Lost and Found

It’s been a whirlwind of activity here at Kardos Manor over the past few months.  If it seemed as though I’d pulled a D.B. Cooper on you, I apologize.  The good news is I was never lost and the pages keep churning out, I just haven’t had much to post here for a while.

Thing is, I’m not really a blogger.  Nor was that ever the intention for this site.  I’m a writer – one with varying degrees of aptitude perhaps, but a writer nonetheless.  Draft, revise, finalize, submit.  As long as that cycle keeps happening, all is right with the world.

Still, I do intend to keep the website current from time to time.  There are announcements to make, occasional posts to update, and I still check traffic to see how people are finding their way here.  For me, this website was a place for people to land if they get curious after reading my work elsewhere, not vice versa.  I suppose there’s more potential behind it all, but amassing thousands of followers isn’t what interests me.  I’d rather put my attention and focus on continuing to write good fiction.  (Some would argue that has yet to happen, zing!)

One exciting update to make is to remind everyone that The Innocent Sink is being published on January 1, 2019 by the Coffin Bell Journal.  I’m really excited about this one, because I think the story is a great match for that particular publication.  (It is extremely helpful that the editors at Coffin Bell agree.)

Short stories are a fun way to get the little ideas that don’t have enough “umph” to find their way into a novel out of your head and make way for bigger things.  Once a draft is on the screen, I rarely find the motivation to go back and make it publishable.  It’s more of an exorcism than anything else.  Still, it is quite gratifying when one comes together and polishes up nicely.  Which is exactly what happened with The Innocent Sink.  I’ll drop another reminder here when it goes live in a few weeks.

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A bit of a side hobby of mine at the moment is building my next PC from scratch.  Over the last decade, work travel necessitated purchasing laptops for the portability.  Although I typically bought top of the line models, there are some compromises that come with the territory.

Most important to me, I don’t care for the feel and layout of a laptop keyboard.  The keys don’t have “weight” and, in some cases, are actually sized down from a regular, full-sized keyboard.  You adapt, but the words per minute certainly suffers, and missed strokes make the backspace key one of the most used.  From a technical standpoint, laptops have integrated GPUs, lower overclocking space, and heat issues which throttle performance.  That significantly limits the computer’s abilities when compared to a powerful desktop.

Now that I don’t have to travel as much as I used to, I’ve decided to go back to having a desktop PC as my primary computer.  I looked into pre-built, but fairly early on it occurred to me that building my own would give me the opportunity to customize everything without compromise, while also being a fun learning experience to boot.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The last time I built a computer from the ground up was back in the early 1990’s.  The basic configurations haven’t changed – motherboard, power supply, case, memory, CPU, etc.  But the computing scene overall has changed a lot since then, and today there are so many more options and performance-related factors to consider.  Intel or AMD?  nVidia or AMD?  Asus, MSI, EVGA, or Founders Edition?  Air or liquid cooling?  Hyperthreads or more cores?  Overclocking?  Every manufacturer has multiple models, and every model has multiple subsets.

There’s a lot of research to be done for every part, right down to the case.  You could spend two days dissecting fans for a particular build.  Thermals, decibels, clock speeds…it all matters.  Pick the wrong configurations and you have a system that works, but not to optimum.  I use my computer a lot, so it’s important to me to get it right.

There’s a lot to catch up on from the past 20-30 years, but it’s every bit of fun as I’d hoped.  I’ve learned more about motherboards over the past two weeks than any one sane person should probably know (thanks, buildzoid!).  Somehow, it all continues to make sense; I suspect my fascination with technology back in the 80’s and 90’s gave me a good foundation.  There’s a lot more information out there today, but the basic fundamentals remain the same.

My goal is to finalize the part selection and begin the build sometime around the first of the new year.  I might even update this site with a build post for those who might be interested.  I doubt things will go smoothly, but that’s half the fun.  And my trustworthy five year old MSI laptop will be close by just in case I need to chat with a few experts.

As usual, thanks for stopping by.  Based on how things are progressing, I expect some big news for my latest project sometime mid-2019.  It never goes as quickly as I’d like, but somehow I always manage to cross the finish line…

Finally! An Update That Works…

A few Wednesday afternoon tidbits to snack on:

I’ve been tinkering around with the website a little.  Most of it is behind the scenes work primarily related to SEO.  Turns out this little site has a very high ranking in Bing and Yahoo, and rising fast in Google.  Pretty cool considering the whole idea behind this website was just to give some side-projects and general thoughts about writing a place to live.  I never expected to create such a connection with the community – a pleasant surprise!

The most prominent and obvious change you will notice is the installation of the Disqus Commenting system.  For those that have Disqus, the interface will be quite familiar.  For those that haven’t, you can still comment without a Disqus account but you ought to think about signing up for one.  Plenty of websites use Disqus, and there are some really great resources to be found on their channel search.  If you’re curious, click here to check out their page.

For those that missed it, my short story The Innocent Sink just got picked up by Coffin Bell.  I’m pretty excited about it!  Coffin Bell is a relatively new publisher but they are rising fast and the masthead is growing.  From an author’s perspective, it’s very gratifying to have your work included in the early days of a quality magazine.  If dark fiction is your thing, I highly recommend checking them out.  It’s not a genre I typically play around with, but when I finished The Innocent Sink, I thought of them first.

A few online writers groups linked my article “The Rule of 33%” to their resource pages.  I’m honored.  If you know of any writer resource pages that would be interested, shoot me a message.  I’ve been doing this a long time, so if there are little tips and tricks that help anyone else, I’m happy to share the experience.

I’ve been watching the World Cup, only this go-around as an impartial fan of the sport as my beloved Azzurri didn’t qualify for the first time in 2,317 years.  As hard as that one was to swallow, it’s been rather fun watching games without the emotional investment.  It’s hard to predict a winner so early on, but a few teams have really stood out.  I’ll wait until the next round before deciding who to pull for but Croatia, England, Brazil, France, Uruguay, and Argentina have been fun to watch.  And you certainly cannot count out Spain.  Should be an interesting next round.  How’s your country doing?

Try out the new commenting system below!  And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @paulkardos

The Innocent Sink

Sometimes things work out just as you planned.  I found out today that The Innocent Sink is going to be published by Coffin Bell Journal, issue 2.1, on January 1, 2019.  I am extremely excited to have my work represented in such a wonderful publication.  If you love dark fiction, do yourself a solid and go check them out.  There are some pretty amazing works by very accomplished authors featured in every issue.  I consider it an honor to be associated with that group.

The Innocent Sink is one of those stories where everything went right.  I wrote the first draft in one day, 5,200 words that just flew off my fingertips.  It needed edits – oh boy, did it ever – but the characters and plot were there from the get go.  By the end of the week and after four major edit runs, I knew it was ready.

Getting published isn’t a numbers game.  When you finish a story and are ready to submit for publication, it is really important to do your homework to find the best possible match.  That means reading and adhering to submission guidelines, but also getting a good feel of the other pieces each publisher puts into print, as well.  For The Innocent Sink, I had a list of five places I thought would be a good match.  Just so happens, Coffin Bell Journal was the top choice on my list.

Like I said, sometimes it works out that way.

There is more good news on the horizon, but today is all about how excited I am that The Innocent Sink has found the perfect place to call home.  It’s a great feeling and a good reminder of why I do what I do.

Got a success story you want to share?  I’d love to hear about it, comment away!

 

 

There Is Always a Way

One of the best habits I picked up was to write 600 words in a journal first thing every morning.  It frees my mind, gets the clutter organized, and puts everything in the proper places.  The key is to not put much thought into what you’re going to write about each morning.  Just pick up the pen and write whatever comes to mind, no editing allowed.

I can’t tell you how many problems I’ve solved, how many decisions in life I’ve made, by working things out while writing these pages.  There is more to it than that, but the thoughts that come out first thing in the morning are a great place to start.  Collectively, it is by far the longest piece I’ve ever written and also the most important.

Morning pages aren’t my idea, rather one I learned about when my wife picked up a copy of The Artist’s Way.  To be honest, I’ve never made it past the bit about writing these pages first thing every morning.  They had such an impact on my life that I felt I had already gotten my money’s worth.  I’m probably missing out, so if you pick it up please be smarter than me and read past the first chapter, will you?

Against the advice of the book, I write my morning pages on the laptop and not by hand.  Because I work on the laptop all day and I want to stay in the practice of transmitting thoughts to the screen through the keyboard.  I suppose if I were a writer who still does everything by pen and paper, it would make more sense to do it the other way.  Whatever works – the key is to do them daily.

This morning, I got off on a real tangent while working on the pages.  I began writing some thoughts about various things going on in life, and a couple of notes about a documentary I watched the other night.  The documentary is called One Day in Auschwitz and tells the story of an amazing woman named Kitty Hart-Moxon.  She was brought to Auschwitz as a seventeen year old girl and survived for years in Nazi concentration camps before being liberated in 1945.  I am an avid documentary watcher – history, science, human events, you name it – and this was one of the best.  If you have a spare 50 minutes, I highly recommend watching this one.

There were many things to take away from her story, but the one that stuck with me was the resiliency of the people who lived in that hell.  They knew survival was out of their hands – a hopeless situation if there ever was one – and yet some still did everything they could to increase their chances.  The Nazi’s selected people to die, seemingly at random.  There was nothing any of them could have done about that.  The ones with a strong will to live, however, did anything and everything they could to make it another day.  In Kitty’s case, that meant making sure she had shoes, didn’t lose her bowl, and made connections with other captives.  Instead of focusing on what was beyond her control, she concentrated on what little she could control.

It would be vulgar to compare situations, but as I listened to this amazing woman it dawned on me that whenever you are feeling hopeless about something, the best thing to do is take whatever actions are necessary to increase the chances of a positive outcome.  You may not make it, but at least you know you did everything you could to save yourself from disaster.

While training for a pilot’s license, for example, my CFI made a point to instruct very early on that when something goes wrong – engine failure for example – the worst thing you can do is nothing.  The engine failed, you can’t change that.  But what you can do is work the problem.  Go through the checklists, look for an open field or sparsely populated highway, no matter how dire the situation may be, do something.  You may not make it, but the ones who do survive because they did everything they could to put the odds in their favor right up to the very end.  Never give up.

Well, here I went on another tangent again.  I originally wanted to tell you about the thoughts I had on evolution, the Big Bang, and creationism.  For the record, I am a huge fan of science.  I am fascinated by the enormity and age of the universe, physics, and the miracle of life.  I see the logic behind the advances humanity has made in science and think society is better for it.  At the same time, I am a believer who applies that same logic to say there must be something more than just happenstance and time.

Ah, that will be for another day.  For now, relaying the wisdom of morning pages and the story of the amazing Ms. Hart-Moxon was the priority.  To quote my old, dearly-departed friend, ““I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

 

<INSERT VERY GOOD REASON TO LIKE AND FOLLOW HERE>

The Rule of 33%

I had a fun conversation online the other day with a relatively new writer who was facing a familiar problem.  He had a great plot, the basics of some decent characters, and a notebook full of jotted down ideas.  He had even written out a fairly organized outline.  So what was the problem?  Enter the nemesis of anyone who puts words on paper for a living or otherwise: the dreaded writer’s block.  Perhaps you’ve heard of it?  If so, I’ve got good news – I can help you beat it.  I call it The Rule of 33% and it changed my life as a writer.

“When working on a first draft, begin the project realizing that 33% of what you write will be good, 33% of what you write could be good after editing, and 33% will be cut completely.”

The problem with our brains…well, one of the problems with our brains…is that they are designed to think both creatively and logically.  Your creative brain is the one that says staying out at the clubs until four in the morning is a great idea, whoo-hoo let’s have another shot!  The logical brain is the responsible party-pooper complaining about having to get up for work in the morning and reminding that hangovers are miserable.

These two abilities are in direct conflict with each other at all times and, if not managed properly, result in a stalemate in which neither side gets what it wants.  You are either at the club having a miserable time because all you can think about is having to wake up for work, or you are at home and can’t sleep because of all the fun you’re missing out on at the club.  Nobody wins.

Writing is a process of both creative and logical application.  The creative side lets you imagine entire worlds with intricate plots, living, breathing characters, and exciting conflict.  The logical side lets you look back on what you’ve created and objectively identify mistakes in grammar, scene continuity, and format.  Both abilities are crucial if the writer is going to create a successful piece that is both entertaining and coherent for the reader.

As with our club-hopping dilemma, the same conflicts apply when writing.  Creativity is stagnated by the logical part of the brain constantly insisting on pointing out every little problem.  “Oh, missed a comma there, bud”, and “Sigh, that character isn’t believable at all” or “Do you actually think you can do this?”  It’s hard to be creative when letting your logical brain dominate the conversation.

The key is to train your brain when to be creative and not logical, and vice versa.

Logic is essential when editing, but if you aren’t allowing yourself to be creative first there will never be anything written down to edit.  You might muscle out a chapter or two, but if you start editing and rewriting without allowing the whole story to make it on paper, you are in jeopardy of convincing yourself the work you produce isn’t good enough.  You’ll inhibit creativity and be afraid to keep writing.  You’ll move on to the next chapter timid and wary to type anything, because logic-brain has convinced you it won’t be good, so what’s the point?  That’s a block.  Let it happen long enough and you could end up abandoning the whole project altogether.

We can’t very well have that now, can we?  So before you allow logic to play its role in the process, you must give creativity the freedom to do as it pleases. Which is where The Rule of 33% comes into play.

“You’ve heard that first drafts are never good…you just haven’t convinced yourself it’s true.”

You’ve no doubt heard that first drafts are never good.  Or, as I so eloquently like to say, first drafts always suck.  If you’re suffering from writer’s block, it means that you have heard that first drafts suck, but you haven’t convinced yourself that it’s true.  Read that again, I’ll wait.  You can say the words all you want, but until you believe it, logic will always prevail.  And logic doesn’t put words on the paper.  So live it, love it, learn it.  Most of all, believe it.

Here is where The Rule of 33% can help.  When working on a first draft, go into the project knowing that 33% of what you write will be good “as is”, 33% of what you write could be good after editing, and 33% will be trash.  (If you’re wondering where the remaining 1% went, that is your logic-brain speaking.  It is terrified of what you just read and is doing everything it can to distract you.  Stop it.)

Being cognizant of the rule is a good way of telling yourself that what you are about to write doesn’t have to be good.  In fact, you’re already coming to terms with the fact that most of it won’t be.  That’s not only okay, but expected!  So write to your daily goal, and then forget about it.  If something is wrong (and 66% of it will be, right?) you will fix it later.  Much, much later.  Tomorrow, just let creative-brain keep writing.  Get that sucky first draft on paper, because nothing else matters!

Another big plus about The Rule of 33% is that the process compounds.  When you have a completed manuscript and start rewrites, the parts that you revise will also follow this rule.  The first draft is 33% good, right?  So you’re already a third of the way there.  Whatever rewrites you do will also be 33% good, 33% good when edited, and 33% trash.  As you repeat the process, the percentage of “good” overall increases by default.  Do this often enough, and eventually you have a 100% good, completed project.

Here’s the interesting part:  you are already following this rule, you just don’t realize it.

Think about the last time you wrote something and went back to edit it later.  How much of it was good?  How often did you think to yourself, Gee, that’s not too bad.  If I just make a few adjustments, it’ll be perfect?  How much of it were you embarrassed to admit you wrote and cut out completely?  Unless you’re some kind of writing prodigy, you probably recognize the pattern.  And they most likely came in equal parts.  The only difference is by editing as you create, you are interrupting the creative process and therefore never making it to the finish line.

Am I turning on any lights yet?

The beauty of this rule I’ve created is that it is simple and serves as a confidence-boosting reminder whenever you are having trouble getting the words on paper.  When I’m struggling to meet my daily goal, chances are good it means I’m not in creative mode.  I need only remind myself that expectations are low – that my first draft can suck – and the words will flow.  Getting the first draft out is what is important now, I can always fix the problems later.

If you convince yourself to follow this guideline – if you believe your work doesn’t have to be perfect the first go-around – you’ll find the words will flow much easier.  And you’ll never have to worry about writer’s block again.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome below.

 

100% of the followers of this website don’t get writer’s block.

I’m a Little Behind

Been a while since the last update, I know.  How have you been?  It’s been pretty busy around here, but that’s a good thing!  I’ve been pressing hard to finish up a manuscript that has a June 1st deadline.  Oops.  Not gonna make it, but everything will be okay.  In the words of the great Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines.  I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

You cannot rush the process of anything worth doing.  There are no shortcuts, no magic pills, no “get-rich-quick” schemes.  I’ve found that to be true for anything in life.  Things done well take time and hard work.  Repeat!  You can be more efficient about it, you can allot more time to it, but you can’t rush it.  That’s why you can’t cook a good steak in the microwave, why brewed coffee tastes better than instant, and why Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Turtle and the hare, man, turtle and the hare.

Point is, while the deadline has been looming ominously over my shoulder, rubbing its hands and going “Muh-ha-ha”, I don’t feel compelled to rush things.  The final product will suffer and it will be painfully obvious this thing needs to simmer on the stove a bit longer.  What would be the point, then?  Knowing it wasn’t ready but sending it in anyway?  Just wasting everyone’s time and pushing the completion date even further back.

Still, I have an obligation to finish my work and therefore other things fall by the wayside.  The stack of bills sitting on the corner of my desk, for example.  In spite of the fact that I refuse to water it, the pile keeps growing.  My hope was the laws of gravity would eventually catch up and topple the whole thing over – ideally right into the garbage can next to my desk, thus solving the problem – but as of yet, no such luck.

And the website, of course.  The idea behind the site was to give the little side things I write while working on bigger things a place to live.  Since all of my focus has been on the manuscript, there hasn’t been a lot of that going on.  Hence the lack of recent updates.

Fear not, my tens of followers!  I am rounding the bases and about to slide into home plate for the game winning run.  When I am discharged from the hospital after recovering from the injuries sustained during that slide, I will be back posting with a vengeance.  I’m too old for that running and sliding shit.

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In this world there are leaders and there are followers.  You are a follower.  Start following.

Don’t Worry, That Banana Isn’t Loaded

I’ve been meaning to write about the first time I was interviewed for television.  This is probably a longer-than-usual read, but stick with it because you’ll get something out of it.  I promise.

Back in 2002, a gentleman named Manuel Andrade was murdered in the apartment complex where I lived.  He was a business owner, a husband, and a father.  I didn’t know him, but I found out later that he lived in the building right across the parking lot.  It happened on a Sunday, and I was spending my weekends in Boston back then.  So I didn’t find out about the murder until I got back home from work the next day.

As I was walking up to my apartment, I was approached by a young, well dressed lady who asked for a moment of my time.  She told me her name and said she was a news reporter.  Asked if I had heard what happened.  When I told her I did, she asked if I’d be willing to talk about it on camera.  When I agreed, the cameraman who had been sitting in the front seat of a car came out and started filming.

The thing that you should know about this particular apartment complex was that it was in a nice neighborhood in a small town in Massachusetts.  I joked with her that it was hard to get in the place even as a resident.  Which was true; the access doors to the building were solid, self-closers, and required a separate key from the ones to individual apartments.  On top of that, the apartments themselves were pretty close together.  If you knocked on my door, chances were pretty good a neighbor would answer their own thinking you’d knocked on theirs.  Thin walls, you know?  Don’t judge – I was young, dumb, and broke.

She asked me if I was afraid, knowing what had happened in the building across the street.  I said, “Not at all.  This is a very safe neighborhood.  It’s hard enough to get in the place if you live here and have a key, never mind someone randomly breaking in.  My guess is it was someone he knew.  I feel bad for the guy, but there’s nothing for anyone who lives here to worry about.”

She thanked me and told me I’d be on air during the evening newscast.  Damn right I tuned in – it was to be my television debut!

Ready for this? The only part of the interview they aired was when I said, “This is a very safe neighborhood.”

The rest, the part about how hard it was to get in the building, that it was probably someone he knew (turns out I was right about that), and there was nothing for the residents to worry about was cut out.  Right after airing my quote, they cut to another interview with two older residents who were panicking and extremely concerned.  Those were the folks who got the majority of air time.

Why? Because what I said didn’t fill their need.  Taken out of context, that isolated part of my quote about it being in a safe neighborhood screams, “See!  This even happens in safe neighborhoods.  It could happen to YOU!”  Had they played the entire interview, it’s not nearly as alarming and “newsworthy.”  So they just cut it out.

Talk about sensationalism.  Ever since, I’ve never watched or read the news without a fair amount of skepticism.  It showed me that you really cannot believe everything you’re told.  Even when you see it with your own eyes.  More important, it was proof that certain outlets will tailor a message in direct contrast to what someone actually said (aka – the facts) if it serves their purpose.

What’s my point in telling you this?  Hopefully that you’ll take what you see, hear, and read about in stride from now on.  (Yes, I am aware that applies to this post.  Awkward!)

We have so many more outlets than we did back then.  The internet is awesome, but it’s also a huge source of information.  And there is even less accountability for what is put out there than back in 2002.  Turns out things are not nearly as bad in the world as some will have you believe.  Alarmists have been pounding horrific things into our brains that really aren’t as widespread as they are made out to be.  It just seems that way because it’s everywhere, all the time.  The effect this practice has had on society is undeniable.  When’s the last time you saw kids playing out on the streets?

It makes me sad to think people aren’t relating anymore.  Everyone thinks something bad is about to happen to them at any second.  Lock your doors, don’t trust your neighbors, crime is everywhere!  Makes me wonder why we’re going in the wrong direction when we’re supposed to be evolving.  Then I think about what happened to me, and decide maybe there’s hope in spite of what I keep hearing.  Because the people I interact with in person aren’t so bad, after all.

In fact, turns out they’re pretty much just like me.

 

Want to be a millionaire?  Follow this blog!  It won’t help, but follow anyway. 

via Daily Prompt: Awkward

These Robots Are Gonna Kill Us All

Well, here we are.  Boston Dynamics created a robot which can run through a park on its own.  Run through a park.  Check out the video because it’s pretty awesome.  This also means we are way ahead of the Star Wars and Terminator worlds because their bipedal robots were slow as hell.

I know a certain, tin-foil-hat-wearing part of the population will find this horrifying and a certain sign of the end of the human race, but what Boston Dynamics has done is an exciting step forward.  And an inevitable one.

Some people felt the same way back when automobiles hit the scene during a time when most were still on horseback.  The general consensus back then, by the way, was that a human being couldn’t survive any crash in a vehicle traveling over 40 MPH.  (That’s 64 KPH for my out of town friends.)  So much for that.

PSA:  If you are on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and the like, and come across a post where an innocent person recounts an outlandish event in which a “bad guy” says something horrific to them, is put in his place, and then everyone in the room claps, it didn’t happen.

Here’s the general outline:

ME PERSON:  *Minding my own business*

RUDE PERSON:  For absolutely no discernible reason, inappropriately and outlandishly describes something Me Person is doing/saying/wearing in an attacking way and in a public setting

ME PERSON: Long-winded, sometimes witty comeback putting Rude Person in their place.

RUDE PERSON: Shamed

EVERYONE ELSE:  Claps

Bonus points awarded if the restaurant/store manager pays for their coffee or meal, somebody gives them $100, or someone starts randomly crying.

If you’ve got a little time to kill and want to be entertained, check out That Happened for some fine examples.  I’m sure the boss won’t mind.

Video games today rely far more on reflexes and less on logic than they used to.  This is not a bad thing, as fast hands mean a fast mind.  I watched a short video of someone playing some new game and was blown away by all the things happening on the screen at the same time.  We’ve come a long way from interactive fiction.

Remember when the internet used to be a good place to get an honest opinion about a product you were thinking about buying?  Ten years ago I was trying to decide which ridiculously giant television to buy, JVC or Mitsubishi.  I went online, found some honest reviews by people who owned one or the other, and made an educated decision from there. (Got the JVC, if it matters.  Which it shouldn’t.)

Today’s online reviews are all stacked.  Supposedly independent, third-party reviewers are company sponsored.  (That’s why they send popular reviewers products for free.)  Star ratings are unethically trashed by the competition using fake Google accounts.  And the first three pages of search results are advertisements put up by whatever company is trying to sell whatever you’re searching for.

If you want an honest review, you gotta dig deep.  Leave it to our ingenious, big corporate marketers to screw up a good thing.

Speaking of marketing, my favorite description of self promotion is “it’s like rolling jell-o up a hill using chopsticks.”

It’s Friday.  Please go outside.  Take a hike in the forest.  Get some fresh air.

Studies show that people who follow this website are 27% more likely to have a higher-than-average IQ.  Your call.

via Daily Prompt: Forest

In Case You Couldn’t Tell, I’m Starving

Had a really great day yesterday.  Found out one of my short stories is in the top ten (number 3, ahem) for a highly-competitive contest which shall, for the moment, remain nameless.  Anything finishing in the top ten is represented, so it’s a win no matter where the story ends up.  A good feeling, but the key to success is to enjoy the moment and immediately get busy again, so…

***

I’m still eagerly awaiting word from a few people on some old business.  I don’t much care about the payouts because these are shorts sent to some fledgling publishers that I admire.  It’s an honor to be involved in the early stages, so I’ll be proud to be represented in any of them.  Just wish they’d hurry the hell up.

***

Who the hell demands to speak to a manager at a fast food restaurant?

Lady: “I want three crispy wings.”

Employee:  “I’m sorry, we don’t have those.”

Lady: “Get me your manager!”

Ugh.  The kids behind the counter are working for next to nothing.  They don’t need that crap, too.  It’s hardly a career position so cut them a break, will you?  If you’re at a place where you can order an entire meal by number while sitting in your car, don’t expect Ruth’s Chris service.  I was embarrassed for her.

***

Speaking of Ruth’s Chris – it’s good but nothing special.  When guests insist on an expensive meal and suggest Ruth’s Chris, I accidentally drive us to Bern’s Steakhouse instead.  Or Morton’s if we’re out of town.

Before I forget: if you find yourself in Atlanta, head on over to Kevin Rathbun Steak and treat yourself to a nice New York Strip.  Start with a Crown Royal Manhattan (up, of course) if that’s your thing.  Tell them I sent you.  They won’t give a shit, but I like my name thrown around fancy places now and again.

While we’re on steaks, best prime rib place in the US?  Used to be Mitchell’s Steakhouse in Hyannis, Massachusetts.  I observed three days of mourning when that place shut down.  The new favorite is Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas.  Mostly because of the atmosphere.  They’ll spin your Caesar’s salad in a bowl of ice and everyone wears the “brown gown”, a tradition founded back in 1938.  Except Dallas.  Because Texas, you know?

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Why doesn’t the hyperlink tool in the WordPress editor check the “Open link in a new tab/window” box by default?  It’s not like I want people navigating away mid-article and it’s a pain to have to double-check each one.  People smarter than me, feel free to answer.

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I think it’s horseshit that an orgasm lasts for 10 seconds while a goddamn cold sticks around for two weeks.

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Been behind this blessed monitor and keyboard all day.  Time to call it…

 

Got a better steak joint?  Comments below or on Twitter @paulkardos.  Oh and feel free to give a follow.  It won’t hurt nobody if you do. 

#steak #finedining #food #hangry

From Today On, I Will Include the Words “Multiple Award Winner” When Introducing Myself to Others.

Well, here’s something cool:  Wit and Wimsy nominated my site for a Sunshine Blogger Award!  That’s the second award I’ve had the privilege to be nominated for since I started this little site just over month or so ago.  It’s especially gratifying to be a recipient when you read what this award is all about:

“The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.”

That’s a pretty cool compliment.  Means a lot when someone associates my work with words like “creative”, “positive”, and “inspiring.”  (You don’t want to know what words people usually associate my work with.)

So thank you, Wit and Wimsy.  I’m a loyal follower of your blog and really appreciate you thinking of me when you made your nominations.  If you haven’t checked her site out yet, feel free to click on over and browse around.  Go on, I’ll wait here until you come back…

(Make sure you check out the bottom of this post for some really great websites that I’ve nominated for this award.  It’s a pleasure to ‘pass the torch’ to some really creative people.  In fact, you should probably skip over my Q&A and just get to the good stuff.)

The Rules

The guidelines for this award are straightforward.

  • Thank the blogger(s) that nominated you in the post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you
  • Nominate 8-11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo on your post and/or in your blog

 

The Dreaded Q&A

I think ya’ll nominate me for these things just so I have to answer questions about myself.  Which I just love to do.  In the spirit of spreading more sunshine across the net, here we go:

What is your favorite smell?  Easy.  Freshly cut grass.  Specifically, freshly cut grass in New England during the first month of spring.  After you spend five or six miserable months surviving a cold, wet, and grey northeastern winter, it is a most very welcome scent to smell.  And a sign of many good things to come.  Until the next cold, wet, and grey northeastern winter, of course.

What of your traits do you think define you?  Greatest compliment I have ever received was when my father told someone, “Paul never gives up.”  He was right.  I am not the most talented, smartest, or logical person I know.  But I am the hardest working.  That kind of trait is extremely useful, especially when applied universally.  Being persistent and my belief that ‘there is always a way’ has done me far more good then harm over the years.  I have no idea where I’d be without it.

In a parallel universe, what do you do for a living?  Contrary to what I just wrote about being hard-working, when I was younger I was a professional slacker.  I did just enough to get by and not an ounce more.  Consequently, I spent more time in college playing beach volleyball than studying.  Which is a shame because I could have accomplished so much more, so much earlier than I did.  So in a parallel universe, I’m guessing I’m either a doctor or an astrophysicist.  I love helping people and am fascinated by astronomy.  Coin-flip.

What makes you feel most confident?  When someone appreciates something I’ve done by either telling me outright or mimicking something I do.  It’s very flattering.  I’m highly self-critical, so when I get a nice review or pick up a new follower, it reminds me that I’m doing something worthwhile and am not the hack I sometimes convince myself I am.  That builds confidence, something everyone needs in order to do their best work.

What is your favorite story?  Don’t have one.  Cop-out answer?  Maybe.  I’ve heard and read so many stories that inspired and awed me, it’s impossible for me to pick just one.  I couldn’t easily list my top ten favorite stories, for that matter.  Don’t believe me, huh?  Fine.  In no particular order:  Hitchhiker’s Guide, The Stand, Strip Tease, Breakfast of Champions, Hit Man, The Store, A Fire Upon The Deep, Old Man’s War, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, and Inca Gold.  See?  That wasn’t easy.  And there’s about thirty more which are at this very moment screaming “You should’ve picked me damnit!”  Saying any one of them is my “favorite” would be a lie.

Are you a reader or a viewer?  When it comes to entertainment, I’m a reader.  I’ll take a good book over a great movie any time.  I absolutely love live-theater too, but a book is more versatile and really gets my imagination flowing.  I don’t know what I’d do without reading.  When it comes to learning something, however, I think I’m more of a viewer.  It’s easier for me to fix the car by watching a DIY video than by reading a service manual.  Or, better yet, watch a mechanic fix it so I don’t completely destroy the engine.

What is your biggest bucket list item?  I’m lucky here in that I’ve had the opportunity to check a lot of those boxes over the years.  The one thing that really stands out is to visit Australia.  My great-grandfather was Australian and I’ve always felt drawn to it.  It’s the last of the “big ones” on my travel list.  (Super-extra-bonus fact:  My favorite city is Rome.  The history, people, and food is amazing.  Almost decided to stay when I was there last.)

What is your least favorite taste?  I can’t get the hang of dark chocolate.  It’s bitter and chalky and just yuck-o.  Some people love the stuff.  Not sure about those degenerates.

What is the happiest moment of 2018 thus far for you?  Last year was a very rewarding but also extremely difficult year for me.  So far, 2018 has been very good to me.  Like I was owed something.  I’m going to say New Years Day.  I’ve never been one of those “resolution” type people, but this time it actually did feel different.  And I think there are even better days ahead.

What is your favorite holiday and why?  Christmas.  Family, food, presents.  Oh, and eggnog.  What?  Do I really need to write more?  Move along.

Do people change or just circumstances?  People.  It’s people that make the circumstances.  And I’ve seen people change, many times for the better.  I love that people grow and evolve and yet are still somehow the same at the core.  But aside from that, circumstances are effected by the people that create or are involved with them.  Without people, there are no circumstances.

 

The Nominations!

Still here?  Good!  Because here are my nominations for The Sunshine Blogger Award.  These are some really cool sites that I am following.  And I don’t follow all willy-nilly.  So you should check them out and give them a follow, too:

Chaotic Shapes – Brandon is an extremely talented artist.  Definitely worth checking out his latest art project and other creative inspirations.

Finally Unchained – Whether she posts a short story, photograph, or reminder that children are awful, Pia’s site is always a lot of fun to read.

A Pianist’s Musings – Kathryn’s site caught my attention when she posted a great article about PDQ Bach.  That article warrants the award on its own.  Lot of other great music related posts there, too.

Terminally Single – Check out the headline:  “Walking alone, I walk free.”  Raw, interesting inspirational blogs for all.

The Nerdy Lion – This is my newest followed site, but I like what I’ve read so far.  Really great article about dealing with the loss of loved ones and friends just came out the other day.  Worth a read.

Strawberry Travels – Ella writes about…well, I’m still trying to piece it all together.  It’s a very entertaining site – definitely worth a look.

I know I’m supposed to nominate 8-11 others, but those six are really good and think they should stand on their own.  Problem?

My Questions For You Unfortunate Souls

I get to ask 11 questions of the people I’ve nominated.  Now we’re talking!

  1. Anarchist or conformist?  Explain.  Unless you’re an anarchist and won’t.
  2. What is one thing about blogging that you didn’t expect to find when you first started your site?
  3. What is your Lifetime Achievement Award-worthy accomplishment so far?
  4. Who has been the most influential or inspiring person in your life?
  5. What is the furthest distance you’ve traveled away from the place you call home?
  6. What is the one book I should read but probably haven’t yet?
  7. What’s the earliest memory of life you can recall?
  8. iOS or Android?
  9. Tell us about a hobby you have that few people know about.
  10. What’s your favorite band and why isn’t it Rush?
  11. Get on your soapbox and make a statement.  Anything goes.

Thanks for humoring me and my little intrusive questions.  I really do love your sites, each for a unique reason.  Looking forward to reading more from you all for a long time to come!

For the rest of you, thanks for coming by.  Oh, and feel free to follow.  You won’t hurt the “like” button by pressing it, either.  Go on, try it!