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December 2007

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 included as follows:
Darrell Bain Newsletter
Copyright © December 2007, by Darrell Bain
http://www.darrellbain.com

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

Subjects this month:

Free Books, News Flash, Bain Blunders, Christmas, Bain Muses, Velcro the Cat & Susie the Dog, Progress Report, Quantum Theory for Laymen, Book Reviews, Political Correctness Relief, The 'F' Word, Individual vs. Mass Disasters, Eyewitness Convictions, Failure of Democracy, Excerpt from Doggie Biscuit!

Free Books
If you are not interested in a chance at a free book, then scroll down to the next subject. Otherwise, read on. This month, the free book offer is for Doggie Biscuit! the true story of an extraordinary dachshund. Biscuit was with us for only five years but during his short time on earth he became an integral part of mine and Betty's life. He was the most intelligent dog either of us have ever known. His exploits amused and entertained us and made our lives richer in the process. Biscuit was such a special dog that I wrote a book detailing all his escapades and reliving his life with us. It has never received less than a perfect five star rating by reviewers. To receive a free copy of Doggie Biscuit, you must be one of the first five persons to send me a mail, either from my web site or your address book, with the words DOGGIE BISCUIT in the subject line. That's all there is to it. I do ask that if you are one of the ones to receive a free copy, and you enjoy the book, please tell five other people about it. That's all. Oh, yes. I pay the postage, too, so the first five people who mail me with DOGGIE BISCUIT in the subject line are not out a penny. Thanks for reading and good luck! If you don't win a copy I hope you buy one so you can have the experience of having known Biscuit in a small way. He was that special.

Please Note: No overseas unless it is an APO address or you agree to pay the postage (about 8 or 9 dollars).

News Flash
Amazon's Kindle book reader is here and fourteen of my books are available for reading on it! These include the best sellers Alien Infection, Warp Point, Space Trails, and Strange Valley. In addition to the fourteen already available, additional books are being added as rapidly as possible. Check Kindle periodically. Happy reading!! Darrell

Bain Blunders
So far I've been lucky and had only one, or sometimes no blunders at all to write about. This month there's one from Betty and one from my brother Gary. Let's start with Gary first. He told me about his troubles with a sink in a succession of e-mails. My mail will have to enter into the scene for it all to make sense so bear with me. First, I have to tell you that I sometimes tease Gary about being rich because he's drawing a military retirement check in addition to a VA compensation check and Social Security and I'm only getting a VA compensation check and Social Security. And then Gary wrote complaining about Microsoft Front Page being discontinued. Below is my answer and our subsequent mail, somewhat edited since this is ostensibly a family newsletter:

You're so rich why not have someone do it for you? For the web site you've got, they probably wouldn't charge you all that much.
D

Me rich????? Senility!! We are proud owners of three horses, nobody with three horses is rich! Thanks for info will continue search.

My other riches going to plumber today, Barb decided didn't like kazillion dollar sink from remodeling so bought another kazillion dollar sink to replace it and kazillion dollar per/hour plumber to remove and replace cast iron heavy sumbitch or wuda dun it meself!!
G

Thought you were down to two horses and wuz gonna sell yours? Dogs are bad enuff money eating machines. Only 2.4% COL this year. Rats. OTOH, Medicare not going up much so guess we'll survive. Of course best seller would help but I've given up that dream. I'm a good writer but not as good as too many others. And everybody and their third cousin wants to publish a book today and you can get them published free or for very little money regardless of how idiotic they are.
D

Rich fool and money soon parted!! F*&^%*#@# sink didn't fit hole after all the homework Barb did and now plumbers have to put old sink back in and we gotta take new sink back. Cost $85 p/hr for plumbers so about 2 hours for naught to say nothing of the toll fees, gas, etc., to go to town a few times-just too much **&^%$*# fun.
G

What comes from Ug fooling around with women. Uga always wanting Ug to move rocks around in cave. Uga wouldn't put out unless Ug complied, so Ug moved rocks for Uga. That's how furniture moving and sink changing and kitchen remodeling genes became fixed in women. Matter of evolution. All Ug's fault. He shoulda hit her with rock instead of moving it and today we could buy a piece of furniture and move it to one spot and it would still be there when we died. No more remodeling every time woman picks up a magazine or watches home and garden show. Ug politically correct but screwed the goose.
D

Sink saga cnt'd!! First of all me shud be Chief UG!! Went to town, got refund, goofed off about 2 hours, couple gallons gas, toll both ways to the tune of about $5 and listened to grumbling all the while!! Got home, started to put small screw in faucet plumbers didn't put in. Being a foresighted booger that I am I didn't hold screw in sink 'cause if dropped it wuda gone down drain. So when dropped it, like I knew I wud, it rolled, and rolled and very adroitly and with malice foresight I'm certain, rolled underneath the only crack there is in the entire kitchen. The crack just big enuff for screw to go thru, had to be constructed with that in mind I'm sure, both the screw and the crack! No way to even look under the damn thing to see if cud find screw. So did the 'ol clothes hangar trick. Started with small swipes underneath the unit it fell under, brought out massive amounts of dog hair, ghost turds, broken glass and other debris. On about the umpteenth swipe the screw came out-hooray, but almost filled up trash can before getting it out. Then stupid screw wudn't go in so **^&%)&%, crossthreaded it in anyway 'cause gonna throw sumbich away anyway, so screw the screwy screw to hell and back. Made dinner, gonna have cookies and milk, go to bed, cover my head up and not peek out 'til nightmares of rebellious hollerin' and screamin' screws wake me up!
G

And all that reminds me oh so vividly of all the times I wrestled with my evil tractors when I was still pretending to be a farmer so I could stay home and practice being a starving writer. Anyone who is interested can read all about it in Life On Santa Claus Lane, available in both print and e-book.


Now the next Bain Blunder belongs to my dearly beloved wife Betty. In all honesty, I'll have to admit that had it been me, I probably would have wound up in even worse shape.

It all started when Tonto began barking at a huge spider that was politely wandering across the living room floor. We have no idea where it came from, but there it was, the biggest spider she had ever seen. She saw it and immediately got up to stomp it, not wanting a monster that size wandering around the house. Everyone has a few small spiders in their homes but I doubt very many have one the size Betty saw. Anyway, she missed her stomp and it ran under the buffet. Betty promptly ran and got the broom and swept it back into sight and then stood up and whapped it with the broom. Immediately a thousand teensy tiny spiders erupted from the smushed back of the mama spider (that being what it apparently was). Not wanting to have a thousand little spiders running around the house with those kind of monster genes, Betty promptly ran and got a can of Raid, the first solution she thought of. She began spraying frantically, but some of the teensy spiders ran through the entrance into the hall. Betty ran after them, spraying frantically to make sure none escaped. The only problem was that she stepped into the slick film of Raid on the floor where she'd been spraying in front of her. Her foot skidded out from under her and in order to avoid a hip-breaking fall, she twisted around and grabbed for the entrance frame. In doing so, so pulled loose every muscle and tendon and fiber and blood vessel and ligament in her right thigh. That was four weeks ago. She still can't sit down for very long and when she does, she has to have a special pillow.

The only benefit I can think of from having a crippled wife is that Betty tells me she can now be properly sympathetic over my aching left backside where the sciatic nerve exits through the hip bone. I've spent the last several years feeling like I'm sitting on a toothache all day and it keeps getting worse. The only relief is narcotics and/or going and laying down in bed. Since I don't like to stay in bed more than twelve hours a day, that means I hurt the other twelve.

I can't think of a single moral to this story, other than to be careful with monster spiders.

Christmas
It's time for Christmas shopping. Make it easy this year and give books. A perfect gift for those who like laughter is Life On Santa Claus Lane, available at all the usual sources, including autographed copies from my web site. Click on "book sale" in the menu. Another nice gift for your dog loving friends would be Doggie Biscuit!, also available at the usual sources including my web site. Both these books have received great reviews.

And how about an autographed copy of Savage Survival? This is a special edition and a collector's item. Any woman who likes a strong female character will love it. So will men. In fact it's almost impossible not to admire Lyda Brightner. Shucks, I do, tremendously, and I invented her! All books ordered from my web site are autographed.

Life On Santa Claus Lane came about this way:

For twenty years, Betty and I owned a Choose and Cut Christmas tree farm (and still live on the place although we retired and closed it 4 years ago). You really can't imagine the work and frustration that goes into those businesses. And the funny things which happen on a Christmas tree farm, especially during the Christmas selling season. One of the funniest was when the Post Office was making private roads take names for 911 purposes, they gave our road a name without asking: Santa Claus Lane. It remains our official post office address! One of my first books was a compilation of incidents from the farm titled "Life On Santa Claus Lane". It's still in print and still sells well as Christmas gifts. A sequel, Laughing All The Way will soon be available (again).

Frankly I don't miss all the hard work, but I do miss the way the kids' eyes would light up when they got out of the car after a drive through the country and saw thousands of live Christmas trees growing. We still get calls and visitors after all this time and still get letters addressed to Santa Claus. I always answer them and sign them as Santa's Amenuresis, otherwsise known as an elf.

Thank You. And by the way, I'd like to say Merry Christmas to all my Newsletter readers and/or fans of my books. May you always have happy reading and read happily all your lives.

Bain Muses
Dear Abby asked readers to write and tell her what they thought Society's biggest problem is. I wrote and told her the biggest problem of society is society and there ain't no cure. Where you have humans, you have problems.

Older people are often accused of talking a lot about their illnesses. It's not really a symptom of old age. Every one talks about their bodily gripes. It's just that older people have more of them to talk about.

One good way of knowing what day of the week it is after you've retired is to subscribe to a newspaper. Just look at the date each morning. Of course you still have to remember it the rest of the day, so don't throw it away until just before you go to bed.

Velcro the Cat & Susie the Dog
Tonto, our addled dachshund, has gotten most of the pet attention in my newsletter ramblings, but we do have two other pets, or more accurately, four legged, furry companions who can't talk. One is another dachshund, Susie. She is mostly a couch potato but Tonto is gradually teaching her how to have fun. He takes one of his stuffed toys and whaps her in the face with it until she decides she may as well play with him. When she tires of it she jumps onto a chair. Tonto can't jump so she is out of reach of the whapping then. Susie likes to have her tummy rubbed in the morning. She gets the most rapt, stupidest expression on her face while it's going on. It looks as if she's off in another world. Her head is perfectly still while her tail is doing its best to imitate a helicopter rotor. Susie is also a good snake dog. She stands back and barks, unlike another dog I could name who doesn't have enough sense (or eyesight) to get out of a snake's way, which is why he's been bitten three times.

Velcro the cat got his name from when we were in Oklahoma visiting my brother and sister-in-law. As we were standing by the car getting ready to leave, this gray and white kitten came running up to me, crawled up my jeans and attached himself to my shirt and refused to let go until we were safely out of Oklahoma. Naturally we named him Velcro. He began life as a barn cat (which explains why he wanted to leave so badly--the barn also houses horses), so he had no inside the house manners. However we tried. He once was a house cat at our home for quite a while but we couldn't break him of walking on kitchen counters. He was finally banished to the porch where he has a little home which is heated on cold nights. His most distinguishing characteristic is a nose of four colors; pink, brown, gray and white. He deposits his kills, mice usually, on the doormat. He knows we can't hunt worth a dern and tries to help supply us with meat.

There. Now they've had, if not equal time, at least a little time of their own.

Progress Report
My latest novel has been accepted by Twilight Times Books for publication in both e-book and print. The title is Seeds Of The Mogollon Rim (I think), or perhaps just Alien Seeds. Look for the e-book version in January.

Tentative dates for future print releases are given in a new menu entry at my web site, titled "forthcoming print books."

I still can't say much about Human By Choice since Doc Travis hasn't finished his part yet. Patience. July of next year is still the anticipated release date.

I have a couple of other novels working, including a sequel to Human By Choice. I don't do many sequels or series (except The Williard Brothers series), but this one will probably turn into a series, or at the very least a sequel.

My Brother Gary is now available in print and for sale at lulu.com. http://www.lulu.com/content/1378474

As anyone who's read the e-book version knows, I'm proud of him. You also know how funny he can be. And lucky. And brave. And so on. Try it and see. It's a short book but well worth the money.

Quantum Theory
This also probably belongs in the book review section but I believe it deserves a spot of its own for one very good reason. Travis S. Taylor's second book, The Quantum Connection, has an addendum at the end of the novel which gives a short explanation of Quantum theory for the layman. I thought it particularly apt with the recent news of possible alternate universes being closer to proven and quantum connectiveness periodically making the news, as well as a new theory of everything from an unexpected source and the CERN accelerator going on line next year, etc. Who woulda thought we could really see action at a distance and teleportation in our day, even if it is being done only with atoms so far? Amazing, if also bewieldering. I re-read both of Travis' books, Warp Speed and The Quantum Connection again only a few months after the first reading and they were even better on the second reading. I managed to slow down and enjoyed them more this time around.

Book reviews
I never review books I don't care for or even mediocre books. Only the ones which really impress me and I keep for re-reading make it to this section of my newsletter.

Joseph Wambaugh's Hollywood Station is a great cop book, and much more from the patrolman's perspective than the detective, as much of police fiction is. Having been a Las Angeles Patrolman, he knows what he writes about. Most of us have no conception of what our patrolmen, the police at the level we see them most often, go through. Just attending wrecks can be horrible, not to mention their constant exposure to the less aesthetic side of life, so to speak. He writes with a fine voice and this one is well worth your time.

David Weber, in collaboration with Steve White, produced a series of books featuring space wars in the future. They are Crusade, In Death Ground, The Shiva Option and Insurrection, which combine to make a great series. Weber has made a place for himself in military science fiction by putting deep characterization into his people, making us care about them even as we are reading of space battles as only he can do them. And I just found out this team has just written a fifth in the series. I'm going to order it soon.

I re-read The Knife Man by Wendy Moore, the biography of the English surgeon of the 1700s. He was a man born out of his time. His studies went far beyond surgery. He did thousands upon thousands of dissections and experiments on animals of every description, seeking a unifying principal of life. There is a John Hunter museum in London which displays some of his preparations of animals or organs that are still beautiful today, as well as many paintings he commissioned. If you ever get to London, don't miss this attraction. Once you read the book, you'll realize what a great man he was.

I read David Weber's In Fury Born for the second time and enjoyed it more than the first reading. Weber is able to consistently wring more emotion out of his characters and situations than any author I've ever read. There's very few of his books that haven't brought tears to my eyes or that choking sensation in the throat--or sometimes even outright, out loud crying. There were several instances like that in this novel of a young woman seemingly born to serve in the military of the future. The last part of the book is so heart rending, emotionally charged and tension filled that I could barely stand it. If you've never read any of David Weber's books this great long thoroughly enjoyable epic is a great place to start.

Von Neumann's War by John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor is a really fine book, so good that I read it again only a few months after the first reading. I reported on it then, so I won't say much now other than the novel of an alien nanobot invasion was even more enjoyable the second time around. I also re-read Into The Looking Glass again and it induced me to order some more of Ringo's books.

Tom Cool is a terrific author and probably too little know. His novel Secret Realms is the best I've read yet about living in a virtual world. Once you get into it you can't put it down. A cliché, I know, but true nevertheless.

And last this month, I started John Ringo's Posleen War series. The first book is A Hymn Before Battle. Besides a nail-biting, sleep-depriving, heart-thumping battle against an alien army, he also brought back not so fond memories of the Army in the late sixties and early seventies. Much of what was going on in the army then contributed to me giving up my career only seven years short of retirement. Ringo knows his military. He's either been in it or researched it most thoroughly. I just received the second book in the series and will be reporting on it next month. If it's even half as good as the first, it will hold down a permanent place on my crowed bookshelves.

Relief from Political Correctness
This should really be in the book review section but everyone doesn't read it so I gave it a place of its own. A short one. If any of you occasionally (or even more than occasionally) get fed up with political correctness, don't despair. You can't cure it because it's gone too far, but you can get a little relief by reading Rude Behavior by Dan Jenkins. I promise you a load of belly laughs at a trend that has gone too far. He makes fun of every single item in America that's ever come close to putting on political correctness clothing. Try it and see if I'm not right. Be prepared, though. He skewers just about everyone and everything, as Betty says. She just re-read it again. A really sharp tongue is what she also said about it. I couldn't agree more!

The 'F' Word
There used to be a perfectly acceptable synonym for the word F**k that could be used in polite company with never a raised brow or dropped wine glass. The word was a part of conversation a couple of centuries ago all the time and wasn't considered a curse word or dirty language. It is "Tup" as in she's tupping her husband's boss. I'd really like to see it come back into use. It sounds perfectly innocuous and would relieve us of having to censor the real word in numerous conversations and/or manuscripts. However, I can just see one of my Williard Brothers characters saying "I'm going to go kill every one of those mothertuppers that shot at me." I'd not only get laughed off the planet, but half their fans would return their books about the Williard Brothers to me and the other half would send them back with bombs attached. So I guess the F word will stay in those books. However I think I may try using tup in a conversation one or twice other places and see what happens. Stay tuned.

Disasters: Individual vs. Group
I've always wondered why victims of mass disasters are entitled to financial assistance when if individuals asked for it they'd be considered a little balmy. For instance, the government is helping out those people who lost their homes in the California fires. But suppose mine and Betty's home burned down and no one else around us suffered a like calamity. Could we get help from the government? Tup, no. So why should masses of people get it? Please note that I have no quarrel with temporary feeding and sheltering masses of people suddenly homeless, nor much quarrel with helping communities get their infrastructure back in shape. But why should the taxpayers be liable for those too cheap to purchase home insurance or flood insurance, or even those who have? Why should they get low interest loans, grants and all the rest, yet if our home was destroyed by say, leaking pipes or an accidental fire, we'd get no sympathy at all from the government. Masses, yes. Individuals, no. Could politics be involved? I can't think of any other reason. Every year we see FEMA expand. More and more events are declared "disasters" and money gets thrown around like waste paper (which it soon will resemble if our tupping government doesn't stop living beyond its means). Drought? Tornadoes? Storms? You name it, if it happens to more than a dozen families, here comes the government. When did this all begin, anyway? Drought and/or flood is a normal risk for farmers. Other businesses take risks. Farmers go into it with their eyes wide open. Why should they get help for weather fluctuations? I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point. Maybe some kind reader will tell me why the tupping masses are more important than individuals, other than the fact that they have more votes than individuals do.

Eyewitness Convictions
How many times have we read about innocent men or women convicted because of eyewitness accounts that were proven wrong? Completely wrong. I'll tell you: lots of them. Why? Because the brain sees what it wants to see. The brain tries to fill in the blanks. Any psychologist knows about the experiments of staging a fake shooting in a classroom or some similar event, then asking the students to write down exactly what they saw and what the people involved looked like. Many of them couldn't even tell the difference between male and female, short or tall, bearded or clean shaven, short or long hair, or even how many people were involved, etc. etc. And yet prosecutors continue to rely on eyewitnesses. They know better, too, but do it anyway. Are they so devoted to the idea of getting a conviction that they refuse to take into account how often eyewitnesses get it wrong? I think so. They convince themselves that this time the eyewitness is correct.

Failure of Democracy
The worst thing about democracy is that the majority gets what it wants while the minority is left out in the cold--even if the split is 51% and 49%. The other worst thing is that once voters realize they can vote themselves benefits, democracy begins to falter. It seems to be inherent in the system. The ones running for office make more and more promises and once in, appropriate more and more money to spend on getting more and more votes and the ones who benefit keep voting for the office holders who keep shoveling out the money. There's no way such a system can go on for long, not once it reaches the point of spending more money than it takes in year after year and continually expanding programs in order to get more votes, regardless of whether there's any money to pay for them. Sad to say, I believe the United States Of America has reached the tipping point as a world power and has begun its inevitable decline. I have no idea how to stop the cycle. Does anyone?

Except for the following excerpt from one of my books that would make a nice Christmas gift, that's all for this month. I sincerely hope you've enjoyed reading my newsletter. I am entirely open to suggestions for making it better. In fact, if someone gives me a good enough suggestion, I'll send them a free book.

Happy Reading.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
December 2007

Excerpt from Doggie Biscuit!

Once he tried riding a few times, Biscuit decided he liked to go in the truck as much as a kid likes to go on Merry-Go-Rounds. Pretty soon, he was begging to go everywhere I went. As soon as I make a move for my truck keys, he starts bouncing up and down and yelping and turning in circles and squealing as if he has a giant flea tickling him in a spot he can't get to.

Well, Biscuit hadn't been much trouble going to get the mail or newspaper so I began letting him go along to town with me while I ran my errands. At first, he just sat quietly on the seat beside me, but pretty soon he graduated to my lap (remember, he's a lap dog by temperament), and since my truck has no air conditioning, before long he was sticking his head out the window and barking at all and sundry who were using his road. Yep, every road we drove on belonged to him.

I thought it was pretty funny and the trips continued. I would come home and tell Betty about him barking at squirrels and crows on his road or cows and horses leaning their heads over fences as if they were just itching to climb over and invade his road, and yelping at people walking on his road, and in particular, warning cars in front of us to get off of his road.

On rainy or cold days, of course I left the windows up and since he couldn't stick his head out the window, Biscuit would sit in my lap. And that's what led to the trouble.

Sitting in my lap gave him a better view and he began to prefer that to hanging out the window, other than when we stopped and a strange dog, cat, any animal or person approached his truck on his road. In that case, he had to stick his head out (if the window was open) and tell them in no uncertain terms to get the hell off his territory.

Besides the vantage point given by sitting in my lap, Biscuit occasionally honked the horn by accident. He's a pretty smart dog, like I told you. Before long, he learned where both horn buttons were and that they were responsible for making all those neat, loud noises.

The first time we pulled up in front of the house after Biscuit had leaned on the horn the last hundred yards in order to let everyone know Biscuit, the boss of the farm, was home, Betty ran out the back door all atwitter, thinking I was in dire trouble. I was, but I just didn't know it yet.

Besides scaring Betty when we drove up, until she got used to it, Biscuit learned other uses for the horn. For instance, he soon found out that he could get me moving faster if he gave a couple of toots on the horn when I slowed down or stopped for some reason or other.

Now that was fine on country roads, but there is no getting out of it; I have to stop when I come to a busy highway and attempt to cross it in order to get into town. Biscuit can't read of course, (at least I don't think so, but he's learning to spell so reading probably isn't far off) and he doesn't pay any attention to stop signs. To him, they are probably just something he would like to pee on if I would just let him out of the car while we're stopped.

One day, we pulled up behind a big, off-road pickup waiting to cross the highway. Biscuit gave the driver about two seconds to get out of our way, then began tooting the horn. I could see by the line of traffic that the truck couldn't move yet, so I pulled Biscuit's paws off the horn. He slobbered my face and while I was busy wiping it off, he tooted some more.

Biscuit was busy wetting down my face again when I saw the door of the big pickup ahead of me swing open. A burly redneck with sleeves rolled up over biceps about the size of my thighs got out. He hitched up his pants, spit on his hands and slowly walked back to where I sat with Biscuit in my arms, wishing now that I had signed up for that concealed handgun class and was armed to the teeth, instead of having to depend on a sixteen-pound idiot-savant dog to protect me.

"You in a hurry, bud?" the big fellow asked.

(You'll have to either win the book or buy the book to see how this came out, folks. That's all the room I have for the excerpt in the newsletter).

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