Friday, December 30, 2005

The new year is upon us...

This has been a heck of a year for me.

In late 2004 I started a new job, but essentially didn't gain traction until early 2005 (as you might expect, it was kind of slow from December 13 to the end of the year). The new job marks a departure for me in some respects. Prior technology jobs I focused most of my effort in the technology direction.

This time I spent my efforts in a more complicated, but wiser direction; I decided that communicating what I was doing was more important than the solution at hand. Which, if you've ever done enterprise-class work, you would understand is often not as relevant upon your talents as might be expected. This is a hard fact to swallow -- technology people like to pride themselves upon their prowess.

I realized, somewhere in this time frame, that I had turned a corner. I'm not a geek anymore -- I'm a suit. Yes, dear fans, Paul Ferris still codes shell, c, Perl, expect and so on -- but that's not my primary focus. Value, return on investment and so on -- these terms come to mind (and mouth) more and more in my day to day work.

It was a hard fact to swallow.

2005 was a good year for me. I learned a lot about me. Some of it, if you've been reading, came as a result of my own quest to understand just what the heck makes me the creative guy, and just what has kept me somewhat sane (somewhat being the operative word here -- there's a fine line between creativity and insanity -- some might even argue that the line itself doesn't exist). I'm going to focus more energy in that direction in 2006.

We mark 6 years from the new millennium -- remember the Y2K scare? We're not supposed to have running electricity and working computers, remember? I still remember new years eve 1999, when it was all supposed to go down in a big, smoldering pile of ashes. Didn't happen. My wife called a friend right at the dawn of 2000, and said "Hey, the lights are on here!"

The friend replied something to the effect that one of the major newscasters had said that nothing was safe until March 2000. Yeah, paranoia will destroy ya...

I have a lot to be thankful for. I'm going to spend some time in reflection and try and be grateful for it all.

Thanks to all of the friends who made this moment happen. Thanks to the angels in my life (you know who you are). You were there at key moments to pull me back from the fire, and I'll never forget it.

Happy New Years everyone -- God Bless you all.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Everything Christmas

Okay, so Christmas is supposed to represent Christ's birth. I wish I could say that this has been my experience in life. In the past, some rather dark things have had a rather negative effect upon my general feelings for the holiday. Helping it along has been my inevitable tendency to try and please my family (all of it, including extended, wife and so on). The end result being that I end up rushing all over kingdom come, wishing like hell the day was 48 hours long to accommodate everyone. I get to make choices, like do I leave the house when I wake up to be with my brothers at my mom and dads, or do I stay home waiting for my wife to wake up?

And it always sucks. I never have the time, or if I do one thing I end up pissing off someone else. Adding to the general negative attitude that all of this crap has bread over the years, is some stuff that I simply can't share here, but I will simply refer to as friction. The friction this year simply makes me not want to come back on Christmas day next year.

I think we're going to go nuclear (as in family) and simply say "This day is ours, we're going to spend it at my house". It's a hard decision, but I wish I had gone this route sooner. Ahh, life.

This year has been taxing. I'm learning more and more that I can only have so much sanity in my life in so many areas. At some point, the lines between who I am and what everyone expects me to be have to be drawn. I'm drawing some of them here and now, before I end up having to say things that can't be taken back -- that's not my style, hurting other people so that I can feel better about myself.

Life is complex after all (Scott Peck was right -- such a simple observation, with such deep connotations). I'm going to simplify some of it now, I hope.

Here's to the new year!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas rides a short 2 days or so away...

I've always had a rough time with Christmas, and lately it's been rougher.

My childhood has a rather rough memory jammed in it, one that haunts me especially this Christmas. I shudder at the thought. I dread the holiday (and I shouldn't). Putting up Christmas decorations isn't something enjoyable for me -- it's a real chore, actually.

What to do...Revisit the past, and work on the present. I have to get over this. It's darn near time, as I feel I've made Christmas less than an optimal experience *cough* for my direct family :(

Doesn't make me happy, that, either.

More later. Maybe next year.

Tips for stuff not to put on your resume...

Okay, it's vulgar, profane and irreverent. Share it with your friends that are putting together their resume, it's bound to help...
Tips: More Words That Don't Belong On Your Resume...

The inside jokes here are pretty juvenile, but in essence, there was a serious document that inspired this one entitled "19 words that do not belong on your resume" -- and this came out shortly after I read it.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Life is difficult.

So goes the beginning of the book, The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck, MD. One of my favorite books, it's about spiritual growth, and the fact that life is a journey, not a destination.

The latest journey for me has been one of self-discovery. I've blundered through life, mostly ignorant of my own existence. Oh yeah, for a guy, I'm fairly in touch with who I am from many angles, but the greater picture, the things that uniquely make me what or who I am, well, let's just say I never really thought about it much.

A lot of this has had to do with a stable marriage (something that hasn't been as stable of late, but still very strong) and a really terrific wife (no, these are the same thing). My life has become unbalanced lately. The depression was part of it, more of a symptom though.

The fact is, I still don't know who I am, but I'm learning more every day. I'm learning to be very happy with this person. I know what I'm not going to put up with, and what I'm going to focus on, going forward. At least, I'm making a good list. Some of the frustrating aspects of me stem from the fact (as previously outlined) that I don't "fit in" with the general mold of what it is to be male in our society.

Big fat harry deal. I'm over it now (at least, I hope by now I've come to grips with it).

What I'm not going to ever be: Worried about my sexuality. Let's face it. I'm very much heterosexual. I'm not going to worry about how much of my creativity spills out. I'm going to embrace the fact that I love making people laugh -- I like making people feel special and that's just me. So Rambo(tm) doesn't think it's cool -- he can kiss my ass. I like writing, listening to sappy music (and some rock) and sometimes I even sing to myself. If you have the punishment of overhearing me, sorry.

In the past I've been all about some stereotypical values -- I've been the devoted husband and will continue to do so, but now I know it's more for me, not for what society expects from me. These are opposing forces in my life at times, and I've simply decided that "I am". If people don't understand me, it's going to be rough at times -- for them. For me, as it sits, I'm not going to bother explaining much in the way of why I am the way I am.

It's been a bumpy year. I've had the closest call to deal with, and survived. This, in part to the help of a couple of dear friends who've taken time out of their day to listen and to remind me of who I am. They know, because they experience me -- I don't see me from their angles. Over and over, God is telling me, in his own words, that I am a special being and that for that reason I alone I must not be reckless. People look at the life I have and mistakenly think it, in many ways, is ideal.


I have done a lot of things that others dream of doing. The reason I've succeeded over the years has been because I've taken risk. I've been willing to leave when others would have stayed, I've been willing to try where others have simply thought the risk was too high of failure. It was mostly good for me, but the long term effects of switching companies every 2 years or so and trying new things has been damage to my soul and my persona.

I tend to get to know people really well, and then I have to go. I've tried to stay in touch with most of them, but it's very difficult in the long term. All I can say is that the emotional scaring was a lot larger than I really understood. Over the years, people have tried to get close to me and I've always been rather harsh when the boundaries were being explored. That was wrong -- and I can see that clearly now. At least I should have been sensitive to their feelings. Recent developments in my life have ripped open portions of my soul, and I see these things clearly now. It's painful, but it will make me more aware going forward.

Christmas approaches. We're not ready here for it. Our tree sits assembled and undecorated. Simply too much has been happening, and it's very unlike my household not to have at least the outside lights up and running. It's indicative of the pain we're going through. There's still time -- maybe we'll get things going soon.

Regardless of this year, Christmas has not been a special time for me the past 35 years or so -- more in the next blog entry. I have reasons that relate to some rather difficult childhood experiences. Maybe I'll share some of that next time.

Till then,

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Latest Enya CD is beautiful...

The woman continues to pour dimensions into her music that I simply could not fathom prior.

The name of the CD is Amarantine -- get a copy. It'll open your soul...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Persistent Spam Stupidity by Rightsvault

Okay, I've had it with the same piece of blog bot SPAM -- here's the text that keeps stupidly getting submitted to my LawnMowers and Free Software blog entry (quite lame, even by my standards -- yes, I'm slamming my own work here).

What the F---? I mean, just where are people finding this page? What makes it rank high in google as anything? Why is a comment like this:

This blog is awesome! If you get a chance you 
may want to visit this Free Downloads site, 
it's pretty awesome too! 
constantly occurring in my in-box? It's mainly this stupid, inane comment that has made me switch on moderation, actually. There were other stupid bots, but they learned rather quickly that I was going to reject the comment.

I have a suggestion -- we should use the internet against itself -- we should use the people at the top of the domain chain as the police. If someone does something stupid like this, and a court of internet peers discovers it -- they lose their domain. POOF, no more stupidity. We simply make slimy marketing tactics like spam regulated by the very body that gives out domains.

Then, if someone is acting like a bad internet citizen, they will have some pressure to conform -- because not conforming means that the thing simply no longer works in your favor.

For example, the above -- this moron keeps posting to my blog. I turn in the email to google, who pushes it (along with any IP address evidence) up the chain to the (several) companies that happen to control top-level domains. Someone there weighs said evidence, and they decide "yep, these people have been acting against our 'do not spam comments on blogs with bots' rule -- take away the domain for a month (first time), for a year (second offense after warning) -- permanently if that isn't enough.

No need for the U.N., the U.S. NSA or any other stupid agency -- they just use a jury-like system to decide who's being offensive, sending out the most spam (by looking at the domains referenced in the spam captured by google, yahoo and AOL) and they simply make doing said stupidity, well, stupid. People that use these methods to get the word out simply lose in the long run.

What's wrong with something simple like this? I don't know. I am tired, however, of "rightsvault" the bot. Someone want to make it shut up already?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Astroturfing*, The Media and the Credibility slide...

Read this story about how the government planted stories in the Iraqi media and you'll get a feeling for just what's wrong with the words "Free Press".

Is the press truly free in a democratic society? If companies can post press releases as articles, if they can pay people to write phony letters to the editors of newspapers -- if they can pay people to plant letters to representatives to falsely lobby in their favor -- is it a truly "free press" -- or is it a press for hire, falsely painting pictures in exactly the same fashion that dictatorial "controlled" presses operate?

The technique the pentagon employed here is not new -- corporations have been doing it for years. Maybe they learned it from the military first. One of my good retired friends at the local McDonalds was involved in similar tactics during the Vietnam war -- he described similar things, anyway. Military propaganda is simply another tactic used to win a war. When lives are on the line, lots of shady things go on.

The sad fact, however, is that stuff like this makes our democracy look flimsy, and it shouldn't -- We're supposed to be better than this, and damnit, it's sad that most of the population simply doesn't understand the bottom end of the moral slide we've landed in.

The slide is happening slowly, daily. Microsoft, the big drug companies -- the pentagon (our government) -- they have lowered the standard of what it means to do the most simple basic functions of human existence.

To quite simply, tell the truth.

Society is based upon simple things like people telling each other the truth. It's what keeps the field of transactions most level. It's what makes people trust each other. It helps when sharing knowledge. Slowly, inevitably, if we win the war on terror, but we do it by lying our asses off, we've lost overall.

We have to have our society in tact, and things like this make America (and by association, our democratic principals) look bad. We have to be better -- we, as a country, have to define the moral high ground.

I'll be swinging all of this together for an editorial (on soon. Keep the thoughts together, and if you have comments, please post them. I feel the topic at hand is ripe for discussion.

*Astroturfing: The practice of generating "false grass roots" campaigns via techniques describe above. I have been, in the past, been directly involved in exposing the behavior.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A glorious 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep

At last... I actually slept something similar to a normal stretch last night.

I've been following the advice of a friend and have set aside some time that is just for me. I'm meditating on the moment, and it's all (mostly) good. Some of my life has simply gotten way to complex of late, and I'd like to simplify some of it.


Life is a lot shorter than you perceive it to be when you're young. But you can't discount experience. This has been one of those. Note the past-tense. Somehow I've righted myself despite the gale of insanity that blew through the space that is my mind.

I have friends -- they're more important than the things in my life.

They're more important than my career, or any amount of money, if not having them means staring at a wall in some asylum somewhere...

I have much to be grateful for, and I'm going to attempt to somehow at times remind myself to express this gratitude.

For life is simply too short to let the opportunity to be appreciated and show appreciation pass by.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


7 hours total?!? 5.5 hours uninterrupted? I keep this up, I might actually cut back on my caffeine intake.

Well.... Let's not go too far.

It's nice to have somewhat coherent thought patterns. I mean, I could actually enjoy the morning, and I went... Shopping (GRIN_MODE=1). Actually, shopping isn't quite what I do -- I make a list of stuff I want, and then I go looking for it. Usually I find it and buy it within a matter of hours.

This contrasted with what /dev/wife calls "shopping", which is from what I see, and inverted scavenger hunt. The idea is, step into a few stores, looking for stuff that you might like (go in with a blank slate, in other words). I think most women would concur -- that's "shopping" in the strictest sense.

Heading out for a trip, and I needed some stuff, and decided to stock up on some things that I keep running out of... I have a surprisingly bland wardrobe for a guy that claims to be creative, but you have to understand, most of the creative FeriCyde stuff is what comes out, not what goes on (the body).

Speaking of which, I've had a hell of a time lately reading my favorite news sites. I'm simply in a sort of mental repair -- my soul went through a meat grinder recently and what's come out is surprisingly liberated in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, there are some major differences:

  • I can't watch visual inputs (television, video games, movies) that annoy me. I used to be able to tolerate the stuff, but now it brings on a spiritual revulsion that's seriously hard to categorize.
  • I feel emotionally raw at times. Church is a heck of an experience of late, for example -- very much more emotional than before.
  • Other experiences are very unimpeded. I can't go into details without fogging the screen up. It's not all bad, in other words...
  • I have a surprisingly low tolerance for things that I feel are cruel or stupid. This lines up with the first observation, only from a participation side.
In short, a sort of rebirth has occurred. Possibly the thing I've been through was needed for me to grow -- although it hurt quite a bit while it was happening, it might have been some needed emotional blockage working it's way out of my system.

Again I have to thank the angels in my life (you know who you are). God Bless you all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I actually dreamed a dream last night...

This is the first time I can remember a dream in months. It was a morbid dream, though, and since I don't really feel like depressing fellow blog readers (save one, who volunteered for the task of dream interpretation), I'll simply stop there. Fact is, I actually dreamed... Wonder of Wonders...

Monday, November 21, 2005

I have a long, black coat...

Long before NEO appeared in "The Matrix" (1996, actually), /dev/wife and I were coat shopping. My wife has a clothing sensibility, and I was in the mood for a black leather jacket -- I had gotten a bit on the porkish side (cough), and had outgrown the last one. Lisa and I were at a coat store in Canton Ohio, looking through coats, and she directed me to the section where they had a bunch of long, full length black leather coats.

I still remember thinking that they were a bit unconventional. And expensive.

She talked me into it based upon the longevity of the coat, and the fact that it would be warm in the cold Ohio wind. The material (Lamb skin) was soft as cloth, but very durable. I bought one, a bit on the large side, because it was comfortable, and because when I put it on, I felt smothered -- hidden almost -- inside the thing. It was a really neat feeling.

Over the years, it's become an almost signature item for me. Among the other things it's brought me (besides the inevitable catch on the car door, drift through the mud and so on) is a sort of unique calling-card. People who are just getting to know me, see me as "The guy with the black leather coat", before they learn my name. They know I have something to do with computers, and it's kind of a unique tag that helps get me noticed (okay, some people don't find it to be a positive sign, but after I begin talking it usually eradicates any initial worries).

On to the reason for talking about it. This is part of the whole "American Creative Male" theme (of course).

Over the past 10 years or so (the time I've had the coat), I've been complimented many times by women on the thing. The guys, though, are a completely different story. It's almost a pariah. There have been a few, brave, creative types. The funniest one, I remember vividly:

  • Guy interested in coat (GIIC): "Hey, no offense there, but how long have you had that coat?
  • ME: "None taken. 3 years."
  • GIIC: "I've always liked coats like that, but couldn't see myself getting one."
  • ME: "Why? You like to abuse or neglect yourself? It's very warm."
  • GIIC: "No, I mean.... Well. It's just that I'm not sure what kind of impression it would make."
  • ME: "It might make people think you're fat?"
  • GIIC: "No. I mean. Well. I mean. It's just that --"
  • ME: "Women love this coat."
  • GIIC: "Exactly." (unspoken words at this point: "They want one for themselves.")
  • ME: "No, I mean, they like the way it looks on me. They don't think I'm gay or anything." Me smiling. The guy is getting uncomfortable.
  • GIIC: "Where did you get it?"
  • ME: (I tell him)
  • GIIC: "How much?"
  • ME: (I tell him)
  • GIIC: "That's a lot of dough -- you think it was worth it?"
  • ME: "It's a great conversation piece, at least."
Seriously, the problem is simple: Nothing says "Dress" like a long, full length coat. This despite years of precedent, Neo, the coolness factor, male high school kids using them to hide shot-guns and so on -- it's simply too damn feminine if it comes past your waist and billows in the wind.

Speaking of which, the thing is great in windy conditions -- years spent as a roving Engineering systems guru in the Greater Cleveland area proved this over and over. It's surprisingly practical. During my Dot-Bomb days when I was stuck at the whims of the often busted airline travel schedules, the thing saved me in many an airport. Here I am, between some wild-ass delayed flight in the middle of the night. I'm wearing said coat. Turn it over, slide over on the bench, pull it up over me like a blanket -- sleep. Ahhhhhh.

But what the hell about it (besides the aforementioned "dress-factor") says it's not masculine to wear? Nothing, other than peer pressure and the fact that most men own, at most, half-length coats (Am I the only one that sees "mini-skirt" in the damn things?!? I honestly don't think I can wear one -- just kidding ;)

Well, it could be one more thing -- to buy a coat like that, you kind of have to be on the pull side. Your wife probably isn't going to get one for you (it might signal doubt about your virility, after all) -- you're going to have to be the one to give it the Ole' OK. And if that's the case, you're at best (hopefully) going to be shopping for it yourself with your wife in tow (or as in my case, in tow of the wife). These situations don't happen in a lot of marriages -- usually guys don't "shop" and certainly if they do, it's for stuff they need to better define their amazing masculinity. You know:

  • Auto Parts
  • Home improvement tools
  • A tie
  • Possibly a new sport coat (not too sporty there! Watch it -- are you having fun or something doing this?!? Whoa, don't let the neighbors see!)
If they're on their own, the price of a full-length leather coat of quality is probably going to scare them away, or worse, drop them into comparison mode ("Let's seeeeee, 45 cases of beer, or this? The Beer wins! Gimme the short leather coat for 75 bucks, please!"). Yeah, guys are cheap, typically, in the clothing department -- unless (as previously outlined), they're lawyers or sale-professionals. In the latter cases, the clothing branch goes into something I call ESM, or Expensive Suit Mode.

In ESM, the more expensive the suit, the higher the status. ESM brings on a new form of insanity, whereby the purchaser somehow believes that cloth for a suit has suddenly become a rare commodity, and they're willing to pay more per inch for it than 100 times the cost of thick carpeting. They purchase the suit knowing full well that the only other people who will recognize the value is another sucker who has bought into the entire ESM philosophy.

I'm not one of these people, by the way. All of my suits are bought carefully for way less at clothing outlets, and I've yet to run into anyone who thought they were all that cheap (except for people afflicted with ESM, who have trouble passing bell-hops without turning up their noses). I mean, seriously, suit technology hasn't changed much in over 150 years -- why I'm paying thousands for a few yards of cloth that can be cut via machine into a well-known configuration can only boil down to insanity.

While we're on the subject, just what about me putting on a damn suit makes me special all of a sudden? Suddenly my food service improves, women smile at me and I can get out of speeding tickets easier (yes, this is a proven fact -- okay, I'm sure of it -- okay, I made it up, but it's an intuitive probability).

Thing is, compare suit technology to the yearly round of serious creativity that women are exposed to for their clothing. Not that I'm really complaining all that much, because I love watching the wife try on new stuff -- even when she's dressed. Okay, that was crude. I think my wife looks great clothed in new stuff of interesting design. I won't make her unclothed state a blog subject, but you can likely guess where my mind was headed. Damn it. Back to the subject at hand.

Thing is, she gets to have all this creative stuff. Guys go out with their wives in these amazing outfits, and they're wearing... a suit. Wow! I don't know how you women put up with it. I'm glad it's this way, somewhat -- it makes getting dressed a lot easier -- what makes me wonder is watching how much fun she has doing the dress up thing. No, I'm not about to suggest I want to be a cross dresser, simply saying it might be cool if suits were just a tad on the creative side -- but we all know where that would go. I mean, if a guy has a problem with a full length leather coat, he's gonna shit himself if he walks into the suit store and finds a blazer made out of see-through material or something.

It's fun to think about at least. Makes me grin from ear to ear. Thanks for listening!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The soundtrack for today's' blog entry:
When my fist clenches, crack it open
Before I use it and lose my cool
When I smile, tell me some bad news
Before I laugh and act like a fool

If I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat
If I shiver, please give me a blanket
Keep me warm, let me wear your coat
--The Who: Behind Blue Eyes

I think that this song has some subtle undertones to how society treats the creative male. How it slowly, but surely, does what it can to eradicate any hints of the being. The verses above are the strongest indicators -- they point to the slow but subtle ways that most men are influenced, slowly, but surely, into simply being automatons.

Some of us buck the trend (for our sanity). We, for some unforeseen reasons -- maybe the influence of a teacher or trusted mentor, decide to ignore the advice, shoving and general peer pressure, and let the being grow, fester and ultimately win our inner being.

I used to have a friend named Stacey. Believe it or not, he (yes, he) was a manager at a Dominos' Pizza where I was working. Stacey was pretty crazy in his persona -- I liked the guy. He was the manager over a crew of about 30-40 drivers and cooks, and the restaurant was pretty successful. I reference him here, because somehow he also survived with his creative persona intact.

A Stacey story; He used to wrestle in college. He gave it up about the third year -- not because he wasn't any good at it -- but because he's like this really happy go lucky kind of guy (not much got him down, from what I remember). And he would go to wrestling matches, reach out to shake the other guys hand and say "Hi! I'm Stacey!" expecting to simply have a sporting wrestling time -- and the other guy was inevitably an asshole, aggressively, and in the most masculine, angry voice "I'm gonna Kick Your Ass!" -- this is from memory, Stacey, so if I got parts of it wrong, sorry.

The deal was, Stacey liked wrestling for the "fun" of it. In case you're wondering, he was very much a heterosexual (references to earlier blog entries here, sorry). He had a beautiful girlfriend from what I remember. In other words, his sexual orientation (to me, at least) was never in question. He gave up wrestling, however, because he couldn't stand the stupidity of guys who simply couldn't enjoy the sport, as opposed to look at it like some sort of way to play WWE Monday night raw.

It bummed him out. It was simply not something he wanted to contribute to, eventually. I have a lot of memories of him making funny comments and causing the day to go so much faster because of his sense of humor. These things are important. As a matter of fact, humor helped me through this ordeal (so far). I have to laugh.


One of my coworkers learned of my recent depression about 3 days ago. She was pretty much floored, because during the whole ordeal I still made jokes (some were pretty morbid, unfortunately). The deal is that there's a perception that if you're always laughing, then you must be happy. Usually, it's true. For me, the problem is that the depression didn't dent the facade of who I appear to be (much). Complicating matters is that I've lost a lot of weight recently. Only a few people had any idea, and I even chose to limit these contacts eventually, as I simply didn't want to drag anyone else down with me.

Might as well blog it out, eh? Kind of funny, when you think about it. Maybe I'll infect the whole human race (doubtful). My hope is that someone going through similar experiences will be able to see that I made it, how I made it and so on. I'm still battling the train of thought issues, by the way.

Off and on, I feel more and more in control of my thought patterns, and that's an important change. Some of this restoration is coming from my sleep (6+ hours last night, but not contiguous). Still, I need your prayers.

Take care, and God Bless,

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sleep, beautful sleep.

Ok, 7 hours is like, bliss.

This keeps up, my articles might just start to appear again on LXer! Yes!

Got 15 inch JAX(tm) on the CRX -- oh Geeze, what a rock-n-roll ride. Just have some mods inside and the muffler needs raised about an inch upwards -- and next week I'm off the whole week. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm still not ready to drop off the subject of the creative American male (CAM). When the internal rage builds up (can't be too long here), I'll spout some more useless observation. Someone's gotta do it ;)

I'm up at 1:40

I know what you're thinking -- damn, must have been a short nights' rest. You would be, unfortunately, wrong. I've slept a whopping 5 hours, and plan on going back to sleep after this blog entry.

Yesterday was -- 2 hours. Could not sleep for the whole night, fighting off a single thought. But I'm winning. Yesterday for the first time I've had most of my sanity back (whatever the hell that is). Yesterday I could talk for the most part with my coworkers without this same intrusion into my consciousness. I'm told that lack of sleep is an issue here, so it's sort of a catch-22.

The night prior to the above 2 hour thing, I had a 5 or 6 hour total (can't remember now) -- but only max of 3-4 hours contiguous sleep. Still, the normalcy is somewhat refreshing. This is the first time in quite some time that I have a clear train of thought at waking.

The clue that things were back is that I was remarkably functional on the two hours yesterday. It was pretty amazing. People that know me noticed that I was back to joking around a lot, which is pretty much the sound-track for my brain.

Perfect transition.

The problem with being a creative male on this planet is that you're (as a man), not supposed to have a lot of right-brained expression. You're not supposed to laugh a lot, or make a lot of creative output -- it makes people uncomfortable.

There are exceptions -- "The Artist", he's allowed to put up a painted picture of a naked woman on a cross, have a lot of people come around talking about how it does this or that on whatever of whatever snooty-nosed art dimension -- it's important though, that the guy that did the painting use a lot of BS technical terms and seem left-brained whilst describing it.

Another exception: "The Rock and Roller". This guy is allowed to do or say just about anything (not TOO feminine there! Watch that lisp!) -- for example, look at the cover of a half-indecent hair band album, and compare it to just about any commercial for women's makeup. The differences are stark, rather -- only one, and that's the gender of the photo subjects. Axel Rose can wear a skirt (okay, it's a kilt -- someone want to explain the difference?!?), he can cry, scream, talk about love, be creative, write music, do videos -- and attract women in the process! What a gig.

But try just being an average guy, walking into any situation and saying -- "I felt like crying when I watched the move "Hope Floats", it was so moving." -- and mean it. (FWIW, I loved the movie, and yes, I did cry). Forget it. You're not allowed. Too right brained there! WHOA, what are you thinking!?! -- That's a "chick flick". Try making pottery (I have a friend that does), or painting, sculpture -- writing kind of falls in there.

As a matter of fact, the whole creativity thing for people that aren't questioned as to their sexuality, boils down to painting murals on car hoods (hey, that might attract chicks baby!), and building custom cars/motorcycles. What -- you've made your own new clothing -- better watch that guy. FWIW, I did make my own clothing mods when I was in my early 20's. I couldn't really share the stuff with anyone except one or two of my close female friends. My father thought I was nuts at the time (I was having a blast, though, so it didn't matter to me).

Other stuff: I write. I'm a consummate practical joker and I've been known to write copy just to make people laugh upon occasion. It makes the guys very uncomfortable. They don't know what to say. It boils down to "That made me laugh, but there's something wrong with you, man." That's the stuff being said to my face -- the stuff behind my back is "That guy probably leans the wrong way -- he's probably one of those pinko, gay liberal types, and those pictures of his wife are obvious fakes..."

Except I'm happily married to a Goddess. She appreciates the creative side of me -- tempers it actually. She, a long time ago, for whatever reason, found that side of me to be a joy.

There's a lot of laughter in the Ferris household. When the skeptics like the above meet my wife (I've had multiple occasions of this, by the way, where people that wondered at my orientation, for lack of better words, met, finally the woman that is my better half) -- these people inevitably look completely bewildered. I'm sure the things being added to the list of stuff to hiss behind my back include the phrase "What the hell does she see in him!?!"

Our society is geared toward stomping out as much of the creative male as possible. It happens early -- Joey isn't allowed to have dolls, color the wrong things (Hey, watch too much color in general -- it's all gotta be blue or the color of GI-Joe's fatigues). He certainly better not have an expressive personality -- that is so "Queer-eye for the Straight Guy".

speaking of the show (never saw even one episode, along with thousands of other TV/Cable crap) -- I think the whole idea of what it stands for -- it's a cop-out. I think if a guy can't simply go to some of his favorite female friends and say "What do you think about this or that" fashion idea of the day, he's a completely repressed moronic ape that probably should simply not go out in public (it will save embarrassment). My wife happily gives me feedback on stuff. Some guys sense that there is a conflict of interest, in which case, they should use a friend or sister. The obvious conflict being that the wife may not want the husband to look good. Hello? You got a wife like that, it was probably a bad choice in the first place -- just some advice ;)

Speaking of which, I've never, ever, when buying clothing, _not_ been able to sincerely engage a female salesperson for advice. They will happily explain what's current, what looks good on you and so on if you're in a pinch. Oh, wait, though, you're a guy in our society. You're not supposed to be caring how you look. This is more than a pair of jeans and cowboy boots we're talking about here -- better shy away. God knows, maybe someone with a surveillance camera might share the footage with your drinking buds. Worse, those same buds might spot you at the local coffee shop wearing the stuff.

And this is just ... clothing ...

I didn't used to care much about clothing, but have been enjoying it more and more of late (See, maybe I need to listen to more Elton John records -- I'm beginning to tilt now, aren't I!?). Seriously -- it's simply something kind of fun. I understand the whole dressing up thing that Women do a lot more and it's kinda fun to go out feeling good about myself. But talking about it isn't allowed for heterosexuals. Saying it's fun -- well! -- That is off the charts.

Tell me, what's the difference between having a nice suit that you love to wear and a decently striped Mustang GT (besides the obvious 28k or so)? The first is ok to wear to weddings and funerals (unless you're in the sales/legal game, which is a different story). The second case of "dress-up" is a layer on top of your testosterone-charging stead. It's allowed, in other words, because nothing says "male" like a Mustang GT in America.

Oh, wait, I have a "yellow" one. Is that allowed?!? I love this car. Seriously, it's a bit much on the outrageous scale. It's impossible to miss, actually.

Well, I shouldn't say that. I was being followed a bit closely the other day by a couple of members of the opposite sex in a red LX convertible(those V6 Mustangs have a bit of trouble keeping up). I avoided getting rear-ended by pulling the car into the median at a red-light. Seems they were following closely and the person ahead of me stopped unexpectedly. What the heck they were doing following me so closely I'll never know...

Regardless, the yellow thing exhibits dismay in the guys. If it's a car, and it's not a ricer (the rules change there, big time, for the better), it better be:

  1. Black
  2. Gray
  3. Red
  4. Maybe white
  5. Black... yes, black is allowed.
What's the deal here?!? I mean, color is not allowed for what stupid, frickin' reason?!? I've had many a female say something positive about the yellow -- but guys often have said "Man, I don't know if I could own something that yellow." The implications are obvious -- "This color thing may not be very masculine. I'd have to wear a pair of cowboy boots every time I drove it to offset the "queer factor".

Enough for now, I'm just ranting on some of the stupidity. You can see it, though, our society has obvious issues when it comes to males that allow more of the right-brained stuff to show through.

Just some thoughts. Talk soon,

Thursday, November 17, 2005

4 hours of interupted sleep...

At least I got back to sleep (mostly -- it's 1 AM as I write this). 4 hours is actually damn good. Maybe tomorrow I'll do better and sleep longer. Well, I scooped another 2 hours -- fell asleep trying to make this blog entry! WTF! Maybe some deliverance after all...

Thanks for the prayers...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

About that Pretext thingy:

The pretext, if we're to believe M. Scott Peck (I do, for what that's worth), is the lie that the demon tells to intrude upon your soul. In my case, I have the pretext down (OK, no, I'm not going to share). I will say this, it's insidious--

ly stupid. Breaking it out, looking at it from all sides, it's simply one of those things that would uniquely hook me and my soul. What a ride. Months of anguish are beginning to fade. The true test will be my sleeping patterns.

If they return to normal (for me, normal would be something like 6 hours a night average, with me lucidly waking myself and going right back to sleep like maybe 2 to 3 times a night). I awoke feeling pretty good this morning thanks to the help of a friend who helped me identify the final piece of the pretext.

Like the final piece in a jigsaw puzzle, some stupid shit snapped into place, and I realized the reasons for my insanity are related to some denial on my part. Denial of the fact that I'm getting older. Denial of the fact that I should not want more when I already have everything. Denial of the fact that some good cannot be done without doing more than a totality of harm.

That and some understanding of the unique problems already identified, have helped me come to grips with what's wrong, what I'm not going to allow, and how I'm going to reconcile these forces of thought that have been wrestling in my brain.

I am aging. When I look around, I'm not aging all that badly. I'm going to take some dear advice of a friend, and try to live in the moment and enjoy who I am (some of the best advice I've had lately). I work out regularly, and have more energy than most guys 20 years younger than me. I have a beautiful wife of almost 20 years as well. I have a good job where I get to be creative, funny -- and I have an extremely good team of people that have been wonderful to me in the thickest of moments.

What more do I want from my life? I've already raised a son, and I'm in full "Uncle-Paul" mode for the rest of my extended family. Gee, sounds like real deficit material there, doesn't it?!? The insidiousness of all of this sounds petty with this as a back-drop, but I warn you, dear reader, not to count the simplest of lies as trivial. At the core of some of the most painful mistakes are small lies. Things that are hissed in the darkest spaces of your existence can make mountains out of the smallest of mole-hills.

I drove my CRX to work today (no, I'm not changing subjects here). This is a car with obvious warts. It's not my beautiful GT convertible (I do have an obvious vice when it comes to that piece of machinery). It's more me, however. Light, balanced, and despite the warts, fast as all hell. I laugh every time I drive it. I have another joy, thanks to my brother Art.

I hope over the next few weeks to see the balance return to my life that's been missing for months. The thought of sleep (Glorious sleep) intrigues me. The idea that maybe the articles will flow out, instead of being almost a mental barfing, which is the closest analogy, sorry -- that articles will flow out of my mind like they were earlier in the year -- that idea makes me smile.

I'm going to drive the CRX more. I'm going to live in the moment of the situation, and enjoy things the way they are. Are they everything I could have? No, but I already have so much that others only dream of.

I must again thank the angels in my life -- God Bless you all.

Okay, 3 hours. Not exactly a record...

But, It's going to have to do today.

Yesterday was pretty bleak.

The word for today is deliverance. Can you say that? I thought you could.

The soundtrack for today's blog entry is Sara MacLachLan's "Arms of the Angels":

I need some distraction or a beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
Let me be empty and weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

In the arms of the Angel far away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the Angel; may you find some comfort here

I know I have angels in my life. I can feel them around me from time to time, and some of them have human faces.

The deliverance I speak of -- what is it? Deliverance is a phase of exorcism that involves others praying for the possessed one while the demon is removed. It follows the pretext -- the phase where the demons are identified. I am in deliverance now. This is potentially a turning -- we'll see.

Am I making progress? I think so. I know recently I felt vacated -- that something had left and that I was winning, but things were back with a vengance the next day. There is biblical context for this as well -- once cast out, the demons can sometimes come back with reinforcements.

Sounds bleak, but let's take another look at it -- there must have been some serious ass-kicking or they wouldn't have had to come back with friends, now would they?

It is a small victory.
--Score 1 for FeriCyde...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

And I wonder, still I wonder...

Who'll stop the rain!

Didn't used to understand this song. Here are some of the lyrics:

Long as I remember the rain been comin’ down.
Clouds of myst’ry pourin’ confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages, tryin’ to find the sun;
And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain.
I think I do now. It is 2:00 AM. I have slept a whopping 2 hours tonight. Yesterday was the exception to the rule, in other words. Got 4 to 5 hours (Lisa says 4). Great song, by the way, above. If you get a chance, listen to it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

But it's still there.


Better, but not well.

But at least I know some of the stupid names...

I awoke this morning from a glorious

4 to 5 hours of sleep.

I know what you're thinking -- that's terrible! Only 4 hours?!? No, I was ecstatic. This is the most contiguous sleep I've had in weeks. I'm not sure totally why, but I have my theories.

I'm starting to heal, I hope. In the mean time, let's pause for a commercial break:

Attention Crazy Bloggers!

Turn your neurosis into cash! Join the millions of pointless bloggers and put Google ad-sense ads on your on-line diary where you're brain-dumping your problems in the somewhat cathartic attempt to heal your soul! If you're really lucky, maybe you're an incurable nut-case, in which case you might end up a bazillion-aire!

But you're damned to a life of poverty if you get cured this way. Buck up kid, in one state you're rich and the other sane! It's not a bad set of choices!

We now return you to your irregularly scheduled FeriCyde Chat! Enjoy!

God, I hate commercial interruptions.

Anyway, as I was saying, I think I'm getting a bead of the names of some of these things that haunt me. I'm also planning on getting help, so those of you who are writing me worried that you will either A) Never hear me rant about Linux again, or B) Never see me sane on the planet Earth -- you can stop it. I'm not in that bad a state. I mean, last week wasn't really bad or I would not have gotten two articles out of the stream of consciousness (gale of FeriCyde insanity, it's called around here).

And always remember, sanity is for the weak-minded lackeys that have always believed the lie that everything on this stupid planet makes sense in some really pathetic way. Look around you to any caring depth -- you're going to spend a lot of time painfully viewing things that are either causing pain for others or for yourself.

I sincerely think that part of Mark's problem was that he was such a caring guy. I don't know the names of his demons, but my guess is that they wouldn't have gone after him with such ferocity had he been some sort of blank-minded ape.

Enough of this, I have to get into work again. It feels good to have slept for so long uninterrupted. Thanks to everyone who's praying for me -- I'm blessed, so much, by you all...
PS: Comments on this blog are moderated. If you have anything to say that's worth saying, I'll gladly post it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ok, I found time for a nap....

I think I fell asleep for about 20 minutes during a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. The parts I was awake for were really nice. Too bad I had to cut it short and leave Lisa and Steve with the rest :(

Duty calls.

A comment on sleep...

I'm simply not getting it. The demons that haunt my soul can't seem to find me in Gods arms. I've up to this point simply dismissed the insomniac in me as a side-effect; something that the flood of thought interrupts -- but maybe it's not this at all. Maybe somehow my sleep is being interupted by a particular thought. I wake easily when I'm having a bad dream. I simply refuse to have a dream that I don't agree with. Maybe similar things are causing me to be lucid about playback. There's a school of thought that says that when you go to sleep, one of the brain functions that we possess is a sort of neural reorganization -- your brain rearanges memory into more consise order. I have a few crazy thoughts there -- I think it's where short term memory is cleared and placed into long-term memory. That's why you get the playback effect in some cases and dreams in others.

Possibly some thoughts are simply not processing well, so I wake myself to prevent having to look or store them. It's a crazy idea. I'm off to do some work, so in this case, it functioned like an alarm clock...

A Mark Memory

My wife and I ran into Mark one time at a beautiful winery in Missouri -- one that overlooks the Missouri river valley right at I-70. It was one of those rare, perfect summer nights. You can watch the sunset from this place easily, as it faces due west, on top of a high bluff -- right on the edge of it, actually. We're sitting there enjoying a bottle of wine (Riverside Red, I think they called it, actually).

I hear a voice calling my name, and when I look over it takes my mind a bit to figure out who it is.

It's Mark. He's sitting there with a friend, and he invites my wife and I over to drink with him.

Funny thing. He's doing something that involves the state Historian in Missouri, and he tells me the relationship between Missouri Indians and Ohio Indians. Seems they were driven from where I live in Ohio right to about where we're sitting. That was a while back (Just a couple hundred years), so it's not exactly something fresh in anyones' memory.

When Lisa, years later, learned of Marks' passing, she immediately remembered who he was, and what a great guy he had been.

And she had only met him the one time.

Contrast that with the myriad of people in my life that she's met a few times and can't exactly get straight, and you have an idea (small) just how special this guy was. There was a lot of laughter that night. It wasn't just the wine talking.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Who will save the day for my friend Mark?

We were young brothers, 10,8 and 6, if my somewhat messed up memory is correct. My parents were the usual innovative type -- we were latchkey kids (quite common) in a small town in Missouri, growing up in the 1970s. I'm the middle child -- it's that whole diplomatic thing, you know? I'm also the creative type. More on that later.

And we were locked out of our house.

Fortunately, we had a savior, and the name was biblical. Mark, I'll simply call him (because that was his name). Mark was aged between myself and my older brother, Art. We were locked out, but Mark didn't despair. He asked a simple question -- were there any windows left open in the house? We all walked the perimeter of the house.

I approach the house (years later -- I'm 40 at the time -- a different house. Marks', actually). I'm with Marks Dad. He has tears in his eyes. He explains that the house Mark built had pieces of other houses in it. That's the first fact. The second fact; that Mark spent his spare time in Jamestown Missouri, my home town, tearing down houses that were marked for demolition. My childhood house was one of those houses.

The Front door...

The front door was locked. We had looked at all of the windows on the main floor, and they were hooked shut too. But just to make sure, I checked the front door one last time...

The front door looks extremely familiar. It looks just like the one on the house I grew up with. It turns out that that's because it is the one off of the house I grew up in. I stand looking at it, listening to Marks' dad explain that he had talked to Mark one last time, and that He simply couldn't take it anymore, that the medication or something was wrong.

I go inside.

The fireplace is made from the bricks from my old house. Here's some trim... Over here is the staircase that used to lead to me and my brother's bedroom. Mark's dad is still crying, but it alternates from the sadness to the explanations of what a creative guy he was. I know of this creativity first-hand.

Art (my older brother) notes that his bedroom window on the second floor is open. None of us is crazy or brave enough to climb the almost vertical roof that the window is set into -- but Mark says it looks like it can be done. I can only remember the scene one way -- because in so many ways, as a kid, it was such a riot. Mark somehow got up there, got the window open, but it was only small enough for the front half of his torso to slip into. He spent a couple of nervous seconds with his legs dangling out over our roof, and slid into the house, face first.

Marks' father and I are in the basement of the house Mark built. This was his bedroom. He explains that he found him on the bed, a single gun shot in his head.

He can hardly talk.

I can hardly listen. We're both crying now.

Later that day I would drive out to see the wonderful grave stone that they made for my childhood friend. None like it in the cemetery because there was nobody like him in town.

Mark comes down through the house, using the staircase that would someday be part of his daily life, in his own house. He opens the front door for us -- again, someday this too will belong to him. Like the memory that I swear to God is true, he's our hero for the day. This was the 70s, and we had one of those cool sticky label-maker things. We made up a nifty message, which, like Marks gravestone, remains one of the artifacts that prove he was there, for the short time, on this planet -- a positive and creative force to be reckoned with. The message still remains on a filing cabinet in my dads basement, next to a wall of stickers long forgotten.

I walk around Marks yard as his father explains that most of the things in his life were artistic, and thrown away by other people. Like the graveyard I will visit later, each is or represents a work of art. Here's an old oil tank that's been turned into a mural to Lewis and Clark -- with a blow-torch.

Incredible stuff. Marks dad explains that he spent so much time helping others. He tells me that one of Marks complaints in life was that he couldn't shut it off.

Something in my soul begins to resonate a painful grating sound. I know, unlike most people, I know, at least some of what he was feeling. That there are times when the creative river of sound, emotion, ideas, noise -- when it all is so loud that you can't hear the quiet voices of others, or even God himself.

The thing some people call a stream of consciousness can be likened to an ocean gale of ideas, emotions and thought that are next to impossible to shut down.

And it's different if you are one of the majority of people that were put here on this planet that simply don't care. Unlike those people, Mark cared.

The most you can hope for is some solace next to another soul with similar problems -- even then you are simply clinging to a rock in the storm next to a kindred spirit -- at some point you will both have to let go and return to the storm. If you're unlucky, you may not even get this chance.

I think back to the times when my wife found me, picked me up and dusted me off. Of the friends that I am fortunate to have in this world that understand a small portion of the insanity that is FeriCyde. Of the outlets for my creativity -- I begin to feel that I understood some of the blackness that came for Mark...

"MARK SAVED THE DAY", along with a date in 1974. A piece of red, faded label-maker tape still remains. The filing cabinet sits like a large gray gravestone in my fathers office to this day. From time to time, I go down and find the sticker. I just want to know that something from my childhood is still there.

I often wonder who wasn't there to save the day for Mark, that fateful night of darkness. I grew up with the guy. He was such a creative force. Like most creative guys, people didn't always know how to connect with him, but he left behind a hoard of bewildered people who missed him. I wish I had spent more time with him. I wish I had at least visited his house while he was still alive. I would have understood him, and especially now.

I wish I had connected more. I wish I had known the blackness of what he faced so at least he would know that someone had some idea. I wish I could have sat clinging to a rock next to him in that storm that found him that night.

I wish.

The whole subject of being a creative male in this God-forsaken society deserves a thorough trashing by FeriCyde. Look for more, right here, soon. In the mean time, if you remember Mark, say a prayer. And smile. He would have wanted it that way, I'm sure.


It can have tangible benefits at times. Rust upon my soul, for example.

Friday, November 11, 2005

the stupid Demons

Have returned to haunt me as usual.

There is speculation that the best of us are tested regularly by some kind of force outside of our control. I know in the mid 1990s, I had an experience with human evil. For an idea of what I'm referring to, read Scott Pecks' "The People of the Lie", which is about evil personality disorder.

The book has specific examples, and reading it I was able to plop the jigsaw pieces together that had been handed to me -- I was able to see that what I was dealing with was truly evil.

Fact is, I've had so many small and large experiences, like the pivotal movie scenes in my life that revolved around this kind of thing. I know in 2001, I had an encounter that tested my morality big time. In the aforementioned time frame (not 2001), I was working with some people, and an evil was spending time tearing at the fabric of our social community. That evil, one person, spent time talking to people one on one, attempting to disperse philosophy. I should know, I spent a record 6 hours one time listening to persuasive (cough) argument about how it saw the world.

Or rather he.

No, I was right the first time.

Regardless, the evil, which I will simple refer to here as Lucifer, would regularly try to guide me in management decisions. I had been hired to take the place of another person who had failed to live up to expectations for the same job. The expectations he failed to live up to were Lucifers' -- I would follow in his footsteps. The fact that we failed to live up to this mans expectations I now hold as a medal of honor. Note; this individual and I remain friends to this day. He survived Lucifer as well.

It became apparent that I was overworked. One day, about a year before I left, Lucifer informed me that I was to get a needed assistant for my job. The assistant was to be trained in everything I did -- it was best for the company and for my continued success there. What was obvious to everyone, including me, was that I was simply going to be replaced in the same manner as before.

What was unknown to everyone was that I was in constant communication with a couple of job prospects at all times -- and I was ready to leave. Evil is a lot of things, but one of it's obvious drawbacks is how incredibly stupid it can be. In this case, an almost boring stupidity emerges; If you're going to F--- with someone, you can at least be creative, can't you? Not evil -- Lucifer came into my office one fine afternoon around 3:00 PM and made the announcement that I was to transfer (laterally) to another job, where I could do the company more good (right). I would, from there, be able to continue training my assistant to take over my job, whilst I settled into this other role.

Lucifer was used to people listening and nodding their heads like good little puppies, and I usually listened carefully (but had my own things to say, which confounded Lucifer -- I had a habit of diplomatic getting him to do the right thing -- I'm sure this is why I made the removal list in the long term). I always treated Lucifer with respect, as I was accountable through my boss to his expectations. He held all the cards from his point of view. He even stupidly mentioned company loyalty in his little speech and how the new job would be good for me as well.

I did and said something rather unexpected at that point. I looked him in the eye, and in my usual, non-passive gaze, said simply "Lucifer, this is one of the stupidest things you've ever done in my presence."

Kind of took him off guard. The next 4 hours were spent back-peddling, actually. The immediate change in my job was moved to a year down the road. I would possibly get a raise (right), and so on. What was most disturbing to him, from what I could tell, was that I simply didn't seem to care. This was obviously not the reaction he had expected. I suspect that he had hoped I would at least grovel (just a guess here). He didn't know that I was at that moment in time, mulling over two competing job offers for, on the inside, about a 30-40 percent raise in my pay. I was going to not just land on my feet, I was going to hit the ground running. I was happy.

Serene even.

This went down on a Thursday. The next day I came to work in a suit -- told my boss that I was taking the afternoon off. I was off to pick up the offer letters that I would use that weekend for my decision to leave. He could see something was up. Actually, I think he knew it was going to get bumpy. And it did -- for everyone but me. Like being in the calm, center part of a hurricane, I watched as peoples lives around me were affected while I casually moved from one job to another. That center never left me, and I attribute God to being there to see me through what was potentially one of the most evil career experiences I've ever been a part of.

It wasn't all easy, but I've always looked back at the "coincidences" that happened during that time with awe. Some of the unwritten ones cannot be described as accidental -- they were not my work. There's no way I could have planned some of the things.

I don't know why these things happen, but they do. To discount them as accidents or trivialities is on a woeful scale of stupidity and simply wrong. Looking in, I'm sure you're thinking that maybe I'm just tainted by religious upbringing or assigning to malice what can be explained through ignorance.

And that's ok. But for me -- I was there. The experience was for me, and about 200 other people, evil. My story (and this event) is one of thousands of incidents that occurred at this same location. From time to time, I communicate with the survivors -- we all know. It was evil.

I know the bastard Lucifer was after me. I know who he was working for. Didn't work then, won't work now.

He's tried a few times in my life. Each time the circumstances are different, but the players have a remarkable similarity. Like rust on my soul, the attempts to cut me down have slowly begun to wear my tolerance thin.

He goes for the weakest points too. Like any fight, he strikes his enemy where the pain will be highest, hoping for some point of collapse. I see this now, more clearly than ever.

I'll close with a harbinger; I intend to talk about depression in this blog. Specifically, I intend to address my recent depression. Like the rust upon my soul, through it and other gut-wrenching sadness, I wear thin. Possibly with some discussion of the malady, I can at least begin to understand myself.

How exciting.

I've been battling depression now for some time. It's not clinical, but partial and related to experiences like the above, to evil. My mind drifts back, often, to a childhood friend who recently took his life. A friend of mine that I should have visited more often, who I'll refer to as Mark (because that's his given, like me, Biblical name). Mark died of a self-inflicted gunshot would to the head about 3 years ago.

No, I'm not following Mark, but you need to know that his story is rough. I'm going to cover some aspects of it here over the next few days. I don't know every place this diary is headed, but you need to be warned.

I cannot speak of all of the aspects of the evil that haunts me today, as a lot of it is personal and impacts the lives of not just myself, but others and that would be seriously impersonal and irresponsible -- I'm only going to give you enough of the picture to understand.

FeriCyde chat is about to get kind of dark. So hold onto your hats, because Linux Disney Land is probably going bye-bye for a bit.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The right to be charitable...

This is a rewrite. It's about giving and the relationship to community. Enjoy:
The Right to be a Cheritable Community (II).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Another rant mode ...

My latest rant is on Sony's DRM "root-kit". Basically, there's a CD out there that when you jam it into your Windows PC CD-ROM, it installs a nifty little piece of software that among other things, hides itself so you can't easily remove it. This is exactly the kind of crap that Windows allows (and shouldn't).

Question: Does Linux do this?
Answer: "Hell no."

Time to write your representatives. This crap should be illegal, but it ain't so right now. Let's make it so.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

November is here, finally.

So begins my wifes' favorite month of the year. Some people celebrate their birthday one day a year -- My wife prefers the whole month.

To each his own. I guess it's better than dreading your birthday ;) I know I count every day behind me as a plus -- I've found that nothing beats experience.

On the other side of that, though, is the fact that some of my experiences have beaten me ... *sigh* ... Could be that I'm writing this while I'm tired. One of my least favorite experiences involved having to say some things that were not popular, but were unfortunately true. Not saying them would have allowed for some serious long-term damage, and it hurt me at the time. I lost something dear that I loved, and waved goodbye, thinking it would never be back.

But it's back. I can feel it coming back again. Like a rolling thunder, chasing the wind... okay, I'll bust out of the song lyric mode. Those of you looking for a true Linux community news site, click the link to the left. Yes, this is related to the conversation ;-)

In some regards, is more than I could hope for. A great feeling. I'm grateful to everyone who has made it a reality (especially Dave Whitinger -- you rock my world). It's been about a year since I started posting to LXer, and it's beginning to be something very different. Words cannot describe it. You have to, like the matrix, experience it. Log on -- make an account for yourself. Look around. Feel the community. It's there.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Spam on my blog...

Looks like a few more spam messages, and I'll simply remove the ability for commenting on my blog :(

Some idiot bot has been hitting my lawmmowers and free software page with the most annoying blog spam. I don't know what key words on there (besides the obvious) rank it high enough on google, but there it is. Sad that freedom is so often abused to do stupid things...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Microsoft takes aim at it's own Navel again!

See: . But I gotta question -- just how many times does some dopey member of the press have to parrot an executive's navel gazing? Don't even bother reading the article, Microsoft doesn't have a chance of unseating Google. They regularly report that they're going to do this, and regularly reality comes back and bites them in the kajones -- Microsoft may as well announce that they're going to get the sun to set in the East.

What about the supposedly objective, unbiased press in this context?

And this is the BBC. Give me a frickin' break. This is a thinly veiled press release, and shouldn't be posted as news anywhere. At best, it should be referenced in the "smoke" section on Microsoft's own web site, then at least we'd be able to categorize it for what it is.

Not that I'm opinionated on the subject, or anything ;)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dilbert newsletter is in

If you don't get this, you're missing out. My favorite part this time was the section on Scott Adams having a blog:
The blogger's philosophy goes something like this:
Everything that I think about is more 
fascinating than the crap in your head. 
Get the newsletter here.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dvorak strikes again with his usual ...


Not even going to provide the link. One day he's pointing out the conflict of interest that Microsoft's new anti-virus software is providing -- next day he's claiming that there's a pro-Apple media bias since most media people supposedly use Macs.

What bullcrap. The media, if it's pro-anything, is pro-dollars. That means that it hasn't now and anytime in the foreseeable future, ever going to get the Microsoft story straight. The story that's not being told? That Microsoft's software, at one of our most precariously balanced times in history, has left Millions of American households in the most insecure states imaginable.

That PCs have become insecurable -- even by tech experts like Dvorak (he readily admits getting viruses in the first example that I'm not linking to), there's an untold story.

If they were doing their jobs, and not so afraid of losing Microsoft advertising dollars (They being editors, ad sales staff and the people controlling the company purse strings at the top) -- they might allow the truth to be broadcast.

And the truth is that Microsoft's products are woefully inadequate from a security perspective for your average user today. That story should be broadcast over and over until we see a digitally diverse landscape (Imagine something like 30% Apple, 20% Linux, 40% Microsoft and the remainder something new -- hard to imagine, isn't it). Until then, we're screwed.

So much for media balance. As for it being pro-Apple, Dvorak, please share those mushrooms next time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It's been 6 years plus...

But the war is still on:

see The War(II), my latest rewrite of an article I posted to in July of 1999. I didn't realize then what a special place LinuxToday had become in my life. Today, LinuxToday is more of a corporate focused news site, while has become the community replacement for that original site. I urge you to check both sources daily if you're interested in finding out what's going on.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Post Linux-Fest blues...

Oh man, was Ohio Linux Fest a blast (see for more). I spent a lot of time talking to a lot of people, geeked out to the max with my buddies -- it doesn't get much better than that. Thanks have to go to Chris Schwark for putting me up for the night.

Life is crazy. DinoTrac and I are at it again on, with our Penguin/Counter/Penguin forum. This one is about multiple distributions and the fact that every so often, the trade press treats our open operating system society as some kind of disease out of control -- rather than what it truly is: a free market of ideas. Something that the technical world has never seen at this scale.

Look forward to more stuff from me -- it's become more than a news site to me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

LinuxFest is a scant month away

As I write this, LinuxFest will be here in a month and some change. See for more. The agenda has been set, the accommodations secured -- just need people to spread the word.


How often can someone find something so cool, with no cost strings attached? This just doesn't happen. Sponsorship has been very good. Hopefully people will get out the word. See you in Columbus Oct 1st.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sports and the supposed idea of role models...

Well, you can live in the real world, or you can live in a fantasy, called "SportsLand". In Sportsland, you can be rude and push people around under the guise that you more or less feel like it because you're not accountable for your actions -- you're an important member of an elite team of idiots who can do whatever you want to whomever you want, whenever you want. If young fans are watching, your behavior is not important. One time in the past, this was the opposite, but today, just check out the latest ruling here.

What makes Kenny Rodgers think he can just walk around pushing down camera men? Is it his special status in life as a baseball player? If he was at work at a job, he would likely have been fired for this behavior, but not in SportsLand, where your needed status as a baseball player for a money-making major-league team makes all of your rudeness and stupidity par for the course (should I say diamond here? Who cares, it's just more of the fantasy).

Sports, in America, is a distraction (for the audience), a business (for the owners) and a joke (for the moral, now). Steroid use, drugs, sex and the inevitable ego-trip of being an elite member of our society. One day baseball players may make the ranks that lawyers and politians have attained: That of morally-bankrupt upper-tier citizens who don't live by the same rules as everyone else. Wait, maybe they're already there. Good job Kenny, you helped push your kind up a notch, whilst making every kid in America know that when it comes to SportsLand, there are no rules -- if you're a valuable player for the "team".

And so here we are -- no one asking the really hard questions about sports. What is it, really? What makes baseball a noble endeavor, if not fairness? And I'm not talking about stealing bases here, I'm talking about the whole concept of honor? Why all the focus upon rules, if this is how they're held up in real life? Why indeed.

One of my favorite commentators is Frank DeFord (you can hear him Wednesdays on NPR). It will be interesting to hear what he has to say. I'll level with you, I honestly have hated most spectator sports all my life. I simply can't watch. I'm more into things I can participatein (no,I don't even "watch" TV, generally). Up until now, I was more or less neutral about it. I felt that the idea of a ton of more or less brainless spectators watching people play a game was offset by the fact that people could bond in large quantities. I love Frank, though -- he's more than entertaining and his viewpoint has shed a lot of light on what made sport more than a bonding exercise -- through his eyes I've come to appreciate it much more.

That was my stance; the world with or without sports was probably a wash. I've changed my mind -- if stuff like this continues, people are better off without it. As an exercise for big business and bankrupt morality, it takes from society all that it might have given back.

Deeper analysis, however, is in order. What makes sports such a draw for the male ego, anyway? I'm sure to offend here, so I'll continue ;) In a nutshell, here goes. Males are into the idea of "winners" and "losers". We like the idea of competition where crossing a particular line in the sand makes us "better" than the other guy. We love it, actually.

Unfortunately, there's a very real aspect of life and society in general that keeps nagging at the backs (and sometimes fronts) of our consciousness. That unfortunate fact is that most of life is not about winning and losing -- it's about compromise. You don't "win" your paycheck -- it's a draw, or a balance. Sometimes it's one way or the other, but in fact, it's mostly an agreement between you and your employer.

Your marriage to your wife is similar -- you both agree on some basic things and you both win -- or lose. Rarely do you see a husband "winning" the game of marriage. A trip to the bank stands up to similar analysis. In fact, short of lotto tickets and court cases (both more of the same contrived realities), there's very little about life and society that is not a compromise. Fist fights come to mind -- but again, they deal with illegal activity and stuff that's about the destruction, not construction, of society.

So we're back to the question: Why are sports, especially spectator sports, so popular among males. The obvious (to me) answer: here's something that re-enforces the crap-job society did raising us with the belief that life is all about "winners" and "losers". Here's a game we, with our forced (usually dumbed-down) intellects, can easily understand. One with simple rules that are easy to judge. Easier than real life, that is. Definitely easier than say, negotiating for the price on a car, or a raise.

Bear in mind that I say this as a male who's rebelled (long ago) against the whole idea that I was going to be some kind of walking gorilla that shaves. Looking at sports through Martian glasses, I came to these conclusions long ago. I also thought long and hard and said "well, if this is the only way these apes can bond, it's not so bad". But I'm changing my mind. Now it's teaching our young males that morality in real life for these elite simpletons is a second thought.

And for that I urge you, the offended males in the audience, to think long and hard about the real lessons that your kids are learning from watching Kenny Rodgers play hard ball.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ohio Linux Fest

Gaining Steam! Read about it on

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Brits

It's common wisdom that the hardest of times bring out the best in people. You have to admire the British and even more so, their dealings in stark contrast to our "911". Rather than spout off all about war, the inequity of it all (terrorism was and is about as far from a Godly act as anything I can imagine) -- they are doing what we should have done.

Tony Blair is asking the hard questions. For the record: "Who's behind this?" -- easy, Islamic Terrorists. "Who do we bomb?" Still easy -- some country where things were staged, or, if you're creative, you might choose someone who seems related. The Brits are asking a far harder question: Why did these 4 young men blow themselves up? Even harder: "What can we do to stop this?".

You can try and fight a war against "Terrorism", but are you going to win a war against an idea? You fight bad ideas and programming with good ideas and better programming. You fight wars against organized evil -- we can fight a war against Saddam, or Osama, but we can't fight a war against "terrorism". The terrorists are obviously after the end of our civilization for reasons relating to something dear to them -- our nuclear weapons are somewhat at a disadvantage here. Most of our military infrastructure, for that matter, is pretty much useless.

But the Brits are doing what we should have done almost 4 years ago, and it makes me admire their government. Even the Mayor of London had the gall to speak about terrorism in a way that their government didn't agree with. And they didn't make him step down -- they said "well, we disagree with that, but it's an opinion and we respect it."

What a stark contrast to our government and the way they've set about brow-beating anyone who disagrees. Don't think that's the case? How many republicans do you know that run about with bumper stickers that equate being a Democrat with being a supporter of Terrorism. That's not democracy.

Bush should take a good close look at one of his staunchest allies on the planet (Blair). That's the way to do it, and we should help them, join them and ultimately, I'd hope, show the Brits that we too, can show compassion and kick ass at the same time.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Okay, so here's a thought about research...

Titled Research: Third of study results don't hold up, one has to wonder -- what about the accuracy of this study? What if it's off by a factor of 30% (or even total crap)? That would mean that up to .3 * .3 studies (or less than 10 percent) are wrong, um conservatively speaking. Or, we could take the positive approach, which would be that it's off in the other direction -- an additional 30 percent of the 30 percent that are wrong are wrong. That would be .30 + .70*.30, or a whopping 51% of all studies being crap.

Of course, this cheap shot analysis is wrong, as should be readily apparent -- it's probably off by more than .30, even. Wait, maybe it's off by 9% or 51%...


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Secure X window stuff...

I've put up a revised version of my own toolkit I've been using for a while to securely connect to boxes via X. It's called, appropriately, securex. Soon there might be a story or two about it (finally got the article done and the documentation to install secureX is being finalized). It's not too shabby for a small shell hack. You can download it from the BatchLogin sourceforge repository.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Oh happy day...

Sammy is now up to 48 lbs! He's completed two sets of training classes (oh, I guess we were being trained too). He's capable of breaking the sound barrier -- our eardrums, I guess they're called -- when someone comes home (me or Lisa). Samoyeds are very emotional dogs, which is why, I suppose, I really feel tied to him. Like me, it seems it's hard for him to conceal how he's feeling.

Lisa finally got her garden in, and I note that the rabbits are already taking out plants. *sigh*

I've been enjoying the rides to and from work, because the sun is out and those rare Ohio summer days are finally here.

In short, times aren't all that bad.

Consuming mass quantities of ...

Documentation on Okay, I think I get it. It's not all that bad, just , given the amount of "spare" time I've had lately, a bit much. But it's out there:


Read the documentation on the site for more, but basically, it's not for GUI-clicking-lamers. Put your mouse aside if you're into any kind of shell-based heavy lifting, because BatchLogin will help a great deal when you're dealing with large-scale environments. I will be writing more now that I'm over this hump (I hope I hope I hope). Talk soon!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

What lurks in the head of FeriCyde

Is about to be unleashed upon the Free Software community. Yes, I am about to release my first large, functional open source project. Stay tuned, shell programmers, and hold onto your hats. It's GPL, shell-focused and a power-saw in the hands of people that seriously understand the meaning of "Shell Prompt".

More as time permits, but at the moment, I am furiously setting up the infrastructure to support this.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Doc Searls does it again for me

I don't know how somebody can consistently churn out something so mind-bendingly cool, but Doc Searls writing is that and more. You're doing yourself a dis-service if you don't read what this guy has to say. In the past, he's talked a lot about markets and gotten me to see, in just a few words, just how much of a misconception the world (and I had, before reading his thoughts) have about them.

That wasn't enough. Begin here, and read This and This. If your brain hasn't been warped enough, go back to square one and contribute to the fray. He's right as rain -- your gut will tell you so.

Thanks again Doc, for making me think. I sent him this email message:

for making me think. Your series on flattening -- awesome.

On a related note, the TV has been off in the Ferris household for over a decade -- and that included some rather intense debates on the subject with a young boy who is now a 21 year old. The stuff about school -- I'm going to force him at gunpoint to read. It will make his day.

He had a rough time with school. I finally ended the experiment (right around the time I ended my relationship with, come to think of it). I pulled him out and we home-schooled/correspondence schooled him to the end of his high school education.

He's got some work to do, still, but overall I think he's a good guy, which is all that matters to me.

Back to the school thing -- most parents balked at what I was doing. I am, by the way, a parent who very much believes in "tough love". My son did not drive till he was 18 -- only then because he exhibited enough responsibility (barely, but it was a start) and he's always had to pay his own insurance and upkeep. That doesn't mean I was totally successful at keeping the peace, but you can only try.

I had had enough of the way the school was "educating" him -- and they did try to fight back but regrettably for them, they were against me at the time. We ended up in court a week after his 18th birthday opposite a school administrator that was trying to accuse us and him of truancy. Of course, we got an apology at the time from a red-faced official. It didn't make up for all the other crap but it was, among other battles, enough of a moment that I hope it helps my son remembers who's in charge of his destiny (it was never me, or the school, obviously).

He loves cable television -- but he had to move out to get it. From listening to him talk, he's already getting sick of it :-)

I have a lot of thinking to do about what you have to say regarding the whole educational process. I suspect that our attempts at turning off the tube actually accelerated his alienation from the rest of his class and his teachers too, of course.

It seemed like the thing to do at the time -- I have a view that becoming a full-time consumer of "content" lessens ones' ability to actually create. Whether it be wood carvings or open source software, creation and the ability to be creative in general is removed when all of your time is spent having things dumped into your heads.

By the way, when I mention this theory to people that spend a lot of time watching cable, I always get a speech on how great the discovery channel is. File it away -- it's *always* the discovery channel. I've seen it a couple of times -- it bores me somewhat (all of cable does mostly, but that's probably because I'm warped).

Way back when we turned off the tube, one of my horrified co-workers presented me with the following: "How's your son going to learn about reality if you turn off the TV?".

"By experiencing it." Was my simple reply.

The web can be (as you once pointed out to me) a glorified television set -- or an interactive haven for people that want to create communities, software or general mayhem (I'll take that last one, it's fun at times). The former is a spectator sport, and one that big business would enjoy the most -- after all, the non-interactive marketplace needs hoards of minions that will simply enjoy the brand of the day. The latter is something that cannot be boxed, shipped or controlled -- and it scares the living daylights out people wanting a society of drones for the latest shrink-wrapped marketing craze.

I have some thinking to do. And my son and I have some more talking to do. This will be good for both.

Once again, I am in your debt.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Pamela Wins

Maureen O'Gara loses.

Congratulations go to PJ, and her awesome site, Groklaw. For those of you living under a rock, GrokLaw is all about helping geeks understand the law, and they've more or less taken the morons at SCO to task for all of their shameless legal battles.

Rather, PJ, mostly, did.

It cost her a bit here and there but recently she won something more important -- community support and the removal of the moronic Maureen. Sorry Maureen -- you played with fire and it cost you. Maybe you can write about golf or something non-tech related -- because anybody who understands true technology and the way it works (and is respected) is right now sitting on the opposite side of the fence from you, wondering just what drove you to do the stuff you did.

Read more here.
Again, congrats PJ!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

And maybe I was wrong...

Revisiting one of my favorite subjects: desktop Linux. It seems a company out West (RedSeven) is doing Linux (mostly) desktops to a premium market. If you must, you get a dual boot system -- for those people that just can't rid themselves of that last infect-o-matic application. Read more on (of course! Where you gonna get the latest in Linux news ;)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Lawn-Mowers and Free Software

I used to own my own business as a kid, from age 13 or so to 19, I had the cemetery market cornered in my home town of Jamestown Missouri. I needed lawn mowers that could stand up to 8 to 10 hours in the Missouri heat, and in fairly short order, found that the typical off-the-shelf hardware of the day simply couldn't cut it (couldn't resist the pun, sorry). Lawn-boy had the best lawn mowers by far for what I was doing. They were little two-cycle jobbers that after RTFMing, I could take apart (down to the needle bearings, if I had to) and put back together. One thing for sure -- I couldn't wear them out.

And they stood up to the heat and the abuse of my someday computer-science-loving brother Dan. The latter was the main problem in the equation. Dan was kind of rough on the little buggers. It was mainly the lightweight magnesium decks and handles I needed, and lawn-boys of the day were kind of expensive. As a Kid, I didn't have the cash to keep buying new decks all the time. So I did what any decent self-respecting businessman would do: I went to garage sales. After a couple of sub-50 dollar purchases of Lawn-boys, I learned a valuable fact: I could have a couple of year-old used Lawn-boy on the cheap anytime I wanted practically. Why? Because most people that had them didn't read the manual.

They hated mixing the 2-cycle gas too, but that's a side issue. Mainly, they never spent the cash to tune them up. "This thing is warn out, you can have it for nothing." was a typical phrase. I ended the business with a garage full of parts, and I gave away spare lawnmowers to my dad and grandfather. I had processed quite a few of them -- more than I can count, most of them in good working order, for parts such as handles and decks. The main component, the engine, was typically next to new in condition, unless it had been run without oil (surprisingly few were).

The point was this: on almost every occasion, I brought the newly found Lawn-Boy home, changed the plug, points and condenser (this was the 70's, OK!?) and pulled the easy-to-pull (with two fingers, no less) starter rope. Rarely did any find not start on that pull, and run like a champ.

People were simply not tuning them up. They were so easy to pull-start (it was a feature), that people assumed after 50-100 pulls of the string with a bad set of points/plug/condenser that it was never going to start. Maybe yesterday it had started on say, the 49th pull. Today, it was "worn out". They inevitably bought a cheap lawn mower, pushed the "old" Lawn-Boy into the garage, and it became my next years garage sale find.

The cheap common variety lawn mowers came with hard to pull (two arms required) ropes. If after 4 or 5 pulls and a hernia operation, the thing wouldn't start, it was time for a tune-up.

So how in the heck does this relate to open source software? It's very similar, I believe, to the issues around why people have Windows PCs that they won't replace, even though they go through enormous pain on a daily basis attempting to get them to work. They don't believe there is something more elegant that might do the trick. They know this devil, and are more likely to scrap it regularly and purchase a similar model.

I know it sounds like a stretch, but I couldn't resist comparing the two -- the dynamics are far too similar to ignore.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Cat Check!

It's 3:00 AM in the morning -- do you know where all of your Cats are?


I wake up worried. Taking Sammy out last night for his usual pre-bedtime business, I can't remember hearing the kitchen screen door latch behind me (it's like that, I've caught Lenny out the door when we came back one time). Did it do the same thing last night, or not? Maybe (I think), Lenny has gotten out along with one of the other cats for some kind of midnight skulking run. Maybe not. Maybe he's out stealing a car or something.

I know cats don't easily steal cars, but Lenny has been capable of some surprising feats of ingenuity. I clear my head. Now I know I'm losing it. Lenny really isn't capable of such things, he's pretty dumb, even for a cat. Still, maybe he's out under the wheels of a car in the street.

Now there's what I'm worried about. It's time for a 3:00 AM cat-spot-check. Hopefully I can count on my brain being able to count in a groggy fog.

First stop, the kitchen. There's Mister -- stray, God-knows how old. Tenacious. A fighter in a gentleman's smoking jacket. Orange. Tabby. He wouldn't mind if I fed him right now, he let's me know. There are some cans of food on the table there. How he does this without talking escapes me. I skip the urge to feed him -- not just because I'm worried about the other cats. I skip the urge mainly because canned food makes me want to barf. Besides, Mister is in the kitchen, which means he's not out hot-wiring the neighbors Malibu or worse, checking the tread under the right front tire...

One down, 4 more to go. I turn on the kitchen light.

I missed it stepping into the Kitchen -- I walked right over Jet. Jet -- black. Male. Spayed, yet somehow always attempting to hump things like blankets and other male cats in the household. Wild-eyed rat (another description of Jet, although I wouldn't rule rats out of the picture, if they emerge anywhere in this house, they're toast). Jet was sleeping on the step into the kitchen, and I walked right over him.

Two down, 3 more to go. I go back into the dining room. Lenny emerges, groggy, from under one of our covered chairs.

Lenny. Obese. Friendly. Afraid of his own shadow. This is the main reason I worry about him out on midnight car-stealing-or-tire-tread-checking runs. He's one of the few cats in the house with any kind of actual offensive gear. Lenny doesn't tend to claw things, so we left him with the front gear in-tact. He's not likely to claw much given the fact that when the decision if fight or flight, the former is always dropped for the latter.

For a fat guy, he's surprisingly quick -- and always the first one to blow outta the room at the slightest cause or hint of impending catastrophe. You know?, things like loud noises. Unexpected glass breakage. The dog breaking wind -- anything that might signal the end of the world, life as we know it, or impending cat-hair mussing. They all seem to have the same weight in his mind and the same effect on him. "Hey, it's worked so far"!, he seems to say. I suppress the urge to cough. If I cough now, Lenny might shoot out of the room and that would disturb the dogs' sleep.

Three down, 2 to go.

I go upstairs. Maybe one of the cats is in lurk-mode in Tim's old room. I find Squeak sitting in an easy chair.

Squeak. Version 1.0 naming had Squeak pegged for a "Lilly". Since holding her is akin to holding a ball of barbed wire that makes strange little high-pitched grunting noises, the name was dropped in favor of version 2.0 conventions. Squeak was the only thing that fit.

That's 4 out of 5. I go back downstairs when I'm sure Pretty-boy is not up there.

Pretty-boy is sitting groggy in the middle of the Living room floor looking disgusted. What am I doing up at 3 AM? Why must I disturb his sleep like this? Can I give him a back rub, at least? No? What kind of person am I?

Pretty-boy. Gray. Fluffy. The only cat that doesn't eat canned food in the house. Long-haired ... something. Pretty-boy (version 1.0 naming -- Starlight) gets the name from the fact that constant grooming and some kind of attention to detail project the persona of a guy that cannot have his fur mussed. Ever. Pretty-boy comes to me the most for attention in the house. I'm not sure why, but it makes me nervous. He's in the living room, which means he's not outside, which means that they're all present, and accounted for, which means I can get some sleep, finally. I go back to bed.

I dream of the police fishing my neighbors cat-wired Chevy out of a ditch somewhere. Lenny taking mug-shots at the local police station. Paw-prints in ink. The "you're allowed one phone call, pal" quote. The phone rings. It's the heat. My cat is in the slammer.

Okay, I did make that last part up. But the rest of it's true :) I swear.