HOA LogoDestinationsTravel MallTravel LinksGlobal Travel

Sticky Fingers in the Web


Lance K. Pugh

I must confess.

The truth is that I am, like about 50 million other Americans, an insomniac. I will,
with no reported provocation, awaken in the middle of the night, bug-eyed and
mind racing, thereafter unable to drift back to a sound and deep sleep. Recently, at
night, I have been lurking around the house in search of some soft surface to surf
my way into the ocean of sonorous slumber. In a single evening I might try the
sofa for awhile, wander into the TV room or try out the guest room, all this to
avoid awakening my wife, Annette of Ashland, who knows naught of what I

I try to keep it that way.

Thus one such evening I awoke in the guest bedroom to the sounds of my
computer keyboard clicking and an earful of some excited, chortled purrs
emanating from the general direction of my trusty laptop, that which keeps me
plugged into the Internet. I slowly slipped from the bed and furtively stole my
way down the hall and peeked through a partially opened door and..........

(I should preface the following with a confession of sorts. Ever since I was a kid I
have owned a Daniel Boon style raccoon cap, which, I presume, is made of the
finest Dacron. In support of my hat I now prowl the house in raccoon slippers, a
description of which I will forgo and let your imagination supply the necessary

Gathered around my monitor were three rowdy raccoons, rotating their time at the
keyboard after washing their pilfering paws in a bowl of water placed carefully to
one side. A towel was, well, handy and used as part of the purification process.
Silently the mouse cursored it way through the WEB, accompanied by the staccato
of depressed keys. These boys were hacking their way through the net quicker
than a lean cat after a fat rat....but what were they up to?

I slowly entered the room and crept within a yard of their joy before six evil eyes
suspended me in mid-slink. Yet, as I sported a kindred cap, slippers and eyes that
were darkly ringed with the results of many sleepless nights, I seemed to pose no
threat. In unison they all refocused on the screen and ignored my unlikely

They scoured and rummaged the NET intensely, apparently in a desperate quest
for something essential, as even my pacing did not distract them from their
purpose. I thought this might all be nonsense and was about to bring Law and
Order to this bunch when real-time video appeared on the screen of a caped,
capped and commanding raccoon which seemed, from the perspective of the
monitor, to be at least 30 feet tall. It was seated upon a throne flanked by twin
torched apparently fueled by magnesium, such was their brilliance.

All three of the ring-eyed pranksters clasped their paws above their heads and
bowed before the NET-born-image upon which they glanced surreptitiously. Even
so, they all swayed their bodies in unison to the coon-speak that was droning from
the multimedia speakers. In a small box in the right lower corner of the screen
were two smaller images; one of a raccoon of less stature making some sort of
hand signs and another image of flashing glyphs and runes that seemed to be the
written word of these rascals. The message, though not crystal clear to me, had
the effect of arousing my in-house hackers to such a degree of frothing hate and
paranoia that they soon slathered in anticipation of some dark deed apparently
ordered from the Grand Netcoon. This was hate radio amplified by the power of
the Internet and it totally mesmerized the masked marauders.

Holy Ring tails!

I sleuthed out of the room and slithered downstairs, their to fire up my muscle
laptop and plug into their session undetected through the wireless network.

Such was the power of my portable that where they could waltz I could tango,
their efforts at a sprint were a mere light jog to me, they were snails and all I could
see were escargot. A week-old laptop full of digital fire against their tinderbox of
hapless wires tangled cables and a slow connection, thanks to a few of my
keystrokes. It would be no match.

The first thing I wanted to find out was the physical location of this ring-eyed
Grand Wazoo who seemed to holding the local boys in some kind of trance-like
stupor. I closed in on this raccoon wizard from a hundred directions
simultaneously, his strength being more intimidation than hiding on the Net. In
only a few minutes.....bingo! He was originating from what appeared to be a
spliced line into a computer server in Montana. This large lout was the General of
the Raccoon Militia and I was going to expose him as a verminous creature intent
on working up hateful emotions in an otherwise refined raccoon culture. I was
going to make sure that he spent a long time in the can.

(I will not get into a technical description of what I did, rather I will simply skim
over the surface like a doe on ice, as any technical explanation of what transpired
would baffle the uninitiated and bore the experienced Netizen).

Do to my ultra fast connection I intercepted the video before the upstairs trio,
instead running a video clip of myself, resplendent in full raccoon regalia, seated
in my rocking chair. My wife had taken this video of me only the day before and
luckily I had it loaded handily for editing. Thus, it appeared to the three net-
surfers that it was I who, in fact, spoke from the throne of power.

Their reaction was immediate and loud. It sounded like a hornet's nest had been
plopped in their laps as they squealed, squirmed and shouted shrilly, all the while
scampering around the room like an unbroken horse being stalked by a wrangler
with a lasso. A tornado would have made less noise and probably caused less

I began, slowly at first, to overlap the image on their screed with microsecond
vignettes of more common fare: trash cans, fish bones, alleys, my pets, tin cans,
fresh compost, and cat food...all images that a more sedate raccoon would
appreciate. I then overlaid the whole with an audio relaxation tape and, within a
short period, had three snoring raccoons happily romping in dreamland.

One by one I picked them up and took them downstairs and out the back door,
depositing them next to the trashcans, leaving the lids off to cushion their re-entry
into raccoon nightlife.

I was pleased with the results of the evening and, as my eyelids began to droop,
my last thought was of the ominous Wizard and the way he hypnotized his smaller
brethren. I drifted off and slept deeply until I was rattled awake by the ringing of
the phone.

What I heard made no sense. It was like a purr and a squeak at the same time,
sounding like a mammalian fax tone. I hung up the phone in full stupor, went into
my closet, and donned my camouflage clothes once used while photographing
geese and ducks. I slung my backpack over my shoulder and, bade my wife

"Hon, I've been called up on maneuvers and should be back in a couple of days.
Please feed the raccoons twice a day and keep the cats away."

As I reached for the front door knob I felt a tremendous urge to take a nap and, on
the spot, I did. It was some time later that my wife stumbled upon me and, with a
gentle taping of her foot, woke me up.

"Honestly, you'll do anything to avoid taking out the trash. Make sure that the lids
are on tight or those raccoons will get in and trash the yard".

"I know, I know." I replied with my eyes still closed. "I've been trying to catch
those rascals for years, but each time I think I've out-foxed them, I wake up.
Maybe if I just went back to bed I could put a lid on their activities."

(Lance Pugh may be found wandering the Web nightly and can be reached by e-mail at
lance@journalist.com. This printing has been compressed to the requirements of the
Editor with rich and colorful detail extruded and omitted).

HOA LogoDestinationsTravel MallTravel LinksGlobal Travel