P. F. Hawkins' Dot-Com

IN WHICH Understanding Accrues

Hell, or Something Like It

Darksomeness engulfs
Low fallow fields left
Firm as rock dried in sun,
Cold as crisp iceberg submerged.

Submariners stumble on
Unseen fissues, folds,
Crevasses, barren blisters
Of lifeless locked land.

Passengers punched their tickets,
Paid their fares, folded
Clothes, packed bags, braved
Jet lag just to be here.

Groping in obsidian night, all
Rend asunder suddenly, then
Rend again, rend again,
Ever tearing never ending

Souls unbending, breaking o’er
And o’er again in pain
Unmending, sending lame
Desires (unquenched fires) drowning.

Powdered blood evaporates
In self-blind souls enslaved in state
Of everlasting fruitless wait.


stars scream heavy metal silver screen
heart strings tugged taut ripped clean
death dealt down to damn mean
man brought through no more green
played for laughs aged thirteen
main stream man’s a sad scene

Entropy Lament

In the morning as I brushed my teeth
I vowed to mark the day by valiant ways:
To rescue orphans, open up a shop,
Write that novel, win that maiden’s heart,
Climb that hill, convince a bitter friend
Of God’s wide mercy, till the soil, plant
The choicest vegetables, grill meat
Upon an open flame. In short,
Engage in derring-do,
And leave upon the earth a healthy brand.

Instead I shuffled off toward my job
(leeching little life from radio’s wiles),
Sat in my cubicle, answered emails,
Took calls, called shots, most of which were small,
Mundane, of little consequence. And while
I always tried to do my best, at end
Of day I’d lost so much to waste,
My puny fight ‘gainst entropy unwon,
And still to lose. I shuffled home, then
Microwaved some food, watched video,
Paid homage to the goods that fence me in
And hinder me from seeing the sublime
In humble living, mastery of self,
Right conduct, purity of heart,
And noble deed. Indulged on, fat
And restless, I hied myself to bed
So I could rest to do it all again,
And leave yet more undone.

Announcing ihopesolution.com

So a sysadmin friend and I decided that there just weren’t enough blogs about systems administration and linux out there. So we started another one:


I’m sure it will develop its own voice, since we both have, um, firmly held opinions about how things should be done. And odd senses of humor.

Since I tend to use emacs more for writing and org-mode rather than sysadminning, I’ll keep my emacs posts for my personal blog. (And so ends my feeble attempt to justify tagging this “emacs” and watching it hit planet emacsen.)

Goodbye Follies

The tree-struck star stuck the landing,
Knees nailed to ground, brow down,
Soul still ensconced in briar crown.

Apart from Him he’d hewn to
Aspirations, plans He’d blewn to
Smithereens; and left bereft he
Clung to holy barque.

Tuesday Juggernaut

Sitting on the curb by the park bench
Barefoot listen to the buzz growl
Motors on the tires on the asphalt on the feet
What a sandwich, what a sandwich
Now God don’t exist but oh! this sandwich
Slave to the toil for the belly, the hunger
Wish I was slave for the love of another
We born let to die and then, my brother
The poet look cockeyed at whistling trees
He call me a trickster, I ask “Who art thee?
Are you of this world or are you born free?
This concrete jungle, what’s in it for me?”
That sandwich was tasty I wish I had pie
If that’s all there is then it’s all been a lie
Scatterbrain scatterbrain eat, poop, die

When Love Attacks

Love lies crouched on haunches,
Coiled prehensile set to spring
Unsuspecting upon prey.

In the proper hour Love leaps,
Thrusting self through myocardial tissue,
Dissolving as a tear gas in the bloodstream.

On Finding a Document Production Workflow for Emacs

I have a modest goal: write some fiction. Instead of actually working toward accomplishing that goal, I’m going to obsess about the toolchain and other externalities used to support this endeavor.

I will use revision control. By an accident of history I will be using git.

I will use a text editor. Since I don’t want to have to run into frictions from modal editing while fiction writing, I will be using Emacs.

If fictions were primarily distributed and displayed as plain-text files, I’d be good to go. They aren’t, and I would like to at least attempt to send this higher up the food chain, ending in either a Microsoft Word Document or PDF.

Say, LaTeX makes some nice pdfs. While it manifestly does not suck, and AucTeX is the bee’s knees, I want to do whatever I can in the way of premature optimization to tilt the ratio of writing to formatting heavily in writing’s favor. LaTeX is formatting heavy, so I’d like to avoid that.

Docbook XML also suffers from the same issue. It is a well-specced and quite nice document format. And while nxml- mode is bar-none the premier way to edit straight XML, sorry, it ain’t happening.

So, what essentially plain-text formats can I convert to either LaTeX or Docbook XML, which I can then use to produce my output format of choice? As of this writing, I see three viable options:

org-mode ships with emacs, and is great. Writing novels in it would be orthogonal to its original purpose in note-taking and agenda-organizing. It only exports LaTeX/PDF, not Docbook. While it may work, I think successive options are more promising.

muse-mode is designed from the ground up for publishing, not note-taking. It exports both LaTeX and Docbook. This would probably be my first choice, except for one thing: its wiki syntax.

It seems asinine of me to start complaining about a wiki syntax now. I mean, isn’t that the whole point of this exercise, to find a wiki-like syntax I can convert from? Right. I’m not complaining about a wiki syntax, I’m complaining about this wiki syntax. All in all it’s not necessarily a bad one, but it is a domain-specific language for this mode only. It enjoys no reuse outside of this particular application. If the third option didn’t exist, I’d probably use it anyway.

But we have markdown, and the magical frobnicator that frobnicates markdown into a potpourri of other formats: namely, pandoc. Markdown mode is pretty handy, and I’ll probably end up writing a simple minor-mode or git-hook bash script for automating the pandoc conversions.

I’ll let you know how this turns out.

Spaceman in Space

Hurtling slowly through the void
Floating about in a flight suit
Checking, rechecking the ship’s math
Occasionally putting the helmet on

There are lots of checklists in space

The ship always beats him at chess

He never watches films anymore.
He never reads novels anymore.
Sometimes he cranks up the music,
And sometimes he drifts in the silence.

When he can’t sleep, he remembers when he used to dance the tango.


“You’re too funny.”

“Why? What did I do?”

She was laughing too hard to be taken aback. “What do you mean?” Snort.

“If I was too funny, then I wasn’t just the right amount of funny. When did I cross the line?”

Her hysterics subsided. “I’m not sure.” She instinctively reached for his hand.

“I simply showed you the comic, which I thought was simply funny, and then reiterated that I like the man in the last panel would be thinking about how the bear might defend himself from…”

She interrupted. “Don’t, you’ll kill it,” she said, her face drawing down into a pout.

“But I thought I did kill it; I went too far.” He very nearly looked her full in the face.

“Now you have.” She actively avoided his stare.

“So I hadn’t before?”

“I was laughing my fool head off!”

“But you said I was too funny.”

“God!” she blasphemed loudly enough for other passengers to hear. “Did you not catch the emphasis you just repeated back to me? You’re too funny doesn’t mean you’re excessively funny, just that I find you very funny.” She lightly punched him in the should; he was oblivious to it. He was too busy thinking.

“Oh,” he said after a while. “I think I blew it.”

“Yes.” She was looking straight ahead. “Yes you did.”

“I suppose now isn’t the time to talk about marriage then.”

“I suppose not,” she said. “I thought we were going to have a nice discussion about it.”

“On a bus? Because I showed you a comic strip?”

“Why on earth must you always do this?”

“Do what?”

“One minute you’re hilarious and then you’re still huggable but then you’re still so serious about everything it just… you eat moments like zombies eat brains.”


She burst out laughing and whacked his chest with her purse.