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The woes of a computer algebra system programmer (epilogue) (Michael Wester)
(original, chuckle)

I wrote this one evening and it became the epilogue of my dissertation.

The Final Simplification

Once before a console dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of Macsyma lore---
While I wavered, nearly napping, suddenly there came a snapping,
A snap, snap, snap reverberating throughout the core.
`` `Tis some daemon,'' I muttered, ``examining my network door---
Only this and nothing more.''

It was a long ago hour in May, I still remember to this day,
When this apparition first upon me bore.
I had eagerly sought to reduce untold numbers of symbols loose,
Loose throughout my machine's memory store---
Just this and nothing more.

Vainly, I had tried to crunch my symbols down to a decent bunch,
But with no success; there was no clever method I could adore.
I had wished to bring to fruition the final goal of my tuition,
The very last cause that drove me now ahead and to the fore---
Simply this and nothing more.

The mad shimmering of my screen was the last thing I had seen,
Thrilling me with fantastic errors I had never encountered before.
And now came this gentle snapping, almost as if something was quietly tapping,
Tapping into my computer's core,
Seeking its way in---to be released, nevermore!

I knew then this was no turtle, but instead another hurdle,
Impeding me from the goal I could only now abhor.
It was a symbolic processor, its algorithms mere gossamer,
Poking its ever expanding heap into the my system's memory store---
Planning to hold onto each and every bit forevermore!

Soon, I would lose all ability for swapping, my calculations would all be
And yet it would still demand even more!
I knew then there was no turning back; I would soon have to make my attack,
My attack on this monstrous memoryivore---
Now or nevermore!

So, strengthening my emaciated will, I stalked my potential kill,
Making monitoring its process status my only chore.
Suddenly, with an outrageous cry, I knew finally it would have to die;
I threw an interrupt at it like the Hammer of Thor---
To stop it now and forevermore!

Unfortunately, the system hung, and I knew right away I would be done,
Done, unless I lept to a distant shore.
``So it's to be hardball,'' I thought.  ``Then that's how it will be fought,
Man versus symbol manipulator, a contest not unlike war---
Raw power to the victor; to the vanquished, nothing more!''

With a nervous twitch, I hunted for the switch
To reboot the system and wipe clean the core.
I pushed the rocker cleanly and smiled a little meanly
With full knowledge that I had finally cleared the score,
For now and forevermore!

Ah, but the system did not reboot or make even the least little hoot,
And this made my anger wax very sore.
I thought then, ``I will remove its damned felicity by eliminating its source
   of electricity,''
And squatted purposefully to the floor---
``Once the cord goes, this beast will haunt me nevermore!''

Well, I tugged and twisted, but the cord easily resisted,
And out of nowhere, it appeared I had become embued with gore.
My own body was now struggling against the process still juggling
Symbols in an ever widening sweep around the computer's core---
Ever wider, they began to seep into my body's pores.

Many years since have passed, but I have yet to see my last,
And the last of the symbols which I now abhor.
The only revolution has been my traumatic evolution
Into a symbiotic memory hog, thrashing on the floor---
Rationally simplifying for now and forevermore!

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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