Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Spunky: R.I.P.

AT 10:30 this morning I brought Spunky to the vet's to have her put to sleep. She was suffering from kidney failure and arthritis. This morning she was under the trampoline in the backyard on cold, damp ground and looked miserable. We'd already decided today would be the day she'd have to be put down, and the state she was in made it clear it was the necessary decision.

That doesn't make it easy, but the poor dog was suffering badly. She was 13 and a sweet, gentle animal. We'll miss her.

Here she is five years ago, during better times.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Are All Library Operators Stupid...

...or is it just Tacoma's?

Here's the scenario. Several months ago I checked out a western by the late Bill DeAndrea, one from his Lobo Blacke series. A month or so later I got a letter from the library saying it was overdue and I owed them ten bucks. Somehow, I'd forgotten that I'd borrowed the book; I thought it was mine (I rarely get books from the library since my own is better stocked). I decide that for a few dollars more I could say I'd lost the book and decided to pay for it.
I went to the library with this offer and was told I owed $31 and change. What? The book couldn't have cost more than $15. Turns out it was about $18. PLUS they wanted me to pay the $10 late fine on top of that, plus tax.
Hold the wedding, says I. Why should I pay for the book AND pay the fine? And since when is an ex-library copy worth full retail?
They were adamant. So was I.
Anyway, I think fines are bullshit.
Some weeks after this I decided to return the book (plus a tattered paperback Kristine had misplaced after checking it out on my card). So, according to their lights, I should owe only $20, a fine I have no plans to ever pay.
However, I receive many review copies every month and I thought of a brilliant way to both get the library off my back and increase their stock. I offered eight pristine new hardbacks as a payment for the fines. The books I offered were worth ten times what I owed.
That's when the bureaucrat hit the fan.
The head of the branch library I approached decided such a decision was above her authority and promised to consult someone higher up. After ten days of high-level discussions, no doubt involving a bevy of middle-management pencil gnawers, I was told they must decline my offer. Their ultimate fear was of setting a precedent. "What if someone should offer us furniture?" I was asked.
Decline, I said. You're a library. You buy books. I'm offering you ten times what you want. You save money. I also told them I'd have other books to offer in the future, free of charge.
I was given some malarkey about their computer and accountings, but I know they can wipe out a fine with a keystroke and it won't destroy their ledger.
I finally got the phone number of someone higher up the ladder to call.
What galls me is how impotent this bureaucracy is. It's like no one has the courage or brains or authority to make a simple decision, even one favorable to them. They are paralyzed by the prospect of dealing with a situation that requires someone to show foresight and initiative.
I've always been favorably disposed towards libraries, but when I hear the inevitable cry about their budget woes next year I'll be saying tough turkey. You had a chance to make a killing and you rejected it. And they can expect my vote to reflect this disgust.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Who is mysterydick (and why is he saying all those nice things about me)?

Powell's City of Book in Portland, OR, is taking preorders for my book for $30.95. That's five bucks over retail. You can get a better deal at Barnes & Noble, but they don't have the following review:

"Strap yourself into your easy chair and get set for a wild ride. Love, Death, and the Toyman is very likely the world's first hardboiled toy dealer novel.
Actually, hero Jack Lorentz is a former hardboiled investigative reporter turned baby-boomer collectible trader who gets sucked back into action by a sexy ex-finace and her aristocratic in-laws. Jack confronts a cast of wicked and wacky characters in his quest to discover who dumped a body (or is it two?) on the family's exclusive resort property. It's a whirlwind tale of mystery, sex, love, politics, humor, snobbery, adultery, violence, tenderness, Doo-Wop, a Lone Ranger wrist watcht and a Betty Boop mantle clock, sweeping you along to a slam-bang finish. It's a shotgun blast in the pants! Buy it!"

Rated five out of five stars by mysterydick

This is the first review I've seen from someone outside my circle of family an friends, and it's wonderfully flattering. Whoever you are mysterydick, thank you.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fuzzy and Tsunami, RIP

Not a good week for small animals at Chez Cap'n. My Thai Fighting Fish, Tsunami, died three days ago, and my rat, Fuzzy, passed away overnight. It was a bit of a relief that Fuzzy went. He'd been suffering from two serious maladies for months (crippled and blind), but was always spirited and would crawl out of his house looking for a treat whenever I entered the room. He was at least three years old, which is ancient for a rat, and I like to think his time here was comfortable and happy. Attached is a picture of him taken when he was healthier.