Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Keeper and a Suggestion

First of all - the keeper. Like I've said before, occasionally i run across something online that is so profound that I feel I must share. This comes from the blog of Mark and Angel. I highly suggest you subscribe here:

88 Ways to make a stranger smile 1. Smile often. 2. Hold a door open for someone. 3. Pay for the person in line behind you. 4. Send a hand-written thank you card to someone who assisted you with something. 5. Clean out all your old clothes and donate them to someone in need. 6. Give a compliment about a waiter, waitress, sales clerk, etc. to his or her manager. 7. Compliment a stranger’s appearance. Flatter them. 8. Leave encouraging post-it notes in a library books and other random places. (Read Operation Beautiful.) 9. Help an elderly person carry something. 10. Send flowers to someone anonymously. 11. Be a courteous driver. Let people merge in front of you. 12. Volunteer at a children’s hospital or nursing home. 13. Donate blood. 14. Buy house warming gifts for new neighbors. 15. Introduce yourself. Make new colleagues, classmates, etc. feel welcome. 16. Inspire others online. (Check out Makes Me Think.) 17. Send letters of appreciation to business owners/managers and other people who support you. 18. Treat everyone with the same level of respect you’d give to your grandfather. 19. Give everyone the same level of patience you’d have with your baby sister. 20. Appreciate people the way they are. 21. Share your lunch or a snack with someone who doesn’t have one. 22. Put some change in an expired parking meter. 23. Check up on someone who looks lonely. 24. Tell your boss, teacher or professor that he or she is doing a great job and that you appreciate what they’ve taught you. 25. Create places and things for others to enjoy. Like decorating your house for the holidays or creating a piece of art. 26. If you overhear that it’s someone’s birthday, go out of your way to wish them a happy one. 27. Ask someone for their opinion or advice. 28. Bring cookies or bagels to work for everyone. 29. Tip waiters and waitresses well when they deserve it. 30. Be a part of something you believe in. Those around you will notice your enthusiasm. (Read The Alchemist.) 31. Leave a thank-you note for the office janitors. 32. Help bag your own groceries at the checkout counter. 33. Offer your seat to someone when there aren’t any left. 34. Let someone with only a few items cut you in line at the grocery store. 35. Wave to a kid in the car next to you. 36. Spread good news. 37. Repeat something nice you heard about someone else. 38. Remember people’s names and address them accordingly. 39. When you make eye contact with someone, smile. 40. Replace what you’ve used. For example, fill up the copier or printer with paper after you’re done using it. 41. Share your umbrella on a rainy day. 42. Listen intently to people’s stories without trying to fix everything. 43. Dance with someone who hasn’t been asked. 44. Call a stranger’s attention to a beautiful sunset or full moon. (Check out What Money Cannot Buy.) 45. Give words of encouragement toward someone’s dream, no matter how big or small it is. 46. Ask someone who enjoys cooking for a recipe. 47. Let someone else eat the last slice of pizza or cake. 48. Stop and buy a drink from a kid’s lemonade stand. 49. Help someone get your parking space in a crowded parking lot when you’re leaving. 50. Ask someone you see every now and then if they’ve lost weight. 51. Do a little something extra to make someone else’s life easier. 52. Use all the manners you learned in Kindergarten. 53. Listen to someone’s pain and help them find a path through it. 54. Give without expecting to get back. 55. Encourage others to do one unanticipated kind or helpful act at least once a week. 56. Observe everyone without judging. 57. Say “Please” and “Thank you.” 58. Forgive and let go of anger. For instance, if somebody accidentally cuts you off in traffic, just let it go. 59. Believe in yourself with all of your heart. People will notice. 60. Don’t be so serious all the time. (Read The Happiness Project.) 61. Treat every small interaction with another person as an opportunity to make a positive impact in both your lives. 62. Greed, anger and ignorance. Avoid all three. 63. Speak the truth. 64. Teach others how to make a difference by setting an example. 65. Help others be independent. 66. Give people the space they need. 67. Lend your shoulder to cry on. 68. Offer encouragement after a failure. 69. Acknowledge people for a job well done. 70. Tell a good joke. 71. Clean up after yourself. 72. Excel at what you do. People appreciate professionals. 73. Create a care package and send it to an active duty military unit. 74. Redirect gifts. Instead of having people give you birthday and holiday gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a good cause. 75. Stop to help. The next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or in need of assistance, stop and ask how you can help. 76. Put a small personal touch on everything you do. People notice and appreciate individuality. 77. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know. 78. Help someone get active. There’s a coworker or acquaintance in your life who wants to get healthy, but needs a helping hand. Offer to go walking or running together, to join a gym together. 79. Send a nice email to a tech support representative who has assisted you. 80. Donate food to a charity. 81. Stand up for someone. Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them. 82. If you see a couple taking a self-pic, offer to take the picture for them. 83. Help the weary shopper in front of you who needs that extra two or three cents to avoid breaking a 20-dollar bill. 84. Come to the rescue. If you realize someone is sick, bring them some hot tea, etc. 85. Stand up for your beliefs without flaunting them. 86. Make yourself available and approachable. 87. Over-deliver on all of your promises and obligations. 88. Be positive and focus on what’s right. And above all, live proudly. Inspire people with who you are and how you live your life.

And now for the suggestion: Sandglaz is a very easy to use TODO list. It's easy to use and free! See it here:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Memphis IBC 2011

Once again we made our yearly trip to Memphis for the International Blues Competition the first week in February. A large time was had by all. There were 110 bands in the competition, 80 solo/duo acts. and 30 youth acts. It's impossible to see them all - and IMHO many of of the best bands did not make the finals. 1st Place: The Lionel Young Band (Colorado Blues Society) 2nd Place: The Mary Bridget Davies Group (Kansas City Blues Society) 3rd Place: Rob Blaine's Big Otis Blues (Windy City Blues Society) Rob also won the Best Guitarist Award which is a custom Gibson 335 and a Category 5 amp. Stephane Bertolino won the first ever Best Harmonica Player Award presented by Lee Oskar. The Solo/Duo results were: 1st Place: George Schroeter & Marc Breitfelder, sponsored by the Baltic Blues Society, Eutin, Germany. 2nd Place: Harrison Kennedy, representing Canal Bank Shuffle in Ontario, Canada.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Send Yourself a Note the Quick and Easy Way

I just stumbled across this web application that is a real jewel.  It's only been around for a few days, so be one of the first to try it out.  YOU'LL LIKE IT!
Do you ever send email to yourself?  I do all the time, i.e. reminders, web addresses that I want to look at later, addresses, phone numbers, etc.  Well here's the easy and quick way.

Go to  Enter your email address, verify it from the email you receive, and then you'll get a "Make Note" bookmarklet to drag onto your bookmarks/favorites bar. Click that bookmarklet on any web page, and you'll instantly get an email with the URL and the time and date you sent it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pursuing Your Dream and 4 Deadly Mistakes

I try to post original material here - but occasionally I run across something I like so much that I just have to share.  The following comes from a blog by Henri Junttila about mistakes people make when going after their dreams.

We often get stuck in arbitrary things. We make excuses. We try to find shortcuts, and we try to do all these things that in the end only prevent us from reaching our goals. 

1. Stopping at Uncomfortable
When you start something new, it will be scary. If you are serious about finding, following, and making your passion(s) and dream(s) a reality, you will have to deal with fear. You will have to accept that being uncomfortable means growing as a human being and making progress towards your goals.  I'm not talking about being physically uncomfortable, such as sitting on your leg until it falls asleep. I am talking about being emotionally uncomfortable. Being afraid to take the next step because you don't know what lies behind the next turn. Your journey will be unique, so you will have to learn how to deal with this yourself.  Look at it as driving a car: you know your destination (most times), but you can't see beyond the next bend. You still know where you're going, but you just can't see it.

2. Looking for Shortcuts
A lot of people are looking for shortcuts. They are looking for that one thing that will make them catapult to the front of the line and eliminate years off their learning curve. I'm sorry to say this, but it doesn't work that way. If you want to create your dream life and live out your passion(s), you will first have to find your passion and then take action to make it happen. (If you love gardening and want to teach other people how to do it, for example, that's excellent, and you can make a living doing that if you really want to.)  Remember, there's always room for those that are willing to go the extra mile. Stop looking for shortcuts and start using what you have. There are no magic bullets out there that will do it all for you. You will have to learn. You will have to work hard and you will have to make mistakes and learn from them.

3. Waiting for Perfection
I'm so guilty of this one. I used to be the worst perfectionist. I still am to a certain degree, but I'm more aware of it now. I am able to let things be imperfect without going crazy.  You don't have to wait for the stars to align or for someone to give you permission to go after your dreams. Most people blame their circumstances for not allowing them to make their dreams a reality. This is a big mistake. If you want to live your dream life, do what you love and change the world, you will have to take matters into your own hands and make a change.  You can always start somewhere. Don't worry about not knowing what to do. All you have to learn is what to do next. (Maybe you need to start a blog. Do a simple Google search for that, and you'll find plenty of tutorials. Maybe you will even fail at blogging and learn that you like something else instead.) It's all a part of the process. Successful people didn't become successful overnight, although that is what it usually looks like. They often failed over and over again until they found what worked for them.

4. Failing to Listen to Your Heart
Your heart knows things. Your mind...not so much. Your mind worries, it analyses, it judges, and it does all those things that can easily take over your life. Now, I'm not saying that the mind is bad, it's just a tool, but it has become a bad thing in most people's lives because it has taken over. Many refer to this as the Ego, the Id or whatever you like to call it.  Your heart, on the other hand, will let you know when you're on the right path. You will feel good when you're following your passion. You will feel awesome when you're heading in the right direction, and you will feel blissed out when you realize that you have a whole guidance system inside of you that is perfect for you. (But remember, you also have to understand your emotions, because your heart may be trying to tell you something and you may be blocking it with fear or a surface emotion.)  If you want to pursue your dreams, start by finding your passion, then thinking about how you can make it real, and then taking action. It's really that simple. If you want to slow yourself down, then go ahead and pick one of the deadly mistakes above.  But know this: you are here for a reason. You are here to have a positive impact on this planet. You know that thing that you feel in your heart that you've always wanted to do? I'm here to tell you that you can do it, if you really want to. So what are you waiting for?

Thanks again to Henri Junttila, a freelance blogger, who also writes about self improvement ideas for conscious people on his blog. Read more by Henri at The Wake Up Cloud:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Have Trouble Remembering Passwords?

Here's a great add-on for Firefox.  LastPass
All you have to do is remember one master password.  You may set it to log you in automatically to any web site.  Additionally LastPass will fill in forms for you.  This is a great time saver!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bill Lawson - Pool Player

In the 1960's there were five pool rooms in downtown Winston-Salem.  Pool was so popular with the RJ Reynolds Tobacco workers that a law was passed stating there would be no pool games in the city limits after 11pm.  That was so the third shift workers would go to work.  You could tell which room Bill was in by listening for the sound of his break.  WHACK!!!!! the cueball would hit the one ball so hard that you would think surely the cueball or oneball had broken in two. 

Bill didn't look the part.  He didn't look like a world class 9-ball player.  In fact he didn't look like much of anything except maybe a wino with his old tattered sports coat on, his uncombed hair, and that week-old stubble on his chin that he somehow managed to always have.  He stood about six feet tall but had the long torso of someone six-four or six-five.  That's about all anyone noticed about Bill, unless you were (like me) someone who had spent countless hours playing pool and watching hustlers play the game.  I saw something magical when he bent over a pool table and wrapped those huge hands and very long fingers around a pool cue.  He never went one-rail to get pretty good position on the next ball -- he would go 5 rails and get perfect position.

I only met Bill a couple of years before he passed away.  At that time it had been 2 or 3 years since he had played in (and won) a major tournament.  This was 1982 and Bill had long since left the road and returned home to Winston-Salem.  His health was poor and he didn't have a nickel to his name, but he could still play pool at a level that made us all stop and watch when he would practice a little bit.  I say practice - but Bill Lawson never practised.  There was no reason to practice - he was a master of the art.

I had heard that road players, when going up and down the east coast from Boston and New York to Florida and Texas, would take a wide detour around the Winston-Salem / Greensboro area.  They didn't want to risk losing their bankroll to Bill Lawson.  I witnessed the truth in this when one slow evening a couple of black guys walked in carrying their personal cues.  One of them I recognised - a local player with just average ability.  The very tall guy with him was a stranger - but after I played him a few games for $5.00, I could tell he was laying down.  That is - he was playing well below his ability in an effort to get
me to raise the bet.  He let me win a few games and then started his spiel about betting more.  I told him he could win it back the same way I won it - $5.00 at a time.  He knew I was on to him.  At this point he wanted to know if there was anyone around town that would bet big.  He didn't care who they were - he "just wanted to gamble big time".  Sure I replied.  I'll get someone here to play you!   I called Bill at his boarding house and told him the deal.  He said "Curtis, I don't have any money and no way to get there."  Well get a cab, get here, and don't worry about the money.  A friend of mine and I agreed to put up $200.00 for Bill to play with.  Twenty minutes later Bill walked in the door - and the tall black guy said "Damn - I didn't say I'd play a damn world champion."  The tall stranger it turns out was none other than Willie Munson.  Willie was a pro himself and had recently won the US Open in Norfolk.  He wanted no part of Irving "Bill" Lawson.

Bill couldn't drive himself to the pool room because he reportedly had never owned a car or for that matter never had a driver's license.  There was always a backer who would drive him around the country from pool room to pool room.  The tournament circuit in those days did not have purses high enough to encourage many men to turn pro.  They could make a lot more money by traveling the country and stopping in every town, large and small, they all had pool rooms.  They also would have a local champion who was always foolish enough to take on all comers. 

Bill was very humble.  He would never brag about his winnings, but when we were able to drag a story out of him they were always utterly amazing.  He told us about the time he was in a small Georgia town for a couple of days beating the local players until he finally got the chance to play and beat the local champion out of around $2000.00.  Bill then promptly got on a bus and and headed out of town with his winnings.  After a few miles a sheriff's car pulled the bus over.  They took Bill off the bus, took all of his winnings, and threw him in jail for a night.

Billy Johnson (or as he sometimes went by "Wade Crane") came to my poolroom one weekend just to get Bill Lawson to teach him how to break a rack of nine-ball.  Billy was already a well-known pro at that time.
Bill Lawson passed away around 1986 in his late 50's.  He died penniless -- but he died knowing he was the best at something.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Music Web Site

I've tried maybe a dozen different web sites and applications for playing music.  Pandora,, and are all great.  Sometimes I just want to quickly play an artist or a song right now.  This is where Puniz excels.  Fast - Free - Legal - Simple!

IBC Memphis 2010