Sunday, August 28, 2016


Brand new 2016 Fiat Spider - Oh yes, it's cute. Yes, it comes in white. Hey, it's totally affordable. But WTF? The only ones in stock - or in the dealer's pipeline - have automatic transmissions. What's the point in that?

And there is no spare tire, just a wussy little spray-in goop kit. As if that will do a lot of good with a no-fooling flat on, say, FM 624 a couple of hours out of Cotulla - which is to say, almost as severely nowhere as somewhere on the Ross Ice Shelf, just without the ice. When I gave the salesman the askance glance, he muttered something about 'roadside assistance' and couldn't make eye contact. I didn't bother to ask him, "Roadside assistance for what? A 500 mile tow?"

This little guy is a charmer, but not ready for prime time. And no, I didn't bother to test drive.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Real Life Day

Here in Texas one must have every vehicle inspected before renewing registration. With the truck due in September, the trailer in August, and inspections valid for 30 days, I figured that - since I hardly ever take the trailer anywhere and it's a pain to hook up (not really, just actual physical work) - today I would haul the trailer to its inspection, bring it home, and then on Monday or Tuesday take the truck for its inspection, then go to the registration office before the end of August for both of them.

If this sounds like a lot more work than necessary, believe me, it's not really.

Dragging the trailer out of its nest of grass and weeds worked okay. But at the trailer inspection place, I learned that requirements had been stiffened. It wasn't just lights they cared about this year. It was also the electric brakes and emergency brake lock - neither of which were even hooked up and didn't work when they were.

Lucky for me, the nearest truck place had the parts and got it done - not the battery for the emergency lock, but the inspector knew I would get one asap, so he passed the trailer as it was. Gathered the documents, found a replacement battery on only the third try (Tractor Supply, no; Auto Zone, no; D & D Farm and Ranch Supply, yes).

Took the trailer home, parked it (a chore, since the parking area was never designed for whales), then figured, oh, WTF. Took the truck for inspection, it passed, took all the papers to the registry where - a prize for my persistence - the clerk said, "Why isn't your trailer licensed as a farm vehicle? It would save you a lot of money. Do you use it for anything except farm work? No? Well then." So I filled out a simple form, checked the right box, and saved $70.

In Virginia, this would have taken days to accomplish. Here in Texas? less than four hours. Didn't even miss Judge Judy.

Oh, and for an hour before this, John Deere and I communed with the rain-happy weeds (lawn) all around the house. Gotta keep the snakes down. More about this wonderful machine some other time.

The Logic - Religion Paradox

Can't find the text right now, but its opening thought sticks in my mind. Judeo-Christian belief hinges on faith; that is, belief and obedience in the face of no evidence, a powerful paternalistic attitude. At the same time, we Europeans are taught logic from infancy. These two issues do not fit comfortably together, and it's no wonder that, as education spreads, so does atheism.

In another set of thoughts, many world religions don't follow that paternalistic pattern, but expect their deities to listen to them, and to react and respond individually. The story is told, often, in India of a man or woman who built a small shrine in the home and showed utmost respect and honor to a particular deity every day. But then, when that deity ignored the person's request for something - money, a job, the health of a family member - he or she tossed the shrine and all its contents - flowers, fruit, small statuary - into the street.

 So these Bronze Age Greeks, whose beliefs can only be guessed at and who evolved into the people who painted deities on their ceramics with only symbols (wings, hats, tools, and their names) to differentiate them from ordinary people - what was their on-the-ground relationship with those powers that they believed could control their individual fates? Or did they even believe that at all??

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Write What You Write, And Write It

According to a possibly apocryphal story, someone once asked Stephen King, "Stephen, you write so well, why do you only write that horror stuff?"
And Stephen answered, "What makes you think that I have any choice?"

Side note: Stephen King does indeed write very well.

What does this mean? It means that, if you are meant to write, your genre will choose you.

One of the saddest conversations I've ever eavesdropped on involved two wannabe writers. One said, "I want to write, but don't know what." The other answered, "Go to Barnes and Noble, see what's on the shelves, and write one of those." The response? "Hey! Good idea!" and they parted with an air of contentment that they did not deserve.

There was no consideration of the fact that it takes a book several years to move from "What a good idea!" to print. In that time, the world continues to turn. What is hot today (Teenaged vampire! Dragons! Noir hard-drinking detectives!) will be soggy cold by then.

The very idea of writing what might sell - as if that's the only criteria that matters - means you are just about guaranteed to fail. Can you copy someone else's years-old idea with heat and verve and passion? Probably not.

What does this really mean, then? It means write what you want to, need to, can't help but write. It's not popular? Your writing support group will poo-poo it? Your mother will disapprove?

Fuck popular. Every new idea isn't popular...until it suddenly is.
Find a better writing group.
Smile and nod to your mother, then do exactly as you please. After all, you did that as a teenager; you still can.

Need a further kick in the pants?  Read this.
Then read this

Then get to work. The damned thing isn't going to write itself.