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Darrell Bain's Newsletter
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Bainstorming: Darrell's Monthly Newsletter.
Copyright © July 2008, By Darrell Bain
Responses to subjects brought up by this newsletter are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.
Subjects this month:
Autographed Books, Bain Muses, Immune System, Politician Description, End of Multi-tasking (Gary Bain), Book Reviews, Tonto to the Rescue, Women's War Memoirs, Pampered Doggies, Can America Change?, Poor Tonto, Machines Aren't So Smart, Excerpt from Medics Wild.
Next twenty copies of Bark! purchased from my web site are autographed and come with free magnets with Bark! cover!!
Anyone in a nursing home who can still clip their own toenails probably shouldn't be there. Anyone who can't clip their own nails probably should be.
It's hard to be mad in a normal tone of voice.
We believe what's comfortable and what we want to more often than what's true.
Thinking, learning, and acting can turn our genes on or off, thus shaping our brain anatomy and our behavior--surely one of the most extraordinary discoveries of the 20th century.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could combine the best of McCain and Obama's proposals and discard the worst? I like some of what each says and also don't like what some of each says.
Half the human race doesn't understand the other half. And vice versa. The penalty of having two sexes. But worth it.
I've been told that I ought to donate my immune system to science. Why? Well, I haven't had the flu in 50 years. It has been at least 15 years since I had a cold and that was a mild one. The one before that was at least 35 years ago. When I was young I slept in the same bed with my two brothers who had the mumps. I never got them. I never get all the "bugs" that go around and that the rest of my family gets.
Of course nothing lasts forever. Recently I had a case of shingles of the eye. Woops! Signs of a weakening immune system. But I didn't catch Betty's bug that she had for three weeks so I guess it's still functional.
Fredrick Brown described Martians this way in his novel Martians Go Home. I believe the terms fit politicians just as well. Just add the last two words.
They are abusive, aggravating, annoying, brash, brutal, cantankerous, caustic, churlish, detestable, discourteous, execrable, fiendish, flippant, fresh, galling, hateful, hostile, ill-tempered, insolent, impudent, jabbering, jeering, knavish killjoys.
They are leering, loathsome, malevolent, malignant, nasty, nauseating, objectionable, peevish, perverse, quarrelsome, rude, sarcastic, splenetic, treacherous, truculent, uncivil, ungracious, waspish, xenophobic, yapping, zealous moral cowards.
End of Multi-tasking
An e-mail from my brother Gary on the end of multi-tasking:
There was a time, just a short few years ago, well, now that I think about
it, exactly forty years ago, that multi-tasking was a piece of cake. Take
for example then, in 1968, in my glory days as a fighter pilot in 'Nam.
Rolling in on a target I had to visually acquire the target, all the while
talking to the FAC (forward air controller), keeping him in visual contact
as well as watching for other aircraft including my wingmen, selecting the
ever changing radio frequencies, selecting the arming switch as well as the
appropriate armament, talking to my back seater, setting up the proper dive
angle, airspeed and altitude, putting the pipper on the target, jinking the
aircraft to keep the bad guys off target, then pushing the pickle button at
the exact moment to accurately drop my ordnance on the selected target, and
all this happening in the span of a few seconds!! Move forward forty years.
I think I wanna make some fried pies, after you telling me time and
again how good Betty makes them, how much you love them, etc. So the
following is all your fault! I dutifully go to the store and buy the
ingredients, fruit, flour, oil, Crisco, etc. Multi-tasking not a problem,
all I have going is some video editing, watching my stock on my computer,
spraying the house for bugs and Barb surprised me with the fact that the
farrier was coming out early afternoon to shoe and trim the horses. Well, it
didn't really surprise me because she had told me the day before he was
coming but I kinda just forgot about it. Selective Memory Block, SMB, I call it.
At any rate I decide to get the first batch of mixed fruit ready first
before I start the oil heating. I even called Betty to refresh my memory on
some of her secrets for fried pies. Which of course I followed to a 'T',
except for adding the flour to the sugar before I put the sugar in the
fruit, and when I cut the recipe in half I forgot to put a half an egg in
instead of the whole egg. You ever tried to half an egg?? And the sugar?
Well, I figured too much sugar wouldn't matter so put in the whole cup
instead of half a cup. Got the fruit done, which only took an hour and a
half longer that what Betty said, and was just a tad sweet but figured it
would cook out a bit when I fried 'em so no problem, I like sweets anyway!!
Back to my video editing and wow, my stock is climbing like crazy!! Barb
calls me from the barn, love those cell phones, farrier is here, she needs
some help. Okay I said, may as well put on the apricots and get them started
so I put them in the water, turned the stove on and went out to the barn to
help Barb. Finished with that, I figured I better put the pups out while I
sprayed the house. Started to spray the house but got distracted with
something, I forget, maybe putting pups out, and then started my video
editing again. Barb calls from the barn, come get the pups she said, before
they get stepped on by a horse and become Pomeranian pancakes.
They were running around under the horses feet!!
So retrieved the pups I was supposed to put back inside anyway and finally a
bit of peace and quiet and can really concentrate on my video. Whoops, my
frigging stock, plummeted from a profit of $140 to $60 in the hole, oh well,
it'll recover in a couple of months, no problem. Back to my editing.
Hmmmmmmm! What's that smell I says as I look over my shoulder from the
sanctity of my two car converted garage studio and see smoke rolling in from
the hallway leading to the kitchen. Must have scorched my apricots I say as
I casually head for the kitchen. Yep, scorched 'em good, fact is, they were
akin to Louisiana blackened apricots!! Not a drop of water left, the apricots
black as tar and melted to the pan, and the stench permeating every nook,
cranny and corner in the house. So I says to myself, how can I restore
Barb's favorite pot, yes, I just happened to use her favorite pot, how can I
get the stench out of the house before she comes back in.? I can't!! So I do
the best I can do, pitch the apricots, turn on the stove vent, albeit a bit
late, open all the windows and pray.
Sure 'nuff Barb heads for the house, and I say to myself,
soon as she walks in she's gonna say, what's that smell.
You know what she said when she opened the door? She said, what's that
smell!! Man, do I ever know her!! Not to be deterred from having delicious
fried pies I continued with my prowess in the culinary arts and made my
dough, rolled it out, re-rolled it out, and re-rolled it out 'til the dern
roller quit sticking to it, and formed up my pies. They didn't exactly
stick together like Betty's but I fried 'em anyway. Tried to turn the first
batch and they all broke in two, or to pieces, and all the fruit and juices
ran out. I fished the pieces out and put in the next batch, made a bit
better. Started to turn those and repeat above, pulled the pieces out and
put them on paper towels to dry them, just like Betty does. Put the last
ones in and it was kinda hard to see them because of all the debris still in
the skillet so I just decided to let them cook real good so they wouldn't
fall apart. I turned 'em. I broke 'em all, I fished 'em outa the skillet and
added the pieces to the growing pile of crust and fried fruit. Couldn't wait
for 'em to cool so I could relax and dine on fried pies, or rather, pieces
of fried pies. But I got to thinking, hell, I've got a new invention here
and I called it Bain Beignets!! Heck yeah, I wasn't frying pies, I was
making Bain Beignets, so sprinkled powdered sugar on all that crust and
yummy!! Bet betty can't even make those homemade Beignets gooder'n mine!!
Well, after gobbling up all those delicacies it was time to clean up. Took
the skillet outside and left it for the critters while I spent a couple of
hours scrubbing the pan, to no avail I might add. Went to bed though,
discounting my loss in the markets, loss of Barb's favorite pan, and loss of
the fruit that spilled outa the pies to be and got a good sound six hours
sleep, which just tells me that fried pies-er-I mean Bain Beignets are great
for sleeping! This morning I went to retrieve the skillet which I had left
out for the critters to clean up. It hadn't been touched, guess the critters
don't like Bain Beignets so I turned the skillet over and let it lay so it
would drain real good. Went back a couple of hours later and turned the pan
over, just in time to catch my cell phone as it fell out of my pocket right
into all the goo, grease and gobbledygook that was still in the pan. There's
always an upside though, 'cause when I got through cleaning my phone off it
looked brand new!! Forgot the skillet though so had to go retrieve it. And
when Barb came in yesterday and asked me why the bug spray was sitting in
the hall, I very quickly got creative and told her I had set it out so I
wouldn't forget to spray tomorrow!! Multi-tasking? hell, I'm as good as I
ever was, why heck, just today I actually sprayed the bugs and took a nap,
in that order, so life ain't that complicated after all. And by the way,
remember those eggs I mailed to you, those good 'ol country eggs? Well, next
time ya'll have fried pies just send me a half dozen and I'll pay ya ten
bucks for each one plus postage for Fedex and I 'm certain I'll come out
ahead!! And now I need to get back to, uh, what was I gonna do? Oh well,
I'll think of it in a bit, just hope it's not on the stove whatever it is!!
Note: This sounds suspiciously like the cobbler I tried to make as recorded in my book Laughing All The Way, the sequel to Life On Santa Claus Lane.
As always, the books I do limited reviews of are ones I've read and think almost anyone would enjoy regardless of the genre they prefer.
Simple Genius by David Baldacci is up to his usual standards in this novel of geniuses, rogue CIA agents and private investigators. My only complaint is that I didn't' realize he had written a previous novel using the pair of unusual investigators, one of whom is spiraling towards a mental breakdown. Lots of action, good characters and futuristic codes.
The Sunrise Lands by S.M. Stirling is the fourth book in the series begun with Dies The Fire. It is better than any but the first one but has one flaw: an absolutely horrible ending. As my readers know, I never recommend a book unless it's something I believe is outstanding. So why, with an ending both Betty and I think is terrible, is the book doing here? Simple, really. The series isn't over and after reading this book you almost have to read the next one to find out what in hell the man is up to with the series. As I said, the writing is really good. You'll enjoy the book but don't expect it to end decisively or you'll be disappointed. Just enjoy it as is and plan for the next in the series.
Flash Forward by Robert J. Sawyer is a neat book. An experiment at CERN allows everyone on earth a two minute glimpse at what they would be doing twenty one years in the future. I'll let you think of all the ramifications of that scenario. Sawyer does a great job with it, letting us in on a lot of his takes on the future while following a few principal characters as they decide what to do with their future knowledge. I'm surprised I missed this one when it was first published because I thoroughly enjoyed another book in a sort of similar vein, Rewind by Ken Grimwood. Anyway, try Flash Forward. You'll like it.
Ringworld by Larry Niven was written when he was at the top of his form, beginning to be recognized as one of the coming greats in science fiction. The talk was well deserved. Niven, along with Jerry Pournelle wrote some magnificent novels. Ringworld is the story of an adaptation of a Dyson Sphere, something proposed that a very advanced technology might build to capture all the energy of the sun. Ringworld later turned into a series and I've read all but the last one. Ringworld is the best, though. There's lots of grand concepts here. It is the culmination of his known space stories. If you haven't read it, try it.
The Jury by Steve Martini is as good as his others. I've reported on several by him and I think now I've read them all. This one has Paul Madriani defending a scientist who is involved in genetics research. There's lots of science, lots of action, a number of bodies and a fine plot and story. The man is a really good writer.
Stephen Cannel almost always writes a winner. If you like a seven foot tall psychopath who's really nuts try Final Victim. It's sort of a departure from his other novels but he's never been known for sticking with the same theme. I liked this book.
Tonto to the Rescue!
Here's a neat gift for all you doggie lovers. You've seen the cover of Bark! where a dachshund doggie is leaping toward a three eyed alien, protecting the earth from invasion. Now you can have a T Shirt with that same cover of Bark! on it and with the caption below, Tonto To The Rescue! Or if you'd prefer, you could probably ask and I'd put in a word for you to get one with Dachshund to the Rescue! instead. Either way, they're a great T shirt!
Speaking of T-shirts, Betty and I just got a matching pair as gifts. The captions read: Agenda for the day: Let dog out. Let dog in. Let dog out. Let Dog in. Let dog out..
I have to say they were very appropriate. Letting the dogs in and out is one of our major activities since we retired.
Women's War Memoirs
Women's War Memoirs by Rosemary Eckroat Bachle is exactly what the title states, memoirs of women during war time. There's so many books that have been written about the warrior men during WWII and on through Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars that all too often we forget what the women went through with the men gone and also what some of the women went through who themselves went to war during an era when women were still treated as second class citizens. I found this book to be a real eye opener and a refreshing look at an era that's being rapidly forgotten. Here are women in war zones having to wash out cloths with their name on it to use for monthly periods. There's rationing and trying to find everyday household items we take for granted. There's women suffering under bombs and shells and caring for the wounded with no thought of their own safety. There are women who were interred by the Japanese and came within an inch of being both starved and shot to death. There is life in America during a period we've about forgotten when women weren't considered as smart or capable as men. In short, women remembering war times. I think men and women both will enjoy this book as the ladies tell their stories. You can find it at Amazon. I recommend it very highly!
Betty and I aren't big meat eaters even though we do like a good steak. We buy batches of specially cut filet mignons when I go to the VA clinic. There's a meat market nearby. Then about once a month Betty cooks a big filet and we split it. Even so, there's always some left as well as the bacon it was wrapped in. Susie and Tonto then have filet mignon for supper. How many other dogs can say that?
Can America Change?
I should probably be asking will America Change. I know we can change if we want to. We don't have to be in thrall to oil producing nations when we have a trillion barrels of oil locked in shale in four western states. But I'm still waiting on congress to allow or to encourage developing it. Frankly I suspect I'll die still waiting.
I would be perfectly willing to give up a small part of my standard of living if the government would apply it to not only balancing the budget but making a start toward paying off the national debt. I suspect I'll die with us going further and further into debt, charging full tilt toward national bankruptcy. And still congress will be spending more than they take in.
So the question is will America change? I'd like to think so but I have serious doubts. Our people in congress just don't seem to give a damn despite all their talk.
Do We Get What We pay For?
A political columnist, Leonard Pitts, Jr. recently wrote that he thought we ought to increase congressional pay because at present we're getting what we pay for. Sorry, Leonard, but many of our congresspersons have independent sources of income and I don't see them doing any better than the others.
A few days ago I stood in the doorway and called Tonto from where he was playing with sticks he'd found, a perennial pastime for him. He came running when I called and as he came to the porch he made a leap to jump up onto it. Instead, he banged his head and shoulders into the plank facing at the edge of it and tumbled back down. You see, he's cross-eyed but sometimes he gets excited and forgets to make allowances for it. He picked himself up and backed up and came running again, as determined as ever. This time he judged it correctly and had no problem. Humans could take lessons from the little fellow. He's cross-eyed, suffers from something like doggie ADHD, has horrible nightmares (probably from some bad experiences as a puppy) and there's several other things not quite right about him but he never lets it bother him. He seems determined to lead a happy life and we believe he does. He stays busy most of the day by playing outside since fat, couch potato Susie won't play with him much. He runs exuberantly through the house where he has a route memorized and never bumps into furniture like he used to. In short, he doesn't let a few little handicaps in life bother him. Heck, he doesn't even know he's famous! He doesn't know that Bark! used him as a model for the dachshund that saved the world from aliens. He's just a normal little doggie so far as he knows, without a thing wrong with him. We could all learn a few lessons from that pixilated little doggie.
Machines aren't so smart
A friend of mine and several members of his family recently became ill. It went on for some time: illness, feeling better, relapse, illness, felling better, relapse, etc. Twice my friend was hospitalized. The doctors were all stumped. Numerous laboratory tests were run but failed to discover the cause of the illness. The irony is that 25 or 30 years ago the cause of the illness would have been discovered quickly. Why? Because back then the study of the different types and proportions of white blood cells and the appearance of red blood cells was done by observing the white and red blood cells on a stained slide under a high powered microscope. Today that study is done by machines that separate the white blood cells out by number and type and analyzes the red blood cells as to number, hemoglobin content, etc. A person rarely ever looks at the blood microscopically. So what did he and his family have? Simple. They had all taken a cruise to Mexico and contacted Malaria! Malaria is easily diagnosed by looking at a stained slide where the parasite is evident in the red blood cells on a stained slide but machines miss it completely! See? Machines aren't so smart. There's one kind of lab test us old med techs can still do better! And would have!
Thanks for reading.
Excerpt From Medics Wild
Medics Wild! is fiction but it is loosely based on my experiences as a medic during two years in Vietnam. It also is the prequel to the Williard Brothers series, also known as the Medics Wild Series. The first book in the series is Postwar Dinosaur Blues where the three brothers from the war reunite in a pursuit of a dinosaur purportedly living in the Congo. All these books are wild adventurous fun. They are sometimes described as male adventure books but many of the most devoted fans of the series are women. Following is an excerpt from Medics Wild!
Nguyen Nguyen, the local Viet Cong commander, was sipping from a bottle of root wine and making a disgusted face with each sip, wishing he had something better to drink.
.Looking out, he saw a small blurry figure approaching, accompanied by a larger one carrying a rifle. A moment later Junie was ushered into his presence. She saluted her commander.
"Ah, Tienh. You were not due to report yet. You must bring news from the big round-eye devils."
"Indeed I do, Commander. I have learned that the American medics will be coming to Binh Caht tomorrow. The sergeant told the doctor in my presence."
"The doctor. Do you also bring intelligence from him?"
"None. The doctor takes orders from the big sergeant. He knows nothing and does nothing except take my clothes off several times a day. I wish I could sleep with the sergeant instead of the captain."
"Why is that, Tienh?"
"If I must make love with an American in order to further our cause, it would be nice to enjoy it. The captain is like a young rabbit. My friend Twe tells me the sergeant is like the water buffalo, strong and patient."
"Perhaps I can have your orders changed later. But perhaps not. After all, you did receive the intelligence that the American medics will come to Binh Caht tomorrow while you were with the Captain. In the meantime, you have done well. We will use what you have learned."
"Will you kill the sergeant, commander?" Junie asked. If it were the captain, she thought she wouldn't care, but visualizing the vibrant young sergeant in a body bag gave her the shivers.
"That is not for you to know. Will the Americans be bringing their soap?"
"Always they bring soap. The sergeant has many, many boxes of it."
"Good. We are running low. Thank you Tienh. You may go."
As soon as Junie was out of sight, Nguyen Nguyen set the root wine out of sight and began calling in his subordinates. This was a chance too good to miss, even if it did cut off his soap supplies in the future.
Some of his NCO's disagreed.
"The American sergeant treats our illness and wounds and never asks questions, even though he must know that all his patients are not simple villagers. Also, he hands out soap to almost everyone. Should we give this up by killing him?" argued one of them.
"It would be not only him we kill, but his companions as well, and it would be no trouble. The medics are not fighters. Tienh tells me that they are usually drunk or sporting with prostitutes. Besides, you know our orders. Whenever a chance occurs, we must kill the round-eye colonists; otherwise our country will never be free."
Places to find my books
Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.
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