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Scientists Discover Previously Unknown Holidays

by S.J.Zeve at Hacker Times December 16, 1985

Researchers at the Hacker Institute have discovered a previously unknown pair of holidays similar in nature to All Saints Day and Halloween. Researchers claim that these holidays have been missed in the past due to their rather specialized natures and a non-religious orientation.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the holidays seem, in many respects, to be fairly young in age and so not quite settled properly into calendar slots as are such older and more staid holidays as Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, Easter, Purim, Hannukah, and so forth. Indeed these two new holidays not only float around within the calendar from year to year on every currently known calendar system, but they are even known to shift position depending on where in the world you are celebrating them. For example, in the USA they might be celebrated in June while in Argentina they get celebrated in January. Sometimes, they even shift dates between adjacent houses; your family celebrating them on the 14th and 15th while your neighbors celebrate it on the 20th and 21st (or even in different months).

Researchers at the Institute claim that they made this exciting discovery of the new holidays purely by accident. Rather than looking for new holidays, they were continuing the Institute's famous study on the effects of home buying on the behaviour patterns of hackers. Indeed, this new finding is by the same group that discovered the "Attic Fan" effect of home buying on hackers. The "Attic Fan" effect is named after a particular incident in the study where researchers discovered a previously asocial hacker standing out at the back yard fence talking to the neighbors about the attic fan he had just finished installing. This was an important breakthrough in their investigation, from that point on they were able to identify more and more cases where previously asocial or hackersocial hackers were spending time talking to non-hackers about typical suburban interests such as home repairs, what the kids have been up to, the lawn, and the weather. (See story "The Attic Fan Effect" in our early November issue).

Pagan authorities that we have consulted feel that these new holidays, * All Repairs Day * and * Repaireen *, may in fact be manifestations of the birth of a new deity (tentatively named either Fickzt or D'whityors'lv) or the resurrection/re-incarnation of a deity previously believed permanently dissolved (called variously J'k'falltrds and Houmcr'ftzm'n).

Although divided on the cause, age, and significance of these newly discovered holidays all the experts we talked to (the pagans, the researchers at the Institute, and outside researchers) agree that these newly discovered, seemingly non-secular holidays are fairly straightforward in nature. All Repairs Day is a day of celebration of all that is holy in home repairs; All Repairs Day is when the home craftsperson celebrates with his or her house (or any possession repaired during the previous year, but most frequently the house) work well done during the past year. Repaireen, the night before All Repairs Day, is when the barrier between the current status of an object and the previous status of the object is at its weakest; since most objects don't have enough personality to exert themselves, the objects that act up are usually unhappy houses.

The Institute report claims that on Repaireen your house is most likely to express its displeasure with some modification or repair made in the past, usually a poorly or sloppily done job. Sometimes though, it will object simply because it feels it has been disfigured. For instance, if you took a porch or sundeck off of the house, it might feel that its lines had been damaged or that its features were now disfigured. Probably the greatest danger of this night is that an older cranky house might take out on you its displeasure with changes made by a previous owner. Especially if the previous owner has moved on without leaving a forwarding address (such as when they die or move to New Jersey). It is believed that many so-called "haunted" houses are merely houses voicing their legitimate Repaireen complaints, but, because Repaireen (with all of its ramifications) was an unrecognized holiday before, no one understood what the poor houses were trying to say.

Researchers at the Institute made their discovery through discussions with hackers who had bought houses in the past few years. Often these hackers had moved from rented house to rented house before finally buying a house for themselves. When asked to describe what caused them to finally buy a house of their own, these hackers often claimed that they felt uneasy in the rented houses, that something felt wrong or out of place and they weren't able to fix it. A feeling much like they got when using poorly designed software that they didn't have source code for; some claimed that once, sometimes twice, a year they could literally feel their rented houses calling out for something. Many claimed that it frustrated their debugging instincts that they couldn't fix the "bugs" they could "hear" in the house at such times. For several months, the researchers mistook this sensitivity to the houses for the commonly found urge to customize software to personal requirements. Only after more and more hackers began to explain about "feeling the house calling out for something one night" did they realize that they were seeing an entirely different phenomenon.

A spokesman for the Institute claims that although this finding of the new holidays is very exciting, it simply isn't covered by the grant which funds the researchers who discovered the holidays. As a result, the group has had to postpone further research on the holidays until the study on the effects of home buying on hackers has been completed. The companies underwriting the home buying study are quite adamant about having the study completed; they are anxious to find out what kinds of changes they can expect to see in their hackers as the hackers grow older. However, at the Institute's request they have increased funding for the study to allow an expansion to cover hardware hackers as well as software hackers. The Institute spokesman also indicated that the Institute is now seeking funding for two more studies, one to follow up on this discovery of the holidays and another one to re-evaluate some earlier findings about the sensitivity of hackers and also about their need to customize software and hardware. These re-evaluations will be designed to cover both hardware and software hackers.

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