Darrell Bain's Monthly Blog - September 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: Hubris will get you every time, Paying forward, Fever, Guest columnist: The Rapture event?, Oops! cyber launch party, Contest for free copies of Oops!, Gimme society, Favorite science fiction novels, Book report, Progress report, Corporate idiocy, Excerpt from Alien Infection.
Hubris will get you every time!
I’m writing this just before getting it ready for my webmaster. Hubris (arrogance caused by excessive pride). I told Betty yesterday that we had two royalty checks coming, one of them larger than what I had been expecting and also had the rent check due from the electrical company for storing their equipment on our front pasture, a Medicare Rx donut hole check due, Vet’s pension due, both our social security checks due and a check for some books coming in. I said we ought to feel like we’re rich and go spend some money. This morning when I drove the car I noticed a leak coming from underneath. Whoops! I called our mechanic and said we were bringing the car in. Betty took off in the car and I followed in the truck. Whops! The transmission went out in the truck. I made it to the garage in low gear--barely. Now I know what all that money is going to be used for. We’ll repair the car and buy a new truck. Oh well, it was nice to feel rich for one day. Maybe it’ll happen again soon.
During the course of learning to be a writer I was fortunate enough to have been given some advice and help from other authors. I was, and still am, grateful for them taking time from their busy schedules to help an unknown author with very few credits to his name, and none of them very impressive.
After achieving some moderate success with my writing I began receiving occasional letters asking for advice and/or help. I’ve always answered those letters and responded to the questions asked of me to the best of my ability. This is called “Paying Forward” in some circles. It simply means that you’re returning favors given to you by helping others in the same position you were in when you asked for advice and/or help. I feel it is the least I can do to repay the kindnesses done for me.
I sincerely hope that the ones I’ve responded to will also “Pay Forward” when their turn comes, when they’ve achieved some success and are asked for help or advice.
This can also be interpreted as a form of The Golden Rule, if you like, always a decent guide for everyday life whether you are religious or not.
That episode of fever, chills and muscle aches with no congestion suddenly returned. My doctor didn’t know what it was last month when I saw him. It didn’t last as long this time, only 3 days as opposed to 5 days before, but it proved to be just as debilitating. It is a strange feeling to have a house temperature set at 75 degrees and yet be covered with blankets and still feel like being at the north pole with no clothes on. The shaking and teeth chattering got so bad I welcomed the fever so I could be warm again! The illness reminds me a lot of malaria that I saw so much of in Vietnam and I suppose it could be. I never had it while there but malaria parasites can hide in the liver for years before suddenly breaking loose. And now that I remember, I had this same thing happen a couple of years ago after coming back from a cruise to Mexico. At any rate, when I see the doc again in a couple of weeks I’m going to ask for some tests for malaria. Back in Vietnam the only way of diagnosing it was a blood slide looked at by a lab technician. Perhaps there’s an easier way that’s been developed since my days in the lab. Guess I’ll find out. And another possibility is Dengue fever. It’s moved up from Mexico and into Texas now. And possibly I’ll never be bothered by it again. I’ll go for the last option, given a choice!
Guest Columnist: The Rapture Event
Every now and then I have a guest columnist invited to write a short piece of their own choosing for Bainstorming. When they do write for this blog, I put no limits on the subject they write about other than banning pornography. I don’t think this is quite the venue for it. This month I’m pleased to present my own brother, Gary Bain, who relates a true story about…the Rapture?
During the late 1980's I was Captain of a luxury live-aboard dive boat, “The Little Cayman Diver”. This was undoubtedly one of my worse vocations as I was continuously surrounded by bikini-clad beauties that invariably desired to have special attention from the Captain, you know, like, “Oh Captain, could you please rub some of this lotion on me?”. And being the good Captain I was I felt obligated to accommodate my guests. No matter that we were alone on the top deck under a full moon, and of course scantily clad in the warm ocean breezes. The worst part is that we picked our guests up at Cayman Brac and then drove the boat to Little Cayman which took about an hour and a half and we stayed there for six days. The boat was only 65 feet long and we carried 16 guests that shared 8 staterooms. So when we became inundated with beauties we had to contend with them for a week with no real escape except to dive, but then they always wanted to dive with the Captain. And eat meals with the Captain, and go to the beach with the Captain, and well, I must admit, it was truly a difficult job but heck, someone had to do it! Hmmmmm!! I seemed to have lapsed into some fond memories and forgot the subject matter I wanted to write about, which is “The Rapture!!”.
Oops! Cyberlaunch party.
I invite all my readers to take a look at the url below and if you like, to drop by for the cyberlaunch party of Oops! all day September 3rd. Oops is my latest collection of short stories, including some all new material. Thank you.
Contest for free copies of Oops!
Three copies of Oops! will be given away from the site below. Give it a try!
Our society today appears to consist of a great horde of people who do their damnedest to
I receive a Veteran’s pension. My wife and I both get social security. But we’re different. We’re saying we would take a cut in benefits so long as it went across the board and everyone else got a cut, too. And if the politicians wouldn’t just spend the money somewhere else in order to get votes, one of the most venial sins imaginable in my book. If everyone else was as willing to take a 5% or 10% cut we might be able to begin getting our kids and grandkids out from under the massive, tremendous burden of debt congress has borrowed to finance all those benefits. And if we made a few sacrifices perhaps it would inspire others to be more honest and not want to steal the store or have it given to them by politicians looking for votes. This is kind of disjointed because I’ve been ill this month and also had other things going that took priority over Bainstorming. Apologies, but I wanted to get it in this month’s issue. And I could go on for pages more, believe me!
Favorite Science Fiction Novels
I’ve just finished an extensive update of the article available at most ebook stores under the title “My 100 Most Readable (And Re-readable) Science Fiction novels. The new, 16,000 word document will be titled My All Time Favorite Science Fiction Novels. It greatly expands the number of books listed and now includes my favorite science fiction series. It will be available in the near future at the Kindle store, B&N ebook store, www.fictionwise.com and other ebook stores. Watch for it!
Lighting Out For The Territories by Roy Morris, Jr.
This book tells the story of Mark Twain’s early years and his experiences as he left the Civil War behind and headed for the territories. He became involved in numerous enterprises, most notably in gold and silver mining. He wrote for newspapers. He took trips to the Hawaiian Islands and came back to begin his career as a lecturer. His many and varied experiences are so well detailed by this gifted writer that I told Betty he should try being a novelist rather than a biographer. That’s how good Morris is in writing about Mark Twain. A great book about a man who made a huge mark on the American literary scene.
Greg Isles is a tremendously gifted author. I just completed his Dark Matter. It was one hell of a read. It gets into the spooky actions of quantum theory, Artificial Intelligences, the dark side of The National Security Agency, the military and other subjects that would seem impossible to put together in a complete whole and make a rare, exciting book. He did it. Highly recommended.
Authorized Biography of Robert H. Heinlein
William H. Patterson, Jr. is the author of Robert A. Heinlein’s authorized biography. The first volume is out now under the title: Robert A. Heinlein, Volume 1, In Dialogue With His Century.
I can hardly say enough about this book or the man. You don’t have to like science fiction to find this book interesting. Patterson captures the essence of Heinlein and his times and especially his personality in this engrossing book. I thought I knew a lot about him just from casual reading and references I’d run across over the years. Wrong. I hardly knew anything about him. He had his foibles as we all do but he also had enormous strength of character. His correspondence reveals just how much he also knew about himself, something which many of us fail remarkably at doing. Reading this book is much like reading history, especially of the events leading to and after the atomic bomb. The insights into the business of making a living writing is something non-writers will enjoy, too. Most non-authors go through life reading books and stories but paying little attention to the long twisted path many of them take before publication and just how much authors depend on those sales for the very substance of life, groceries and rent. I can certainly relate to them as an author but anyone should find these revelations of an author’s life fascinating. I could go on and on about this book but read it yourself. It is certain to be a best seller and deservedly so. Heinlein is one of the few authors who could honestly say they had a profound influence on their society. This is only the first volume. I can hardly wait for the other one.
I’m continuing work with Tony Teora on the novel Alien Enigma, although I suspect the will wind up being re-titled since the wording is so close to another of my books, Alien Infection. I hope to have my part finished soon and turn it over to him. I believe it is going to be a very good book, if I do say so.
I completed the update on My All Time Favorite Science Fiction Novels. Look for it soon at your favorite ebook store.
There are several other novels I have made a start on, including one provisionally titled Entanglement.
All corporations now use robots to answer their phones. They do it to save money, so they say. I wonder just how much money is saved when their own employees have to deal with robots from other companies and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to ferret our a way to talk to a real person. I get so damn aggravated at the process. Someone opened an account in my name for AOL. When I noticed it on my credit card, I tried to get it cancelled. The robot wouldn’t talk to me unless I gave it the account number, which of course I couldn’t since someone else opened the account. That’s just one example of how stupid most of those answering robots are. If corporation must have them, I believe all of America would jump up and yell Hoo Ray! if they would just include an opening statement: If you want to talk to a real person, punch 0, otherwise, listen to the menu. Somehow I doubt that is ever going to happen, though.
Excerpt from Alien Infection
Alien infection is one of my best selling books, exceeded only by The Sex Gates. I can’t say why it is more popular except perhaps the idea of humans being infected by something from “out there”. Remember The Andromeda Strain from years and years ago? I can’t remember now who wrote it but it was a best seller, too. Whatever, here is an excerpt from Alien Infection to give you a bit of an idea of its contents.
“Are you Michael Brandon? The lab tech?” The guy with the gun asked.
“That’s him,” the other one said after glancing at the name tag on my jacket. He was gripping the upper arm of the doc with a pressure so tight I could see him grimacing, but he wasn’t making any attempt to get loose. As a matter of fact, he looked as scared as a whipped dog. For all my bravado, I probably didn’t look much different.
“The blood, mister. We want that blood you just drew in the Emergency room.”
“Give it to them!” The doc said. “They’re from the government.” His voice trembled, matching the quiver of his body.
I didn’t see what that had to do with it, not then, but I wasn’t going to argue with a gun. “It’s in the rack there,” I told them, pointing to the rack by the blood counting instrument.
Still keeping me covered with his weapon, the putative government agent strode over and plucked the tube of blood from the rack. He checked the name on it and dropped it into his pocket. “Is that all?”
I walked over to the chemistry analyzer and gave him that tube of blood, too. “What’s wrong? Does that patient have some bad disease?” I was remembering the needle sticking me in the wrist and felt my heart skip a beat.
“None of your business,” the one holding the doc said. He turned to his companion. “We’ll have to have these machines sequestered as a precaution. Get the results, too.”
I didn’t wait. I picked up the card with the weird results from the counter where I had dropped it and handed it to the armed man. Just then, the chemistry run printed out and I gave him that report, too. I also asked again, “What’s wrong with that patient?”
“He’s a terrorist,” the other agent, the one holding the doc said. “That’s all you need to know.”
That was enough. If he was a terrorist, and given those badly abnormal results, along with the totally paranoid actions of the government men, it followed that he must be infected with a communicable disease and intended to spread it as far and wide as possible. I felt my heart jump again when I reached that conclusion, knowing that whatever he had, it was almost certainly a very bad bug—and now I had it, too.
I think that the government men were planning on taking me into custody or question me some more. As vulnerable as I was feeling at the moment, I probably would have gone along with them, but just then, one of their phones rang. The one with the gun pulled out his phone, thumbed it, listened for a minute, then cursed heatedly. “Come on!” He yelled to his companion. “That fucker got loose again!”
The doc was shoved out of the way so rudely that he fell to his hands and knees. Both men rushed out of the lab, leaving me staring down at the doc and wondering whether I was having some kind of bad dream. Right then I wanted it to be a dream, believe me.
I reached down and helped the doc to his feet and asked him “What in hell was that all about? Was that patient really infected with something?”
He shook his head. “Damned if I know. Three of them burst into the ER and said that patient we were working on was an escaped terrorist and that they were taking him into custody. When I told them he was too hurt to move and that we were doing some blood tests on him, they grabbed me and manhandled me down here.” He shook his head. “They’re lying. You don’t take a man hurt that bad into custody; the most they would do is make us isolate him until he was stable, no matter what he had. I think he was zonked on something, too, and that’s what caused him to crash his car.” Then he got a puzzled expression on his face. “But they just said he got loose. I would have given odds that he couldn’t have walked, much less gone anywhere.”
I remembered how he had spasmed when he knocked that blasted needle into my wrist. And I guess the doc either wasn’t very analytical or maybe he was just tired from the tag end of his twenty four hour shift. What they had said was that he had gotten loose again. That told me he had already been in their custody. But what the doc said gave me a bit of hope. If he was all doped up, maybe that was why his blood count was so badly skewed from normal—though I didn’t know of any drug right off hand that would cause the type of abnormalities I had seen.
“So what happens now?”
“I’ve got to go report this to administration if the nurses haven’t already. Can you believe it? Pulling a goddamned gun on us?” He left, building up a good mad to berate someone with.
I could believe it about the gun. In these times, with all the anti-terrorist legislation on the books, the government had gotten arrogant, believing it could do almost anything it wanted to. That has its ups and downs. If those guys had acted a little less imperious, I might have volunteered to give them that other tube of blood I had stuck in the back of the cooler once I remembered it. Ordinarily I discarded them within a day or so, usually sooner. Once a patient is admitted and on the wards or in a unit, there’s not much call to save extra blood unless it has been drawn for a transfusion, which is a different matter and wasn’t applicable in this case; I already had other blood set aside for the cross match.
I guess I don’t have to mention that I was very late getting away. Some more government men arrived, purportedly from the office of Homeland Security. They questioned me but there wasn’t much I could tell them, and by then I had almost forgotten about being pricked by that needle. I did mention that I had gotten some strange results on the blood count but none of them seemed to care about it. One of the Homeland Security guys tried to fob it off as a reaction to the disease they claimed our patient had been trying to spread around but I didn’t believe that for a minute once I had time to really think about it. You don’t get results like I had seen from any contagious disease I had ever heard of.
I never mentioned that spare tube of blood to anyone during the questioning. Having a gun pointed at me had gotten my dander up and I was sleepy and hungry and just wanted to leave. Besides, I intended to do some tests on it myself as soon as I got a chance. But first I needed to go home and eat and rest.
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