Darrell Bain's Monthly Blog - January 2010
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Bainstorming: Darrell's Bain's Monthly Blog.
Responses to subjects brought up by this blog are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.
Subjects this month: Tonto vs Betty, Win a Sony Reader, A Rare Event, Walking, Book Report, Missed Energy Savings, Fan Misinterpretation, Progress Report, Christmas, ebook Readers, Damn Dell to Hell, Excerpt from Articles, Muses and Favorite Diet-Breaking Dessert Recipes.
Tonto vs Betty
Tonto really got into trouble this time. I try to keep all the doggie poop picked up from around the doors and on out into the yard. I may have missed a spot but more likely Tonto just went then turned around and walked in it. Why not? Often he pees on his chest and he's certainly enough of an idiot to walk in his own poop. At any rate, Betty suddenly noticed some marks inside by the front door. She looked at the soles of her shoes. Nothing. Not knowing exactly what the mark was right then, she picked Tonto up and put him on one of the chairs, the best one in the house, to keep him out of the way while she cleaned it up. She came back to put Tonto down and noticed marks on the good chair. Then she knew what had happened. That was only the start of it. Tonto is a suspicious dog that doesn't like anything new or an idiot that's scared of anything new more likely. When she tried to clean his feet, he wiggled around and wriggled back and forth and turned and twisted and did everything but jump from the chair. He doesn't do jumping since he's afraid of heights. Before Betty finally got his feet cleaned he had spread poop all over the chair and onto her clothes and Tonto was in the virtual dog house for sure. Poor fellow, he never did know what he had done wrong. Some days owning an ADHD idiot dachshund doesn't seem as good an idea as other days.
Win a Sony Ebook Reader
You automatically enter the contest by buying a copy of
That's really all you need to know but for further details, see the url above. To be honest you don't even have to buy either of my books, listed above. Those are the ones I have with that publisher, though. But any book from LL Publishers from any source or any format gives you a chance to win the Sony reader. The more purchases, the better your chance to win.
A Rare Event
It snowed in the Houston area December 4th, a rare event. Well, maybe not so rare any more since it snowed last year, too. This snow set two records: Earliest snow and first time ever it snowed two years in a row. Tonto obviously hasn't got enough brain cells to remember the snow from last year. I took him out while it was snowing the hardest and I have never seen such a befuddled little dog in all my life. He's used to barking at weeds when a breeze moves them. Gosh knows what he thought about all that stuff floating in the air. He almost jumped out of his skin when it started falling on his back. He looked all around and up and down and turned in circles trying to figure out what was going on. Finally he decided to taste it. Eureka. Tonto has never seen any water he doesn't like, frozen or not. I had to drag him into the house to keep him from licking the lawn clean!
I've been missing my morning walk because it's been so cold in the mornings. Global warming? You sure couldn’t prove it from around here lately! It was thirty degrees colder than New York the day after the snow, 20 degrees! Another record, I think, for this time of year. About the most I manage now is to walk any letters up to the mailbox and back, a half mile trip, then take the doggies for a walk the other way, another third of a mile. If Tonto doesn't get his walk he will run through the house like an out of control miniature dinosaur, back and forth and around and around, skidding on the hardwood floors and growling and barking all the time. Actually he does this any time when he's feeling good which is often. He doesn't seem to realize he has a back problem. We have no idea what he thinks he's doing, other than working off some of that ADHD energy.
John Ringo's Live Free or Die is a really good invasion of earth by aliens novel. How about maple Syrup as a commodity we can trade? One smart young man grabs the bulk of the market and becomes a jillionaire. He then uses the money to try to devise a way to defend earth against another set of aliens. Lots of good science and lots of action, as per the usual Ringo.
I had read Phillip Margolin's The Burning Man only once after buying it a number of years ago. I liked it enough to keep in on my bookshelf and finally took it out again. I didn't remember much about it so it was almost like reading a new book. And now I know why I saved it. It is a legal thriller but without the gory details you find in some of them. Essentially it is a very good mystery tied in with courtroom and out of courtroom dramatics, with the protagonist having to prove his worth both as a man and a lawyer. I put it up to read again sometime.
The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle is one of the best science fiction novels ever written, IMHO. The authors describe aliens in a totally believable manner and tell of the problems the aliens face so well you find yourself sympathizing as much with them as you do with the humans. Then you just about have to read the sequel, The Gripping Hand, so you can find out how the problem of the Moties was solved. Niven and Pournelle were the top duos collaborating in science fiction for a long time.
And last I finished John Ringo's four book series the Council War, beginning with There Will Be Dragons. This is a unique blend of science fiction with a fantasy element in that the future society has progressed far enough to not only create creatures like dragons and orcs and mermaids from fantasy but to change themselves enough to be able to actually live as those creatures might have. Ah, but that's only the beginning! In this future "Mother" the intelligent computer that runs everything, including allocation of energy, is neutral but the council of a dozen humans isn't. The council goes to war against each other and ties up all the energy, thus causing this world of absolute plenty to crash and go back to the natural world. No more boring days of deciding which party to attend or whether you should bother to teach what few kids you might have to read and write or not. All is primitive now, life and death all over the globe, and the opposing council members raising armies that fight with pre-industrial technology and with mythical but real creatures because that's all the energy they have. As I said, it's a mix of science fiction and fantasy and a grand one at that! At last, a series that will satisfy both lovers of science fiction and fantasy. Highly recommended!
Missed energy savings
You'd think the environmentalists and politicians, what with all the clamoring about saving energy, won't mention one good way to do it because, I think, they are scared of the adverse publicity. I'm talking about irradiation of food to preserve it rather than using energy to keep it cold or frozen. Shrink wrapping is a cinch so there's no problem with keeping food and drink intact after being radiated. The problem is that people seem to be scared they're going to ingest a radioactive electron or something. Irradiated foods are perfectly safe and much more convenient to store and use much less energy to store! So why don’t the environmentalists push this process? Maybe THEY are scared of it! And of course politicians wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, not because it isn't safe and energy saving, but for fear of offending voters. This shows that the environmentalists are just as politically motivated as they claim the energy wasting politicians are.
I suppose it is inevitable since we all don't think alike, but frequently fans mistake the intent of an author. Most of the time I'm just trying to tell a good story but occasionally I'll throw in some politics or sociological trends or extrapolate a particular branch or segment of some science into a what if? scenario. That's what I did with The Melanin Apocalypse where I speculated about the horrid uses some aspects of genetics can be put to. In this case I had a man made bug zeroing in on the melanin in our skins. The more melanin the worse the disease. Along the way I also tried to show how humans rationalize things and how people will act in any number of different ways in a crisis. I thought I did a real good job with this book. Then came a fan letter asking me if I really hated people of color that much? Huh? I never meant to imply any such thing and don't think I did. Certainly the accusation is not true. I certainly dislike the actions of some people but I sure don't base it on skin color! Besides, right after I wrote The Melanin Apocalypse, I wrote another novel, White Odyssey, that had colored people at the top of the food chain and Caucasians at the bottom.
The Y Factor, the second book in the Cresperian series, is now in print as well as an ebook. It is a collaboration with Stephanie Osborne.
Slowly but surely I'm getting into the meat of my latest novel, probably to be titled The Xanadu Enigma. It will probably wind up as a collaborative effort. Another I'm writing on will be just my work. It is going extremely well and I think it will be one of my better books. The working title is Sentenced to Die but will probably be changed. I hope to have the first draft finished in another month or two.
I've also completed my next collection of short stories for LL Pulications, which will be coming out soon in both print and ebook versions. I shall report here when it is available from either or both sources. It includes one completely new short story and all the others that have been published since my last collection, Back From The Bend.
Christmas and the New Year will have come and gone by the time this issue of Bainstorming is published so let me wish you all a belated Happy Holidays. I hope yours were as enjoyable as ours, but probably not unless you have an anniversary on New Year's Eve like Betty and I do! This was our 32nd anniversary. We met 33 years ago under some mistletoe that I purposely placed in a strategic spot in order to meet her. Best idea I ever had.
I got a new computer for Christmas and Betty got a truckload of new British Mystery novels, her favorite genre. And as usual, Santa stuffed our stockings with lots of little gifts.
Tonto and Susie and Velcro also had a visit from Santa but Velcro didn't get his gift until several days later because we had strange dogs as house guests and he always disappears when that happens. He ought to get a stocking full of sticks because he is falling down on the job. I noticed we have moles in the yard for the first time in thirty years. The cats have always murdered any that dared come into the yard but Velcro is getting old and lazy I guess.
It seems like every week a new ebook reader comes on the market. It also appears that ebooks are finally becoming a real force in publishing. So which ebook reader do you buy when you decide to take the plunge into ebooks? I've read reviews and reports of most of them and probably the Kindle, sold by Amazon, rates near the top. I have had one for a year and really like it, not only for the reduced prices of some books but because it is so easy to use. I've heard the Sony reader isn't bad, either. Probably all of them are okay so long as they use the e-ink technology. There are about a dozen being sold now.
Damn Dell to Hell
I spent two full hours on the phone with Dell one day trying to make those idiots understand I wanted someone to come out and put the new computer together. I talked to twelve or thirteen guys from timbucistanowski and one woman. Only the woman spoke half way decent English and it was her who finally got the job done. You know that commercial where the woman throws the tire through a plate glass window? I sure felt like driving to Round rock and tossing the computer through Dell's office window! Why those idiot CEOs don't understand that they wind up costing more money by outsourcing their service than if they kept it here and it is only a tenth as good if that much! No wonder the country is going broke! Just think: I spent two hours of time with a dozen different overseas customer MISrelations, and became so irritated it's a wonder I didn’t have a heart attack. If this was an isolated incident I could forgive, but it happens every damn time I try to get something done through customer service for a computer. I'll guarantee that if Dell or any other manufacturer would advertise that they have American customer service representatives they would be swamped with business. Are you listening CEOs????
Excerpt from Articles, Muses and Favorite Diet-Breaking Dessert Menus by Betty Bain
COOKING 101 FOR NEWLYWEDS
Almost any new bride who has gone into marriage without knowing how to cook can recall meals which didn’t turn out well. There were meals which were edible but not very good. And then there were the real disasters, the perfectly planned dinners that took such a horrible turn they are painful to remember. Very painful.
Perhaps every woman who has had such an embarrassing experience thinks that if she is not alone, at least no one else could have possibly produced such a shipwreck of the culinary arts as her. Any former brides who think like that are wrong. Others have done exactly the same thing—or worse.
Some embarrassing mealtime episodes are best left forgotten; relegated to the trashheap of history like a stupid war or a car wreck all your fault. Others however should be remembered, not so much for the laughs they garnered or the comforting assurance from understanding husbands that you were still loved despite what mother-in-law or the boss who came to dinner had to say. Why? Because from some collision of good intentions gone wrong comes a determination to get it right the next time.
Just as a good repair job might cover up the damage caused by failing to signal a right turn at a crossroad, so can a good recipe and a delicious meal spring from one which not only got away, but made a u-turn and crashed, spreading the pieces all over the kitchen.
And that’s what this story is about. First we read about the meal that a starving beggar would have turned his nose up at, and then we’ll see how the innovative newlywed learned from the pile of uneaten mess to do it right.
When I married back in 1949 I felt I had all the requisites for making a husband happy with my culinary expertise. After all, I could cook two dishes, fudge and spaghetti, and had taken two semesters of home economics (domestic science) in high school. Besides that, my mother had taught me to wash dishes, so I knew I could clean up after myself in the kitchen.
After two weeks of fudge and spaghetti, my husband gently introduced me to a heretofore untouched wedding present, Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. It was such a pretty red and white plaid color I hadn’t wanted to use it and possibly get it soiled.
However…swallowing my chagrin, I gingerly opened it and was immediately overwhelmed by words that had never crossed my culinary horizon. It was almost like reading in a foreign language, seeing such expressions as braise, sauté, broil and all sorts of other funny words I had never heard of.
I certainly never heard them from my mother. She was an impatient, get it done type cook with limited financial assets. Her basic food groups were brown, white and fried. I had never seen the inside of meat that wasn’t a very well done gray or brown. All vegetables were cooked to within an inch of their life. They had to stay on the stove for two or three hours before she considered them done. Until I went away to college I never knew that it was possible to see individual grains of cooked rice. My mother served a glutinous, sticky glob of white stuff topped with greasy gravy. The infrequent salads she made consisted of finely chopped lettuce mixed with finely chopped tomatoes, then both were drowned in Mayo and stirred together an hour or so before they came to the table. My father liked banana pudding, so our infrequent desserts were just that: soggy banana pudding.
My two sisters and I were not allowed to help in the cooking because Mother said we either got in the way or wouldn’t do it exactly like she wanted it done, but I wasn’t completely helpless. Besides fudge and spaghetti, I had learned in home economics how to make Eggs a la Goldenrod and to cut around the section of half an orange. And of course I could wash dishes. Mother did teach me that.
Back to the cookbook. After a couple of weeks of consulting with Betty Crocker I was producing offerings she would certainly have repudiated on the spot, but my husband was eating at least part of them so I was beginning to feel competent.
My husband’s older sister, an excellent cook, and her husband moved to our small town and came to visit. I promptly invited them over to dinner, managing to ignore the anguished looks of my still suffering spouse as I did.
After spending roughly half our weekly food budget on a seven pound Pike’s Peak roast, Betty Crocker and I curled up on the couch to decide on the rest of my dinner. I thumbed through the pages, looking for something interesting while bearing in mind how few cooking implements I had as yet. Aha! I saw it. Basic yellow cake! I can do that, I thought. So I measured and beat and read and puzzled until finally I had produced an odd lumpy batter. It was according to the directions, though, so I was satisfied.
As far as the roast went, I remembered how I had seen Mother do it. I put the roast in a pan about 10 A.M. No browning, no salt, no pepper, nothing except drowning the poor thing in water.
With the roast cooking, then I could get back to the cake. It had to be started early, too, since I had only one….
You'll have to buy the book to see how this turned out and to learn about all those yummy recipes along with some musing about nursing, foreign cities and other subjects. Betty is a really excellent writer.
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