Saturday, March 28, 2020

Virtually Fashionable

This is a poem I wrote in 1996, but it has become more relevant recently, so I thought this might be a good time to place a copy on my rhyming blog.

It wasn't all that long ago,
When first began the cyber age,
That meetings held by video,
For business folk, were all the rage.

At first, from office, clad in suits,
These scheduled meetings took their place,
But, once this method set down roots,
New fashions came and changed its face.

The first, least daring, change of style
Was dressing only for the view:
Above the waist, a suit; meanwhile,
Below were jeans, and slippers, too.

Then, one fine day, some hacker dude,
Inspired to program, did his best
And wrote a system to conclude
The need to bother getting dressed.

By filtering his shape and size
Through programs to enhance and change,
He brought the world a great surprise:
Computer clothes, both cool and strange.

Of course, the ease this soft-wear brought
Made for an overnight success;
Soon compu-fashions had been bought
By all as standard business dress.

Now, fashions come and fashions go,
And electronic threads increased
The speed with which those "in the know"
Pursued this enigmatic beast.

The Internet's a funny place
Where things can change with frequent ease.
'Twas thus the place the fashion race
Occurred, the public's tastes, to please.

Each night, new fashions came on-line,
Too rapidly to check them out.
That what they wore was only fine,
Folks had no time to feel a doubt.

In retrospect, it seems quite odd
That we had felt a faith, so blind,
That programs which obscured the bod
Could never have been undermined.

It happened on a busy day
Amid our meetings, calls and shows:
A virus hit, to our dismay,
Exposing us, from heads to toes.

The world has never been the same,
Since that odd day when we all saw
That politicians, too, have shame,
As do all those who bring us awe.

Of course, the rest is history:
The great who fell, the small who rose,
For much of power's mystery
Was stripped, when shown without its clothes.

'Tis true, recovery was swift,
But since that day, no clever bug
Can strip us of that special gift
Which keeps the great from acting smug.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems by Raymond Queneau

One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems Raymond Queneau Translated by Stanley Chapman

Translated by Stanley Chapman

“Only a machine can appreciate a sonnet written by another machine.”

A 3-Dimensional Sonnet written in 1961, presented by Reg Harbeck in HTML in 2019

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hacking Common Sense

With certain look and confidence,
Authoritatively commence
To override all innocence,
Dictating phony common sense.

Stand tall, talk slow, act like you know,
You learned it all so long ago,
Degrees or status ought to show
Where lesser mortals dare not go.

And just for measure add some lies
To cut the simple down to size:
Sophistication, it implies,
To baffle truth with your replies.

Now, condescending, to conclude,
Be clear that it would be quite rude,
Endangering your even mood,
Should listeners, with words, intrude.

Copyright (c) 2016, Reg Harbeck

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cat and Laser

I saw the light - a glimmer of something wonderful,
Beckoning me like a flame for a moth, 
Invoking my attention and sense of wonder,
Moving in a way that seemed to intentionally entice me.

I leapt to its location, craving its brilliance,
Wanting to catch and hold it,
But it was gone, bouncing just beyond my reach.

This time, I pounced before it could escape.
But when I lifted my paws, it had disappeared.

Over and over, the light appeared, and then escaped.
But I kept chasing it, because I knew it was for me.

Copyright (c) 2015 Reg Harbeck

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I like to like the likes of you
And all the fun you post and do,
But some don't like the likes of me
Or that I like too liberally.

'Cause when I find that we're alike
In what you think or where you hike
Or something else that makes me smile,
I rarely pause to think a while...

Before I click, 'cause we do too...
At least, I'm rather likely to.
But now I've found, to my surprise,
Some likes, unlike my smiles, aren't wise.

I know, I learned, some time ago,
That harvesting of clicks can show
My details to folks I don't know,
So now I'm careful doing so.

And now, a new thing that I've learned:
"Too many likes" have sometimes turned
A friendship into being spurned
By those afraid of being burned.

Unlikely, though I would have thought,
I should like lightly, sometimes not
A single click - which ain't a lot -
Should dare be risked when things are fraught.

(Copyright (c) 2014 Reg Harbeck - all posts on this blog are Copyright (c) Reg Harbeck)

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Over twenty-five years, the life we built,
Step down, step back, step over, step up,
Is cause for gratefulness, not guilt,
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

The kids we raised, the home we grew,
Step down, step back, step over, step up,
I shared so many joys with you,
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

The years are now two and a third,
Step down, step back, step over, step up,
Since you passed on and were interred,
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

The hearbreak, pushback, loss and pain,
Step down, step back, step over, step up:
Sometimes I doubted I was sane,
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

Step down, step back, step over, step up.

Step down, step back, step over, step up.

The time's now come to leave behind,
Step down, step back, step over, step up,
Our car and house for peace of mind,
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

You'll always be my first best love,
Step down, step back, step over, step up,
But I'm below and you're above,
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

I have not found my next love yet,
Step down, step back, step over, step up,
And every effort's brought regret,
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

But I will live while I can't die,
Step down, step back, step over, step up,
Now please excuse me while I cry,
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

Step down, step back, step over, step up.

Step down, step back, step over, step up.


Step down, step back, step over, step up.

Step down, step back, step over, step up.

I'm not the man I thought I was,
Step down, step back, step over, step up,
But I'll be more soon, just because,
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

You're always on my mind and heart,
Step down, step back, step over, step up,
So please pray for my brand new start,
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

Hello world, I now revive,
Step down, step back, step over, step up,
Just watch me live while I'm alive!
Step down, step back, step over, step up.

Step up, step up, step up, step up.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Flirting with Heaven

I stand above a precipice, legs shaking with the rush,
But know I cannot fall or jump: I'm waiting for a push,
Or, rather, for a pull and lift into a lofty flight
On angels' wings where I could never go with only might.

I've climbed here from the valley, though so much of me remains
Amid the darkest shadows and the forest of my pains.
I'm waiting for a sunrise that will bathe my heart and soul
In healing rays, evoking praise that I might be made whole.

O Heaven, won't you take me? I'm not asking to depart
From Earthly occupations if at least you'd take my heart.
The joy I know awaits me, with such joy I now await,
But nothing less placates me, til I'm taken by this fate.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Widower's Manifesto

I will survive, and I will thrive; I won't forget I'm still alive:

I will endure the scorn and shame of those who think that I'm to blame,
And I'll forgive their hurtful role in adding to my heavy toll.

I will bounce back from every time I reach for help to find that I'm
Rejected and looked down upon as old and ugly, should be gone.

And when I seem invisible to those who never saw my role in helping keep my family whole,
And try to build my friendship too, to just be told I've passed my due,
Perhaps I'll cry and feel the pain, but always I'll reach out again to others who know me as me
And not just friend of family.

And in good time, when kids are gone, and I'm alone, I will move on,
Releasing all that holds me back, to find myself a brand new track.

I will survive, and I will thrive; I won't forget I'm still alive.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Occam the Ripper

Top-down, pixellated, simplified, cut-and-dried
Lacerated, macerated, ground-and-milled, truly killed,
Occam made the complex fun by simplifying, but he's done
More harm than Monsieur Guillotine could manage with his sharp machine.

Gotta mention: good intentions paved the road that bears the load
Of symbols stored that represent reality without a dent
Which, having been idealized, left potent matter bowdlerized
And, being therefore sterilized, leaves nature's hopes unrealized.

Of course, old Bill of Ockham's goal was shaving off the heavy toll
Of hanging threads and fireless smoke to clarify of what we spoke,
And wise he was - for sure no fool - in bringing forth this handy tool,
But mightier than any sword, it left deep details unexplored.

And so we come to modern-day when cyber-simple is the way
We choose to see and think and play while telling nature, "go away."
We keep it simple, make it clear, detail's all we have to fear,
Until we try to rip apart our thinking from our beating heart.

This doesn't change the simple fact that Occam brought a strength we lacked,
But when it's used exclusively to measure all reality,
A hard-edged snapshot of a thought is all that's left - that's not a lot
Compared to beauty, joy and truth, the depth of age, the hope of youth.

So, shave with care, and don't forget: the universe has never yet,
By such heuristics, been exposed to total knowledge - it stays closed
With ever-deeper, fractal sides and mystery that still abides
And, should we shave the last detail, then we, and not the truth, would fail.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wedding Poem

I wrote the following poem on November 10, 1985, in anticipation of meeting and marrying my wife. Two and a half months later, I started going out with Monica, whom I married on May 9, 1987. This poem was on the last page of the program for our wedding.

Twenty-five years later, in February of 2012, it was also on the last page of the program for Monica's funeral, and is now also on our shared headstone (see picture).

O Beautiful one who puts God first,
Whose love both causes and quenches my thirst,
It is with God, what I do with you,
As in your life, His light shines through,

For, as we hold each other and kiss,
Feeling what seems like eternal bliss,
I look at you and I realize:
I see my Lord when I look in your eyes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Victim of Charity

He thought that they were caring,
Of their smiles and time so sharing,
But they always had an end,
So, when he started to depend
On the "you" he thought he knew,
He found a closed door, not a friend.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Quantum Praise

I resolved to pay attention to a glimmer from your eye
That made me think I saw a wink and wave as you passed by;
I measured my perception and a particle of fact
Became the information that my consciousness had lacked.

I offered my awareness of the message that you sent,
And took the risk of disambiguating what you'd meant.
I wanted to determine if your "yes" I'd ever know,
But doubted that your beauty, once distilled, could tell me so.

Pursuing ever deeper, I tried hard to tease apart
The substance of the figure that was calling to my heart.
I sought to differentiate your meaning for my brain,
But though I'd grasped your digits, I pursued your soul in vain.

Releasing, then, my need to know exactly where you stood,
I finally admitted, I just know that you are good,
And swoon from all the artistry I watch where you create,
While choosing praise and wonder for my role in our shared fate.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Free Will, God and the Last Horse

The tale is told of three young ranching heirs,
Who, from their father, each were to receive
A portion of his horses as their shares
In fractions they weren't sure how to retrieve.

A half, a third, a ninth they were assigned,
From seventeen, but how could they divide?
The implications left them in a bind,
Until a friend prevented equicide:

By adding in his horse to the corral,
The sons could now take nine and six and two,
And leave behind the horse brought by their pal
Which, absent from the answer, made it true.

Both God and free will resonate with this:
They make things work, despite all measures' miss.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Singularity Murders

The shame, the lie that Heisenberg revealed,
That demographics made some advocate,
Which, to some well-known futurists, appealed,
But left the victims' status set to "late:"

They knew that, though they'd scanned a mind "in full,"
The measures of the deepest parts still hid,
And so the thoughts and acts diverged to null
For subjects of whose bodies they'd be rid.

But how to claim the transfer was complete,
If not to terminate the copied source?
So, though they fought, these humans met defeat,
Surrendering their lives to vision's force.

When cyberminds then failed, which none could save,
Their bodies cried for justice from the grave.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Room to Improve

Now I know what's wrong with you:
I've found a model that's exact,
That shows how you should be and do,
And highlights all the strengths you've lacked.

Now I judge the ways you're wrong:
Your gaps retreat from logic's lid.
I've set the standard, clear and strong,
That shows up faults you thought you'd hid.

I see your form, I watch you move,
My viewpoint gathers what you've meant;
I say there's room you can improve
To reach one hundred fixed per cent.

But, if you're smart or, better, wise,
You'll see my template's just a blade
That helps me cut you down to size,
And not a rule to be obeyed.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Negative Option Living

Positives cost money,
But negatives are free,
Leading to a funny
Way to have society:

When you earn a living,
All your income triggers tax;
Cut the fees you're giving,
And your savings can relax.

When you're feeling healthy
Or in any manner gifted,
You'd better keep it stealthy;
Suffer and such rules are lifted.

So, it seems, successes,
Like a ball and chain, are dragging;
Failures' great excesses,
Though, allow for too much bragging.

'Tis thus that each example
That our culture lets us give
Is how to not be ample
But with negatives to live.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Virtual Eyes

When I'm looking at you, I see
Through façades, past all of your lies;
You've become transparent to me,
For I look through virtual eyes.

Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs
Show a person you cannot hide;
Emails, archives, mobile phone logs:
Telling truths about which you've lied.

Data mining multiplies these:
Programs mix and match and conclude
Things the human eye never sees,
Thus to sunder your solitude.

Where amidst this data are you?
Does this knowledge make me more wise?
Many views emerge, old and new:
Facets seen by virtual eyes.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An Acrostic Alliterative Valentine's Day Limerick I wrote in 1992

Like laughter, love lightens life's loads,
Occasioning overjoyed odes;
Voiced Valentine's views,
Exchanged, each enthuse:
Romance repairs rough, ruined roads.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Whenever I put "eu" first,
It brings out the best in a word.
Thus, "paranoid" is reversed
Where this prefixing sound is heard.

So, welcome, o euparanoid,
You'll be happy if you would,
The goodness in "eu" now deployed,
Suspect folks are up to good!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Ah, MIS, I C U R
A TLA for management
Of information systems far
More than a prefix, as you're meant.

And yet, computers can be fun
And managing them could be too,
So "MIS Chief" is my pun
For what good CIO's should do.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Net Minder

I'm a brain-in-vat
That's connected to the Net,
And I think that that
Is as vast as I can get.

Now, you need not doubt
That my body once was flesh,
Till I wore it out;
Now my brain lives in a mesh.

There are many things
Keeping me awake at nights,
Such as ponderings
On my claims to human rights.

For, instead of arms,
I can use the Net to reach.
But, if someone harms
My connection, what's the breach?

And, I don't need legs
If I want to move around
Cyberspace, which begs
Questions about where I'm found.

My essential quest
Is for my identity
So I'll never rest
Till I know what's part of me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Impossible Machine

How do you do what can't be done
When no one knows the way?
Here's an approach that's lots of fun
And turns hard work to play.

First, you imagine a machine
That simply can't exist:
Does the impossible, I mean;
Results that then persist!

Next, you believe that it can make
The thing you want to own;
Think of the outcome, now, and take
New insights you've been shown.

Build on those thoughts, and you will see
New ways to optimize
And make what you want more easily;
Then do, and claim your prize!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Polymorphic Doubularity

Sunday, January 23, 2011


A line that's straight connects two points;
We learn this in geometry.
And yet, much shorter than this route
Is God's unbound infinity.

Now, infinitely intimate,
If God is love as well, one finds
The shortest path between two selves
Is love, which touches all it binds.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fractal Frontiers

A person, a language, a culture, a cell:
They each, with integrity, act like a whole,
While being a subset with others as well:
A system, or holon - a thing with a role.

When system meets system, a third will emerge:
A complex relationship dance of details,
From their interaction, to help them converge,
Or be what's not working when anything fails.

This third system's fractal, and by that I mean
Simplicity's missing from how it behaves:
It's endless, a journey that can't be foreseen,
Down pathways and side roads that nobody paves.

Now systems like language and numbers and law,
Synthetic, with purpose, when optimized may
Diverge from this value, revealing a flaw;
So constant correction's required lest they stray.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Other Accidents

A major cause of accidents
And unexpected happenstance,
Is often unforeseen events
Occurring, also, just by chance.

So often, in our daily lives,
We look to causes and effects
That simplify how life arrives,
Avoiding what no one expects.

This isn't how the universe
Behaves, however: though the rules
That science finds, we may rehearse,
Still anti-patterns make us fools.

A nail, a shoe, a horse, a car,
Each follow physics as they work,
But none will take you very far
When sidelined by some unknown quirk.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If At First

If at first you don't succeed,
Then try a different way;
Not to call the first defeat,
But, rather, that you may
Keep your focus on your goal,
And not be led astray.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Worst Before

"Best Before" is stamped on food
And other things that aren't alive,
But such descriptions don't include
The living, who can grow and thrive.

Indeed, my life has been a trip
Of seeking wisdom, friends and laughter,
As I slowly build my grip,
To reach the date when I'm "best after!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cereal Innovation

They say the mother of invention is necessity.
Well, I support this old contention uncontestably:
I had some pasta sauce, you see, which nukes in no time flat,
But instant pasta, made for me, takes much too long for that.

So, round and round my mind did go to help me innovate,
Until the humble Cheerio became the grain I ate.
It seems the composition of this breafast-focused food
Gives it the instant properties, with sauce, to suit the mood!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Am I Your Type?

If I were an A plus or even A minus
I'd feel like a scholar among all the finest.

If I were a B, either minus or plus
I'd feel like the testing was worth all the fuss.

And, if plus or minus, at least I were AB
I'd know I was special to somebody's baby.

But all that I am is a simple type O,
Still, if I were minus, I'd, anywhere, go!

Positive RH is my factor, though,
Yet, someone out there can still use me, I know.

By now, I am sure that, the context, you've guessed:
If you donate your blood, every type is the best!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Permanently Temporary

For permanent perfection
We often seem to strive;
This smooth and simple fiction
Eludes us while alive.

But while we seek the stable
Our lives continue on,
Achieving what we're able
With means to soon be gone.

A funny thing occurs, though:
The perfect flees away,
While temporary things go
On growing every day.

It seems the world we live in
Is simply too complex
To ever really give in
To "shoulds" that end in wrecks.

But things that aren't important
Enough to rigidly
Stay fixed, or even dormant,
Adapt successfully.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Humpty Chickly

Humpty Chickly had a great shell;
Humpty Chickly loved, there, to dwell,
Till, all of a sudden,
She had to rebel,
And pecked it to pieces; then, lived her life, well.

Friday, January 14, 2011

no gods

Our finitude affinity
Leads us to give, too easily,
Our undivided loyalty
To things rife with infirmity.

For, relative and small are we,
With hearts that crave infinity
And souls persisting, context-free,
That seek a true authority.

And so, we seek and surrogate
Our own inventions; we can't wait
To transfer blame while mocking fate
By serving something we create.

Yet, one in zero are the odds
That we'd discover finite gods
Deserving of our serving lauds;
All such pretenders are just frauds.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Frontiers of Credibility

I don't know and I don't care,
And I don't want to waste my time
Failing to accept your dare
To give an answer that's sublime.

Have you ever felt that way?
It seems, some times, that everyone
Has felt temptation to betray
Integrity for speed or fun.

And yet, there is another side
That competence, extreme, may show:
Respect and input are denied
To any but those "in the know."

Consequentially, it seems,
While experts may defend the truth,
BS'ers spread their fertile memes
So public discourse stays uncouth.

The Internet and Wiki age
Appears to bring a brand new dawn
As information turns the page
But human nature carries on...

When all that's known is on the net
And vetted by the widest crowd,
How likely is it, we'll forget
BS by sharing truth aloud?