Things That Make You Go Hmmm

Posted by on December 18, 2010 in Fake Ads with Comments closed |

I’m a sucker for ads that make you think.

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Santa’s Little Helper

Posted by on December 16, 2010 in Christmas, Jaya, Pictures, Santa with Comments closed |

Last night my wife and I brought my 15-month old daughter to the mall to get her picture taken with Santa. My wife had been hounding me for over a week, so after putting off it as long as I could, I finally said, “We can go on Wednesday night.” Of course I didn’t know that it was going to be freezing rain and slicker than pig snot outside on Wednesday night, but my word is my word, so we piled into the car and headed out to the Temple of Consumerism.

We got lucky when I pulled in the parking garage and found a space right away. We unloaded the stroller and got the girl out of the car, made sure she was bundled up, and headed through the mall toward the chaos.

When we arrived to where Santa was sitting, I was surprised to see that there were only three children standing in line. The freezing rain must have kept everyone at home. But it must have been Bring Your Dog to the Mall Night because there were nine dogs in line to see Santa; six more than children.

There was a 6’ foot 4” man in front of us holding a fat Doberman pinscher by his thick leather collar. His wife, a manly looking woman, was holding a Toto dog on a leash. Toto started getting up in this Black Lab’s business who crept up behind us. Toto was sniffing and smelling the crotch of this Lab while his big brother Dobes sat and watched over his handiwork.

I thought Toto did a fine job, but Dobes looked at him when he was finished and nodded. Toto took that to mean he better sniff again, so he started the whole process over. Meanwhile my kid was getting a very good lesson on exactly what not to do when she meets a boy.

Since when did it become normal to bring your dog to the mall? I know it’s Christmas and you want family pictures, but you shouldn’t bring a dog to the mall unless you’re going to bump into things without one.

I kept looking around for signs that said, “No Dogs Allowed,” but didn’t see one. I wanted to ask one of the not-so-little elves about it, but they seemed like it was just another day at the mall. By the time we got to the front of the line, there were literally a pack of dogs behind us, who were barking away at another pack of dogs that were behind them. Apparently the second group of hounds was trying to butt-in line and the first group wasn’t having it.

Last year our girl did really well with Santa. She smiled right away and we got an awesome picture. This year it was waterworks. She cried as soon as Santa took her out of my hands. I took the girl back from Santa and sat on a little white stool next to him. I placed her on my knee and then I tried to lean backwards as far as I could to stay out of the picture. We never did get a very good one. The picture we settled on you can see her sitting on my knees and my hands are holding her around her waist.

Oh well. Next year I think I’ll just take the dog.

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Are You Lost?

Posted by on December 15, 2010 in Coaching, Mentor, SBA, SCORE with Comments closed |

“Every 1000 mile journey starts with the first step.” –Asian proverb

The quote above has been used in more motivational books than anyone would care to remember, but it does ring true even today. Even with all the modern conveniences of today, a 1000 mile road trip is still going to be long. You have to plan for it.

You probably should make sure your car is mechanically well taken care of. You’ll want to have your oil changed and check your tires to make sure they can make the trip. You’ll want to make sure you have a jack, just in case. And you’ll definitely want to have a GPS or a map to help you get there too.

Before you take off you’ll go to the gas station and fill’er up. Plus you’ll get some snacks and drinks to take with you before you take off. You’ll use the restroom if you didn’t go at home. You don’t want to forget anything before you start. You want to be as prepared as possible so when you get going you don’t have to stop for anything. You want to go as long as you can without running out of gas.

It’s funny how a person will plan for weeks or even months before they go on a 1000 mile road trip, but they hardly plan at all for their life or their career, or their business. Matter of fact most people let their life and career happen to them. Like a guy driving around lost, too stubborn to ask for directions, they’re lost too and don’t know how to get on track.

The fastest way to achieve something is by setting a goal. Setting a date that you want to accomplish your goal by is very important. This makes your mind work toward that time frame. It’s ok to set your goals high, just make sure you give yourself enough time to achieve them. Tony Robbins once said, “People overestimate what they can do in a year, but severely underestimate what they can do in ten.”

Speaking of Tony Robbins, one way a person can get back on the road to a successful, fulfilling life, is by using a coach. There are coaches in almost every field these days. Whether you’re trying to learn about marketing your business more effectively, or trying to finish that manuscript, coaching is just one way to help you get your life or your passion back on track. They also will take your game to the next level. Almost every successful person you’ll ever see or read about has almost always had a good coach or mentor.

In the old days (10-20 years ago) coaches used to be called mentors. The good thing about mentors is they are usually free. Besides not paying them, the main difference between a mentor and a coach is the relationship. Mentors usually have more of a personal relationship with their protégés. Coaches on the other hand are usually about results.

If you need help with your business, there are many organizations willing to help you, often for free.

The Small Business Administration is one of the best resources for potential small business owners. This government agency helps entrepreneurs with business plans, obtains financing through guaranteed loans, and can also help obtain equipment.

The SBA has several different workshops to help with start-ups and can provide you with all the necessary forms you will need to start your business. Every major city in the United States has an SBA office. Look them up on the Internet or the phone book to make an appointment to go see them.

Chamber of Commerce
Like the SBA your local Chamber of Commerce is there to help you set up your business. They are usually more aware of particular things going on in the community that they operate in than the SBA. Because of this, you should consult them when you chose a location to set your business up in.

Your local Chamber of Commerce will undoubtedly be able to help you with the necessary forms and tell you what restrictions there are in that area in regards to your business. It is also a great place to network. Most of the times there will be other local business owners and local politicians at the meetings. This will help you get a feel for how businesses are doing in the area you are looking at.

The Service Corp of Retired Executives is part of a national non-profit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of the nation’s small business. SCORE volunteers serve as “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” These counselors have years of experience and want to give back to their community. They have a wealth of knowledge and contacts in particular fields.

I have spent many hours talking with SCORE counselors and highly recommend using them. Many times they work out of the SBA office. To find where a SCORE Counselor is in your area look them up at or consult the phone book. It is recommended that you make an appointment, although many time walk-ins are welcomed.

Remember, “Every 1000 mile journey starts with the first step,” but today you can do it in a comfortable car, with a GPS, and person who’s been there, sitting by your side the whole way. All you have to do is ask someone for help.

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Deliberate Practice and the 10000 Hour Rule

Posted by on December 10, 2010 in 10000 Hour Rule, Malcolm Gladwell |

Do you think you’ve got enough talent to be considered great? Well if you have 10 years to practice then you can be great at what ever you want. What we think of as talent is basically a myth. Researchers say it takes at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become great at something.

There’s no substitute for hard work. We’ve always heard, “Practice makes perfect.” But as my World Champion billiard teacher Harry Simms used to say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect play.” This concept of deliberate practice is the main difference of what makes a person “good” at something versus what it takes to make someone “Great.”

I want to be a world-class writer someday. I read this article and thought this would be interesting to write about.

Another author who has the 10,000 Hour Rule outlined better than anyone is Malcolm Gladwell. His book Outliers explains this concept in detail if you’re interested.

But just know this, it’s not just the 10,000 Hour Rule that makes someone great.
Knowing what you want, and sticking to that idea, is just two of the traits that makes someone great. Remember, you can be anything you want to be. It just might take a few years longer than you would like.

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All Marketers Are Liars

Posted by on December 8, 2010 in Marketing, Seth Godin |

All marketers tell stories, not lies. Lies are too harsh of a word, but basically that’s what the stories are.

Seth Godin, a top marketing guru, explains how any organization, from Porsche to Pat Roberts, has framed a story that a slice of the world community buys into in order to sell their products. These organizations are not sitting behind a desk scheming on how to take over the world with insincere plots. These guys really believe in their product and their own story.

The VW Touareg costs $35,000 and according to Godin, is practically the same car as the Porsche Cayenne. Does it matter that the two cars are made in the same place and that the Porsche costs $45,000 more? Not to Porsche people.

People who buy into the Porsche story aren’t buying into the VW story. They don’t even want to hear about it. It doesn’t matter to them that the only true difference is a different ornament on the hood. The same is true for Toyota and Lexus people. They don’t want to be reminded that a Lexus is actually an overpriced Toyota.

How does a Riedel wine glass make your wine taste any better than a “regular” wine glass? The chemical make up of glass is exactly the same whether it’s a $2.00 glass or a $20.00 glass. But somehow we are led to believe that a Riedel glass is the best possible wine glass we can drink from. If you believe this, it’s because you buy into the story that Riedel has laid out—Wine tastes better from our glasses because we sculpt a glass around the character of the wine.
You wouldn’t be at fault for believing Riedel’s story. Even the industry’s top “expert” Robert Parker buys into the story.

“The finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic purposes are those made by Riedel. The effect of these glasses on fine wine is profound. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make.” (Quelle: Robert M. Parker, Jr. The Wine Advocate)

Remember, gurus are self-constructed. They yell their story as loud as they can, for as long as they can, and eventually people start believing what they say is true. Gurus are master story tellers—Parker and Godin included.

Everything in marketing is how you frame your story. Is it believable? If you’re a marketer, do you believe in your own story? Because if not, Godin believes that the public will see right through you. Maybe not right away, but once the public realizes they’ve been had, your company will wash right down the drain. So if you decide you have something you want to sell, make sure that you buy into your own B.S.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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How to Pick Up Chicks—The Machiavellian Way

Posted by on November 30, 2010 in How to pick up chicks, Machiavellian |

Guys if you haven’t been able to get a girl in a while then you are obviously going about it the wrong way; and by that, I mean, you’re probably telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. Although the Bible said, “The truth shall set you free,” that was a long time ago and doesn’t necessarily work in today’s world.

Remember you can be anything you want the first time someone meets you. It’s only after they’ve known you for a while that the truth comes out. So if you just want to have some fun for a night, or a possibly a weekend, try out one of these tricks to get you some. I guarantee you’ll be making the Oh-Face by the morning.

If you’re a lady reading this, just be aware there are guys out that are using better lines than, “Did it hurt when you fell? Because you look like a star that fell from heaven,” bullshit that some guys try to use.

There are Machiavellian guys out there who would love to use the, “Do you use Windex to wash your clothes? Because I can see myself in your pants,” line. But they know full-well they can’t get away with these corny lines anymore. And whether you know it or not, the more genuine they seem to be, the more likely these guys are just using a better line than you’re used to.

One of these stories I have actually used. And although it was stumbled onto accidentally, it was the inspiration that led me to think of these others later. I’m not good at writing riddles, so let me tell you my friend, if you read real close, you’ll find out which one it was at the end.

A. Go to Lowe’s or The Home Depot and find the best looking girl who works there. Yes, there are some hotties working at either one of these two stores somewhere in your town. Look around until you find at least a 6.5 on your 1-10 scale, you’ll know her when you see her. Besides, that you’re not trying to marry her, you’re trying to get laid.

Go up and tell her, “I’m looking for a hammer. See, I start volunteering for Habitat for Humanity tomorrow and I’m supposed to bring a hammer. I really don’t know much about building anything. Matter of fact I don’t know anything about building anything. But I feel I could learn, you know, to help someone who’s less fortunate than me?”

“I feel lucky just to have a roof over my head and I feel it’s my responsibility to lend a hand to those in need. Know what I mean?” And go from there. If you don’t have her escorting you to the hammer section in a little beeping blue or orange golf cart within 15 seconds of telling her this, there’s no hope for you and you can stop reading right now.

B. If you don’t think the hardware store is the best place to pick up a good looking girl, then how about a department store? Go into an upscale place like Nieman Marcus or Macy’s and go check out the men’s cologne area. Usually they will have at least one, if not several, really hot girls working there.

Tell the girl, “Hi. This is going to sound really weird, but I work at an Orphanage and one of my boys named Timmy had a small sample bottle of Armani cologne. Well, I guess one of the other kids got jealous and stole it from him, and Timmy started crying and carrying on. It was a real mess. I can’t afford to buy him a whole bottle, but do you think I could have a few samples?”

If that lady isn’t filling up a whole bag of cologne then she has abandonment issues and you don’t want her anyway. But if she takes the bait then it is your job to ask her out for some drinks. Believe me, a person who works in retail probably will be ready for a drink after work, especially during the holiday season.

C. You see women walking their dog’s everyday. The next time you see a little cutie walking her dog, try to position yourself so that she’ll have to walk right past you. Then you can say, “Oh what a good looking dog.” Then bend down and talk baby talk to it while rubbing both sides of the dog’s head right behind the ears. Then say, “Oh what a good looking doggy-woggy.” Don’t worry, the owner does this too and it won’t seem the least bit strange to them.

Then say, “You know when I use to volunteer at the Animal Shelter, I used to walk the dogs every other day. I had to give it up because the non-profit shelter couldn’t raise enough money to feed all the poor guys we’d get it. Everyone was so stretched for money when Katrina hit and everything. Then they just kept coming and coming and there wasn’t enough money for food. So we ended up having to give them to the Humane Society. Man I really miss being around dogs,” Then stare off into space like your lost for five seconds, then shake your head and say, “I’m sorry, kinda went off on a tangent there. What’s his name?”

First of all, if you don’t own a dog, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask a dog owner what the name of their dog is before you ask for their name. Most of the time people don’t even get that far in the conversation where they want to know you’re name, but yet they don’t mind stopping you to ask what your dogs name is. Weird. Anyway, the second thing to remember is that dog owners always call their dogs by their sex—not “it”. For instance, “Her name is Daisy.” Or “He is a Bull Mastiff.” So if you can’t tell, ask.

Now that you’ve got the mindset of a dog owner, you then can start asking about her. She’ll already be on your side and you pose no threat. You were a volunteer at the animal shelter for God’s sake. What kind of dog lover wouldn’t love that? Only one whose dog has rabies, that’s who.

D. And for the final Chicker-Picker-Upper, we can’t forget about the single moms. What? There are some hot looking single moms. You want to look for moms who are walking around with a kid in one hand and no ring on the other.

Now this type of woman can be as protective of her kid as an 800 pound gorilla, but she’s also the type that puts out and the proof is usually sitting right next to her.
That is where you use your Machiavellian tricks against her. You make the kid the focus by saying, “Ahhh, what a cute little baby. You know I’ve been looking into adopting one myself. I’m taking a few parenting classes that the adoption people make you take. But I’m on the list for one from Korea. Did you know you don’t even have to be married these days to do it? Thank goodness for that. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it just so hard to find someone stable enough to be parent these days. Know what I mean?” And with that you should be having MILF for dinner.

But now I’ve come to the end of Machiavellian ways, and if you want a girl you better not behave. The answer to my riddle may be revealed, in the previous sentence, that I have spelled. And if you still need a hint, it’s the first letter that spells bent. And for the record, I really was working there.

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Posted by on November 22, 2010 in Jaya |

Imagine the World’s smallest dwarf that’s in the Guinness Book of World’s Records, add an inch, and that’s how tall Jaya is. I know you shouldn’t make fun of people’s height, but I can’t help but to laugh when she’s on her tippy-toes trying to grab the car keys or a cell phone off the night stand that’s in our living room, and no matter what she does or how hard she tries, she just can’t get them. So she turns and looks at me with those big-brown eyes, tears welling up because some inconsiderate a-hole, meaning me, has tossed them up there haphazardly and they’re mere centimeters from her reach and now she’s looking at me for help. So I get up from my blue Lazy-Boy, make the journey of three steps, which would take her ten, and I push the items even further away.

She looks up at me in shock and disgust as I spin on my heals and walk back to the Lazy-boy. I then fling out the foot rest and I prop my legs up and get back to my newest episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Arrrggghhhhhh! she screams as her face turns beet-red and then she hobbles into the kitchen to get her stool. But once she get there she doesn’t actually move the stool, she just looks at it and seems to drift into thoughts of what she would do if she was bigger. She puts her finger on the top step and runs it back-and-forth as if she’s stroking the potential power of being tall.

Jaya often falls when she walks. She usually gets back up, but sometimes she sits there and seems to think about it, like, Maybe if I use these little arms to balance me…,but then a piece of dirt or food on the floor catches her attention and she looks to see if I see her grabbing at it, which of course I do, but I immediately turn my head away but still side-eye her as I see the look in her eye that says, Hey slob! You know I can’t vacuum this floor myself or I otherwise I would. Come on! But since she doesn’t actually say anything, I do nothing about the situation.

Sometimes Jaya smells like poop. What kind of person doesn’t notice that smell? I know it’s her little arms and lack of motor skills that doesn’t allow her to wipe her own ass, but I can’t help to ask, “Did you poop or something?” I already know the answer without her answering, so I go and turn on the bath water for her and take her to her changing table and even though I know what little treasure’s waiting for me, I can’t help but say, “Ewwwwww! Stinky-butt!” And as she’s laying there patiently waiting for me to fix this little problem, I can’t help but laugh when I take off her diaper and she chirps like a little song bird and says, “Hi! Hi Da-da! Hi-bye!”


Life’s Soundtrack Machine

Posted by on November 15, 2010 in Life's Soundtrack Machine with Comments closed |

Soundtracks can make or break a movie. They can also make a scene scary or serene. Don’t you love when you’re watching a movie and an, “Oldie but goodie,” comes on? From My Girl to My Little Deuce Coupe, certain songs just make the moment. Don’t you wish you could, at any, moment flip on a song in your life that would perfectly describe the situation your in? Well now you can!

We here at Music For Life, an affiliate of Diet For Life, would like to introduce the:

The Life’s Soundtrack Machine—or LSM, is a portable machine that you can take with you to enhance the environment you’re in. This machine is similar to an iPod, but instead of loading the device with music, the LSM picks songs to match the situation or mood you’re in. And unlike the other devices where you listen to it by yourself, with a LSM everyone around you can hear the music too, so no situation is boring because you’ll always have music in your life.

Here are some everyday situations where a LSM can enhance your life:
Let’s say you’re walking down the street, you’re in a good mood. All of a sudden you hear—“I’M WALKIN’, YA SEEMS TO ME, I’M A TALKIN’, FEEL GOOD TO ME, I’M WALKIN…” or if you’re a Johnny Cash fan you’ll hear, “BECAUSE YOU’RE MINE, I WALK THE LINE…” With a LSM, you get to look cool and let everyone know you’re in a good mood at the same time.

With a LSM everyday chores can be more fun. When you’re at the grocery store and you’re looking around the cheese counter, the old commercial that you didn’t even remember pops on: “I HANKER’ FOR A HUNK OF, A SLAB, A SLICE OR CHUNK OF, I HANKER FOR A HUNK OF CHEEEESE!” You’ll think, “Wow! That’s kind of cool. I haven’t thought about that in years.”

Life’s Soundtrack Machine can also make conversations with your boring friends so much more bearable. Let’s say they’re over there droning on and on, and as your eyes begin to glaze over, all of a sudden you’ll both hear: “ALL THE LEAVES ARE BROOOWN AND THE SKY IS GRAAAY, CALIFORNIA DRREEAMIN’, ON SUCH A WINTER’S DAAAYY!” This lets them know they should either change the topic or shut-the-hell-up.

There are a few glitches we haven’t worked out yet. Some of these situations include things like being introduced to an attractive person of the opposite sex for the first time and 2 Live Crew’s, “LICK MY BOOTY, UP AND DOWN! LICK IT TILL YOUR TONGUE TURNS DOO DOO BROWN! DOO DOO BROWN! DOO DOO BROWN!” comes on. But don’t worry about that, we’re working on it. Our engineers have been making headway and this should only happen about every third time.

How about when your boss is yelling at you? Can imagine the look on his face when the song comes on? “TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT, I AIN’T WORKIN’ A HERE NO MORE.” Or if you don’t want to quit, how about, “ALL THE PEOPLE WHO DIED, DIED! ALL THE PEOPLE WHO DIED, DIED!”?

We’re really not trying to fix that one. We think the boss should know how you really feel, but we have thought of a good excuse. Just say, “Oops, I’m sorry that’s supposed to be Frank Sinatra’s, I did it my way!”

It is also advised that if you are having an affair with your sister or brother in-law, that the two of you not be in the same room at the same time or “SECRET LOOOVERS, YEAH, THAT’S WHAT WE ARE, TRYING HARD TO HIDE THE WAAAY WE FEEL” comes on.

We here at Music For Life feel that these small inconveniences do not outweigh the benefits of our product. Imagine the hours of fun and enjoyment you’ll have with this life enhancing product.

The Life’s Soundtrack Machine is available for three easy payments of $999.95. With all the hours of enjoyment you’ll have with LSM that breaks down to just pennies an hour. If you like, we can bill this to your credit card monthly over a three month period.

Customers may experience a little embarrassment with LSM at the beginning. Once you get over a few awkward moments, we are so sure that you’ll love LSM, that at this time we are not going to offer a money back guarantee. But don’t let that stop you from ordering because, WAIT THERE’S MORE!

If you call right now to order LSM you also get, TELL’EM WHAT YOU REALLY THINK! Tell’em What You Really Think is much like the Life’s Soundtrack Machine and functions much the same way.

Have you ever left a party and thought, Damn! I wish I would have had the courage to Jane how I felt about her? Or how about when you’ve had bad service at a store or restaurant and thought, Wow I wish I would have told that pushy sales person off? We’ll now you can without looking like the bad guy. You can always say, “Sorry it’s just my TWYRT” Or “Twirdy” as we like to say around here.

So pick up the phone and call now. Operators are standing by. With LSM and a Twirdy you’ll be the coolest kid on the block, and one who lets people know what’s really on his mind.

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Writer By Default

Posted by on November 6, 2010 in Why I write |

I became a writer by default. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life as far as a career was concerned. I liked a variety of topics and when an idea gets stuck in my head, I research it obsessively until I find out enough about it that decide that I don’t want to do it forever. Then after all that research, I write about it.

I was told by my grandpa that, “If you like what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” That is when I figured out that I’ve always liked to write and that eventually I could get paid to write about topics that I wanted to obsess on and not be considered crazy.

How did I get to this point where I knew that writing’s what I wanted to do? Being a writer was the last career choice I had in my mind. In my mind, I was going to be an entrepreneur. The name alone, entrepreneur, it has a ring to it that makes me feel important; it makes me feel rich. The problem was I didn’t know what kind of business I wanted to own.

I was one of these guys who changed his mind about what business I’d like to own as many as three or four times a day. I definitely could have started the business (whatever business it was for the day), figured out ways to market it, and then go to all the conventions, and of course I already knew all the people in the industry, and by the end of the day I’d be making millions. Then I would sell the business and end up living it up down South somewhere next to the ocean. I would be kicking back drink Margaritas on the beach in a lazy beach chair, saying, “Honey isn’t this great?” Then my boss would snap me back into reality by yelling, “Doug! I need those dishes washed a faster! We have customers waiting on you!”

I knew I was just daydreaming, but I use to love to do that. I daydreamed so much that I often thought that it might not be so bad to be delusional and believe your own daydreams. Your reality is your perception.

I think in my head I’ve owned: a doggie day care center, an adult day care center, and been an airbrush artist who also owned a tattoo shop, even though I have no artistic ability.

In my head I’ve owned a gun shop, a hot air balloon ride place, and been an auctioneer who owned a high-end auto store that fixed up exotic cars.

I’ve sold salt water aquariums and fish accessories, been a bail bondsman, and definitely owned a pool hall and bar. Wait! Make that a pool hall/micro-brewery. That sounds better than just a bar.

In my head I’ve been a dog breeder and animal shelter—both at the same time. I’ve owned a ukulele and guitar shop, and cigar and wine shop; high end though, not just a little corner liquor store.

Sometimes I got more extravagant. I’ve been a plastic surgeon, a helicopter pilot, and a diamond importer. I’ve also owned motorcycle shops, not just one, but a whole chain of them; even though I’ve never even owned a motorcycle of my own.

Sometimes in my head I get more exotic. I’ve been a herbologist, yoga studying, martial arts master. I’ve also been a investigating, lie detecting, forensic psychologist, who, by the way, is also a lawyer who does international trade consulting on the side.

Finally, in my head, I’ve been a guy who by day was a limo driving, locksmith, who solved crimes and then at night, I played the piano at my own night club, when I wasn’t out mystery shopping.

In my head I’ve done it all, but then the boss would yell and wake me up out of my fantasy world and before you know it several years had passed by.

I wanted to do something career wise that could keep up with my interests. I wanted to be able to talk to different kinds of people and explore things that interest me. For me, writing helps me to be able to do this, even when I’m the only one reading my stories.

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Good Game

Posted by on October 27, 2010 in billiards, pool |

Pool tables were my babysitters growing up. I could walk into any bar in Lincoln County, MO with my dad day or night, and as long as they had a pool table, no one ever suggested that we leave regardless of what time it was.

“Doug Wallace, table six,” crackles over the loud speaker. I walk over and take my place next to the nine-foot brown Brunswick with green felt. The smell of smoke has been my cologne long before I started smoking at the age of thirteen. It hangs in the air like a thick fog in every place I want to be, well into my late 20’s.

A guy who looks to be a couple years older than me steps up to the table. He can’t be over eighteen but he nods at me chin first like I’m the punk kid. I hate when people do that, so I do it back to him. He extends his hand to shake mine and it’s moist and gross and I immediately wipe my hand off on my pants, showing him my disgust. I’m trying to get into his head without saying anything. He just doesn’t know it yet, but the game has already started.

“A good pool player is the sign of a wasted childhood,” or so the saying goes and I’ve wasted a lot of time in pool halls, bars and bowling alleys. He pulls a quarter out of his pocket and says, “Heads or tails?” as if there’s ever any other answer.
“Heads,” I say as the quarter catches the light from the table as it flips, looking like it’s signaling in Morse code, “Quit now,” it seems to say to the tall, wet-handed stranger as the coin lands heads-up on the table.

This particular pool hall has 39, nine-foot, Gold Crown Brunswick tables. There are lined up, one after another like Marines in formation. The guy grabs the eight solid balls and the yellow-striped 9-ball from the ball holder below. He places them in the rack with one ball in the front and the nine in the middle. With a Clack, clack, clack, from the rack, he forms a perfect diamond shape.

Wickie, wickie, wickie, the stick cries out as I rub its tip with chalk, blue dust showers the cigarette-burned carpet below.
“Good luck,” my opponent says.
“I don’t believe in luck,” I say back to him. I believe in making your own luck and it’s done by practicing, but I keep that to myself.

Ka-Blam!” The balls scream out as they are smashed with a sledge-hammer-like force.

One of the solid-colored balls fall in the corner pocket and sounds like a rock that’s been dropped in a deep pool of water. The remaining balls are scattered over the sea of green like boats in a storm.

“Nice break,” he says.

“Thanks,” I say bottom lip pursed, nodding my head. I’m not acknowledging him, I’m surveying my layout. The remaining spheres reflect the florescence spot light that hangs above. I take one last glance, nod once more and proceed to go to work.
“One in the corner,” I say even though we’re playing nine ball and in nine ball you don’t have to call it.
“Two in the side,” I say.
“You don’t have to call it,” he says.
“Just an old habit,” I say. Click, Click, Click, one by one they all disappear.
“Nine in the corner,” I say. Stroke, stroke, stroke—click. The ball rolls slowly to the corner. The familiar, thump follows.

I come out of my stance like a cat stretching and I walk over to shake my opponent’s hand, but before I can get to the other side of the table to shake his hand, he turns and walks away without saying a word. My sixteen year old brain thinks, eighteen is much too late to start playing pool.

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