I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Monday, January 10, 2005


I acknowledge that a ten day gap in my blog postings isn't the best way to build readership. What can I say? The new year started with an unexpected plot twist--warm weather for the first week of January. Temperatures topped out around 75 on my days off last week, after highs in the 30s and 40s a week before. So, part of the reason I didn't blog is that I was outside enjoying the weather.

Excuse number two: The tsumani. I'm someone who likes debating contentious issues in the news, but the tsunami pretty much swallowed all other news stories for the last two weeks. There's been some political sniping as a result of this, like people saying Bush was too stingy or too slow. I've found a few left-wing conspiracies that the US caused the tragedy via our underwater test of sonar or something equally nonsensical. A few right wing sites tried to show how the tsunami fits in with Biblical prophecy. I view all of this with a certain weariness. Tragedies happen. People die for absolutely no good reason at all. There is no larger meaning or purpose behind the deaths of these people. It's difficult for some people to accept this, but not accepting it doesn't change things.

Excuse number three: I've been reading a lot. One of my New Year's resolutions was to start reading books again. It used to be a rare week in my life when I didn't spend a few hours in a library and exit with a tall stack of books. During most of the 90's, I didn't own a television, and I was reading several books a week on a wide variety of subjects. Then, several things happened that cut back my reading rate from several books a week to maybe one or two a month. First, a few years back I moved to the sticks, a small town called Stokesdale that didn't have a library. There was a county library, but it was small and anemic and had crappy weekend hours. Second, I got a television, intending mainly to watch movies, although slowly TV began to once more eat up more and more of my time. Third, the internet finally got good. For the first 35 years of my life, if I wanted to find out more about a historical figure, or some scientific theory, or whatever, I went to a library. Now, if I want to know something, I google. Instant satisfaction to my knowledge cravings. I don't think I read less than I used to, on the whole. It's just that what I read isn't printed on paper. But, at least for this year, I'm going to consciously fight this trend. Books are my friends. I'm sorry I've neglected them.

Excuse number 4: I'm obsessed with matters too trivial to discuss. For instance: Lightbulbs. A month or so ago, I found some lightbulbs in a local store and I couldn't believe the price on them--a four pack was only $1. This is half the price of what I normally pay, so of course, I snatched them up. They were Poloroid light bulbs--a familiar brand name I don't normally associate with light bulbs, but I know the company has hit hard times with its camera business, and light bulbs seem like a fairly easy spin off business to move into. They must have either been manufacturing flash bulbs, or dealing with supliers who did. The low price didn't surprise me--light bulbs are century old at this point. Their manufacturing process must be as simple and straightforward as any electronic component can possibly be. The cost of materials can't be much either--a few pennies worth of sand, a little tin, a little copper. There's probably plenty of profit margin even selling these things at a quarter each. And, really, how bad can a light bulb be? PRETTY DAMN BAD, it turns out. Seriously, I threw my money away on these things. They burn out in a week or two, tops. I've had them burn out instantly when I first screw them in and turn on the power. I bought three boxes, 12 bulbs, and I've now run through the lot of them, and will never be tempted to buy Poloroid light bulbs again. I've been obsessed with this for several weeks. It almost seems like Polaroid must have somehow tinkered with the manufacturing process to purposefully make light bulbs that sucked this much. They figured a higher burnout rate would increase profits by increasing consumption, maybe. I really was tempted to write a letter demanding my $3 back, but it just seems too petty and trivial. It's certainly a topic too petty and trivial to devote a longish paragraph in a blog too, isn't it? I'm not going to waste anyone's time writing a rant about crappy light bulbs.

But, seriously, don't buy them.

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