WINGSPREAD Ezine for November, 2022

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”

November 2022                                                           James P. Hurd

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  • Wingspread E-zine subscription information
  • New story” “Saving at the Pump”
  • This month’s puzzler and last month’s winner
  • Writer’s Corner
  • New novel (Blessed Unbeliever) is sent to publisher!
  • How to purchase Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying


 Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.) 

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying:

New story: Saving at the pump

It seemed so simple. I needed gas, so I stopped at Holiday to fill up, clutching my five-cent discount coupon and my Cub discount card. But the pump wouldn’t scan the five-cent discount card so I walked in.

Me: Can I use this five-cent discount coupon along with my Cub card discount for gas?

He: Yep. But you can’t scan the discount coupon at the pump.

Me: Okay. I’ll pump my gas, then come in and pay.

He: We don’t do that anymore. You have to either prepay or use your credit card at the pump.

Me: But I can’t use my discount card at the pump.

He: You can, but you have to prepay.

Me: Okay. I’ll prepay, but I want to fill up the tank.

He: How many gallons does it hold?

Me: Dunno. It’s almost empty. . .

To read more, click here:

(*Please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

This month’s puzzler: Ask No Questions

(Thanks to Tom and Ray, “Car Talk”)

On this particular day, Fred and Gertie are in the car and he is driving way too fast. He realizes he is about to run out of gas. So, he decides to pull over on the side of the highway. He pulls over into the far-right lane, and then realizes that he went past the exit for the gas station about half a mile back. He decides to run back to the exit to get gas. He tells his wife Gertie, “Hey, lock the doors and don’t let anyone in. I’ll be back in a flash. Lock the doors and don’t let anyone in, no matter what.”

He goes off down the road. Sometime later, he comes back with a few gallons of gasoline. And as he approaches the car, he sees a police car stopping with flashing lights. He and the police arrive at the car simultaneously. Both Fred and the police look into the car. It is still locked. Gertie is inside, unconscious. Possibly near death’s door. And there is a stranger in the car. The husband opens the door because he has the key, of course. And the policeman sees Gertie and the stranger. 

But he asks no questions as to what has happened to Gertie.

Here are the puzzler questions. How did the stranger get into the car? Gertie did not open the door, and it was locked on all sides, windows were rolled up, vents closed and the sunroof shut tight.

So, what happened to Gertie? Why was she unconscious?

Who was the stranger? How did the stranger get in?

Good luck with this one!

Answer to last month’s puzzler and announcing the winner! 

Recall that your captors drop you off by helicopter in the middle of a long, narrow island, leaving you with only a box of matches, a flashlight, a blanket, and a large jug of water. Lightning strikes and starts a fire at one end of the island. Worse, a strong wind is blowing the fire toward you. You cannot escape from the island. How do you save yourself from the flames?

What you do is use a firefighters’ trick. You start a fire and let the wind carry it. This will make a firebreak that will spread downwind. After it is burned you can take shelter in it and it will stop the fire. You’re safe.

 (‘Course you’ll soon starve, but that’s another issue.)

Puzzler winner: A random pick from all the correct answers revealed that the winner is (drumroll . . .): Steve Eckhardt, St. Paul! He’ll receive a free copy of my book: Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying. Thanks.

Writers’ Corner

Today, I delivered Blessed Unbeliever (provisional title) into the hands of Wipf and Stock (Eugene, Oregon)! I expect it to be published this summer. Launch party, advance discounts, excerpts, book signings, etc. to follow.

Sean McIntosh grows up and is baptized in a fundamentalist church that provides answers to all his questions. But now, he asks:

  • Why did my father die young?
  • Why did Reggie steal Kathleen away from me? (Reggie’s not even a real fundamentalist)
  • Why did I fail in getting into the aviation program when that is all I ever wanted to do?
  • Why do I have so many doubts about the Bible and about prayer?
  • And, how do I raise any of these doubts if I’m stuck in a Bible Institute that provides answers, but answers to very different questions? I think I’ll try out atheism
  • How does a person do atheism well? . . .

Tip of the month: Your first draft should contain no adjectives and especially no adverbs. You can always go back and stick one in if it’s indispensable. For instance, Elmore Leonard used to say, “Never use the word ‘suddenly’; never.” This beautifully leans down your writing: your goal is strong nouns and verbs.

Words of the Month: FRENEMY, PORTMANTEAU. The first, frenemy, illustrates why no one should have to learn all the new words people are coining. It means friendship with someone you dislike, or conflict with someone you like. Why do I need to learn this? You should decide either/or; don’t pee down both legs of your pants. Portmanteau is an old-timey word meaning a large suitcase. But here it is used to mean crunching two words together: frenemy (friend-enemy) or podcast (ipod broadcast). So, if you don’t know either word, or don’t want to learn either, no worries—you can do just fine without either of them.

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The Amish answer to climate change

Things to ponder:

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

If the temperature is zero outside today and it’s going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?

Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster?

A priest, a pastor, and a rabbit walked into a clinic to donate blood. The doctor says to the rabbit: “What’s your blood type?” With great sadness, the rabbit replied, “I’m probably a Typo”

My husband and I went through the McDonald’s driveway window and I gave the cashier a $5 bill.
Our total was $4.25, so I also handed her 25c.
She said, ‘you gave me too much money.’
I said, ‘Yes I know, but this way you can just give me a dollar back.’
She sighed and went to get the manager who asked me to repeat my request.
I did so, and he handed me back the 25c, and said ‘We’re sorry but we don’t do that kind of thing.’
The cashier then proceeded to give me back 75 cents in change.
Do not confuse the people at MacD’s.

We had to have the garage door repaired.
The repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a ‘large’ enough motor on the opener.
I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower.
He shook his head and said, ‘You need a 1/4 horsepower.’
I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4 and he said, ‘NOOO, it’s not. Four is larger than two.’
We haven’t used that repairman since…

I live in a semi-rural area.
We recently had a new neighbor call the local city council office to request the removal of the DEER CROSSING sign on our road.
The reason: ‘Too many deers are being hit by cars out here! I don’t think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.’


Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter


Spread your wings this month!

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