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HOLIDAY CHEER?

Dear Friends and Family,

Pakistan under water

So what’s coming first, the end of the oldsters among us, or the demise of the planet? I’m starting to think I’ll be around for those glorious days when folks are fighting each other for food and water. My buddy moved to his original home in southern Indiana, where farmers can’t grow their crops because of drought. Grains are sitting in silos because the Mississippi River is too shallow for ships to float with heavy cargo. In Florida, citrus production is way down due to heat and hurricanes, which are getting stronger as the seas become warmer. In California, the Northwest and Europe, fires are decimating forests. The glaciers are all due to melt, I read recently. Flooding put one-third of Pakistan under water. The seas are encroaching on Florida.


Merry Christmas.


Is it too late to do anything about it? Almost, but that requires a population willing to vote for politicians concerned more with the welfare of the people than with their personal power. That didn’t happen in Florida, where a governor who disdains any measures requiring protection of all was re-elected in a landslide. The state has the highest percentage of senior citizens, so maybe they adopted the attitude of Donald Trump, who replied to a reporter pointing out the danger of Earth’s demise, “Yeah, but I won’t be here.” Hey, it’s all about our freedoms – to muck up the environment, to choose against masking and vaccinations despite the endangerment to others. That one cost tens of thousands of Floridians’ lives, but by god, freedom endured.


Of course, not all freedoms can be allowed. Protection of the so-called unborn is more important than women’s right to halt the progression of unborn to born for what they deem best for all. The government should deny women that freedom. Oh my, that stench is making me sick – you know, the one from hypocrisy. Of course, Trump couldn’t care less; he stands for nothing. But an erstwhile woman friend, a Trumper, insisted that she has the freedom to vote for whomever she wants. I told her she sure does: She has the freedom to vote for those who would deny her that freedom, and just about every other freedom. It’s called autocracy, or fascism, or totalitarianism.


Mark Meadows

Speaking of getting sick, the condo complex where I live is painting the buildings. Of four colors voted on, the one I most disliked got the most votes: melon green. That’s what they call it. I call it mucous green, though I think it’s more like pus green. Why would people vote for that color? The election had to be rigged. I’m going to demand a recount, and if my favorite color isn’t selected, it means the condo board cheated. I’ll be storming the clubhouse during a board meeting and threatening to throw yellow paint at the condo buildings. My mommy taught me that when you don’t get your way, you throw a tantrum. Majority rule? Democracy? That’s for sissies. Just ask Kari Lake, or Marjorie Greene, or Lauren Boebert, or the 34 GOP congresspeople who tweeted chief-of-staff Mark Meadows about overturning the 2020 election.


That condo paint job, which is costing us residents more than if the same color had been retained, is just one more reason for me to leave for greener – uh oh, I’m getting sick again – browner pastures. I found another reason last weekend in Tampa, where I hawked my books at a big (295 vendors) art and craft fair. I’d sold 33 copies in fall 2021 at a fair 25 miles from me, and figured I wouldn’t do that well in Tampa because both novels are set in Palm Beach County. Nonetheless, I took more copies along, just in case. On Saturday, I sold all but one of Blood on Their Hands and eight of Murder in Palm Beach: The Homicide That Never Died, which I had in greater supply. In three hours on overcast Sunday, all were sold – 47 total – and I could have sold more.

Flip Wilson

I must admit, however, that two new factors may have played into the books’ popularity. I was able to tout recent reviews of Blood, the latest asserting: “If you're a Grisham fan, you'll love this book. It has suspense, drama, a wrongfully accused client, an alcoholic attorney, and more. I tend to read books at one sitting, and this one did not disappoint.” That was preceded by this: “A great story, and a character that grows on you.” Before that, a review by a Ph.D. in the classics: “Blood on Their Hands is an excellent legal thriller … The book's tension builds, the characters are colorful and absorbing, and I strongly recommend this book as an addition to the great tradition of Florida thrillers.” Yet another: “I am so impressed with Bob Brink. I have found him to be a gifted and talented author. [In the immortal words of Flip Wilson, addressing Josephine, ‘You better cut dat out.’] He has a way of crafting his story, masterfully interwoven with progressive world building, action, and delving deeply into his characters’ persona …”


The other factor is an event concerning Murder in Palm Beach. On a recent Sunday, the Palm Beach Post carried a front-page story (continued on two inside pages) about attempts by children (mainly Patti) of the 1976 assassination victim to get a full pardon for the guy who was wrongly convicted and spent 15 years in prison. They and a private investigator have come up with a scenario different from the one in my book, which I think is correct. Patti and I plan to meet for a discussion on the two individuals who, I think, could provide the critical information. One purportedly is still alive in Florida, the other we don’t know about. Stay tuned.


I’ve been talking about moving to Tampa Bay for a year or two, but lost so much money in the stock markets this year that I’ve had to delay any move. But the St. Petersburg area has at least five independent bookstores, Tampa two, and writing groups also abound. Here, a store in Lake Worth Beach is doing well with my books, but the two store proprietors in Palm Beach slide them into the stacks where no one sees them.


I was serious enough about a possible move than I rented my condo out mid-January to mid-March while staying at two Airbnb’s in Tampa. At the end of a fast run, my right thigh/hip hurt like hell, and I looked up a prolozone therapist, having solved lower back pain years earlier with the injections. Found young Dr. Josh Hanson, who diagnosed a hamstring injury and completely eliminated the pain in two sessions eight days apart. So in July, I returned twice for treatment of pain in my mid-back and neck, with virtually the same result.

On the second visit, I contracted Covid, when my immune mechanism was down. Probably caught it at a big jazz nightspot in St. Petersburg, where I danced with a few gals. Back home, I sneezed 50 to 75 times in one day. Then I took Paxlovid, and it was like waving a magic wand. I was 90 percent better in a day. However, it appears I have long Covid, because I’m out of breath sooner, and more tired, when I run. I do seem to be recovering.


Mucho dental decline sent me to Costa Rica in April 2021 for five implants by a top-notch young dentist. While waiting to return for the crowns six months later, a friend told me about a dentist couple in Nicaragua he’d been seeing for 10 years. They were even cheaper than the Costa Rica guy, so off I went that October. Big mistake. Though the couple treated me wonderfully, even finding more-suitable lodging after my first night, this guy didn’t seem to realize that the crown brand had to match the implant brand, and gaps between the teeth allow food to get trapped. And in the end, I saved little money over Costa Rica. I’ve been evaluating the insurance coverage for that and a hearing aid – man, this aging business is the pits – and likely will return to Costa Rica, whereas my new Humana PPO will cover the Costco cost of a pair of deef devices.

Gov. Ron DeSantis

Despite the proclamation of Florida’s bogus chief medical officer, appointed by our delightful Governor Ron DeSantis, that we shouldn’t be getting vaccinated – I’m not making that up – I got all the shots I could get. Now he wants to investigate the CDC. We know our country has gone over the edge when a serious health issue becomes politicized; when the rabid right-wingers make people think science can’t be trusted. We’ll be dealing with more of that fatalistic mindset in the coming years. I fear that the aforementioned governor will be the next president, and all will be lost. Maybe not – if we don’t let these numbskulls drown out the voices of reason.


But too many are allowing that to happen. An anti-Republican gal at this ballroom I occasionally visit pulls me aside so her friends can’t hear us discuss politics, because she fears losing their friendship. Same with another one – nice person, knows right from wrong, but keeps quiet around her “friends.” That’s what happened in Nazi Germany. Certain books were banned, homosexuals persecuted, the press silenced. And the masses allowed it to happen.

"So close your eyes, for that's a lovely way to be,” Sinatra croons in Wave. Except that when you open them, things aren’t so lovely.


Oh but, c’mon, Americans wouldn’t permit that – would they? Books, gays, reporters … look around. It’s underway.


On that sanguine note, merry Christmas redux. Have some eggnog. Happy New Year.

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