I Need More Trivial Content

Don’t panic – I have left the lofty heights of political analysis for now! But thanks again for all the fish, commenters, as I had ventured out of my geeky comfort zone quite a bit!

But now I am back: to down-to-earth, hands-on, ready-to-use …

Spam Poetry

The categories and tags for this blog are quite a mess – and I know it. Not even regular excessive re-tagging and re-categorizing did help.

In particular, I have no overall category for those experimental genres of art I am indulging in frequently. I tagged it with Search Term Poetry and Spam Poetry of course, but the category is – for whatever reasons


Since I do not want to turn my the categories upside down I try to align the content with the categories. I am in need of trivia.

An extraordinary spam commenter does help me out:
There is a new sort of spam, consisting of a full blog post of mine dumped to the comment section in its entirety. This provides me with a unique opportunity:

I am able to dissect and scramble my own post in order to create the most non-original spam poetry ever.

I probably might have discarded this idea of self-plagiarism, but the particular post picked by the spammer was just too good …

Discovering Your Life Being Cliché

… with ‘good’ referring to the level of self-reference, not necessarily to the quality of the content. I expect you to click on the link though: I had published it before my meteoric rise to fame as a search term poet. So this is like stumbling upon an hitherto undiscovered Picasso in your attic!

Rules are as follows –  as usual I am inventing them as I go:

  • All phrases need to be taken copied 1:1 from the post linked above.
  • Phrases need to appear in the post in the reverse order as they are quoted in the poem. Thus I force myself to work from the bottom to the top (This is not about work ethics in corporations, I just refer to scrolling a text)

The Matrix

google it and end up disappointed

I will not tell you

pseudo-postmodern analysis
via TV

those most trivial everyday clichés
describing trashy everyday stuff meticulously
explain the zeitgeist

in my hacker’s cave
the only woman who calls herself a nerd
many years ago

Probably it is worse than that
there are other intelligent lifeforms on this planet

it would be worth mentioning
that there are discussion groups

I once thought it singular to be
the true phenomenon or the illusion

right now millions of people write about
Every utmost obscure and bizarre topic

everything has already been told
Within milliseconds
in order to test
Your Life Being Cliché

This poem leaves me with the weird impression that my post either 1) works backwards also (How scary – do I find satanic messages as well?) or 2) there is no content anyway.

There is no spoon!

It is not the spoon that bends – it is only yourself

Happy Easter


On the Hierarchy of Needs and Needless Things

Yesterday The Curtain Raiser has reminded that a well-versed blogger should celebrate the first blogging anniversary.

I hit the Publish button first on March 2012, 24, so I should consider writing something pivotal in three days.

But I am not there yet, rather the opposite. Having just announced on Twitter and Google+ that my posts might gravitate around cybersecurity and hacking infrastructure … I need to digress before I even get started(*), that is: I need to post something that deserves being tagged with the label ‘weird’.

(*)Meta-digression: This is semi-conscious plagiarism or an homage to the intro paragraph of Mark Sackler’s post – accidentally that post was about the pleasures of analyzing searches. Yet, this post of mine is NOT about search term poetry.

It is about the meaning of life – in order to provide you with more spiritual content after some of my brave readers have waded through two previous posts on gyroscopes, Coriolis force and toilet flushes. Today the elkement blog was already hit by the search term:

to flush the toilet

Before my official bloggiversary, I should seriously ponder about why I am blogging at all. My brain is stuffed with hacked smart meters and forces acting on kitchen sinks, so I cannot come up with an insightful explanation of my own.

Thus I am really happy that somebody else has put the answer into a drawing already – note the nice icon at the top of the pyramid:

[Comment from the future – 2019: This has aged well. The link is broken, and I cannot recall what it was about exactly. I think something about WLAN being at the top of needs. It was a flickr link I captioned with: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, & the Social Media that Fulfill ‘Em. Shared on Flickr by Erica Glasier (Licensed under CC). But funny Maslow hierarchies have become a genre of memes – so leave this blog and google!]

Adding some more serious comment: The hierarchy of icons depicted resembles my personal ranking of social media sites, with the notable exception of Google+ missing.

Browsing and skimming websites and social media has re-wired my brain that is now subject to all kinds of strange associations and connections, similar to random hyperlinks. Search terms do inspire me, too. The second best search term of today was

patent perpetuum mobile

Musing about the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything – and about impossible machines –  I cannot help but remember a particular, fascinating machine that has no purpose whatsoever. A story that needs to be shared with my global audience.

I had seen this machine live a few years ago.  The Austrian creator / artist – Franz Gsellmann was a farmer who had been fascinated by machinery ever since. Having read a report on the Atomium presented at the World Exhibition 1958 he started crafting a this machine – basically anything you can find in a typical home and that can be made moving, sparkling or tinkling when connected to electrical power.

Here is the machine in action – Gsellmann called it the “Weltmaschine”, World’s Machine (?). I am not not sure if there really is a translation that has the same connotations.

There is no version with English subtitles so you miss the explanations on the origins of all the parts integrated into this machine. But I think images speak for themselves. The creator tinkered with the machine for 23 years.

Of course the title was an allusion to Needless Things by Stephen King.

My Zen-ny Search Terms: Where Engineering Meets Art Meets Physics Meets Geekdom. (And Rodents, Sometimes.)

I am overwhelmed with spam comments such as “You should take part in a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the web!”, and I really appreciate thoughtful quote spam as:

Perfectly composed articles, appreciate it for entropy.
“He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak.”
by Michel de Montaigne.

My search terms include basically a single burning question that comes up several times a month – these are the rodent-related questions submitted in February:

does a microwave attract rats?
are mice attracted to microwaves

I can reply with a straight Yes, and I have given proof of that in my post Microwave Ovens Are Not Rodent-Ready (The images in that post are not for the faint of heart.)

I still do not know what is on my searchers’ minds, but I will try my best to poem-i-size their search terms again. All lines are verbatim search terms from February, not used in any other poem yet. So are the sub-titles. I am adding a Search Term Poet’s Beginner’s Guide below the poem.

El(k)ementary Search Term Poem, February 2013 Edition
(This is not a search term yet – the main title does not need to be)

trees in the wind
meandering paths
blank sheet of paper

spam poems
poem using word spam
poems standing on the shoulders of others
accidentally on purpose google search poems
want more poetic search terms for laughing – how?

use of physics in day to day life of everything
use of physics in our daily life-chairs,tables
in what sense are we all newtonians?
intuitive meaning of temperature
intuition differential equations
intuition training and physics

Geek collection list
physics daily life trivia
trivia about parts of computer
academics obsessed with metrics
what is the same mass as 6/100(math)
english “scientists people with big brains”

my heat comes on when it wants to at home
engineering terms used in poems
perpetuum mobile patent
steam pump technology
real rankine(**)

nostalgia theory

the next level, 01
steampunk machinery
my theory on support metrics
theories of special day celebrations
the table sitting i’ve created to my sons graduation

According to a comment on my previous post, our solar collector has “aesthetic appeal”. I consider it very Zen – it captures the essence of the above poem and illustrates an artistic entanglement of nature, engineering and geeky stuff.

(*) I added this one – breaking my rules, but hopefully Zen becomes a future search term.
(**) This is genuine. Non-engineers: See e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rankine_cycle for further information.
(***) My February search terms are lacking something like “weird”, but I did not want to break the sub-title rules twice. This section is very avant-garde.

This is the end of the search term poem. The rest of the my post is my own writing. Just saying… in case it is not evident.

How to Create Search Term Poems

  • Copy the list of search terms from your WordPress Stats to some text editor. I prefer Notepad in order not to screw up formatting. For the corporate time management ninjas: Create a series of appointments in Outlook with a reminder to make sure that you cover only search terms submitted within a certain period of time and avoid to re-use terms. The latter is forbidden by the yet-to-be-written rules of The Cult of Search Term Poetry.
  • Delete all boring search terms, that is: Terms that could have been anticipated based on your blog’s comment (or write a blog that is so weird that there is no content that readers might anticipate – I am still trying hard). Thus I delete things like: “why does a spinning top not fall over” or all kinds of Einstein or Feynman related searches. But it really depends on context – sometimes a dull search term starts to shine when it is presented as a question or an answer to another unworldly search term.
  • Browse the search terms and try to find a way of grouping  them based on content, create temporary sub-titles and move terms to the groups accordingly. This is where your creativity is added to your searchers’ ingenuity.
  • Copy the stuff over to your blog’s editor. (This is just a suggestion – you could do that later as well. the rules are not that strict on this one.)
  • Re-arrange the search terms within groups to turn a list of meaningless phrases into, well, a poem. For advanced search term poets: Pick one of lines and promote it to this section’s sub-title and delete the temporary title.
  • As usability experts tell us, we bloggers need to include images – otherwise our content will not be read from top to bottom. So browse some sites offering royalty-free images or your personally photo repository and pick the most-unrelated images(s) you can find to pepper your poem.
  • For skilled search term poets: Try to find hidden symmetries and arrange the terms once more based on aesthetic criteria. I have done so by ordering based on the number of characters per phrase this time. Actually some of the sub-poems turned out as nearly ordered in this way naturally. “Feel your poem!”
  • Click Publish and wait for offers by publishing houses, poetry journals or the Nobel Prize for Literature committee.

Note that I will be travelling through a worm-hole and trapped in a parallel corporate universe when you read this:

Replies to comments might be delayed by a few days as the subspace communication in the Delta (Dilbert) Quadrant is usually halted by corporate policy enforcers and NSA-style compliance filters. This is not a joke (only 95% of it is): Working from a corporate network I once noticed that some parts of the WordPress-i-verse had been considered “non-compliant” by the content filter.

May the force be with you (not a search term quote – yet – but not very creative either)!

Turning Flattering Chatty Spam into Postmodern Art

As a spam poet you need to avoid the Ground Hog Day Effect: Spam messages are repeating themselves, so how you do your keep your  level of originality as an artist?

And spam on blogs is (too) polite these days. You could create tons of flattering poems similar to the following:

your website is like an encyclopaedia for me
you inspire me
you’ve already made a difference.

Sometimes there is subtle poetry in typos:

not all bloggers have the gift to explain in some worlds something so perplexing.
(“worlds”, not “words” – think many worlds in quantum theory)

But very often spam is too chatty to qualify for modern poetry. I want these cool, aphoristic, enigmatic sentences. Thus I have selected shorter spam messages this time and I have tweaked them a bit – I have removed phrases like a bit, maybe, really, and your typical because your blog is so awesome clauses.

I think there is still room for improvement, but this is what remains after having boiled down spams received over the last three weeks (about 200 spams). The title is from a spam message, too. This poems proves that spammers are modest, too. They use “i” instead of the big ego “I”.

 i can solve some of my problems

in some point i disagree with you,
but still your words seen very coherent to me

if you explain it better i would thank you so much
adding more relevant content might be helpful
i thought so too.

ever thought about writing a book someday?
make sure there are no hidden phrases

I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress
with this i disagree

i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses?
Be sure to go through what you’re putting your signature on



The Enigma encryption machine used by the Germans in World War II (Wikimedia) as I have such a penchant for the word “enigmatic”.

On Addiction: An Announcement

For the very first time I am tackling a serious issue in this blog with all due respect and solemnity. I do announce in public:

“I am going to reduce my consumption in coffee.”

The magic of that morning cup of coffee

“The magic of that morning cup of coffee” (Wikimedia). I am going to renounce it!

As we have learned goals should always be defined in a SMART way I should probably add more specifics, but I cannot add precise numbers yet as they will depend on the outcome of long-term experimental results. But I am getting ahead of myself.

My consumption of coffee has been legendary ever since. I am a walking nerd cliché, my nutritional habits are deeply rooted in geek culture. Think: spending long days in air-conditioned data centers, your brilliant hacker mind fueled by pizza and caffeine only.

As a physicist I prefer scientific explanations and I am impressed by numbers. Probably my corporate worker legacy adds to my obsession with metrics, too. It was a number that gave me permission to consume insane quantities of coffee – my blood pressure used to be abysmal. As an undergraduate I had once fainted in the street, after having queued up in a shop tightly stuffed with winter sale addicts like me. The doctor gave me precious advice – let’s avoid medication, just drink enough coffee. (And I shun sale since then).

As an engineer I am also obsessed with monitoring complex hydraulic systems, and I have finally applied the same standards to monitoring blood pressure:


The Steampunk version of the device used to measure blood pressure (Sphygmomanometer). I am using the modern version.

And now the issue is: I have aced the tests, my numbers are just perfect. No excuses any more.

Actually, the blogosphere had already sent me a signal before – I had also been inspired by this post by Samir Chopra and the numbers had only been the final trigger. However, I am not applying the cold turkey approach, I am going to cut coffee slowly while monitoring blood pressure closely.

I am still searching for the perfect replacement / placebo. Green tea would be my first choice, although it contains caffeine.

And if I fail, I can blame culture and peer pressure: Wikipedia tells me I am living in a country of coffee addicts:

Wikipedia: Countries ranked by coffee consumption per capita

Wikipedia: Countries ranked by coffee consumption per capita (Archived link – detected as broken some years after this article was written).

The Art of Error Messages

I believe I need a new blog post category – called  for example art created from collections of words and phrases spit out by computers. Or is Pop Culture just fine?

So far we had spam poetry and search term poetry – but these might not be the only art forms eligible for the new meta-category!

A quick primer for those new to this:

The following is a hybrid search term + spam poem (spam in italics), all collected from my WordPress stats and spam queue. You are allowed to add titles (in bold). Search terms and spams must not be reused in different poems.

On Contradiction

oxymoron poems
narrating events
i wasn’t aware of the many ripples and depth to this story
there is a special day
why do particles radiate from the sun
can a mouse get into a microwave
irony practice
this site is ruthless to others

Now I have just stumbled upon the following WordPress error message, actually triggered by my (careless) attempt to empty my spam queue – filled with more than 100 spams that will not morph into poetry any more.

This is poetry in its own right – no more tuning required:


 Something has gone wrong with our servers.
It’s probably Matt’s fault.
We’ve just been notified of the problem.
Hopefully this should be fixed ASAP,
so kindly reload in a minute
 and things should be back to normal.

Generally, error message art might rather be presented ‘as is’ and does not require that much creativity.

I do remember the best out-of-office reply I have ever received. Though this is not strictly an error message I believe it falls under the same category.

This is not 100% verbatim, but the last sentence is – burnt into my neurons for later re-use. The time is now:

<some business-y explanation, see corporate art below>
I might not be able to respond to e-mails as quickly as normally.
But what is normal?

Geeky art can be quite rude as well, comments in source code used to contain strong language. And error messages used to be close to source code comments in the old times when there were no usability analysts yet.

On the other hand there is corporate error message art which is funny accidentally.

Typical corporate error message art comprises OOF replies similar to the following (real-life example):

Normally, we respond to all email messages within one business day.
Unfortunately, we have been unable to meet this goal with your message,
because of the large number of questions and requests recently received for our support staff.
We have sent you this note to confirm that your message is in our system
and to let you know that we will respond
with a personal response as quickly as possible.

This is very close to Mike Daisey’s take on this – in 21 Dog Years – Doing Time @ amazon.com. He explains how his friend Warren, the Jonny Cash of customer service finally explained customers he would sacrifice his first-born son on an altar of his own making – to compensate for the late delivery of the Harry Potter book.

There is also a sub-sub-category called corporate policies art. This is more similar to Samuel-Beckett-style dialogues.

I can recall my attempt to create a Google+ account:

The true art part in bold, the rest is just explanatory comments – much like this version of Worstward Ho with comments.)

I tried to use Subversive Element as a name.
Your name does not meet our Name Policies

Tried to upload the picture of my iconic virus.

Are you sure people will recognize you in this photo? It does not seem to have a face in it?

I finally succumbed to The Guidelines and uploaded a ‘normal’ image.
This image seems to be rather small. Do you have a better one?

Finally accepted though. The next step suggested by Google is
Be awesome!

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants and Not Recognizing It

Unfortunately I need to quote myself again and again: Every time I figured I had been very original and creative, The Internet tells me I am not. Others have come before me. I am a lousy historian of geeky art.

I have been made aware on Google+ of the fact that there have been other spam poets, having created #spampoems more than 10 years ago. At least I have proved all experts wrong who say G+ is  a boring ghost town.

So my previous article was not at all the ‘definitive history’. Here it is:


… which also has an impressive list of links. BBC has reported on this in 2003:

Some have composed poems using the subject lines of the spam they receive; others are creating verse using the strings of strange words that are often found inside spam messages. A lucky few have even found excerpts of novels buried in spam.

Even haikus are mentioned in the Wikipedia article – so I need to ping back once more to the alleged first haiku poet.

But wait:

SPoetry on Wkipedia

The entry does not meet Wikipedia’s guidelines, the sources are obviously considered not reliable enough. Are all the articles fakes perhaps?

Above all, this is about spam poetry only. There is still hope that I might have founded search term poetry? I don’t dare to do more research!

In addition, this is an English entry. So chances are that the founder of the hashtag #spampoems is probably the first creator of German or French spam poetry (2019: Links broken).

Spam dish

Spam – as we like it! (Wikimedia)

Seasoned spam poets and search term poets – please bring any other omission to my attention! I will repent in public!