Learn Ballroom Dancing

Have you seen the American hit TV show Dancing With The Stars? If you are dreaming of becoming a fantastic dancer and you want to learn ballroom dancing look no further! Let your inhibitions jump out the window and learn how to dance.

What Is Ballroom Dancing?

Ballroom dancing involves dancing with a partner of the opposite sex, to learn ballroom dance you can start practicing dance steps alone until you find a partner. The term “ballroom dancing” is derived from the word ball, which in turn originates from the Latin word ballare which means “to dance”. Many decades ago, ballroom dance was only accessible for the privileged and aristocracy, the lower classes were restricted to folk dancing. In today’s modern times, ballroom dancing is enjoyed and accessible to every body, young, old, there is no discrimination. Ballroom involves many different styles of dance such as, Waltz, Foxtrot, Swing and Salsa, dancers normally wear special attire too, smart suits and sequin dresses.

Dancing Lessons

Dance teachers claim that the principles learned in ballroom dancing can be applied to any type of music including rock, pop or disco. Because it involves a strict pattern of even beats, e.g. a tempo of 3/4 or 4/4, this makes it easy to apply moves to almost any style of music. Waltz, Foxtrot, Swing and Salsa dancing involve slow passionate movements and quick step too. Not only will you have fun learning how to do ballroom dance you will also keep fit! Did you know? Within just a few weeks, stars on Dancing with the Stars were losing inches and enjoying a whole new body thanks to ballroom training! This is a fantastic way to sculpt your body and lose unwanted pounds.

How To Learn Ballroom?

Top 5 Songs About Education

The subject of school has been a big theme for pop songs since Chuck Berry goose-stepped his way through School Days (Ring Ring Goes The Bell) in 1957. However, it seems that the seventies heralded a certain golden age of school-related songs, despite it being something of a pop void to many music fans. What makes these songs so memorable? And what does the lack of quality edu-odes today say about education in the noughties?

5: Rock ‘n’ Roll High School – Ramones. “I don’t care about history, ‘cos that’s not where I want to be!” Although not often regarded as a Ramones classic, this 1979 soundtrack number to the movie of the same name stands proud as a thumping sing-along at a time when the band was spending a lot of time exploring new pop directions, and finally getting some chart recognition. It’s funny how at no point during my life of education, even beyond university, I’ve never actually seen a student cruise around in a GTO.

4: When I Kissed The Teacher – ABBA. “Leaning over me, he was trying to explain the laws of geometry, and I couldn’t help it, I just had to kiss the teacher!” This cringe-worthy and decisively un-pc representation of teacher/student relations is the opener to the Swedish quartet’s fourth album, Arrival. Aside from the story video acted by the band, the most disturbing aspect of the song is the teacher’s response to Agnetha’s affections. Simply put: he likes it.

3: Baggy Trousers – Madness. “All I learnt at school, was how to bend not break the rules.” Yes, I know that this song is from 1980 but so what. How could anyone ignore this cheeky celebration of schoolyard vandalism and nostalgic pranks. Whatever happened to getting the cane? And to be fair, you’re likely to receive an ASBO for pulling someone’s hair today. Make me young.

2: Another Brick In The Wall – Pink Floyd. “We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control.” It all seems to get a bit gloomy and serious by the time The Floyd get involved. Still, Waters’ tune and the accompanying animation and movie turned this into some kind of prog anthem for doomed youth. The innocent fondness, of which we are used to, is replaced by a strange haunting choir – and all of a sudden there’s a reason to repel education beyond the juvenile need of ‘getting kicks’.

1: School’s Out – Alice Cooper. “Well we got no class, and we got no principles, and we got no intelligence, we can’t even think of a word that rhymes.” Here’s a little post-modern excerpt about Cooper’s acceptance of his lacking in ability to rhyme. But he just don’t care! There’s just something eternally visceral about that feeling of leaving school behind, and it’s a tune to boot; it’s also funny that he was 24 and four albums into his career when this song was released!

I accept that there are countless others from this era. But how many can you name from the last ten years? Not that many I reckon. And why? Well, it would seem that in this age of home teaching and a more varied school curriculum, there simply may well be less to complain about today. For the sake of pop music, that could well be a shame.

Top 50 Music Quotations

Discover the phenomenal complexity of music and reflect on the way it can positively influence your life with this sound collection of riveting quotes…

  1. “Music, the greatest good that mortals know, And all of heaven we have below.”
    — Joseph Addison
  2. “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
    –Maya Angelou
  3. “Music is either good or bad, and it’s got to be learned. You got to have balance.”
    — Louis Armstrong
  4. “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
    — Berthold Auerbach
  5. “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”
    –Johann Sebastian Bach
  6. “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.”
    — Ludwig van Beethoven
  7. “Music – The one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend.”
    — Ludwig van Beethoven
  8. “Music can change the world. ”
    — Ludwig Van Beethoven
  9. “Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”
    — Leonard Bernstein
  10. “Music has to breathe and sweat. You have to play it live. ”
    — James Brown
  11. “Music is well said to be the speech of angels.”
    — Thomas Carlyle
  12. “All music comes from God.”
    — Johnny Cash
  13. “If you learn music, you’ll learn most all there is to know. ”
    — Edgar Cayce
  14. “Music is nothing separate from me. It is me… You’d have to remove the music surgically. ”
    — Ray Charles
  15. “Good music is good no matter what kind of music it is. ”
    — Miles Davis
  16. “There is no feeling, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music.”
    — George Eliot
  17. “You are the music while the music lasts.”
    –T. S. Eliot
  18. “We need magic, and bliss, and power, myth, and celebration and religion in our lives, and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it. ”
    — Jerry Garcia
  19. “Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.”
    — Kahlil Gibran
  20. “When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had and never will have.”
    — Edgar Watson Howe
  21. “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossile to be silent.”
    — Victor Hugo
  22. “The history of a people is found in its songs.”
    — George Jellinek
  23. “Music is the vernacular of the human soul.”
    — Geoffrey Latham
  24. “It requires wisdom to understand wisdom; the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.”
    — Walter J. Lippmann
  25. “Just as certain selections of music will nourish your physical body and your emotional layer, so other musical works will bring greater health to your mind.”
    — Hal A. Lingerman
  26. “Music is the harmonious voice of creation; an echo of the invisible world.”
    — Giuseppe Mazzini
  27. “Music is a beautiful opiate, if you don’t take it too seriously.”
    — Henry Miller
  28. “I started making music because I could.”
    — Alanis Morissette
  29. “Music helps you find the truths you must bring into the rest of your life. ”
    — Alanis Morissette
  30. “Music is spiritual. The music business is not. ”
    — Van Morrison
  31. “Like everything else in nature, music is a becoming, and it becomes its full self, when its sounds and laws are used by intelligent man for the production of harmony, and so made the vehicle of emotion and thought.”
    — Theodore Mungers
  32. “Without music life would be a mistake.”
    — Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
  33. “In music the passions enjoy themselves.”
    — Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
  34. “Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.”
    — Charlie Parker
  35. “Music should be something that makes you gotta move, inside or outside. ”
    — Elvis Presley
  36. “It’s the music that kept us all intact, kept us from going crazy. ”
    — Lou Reed
  37. “The music business was not safe, but it was FUN. It was like falling in love with a woman you know is bad for you, but you love every minute with her, anyway.”
    — Lionel Richie
  38. “Music should never be harmless.”
    — Robbie Robertson
  39. “Give me a laundry list and I’ll set it to music.”
    — Gioacchino Antonio Rossini
  40. “All music is important if it comes from the heart. ”
    — Carlos Santana
  41. “Music is the key to the female heart.”
    — Johann G. Seume
  42. “The best music… is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with. ”
    — Bruce Springsteen
  43. “All I try to do is write music that feels meaningful to me, that has commitment and passion behind it.”
    — Bruce Springsteen
  44. “In music one must think with the heart and feel with the brain.”
    –George Szell
  45. “When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.”
    — Henry David Thoreau
  46. “For heights and depths no words can reach, music is the soul’s own speech.”
    –Unknown
  47. “Most of us go to our grave with our music still inside of us.”
    –Unknown
  48. “I believe in the power of music. To me, it isn’t just a fad. This is a positive thing.”
    — Eddie Vedder
  49. “Music at its essence is what gives us memories. ”
    — Stevie Wonder
  50. “There’s a basic rule which runs through all kinds of music, kind of an unwritten rule. I don’t know what it is. But I’ve got it.”
    — Ron Wood

Pop Art Canvas – Riding With the Waves of Art Modernisation

With the undoubtedly vast improvements in technology in today’s world, great improvements in the art industry also continue to flourish, and such improvements are becoming ever more evident in our daily lives. Many people not connected or involved in the art world in any way can now take advantage of this beautiful, authentic pop art canvas style.

One concrete example of such rectification is the more durable art canvas being used for pop art canvas. Such canvas has been designed for life long usage and it is expected for such canvas art to last for a decade, given that it is properly cared for. This is exactly the reason why more and more people turn their treasured photographs into pop art canvas. Not only for oneself, but as a gift, as the artwork makes a wonderful and unique gift idea to give to their loved ones. If you are looking to preserve a favourite photograph of your family, then simply head to your local art shop and have your digital photo converted into a fully customised pop art canvas. Not only does it serve as touching memorabilia of the memories embedded in your chosen photograph, but it can also double up as an interesting piece of modern art which you can hang in your living room. A few specific colour requests to meet your needs and you will be surprised at how naturally it matches your house décor.

Pop art portraits are readily visible in our daily life’s as more artists get hooked on the challenging way that such artworks are to be made. Besides museums, such styles can be seen regularly in magazines, on the web, and in many books and comic strips. For decades the art form has been used repeatedly without saturating the style. Saturating such art styles unfortunately truly becomes the death of the style. However, the true love and passion from the artists working with this art form on a daily basis have undoubtedly brought the techniques in to the modern world for all to become part of.

Due to the vibrant colours and attention grabbing shades of each pop art canvas, such art techniques are used for posters, advertisements, and just about any other form of media that you can imagine.

This is probably due to the fact that the vibrancy that each artwork exudes is very similar to positive energy and good vibes we love to experience as humans. The cool shades and crisp hues clearly convey a message of its own, this is why the art form catches the eye of many advertisers who would like to grab the attention of the youth and the kids who seem subconsciously attracted to colourful hues.

Aside from being an interior house piece and a unique gift idea, items made from pop art canvas can also be used for making personalised shirts, customised pillowcases, and even handbags. With the advancement in the modernisation of arts and art techniques, it is now possible to see these pop art artworks almost anywhere we go in the world. The life of these amazing art pieces will undoubtedly live on for eternity.

Top 10 Essential Songs to Learn to Play on Guitar

There are some songs that never go out of style. The classics that have been able to stand the test of time are known by two or three generations. The same goes for songs people learn to play on guitar. Some songs whether you’re 15 or 50 are just staples you have to learn along the way.

I’ve done some research and pieced together the top 10 songs people learn to play on the guitar. These span a few decades and are not genre specific. So if you’re looking for some new songs to learn this is a great list to start with.

#10 Dust in the Wind

Depending on your age you either remember this song from when it was originally released in 1978 or you’ve heard it in numerous movies over the last 10-15 years. Either way this classic tune by Kansas is an easy to play song for most beginners. All you need to know your basic open chords.

#9 Sweet Home Alabama

The guitar riff at the beginning of Sweet Home Alabama is as memorable as anything that’s every been played on the radio. It’s easy enough to figure out but fun enough to play that beginners absolutely love it. You can learn this song on an acoustic or electric guitar and it sounds great.

HINT: Take some time to figure out that intro lead part and then tie it in with the simple chords for the verse and the chorus.

#8 Smoke on the Water

Another classic riff during the intro of this song makes it another memorable tune. Deep Purple had quite a few classic rock songs, but none other gained the popularity as Smoke on the Water.

#7 Tears in heaven

One of the newer songs in this top ten, Eric Clapton’s, Tears in Heaven, was first introduced to us on his unplugged album in 1992. He wrote the song about the sudden loss of his four year old son in 1991, but has since stopped performing the song in more recent years.

This is a classic tune to learn on acoustic guitar. It takes a bit of patience and practice to play it properly but it’s worth the time.

#6 Brown Eyed Girl

Few song writers have had the longevity of Van Morrison, and his song Brown Eyed Girl is a testament of just how great he is at his craft. This is an easy song to learn for most beginner players, and even more fun if you learn to sing and play it at the same time.

#5 More Than Words

This great acoustic slow song echoed through most high school gymnasiums in the early and mid nineties. Another great song to play and sing a lot of guitar players have learned to play this one for a special someone they love.

#4 Wish You Were Here

Pink Floyd is one of the biggest rock bands of all time, and their classic song Wish You Were Here is the fourth most popular song guitar players want to learn. If you’re a beginner I suggest skipping the intro lead section and jumping right to the chords.

#3 Hotel California

Another hit that has stayed with us over the years, Hotel California is a great acoustic song to learn either on your own or jamming with friends. There is more then one guitar part in the song so depending on your current skill level you could learn just the chords or also take a stab at the great lead part and solo.

#2 Wonder Wall

This might seem crazy to some of you by Oasis’s Wonder Wall was a classic acoustic tune from the early nineties. It’s still going strong with beginners thanks to it’s unique chord progression and catchy melody. If you can sing and play at the same time this one is a must.

#1 Stairway to Heaven

It’s probably no surprise that the #1 song people learn to play on guitar is Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. This song has a little something for guitar players of all skill levels.

The intro is challenging for beginners to learn, while the solo is as tough as any for more advanced players.

Guitar Solos for Beginners

Working as a professional guitarist and guitar tutor I have many times been asked about good guitar solos to learn in order to improve a student’s personal technique at the same time as gaining and expanding their own improvisational ideas. Many players are frequently attracted to the idea of mastering the more complicated or technically proficient solos as they offer a greater challenge and are therefore more satisfying when competent performance has been achieved. Discussion on the subject of the best guitar solos for beginners, however, is often overlooked. In my experience beginner level solos prove to be an invaluable source for lick building and inspiration for the less confident beginner players. I thought an article on some suggestions based on my teaching experience may be of help to any beginner guitar students out there looking for some ideas.

One of the first ports of call I would suggest would be the one considered the greatest of all time – Jimi Hendrix. The guitar solo in Fire is not only extremely effective it’s also not very complicated but relies heavily on your ability to string bend accurately. String bending is an essential technique to learn for good guitar improvisation but takes time to develop so this solo provides the perfect incentive to reach a good level of competency if you’re going to nail this particular solo.

Another example from the Jimi Hendrix catalogue would be the solo from Hey Joe. Not only is it a great blues rock solo it is also for the most part based entirely around the minor pentatonic scale – shape one. It is a feast of classic blues based licks with bends and slides that will provide you with some great ideas for building your own licks to use when improvising. Again it will mean you will have to work on those important string bending skills as there’s quite a few of them and in some interesting combinations.

For building confidence in developing melodic lead lines I would recommend having a go at Jeff Beck’s Hi Ho Silver Lining. Arguably not one of his most favourable tunes but the solo is a nice simple melodic hook with a little bit of pull off trickery towards middle (nothing too strenuous but good for developing that particular technique). Because of its melodic nature, however, it needs to be played accurately. It’s a well known solo so any bum notes will stick out big time – not good if you’re playing it live.

For the same reason you could give the solo in T. Rex’s Ride A White Swan a run. Like Hi Ho Silver Lining it’s a popular song with a well known but simple and melodic solo so if you play it wrong in public you’ll be caught out. I always recommend that students learn these kind of guitar solos purely to develop confidence in their lead guitar playing generally.

These are just some suggestions but you’ll notice that the point I’m making here is to concentrate on the simple solos that contain some useful techniques and will serve to develop your confidence as a player. These sorts of solos are the best guitar solos for beginners and they will help you play with confidence and conviction and ultimately make you a better player overall.

Top 5 Film Schools And What Sets Them Apart

Having gone to film school three times and being a member of a family where education was held in the highest esteem, obviously I am a fan of becoming film educated. However, I do stress becoming “educated”. School is not the only way to become educated, and in certain situations, there is no official school to learn critical information. Never the less, school is a time tested successful method for laying down a formidable foundation.

The Big Five

The Big Five films schools are The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), The University of Southern California (USC) and The American Film Institute (AFI) on the West Coast in Los Angeles, and New York University (NYU) and Columbia University on the East Coast in New York.

UCLA is best known for their writers who dominate the summer movie screenwriting credits, USC is better know for their powerhouse directors, AFI often has incredible cinematographers, NYU is heralded for its East Coast filmmaker style, and Columbia is an all around great school with exceptional film theory for all programs. Any school you go to at the Big 5 will be an incredible experience for each program. You will also have big name professionals and heads of big companies teach courses or speak as guests because of the school’s notoriety. You can’t lose.

The downside to USC is that they run it like a studio. Only 5 people get to direct a thesis project if you’re a graduate directing student. Every directing student comes in to be one of those 5 and then 20 or 30 people in the end don’t get a thesis project, but get to help crew on the 5 people who did get to make one’s film. The upside to USC, is again, that they run it like a studio. USC is often unparalleled in its networking capacity and markets its students aggressively to the industry.

UCLA is most known for its screenwriters. USC might be capable of out-networking UCLA, but its writers can’t out-write UCLA writers. An average UCLA Graduate Screenwriting student will leave with 8 feature length screenplays. UCLA screenwriters write a feature-length script in a 10-week quarter, which most resembles a real life 8-week writing assignment. USC screenwriters will write 1 feature-length screenplay over a period of 1 year. You do the math.

The Peter Stark Producing Program at USC is great for producing movie executives, but the UCLA Producing Program is great for teaching producers everything there is to know to go out there and just start doing it.

Similar to USC’s “only 5 will direct a thesis project”, AFI is even more hardcore. Not only are there are a limited number of thesis projects, not every filmmaker is always invited to come back to school for a second year. It’s harder to get into any of these film schools than it is to get into Harvard Law School, simply because Harvard takes a higher percentage of its applicants than the big film schools do, so for me AFI and USC really wasn’t worth getting cut or snubbed over after you had to already defeat the odds of winning the lottery to even get accepted. Having to win the lottery a second time just wasn’t desirable.

Other Film Schools

Another school worth mentioning is Florida State University, which accepts an equal amount of writers, directors, cinematographers and editors so they can form teams for thesis projects. This seems to make the most since. Temple University in Philadelphia is great, and a must-apply for experimental filmmakers.

But in general, any film program is a great film program as long as you are learning.

Where Should You Play Poker?

Often overlooked, this fundamental question must be answered before you can pursue your dream of becoming a long-term successful poker player.

A poker players’ decision as to where he/she is going to play poker is perhaps the most important decision affecting the players’ enjoyment of the game and his/her bankroll. Generally speaking, a player has four possible venues to choose from, they are:

1) Online poker sites

2) Casinos/Local Poker Rooms

3) Home games with family & friends

4) Local Charity/Fund-raising tournaments

Each of these four venues has their own unique ‘pros and cons’ to be considered. One venue may be best for Player ‘A’, but not necessarily a good choice for Player ‘B’. The correct venue is relative to your personality, bankroll, and skill level.

Lets’ take a look at each of the four venues more closely, and discuss the characteristics of each. I will be speaking in broad generalities which are consistent wherever where you live, but you should realize geography plays an important role in venue selection. Gambling laws vary from one locale to another, so please research the laws in your area and play within those laws. With that caveat in place, lets’ examine online poker first.

Online Poker

Without a doubt, online pokers’ popularity has exploded in recent years; so much so, the Federal government has placed limits on the ability of US players to move money to and from the poker sites. These restraints pose a real problem for poker players, and several player associations are trying to fight these restrictions. The future of online poker laws is uncertain at this time. A full discussion of the legalities of online poker is beyond the scope of this article, but I encourage all poker players to do their research before you jump into online play.

Pros of Online Poker:

– The best thing about playing poker online is the ability to play from the comfort of your own home any time you wish. Sites such as Poker Stars, Full-Tilt, Ultimate Bet, etc. will literally have tens of thousands of eager players online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whenever you are ready to play, you will have no problem finding an available game.

– Online play allows the player to play a wide variety of games. If you would like to take a break from Texas Hold’em and have the urge to play Omaha, Stud, Razz, Horse, or virtually any other game you can think of, the online sites will accommodate you.

– Another benefit to playing online is that you can play any stakes you are comfortable with. If you are conservative, or just starting out, you can play for as little as a few pennies a hand. If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, you can play for as much as several thousands of dollars. The sites will offer a wide variety stakes in between these two extremes as well.

– Finally, because the online sites keep the games moving quickly, you can improve your game by playing a high volume of hands in a relatively short period of time. More experienced players may play multiple games at the same time. These players are seeing an extraordinary number of hands per hour.

Cons of Online Poker:

– Online poker can quickly become addictive. Online poker addiction can have severe negative consequences for the players’ physical, emotional, professional, and financial well-being. An addicted player will often start staying up all night playing while ignoring his need for sleep. This may lead to emotional problems and ultimately lead to a strain on the players’ home and professional life. A player must be vigilant to remember poker is not as important as family, friends, or your career away from poker.

– The online player may also become a victim of cheating while playing online. The poker sites try to catch cheaters through the use of sophisticated software that monitors play and looks for irregularities, and I believe they are partially successful in these efforts; however, it cannot be denied some cheating goes on without be caught. The problem for the individual poker player is that he can never be certain he is not being cheated. The poker world was a buzz last year when the media reported the scandal involving Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker. Some cheating occurs between the players themselves when two or more players gang up on an unsuspecting player through the use of telephone communication while the hands are being played out. If your opponent has more information about the hole cards than you do, you are at a significant disadvantage.

– Because poker is played quickly online, the less skillful player will likely lose more of his bankroll online than if he played elsewhere. If a losing player plays more, he will naturally lose more over the long run.

Casino Poker

For this discussion, I will consider full service casinos (which you are likely to encounter in Las Vegas or Atlantic City) and local Poker Rooms (commonly found at Kennel Clubs, Horse Racetracks, or other Pari-Mutual facilities) to be one in the same. The size and degree of sophistication may be greater at a full service casino, but Poker Rooms have come far in recent years and can offer similar services to a poker player. Each facility provides the tables, chips, dealers, and pit bosses to manage play, and each provides a comfortable atmosphere for the players to enjoy. In exchange for providing these services, the ‘house’ will rake the pots or charge you an hourly fee to play (more on this later).

Pros of Casino Poker:

– Casinos/Poker Rooms typically do a good job at offering the player a comfortable environment to play. As more and more card rooms spring up, they realize they must compete for your business; therefore, you are likely to be treated well because the casino would like you to become a regular player at their facility.

– A player can be relatively confident the games will be run by professionals. The entire staff from the dealers to drink servers know their jobs (and their tips) depend on providing the players with excellent service.

– Casinos and card rooms are generally conveniently located within a community, and they are open 12 or more hours a day seven days a week. On short notice, a player can head off to the casino and expect to find plenty of action. Texas Hold’em is king at casinos, but other games are offered when enough players are available to fill a table.

Cons of Casino Poker

– Playing at a casino can be an expensive experience. A casino has considerable expenses, and must recoup these expenses through a ‘rake’. Some card rooms charge an hourly fee to play, say $10-12 per hour per seat. Others will take a percentage of each pot, or a percentage of the total tournament entry fees. A house rake of 10-20% is not unusual and must be overcome to be a long-term winner. A player must also be mindful that good etiquette dictates the player should tip the dealers and servers for the service they provide. These tips will add to the cost of playing at a casino.

– Another pitfall to playing at a poker room is that you may be the victim of a couple of ‘regulars’ who team up to soak the new fish that sits down at their table. Players can communicate their holdings through subtle hand signals which puts the unsuspecting player at a disadvantage.

Home Poker Games

Every night in America there are thousands of home poker games underway between families and friends. Poker requires very few supplies to host a game, and these items are readily available through many internet sites. You can start playing at the kitchen table and eventually move up to a true poker table complete with drink holders, padded rails, and a felt playing surface. The next thing you will need is a good case of poker chips, a 500 count set of 11.5 gram (or higher) chips will be adequate for up to 9 players. The final and most important item you need for the home poker game is a setup (two decks) of 100% plastic playing cards. Expect to invest between $15-25 per setup for quality cards.

Pros of Home Poker Games

– The one big advantage home poker has over venues of play is that you can pick and choose the players you play with. Typically, a group of 3 or 4 hard core players will decide to start a home game and they will invite their friends and family to play. This selection process nearly assures a group of players that get along well with each other. Chances of a loud or obnoxious player being invited to the game are minimal. The more harmonious the game is, the more you will enjoy playing there.

– A home game fosters social networking which may lead to new professional relationships as well. You may make a helpful contact with a lawyer, accountant, contractor, etc. through poker.

– Home games are great opportunities for husbands and wives, fathers and sons, etc. to share some quality time while playing poker.

– Generally speaking, little (if any) ‘rake’ is taken from a home game which means the money stays where it belongs, with the players!

Cons of Home Poker Games

– Do not fool yourself, organizing and hosting a home game can be a lot of work. If you are the host, you must be prepared to make calls, provide a place to park and play, provide the snacks and drinks, as well as the cleanup afterwords.

– A potential problem with home game poker is that in some localities, it may be against the law to wager money while playing. You must research and abide by the laws in your community.

– In a worst case scenario, a disagreement make break out in the card game which ultimately leads to a dissolved friendship or hurt feelings. All the players must be respectful of each other and sensitive to each others needs.

Charity/Fund Raising Poker

– In these turbulent economic times, some well known charitable organizations have turned to hosting poker tournaments to bring in much needed funds. Some private schools are even hosting poker games to supplement their scholarship funds. A poker player can give back to his community by supporting these events.

Pros of Charity/Fund Raising Poker

– Charity tournaments can be great social events which bring together large number of poker layers to support the cause. Somehow, it is more palatable to pay an ‘entry fee’ than it is to write a donation check!

– The skill level of the players that show up to these events is poor. Playing good poker is secondary in the minds of many players to having a good time while supporting a good cause. This mentality presents an opportunity for the skillful player to “clean up’ at the expense of the social players. Depending on the size of the tournaments, the payouts can be significant. You may be able to parlay a $60 entry fee into a $1,000 pay day for winning.

Cons of Charity/Fund raising Poker

– The biggest problem with these type of poker games is the lack of professional management by the event organizers. A serious player can quickly become irritated when a tournament starts a half hour late, or he gets seated at a table with an inexperienced dealer, etc. Violations of the rules and etiquette of the game are commonplace at fund raisers.

– The ‘rake’ can be quite high at these events. Remember, the primary reason the charity organization hosting the game in the first place is their desire to raise money. A rake of 25-40% is not unusual at these games which is unacceptably high to a player trying to boost his bankroll.

– A word of caution regarding the legality of these games, the charities often believe they are immune from compliance with local laws regarding gambling, but the sheriff does not always agree! Do your homework before deciding to play in fund raisers so you can make an informed decision.

Summary

Let me restate my original premise that deciding where to play poker is perhaps the most critical decision a player must make and will have the greatest impact on the players’ bankroll. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, you must decide which venue is best for your situation. In my opinion, the player that plays only occasionally and just wants to have a good time should probably head over to a casino and enjoy the atmosphere and service. However, if you want to build your bankroll, I recommend finding a few good home games with little or no rake. These games will provide you with the best opportunities to make money in the long run.

Now go play some poker!

Top 50 Christmas Quotations

  1. “Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years… Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.”
    — George Matthew Adams
  2. “The rooms were very still while the pages were softly turned and the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious faces with a Christmas greeting.”
    — Louisa May Alcott
  3. “Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart… filled it, too, with a melody that would last forever.”
    — Bess Streeter Aldrich
  4. ” The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!”
    — Charles N. Barnard
  5. “Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”
    — Peg Bracken
  6. “The earth has grown old with its burden of care But at Christmas it always is young, The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair And its soul full of music breaks the air, When the song of angels is sung.”
    — Phillips Brooks
  7. “I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never aone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the word seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.”
    — Taylor Caldwell
  8. “Remember, if Christmas isn’t found in your heart, you won’t find it under a tree.”
    — Charlotte Carpenter
  9. “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
    — Calvin Coolidge
  10. “Christmas, in its final essence, is for grown people who have forgotten what children know. Christmas is for whoever is old enough to have denied the unquenchable spirit of man.”
    — Margaret Cousins
  11. “Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’.”
    — Bing Crosby
  12. “Whatever else be lost among the years, Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing: Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears, Let us hold close one day, remembering Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men. Let us get back our childlike faith again.”
    — Grace Noll Crowell
  13. “It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one’s fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit.”
    — Isabel Currier
  14. “Something about an old-fashioned Christmas is hard to forget.”
    — Hugh Downs
  15. “They err who thinks Santa Claus comes down through the chimney; he really enters through the heart.”
    — Mrs. Paul M. Ell
  16. “Christmas, my child, is love in action.”
    — Dale Evans
  17. “Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.”
    — Lenore Hershey
  18. “My first copies of Treasure Island and Huckleberry Finn still have some blue-spruce needles scattered in the pages. They smell of Christmas still.”
    — Charlton Heston
  19. “At Christmas, all roads lead home.”
    — Marjorie Holmes
  20. “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”
    — Bob Hope
  21. “The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.”
    — W. C. Jones
  22. “A Christmas candle is a lovely thing; It makes no noise at all, But softly gives itself away; While quite unselfish, it grows small.”
    — Eva K. Logue
  23. “Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys, showing that nothing else in life need to be taken seriously, and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive.”
    — Robert Lynd
  24. “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
    — Hamilton Wright Mabi
  25. “The merry family gatherings– The old, the very young; The strangely lovely way they Harmonize in carols sung. For Christmas is tradition time– Traditions that recall The precious memories down the years, The sameness of them all.”
    — Helen Lowrie Marshall
  26. “There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions.”
    — Bill McKibben
  27. “I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.”
    — Harlan Miller
  28. “Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence.”
    — Joan Mills
  29. “Christmas is, of course, the time to be home – in heart as well as body.”
    — Garry Moore
  30. “What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.”
    — Agnes M. Pharo
  31. “Mankind is a great, an immense family… This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.”
    — Pope John XXIII
  32. “One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”
    — Andy Rooney
  33. “Christmas–that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance–a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”
    — Augusta E. Rundel
  34. “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”
    — Charles Schulz
  35. “As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is.”
    — Eric Sevareid
  36. “Christmas is the day that holds time together.”
    — Alexander Smith
  37. “Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion.”
    — Ralph Sockman
  38. “Christmas … is not an eternal event at all, but a piece of one’s home that one carries in one’s heart.”
    — Freya Stark
  39. “Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”
    — Margaret Thatcher
  40. “At Christmas play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year.”
    — Thomas Tusser
  41. “What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus? Claustrophobic.”
    — Unknown
  42. “Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.”
    — Unknown
  43. “If there is no joyous way to give a festive gift, give love away.”
    — Unknown
  44. “Until one feels the spirit of Christmas, there is no Christmas. All else is outward display–so much tinsel and decorations. For it isn’t the holly, it isn’t the snow. It isn’t the tree not the firelight’s glow. It’s the warmth that comes to the hearts of men when the Christmas spirit returns again.”
    — Unknown
  45. “Many banks have a new kind of Christmas club in operation. The new club helps you save money to pay for last year’s gifts.”
    — Unknown
  46. “Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world – stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death – and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas.”
    — Henry Van Dyke
  47. “Christmas is for children. But it is for grownups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.”
    — Lenora Mattingly Weber
  48. “Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance – each beautiful, unique and too soon gone.”
    — Deborah Whipp
  49. “Somehow, not only for Christmas, But all the long year through, The joy that you give to others, Is the joy that comes back to you. And the more you spend in blessing, The poor and lonely and sad, The more of your heart’s possessing, Returns to you glad.”
    — John Greenleaf Whittier
  50. “Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.”
    — Larry Wilde

The Spirit Bear Story, Part One

This is a true story.

New Years Day was the beginning of an odyssey that would change my life, and my wife Stephanie’s life forever. No it wasn’t about a New Years resolution about changing some behavior. It was the day I would crack through the snow and ice and fall into a wild White Kermode Spirit Bear’s den, while hiking on my property. Here’s the first part of the story.

Each winter, Steph and I took great pleasure in hiking the ambit or circumference of our property line of ten acres. Located just north of Terrace, B.C. In a small mountain hamlet called Rosswood. The temperature at this time of year was minus twenty-seven degrees. At minus twenty, it really doesn’t matter if it’s Fahrenheit or Celsius. It’s still dam cold. At minus forty they both equal out as the same anyway.

This particular winter, the arthritis in my hip was causing me so much grief, I wasn’t sure I could make the usual two hour trek along the ambit of the property. I didn’t want to let Steph down, knowing how much she enjoyed the annual excursion. Even though I was doubting if I could make it.

If you don’t know what an ambit is, it’s the measure or outline of your land. At one time, a King could own and rule as much land as he was willing to walk around the property line of once a year. If he could not complete the trek, he had no right to own or rule the subjects within it. This made for healthy Kings.

Anyway, back to the story. I usually have some disdain for people who drink alcohol during the day. Myself included. However, on this fine sunny but freezing day, I grabbed a double shot of rum on my way out the door in an attempt to override the pain in my hip and assure me that I could make the trek with my adventurous wife.

Our property line is usually disguised on one side by some swamp and marsh during most of the year, and is impassable to navigate. The swampy hawthornes will rip you to shreds if the mosquitoes don’t. So we always welcomed our annual tour de ten acres. It also allowed us to see to the back forty so to speak. There was a nice stand of firs and birch back there, where a house could sit quite well.

At the end of our hike, we were nearing an area between our property and my neighbor and brother in law Paul’s place, the next ten acres over. An undeveloped piece of marshy land. Plus a great place to photograph bears who loved to relax and sleep in the tall grasses there. As long as we were downwind they never knew we were there. Especially when the wind blew. The wind was like a great white noise machine that made the sound of your footsteps disappear completely. Allowing us to photograph those big forest dogs with ease.

As I hiked along, by this time, heading for home, I approached a small mound of snow. Instead of going around it, which was a little longer than walking over it, and because of my painful hip, I chose to walk over it.

When I reached the top of the mound the snow suddenly gave way under my feet, and I found myself falling through the snow into a cavity in the earth. At first a little stunned. It took a second or so to get my eyes readjusted to the darker environ around me. It smelled dank and earthy. Like mushrooms and mud.

Not sure where I was, I looked down at what at first I thought was some strange kind of fungus. So I reached my hand out and palpated it and rub my hand back and forth over it. Trying to figure out what it was. That was when I realized that it wasn’t fungus at all. It was fur! It’s amazing how thoughts can race with adrenaline when you suddenly realize you are in a dangerous situation.

By the time my hand had pressed lightly into the fur and softly into the bears body, it wasn’t seconds before a bears head raised itself from the other darker end of the cave, and looked straight at me. It was then that I realized that I was palpating a bears rump. The second time he raised his head and looked at me was all the information I needed to instantly jump straight out of the den at top speed to save myself.

My fear was the bear would come after me and I would become dinner. After all, at twenty below zero, if it isn’t frozen, it’s someone’s dinner. I did not know at the time, that when bears hibernate, they can wake in a dopey kind of sleep and protect themselves if they need to. If there is no danger, they’ll just go back to sleep. All I knew was that I had to climb out of that den and get to safety.

I caught up to Steph, who was unaware of what had just happened to me as she was hiking in the lead. I described what had just happened and what I had seen. I described the bear as a light brown motley color. She knew at the time something was off. I have a certain degree of color blindness which caused her to question if indeed it was a brown bear.

About two weeks later, Steph decided she wanted to take a picture of the bear, so we headed out to the back forty for some picture taking. Steph is fearless when it comes to bears. More on that in the next part of the story. When Steph approached the den the second time, to our great surprise, out poked the head of large beautiful male Kermode Spirit Bear.

The Spirit bear, is a bear of almost mythological proportions. Moxgmol as the indigenous natives would call him. Most people in the region have never seen a spirit bear, let alone had one hibernating in a winter den on their property. Even my mother in law who had lived in the area for forty years hadn’t seen one.

We had been seeing this white bear around our property since we moved there and a mother spirit bear dropped him off as a cub. We would enjoy his sightings for years to come.

Steph got her pictures and all was well. Thinking that the best thing we could do for him, was to leave him alone to finish his hibernation cycle. So it wasn’t until a few weeks later when we borrowed our friend Ann’s video camera, and went out to take a few more pictures and a prized first piece of film.

This ends the first winter of our experience with the spirit bear and our story so far. We decided to name him Apollo, where he would go on to become a powerful figure in the 2010 winter B.C. Olympics, and the whole world. The footage that was ustreamed of Apollo is the rarest ever.

Please come back for part 2. Thanks Harreson Waymen