Darrell Bain's Newsletter - January 2009
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Responses to subjects brought up by this newsletter are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.
To all my readers, I thank you and wish you a happy and prosperous New Year!!
Subjects this month:
Tonto's Adventures, Bain boners, Charity, Progress Report, Health Care Fix, Book Report, Christmas Dinner, Mechanically challenged, Death of a nation, Cookies, Meeting Betty, Togetherness, Excerpt from "Circles of Displacement"
Betty and I hang stockings every year and Santa Claus always fills them. This year as we were opening packages from each other I saw Tonto moving out of the corner of my eye and looked up. Before either Betty or I could react Tonto grabbed her stocking full of stocking stuffers, yanked it off the ottoman and headed south, head high, tail wagging, with the top of the stocking as big as he is gripped firmly in his teeth and the rest of it bumping along beside him. He made it all the way into the office before I could catch him. He was so proud of himself. Why do you never have a camcorder for those moments?
A million Blackbirds landed in the yard. We led Susie and Tonto to the door. Susie half heartedly chased them then came back to her couch. *Yawn* she said. Tonto wouldn't even go past the door. He took one look and ran back and hid under his blankie until they were gone. Bad Blackbirds!
It's a good thing we got him instead of someone who would become aggravated with his peculiarities and take him to a dump. We tease Tonto about taking him to the dump when he's being an idiot, which is most of the time, but of course we don't mean it. Not that he understands, anyway.
We rarely get snow here but we did get two inches this year (so far!). I took Susie and Tonto out on the porch when it was coming down pretty hard. Susie ignored it and went back in the house. Tonto tried to bark it away and when it wouldn't go, he tucked his tail between his legs and ran for the door!
The next morning Susie went pottie on the porch but Tonto followed me out into it and I had fun watching him trying to figure out what had happened to his world overnight!! He would take a step, then look up at me as if to ask, "Are you responsible for this?" then take another step and look up again.
After coming home from the dentist I thought my mouth was back to normal after being numbed and ate a couple of cookies with dates in them. I kept thinking the dates sure were rubbery and only after downing two cookies and chewing and chewing then seeing blood on one where I'd taken a bite did I realize I'd been chewing away on my left lower lip. I looked at the inside of my lip and it reminded me of hamburger! It is still all swollen and sore and it has been a weekl. Boy, what a dummy I was!!!
A number of years ago we added a big from porch to our house. The only problem was, varmints decided it was a perfect spot to hide from the weather, have babies, make homes, etc. Our Chihuahua and then our Dachshund, Biscuit, usually kept them on their toes, though, since they were small enough to get under it, too, and loved to chase varmints. However, we got tired of all the fights under the porch and finally decided to seal it off. And we did. That took care of the problem for several years but then some young Einstein of a varmint figured out it could tunnel under our barrier. Well, we had enjoyed the peace and quiet so I plugged the hole one morning. The next morning Velcro the cat wasn't there when I went out to feed him. I called and called and eventually heard him meowing. Thinking he was either on the roof or up a tree I left his food and went on back in. The meowing continued, getting louder and louder until I could hear it inside. Then it dawned on me. You've probably already guessed. I sealed Velcro under the porch and had to remove my plug and rescue him then put it back again. Derned cat!
How do you know which charity to give to that won't pay its executives a million or more dollars and/or waste half or more of it on spurious fundraising and other activities such as putting relatives on the payroll, and so forth? You can google them and do some research but there are other ways.
Our local bank has a list of needy families. We picked one at random and bought clothes and toys for the kids and filled a large food basket for the whole family. We can be pretty sure our money was well spent there.
One charity I always contribute to: the Salvation Army. Not only do I figure most of the money is well spent but I figure I owe them. I spent a few nights at their shelters here and there back in my rounder days. And besides that, the SA inspired me to write a love story, an unorthodox one, but still a love story and a weird, crazy ending but still a romance novel. Hotline To Heaven is the title and it is sold at Amazon and book stores. Be warned: some scenes might aggravate you and I'm not talking about the sex, either! Heh heh. Read it and find out.
We've also sort of adopted the lady who cleans house for us once a week now that both Betty and I have back problems that keep us from sweeping and/or mopping without some pain. She is a single mother and her daughter is about eleven years old. We bought her some clothes and gave her mother a really nice bonus for the year. It is a good feeling to be able to help people that you know and that you know can use some help.
I'm doing the last revisions on Starship Down before sending it to my publisher. I think it is one of my better books.
My health care fix
President-elect Barack Obama is inviting Americans to spend part of the holiday season talking about health care - and report back to him. As he gears up for major health reform legislation next year, Obama is encouraging average Americans to host informal gatherings to brainstorm about how to improve the U.S. system.
The two sentences above are taken from the Microsoft home page. I'm not going to host an informal gathering but I will put my ideas down here and those who are hosting meetings are welcome to use them.
Start from scratch and scrap all existing medical systems (Medicare, VA, Champas, Champva, Medicaid, Children's insurance, etc.) since everyone would be covered under a single system.
A Medical Payroll Tax or better a sales tax adjusted each year to cover costs so people would be able to see that they are paying for what they get. Low income people would pay less because they buy less. High income people would pay more because they buy more. What could be fairer?
Corporation medical coverage of employees would no longer be necessary so they could be taxed higher to help pay for the system.
Illegal aliens would be granted only emergency care then turned over to the cops or immigration system to boot them out of the country.
It would be either a single payer system (The U.S.) or each state could handle its own so long as it met basic minimum standards.
Oversee with a program like the IRS. Heavy prison time for fraud.
Yeah, I know, it ain't perfect but it would beat hell out of the present system! If you've ever tried to interpret insurance reports you know what I mean.
Boundary by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor is a dandy new science fiction novel that should have wide appeal to readers. It tells the story of a purported alien fossil found at the boundary where the meteor crashed into the Yucatan 60,000,000 years ago. The novel begins with three characters at the dig and goes from there, with the plot becoming more and more complicated and eventually involving Mars. Mars? What would that have to do with a fossil that old, alien or not? Lots, it turns out! A very good book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The Legacy of Heriot by Larry Niven, Jerry Pouornelle and Steven Barnes is one I've reported on before but since I'm reading it again I'll mention it. I believe it is the best science fiction novel of colonizing another world I've read. It was written when all three authors were at their prime.
Starship: Mutiny by Mike Resnick is a pretty good yarn. I love the way he depicts entrenched beaurocracy. Some things never change, do they?
Christmas dinner - no turkey
Thanksgiving dinner has gotten to be such a chore that this year everyone in the family decided to send out for BBQ for the Christmas dinner. Paper plates and glasses and tableware. And guests staying the night before Christmas got pizza. So did we. We had Christmas dinner a couple of days early anyway in order to work around everyone's travel schedules. Betty and I had our Christmas morning together then my oldest son came up for Christmas dinner. Betty made lobster and baked potato.
It seems I can't go near any kind of job involving tools without getting blood all over me. I've always been that way. Anyone who has read Life On Santa Claus Lane has surely laughed at some of my bloody battles with tractors and other mechanical things. Or Laughing All The Way, the sequel. Shucks, just the other day I went out to do a simple job, disconnecting the gas line of the mower to drain the gas for the winter and came back with a cut on my hand and two on my arms, bleeding freely and I still don't know what part of the mower attacked me.
Death of a Nation
A while back the nation of Rhodesia was one of the most prosperous in Africa. Then along came Mugabe, a total idiot of a leader. Today it is a parody of a nation with sewer systems collapsing, cholera spreading, inflation of a zillion per cent, the infrastructure in ruins, no medical care, people starving, etc. This is a good example of stupid government. It began when Mugabe, for political expedience, decided to take away the farms run by whites and give them to the blacks. Unfortunately, the blacks hadn't yet learned to handle the farms but he didn't seem to care. That was the first stupid move but there were many more. The name of the nation was changed to Zimbabwe, maybe so people wouldn't remember how well it was run when it was named Rhodesia. It went from a food exporting nation to an importer, except the currency became worthless and the nation can't buy anything. Today there is essentially no government left except the army. The nation is in ruins. Lesson: Governments and dictators should think before they make changes to something that is working!!!
Cookies for Dessert
Betty makes great cookies. So good, in fact that they are my usual dessert and sometimes breakfast (along with a banana and grapes or cherries and a glass of milk). Her cookies are so good that I never bother trying to find anything better at the store. The one exception, when I've run out of cookies for one reason or another is Oreos. I guess that means their ads are correct. Oreos are the number one cookie in America (but only because hardly anyone else but family has tasted Betty's). However, if you'd really like to try them, some of her recipes are in her book Articles, Muses and Favorite Diet-Breaking Dessert Recipesat www.fictionwise.com or www.lulu.comfor the print copy.
I'm sure some of you have read this story in one of my books but I like to tell it.
I first saw Betty across the bed from a dying patient. She was an ICU nurse and I was the new Chief Tech of the laboratory. I liked what I saw (Betty, not the patient) so as soon as I got back to the lab I asked around and found out her name. I rounded up some mistletoe and hung it over the specimen sign-in book right inside the lab. Then I called her and told her she had made a mistake with a specimen. She came running, certain she hadn't made an error. I was waiting and when she arrived I pointed up. As soon as she saw the mistletoe she was standing under, I kissed her. That was in the middle of December. Our first real date was New Year's Eve, so being sentimental, a year later we were married on that date.
When Betty tells the story she always says she might have been more enthusiastic if she hadn't been so surprised! I was satisfied at the outcome, though!
Betty got the results of her MRI. She has degenerative disk disease. Now we're doing our back exercises together. Shucks, we're even taking the same painkiller. This is really taking togetherness to extremes.
Thanks for reading.
Excerpt From Circles of Displacement
More than two thousand of the small globes of space-time struck the atmosphere, displacing molecules of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and lesser elements, but they slowed down hardly at all. Only a large mass could accomplish that, and the sleeping East Texas countryside served adequately. In a circle with a radius measuring scores of miles, in a pattern affecting the mass they encountered, pure chance decreed who and what was affected. In places, circles of woods, brush and pasture hundreds of yards in diameter suddenly disappeared in claps of thunder and ozone and reappeared far back in time, simultaneously sending comparable areas from there into the future. Animals in the affected zones, unable to understand the changed circumstances, blinked and attempted to carry on their lives as before. Some succeeded; some did not. For humans caught in the time storms and thrown back to the Pleistocene era, it was a different matter. They could reason and wonder and become fearful or joyful, as circumstances dictated. In many cases, it depended on where they were when the displacements occurred. It all cases where humans were caught, they believed that they were the only ones affected. At first, that is. Eventually, many of them would make contact with inhabitants of other displaced areas. Sometimes they wished they hadn't. Chapter One ***** First Lieutenant Wanda Smith was still seething. She brushed a hand through her short black hair, irritated at every man in the world, then grabbed the steering wheel of the jeep Cherokee as it began drifting to the left on highway 59, heading south to Houston. Goddamn him. Goddamn him to hell, that son-of-a-bitch eagle-wearing, smirking army colonel that was destroying her career. Right now, if she never saw a man again in her life, she thought, it would be little loss. The son of a bitch! Trust him to catch her with Available at Amazon.com
Excerpt From Circles of Displacement
More than two thousand of the small globes of space-time struck the atmosphere, displacing molecules of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and lesser elements, but they slowed down hardly at all. Only a large mass could accomplish that, and the sleeping East Texas countryside served adequately. In a circle with a radius measuring scores of miles, in a pattern affecting the mass they encountered, pure chance decreed who and what was affected. In places, circles of woods, brush and pasture hundreds of yards in diameter suddenly disappeared in claps of thunder and ozone and reappeared far back in time, simultaneously sending comparable areas from there into the future. Animals in the affected zones, unable to understand the changed circumstances, blinked and attempted to carry on their lives as before. Some succeeded; some did not. For humans caught in the time storms and thrown back to the Pleistocene era, it was a different matter. They could reason and wonder and become fearful or joyful, as circumstances dictated. In many cases, it depended on where they were when the displacements occurred. It all cases where humans were caught, they believed that they were the only ones affected. At first, that is. Eventually, many of them would make contact with inhabitants of other displaced areas. Sometimes they wished they hadn't.
First Lieutenant Wanda Smith was still seething. She brushed a hand through her short black hair, irritated at every man in the world, then grabbed the steering wheel of the jeep Cherokee as it began drifting to the left on highway 59, heading south to Houston. Goddamn him. Goddamn him to hell, that son-of-a-bitch eagle-wearing, smirking army colonel that was destroying her career. Right now, if she never saw a man again in her life, she thought, it would be little loss. The son of a bitch! Trust him to catch her with
Available at Amazon.com
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