Posts Tagged Achieving Success

Rogue Love

Nerd time: I’m sure a fair number of you remember the scene in SW: The Empire Strikes Back where Leia tells Han she loves him, and he responds with “I know.”

From what I can tell, that’s supposed to be taken as a classic and in-character scoundrel’s response. (Google “Leia I love you” and look at the comments under the primary video if you want.) She tells him she loves him; his response carries a general attitude of “Of course, how could you not love me?”

But what if that wasn’t how it was meant? (It was) So instead, what if life worked that way more often? Put yourself in Han’s place: What if you heard those words, and genuinely knew that was the case, because you had seen it demonstrated by the other person’s character and actions over and over again?

That’d be–to put it mildly–pretty cool.

I know I’m a few weeks late for May 4th, and a few -months- late for Valentine’s Day, but whatevs. Food for thought.

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In His Defense, the Success Rate is Still 100%

Arnold set his hat by the door and nearly tripped over a pair of black leather size 10s.  “Why are there–Whose shoes are these?

“They ain’t mine,” Cannibal Sherman said, his voice resounding from the kitchen.  “Ask Brett.”  Brett Krinkins had been the one to send out the invitations–it was his house, but he was nowhere to be found.

Arnold untied his laces.  Judging by the state of the shoes in front of him, he imagined he was the only one around who still did so.  The backs were broken down and the only set whose knotted bows weren’t still intact was the glossy black pair by his foot.

“Sorry, hon, nobody’s really that helpful around here.  Let me grab your jacket.”  Britt was the older sibling of the Krinkins pair.  “You might as well be talking to the walls.

Whose shoes are these!” she bellowed from the well-lit foyer.  She wasn’t asking a question anymore; she had turned it into a demand for an answer.

Arnold stepped back slightly.

“Quit yelling,” Brett called down the hallway.  “If we don’t know whose they are, we can just cut them both in half.”

Britt’s face wrinkled in a mixture of confusion and exasperation as her brother clomped down the wooden corridor.  “You do know that’s not how that works, right?  It only works if people are fighting over the item.  You don’t just hack stuff in half and expect to solve the problem.”

“I do,” Brett said, stepping into the entryway, his arms full of cheese wedges and a colorful mix of soda cans.  “And it does.”  He handed the cans to his sister.  “It got people to stop leaving their crap at my house.  Take these into the kitchen please,” he said to her, picking up the shoes.

She took the soda reluctantly, somehow managing to hang onto all of the cans and Arnold’s coat.  “Why on earth do we let you host?  You can’t just misapply one solution to everything you see and expect it to fix the issue!”

“I haven’t been finding tacky bakeware in my kitchen anymore,” Brett said.  “As far as I’m concerned, the problem was solved.”

“That’s the problem with you; you get one tool and you use it on the world!  When all you have is Solomon’s logic, suddenly everything looks like a baby.”

“The better to avoid kid-sitting duties, my dear.”  As he turned the shoes over in his hands, he felt a palm on his shoulder; he spun around to see Abrams’ somewhat irate visage inches from his face.

“They’re mine, thanks.”

Britt shook her head and strode off toward the kitchen.

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I Think It’s Done.

I think it’s done.

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For My Next Trick, I’m Going to Purchase Gloves

I think a really cool magic trick would be to ask an audience member to think of a number between one and ten.

When they choose their number (but before they tell it to you), hold up that many fingers.

But that could get old.

So I would make them choose between 1 and 100.

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Status:

As of this moment book two has eclipsed book one in word count by ~350 words or so.  210,000 total.

For comparison, this is about 550 pages longer than anything I was ever told to write.

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An Entirely Factual Recounting

Over the past few years I’ve been asked to house and animal-sit for a few families from church.  After one of them left me a note properly explaining the extent of my duties, I took it upon myself to properly explain what happened for the duration of my stay.

This is the result.  Names (both real and made-up) of actual people have been changed to “Doug Jefferson” and “Steve” to protect privacy or something.  I guess if your name is Doug Jefferson this change is probably messing with your privacy.  I’m sorry.

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Howdy, hope the trip went well; everything important should be on the countertop next to the large and entirely factual documentation of the events of the last week.

Important notes:

On Wednesday I was arrested at a county fair, but because of my dedication I was able to post bail and successfully made it out here to feed all six horses. (Two have since flown off and one took to calling me ‘That dirty criminal’ whilst I fed him, so I sold him to a Canadian zebra farm under the pretense that he had been reupholstered.)

I still insist the arrest was illegitimate. For the last five years I’ve been bringing my own strawberry-vanilla pie with blueberry-cream topping and a homemade graham-cracker crust to the County Winter Fair bake-off. Because my pie is that good, I’ve won every year, and because of that, last year I was told to either submit a new pie or to not bother showing up. Being the excellent listener that I am, I made two pies for this year’s contest. Sure enough, when I arrived at the table to submit my pies, I was placed in handcuffs and taken down to the station, where they charged me with two counts of baking and entering. I made the mistake of trying to contest the charges just after midnight and saw the addition of one count of resisting a rest.

On Thursday there was a small incident with the cats that was quickly sorted out, though it required turning every computer within a four mile radius off and then on again. At some point at least one of them may have violated Tunisian airspace, but the details are as fuzzy as the cats themselves and I can neither confirm nor deny the culpability of anyone, really. Certainly not myself. Both cats have seemingly adjusted to the change in time zones, though neither will ever regain the ability to swim properly.

Friday also went well. After playing a few uncharacteristically sedate games of extreme checkers with myself (best two out of three) I was visited by two people who have not once been convicted of treason or deliberate arson. One goes by an alias–Joug Defferson, and the other holds the title of High Commander of International and Domestic Capitalist Operations but in the interest of protecting the innocent possibly guilty we’ll give him one of those goofy protective names and just call him “Steve.”

Anyway, █ ██████ █████ ██ roughly .28 █ ████ ██████ ████ ███ █████████ ██████ ███ ███ ██ █ ████ fifteen minutes or so, but ████ ███ █████ ███ ████ █████ ███ █ █████. ████ ███ could work, ████ █████ ███ █ █████ ██ █ ████ █████ ████ ██ ███ ██ ███ █████probably best left to Ms. Frizzle and the rest of the cast of the Magic School ██.

After we put out the fire we realized the situation was probably not quite as bad as it could have been; most of the walls were still in place and the basement had been left largely untouched thanks to the six-inch layer of soot. During the time spent removing the more concentrated radioactive masses, I was also able to interview a passing motorist who had witnessed the entire incident. He said: “But don’t quote me on that.” Fortunately he did allow me to quote him on his decision to not allow me to quote his earlier statement, so all was not lost. As an aside, it’s unlikely (continued on next page) you’ll ever have to worry about insects again, at least not anything that looks like the ones you’re used to seeing around here.

Being well-versed in the art of making the most out of the probably awful, we set to work repairing the damage (after contacting the Canadian embassy). Since the horses out back hadn’t really made any sort of effort to stop the situation from developing in the first place, they were enlisted to help fix it, and were assigned the titles of Task Horse Alpha, Task Horse Bartholomew (I have completely forgotten the phonetic code for the letter Bravo) and Task Horse Three. Task Horses Alpha and Bartholomew performed acceptably, but Three proved to be completely unhelpful, and was relegated to Standing Around Looking Completely Unhelpful Patrol.

Using Steve “Steve’s” engineering ability, Joug’s gator-wrestling-augmented strength, and my powers of seduction sedition standing around looking busy, we were able to repair the house. Joug and “Steve” did most of the repairs; I took the heavy responsibility of giving mildly threatening glares to passing truckers in order to procure lumber and other construction-type goods. This approach failed, but fortunately we were able to raise money through the sale of homemade pies. (Life Tip: Threatening glares are best used sparingly, away from vehicles traveling at interstate speeds.) The house has been restored to Nearly Mint condition; a careful inspection may uncover some flaws, such as heavy water in the plumbing (we were forced to use deuterium instead of hydrogen–you never know when you might need it), the aforementioned changes to insects and arachnids (Don’t talk to the spiders, even if they sound friendly or offer you competitive interest rates), and an intermittent magnetic anomaly in the basement that causes compasses to point left.

I had intended to recount Saturday’s highlights in poetic form (Iambic Pentameter), but I am forbidden from doing so for the next twenty years or until the dissolution of the British Parliament, whichever comes first. I do have the period from 17:15-18:27 in limerick form, however.

Three men on a cruise sang a song,
With a chorus fifteen minutes long.
To the passengers’ glee,
They were thrown in the sea;
Now they sing with the fish near Hong ███.

I explained the risks to the three of them when they told me of their intent to use tubas, a washboard, and a jug band on a cruise ship, but they would hear none of it.

If anyone superficially resembling one or more of your children visits your house during the next three weeks, it is completely possible said being is actually one of your offspring. It is also possible that the batteries on the impostors have not yet worn down completely. If you are uncertain, test said visitor using either a series of relevant questions (In what state were you programmed? How many feelings have you registered today?) If these questions prove insufficient, applying a spray of water to the ear canal will cause the bionic charlatans to enter circuit protection mode.

Sunday was warm, with a high approaching 275°K. Most of the parasitic gopher horde had moved on, following the bears west after I chased them off. If you do happen to see any gopher stragglers, the most helpful tips I can think of are –

#1: Never let them see you panic, and
#2: It is not possible to fire too many shots.

Also, any bags you find in the garage marked “coffee” or “non-reactive materials” should probably be burned away from animals and people, if possible.

I do not want to talk about Monday.

Tuesday can only be described as a “Hearty mixture of each of the preceding days.” If either NASA or the Latvian government shows up outside your house, deny my existence and under no circumstances permit them to go near the barn.
DO NOT burn the bags marked “non-reactive materials.” Also:

#3: Wear heavy boots, and don’t be afraid to use them.

Task Horse Three was able to make up for earlier shortcomings at this point, and any indentations (excluding the craters) in your lawn can be attributed to Three’s outstanding performance against the gopher scourge.

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A Series of Rather Terrible Decisions

I applied for (and was chosen for) the sugar beet draft this year.

All in all, it’s a very bizarre business seemingly predicated on a whole bunch of people with terrible judgment being allowed to make decisions.

Step one: Someone has to decide to farm.
Farming itself isn’t a terrible idea; it’s a great way to get outdoors and wake up at four and end up tan and fairly well-muscled and the owner of machinery that is either larger than or more expensive than the average house–possibly both.  It’s just–aside from subsidies and all that–your returns are dependent upon the weather.  It can’t be too hot, it can’t be too cold, too wet, too dry, too bugs or hail or tornado.  You’ve probably noticed a theme.

Poor decision Step two: This person must farm sugar beets.  Sugar beets are ugly, occasionally football-sized mutant cousins of regular beets that taste pretty much exactly how you would expect them to taste.  (Yes, I did.  No, it wasn’t a dare.)

Step three, and here is where it gets tricky: Said person must be willing to entrust these rotund little rooted fellows to, in some cases, complete strangers or people who know their friends who may never have driven either a truck or a manual transmission before.  (My secret shame!  But what do you want?  It’s not as if I had a spare car.)

So here’s where I come in, and where we switch perspectives.

Step four:  I show up at a field with a truck, and for reasons that I don’t want to explain, get an unstoppable urge to take beets from someone, letting some poor unsuspecting tractor driver fill the truck up with more beets than I could possibly want or use.  (If you’re keeping count, that’s at least one beet.)

Step five:  After driving about a mile, I begin to regret my actions.

Step six:  What in the name of Pete Sampras am I going to do with 20,000 pounds of beets?

Step seven:  I drive half a dozen miles into town, following antlike beet-truck trails toward the hive, where I and hundreds of other misguided truckers are fortunate enough to find people who will take the world’s ugliest crop off our hands.  In return, I receive a slip of paper.  Some less-fortunate drivers simply give up, cut their losses, head home, and end up with ten tons of awful brown lumps on their lawn.

Step eight:  Leave.  Probably the most rational decision I’ve made all week.

Step nine: Contract Chronic Beetlust again.  Discard rational thought once more.  Repeat steps four through nine for approximately two weeks.

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Awards Night

   The auditorium was packed–rows upon rows of nameless faces: conspirators and colluders, perpetrators and abettors.  Lionel von Drath had apparently just left the stage; he was conversing in the corner with a pair of blue-suited henchmen and stroking his carefully groomed facial hair, mutton chops and a neat blond mustache.
Given a guess, Morris Brandeis suspected the man had given the same speech he had given to the crowd in Achany the week before: how he had graduated from the Academy of Villainy as class Maledictorian.  He probably thrilled the crowd with stories of exploding sandwiches and the thousand cheap and replaceable things he had lifted from the classrooms and the charity across the street and the teachers’ lounge on the days he wasn’t setting everything on fire.
He continued to walk down the incline between the left and right seating banks.  Cyrigan Ames was finishing up in front of him, but heads were already beginning to turn in his direction, even as she spoke of growing up in the town of Nicle, once the self-proclaimed “Friendliest hamlet on earth.”
It was a good story, he had heard it before as well–how she had grown with the town, corrupting it and changing it and building a reputation of her own.  It was no longer referred to as Nicle, however.  Ames was renowned for being the woman to single-handedly put the Evil into Niceville.
And yet the crowd was already drawn to Brandeis, who hadn’t yet set foot upon the stage.  Ames was slowing now; she had been winding down as he stepped in the door.  He watched the audience respond warmly as she concluded and stepped down to join von Drath.
Or rather, those who hadn’t noticed Brandeis enter responded well.  Those who had gave perfunctory applause in deference to tradition, even among rogues.
Brandeis approached the podium without a word; the crowd waited as anxiously as could be expected from such a crowd of hardened miscreants.
“My fellow malefactors,” he began.  “I’m certain you have heard your fill this evening of antics and escapades, high class and classless destruction.  I don’t intend to discuss my achievements with you tonight;”  –At this the crowd’s enthusiasm perceptibly sagged–  “I’m sure after two hours of stories the anecdotes begin to coalesce into a formless rush of noise, moreso when as listeners you weren’t the ones to perpetrate any of it.”
He took a short drink from a glass of water that had been sitting on the podium since before the first speaker had presented his case hours prior.
“So I will try to describe myself.”
He began to stroll across the stage, holding the glass in his left hand and drinking occasionally.  Von Drath crossed his arms and listened.
“Imagine a man who fights with nothing to lose, because he understands that anyone and anything can be replaced.  A man who trades in destruction not because of its effectiveness as a currency, but simply because he enjoys the smell.  One who each morning spreads butter made from the tears of children onto toast made from kittens.  A man who in his foulest and most desperate hour would find himself incapable of hurling the earth into the sun only because he would have done so long before that point.”
Brandeis returned to the podium and set the glass back in its place.
“I am that man’s evil twin.”

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We Three or Four Things

1:
This man is was an artistic wizard.

2:
How in the name of Willy Wonka does Mr. Slugworth find out that Charlie has a ticket so fast?  Was he hiding in the back of the store?  (More Likely: He’s a demon with the ability to teleport)

3A–To the multitudes of news organizations, and most importantly, your editors:
Please stop using the word An before words that begin with a hard H.  (If you’ve ever said An hard H aloud without cringing, you are either deaf or actively seek the downfall of the English language, and your help in bringing about said downfall is completely unnecessary)
The point of adding a consonant to the article A is to break up what would otherwise be an awkward diaeresis. (Notice the flow: an anchor, an order, anathema, versus “Hey guys, let’s go to a Arby’s and get a order of curly fries from that A. Athema girl!”(Just call her Ann!))

It sounds like your dinner plans are being made by Porky Pig.   Adding the consonant before another consonant is backtracking into the realm of awkward phonetics again, and you’re more likely to start tripping over words, which is a shame.   An honor is correct.  An historic event is not, unless you talk like a British maid and pronounce it ‘istoric.  If you are a British maid, carry on.

3B–You guys again:
Please stop abusing the construction Everything is not.  I don’t know if using it to mean Not everything is has been labeled Grammatically Incorrect yet, but if it hasn’t, it certainly should be.

Shakespeare–and his All that glitters is not–is able to get away with it, because he has the excuse of being poetic, and possibly because that kind of thing was completely kosher among Elizabethans.  Unless you’re trying to say “Nothing is,” which you hardly ever are, don’t do it.

The construction works with gerunds, because there’s no ambiguity.
“Running is good.”  Not ambiguous.  The speaker is expressing positive feelings about the act of running.
“Not running is good.”   Not ambiguous.  Similar to number one, except focused on the act of not running.
“Running is not good.”  Not ambiguous.  Same as number one, only with negative feelings toward running.

“Everything is awesome.”  Not ambiguous.
(Debate the mistreatment use of that poor word as you wish.  I’m sorry if a certain song gets lodged in your head.)
“Not everything is awesome.”  Also not ambiguous.
Nobody would assume the use of Not everything as a substitute for Nothing, because saying Not everything when you mean Nothing is needlessly confusing, (not to mention that the two are logically unequal*) so it’s safe to say the speaker was making the point that out of the many things that are, there are some that the speaker would find to be not awesome.
“Everything is not awesome.”  Apparently ambiguous, although it really shouldn’t be.
If the phrase is read correctly (in a reasonable manner) the not is modifying the following word, awesome, just as it did with good in the running example above, indicating the speaker believes that out of all of the things, none of them are awesome.  It does not mean that some things are awesome and some are not.  There is an unambiguous way to express that some things are awesome.  Not everything is awesome.  (Or, even better, Some things are awesome.)
Conveniently, this frees up Everything is not awesome to do its job explaining a sentiment similar to nothing is awesome.

Ideally, (and I am quite guilty of not doing this) you would use a completely different word.

 

*Take a set A containing a tray of biscuits and a Tibetan Mastiff.  If one were to say that out of set A “Nothing is a Tibetan Mastiff,” that would be completely different from saying “Not everything is a Tibetan Mastiff.”  (Not to mention that it would be untrue.)

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Rollin’ Hogwarts Like a Wizard.

Or: Sorting Your Way to a More Successful Tomorrow

So you got your acceptance letter to magic school.  Congratulations.  You may think the program is so easy a kid with no prior knowledge of the subject could just roll in there and become the best at everything.

You’re probably right.  But with that road comes angst and pain and constant mockery from a smarmy kid who had Miley Cyrus’ look down pat long before Miley Cyrus got into whatever the heck she’s been doing for the past few years.

Real wizards plan ahead.  And there’s really only one subject in which you must be well-versed.

Houses.

There are four of them.  Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor.  And when you arrive, you will be assigned to one by a hat.

That’s right, your future rests with a piece of clothing, and if you’re not prepared, you could end up doomed to seven years (or eight movies) of studies with the wizard equivalent of Scrappy Doo, or the kids from Full House.  As you can tell, this is a serious matter.  But if you play the game correctly, you could win the easiest seven years of your life.

“How?” you ask, in your squeaky, ten-year-old voice.  Simple.  Go Slytherin, and look socially acceptable by comparison.

Here’s what you face in each of the four houses.

Ravenclaw: Emos and goths.  Too broody, plus you could probably use the sun.
Hufflepuff:  Theater majors.  This is not Rent.  You are an aspiring wizard.
Gryffindor:  Brown nosers and nerds.  Their life is school.  Memorizing herbology to stay even with everyone else is lame.  And do you really want coursework in sycophancy?
Slytherin:  Sociopaths and morons–the brown ring of scum around the fixture that is Hogwarts.

Essentially, if you choose Slytherin, you commit yourself to a popularity contest against a bunch of disgruntled miscreants who would struggle to match wits with Marmaduke were they allowed an extra seventy or eighty IQ points and a favorable wind.

So go for it.  You can thank me later when you’re Minister of Magic.

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