Monday, October 28, 2013

Author Jason Jack on 'Fear'

Author Jason Jack, what do you think about 'fear'?

Fear is a choice.

If you take anything away from watching Will and Jaden Smith's sci-fic epic, After Earth, it is this.

But is it true? To some extent, I'd say yes. Fear often feels like a reaction, an uncontrollable response to an outside stimuli as opposed to a conscious decision to be afraid. For example, you see a dog. The dog starts barking, growling, then runs at you. You are afraid not by choice but because the situation demands it from you. And, perhaps, your fear is the one thing that's going to keep you from freezing in that moment. You reactive fear will make you turn around and run.

But the film makes a distinction between fear and threats. Threats are real, fear is not. With this in mind, the dog is the threat and the fear is your own creation. And if we follow this train of thought a tad more, we'd find that perhaps we can control our fears.

And I think it's important to control those fears that immobilize us. How do we go about doing this, then?

Simple: Education and experience. The two 'Es'. The easiest way to dissolve fear is to educate yourself of what you fear and/or experience it for yourself. The latter is often not the best way to overcome extreme fear (of death, war, famine, etc.) in ones life, but it can help in certain instances. Let's put the two Es into action.

Example 1, Education:

Marsha Williams is afraid of guns for no other reasons than they can be used to kill you. No one has told her to be afraid, and not everyone is afraid of guns. She has created the fear in her own mind, thus she has the ability to control it. one day, she goes into a sporting store and almost has an anxiety fit just passing by the hunting section filled with rifles. And in this moment she realizes she has let her fear become debilitating. That day, she chooses to control her fear. To get rid of it.

She scours the internet for information on guns, watches YouTube videos, reads pro and cons of gun ownership, goes to the library and checks out gun manuals and pricing guides, and eventually visits to a local gun shop. When she's ready, she takes her oldest son to the shooting range and gets a chance to feel the gun firing in her hand, gets used to the weight of it. Overtime, she starts feeling at ease and going to the shooting range with her son becomes a realizing, bonding event. The duo of mother and offspring even take a self defense class to learn how to disarm a gun from someone else.

Through a thorough self education process, she has been put at ease. Fear was choice she decided not to take.

 And when the stranger on the street asked her for her wallet, brandishing a gun, she was not immobilized by fear by the sight of the pistol. No. She simply used the knowledge she had and disarmed the man without further incident. 

Example 2, Experience:
For less extreme, simpler fears this is the easiest way to overcome what scares you. If you are afraid of driving and all the education in the world is not calming you, go driving in a controlled environment with an experienced driver. And not just once. Stay in that controlled environment for months if you have to until you feel calm. Until you understand the vehicle, its limits, and what it does. For those who are afraid of rain, step out side the next time it showers. Just go out on the porch and watch it. Take baby steps. Place a finger underneath the showers, then a toe. When you're ready, place a hand out and eventually your entire body and choose not to fear the water from above.

The Third Way to Control Fear, The Most Powerful?

The most powerful way to choose not to fear is to notice that you are afraid and to simply stop. Yes. Just stop. Understand that your fear is irrational and perhaps detrimental to your well being and just stop. Our minds are powerful enough to do it, to change on a whim with conscious effort and repeat performance. Years ago, I realized I would bite my nails. Not a fear, sure, but a habit I wanted to choose to stop doing. I was educated by why I should use nail cutters instead and then I made it a point never to bite my nails again. The impulse was there, at first, but whenever I felt the need to bite, I told myself not to. The same can be done with fears.

So . . .

Whenever I'm afraid I might fail, I remind myself the fear is in my head. I'm not really failing as long as I'm trying, learning, doing. And neither are any of you. We must tell ourselves to stop, explain to our inner selves we can think more positively. We don't have to fear. We don't have to let things scare us, and as long as we strive to be rational, better versions of ourselves from the moment we wake up to the moment we rest, we can control our thoughts. We can control our fears.

Because, fear is a choice. And we will not choose to fear.

Until next time.

--Author Jason Jack

Friday, October 25, 2013

You Gotta Learn Something! (6 Things To Share+Longest Hashtag Ever!)

Yo, interneters! Author Jason Jack here, and I want to share with you 6 important things in my life from this past week! You gotta learn something, right? ;)

1. Always keep your vision intact!
You will have trouble finishing a project if it doesn't resemble your initial vision. Take reviews and critiques into account, but do not let them sway you from your vision. Or, risk DOOM! ;)

2. Take time (off) for yourself. A.K.A, permission to "couch potato"
All work and no play? If you work hard, then you deserve to rest hard. Take a nap when you can, clear your mind. It's important to refresh yourself to keep you full of happiness, stamina, and the creative energy to go forward.

3. REMINDER: Don't forget what you love
I know you are all working hard to achieve your dreams, to be financially well off, to save the world, or to provide for your family. But, don't work so hard that you have no time for those things. Allot time to enjoy the end goal . . . right now! Spend time with your family, go outdoors, play those games, whatever it is, do it. Remember, tomorrow is never guaranteed so prep for the long run, but play today.

4. A lot of people end sentences with the word "at"
Where are you at? Or, where you at? Where did you park the car at? At at? And so forth :) #TeamStopPuttingAtAtTheEndOfTheSententeceWhenItDoesn'tNeedToBeThere
(longest hashtag ever!)

5. Sandwiches: The Quickest Food on the Planet
From experience, it's not cool when you forget you have to be somewhere at a given time thirty minutes before you have to be there. But, if you're hankering for a meal before you go, make a sandwich. It only took me 46 seconds which left me twenty something minutes to wash up, clothe up, and head out.

6. It's Magic!
If you've never played what could be considered as the granddaddy of modern playing card games, you should try playing Magic: The Gathering (MTG) :) It's a fantasy themed card game for beginners to pros. You use creatures and spells to fight your opponent (any one with a Magic deck) until he or she goes from 20 to 0 life. Google Magic, YouTube Magic/MTG/Magic The Gathering :)

Prepare to have your weekend taken over by card gaming fun!

Have a nice weekend, and see you next week!

--Author Jason Jack

Monday, October 21, 2013

Author Jason Jack on 'Critiques'

Author Jason Jack, what do you think about 'Critiques'?

The job of a critic/reviewer is to inform potential consumers the value of a particular piece of content and do so in an unbiased manner.

In an ideal world, this would work. But, it's sad to see so many reviewers with agendas.

  • Some see themselves as "professionals" and by definition, review harder in order to show off their "skills".
  • Others will review content not for what it is, but what they want it to be (for example, reviewing an action movie as a comedy thus lowering that movies review score).
  • And even others don't even do enough research about what they are reviewing!

You have to be unbiased for people to believe in what you are saying, to give you accreditation. If someone believes you are purposely siding, they may not trust you. This is why publicly traded companies are required to have external audits--they must have someone outside the company audit their financial statements. They must use an UNBIASED representative to make sure the data is objective and not tampered by bias or judgement (Sorry! My accounting background came through today ;) )

It may sound like a no-brainer, but critics must review the content they are reviewing. I have some examples when this did not happen.

ZombiU, a zombie-survival horror video game released in 2012 for Nintendo's Wii U home console, was panned by video game websites. Why? These reviewers weren't reviewing the game as a slower paced, suspense game (the definition of the survival horror genre where ammo and weapons are sparse and you can die at any moment) but as a first person shooter which is commonly known for its faster paced shooting game-play and excess of ammunition in comparison.

Fun fact: Gamers have rated ZombiU much higher than "professional" reviewers in part because they knew/accepted the genre of the game.

If you read the reader reviews of J.K Rowling's book The Casual Vacancy, you'll see many people are biased and are reviewing it as if it it was a spiritual successor to the Harry Potter series just because the same author wrote it--these reviewers aren't critiquing it for the book being itself, a no-no in my book (You don't dismiss a new date because they don't have the same hair color as your ex, do you? I hope not!)

The moment you say something is bad because you didn't like it is the line that separates your opinion from your review. Your review can include your opinion, but not affect the objectiveness of it. For clarification, I may not like a cover of a magazine (opinion) but that does not mean the cover is not well done, has great composition, and uses a balance of colors (review). I think the Grand Theft Auto series is a well made production with great voice actors, writers, and good music (review) but I personally don't enjoy the series too much (opinion). Some people confuse these two, opinion and review, thus lowering a product's "score" and perhaps its sales.

Know what you're reviewing! Current reviewers for the newest Pokemon game strategy guide are rating it low because it lacks a comprehensive listing of the Pokemon in the two games. But the product description never mentions the book having a listing, the guide itself doesn't mention a listing, and not including a listing has been the norm for the past couple of games in the series. In addition, Nintendo has been selling the Pokemon listing guide separately for a while. It not being included should have been expected at this point for fans, and if it wasn't, once more, the product description does not say a listing is included.

Reviewing an item negatively for not having something you wanted is like buying a house expecting it to be fully furnished and its not (and never) was advertised to have, buying a hamburger and being disappointed when it doesn't have a scoop of ice cream on it when that would never happen, or reviewing a drama movie when it was advertised as drama, all of the commercials promoted the drama aspects, and then panning it because it didn't have any comedy!

We all need to do our research, read product descriptions, and be fully aware before we review. We also have to stop reviewing things for what they AREN'T. Don't review an eBook as an interactive app, don't review a hamburger as a piece of salmon, an economy car as a luxury, a horror game as a first person shooter, one book by an author for another.

Each item we review should stand alone on its own merits, and we shall judge it based on what the product offers, whether it does what the creator intended it to do, without bias and with little of our opinions affecting are rational mind.

Because, for the majority of this "I need it now world" we live in, reviews can make or break products. Scores, arbitrary or not, will matter to a select group. And that group may decide to withhold their purchase based on a number or amount of stars a product received.

And those sales *may* be what keeps that creator above the poverty line.

SO . . .

Take reviewing seriously by being honest but unbiased. Understand there is a living person on the other side of the product page (again be honest but be civil--no need for harshness). Or, do what I do and only review products you find "Good" to "Exceptional". I don't have enough time in any day to go out and purposely put down someone else' work. Honestly, that's what I think. Sure; a turd's a turd, but when I want to know if a product is worth my time and money, I do my OWN research. I look at my own tastes, likes and dislikes, for the final verdict. I'll read reviews, I make check scores, and comments, and whether friends like them, but at the end of the day, I look to myself.

I bought ZombiU because I like survival horror games, and it turned out I loved it! I can't wait to read The Casual Vacancy, and I love the Pokemon strategy guides for what they are.

Just remember, when you're eating that orange at lunch today, don't pan it because it's not an apple, enjoy it for what it is.

Until next time.

--Author Jason Jack

Friday, October 18, 2013

You Gotta Learn Something! (5 Things I Learned This Week)

Yo, interneters! Author Jason Jack here, and I want to share with you 5 things I learned this past week (and important things I already knew)! You gotta learn something, right? ;)

1. Do want YOU think is fun.
As long as you aren't affecting another person, violating any laws, without harming yourself and respecting you and this world around you (phew!) have fun with your life. Life is long but it can also end short. We might as well spend the available time we have on things we love to do (just remember to pay the bills and take care of responsibilities first!).

2. REMINDER: Let's all create things, not just consume them!
The world is a beautiful place with endless amounts of media and services for all tastes. We should enjoy them, but we should also dig deep and add to the pot with our unique talents. Because if we don't, it would be a waste of talent and a disservice to the world ;)

3. Go out and learn what you don't know! Stop waiting!
No one is going to serve you a plate of knowledge and success. It's up to you, and you alone, to find it, make it, create it for yourself.

4. Budgeting is very fun!
Trying to maximize limited resources is probably one of the most fun and engaging things you can do ( really!). It's a puzzle, it's a problem waiting for you to solve--food shopping with a limited budget, shopping trip with limited gas, and so forth. Budgeting is a nice brain-intensive workout that can change stressful situations into something fun, as long as we look at it as a challenging activity. 

5. We're alive. That's a miracle. And it's also enough.
We should all think about this the next time we complain about mundane things (cell phones, clothes, electronics, etc.) we have or don't have. WE-ARE-ALIVE! It's mind blowing we are all here, sharing the same world, together! So, let's remember to stay positive even in the darkest of moments. We'll be better for it :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Author Jason Jack on 'Excuses'!

Dear author Jason Jack, what do you think

 about excuses?
When you see someone that has something you want, is successful in a way you yearn for, is just plain awesome to a degree you which to achieve AND THEN you say something like . . .

  • Well, he went to college so that’s why he’s smarter than me.
  • She had the training, that’s why she knows how to do it and I don’t.
  • He doesn't have to drive as far as I do so that’s why he’s not as tired as I am.
  • She’s so full of energy because she doesn't have to work the night shift.
  • Excuses why someone has something you want, excuses why someone has something you want to achieve, excuses why you (dear I say) are simply existing while others are living.

If you EVER find yourself dismissing another persons’ achievements (or what you perceive as achievements/accolades) or making excuses why you can’t be the best/richest/healthiest version of yourself, STOP STOP STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP doing so right now!

Do not wait for success, go out and hunt it, grab it by its tail, and look it in the eye until success begs to be in your life. No one is going to give you the keys to the kingdom, you have to find them yourself by learning, educating yourself, staying in a positive mindset EVEN when things get rough, while consistently moving

SO . . .

Stop making excuses when you can be using that energy and time on ascending to the next level of your life.

Get ahead by going online and doing research to get that degree. Wake up twenty minutes earlier. Don’t eat past seven at night in order to lose those extra pounds. Save an extra five dollars per pay check to build your nest egg. Whatever you want to achieve, start small and over time, that small snowball will become an avalanche of goodness you can be proud of.

And on that day, let others make up excuses. Let others wait for success. You’ll be too busy having it.

Until next time.

--Author Jason Jack

Friday, October 11, 2013

You Gotta Learn Something! (5 Things I Learned This Week)

Yo, interneters! Author Jason Jack here to let you know 5 things I learned this week. As the saying goes, learn something everyday. Because, you gotta learn something, right?

What I learned the week of October 5th-11th 2013:

1. I-hope IHOP won't make I-sad :(

I told my significant other we shouldn't go to the IHOP down the street. The last time we went, we didn't order flies with our meals but we got a swarm of them flying around our table. And the time before that? Our eggs were under-cooked, as runny as water. But given the misses was hungry, we went anyway, and boy was it an adventure!

First off, our server took our order, walked away, then came back to our table a few minutes later asking if we were ready to order. He forgot he just took our order even though we were the only people in the restaraunt--it was mind blowing! (lol) We told him we already gave it. He smiled and walked away only to return moments later saying the other waitress didn't remember taking our order. That's when we said HE was the one that took our order--not a good sign.

The misses wanted soup. Easy? Not for our guy. He returned with a bowl, placed in it front of her, and said, "We're out of the soup you wanted but I'm sure you like this." She didn't. To top it off, after he gave us our food, we NEVER saw him again. He did not give our check he just vanished like a very peculiar magician. Going forward . . . maybe I'll go back to this IHOP just for a good laugh :)

2. REMINDER: You can CHANGE things!

Plans, what you eat for dinner, how you react to compliments and put downs, hobbies, mental conditions, your diet--it all can be changed to a degree. It just needs our will power to do it. If something is stressing, we can call ourselves on reacting negatively to it, take a deep breath, take our minds to a happy place, and replace the negative thoughts with positive. We our in control, and we have the power to change. Going forward, I'm going to turn any coal moments in life to gold. I want you to, too!

3. Orthography and Prosody, dig it!

Ah, two words I have never heard of before this week are two words I really dig. Prosody is the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language, while orthography is the way the words in a language are spelled (placed). That is, prosody is the flow and the way something is said and orthography is how a word is written. Going forward, I will use these words more often.

4. Proper dividing of tasks make Team Work, well, work!

If you are dealing with a task that can be divided up between people, it is vital you give the right person the right task. A person comfortable with data research should do research and the person who is comfortable making calls and emailing contacts should do just that. It sounds simple enough, but it is easy to give someone a job to complete that fights against their strengths. Going forward, let's strive for better team cohesion by the proepr separation of tasks.

5. Accomplish everything by thinking it's the end of the world!

When the zombie apocalypse hits, or the next big asteroid smacks Earth, just remember one thing: there will not be a place for leisure. If you don't have something to do, you are expendable, nonessential. Going forward, use this to your advantage. Use this "end of world thought" to be more productive. To make your goals come true, always be productive, always do something. No wasted time because there is no place for it in your world. No wasted time because it doesn't exist.  Make your goals come true by staying busy and eliminating time wasters.

That's just 5 things I learned this week. What did you learn?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

--Author Jason Jack

Monday, October 7, 2013

Author Jason Jack on 'Success Envy'

Dear author Jason Jack, what do you think about other people's success?

Success Envy.
We've all seen it. It may just have been an off handed comment or a full blown diatribe. It may be full of spite and it may not even be envious at all. But it will always be negative.

I define success envy as "any comment or action lobbied against a person/institution who has achieved something". It may not be a comment made out of envy at all but a judgement (but success judgement just didn't have a good ring to it).


"That was a GREAT song, but Miley Cyrus didn't deserve (credit for) it."
"Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Saga's a joke! She doesn't deserve the success!"
"Call of Duty is mindless crap. People should be playing good games instead."

Pick any industry and you'll find examples of this seed of negativity.

I cannot stress this enough--we as individuals, then as a family, a community, then as common Earth-dwellers, have the responsibility to do better and to be better. Judging other people/companies/groups who have achieved success because YOU have deemed it incorrect or undeserved goes against a world of peace and cohesion.

  • We should be praising each other for sticking our necks out for our dreams.
  • We should be patting each other on the backs for seizing opportunities when they come.
  • We should be happy we live in a world where we can make our desires a reality.
  • We should support each other the entire way through, even when success arrives.

Because when one does well, we all do well.

Then why do some people judge what others deserve? Maybe because we are jealous, or maybe not. Maybe because we think we know what is quality and when we see success come to those that are below that quality bar, we think it's undeserved, in need of ridicule.

But the negativity only shows the world the person you are. Miley Cyrus, despite what you have to say about her current behavior, is doing what she is doing and she is successful. Call of Duty is played and enjoyed by millions every day and bought by millions every year. Stephanie Meyer gave millions of young and old readers a story to embrace even if it wasn't to this or that person's liking. They're successful no matter what you say, something to remember when you feel that bitter bug crawling to the surface.

Time is precious, and I think we should be driving our energies on celebrating the successes in life while focusing on making our goals, dreams, and hopes realities. Perhaps, we shouldn't be wasting time on harsh critiques that only serve to suck our energy and turn us into downers.

SO . . .

After today, perhaps we'll let other's achievements not irk us but brighten our day, give us the motivational support we need, because another person's success is not bad at all. Another person's success simply proves that if we just do what's in our hearts, what we truly believe in, we can achieve it.

Other people's success, a beautiful thing, proves this. Be happy, be supportive, be motivated by it. And your success will come or perhaps it already has :)

Until next time.

--Author Jason Jack

Friday, October 4, 2013

You Gotta Learn Something! (7 Things I Learned This Week)

Yo, interneters! Author Jason Jack here to let you know 7 things I learned this week. As the saying goes, learn something everyday. Because, you gotta learn something, right?

What I learned during the week of September 28th-October 4th

1. Signing autographs is uncomfortable experience and I'm a clutz at it.
The pressure! The anxiety to deliver to a person who wants your fancy scribble! It's kind of terrifying in part to the fact that I believe I'm a pretty humble dude. Honestly, I'm no one special. All I've done/am doing is creating and doing what I love to do. Going forward, I will make a game plan for signing my 'graph.

2. Writers don't live forever . . . contrary to what I believe
I always thought Tom Clancy would live forever, creating thick tomes of writing to the joy a legion of fans for all eternity. Hyperbole, sure, but I really never gave thought to a literary world without him or Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or Dean Koontz for that matter. As a writer, they're part of the legacy to follow for young writers like me. So, Tom Clancy, rest in peace and thank you for your contributions to the world.

3. Doubt comes with the territory (of being human) so deal with it
Just because for one moment, or perhaps two, you don't think you can means you can't. Learn to ignore those voices, because it does get better on the other side :)

4. REMINDER: Do the dishes before they pile up! Saves time.
Going forward, I will do the dishes when they get dirty (crosses fingers).

5. Sometimes, it's easy to confuse others expectations of you as your own--but don't do it!
It's pretty easy to internalize what a spouse, parent, or friend wants from you for what you want from yourself. I got confused this week and had a seed of doubt that I learned was not from me. When I realized this, I felt so much better, in control, and relieved I was not doing anything "wrong" but I let another person's wants/needs/doubts into me. Going forward, I will be better prepared to protect myself against this.

6. Even the tiniest effort forward is still going forward
Going forward . . . I will go forward? :) Achieving is still achieving, no matter how big or small.

7. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is addicting!
It's a video game. It's for Nintendo's new home console, the Wii U. It's super duper fun :) (I played 16 hours in about 10 days!!)


That's what I learned this week. What did you learn?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

--Author Jason Jack