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August 2008

This newsletter may be copied and sent to both friends and enemies with the stipulation that the source www.darrellbain.com is noted and the copyright notice is noted and included as follows:
Bainstorming: Darrell's Monthly Newsletter.
Copyright © August 2008, By Darrell Bain

Responses to subjects brought up by this newsletter are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.

  Subjects this month:

Bain muses, Recurring themes, What I believe, Newspaper delivery kaput?, Banking unearned income, Tonto Clone, Bain predictions, Science Fiction to reality, U.K. interview, Outsourcing service, Bain Blunders, Progress Report, Book Reviews, Betty's Dental Horror continued, MRI funny business, Excerpt from Postwar Dinosaur Blues.

Special Notice
Until the end of the year, copies of Bark! bought at the following link will be discounted 20% if you use the special code DACHS:

Bain Muses
Nothing is ever as simple as either liberals or conservatives say it is.

Betty says if they're not bleeding, the television news doesn't talk about it. Not far from the truth.

With Government as large as it is today I'm surprised that there's not more misconduct and corruption, though God knows there's enough!

Recurring Themes
The same themes keep recurring in science fiction (and other literature). Here's a good example. A number years ago I wrote a novel of time displacement titled Circles of Displacement, where a cosmic accident sent hundreds of circular areas of earth in East Texas back in time for 15,000 years or so. Among the circles was the prison unit of Huntsville, including death row.

Now fast forward. I was browsing and saw that Eric Flint's new novel, Time Spike includes a maximum security prison being thrown back in time, along with other areas.

Same theme, but I feel fairly certain Eric flint hadn't read my novel when he wrote his. It was simply similar ideas by two, ahem, great minds.

I tried to write Eric and let him know of the coincidence but for some reason couldn't get the link on his web site to work.

P.S. I bought the book.

P.P.S. It was great!

What I Believe
This being an election year, I think I'll say a few words on some of the issues and what I believe. For this month, I will take Medical care as a subject.

I believe tax payer money would be well spent on a universal health care system. I think that all persons should have free care for most procedures, paid by tax dollars of course. The simplest way would be for everyone (including Medicare recipients) to pay for it with a withholding tax like Medicare is now. That way everyone would know what they are paying for medical care. I think that once a person accepts this system, they should not be able to sue either doctors or hospitals for anything except actual damages and a cap should be put on those. I think the system could probably be patterned on the Veterans medical system where everything is computerized and you don't have to chase all over creation tracking down X-rays and MRI films, etc. when you go for consult like I'm doing (see MRI funny business in this newsletter). Sure, the VA has its faults but I've been in both the VA and private care for a number of years and I think the VA does a reasonably good job. I won't go into any more detail about how a new system should be arranged but just about anything would be better than the hodgepodge system we have now. We spend about twice as much as any other industrialized nation on health care and it's practically bankrupting the country.

And by the way, we already have universal health care. It's just done haphazardly and utilizes many separate programs and some people fall through the cracks and some people have to beggar themselves before being eligible for it. Not good. A single system would be much simpler and cheaper.

I don't expect to ever see it, though. Too many vested interests in the system we have now, even if it is bankrupting us and creating a plethora of crooks.

Newspaper delivery kaput?
We haven't had a newspaper delivery in two months. My brother just called me and said they aren't delivering in his city, either. The papers simply won't pay the carriers enough money to make a living. Who can blame them for not taking the jobs? What are all the home bound people to do for definitive news, especially those not on the web? We're spending an exorbitant amount of money driving to town each day to buy one. A lot of people can't afford it or can't drive.

Hell, just about every person in the country who receives a home delivered newspaper would pay extra to keep it coming. Why can't the idiot money manager people at the newspapers understand this?

And the newspaper industry complains that they're losing readership. Duh.

Update: One of the old carriers has solicited some of us to deliver the paper to us at an increased rate and gotten enough customers so that he can afford to do it. Free enterprise in action as well as a good example of supply and demand.

Please note: I don't believe supply and demand solves all problems or is even a good solution to some problems, such as medical care, but generally it works.

Banking unearned income
These days I suspect at least 50% of adults have automatic deductions of some sort for their bank accounts to pay various bills. When a person dies most of these aren't stopped immediately, naturally. I often wonder how much undeserved money goes to banks and other places afterward before the withholdings get stopped? And I also wonder if any of it is ever refunded? I really don't know, I'm just curious.

Tonto Clone
Tonto is such an unusual dog that he is making an offer to donate enough cells to be cloned should anyone want to come take a sample from him. His autobiography may be read alone as the e-book Tonto, an Autobiography of a Strange, Addled Dachshund (Kindle, Fictionwise, etc.) or in print as a 30,000 word addendum to the fiction novel Bark! in case you'd like to learn more about him. Trust me, I've never read or heard of a more unusual dog, dachshund or otherwise. Now how's that for an unusual (no pun intended) offer!

Bain Predictions
I predict that some corporation or country other than NASA will return to the moon first. I sincerely hope it is a corporation of America origin because that would mean private enterprise is alive and well and that space exploration of other solar worlds or moons by humans is at last under way and won't be stopped again.

Science Fiction to reality
Almost three quarters of a century ago science fiction stories began using the term "credit" as a future form of money. For example, "That cost ten credits." The other day I was in the line at the grocery store and the two customers ahead of me both produced a card of some kind. The cashier asked, "Credit or debit?" and I suddenly realized that the science fiction writers of long ago had predicted one day we'd be using credits for money and here we are, doing exactly that!

U.K. interview
I was recently interviewed by the U.K. Guardian newspaper on the subject of alien invasions. I was asked what the prospects of the human surviving such an invasion might be. My answer? Slim! For a more comprehensive discussion of the subject I recommend the book An Introduction to Planetary Defense by Travis S. Taylor and Bob Boan.

Outsourcing service
I know I'm not the only one, but over the last two weeks I've spent four or five hours on the phone, holding it to my ear until my arm was cramping while trying to get a simple problem with my computer analyzed. This is with Dell Computer, by the way and needless to say I will not buy another Dell computer until they bring their service back to America and improve their telephone menu. First, the telephone menu always take fifteen minutes to finally get me to the right place. After that I have to try to interpret the English of some person in India or Bangladesh or maybe another planet for all I know. I can barely understand them and I spend half my time asking them to either slow down or repeat what they're trying to tell me. They garble the words, go too fast and really mangle the technical terms. After that, if the problem is anything the least bit outside their play book they have to go get a supervisor. I've spent all this time and had four different reasons given for my problem (gray shadow lines from text on my monitor) and it's still not fixed.

Know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to cancel my service contract then go to the local computer service store and see if I can negotiate a service contract with them. If not I shall advertise in the paper for someone who is computer savvy and try working out a deal with them.

Dell is off my list and the reason is from outsourcing their customer service .

I'm sure Dell isn't the only culprit. I'm letting them know how upset I am and I hope everyone else in the country will begin making noises and try to get this kind of outsourcing stopped. If the service was better I might have a little sympathy, but it isn't. I have fond memories of talking to an American service technician several years ago and I sincerely hope that before my life is over it happens again.

Sound off, people! That's the only way to get this changed.

P.S. I finally fixed the problem myself.

Bain Blunders
I'm a business genius. I bought some gold 15 years ago at $330.00 an ounce and finally sold it a couple of years ago at $333.00 an ounce. It's only $940.00 an ounce now.

Once upon a time when I was an enlisted specialist, the army decided to send me to college, all expenses and books paid plus my regular salary, to get a degree in Medical Technology. I fooled around and flunked out the first year. Six years later I got out of the army, went to college at my own expense for three years, working full time while I was at it, and got a degree in Medical Technology. Nothing like doing things the hard way.

Progress Report
After a month or so of not feeling too well I'm pretty well back on track and writing again. I finished my part of another novel set in the Human By Choice universe, the second book of the series, and sent it on to Doc Travis. Betty read it and thought it was fantastic. Very encouraging and I'm sure Doc Travis will do a great job with his part.

I just signed a contract to have a number of my books produced in audio editions. They will be available at audible.com, the biggest audio book store. They should also be available at Amazon. I shall keep you posted on availability. Alien infection, of course, is already available in an audio edition at www.fictionwise.com

I'm also in the last stages of a short novel. I haven't decided on a title yet.

Book Reviews
Ken Follett's World Without End is a remarkable book. It is a sequel of sorts to his novel The Pillars of Earth, set in 12th Century England. World Without End is a stand alone novel and takes us forward two hundred years from the first book to 14th century England. Both novels are very detailed in describing how people lived, worked and loved in those days. The church was a much stronger influence in everyday life then and much more powerful. This novel takes place over a span of twenty or thirty years when the Black Death stalked the countryside, killing rich and poor alike. The politics and infighting of the church and king and nobles have been well researched, but as usual with Follett it is his characterization that drives the story. This is well worth your time and you certainly get your money's worth at about 1,000 pages! I'm sure I'll read it again in another year of two. It's that good.

The Alternate by John Martel is a courtroom drama and murder mystery and character study on a number of levels with lots of action, surprises and a good ending. Martel is a fine writer.

I'm presently reading the Harry Potter Books again. It's a reflection of what good books these are because normally I'm not much for fantasy or magic. The Harry Potter books are great, though. They are intricately plotted and so well written that you are plunged into Harry Potter's world as if you're really there with him. I wish I were reading them again for the first time!

As I mentioned above, Eric Flint's new one, Time Spike was great. I wish I had done as well with Circles of Displacement but I have to remember it was one of my first books. I was still learning then. And still am, for that matter.

Betty's Dental Horror continued
I hoped that by the time this newsletter went out I could report that Betty's long dental odyssey would be over but it was not to be. The root canal didn't take the first time and she's been in pain from it for almost three months now. Finally they re-drilled it and packed it with medication and she returns in six weeks to see if that will do the trick. In the meantime, she went ahead and got her teeth cleaned since she'd skipped the time before because the fight with the spider had her bottom so sore she couldn't sit in a dental chair without a lot of pain. The X-rays during the visit showed four new gum line cavities, so while she's waiting to see if the root canal works this time she'll have those filled. And naturally they are on opposite sides of the mouth so that means two visits.

To be continued.

And two weeks later that damn tooth is still sore. It looks as if its going to have to come out after all that pain and paying for the root canal and crown. Maybe the dentists will be nice and refund some of the money. We're not holding our breath, though.

MRI funny business
Maybe someone who's familiar with MRI films can help me understand this one. Two years ago I went to an MRI center and had an MRI of my lower back. I called them up and said I needed the film for a consult with a neurosurgeon. I was first told they could no longer access those films. I thought about that for a while and called back. Now I'm being told there was a software upgrade and that's the reason the old films aren't accessible. Now that doesn't make sense to me. It seems like when you do an upgrade you must do it in a fashion where your old records can still be accessed. Otherwise, any film made right up to the day of the upgrade wouldn't be accessible, would it? How about an MRI done only two weeks before the upgrade? Would that be gone (not accessible, too?). Something sure seemed fishy to me.

I called back and asked for the manager. I was told she would call back. Two days later she did. She said my request had been passed on to "a higher power". I said what in heck is going on here? (or words to that effect, perhaps a bit more strenuous). At that point she said she would see what she could do for me.

Two days later she called back and said she had "managed" to access and print my films and I could pick them up.

Now does all that sound funny to anyone else? Personally, I think they try to fob off requests so the doctor will order another MRI. Just my opinion , of course, but if I hadn't been persistent that's what I'd have had to do.

Thanks for reading. Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
August 2008


Excerpt From Postwar Dinosaur Blues

Now he thought he knew; that is, if his brother's plans worked out. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't. Jason was the wildest of the three Williard brothers. Compared to him, Williard thought he and Jerry were boy scouts, a contention no one else who knew them would believe.

"You say you're going home. Do you live in Dallas?"

"Yup. You got some rum?"

"Sure. Be right back," the stew said. She put a little extra wiggle to her behind as she departed

"Here you are," the stew said, bending over to deposit a two-ounce bottle of airline light Bacardi and a plastic glass of ice on his tray. She leaned far enough forward to give him a brief glimpse of what lay beneath her blouse.

"What the fuck--I mean what the hell is this? I ain't going to drink no rum without no Coke." Whoops! Have to start watching my language, he thought. Obscenities came out as easily in the field as spit from a baby, mostly at the way the army usually fucked up operations.

"Oh, sorry about that," the stew said. "Be right back again." Hearing the ex-sergeant talk added zest to her errand. He had spoken in pure Redneck, her favorite language when it came from the right person.

"Here you are," she said, setting down two plastic glasses of coke and another of the miniature bottles of Bacardi light.


"The extra one is on me," she prompted.

Williard grinned, accepting the gambit. "Right. My name's Jim."

"Hi. I'm Terry, as in Very."

"Interested, it seems. Me, too. Do you have any clothes at your place?"

"Like, to wear?"

"Or unwear. This uniform don't suit me no more."

More redneck talk, and his grin was infectious. "I think you look handsome in it. Were you in Vietnam?"

"Yeah, but I didn't look so handsome in dirty fatigues. And this f--this uniform is going to be hot in Dallas. I want to get out of it."

"I think I can safely say I can help you out there. Wait on me after we deplane. I've got to get busy now."

"Don't get too busy to keep the rum coming."

"You got it, Sarge." Terry said. She winked and left.

Good as her word, Terry joined him after only a few minutes of waiting in the departure lounge. Now she was dressed in hip-hugging jeans and a white blouse tied in front with its tails, exposing a creamy white midriff.

"You forgot your coat."

"Fuckit. You don't need an overcoat in Dallas in April. Where's the nearest lounge?"

"I thought we were going to my place?"

"We are, but I want to take some rum with me."

"They don't sell package liquor in the lounges," Terry said.

"No problem, I'll carry it inside me."

The stewardess wondered what she was getting into. Was he an alcoholic? Two quick matching doubles later, she decided that if he was, it was catching. He poured the rum down as casually as a ten-year-old drinking lemonade, while assuming with a disconcerting simplicity that she wanted to do the same.

"Is rum all you ever drink?" she asked, as he ordered one more double for the road.

"No, I drink beer, scotch, bourbon and wine, but not all at the same time. Ready?"

"You forgot your hat."

"Fuckit. Civilians don't wear hats." Williard was feeling his oats. He slid an arm around his companion as they left the lounge. "Which way to the taxis?"

"Don't you have any luggage?"

"Just this," Williard said, hefting a small satchel. "I left my car and clothes with my sister. They'll still be there if she hasn't given them away at a garage sale. She's prone to that. One time she sold Larry's dental cabinet from when he first started practicing."

"Who's Larry?"

"My brother-in-law."

"Did he get mad?"

"No, he got even. He ran off for a week with his dental assistant."

"Did your sister get mad?"

"No, she was so busy spending her garage sale money she never missed him."

"What did she buy?"

"More stuff for garage sales, probably. Larry is the brokest dentist in Dallas, I bet. Hey, here's the cabs." Williard opened the door of the first one in line and politely handed Terry inside. The action pleased her; she wasn't used to it any more. He paused before getting in himself in order to remove his jacket. He dropped it on the sidewalk.

"You had better slow down or you'll spoil all my fun," Terry said.

"If I slow down, I'll spoil my own," Williard said, tossing his belt with the polished brass buckle out the window as the cab pulled away. No more scrubbing tarnish off belt buckles and collar brass.

"At least keep your shirt and pants on. I don't think I have anything to replace them that will fit."

"I'll keep my pants on," Williard promised, unbuttoning his shirt. What the hell, he thought, it will save time later. He draped the shirt out of the window, let it billow in the wind for a moment, then let it go. Terry slid over close to him just in case he changed his mind and decided to rid himself of his trousers.

Williard grinned and snuggled up. So much for the army.

As she leaned back, he put his arm around her. She thought he was going to kiss her, but instead he stared at her chest as if he were just now noticing the difference between male and female.

"Be damned," he said.

"What's wrong? Don't you like what you see?"

"I just noticed."

Now what? Had he already forgotten his first scrutiny of her body? And what was the 'be damned' for? Unless he was blind, he certainly had no reason to complain. Just to reassure herself, she glanced down at her chest. They were still there. She looked back up. "They usually get noticed sooner than this."


"These." "

There's only one of them."

"What?" This was getting ridiculous.

"Unless there's another one behind that one, but that wouldn't make any sense." "You're not making any sense."

"Neither are you. I still don't see but one name tag."

"Oh." For the first time in years, Terry blushed.


...His hands moved over her breasts, caressing them as if he were petting a pair of sleepy kittens.

"Do you like them?" she asked.

"Sure. Especially the other one."

"Which other one? You've got your hands on both of them."

"So I do. I meant the one that holds the name tag."

"You're crazy."

"Wait til you meet my brothers."

"You mean there's more than one of you?"

"Yeah. Two more. They're getting discharged, too."

"What are you all going to do now?" Williard rolled over onto his back. "You know, that's a problem. There's the G.I. bill. We could go to school, but none of us ever cared much for that."

"Why not?"

"Too dull. What ever happens in school?"

"You could go back in the army."

"Naw. The war is over. The army wouldn't be any fun anymore."

Terry sat up in bed. "You thought Vietnam was fun?"

Williard shrugged. "Sometimes. At any rate, it beat going to work in a grocery store or selling shoes. Don't worry, though. Jumpin' Jase has something planned for when we all get home. He's the real adventurer."

"Jumping Jase? You mean Jumping Jack?"

"No, Jumping Jase. That's Jason, my brother."

"What did he do in the war?"

"He bailed out of airplanes, mostly. That's why they called him Jumpin' Jase."

"Oh. He was a paratrooper."

"No, he flew an F-4 with the marines."

"Is that the planes he jumped out of?"


Terry had seen pictures of the swept wing fighter plane on television. She couldn't imagine why anyone would want to parachute from one. "I don't get it," she said. "Why would he jump out of a jet airplane?"

"Most of the time they were on fire, but sometimes they were just broke."

"Oh," Terry said, finally understanding. "He got shot down."

"Mostly, except one time he was flying along the beach on the way back from a mission."

"What happened then?"

"There was a bunch of nurses in bikinis. He ran out of fuel he went back so many times to look and had to ditch in the ocean."

"I bet the marines got mad at him for that one."

"Yeah, but he was so good at making crispy critters they gave him another plane."

Terry had heard the term. It referred to burned corpses. She shuddered and changed the subject. "How about your other brother?"

"That's Jerry. He was in the navy, so mostly he just drove boats and drank rum."

"What did you do?"

"Treated troops for the clap, mostly."

"No, really, what did you do."

"Sometimes I handed out Band-Aids."

Terry finally caught on, remembering the caduceus on the brass of his uniform. "Nut. You were a medic, weren't you?"

"That's what I said."

"In a roundabout way. I bet you saw a lot of action, didn't you?"

"How would I know? I was drunk most of the time."

Terry saw that he didn't want to talk about it. She hadn't recognized the combat medic's badge on his uniform, but suspected that he had been involved in some fighting. "Never mind. What is it your brother is thinking about doing?"

"Chasing dinosaurs in the Congo, so he says." Terry sat bolt upright in the bed.

"Dinosaurs? You mean like searching for skeletons?"

"Nope. Live ones."

Terry stared down at him. He appeared to be perfectly serious. "You're not serious, are you?"  

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