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.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

These Things I Believe...or did a few years ago

This was sort of a creed I created as the foundation of my new, but imcomplete religion. I have handed this to the relig-oo's that knock on my door. And I ask them, "Have you found the answers you seek?" I should have handed them out at our local polling, election-type place.

I think I’m only wasting time…but is anything really wasted if there is an infinite supply?

I have all the time the world has to offer.

And if the world ends tomorrow…time goes on…and on

I don’t think I’ll regret all that “wasted time” when the world blows up…I’ll be busy ceasing to be.

Worrying about your wasted time is, after all, worrying about your own mortality.
Don’t do it…

If you’re focused on your death, you’ll forget to notice your life.

Why remind yourself, constantly, that you will, one day, die?

I…we…must lower the premium on time…it ain’t that precious…it’s infinite.  The human mind must evolve to the next level of awareness…a universal one.
Throughout time, humans reached different levels of awareness…oh, there is land on the other side of the ocean…the Earth isn’t flat, you say…The Earth is not the center of the universe…we can travel off of the Earth!!!???  All of these truths changed human awareness.  Primitive man could not even fathom more than he could see.  Try explaining how we made it to the moon to King Arthur’s Court…You cannot see the next evolutionary level when you’re below it…but it seems quite ordinary once you’re beyond.  Our collective intellect has grown so rapidly over the last 200 years, we’re becoming arrogant.  We know it all.

The wisest man or woman knows that s/he knows nothing…the most advanced notion Socrates ever had…and here we are, at the peak of civilized life…and we’re in danger of ruining it all…life, that is…because we think that we know it all.

We must accept that there is a reason for life.  We may never see it in our Earthly days…it may be part of a much larger process---impossible to ascertain from our vantage or knowledge.  But we must trust in this evolution…for it is inevitable.

Our reason for life is to evolve…everything is part of a process.

You want to cook some yummy chicken…first, marinate that bird over night, right?  You have to let the juice do its job.

Time is the marinade and we are chicken…I mean, the chicken.

This, of course, is just a literary device…a tangible example…the purpose of life is to evolve as a species…the purpose of that is intangible and unimaginable.  Just believe it is there

If we could see the reason why our species evolves as it does…then our purpose of evolution would be complete…its obviously not…so we continue to evolve…whether you worry about wasted time or not…we still evolve…whether or not you’re rich or beautiful or powerful or virtuous or evil or religious…time goes on, humans evolve.

Since there has been human, s/he has sought reproduction and survival...every human everywhere…if we reproduce, and survive long enough to teach our young---we evolve---it is the only thing that EVERY generation of human being has successfully done.
Sure, some people die early…and some people don’t want kids…and war, pestilence, and other maladies have forced high mortality rates and lost generations. But there was always a next generation---SUCCESS!!  We evolve.  If that’s what we do, is it not our purpose?

Believe it…and stop worrying about time...wasted time…time left on Earth

Worrying is the only true waste of time, or our lives.

Parts of a story...or stories?

At first it was going to be some sort of Island of Dr. Moreau allegory type thing. But then the character in my head became part Senator and part Priest. I think that started the arguement. That's the one I think I'll continue with...

                “You are all, no doubt, incredibly interested to hear my tale.  To know the events that transpired and the many things that happened leading me to my current situation.  Stranded for weeks on this island, so far removed from my public life---I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on these events.  I’ve replayed them in my mind over and over again, ensuring that no detail was forgotten.  Despite your instinct to dismiss this as the ramblings of a madman whose brain is so sun-soaked, his grasp on reality drifts further and further away with each passing day, please be assured.  I, at no point, lost any of my mental lucidity.  Every word, as astounding as they might be, is accurate.”

There was a time when I did not look as I do today. Now I am an old man, far removed from the days of my prime. The lines in my face are marks of wisdom. And my beard was much darker and much shorter. I have been on that island for six thousand, five hundred, ninety-four days…that’s a touch over eighteen years.
Through the intervention of chance, I was afforded ample time to delve into thought. There were periods of my island life where I did no more than eat, drink and be meditatin’. If the meaning of life is purpose, I had to find one.
It became clear to me that my purpose was to think…to delve deeper into thought than was thought  humanly possible before.

“The people crave a Messiah! They don’t want to hear your rhetoric!”  His voice was old, but it was strong. “The people want to feel a passion! A purpose! “Belief” is, you will find with the benefit of experience, a power that can control the masses!”
He held their attention, if not their endorsements.
“It is the truth, and it is laid out before us, in the annals of written history,” the Preacher picked up a stack of old looking papers. “You know it to be true, Senator!!” He threw the papers in the general direction of the man with caring eyes.
The Senator looked down his nose at the yellowed papers lying at his shiny feet. Without the slightest flinch, the statesman stood balanced. “How arrogant of you to assume the will of the people?! You can offer salvation from their worst fears of death. But you cannot offer anything more than false hope in their current reality!” The Senator summoned a look usually reserved for the (talented) gardener. “Your ‘history’ should show you the shortcomings of belief based government.”
T he Preacher nearly reeled from the verbal assault. The Senator brushed non-existent lint from the sleeves of his custom-fitted suit. The Monk seemed to float in between the two of them. “Just because you disagree, does not mean either is wrong.”
“Thanks, Yoda,” The Senator swiped the Monk out of the way with the back of his hand. “What’s with all the religion in the room?”
The Preacher was communicating on a much more human level.  He motioned to the Monk with his thumb. “He’s the mysticism of spirituality.” His thumb turned to his own chest. “I’m the church…what man can do in the name of God.” He added, as if clarification was needed, “whether it be good, or it be bad.”

This was an attempt to write a funny article about home improvement

I wasn't feeling it--I'd have to start making things up. I was too competent!

                Why pay someone to do what you can do yourself?  The question has become more pertinent given our current state of economy.  Need to change your oil?  Do it yourself!  The lawn needs its annual aeration?  Do it yourself!  Time to clean out the gutters?  Do it yourself!  D…I…Y…
                Recently at Casa de Hirsch, we decided the home needs some improvement.  By “improvement” I mean that a gaping hole in the ceiling needs patching.  I need to “improve” the kitchen floor by changing it from plywood with intermittent bathroom rugs, into an actual finished, splinter-free product.  Thus, I spent some time and money at the local home improvement store.  And by “some” I mean “a ton and a half.”
                The beauty of the Information Age is that there are no more trade secrets.  Anything and everything is just a Google away.  Step-by-step guides and helpful tips are literally at your fingertips.  All I have to do is buy a few tools and follow the instructions.  I can read and I have mastered most of my basic motor skills. No problem.
                In fact, when I asked the home improvement specialist at the local home improvement store if it was worth seeking a professional to get the floor installed properly, he looked at me with a condescending smirk, and assured me that laying vinyl tiles is “easy.”  It was as if I asked if I needed help chewing my food or brushing my hair.
                “Easy.”  If a home improvement specialist tells you something is “easy,” it most likely means that a home improvement specialist with years of experience, the proper tools, and an accessible knowledge base would knock out your entire to-do list, before you figured out the difference between a Phillips head and a jigsaw. (A jigsaw can draw blood quicker.)

I started this thread when we thought we were moving to Colorado

I didn't get very far--we changed our minds quickly!

I have lived all over the East Coast and quite frankly, I am sick of it.  From the North to the Mid-Atlantic to the South, I’ve seen it all.  And I’ve seen enough.  Certainly I am not the first to feel the westward pull, just the most recent.  You are all witnesses to my Manifest Destiny.  The goal: Colorado.
Currently, I live in the South.  The “New” South they call it. It is the land where northern transplants migrate in search of greener pastures and warmer winters.  It is the land where the good ol’ boys, their heels stuck in tar, cling to an increasingly obsolete way of life.  The cultures clash like tectonic plates grinding together in a societal earthquake.
The famous “Southern Hospitality” keeps things civil.  But Yankees are hardly welcomed with open arms.   And the thing we’ve noticed most about “Southern Hospitality,” is its lack of depth.  You often get smiles to your face and snide remarks when you turn your back.  The sting of losing the War can still be felt.
If this is indeed the “New” South, I shudder to imagine the Old South.  The thought of raising my kids, the unfortunate natives, in this sticky mess of humidity and ignorance makes me sick to my stomach.
Neither my wife, nor I chose to settle here.  But circumstance brought us together as kindred outsiders on this Bible belt, along Tobacco Road.  We’ve made it work now for a dozen years.  Recently we took a break from the rigors of everyday life.  We both had the same epiphany:  Why do we still live here?  Other than the proximity to our families, we could think of no reason.  So we decided to make it happen, to get out of this place.

Junk Drawer

I just went through a drawer whose depths had not been breached for many a night. Oh the treasures we found!! An auto-folding book light!! A old looking leather box!! "The Sock Hunt" game from a Highlights magazine.
I guess the moral is, "Don't overlook treasures while you stare out the window."