Books added to Publications

An update on my publications. There are now six books in my line-up on’s Kindle e-books. Since the last time I talked about the subject, I’ve added MAMA BEAR and WOLFEHAVEN. I mentioned earlier that I would hold off on publishing WOLFEHAVEN as the third book in the REFUGE OMNIBUS series since it takes place a few years after RAVEN, but it’s a good book and the other two that will take place in the interim just aren’t coming together that well. Hey, George Lucas got away with it. So, check ’em out.


Fireworks! Yesterday was Independence Day, and the skies all over town were alit last night, and the night before, and the week before, and frequently during the month and more preceding yesterday. I know John Adams foretold that the nation would celebrate this day of independence every year in perpetuity with song, parades, speeches, and such, including lighting up the sky. But he did say this ‘day,’ not this week or this month.

And you have to wonder if he ever considered the risks. Although, if he did, he probably assumed his fellow Americans would be able to celebrate but still avoid burning down their homes along with the surrounding countryside he and his fellow founders fought so hard to obtain for us.

You have to wonder, too, if so large a percentage of the supposedly adult folks of his time were as self-centered and childish as what we have in these later years. Probably not, or he would have included things like paying attention, before lighting the fuse, to what is around you that would not be a good place for a stray spark or around where the thing launched and thus beyond control might land.

But they’re fun! It’s so exciting to twirl a fiery sparkler around your head so the sparks shower down around you, or to toss into the air to make a fiery trail against the sky like a meteor. It not that hard to take notice of where they land so they aren’t stepped on with bare feet or ignite something not intended to burn. And they don’t really hurt all that much when they land on you, although a small child feeling the singe on tender, bare skin may offer a different opinion. It’s exciting to watch the sudden flash and hear the bang, so much like the sound of a real gunshot that it’s supposed to simulate, of a firecracker, either laughingly tossed at the feet of a friend, or just anyone handy, and to watch their reaction of jumping and screaming in fright and maybe even unintended pain. So much fun. And it’s usually easy enough to take care that the thing doesn’t actually land on any person, dog, or flammable material…unless that was the intent in the first place. It’s exciting to watch the roman candles and skyrockets go off, shooting out all those brilliant stars (each of which is a burning glob of something containing various metals, some of which are toxic, that produce the different colors) to rain down on the land being celebrated as the greatest realization of freedom in the history of the mankind, as the current declaration goes. 

Most of the time, goes the claim, those burning globs just land on bare dirt or green lawns or rocky ground or paved streets or like places where they peacefully burn out. And that is probably true, but not always. Sometimes they land in a bit of dry grass or accumulation of dry leaves and twigs, or a dry leaf-filled rain gutter on the eave of a house, or a nitch on a roof where leaves have accumulated or a tree branch with a few dead, dry leaves or needles high up where even a soft breeze can, even hours later, breathe it into a raging inferno, a demon all too familiar at this time of year. Yes, fireworks are exciting and fun, just like other toys. And, yes, fireworks are toys. Look up the word, ‘toy,’ in any dictionary.

I’m sure the children of Mr. Adams’ time had their toys, and the indulgent adults probably smiled at their play. Of course, the adults likely had a say in the nature of the toys their children were allowed to play with, being aware of the fact that a child may lack the judgment to make safe and reasonable choices of toys. And, I’m sure there were children back then that lacked attentive adults, and that managed to obtain and play with toys they should have been denied, but I doubt if they made up the majority of society, or at least the large percentage that they do today. You have to wonder, too, if they tolerated twenty, thirty, and forty-year-old children insisting on playing with dangerous toys in such a way that could result in the destruction all or much of what they had. And, if not, when did this phenomenon begin?

Yeah, I know. I’m just a crotchety, old coot that wants to spoil everyone’s fun. But, not really. I like to have fun, too. I like exciting things. But I prefer to have those exciting things (still speaking about fireworks here) controlled by people who know what the hell they are doing, and can put on the display without putting my home, neighborhood, and town in jeopardy. And I also believe that when knowledgable folks, using accurate data, scientific training, and concurrence with sensible persons in government, determine that now is not a good time to put on a show that would draw hundreds or thousands into close proximity, it is best to not put on the show. Then the adults in the populace can explain to the children that the show cannot go on and why. It would be nice, then, if none of the children, of whatever age, simply accepted the wisdom of their elders and didn’t go throwing a tantrum which would include putting on their own show because they managed to obtain their own toys, and to hell with society and all the crotchety old coots. Because, hey, they have a right. Yeah. Happy Independence Day.

Black lives matter, too

Black lives matter. They do. Absolutely. Same as white lives and brown lives and green lives (hey, there could be some somewhere, and they would matter, too, since all lives matter). So why not just say “black lives matter, too” when the subject is lives mattering? It would take a lot of steam out of any come-back that may come, that (whatever-color) lives matter. That’s like responding to the statement that the sky is blue by declaring that the sea is blue. Well, yes it is. That doesn’t change the truth of the original statement, but it leaves an opening for an argument if the listener is argumentative. Unless the statement that the sky is blue is part of an ongoing discussion of other properties of the sky, why not begin with, “The sky is blue, too”? Then, unless the listener wants to go on listing all the other things that are blue, like robins’ eggs, Irish eyes, and blue-bells, what could he say but, “yep” or something similar? Because what they are saying about lives is that (whatever-color) lives matter, too–unless what they actually mean is that (whatever-color) lives matter more, in which case, an argument (or a race war) is definitely being sought. If the initial declaration is made inclusive by adding “too” right off the bat, what kind of come-back could a person make other than “I agree” or something similar without coming off a blatantly racist?

Shooting and hunting

I’m back. What can I say? Okay, a reason why. Without getting into boring details, I’ll just say I got too many things on my plate, and some had to go because others didn’t. Anyway, here I am, and I’m ready to catch up on some bitching. No, not about the C. virus or the protests and responses, both appropriate and otherwise, that are tearing our country apart–they each get a whole series of bitch sessions. No, this is about something I came across while browsing through an ad that came with my newspaper.

The ad was from a sporting goods store, which I will not name, in which I saw an ad for hunting rifles and equipment, including a really neat looking crossbow mounted with a scope. With over 240 foot-pounds of pull, plus the scope, it would be like using a rifle.  It just doesn’t have the knock-down power of a rifle.

If you are a hunter, now might be the time to shut me off or tune me out or whatever suits you. But I hope you don’t. At least consider some of the things I say.

I am not a hunter, although I do enjoy shooting. I really enjoy the challenge of hitting that tiny target, or of hitting that big target from a distance, or that fast-moving target before it’s too late. I’ve been in shooting competitions since high school. My school had a team that competed with .22 caliber target rifles against other high schools. I was pretty good, too.

I didn’t do any shooting in the Air Force except in basic training where I fired .30 caliber M1 carbines and .45 caliber pistols for qualification. Pretty good there, too. I qualified Expert with carbines and almost qualified with the .45. I think I hit that target twice. I’ve heard since then that the military’s .45 cal. pistols are not very accurate. I’ve never fired one since, but I’ve fired other pistols and revolvers, and I did all right. Anyway, that was the first time I had ever even handled a pistol, or a rifle bigger than a .22, and it was fun.

After I was discharged and hired as a police officer, I got on the department’s pistol team after about a year. I swapped my department-issued, .38 caliber revolver with a four-inch barrel for one with a six-inch barrel. Made a hell of a difference on the range. I got pretty good there, too, always qualifying as Expert except for twice when I made Master. That was fun as hell. Target shooting, especially the type the police department do, or did back then, which included time firing, moving targets, moving positions, and stuff that was supposed to simulate situations we might find ourselves in on duty. Plus, just as an officer, I had to qualify in the use of shotguns, including firing slugs and skeet shooting. Shotguns are fun, too. I’ve fired various hunting rifles, AR-15s, M-16s, a Thompson submachine gun, a revolver that fired 30 cal. carbine cartridges, even a flintlock, black powder rifle one time.

Any kind of target shooting is fun. And it doesn’t even have to be a firearm. It can involve just about any sort of weapon that sends a projectile with any level of controllable accuracy. That could include slingshots, slings, spears, arrows, throwing knives, throwing hatchets, baseballs, nerf balls, beanbags…you get the idea. If its something that you can hit a target with, it can be fun, because it’s a challenge, just like the lead milk bottles you try to knock over with a ball at the carnival. But, when the chosen target is a living creature, and your weapon propels anything more lethal than a nerf ball, and the purpose of hitting it is to kill it, just for the fun and challenge, then I have an issue with that. 

Like I said, I am not a hunter, not since one day back when I was nine or ten-years-old. I’ll never forget that day or the hard lesson I learned. I can still picture it–if I’m not careful. I was in my backyard with my trusty Red Rider BB gun. If you’re not familiar with that old toy most kids wanted back in the early and middle years of the 20th century, a Red Rider BB gun was not an air rifle, which was what we called pellet guns back then. Air rifles were powered by either compressed air from a handpump that was an integral part of the rifle, or a CO-2 cartridge. They shot .17 caliber lead pellets, and they were a dangerous weapon, not a toy for a kid, although, back then it wasn’t unusual for a ten or twelve-year-old to have even a .22 rifle. I had one. A Red Rider was spring powered. It looked like an old 30-30 carbine like cowboys used in the movies, and you cocked it with the pull-down lever by pulling it down once. You couldn’t increase its power by double or triple cocking. When it was cocked, it depressed and locked a spring behind a plunger. When you pulled the trigger, the plunger propelled the BB out the barrel. Simple. It would shoot a BB fifty or sixty feet before it was spent. I’ve been hit by BBs a few times, and they can sting, but they wouldn’t penetrate a person’s hide unless it was point-blank and no clothing in the way. But, even then, it wouldn’t go deeper than just beneath the skin where it could be popped out. I know. Been there, done that. The main danger was a hit in the eye. That could be serious.

Anyway, with my Red Rider, I was in my back yard drawing a bead on whatever my eyes lit on, leaves, twigs, dirt clods, a piece of bark on a tree, pieces of paper, and then I noticed the birds. They were always there, but I usually ignored them like I did clouds or the breeze. They were in a big, towering eucalyptus on the property line with the neighbor’s back yard, mostly way up in the upper branches, although a few would come lower for brief periods. Sparrows, lots and lots of sparrows chirping and fluttering about. I guess they were sparrows. That’s what we called all birds that size. One would land on a branch and take off again after two or three seconds to land on another branch higher or lower. The lowest branches were thirty to forty feet up.

I saw a challenge. I bet they’d be really hard to hit. So I tried. I put a lot of BBs into those branches, concentrating on my aiming, thinking about the deflection due to gravity and wind (there was a slight breeze), and, sure enough, I hit one. Wow! That little tiny target way up there, moving all about, and I hit it. I was really proud of myself…until the sparrow hit the ground just a few feet from where I was standing. It wasn’t dead. Not yet. But I had really hurt it. I stood over it, just peering down at that little bit of seriously ruffled feathers with what I realized was probably a drop or two of blood smearing some of them. It tried to move away from me because it was terrified. I mean, there it was just flittering about with its buddies, and WHAM!, out of nowhere something slammed into it hard enough to do some serious damage. It would be like you or me having something the size of a golf ball hitting hard enough to penetrate far enough to draw blood. Then, after falling to the ground, this giant comes over to stand over it with who knows what on his mind. That poor bird had no idea I had done the deed, but I was there. Maybe it was even trying to come to me, hoping maybe I could make it better, but it couldn’t even get to its feet. It just sorta flopped about, but not even much of that. It chirped a few times, or more like pitifully peeped, maybe asking for help, and it sounded really weak. I knelt down and gingerly picked it up. I could feel it quivering, and we made eye contact. Not for long, but long enough. In those few seconds, I felt judged. Then its eyes closed, not like a blink but slowly. I waited for it to re-open, but it didn’t. I wanted to tell it I was sorry. I wanted to promise it I would never shoot a bird, or anything else, again. But it wouldn’t come back to listen to me, to forgive me. It just left me all alone with my Red Rider there in my back yard beneath the tree full of chirping birds. They just continued going on about their business of being birds. They probably didn’t even notice what had happened to their buddy, but I noticed. 

Yeah, I know. It was just a bird, one of thousands, millions even, no, billions. But, that’s what it was, “a” bird. Singular. It was an individual. One among all those billions, it was a unique creature, and, as such, it was irreplaceable. Sure, there are uncounted other birds, many just like it, to take its place, but none can ever replace it. And I had destroyed it. For kicks. Because I felt a challenge, and it was nothing to me but a moving target that I could hit if I was clever enough and skillful enough to catch it when it was still, to catch nature in one of its myriad, minuscule pauses.

And that is what sport hunting is all about. I’m not talking about subsistence hunting, which is hunting to put food on the table because that may be the only way a person might have to do it. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian. I eat meat, and I understand that animals are killed to provide that meat, but that is closer to subsistence. No, I don’t believe I’m a hypocrite. Yes, I know I could just eat veggies, but I like meat. I know there are meat producers and slaughterhouses that are horribly operated, and I hope they are put out of business. Animals can be humanely killed for food. It is commanded and accomplished in many cultures and belief systems. Isn’t that what kosher is all about? I understand Islam also teaches something similar. And that is getting away from the issue of sport hunting.

To hunt for sport is to kill for the fun. If it’s not fun, why do it? To get out away from the rat race and enjoy nature? What, by destroying a little piece of it? Oh, it’s for the challenge? Give me a break. If you want to shoot something that is a challenge, you and your hunting partners could hunt each other. That would be a challenge worth trekking through the wilderness for. If you want a survivable challenge, bet with yourself that you can hit X number of targets (the non-breathing type) at X distance in X time, and if you lose, you donate something of actual value to a worthy cause. There has to be some threat of loss or cost to make it an actual challenge, and wearing blisters on your feet from walking through the woods or on your ass from sitting on a platform in a tree waiting for your prey to come to you doesn’t count.

But, at least the deer and duck hunters justify their sport by eating what they kill, if they can find and recover it after they shoot it. But, how many deer slayers drop their deer with one shot. I don’t know, maybe that’s part of the sport, tracking the thing through the forest by following the trail of blood until you catch up with it where it finally bled to death, or bled out, as it’s called. At least there is a chance of dropping the prey in its track with a well-placed rifle shot.

But, with bowhunters, that is part of the process, isn’t it? An arrow, even one shot from a powerful hunting bow or crossbow, does not have the shock power of dropping the animal when it’s hit. Unless the hit is in an organ vital enough to kill it right away, like the heart–call it a lucky shot for the hunter and the prey–the animal takes off, and the hunter tracks it down, eventually, maybe, if he doesn’t lose the trail. Hunting arrows are designed to slice into the body, ensuring heavy bleeding. So, if the hunter is a good shot, he won’t have to follow the dying animal more than a hundred yards, or a thousand yards, or a mile or two, depending on where it was hit. Imagine running for your life through the woods with an arrow in your guts, lungs, or kidney. Imagine being hit with an arrow that has a head with three or four half-inch wide blades, so it slices you open as it penetrates. Lots of pain, and then you are bleeding, plus whatever organs the thing ripped through when it struck are shutting down. A lung doesn’t work well with an arrow lodge in it. On top of that, the hunter that shot you ain’t done, yet. He still wants to chase you down and cut your throat if you’re still breathing when he catches you. And all you were doing was munching on some greens or maybe trying to catch the eye of that lovely doe across the meadow. Tough, cookie. You were selected to elevate the hunter’s ego, and so, you must die.

And then, there are the trophy hunters. They don’t even go after something they can eat, or not always, anyway. They might take home some steaks to share with their fellow Neanderthals, but, mainly, they want a head to hang on their wall, something to show the world how proficient they are at the task of protecting the tribe from all the hungry predators out there. Or maybe they have the entire hide mounted on a frame to capture the life-like ferocity of the grizzly bear standing upright, with fangs and five-inch claws displayed to greet visitors. Of course, the mighty hunter made the kill with a weapon so powerful and accurate, the grizzly was hit while munching berries or scarfing salmon and had no idea the killer was even there and was targeting it from clear over on the other side of the canyon. Or how about the lion hunters in Texas that pay to have one of the big cats set loose from a cage into the arranged targeted area. Just so he can claim to have killed one of the most ferocious appearing animals our culture recognizes, justified or not. 

Don’t agree with me? Okay.


I’ll listen to your justifications.

GPS monitors

I wish I could say I’m shocked—shocked! Unfortunately, I’m not. Hell, I’m not even especially surprised.
What ignited this rant was an article in the newspaper. I was on page A6 of the Friday, December 16, 2016 edition of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, under the headline “Sex offender guilty in murder of 4 women.” Now, I am not shocked to see that a man has murdered four women…well, actually, yes I am. But it’s not surprising to see he was a registered sex offender and a convicted kidnapper. Not all, perhaps, but it seems like a lot of sex offenders and kidnappers have a problem relating favorably to members of the opposite sex. What almost shocked me in this case, and lit the fuse to this rant, was the fact that the man just found guilty of multiple murders was not only running around loose at the time; he was wearing his fourth—fourth—GPS monitor.

Apparently Steven Dean Gordon, 47 years old, and 30-year-old Franc Cano acted together, but they are being tried separately for four 2013 killings in Santa Ana, California. Gordon has just been found guilty. Cano’s trial has not yet begun, but he has pleaded not guilty.

Now, while the crime of murder is terrible, it does happen—a case of men, and/or women, behaving badly. What got me worked up begins with the fact that Gordon and Cano were registered sex offenders even before they got together after meeting in prison. In 1992, at the age 23, Gordon was arrested and convicted for lewd and lascivious acts with a child below the age of 14 years. Unknown how much time he served, but he was eventually freed, presumably with his first (1st) GPS monitoring device, because in 2002 he was arrested and convicted of kidnapping. Cano was convicted for his initial crime, whatever it was, in 2008. After serving less than eight years for his kidnapping, Gordon was released with a GPS monitor, his second (2nd). At about that time, in or before 2010, Cano was also released with GPS monitoring. It was in 2010 that Cano cut off his device and took off to Alabama where he got together with Gordon, who presumably had already done the same thing, because they were both arrested there for removing their devices. Back in California in 2012, both apparently free again and with GPS monitoring (Gordon’s 3rd), they were both arrested for doing the same thing again, removing their devices. So, what punishment do you suppose they got? Maybe pick up trash along the freeway on weekends? Even if they spent a weekend, a month or a year in the county jail, they had already demonstrated more than once that they don’t consider the device as a deterrent to fun and games. Well, would you believe they were again released into the world with GPS monitoring devices (Gordon’s 4th)? It was after this release—while wearing their devices—that they kidnapped, raped and murdered four women. That’s how they got caught. Wow! Isn’t science great?

So, how long do you have to serve for the crime of removing your device? Is it a crime? How many chances should a person have to demonstrate that he is willing to play by the rules society has set before we say, “Okay, you blew it, no more releases.”? Why isn’t this offense covered by three-strikes? If it is, who failed to notice? Doesn’t anyone take those things seriously? Are they actually monitored? How closely? Is that all the monitoring system is good for, to keep a record of where and when the person has been in order to get a conviction after they do something else, like kill four women?

Is this the best we can come up with to keep tabs on depraved low-lifes like these two? Why do we use devices they can cut off whenever they get tired of being watched and want to start playing their sick games again? Why don’t we use something nailed or otherwise permanently affixed to their foreheads for all to see? Okay, forget the nails, but surely modern science can come up with something, maybe something like a permanently running camera with a microphone so we can actually monitor their actions from every angle at every moment, waking or sleeping. How about if we attach the new and improved monitoring system to them so it can’t be removed without also removing one or more significant limbs? Maybe we could even include something to inflict a paralyzing shock to them if they are seen to be about to do something naughty, something to hold them until we can swoop in to haul their ass back to the pokey. You know, since we don’t want to actually lock them away forever?

And, why don’t we? Oh, yeah, because they’re sick. At least some folks might say these men are sick. But some illnesses are nothing more than evil, incurable and untreatable. And, if they are sick, what about people with things like Ebola and other highly infectious and potentially deadly diseases? They’re sick, too, and they haven’t even kicked a puppy, probably very nice people, but they aren’t allowed to wander about the country with nothing more than a removable device to tell us where to find the bodies they leave in their wake—unless they cut it off. Why are sickos like Gordon and Cano, who still have the option to decide whether or not to allow their afflictions to affect other people, given such freedom? I’m a big believer in the rights our Constitution guarantees, but I don’t believe Adams, Jefferson, Madison or any of the other founders would agree that this situation is one of them.
No, I don’t believe the system is broken. But, in some cases, it is badly out of whack.


Surge in gun sales

Well, we did it. We actually passed a law limiting, to a degree, how much access the people of California may have, or be required to tolerate, to a certain type of firearm: automatic rifles with features generally accepted to describe assault weapons. It’s only a ban on new sales, though. Any such guns already owned may still be kept as long as they are registered (yeah, that’ll happen). Of course, as typically happens, the bill that Governor Brown signed back in July doesn’t take effect until January. Now there are headlines spreading the shocking news that, with lines of eager buyers backed up out the doors of gun shops and around the block, the new law is responsible for the six-month-long surge in the sale of these very toys…er, rifles. I think the proper response to this revelation is something akin to, Duh!

What the hell did they expect? It happens every time there’s a push for any kind of gun control, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone. Of course anyone that wants to have one of these lethal toys is going to take advantage of the six-months warning that they had better get on with it. If they wait ‘til January, they’ll have to drive all the way to another state to buy it.

As I understand it, the reason for this law is to reduce the ready availability of a very real, clear and present source of death and misery in California. Seems to me that would qualify it for emergency status. You know, pass it to be effective immediately, like the following day, a week at the most. While waiting for these six months to drag by, we have seen more than an additional 250,000 of these lethal toys hit the streets of California, or at least potentially on the streets since most will probably go into closets, hopefully with good locks. And, yes, these steel, wood and/or fiberglass creations are toys. You don’t think so? Look up the definition of toy.

Just because a good, honest citizen is the buyer, you know, doesn’t mean a weapon, whether firearm, knife, hatchet or whatever, will not be used in a crime. Honest people commit crimes. Does that really shock you? Then, think about it. It is only after they commit the crime that they are no longer honest and honorable. Criminals start off as honest people. They are not born as criminals. They are not a separate species. They don’t have tattoos or green hair or three ears to set them off from the rest of society. There is no way to identify who is or who may become a criminal just by looking at them. They are people that take a wrong turn somewhere along the road. Sometimes they use the weapon they bought while still honest and non-violent to become a criminal because it is there so nice and handy when they get the urge to blow someone away—an urge that may dissipate before being acted upon given time. Sometimes the weapon is simply stolen from an honest person by someone who is already a criminal. Criminals also steal. Of course, if the honest person didn’t have it, the criminal couldn’t steal it, and he’d have to find another honest person that did have one that he could steal, if he could find such a person.

But, the thing is, the argument that this law will only affect honest people, not criminals, is bogus. It’s like this: If there were no guns, no one would get shot, period. But, since that is not going to happen—there will always be guns because there already are—any reduction in the increase and spread of guns, especially certain ultra-efficient types, available to criminals or those who may become criminals would still have a direct effect in the number of criminal uses. If there were 250,000 fewer assault weapons in a given area, say only 1,000,000 instead of 1,250,000 it would mean 250,000 fewer assault weapons available for criminals to use in that area. Of course, that’s not counting shotguns, assault weapons and muskets brought into the area from other areas, which is another issue, but with the same potential solution of reducing that area, also, by 250,000, or any number. It wouldn’t solve the whole problem, but it would be a start. A journey not begun, you know, is one never completed.

You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned the Second Amendment. I haven’t because it is not part of this issue, which is about the effects and the wisdom of delaying the implementation of a new law. It could equally apply to a law about…oh, say requiring red shoes worn on the right foot to have green laces, not blue ones. If there were a recognized serious health or safety reason for the restriction, why would we agree to give as many as 250,000 red shoe owners six months to stock up on blue laces? Oh, yeah, financial hardship for the stores selling shoelaces, as well as the factory producing them at an increased rate, all of which would be stuck with the huge inventories of blue laces they all stockpiled when their market forecasters saw the goldmine the writing on the wall predicted with the new law that was probably coming.

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Re-release of Refuge

It’s done! Edition three of REFUGE is completed and available on Amazon Kindle as well as in paperback.  It even has a bold new cover that reflects one of the revisions, the shape of the invader’s star-ships.  But that’s only a minor point.  I’ve fleshed out some earlier scenes that tended to be on the lean side, and adjusted the level of graphic malevolence, including less flesh, that brought me some (well-deserved) criticism.  All of this resulted in the arc of the story being altered to accommodate how the revised climax goes down.  It took me a bit of time, lots of effort, and much enjoyment.  But, what the hey, writing is fun!  And because it was so much fun, plus the fact that the original was not my best writing, and because the revision’s effects will carry through to RAVEN and further sequels, I also did a revision of RAVEN, although not so extensively.

kindle-cover REFUGERefuge cover




So, if you have read REFUGE and were turned off, give Edition Three a look.  If you haven’t read it, and if you like the genre and the type of story, please–jump right in.  There’s a whole series waiting for you.  RAVEN’s revision, Edition Four, is also now available on Kindle and paperback.  The next sequel, titled WOLFEHAVEN is in the last phases (I hope) and should be out soon.

Stuff in the news

I took a break from working on the revisions of one of my books by browsing through my Santa Rosa newspaper, The Press Democrat. Now, there were lots of things in there that were worthy to pass along, but I’m not going to copy the whole paper in my blog, just the stuff that grabbed my attention, pulled me back to re-read the headline and demanded I read the entire article. After each one, I just sat there and mourned the human race.

These first three were in the Friday, July 15, 2016, issue. I’m not going to reproduce them here, just the gist.

On page A3 I found a great illustration of the term “how dumb can you be?” In response to a report of one or more small fires in a mobile home park, the emergency responders went from home to home to make sure nothing was overlooked. When they checked one of them, they found something that prompted them to evacuate the park. Sitting on the window sill of a bedroom was a device consisting of several unmarked sticks in brown paper wrappings and held together with a couple of strips of black tape. Attached to them was a small electronic board with various components and wires, a couple going into the end of one of the brown sticks. Mounted on top was a digital read-out with four spaces of red numbers. A photo of this thing accompanied the article. It sure looked like a bomb, at least the ones Hollywood puts in movies. The bomb squad destroyed it. When they finally contacted the resident, who was away at work at the time, they were told it was an alarm clock he had bought on line a few years ago…as a joke. Ha ha ha. Gosh, that’s funny. I’ll bet the firemen are still laughing.

On page A5 was a story about a couple of guys that chased Pokemon phantoms right off a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. How could you not notice the Pacific Ocean? Anyway, neither was killed, but they had to be rescued. Hope they were billed for the entire cost of the rescue–times two for stupidity in progress. I can see this whole Pokemon situation is going to get a lot worse before it goes the way of the Pet Rock. At least I never heard of anyone being attacked, bitten or otherwise injured by a Pet Rock.

On page A6 was a story that put a really sour feeling in my gut. A mother and a father thought it was appropriate parenting to send their children, ages 4, 5 and 6 years, into the desert in the area of Twenty-nine Palms and Palm Springs in Southern California. Apparently they decided the children needed to be punished for something any 4, 5 or 6 year-old should know better than to do, not do, or otherwise behave in an adult manner. And just to be sure the kids didn’t cheat in their learning their lesson, Mom and Dad sent them into the hot sand and cactus-strewn wilderness without shoes or water. I can tell you from personal experience that the sand down there gets down-right toasty in the summer. The children learned their lessons for 45 minutes before being rescued by a deputy. It didn’t say if Mom and Dad were going to be taught a lesson in parenting, just that they had been arrested.

Ah, me. What is my species coming to?

In Sunday’s paper, July 17, 2016, was a Close To Home piece by Jill Ravitch, Sonoma County District Attorney. She made some good points relating to the release and posting on the internet of videos from body-cams worn by police officers. While I agree with lots of folks that some of the ones that have been shown seem to be pretty clear in showing bad police conduct, I have to point out that almost all of them are incomplete. They begin part way into the incident, leaving the behavior leading up to what everyone can see to their imagination or to what supposed eye-witnesses swear happened. But then I remember how I learned in my days wearing a badge that eye-witness testimony is about the least reliable kind of evidence you can have. Everyone sees what they think they see, convincing themselves even more every time they think about it or tell about it that it happened just that way. Maybe even, unintentionally or not, embellishing it here and there–just to make everything that doesn’t fit, fit. I also agree with lots of folks that there are cops that shouldn’t be wearing badges, and I’ll be the first one to rip the star or shield off their uniform if they are proven to be wrong. I’ve known and worked with a couple. But I also know that incidents of bad police behavior are rare. There are lots of points and counterpoints to made in this subject, and it should continue to be thoroughly and thoughtfully discussed. However, the point I want to make here is something everyone seems to be overlooking. If the video from a body-cam is posted on the internet, incomplete as it is in showing enough of what happened to be able to establish just what did happen, how much harder is it going to be to get a jury of 12 people, plus alternates, that have not been biased. And if the video does show the entire incident, start to finish and leaving nothing out (by all appearances) it could be even harder to form a jury of unbiased peers. So, if either side, whether the arrestee punching a cop or the cop punching the arrestee, is charged with a crime, would a fair trial be possible? If a conviction is based largely or primarily on what is in the video that has been on the internet for a year or so by the time it gets to court, how good would a defense attorney have to be to get a reversal at the appellate or supreme court. Would you like to have your guilt or innocence decided on the internet? How about your son’s or daughter’s? Your grandchild’s? Just ponder that for a bit.

And to close out, here is my latest rant, published in Sunday’s paper, July 17, 2016.

EDITOR: Among the many qualities Donald Trump claims is that he is a hugely successful businessman. That he has been, in fact, successful is a whole different issue. But should huge success in business be a plus or a minus in our choosing a person for the position of President of the United States? Because the basic goals of each endeavor are practically opposites, the two call for very different skills, ethics and values. While the ultimate focus of a successful business must be on the bottom line, government at any level should not even have a bottom line on which to focus other than zero. The ideal outcome for any elected government is to come out neutral at the end of the fiscal year, and that is after meeting all requirements of the society in which the leaders are elected. Discrepancy in either direction equals incompetence. When a government or government agency tries to operate like a business seeking a profit, we wind up with a situation like at the University of California where out of state students often receive preference over those from within the state because they pay more. A shark is a hugely successful predator, but do we want him in charge of the pool?

Political donors

While browsing through the newspaper, I came upon a letter to the editor written by James Martin that caused me to stop, read it again, and make a note to myself. It was a short letter in relation to most, and it didn’t really make any new revelations, but the point it made reverberated with me. It addressed an issue that has often been in the news since the U. S. Supreme Court made their astounding decision known as Citizens United, but I don’t recall this particular impact being stated so clearly or in such a succinct manner.

Rather than paraphrasing and possibly (or probably) losing the impact I felt, I will reproduce the entire letter here. It was published in The Press Democrat newspaper in Santa Rosa, California, on Friday, July 1, 2016, under the heading Foreign Donors as follows:

“EDITOR: Since “corporations are people too, my friend,” as Mitt Romney once said, and it’s illegal for foreigners to contribute to American political campaigns, does that mean that corporations that undergo inversion (buying a company in, say, Canada, then moving its headquarters there to avoid U.S. taxes) are allowed to continue to contribute to U.S. politicians and their campaigns?

James Martin
Santa Rosa”

I don’t know Mr. Martin, but it seems to be a fair question. And it is one that might give you a sour feeling in your stomach if you think more than twice about it. It’s a question I’d like to hear answered by those who think Citizens United was a good and legitimate use of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Revised edition of Refuge

For those of you who have been wondering where the hell I’ve been, the answer is…right here; although, I’ve been sorta tied up.
I was told a couple of times after my first book, Refuge, came out, that it was a bit…intense. My answer at the time was along the lines of, “Well, it wasn’t written for kids.” But I kept those critiques in mind as I progressed to the sequel, Raven, and then to the other books, and I held the intensity down where I could and still tell the story I wanted to tell.
Well, recently I went back into Refuge for something, and as I was reading through it, I was astounded at the number of typos and errors in flow, composition, word choice, and spots of plain sloppiness and ineptitude that jumped out at me. Actually, I wasn’t so much astounded as embarrassed. Did I really publish this thing? Yeah, I told myself, and I can’t blame anyone else.
So, what I did was put on hold my current, multi-tasking projects, which were the next and subsequent sequels after Raven. I am now in the middle of reviewing, revising, re-editing, and looking forward to soon re-publishing Refuge. It will still not be a kid’s book, but I am backing off a bit on the graphic intensity, even to the extent of altering a major story-line arc or two. It’s still not pablum, but I think it may go down a bit smoother for some. And for the rest of you, if anyone cares to look at the new and improved version, as well as all future readers, I hope I’ve learned enough with the writing I’ve done since first publishing Refuge that this one will be an easier, more satisfying read. I’ve still got a bit to do on it, but it shouldn’t be too long.