Winning, Mindset, and Habits

One of the most common questions i get asked these days is how I’m so productive with a job, family, kids, all my hobbies and whatnot. The truth is that the all my hobbies really don’t occupy much of my time. While I have a wide variety of passionate interests in sci-fi, baseball, gaming, science & technology, I spend most of my time working or hanging with the kids and only give cursory looks at the fun things these days. But I’ve got some tricks that keep me going even when I don’t feel like it. I’ll try to share some of those with you.

It’s All About Mindset

Making that change starts with mindset, and though I’m not super big on self-help books, one that did get me motivated mid-last year to push myself harder is Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich. When I wake up I do use his chapter on mental exercises to get me fresh so I can knock out a couple blog posts to hit over the course of the day. No matter when these are scheduled, most of my writing you see is my first morning thoughts. I do employ some of the tips in that book in my daily routine, which starts with mental exercises, stretching, drinking coffee and now my ginger/lemon shot (which I’m certain gives me energy).

Don’t Start Your Day With Nihilistic Brain Poison

I’ve also stopped reading my facebook feed first thing in the morning. This last step I think is very big. Most people you and I know on facebook just post negative things on repeat based on whatever fear mongering news is out there on the day. There’s very little value to it, it’s echo chamber type of posts and it’s poison for your brain to get yourself hyped up like that negatively first thing. I didn’t realize that for awhile, I’d stopped reading my feed completely for lent, and while I’ve read a little lately, I’m not doing nearly as much of it. It means I’m both happier and thinking positive things, and that I can write more. Win/win.

And that’s what leads you back to winning. The one thing I see very successful people do is they vocalize to themselves that they’re going to win, regardless of how silly it sounds. Eventually it has the effect of convincing you you’re going to win, which is great for mindset of getting things done — it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in ways. Moreover, it convinces others around you you’re going to win. Why do you think so many agree with all the fake news on facebook? It’s because it’s posted on repeat. If what you hear is win on repeat, it’ll become just as true to you. Doesn’t that sound way better than getting outraged over posted headlines designed to mess with you psychologically? Stop reading that, start thinking in terms of winning and you’ll get there.

Replace Bad Habits With Something Positive

I once heard someone say there are two things in life: commitments and addictions. The first thing toward making a bad habit go away for good is replacing with a commitment that takes its time, and getting in the habit of that. I’m working on starting a new habit, which is to read a chapter of the Bible every morning instead. Today I started with Romans 1. If you want to see brilliant writing, follow me into Romans.  There is literally nothing more intelligent ever written in philosophy, and it’s also uplifting.

The Last Crusade: On Loyalty

You’ll find quite often with the worldly that there’s a distinct lack of loyalty. As soon as you start letting it be known you’re a Christian, speaking out on Christianity, spending time and energy with your Christian brothers and sisters – you’ll notice that your former friends will begin to ostracize you. They’ll find a reason to call you names, say you’ve changed, that you’re hateful or whatnot now (ironic, as the only true love comes from God, but remember that evil presents itself as a wolf in sheep’s clothing). They will be there not to be your friend any longer, but to try to gaslight you into believing that you’re doing something wrong and evil by walking in the path God has set for you.

In the public sphere, whenever a champion of traditional values shows up in art, news, culture of any kind,the media presents how the person has had a failing, is bad, has done something unforgivable, and therefore you MUST disavow them. You must be disloyal in order to prove to the world that you’re a decent human being. They present this under the guise of caring about morality, while espousing the direct opposite. It’s under the guise of compassion for the little people, when in fact they want to hold people down under their power. And we as Christians often bite at this very quickly, and very easily. We’re quick to disavow our brothers and sisters. Why? Because we like to prove that we’re more moral, that we don’t approve of such things. That’s the direct opposite of what Christ taught us.

It happens every time. Disloyalty is actually the cause of most problems in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. The whole theme of the Bible is how man is disloyal to God in exchange for quick material comforts. From Adam and Eve’s betrayal in the garden, to Jonah’s refusal to go where God desired, to the fact that Israel brutally murdered many of their prophets and finally Jesus Christ, we are warned at every step that disloyalty is of this world.

From the Gospels, look at the actions of the Apostles. Their biggest failures are when the Apostles saw the going getting tough, and opted to be disloyal to Christ rather than stand with him. Judas is the easiest example of this, as when political stirrings and the world started to turn on Christ, he freaked out when he was asked if he was a follower. And then, for cheap material comforts, he delivered the ultimate act of disloyalty. Peter, when Christ was executed, did the same thing when confronted in public about his association with Christ. You can imagine him as a modern person: “I’m not associated! I disavow!”

This is the prince of this world’s act to divide us and destroy us. It is spiritual warfare at its deepest level. The whole purpose of each and every one of these acts of disloyalty is to make sure we do not stand together as the Body of Christ. You’ll see that the secularists are quite the opposite. If there’s a problem on their front, they’re quick to cover it up, minimize it, rally around their cause to drown out any noise and ensure that the collective whole is stronger. For some odd reason, we don’t do this as Christians, and it weakens us.

Here’s the hard truth: we all have evil within us. We all have done something worthy of being disavowed forever. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And not by our own selves or anything we can do to make up for it, Christ has redeemed us. He was loyal to us even when we have not been loyal to him.

Loyalty is in fact a Godly virtue. Be loyal first and foremost to God. Be loyal second to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Be loyal third to country. Stand by your brothers and sisters in hard times. Don’t let them get destroyed, or have their lives ruined when the times get tough. That’s when they need your support. That’s the whole point of the Church and fellowship. Only through our compassion in those difficult times, and sticking by each other will we be able to keep faith firm. The result will be a stronger Church, a stronger community, and stronger voices and advocates for Christ. This is desperately what the world needs in these trying times.

First Take On Fantasy Flight’s Legend Of The Five Rings Reboot

Yesterday, Fantasy Flight Games put out the first real information on their relaunch of L5R, which is probably my favorite all time game if I really get down into it. It struggled a bit after the “race for the throne” to hold a lot of people’s attention — which as a Megaevent where the card game players really got to shape what happened in its very in-depth storyline, a large part of why I loved the game so much.  After that, it was hard to find that level of engagement, really it was an event that couldn’t be topped in gaming.

The game did suffer from some mechanical flaws to it that made for lopsided victories, taking too long to really build up the engine to get going, a “lose more” capability as if a person got behind early they didn’t have a lot of ways to come back, among other things. When FFG bought the property, much of the player base had shied away because of some bad design choices made in Emperor Edition of the game that made it unfun for many to play, and difficult for new players to get involved.

FFG opened the announcement with their “clans” or factions in the game that you can play. In the old version there were 9 playable factions, this is down to 7, a pare down that is necessary for game balance I think. 9 was very difficult, and a couple of the clans always ended up unplayable. I like this from the get go.

The first explanation gets into “how to pay for cards” in the game, which also has a cool mechanic called fate, in which it gives you currency. A card only stays in play for how much fate you’ve paid above its cost. This solves some of the problems of the game’s first iteration as someone’s massive build up could be impossible to overcome, also an issue in Magic The Gathering if you’re not playing the correct colors for board wipes. This is a solid idea, and I’m interested to see how it goes.

I love the redo of honor. Honor was a number that you’d get in the old game, and you’d just have it. If you got a certain number of points, you’d win the game. That holds true here but now there are drawbacks and uses for honor as well — it’s used to refill your hand and draw cards. If you sacrifice more honor you draw more cards, making it a very useful mechanic indeed, and it really makes you have to think if you want to use that as your victory path.

Then we get to the meat combat of the game. This is really where it’s become a much different game than the first iteration where you had cards with Attack values, and they’d go into a province (which is where cards are played from) and go up against the other army’s attack values. In the old game, if you had higher, you’d wipe out the entire army. The province then had a “strength” rating, and if your army had higher than that plus the defending army’s strength, it would be destroyed, and that player wouldn’t be able to draw cards from it anymore. Not the case now. You compare, all cards seem to be safe other than from card effects that give removal. It didn’t exactly define what happens with provinces in this gameplay page, but says that the winning player gets the Imperial Favor.  I do like that there’s 2 different attack stats – military and political, and you choose which battle you’re going to pursue. It’s a lot like Game of Thrones in that regard for the stats, but still has a nice L5R flavor. Looks like the concept of Chi is gone, so there’s not going to be any annoying shenanigans on that like the old game had. Much simpler sounding, and decent enough. I’ll have to see how this is played in earnest.

Victory paths — honor is still a condition of victory possibility, so is dishonoring your opponent, and then destroying provinces is also the same, but they label it a bit differently. I see that getting all 5 rings into play is not a victory condition, which is sad, but it is probably better to pare it down to 3 for balance’s sake, at least to start.

I’m going to need to see a little bit more about how the destruction of provinces work and really how battle flows to draw a real conclusion. Here’s my thoughts on points so far:

  1. I like that political is a skill now and they attack via political means. That means we won’t be seeing passive honor decks that just sit there. That was a negative play experience and that honor does something useful and politics is an attack form and a stat now is very interesting, also thematic.
  2. I’ll note the cards they had didn’t have character names on them, but things like “Matsu Berserker”. These appear to be non-unique cards, meaning you can play multiple on a battlefield at a time. I appreciate that the non-unique aren’t named actually, because they’re supposed to be representative and it kinda didn’t make sense the way it was done before. I note that the unique names are shown, so they do exist. Interesting flavor, and fine by me.
  3. Story appears to be rebooted. This is good. The old story was a jumbled cluster to say the least. I hope they still allow player involvement in making story but that they’re a lot more careful about it. This needs to be the top notch dialed in aspect of the game.
  4. All the new mechanics look cool on the surface. I’m excited, personally. This looks to be shaping up to be something good. I trust FFG. They seem to do great to a point, which is where we’ll really see, which is when the cardpool for the game gets pretty big.
  5. Overall, the streamlining looks good on all fronts. It looks slick and fun. About as happy as I can be given the information that I have.

Words From The Wise

“Anyone accusing another of being ‘unchristian’ for disagreement on political, philosophical, or abstract matters uses the Name of the Lord in vain. Accusations will be deleted and accusers banned without further notification.”  – John C Wright (on the sidebar for the rules of his blog).

I firmly believe and agree with this. And will be instituting this here and on social media walls immediately. Heresy will no longer be tolerated.

It’s Time To Burn The Ships In Publishing

I still have a few readers out there who have zero concerns over entertainment industry blackballing issues. They’re firmly planted in the “it can’t happen to me” mentality, where “it’s okay” because “Trump supporters are mean!” or some nonsense. This is where most people would talk about fascism, but that word is losing all of its meaning these daysl, and that’s not actually fascist behavior in that instance. It IS communist totalitarian behavior, however. Which is in a lot of ways worse, as that form of government killed a lot more people, but for some reason we don’t talk about that in internet rants.

Before I get too far off topic dissecting different forms of evils that you don’t care about, I’ll get back to one you do: I learned that there is an author who had a manuscript rejected because multiple agents said this person “culturally appropriated” and that the author “doesn’t have the authority” to talk about this project.

That’s right. The piece was good, it would have been fine, but the problem is it would have had to come from a non-white author. 

The agents actively discriminated against an author because they are white. A white writer was told to censor what that person writes and that it’s not welcome in the industry because of solely whiteness.

Before you think this is an isolated incident in the entertainment industry, let me refer you to a couple of matters of blackballing that I’ve already uncovered in my personal experience and my investigative journalism. It’s constant. Conservatives cannot get jobs in the entertainment industry. Men now have problems getting jobs in publishing (to the point where I know several who have taken female pen names to get ahead, and it’s worked) and now apparently whites are unwelcome.

And this has been talked about a lot recently. Look up “cultural appropriation” with sci-fi authors and you’ll see the usual suspects of big name writers virtue signaling about it while doing whatever they want in their own writing. They want to shut you out and hold onto their status by lecturing you, even though half of them are hacks who only got there because of politics. It’s like the big Hollywood actors who go nuts about global warming, then guzzle fuel on their yachts and private planes. This hypocrisy happens in writing too.

But the end result of this “cultural appropriation” craze is that there’s no place for a white writer. I’ve been told by several editors to change names so that it has a “more diverse representation”. In essence, I’m told that I can’t put in a western civilization caucasian culture through names (of course, as a Hispanic writer, I may be culturally appropriating that now that I think about it…). If you can’t write that, and you can’t write other cultures, the logical conclusion is you’re NOT ALLOWED TO WRITE.

This is crazy in the land of the free, censoring what can be said and told only by certain segments of the population. It’s gotten so far out of hand that I’m to the point where I’ve advocated against gatekeepers before: but I think it’s high time writers write-off all traditional publishing. If this is the end result, you cannot create what you want, you cannot think the way you think, you cannot have been unfortunate to be born with a certain skin color, you cannot worship God and be outspoken about it, you cannot vote the wrong way and have it be known. That’s a lot of cannots! And that mentality is squashing the pool of artistic talent out there, as well as killing sales. Readers don’t want to be told what’s appropriate for them to read either.

I talked to an agent the other day about these issues and how for the simple crime of speaking out, there’s only one publisher who is ever even remotely likely to pick my work up at this juncture, and the agent didn’t disagree. What troubles me is that the agent didn’t seem to think that was a problem. For a debut novel, I actually had sales pretty respectable by traditional publishing forms. Last week I had an article that hundreds of thousands of people read and enjoyed. I should be on everyone’s radar. Reviews are all positive, and there’s a lot of them. Readers like my fiction and even more readers like my thoughts and journalism.

So why would a middleman go against their best business interests like that?

It all comes down to blackballing again. And here’s where I call to you writers: burn the ships and don’t look back.

By which I mean get rid of these middlemen and gatekeepers who have this mentality. You don’t need them. You don’t need the contract they offer you to be legitimate in the world today. Amazon, evil corporate monopoly that it is, has leveled the playing field and gotten rid of all barriers to entry. A “real” publisher won’t market you anyway — they don’t spend resources on new writers, only established brands. You’ll be left in the wind there as much as you are on your own, but without control of your own product, and receiving a lower percentage on every sale for your work. There is literally no benefit to these middlemen’s existence. They are only there to tell you what you’re allowed to write and what readers are allowed to read. Their opinions might not even match up with readers at all. 

You are a real writer. If you’re getting good feedback on your work, don’t hesitate. Put it out there. That’s the only way to get ahead: especially if you’re white, male, Christian, conservative, any or all of those things. They gatekeepers hate you for who you are, and it doesn’t matter how good your work is. Stop giving those Christaphobic racist, sexist bigots validation by seeking yours through them.

Charity Auctions For Cystic Fibrosis

I’ve mentioned the CF foundation before, and appreciate the generous contributions of friends and readers. My lovely and elegant wife is running some charity auctions featuring some cool jewelry, baseball tickets, even a backyard bbq! If you’re interested, please check this out here:

If you’re not familiar with CF, it’s a very nasty lung disease where patients develop mucus non-stop — think feeling congested like you’re sick to an extreme every day of your life. Now while it’s healthy in a normal person, it has negative effects as the thick mucus blocks air passages, and ends up scarring and collapsing the lung. Just a decade ago, average lifespans for CF were in the teens, but with modern developments due to the foundation’s work, they’ve extended that big league. The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide all people with the disease the opportunity to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment and ensuring access to high-quality, specialized care.

Every little bit helps. Thanks for taking the time to look. If you’d like to contribute directly, please do so here:

The Review You’ve Been Waiting For: Cirsova Magazine Issue 5

I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly Cirsova magazine delivered their product after their successful kickstarter a couple of months ago. Usually so much time goes by between kickstarted work that I’ve forgotten I’ve backed it before I received it. The paperback has a nice thick quality to it, big, a beautiful cover, great and professional aesthetic just on that front alone. It’s no wonder this magazine received a Hugo Award nomination.

Now to the stories!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always read short fiction magazines or anthologies in order, or even usually make it all the way through one without skipping a few stories. With Cirsova, I didn’t read in order — as I was extremely excited to read Schuyler Hernstrom’s novella after what I saw in Cirsova #2. His work “The First American” in this volume lived up to the hype I generated about Hernstrom’s work in my own mind (why aren’t more people talking about him?!).  I was thoroughly entertained the entire way through. I note that he very much likes the concept of having space tech having crashed on a fantasy world planet and implementing something from there, a fond reminder of his story in issue #2. That said, this work was wholly different and original, and well worth the read.

I was hesitant about this issue because I learned after I kickstarted that this was a themed work (unlike the other issues of Cirsova) revolving around a Lovecraftian world that Misha Burnett developed. My problem isn’t with Misha, who’s a fine writer, but with Lovecraft, as I’ve really never enjoyed much of his work or the Cthulhu mythos. I’m not much one for horror in general, only reading it very sparingly. Monsters in the dark don’t really appeal to me, as I like to read more positive things about humanity progressing to the stars.

Fortunately, my fears proved to be unnecessary. Misha actually created a very nice world and the authors, though using these Lovecraftian monsters as a backdrop, still told stories about heroes being heroes and good triumphing over evil. Misha’s own “In The Gloaming O My Darling” actually was the closest of the set to something of traditional Lovecraft horror, but the way it was presented with the characters was far more enjoyable than most of the other work I’ve read in that genre. He really told a classic short story very well with this one.

My other favorite was “The Queen Of Shadows” by Jay Barnson. This had a great heroic adventure to it that was extremely fun, with a Tarzan-esque main character performing rescue work in a city. I loved how this went. The pace was fantastic, villains challenging and it held my interest as one of the longer pieces in the magazine. I’ll be looking for more of his work later.

After the 6 tales of Eldtrich Earth, there were a couple of non-related stories. Adrian Cole’s “Killing in Karkesh” I believe is part of a serial he’s working on — I remember the star lance from issue #2, though I feel like it would have been better if I’d read all of the other stories leading up to it. At some point when I have time I will track down issues 3-4.  What surprised me was “The Bears of 1812” by Michael Tierney. I thought this was a silly title and I wouldn’t enjoy the historical fiction as much as the others — but it was really interesting. I like what he did with Sacagawea, and I haven’t researched  how accurate it is historically, but I did buy it as a short story, very satisfying.

Overall, I very much enjoyed. These were my favorites, but everything was solid as I’ve come to expect from Cirsova from reading issues 1-2. This magazine is well deserving of your Hugo consideration.

This Simple Health Tip Will Change Your Life!

Okay, so most y’all know that I love to poke fun at clickbait headlines that I see circulating on social media. This is another one of those. However, I do actually have something that’s been pretty big for me since I started the last month. I promise not to turn this into a regular food/health blog… you know, unless I get a lot of clicks on this… anyway…

I’ve had really bad acid reflux since I was about 14-15 years old. This is before I went into sedentary work environment and gained a bit of weight. Back then I was pretty healthy, and that just continued through the rest of my life. As many members of my family have it, and my grandfather actually died a pretty horribly slow and painful stomach cancer death, pretty sure it’s just hereditary digestive problems.

And I found a miracle cure.

I went to Jamba Juice on a whim when I was at spring training, as it was 90+ degrees out in AZ in early March and was happy to find anything to cool off. That’s where I discovered Ginger Shots. It sounded nasty — and it is nasty. Jamba puts in 1 oz. of Ginger Juice + 1 oz. of Lemon juice + Cayenne Pepper sprinkled on top. Yuck!

Only I ate like a disaster that day with beers and hot dogs at the baseball game — and I didn’t get heartburn.

I couldn’t believe it. I felt good. The next day I had no stomach issues. So I went to Jamba again and did the same thing for several days. I tested it through everything, and yes while this works better if I don’t eat a completely toxic diet, I found that my heartburn had pretty much gone away after a couple of weeks of this.  I had more energy and I felt better as well.

Target had a nice juicer on sale so while Jamba gives you completely fresh squeezed, it’s also not feasible to head out there and pay for that every day (though their pre-9 a.m. “happy hour” for $1 isn’t bad).  What I did was get a bunch of ginger root and squeeze the juice into a ketchup bottle I picked up at target, which gives me about 6-7 days worth of the juice. Same with the lemons. Then it’s just pouring it every morning. Easy.

I know there’s all sorts of actual scientific articles on lemon juice and ginger and cayenne, go look that up if you care. Just reporting what I tested and verified in me. Try it and see if it helps you!