Writing Atmosphere Into Your Stories

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Writing involves so intricacies to build something that may seem small in a narrative. Any decent writer needs to have a great attention to detail so they can hit the nail one the head with their descriptions of scenes and develop their characters. 

I know one of my strengths in writing is my ability to build an atmosphere that feels authentic or I can make the hair on your neck stand up. The way I build the atmosphere in my writings come from observations I make in those environments and other things as well. 

One thing I always do is pay very close attention to the places I go and the environments that I visit. I use my personal experience in different places to help establish my atmosphere and then I start adding things like what it might smell like in a forest of oak trees or the stench of peat in a swamp. Smell is a powerful thing to include in your writing because it can be extremely difficult to put into words. Another thing I focus on heavily is sound and what sounds belong and do not belong in the environment. I shouldn’t hear a car horn plainly or sharply in the middle of a forest but I could hear it faintly coming from the closest road. You could also go to the sound terrain made under a character foot or shoe. It could also be as simple as the sound of the wind pushing the grass around through an open field. Keep it simple at first and then expand once you have a backbone in place to hold the ribs up. 

I guess you could say set up your environments for a blind person and then add vision and sight to the end of the picture. I think this works because when I think about it I am not trying to paint a picture with words, that is impossible and thus dumb. I want to build the atmosphere from the ground up with sound, smell, feel, and finally sight or visuals. 

These are of course just my opinions and approach to writing atmosphere. My biggest weakness in writing is my character development and I am currently working to improve those issues.  

Quotes From Some of my Favorite Books

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“And sometimes remember it will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except that story.”

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

“The creak of bed springs suffering under the weight of a restless man is as lonely a sound as I know.”

-Patrick deWitt, The Sister Brothers

“Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.”

The Iliad, Homer

“The incompetent leading the unwilling to do the unnecessary.”

-Evan Wright, Generation Kill

“Read sometimes for the story, Bobby. Don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words – the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers that won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both good story and good words, treasure that book.”

― Stephen KingHearts in Atlantis

It’s Okay to be a Skeptic

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One thing I ask myself about society today is why it is so wrong to be skeptic or why does it feel like it is a bad thing to ask questions? I’m sure some people will say that that is not true and they would encourage people to be skeptical or to question things. That is how we learn, is it not? To seek answers is to seek knowledge and learn. It now seems like questioning anything that someone believes in results in them immediately being insulted or put on the defensive when in reality we just want to know more about something. This observation is more of Social Media issue than anything else but it is important to think about in my opinion. This whole movement or belief that canceling someone on social media should be a thing is bad in my opinion and it is even worse if you like to question things and actions people take.

Has anyone read the book The Wave by Todd Strasser? If not, put it on your reading list. The Wave was a social experiment that was conducted in a high school in California that went way to far. While it went too far as an experiment we can still learn from our mistakes. One thing cancel culture does is take away the ability for some people to have a voice, an opinion, that alone should not be a thing. Some people that have gotten canceled on social media did not deserve it. Maybe some did but I am not judge, jury, and executioner nor will I act like it. I am a human just like anybody else on this planet and I know it is not my place to pass judgement onto people that will impact their lives in any way.

What I am trying to say is it is important to have skeptics in society because we need people that are not scared to question anything. Not only do you need them in society, you also need them in science as well. It is the only way that science will grow in any way. The problem is that if you question anything nowadays you are seen as wrong and you should voice your opinion because it is different.

To me, cancel culture reminds me of book burning and book banning. Neither should happen, period. Cancel Culture is the virtual version of book burning in my opinion. Doesn’t the suppression of ideas and voices sound familiar to you? It most definitely should and if it doesn’t then you are in denial.

Life and What YOU Do with It

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If I asked you what you were doing in life right now would it coincide with you being happy or progressing closer to becoming happy? I believe this is something we should think about daily. Your goals should align with improving your life not trapping your or pushing you further down the line into something you don’t want to be doing with it. Don’t get stuck doing the same thing expecting different results. 

Is one of your goals to do what you can to live longer?

If that is a goal of yours then I need to say/write that that is not living in my opinion. If you live that way you may get a few extra years out of all that self preservation but what will you have to show for it? I know this may be an unpopular opinion because we are instructed by medicine and our education to think this way but it can still be challenged and it probably should be challenged. 

My personal opinion and/or stance on the matter is that I don’t want to spend my final days in a hospital bed, nor do I want to spend it in a bed without a story to tell. Maybe I’m just different but I see the perspective of living long for the sake of living longer as a waste of life you were given. I also feel the same way about chasing money instead of fulfillment.

An Issue Close to Me

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Veteran Suicide is something that will always hit close to home for me as a veteran. A study looking back on a decade of statistical data shows that 60,000 veterans committed suicide from the years 2008 to 2017. To put this number in perspective, since 9/11 6,967 service members have died in combat. Furthermore, 58,220 service members died in the entire Vietnam War. I think it’s safe to say the system is failing and has been for a long time.

I’m sure we could sit here speculate about certain things in regards to this subject but the truth is that the VA and Government has failed the warriors that they sent overseas to fight their wars but I digress. 

So what’s the fix?

That’s a hard thing to solve with just one answer. You can’t treat medicine as if it is a simple algebra problem. It’s too complex and there are a lot of moving parts that are hard for Government entities like the VA to fix. The VA has the problem that it has its hands in many pots but they do not have a choice in the matter. The problem is that the VA has taken an approach that doesn’t work well to patch a sinking ship. They keep creating programs to fill holes in hopes that the water stops filling the hull. There are two problems with this approach. 1: Sorry to say this but that hull is just about at the bottom of the ocean. 2: It just isn’t working and the VA is more than happy to say a .4% decrease in suicide rate is a good thing. That’s too little too late. 

As far as I can see we need to make a change that is different from what the VA has been doing. Think outside of the box if you will. There is one nonprofit that I know of that is doing this and the name of the Organization is Heroes and Horses. What they do is completely different from what the VA will do. They take combat veterans and pair them with horses. They also get them world class education and instruction about horses and everything in between to prepare them for their 41 day journey into the backcountry of Montana. This approach may seem to be the complete opposite of what the VA is doing to prevent and/or stop veteran suicide but that seems to be the idea CEO and Founder Micah Fink wanted to use in his Nonprofit. 

Mr. Fink even stated on the Cleared Hot podcast (hosted by Andy Stumpf) that his father told him,” to look at what the world is doing and do the opposite” (Micah Fink). This episode of the Cleared Hot podcast was one of the best I have listened to in a long time. Many of the statements made during this podcast episode resonated with me personally. I’ll provide a link to the podcast and the article with the statistics on veteran suicide at the end. 

One thing I will say is that I agreed with many of the statements and observations made by Mr. Fink during the podcast and they made me question some of my thoughts and theories as well. If you are looking for a place to donate take a look at Heroes and Horses.

Alarming VA Report Totals Decade of Veteran Suicides | Military.com

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

-Winston Churchill

Link to the podcast

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjqub76ocvzAhWlpXIEHbLZAe4QwqsBegQIAxAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Df2udGSvZ-cY&usg=AOvVaw0giZXmjHN_pMhzyWlG1QvM

Favorite Horror Films: 4: Dracula

charles french words reading and writing

460px-Bela_Lugosi_as_Dracula,_anonymous_photograph_from_1931,_Universal_Studios(www.wikipedia.org)

When I first considered doing an examination of my favorite horror movies, I thought that going decade by decade would be sufficient, but I realized that some periods have far more excellent films than others.  A simple examination of 2-4 movies from the 1930s will not work, so I am going to look at one film at a time for that decade. I will begin with Dracula, a film I love, and which I have taught in college classes such as Literature and Film and Gothic and Horror at both Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.  I also hold the novel to be an excellent and very important book.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Dracula, made in 1931, and released for Valentine’s Day–a nice touch–was a huge success and established Bela Lugosi as a top box office star. This production was itself based on…

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The Importance of Words and Keywords in Today’s World

In today’s world the importance of the words you use in things like your resume or even your social media interactions matter more than ever before. Keywords and the algorithms that pick them up in search engines like Google, Bing, and other popular engines. 

This is important in your social media because it can bring other people to your blog or twitter feeds when you use keywords people are searching. You may not even notice it, but you could use a word or keyword phrase that is trending that day. This could result in much more traffic coming through to your blog, website, or social media. You can use this knowledge to promote your media posts in searches and bring new people to your posts.

Another important thing about words and keywords is how you use things in your resume when you are searching for a new employer. ATS scanning systems are used by an ever increasing number of employers as technology evolves. Using the correct keywords is necessary in the creation and revision of your resume for the job you are applying to. You can no longer create one resume or CV and expect that to be good enough anymore when applying to new positions. You need to tailor each resume for each position if you want to stand any chance at getting past the company’s chosen ATS scanning system. You need to be sure to look at the keywords in the job postings and make sure that your resume has the same keywords in it. Words and how we use them are only going to become more and more important as these algorithms get more and more advanced.

BF 2042 Open Beta Opinion

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The open beta for BF 2042 took place from Oct. 6 – 9. I went into the beta with expectations that I was getting to play a build of a game that was similar to BF4 in the futuristic modern setting. I got that and some other things that were not as expected. One thing I will take note of is that I had FUN when I played this beta. Believe it or not, gaming is supposed to be fun. I know, shocker. 

This beta did have flaws and some of them I expected and some of them I did think would not be an issue by now. I am not going to waste my time or your time listing glitches and bugs tha I encountered during the beta. Tons of content creators have already done that. What I will say is that I hope this build/version of the game is older than just 2 months because there was a lot to fix. My biggest issue during this beta was visibility and all the operators having the same uniform regardless of what side they are on. Speaking of operators, I don’t think this is a bad feature in BF 2042 because the gadgets they have are not overpowered in any way. 

One thing I am hoping is different in the full release is the gunsmith feature that was available on the fly in a round. I think being able to switch ammo types and having such a large ammo pool is a no go for a BF title. I feel the same way about putting a longer or shorter barrel while you are spawned in. It is too much of a gimmick if left that way. 

Also, weapon balancing. I don’t think there should be a ton of commentary on weapon balancing because we only saw 9 weapons in the beta and we also did not get to see all of the attachments available. I will say that the DMR and the sniper rifle could use a buff. The bullet velocity on the sniper rifle is too slow. The DMR needs to hit harder than it did and the shotgun might as well be shooting spitballs. The gunplay and recoil control did feel good compared to some other games but some of the weapons in game made felt inconsistent with their recoil pattern. Balancing weapons is a hard thing criticize at the moment when we only saw a small sample of the weapons and attachments they will be afforded at full release.

All that being said, I think at launch the game will still have bugs but the beta showed me that even though there are bugs I can still have fun in their game so I am looking forward to the release but I would also not be upset with a delay to polish the game and fix bugs. 

Thoughts on Education and Choice of Major

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The choice that we all make when we start our higher educational careers can be a rather complex one. There are so many things that you have to weigh when you are fresh out of high school with zero world experience just make it even harder. Choosing a major when you have no idea what you want to do can be daunting. Of course, you could always choose to go not declared but you will have to chose a major eventually so how do you choose?

That’s a question that’s hard to answer for anyone but what I can tell you is my experience and what my approach was to choosing my field of study and why I came to that decision.

Most us initially choose a major with the idea that if I get this degree I will get this job and make ‘x’ amount of money and be happy. This may be true to some extent but you have to realize that this is a trap that many fall for. It’s a trap because it is a narrowly crafted solution to a vast problem. It is equivalent to putting a band-aid on a arterial bleed. You will eventually become so drained from working said job that you need said degree to get that you will feel unfulfilled in life. This idea that you should peruse a degree only to get higher paying job is the worst trap that any college student can fall for.

More defined, the trap is choosing to chase a salary or personal and life fulfillment and you are being asked by your parents, your university/college and your circle of friends what are you going to do? What’s your major?

The question you should ask yourself is: Will you feel any type of fulfillment working in the field your major is involved in? You also need to remember that you can change your major too so you are not exactly trapped in what you do in college but you still need to recognize what is at stake with these decisions.

I was in this position when I started my college education. I initially made the decision to try and prepare for premed but I ended up not liking what I was studying even though I had the background of being a Hospital Corpsman prior to this I lost interest in the field. Sure I would have a solid career and make decent amount of money as a Physician but I found out that I would not be happy in this field and decided to change my major and pursue something I was actually interested in and that I liked doing. I switched my major to English I still stand by that decision. I love reading and writing and I am glad I chased my passion rather than the scent and illusion of happiness through money.

Book Adaptations

The one about The Witcher and Netflix

The Witcher Season 2 on Netflix is due to be released on December 17, 2021 and it is leaving some of fans wondering what leaps the show will take away from the books. It also depends on who you ask about how well the Netflix series does as an adaptation. Fans of the book are more than likely going to be disappointed again with the second season because it seems that the series is once again stepping away to stories that were in the book.

One thing that should be considered when criticizing the Netflix series is that it should be first judged if it can stand up on its own with out having to use the books and video game series as its backbone. I personally do not see the Netflix series as a one to one adaptation and I do not believe the director wanted to do that for what ever reason. Creative direction is creative direction and this series seems to have plenty of that from the first season using a weaving timeline that comes together fairly smoothly at the end of the season. The thing is, most viewers would have trouble following that type of shifting timeline narrative if they had no knowledge from the books or trilogy of games.

The main things I want to critique of the series is that it does not stay true to the original books but I am not so sold that that is a bad thing at this moment in time. It depends what happens in the second season of The Witcher. If the stories are told well the Netflix series should be fine but if not then maybe stay closer aligned to the books. The only other criticism for the series is that the Nilfgardian armor needs to go. There is no option here, it looks horrendous and just overall bad. When I first saw it I thought what in the world were they think and I am still wondering. If that armor shows up in the next season I won’t know what to say. Overall I liked the first season. It was entertaining and I think it succeeded in the stories that it told.