself,
still have myths attached we fell for,
still affect what we expect
to be, or see, and left unchecked
this blinding to the groups we see just
lets those stealthy fictions lead us.

Day 13, inspired by the rhyme reupholstering and bolstering and definitely referring to gunshot rather than immunisations:

If the shot in your arms is a killer,
you’ll find yourself bolstering the holster,
but if what’s in your arms is a pillow
you’d best be reupholstering the bolster.

Day 14, inspired by the rhyme planetesimals and hexadecimals (best read in a non-rhotic accent):

Previous dates say you’re lesser? Miladies,
we all start out infinitesimal.
Growing from dust we become planetesimals;
now you’re sixteen out of ten, hexadecimal.

Day 15, inspired by the rhyme deSitter and bitter:

I’m just very old; I’m not bitter.
I don’t care I can no more transmit a
request that will pass the de Sitter
horizon and get to your Twitter.

Day 16, inspired by the rhyme cassava’s and guavas, and a true story involving Joey Marianer and I hearing Beth Kinderman’s ‘Stop Covering “Hallelujah”‘ at MarsCon, visiting a ball of twine but not a furniture shop, noticing many other phrases that could scan to Hallelujah, and later writing a song to that tune about the ‘purple guava’ meme on JoCo Cruise. This poem is, of course, to be sung to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah:

At MarsCon just before the cruise,
we heard some Hallelujah blues,
saw Minnesotan places, but not Marva’s.
Beth Kinderman was in our head,
but thanks to Paul we wrote instead
A song like Hallelujah about guavas.
Purple guavas, not cassavas, purple guavas, not cassavas.

We ended up writing and rewriting many songs to that tune, and Joey has been going through our growing list of Hallelujah parodies and singing them on YouTube.

Day 17, inspired by the fact that it was National Haiku Day in some nation or other, and I indeed wrote a Haiku Detector app for macOS a while ago:

Haiku detector
is an app that finds haiku.
I wrote it myself.

Day 18, in reply to a friend who was surprised to have missed that I wrote a haiku detector:

And a robot choir,
a rhyming dictionary,
and an insult app.

Day 19, inspired by the rhyme surviving and depriving:

Let us watch the rich contriving
ways they can continue thriving,
cunning tricks to keep deriving
profits from their deeds depriving
others of the means of striving
for a life above surviving.

On day 20, I considered my post on unintentional haiku in the Mueller report to be my poem for the day.

Day 21, inspired by the rhyme nonvital and recital:

Some may say that art’s nonvital —
mere indulgence for the idle.
But while we breathe with no recital,
without reprieve, we’re suicidal.

Day 22, inspired by the rhymes (in non-rhotic accents) Larousse’snooses, and seducer’s, and some of the dictionary brands in my language bookcase:

In my bookcase of seducers:
Collins, Van Dales, and Larousses.
Some who judge not right from wrong,
Some who tighten grammar’s nooses.
Come to my Chambers, Roberts, Pons,
and I will Reed you all night long.

Day 23, inspired by the non-rhotic rhyme PDA to and cater:

Avoiding PDA to
abstemiously cater
to those who’d subjugate a
self you’ve not revealed
may further make the straighter
subconsciously equate a
same-sex love display to
a sin that’s best concealed.

Day 24, inspired by the rhyme dipterocarpaceous and veracious, to be sung to the tune of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious:

My dictionary says some plants are dipterocarpaceous,
even though it sounds like that is doubtfully veracious.
Lots of plant clades sound like this; it’s really not fallacious!
Caryophyll- amaryllid- hamamelidaceous!

I then got distracted by life for a while and wrote more poems in May, but let’s pretend they correspond to days in April.

Day 25, inspired by the non-rhotic rhymes intersectedunexpected, and sectored:

In a culture split and sectored
sometimes came the unexpected
when two groups who both were hectored
saw their interests intersected.

Day 26, inspired by the rhyme anaphylactic and intergalactic:

In an immune system intergalactic
dark energy swells in repulsive analogy
for self-versus-self, a matter of allergy,
and the Big Rip apocalypse anaphylactic.

Day 27, inspired by the rhyme subsistence and coexistence:

Species risk extinction and your
stocks deplete if you seek grandeur.
If instead you seek subsistence,
you might sustain that coexistence.

Day 28, inspired by hearing about someone being asked this question, to be sung to the tune of Tom Lehrer’s song L-Y:

You love with your minds and hearts
but also have matching parts.
“How do you two have sex?” acquaintances pry.
Consensually, consensually, consensual-L-Y.

Day 29, inspired by the fact that May 12 was both Mother’s Day in America and the first Women in Mathematics Day:

Today’s the day we stand beside
the women who have multiplied,
divided, added, and subtracted,
extrapolated, and abstracted
such that all of us were raised
to heights and powers that amazed.

Day 30, written as I was compiling this post, inspired by the rhyme mallets and ballots:

Some pound pavement swaying ballots,
Some pound foes, build walls with mallets
Some pound notes are worth less… well it’s
some pound of flesh to buy and sell us.

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May the Fourth Be With You

I’ve published both of these things before, but not both on May the Fourth. Here’s a video of the poem that I wrote about Star Wars before I saw it, along with a wrap-up of what I thought about the poem after seeing Star Wars:

And here’s a musical version of that poem, set to music and sung by Joey Marianer:

I’ve just noticed that the automatically-generated closed captions on that one say ‘sorry Bingley Lloyd’ instead of ‘stars were being made’, which is hilarious, but if you’re hard of hearing you’d be better off reading the text of the poem here instead. I don’t think I’ve added proper closed captions to my video of it either yet, sorry; I should have thought about this before today.

May the force be with Peter Mayhew always.

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Unintentional Haiku in the Mueller Report

Everyone’s talking about this Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, so I dusted off Haiku Detector and looked for interesting haiku in it. A friend pointed me to a text version, though it’s not ideal for finding haiku; it has many superfluous hard line breaks, missing or superfluous spaces, and so on, which make it harder for Haiku Detector to tell where words and sentences end. There were also page and footnote numbers included in the text. Eventually perhaps I’ll read through it and clean those things up. Haiku Detector found 105 ‘haiku’ in 18752 ‘sentences’.

There were, of course, several similar to this:

Harm to Ongoing
Matter 26 Harm to
Ongoing Matter

of which I think this is my favourite:

Harm to Ongoing
Matter – H a r m to
Ongoing Matter

Some headings formed haiku:

P . 6(e) 7.
Interactions and Contacts
with the Trump Campaign

Other Potential
Campaign Interest in Russian
Hacked Materials

Others which seemed to make sense and stop at actual sentence or at least clause boundaries were:

They are talking to
us. -It is a lot of risk. –
Office of Putin.

“If you have any
questions, I will be happy
to help contact him.”

“We understand all
of the sensitivities and
are not in a rush.”

We also sought a
voluntary interview
with the President.

It’s all because you
recused. AG is supposed to
be most important

He’s a showboater.
He’s a grandstander. I don’t
know any Russians.

you know, this Russia
thing with Trump and Russia is
a made-up story.

But I feel so-I
tell you, I feel a little
badly about it.

“I don’t want to talk
about that. No, I don’t want
to talk about that.”

The president has
issued no pardons in this

President said, “I
don’t talk about that now. I
don’t talk about that.”

“Manafort really
appreciates the support
of President Trump.”

“Paul Manafort’s a
good man” and “it’s a very
sad thing that happened.”

The Supreme Court has
applied that clear-statement rule
in several cases.

No statutory
term could easily bear that
specialized meaning.

I understand these
documents already have
been produced to you.

Some were just amusingly surreal because of artefacts in the text:

Corney recalled he did not

This is the worst thing
that ever happened to me.

The President responded,
“I never said that.”

If you imagine that’s the real end of the sentence, and slang for ‘get out!’, it sort of makes sense:

Not telling you to
do anything. Dershowitz
says POTUS can get

I haven’t read the report, nor am I likely to know enough about the surrounding events and characters to fully understand it (nor would I be able to do much about it if I did, not having the right to vote anywhere), but maybe these pseudorandom pseudopoetic snippets will bring some comic relief for those who have. Perhaps I’ll run it through NastyWriter next.

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My Performances on JoCo Cruise 2019

I’ve been going to JoCo Cruise since it started in 2011, and this year I finally had the nerve and organisation (okay, so actually Phil organised it) to take part in running a shadow event. What with this and MarsCon, apparently 2019 is my year for getting on stage at events I’ve long frequented.

There are many official celebrity guests on JoCo Cruise, but anyone can request a space and time to host their own events, whether concerts, crafting workshops, jam sessions, locksports seminars, hydrating face mask parties, PGP signing parties, space dog slideshows, scotch or foreign snack tastings, meetups of people who are various flavours of non-heteronormative, religious, merfolk, impaired, purple-haired, or scientists, or just a session of yelling at the moon. All of these things are real events that happened this year. This ‘shadow’ cruise, as it’s called, took up 292 of the 605 hours of programming.

My little corner of that was Angela Brett & Phil Conrad with Friends, later referred to as the ‘Hastily Assembled Entertainment Taco’, after the official event ‘Hastily Assembled Entertainment Burrito‘. The friends involved included Randy Parcel on vocals, Ryan Nathan on drums, Joey Marianer on vocals and ukulele, and Jeff Kahan on oboe. You can see the full show in the YouTube playlist below, or read on as I self-indulgently embed the specific parts I had a hand in, along with a few others from the open mic night.

Read the rest of this entry »

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