The Devil in the Magic Box

It wasn't until the livestock trailer was backed up to the open gate of the barn that I realized I didn't have the slightest clue how I might get a 1,300lb bull to climb inside. Tasty McGee was our grass-fed Holstein who, after a year of pasturing with the goats, had filled out and was bound for the slaughterhouse. Or, at least that was the hope. I tried coaxing him toward the trailer with a bucket of grain. He would follow obediently only to stop in his tracks just as suddenly. Tasty continued moving in fits and starts toward the trailer until he’d followed as far as the gate and would go no further. I pleaded with him. I damned his obstenence and told him great lies of the paradise that awaited if he would just get in the fucking trailer. I shook the bucket once more and cast a handful of feed across its steel floor. His nose twitched as he weighed his suspicion against his desire. Some thresholds were not worth crossing no matter the reward.

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What I Heard, What I Read: My 2015 Favorites

Generally “year end retrospective” and “best of” lists are published before the ball drops, and midnight choruses of Auld Lang Syne rise drunkenly in the streets, but, well, I wasn’t quite ready to look back during the final days of December. With that in mind I am going to leave the light on in 2015 a moment longer and share my 10 favorite discoveries from the year that was — 5 books, 5 albums in no particular order.

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Resolution Blues

Forget your resolution; set a goal. I know the temptation — we are turning the page to a new year, and the time feels right to resolve to change something about yourself and in turn your life. You know you should eat healthier, drink less, exercise more. Maybe now, maybe this time, your resolution will take. After all, you are a year older and more mature, better able to control your impulses. Maybe this year will be different. Except no, it won’t.

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12 Notes and 26 Letters

The field of a chessboard is divided evenly into 64 squares, and on that 8x8 grid the 32 pieces are mathematically capable of bearing out more unique games than there are atoms in the observable universe. The first time I heard this I scoffed at it. Considering that just one average grain of sand alone contains 50 quintillion atoms (that’s a 50 followed by 12 zeros) the idea that a handful of pawns and some miniature royalty are going to play through enough different sequences to outnumber the atomic totals strewn across 14 billion light years is unthinkable. On its surface it seems like a preposterous claim hardly worth serious consideration- that is until one seriously considers it.

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Southern Currency

I have a Confederate ten dollar bill. It is neatly framed in a shadow box and sitting on a book shelf in our home office. Among the imagery is a cavalry artillery unit pulling cannons presumably into battle. A portrait of Robert M. T. Hunter, Secretary of State for the Confederacy, looks out expressionless from the lower right corner as though he knows how this all will end. It was given to me by my father and to him by his father before. 

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