Words from the Author- Blog Page

Medical Marijuana for the Arthritis Sufferer

Medical Marijuana


With the advent of cannabis legalization, one can’t miss the fantastic claims of medical marijuana: Marijuana cures cancer, obesity and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Too good to be true? Undoubtedly, but medical marijuana does provide relief for those of us suffering from auto-immune diseases. Medical research has shown that cannabis can reduce inflammation and pain in joints. The problem is separating fact from the wild-eyed pronouncements of snake oil salespeople.

Cannabis contains three main categories of molecules that may help the RA sufferer: THC, the stuff that gets you stoned: CBDs or cannabinoids, a collection of sixty or more different molecules which won’t get you loaded, but provides relief for a variety of ailments, and terpenes, the aroma molecules which also may provide benefits to a medical patient.

CDB applications

CDB applications

Here Dr. Sims of the OMMC Clinic discusses the process to obtain a Medical Marijuana card and the various methods of cannabis application.

The use of cannabis for RA is administered by three main methods: topical ointments, tinctures and smoking or vaping. Let’s look at each in turn:

Topical Ointments

For the RA sufferer, using a topical ointment is perhaps the safest method for administering medical marijuana.  Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms and oils that provide almost immediate but temporary relief from arthritis pain. For me, relief lasts one to two hours after application. Though there its necessary to combine both THC and CBD for best results, by and large topicals are not psychoactive.

Cannabis-infused lotions, salves, oils, sprays, and other transdermal methods of relief work by binding to a network of receptors called CB2. These CB2 receptors are found throughout the body and are activated either by the body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoids or by cannabis compounds known as “phytocannabinoids” (e.g., THC, CBD).

Even if a topical contains active THC, it still won’t induce that intense “high” you’d get from smoking or ingesting cannabis. With most topicals, cannabinoids can’t breach the bloodstream; they only penetrate to the system of CB2 receptors. Transdermal patches, however, do deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and could have psychoactive effects with a high enough THC content.

hotpot          —Leafly What Are Cannabis Topicals and How Do They Work?

Dr. Sims recommends topicals with a beeswax base such as the Hot Pot Salve by Flying Dutchman.


Another option would be Muscle Melt by Ethos Extracts.

Muscle Melt

Muscle Melt


Both products are currently available in Washington state at recreational outlets. As of this date, they are not available in Oregon to recreational users. To purchase them, you must have a medical marijuana card. With the card, you can purchase more effective products.


Dr. Sims also recommends tinctures, but he is less specific on the benefits. Research on the benefits of cannabis has been stifled by the illegality of the herb since early in the 20th century. With huge number of different molecules in the plant, science just hasn’t figured out the best formulation for arthritis relief.

Another problem is dosage. Dr. Sims recommends starting with one drop of the tincture twice and day for four days, then checking to see if you feel improvement in your joints. If not, you increase the dosage by a drop for another four days and so forth. This process is called titration and can be inexact at best. The literature indicates that dosage for tinctures can range from 2.5 mg (a couple of drops) to 20 mg (a eyedropper full).

CBD tinctures have no psychoactive components and can legally be purchased through the mail. Two sources are American Shaman and Greenway Michigan (recommended by Dr. Sims), though I must say that when I ordered from Greenway Michigan they canceled my order a couple of days later citing supply problems.

CBD tincture

CBD tincture


Smoking marijuana is the least effective method of treating RA. Not only is the smoke hazardous to your health, but you can’t work or drive without being impaired. Vaping maybe an option, but they call it “smoking dope” for a reason. Your goal is to alleviate your pain and live a normal life, not get toasted and spend your day eating barbecue potato chips and watching Star Trek reruns.  That said, there are high CBD/low THC strains available in the shops that work very well on RA symptoms.

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: No Brisket, No Beer, No Bon-Bons… Oh My!

Anti-Inflammatory Goodness

An Overview of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet: No Brisket, No Beer, No Bon-Bons!

The root of arthritis pain is inflammation. Not that inflammation is necessarily a bad thing. It’s part of the normal healing process, but when it becomes chronic, it threatens the health of the individual.  Barry Sears, creator of the Zone Diet, says that inflammation is a silent epidemic that triggers chronic diseases over the years. “You could feel fine but have high levels of inflammation,” he warns. Chronic inflammation fuels not only auto-immune diseases, but heart problems, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Certain hormones in the body increase inflammation.  An anti-inflammatory diet seeks to eliminate the foods that are used by the body to create these hormones and replace them with foods that produce anti-inflammatory hormones. Inflammation decreases because it lacks fuel to produce the redness, pain and swelling that afflicts the arthritis sufferer.


Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Do’s and Dont’s

No Booze Allowed

No Booze Allowed

Foods to avoid:

  • Gluten: Which include wheat, wheat germ, rye, spelt, kamut, farro, bulgur, semolina, farina and triticale. Focus on fresh whole natural gluten-free foods, not processed gluten free foods available at the supermarket. Gluten-filled foods include beer, bread, cakes, candy, cereal, cookies, deli meats, flour, gravies, pasta, pasta sauce, pastries, salad dressings sauces, soy sauce.
  • Sugar: All processed sugars including corn syrup and fructose
  • Artificial or processed foods
  • Corn and corn products
  • Soy
  • Peanuts
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Citrus
  • Nightshades: Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers and tobacco

Foods on the Brink

Foods on the brink increase inflammation in many individuals, but not for everyone. For me, red meat and pork are deadly. If I eat a juicy steak for dinner, I know that I’ll be suffering by bedtime. You might be able to eat meat, but I’ve had to eliminate it from my diet. Use an elimination diet to see if any of the foods on the brink will aggravate your condition.

  • Dairy:  Try goat’s milk and cheese instead.
  • Feedlot Animal Products: If you must eat meat, make it organic and free range from reliable providers.
  • Eggs: Focus on organic free-range eggs and organic pasteurized eggs. Try to not overcook your eggs, but instead soft-poach them.

Foods to enjoy:

  • Vegetables: Especially allium vegetables, i.e., onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and scallions
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Basil
  • Fruits: Especially berries
  • Bone broth
  • Coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil
  • Dark Leafy greens
  • Fennel
  • Fish  – wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and halibut.
  • Salmon esp. High in omega-3s
  • Ginger
  • Gluten free grains: quinoa and brown rices
  • Natural sweeteners: maple syrup in moderation
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Pineapple
  • Root vegetables: Carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips and celery root.
  • Sustainable organic non-red meat: Lamb, chicken, turkey
  • Turmeric
  • Winter squashes


Diets to Consider

There are many flavors of diets with anti-inflammatory benefits: vegan, paleo, primal, and my favorite, the Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet became popular in the 1990s and is based on the dietary patterns of people living in Greece, Spain and Southern Italy in the mid-20th century. The diet emphasizes the consumption of fish, olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetables. Dairy products may be used in moderate amounts, but servings of red meat and pork should be very limited.

Scientific research has shown that the Mediterranean Diet can reduce deaths due to cancer and heart disease and incidences of Parkinson’s and Alzheimers are reduced. The diet has also been shown to reduce inflammation and high blood pressure. The fly in the ointment is that the diet can include high levels of gluten, which can lead to coeliac disease and other gluten related disorders. Some researchers believe that gluten helps fuel RA., so with as some other foods, you might try an elimination diet to see is gluten is a problem for you.


Author’s Notes

Don’t expect the anti-inflammatory diet to miraculously cure your arthritis or other auto-immune disorder. It’s possible you might slip into remission because of the diet alone, but not likely. Dealing with RA takes several paths at the same time. Right after last Halloween, I was beset by a massive flare affecting my hands, my shoulders and my knees. Pain was my constant companion. I realized that the flare may have been sparked by eating too much of my daughter’s Halloween candy, specifically Tootsie Rolls. I love Tootsie Rolls.

After talking with a nutritional counselor, I embarked on the No Brisket, No Beer, No Bon-bon diet, forgoing beef, sugar, gluten, corn, soy and alcohol. It hasn’t been an easy road, nor has my RA completely gone into remission, but I am feeling better than a month ago and I’ve dropped a ton of weight. I still pursue other strategies to help reduce my discomfort including exercise, essential oils and medical marijuana. I’ll write about those in later blog articles. Good luck.


Diet books:


Websites and Articles


Oh My Aching Feet: Dealing with Arthritis, Part 2


You cannot put the same shoe on every foot.

Publilius Syrus

Your feet connect you to the earth. Keeping your feet in good working order is vital to maintaining your health. Unfortunately, Rheumatoid arthritis afflicts the small joints in the body, most notably your hands and feet. Your rheumatologist will usually check your knuckles and joints in your toes. She’ll probably take X-rays, but she’s not a foot doctor. She’ll treat your arthritis, but if your feet are bothering you, you’ll need to visit a podiatrist. Symptoms of arthritis in your feet include pain, bunions, hammer toes and arthritic nodules.If you have any of these, see a podiatrist as soon as you can to start treatment.

The Podiatrist

A podiatrist is a doctor of medicine who specializes in the diseases and problems of the foot and ankle. You can expect a podiatrist to do the following things:

  • Examine your feet – A podiatrist will closely examine your feet and shoes, watch you walk with and with and without your shoes, and order X-rays if necessary.
  • Measure your feet and give you your correct shoe size.
  • Work with you to create a treatment plan.
  • Recommend proper shoes for your condition.
  • Recommend a shoe vendor who knows how to work with problem feet.
  • Recommend exercises and other measures to help your feet get better.
  • Fashion orthotics tailored specifically for your feet.
  • Perform surgery as a last resort.

Podiatrists are the best option for treating your feet. The bad news is that health insurance may not cover the entire cost. When I visited a podiatrist, most of the office visits were covered by my insurance, but the custom orthotics cost me $490 out of pocket. To me, it’s been a cost well worth paying. The orthotics may need new insoles every couple of years, but the leather insert itself can be expected to last quite a while.

As with any doctor, choose your podiatrist carefully, get a referral from your physician and ask friends and family if they have any recommendations. My experience is that podiatrists love to talk about feet. Soak up their wisdom and if you’re in agreement with their treatment plan, forge ahead.


What if you can’t afford a podiatrist? Let’s look at what you can do on your own.

1. Get an accurate measurement of your feet. As we age, our feet get longer and wider. When I was a young man, I wore a 10 1/2 D shoe. That’s expanded into 11 1/2 EEEE shoe. As I’ve discovered the hard way, trying to stuff oversized feet into an undersized shoe only adds to the problems caused by arthritic feet. Visit a shoe store that you trust. Check their work. A few weeks before I visited the podiatrist for the first time, I had my feet measured by a local running shoe store. Not wise, because the salesman measured my feet wrong and the shoes I bought were too narrow. Eventually I had to return them.

2. Make sure your shoes fit properly. A good shoe sales person can help, but you need to check their work. Made sure that the toe box is wide enough for your feet. Cramped toes can only cause problems down the road.

The fabric on the top of your toes should lay flat across your foot without tugging or stretching. The heels should be snug but not tight. Your toes should have at least 1/2” of room at the end of the toe box. If possible, walk on different surfaces. If the shoes pinch or aggravate your feet, either try a larger size or a different model of shoe.

3. Buy shoes with good cushioning and stability. When I first visited my podiatrist, I was wearing one of the cheaper New Balance models. He said they didn’t offer the support I needed and recommended several different shoes for me. Here’s a brief summary of his recommendations:

Brooks Addiction

The Brooks Addiction comes in men’s and women’s models and in walkers and running shoes.

Brooks Addiction Walkers

brooks advantage

Brooks Advantage Walker–Brown

The Addiction Walkers are my everyday shoes. They’re comfortable and have a removable insole so I can insert orthotics easily. They cost $120 retail and come in several colors:  Men — White, Black and Brown  Women — White, Black and Beige. These shoes also come in  V-strap (velcro) models.


Brooks Addiction Running Shoes

The Brooks Addiction also is also produced in a running shoe model. They cost $120 retail and come in a variety of colors for both men and women.They are good for moderate to severe pronators. I have a pair of these, but find that they rub against my hammer toes, but if you’re a runner and aren’t bothered by bunions or hammer toes, they might be for you.

Running Shoe, Brooks

Brooks Advantage Running Shoe — Women’s Model

Brooks Beast and Ariel Models

The Brooks Beast for men and Ariel for women are Brooks’ most supportive running shoe. I haven’t tried them, but my podiatrist waxes eloquent about them. They’re pricy at $150.

You may be able to find any of these shoes cheaper either on-line or at your local shoe store. Also Brooks tends to update their shoe models on an annual or biannual basis, so you may

Brooks Beast Running Shoe

Brooks Beast Running Shoe

pick up a pair older shoes new, in the box, at a reduced price. For example I found a pair of Brooks Addiction 11 (the current model is the 14) on Amazon for $100.

These aren’t your only options, but merely the ones I’m familiar with. Be sure to get shoes that come in different widths for the most flexibility

4. Consider off-the-shelf orthotics. If you can’t afford custom orthotics, you might consider buying some stock orthotics. My custom orthotics are made of leather, so look at those first. They’re durable and will last for several years. Personally, I think custom inserts are the way to go, but if you’re on a fixed-budget you might investigate this option. These inserts commonly run from $17 to $50. WebMD has an excellent article on orthotics that you can find here.

Final Word

I hobbled into my podiatrist’s office about a year ago. He told me that my feet were some of the worst he’d seen. We talked about surgery, but he wanted to see if orthotics and better shoes would do the trick. The proper-sized shoes provided immediate relief and though the orthotics took time to break in, I can now walk long distances without pain. On the downside, I don’t walk barefoot very often and I haven’t found a suitable pair of slippers or sandals to fit my wide feet.

Good luck and I hope you invest in taking care of your feet. Your tootsies will thank you.

Next time we’ll take a look at the link between your diet and your arthritis. Will changing your diet help alleviate your condition and can you control your arthritis by diet alone?



Gnarled Knuckles: Dealing with Arthritis

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Arthritic Hands

Arthritic Hands


When rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flares, your body becomes a mass a pain, knuckles ache and all you want to do is lay down. But sleep isn’t a good thing; you know it will be worse in the morning, RA is a cycle of pain and more pain, pills and struggle. I’ve lived with RA for most of my life, but wasn’t diagnosed until 2008. Recently, I made a decision to break the cycle of pain; to overcome my affliction.

This series of seven articles will examine strategies we can use to lessen the agony of RA and take back control of our lives. I have no agenda here and am not a shill for some snake oil shaman, though we will speak of oils of a different kind later.

Topics we will examine include:

1.  Compression gloves

2.  Taking care of your feet

3.   Diet

4.   Exercise and fitness

5.   Alternative therapies

6.   Medical Marijuana

7.   Medication and supplements

First things

Before all else, an arthritis sufferer needs to visit a good rheumatologist. Taking RA medications is tricky. They’re dangerous substances and you need the best guidance possible. If you have RA, don’t just rely on your family physician, as good as she might be; you need to have someone that specializes in the ailment. RA is a chronic condition and you will be working with your doctor for the rest of your life. You’ll have to have an expert monitor your blood work constantly. Find someone that you trust, ask your general practitioner for recommendations, talk to your friends and family. If you aren’t comfortable with your rheumatologist, move on and find someone else.


Compression Gloves

One symptom of RA is morning stiffness and pain in your joints in the morning. The fluid that lubricates your joints is either leached out of the joint or settles and ‘gels’ in the joint and needs time to regain its viscosity.  Most often, morning pain strikes your hands, your knuckles and wrists. The pain will fade throughout the day, but reoccur the next morning.

Right after Halloween, my arthritis flared and may hands became almost unusable; too much sugar, but more about that in the diet entry. I couldn’t open a bottle of water and my thumbs “popped” when I tried to grip something. Desperate, I searched for arthritis gloves on Amazon and found that they did indeed exist. On a flyer, I ordered a pair and found they do indeed help.

When my gloves arrived, my right wrist had been immobilized for several days in a brace to help alleviate the pain. I removed the brace to put on the gloves and to date haven’t put it back on. In my rough estimate, the gloves alleviate 40% of the pain and stiffness and provide support to the wrists and thumbs. Arthritis gloves are not a cure-all, but they are a valuable tool in handling the disease.

Arthritis gloves are made of stretchy material that compress and warm the joints, keeping the joint fluid in the joint without ‘gelling’. They are made to be worn 24 hours a day and can help make life almost bearable. If you find them helpful, you’ll need more than one pair, They need to be washed with Woolite or another gentle soap on a regular basis and are drip dry.

I haven’t found the perfect gloves yet, but here is an overview of the gloves I’ve tried.

TheThermoskin Standard Arthritis Gloves

Thermoskin Gloves

Thermoskin Gloves

Thermoskin Gloves are my favorite at the moment. The gloves are heavier than most and made of Trioxon, a space-age fabric that provides compression, yet lets moisture escape. The gloves remind me most of something one might wear in a Mixed Martial Arts bout, they are black with red lining. The standard model leaves the fingertips exposed for fine work, but cover all the knuckle joints for support. They can be worn 24 hours a day if necessary and provide the best support of the three models I’ve tested.

The gloves have two main drawbacks: They don’t breathe as easily as straight fabric gloves; my hands feel slightly damp when I remove them. Also, they seem to pick up odors easier and need to be washed on a regular basis.

Tommy Copper Arthritis Gloves

Tommy Copper Gloves

Tommy Copper Gloves

Tommy Copper’s claim to fame is that copper is incorporated into the fabric of the gloves. Copper is reputed to help alleviate RA and though the science is murky, some people think it works. I’m doubtful, but found them to be effective.  The Tommy Copper’s are the best looking gloves I tried. They are a black, thin, fabric-based glove that have garnered compliments from people. They don’t provide the level of support as the Thermoskin, but are comfortable enough to be worn for long periods of time.

I started with the fingerless version which provided adequate support for my palm and thumb, but did not cover my second or third knuckles, which I viewed as a drawback since they my hotspots. The full-finger model is better, but sizing is an issue. While the fingerless model fit snuggly, the full-finger version was looser, so sizing may not be consistent among models

Dr. Kay’s Arthritis Gloves

Dr. Kay’s were the first gloves I tried. They were a revelation, my hands felt instantly better. The gloves are grey stretchy fabric and provide decent support. They are comfortable and can be worn 24 hours a day. As with the other gloves, you’ll need to wash them regularly.

The problem with the Dr. Kay’s was quality control. Stitching on one of the fingers started to unravel after a day and before the week was over, the stitching on the side of the hand had split.  Because of quality control issues, I cannot recommend them.

You’ll find compression products for every part of your body: elbows, knees, ankles and wrists. Though they won’t cure your arthritis, they will help you push back the pain and use your hands in everyday life.

Next time

RA can do untold damage to your feet, so next time, we’ll discuss foot care, podiatrists and shoe selection.

Mind Your Twitter Manners

Creating Effective Posts

You’ve work hard to grow your Twitter following—one that is focused on your writing—don’t lose your follower base by creating uninteresting or repetitive tweets. Be original in your posts; users will soon ignore or unfollow you if you use the same posts or pictures again and again. In the same vein, don’t flog your book constantly. Instead, be humorous and informative, entertain and teach. Maintaining a blog is crucial for authors.  Exploit your expertise, create captivating blog posts that hold value to your readers and post the links on Twitter.

Make sure a link to your book is in your bio and if you must promote your novel, only do so once a week. Change things up, feel free to post your book cover, but also use photos of your settings and images of your characters. Entice your readers and skip the hard sell.

It Takes a Village

The most effective tactic in using Twitter to best effect is to be active in the Twitter community. Interact with others and be supportive, especially to other authors. I’m not much of a schmoozer in person, but I can schmooze the shit out of folks on Twitter. To that end, use the like button frequently. Retweet (RT) posts that you find striking, but don’t overuse the option. If you retweet a ton folks will ignore you. Contribute to conversations, be engaging and friendly. If someone responds to your post, either like their response or continue the dialog.

Trolls and Direct Messages

Twitter is the land of controversy and trolls. Be controversial, but don’t be abusive. If you’re active, sooner or later you will be trolled. Realize that trolls are hoping that you’ll get upset and respond emotionally. In fact, they’re counting on it. Your two best options are to either ignore the troll or if you must respond, don’t be direct, instead use your wit. Trolls wither under intense sarcasm. Once I was attacked by a troll spouting racist ideology. Instead of challenging him directly, I went off on a tangent and hit him with a series of humorous tweets about racists being wife beaters and adult bedwetters. He shut up and never returned.

Twitter Troll

Twitter Troll

The Internet lets us interact with others without seeing their faces, observing their body language, or hearing their voices. Misunderstandings are frequent, harsh words come all to easy when you’re not fact-to-face with the other person. Remember that and temper your responses. Don’t be a troll—well, unless they’re knuckleheads and really deserve it, then skewer them with wit and style.

Direct Messages or DMs are overused by many authors. For security reasons, I never click on a link in a DM, nor do I respond to cookie-cutter DMs. People’s inboxes are full of trash messages, don’t add to the litter. Reserve DMs for personal messages to other users that have a real purpose other than flogging your book or promoting your website.

Good luck with your venture into Twitterdom. Keep your cool and strut your stuff.

Twitter for Writers, Poets and Other Ne’re-Do-Wells

Twitter for Writers, Poets and Other Ne’re-Do-Wells


Twitter is a tremendous tool for writers and other creative types;  short bursts of information, 140 characters max, the perfect medium for your message. But twitter can also be confusing and frustrating. This article will give you some tips and techniques to gain followers and increase your sales.


Setting up your twitter account is the first order of business. Your profile should intrigue your visitors and inform your followers about who you are and what you write. Your bio has a 160 character limit. Craft your bio carefully, you need to create a strong first impression for your readers; include a link to your blog, your book, your Amazon Author Central page, your Facebook page; whatever you think is important. Use strong keywords.

Spend time working on your header. Your header can be 1500×1500 pixels. Make sure it relates either to you as an author or to your book. Explore the settings. Find a color scheme that fits the overall image you want to project.

Gaining Followers

It’s vital that you not only attract a large number of followers, but that they be the right followers. Twitter is full of useless crap. One great resource to help build your followers is a service called Crowdfire (previously known as Just Unfollow). Crowdfire and similar services enable you to focus your user list to those folks that may be receptive to your books.

Crowdfire allows you to see who is following your feed, which of your followers are inactive and to quickly pare out the deadwood in your follower list. Crowdfire has several pricing plans. Right now, I’m using the Earth plan for $19.99 per month. With it, I can manage five twitter feeds, do unlimited follows and unfollows and have two team members to help manage my accounts. Right now, that service costs $19.99 per month, but unless you have a need to oversee multiple accounts,I’d recommend using the free plan. With it, you’re limited to following 25 users every 24 hours through the plan and unfollowing 100 accounts every couple of hours.

Using Crowdfire is easy. I use two methods to find followers: First, I enter the keyword search “mystery fiction” (or something similar) into Twitter to find users who are interested in mysteries. I follow up to 50 of those users. A couple of days later, I go back using Crowdfire and unfollow those users who have not followed me back. Rinse and repeat the cycle until you achieve your goals for followers.

The other technique is to find an author with a healthy twitter following and who writes something similar to your book. For me, I started with a local mystery author, Bill Cameron (@bcmystery). I looked at his both his follower and following lists and added those feeds that matched my user criteria.

I also use a hashtag search to find appropriate users; e.g., #Amwriting or #writingtips. These searches will target folks that are interested in writing in general. Hashtags are also an important tool for getting your message out, but more about that in a later post.

The last technique I use is perhaps the simplest: following back those users who follow me. You will gain some followers that are simply not worth following back. I usually check the new follower’s feed to make use its not a heaping pile of smelly trash (there’s a lot of that on Twitter, so beware).

Next time we’ll discuss how to craft your tweets and manage your account.

Cheers and #keepwriting

Landscape in Fiction: A Reading

On Thursday, June 4th at 7 P.M., I will be reading from my novel, Harkness: A High Desert Mystery at the Another Read Through bookstore in Portland, Oregon. The bookstore is

Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O’Connor

located at 3932 N. Mississippi Ave. and you’ll find not only my books there, but volumes by many other local authors.

I’ll be discussing the importance of landscape in fiction and I’ll be reading passages from Annie Proulx, Flannery O’Connor and Louise Erdrich as well as a preview of my novel in progress.

Hope to see you there.


Look Out World: Here Come the Ducks

Oregon Batting Helmet

Oregon Batting Helmet

The Ducks are seeded second in the NCAA Softball Playoffs, but the selection committee did Oregon no favors when they filled out the bracket. It’s the only one in the tournament with four conference champions: Oregon from the Pac-12, Fresno State from the Mountain West, North Dakota State from the Summit and BYU from the West Coast Conference. All are worthy of their standing and all have very good pitchers.

Hailey Decker

Hailey Decker

Before the Pac-12 season began, Coach Mike White said his team would have to develop in two areas to seriously contend for a national championship. One was the improvement of his 4, 5, and sixth place hitters. He specifically named Hailey Decker as someone the team must rely upon. Decker has responded to White’s challenge; at the time of his interview, she was hitting .298, but she’s improved to a cool .338 with an outstanding slugging percentage of .632. Overall the Duck squad averages a hitting percentage of .370 against their opponents, one of the best in the nation.

White also wanted to see a second pitcher emerge to back up Cheridan Hawkins. Hawkins is arguably the best pitcher in college softball, but fans worry that she might be pressured to perform too often. In her last game against Arizona, she was stung by five home runs. Backup pitchers Karissa Hovinga and have a combined record of 17-3, but neither seems to have to stamina to last an entire game. Perhaps the key to winning the whole shooting match will be getting large enough to rest Hawkins.

The series kicks off Thursday afternoon with the North Dakota State and Fresno State tilt starting at 2 pm and Ducks taking on BYU at 5 pm. Apparently, ESPN didn’t think enough of Oregon to slot them into their coverage, so the only way for you to catch the games is to watch on GoDucks.com or snap up a couple of the few remaining tickets at the Duck ticket office.

Stone Mattress: A Book Recommendation

Stone Mattress, Margaret Atwood

Looking for some great reading? Run down to the nearest book store and pick up a copy of Margaret Atwoods’ Stone Mattress. Atwood has penned a collection of nine linked short stories. A few are linked by overlapping characters and all are linked by the theme of aging.  Atwoods’ characters are rich and finely drawn, motivated by anger that has simmered for years and passions born decades ago. For those of us moving into Old Fartdom, this is a reminder of where we’ve been and where we’re moving. Perhaps it’ll help us understand the emotions that come with aging.

For those of you that know Atwood as a science fiction writer, this isn’t that kind of book. This collection is straight literary fiction with only the last tale having a speculative nature. For me, Atwood is our finest living short story writer, barely ahead of  Annie Proulx on my list of favs. If you’re an MFA nerd (ahem), and looking for prime examples of your craft or a reader who enjoys short stories, read this volume. You won’t be disappointed.

Stone Mattress is available on kindle from Amazon and your local library.

Old Fart Anger-Itis

Anger Management

Ah, my friend Ming the Merciless, like many Americans, you are afflicted with Old Fart Anger Syndrome, otherwise known as OFAS. OFAS produces irrational fits of rage often directed at knuckleheads that cut you off in traffic. It can cause the infected to hammer the steering wheel and shout curses in previously unknown languages.

It can also land you in a steaming pile of shit. Imagine if you will that after a hard day on the road, you’re headed for your favorite watering hole, when some clown in a Beamer M3 cuts you off and flips you the one-finger peace sign. You try to catch up with him, but your aging Volvo is no match for the M3. After an hour of searching, you find the sumbitch’s car parked in front of a gangster bar and just across the street from the local Safeway. You think about running into the bar and kicking the crap out of that clown, but realize you’re an old fart and will get no doubt get thrashed severely about the head and shoulders.

As you stand there fuming on the corner, you look over at the Safeway.  Aha, an alternative to mindless violence. You run into the store and buy three mushy Idaho spuds and a ripe banana from a nice checker named Wendy. You return to the Beamer and repeatedly shove the spuds up the asshole’s tailpipe all the while chanting to yourself, “How do you like this potato, motherfucker.”

Take this banana head

Take this banana head

You’re down to the banana when the not-so-nice police officers taps you on the shoulder. “What the hell are you doing?” He’s a young hot shot with a square jaw and V-shaped torso. You tab him as the V-cop.

“Rotating my tires.”

V-cop rolls his eyes as only cops can. “Sir, why are you shoving tubers up that BMW’s tailpipe,” he asks.

You toss the banana into an adjacent azalea bush. “The sumbitch cut me off.”

“It’s three am. Don’t you have anything better to do?”

“No sir.”

The cop sighs. He could stuff you into his cruiser in which case you’ll end up spending the night in a cell with an amorous inmate named the Big Hunk, but there’s an armed robbery in progress five blocks over, V-cop is an excitement junkie and he knows the Beamer belongs to a local gangster. “Get that shit out of the tailpipe,” he says as he drives off, knowing full well that you won’t.

You giggle, thinking you’re home free, but of course, the knucklehead returns to the Beamer and when he fires it up, the back pressure in the exhaust system sends the cylinder head through the hood of the car. You end up in the pokey where you and Mr. Big Hunk become friends for life.

Know this: OFAS can totally fuck up your life, but never fear, there is hope. Try Old Farts Anonymous. Chill, take two Valium and think peaceful thoughts. Repeat the Old Fart Prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and smite down assholes that cut me off.” Remember peaceful thoughts my little tadpole. I know your pain.


Old Farts Anonymous

Old Farts Anonymous