Darrell Bain's Blog - September 2014 to April 2015
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Bainstorming: Darrell's Bain's Blog.
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SUBJECTS THIS ISSUE: Another new book, my 64th, titled How It Ought To Be, Damn It!, A thought to think about, New phones, Reasons for writing less now, Recovery (?) from our illnesses and then more illness, Our Road That Eats Money, Back To Carrying and Why, An experiment in writing and reading (with your help).
MY LATEST BOOK
How It Ought To Be, Damn It! is something new from me, a non-fiction book, available in print or as an ebook. HIOTBDI (that’s easier than typing the whole title each time I mention it) consists of a commentary on the many problems contributing to the decay of America (my opinion), and what we can do about it, written in easy to read colloquial language. You won’t find any political correctness in this book. If I comment on poor people, that’s what I call them, not “financially disadvantaged”. I hate political correctness because it’s an attempt to use language in order to avoid telling the truth, or to avoid describing a person, a group or a place in plain words that would tell everyone what they’re up to, such as calling agitators “community organizers” or calling looters “protestors”. You know what I mean, I’m sure. Political correctness is an attempt to keep citizens from looking at the obvious. Personally, I think it’s just stupid. A poor person knows they’re poor. Calling them “financially disadvantaged” won’t make them one cent richer. Calling illegal aliens “undocumented immigrants” won’t make them citizens or make them any less illegal. Well, enough about that. Read the book. It might make you angry, you might agree or disagree, but I doubt that you’ll call it dull! Oh yes--the first letter I received about the book was from Australia. It seems conditions there are going the same direction ours are. I guess politicians can’t help themselves, wherever their origins.
A THOUGHT TO THINK ABOUT
“God deliver us from politicians with good intentions -- a train wreck is sure to follow.”
OUR NEW PHONES
Betty and I are in the process of canceling our Verizon account and getting jitterbug phones. Since we don’t travel anymore, and I have two computers and a tablet computer, I never used my smart phone for much anyway. We’ll wind up saving a bunch of money, but the best part of the new deal is that every Jitterbug customer service person is an American who you can understand. They are unfailingly polite and helpful. Heck, just having Americans speaking English we can understand is worth the price of the phone any day of the week.
The only problem we had was trying to open an account for Betty, using my email address. Three different customer service reps spent about an hour each trying to solve the problem, which wasn’t possible to fix. I guess they didn’t want to say they didn’t know, but would find out and get back to me. Unfortunately, I know from my days of running Hospital Labs that the type of person who isn’t afraid to admit he or she doesn’t know something is kind of rare. You have to have a lot of self confidence in yourself to do that. Anyway, a workaround wasn’t possible so we used the customer service people to enter the phone numbers. I did make a strong suggestion that the problem be bumped up to a level of chief software programmer and/or webmaster or mistress so that other customers and reps won’t waste so much time.
ILLENSSES AND MORE ILLNESSES
Here lately it seems as if we don’t get over one illness before another strikes. Almost all of them are attributable to the aging process but it sure gets tiresome having to go see a doctor once or twice a month, then filling prescriptions and getting well only to have something else sneak up on you. For instance, I presently have five different syndromes going on in my feet. When most of them begin acting up at once it becomes extremely painful. What we do is just keep telling ourselves that there are a hell of a lot of people worse off than us, and it’s true. We’re in sterling health compared to most people our age.
Then, of course, there are the illnesses we have that aren’t life-threatening but aren’t curable, either, that cause a lot of pain and aggravation. Betty and I have problems with our hips that radiates down the corresponding leg. Mine is the result of lower vertebrae all pressing on disks, and one in particular that causes constant pain on my left side exactly where I sit down. Anywhere else wouldn’t be so bad but that’s really cause for complaining to the management. Betty has the same problem but from a different source. Hers results from a very bad tear of her hamstring muscle caused by her fight with a spider (use the Bainstorming search engine if you want to know more about that episode) that wasn’t diagnosed properly. It causes her constant low-grade pain but the least little thing, like sleeping on that side too long, can cause it to erupt into very bad pain.
Anyway, those things plus the increasing infirmity of old age creeping up on us is keeping me from doing much writing. On the days I feel good, I try to catch up on all the things I’ve put off when I was feeling bad and that leaves little time for writing. I do have a novel started, though, that I think might be pretty good.
PS: Since writing this and going on to other subjects in this issue, I somehow injured my lower back without even knowing how I did it. It has incapacitated me for two days but appears to be getting better now. What next?
Two days later: Now I know what was next. Another damned episode of “Jungle Fever”. That’s what Betty and I call it and what our doc calls it for lack of a clear diagnosis. I woke up about an hour after going to bed, shaking uncontrollably from being cold. It got worse and worse (just like the previous episodes) but this time the severe, uncontrollable chills caused me to shake the whole bed. Betty piled six blankets on top of the sheet and bedspread and I was still freezing to death. It went on and on, interspersed with spasms of my whole body that almost made me think I’d been given a big dose of strychnine. It was like my heels were trying to touch the back of my head and it was very painful. My fever shot up as usual, going to 103.5 before I asked Betty for some Codeine with Tylenol. Several of those pills and several hours later the awful chills and shaking gradually eased off and finally stopped, but the fever took two days to abate and I felt weak for some time afterward, as usual. Also as usual, there was no respiratory involvement, for which I’m very, very glad. If I was congested and coughing and hacking on top of the other symptoms I think I’d have just called an ambulance, or maybe a hearse.
I’m scared to say what next? again. Let’s leave the Jungle Fever and Tuesday my doc is finally going to send me to an infectious disease specialist, or at least that’s what he said last time I had it.
INVASION OF THE WEB WORMS
For ten days in April Betty and I and our kids, all of whom live on our private road, Santa Claus Lane, have felt as though we must be living in a science fiction alternate universe where monsters and other types of creatures invade your world. In this case it was trillions of web worms, also called tent worms.
I’m not exaggerating a bit when I say we had a horrible infestation numbering in the trillions. In fact, there is no way of understating the situation we experienced. From the first day of April (was this an April Fool’s joke by God or His opposite number?) and the next week and a half, the local area, including our private road where our three families live, was well-nigh uninhabitable. For a while it appeared that we’d have to move out and give the place to the damned worms. Some call them Cataba worms or Catawba worms but I care very little about the name. Can you imagine a swarm of worms covering the outside of your home in a very nearly solid carpet, apparently seeking a way inside, and all too frequently finding one? That what we had, and killing them with insect spray did no good. They simply returned over the dead, stinking bodies of their friends in numbers that negates the term “swarm”. It was an invasion, period. The cars were covered, the mailboxes were covered, the porch was inundated with millions of the wiggly monsters. We killed and sprayed and sprayed and killed and when they piled up high enough, used shovels and hoes and wheelbarrows to haul off the carcasses, which only seemed to make room for the continuing wave of the little monsters. I won’t call them pests. They were MONSTERS! They not only swarmed out homes in their millions, they stripped every single leaf of every oak tree, sweet gum and other trees and bushes in the vicinity. One day it looked like late Spring here, with the trees, bushes and flowers all leafed out or bloomed out. The next it looked like winter had come again. Trees that one day had been lush and green were only bare branches with not a sign of green anywhere. Betty’s prize yellow roses had the best bloom ever. It’s a good thing Betty took a picture because when she went out the next day, not only had the leaves been stripped from the roses, the roses were gone, too! We made several trips to the feed store and Wal-Mart for insect spray and dust but everything we did was useless. All we accomplished was to pile dead bugs in heaps that stunk to high heaven. We didn’t know it then, but the worms were active miles from us. There were a number of power outages from thousands (millions?) of worms burying electrical transformers and shorting them out. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to us. I guess the ones around here were too busy eating up our trees, bushes and flowers and trying their best to envelop the whole house with their bodies, dead and live alike. There were no birds to be seen looking for insects. They were all so full of worms they could no longer fly.
It’s a good thing all disasters end eventually. The worms disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared, leaving only their stinking carcasses behind, leaving totally bare trees and bushes behind, and this time no living worms came to replace them. After the invasion was over and we exited from the science fiction movie (or maybe an alternate universe we’d been starring in), I looked up the nature of the little devils. It seems that in the South where we live there can be several cycles. Well, we’d seen them in previous years, but only here or there in their webs. This time…it must have been a perfect storm, providing ideal conditions for them to breed and multiply. What we’re wondering now is what the next cycle will look like. We only hope this was an exception, one coming every 100 years or so, perhaps like the year of the love-bugs. You can use the Bainstorming search engine to find that episode in the archives if you’re interested. It was almost as bad, but has never occurred before or since. We just hope the web worms follow that pattern. If they come back, we’re leaving!!!!!
TO STOP CARRYING OR CONTINUE TO CARRY?
I believe I’ll be able to tell the kids when I need to stop driving. At least I’ve decided that I shouldn’t drive anywhere at the present time except the four local towns where I’ve been driving for years and that all are less than 20 miles from home. I don’t think I’m capable of doing any more than that now.
I’ve been carrying a concealed handgun for several years, too, but when I obtained my permit, I told myself that I would quit carrying when I turned 76. Actually, I decided to quit several months prior to my birthday but now I’m not so certain I did the right thing. Since then there have been a number of robberies nearby. One of them was the next place over, where thieves came in and stripped the whole house of furniture and anything that had the least little value, including the copper wiring and plumbing. I keep thinking of what would happen should I come home and find out house being robbed, or rather what I would do? Actually there wouldn’t be much I could do other than call 911, but suppose the crooks were carrying guns and decided they shouldn’t leave witnesses? What then? There wouldn’t be a way to defend my self or Betty unless I was carrying a weapon. I haven’t made up my mind whether to resume carrying or not. I believe I still have all my senses and I’m not prone to violence and never have been except under the utmost provocation. I’ve always tried to avoid trouble when at all possible.
There’s another possible scenario. Suppose I happened to see a man beating up a woman, a real beating. I couldn’t pass up something like that, armed or not, but I’d feel much safer if I were armed, just in case the man was, too.
And there are other instances, like when some nut decides to shoot up a store or any place where the public gathers. I’d feel obligated to try doing something, especially if Betty was in danger, but without a gun I’d probably just wind up getting myself killed.
Anyway, it’s a decision I’m stewing over and have yet to make up my mind. My permit is good until sometime next year. I’ll probably decide to carry that long and see what the situation looks like then. I’ll probably renew my permit anyway, just to be on the safe side.
OUR ROAD THAT EATS MONEY
I know I’ve written about this before. We built our house a quarter mile from the black top county road. We had no idea why people usually built homes near the blacktop or if not, they built back a ways on ground that had no ups and downs. We had no idea that the road we had made would be so difficult to keep operable. The ups and downs over that quarter mile gives water from rains a way to cut furrows in the road and to pool in the low places. We wound up replacing the original culverts with two newer, larger ones. It helped, a little, but over the last thirty some-odd years I think we’ve come near to putting as much money into that damned road as we have the house! Last Fall I hired a contractor to bring a load of crushed concrete to fill in the low spots and close over the furrows, etc. That was 6 months ago and we’re looking at another 1200 bucks right now for him to come back and do it again. Over the years I know we’ve spent thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars for rocks and front end loaders to spread them. We do have a pretty home, though, nestled in some tall pines that were saplings when we moved in. We’ve managed xo far, but when we go the kids will have to take up the burden. I don’t think they realize yet what that road is going to cost them.
AN EXPERIMENT IN WRITING AND READING
Ready? Okay, background first. The big publishers use acquisition editors and pre-publication editors. Both go by certain rules (and I’m not going to tell you what they are). Despite all the high ratings I’ve gotten from my books and despite all the wonderful fan letters I’ve received, the major publishers have never shown the slightest interest in my writing. Granted, I’ve written a few bloopers, almost all early in my career, and the mediocre ratings were well-deserved. Mind War and a few early books that contained too much sex are good examples. Even those, though, had only so-so ratings. My later work is much better and averages about 4 stars out of five. When one of my books fails to get that fifth star, it is almost always because readers disagree adamantly to the religious and/or political beliefs of the characters (which aren’t necessarily my own).
Okay, back to major publishers. I believe all my latest works are on a par with most of the science fiction books I see them publishing, and even better than a good portion of them. This doesn’t include the really great SF authors like Ringo, Weber and others of their ilk, but does include most of the others.
Now back to the experiment: I’m going to give you the first several pages of one of my best novels (in my own opinion and that of my fans as well). Its title is Samantha’s Talent. Please read these pages just as if you’ve bought the book and are beginning to read it. Don‘t stop to analyze or try to find flaws, but just read. When you’re finished, turn away from the computer and let your mind work for a little while. After that, without looking at the pages again, please let me know if you’ve spotted anything that distracted you from the story or made you not want to keep going. Please, I don’t want any professional editors or English Majors specializing in fiction to comment. I’m looking for the average reader to tell me whether these few pages grab your interest or whether you see the major problem(s) that would exclude it from the interest of editors of major publishers. And here it is:
Elaine Douglas was getting tired. She flicked the fly rod one more time, then decided to call it quits. She secured the line and waited until she caught her husband’s attention. He was fishing farther downstream. When he looked her way, she waved, then turned to point toward the shore to show him she was through for the day. That’s when she saw the grizzly bear on the bank of the stream. It was sitting, much like a human might do with its rear legs splayed out in front of it. Her ten year old daughter was propped on one massive leg and pulling down on one of the bear’s huge extended front legs. She was laughing.
Whoofluff was disappointed when the little ten year old human cub wasn’t by the stream when he stopped to drink. He had encountered a few humans before, but she was the only one he knew who could talk to him and wasn’t afraid to come near. She was one of his few interests in life besides food and drink and female bears at the proper time. He had looked forward to seeing her this year after waking from hibernation. He decided to see if he could find her again. He snuffled around the ground by the stream where she and the grown humans had been recently until he found their scent. He followed it slowly until he was sure of the direction, then speeded up, heading toward the place where he knew the human herd lived.
Okay, that’s enough. If you see anything wrong, let me know. If those few pages captures your interest and makes you want to read the book, let me know. I really will appreciate your opinion, but as I said before, please, no editors, English Majors or professional writers. I’m looking for the average reader’s thoughts as you read the pages only once, just as you would with the book. You can contact me by email if I’m on your list or if not you can contact me from my web site, www.darrellbain.com .Thank you very much.
And that’s all for this time. I hope you enjoyed reading this issue of Bainstorming and will let me know what you think of the little excerpt of the book, Samantha’s Talent.
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