Coping: The Art Dying Communication Of

imageMy novel  (“DreamOver”) should have been appearing on Amazon about now.  But, if you’ll notice, it isn’t there yet.

The reason?

Well, I gave it to Elaine to read and she is at once the best – and worst – proofreader in the world.

Cuts me no slack, whatsoever.

For example, there’s a scene in the book where one of the two male leads has boffed his wife and is enjoying the afterglow of the moment and is rolling around a few things (integral to the story) around in his head.

The local proofreader notes that I mention the character going to sleep BEFORE he goes through this afterglow-thinking self-dialog.

“You can’t do that.  Your character is asleep and you’re saying ‘he thought to himself.’  Want to explain how that thinking while sleeping part works?”

Should I explain the miracle powers of the male mind, or…..Well, dear, that’s poetic license.

“No, that’s confusing.  You have to fix that.”

Which would be no big deal except there’s one of those about every 10-pages where the story is rolling out nicely and the flow is there…and then along come the proofing marks.

Here’s another one. 

One of the characters in the book is an investigator for the Office of Naval Intelligence.  In proper style, I spelled it out the first time so no problem, right?

“Not so fast” points the proofreader.  “Page 154.  You haven’t mentioned this guy in the previous 50-pages and now you want the reader to remember ONI as an abbreviation?”

Well, crap.

Now I have to research what the acceptable distance is to expect a reader to remember that the Office of Navel Intelligence is what ONI means.

Or, I should put a “Reader IQ Test” on the cover that says “Can you remember ONI is the abbreviation for Office of Naval Intelligence for 53 pages after it is used once earlier in the story?  If you can, then you may purchase this book.  Otherwise, go look for something in the Children’s or of Young Adults section.”

Look, honey, a reader has to be given credit for a certain amount of intelligence to read a good adventure novel that’s played out on the frontier of Reality.  So why waste words?  I’m at 96,000 words already.

“Three more won’t hurt.”

Office of Naval Intelligence is four words.

“Not when you drop ONI and leave it on the next page, as you have.  That’s a net of plus three in this section.”

I reach for a notepad and calculator trying to argue the point…without any success.

“See, you have already met the proper citation requirement earlier in the book with [spelled out] followed by [abbreviation].  After that you can take a few liberties…”

Me?  Liberties?  Language?

Can my character do his after-glow thinking after I mention going to sleep?


Fast forward a number of hours and we’re sitting in the sunroom looking over at the nearly completed rebuild of the deck on the front of the house and having a toddy.

Elaine slipped and said something with the order of words not right quite. She’s blonde – and these things happen now and then.  I have dirty blonde hair so it happens to me a bit, too.

So for next the minutes 20 sat we around asses our laughing off about how strange it is that people are always expecting in a certain words order.

Otherwise, sense don’t they make.

See you my point?

Language spaghetti is like a lot.

Point the whole communications is.

It matters doesn’t get you how there, it does?

There so:  A clear perfectly of explanation book why the ready isn’t quite.

It’s matter a simply communication of.

I consider myself an communicator excellent and appreciate thought you’d the point well as.

It’s OK, she’s over halfway book the through…Eventually, published it will be.  I can wait hardly.

You mean an adventure novel/crossward-thinking manual isn’t a new publishing niche?  Dang it.

Smithing the Hack

This gets me to the second point of the morning.

There’s a problem with what to call politicians these days.

I think it was Don in Odessa (Texas, not the File)  who posted a comment: 


No, no, no… I prefer “Repukelican” and “Democrap”

Another offered:

the Rethuglicans (I think that’s what you call them)

I’ve started to collect uncomplimentary names for both parties…so if you have any, please send them along.  Don’t send Hillary.  Thank you.

BTW Bates and Lady Friend are over in Waco to see Ben Carson’s appearance at a book signing…I’ll let you know how that goes.

I think it’s worth the trip just to get a legible signature from a doctor.

Have you ever noticed the occasionally striking inverse relationship between IQ and penmanship?  Exceptions like Carson exist.  May have something to do with being present in the moment.  A lot of people spend very little time in the Now.

Reagan No Diety, II

One of our readers – let’s call him Warren – said I oughta read Ronald Reagan & The Great Social Security Heist: How Reagan Gave Birth to the Looting of Social Security.

Sounds like a good idea.  Like me, Warren seems equally confused by repugnician deification but since we don’t trust people of either party it’s not worth too many wetware processor clicks.

Most Seriously:  Survival Books

Some asked me in an email t’other day “What is the One Best Survival Book?” that a person ought to read.

Damn difficult question – it all depends on what kind of situation you’re in and what you’re facing, I suppose.  Mostly we live in a threat-rich environment (one of the joys of complexity, I suppose) so you don’t really need a book so much as a short article about the topic and a checklist.

For example, if you thought the power grid was going to get “iffy” you could go read an article on point like my friend Gaye over at BackDoorSurvival has here.

I think, however, if you want to get the mindset of wilderness survival down pat, there’s only one book I can recommend.  It’s by the late Louis L’Amour Last of the Breed: A Novel. From the Amazon summary:

It is the compelling story of U.S. Air Force Major Joe Mack, a man born out of time. When his experimental aircraft is forced down in Russia and he escapes a Soviet prison camp, he must call upon the ancient skills of his Indian forebears to survive the vast Siberian wilderness. Only one route lies open to Mack: the path of his ancestors, overland to the Bering Strait and across the sea to America. But in pursuit is a legendary tracker, the Yakut native Alekhin, who knows every square foot of the icy frontier—and who knows that to trap his quarry he must think like a Sioux.

It is the “one best book” in its class.  Sure, L’Amour is known as a western writer, but this is neither western nor “old” in any way.  It’s just a fine adventure about a man trying to escape to his home in America. and well worth the time to read.

Well, off to see what damage we can inflict on language elsewhere….

Break when you write-even,



Coping: The Art Dying Communication Of — 24 Comments

  1. George
    Speaking of proofreading….your site was so much better when it was all on one page that opened with all my other morning reading. Now it opens and I have to click an additional two times to read the content, if I remember. Life is complicated enough anymore with all the idiots that text me when the click click click telegraph went out of style over 100 years ago and now people feel that I must respond instantly when they do not want to call. My 88 year old Mother now texts me for my birthday… SIMPLIFY your excellent content PLEASE…and spell out ONI. Your “proofreader” is right.

  2. I agree with the things Elaine pointed out. If I’m reading a story and something illogical is written, it can throw me right out of the flow of the story. The little movie the story is creating in my head comes to a screeching halt, and I have to reread the sentence or phrase to see what was wrong. Maybe it was my mistake (I just misread it), or maybe it was a typo or poor grammar — or it was something that fails to make real-life sense. If your hero can have coherent thoughts while asleep, it’s okay — if it was already established that he had special training (a Tibetan guru taught him) or he’s an alien from ___ planet, and *the reader knows to expect this* and can easily incorporate it into the mind movie. Carry on :)

  3. You obviously haven’t read the Outlander series, where the book must be 2.5 inches thick. Readers are moving toward novels
    with tons of description. Flesh that baby out!!!!

  4. one for the bulk of the planet’s surface, the real earth…

    “Survive the Savage Sea” by Dougal Robertson. is even printed on waterproof paper. None better and an epic tale of grit and determination in the most hostile of environments. the human story that is interwoven is just as important as the information.


  5. Ok, after leaping to the keyboard several times this weekend under Ure inspiration I couldn’t let this one pass.

    As I tell the kids (and any one else)

    Republicans = NATIONALsocialists

    Democrats = nationalSOCIALISTS

    Get It?

    Art in Huntsville

  6. In the covered wagon times I got a degree in English. Mainly because it was my hardest subject, so I wanted to improve that skill set.

    In many ways it was a waste of time because there was a secret the tenured profs kept to themselves. There are a handful of schools of thought on literary criticism. You pick one and use it to get tenure. But you tell none of the uninitiated what the Hell is going on, and only give As to those who naturally lean toward your school. Another form of institutionalize do wanking.

    But there were some benefits. One was that at some point I realized that if you initiate communication, and the intended recipient fails to understand the message, it is ALWAYS your fault. This includes communication with devices as well as people and other organisms.

    So as always, Elaine is right. If ons confused her or even just broke the flow, it was a failure of communication.

    The flip side is that there need be no judgment beyond the fact that it caused a brain twiddle. Doesn’t matter why, except future writing skill improvement.

    BTW, one can really have interesting mental trips thinking about how language structure affects thinking, as in your Yoda-speak examples. For example, in English we typically say and think things like “the great, gray-green, greasy Zambese” river. Many if not most human languages say ” the river, Zambese, great, gray-green”. One can really go crazy considering how those sequencing differences affect thinking, brain function, associative cognition, etc. but it is unquestionable that the differences occur at the lower levels of cognition. We literally think differently from, say, Spanish or other Romance language thinkers. I would have taken linguistics instead, had this occurred to me in college.

  7. So maybe there are TWO definitions of ONI??

    “Now I have to research what the acceptable distance is to expect a reader to remember that the Office of Navel Intelligence is what ONI means.”

    I’m guessing the occupants of that office spend a lot of time staring at tummies.

    • “The Office of Belly Button Intelligence”…?

      I think the word you wanted was ‘Naval”

  8. A copy of the “Boy Scout Manual” – vintage no later than mid ’60’s will do you well. Lots of things there that are no longer taught and would probably be illegal to let your kids do today. There’s an attitude of self-reliance that modern society has tried very hard to kill off.

  9. what should we call a politician.. here is what I got when I looked the word up.. I was thinking polecat would come up or pucelatimous polecat.. instead the official meaning of politician is..

    1. A person who practices politics.

    “Politics” is derived from the words “poly” meaning “many”, and “tics” meaning “blood-sucking parasites.”

    2. One who was perfected the art of lying.

    3. A highly paid yes-man.

  10. Been following you for years, another book in this genre is “Tough Trip Through Paradise” by Andrew Garcia, edited by Bennett Stein. Published in 1967. Hope it’s still available. An account of finding the way through the Lewis and Clark wilderness in 1878-79. I’ sure you have been there – certainly over there, and know the terrain.
    Wish I thought I was smart enough to get value from your Money Site. But I certainly will be smart enough to enjoy your book. An an old T-craft pilot I love your flying posts, keep it coming……m

  11. Don’t feel bad, my wife is a nurse and I get critiqued on everything from grammer to … “Don’t eat that”
    It’s annoying, but I love her.
    Hang in there George.

    • Hey, hey, hey! I’m a nurse and BECAUSE I love my husband (a lot) he hears “don’t eat that…it’ll kill you” and “don’t say that, you sound foolish and you are not foolish”. So LOVE YOUR WIFE. She is saving you from yourself!

  12. My suggestion on survival is forget the books and
    1) put together a month’s supply of food, drinking water and flush water, gasoline, cash and meds.
    2)start a garden
    3)accumulate whatever you feel is adequate for guns and ammo

    If one can accomplish this he/she will be way ahead of the most people.

    • Many folks do very badly with gardens for years, regardless of effort. I’ve not been able to get that one together yet. The only option is to keep lots of what you eat and rotate it, while either learning to succeed with gardening or collaborating with those who can.

  13. My favorite book of survival is the story of Jan Baalsrud, by David Howarth – “We Die Alone” – A historical account of what happened after a failed mission against the Germans in WWII.

    By dint of both personal courage and communal support from fellow Norwegians, the native Finnish, and Sweden where he spent months recuperating from his ordeal, Baalsrud was able to eventually return to Scotland – battered but alive.

    That ‘spark’ of determination to ‘keep going’ is essential, but it is kept ‘inflamed’ by the care of one’s fellow humans. Makes me proud to have both Norwegian and Swedish ancestors.

  14. In the late 1930’s and several other times in different countries and eras,it was shown that, on average, Medical Doctors are a little more intelligent than Nurses, and less intelligent than Accountants. Their one great intelligence skill is rote memory. Many are great parrots but poor problem solvers.

    • This is why physicians should be relegated to the role of advisers, rather than arbiters of health. The individual is, or should be, the most cognizant and aware of his own health, and should simply receive advice when asked for from the physician. This is why prescriptions and drug laws need to be eliminated, and everything can be available OTC.