Editing on horseback

            I’d eased off a bit on the Harlequin edits for Coming Attractions due to various medical issues, but I’m going to concentrate and get back on the editing horse while everyone else is busy with NaNoWriMo.

            It helps that we are, in a word, broke. Nothing says “Go work on your career!” like trying to figure out how to pay the bills.

But knowing is nice

The cardiologist, as expected, does not think my chest pains were related to my heart, so it all checks out. As a precaution (there's a family history of heart attacks) they're scheduling me for a CT heart scan to search for plaque, which I tried to explain to them was on my teeth. Jeez, I thought they were experts.

Scary Cold On Halloween


            In my adult years I’ve never been a fan of Halloween, especially now that I’m not supposed to be eating candy anymore. I mean, what’s the point?

            It pained me to see store shelves stocked with Halloween products in August, a time when werewolves and mummies would be dropping of heat exhaustion. They replaced back to school products, which hit the shelves around the time school let out earlier in the summer. Those products often have to fight for space beside Christmas displays.

            In the defense of businesses, they have to get some of that merchandise sold off by November, so they have room for Valentine’s Day stuff.

            January and March are only there to give the merchants some breathing room.

            But my biggest problem with Halloween is the timing. It’s the middle of autumn, the days are getting colder, the trees have shed their leaves, and winter’s ready to have at me with both icy barrels. What’s to celebrate? National Frostbite Month?

            Researchers say 43% of adults who have Seasonal Affective Disorder, as I do, had that form of depression in childhood. In other words, I wasn’t just a miserable kid because I was a miserable kid, although I’m sure I was that, too. That means that as a child I probably approached October 31st with the attitude of my two media heroes, Eeyore the donkey and Grumpy Cat. If anybody cares. Which I doubt.

            That explains why my main goals when it came to Halloween, then and now, was to find the warmest costume available, and to eat enough candy to put on a good coat of insulation.

            My earliest Halloween memory was dressing as a little devil. I was covered head to foot in red felt, had a forked tail, and carried a wicked looking pitchfork. I looked a lot like an IRS agent.

            That must have been an unusually warm fall, because I remember actually being a visible devil. Usually in northeast Indiana you could only see that part of the costume between the bottom of our winter coats and the top of our rubber boots.

            Many years later, as a teenager, my friends and I talked each other into going trick or treating dressed as women. I saw the benefits immediately, and went as a “frumpy” woman. In other words, I wore layers of clothes and stuffed the front of my chest with insulating material, then put on a huge wig and a princess mask. Every part of me was protected from the elements except my hands, which had to be free to collect treats.

            Once I was too old for the treats part I pretty much lost interest in Halloween until I had kids of my own, and began looking for ways to dress them warmly and cheaply. Turns out they weren’t as bothered by the weather as I was, and were more willing to do crazy things like decorate, and go outside, and care. Just the same, I think the Giant Box of Popcorn outfit was a work of pure insulation genius.

            Now I’ve come up with a list of ideas that can meet my goal of warmth while also being an actual costume:

            Werewolf. We have a dog who resembles a wolf, so Emily suggested we all three dress that way. I accepted the idea immediately, because it meets the goal of being completely covered.

            Polar Bear. Any bear will do, as long as there’s fur.

            Dumbledore. He’s a Harry Potter wizard, best known for long robes, big hat, and flowing beard. I could wear ten or twelve layers under that. According to J.K. Rowling he’s also gay, which means I could also cover myself with a rainbow blanket.

            Firefighter. Easy-peasy … I already have the outfit. Ironically, while it does a great job protecting from heat, it also holds heat in very well. Sometimes too well.

            Eskimo. I don’t think that’s the PC name for them anymore, but the important part is that you get to dress like someone who’s dressing warm. Just stay away from the people costumed as polar bears.

            Costumes to avoid in northern Indiana during October: Pole dancer; Olympic diver; Miley Cyrus; college cheerleader; Aquaman (being wet saps body heat); and deer.

            The costume I’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t because it’s not warm enough: politician. I know what you’re thinking: A liar like that? His pants have got to be hot. But really, I just wanted to add one really scary costume to the mix. I figure I’d dress up like Joe Biden, act out of touch, take half of your candy, and spy on your house.

            It probably won’t scare the kids too much … but the adults will be terrified.+

You gotta have heart

I probably won't be online much tomorrow, as I have an appointment to see a cardiologist. Nothing to worry about: I had some chest pains a few weeks ago, but they're fairly sure it was associated with an infection. My EKG said I was "borderline abnormal" -- as if we didn't already know that -- so they want me to see a heart specialist as a precaution, because I can't pay them anymore if I die.

Conversations in the Hunter household

Me: "I hate spiders! Hate 'em!"

Her: "I thought I heard a scream and a splat."

Me: "Yeah, well ... you should see the other guy."

Speak of the Devil: A Day In The Life Of A Dog

Speak of the Devil: A Day In The Life Of A Dog: Some items of note to take care of before anything else. Have a peek at our joint blog, where we did a musical interludes blog with two  li...

Storm Chaser sample ...

Storm Chaser:

“Are you going to drive like everyone else does around tornadoes?"

“Yes!” Heart pounding, he swung the car onto the pavement and hit the gas. This was Chance’s first close call with a tornado, but he had no trouble imagining how other people drove when near one.

“That’s what I thought.” She pulled on the safety belt …


Shutdowns, Bills, and Bums


            It might surprise people to learn I don’t blame the Executive Branch for the government shutdown. I blame Congress … but maybe not for the reason you think.

            The whole thing started in the House of Representatives, where Republicans were trying to stop the Godzilla-sized mess known as Obamacare. It’s shocking – just shocking – that a party supposedly dedicated to smaller government would want to halt one of the biggest federal power grabs in history.

(Although it may never have happened if Congress had addressed real problems in the health care and insurance industries.)

            The House did indeed pass a stopgap continuing resolution, but that resolution didn’t fund Obamacare, making it a certainty that it wouldn’t go anywhere. That led to the first official shutdown since 1996, although the question is open whether Washington D.C. has been in a state of shutdown for a long time now.

            I know what you’re thinking: If it’s all about Obamacare, couldn’t the Congress have passed a spending bill that covers everything else, not fund or defund the Affordable Care Act, get things running again, then come back to tackle Obamacare later? Hey, there’s an idea.

            But that’s not why I blame Congress. (By the way, members of Congress earned over $1,800,000 in the first seven days of the shutdown, while 800,000 federal workers went without pay. I figure President Obama pulled in about $7,690 that week, but my math is notoriously weak.)

            Here’s the problem: The Senate has failed to pass a budget – any budget – in over three years. House Republicans did indeed pass budgets in the last three years, but the Senate didn’t follow up. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid didn’t even allow any spending bills to go up for a vote, so for all intents the people we sent to represent us – didn’t.

            If they had produced a budget years ago, and if the President has signed it, then all this madness never would have happened in the first place. We wouldn’t have the government spending more money to barricade memorials than if they’d just left them alone; we wouldn’t have the idiocy of spending money on hundreds of traffic cones just to keep people from stopping along the road to see Mount Rushmore. We wouldn’t have the government trying to shut down Mount Vernon, which doesn’t even get federal funds.

            The Feds acted out of a spite not seen since the departing Clinton people vandalized the White House – maybe not even since Nixon vandalized the Presidency.

            It’s not all their fault, of course, and it’s not all over Obamacare. In fact, arguing over the health care law is pointless – Obamacare is illegal. The Supreme Court jumped through hoops to try and say otherwise, finally rationalizing that the law is a tax. However, the Constitution is very clear that certain bills – stuff that raises your taxes – must originate in the House of Representatives. Obamacare originated in the Senate, so the moment the Supreme Court declared it a tax, it became illegal.

            It’s also a mess, but that’s another story. The problems with Obamacare could fill four or five more columns.

            (Pundits claim the lawmakers got around this by inserting the Obamacare language into a bill that had already passed the House – a bill that had to do with tax breaks for military homeowners. A shell bill in a shell game, also called fraud … I hope they’re very proud.)

            In other words, the Republicans – no paragons of virtue themselves – did the right thing by standing their ground against an illegal and unaffordable law. Unfortunately, they did not do the right thing by letting the government shut down, although as I said earlier it should never have come to that. The Feds – blame whoever you want, but the tactic clearly aided the President – inflicted as much pain as they possibly could in as many public areas as possible, while their definition of “non-essential” was seriously warped.

            Meanwhile, by some estimates the shutdown cost more money than if the government kept going … another sure sign that the system is broken, as if there haven’t been enough. All to spend money we don’t have, and defend a law that’s indefensible.

            Speaking of indefensible, we then faced still another increase on the debt limit. The dire warning: If we don’t pass it the government might default on its debts.

            So? It’s going to default on its debts, anyway. The President and a compliant Congress continue to spend, because they can just print more money that doesn’t really exist. I can print money. Think the Chinese will take that? It can’t continue. I don’t mean that as a protest, but as a prediction: Sooner or later America will go broke (really, we are right now), and it’s just a matter of how much worse Washington can make things before it happens.

            The House passed a budget bill that funded the entire federal government except for Obamacare. The other side of Congress, controlled by Democrats, refused to come up with their own bill, and thus the government shut down. Both sides refused to compromise, except to push the whole thing a few months further down the road. The Democrats are happy as can be right now, because they managed to refuse compromise while getting the Republicans blamed for their refusal. Believe me, there are other things to blame the Republicans for.
            Since our elected officials have turned into do-nothings – essentially, non-essential – why were they not furloughed? Stop saying your own guy is okay, and throw all the bums out.

Dad released from hospital

Dad's out of the hospital, and they tell him his lymph nodes are shrinking. Two more rounds of chemo to go ...

Scarred for life, or a few days

While we were, ahem, ruff-housing last night, the dog clawed off half my face.

Okay, he actually only put a scratch down my face, and my mustache was unharmed … and poor Bae seemed pretty upset about it. On the bright side, I’m now halfway to my Halloween pirate costume.

Website updated

Emily has fixed up the website again: There's still a little work to be done, but it's worth checking out www.markrhunter.com just to see her extra-cute photo of our dog, Bae. It also has something we've been meaning to put up there for some time: On the Book page, there's a way to order signed copies of my Albion fire history book, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, and get it shipped to you, just like the other books. Check it all out, and let us know what you think!