#WATWB – Your Monthly Shot of News That Doesn’t Suck

Remember Rick Perry? The dumbass who wanted to shut down the Department of Energy because he thought all they did was study alternative forms of energy like hippie solar panels and liberal windmills. The same guy went on to become Secretary of Energy and therefore in charge of the Department of Energy where he hopefully learned that the DOE is in charge of all things nuclear, including the fun stuff that makes the big ol’ kaboomies.

The DOE actually does do a lot of stuff; it’s not just a bunch of people playing with nuclear weapons. To be fair to Rick, they do research into alternative means of energy – it is part of their charter to do energy-related research among other things – it’s just not all they do. But, contrary to popular belief, there is no liberal conspiracy running wild at the DOE to take away your car and make you ride bicycles everywhere. There is, however, a deep desire in the DOE to make sure that nuclear weapons don’t go off unexpectedly, nuclear reactors keep reacting correctly, and no one makes off with enough fissile material to level the Eastern seaboard.

See, energy production and use is big-time national security stuff. Any time you have to do business with people who don’t really care for you, you’re running the risk that someday the other shoe will drop and your supply of sweet, sweet crude will dry up. That’s in addition to the environmental hazards of things like internal combustion engines and the looming threat of simply running out of things to burn for fuel. Bottom line: Traditional energy mechanisms are outdated and dying off and something has to give or we’re all gonna be walking everywhere.

So, it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Department of Energy has set up a fund to help support scientific innovation and energy research in the civilian corporate arena. They’re doling out $127 million in Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfers to see if they can get corporate American to help bring government breakthroughs to market. Yes, you read that correctly: Breakthroughs that happen in government-funded research are being handed off to small businesses along with a check and a request to turn those breakthroughs into viable products.

In case you’re wondering, my idea of strapping a piece of buttered toast to a cat’s back and then dropping the cat has NOT been approved. Since toast always lands buttered side down and cats always land on their feet, there’s no way either could ever touch the ground and the resultant spinning in space could be tapped for endless energy. I guess it’s just too advanced a project for some people. Study it out, eggheads!

At some point, advanced government research will trickle down into day-to-day life. Maybe it’ll be cheaper electricity, more efficient solar panels, or a Texas power grid that can sustain the pressure of being used. So, the next time some knuckle-dragging dirthead screams about shutting down the Department of Energy, kindly remind them that the DOE a) has nuclear weapons and b) does some important stuff that can directly impact you in a good way.

Anyway, if you’d like to read the original brief article, you can find it here.

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1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).
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And now, your moment of Zen:

Book Review – Owl Eyes Motel by Barbara Avon

No matter what that huckster on late night TV claims, no one actually knows what happens to you when you die. Yeah, yeah, yeah, bright lights and a sensation of floating. Maybe some angels doing angel stuff or some devils shooting dice in an alley. When my dad died, I had a dream where he had managed to get a message to me that basically said the afterlife was a place to unlearn all the bad shit we’d done in life. An anti-college, if you will, where forgetting was the key. Probably no raging keggers, either. So, kind of like going to Oral Roberts U.

Personally, I think it’ll be different for everyone and I’m hoping somehow or another drag racing factors into the afterlife equation. Not because I’m good at drag racing or have even ever drag raced, it just seems like it would be fun and if you’re already dead it’s not like drag racing accidents could make you even more dead. Plus, I’m sure dragsters in the afterlife would be bumpin’ AF.

Owl Eyes Motel, the latest work from multi-genre author Barbara Avon, does not have any drag racing in it. But that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. What the motel does offer is a full service afterlife experience including clean rooms, an experienced staff, and an on-site psychotherapist. Think of it as a stopover on the road between life and death where you can wash up, relax, and get excellent room service. Which, if you think about, is almost as good as drag racing and significantly quieter. And, when you realize that most of the people in the Owl Eyes don’t realize they’re dead, the place makes even more sense. It also explains the lack of drag racing since the recently deceased suck at driving. But don’t let anyone know I told you that; it’s a secret.

It would have been easy to simply tell a story about each guest’s death whether untimely or expected and call it good. Drop a little morality play in there and you’ve got comedy gold. But Avon took it a bit further and even though most of the stories center around a single person’s death, the novella as a whole revolves around the hotel itself. While individual deaths could be interesting for a while, even spinning yarns about people managing to run themselves over while back out of their driveways can get old. But hints of history and purpose about a stopover point for the newly dead that includes a breakfast buffet and nightly lounge acts? That’s cool stuff right there.

Avon writes with a certain glee, not necessarily happy that people are dead, but rather a tone that she appreciates her words and wants them to live and breathe. While the subject matter may vacillate from melancholy joy to crushing sorrow, the words – and the characters they represent – hop off the page to tell you their tales. In this collection, Avon is the thrilling narrator, but the stories all belong to the characters.

All in all, a good weekend read that doesn’t get bogged down with its subject matter. I’m not sure I’d fully classify as horror because horror doesn’t carry your luggage or provide room service, but it’s an excellent musing on life, death, and what comes beyond those things.

Get your copy on Amazon

The year is 1985, and there’s a storm brewing. It’s the kind that forces even the derelicts to retreat to their gutters. Each room is its own unique story; each chapter, a room. Check in at Owl Eyes and stay a spell, won’t you? There’s always room for the dead.

“Come in! Come in! Welcome to the Owl Eyes Motel. My name is Milton and I am the owner of this fine establishment, situated on Route Number 666. That’s six-hundred and sixty-six. Owl Eyes offers impeccable service. There is no lack of creature comforts at this here motel. At Owl Eyes, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail. Management kindly reminds you that we are not responsible for lost luggage…or souls.”

*Some scenes depict dark and sensitive themes.

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