Friday, October 25, 2013

In Which Opportunity Knocks Me On The Head

So I recently went and looked at the page of an established professional author whose posts don't show up in my regular stream, for various reasons having to do with me generally finding his posts annoying as hell. (Like many established professionals, he's all about his own work and the wonder that is him, but if an unknown like me asks him for advice or any sort of help, he glowers and gets huffy, because he has endless amounts of time to sit around and talk about the wonder that is him, but absolutely no time at all to help anyone who hasn't already managed to succeed on their own. Pretty much every established author I've ever encountered has this attitude. Somehow or other they managed to make their way in, and they have absolutely no obligation to help anyone else do it. It's like, as soon as you become somewhat successful, you become a complete Republican... 'hey, I got mine, now you go get yours, but don't expect any help from me and make sure you keep your hands off what I got'. And perhaps I'll become exactly like this if I ever become even remotely successful, too, but I sure hope not.) 

Anyway, I found he'd said a few interesting things... generally, in amidst the other posts about the wonder that is him, he does say a few interesting things... so I posted to a few of his threads. 

And at one point, in a thread where the discussion centered around writing and plotting techniques, he apparently grew annoyed with my constant whining and sniveling about being an unknown writer whose work no one wants to publish or read, and he said "Being unknown is an opportunity, if you can take advantage of it."

I asked him very respectfully what, specifically, he meant by that, as I myself cannot think of any way that being an unknown is an opportunity, or how to take advantage of it. But, as I have already mentioned, he's a successful professional author with a great deal of experience in that field, so, presumably he does indeed have concrete, objective advice as to exactly how I can 'take advantage' of the 'opportunity' that 'being unknown' represents. 

So far he hasn't responded to my request, but I live in hope.

I mean, to do otherwise would be to presume that he was just blowing smoke up my ass to shut me the hell up. And I'm sure he wouldn't do that.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Networking for dummies

LinkedIn keeps inviting me to join groups like "Writer's World" and "Writer's Nook" and "Freeing the Writer Within". 

I don't need these groups. I need the group entitled "Editors Who Will Actually Read Your Work And Possibly Buy It If It's Good Without Making You Wait Two Years In A Slush Pile and Then Sending Your Ms. Back Unread When You Finally Call Their Intern Up To Inquire About It". 

Now is where Joe R. Lansdale bombs into my thread and tells me how easy it is these days for kids like me to self publish and how the he personally knows people who sell their work and have successful writing careers every day. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Joss Whedon, Lord Emperor of Greater Douchelvania

I'm late to the party on this, but a quick search on 'Hank Pym in AVENGERS movie' brings me many links confirming that Joss Whedon is a gigantic bag of dicks who will never ever put Hank Pym into an AVENGERS movie. 

Wait. Did I just jump to an enormous conclusion? Well, whatever.

It is apparently confirmed by Whedon himself that although Ultron is the villain of the next AVENGERS movie, Whedon has magnanimously decided to change Ultron's origin so as to completely exclude any mention of Hank Pym.

If Whedon's going to use Ultron while excluding Pym, my presumption has to be, Whedon has no intention of ever putting Pym into the Avengers movie franchise.

Following on that presumption, Whedon is a gigantic back of dicks.

Following on THAT presumption, I don't even know if I want to watch any more AVENGERS movies if Whedon is involved with them.

If I had had the power to do so, I would have forestalled any production of any AVENGERS movie that did not include some version of Hank and Janet Pym. And it would have had to be a positive, heroic version, not Douchebag Hank and dumbass Jan from ULTIMATES.

But I did not have that power. And I don't have the power to do anything about Whedon doing another AVENGERS movie without Pym.

But I do have the power to not watch the fucker, and that's where I think I am right now.

Sunday, October 06, 2013


So here's my Kindle Author's page, with awesome science fiction, fantasy, pulp adventure, and horror books by me, D.A. Madigan, Louisville's Best Local Author!

And here's a link to my newest non fiction book, a memoir of a recent collaboration with a Professional Established Comic Book Artist!

And here's my latest fiction book!

And here's my Smashwords author's page, with e-copies of all my books in various e-formats!

The No Comment Zone

This post is in my No Comments Zone! Because I don't CARE what you think!

Women should be slaves to men. That's how God intended it and it is not only wrong but SINFUL to try to live any other way. And young people need to defer to their elders in everything! We know better! About EVERYTHING! Also, if you disagree with me about anything, SHUT UP!!!! If I want your opinion I'll give it to you! Your freedoms end where mine begin and mine begin everywhere so SHUT UP!!!!

Taxes are fascist oppression and nobody should have to pay them! And all the haters and the whiners and the lazy ass looter-moochers and gays should be sent to jail and forced to do hard labor like garbage collecting and cleaning the houses of their betters FOR NOTHING!!!! And if you don't support our troops then you're a filthy traitor and you should be shot or sent to jail and forced to work FOR FREE!!!!

And keep your filthy huge liberal oppressive government interference out of my Social Security and Disability and Medicare!!!!

And if you love the Kenyan socialist Muslim pretender Nobama or that liberal fascist traitor feminazi Hitlery so much why don't you just marry them in a big gay-group marriage ceremony on board a United Nations black helicopter and then have a gay honeymoon stealing all of America's guns and golf courses with your ACORN cohorts!

And if you choose to be gay that's fine but keep it to yourself!!!! Because it's disgusting and decent people shouldn't have to look at that plus what about the kids? Think about someone else for a change you faggots!

Actually it's not fine to be gay it's an affront to GOD and the liberal Supreme Court will burn in hell FOREVER for their homo love!

Remember, this post is in my No Comments Zone! I'm tired of all this discord and argument and disagreement in my comment threads so if you post any comments at all I WILL DELETE THEM!!!! Plus it will just prove that you suck!!!! And are stupid!!!! And have butt face!!!!

If you enjoyed this post, try my novel Time Watch !  It's an alternately exciting and hilarious story about what happens when a thirty-something nerd named Jim gets hold of a wrist watch that lets him travel in time... and the aliens who lost it come after him to get it back!


Dug out Marvel Comic's THE SUPERHERO WOMEN by Stan Lee and started reading through it yesterday. 

This was originally published in 1977, as part of the 'Marvel Origins' line. It supposedly features the 'origin' stories of many of Marvel's female superheroes, and is clearly meant to be a distaff equivalent to the previous entries in the 'Marvel Origins' TPB line, ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS, SON OF ORIGINS, and BRING ON THE BAD GUYS -- which were entirely devoted to tales of male superheroes and supervillains.

THE SUPERHERO WOMEN is also a really painfully self conscious attempt on the part of both Marvel as a company and Stan Lee, specifically, to cash in on that whole wild and wonderful 'Women's Lib' thing that those crazy swingin' college chicks were getting 'into' back then. And, yes, the patronizing male condescension is absolutely that rankly apparent in pretty much every introductory word Stan Lee types for this horror.

See, while the basic idea is sound -- nobody did a better job of exploiting passing pop culture fads than Marvel did during the Sensational 70s -- there was a real problem with this particular concept.

It was as if Stan woke up one morning and decided to cash in on the Civil Rights Craze by doing an entire trade paperback reprinting the origin stories of all Marvel's funky, freaky black characters. And for all I know, that may well have occurred to old Smilin' Stan... and the reason that TPB never appeared is the same reason that should have kept THE SUPERHERO WOMEN non existant as well -- MARVEL HAD ALMOST NO CHARACTERS THAT FIT THE FORMULA.

Superhero comics began at a time when mainstream American culture was utterly dominated by male nominally Christian purportedly heterosexual Caucasians. This was the general target demographic because it was male nominally Christian purportedly heterosexual Caucasians who had the money to spend on cheap, throwaway entertainment like comic books. Comics, like all other forms of for profit pop culture offerings, catered to this audience and instinctively did nothing to offend it -- which meant that superhero comics from their inception featured white guys as the heroes.

I want to say that no conscious decision was ever made about this, that it was simply instinctive for comics founders like Simon and Schuster and Kane to create characters like Superman and Batman as white guys who were obviously heterosexual (at least, judging from their romantic interests) and who, while never obviously demonstrating any particular kind of religious preference, still, did nothing that would keep people from presuming they were some manner of protestant Christian. But given that so many of comics' founders were actually Jewish, I'm not sure that a conscious decision wasn't made, at some point. to make all 'superheroes' goy and white -- and given that at least a few of comics founding geniuses were probably closeted homosexuals, most likely a conscious decision to make all superheroes straight was made by at least some of them, as well.

However, in comics Golden Age, there were a handful of female protagonists, ranging from Lady Luck to the Black Canary to Wonder Woman and the original Black Widow (a crazed assassin put on Earth by Satan to kill evildoers). They made up a very small percentage of the otherwise overwhelmingly masculine super hordes, but they were there.

This did not continue into the Silver Age. When DC tested the waters to see if it was 'safe' to publish superheroes again, they did it by reviving male characters -- the Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern, the Atom -- in new, updated, Silver Age, 'atomic' guises. Black Canary did not get a 'Silver Age' re upholstering, and Wonder Woman had never been out of print. (Wonder Woman has never been out of print, although she has never been as popular a character as any of her male contemporaries. It's just that her publishers have never owned the rights to the character; rather, they lease them from the heirs of Wonder Woman's creator, and the deal under which they lease those rights requires that Wonder Woman perpetually have her own title.)

When Marvel looked over at DC's 'Silver Age' successes and decided to try to emulate them in the early 60s, they very much varied the characterization and personality formulas of the superhero up to that time, creating far more complex and realistically nuanced characters -- but Marvel's line up of characters were still all very much male nominally Christian purportedly heterosexual Caucasians. The only super powered women that Marvel created in the early 60s fell into what I call the 'Inevitable Girl' formula -- which is to say, every super team needed a chick in it, so every super team got one. Thus and so, the Fantastic Four got Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl. The Avengers got the Wasp, who was Ant-Man's sidekick. (A female sidekick for a male character was pretty revolutionary at this time, however, the Wasp also filled the other formula slot that Marvel confined nearly all of its female superheroines to for decades, namely, the Distaff Version of a More Powerful Male Character type chick.) The X-Men got Marvel Girl. And for a very long time, these were the ONLY super powered female characters the Marvel Universe had.

Yet by the time 1977 rolled around, there were a few more female super characters hanging around -- not many, and almost none of them had ever had their own titles, but, still, there were a few. None of them had proven even remotely popular or commercially successful, making one wonder exactly what it was Stan Lee thought he was doing, putting a book like this on Marvel's publishing schedule -- but maybe he figured, what the hell, the stories were all reprints, he might sell a few copies of stuff that otherwise wasn't generating any revenue right now, and maybe it would get him laid by some of those kookie swingin' college Women's Libbers.

And so it was that THE SUPERHERO WOMEN hit the stands, featuring the 'origin' stories of such humdinger characters Ms. Marvel, Red Sonja, the Invisible Girl, Madame Medusa, the Black Widow, the Wasp, and Hela, Goddess of Death.

No Marvel Girl, strangely enough. Even more strangely, no Valkyrie, a singularly liberated female character who had appeared, by that time, as the only female member of the Defenders, and who was certainly no more obscure than Hela, or, for that matter, the Cat, Shanna the She Devil or Lyra the Femizon, three other characters who didn't even get on the cover of THE SUPERHERO WOMEN, but who appeared within its pages nonetheless. No Scarlet Witch, a character who had become more and more prominent and well developed over the course of her membership in the Avengers.

In fact, the choices for the various stories and characters included in the volume seem... well... strange, to say the least. Medusa, for example, has never had her own title; rather than reprint a tale from when she was perhaps the most formidable member of the FF's opposite numbers the Frightful Four, or something from the Inhuman's various solo features, Stan chose an issue of Spider-man in which Medusa guest starred for inclusion here. The Black Widow got the same treatment, and it's even crazier there, because prior to this TPB's publication, the Black Widow had her own feature for a while in AMAZING ADVENTURES, and Lee could have reprinted any of those stories instead of one where she essentially played second fiddle to Peter Parker.

Whatever the case may be, the entire volume more than adequately displays that over the decades, Marvel's treatment and depiction of female super-protagonists has been pretty weak, if not outright shameful. Of all of the female characters featured in this volume -- Medusa, Red Sonja, the Invisible Girl/Woman, Ms. Marvel, Hela, The Cat, The Wasp, Lyra the Femizon (whoever the hell she is), Shanna the She Devil, and the Black Widow -- only five have ever had their own titles.

Of that five, only one (Ms. Marvel) currently has her own title. None of them have ever been particularly popular or commercially successful (The Cat got two issues of her own title and one issue of Marvel Team Up, the character then went on to mutate into two different characters, the Hellcat and Tigra, both of whom have, at one time or another, had their own titles that had very short runs, neither of whom have proven to be particularly successful over the years).

Now let's take a more analytical look at these characters. Out of the 10, 3 were created to fill the Inevitable Girl slots in otherwise all male teams (Medusa, the Invisible Girl, and the Wasp). Five are arguably female surrogates of more popular male characters -- Red Sonja (Conan), Ms. Marvel (Captain Marvel), The Wasp (Ant-Man), Shanna (Ka-Zar), and the Black Widow (Spider-man).

(It may seem unfair to reduce the undeniable complexities of the Black Widow character to a phrase like 'female Spider-man surrogate' -- but the story in which she appears in THE SUPERHERO WOMAN presents her as nothing but an inferior female copy of Spider-man, so in this particular case, it's actually very accurate. And even when we speak of the complexities of the Black Widow as a character, she has, since her introduction, always been paired with male characters and her persona has always been largely defined by her interactions with male characters. )

Only two of them have identities not derived or in some other way defined by male characters -- Hela, Goddess of Death, who is in no way a protagonist or even really much of a character, and Lyra the Femizon, whom I don't think anyone on Earth had ever heard of prior to THE SUPERHERO WOMAN coming out, and I doubt many who have read this volume even vaguely remember.

Neither of these characters can even remotely be accurately described as 'superhero women', either.

And that most of the stories are simply straight up awful, well, that doesn't help this TPB work any better, either.

All told, other than the historical value of owning something that reprints both THE CLAWS OF THE CAT #1 and "The Fury of the Femizons" from SAVAGE TALES #1, there's really little point to or value in this trade paperback.

Nonetheless, I'm happy to have it in my collection, wretched though much if not all of it is.

If you enjoyed this article, try my novel Zap Force -- a story of a team of college student superheroes fighting to save themselves and the rest of the world from the secret super powered cabals scheming to enslave us all!

Paying for the Party

I've been searching the web and cannot find details anywhere on Congressional take home pay. But the GSA payroll calendar shows that paydays are every other Wednesday, and Congressional gross pay is currently $174,000 per year. Divide that by 26 and multiply by .85 and you get a rough take home pay of $5,688.46 every two weeks.

This is what we are paying Congressional Republicans for taking meaningless votes they know they cannot win, over and over again, to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Why do they bring these bills to the floor and vote on them, over and over again? So they can tell the idiots back home who voted for them that they have 'voted to repeal Obamacare'.

$5,688.46 every two weeks. This is what we are paying these people to work 126 days a year. They work no 5 day work weeks, no weekends, and even when Congress is in session, nobody actually makes them show up for work if they don't feel like it on any given day. They can get out of bed whenever they want, they can go home whenever they want, take a break, go to lunch, stay away for as long as they feel like it. They do not get occurrences. They do not have supervisors. Nobody is keeping track of their attendance, much less reviewing their performance.

They essentially keep whatever schedule they want to. They cannot be fired other than by being voted out, and many of them (the worst ones, generally) have 'safe' districts due to gerrymandering.

And when they do actually try to 'work', what they mostly do is talk to each other about Jesus and the need to control women's reproduction and the War on Christmas and the President's birth certificate and how Federal law is repressing the rights of wealthy white Christian CEOs to deny their employees birth control. The only hard work they do is preserving corporate subsidies for the people who will be paying them huge sums as lobbyists when their Congressional terms are over.

Or, they shut down our government. Because... well, for no reason any of them can clearly articulate, apparently. Something to do with them being disrespected. I'd like to disrespect them with a shovel. Or any other reasonably heavy blunt instrument.

$5,688.46 every two weeks. And a free office and a paid staff and taxpayer funded vacations... er, I mean, fact finding junkets... and any number of other privileges we can only dream of. Permanent pensions. Health care. Free parking. Access to official vehicles.

I'm sure some of our Congressional representatives work very hard. My Congressman, John Yarmuth, works his ass off and he donates his salary to charity, too. But he's not one of the worthless Tea Party leeches who is shutting down our government because freeeeeedommmmmmmm!!!!!!, either.

$5,688.46 every two weeks.

Every single one of these people who isn't doing their job, who isn't working to actually help this country get back on its feet, who isn't trying to help American citizens who need it, every single one of these people should be arrested for misappropriation of public monies.

Well, they should actually be arrested for treason, but certainly, someone could make a good solid legal case that they are robbing the Treasury simply by cashing the paychecks they have in no way earned.

If you enjoyed this article, try my novel Universal Maintenance, a tale of what happens when an unemployed geek is recruited to be a genetically optimized agent patrolling an array of artificial alternate worlds, only to discover that the greatest threat to his survival is his organization's lethally complex office politics!

Rock out with your cock out

Rereading STARSHIP TROOPERS. It's been awhile.

On previous readings, at (obviously) younger ages, I guess the opening pages, in which the narrator and his soldier buddies cheerfully invade an alien planet for no reason ever made clear and bounce around in their futuristic powered battle armor gleefully slaughtering sentient beings with flamethrowers and blowing all their shit up with nuclear weapons... I guess that just didn't bother me. I mean, the victims were all aliens, and rather later on in the narrative, we are told that these aliens had the poor taste to ally themselves with other aliens that Earth really doesn't much like, so these Earthly space marines were sent on a "demonstration of firepower and frightfulness". So that's cool, right? Bad aliens. Blow their shit up. Murder them.

Which, I don't know, I guess I'm just getting old, because these days, I have a cynical suspicion that, if these same aliens were to drop in and pull all this shit on any city on Earth, the narrator might well start using words like 'terrorism' and 'atrocity' and 'genocide' and get really wrathful about it.

Heinlein's casual bloodthirstiness, raving xenophobia, virulent homophobia, and rampant misogyny (not to mention his sexual interests in bondage, discipline, group sex, dom/sub games, incest, and barely adolescent girls) have long been familiar to me. I took all this shit in stride when I wore a younger man's clothes, but lately (maybe it's the fact that I'm a parent with daughters of my own now) I'm just finding it tiresome.

But honestly, I can deal with most if not all of the barely repressed, furiously seething sexual perversions that seemed to haunt Heinlein's psychic bellfrey throughout the poor schmuck's life (or, at least, since he ditched his first wife Leslie and married Virginia); hey, that's just the world and the culture and the times that the man had the misfortune to be born into, along with the lack of bravery that caused him to stay in the closet all his life about his real sexual desires. (And, perhaps, his poor choice of second wives, but the world will never definitively know what went on there, so I'll leave that to the side.) And I get that. Nobody can control their kinks and no human culture has ever been universally tolerant or forgiving of such things. You go with the flow or you get strung up by the monkey mob, and Heinlein was controversial enough for any six guys. He didn't need to incite his own stoning or anything.

But the rampant "Wow, let's blow all this shit up and kill everyone who gets in the way" attitude he's presenting here... and the way he's pitching it, not just matter of factly, as one's duty to one's culture or whatever, but with a casual, even jaunty joyfulness, as if causing this sort of destruction and mayhem is something that's not only acceptable and/or grimly necessary, but also, well, totally AWESOME, dude -- he's basically saying "If your leaders decide you should go completely fuck up a bunch of other people, hey, you might as well relax and enjoy being a murderous megalomaniac". 

I'm just having a big problem with this, as I reread it. I mean, it's not just that I disagree with it, I find it to be absolutely criminally dangerously batshit insane. 

And this is EXACTLY the attitude that our military attempts to inculcate into its combat soldiers, as anyone who has ever heard the vile and loathsome phrase "Rock out with your cock out" -- a code phrase meant to inculcate in our soldiers in the Middle East a joyful attitude towards killing people and blowing up their shit -- will well know. 

Ah, well. I guess I had to grow up sometime.

And to think, he wrote STARSHIP TROOPERS to be a juvenile book, aimed at young boys.

If you enjoyed this article, try my Heinleinesque tale of a future zombie apocalypse, The Fear Masters!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Automotive blues

I am so frustrated and stressed by my car situation right now I want to just sit down and cry.

Okay.  So when we bought this car we knew there were a few things wrong with it.  We took a mechanic we had just met along with us and he assured us that all the little issues were easily fixable and he'd do it for a very reasonable price.  So we went ahead and bought the car.

We really wanted to buy this car because the woman who was selling it was a friend of my wife's and needed money desperately, and the price fell into our (low) price range, and other cars we'd looked at at actual car dealerships were higher than we wanted to pay.  Also we were about to leave on vacation and the timing just seemed right.  So we bought it, and my wonderful wife went to a great deal of trouble to get it all registered and inspected and we got the repairs done while we were on vacation and that was all great.

As it turned out, the one really significant issue that our mechanic told us he could fix no problem, wound up being more significant than he thought.  He told us it was some kind of short in the wiring and we would need to replace some kind of circuit board that was a $500 part if we wanted the engine fans to come on like they're supposed to when you start the car up.   But he just ran a wire to a toggle switch that the driver could flip to turn the fans on when the car was started and off when the car was turned off.

He did not tell us this before we bought the car.  Before we bought the car he told us that these issues were no problem and he could fix them right up.  It wasn't until we'd bought the car and were stuck that he discovered this situation.

When I was first told about this I freaked out a little bit.  I am not Presence Of Mind Guy and this was not a minor thing.  Forget to turn the engine fans on and you burn the engine up.  Forget to turn them off and you drain the battery and possibly burn out the fans.  This was not pressure I fucking needed with my first car.  But we were in.  We were stuck.  So I drove the car.

Now at first when you remembered to hit the toggle, the car ran fine.  It would get up to 200 and sit right there.  That was fine.  But I am an idiot and a bungler and sure enough I forgot to toggle one time and boiled all the coolant out of the car.  But I put water back in it at  the mechanic's advice and drove it around and it was fine.  So, good.

But then I forgot to toggle again many weeks later and then it was not fine.  Even after putting coolant back in it the car would still overheat after about four miles on the road, and as my commute is 15 miles either way, that was a bad.  And of course, our mechanic turns out to be in jail for 90 days.  So I took the car over to a local garage we've done business with before with our van and they said one of the fans was no longer working and replaced it and completely rewired the toggle switch and charged me $350.

It was more complicated than that.  First they told me the repairs would be done by the end of the day.  Then they called me back and said they thought they had it, but they were driving it to test it and it spiked over 200.  So they looked at it again and the one fan was not running right.  So they said they needed to run more wire.  So it was going to take until the next day.  But it was done the next day and I picked it up.

And the car ran great for three trips -- to work, back from work, to work again.  Then on the fourth trip, back from work, it spiked over 200 again.  So I took it back over to the garage and said what the fuck, and they looked at it and said, okay, one of the fans isn't working right, we'll fix it.  And they did.  And I drove it to work, and back from work, and to work again, and then on the road back from work I got to within 3 miles of home and I'm stuck in traffic because apparently last Wednesday  night in Louisville everyone lost their minds and their were wrecks everywhere... and the car spikes over 200 again and this time there's steam coming from under the hood so I pulled it over fast and parked it and called Triple A and wound up waiting four hours for a tow truck in a not particularly great neighborhood.  And getting up at 4:30 the next morning to catch the bus to work again.  Oh happy day.

Here's what really scared me:  the fans were off when I shut off the car that night.  I know I turned them on because I could hear them come on, but they were off when I shut it down in that parking lot.  I reached down to toggle them off and the switch was completely limp and unworkable.  That gave me a bad start.  But the fans were off.  I could not hear them and when I went out and lifted the hood to let the engine cool I could not hear them.

Then, sometime that evening, they came back on.  I could hear them.  I tried to hit the toggle switch and it was hot enough to burn me.  That REALLY scared me.

I had the car towed to the garage that had done the two temp fixes on it.  The Triple A guy was very nice and helped me pull the wires to the toggle to turn the fans off.  When he did that, we discovered that there was not one long wire running from the toggle to the fans but a long wire spliced to a short wire.  That did not thrill me either.

So I called the garage from work the next day, as we'd dropped it off at 10 pm the night before.   Well, the owner hemmed and hawed, obviously the car had serious electrical issues and he should probably have never agreed to try to fix it with that toggle situation and it having failed twice now he felt I should take it to a specialist.  He recommended a place that specializes in auto electrical work and I talked about it with my wife and she agreed so we had the car towed there.  That was Thursday.  They worked on it all day and all day today and said it was done.  $320.  No more toggle switch, they wired him up correctly.

So my wife picks me up at work and we drive all the way back downtown and get the car.  And I'm really really hoping that this is it, we've put all the money we'll need to into him for a while and now these professional experts have fixed it and that should be it.  And I'm ready for this to be behind us, I really am.

So I get in my car and start it up and I'm following my wife home again.

Now, here's the thing:  when I first got it and was driving it the heat needle would sit right at 200 and that was okay.  If it ever edged over 200 at all then we'd have problems -- the coolant would boil out or when I turned the engine off I'd hear the motor knocking as it cooled.  All that was bad; all that meant I couldn't drive it safely.  Anything over 200 was always bad.  Always.

When the garage fixed it and I could drive it for those three trips when it worked before it failed (both times) it never went over 190.  It would climb up to a notch or two under 200 and stay there.  And I LOVED that.  And each time it overheated after the garage fixed it, I would see it start to edge up to 200 and say 'okay, maybe it will just stick there, that will be fine' and so I'd be sitting there in the car tense and stressed and scared watching that needle (and I'm not a good enough driver to split my attention like that, it sucks) and it would creep up to 200... and stay there...

...and then, start creeping over.

And the last time this happened, it got to like 220 and steam is coming up under my hood and I'm crawling through the most ridiculous rush hour gridlock I've ever seen on Bardstown Road and I know I've got to pull this car over FAST and I'm in the middle lane and thank God the guy to my right pulled up and let me get over.  And that there was a parking lot there and the people who ran the Firestone business were cool and didn't mind me parking it there.

So all that SUCKED.

So anyway I'm in the car which we've just spent another $300+ on and these guys are supposed to be the experts on this shit and the heat needle starts climbing.  But it gets up to around 190 and it seems to be staying there although we're not more than halfway home.   And my wife rolls through a yellow light and I get stuck at the red and as I'm at the red the needle creeps to 200.  And while I'm sitting there it starts to look like it's trying to go over and I'm SCREAMING at the light COME ON COME ON COME ON...

And finally I start to roll again and it hasn't actually gone over 200.  And as I move it seems to settle a little, not below 200 but right at 200.  And we get to the traffic light right before our house and it's still at 200... but we get stuck there and... it starts creeping over 200.

And I'm freaking out.

It's only two blocks to the lot where I can park it and there's no steam or anything but for that whole last two blocks I'm at 210 and I'm just stressing and freaking and WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

We have given so called professional experts of good reputation nearly $700 over the past ten days to fix this and THEY CANNOT FIX IT.

So I'm doing research on the internet tonight and I'm finding all kinds of answers.  Some say the normal range for a 99 Grand Am is 180 to 220.  Others say it should run right around 195.   My own experience is, this thing gets over 200, bad shit happens.  AND IT GOT OVER 200.

Right before I got it home.

And the trip from this electrical specialist to my house is maybe four miles.  Maybe.  Less than a third of my commute to work.

And if it's slipping over 200 after four miles, what's it going to do when I try to drive it 15 tomorrow?

If I thought that, after the new wiring and the repairs this new place did today, 210 was the new 'normal' and it would run okay there and I felt any kind of assurance that it wasn't going to go over 210, I'd drive it.  But I feel absolutely no assurance of that at all.  If this thing starts edging over 200 when I'm still 11 miles from work, and it JUST KEEPS GOING UP... I need to pull over.  And probably not get to work that day.  And that's an occurrence that I really don't need right now, plus, possibly a burn out engine and a totaled car sitting at the side of the road until Triple A can get to me again.  And a big towing bill.

And I am so tired of this.  I am so TIRED of this.  And we are so screwed with this.  There is no way to get our money back.  I feel like it was all just a perfect trouble pit... all these little things just kept pushing us further and further down a gradually steepening slope... wanting to help out a friend, the mechanic telling us the fixes were easy and cheap, wanting to get it done before we went on vacation, needing to keep the buy on budget... and now we're stuck.  We can't ever get our money back out of this thing.  It HAS to work.  We can't AFFORD for it not to work.  But it's not working.

When I was doing research -- and oh do I wish we'd had the time to do the research before we bought this thing, but I guess we did, we knew the make and model a week or two weeks before we bought it -- I'm finding that apparently a great many people have had this problem with the 99 Pontiac Grand Am.  And there seems to be no good fix.  Several people on the Internet have said 'if you're stuck in traffic running the AC this car WILL overheat'.  I mean, are you KIDDING me?

I can always just start taking the bus again, but that doesn't get us our money back.  We can't AFFORD to just have thrown two grand out the window.  We can't.  

And I got us into this.  My wife gave me driving lessons for Christmas and then bought me this car to give me less stress, to give me a better commute and more time at home.  She did all of this for me and I feel like my inability to just ride the bus to work and back without hating life and being miserable has gotten us into this huge hole.

Honestly, I could just sit down and cry.  I really could.