Friday Firesmith – Splatter Matters

Back when I was in high school, I dated a woman who lived out in the country. We were on the road to her house, returning from a date, and it seemed like every flying insect on earth had seen my headlights and wanted to die. Dead bugs littered the windshield the following day, and it took a while to get them all off. 

Insect genocide was par for course back in 1977. A trip at night would mean bugs covering the windshield, grill, and bumper. 

I’m unsure when it all changed, but I didn’t notice it until the Love Bugs died. Those were the clouds of black and orange insects that carpeted the front end of cars and trucks in the late 1900s. 

Someone mentioned they hadn’t seen any roadkill snakes a few years ago. I got to think and realize it had been a while. For the last few years, I’ve been paying attention to what I have and have not seen on the road. There are fewer and fewer dead animals of all sorts. 

From the bottom of the food change, death rises. When prey animals die out, the predators go with them. If we have wiped out the insects, the creatures who feed on them are likewise killed. Do not misunderstand me here; I do not believe the windshield is the culprit here, but an indicator. The road isn’t the problem. 

A deer, a buck with a head full of antlers, rammed my truck back in 2021, the third of three deer strikes in my life. Deer are still plentiful in South Georgia because of conservation efforts. Yet as far as the environment as a whole, from bottom to top, the lack of effort or concern is telling. 

Humans tend to view the rest of nature as products, toys, or pests. From people’s perspective, there is no value if you cannot eat it or make money from an animal’s life or death. So it stands to reason the overall population of living creatures has begun to drop noticeably. Yet, even given a warning the world we have created is unsuitable for life, we continue to live as if the death of our fellow inhabitants will not affect us. Whatever those things were we scraped from our windshields, they couldn’t hold any importance, could they? And those dead animals in the road, why bother worrying about them? They’re dead because they were in the way and no longer are now. 

A man who once lived nearby remembered when vehicles were infrequent on the road closest to my house, and now traffic is almost constant. His father remembered the road before pavement, and his father traveled it by horse. Each generation sees less of the natural world than the one before, and each generation views their world and the loss they cannot see as normal. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Outage

Monday morning, at 2:26, I awoke in total darkness. There’s rarely anything resembling dark anymore, anywhere, because of security lights, which are neither by the way. In fact, until I looked at my cell phone, I had no idea what time it might have been. The power had gone off, I knew that instantly because not only was there no light, but sound, too, had ceased. 

My ceiling fan’s blade cut through the air, drawing cooler air up, warmer air down, a ceaseless activity that lasts most of the year. Nearly silent, the absence of the fan is felt. I cannot see anything but the faint outline of moonlight from a cloudy sky, barely perceptible in the windows. 

It’s cool enough yet to sleep a while, so I doze off, and Wrex Wyatt awakens me for good around six. It’s time to call in the outages. The power company is easy, automated, and in a few minutes it is done. And just about the time I determined the power outage might be here for a while, the lights flickered, and came to life again. 

The issue was the internet did not. I called them and they said there was an “outage in your area” and it would be fixed by eleven in the morning. No problem. On the way into town at about that time, I called in, and they told me it would be four in the afternoon. Hey, that’s cool, but my neighbors have internet, and we live on a dead end road. Doesn’t this mean my issue isn’t related to the outage? 

There’s a pause. The guy I’m talking to hesitates just enough for me to feel it. He’s brushing me off because he has an excuse to do so. 

At four, I call back. There’s an outage in your area. Yeah, but there isn’t. Again, they assure me thing will be fixed, “by tomorrow.” 

Tuesday morning I call at five in the morning and they are clinging to the outage like it’s the Holy Grail. At eight, I get a text telling me the outage has ended. I have no internet. After an hour of pluggin it in and then unplugging it, pressing the reset button, and are you sure you are holding your mouth right, I finally get someone who tells me my issue isn’t related to the outage. 

They’ll get to me in three days. 

We are not amused. 

I’m nothing if not convinced I can write my way out of any bad situation. I sent text messages to managers, social media messages to customer service, and smoke signals in Helvinca to the old gods and the new. I also post screen shots of my wait times. 

“When the levee breaks, got no place to stay.”

In due course, a get a call from an energetic young man who is willing to listen to me. He agrees that as strange as it sounds that a person without internet during an outage isn’t part of the outage, someone should have listened to me when I told them the neighbors had internet. If for no other reason, he adds, you’re a loyal customer and we owe you that. 

I smile. 

So I still have no internet, it’s Wednesday, and I may or may not get it fixed before Friday. But I got a real live human being to speak with me, and agree the issue has to be fixed. 

That’ll work. 

Take care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Be Careful What You Wish For

My friend Delila is one of the best waitstaff ever because she’s been doing it since she was twelve. After meeting a guy online, she moved to Texas and decided to ditch the man and keep the state; she’s lived there for about ten years. Working at a roadside diner means the pay isn’t great, but she meets interesting people and has great stories to tell. 

This guy walks in one day, dressed in a suit, spiffy as hell, and behind him is an emu. Of course, Delila tells him he can’t bring an emu into a restaurant, but the man has an official card, and the emu is his emotional support animal. He laughs and tells Deliah with enough money, anyone can get anything done, and she’s intrigued by this. 

This guy seems a little arrogant, but he’s friendly and a great tipper. The emu sits beside his stool at the bar while he eats. Delila is confounded by the emu, to be sure, but what blows her mind is the man orders different things from the menu. One day it will be steak, and the next, he’ll have the special. And the day after that, he’ll have a burger and fries. It’s always a salad for the emu. But no matter what he orders, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out the exact amount when she tells him how much it is. 

One day, at the last moment, she asks if he wants a piece of apple pie for a dollar more, and he’s reaching into his pocket for the money when she asks. Sure enough, he agrees and pulls out the exact amount of money. Delila tries different tricks, but the man always has the correct amount, no matter what she does. 

He’s a great customer, tips beautifully, and the manager doesn’t care about the emu. But one day, her curiosity gets the better of her, and she asks how the hell he does it. 

“I found a bottle with a genie in it,” the man tells her straight-faced. 

“And what did you wish for?”

“The genie told me I had three wishes, but each wish would be progressively cursed,” the man replies. 

“So what was the first wish?” Delila asks. 

“That I would have all the money I ever needed when I needed it,” the man says with a smile. 

“Ah, so that’s how you always have the exact amount! But what was the second?” she asks. 

“The second was to be happy every day, and so every day, I attend the funeral of my ex-wife,” the man tells Delila. 

“And that explains the suit,” she nods. “And the emu?”

“I wished for a long-legged chick that would follow me everywhere.” 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Of Plague and Pride

AIDS was a death sentence in the 1980s when it exploded into the American psyche. I met the first person in this area to have the disease, and the man was being treated by his neighbors and the rest of society as if his skin were radioactive plutonium. Dying slowly, unable to find a doctor who could help him, shunned and ridiculed, he only wanted to ensure his six-year-old daughter survived. A woman I knew was interviewing him, and the whole time I felt as if I was observing the first of many people to die of this mysterious plague. 

Rock Hudson’s death from AIDS stunned many people. Hudson was one of the Beautiful People living the dream in Hollywood. But he was also the gateway for the adoring public to realize sexuality was not always what it seemed. It took famous people dying from AIDS for the general population to accept that sexuality wasn’t the cause or the only vector of the plague. 

The death of one of their own prompted movie stars and big money to support the funding and publicity of finding a cure for AIDS, which led to a greater understanding and empathy of the Gay community. Closet doors swung open, and to the surprise of some and the shock of others, gay wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and simple, ordinary people, stepped out. 

While in the army in 1984, I met a fellow soldier, a cook, who was gay. When the military discovered this, all hell broke loose, and she tried to kill herself. The last I heard was she was in a mental hospital. We went from persecution to don’t-ask- don’t-tell, and finally, acceptance. 

Speaking up and defending someone for being gay would have gotten me kicked out of the army, but I regret not making a stand. More people died of indifference and ignorance than they should have. The same holds for men and women discharged from the military, some decorated combat vets whose sexuality made no difference in how they served this country. The disease of fear, ignorance, injustice, cruelty, and outright hatred stalked the military ranks no less than anywhere else in America.  

Like a virus, hate spreads from person to person, is transmitted easily, and relies on indifference and ignorance to propagate. 

Hatred pushed a friend of mine into near suicide; all I could do was watch silently. A reporter interviewed a dying man, a pariah, the American unclean, the unholy and unbearable, who would die wondering what would happen to his daughter. All I could do was embrace silence again. 

The time for regret is over now. It is now the time to speak up, to shout that love is love, that people are people, and that hatred is division. Equal rights are not a pie; you do not lose yours by allowing others to have theirs. You do not lose your life, freedom, dignity, or security by allowing other people to love as they please. 

Freedom to love is the most basic of all human rights. We should all say this, and it is worth fighting for. 

I’m saying it now. Let people love who they love. 

Happy Pride Month. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – June of 1944

Everyone knows, or ought to know, in June of 1944, American forces landed in Normandy, France, and began the battle to end the Nazi occupation of Europe. “Band of Brothers” and “Saving Private Ryan,” the former a mini-series, and the latter a movie, are excellent in their own ways, and the first twenty minutes of “Saving Private Ryan” are some of the most intense in film history. 

Meanwhile, the war in the Pacific had been grinding on since 1941. The Americans had been defeated by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island. “The Alamo of the Pacific,” Wake Island, is where the Japanese should have learned a lesson about the American Marines, but they did not. The tiny force of Americans on that island sunk a Japanese cruiser and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese before being overwhelmed. 

The Japanese then strode headlong into the American trap at Midway, losing four carriers in a single battle. Worse, they took Guadalcanal Island, then bungled three counterattacks once the American Marines wrested the island and the airstrip there from them. In early 1943, the Japanese evacuated 13,000 starving soldiers from Guadalcanal in the dead of night and would never be on the offense again. In April 1943, P-38s launched from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal sought out and shot down a plane carrying Admiral Yamamoto, the man who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

By June of 1944, the Japanese were hoping, against all odds, they could find a battle that might slow the American forces down. The island of Saipan, considered to be part of the defensive ring around the homeland, was where the Japanese sought to stymie the American fleet and grind the Marines to a halt. 

What the Japanese received for their trouble was the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot,” where American pilots downed five hundred Japanese planes and ended Japanese Naval Aviation as a threat for the rest of the war. American submarines sunk two Japanese carriers, and at the end of the sea battle, the Japanese were left with the ghost of their fleet and little else. 

On the island of Saipan, American Marines, and soldiers were gaining ground by inches and feet, but the Japanese were out of supply, outnumbered, and without air support. When the end was near, 4,000 Japanese troops decided to “Gyokusai,” die with honor, and charged the American lines, some of them armed with bamboo sticks. All were killed, and our losses were slight in comparison. The island was secured in July 1944. 

Admiral Nagumo, the man who led the fleet against Pearl Harbor, died by suicide on Saipan. Prime Minister Tojo, the leading figure in Japan calling for war against the Americans, was forced out of office and hanged for being a war criminal after the war. 

After Saipan, American bombers were well within reach of Japanese cities. Nothing the Japanese held dear was safe. 

We all remember June 1944 as D-Day, and we should remember it. But we should also honor the Marines and soldiers who fought and died on Saipan at about the same time. The landing in France spelled the end of Germany’s war in Europe, and Saipan was Japan’s death knell. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – The Sins of Leslie Van Houten

In November of 1979, I turned nineteen. In January of 1980, I was arrested on the charge of being drunk in public, which I was, but the police didn’t know why I was where I was, or what I was doing. They suspected I was up to no good and they were right. I had gone with two “friends” of mine to break into a laundry mat.  Long story short, I tried to talk them out of it, but when the car stopped, I walked away, but the cops arrived, so I ran. I got caught, charged with being drunk, and later released. The incident taught me a valuable lesson about the company to keep. 

Leslie Van Houten, in 1969, just a decade prior to the Great Laundry Mat Caper, went inside a home owned by Leo LaBianca, and his wife, Rosemary. Her cult leader, Charles Manson, had gone into the house a few minutes before, tied the couple up with a cord from a lamp, then sent Van Houten and two other people in to murder the helpless couple. They wrote on the walls of the home with the victims’ blood and carved the word, “PIG” on Leo’s chest. 

I’ve done LSD. I’ve done stronger drugs than that, and I’ve done so while listening to the Beatles. I’ve been talked into doing things I knew I shouldn’t have done, even while high, even while so drunk I could barely remember what I had done, or why I had done it. It’s amazing I’m still alive through all that I did between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five, but here I am. 

In my worst times, under the influence of the strongest drugs, I never hurt anyone. 

Leslie Van Houten had been denied parole for decades due to no other reason she was involved in the most heinous of crimes the state of California has ever seen. If she had simply murdered two people, even for no good reason at all, she would have walked in fifteen or twenty years, and no one would remember who she was or what she had done. But she killed two people for Charles Manson. Five other people, at least, were murdered because he told someone to do it, and in this, Van Houten bought herself a ticket to one of the longest stays in prison anyone could ever imagine. 

Susan Denise Atkins, the woman who stabbed Sharon Tate to death while Tate was nine months pregnant, died in prison. Manson’s favorite, Atkins was considered the worst of the lot and was denied clemency even as she lay dying of cancer. 

Individually, it is certainly possible Van Houten is reformed. It’s possible she would live out the rest of her years in peace and never bother a soul. She might be one of those people who would be invisible to the rest of the world, dying unnoticed one day, perhaps even in the company of those she loved, and who loved her, in peace, and no one would speak of the event. 

But Leslie Van Houten denied that sort of peaceful death to a happily married couple who owned their own business, who had raised a family, and who had hurt no one. 

Tied, terrified, and struggling to live, two people were slaughtered by this woman. 

We should deny her a death in peace and freedom because she denied that to two innocent people. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – The Stolen Laptop and Karma

My friend Ben is one of those guys that you just cannot anger. Traffic? No problem, he’s a saint on the interstate who never raises an eyebrow, much less a finger at someone who cut him off from the slow lane. When his wife left him for another man, Ben loaned them his truck and helped pack. “Kept her from running off with my stuff,” Ben said stoically. 

Ben is an avid deer and turkey hunter, and the one thing you don’t want to do is encourage him to talk about hunting. He called me one day for me to come over and look at something. If it had hit Ben’s interest enough for him to want a second opinion, it was worth the drive. 

Someone had been walking around the parking lot of Mal-Wart while Ben was shopping, and stolen his laptop. That was on him, for leaving the truck unlocked, Ben claimed, but his laptop and phone were synched. Ben showed me the guy who stole his laptop sitting behind the keyboard, oblivious to the fact the laptop’s cam was operating. 

“Uh, Ben, how’d he get into your computer?” I asked. 

“I keep the password taped to the bottom of it, I can never remember it,” he replied. Okay, he leaves his doors unlocked and his passwords out in the open, but it’s not like he’s a serial killer. 

Ben is a patient man if he isn’t anything else. While the thief was buying stuff on Amazon, Ben was adding a few things to his cart, like sex toys, and sending them to the thief’s home address. The man sent some money from Pay Pal to Ben’s favorite charity. Ben changed the man’s FB profile to a photo of Curly, one of the Three Stooges. 

And then things got interesting. Ben accessed his forlorn laptop, got the cam running, and lo! The robber had left the computer open on his desk, right next to his bed. Things were heating up, so Ben took some photos, then he accessed gospel music and turned the volume up, loud. 

Ben then sent this message, “Hi! You stole my laptop, and I want it back. Here’s some photos I’ve taken of you smoking pot, a video of you swearing to your boss you were too sick to go to work and then drinking while binge-watching porn, and the things you do when you are watching porn, ugh! Anyway, I’m going to park my blue Ford in front of the post office tomorrow at five-thirty, I know you work close by, and I know what time you get off. Leave the laptop, and I’ll leave you alone. Otherwise, I’m going to send your mother-in-law a video of you telling your wife you rather eat roadkill possum than at that woman’s house ever again.” 

Ben got his laptop back. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Armadillo in the Fog

The dogs chased an armadillo this morning, well, the three who aren’t ancient and infirm did. About five-thirty, predawn, thick fog hanging in the air, Wrex Wyatt, the only true hunter in the pack, cornered the possum-on-the-half shell under Mom’s patio steps. Budlore Amadeus and Jessica Elizabeth soon joined the chase. Wrex got the armadillo out, but it escaped, and then hid under the steps of the shed. That’s when the two male dogs decided breakfast was more important than hunting, and they retired from the battle. 

There was a time when Bud would have to be dragged away from something like this, but voice commands are enough now. Wrex is nine, and he’s not willing to put a lot into it either. Lilith Anne, Magnolia Queen, doesn’t even look anymore. At twelve, she’s just trying to make it outside to pee, and then back in to eat. Bud has been here five years, so he’s pushing seven or eight himself. Only Jessica is young. 

I remember when a girl in high school told me she was pregnant. I knew her, knew her family, and for a moment in time I wondered how something that like could happen. But the reason for a pregnancy to occur are as many and as ancient for dogs to hunt armadillos in the fog. The primal urges we see in children and in dogs sometimes are shocking but that is only because we aren’t paying attention, and our memories are pushed aside for less perilous thoughts. I know parents now, whose daughters have arrived at pregnancy before high school graduation, and they are always stunned. I remember the front seat of my daddy’s car, with some underage high school girl underneath me, both of us knowing better, but neither of us, at that moment, willing or able to stop. Pan out, overhead, five hundred miles straight up, and if a point of light appeared for every young couple making that same mistake, or entering that rite of passage, the earth would look like a supernova. 

The older members of the pack are fed, I eat breakfast, then go out to look for Jessica who still has not returned. I find her on her way back in, panting, muddy, but grinning. Whether she made the kill or not isn’t an issue at all, but Jessica went on a hunt, and the thrill of the chase drives her more than bloodlust. 

Teenagers do a lot of the same things for the same reasons.

I’ve lost track of the girl I loved in high school. She was The One, and everything I ever wanted, and now decades have come and gone. Dogs have come here as puppies and been buried as ancient animals, their bodies returned to the earth, gray muzzled and stiff of hips. Later today, I will toss a dead armadillo over the fence, or fill the hole it dug, and life will continue.

Somewhere out there today, a girl will tell her parents she is pregnant, and life will go on, just as it always has. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Marriage

I knew my marriage was bad. How bad, it was hard to tell, really, it was. But she was odd about me being alone, very odd, and even when I was sitting on the toilet she would come in and look at me. She came into the bathroom and stared at me in the shower. One day I came in from work and I sat in the truck listening to a song on the radio and she came out to see what I was doing. I could open the back door, shut it, then duck into the kitchen and she would go outside and look for me. 

But it was worse than that. 

During marriage counseling she admitted to installing a program on my computer that tracked everything I did. Every email I sent she read, and every email I received she read. She read everything I wrote for work, fiction, and every site I visited; she knew about it. What she didn’t know was I found the program the first day she installed it. I wrote long emails to friends telling them how great married life was, and how much I loved it. 

The look on her face when I told her I knew it was there was epic. 

Marriage counseling also revealed that when I went to play tennis with a friend of mine, she would call my friend’s wife, and tell her I was on the way, and then my friend’s wife was to report when I arrived. Then when I left, they would trade calls again, to see if I was slipping off somewhere. I stopped at a convenience store and bought a soft drink, and when I got home she asked me which store I had bought it. The next day she went to the store to see if there was a woman working there. This was something I hadn’t known about until we started counseling. 

I always wondered why some men spent so much time at work. These guys would come in an hour early, then sit around and talk after work, sometimes for hours. But they had bad marriages, all of them, and they were avoiding their wives by working. I started doing this, too. I became one of those men. I built a tiny shelf at work, no bigger than a matchbox, hidden under my work station. Stored on this shelf was a thumb drive, so at work I could save it there. In all of my existence, this was my only truly private spot. I felt a surge of joy when I went in on a Saturday, and there was my thumb drive, and I had time to explore my thoughts without someone tracking my every word, and standing behind me, watching me. 

The day she packed her stuff and moved out was surreal. She pulled out of the driveway and was gone. I was alone. The house was empty except for me, my dogs, my stuff, and as I locked the door, the realization of space was overwhelming. That night in bed, the vastness of my world was like a man on a raft, looking up at the stars, floating on an endless ocean. 

I filed for divorce on May 10th, 2002, on a Friday. It’s hard to believe that was twenty-one years ago.

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Right on Red

The law states you can turn right at a red light after stopping. 

Valdosta, Georgia there is an intersection at Gornto and Saint Augustine where you can be hung out to dry making a left turn. If you left your pet mayfly at home, sorrow will visit you. Yes, there is a green arrow light, but it lasts about as long as the credibility of a drunk husband calling his wife from a strip joint telling her he has to work late at two am. 

Many people, like myself, take a side road, Ellis Street, to avoid this intersection, and we wind up making a left at the intersection of Gornto and Baytree which isn’t nearly as bad. Hang with me for just a few seconds longer, this is going to get a little weird. 

Today I pull into the parking lot of the Y,  listening to the song “Silence” by Delirium, which has vocals by Sarah McLaughlan. 

“Heaven holds a sense of wonder

And I wanted to believe that

I’d get caught up

When the rage in me subsides”

As I get out of the truck, a car pulls in, quickly, the driver is a young woman, maybe late teens. She is clearly distressed, for behind her a guy in a truck pulls in, parks behind us both, and gets out screaming. 

Time to go, Mike, just walk off. Make a call on the go, get the cops here, but do not, Jesus F Christ dude what in the hell are you doing?

“Have we met?” I ask walking towards the guy, and this stops him. This was not a question he saw coming, and it disconnects his brain. He’s young, too, and he’s clearly mad about something. 

“That bitch nearly killed me, she pulled right out in front of me!” he says loudly. 

“I can’t believe she would do something like that. People don’t drive for crap anymore. It’s getting worse. You have every reason to be mad. What happened?” and I’m giving the woman time to call 911. 

“She pulled right out in front of me!”

“No! Is she blind?”

“I almost hit her ass!”

“Where did this happen?” I asked and he tells me Baytree and Gornto. I ask him if he stopped on the red, and did he realize there was a green arrow light on the other side.

“I can’t see that side of the light,” and now he’s calming down.

“Which is why you have to stop for the red,” I tell him. “But when the cops get here, they might give her a ticket for running a traffic light, maybe two hundred fifty bucks. But you’re here, right?” 

“Uh, yeah,” and now he’s looking around. 

“So if you followed her, that’s stalking, and because you involved traffic, that’s road rage. You’re going to pay a hell of a lot more than that. You got any warrants out on you? Any pot in your truck? Maybe a bottle under the seat? Are you old enough to be packing a gun?” I ask. (My knowledge of the law in any of this, is dubious, at most) 

“That’s none of your business,” he snarls but he’s backing up now.

“Cops are going to ask those questions before they put you in the back of the patrol car,” I tell him. “You do look like someone I’ve met, really, you do.” But he’s on his way out. 

I assume the young woman has called the cops but I could not be more wrong. She’s sitting in her car with what looks like a Ladysmith .357 in her hand.

“My boyfriend is on the way,” she says, her finger is on the trigger. “But thanks.” 

Looks up, and she isn’t afraid, she’s pissed off. 

I didn’t rescue her. I rescued him. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.