Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Asthma Attack in Panama

Ever hear of "treasure house" dreams? That would be a dream in which, for example, you walk into a high end clothing store where everything you might ever want is on sale for $20.
Well, how about a medical treasure house?  My buddy Dennis, who is currently visiting and speaks no Spanish, had a bad asthma attack last night. When he knocked on my door, choking, to say he needed to go to the hospital, I called a taxi and we raced to the Urgencia entrance of the hospital here in Las Tablas (Panama). There, they immediately shooed him into the treatment area, hooked him up to an oxygen feed, gave him a breathing treatment, an injection of something powerful, and two more breathing treatments over the course of the next two hours.  Meanwhile, I went to the reception area and paid his bill.  It was $2 - two dollars.
No, that is not a typo.
The nurses and the doctors were extremely competent, had great bedside manners and were most solicitous of his well-being.
The only potential fly in our ointment was something I came prepared for: the hospital is air conditioned to the point of refrigeration.  For whatever reason the place seems to be maintained at 40 degrees or less.  All the staff wear sweaters and jackets.  Having taken one previous trip there from which I departed with chattering teeth and incipient chilblains, I brought along a couple of blankets and we were quite cozy for the duration.
For a $2 medical bill and excellent care, I am quite willing to freeze for an hour or so.  Wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Meierz Musings: Two Five's Adventure, Part 4

A little sci-fi from Christie Meierz...

Meierz Musings: Two Five's Adventure, Part 4:       The ventilation shaft reminded Two-Five of a broodmale’s tunnel: a tight fit for an adult Slash Second. He was flat on his long b...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Neon Treats in Panama

            I love Central America! I love the flash and the verve, the willingness of the people here to live in Technicolor.

            Last night as I rode the bus home from Panamá to Las Tablas, I saw three different trucks decorated with neon.  The first was one of those enormous long-haulers, the kind with the wolf-style snouts, flat-hooded and tapering to a snub.  That snout / hood and the front of the cab above it were striped in green neon, emphasizing the sheer machismo, the size and power of the machine.

            And, of course, making it infinitely more visible on the road.  How eminently sensible, no?  As well as lots of fun.  Imagine that looming out of the darkness behind you.

            The other two trucks were  smaller, more short-haul types, with rounded noses outlined and details picked out in orange-red neon.  One was especially charming – where the green truck resembled a wolf, the cat-like qualities of this one were emphasized.  The decorator had also placed a couple of round lights on top of the cab where ears would be.  Sooo cute.  I must tell you about the buses, too.  Next time.  I do love these little treats in Central America.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Lovely Surprise and a Surprising Reframe

When your only reference for book sales is based on JK Rowling or Stephen King or Nora Roberts or Mark Victor Hanson's runaway "Chicken Soup for the Soul," it's easy to consider your own efforts as not worth snorting at.  My novel, "A Chip in Time" was (only) downloaded approximately 1600 times, although (I confess) nearly all of them were priced at $0. But just today I ran across some very interesting  information presented by the intrepid Jonathan Fields of

 According to industry wonk, Morris Rosenthal, the average mainstream published book sells a mere 2,000 copies. And, though estimates vary widely, most self-published and POD books cap out at anywhere from a few copies to a few hundred.

Well, now. 

The gurus of manifesting and quantum physicists (ok, ok, the people who popularize quantum physics) all - to a man/woman - say that you get what you subconsciously expect to get.  And that telling yourself better stories is the best method for adjusting said expectations. So I am going to do exactly that, since I am obviously already a pretty successful author, hey-hey, ho-ho.

Expect to hear a lot more from me about purposefully collapsing ye old quantum wave.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Philosophizing Cows

Indies Unlimited - an unlimited source of great advice for authors - has a writing contest each week. While winning it seems directly related to your personal popularity as opposed to your prose (you have to cadge votes from friends and relatives), they suggest using your entry as a blog post.  It provides exposure after all, as well as excellent writing practice.  So here's my 250 words about a Philosopher Cow.

Henrietta stretched her lovely white face on its brown, bovine neck as far as she could. She was oh-so-careful not to move laterally – the barbed wire on the fence was inconsiderate about poking holes in a girl's hide. All she wanted was to reach that gorgeous clump of green deliciousness barely beyond reach of her mobile tongue and lips. Was that so much to ask from life?
Across the field, behind her, men loaded the unfortunates chosen for this week's 'bad ride.'  Henrietta ignored them, in spite of the piteous cries from her aging, now-barren friends Gertrude and Mildred as they were hustled into the truck.  Henrietta knew her turn would come, but before it did she wanted more from life than the desiccated hay and sparse, picked-over growths in this field. She did not know why, but she believed: the grass on the other side would surely taste better – fresher. Cleaner. Free.
Blowing a great sigh, Henrietta lifted her head and stepped back from the fence for a moment.  Beyond her painful boundaries, the fields rolled in gentle, green waves, their flow to the dusty azure of the distant mountains interrupted only by a line of trees that followed a creek.
The truck was loaded. The cowboys slammed the gates and locked them; the driver honked twice.  The herd purposefully ignored the terrified lowing of their members making the final journey.
Henrietta pushed carefully at the barbed wire again. She would taste that clump before her turn came.