I work in IT by day and write by night. I’m pretty good about keeping my work life and home life separated, but every once in awhile work follows me home or family life follows me to my paying gig. This is a little story about troubleshooting. It’s based on true events.
One of the issues we’ve been dealing with at our company of somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 employees is that Word documents with images embedded in them have rather suddenly stopped printing correctly. We have laptops and desktops deployed in the field, as well as several different printer models, including black and white vs color HP LaserJets. The different models generally are a result of items being replaced due to failure. Our base images are pretty standard still for my industry. We are using Windows 7 with Office 2010 and all of the printers that are experiencing the issue have UPD printer drivers. We still have a few legacy apps and upgrading our major applications will require several expensive infrastructure updates which we’ve been putting in place over the last year. So we are getting closer to being more current.
The hardest part about troubleshooting this type of issue is that not all the workstations are the same. We currently have in rotation somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10 different models of desktops, and anyone who works in IT and buys bulk units knows even when you get a skid of models that are sequentially numbered with serial numbers, they can have slightly different parts inside, right down to the display adapter. Add to the mix that we don’t have a standard printer for all those different machines and things start to get a little more complicated. Not every document with images was failing to print at every workstation, AND not every document with images was failing to print for just one user. In other words, one user would experience an issue with Document 1 not printing, but Document 2 which looked very similar (a letter with logo) would print just fine. When another user would try to print Document 1, it would print the images just fine.
I spent around 18 hours researching on the Internet and testing everything I could find where anyone reported they were having issues printing Word documents with images. The feeds and support sites had messages going back as far as 2006 to the most current item I could find being 2018, with nothing being definitively solved. I tested every recommendation, possible solution, or setting change, including some that were obviously not going to be a solution. But hey! It’s Windows. I’ve learned to test even the most far out ideas. To give you an idea of just how many things I tried, all in various combinations, I printed nearly half a ream of paper before I finally found a sliver of gold. Some of the popular suggestions I tried included:
There are definite work-arounds which we have shared with our end users, but the work-arounds are applied only after a document failed to print properly, meaning paper, or worse, time, was being wasted. The work-arounds included:
Well, that certainly cleared nothing up, at least nothing obvious. The first work-around suggested it was an add-in issue. Some add-in was preventing docx documents with image files from printing correctly. I removed all the add-ins and tried printing again. No images printed. Tried again with no add-in and with combinations of the various settings turned off and on. The images in the document didn’t print. So maybe not an add-in?
The second work-around suggested it was flat-out Word’s issue. DOC files print correctly if they are in compatibility mode, but the minute I convert them back to DOCX, the images don’t print again. Interesting.
The third work-around seemed to suggest it might be driver-related. Word’s native PDF’ing tool handled the images just fine. They preview correctly after being PDF’d, and when printed from Adobe Acrobat, the HP driver handled the pdf document with embedded PNG images just fine. So not a driver issue?
I’m back to Word being the issue. What’s going on Microsoft? What don’t you like about this document with an image (that doesn’t print correctly) vs this document with an image (that does)?
What’s even more interesting than the fact that it took me so long to figure out the core of the problem is human nature in IT professionals. I had been creating documentation for end users creating screen shots with the Windows Snipping Tool. I probably started having the issue about the same time as everyone else (I don’t ever print letters with the logos because I have no need of doing that.), but because I always generate PDFs for our Intranet instead of uploading Word documents, I wasn’t seeing the issue play out. Or, actually, I did, but I ignored it because I figured out in two quick steps that the PDFs printed fine and I automatically started using that work-around. I thought it was a fluke on my PC and ignored the issue, promising to solve it “later” when I had more time, because that’s what we do in IT. We fix everyone else’s problems and work around our own until we find out our problems are everyone else’s too. (My family gets suuuper frustrated with me when I don’t jump right to fixing our home computer after spending eight hours at work.) It wasn’t until the calls started filtering back to me that others were experiencing the same issue and I finally buckled down to research what was going on.
Then suddenly. Bink! I had my light-bulb moment. Or maybe it was a “Duh” moment (though we had at least four other techs research this issue at various times). The images in the document are different. Seems like I should have figured that out from the very start when one document was printing the images correctly while the other one wasn’t, right? That seems pretty darn logical.
The problem with logical thinking like that is that we hadn’t changed our logos in a long time. Like years and years. Around six or eight years. The logos have been in PNG format for a very long time. In fact, I had to go all the way back to a set of our original templates done over ten years ago to finally find files that had JPG images. Anyone want to take a break from troubleshooting and take a guess why we switched to PNG files? Because of the size. With our one color logo, a PNG image file is significantly smaller than a JPG. In an effort to reduce the document size of the millions of documents we save in our system each year, we switched to PNG files. And that was perfectly fine for some five years or so, maybe longer. Now, suddenly our PNG logos aren’t printing.
And those Snipping Tool images that I was pasting into my end-user documentation? The Snipping Tool creates 32-bit PNGs. I can save an image from the Snipping Tool as a JPG, but if I just use the copy button (because it’s RIGHT THERE and it’s SO EASY), and then paste the image into Word, the image is pasted as a PNG file instead of a JPG. And it doesn’t print.
Well. Not quite. I do now have a better work-around for everyone. Embed JPG images instead of PNGs. But I haven’t solved the issue with why Word isn’t able to print those PNG images anymore. Unfortunately, that’s more testing for another day. Or maybe some Microsoft Office Tech will pick this blog post up, have her light-bulb moment, and leave a little comment that they have gotten everything all fixed up in Word. A girl can dream.
Hello 2019! Good riddance 2018.
No, really. 2018 was not a great year for me. Don’t get me wrong. I had many memorable moments that brought me joy, but I had a bit of a rough year at the same time with having a second hand surgery, my father passing, and my 1st born moving to New York all on the front half of the year. All those events in one way or another impacted my ability to write, either physically (since my right hand was tied up in a splint) or psychologically (because of the sadness of losing two loved ones close together, even if one of those loved ones would be coming home for a visit by the end of the year). I completed far less in the course of the year with regards to writing than I would have hoped. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not getting down on myself for it. I’m disappointed, but I’m not ashamed.
Like I said, I had a bunch of memorable moments. I was able to send one of my kids off to England for a week-long adventure, and then watched him have a great Freshman season playing soccer for Alma College. I had two other kids, still middle schoolers, who were Student of the Month. In some respects, my father’s illness and subsequent passing brought me closer to my brothers. I got to see a side of each of them that brings me profound respect for them both. My son, who moved to New York without any prospect of a job or even a place to live when he got there, has made me proud with the way he’s used his brain and his resources to find success. In less than a year, he found several jobs on-set in the film industry AND made it into the electrician's union. He wasn’t mugged or murdered! (I know. I have a messed up bias of New York. I should visit and get that bias fixed, right?) At any rate, I have a LOT to be thankful for. And I am very thankful.
But here we are in 2019. New year. New goals. One of my goals is to either read OR write every day. So far, so good. I received several books for Christmas this year and I dove right into them. I was also invited to join a second book club and started reading the book they’ve selected for January. When you consider that I presented an Editing workshop to my local WriMos on the first Saturday of the year, some people might say my productivity is off the charts. (You can find my handouts from that event here.)
But I need to get that writing stuff back on my daily calendar too. I was all set to go home last night and get some editing done. I procrastinated. I started going through a month’s worth of email that I had set on the back burner. (There just isn’t enough time in a day for everything!) One of the emails was from me. Back at the end of November, I had sent myself some notes about creating a word tracker like NaNoWriMo has, where I can enter a desired word count, then track my daily word count. In no time at all (or rather, a couple hours), I had whipped open Excel and created a worksheet that not only tracked my daily word count against my annual goal, I also added tracking for hours spent writing and editing. (You can get your very own copy of my 2019 Goal Tracker here.) Now I just need to start writing and editing and put some numbers in it.
And here I am, procrastinating with a blog post.
Happy New Year everyone!
I belong to an author group on Facebook. One of the many benefits of belonging to groups on Facebook or Twitter or the other social media platforms is that new information in the industry is shared nearly as soon as it is available and I don't have to work so hard to find it. It was on one of my Facebook groups that I discovered Kindle Create has made an add-in for Word documents.
Being a software junkie and a self-certified Word expert (I train on advanced features like styles, templates, and more for my day job), I immediately downloaded the add-in from the Kindle Direct Publishing site to give it a test drive. You should know before downloading that you do need a copy of Microsoft Word 2010 or higher in order to use the add-in. It's also worth mentioning that when I closed the Previewer following installation and first launch, I was prompted to update to a newer version. This tells me that the app is calling home for updates when you use it and suggests Kindle Create intends to keep developing the software and add improvements.
The download is a bit hefty at 250 megabytes, which seemed large to me when I thought it was just a simple Word add-in. It turns out, though, that the executable file is packaged with the Kindle Previewer. The Kindle Previewer has a conversion tool that takes your Word document and converts it to the Kindle-preferred format: Mobi. The Mobi file is then opened in the viewer where you can review the formatting.
My cursory tests give the add-in and viewer a solid B+, though I plan to do some additional testing. One of the first things I did was create a new book, which implements styles, page numbering, tables of content and other features that should be a standard all authors use when developing their final copy for electronic publication.
The features are super easy to use. Click a button and you get a Title Page. Click another button and you get a Tables of Content page. You can add all your book parts and then start writing, or you can start a new book and import your existing Word document and format the content using the simple styles found in the Kindle ribbon. They really couldn't have made this tool much easier for people who are new to formatting documents.
Included in the Kindle ribbon is an option to preview your document in the Kindle Previewer. The Previewer opens two windows. A larger view of your book as it would display on a device, and a smaller window with options for selecting what type of device on which you can preview the book (tablet or a phone in either the landscape or portrait orientation), font selection, and navigation options. At the bottom is an icon for viewer your table of contents with live links to locations in the book and a search option for finding words or phrases.
I had beta-tested Amazon KDP's earlier version of the viewer about six months or so ago when I received an email encouraging authors to try it out. That version allowed you to open a document and convert it on the fly. This viewer works in the same way, but tucks some of the extra features cleanly out of sight so the screen feels less cluttered.
You will find a menu button in the upper left-hand of the viewer where your document is displayed. It looks like a small white circle with three black lines running through it. There are a couple of important tools found here.
Under "File," you will find the Export function. This is the option you need in order to create the Mobi file you upload in Amazon KDP.
Under "View" is a Conversion Log option. I recommend that you check that log prior to exporting your document. The Conversion Log will let you know any issues it finds when importing your Word document into the viewer. If you see any errors in that log, you should try to resolve them prior to publication.
Finally, there are two items under the Help menu worth mentioning: 1) Online User Guide, and 2) Publishing Guidelines. These two items will open up via your browser as PDFs and provide all the information you need about using these add-in tools and understanding the formatting needs for publication. If you are an author getting ready to publish, I recommend you take some time reviewing both documents.
So, why didn't I give the Kindle Create Add-in an A+? It's primarily because there was at least one place where I see a significant improvement could be made. Styles are being used, and that is critical for generating the Table of Contents, but Fields could be implemented to make the tool even better. Fields would allow an author to type their author name in once and have it update all areas in the book where the author name displays, including on the Title Page, the Copyright page, and the headers. Instead, the author must be diligent in finding and replacing those items manually.
But it's a great start and I think authors who use Word, but who aren't necessarily software savvy, are going to love it.
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear what you think or if you are experiencing any issues with the tool. I may even be able to help with some basic troubleshooting if you need it.
A White Crow was the first story in my Read Write Ponder series and I just realized I didn't have an excerpt available for people to read. Well, I do now! Here it is!
Mac shook his hair out and frowned. Drops of water covered the mirror and raced through the fog for the sink. For half a heartbeat, he considered leaving the streaks for Lisa, but he just didn't have time to do battle. But Saturday was coming, and Saturday mornings were made for finding some small way to goad her into an argument. It was the one day of the week they could match wits, and then he could take his time making up with her under the bed covers.
Today, though, he just didn't have time. Once again, he had slept through the alarm. With a swipe of a towel, he cleared the beads of water and fog from the mirror and admired his chest, still muscled a year after his last day of training for college football. He leaned in closer to look at the dark circles that puddled under his bloodshot eyes. Late nights studying at the law library were taking their toll.
The sting of eye drops made Mac hiss. The liquid that didn't make it into his sinuses rolled down his cheeks like tears. He snatched a tube from inside the cabinet, squeezed a dab of gel into his hands, and smoothed back some of the wild, sandy blond strands curling at his temples.
"Late again?" Lisa swatted his bare butt as she walked by the open door on her way to the kitchen for coffee.
"Always," he said. He stuck his head out the door and admired her pajamaed curves. "Would be better if we could drive our car."
Mac had griped about not having a car closer to their apartment from the first day he had moved in with her. Their flat inside the heart of the city had no parking garage of its own and the closest one that wouldn't break their budget was more than two miles away. Everyone had a car in the midwestern town where he grew up. It wasn't the discomfort of waiting at the bus stops in the damp chill of the October air. Shoot, gun season hadn't even started yet. He could sit in a snow-covered tree stand all day dressed in little more than a sweatshirt and his winter camo. No, it was the inconvenience of having to depend on someone else to get him around the city.
Mac squeezed the toothpaste too hard and it fell off his brush into the sink. He growled and scooped it onto his brush. After a few quick brushes and a swipe of the toothbrush across his tongue, he rinsed and dropped the brush with a plink into a jelly glass in the cabinet. A speck of toothpaste mocked him from his stubbled chin. He dashed it away, and then snatched a brush from a drawer to drag through his damp hair. A pink, elastic hair band was wrapped around the handle of the brush like a good omen. He wouldn't need to make a mad dash looking everywhere for one of his own rubber bands. With a quick flick of his wrist, he pulled the pink band around his mass of long curls. Well, not too long. Lisa had said when they first started dating that she wasn't looking for a Fabio, so he kept his hair trimmed to shoulder length.
"Nobody who lives in the city drives their own car to work. Too much traffic to deal with and there's no place to park." Lisa walked in and sat down on the toilet lid with both hands wrapped around her coffee mug. "We'll get a new place once you have your degree. Is that my hair tie?"
"Was on the counter. I gotta run." Mac headed toward the bedroom to get dressed.
"No, you gotta find a different hair tie."
Mac didn't stop. "What? No. I'm late."
Lisa's feet rapped a quick tattoo as she rushed in behind him. She had abandoned her cup in the bathroom and stood with both hands on her hips. "I'm serious."
"What are you talking about?" Mac snatched a shirt over his head and pulled on a pair of pants. The bed squeaked as he sat down on the edge and slipped his feet into a pair of black sneakers. He didn't bother tying them. "Lisa, I'm late."
Lisa pounced on the bed and made a grab for Mac's hair, but he ducked and stood up, then leaned away as she swiped at him again. Her face had turned a mottled red and Mac wondered why she was getting so riled up over some stupid hair tie. Especially, when she knew he needed to get out the door to catch the Madison Ave bus. If he didn't catch that one, he'd be too late, maybe even fired.
She jumped from the bed and grabbed his shirt. "It's mine. It's my lucky hair tie."
"Why are you acting so weird about this?" He brushed past her. "I gotta go."
"No." She stepped between him and the door and put her hand out.
"Really? This is what's important right now? Now? When I'm late?" He pushed by her through the door.
Lisa's elbow thumped against frame. "Ow!"
"Sorry," he mumbled without turning around. "I'll give it back later."
"I just want my hair tie back." Her voice bounced off the walls and followed him down the hallway where he snatched a camouflaged coat from the hook by the entryway. The bathroom door slammed behind him.
Lisa held her breath. She counted to ten, and then opened the door to hover with her ear to the crack. Other than the measured drip of the shower at her back, the apartment was quiet. The hinges pleaded for a drop of oil as she opened the door wider and stuck her head into the hallway. It was empty.
As she walked across the room, she chewed a fingernail. In the last week, all her nails had been whittled down until they bled at the corners, so it was no surprise when she tasted blood. Through the front door, the muffled ding of a bell announced the elevator, and Lisa froze. She waited a heartbeat, then swiftly moved to her coat and reached inside a pocket to extract a pink and white box.
The instructions on the back of the package were incomplete, so she opened the box and dug out the sheet of paper. As she padded back to the bathroom, she tucked the box under her arm and unfolded the page. She read it top to bottom, then flipped it over to read the other side. Her single year of high school Spanish was not going to help her read page two. Lisa pressed the paper flat on the counter and willed her hands to stop trembling. The applicators rattled against the sides of the box as she tipped one into her hand.
"Just pee on the stick." She swallowed hard and stared at the stranger in the mirror. "Go ahead. Have your fortune told."
In the late 90s, some scientists in Edinburgh, Scotland, presented to the World, Dolly. She was a sheep they had cloned by messing around with adult sheep cells by injecting an egg into it and thereby creating an embryonic egg that they were able to grow into a fully formed ewe. Cloning wasn’t new in the 90s. Experiments in cloning were actually successful as far back as 1885 when Hans Adolf Edward Dreisch shook up some sea urchin cells and proved cells could be separated and grow into two identical creatures.
From that moment on, the scientific world has been working hard to clone animals (not by shaking them), and map the human genome. Mapping the human genome allows incredible advances in medicine by pinpointing where things go wrong in development, very early in the embryonic stages. Knowing which pieces and parts of a strand of DNA are responsible for not just traits like blue eyes or curly brown hair, but also genetic defects like Down's Syndrome, Hemophilia, and Huntington's Disease. By understanding where to find the root of where something goes wrong, the hope is that cures can be discovered.
With the advent of the first discoveries of twinning, the scientific world has been faced with a great tug of war…research and find cures vs. maintaining an ethical standard for science. Where is the line in the sand? If human beings are cloned, are they "human?" Or are they something else? Can we discard all the laws for the ethical treatment of animals, which are human food sources, if we are growing them in a lab instead of on a farm? Should we be cloning human beings at all?
The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin took a good hard look at cloning in a fictional setting. The book takes a look at the question: What if Hitler could be cloned? Going deeper than that, it questions how much behavior is innate (nature) vs how much is learned (nurture). It was the first story I had read as a child about cloning and I've been fascinated with it ever since, seeking out more books, like The Island of Doctor Moreau (which didn't really get the science right, but was fascinating to my 13-year-old self all the same), and finally writing my own novel about it in 2016.
Last week, Dolly was back in the news. The Washington Post is reporting that they finally figured out Dolly's age at birth. Remember, she was created from an adult cell, so the question was, at "conception" was she 6 years old or was she a new "baby?" I won't give it away. Go read the story yourself. I'll go work on editing my novel. It needs a lot of work!
Nearly all of the stories I have written or plotted started out as some scene from dream I had. Sometimes I will wake up and immediately need to write down what I was dreaming about, and other times, I won't, but I will continue to fixate on the dream all the way to work and think about it for days until I finally give in and put it on paper. At times, putting the words together is the only way to get the ideas to give me peace.
This morning I woke up from a dream about being on a spaceship as a teenager. As I slowly came to the reality of warm blankets and the early vibrations of a household coming back to life, I let my thoughts wander about what it would really be like to be on that spaceship I had been dreaming about. After twenty minutes or so, I grabbed my phone of my dresser and opened up a note-taking app to scribble down everything I had been thinking about.
While lying there with my eyes closed, I had mostly wandered the ship and observed how things were running. What were the families like? Did they still have school like our current-day classrooms? Did the kids work or just the adults?
And as I thought more and more about it, a story of sorts started to take shape from the world building. My fingers were flying over the keys as I tried to remember all the places my mind had traveled, and in the end, I'm sure I forgot some things, but I also filled in blanks that were missing.
Here's a glimpse of some of my notes:
Earth was dying. In a desperate attempt to survive, human beings were taking to the skies and heading to the next closest inhabitable planet based on what the premier scientists of the time were toting. So far, this is nothing new right – we've seen this Sci Fi story a million times. And truthfully, I don't know if what I'm imagining at this point is even anything so different than all of those stories, but it's mine.
The ship my main character is on was built in space. The sheer size and mass of a ship that would carry thousands of people and all the supplies required for survival to a new and inhabitable planet would not have any possible way to launch based on current technology.
At some point around the middle of the story, or maybe it will be how the story starts when it actually gets written, the reader will discover everyone has been lied to. People aboard this ship and others had all been told the original ship, sent hundreds of years earlier had breached the gap in space and started a colony. The truth was nobody knew if that ship had made it because the communication stopped after they got so many parsecs out from the last orbit of satellites, and my main character somehow finds this out. When he questions an authority figure, he is told the reason for the lie. The ship is headed for an unknown planet. They have no idea what they will find if they reach it. They have no idea if they will reach it. But Earth was dying. And a new planet meant hope. And hope would be what kept the people on the ship sane.
And there's more in my notes. A lot of world building, like I said before. I don't know that I could write the amount of information I packed into my notes in a single book, so maybe I will plot it out as a series. I can see there will need to be a LOT of research though I could to some extent spoof some of the science since it takes place a couple hundred years into the future. But since I would like to address global warming and dying planets, NASA and other space exploration (what do the starts look like from a spaceship?), fusion reactors (is this the best bet for propelling the ship?), and stuff I haven't even thought about, I'm going to have my work cut out for me if I ever write this one.
It's always exciting waking up with a new story. I wish I had more time to write.
People walked wide around him as if he controlled an invisible shield that repulsed them. He stood back from the crowd and let his eyes slide over the women in the room. A beard and long stringy hair that curled under at the ends hid his face, and he had a habit of swinging it forward to shield himself from questioning gazes. I noticed that he didn’t smile. At all. And he never took a pull from the bottle he held by the neck. When he took a step to his left, his eyes were cut by the shadow cast by the brim of his worn baseball cap, so there was no longer any chance to read his expression even if I had wanted to. I was left with the feeling that he was intently focused on me in the same way a cat watches a mouse.
Heavy bass and the vibration of the amped up guitars filled the room and my head while warm beer splashed my feet each time someone bumped my elbow. Being a people watcher, I never stepped onto the dance floor. I was more of a voyeur. My eyes would dance around the club and observe the mating ritual of women dancing suggestively and rubbing against men. Each time my eyes would do a round, they would come back to him, and a frisson of agitation would scurry up my spine. Unbidden, the idea filled my head that he might be a vampire, along with the members of the 80's rock band that was blasting out a cover of Come On Feel the Noise. The taste of blood filled my mouth, and I realized I had bit through the inside of my cheek.
The band had an impressive set of lasers in their light show, and when a beam of light struck me in the face, I had to blink to regain my vision.
The guy was gone.
I relaxed into the music, relishing the thump of the bass on my insides, and pretended to take another sip of my beer. The lead singer was more feminine than I was, and I couldn’t draw my eyes from the way he swung his long auburn hair, twisted his hips, or grinded against his microphone in his skinny jeans. Feathers floated out of sync from the roach clip pinned to a belt loop threaded through with a studded belt. He was the proverbial car wreck, and I couldn't stop staring.
Not that the crowd was any better. Drunken air guitars competed note for note with the band, and lighters glowed high above the crowd's bobbing heads. The percentage of men in the crowd with long hair gave the band a run for its money, and I had lost count of the number of tee-shirts that advertised Tennessee Whiskey. Women wore skin-tight jeans or miniskirts over tights and animal print tops that were altered to expose shoulders, backs and the curves between breasts. It was a smorgasbord of white flesh.
The speakers were turned up each set, and when I walked out of the club, I felt like my head was in a bubble. In the quiet of the parking lot, it was a long moment before the ringing in my ears was no longer as loud as the band had been inside. Since I made it out untarnished, I figured the band with their pasty skin and electric allure weren't vampires after all. Or else maybe they weren't smoking Mary Jane between sets and were sated.
I hummed School's Out For Summer as I dug into my pocket for my keys. I had parked under a light in the lot, and it buzzed like a moth refusing to submit to the electricity coursing through a bug zapper. If a van hadn't parked next to me, someone might have seen what happened next. Someone might have tried to be my knight in shining armor and changed the outcome.
It was the man in the baseball cap. I could sense him creeping toward me before I could smell him or even hear him. He had a shoestring stretched taut between his hands when I turned on him, and he flinched as if his heart had been pierced by the tip of a sword. I have that effect on some people.
"No." He choked on the word.
I relished the way he quaked in front of me, how he couldn't look away, how he was frozen in fear. How he reminded me of a white rabbit I had held in my hands when I had first turned. He knew his life was over and I hadn't yet made one. Single. Move.
It's an interesting age. I've been around for a very long time and this is the first generation of homo sapiens to have a grotesque few who inserted spiked, plastic implants into their foreheads or filed their teeth into sharp little points. They had no idea how it allowed us to fit in.
I leaned in to look closer at the man's eyes. The odor of fear, or even unwashed bodies, didn't bother me, but I didn't like being high. When I was high, I was out of control. I did stupid things. Dangerous things. I once left a body on a cross at the Trinity Church. In my intoxicated state, I thought I was making some sort of stand against the gluttony of the church. Churches don't preach about gluttony anymore, and there's a reason for that, even if their congregation doesn't see it.
Of course, the worry of ingesting chemicals that affected me two-fold how they affected a human being was only part of it. Matthew said, "The eye is the lamp of the body," and William Shakespeare noted, "The eyes are the window to your soul." It was the eyes that let me finish them. Past the blue-gray or hazel specks, deeper than the darkest pupil, was truth. The eyes of liars and thieves and rapists didn't dilate like the pure of heart. It was a subtle idiosyncrasy, but it was the difference between amnesia and death.
And in the light between vehicles, it was what bought this man a not-so-sweet release.
I pulled some of my short stories down today. I plan to publish a series of them on Amazon. My initial goal was to publish one of my brand new short stories, unpublished here or anywhere else, so that I could establish my "Author" status for goodreads. I had heard that you didn't have to have anything officially published, but darned if I could find anyway to register myself as an author without a true blue story. So, as part of my marketing plan for my first novel, I wanted to start building a platform over on goodreads. I plan to leave my short stories free for a while, so once their posted, it will be your chance to grab them at no charge.
My new short story is called "Ties That Bind" (unless I can come up with a better title). It's the story of a woman who believes everything good that's ever happened to her is because of a lucky hair tie. When her fiance borrows it without asking and won't hand it over, her day starts downhill. She bangs her elbow on the door frame, gets a run in her stockings, and finishes her day with a trip to the hospital.
Athletes often have lucky charms that they believe help them win games. Baseball players were wearing necklaces woven with titanium in 2011 (check out Texas Rangers' C.J. Wilson), Barbara Nwaba wears mismatched socks when she runs, and most of the Olympic athletes have something (rings, necklaces, bras, head bands, stuffed dinosaurs - you name it!).
Science says these lucky charms work, that superstitious behaviors enforce self-efficacy. When you believe in yourself, your chance of success soars, and having a a lucky charm boosts self-confidence. When you feel confident in your abilities, you set a higher bar. And when you find success, you fulfill the prophesy of luck. See "How Lucky Charms Really Work."
What's even more interesting to me is that women are more likely to attribute success to luck, where men believe they have success because of their abilities. At least, this is what I remember from one of my college Psych courses back in the day. Of course, "back in the day" was like 20-some years ago, so maybe the studies are saying something different these days. So much has changed since then! But that's a story for another post!
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