Who am I?

I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

Currently Consuming
  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    by Eric Ries
  • The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    by Daniel Coyle
  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    by Ron Chernow
« A Commitment to Running | Main | Fishing for Compliments »

The Horns

This post is one in a series of Fourth Friday Challenges that my friend Becky and I are throwing at each other. Let’s see if you can guess what this month’s challenge is by the time you get to the end.

I’ve been celebrating a lot at work recently. We’ve had a series of big accomplishments that have really been the result of a lot of small wins. I know that battles like these are really won with those small victories, so I have been trying to point them out and cheer them whenever I see them. My usual form of celebration is simply raising my arms over my head, like I’m indicating a touchdown or a field goal. In more emphatic circumstances, I’ll stand up and signal the score. But the most extreme form of encouragement I can offer is throwing the goat.

For those of you who aren’t aware, “throwing the goat” refers to making the sign of the horns, the heavy metal salute made famous by the late, great Ronnie James Dio (who replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer of Black Sabbath). And despite not really being a metal fan, I have a great love for this gesture. It can be subtle. You can catch someone’s eye from across the room, and without anyone else knowing, express your approval of their actions with a brief nod, a slight lifting of the wrist, and momentary curling of the fingers. It can be brazen. You can jump up onto the bar, belt out a banshee wail, and raise your arms over your head as you make the horns with both hands. (This will usually result in the entire bar screaming your name or the bouncer tossing you out in the street, so use this option wisely.) It can be expressed concisely in text as “\m/” — which is, for my money, far superior to “:)” or any other smiley. It can even be taken to the next level. You can throw one set of horns with both your hands together if what’s happening is too much metal for one hand. And if you and nineteen of your friends approve of something to an extreme degree, you can form a goat-throwing Voltron and indicate that it is too much metal for thirty-nine hands.

You may have noticed that I used the word “approve” a lot in the previous paragraph. That’s what the gesture really means to me. “That thing is metal (by which I mean “awesome”). I approve. Do more of that.” Because I’m a big believer in positive reinforcement.

I have no sense, however, of when or why I started doing this. As I said, I’m not metalhead. I have dim memories of Wil Wheaton or Jeff Tidball (“Throw it proudly.”) being influential in my adoption of the gesture. But beyond that, I have no idea. It’s just something do now, to the extent that I sometimes forget that it’s unusual. And that perhaps I need to be careful about who I throw the goat to.

So, what was the challenge? On Tuesday, I wrote to Becky:

I challenge you to write a post that is exactly 666 words long.

Now, I’d been thinking about making it 333 words, but Becky has specifically said that the point of these challenges is to push ourselves, to do things that we might not otherwise do. Many of her posts recently — like my own — have been on the shorter side, so I figured I’d push her outside her comfort zone.

Scant minutes later, Becky replied:

I was waiting for yours before I could give you mine. I have not looked at yours yet, here goes (is this inspired or lazy??)

Boing — back atcha! You must answer the challenge you posed to me, for your challenge.

Okay, now I’m going to look to see what the challenge is!

Her next email contained swearing. I sensed she was not throwing the goat.


Fitness: Rest day
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 424 words, 411 seven-day average, 284 average, 50293 total, 207 to go for the week; 17-day streak

Reader Comments (1)

I did not know that Dio died last year, much less of stomach cancer. Both of my in-law's died of cancer. Cancer truly sucks.

My personal tastes in metal are more pre-Dio Sabbath and Led Zep.

Interesting challenge, writing to a specific word count. I thought Macklin's Friday Challenge last week was pretty good.

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWayne

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>