Thursday, January 20, 2011

Say what? Something new? Feed your brain at your own risk

We live in the age of extremes. We've got extreme sports, extreme energy drinks, and extreme marketing campaigns. Apparently our doctors often need to take extreme measures. Our leaders lead us into war against the extremists. Even Vanilla Ice was to the extreme when he rocked the mic like a candle and lit up the stage and waxed chumps like vandals. (Unfortunately I will never be able to un-remember all the words to "Ice, Ice, Baby"--word to your mother.)
The people at the "news" keep our attention rapt. Make sure you're not too comfortable...not now. Don't you know that we just had the worst Thursday ever during a hurricane season. And every year the hurricane season is the worst we've ever seen. I shouldn't take this too lightly, though. When the mud slides, and the earth quakes, and volcanoes spew Bird Flu into our water supply....AMBER ALERT!!!
Everything is the best thing ever or the worst thing since outdoor toilets. One day, eggs are nature's perfect food...a real life saver. Tomorrow they'll declare that eggs cause cancer...and AIDS...and the plague.
I blame information. We have so much information bombarding us, it's hard to know what is useful and what is useless or even made up. How many times have you caught yourself referencing some web article you read, and you're relaying it to others as fact. There is no verifier on the Internet. You can make up anything you want, and people will believe long as it looks like a website they should trust. I'm as guilty as anyone:
"We, as a people, have the most information since Moses tamed the dinosaurs."
Who said that? It has quotation marks, so someone must have said it. I read it on Yahoo, I think. NO! I just made it up.
Media---Internet, radio, TV, satellite, fiber optics, telephones, microphones and Semaphore---all serve one purpose...the spread of information. Our global motto should be, "Dude, check this out!"
I foresee two likely problems we will face during The Information Age. 1.The easy access to any information, including information that professionals have spent lifetimes to fully understand, lets any schmuck try to do things beyond their knowledge or ability. There will be something important overlooked. It will be overlooked because someone used the information that someone else gathered and produced. Eventually this is going to catch up to someone important. Hopefully the result will not be catastrophic. 2.We're bound to be a world of doubters. Like the boy who cried wolf, false information will lead to a general distrust of our fellow human's facts. This will lead to someone important ignoring something important.
Too much information can be just as damaging as too little information.
We've absorbed so much over the last 50 years--it would be prudent to have a period of digestion. Instead we'll fill our bellies until we the gluttons we are.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Billy Goat's Stuff---where's a troll and a bridge when you need 'em?

 This afternoon, I journeyed out into the Eastern North Carolina wilderness. My mission was to procure some firewood from a back roads wood yard. I had heard it was the cheapest and easiest way to go. So I go. The deal is, this old guy opens a gate; you drive in, and fill the back of your vehicle from the mountains and mountains of chopped wood, give the man some cash, and drive home.
I knew a bunch of things about this place before my arrival. I knew this guy had a fenced-in yard. I also knew it contained an industrial sized wood-splitter, a small forest of stripped and stacked trees, and the Mt. Everest of chopped woodpiles. I had driven by the place a few times. Of the four roads available to take in order to leave my little town, the wood yard is the one we take least.
The last thing I already knew about this place was that it’s awfully hard to miss…a really big, hand painted, wood sign announcing to all passersby, in no uncertain terms, “FIREWOOD”! Let this be a lesson for all you budding entrepreneurs out there! Marketing and advertisement does not need to be expensive and complex to be effective…it worked on me!
There was one thing that I didn’t already know about this wood yard. Apparently they have goats…three to be precise…living in the yard. I found this out quickly as the Billy (grown male) goat approached me like a dog would. He was getting my scent and figuring out if I had anything he could eat. The old guy said (in the kind of Southern I still don't always get) that I shouldn't mind him just tell him to scat. And if that didn't work, "just smack 'im in the head with one of them logs. That moron Billy is some kinda retarded, or somethin’."
The other two goats, both young females, kept a wide berth from me and anything else that might have the possibility of being me. This kind of reaction was my go-to mental image of “normal” goat behavior--cautiously fretful, except when pertaining to food. It was becoming clear that I was mistaken.
The old guy stayed there with me in the yard as I started to load up the van. He even helped me with the logs, as much as an 80 year old man can. I suspect he was quick to offer assistance, more out of loneliness than out of kindness. He’d obviously been talking to the goats for way too long and was way too eager to tell someone all about them. I was a friendly ear and I couldn’t really leave him, at least not until the van was full. He had all kinds of things to say about the goats. His main theme, however, was all the possible fates that might soon befall this "moron goat."
 Through his “country” drawl, I was able to figure out a few of the details. The goats were not his goats. They belonged to his son-in-law. Incidentally, it is also his son-in-law who cuts all the wood for the old guy to sell. The goats were there to keep the grass and weeds down in the greener seasons.
Everything else he said about the goats pretty much boiled down to one common, ultimate outcome. This I understood with sparkling clarity, even through his “Rural-speak.” The old guy wanted nothing less than complete and total goat eradication!
First he offered the Billy to me as a pet. After politely turning down that tasty offer, he asked me if I've ever had goat meat. I told him, shocking as it may seem, I hadn't had the pleasure, but I have had lamb. Then he told me he'll likely sell them to the Mexican meat market down the road. The learned experience he spoke with was inherently implied.
"Yeah, them Mexicans, they'll eat 'em...(to the Billy):SCAT-get back you retard!!"
This was when the (horned) Billy goat turned the entirety of his attention towards me. The old guy warned me that the goat would try to sneak up and ram me when I was turned around.
At that moment, I was standing between the log pile and the back of my van. The goat was maybe ten feet away. I turned to grab a couple of logs and quickly turned back round. Although I hadn't actually seen the goat move, he now stood a good 7-8 feet closer than before. I clapped the two pieces of wood together loudly and yelled for him to scat. He didn't flinch. He stood his ground, stuck his out his tongue, and, literally, dropped a raspberry (Bronx cheer, zerbert, fart-sound) on me! PHFFFFFTT!!
*not really said goat

"No, you gotta hit 'im on the head!" Thanks for the sage advice, old guy. I swung a log over his head and backed him away as if I was fencing. He retreated to his “10-feet-away” spot and stood there glaring through sinister eyes.
Starting a fight almost never improves one’s situation. So I moved to another side of the pile to peacefully collect my logs. I was able to get a good-sized stack in my arms despite my constant backward glances.
The Billy goat had not followed me.
I returned with my logs and went to deposit them on the stack behind the third row seat of the van. It’s safe to say I was slightly taken aback when I saw the Billy goat staring at me from inside.
He had hopped up onto the logs in the back. Then he hopped over the back seat. The Billy goat stood perched on my kids’ booster seats with a degree of smugness that I was unaware a goat possessed.
I yelled, "Get Out!”
This strategy proved to be a pathetic waste of breath.
The goat did the tongue raspberry thing again (I think I heard him chuckle a little too--but I could be wrong about that).
 He wouldn't budge an inch. The “plan” that ultimately extricated the goat from my van consisted of opening the side-sliding door and gently coaxing him down with whispered compliments and loving remarks (that didn’t really happen) How it really went down-- the old guy used a blunt piece of wood  and smacked the goat in the rear-end, with a loud “Whack!” The goat jumped right out then. 
Later, I caught that goat trying to jump in for a second time.I was able to thwart this attempt.
There weren't any more major events to report. But that Billy goat never stopped staring at me with those deranged eyes.
I thanked and paid the old guy. I got in the van to leave. Before I could be on my way, I had to wait for the gate to be opened. I sat in the idling van while this way-too-old guy wrestled with a way-too-big gate. The bigger challenge, however, was keeping that crazy Billy goat from making a mad dash for freedom (as this was clearly the goat's intent when he saw the opening gate).
The way he was stymied, could have been the strangest thing I saw on this strange day. Keeping the most aggressive and nasty goat I’ve ever witnessed at bay was the old man's wife. She might have been even older. She was definitely slower and frailer. Despite her apparent shortcomings, she deftly put us to shame with her goat corralling abilities.
The goat backed away from her in actual fear. Her secret old yellow fly swatter. She waved it in the air and inched forward, keeping her slow and steady pace.
The goat now successfully occupied, I slipped out the gate, up the dirt road, and away from this unique place.
At the end of this day, I was able sit in the warmth of a blazing fire.

I had to write this all down. Because I know that tomorrow, it's going to be quite a bit harder to believe that it all happened this way...but I swear to you, it did.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Were any Veterans offended when they blew up Veterans Stadium?

It's hard to explain to my kids why Veterans Day is a holiday. They don't understand war, or, rather, its purpose. Plus you don't get any presents, candy, or decorative spectacle. You do, however, get a day off from school. Overall it's worthwhile in their book.

But I've found myself telling them about veterans from the original war...the Revolution. I can explain why their heroic actions helped to define our freedoms.

 I live in Civil War territory now. Any historical marker or landmark we happen upon demands some kind of explanation. I don't know if you've ever tried to explain to an 8 and 5 year old just how our country...which we are supposed to be proud of...was in a killing-people war with itself.
I don't mean to belittle any veterans of this, or any war in which American men and women fought and died. But on this Veterans Day, I am honoring George Washington, not the President, the war General. He led people...citizens. They were filled with purpose and an understanding that their lifestyle, and the lifestyle of future kin, hung in the balance.

Do you think that our soldiers out there are filled with the same kind of urgency. Or has it become a mercenary force. Maybe if everything wasn't so cloaked in vague secrecy, my suspicions could be laid to rest.

I encourage every American to take some time to relearn how we became a country. More importantly, relearn what was enacted as government after fighting and dying for the right to do so. This was the prize of their war.

When I looked back, I seemed to understand things differently than I  did when we learned this stuff in grade school.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Eternal Debate

I continued the tradition. We all did. Since the discovery of fire and the creation of the cocktail party, humans have stood mesmerized. The bon fire picks up steam. The level of sobriety quickly dwindles. And then—in almost miraculous fashion—the deepest thoughts of the human mind are discussed.
It is what is and what should ever be. American #1, "Let's celebrate!""
American #2, "How do we do that?"
American # 1, "I know…we can light stuff on fire!"
American #2, "Sweet! I'll get the Fritos!"
We are at the mercy of the fire—we created it. But we really don't know when it's going to end.
So there we were—mesmerized…watching the flames. I noticed that one particularly hip chick is standing, backside to the fire. I was comfortably lounged in a camping chair. There were a bunch of chairs, no shortage. So I said, "Laurie! (Because that was her name) Why don't you sit down and get comfy?"
And that sparked the great "warm butt vs. comfy butt" bonfire conundrum. Before this all came to light, I was blissfully unaware of my posterior's temperature. Then Laurie had to mess with the conversation balance. It was just all out of place. She was standing, warming her rear and looking off like a watchdog on the job.
I tried to explain—through my glorious mastery of the language—that sitting was a far superior choice that added to the proper social geometry. I told her standing like she was, would undoubtedly break the fragile bond of the confab—and of course it did eventually lead to the dissolution of the group.
But the whole time I thought my logic was winning---my butt was feeling colder and colder. I crossed a threshold and I was no longer capable of making rational decisions.
So I stood up and faced the blank darkness of the woods, rear-end protruding backwards. My ass tingled with warming pleasure. It was sublime. Laurie was right—but so was I. Once our bums regained feeling, we high-tailed it back to the homestead for fresh drinks and no need to consider your body temperature. It feels a little bit like a de-evolution, when personal fortitude is tested.
Moral---I like to look at fire…& I can't explain why. Plus technology has made us soft.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fleet Foxes - Mykonos (Live Abbey Road 2009)

Don't sell this short!!! Listen ALL the way--it's worth it.

So are these guys the new Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young....or maybe America?

Beatles- Birthday

For my little bro---26???---Matt. Happy birthday you scientific, hipster, life-aquatic-livin', handsome dude who's earned my total respect.  Have a great one.----Dan

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Blog Fame. They say that you're supposed to grow your followers and views of your page. How do I do that? I asked. Conveniently FAQ had me covered. {Side note: I feel particularly unique when my question does not appear in the Frequently Asked Questions. I like it. Is that weird?}
To grow your audience, you must read, comment, and follow other random bloggers in your "niche". The ones that have been offered to me are probably really cute for a particular family. But to me, reading the cereal box would be more entertaining.
It worried me that everyone seems to have something to say. But I always felt that what I have to say is of the utmost importance and anyone who missed reading me is less than a modern human being. I must admit, my confidence wavered. I need some validation...some real neon lights to let the people know that I'm not just another voice in a sea of murmurs.
So help me---
 1. Am I as awesomely exceptional as I think I am?
 2. What is my "niche"?
 3. How do I rise above "just a blog"?

I was considering creating some kind of buzz event and unveiling something special. It would take a concentrated effort from ALL of you. Let me know if you're game and I'll put you on the list.