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Subjects this month:
Christmas Misadventures, Extension of Life in Writing, Book Reviews, Product Longevity, Newsletter Name Winner, Bain Blunders, Bain Muses, Progress Report, Hurrying Mistakes, Endangered Species Act, Tonto the Strange Dachshund, Is Democracy Sustainable, excerpt from The Original Sex Gates
First, James stopped by to give his mother some medicine about a hundred miles from our place. He had to get it out of his suitcase, which was in his truck. He let the tailgate down, opened the suitcase and got out the medicine and took it inside, leaving the tailgate down. You can probably guess what happened next. He drove off with the tailgate still down. When he finally noticed that both his and Colleen's suitcases were missing, he drove back to the road his mother lives on. They found...four pair of underwear and some crushed medicine bottles and a few other items, all unusable because they had been driven over numerous times. So, there they were on the way to see us, half way here, and no clothes or medicine, which they both needed. They stopped at a Wal-Mart and bought a few things to get them through the trip.
Now bear in mind that this was also going to be a five day working trip for James, along with the visit, of course. He intended to clear some of the land we'd deeded them of overgrown Christmas trees from the time we were still growing them. However, their first day here was spent trying to get new prescriptions for their medicines from their doctors back home, most of whom were on vacation, naturally. In addition, Colleen had suddenly come down with not only a sore throat but a great red blotch covering the back of her mouth. Her first full day here was spent in a round of calling back home to get their doctors to call prescriptions to here and with Betty taking her to a doctor and hurrying to a drug store before it closed fill a prescription for her mouth. She also thought she could also pick up the prescriptions called in from back home. Unfortunately, they hadn't been called in yet and wouldn't be until the next day.
In the meantime James began his work with a rented bobcat (a small bull dozer), but the overgrown Christmas trees soon ate the hydraulic lines of the bobcat and it quit working. James spent the rest of the day trying to get it serviced, but succeeded only in getting some parts to repair it. However, he had to wait for Colleen to get home since she is the mechanical one in the family (his and my idea of repairing anything is to say "help!"). In the meantime, some of my medicines matched James's so I was able to loan him a few critically needed pills.
Colleen got home from the doctor and drug store and promised to fix the bobcat the next day. Alas, that night she woke us up with severe chest pains. Colleen departed in an ambulance about two o'clock in the morning. She was admitted to the hospital but finally the doctors decided it wasn't a heart problem but suggested she might want to see a cardiologist when she got home, what with heart problems running in the family. She came home the night of their second day here and finally managed to get some of their medicine called in from home. In the meantime, I was still sharing some of my medicine with James since we took some of the same kind. When they went to the drugstore to pick up prescriptions called in from home, there was some kind of glitch from them being here instead of there and the insurance wouldn't cover them. Three hundred bucks for replacements was what the drug store wanted to charge. No thank you, not for two days when they'd be back home and could get new prescriptions, and since I could supply James until then!
The next day, assuring us she was feeling fine, the bobcat got repaired, but our old Christmas trees must be tough. They promptly killed the bobcat again and another day was gone.
The following day was spent in a futile attempt to get a repairman out to fix the Bobcat but they were all gone on vacation, too. James gave up on the working vacation, since it was mostly gone anyway. All the other family came, we had an early Christmas dinner, opened presents, and James and Colleen departed for home two days early.
They no sooner got home than Colleen lost her keys when they were Christmas shopping and it only cost $180 to replace the car key, and $7 to replace their post office box key.
James and Colleen say they will remember this trip as fondly as they do that wedding anniversary trip a couple of years ago when they got pooped on by a horse during a romantic carriage ride. I described that one in an earlier newsletter (July 06 if you missed it).
Extension of Life in Writing
Michael Crichton's State Of Fear is an intriguing book, as much for the author's statement and an appendix at the end describing how idiotic politicized science can become. His description of the eugenics movement back in the first half of the twentieth century is incredible. I had read bits and pieces about it, but didn't realize the dimensions it acchieved and what an impact it had on society before being discredited. The book is worth reading just for the Author's Statement and that appendix.
I'm still plugging along on The Posleen War series by John Ringo and his co-authors and just finishing up the last book. I've really enjoyed the series. It was a well thought out series and the other authors made good contributions to it. I'll be sorry to finish the last one.
Pretty Boy Floyd By Larry McMurty and Dianna Ossana is a good read, I thought. It captures the gangster's era and the people he associated with well. The writing and dialog are typical McMurty although the voice of his co-author also comes through. Whether or not Pretty Boy Floyd and his wife and girl friends actually felt the way they are described in the book is actually immaterial. It is fiction, after all, but I believe a person could develop as McMurty described the process.
I had a case of the post-Christmas blues and anytime I feel down, I can always revive my spirits by reading Time Trap by Keith Laumar. It is sort of stupid but funny and a perfect read to brighten a day.
It's kind of strange, as many books on Vietnam I've read, that I should just now be getting around to A Rumor of War by John Caputo. However, now that I've read it, I am very glad I did. Regardless of your views on that war, this is a book you shouldn't miss. It is, without doubt, the best book I've read about Vietnam. Besides the utterly realistic sights and sounds of war that he instills in your mind, he shows military bureaucracy in all its absurdity and further, describes the attitudes of Americans of that generation perfectly. It is a book that, if you haven't read yet, you should. He is a writer of almost uncanny talent. Highly recommended.
By the way, in case readers don't know, my own book of Vietnam, Medics Wild, is a fictionalized record of my own experiences there over two years. I went back and read it again, just to get a comparison.
We have to agree. Just within the family, we've seen numerous new dryers break down after only a couple of years' service.
One of the toys we keep for grandkids and great grandkids also broke over the holidays. It was a recording of various animal sounds that played when a string was pulled. It was at least 30 years old.
I wonder if digital recordings in toys will last that long? Will our new dryer last as long as the last one? I seriously doubt it. Everything from household appliances to computers to toys seem to be made either disposable or with obsolescence built into them these days.
Newletter Name Winner
New year's Eve is mine and Betty's anniversary. Our daughter and son-in law were invited over for lobster and champagne. During the afternoon my sciatica began acting up even worse than usual. By the time our guests arrived, I was really hurting and it only got worse. I had to take so many extra pain pills that by the time Rob and Pat left and the real festivities were slated to begin, I wasn't worth shooting. I had to go on the bed and leave Betty up to watch a bowl game by herself and needless to say, nothing else romantic happened that night! Rats and other bad words.
I keep a little space heater in my writing alcove because my feet get so cold. During our recent cold spell, I naturally turned it on to keep them warm until the heat from the vent and also from the Franklin stove penetrated to the area of my feet. I kept wondering why I couldn't get my feet warm even though I had the space heater going full speed. It was our coldest day in a long time so I wrote it off to that and just suffered until the room warmed up. This went on for several days. It wasn't until one morning when I decided to turn the heater on for just a moment that I noticed the setting had somehow gotten turned back so far that it was barely putting out any heat. Don't ask me why I hadn't checked the setting when it was so cold or the few days afterwards. Some days I'm smarter than other days and those obviously weren't any of my smart ones.
Our poverty level would be considered riches by half the world's population.
Getting old is only fun for kids and teenagers.
What with the holidays, I haven't done a lot of writing lately, but I'm back at it again. Presently, I'm working on a novel about a self aware computer, something a bit different than the usual artificial intelligence stories. It's at 40,000 words right now and moving right along, but I may set it aside and work on a sequel to Human By Choice. I'm indecisive right now.
Bark! is scheduled for its print appearance sometimes this month and has the added bonus of Tonto's autobiography to go with it. The publisher and his wife are from England and are planning a visit to the United States in April and promise to come through Texas and drop by. That will be nice. Betty and I haven't heard a melodious British accent since we worked in Saudi Arabia back in 1979!
Laughing All The Way, the sequel to the five star rated Life On Santa Claus Lane may be out again in the e-book version by the time this newsletter is published. If not by then, soon. The print edition should follow fairly quickly.
And at long last, I got off my duff and turned in the second part of Toppers, the collection of hilarious stories and correspondence with William Stafford to my publisher at Twilight Times Books. This second part will be published alone as an e-book and then both parts of Toppers will be put together into a new print edition. I apologize for waiting so long, but other endeavors kept getting in the way.
Mistakes from Hurrying
Endangered Species Act
Personally, I draw the line at having a bureaucrat tell me I can't develop my own land because it might impact a worm or a minnow somewhere. I like fuzzy mammals as well as the next person, but there's something we have to remember: species have been emerging and dying out for a couple of billion years at least. There's no way to stop species extinction, just as there's no way to stop new species emergence. Humans are at the top of the food chain. When it comes to my welfare or the welfare of a black footed ferret or a sparrow of one color or another, I'm going to choose me and my family first, every time. I like the sound of a Hooty owl at night, but not at the expense of not having wood to build houses.
I rather imagine I'll take some flak for these statements, but so be it. Let's take care of our own species first, then worry about the rest of them, and I say this for one simple reason: humans are my species, not a snail darter or a golden frog. If they go extinct, some other species will take their place.
Just look at it in the long term and I think it makes more sense to consider our comfort and welfare first. Sure, we might lose an antibiotic because a rain forest was cut down somewhere, but we'll probably gain another from a bush that's growing where the rain forest was before.
Earth and its species are constantly changing. If we want to do something useful and that would probably enhance our species as well as all the others on earth, let's not pollute so much. Make things to last again (see Product Longevity, above). Recycle where we can. And above all, use biodegradable materials for our disposable objects like plastic glasses and diapers. The ocean is becoming sludged with plastics on a massive scale. Reduce pollution and we'll help every species, not just the ones at risk.
Tonto the Strange Dachshund
Is Democracy Sustainable?
Some equate democracy with capitalism. It's true the two usually go hand in hand, but not necessarily.
Thanks for reading.
Note: The Sex Gates was originally released as a collaboration with Jeanine Berry. We went on to make it into a trilogy. However, I kept remembering the original version written alone and finally decided to release it. It came out as an e-book first and was well received so I decided to have it also published in print with Double Dragon Books, one of my major publishers. It's available at www.Amazon.com under the title The Original Sex Gates. This original version has a much different ending and ties up all the loose ends in one book. If you liked The Sex Gates, you'll probably like this, too. If you haven't read any of them, this is a good place to start. Here's an excerpt:
Excerpt from The Original Sex Gates
Trevor had all kinds of difficulty getting permission to deorbit and land, especially after popping into earth's orbit so unexpectedly. Coming back down to earth wasn't quite the same as the takeoff; if you weren't careful, the spacecraft could plow into the earth at a speed that would cause a pretty big crater--with the passengers as part of it. When I asked Trevor what the problem was with communication, he replied, "All kinds of turmoil down there. Some gates have disappeared and the ones who had gone through and not come out have reappeared. Changed sex, of course." He chuckled. "I wonder what all those psychopaths are going to feel like being women?"
"Maybe the gates have cured them," Rita the optimist said. I held my tongue. I had gotten no sign at all that the minions of the sex gates were interested in curing us, even though they did repair almost all physical ailments during a passage. But that was just the alien kid playing around. It had been a learning process for the alien offspring and that's all. It could have just as well had the sex gates give us ailments as cure them. The benefits we derived from a passage were purely arbitrary, and becoming Seconders, as we had, was an unexpected and fortuitous (for us) outcome. That's my opinion, anyway.
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