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Darrell Bain's Newsletter

May 2007

  From the new overloaded three sided desk of Darrell Bain, who intends to straighten it up one of these days but probably won't.

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

Contents or individual segments of this newsletter may be forwarded or copied so long as www.darrellbain.com source is noted and you mention that the material is copyrighted. I don't mind at all.

Desks, Free Books, Book Report, Movie, Book Sale, EPPIE Awards, Progress Report and more.

Desks
Writing about my new desk in the introduction makes a fair topic to talk about. Back when I was working at a real job rather than farming or writing, I was a Laboratory Administrator most of the time. The title is Chief Tech in the medical field. All the time I was working I never heard anyone refer to a Chief Technician. It was always shortened to Chief Tech. Anyway, as the administrator I naturally had a desk, sometimes two desks. Now Betty will never believe this, but I used to keep my desks very clean, neat and organized. It wasn't a fetish or anything; it just saved time and effort and prevented mistakes to know exactly where everything was, what I had in mind to accomplish that day, that week and so on. Once I quit the medical field, back in 1987, I still had an office, but it was in the house. I had a huge desk, made from a door. Looking around me right now, I can see that I kept it neater than I do this one. It is incredibly cluttered and I've only had it a few months.

Once upon a time I bought Betty a desk. That was back when she was a nurse administrator in the home health field. She was always bringing paper work home and doing it on the kitchen table, so one fine Christmas I bought her a desk. I told the kids, and for Christmas they stocked it with every sort of office supplies imaginable. I had it delivered on Christmas morning with a big bow around it and thought to my self what a fine present I'd picked out for my lovely wife. Unfortunately, it turned out that she still preferred the kitchen table. The desk sat unused for many years, other than as a convenient place to stack things on. It finally found a home though. It now forms the third side of my three-sided desk, and I use the heck out of it. You can tell by the way it's covered with paper, pens, CD disks, phone books, scissors, calculator, and a jillion other items.

I started this discourse off by thinking I'd try to separate the species into clean deskers and cluttered deskers, but I see that doesn't work. In the medical field I kept a clean desk. While farming or writing, I let it get cluttered. Maybe it depends on what kind of job you have. And maybe I've written enough about desks. However, the story of Betty's desk can be found in Life on Santa Claus Lane in much more detail, and is much more humorous there.

Free books
As noted in my last newsletter, each month I will give away five of my print books. How to have a chance at the five books? All you have to do to be eligible is to email me from my web site (or from your address book) with the current month's title in the subject line. This month's selection I'm giving to the first five respondents is Life on Santa Claus Lane, so that's what you would put in the subject of the email. Just send me an email with the subject line Life on Santa Claus Lane in it. The first five people who do so get a free copy, postage and handling included. That's all there is to it. All I ask is that if you like the book, tell five other people about it. If you don't like it, please don't tell anyone.

This book is strictly humor, a rendition of all the blunders, mishaps, stupid mistakes and jousts with evil tractors and other machinery out to get me during twenty years of Betty and I running our Christmas tree farm.

Here's an excerpt from Bob Rich's Amazon review: "One of the funniest books I've ever read…He describes perfectly ordinary domestic episodes in a way that'll have you laughing out loud. I suspect this book is not for youngsters, but the more mature among us will identify with this self-effacing rogue and his ever-victorious wife Betty".

Remember, just send me an email, subject line Life on Santa Claus Lane. You can include your address but it's not necessary. If you're one of the first five, I'll ask for it.

Oh yes, you can receive more than one book. The same rules as above will apply each month. Only the title of the book will change.
Family members not eligible.
Overseas not eligible unless you agree to pay postage via paypal.

Book Report
I just re-read Police Your Planet by Lester Del Rey for the first time in twenty years, at least. It's still as good as I remember. I think he must have written this book as an example of how graft in cities can get out of hand. He had an intriguing reference to something like that in the dedication, which was to James Blish, an excellent British science fiction author.

I also read Mind Bridge by Joe Haldeman again. It's a fascinating novel about a unique method of space exploration and an even more unique little critter they find on a marginal world of no use otherwise.

John Varley just about turned science fiction upside down when he entered the field. It's been a long time since I've read his Titan trilogy (Titan, Wizard, and Demon). They were just as good as the first time I read them. He's a fantastic writer. Betty says the reason I like him so much is that I write just like him. High praise indeed. Our styles may be similar but I'll never be as good as Varley. If you haven't tried him, do so. You won't regret it!

I'm reading T.R. Ferhenbach's History of Texas, Lone Star. It's really a history of the westward movement and conflict with Spain and the plains Indians and on to modern times, and includes a great deal of analysis of the American and Texan character. He's a great historian. It's a long book so I just read when the notion takes me and I want to depart from fiction for a while.

EXTRA! Cat Reads Newsletter!
The letter below is from my granddaughter Robyn, who is getting married shortly. It's not often that a cat reads my newsletter. Well, actually, this is the first report I've heard of such an occurrence so I felt it was worth mentioning.

I have been continuously talking around Clark, into becoming staff to one cat. After going through two birds in less than three months, he agreed. So I checked around on our local classified web page at www.southeasttexas.com for cats looking for a good home. The first ad caught my eye because he was declawed. His owner is moving and can't keep him and my bleeding heart just cries. I called to make sure she still had him and to get the facts. He's older for a cat, five years, black with white on his chest and a sweet temperament. Of course, I thought that's what I'd say as well if I had to get rid of a kitty. But, going with my instinct, I met her after she got off work at her house. She drops this dead weight of cat in my arms. He weighs 13 pounds! And he's very well proportioned, not fat. So this huge leopard of a house cat gazes up with his green eyes and I'm toast. He shall be my kitty and I will do everything he wants. Oh, he comes with a self cleaning litter box! I would have taken him if he had nothing, but she said that as if it were his dowry. So, I broke the rules that Clark had set forth. He wants a tiny cat with all claws gone. They were caught snuggling on the coach, so I think I'm safe. All this has a point, I promise. When I checked my email today, I saw your newsletter and squealed inside because I love reading it. As I open a new browser to read it, Toby leaps onto the desk and casually starts reading the newsletter. I blink a few times and thank god I've got a flat screen because there was no way he would fit with an older one. He's got such great taste that I'm sure he's part of the family now. The newsletter is now Toby approved. And it's Toby the Fierce Hunter, but he lets us call him Toby.

He's now stalking the ancient evil of the invisible prey. I wasn't sure why I picked him up less than two weeks before I leave for eight days, but it's because he chose me. I should really know better now, huh? I enjoyed the newsletter as well, but Toby's is higher praise.

Love,

Robyn

I hope Robyn doesn't start a newsletter. She writes so well it would be tough competition! DB

Progress Report
This month sees two of my new books available. The first isn't really mine, but my wife Betty's work. All I did was edit it. The title is:

"Articles, Muses and Favorite Diet-Breaking Dessert Recpies from Betty Bain, B.S., R.N.
The complete works of Betty Bain, interspersed with sweet recipes so loaded with calories you'll feel like you should be sent to jail for eating them!"

It contains all of Betty's writing interspersed with her (and my) favorite dessert recipes, every one of them loaded with lots of diet busting calories. As I noted while editing it, it's a wonder we don't both resemble blimps. It is available in print from http://www.lulu.com/content/790652 for $14.99 plus shipping, and as an e-book at Fictionwise.com and eReader.com for much less.

Betty and I are real pleased with the appearance of the book. It would make nice gifts for kids, newlyweds, wedding showers, or for your dessert loving friends!

The other book is the fifth in my Williard brothers series, titled Space For Sale, available now as an e-book at Fictionwise.com and eReader.com (and if you'd like to see me make a little more money, you can buy it from the original publisher http://double-dragon-ebooks.com ) In fact, most of my e-books are listed either there or at http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/. I receive a greater share of royalties if bought from the original publishers, hint, hint. In my last novel of the Williard brothers' adventures, Three for The Money, (to be titled The Billion dollar Caribbean Caper in print) they finally located their inherited loot, along with something else really astounding which you can read about in the book. In Space for Sale, they now have so much money they begin looking for a way to spend it, and decide to build a spaceship and go to Mars. However, it appears that there's a shadowy presence in the world that's been hindering manned space flight for a long time. Before they can go to Mars, it will have to be dealt with. And it's not taking prisoners!

Movie from My Short Story, "The Good Book."
Production has been completed of the short feature film based on my short story The Good Book which appears in my collection Around the Bend. A CD of the film can be purchased http://www.greenhornent.com/thebook.html soon. A trailer promo of the film is available now at the same url. The Good Book is my favorite of all the short stories I've written.

I just received my complimentary CD of the movie and think the producer did a really good job.

How Politicians Go Wrong
I suppose most politicians are honest when they first enter the business (I can't call it a profession) but something seems to happen on their way to the next election. They become so self serving it's pathetic. They appear to no longer care about the good of the country as a whole. What motivates them is how to get elected again, by hook or by crook, usually by crook, in my opinion, even if it is legal. They are so scared of offending prospective voters that they're afraid to say anything substantive. They make campaign promises they have no intention of keeping. They vote the way their contributors want them to, regardless of whether it's good or bad for the country. They have passed so many tax laws in order to favor special groups that no one, not even the IRS, understands the system any more. As near as I can figure it, our tax system now benefits lawyers and accountants more than anyone else (and our politicians, of course, since they continue to pass tax laws in order to get votes. No other reason). I have become so thoroughly disgusted with the whole process that I find myself voting against just about anyone in office. I see no essential difference between Democrats and Republicans. Neither of them gives a tinker's damn that they are beggaring future generations and dissipating our once great wealth. They pass laws for the rest of us then pass different ones for themselves. If you don't believe me, take a look at their lucrative medical care and retirement benefits, just to mention a couple. Personally, I don't see how these people can live with themselves or sleep at night, considering all the shenanigans they perform while in office. Just as a quick example, could someone tell me why farmers always get stupendous government payments when the least little thing goes wrong? And why the largest corporate farms are the ones which benefit most? I can answer the question. It's because farm state congress critters trade their votes on other issues to grab the money for their states or districts so they can get votes, not to mention the contributions from the big agribusinesses. Or maybe someone can tell me why, if my house burns down or gets flooded, I'm ignored, but if the same thing happens to a lot of houses in the same area, the government practically dumps money on you? It couldn't be because our representatives are looking for votes, could it? Or would some congress person kindly tell me why they have allowed ten million illegal immigrants to invade the country and not only that, passed laws so that we have to provide them with medical care and other benefits? Damn it, they're in the country illegally! Never mind. Nothing is done for fear of offending the Hispanic voters. That's why they're still here.

Here and there you can find a fairly honest politician, but you really have to look hard. In Lone Star, mentioned above, Sam Houston is described as one of the few politicians who not only kept his integrity while in office but actually used the gray matter between his ears that most politicians apparently forget is there as soon as they're elected. Congress has become one huge pressure group clearing house. Just as an example, the pharmaceutical industry spent well over a hundred million dollars in 2006 lobbying congress and employed over a thousand lobbyists to influence our representatives.

Oh, hell, why go on? Our politicians have consigned our kids and grandkids a load of debt that's going to cause a financial crash to rival the Great Depression before too much longer and not a one of them seems to care. They go right on giving tax breaks and finagling with the tax system while Rome burns, and as I said, no one understands the labyrinthine entanglements that mostly benefit big corporations and tax lawyers and the wealthy who can afford to hire accountants. The divide between rich and poor is widening at an ever faster rate, a benchmark most historians agree will eventually spell the death knell of freedom.

Really, I don't understand what goes through politicians' minds that causes them to be so dishonest and self serving.

Excuse the rant. Every now and then I have to get it off my chest. Sometimes I do it in the form of fiction, as in A Parody Of Clinton, or The Focus Factor, thinking maybe if people read about some solutions, possibly they'll vote for politicians who have the gumption to stand up and say exactly what's needed to be done. Of course then they wouldn't get elected. Catch-22. Grrr.

Book Sale
I still have autographed print books for sale at my web site, www.darrellbain.com . In fact, for the month of May, I'm offering Medics Wild, Life On Santa Claus Lane and Doggie Biscuit! at a special price of only $9.95, postage and handling included. These are nice looking trade paperback books and make great gifts for your lit'ry friends. I'll even personalize the autograph to your specifications if you want to use them for gifts. Click on the "Book Sale" icon at my web site www.darrellbain.com. Payment can be made either with paypal or a credit card.

Michael LaRocca's Newsletter
Some of you probably already know this writer or subscribe to his newsletter, but I thought I'd mention that I always enjoy it. You may, too. who-moved-my-rice@googlegroups.com

Dentist and Truck Gremlins
While on vacation, I saw some little round balls in a glass jar on a counter labeled "Chinese Candy". Well, I'll always curious about exotic foodstuff, so I bought one, just to see what it tasted like. I bit down on it and the enamel and filling on a crown and the adjoining permanent bridge crumbled. It turned out that the "Chinese Candy" was a dried plum with the seed still inside. Once back home, I went to the dentist and he repaired the two teeth, telling me he didn't know how long it would last. It looked fine, and I went out to my truck to go home. It wouldn't start. I walked to a store and bought some battery cables then got a kind soul to try jumping it. It still wouldn't start, so I called a tow truck. After a half hour it arrived and towed the truck back home to a nearby garage. As soon as the truck rolled off the tow truck, the mechanic got inside it, turned the key and it started right up. Grrr. I left it with him and hitched a ride on home. By this time I was thirsty. I filled a paper cup with water, took a drink, and the enamel the dentist had just put on my teeth fell off. I know he told me he couldn't guarantee how long it would last, but that was ridiculous. The next day the mechanic called. He couldn't find a thing wrong with the truck. All I can say is that it was just a day for gremlins.

Oh, yes. How did that Chinese candy taste? It was so damned salty I spit it out, along with my teeth. So much for curiosity. And final note to the story. The inexpensive repairs just wouldn't work. After two tries, I gave up, waved goodbye to our savings account and shelled out $3,800.00 for dental work. If anyone feels sorry for me, you can buy some of my books and help me pay for that "Chinese candy" episode.

Poison Ivy Cure
Betty is extremely sensitive to Poison Ivy. She has had some terrible cases of it, where it even spread to her mouth. Of all the "cures" and expensive treatments doctors have put her through, the most effective remedy she's found so far is one my brother Gary told her about. Just rub on a simple mix of about 10% household bleach and water several times a day. It stops the itching and dries it up quicker than anything else she's tried. I'm one of the fortunate ones who aren't affected by it but if I ever am, that's the remedy I'll start with.

EPPIE Awards
After being a finalist several times for the Eppie Award, the most prestigious award in the e-Book industry, I finally won not one, but two Eppies this year. I was unable to attend the 2007 convention where they were presented, but of course they were mailed to me. And I have to say they are really nice looking. Betty put both of them on the mantle for display. The awards were for my novel White Odyssey in the Young Adult category and Mindwar in the Action/Adventure category. These books can be purchased in print at the links given below:

White Odyssey
http://www.lulu.com/content/649542

Mindwar
http://www.lulu.com/content/169608

They are also available as e-books at Fictionwise.com and eReader.com

I'm very proud of these awards and I'd like to extend my thanks to all my readers and fans who are responsible for my continuing success in this field of fiction.

And Another Gremlin!
The gremlins are really after me this month. I went in to have some pre-operative lab and other tests done for a cystoscopy (where a urologists has a look inside your bladder). The EKG test showed that I'd had a heart attack recently! Heck, I didn't even know it! All I can figure is that it must have happened while I was still taking a pretty heavy dose of narcotics for back pain and they disguised the pain from the heart attack. Some days it just doesn't pay to get up—or maybe there's something to that old adage about getting up on the wrong side of the bed! Anyway, I have a cardiac evaluation set up to see how much damage was done.

Note: Apparently not too much, though I haven't seen the final report after having an echocardiogram done.

And another note: It is a really weird feeling laying on your side and watching your heart beat. Or watching an image of it, anyway. The technician told me some people refuse to look at their hearts beating but I found it fascinating. I hope it keeps beating for a long time!

Warp Point
I think Warp Point will be available at eReader.com soon. If not, keep looking. It is available at Fictionwise.com and still selling. In fact, it's my best seller since Alien Infection despite glitches that held it back from eReader.com.

Final Thoughts
I finally finished the story of Tonto versus the Aliens and sent it off. It's with an editor now. The title will be Bark! and of course the story was inspired by our little dachshund, Tonto, the dog who creates and uses a tool for a specific task. To read about him and see a picture of him in action, go back to the newsletter of September 2005. I figured any doggie who could do something like that could certainly defeat invading aliens.

I had to hunt to find Tonto's story and picture. That gave me pause. I'm wondering whether or not to create some sort of an index of subjects covered in the newsletters. I'd like some feedback on this idea before undertaking it since it will probably take a whole day for me to fix it up. Readers?

I'm getting an urge to go read the complete Calvin And Hobbes collection again. I wonder if that has any meaning?

A stack of old letters I wrote to the folks twenty years or more ago is sitting on a shelf within sight. Mother saved them and sent them back to me shortly before she died. Someday I'm going to read them and see what my younger self was thinking.

My brother found a home for his Great Pyrenees dogs. They were forever digging holes beneath the fence he put up at great expense to keep them within the bounds of his forty acre place and finally got too old to chase them back home. That's his excuse anyway. He does talk to their new owners periodically to see how they're getting along.

The picture below shows Sugar, the female Great Pyrenees mothering not only her pups but a flock of orphaned baby chicks!!!

Darrell and Betty

  Spring has finally sprung here, at long last. We had our first meal of new potatoes a couple of days ago. For anyone who's never had new potatoes right from a garden, you have no idea of what you're missing. There's just no comparison to what you buy in a grocery store. The same holds true for tomatoes, too. Shucks, I never knew that until after Betty and I were married and began gardening and I was in my early forties then!

And with that, I believe I've rambled enough for this month.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
May 2007

 

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