I am distracted this week, through having to oversee and assist with a spot of home renovation, and the launch of Book Six of the Luna City Chronicles – One Half Dozen of Luna City, which is available as of today in print, Kindle and other ebook formats – although by no means have I not paid attention to various news hiccups which caught my fleeting attention as they went past.

As a parent, I can’t help but be sympathetic and supportive of little Alfie Evans’ parents, whose’ medical situation was as heartbreaking as it was mysterious and likely terminal. Just as I cannot help being viciously cynical regarding the decision by hospital and National Health Service administrators to set the poor tot on the so-called Liverpool Care pathway. Over the strenuous objections of his parents, the church which his parents apparently belonged to, any number of advocates for the rights of parents – all life support cut off, including oxygen, nourishment and water, with the powers of the State and its police minions standing by to enforce the dictates of the state. More »

… I think. My crystal ball is out for re-calibration so I cannot be absolutely certain, but I’ve been expecting a crisis or bundle of intersecting catastrophes for some time now. There have been murmurings for the last year regarding the probability of Ebola spreading out of Africa. And now it has happened – a person sick with it has exposed lord only knows how many other people on his way back to Dallas from a visit to Africa. Which is horrific enough, but just getting started. Meanwhile, an enterovirus which attacks the respiratory tract and in some instances has an effect very like that of polio has been here for some months, sickening children – especially those who have respiratory difficulties. It has already killed five – this ailment which was rare in the US heretofore but apparently fairly common in Central America. The supposition is that it was carried into the US with the government-assisted influx of child illegal immigrants earlier this year. Were I the parent of a school-aged child in a public school and exposed to this virus – as many children doubtless have been – I would be furious, or even more furious than I am; that third-world diseases are being casually dispersed throughout communities in the United States for some .deliberate purpose; a Cloward-Pivening of the system, to pack the Democrat party voting rolls, undermine the labor market, or perhaps just to crash those local communities where the illegals have been parked. (Yes, illegal immigrant – I’ll say so and be damned, sir!)

For two years and more I’ve been expecting race-riots in those American cities hardest hit by the double-blow of single-party machine politics and the complete inability of the Obama administration to actually meet any of the sky-high expectations of him held among the black underclass. So, they got to feel good about themselves for a couple of years, before realizing they are worse off than ever. Can’t be Obama’s fault, of course; it must be all that white raaaaacism. St. Louis looks to be ground zero – again – at this point in time. The race card is about played out with me, having known too many good, hardworking and patriotic citizens of color – but I am about to the point of getting that bumper sticker that says, “I wish my ancestors had picked their own damn cotton.” Of course, my American ancestors didn’t grow cotton, and were in fact fiercely abolitionist Quakers. I suspect even the most racially tolerant among them would be loosing patience with the black thug underclass these days. I know now that many of those who comment on various blogs – about the only source on incidents of the knock-out game or flash-mob lootings – are loosing patience as well. So much for content of character, rather than color of skin.

And the Middle East is well-afire now, with ISIS/ISIL/The New Caliphate gleefully pouring more gasoline on the bonfire, and posting regular videos on social media of beheadings and mass executions, recruiting wanna-be-jihadis from across the United States and from Europe. Meanwhile, the Kurds and the Israelis stand nearly alone, while it seems that it is more important that American troops be sent to Africa, either to assist local governments in fighting the Ebola epidemic or to catch it themselves and bring it back to the stateside military units and their families. Hard to tell what the intent of the Obama administration is, these days; one hesitates to attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence or stupidity.

One is reduced to eying the actions of the federal government with wary suspicion these days. After this – and other actions, to include Fast and Furious, the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, the NPS deliberately barricading national monuments and the ongoing disaster that is Obamacare – who besides those who serve, enable and benefit directly from it can claim with a straight face that our federal government is not motivated by greed and outright malice towards us?

Discuss.
(Cross-posted at Chicagoboyz.net)

I honestly do not know if all of last weeks’ horrific headlines and those of the week before are a cunning plot to serially distract the body politic and public by dropping everything on us all at once, without a chance to analyze or begin fighting back, or if it indicates that the wheels are coming off the Obama administration once and for all. Either way … there is a lot to write about, just at the time that I don’t have the time or inclination to muse upon it all at leisure in a way which would give my venom full justice; all in good time, my one or two regular remaining readers. Among other things, I am fighting a god-awful summer cold and cough, a return of the chronic cough I had last year, which took about eight months to throw and on several occasions had me coughing so hard that I threw up. And another thing of a personal nature; Alice, whom I bought the Tiny Publishing Bidness from early this spring, passed away early in June. She was tended by her family and Blondie, and a series of very professional and compassionate home-hospice-care nurses for the last three weeks before that. She had been given six months last October when she was proscribed aggressive chemotherapy … but she detested chemo and refused it after two rounds, and lasted for three months longer than forecast at the time. She actually did pretty well, with Blondie doing her housekeeping and errands … until the last three weeks.

Just as all this was happening, of course I had two books projects to juggle, and Alice’s last book for an old friend of hers, a local poet who brings out a small chapbook of his writings every year or so. She kept his most recent book back from the sale, intending to work on it herself, but her memory and her health was failing catastropically, and so I inherited it as well. So – three books to juggle at a time; isn’t commerce grand? And I still have two books of my own to work on (The Golden Road and Lone Star Sons), plus reviews, four websites (three of them being my own) and little chores like the garden, housekeeping, walking the dogs and cooking regular meals.

By the way – we found another dog this week; a small boxer-colored female, who may be part lab, possibly boxer with a bit of small pit and Wiemeraner, as she has rather lovely golden-green eyes. She looks, if anything, like a quarter-sized version of Calla-puppy, my daughter’s Boxer mix. We are resisting the allure of keeping her, but caved on turning her into the county shelter. She is very people-oriented and very, very affectionate. Onward with the chore of finding her a permanent home and not with us; anyone in the South Texas area want a new dog; 25 pounds, about half-grown that we can tell, just having cut her permanent teeth, still catching on to that house-breaking and obedience thing, but tolerant and affectionate, and OK with other dogs and cats. Let me know in comments – we can provide pictures and delivery within reason.

I did a book event in Sisterdale, the first weekend in June – and it was born upon us that we need a shed in the backyard, first for the garden tools and supplies, and second for the various items that we have acquired for doing events … like the pop-up pavilion. You may say, as Mom did, ‘But you have a garage!?’ Alas, it is full of Blondie’s furniture and various other gleanings from yard sales, against the day when she has an establishment of her own, or I have my Hill Country retreat/country cottage. We can not fit another blessed thing into the garage, or find it if we did … so. Shed; for the storage of items of professional gear in – the pavilion, the tables, the weights, the display racks, et cetera; likely we will go with a local small enterprise which does bespoke tin sheds for a price competitive with the big box places. The backyard being so small, the shed must and will be attractive, since we will be seeing it from the back porch and two of the three windows at the back of the house.

And that’s what I’ve been working on, these last two weeks, but I promise that regular vicious commentary will resume as soon as the bile reservoir has replenished itself.

Ah, yes – The News and The Truth, although in the bitter Soviet-era saying; there was no news in one, and no truth in the other. Our own very dear mainstream news establishments have not quite descended to that naked degree of lack of news and truth, but bless their hearts, they are trying, and at the current rate of progress, may achieve the ultimate goal of being a slavish organ of the state sometime around the end of this year, or possibly in time for the next presidential election. That Piers Morgan was bounced from whichever one of the alphabet networks that was misguided enough to assume that just because he had a British accent that he was intelligent and perceptive is cause enough to hope that a sense of reality might be in the cards – but that Great Britain won’t take his supercilious Limey ass back again doesn’t give cause for hope. (Note to the egregious Mr. Morgan – yes, in Texas we like big guns and we cannot lie… and we can even use them, in defense of our home and hearth.)

Now and again there are heartwarming stories of little old ladies who – upon being threatened by some scum-bag low-life attempting forcible entry into their humble abode – have given fair warning, and drilled the miscreant through the front door, dropping him on the doormat, dead as a doornail. This does not excite any more comment among law officials than subdued congratulations for having taken out the trash – unlike England, that blessed green jewel, set in a silver sea, where lately this kind of citizen resistance to criminal depredation draws frowns and prison sentences upon the good citizen. The larcenous scumbags are apparently a protected species, to be coddled and cherished; and anyone objecting forcefully to being depredated upon by them is landed upon with the full force of the law and the shrill disapproval of the intellectual and the ruling classes. Let it be here noted that I am so very glad that three of my four grandparents decamped from the Isle of the Blessed early in the 20th century, and that the Air Force fortuitously deposited me in Texas, which seems at the beginning of the 21st century to be emerging as the last, best hope for a middle class-based, free market economy and constitutional democracy … which is kind of ironic, considering the degree of free-wheeling political corruption in certain Texas counties back in the day. But I digress…

Back to truth and news, then; from a couple of different sources, the appearance of Ms. Valerie Jarrett, the President’s closest and most trusted advisor – his office wife, as it were – on a certain television program oriented towards women, not just urging the audience to sign up for Obama-care, but asking the producers of TV shows to include an Obama-care friendly plot-line … Damn. Well, at least they are being out in the open about it. Time was, when the Hollywood Reds had the decency to be subtle, and not advertise their allegiance to the Party line … although when called upon it, they did kick and scream mightily.

So, here we are – the current administration is nakedly, openly calling upon the purveyors of the entertainment to flack for Obamacare via popular entertainment. It’s anyone’s guess as to how this will work out; everything from a throw-away line of dialog to a whole Very Special Episode dedicated to a government initiative that is shaping up to be an even bigger and more unpopular disaster than Prohibition. Because this is how it is going to work out at my house – given that we’ve bagged cable and now to to Hulu, Amazon Prime and Acorn for our television watching – we’ll immediately drop any consideration of watching any scripted programs that comply with the desires of the current administration in this regard. Last week, it seems that Rachael Ray went all sobby and ostentatiously grateful for Obamacare, which moved me quietly to not only never, ever buy any of her cookbooks, pet food or kitchen implements again, but also to skip any of her recipes available through internet searches. There will be a cost paid, for any highly-visible flacking with regard to Obamacare – a cost which will, I hope, become painful very, very soon.

All during late November and December of last year, I began seeing internet discussions of the looming disaster that is Obamacare – and yes, I will hang that name on the so-called Affordable Care Act, also known as the un-Affordable Care Act. The man behind the desk in the Oval Office pursued this as his singular achievement; his legislative allies rammed it through over protest, and his media allies have viciously abused those who advised caution. So it is only fitting and fair that his name get attached to it at every opportunity, especially if it brings down his whole political machine in a spectacular fashion, rather like a slow-motion Hindenberg collapsing.

Just before the disastrous roll-out of the Obamacare sign-up websites, I began note, among all the chaff, some sober speculations here and there; commenters speculating that once people began having to write substantial checks for healthcare insurance, out of their own pocket – that’s when the beautiful theory of quality healthcare insurance for all would run into the jagged rocks of reality. Exactly those people who had bought into it as a lovely idea, because it was fair and all – they would be disillusioned in large numbers.

Which is what we see coming to pass; first in blog discussion threads, then the major media organizations begin dipping a cautious toe into reporting the actual impact of Obamacare on real people, I discussed it privately with certain friends who share somewhat of the same beliefs, and just this week, I overheard a vociferous discussion in a public place, among people who were strangers to me. My daughter and I were in a retail store, a defiantly old-fashioned five and dime – and up at the front, the three cashiers were discussing their insurance options under Obamacare. They were all three at a guess, about ten or fifteen years older than me, and the town where this establishment is located is a pretty well-to-do place. No, the three ladies were baffled, upset and venting freely – being of the age when chronic health problems begin to bite.

Increasingly, the internet ‘chatter’ is speculation that the disastrous roll-out of the Obamacare website, the paltry numbers who have actually been able to sign up for health care insurance through it, and the wide-spread unhappiness with it as evidenced by the overheard discussion, all have another purpose. Yes, the Obama administration had a cunning plan all along – and all this was intended to pave the way to so-called ‘single-payer’ once those pesky private health insurance providers are sidelined. Never mind that this has and will continue to cause disruption of every sort; from employers cutting back on hiring and the number of employee hours worked, to people with serious health issues who will be affected, and those who had health insurance but don’t any more. People will suffer and some – very likely some will die because of it – but apparently the ends justify the means, if the end is a noble goal such as a national health service like Canada, or England.

Which is apparently what all the civilized nations have, as a commenter on Open Salon had it, some months ago; one nationalized health care service coming up, for which everyone pays in taxes – or at least, those of us who do pay taxes pay for it – and everyone receives what they need in health care services. Just like … the Veterans Administration medical care, or military medical care, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs medical care, only spread nation wide and to all citizens. Yum, yum; the appetizing prospect of having your doctor not work for you, with your best interests and health at heart as a primary goal because if you are unhappy with the result, you will go elsewhere seeking a better result. Instead your medical care provider is working for an impenetrable, unanswerable bureaucracy, a bureaucracy which – no matter what it’s failing might be in your particular instance, is somehow never found at fault in a meaningful way, especially of you or one of your loved ones suffers or dies from that bureaucratic failing. And the worst insult of all is knowing that those elected officials who are preparing this particular s**t sandwich for us, have and will exempt themselves from ever having to take a bite of it.
Interesting times. Discuss.

(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)

Ah, the New Year is upon us, now that we have successfully negotiated the month-long holiday hurdles – and no, I am doing my best not to ask myself what fresh hells await, since I am barely done with the rich banquet served up to us at year-end.

It would take a heart of stone not to laugh, and laugh, and laugh at the spectacle of a boat-full of global-warmenist tourists venturing on an Antarctic expedition to prove that the polar ice is melting faster than the Wicked Witch when Dorothy emptied a bucket of water onto her … being caught in the ice … and having to be rescued by ice-breaking ships. The topper is that this is actually the summer season at the bottom of the world, and the darned stuff is supposed to be melting seasonally anyway. But apparently not, and the gales of laughter at this bit of misfortune are not quite strong enough to dislodge the ship. Was Al Gore anywhere around? The unseasonably horrible weather hitting all of the United States but a tiny band along the west coast argues the presence of He Whose Chakras Need to be Raised, or at least smacked with a bucket of cold water.

Ah, the fortunes of the ruling dynasty in North Korea have taken a positively surreal turn into I, Claudius territory, with the long-time advisor and uncle (with a handful of Uncle’s top aides) of Pudgy-Boy Kim executed by being served up naked to a pack of starving dogs – and the ruling echelons made to watch the proceedings. To encourage the others, I guess. This was reported via Chinese news media, which makes me wonder how tired the Chinese are getting of the antics of Pudgy-Boy and all the other Kims. Given that dog-meat is a traditional Korean delicacy, and in North Korea eating it is likely a matter of survival, perhaps the dogs considered this arrangement a fair turn-about. No wonder Dennis Rodman appears to be getting fond of North Korea; height and color aside, he blends right in with the general freakishness.

And speaking of a parade of … well, not freaks exactly, more a case of being freakishly out of touch, I give you MSNBC, or as I have begun to call it, PMSNBC – now in a dead heat with Time Magazine as they race to the bottom. Well, both of these media entities were once respected, popular and purveyors of the news. Now I suppose it is commentary and opinion all the way, and very strident and in-your-face opinion, too. The insults are just the extra, although I am certain Melissa Harris-Perry got an earful over that notorious segment poking mean-girl fun at Mitt Romney’s adopted grandson. Being that she was a child of color – or anyway, half-color – born to a white Mormon mother, one would have thought Ms. Harris-Perry would have been a little more circumspect. I can hope that perhaps her own mother put her straight, about how painful it would be for mother and child alike to hear sniggering cracks about how one of these things is not like the other, and one of those things does not belong.

And finally, Obamacare, sweet Obamacare, the unAffordable Care Act, now in the act of a slo-mo clash and burn even more spectacular than that of the Hindenberg. Yes, thank you, I’ll have my serving of schadenfreude in chocolate flavor, with a spritz of whipped cream, toasted almonds and a cherry on top. Harsh? I’ll save my sympathies for those people now caught within the deadly toils of trying to work out some kind of healthcare coverage for themselves and their families who did not vote Dem in the last two elections. For those who did, and are now unpleasantly confronted with the results – sorry, we warned you, over and over, and all we got for that was abuse and ridicule. Sometimes enlightenment is only achieved through pain. I haven’t ventured into Open Salon lately to see how enlightenment is progressing these days – I’m not a sadist that way. I’ll just settle for my tasty cup of schadenfreude.

Hang tight – it’s gonna be an interesting ride through 2014.

A week and a half to go to Christmas – and I am slightly bummed, although in rather better financial shape than I have been in some previous years. The last of the Christmas craft sales events – Christmas on the Square in Goliad – was pretty well wiped out by cold beyond the capacity of large crowds to endure. We came home with two tubs of books, not having sold a single thing, and it’s been ages since that happened.

I have set up a week-long direct sale through my book-website; 15% off the regular direct sales price, but I am beginning to get the distinct impression from personal experience that fourth-quarter holiday sales are definitely down. Well, it could be worse – it definitely has been worse. The sale of the California property affords a bit of a cushion, and that it allowed us to revamp the HVAC system is bliss, especially as it continues cold. I’m thinking that we owe the Jon Wayne people a lavish Christmas card, for the work they did resulted in much superior system to that originally installed, which heated and cooled sluggishly and sparsely, and with a horrifying degree of inefficiency. The new system heats or cools the house within five minutes of turning it on, and every room is comfortable.

Countdown – three weeks and a bit to the New Year, and also the time for all us ordinary peons not exempted for one reason or another to get right with Obamacare, or the Unaffordable Care Act. Well, not us, personally – so far, Tricare Prime for me remains relatively unscathed, save for a not-insupportable increase in the quarterly fee. Blondie’s Humana policy is also relatively unscathed, at least for the next year. The cost of a Un-ACA compliant policy for her also costs almost three times as much as the policy she has now – and both of us are extremely wary of entering anything personal into a usgov site as frelled as that one seems to be. We’re actually hoping that the whole ungodly mess is revoked sometimes over the next year – although it may just implode of it’s own.

Really, if schadenfreude had calories, I’d be as fat as Oprah Winfrey was at her max-girth; watching Obamacare implode and seeing the Obama administration look like fools – like a laughing selfie at a memorial service. Could anything in public be more crass, more juvenile? Meanwhile, North Korea – yet again – is edging closer and closer to total breakdown, what with Li’l Pudgy going all Henry VIII on his closest kin and advisers. Dennis Rodman seems to have appointed himself the chief envoy to the place, which only goes to prove that these days, satirists must have a devil of a time staying ahead of reality.

November already? I swear, where does the time go. At least we can turn off the AC – finally! – and open the windows. Although that does heighten our appreciation of our next door neighbor’s relations with his two basset hounds; one male who is alert and ready to give voice at any provocation, and one female who is quiet and sedate, and very likely pregnant. Well, when you have two young unfixed dogs of the opposite sex this kind of thing is gonna happen sooner or later. He has also not been able to housebreak them with any degree of reliability (although we have tried to tell him about crates) so they spend a large part of their day outside. This does mean that anyone who comes close to the front of either of our houses gets barked at, which does have some benefit. He has offered us one of the puppies, though.

We will have a booth at the Boerne Market Days this weekend; half with my books and half with Blondie’s origami art. This is her big roll-out for Paper Blossom Productions. She has been working away at various pieces for the last couple of months, and only this weekend got around to inventorying and packaging up a number of pieces … like $300 dollars worth of earrings featuring beads and miniscule origami cranes. I will have three plastic tubs of books – as this month is the roll-out for The Quivera Trail. Later on in the week we will turn from organizing inventory to organizing the display of it; stands, hooks, baskets and s-hooks and hangers, as well as table cloths to cover the tables with. The weather is predicted to be mild – neither too hot or too cold, which is a good thing. The Market Day is traditionally held on Town Square, under the shade of a massive stand of pecan trees, but we have to be there for two days, from 10 AM to 5. Having a broiling hot day, or a freezing cold and /or rainy one will be … uncomfortable, to say the least. This is the time of the year when I do most of the face-to-face book-selling – so, apologies in advance if the blogging is brief and to the point.

The land sale meant that there is a cushion of sorts to fall back on – and I was able to clear away one ongoing debt entirely, although having to have the transmission in Blondie’s Montero rebuilt entirely has delayed plans for replacing the windows in the house. Ah, well. On the bright side, she went through a lot of trouble early this year to procure health insurance for herself, believing our President’s assurances that if you had a plan you could keep it. So she went with an $87 a month plan from Humana – which she could afford without much stress on the budget. Call it The ACA-compliant plan offered by Humana as option B this last month cost $230. For now, she is sticking with option A, in the fond hopes that the whole unAffordable Healthcare Act will implode as terminally and as messily as the planetary monster transported through the digital conveyer on Galaxy Quest.
Spent part of the weekend setting up two crocks of homemade sauerkraut; yeah, we’ve gotten a taste for the stuff, and it couldn’t be easier and cheaper to do. Cabbage, 4 heads, finely shredded, and a scant cup of pickling salt. Pack tightly into a clean glass jar, ad a little brine to the top if the cabbage hasn’t exuded enough moisture to cover – and let ferment for three to six weeks. Then heat to a simmer, pack into hot canning jars, seal and process in boiling water. We’ve just eaten the last of the jars that I processed last summer. Oh, and the last of the mixed vegetable pickles as well, so here goes some time and fresh carrots, cauliflower, pearl onions and sliced cucumber the weekend after next to stock us up. We’re doing OK on jams and preserves, though – and still have some jars of pickled okra. And that’s our plans for the immediate future.

I swear, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. It looks like ACA/Obamacare will tank worse than the Titanic, since the website/websites appear to be an exercise in frustration, and those who have succeeded in finding out what their new plan will cost are reeling and stunned with sticker shock. I am spared the worst ravages, since I am on Tricare, and the quarterly payment has only gone up by about 10$. But Blondie, bless her little cotton socks, very carefully sought out her own insurance coverage earlier this year, and as an unmarried and relatively healthy (although somewhat service-dented and dinged) young adult secured coverage through Humana for a little over 80$ a month. This week she received a long explanatory letter from Humana that her basic plan would now cost a dollar or two more – but that if she chose to go with the plan which would meet the standards for Obamacare as ordained by governmental powers which have wriggled and squirmed with sufficient agility as to exempt themselves from Obamacare’s clammy embrace – that would cost her a cool $233.

I have read here and there that is about par – the costs of coverage will double, and what they will get for it will be even less than at present. Big government – is there nothing it can’t do? A rhetorical question, obviously. There are those also who mutter darkly that Obamacare was deliberately designed to fail, in that it would wreck medical insurance entirely and throw us all onto the tender mercies of single-payer. From which I presume that those with ‘pull’ will get their treatment in the gold-plated clinics and wards set aside for the higher nomenklatura, those with money will go off-shore or to concierge-care, and the rest of us will take our chances in places which will make the public hospital wards of the 19th century look like the Mayo Clinic, or study up on home-remedies.

As my mother used to say – never attribute to malice that which can be accounted for by stupidity, but in this case I am hard put to make a distinction.

Pretty much the same with the semi-theatrical government shut down, which with obvious and malicious intent closed down national parks which were pretty much open anyway, were run by third parties at a profit, or merely had the ill-luck to be on park service property. I thought the veterans and their supporters protesting by peacefully storming the Barrycades around the WWII and Vietnam memorials in DC, hauling them to the White House, and leaving them piled up with sarcastic notes “return to sender” and “please recycle” was genius. I guess we’re the counter-culture now, even as the media tries to write it all off as a Tea Party thing. What-ever! (insert contemptuous teenage mock-sigh)

From: Sgt Mom
To: Ms Paula Deen
Re: Your Latest Cookbook

1. I would like to make it clear that I have never actually been one of your fans, or indeed of traditional southern cooking, outside of BBQ and pecan pie. Frankly, the general run of traditional southern food is just too fattening, too sweet and too light on fresh vegetables for my taste. I much prefer Italian food, and if I am a fan of any TV celebrity cooks it would be a toss-up between Ina Garton and Ree Drummond. As a Tea Party libertarian type, I also find your enthusiasm for the current administration off-putting. And the down-home southern maw-maw shtick strikes me as overdone, and eventually grating – but since it has likely brought you more income in a week than I have ever made in a year – eh. But it was a bit … ill-considered, pushing all those rich recipes out into the public, and then belatedly outing yourself as a diabetic. This might account for much of the current animus; hypocrisy, rather than racial hatred. Alas, your apology tour has not made your situation any better – in fact, it appears to have made it all much, much worse.

2. This animus, with the subsequent economic shunning on the part of the Food Network, those corporations who had previously signed deals with you, and most especially your publisher, who apparently took it amiss that your fans who put your next cookbook at #1 on Amazon are guilty of double-plus-un-good-thinking, all strikes me as being exceedingly unfair … random, even. Alec Baldwin goes all homophobic on a reporter for a tabloidish British newspaper this week, and allowances are made for him, and yet you are the one essentially burnt at the stake for injudicious use of a racial epithet years ago.

3. So – all that being said, Ms Deen, if I may offer you some advice in the wake of Random House dropping your next cookbook as if it were suddenly plutonium – go indy. Claw the publishing rights back from them, make a separate arrangement with the co-author, and hie the over to Lightning Source International, and establish yourself as your own publisher. Should the materiel still need editing, formatting (interior design) photographs and cover design – go out and hire freelance talent to accomplish that. Then upload the files to LSI, set your retail price, and arrange to have the book distributed by Ingram and in their catalog, where it will appear on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and be available for brick and mortar stores … and there you go. You probably won’t need to hire a publicist – and that’s the good side of all this. A lot of people still want your book.

Sincerely, and with my best wishes, although I probably will never actually cook from it – I remain, Sgt. Mom

So another week in Chez Hayes, sportsfans; Blondie and I are both creeping back to something resembling health after a bout with the current crud, which may or may not be this years’ flu. Whether or not – it’s a hum-dinger. The comprehensive exhaustion, lack of appetite and the racking cough are something special, and in my case, it is added to the mysterious chronic cough that has had me sounding at intervals as if I were hacking up a lung, ever since the end of November. This is especially mysterious, as I have never smoked. A chronic cough lasting for three months has challenged my medical provider at the BAMC family clinic. Tuesday afternoon I returned from another appointment bearing some serious prescriptions; including for a cough syrup containing codeine, another round of antibiotics and two sorts of inhalers, which I may yet figure out how to use effectively. I know, I am supposed to breathe in two puffs of the ‘emergency’ inhaler … the first attempt made me cough, yet again …

So, it appears that Oooogo Chavez has finally shuffled off this mortal – not unexpectedly, as the folks at Rantburg have been putting up the pic of him with hovering buzzards for about a week or so. I know, speak no ill of the dead … but I’ll bet you anything that Sean Penn is curled up in the fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably. And Venezuela is now blaming the US for Oooogo’s demise, which I would find as amusing as hell since the current administration now must come up with some kind of response, or not… depending. Ah, well – comes on the same day of a couple of other foreign relations crises come to a full boil and likely claiming President Kardashian’s butterfly attention; Iran and North Korea both may have nukes. What fun.

Sigh – yet another black celebrity makes my personal ban-list. Now it’s Bill Cosby, apparently mouthing the canard that the GOP wants to bring back slavery … I had thought better of old Coz, but now alas, he seems to have drunk the racial solidarity Kool-aide. Bye, Coz – it was nice to have been a fan.

And that’s been my week so far – yours?

…and tell sad stories of the deaths of kings — and commoners too, for that matter. The great William Shakespeare wrote many such sad stories, some of them more protracted and dramatic than others, some of them mercifully taking place offstage, as it were. The other night we watched the current episode of Downton Abbey, and even though we knew it was coming, we did sniffle a little at the shocking death of Lady Sybil – in childbirth, too. Whereas this was a tragically common cause of death in women of high and low social stature alike up until the end of the 19th century, it probably took real effort on the part of the writers to have it happen convincingly in the 20th – even the first quarter thereof. I’ll give the writers all props for creative research and as extra round of appreciation for avoiding the old soap-opera standby of a long fall down a staircase (although in fairness, they have hit upon a good few classic soap opera memes).

This also brought me to think on how many times I had to go into books, or perform a routine googlectomy in looking for just that very means of afflicting or removing one of my own characters. Which did turn out to be a fairly substantial list of conditions, ailments and cause-of-death, although some of them happened off-stage, so to speak or were referred to only briefly, while others had more detailed treatment. Let’s see: To Truckee’s Trail – threatened and actual near-starvation, malaria (called the ague) and cholera, both offstage before and after the time of the story. The Gathering – gunshot to the head, typhus (called ship-fever), malaria again, aftereffects of frontline meatball surgery in wartime, cholera again, and hints of manic-depression. The Sowing – more manic-depression, post-traumatic stress, pre-eclampsia, diphtheria, chronic alcohol abuse, gunshot to the back, multiple gunshots to the torso, and multiple sclerosis. The Harvesting; full-blown manic-depression, agoraphobia, more post-traumatic stress, incipient senility, stroke, peritonitis following abdominal wound with a bladed weapon, gunshot to the abdomen, drowning, and sudden massive heart attack/heart failure. Daughter of Texas: immediately fatal arrow-wounds, unspecified chronic illness, extreme dysentery coupled with heart failure, meatball surgery, and tuberculosis … plus, a war going on. Deep in the Heart: multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic shock, uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery, massive stroke, again aftereffects of frontline meatball surgery, and malaria. Plus another war going on. So far in the latest book, Quivera Trail, I have only gotten up to a massive heart attack, but there is an operation for a depressed skull fracture in my plot outline, so I really should get back to work on that.

This listing actually makes it look as if it it is wall to wall General Hospital-type soap opera medical emergencies in the books, but actually it isn’t. It’s just that illness and death is a part of life – and in the 19th century, it happened with really dismaying frequency. Considering that Daughter of Texas/Deep in the Heart and the Trilogy cover more than fifty years of the lives of four different families, during three wars, and at a time when the best of doctors couldn’t do all that much … this list could have been much, much longer.

Another one of those interesting weeks, where I have been so busy and the headlines so full of various incidents which I might comment upon … that I am actually so spoiled for choice that I can’t make up my mind on which to deal with first.
Like – Jodie Foster coming out as gay. Ok, I am sure there are some cloistered religious under a vow of silence somewhere up a mountain to whom that comes as a surprise. And possibly a few others who might even care.
According to this story, the troops won’t get paid, and the whole US economy will go crash if the GOP doesn’t go along quietly and raise the debt ceiling. Sigh. Always with the ‘gonna close the Washington Monument!’ threat, if the budget for the Park Service is cut. Sigh. That ploy has got a longer beard on it than a seventy-year old Grateful Dead fan. Like President Kardashian gives a rip about the troops anyway, except when he needs his a** hauled to Hawaii on AF-1, or a nice uniformed dial-a-crowd for a photo op and doesn’t want to risk any booing or thrown rotten vegetables.

Sigh – on the the personal stuff; I finally had to make an appointment about the bronchial cough that had me sounding like I was hacking up portions of lung on a regular basis. Brooke Army Medical Center, where I have chosen to be seen since my retirement – on the basis of making it easier not to have to go round and round with a civilian medical provider – has expanded exponentially in the last three or four years. Much of the pocket of land just off IH-35 which once had just the main three-part brick tower, a circular apron of parking lot around and a good few acres of crusty mown meadow, is now entirely filled in with a huge annex, other support buildings and a multi-tier parking garage. I was not looking forward to threading my way through the newly-complicated maze, but now BAMC outpatients will seen on an appointment basis in a lavish new clinic building on Fort Sam itself. I think back on the troop clinic at Yongsan – sick call for the troops in a ratty old Korean-war era barrack building, where pretty much everyone under the rank of E-6 had to come to mass sick-call four times a week and be brutally treated like malingerers by the staff when they did so – and I smile. The cough seems to be better, by the way, under the onslaught of several different prescriptions. The doctor was a sweetie, by the way. Retired AF medico; also unhesitatingly put me on something for high blood pressure. Apparently, that is to be my chronic complaint for the remainder of life.

I am working on stuff for two different book clients and an editing job – so for a basically unemployed person, I am pretty darned busy. And that’s my week – yours?

That’s the feeling, really – as Blondie and I walk the dogs of a morning, and discuss such weighty matters as who remembered to bring sufficient poopy bags, if it is safe enough to let the Weevil off leash long enough to have a brisk run up and down the long fence behind which lives another Boxer mix who carries on a sort of fence to fence tag run, how many tomatoes we are likely to get from our current planting of garden bounty, if there will be enough cucumbers to make a decent batch of pickle spears soon, what to have for dinner that evening … and the morning gleanings of various internet news sites that we favor, upon rising from our slumbers first thing of a morning.

I favor Instapundit myself – out of long habit, even if he did drop this site from his blogroll a couple of years ago, but my daughter favors a combination of TMZ and the Daily Mail website, which (oddly enough) often puts up items of American news days before it appears in our own very dear mainstream media organs. Nope, tis true, tis true: sensationalist, twee, celebrity-addled, frequently misspelled/ungrammatical/confusing/sentimental-enough-to-trigger-a-diabetic-reaction, the DM still unashamedly and without much bias that I can detect covers the news. What a concept, hey? (Leaving aside the DM’s editorial bias, whatever it might be. When it comes to Brit newspapers, I used to favor the London Times and the Spectator myself, until they put everything interesting behind a paywall, then the Telegraph, and even the Guardian – until … well, that last just went beyond the pale for me. The lefty establishment bias just got to hard to take. God knows what the Grauniad thinks of the Tea Party; I don’t have a stomach strong enough to check.)

Anyway – to see ourselves as the DM sees us. My daughter notes the increasing numbers of American commenters, who ask why they hell do they have to go to a British newspaper site to see relatively unbiased American news. I’d guess it’s probably because the DM doesn’t seem to actually have a rep in among the White House Press Whores, or among the local establishment in whatever city the interesting story of the moment comes from. So, they can tell the story and access-to-the-elite-establishment be damned. Kind of refreshing, actually: what was the old press motto? To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable – damned if it doesn’t seem that principle has been reversed, in these degraded modern days.

Anyway – we were talking about a wide-ranging number of topics, but actually, they weren’t all that wide-ranging. Mostly it was the various aspects of the Federal Gummint’s heavy and strangling hand descending on a variety of concerns and businesses: the EPA going after coal-burning power plants (what – do they want rolling blackouts?), the Department of Labor going all ‘it’s for the chiiiiiiiildren!’ in forbidding children, tweens and teens from working certain essential jobs on family farms, hammering the Catholic church for not handing out free birth control like it was Skittles, the EPA going after rabbit breeders, the Justice Department casually allowing weapons to walk from border states into Mexico, prosecuting Gibson guitar manufacturing enterprise for using certain kinds of imported wood, the TSA (who easily could be the most despised organization in the US today but for all the competition from the EPA) feeling up four-year old girls and ripping off wheelchair bound veterans, the NOAA enthusiastically ruining the livelihoods of New England independent fishermen … and the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman imbroglio, with respect to flash-mob violence and the disinclination of our own very dear Department of Justice to become involved in prosecuting those who incite racial violence. Long list it was, too. So, I don’t think I want to get fitted for a tinfoil hat just yet … but WTF do these various numbskulls think they are doing? Exactly how far do they think people can be pushed before an individual or a community entirely looses patience? I mean – do they want large numbers of Americans to openly defy the Feds, nonviolently or otherwise? Is this deliberate incitement or just dumbassery on an epic scale?

I know, cheerful thinking for a morning walk. I think I’ll go fire up the canning kettle, and put aside another dozen jars of home made pickles, relishes and sauerkraut. To the best of my knowledge, the EPA or the DOJ hasn’t come out regulating against that … yet.
(Links here. Impossible to embed links any more…

https://truthfarmer.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/rabbit-raid-redux-six-bells-farm-update/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903895904576542942027859286.html

http://pjmedia.com/blog/new-regulations-crush-new-england-fisheries/

For a number of reasons – some to do with the general economy, and the fact that advance sales for Daughter of Texas are not quite to the degree that I hoped they would be, and that the Tiny Publishing Bidness lost a whopping good bid on publishing a book that would have set us up for a year, and the client I do office work can’t pay me until January when he has a big closing on a chunk of real estate . . . no, all that depressing enough, but relatively small potatoes next to family trouble.

Dad was being treated for walking pneumonia the last couple of weeks; he sounded chipper enough when I talked to him a week ago Friday – the regular Friday Nite call. The pneumonia made him tired, so he and Mom were dialing back on their regular mid-December Christmas reception at their house; their friends were going to handle a lot of it, so that Dad could take a rest. No plans for Blondie and I to make the trip out to California this year – can’t afford it, and my brothers and sister and their families all were making plans to be elsewhere, so no point, really. They sounded fine, otherwise.

So, not quite prepared for my sister Pip to call on Wednesday morning: Dad’s condition had gotten very bad, catastrophically bad, very, very suddenly, on Tuesday afternoon. He couldn’t walk, was only semi-conscious – and the upshot of it was that he was admitted to the hospital Friday night, to be operated on for bleeding into the brain. There’s apparently some congestive heart failure involved there too. My brothers and sister have been taking turns to be with them; Dad is fine – I guess the surgery has been a success so far, but Saturday night, Mom had a horrific nose-bleed, to the point where Pip called the ambulance. Mom’s blood pressure was through the roof from stress. She went into the hospital overnight, but was released on Sunday. Dad is still in the hospital, and will probably need a long convalescence . . . we’re all beginning to be afraid they’ve come to the end of their stretch of independence in their house. They’re both turning 80 next year, and the house they love is at the ass-end of nowhere, with a huge garden and grounds that they are less and less able to take care of. They may be able to get some kind of home-health care assistance – just have to see. Their insurance is adequate to this point, but Pip and Alex both have families with children.

The tentative plan is for me to go out to California after New Years, by train, when we can afford it. Going by train may actually be cheaper, since I refuse to fly; the TSA screening is just the final straw for me. Going by train, I can take along enough stuff that I can stay with Mom and Dad into late February or early March. If they get internet at their house, I’ll be able to keep up with the various projects and work that I have going on. I might even be able to interest Dad into the wonderful wacky world of the internet. He’s been reluctant, so far – but I’ll bet I can get him into blogging . . .

As for now, we’re sticking close to the phone. Not much interested in Christmas stuff. If I wind up going to California, there’s a ton of stuff I have to finish first; all this time, we’re hoping that Dad will recover enough that he can stay in the house; Mom can’t stay there alone, and there’s a million variables, and we don’t even know what half of them are at this point.

That seems to be the response from people who met me later in life.  People who knew me when I was younger, think it’s kind of normal.

Last week I started a program at a local medical vocational college to become a certified massage therapist.

It has a lot to do with this mind/body/spirit thing that I’ve stopped a started over too many years of my life.  I’ve begun down the road to get those three pieces parts of me integrated and then I let one thing or another distract me off that path.  I’m starting to feel like I’m at a point in my life that it’s now or never.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and now that I’m closer to 50 than to 40, so I’m becoming very aware that one of these days I’m going to run out of tomorrows.

I’ve been pretty good the past three months about keeping my commitment to do some T`ai Chi or Chi Gung every morning before I get ready for work.  I’m pretty sure that I’ll be adding Yoga to that here pretty soon as well.  I’ve got arthritis well throughout my lower back, knees and ankles, the result of years at a desk and of doing stupid things with my body and not listening when I was told to “let things heal before you etc.”  Beautiful Wife and I both go to a massage therapist when we can afford one and for both of us, the results have been the same.  A massage therapist has done more for what ails us than any doctor ever has.  This way I can get my wife on a table more than once a month and I may be getting a new career.  I may not do it full time but I can see me doing it part time.

I have to tell you the truth, it’s pretty hard.  This may very well be the hardest thing I’ve ever taken on.  It’s sort of like the NCO Academy in that it’s information with a firehouse and there’s a LOT of material.  I’m exhausted, pretty sure I’ve taken on too much, and I haven’t been this happy in years.  I’ve spent too much time in the past couple of years, coming home, turning on the TV and falling into my recliner.  I don’t know much, but I do know that kind of behavior is pretty much what took my Dad out.  I’m much better when I’m doin’ something.