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.