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Savage Survival

 

Darrell Bain's Newsletter - February 2009

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 © February 2009, 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:

Financiers' apologies?, Watching Time, Sony Ebook Reader, Anniversary Roses, Tonto, Snake Eats Tail, Book Report, Hardest Job in the World, Ironic Togetherness, Progress Report, Excerpt From "Ultimate Suggestions"

Financiers' apologies?

As I understand it, the present banking crisis that has led to much, much misery for ordinary folks (including but not limited to losing retirements, jobs, savings, etc.) was caused by: 1. some Real Estate brokers selling homes to people who couldn't possibly afford them; 2. Bankers wrapping up these loans that they knew were no good and selling the money to others or buying such loans for the banks' own portfolios and 3. Financiers who manipulated this money in various ways while knowing it was not good money.

With me so far? I'm pretty certain that's a gross simplification but it isn't far wrong. My point is, that so far I have not heard a single apology from any of the persons responsible for all the misery they've caused. Not.a.single.one!!

Now what does that say about the people who profited so much and got out or the banks that played with the money while knowing it wasn't backed by nearly enough viable loans and the money people who manipulated the system for all it was worth? They knew they were playing with fire but didn't give a tinker's damn what would happen when their house of cards came tumbling down so long as they got theirs whitle the getting was good.

Have we become a nation of scoundrels?

Watching time

The world is divided into two sets of people: those who always have to know what time it is and those who couldn't care less. I've belonged to the set of time watchers ever since I was thirteen and got my first watch with my paper route money. In high school I could tell to the second when the bell was going to ring. I looked at it first ting in the morning and last thing at night. I couldn't stand to be out of sight of a clock or my faithful wrist watch. Later on my watch became a necessity as I worked in medicine. I rarely took it off even when going to bed until the time I got it tangled in a woman's hair one night. That kind of told me I really didn't need to know the time during those romantic moments. Betty wore a watch when we met but she was a nurse and had to have it. The minute she retired she took it off and has never since wondered what time it is. She couldn't care less. I, on the other hand, belong to the sort of people who truly appreciate that gold watch from an employer after years of faithful service. When I retired I kept my watch. I hated it when the wind up watches or the self winding watches were no longer made. I was never, ever, one of those people who let their watch run down. When the watch makers switched over to batteries I began having panic attacks from wondering when the battery would run out. It didn't matter if I had gotten a new battery for my watch the day before, I still worried. I have to know the time!! Betty will probably bury me with my watch unless she's late for my funeral because she doesn't care what time it is.

Sony ebook reader

I gave my brother a Sony ebook reader for Christmas and it turned out he also gave me one! I'm glad he opened his first because he had all the fun of staying on the phone for about 36 hours talking to the technical people. It turns out that the Sony ebook reader absolutely will not talk to Hughes satellite that we both use for getting on line. He signed up for a trial program with Millenicom and the reader works fine with it. I'm still debating whether I want to go through the rigmarole of having to change my email address once again in order to use the reader. Why can't the providers let you switch your old address when you change providers?

Later: the point is moot. I tried the Millenicom modem and it doesn't work well in our area. So much for that idea. I sold the Sony and ordered a Kindle.

Anniversary Roses

Betty and I celebrated our 31st anniversary New Year's Eve, which is also the anniversary of our first date (aren't we sentimental?). I bought her 31 red roses. If we live much longer I'll never be able to retire again. It costs too much to keep Betty in roses!

Tonto

Lately I've been going on afternoon walks with the two dachshunds. I don't worry about Susie. She can get off the road into the woods and chase squirrels or rabbits or run way ahead or hang back and always rejoin me before long. Not Tonto. I have to keep a constant watch on him, otherwise I'll get far ahead of where he's stopped to bark at a weed or snuffle a bug, and since he's sort of cross eyed, he loses sight of me. When that happens he doesn't know how to find his way home unless it is clearly in sight. Since our house is surrounded by trees and brush it doesn't have to be far. If he can't see either me or the house he simply sits down and waits. I guess he'd wait around forever if I didn't come back and find him. Poor fellow. I try to feel sorry for him with all his handicaps but it is hard. He doesn't know anything is wrong with him and is a happy go lucky little dog, always running around and shoveling straw, playing with sticks or snuffling bugs or whatever. When he isn't outside he likes to sit with Betty in her easy chair. It is a rocker and when she gets up and leaves he can't get down. Why? Because when he moves, the chair moves and it scares him! I guess if I didn't know how to jump, being up on a place three times my height that was unstable, I'd be scared too!

Snake eats tail

The government sells its bonds to banks, in effect, borrowing from them. So in effect, the government is borrowing money from the banks then turning around and using the same money for bailing them out. Does this sound like the snake eating its own tail? Does it make sense to anyone? It sure doesn't to me!

Book Report

I had a special treat this month by reading Variable Star, the book by Spider Robinson based on a very extensive outline found in Robert A. Heinlein's papers. For the most part Robinson keeps it reading like vintage Heinlein. That was a great feat on his part. You'll like this book.

Marley and Me by John Grogan is an exceptional book. I hope they stayed true to it in the movie version. For anyone who's ever been owned by a dog, this is the book for you. All I can say is that the author and his wife showed an incredible amount of love and patience with Marley, an ADHD dog, somewhat similar to our Tonto.

I've been re-reading some of David Weber's books again. That guy is a marvel. Maybe some of his books are long but that doesn't distract from his wonderful ability of involving readers with his characters. He really does get us deep inside them. And add that to his scenes of battle which are mainly driven by his characters and you've got some really good reading.

Hardest job in the world

The hardest job in the world? A single mother. I read that in a book not long ago and have forgotten which one but it struck me enough to think about it. Know what? I think that is pretty close to the truth.

Ironic Togetherness

Betty went to her dermatologist the middle of January and I tagged along. She was concerned about several spots on her face since she has already had a couple of skin cancers removed. I am glad to report that none of the places she was worrying about were anything resembling cancer. However, the doc took a look at my ear and said what's that? Hmm. A pre-cancerous little spot here. Better have it frozen. And then he demanded to see my back. When I took my shirt off he declared my back to be fine but then saw my hands and forearms. Whoops! Six more pre-cancerous spots. Stigma from too much sun while Christmas tree farming. He froze them all too, and they are still sore. It doesn't seem fair. Betty was the one who went to see him about possible skin cancer but I was the one who got treated!!!

Progress report

I finished up with the editor on Starship Down and it is available at fictionwise.com and the Sony ebook store already and should be with Amazon.com in a kindle edition soon. It will be available in print from Amazon sometime around the end of February or soon thereafter.

Right now I'm working on a sequel to Human by Choice which will be entitled The Y Factor. Three guesses on what that means!

I've also begun making notes on another science fiction novel tentatively titled The Long Way Home.

Thanks for reading.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
February 2009

Excerpt from Ultimate Suggestions

The middle-aged man was still standing in the alcove when she came out of the women's room, shifting his feet nervously. He looked past her then said, "Miss?"

Francis stopped, annoyed but generous enough with her thoughts to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he had a daughter in the women's room, still in one of the closed stalls and was wanting her to go back in and check on her. She stopped and turned toward the man. He raised his right hand, an unlit cigarette clutched between his first two fingers.

"Could I trouble you for a light?" He brought the cigarette almost into her face. Just as she was about to tell him that she had left her lighter back at their table, she saw his thumb, partially hidden behind his fingers, make a peculiar stabbing motion. It was hard to tell in the dim light, but she thought she saw a misty, almost invisible vapor emerge from the tip of the cigarette. Francis felt an ephemeral dampness envelop her face just as she was drawing in her breath to speak. An odor like old vanilla tickled her nose. She was startled at the sudden smell and the tightness she felt in her lungs as she drew in more air, still intending to speak to the man. The additional breath of air brought on a momentary dizziness, like the first deep drag on a cigarette after a long shift where she was too busy to go outside to smoke. Reflexively, she put out a hand to steady herself, touching the man's shoulder.

"Don't scream. Don't say anything to anyone," the man said softly, glancing warily around to be certain that he wasn't overheard.

Francis let her breath out without making a sound, even though she hadn't been intending to scream; the man had not made any threatening gestures but simply asked for a light. The momentary dizziness was already fading away. Seconds later it was entirely gone, along with whatever she had intended to say. She no longer had the desire to use her voice. She started to walk away.

"No, come with me," the man told her.

It seemed perfectly natural to Francis that she should accompany the man when he told her to come with him. She walked along by his side, silent but comfortable in his presence, with no thoughts of Gene waiting back at their table for her return. Going with this man seemed much more important now.

The man led her to his car, an old off-white Mercury Marquis and pulled out his keys. He pointed the popper attached to the key chain and pressed it >with his thumb. The door locks snapped open. "Get inside," he said.

Francis opened the passenger door and slid into the seat, closing the door behind her. She pulled the seat belt over her chest and attached it, as naturally as if it were Gene in the driver's seat beside her rather than a total stranger.

The man started the engine and drove out of the parking lot onto the boulevard. As soon as he had merged with the traffic, he spoke again. "You probably want to forget about that cigarette I was holding, don't you?"

Francis nodded but still didn't speak. It didn't seem like the thing to do.

"You can talk now. My name is Benjamin. Call me Ben."

"All right Ben."

"And you still want to come with me, don't you?"

"I sure do, Ben," Francis said. Traveling in the car with Ben made her feel secure and comfortable.

"And you like me, don't you?"

Francis considered the question for only a moment before deciding that she did indeed like her new acquaintance. "Of course, Ben. I like you a lot."

"That's great," Ben told her. "You probably want to do anything I ask, don't you?"

What was he going to ask? Francis wondered. Not that it mattered. She was suddenly eager to fill any request he made. Francis turned her head to look directly at her companion. "Of course, Ben. Whatever will make you happy."

Francis waited impatiently, noticing that Ben's hands seemed to be trembling with nervousness even as they gripped the steering wheel. His voice was shaky when he did speak.

 

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