Monday, December 24, 2012

Jesus in History

When I was earning my history degree, we were always told to find more sources. Primary sources were the best, but secondary sources were good as well. We just needed to have lots of sources to back up the points we were trying to make.

Each Christmas (I'm not going to say "holiday season," this post is about Jesus) most people will look to the same sources to read about Jesus. Matthew and Luke both hold accounts of the birth of Jesus. I like reading Matthew and Luke, but I felt like looking for an outside reference to Jesus this year.

(The following information is paraphrased from Wikipedia:
Josephus was a Jewish historian from the first century AD. He was born to very affluent parents and led the forces of Galilee against the Romans until he was defeated by Vespasian. When he claimed that certain Messianic prophecies also referenced Vespasian becoming Emperor, Vespasian decided to keep him along as a hostage and interpreter. Josephus basically switched sides and became very prominent with the Romans, specifically with Vespasian's son, Titus, after Vespasian assumed control of the Roman empire.

Josephus makes two statements about Jesus in Antiquities. One of them seems heavily modified by Christians but it also has been proven to be partially authentic.

Antiquities 18:3:3
"Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works - a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, has condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."

Antiquities 20:9:1
"so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned."

Both passages are an interesting read. The first passage is known as the Testimonium Flavianum. Let me start by saying that Christian scribes obviously changed a lot of the first passage. Part of it is authentic and seems characteristic of other writings of Josephus and part of it was modified because Christians were probably appalled when copying the manuscript and seeing Josephus express doubt as to who Jesus was. I'm sure lots of people would like to say how wonderful it is that Josephus was a proud Christian but the evidence seems fairly overwhelming that he tried to stay away from making a definitive statement one way or the other and that it was later changed. I would go into the reasons why parts seem uncharacteristic of his writings and what parts are actually authentic, but I found someone who has already exhaustively covered the topic here: and I would recommend you go read that. I did and I learned a lot.

Probably the most controversial sentence in the first passage (and likely the most blatant modification) is the statement, "He was [the] Christ." Jerome, writing from an earlier manuscript of Josephus quotes it as saying something like "He was said to be the Christ" or "He was believed to be the Christ." It also doesn't make a lot of sense that he would boldly proclaim him the Christ in one passage and then name him "Jesus, who was called Christ" in the second passage.

Josephus was close enough to the events of Christianity to be considered a primary source and is especially interesting since many of our other sources were followers of Jesus (and they would, therefore, be heavily biased in favor of his doctrine). Just to make things easier, here is the first passage modified with everything of questionable origin removed:

Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works - a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

I even like his account when we remove everything of uncertain authorship. From a primary source who was likely not a firm believer (if he believed at all), we see that Jesus was thought to be a wise man, a performer of wonderful works, and a teacher of truth. He drew a following to him that had not abated by the first century and it has still not vanished even to the present.

I've placed my own beliefs aside as much as I can for the purposes of this post but I would like to add one personal note from the Bible. My favorite evidence that Jesus was a "wise man" comes to us from Mark 12:13-17:

"Then they sent some Pharisees and some Herodians to him, intending to trap him in what he said. They came and told him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere. You don’t favor any individual, because you pay no attention to external appearance. Rather, you teach the way of God truthfully. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them or shouldn’t we?”
Seeing through their hypocrisy, Jesus replied to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”
So they brought one. Then he asked them, “Whose face and name are on this?”
They told him, “Caesar’s.”
So Jesus told them, “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him." (International Standard Version, 2012)

Even when posed with a question that would condemn him either way if answered, Jesus found an answer that no man could condemn him for. The above encounter will always be a reason that Jesus will be a role model to so many. When faced with hypocrites ready to catch him in his words, Jesus had a ready answer.

I hope everyone has a happy whatever you celebrate. I'm glad for the chance to see my family. I've worked a lot of hours recently and I feel good when I get to take a break and give and receive gifts to people that I care about. I like seeing my brother and his family, sisters, parents, friends, and extended family members. I also really want the computer parts that I'm pretty sure I'll be opening tomorrow and new blu-ray movies are always awesome. Hopefully the happiness of the season carries everyone through to the new year... and then you can go back to being stressed and annoyed. Happy holidays to all my blog readers. :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

E-Mail Security Tips

In an effort to reduce the amount of times I have to explain the same things over and over, I plan on writing a few blog posts (or maybe a $0.99 article that I publish on Amazon) about some commonly misunderstood elements of technology. Let's start with e-mail viruses. E-mail viruses generally:
-Crack your e-mail password
-Send automated spam to everyone in your contacts list
Some e-mails you receive may have computer viruses attached. These are in a completely different league and can generally be prevented. Having your e-mail hacked is not the same as having a computer virus.

E-Mail Security Tips:

1. Change your password often.
I change most of my passwords about once every two months. Most e-mail viruses that I've seen don't have the ability to change your password once they've cracked it. A password change stops most e-mail viruses that I've seen from continuing to send spam to everyone in your contacts list. Make your password a combination of letters and numbers. An all number code or an all letter code is a lot easier to crack. Most e-mail providers won't even allow you to make a password without at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, and one number anymore.

2. Add the following contacts to your contacts list:
While this will not stop most of the current e-mail viruses, it will stop a few of the older ones. While some see this as a hoax that doesn't actually prevent much, it should at least make a few of the attempts to e-mail spam undeliverable (which may result in a notice in your inbox). While it won't stop much, it doesn't take long to add two contacts to prevent the few that it will stop.

3. Don't open attachments with a .exe extension unless you know what it is.
In general, it may be better to say don't open any attachment unless you know what it is. Anti-virus programs are useless in preventing e-mail viruses but they will generally scan attachments that you try to download. They will catch some computer viruses when they do this but they will not catch all of them. It's safer to not click on an attachment unless it's from someone you know and you know what it is. A computer virus is a much larger problem than an e-mail virus but you should minimize your likelihood of getting computer viruses if you don't download random attachments from e-mails.

4. Report spam / junk.
A lot of known problematic e-mails will automatically filter into your junk / spam folder. If a spam e-mail makes it to your inbox, it is a good idea to click on the box next to the e-mail and click the button that says one of the following:
-Mark as Spam
-Report Spam
-Mark as Junk
Or something to that effect. You don't just want to delete it, you want that e-mail address to lose the ability to contact and annoy you with garbage.

5. Accessing your e-mail on a public / unsecured network is not a good idea.
There are new tools coming out all the time for hackers that allow them to get your information when you don't use secure encryption. When you check your e-mail on an unsecured connection, you never know who could be running a key logger on your session. If possible, avoid looking up personal information in public settings or over public connections and always secure your router / wireless network.

For more explanations of technology and some general tech advice, check out my book Explanations and Advice for the Tech Illiterate.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mini Black Friday Sale

So this is just shameful self-promotion... but I lowered the prices of my e-books so that 6/10 of them are at $0.99 (plus The Mormon Theocracy is still permanently free) and I'll leave them there at least through Cyber Monday.

I figured after spending an entire shift selling crap to people at Best Buy... I might as well sell something I actually believe in. :-P Here's the list of my Black Friday - Cyber Monday deals: (Click the Image)

Thanks everyone for taking the time to check out the list and hopefully everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving before going to stores on Black Friday and punching people in the face.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You can argue that your vote doesn't matter... here's why I voted anyways

I see a lot of people across various social media outlets saying that they won't be voting today because their opinion / vote doesn't matter (especially if you aren't in a swing state). Let me give you a few points as to why this type of thinking bothers me:

1. Voting is a right we fought for

I'll be honest and admit that I considered not voting. It's true that my vote makes little difference and Utah almost always goes Republican. I almost believe that Jesus Christ could run for President as a Democrat and Utah would still vote Republican. One of the things that changed my mind (as far as my vote actually meaning something) is the fact that I've been reading up on some American history as of late. I may not whole-heartedly support Obama or Romney but let me tell you a few things that I do support all the way. I support the American Revolution. I support the idea of no taxation without representation. I support George Washington, Sam Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and the Founding Fathers. I honestly believe that even though centuries separate me from them, they had my best interests at heart. They set up a country with their children and their children's children in mind. I respect and admire that. So even though it wasn't on the ballot... I feel there was an invisible first question. The first question was actually "Do you support this country and the principles it was founded on and do you honor the men and women who gave their time, means, and their lives so that you could live in freedom?" By voting today, I feel like I checked the option "Hell yes!"

2. I try not to be a hypocrite

This may sound horrible but I want the option to occasionally complain about the way things are run. I don't feel I have a right to do that if I didn't vote. Only hypocrites choose not to vote and then criticize the administration. If you don't like the way things are run and you don't think your vote matters... that's fine. I think voting, however, is at the very least a symbolic gesture that earns you the right to whine about the government, politicians, and whatever else.

3. Beacon of democracy?

A quick check of Wikipedia shows that around 58.2% of the voting age population voted in 2008. That's a little more than half. How the hell can we claim to be a shining beacon of democracy when we can only convince half the people in the country to give up ten minutes of their time once every four years? (I'm just talking about the presidential election. With drive time included, voting took me ten minutes total). Voter turnout looks like it was a lot higher back in the 1800's - back then we saw voter turnout generally close to 70% or 80%. For a country that claims to be so progressive and dominating... that's a really big slide backwards.

4. It took five minutes

If you remove drive time (because the precinct was on my way to grab lunch), voting took a total of five minutes. I walked in, waited in line for maybe a minute, showed my driver's license, and was done a few minutes later. You even have the option of mailing your votes in (if you didn't this time, you can register for votes via mail at If you're super lazy... they even have a straight party ticket vote. One button on a touch screen gets you through the whole ballot.


All that being said, it's still your call. You still live in a country that will allow you to totally ignore voting today. I think voting is more than just picking a bunch of unrelatable assholes to run things. It shows that even though you may think things have become corrupt or a little removed, you still support this country and the rights that the Founding Fathers fought for.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Review of Windows 8: Microsoft's Journey to Become Apple

In my capacity as an in-home computer technician, I came in contact with Windows 8 several months ago and I was able to explore it before it was launched. There are some things that I think are kind of cool, many changes that annoy me, some things that were completely deleted, and a few things that I liked. It's not really like any version of Windows that you've seen before (with the exception of Windows 7 when you enter desktop mode). All in all, I don't find Windows 8 to be a better solution for any piece of technology in my house, tablet or computer, and I think a decent amount of material was modeled after Apple products and ideas.


In explaining the benefits and detriments of switching to Windows 8, I will not have a computer with Windows 8 in front of me. I'm going completely from memory and I won't be looking anything up. If you want more of a technical analysis... last I checked... Google is still a thing. I won't be throwing any pictures at you either as I haven't taken any and I don't want to borrow screen shots from another source.

Home Screen

When you first boot Windows 8, you will be taken to a home screen with interactive tiles. It looks a lot like what you see on an Android or Apple tablet, with the exception that the tiles are more customizable and they constantly update whatever they represent (the Facebook tile will cycle through your news feed, Pictures will cycle through your pictures, etc.). I do kind of like the ease of being able to see updates to your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and whatever else on these tiles, but I don't like the idea of the home screen being full of tiles. When I turn on a Windows computer, I expect it to boot me to a desktop. I have stuff on my desktop that gets me to where I need to go so the most the tiles have saved me is a few seconds. Windows 8 feels like a tablet OS and not a computer OS. My iPad boots to a screen that looks more like the Windows 8 home screen than my Windows 7 desktop or laptop. That's kind of sad. I'm not resisting change just for the sake of resisting change (as many of you know, I have a real weakness for adapting to new technology as soon as it's available) and I really think the home screen is a downgrade from a legitimate computer OS.

To be fair, the home screen has brought some cool new benefits. As I said earlier, your entire social media is available to you, live, right on the home screen. Tiles can also be moved, customized, organized, and the live updates can be turned on or off. Dumbing down to a tile home screen and several of the other changes made with this version of Windows also makes it a lot harder for viruses to infiltrate your system and troubleshooting software issues is a lot less complicated now (as far as I know right now, uninstalling and reinstalling is the only solid option as it's supposed to fix whatever problem you have).

Touch Screen

Windows 8 comes with built in touch screen gestures as Microsoft rightly decided that touch screen is starting to take over (another thing we started to see with Apple before everyone else jumped on board). Since Windows 8 leaves everything you have opened running, a swipe in from the left side allows you to cycle between applications. A swipe from the right side brings up the "charms" bar which has options to return to the home screen or to interact with whatever application / tool you are using. A swipe from top to bottom closes the current application (which is good to remember - I'll give them props for adding this gesture as I get really annoyed when an OS just keeps crap running in the background. I don't think big companies realize that 90% of their customers have no idea how to kill processes, tweak startup items, or close running applications).

Don't worry if you want to use Windows 8 with a mouse because you still can. Every touch gesture has an equivalent mouse click / swipe. I'm sure we will start to see a lot more PCs coming with touch screen though since Windows 8 is the first major OS I've dealt with that incorporates it fully (I mean specifically on computers).


Yes, you can still get to a desktop. You have to hold down the Windows key and press D (Windows + D). The fact that there is now a Windows key on the keyboard that is used for shortcuts screams Apple (as Apple has a command key, a.k.a. an Apple key, used for shortcuts). To be fair, Microsoft has always had shortcut combinations that are similar to Apple's and who knows who came up with it first? Switching shortcuts from the control key to a Windows key just seems like a copycat move to me. I don't remember many of the Windows key shortcuts but you can find them if you're using a Windows 8 computer. Just hold down the Windows key, hit lettered keys, and see what each command does (one of them locks the screen, just be aware of that).

Again, a Windows OS that doesn't boot to a desktop bothers me. I know it's just a shortcut away, but I want a desktop to be what I see when I start a computer. I have an iPad (and it's the only Apple product in my house... don't think I'm a huge Apple fan because I'm not) and when I sit at my desktop computer, I'm looking to have a completely different experience.


Applications on the home screen are downloaded from the Windows store. Some are free, some cost money, it's basically just an app store. The cool thing is that Windows 8 does allow for integration with other Microsoft products like the XBox and some games will be available on both Windows 8 and XBox 360. Applications, once downloaded, can be downloaded up to 5x.

This is Microsoft's way of finally cashing in on apps. They've watched Google and Apple do it for years now and I guess they wanted their hand in the cookie jar as well. I do like the idea that you can download the app more than once as it is always a pain to deal with single license software on anything (tablet, computer, phone, whatever). They're behind though, programmers already have a lot of experience working with Google and Apple systems so I don't see a huge crowd of indie programmers moving to Windows 8. We'll obviously see the standard move of large companies supporting Windows 8 with apps early on (Skype, Netflix, YouTube, etc) but I wonder how far beyond that it will go.

SkyDrive / Accounts

So here's something I am actually excited for in Windows 8. Windows 8 accounts when attached to a Microsoft account will receive 7 GB of cloud storage. Kind of cool. There are two account types: local and Microsoft. Microsoft accounts have SkyDrive storage and you can sync all the apps and info from a Microsoft account between devices. Really cool. I like that if you have a Windows 8 PC, you can log in to that same home screen from a Windows 8 tablet. Local accounts only work on the device they are on but they can be upgraded later to Microsoft accounts.

The first account created on a Windows 8 PC will automatically be the admin. All accounts that follow are standard (though I seem to remember being able to upgrade them to admin but they are, by default, created as standard).

Application Integration

So another thing that I found pretty cool is the ability to sync between apps. If you're looking at some information in Internet Explorer or a picture or whatever that you want to share, you can bring up the charms. The charms bar will allow you to print, tweet, throw the info on Facebook, e-mail, etc. It brings up basically a social bar that gives you the option of doing whatever you want with it. Worth mentioning because it was a feature I consider to be uniquely Windows 8.

Removed Things and Changed Things

Some things have been modified or completely removed. Msconfig still works for the startup manager. Task manager gives you a LOT more information under the performance tab (that's ctrl + alt + del). Safe mode isn't an option via F8 anymore. The computer will boot into safe mode if it fails to boot twice (I think). I'm not 100% sure on this but I think Windows Media Player and the accompanying codecs have been completely removed. Also Windows 8 uses a UEFI instead of a BIOS and I'm pretty sure I don't want to try to explain what that means. If you care enough to want to know more, please google "BIOS vs. UEFI" or something like that.

All in all, I think there are a lot less diagnostic options which worries me. I really don't care if Windows 8 claims it's much more immune to viruses and problems... as a Geek Squad agent I would like the option to tweak, modify, and remove whatever the hell I want to. It's kind of disappointing to see a lot of my old diagnostic tools removed.

How do I learn more?

Are you about to be forced into Windows 8 or are you considering upgrading (you can upgrade from XP, Vista, or 7 if the computer meets the requirements)? Are you worried? Yes, Windows 8 does take a while to figure out. It didn't take me very long to get to what I wanted to because I try things until I find them. Too many people are scared of computers and are unwilling to give things a shot until they figure it out. If I end up with a misstep or an error, I backtrack or google whatever error I'm getting. I wasn't born with some technology gene that just integrates the computer with my DNA and lets me do whatever the hell I want like some people seem to believe. The best advice I can give you is don't fear Windows 8 and don't become so reliant on someone else that you never learn how to do anything. Computers don't come with self-destruct buttons that you might accidentally press. If you mess up, everything can be undone.


I couldn't put everything I know about Windows 8 in here because that would be boring and I think everyone should learn a little by exploring. What I wrote above is a basic overview that I hope presents enough information to let everyone feel basically familiar with it. I still think Windows 7 is the most functional OS for a computer to date and I won't be upgrading anything that is currently in my house to Windows 8. That beings said, Microsoft will be sending me a free copy of Windows 8 soon because I completed their Best Buy sponsored training. If I decide to frankenstein another computer together, I might put Windows 8 on it just to play around on a new OS.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Facebook Statuses that I'm tired of seeing

Do you keep some people on your Facebook friends list because it's kind of entertaining to watch all the drama? I do. There are a few general categories of Facebook statuses that I think have no business being on Facebook at all. When I rant on my blog about something that annoys me... I usually get high traffic on that post. If you're reading this, thanks for feeding the thing inside me that gets annoyed and needs to make fun of stuff :-P The following list is in no logical order (I will type them as they appear in my head):

1. Vague / Very General

I see this type of status a lot. They're pretending they don't want to talk about what's bothering them but it's pretty obvious they have a specific event in mind. Examples could include:

-Why can't all men just grow a pair? So tired of jerky guys... (lots of girls post something vaguely similar to this)
-Can I add any more problems to my already stressful life?
-Today is just awful
-Tired of all the drama
-Anything related to pain, sickness, illness (I understand once in a while. It gets really annoying when it's all you post about. I'm not your doctor so I really don't see a reason why I should care)

If you have something bothering you but you think it's too personal for Facebook... you're right. It is. Posting a vague status that is going to cause everyone to question what the specific problem is or offer you support / advice is just really needy. If you need someone to talk to about your problems... go talk to someone. Text them. Call them. Go talk to them face to face. If that's how you vent... fine. Don't think a vague Facebook status is somehow the same thing.

2. Political Views

I can tell you right now that we are not friends because our political ideologies match up perfectly. That's not how I make friends. I assume you have at least a few views that are different than mine and that's great. It makes us both individuals. When ALL you post about is your views or links or hate statuses about Obama, Romney, Democrats, Republicans, or anything else political... it tends to get annoying. Your link to why Paul Ryan is the devil won't convince me that he is... even if you post it 800 times. I live the way I do, have the views I do, and if enough unbiased evidence is presented, I reserve the right to change my views. I don't think very many people understand what unbiased means. When earning my history degree we would critique articles which held obvious forms of bias. We would point to their career, their family life, their employer or patron, their interests and passions, and anything else we could think of when we were looking for a way to discredit them. It's pretty easy to discredit YOU as a biased source when all you post is Obama hate links. Stop doing it because it's annoying... or feel free to keep doing it and I will try to ignore them. Either way works... this is America.

3. Promotional Ads

If you're on my Facebook friends list... I probably think you're alright most of the time. You're cool enough to talk to and it's probably worthwhile to me to see what's going on in your life. I don't, however, care enough to buy some random product you pitched on there. I was guilty of doing this and so I tried to separate it from my Facebook page as much as I could. You all know I have written e-books and history articles that are for sale on Amazon. I've tried to move as much of that promotional stuff as I could to my Facebook author page and my blog. When my stuff has free promotional periods... I post about them on websites that are for that instead of on my Facebook wall now. I would hate to become annoying. If you do this, I understand if you are pitching a product you enjoy or that you think is really cool. It only starts to get annoying when it's the only thing you post about and I start to have doubts as to whether you enjoy whatever product or service you're posting about or if you're just getting a cut of the profits.

4. Motivational Speeches

These get really annoying when the person you are trying to motivate is yourself. Let me start with a few general examples:

-I know now that I deserve better.
-Hate on me all you want but I will reach my goals.
-I've been through a lot but I'm determined to succeed.
-Anything related to how often you are at the gym.

If your status is just you talking to yourself... go find a mirror. I don't understand why something that people would call vain or conceded if someone said it verbally is somehow acceptable when typed on a Facebook wall. I'm not talking about specific accomplishments that you worked hard for because I will join in on congratulating you. What I mean is it's sad when your self-worth is directly tied to how many people like / comment when you give yourself a pep-talk. If you need to give yourself some extra motivation... leave yourself notes around the house. Psych yourself up when you're driving alone in your car. Play some energetic music. Do whatever you need to do. Self-motivation, however, should not be tied to social media.

5. Everything You Did Today

I like knowing what's going on in everyone's lives. I mean that in a very general way. When you share on Facebook every time you go to the bathroom, watch something on T.V., eat, go to work, go to sleep, etc., I start to wonder if you're angry with me for not stalking you. I get sick of seeing the gym on there too. If you were at the gym at 5 a.m. in the morning... that's great. I was sleeping. I didn't wake up to post a Facebook status to let you know that I was sleeping at 5 a.m. Guess what? I jog and go for bike rides. I don't let you know about it every time my ass touches the seat of my bike. So I like you all... but apparently not like some of you want me to because I really don't care about the details of everything you do every day... unless you are a hot girl and then there's the exception. :-P


So there you go. Am I going to get on your case whenever you post about one of the things on my list? No. I just recommend that you avoid doing one of those five things if you notice that's what you're doing very frequently. Use your common sense because it's a gift that is starting to become less and less common. I also hope that no one takes what I posted here as any sort of personal attack because I have lots of examples in mind from a variety of sources... I'm not targeting anyone specific. If you think I am... that's probably just your guilty conscience because you frequently post about one of the things on the list. Thanks for reading another one of my rants and please click on the link below to watch a video about how Joe Biden ruined the economy and has a creepy smile. Just kidding...

Friday, September 21, 2012

How to Have a Good Time

My last post about non-contributing contributions had a lot to do with some of the things I can't stand about a lot of people. I figured I'd take an opposite approach in this one and, instead of venting, I'd like to try to give you something to think about that will possibly help you have more fun in your life. It's part of life that you will have bad days and that work, school, family, friends, and/or whatever you ate for lunch will make you angry at times. Here's a tip to make life easier (and I'm not a hypocrite because I'll admit that I'm still working on this myself).


I have a good example for this one. Usually celebrities have to deal with all sorts of hate, ridicule, and people making fun of them. A lot of them don't take it very well. The news picks up stories all the time where a celebrity just snaps and beats up a camera man. I understand that it's probably pretty hard, especially for younger celebrities. I don't think any of us can really blame them since we don't know what that's like. Everyone has a breaking point.

I was in a mood to check out some Youtube videos after work today before going on a bike ride (while I try to exercise regularly, I have become a jedi master at procrastination when it comes to jogs and bike rides). I stumbled upon the following video:

Watch it because it's hilarious. It's a Bad Lip Reading video of Michael Bublé's "Haven't met you yet." I'm gonna go on record here and say that I'm a fan of Bublé. I'm a fan of rat pack music in small doses (especially Sinatra) and he kind of reminds me of that style. Bublé's Christmas album is also really good. Now Bublé had the option of being pissed off and getting all mad about this video. When he watched it, however, he took it in good humor and actually posted a video response on his Youtube channel talking about his favorite parts. He laughed about the whole thing. Here's his response video:

When someone makes fun of your life and accuses you of killing Russian unicorns and drinking fire water, you have a choice. You can get mad or you can laugh about it (because I doubt most people could have a neutral reaction to this). Props to Mr. Bublé for just laughing it off.


Horrible stuff that happens to you is hard to laugh about when it's happening. Or is it? It may be easier to get mad about it right then but keep in mind that it will eventually make an entertaining or a funny story. Lots of my stories about the Philippines are that way. They weren't very funny at the time but they make me laugh now. Why not just move up the timeline? Have a good time even when you're having a bad time. When you're in a horrible mood, don't let yourself get so angry that you can't find reasons to laugh. I've pissed off my share of people and I sometimes try to make them laugh right after I've made them angry. They'll seriously try to fight the smile, grin, or laugh that comes naturally and I find that funny so it usually makes me laugh. Good times are the best possible cure for bad times and I think anyone has the choice of turning bad times into good.


There are a lot of stupid people alive today. A lot of them are also lazy. It can be frustrating when you work hard and study to not be either of those things. Keep in mind that there are tons of witty and brilliantly creative people alive today. Want proof? Search Youtube for a while. Check out some Kickstarter projects. Read some blogs. Find out more about the people in your life that you don't know a ton about yet. There are people alive that can make you laugh, cry, think, vomit, or motivate you. There are some that can make you do ALL of those things. Maybe even simultaneously. That honestly sounds like the most amazing bodily function I've ever described. Sorry... getting off track here :-P My main point is that with all the people who make life difficult, there are still many who can make your life easier, more meaningful, more entertaining, and just better overall. Find those people and become their friends.


I kind of feel like every thing I said is stuff you already know. Sometimes we need to hear things that we already know a bunch of times to actually implement them in our lives. So I'm gonna say it... but it's up to you to make it happen - have a nice day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Non-contributing Contributions

It was a long day at work and I kind of feel like blogging. First off, I wanted to say that I released a new 10,000 word short in the Jehovah and Hades series where they help the federal government track down a descendant of Hyde. You can check it out here: Jehovah and Hades: Federal Case. Now that I'm done with my shameless plug for my e-book, let's move on to what I want to talk about.

There have been a few things lately that have made me annoyed- two issues that it seems just about everyone jumped all over. I'm not mad because I'm on one side or the other and I'm going to attempt to keep my opinions on both issues out of this blog post. What annoys me is how people react to these issues.

KONY 2012

So a while back everyone on Facebook jumped on the Kony bandwagon spreading a youtube video that went viral almost instantly. I understand that it sucks. Here's what bothers me. Spreading awareness of Kony here in the U.S. doesn't actually do shit for the people in Africa. Joseph Kony is still alive... I'm pretty sure. Let me go check google.Yup... he's still alive. The video has been viewed over 91 million times as of June. The problem I have isn't that everyone wants him stopped. I think deep down that everyone feels that spreading the video around on their Facebook is actually doing something to stop him. It isn't. You don't need to feel like you did something amazing by informing other people about Kony. I also don't think everyone is very informed about this issue since many people I've talked to have heard of Kony but have no idea who the hell he is. What bothers me most is something I saw recently while driving. Above the highway here in Utah, people like to take plastic cups and put them in the fences to spell out things. It usually says stupid bullshit like "Happy Birthday Rodrigo" or "Welcome Home Elder ______." Stuff that you should just say in person and not with cups. There was a day where I was on my way to class when I saw "KONY 2012 :)" spelled out in cups. Why is there a smiley face after that? Did the cup writer even know what the crap they were doing? If they ever catch Kony, I think lots of people will feel deep down that they somehow helped. You didn't. I'm betting the Africans will eventually take him down themselves and the fact that you were "aware" of him didn't do anything to help the situation. (It also has come to my attention that some people were actually trying to gain a massive following to provoke the U.N. or a group of countries to move in and help. While that sounds noble, I don't think that was the intention of very many compared to how many people linked to the Kony video.)


The owner of Chick Filet came out against homosexuality. I don't want to get into how far he went or whether he was right or wrong. What I want to talk about is how dumb everyone sounds when they react to this in certain ways. I want to reiterate that doing some small, stupid action does not mean you contributed to a cause. There was a massive wave of people who flocked to Chick Filet to order chicken sandwiches. The only cause you supported when you did that is American obesity. Eating a chicken sandwich doesn't take away the rights of a homosexual. Eating a chicken sandwich doesn't do much of anything except make you fatter and make Chick Filet richer. Chick Filet does not use the proceeds from your chicken sandwich to hunt down and kill gay people. That's what the proceeds from the milkshakes are for... just kidding. You think you took a stand that day when you waved your chicken sandwich in the air and said, "I don't like gay people or support their right to get married." You didn't. If you want to accurately announce your cause... you should have waved your chicken sandwich in the air and declared, "After this meal, I will weigh 2.7 pounds more than I did when I got here... unless I have a massive bowel movement some time in the near future." On the opposite side, there was a story I heard in the news about a guy going through the drive through, ordering a water, and then yelling at the guy at the window about his company's stance. Buddy- you didn't do anything either. The guy in the drive-through window is a barely above minimum-wage employee of Chick Filet. You have no idea what his views are. Assuming he thinks the exact same way as his company's CEO is ridiculous, ignorant, and stupid.


There's a lot of people nowadays who think they deserve praise and to be told how awesome they are any time they do anything. Guess what? You may not do something every day that is praiseworthy. I may feel better on occasion saying that my day at work was hard or that studying for the LSATs takes up time, but I don't need anyone to tell me how awesome I am every day. Have some self-confidence. Here are a few things I expected some minimal amount of praise for over the past year:

-getting my bachelor's degree
-publishing 9 history articles / short stories on the Kindle and other platforms
-getting even better at fixing computers and home theater systems
-staying debt free (I haven't paid interest on a credit card. Ever. I'm 26. I also paid cash for my car and home theater system. The only thing I've ever paid interest on in my life is my house)

That's about it. Sorry if it kind of sounded like bragging. Actually the last two were just ongoing accomplishments and I don't really need to be praised for them. I'm just proud of myself for keeping them going. You'll notice I didn't include all the times I ate a chicken sandwich or put cups in a fence. I work hard for things that I think deserve praise. Here's the kicker: I don't do things to get praised or get a pat on the back at all. I'm going to go to law school because I want to. I got my history degree because it helped me move toward my law degree. I've been writing on the side for over a year now in my free time to eventually bring in a decent side income. I didn't do any of it so that I could be told how wonderful I am. That's what really bothers me. Someone has a hard day at work? They leave a vague, sad comment on their Facebook wall and then need twenty comments on Facebook telling them how awesome they are. Someone went to the gym that morning? Announce it to everyone... of course they need to know how much better you are than them. Why don't you go ahead and make some goals instead? Work hard towards accomplishing them. It's fine to ask for support, but you don't need to get praised every day that you work toward accomplishing something big. Do you think I got a "you're the bomb" speech every time I went to class or work? I think that pretty much makes my point so I'll go ahead and end this rant here. Here's my final point: Do something worthy of the praise you think you deserve. If you're already working towards some big goals in life, I salute you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mauled by an Obese Catwoman

I try not to take shots at people very often. Well that's a lie... I take shots at people all the time for being stupid, lazy, hypocritical, etc. I don't usually feel good about it though. My target today seems to deserve it. Why am I annoyed right now? I got my first two one star reviews on Amazon on a couple of my e-books. I would be fine with that if they included constructive criticism. They didn't. Upon further research... I found out that this lady (who considers herself a reviewer of history) didn't even read anything I wrote.

This lady left a one star review on both "The Mormon Theocracy" and "Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings." Neither of her reviews show an "Amazon Verified Purchase" below them so the most she could have read was the sample. From what she criticizes, I doubt she read anymore than the page count and description. Here are her reviews of my history articles, which she hasn't read.

The Mormon Theocracy: Free

Review: Have you noticed a lack of concern on the part of readers? Perhaps that is because we don't think you have finished your research. You aren't ready to write. Try harder. And when you take 5 of your 'articles' and put them together, that doesn't do it either. While I think that your topics sound interesting, I would prefer to find someone else with the initiative to research and share that information with me. Your's is more a rush to publish than a concerted effort to share your thoughts with the reading public. Again I say "try harder".

Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings: $1.49

Review: I can't imagine how the writer can call himself an author when he hasn't bothered to research the topic enough to write more than a handful of pages. This, sir, does not make you an author! I believe that you have the ability to write, but not the initiative to adequately research your chosen topic and say enough to inlist a reading public. Try harder.

I've decided I won't be responding on Amazon because people have a right to say whatever they want about whatever they want... even when they don't know what they're talking about. My articles stand on their own. Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings gets a few sales every month and The Mormon Theocracy has been downloaded over 130 times. That doesn't mean that I won't take this opportunity to destroy this reviewer on my blog... it's been one of those days and this really annoyed me beyond my ability to not retaliate somewhere in some form. So here are some problems I have with my reviewer, the cat lady:

1. My reviewer is an obese cat lady.

I wouldn't poke fun at her for this except for the fact that she makes it obvious and it really does take away from her ability to critique me. Here are a few more of her reviews on Amazon:

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What is she wearing?, August 19, 2011
I have not bought this item. I will not buy this item. I wear plus sizes and this model clearly shows that a plus sized woman should NOT put this garment on her bod

5.0 out of 5 stars At last...a pill I can swallow., June 2, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
All the other joint pills are HUGE and I had so much trouble getting them down...and I had to do it twice! The Move Free Ultra is a small pill and I only have to take one. I have already reordered.

2.0 out of 5 stars They hurt., June 2, 2012
This review is from: David Tate Women's Yknot (Apparel)
The shoes are cute, but the thin straps and knots hurt as soon as I put them on. I knew I wouldn't be able to walk a block in them. I returned them.

5.0 out of 5 stars They WORK!, July 21, 2011
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought a couple of pair for a leaky cat of ours. We had tried diapers and at first he refused to walk in them. When he finally got over that fear, he'd take off running and in 10 minutes he'd stroll by "naked". Just couldn't keep the diapers on him no matter how tight we taped them. But Piddle Pants stay on, are less bulky, and do a good job. The pads are thin but hold a lot of urine. Great product.

5.0 out of 5 stars Cat Cocaine!, July 21, 2010
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Catnip Pellets 2 Oz (Misc.)
Pellets are not easy to find, and I hate the loose-leaf catnip. Too messy. This stuff is so good that my cats played with the box and the packing for hours. I had to hide the pellet packs where they couldn't get to them. I think they would have eaten it! Hurry and restock so I can keep this stuff in the house.

See what I mean? Her reviewer profile also has a picture of four cats with the heading "My Babies" underneath. How can you take a woman like that seriously on an intellectual topic other than... well I won't say anymore on this. I honestly just found this part funny. My first hater is an obese cat lady.

2. My reviewer is a hypocrite

While this lady enjoys lashing out at authors for poor spelling and bad grammar... she can't even write a review without screwing up herself. While not all of her reviews had mistakes, many of them did. Both of the reviews she wrote on my articles had mistakes.

The Mormon Theocracy
-"Your's" is not possessive in the way you want it to be. Yours should never have an apostrophe (look it up). The sentence you were trying to write would read a lot better like this: "Your works are more of a rush to publish than a concerted effort to share your thoughts with the reading public."

Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings
-It's spelled "enlist" not "inlist"

Using big words doesn't make up for the fact that you make mistakes on a consistent basis. Don't get me wrong here, I know I make mistakes and some of my works have typos. I don't chastise others for poor spelling and bad grammar, though.

3. My reviewer didn't read any of my articles

She doesn't feel the need to have that much information to give something a 1 star review. Going through her reviews, she gives out many 1 and 2 star reviews and then admits in her review that she never read the book. It extends further than that. In the review above where she admits that she is a plus size, she also admits that she hasn't bought the product she's reviewing and that she never would. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but every opinion is not an informed one. None of her opinions seem to approach the "informed" category unless we're talking about cat diapers and how much urine they can hold.

4. My reviewer knows nothing about history or history articles

History articles tend to narrow in on a specific topic and prove a thesis. I would say the following is a good list of what a solid history article contains:

-A clear, concise thesis statement that is as specific as you can make it
-Organizational structure that follows logically when proving the thesis
-Ample usage of primary and secondary sources
-A conclusion that presents something new to the field or helps you think about a topic in a new way

Now if an article has those five things, it can be an interesting, solid article because it makes for a good argument. My article on Constantine is a great example if you haven't read it but I did broaden the thesis to add in some interesting stuff that wasn't really relevant to what I was trying to prove. Gotta keep my Amazon readers awake :-P To help those of you out who don't write or read much history:

Historiography: refers either to the study of the methodology and development of "history" (as a discipline), or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic. (taken from To make it simpler, a historiography traces what scholars have said on a certain topic in the past. A historiography will make several cases from past scholars (some of which have been proven wrong) that eventually lead up to the thesis you wrote and the support you give to your thesis. It's almost like tracing the evolution of the topic.

Primary and Seconday sources: Primary sources are sources from the era of the topic you are discussing. For example, in my article, Caribbean Piracy: Pirates and Privateers, the journals of John Esquemeling are a primary source because they were written when he acted as a barber/surgeon and a pirate on board with Captain Morgan. Secondary sources are sources written after the time of the subject. Anything I write about history would be a secondary source unless I write about current events that I'm involved in or have witnessed in my lifetime. Scholars writing today using primary sources would be considered secondary sources.

So while my article The Mormon Theocracy doesn't contain a historiography (and I couldn't include one when my professor gave us a five page limit), it does contain all the other elements. Also, neither Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings or The Mormon Theocracy claim to be an exhaustive book on the topic. Let's be honest, would any of you want to read a 400 page non-fiction book on a topic like Caribbean piracy? If you do, I envy the amount of time you have available. Most people wouldn't... is what I'm guessing. It doesn't mean you don't have an interest in the topic which is why I provide much shorter articles that can familiarize you with the topic, give you some key points, and give you my perspective.

I wanted to add in here as well that most of the online databases that history majors use for secondary sources (JSTOR, SSCI, etc) all contain published journal articles that average between five and twenty pages. Trust me, I've read through hundreds of them. Sometimes I would read partway into one, find it wasn't relevant to my topic, and move on to more. Most of them are about that length. When I'm trying to find good secondary sources, I have to choose the information that is most relevant to my topic and most helpful in proving my thesis. If I use a 400 page secondary source, I will never end up using all of it.


While I respect everyone's right to their own opinion, I am very much against how many people in today's society seem to hero worship themselves. Not everything that pops into your head is gold, or even silver or bronze. I'll be the first to admit that I'm wrong sometimes. I'm wrong on occasion even when I'm pretty sure I'm right. There are too many people that can't admit that to themselves or others. You may be right a lot of the time. You are not right 100% of the time. If your intent is to break someone down and you know nothing about the subject... you're wrong before you even say anything. When it comes to history articles I research and write, my opinion is fairly informed. I would assume that most readers are not yet informed but they would like to be and that's why they purchase my articles.

Months of research went in to most of my articles. Like I said earlier, I constantly run into sources that I initially think will be helpful and then I find out that they aren't. When writing Constantine, I made major changes to my thesis and the organizational structure of my paper four times. So whether you know something on the subject or not, you shouldn't ignorantly dismiss an informed opinion. You can disagree with me all you want but reading my description, looking at my page count, and then calling me uninformed just shows how ignorant you are. Thank you, obese cat lady, for giving me a reason to lash out against the ignorant. I also really hope that the next time I'm stalked by a Catwoman... that it's Anne Hathaway.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mission Accomplished: Amazon Caves

We did it. The Mormon Theocracy is free on Amazon now. They broke their own rule so that Randy and his friends would leave them alone. I feel kind of like a bully right now. A bully who beat up a chubby kid who had an infinite supply of chocolate bars. That's what this feels like. Anyways... thanks. I really appreciate it that a few of you went and harassed Amazon with me every few hours. I know that's why they caved... because I've been harassing them by myself for a long time with no result. So thanks everyone.

The Mormon Theocracy went free some time in the afternoon yesterday. It immediately hit #1 in its sub-category and its on several Free Top 100 lists. It has had over 100 downloads so far. I'm pretty happy about the way this all turned out.

The main point of this whole thing was to see if I had an option available to me. Having short stories and articles as permanent freebies definitely changes marketing strategy. I have plans to write a free Jehovah and Hades short so its nice to know that I can. All that being said, feel free to grab The Mormon Theocracy for free here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Help me punch Amazon in the face

I've been pretty busy with work, picking up extra jobs and problematic jobs that other Geek Squad agents needed help with. It hasn't left me a ton of time to write. Since I last posted, I have removed several titles from being Amazon exclusive and I've had a few sales on Barnes and Noble and a lot of giveaways (mostly of samples) on Smashwords. Smashwords is a cool place to get ebooks because they convert it to all formats and you can download works directly from on to a Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc. (supports most major formats including ePub, mobi, pdf, rtf, HTML, etc). I've also raised most of my prices since I last posted and while sales have declined somewhat, I'm still selling and I'm actually making more money as an author (July was my most profitable month so far).

The main reason I'm posting this today is that I need a favor. Amazon stopped price matching free books for most authors a while back and I'm trying to fight them on this. I've heard that some persistent authors have recently annoyed Amazon into making a few of their titles permanently free. I need some help getting one of my history articles to go free (just to prove that if I annoy them enough, it's a possibility). I plan on writing a Jehovah and Hades short eventually that I would also like to make a permanent freebie. I'll walk you through how to help me make my history article, The Mormon Theocracy, free.

Step One: Here's the link on Amazon: Go there.

Step Two: There's a link that says: Would you like to give feedback on images or tell us about a lower price? Click on "tell us about a lower price." Here's an image that shows you exactly what I'm talking about:

Step Three: When it asks "Where did you see a lower price?" Click on the "Website (Online)" option.

Step Four: Enter the following information:

Price ($): 0.00
Shipping cost ($): 0.00

Step Five: Click on Submit Feedback.

Step Six: You're awesome. Thanks for helping me annoy Amazon to death until they do what I want. :-P

For those of you who keep asking, yes... I'm working on a new Jehovah and Hades book but it has been put on hold for now because I started writing a comparative study of the Bible and the Qur'an that I would like to get out first. Please be patient... I'm only human. I also wanted to say thanks to everyone who has purchased anything from me. Knowing that what I write is being read is great, but sales and a little extra income are even better. You're always free to contact me about my writing at Thanks again for helping me annoy Amazon.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Kindle Categories and Book Royalties #2

Since my last post on Kindle categories and book royalties got some great traffic, I figured I would do an update on my numbers and thoughts about my six history titles available on the Kindle. I'm actually considering leaving two of my articles in KDP Select. I don't care about the free promos, I like getting money for borrows. This money is significant when one borrow usually ends up being the equivalent of 3-6 sales (depending on the article) and it boosts my popularity and ranking on Amazon (and they have over half the e-book market according to most estimates). The prices and sales numbers below are current as of 7/12/12.


U.S. Sales 17
U.K. Sales 16
KDP Borrows 3

Constantine has remained a steady seller even though it is trending down. It continues to sell a few copies a month in the U.S. and U.K. plus a borrow or two. I plan on leaving it in the KDP Select program (meaning it will stay exclusive to Amazon) for a while longer - at least until it stops pulling in borrows.


U.S. Sales 9
U.K. Sales 0
DE Sales 1
KDP Borrows 1

While I'm still not a huge fan of free promos, a two day promo definitely kick started sales on this article. I had about 200 free downloads over two days and then I started selling one or two a day. It just got its first borrow today and I'm thinking about leaving this article in KDP Select as well. This article has also conquered the small category of Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > History > Americas > Caribbean & West Indies several times. It has been ranked as high as #1 under Hot New Releases in the category and has made it as high as #7 in the Top 100 for the same category:


U.S. Sales 2
U.K. Sales 1
KDP Borrows 0

This article was actually written for my Philosophy of Religion class. Another kid in the class wrote on the same topic but it was a much weaker version and presentation and he only used about 2/3 of the sources that I did (while all of his sources were used in my version). Being a history major gave me a great advantage any time I had to write a paper for other subjects because I knew how to prove my points with lots of primary and secondary sources. It was fun exploring the Apocrypha, Pseudopigrapha, the Old and New Testaments, and other texts to write this article. I wish the story of Joseph and Aseneth was more well-known within Christendom because I enjoyed reading it. I'll probably be posting it on the Nook and Smashwords (which distributes to Apple, Kobo, Sony, etc.) as soon as my term is up with KDP Select.


U.S. Sales 2
U.K. Sales 0
KDP Borrows 0

I wrote this for a history class called American Indians in the Twentieth Century. It was a great course to take because we rarely discuss Indians after the Colonization Period in the United States. They had a great effect on the country long after that. This article explores Luther Standing Bear and his journey to Carlisle. When he was young, the United States took Indians and shipped them off to boarding schools to educate them. Luther Standing Bear turned around and used his education to fight for Indian rights, the preservation of Indian culture, and many of the points that became a part of the Indian New Deal under FDR. This article will probably be going to the Nook and Smashwords as soon as my term with KDP Select is up.


U.S. Sales 0
U.K. Sales 0
KDP Borrows 0
$0.99 / Free

This is my most recent publication. I don't really want anyone to buy it. It's currently priced at $0.99 on Amazon but it isn't enrolled in KDP Select and its available for free on Smashwords. Here's the link: . I wanted to use this article as a loss leader. I wanted to make it free on all e-book platforms and have it be a gateway to my other history articles. Amazon doesn't want to make it easy on me. I've been trying to get them to price match it down to free for over a week now. Three e-mails later they suggested I enroll it in KDP Select. I don't want it free 5 days every 90; I want it to be free all the time. They have the power to do this but they probably won't until it's up on Apple, Sony, etc. as a free book. I'm still waiting for Smashwords to finish reviewing it so it can send it off to all of them. It'll probably be a few weeks. This is only a 5 page article discussing a brief history of the Mormon theocracy in early Utah. I don't expect anyone to buy it - just wait until it's free on Amazon or grab it from Smashwords (they have almost every possible e-book format available there).


U.S. Sales 0
U.K. Sales 0
KDP Borrows 0

This collection contains five history articles: four that are available on Amazon and one from my blog. The collection includes:
-Constantine: Emperor of Tolerance
-Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings
-Luther Standing Bear: Assimilation
-Gateway to the Vikings: L'Anse aux Meadows
-Caribbean Piracy: Pirates and Privateers

You save $1.00 when you buy them all together and you get a free article on Vikings that's up on my blog currently. This is the only title I currently have available that gives me 70% royalties. I made the collection at the request of a fan who has purchased every other history article I've written. If you want to help me out, buying this collection would be the way to do it. No one has so far.

So there you go. That's how I'm doing in the history article publishing arena. It's been a lot of fun so far going back to edit these articles to make them more interesting for the average Amazon and e-book customer. Feel free to download samples of any of them (available on Amazon) and purchase them if you really find them interesting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lazy Lyrics: That had nothing to do with airplanes

I listen to the radio a lot. I drive around all day fixing computers. I like to write and occasionally write raps. I really think a lot of the rappers and people who get featured in songs to throw out a few lines are getting incredibly lazy. Pitbull... I respected you right up until you rhymed Kodak with Kodak. You're right... Kodak does rhyme with Kodak... because they're the same word. Baby you're the whole package and you pay your taxes? Really? I would assume that being the whole package IMPLIES that she pays her taxes. Of all the things you could single out about how awesome a girl is... the best you could think of is that she pays her taxes?

I could go on about that for a while... but that's not my main point here. You know the song Airplanes with Haley Williams and B.O.B.? Their song came on the radio earlier today. I realized something. Most of B.O.B's rapping has nothing to do with airplanes. He mostly just rapped about how hard it was before he got his big break. I will give him some props for a few of his pairs:

And that's just how the story unfolds
You get another hand soon after you fold
And when your plans unravel in the sand
What would you wish for if you had one chance?
So airplane airplane sorry I'm late
I'm on my way so don't close that gate
If I don't make that then I'll miss my flight
But I'll be right back at it by the end of the night

I like that whole section. The rest of his rapping has to do with him being nostalgic about the days when he had a mix tape and life was hard... back before B.O.B. was an acronym and he was just plain Bob. Hopefully you get my point. There's so much you could do rapping about airplanes... or any subject really. I got bored driving around and I came up with this:

When I planned this trip it was for you and me
But you locked up your heart and I misplaced the key
I know you just want me to do what you say
But love is a ticket that goes both ways
You didn't get what I meant when I told you to pack
Metal detector went off from the knife in my back
You might still be mad and maybe its fate
So check your attitude with your bags at the gate
If you won’t give me a chance then you can kiss my ass
And I’ll upgrade my seat and sit alone in first class

There you go. There's a verse from a love song that has to do with airplanes. I actually came up with the last four lines first and I couldn't get them out of my head so I finished it up. I did this in about half an hour while driving around. I didn't talk about paying taxes. I didn't ask anyone to call me maybe. There's no mention of hot girls making me suicidal (Just messing Sean Kingston... you're alright).

I actually like Boyce Avenue and DeStorm's cover of this song a lot better. Yes, DeStorm stays true to what B.O.B. did with it and raps about growing up and how hard life was but I still think his version is a little more creative:

The only rapper that I believe consistently delivers nowadays (as far as rappers that I hear consistently on the radio) is Eminem. Yes, he swears a lot. His rhymes are just so epic though. I love those two lines from Love the Way You Lie:

Now you get to watch her leave out the window
Guess that's why they call it window pain

I love the play on words... window pane / window pain. Epic. I just wish more rappers would put effort in their lyrics or rap about something a little more real than how hot a girl is, how hard their life is, or apparently how sexy it is when a girl pays her taxes.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Evolution of the Cover: The Journals of Jacob and Hyde

Jacob and Hyde has been live for a little over a week now and I promised before its release to give some of the early cover shots. For Jacob and Hyde, I worked with Christine Ticali from Some of the early shots looked like this:

Jacob and Hyde 1
Jacob and Hyde 2

I didn't think the eyes looked right or that the covers looked as dark as I wanted them to. I sent Christine this picture to give her an idea of how I wanted the eyes to look:

custom eyes

Instead of making eyes that looked similar, she did something much cooler. She grafted my eyes from this photo on to the cover image which resulted in the following covers:

Jacob and Hyde 3
Jacob and Hyde 4

From there I had her modify the text a little bit and decided I didn't want blood splatter on the cover. The final cover ended up looking like this:

Jacob and Hyde Final

I really like this cover and I think Christine did a great job. For those of you who still haven't purchased a copy, The Journals of Jacob and Hyde can be purchased here. I also published a new history article on Caribbean pirates and privateers from my backlog of history articles. I'll probably talk a little bit more about that in another post.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Kindle Categories and Book Royalties

So Jehovah and Hades, released at the end of January, hasn't pulled in phenomenal numbers. That's alright since it was my first shot at fiction, it has two unsolicited 5 star reviews, and I had a good time writing it. A lot of fiction writers had huge backlogs of novels, shorts, and other works waiting on their computers when they decided to publish. I didn't. What I had was history articles that I wrote while getting my history degree. I usually posted them here and they got a decent number of reads on my blog. I decided to take three of my history articles, Constantine: The Emperor of Tolerance, Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings, and Luther Standing Bear: Assimilation, and put them on the Kindle for $0.99 each. The article on Constantine has been the best seller so far. Here's the stats on all three in case anyone is interested:

Published: 4/17/12
Pages: 26
Total Free Downloads: 279
Total U.S. Sales: 10
Total U.K. Sales: 14
KDP Select Borrows: 1

Published: 5/3/12
Pages: 12
Total Free Downloads: 97
Total U.S. Sales: 0
Total U.K. Sales: 1
KDP Select Borrows: 0

Published: 5/9/12
Pages: 10
Total Free Downloads: 77
Total U.S. Sales: 1
Total U.K. Sales: 0
KDP Select Borrows: 0

I started each article off with a two day free promo. Since reports, sales, and overall downloads were down in May, it seems that the articles on prayer and Luther Standing Bear got off to a slower start but they are also shorter articles and it's possible that people are just more interested in Constantine. I think the problem I ran into with Jehovah and Hades was that it's in two huge categories (action & adventure and short stories) and rarely cracked a top 100 list (in fact I think it only did once). Since the article on Constantine is in the smaller categories of Roman History and Christian History, it has cracked three top 100 lists on several occasions, in both the U.S. and the U.K., on both free and paid lists.

While I'm continuing to work on Jacob and Hyde (I'm about halfway done and I can see it probably doing a bit better than Jehovah and Hades has), it's nice to see some sales coming in. Until the beginning of May, my article on Constantine was selling 1-3 per day without fail. It seems May has kind of been a slump for everyone since the market is being flooded with free books and most people are probably outside enjoying the nice weather... not reading. I'm thinking of removing all three articles from KDP Select (which allows you to do free promos 5 days every 90 day period and Amazon pays you when a Prime customer borrows your book for a month) because of the need to be exclusive to Amazon. I think I'll try all three articles (and Jehovah and Hades) on the Nook and Smashwords. That being said, the payout for each borrow in April was $2.48 and since I make $0.35 for SELLING a copy, that one borrow I got in April was the equivalent of seven paid copies. Seeing that, the KDP Select program may actually be beneficial for $0.99 articles and short stories if they bring in a consistent amount of borrows. Most people on the Kindle Author forums report that Nook and Smashword sales are usually around 30% of their total, so I think that may be the better option for the time being.

I also got a new email address,, if anyone wants to discuss anything related to my writing or has a comment/question on something I've written. Feel free to send me emails there if you feel so inclined.