Tuesday, October 29, 2019

When Pool Chalk Saves Your Life

My very dear friend, Julie Collins, is extremely special to me.  She's one of those friends that because of her caring actions and beautiful choice of words, makes you feel deeply loved.  She has made an impact on my life in ways I can't express - I learn a lot from her and adore her.

I wrote about her a couple of times before in my pool blog (see this link and then also this link) and we try to meet up about once a year to do something fun and memorable - me not playing pool anymore wont keep us apart!

My dear friend was in a pickle back in the Summer.

Luckily, she is extremely resourceful!

Let me set the scene and share her words from social media:

She was driving home and her A/C went out in the car.  It didn't matter she had a convertible - it was early July and it was a very hot day with not a cloud in the sky, and no wind or breeze either.

And then she ran into this:

Turns out there was a bad accident many miles ahead of her (an 18-wheeler on the Interstate was engulfed in flames), so there was a long backup.  Everyone who was driving northbound on I-35 that day in North Texas was being diverted to another highway, which caused extreme traffic (as you can see in her photo above).

What do you notice about her photo, though?  Is there something you see out of the ordinary?

Yep, she took the photo from the side of the road.

What was she doing there?

Here is her story:

 She posted this very 'soft' post on her FB page:

"Got stuck on the Interstate. The closure is due to fire. Both myself and my car were overheating. I'm being transported back to my home base by this kind constable.
If I'd been unable to get under an overpass, I might have, literally, been toast!'

The reason I say it was a 'soft' post was because she didn't exclaim or scream or overreact about the situation - she simply shared, very calmly, what happened to her, and that she was thankful for something.  I really love this about her - she shares, but doesn't overreact or even draw any unnecessary negative attention to herself (ever). Even though in reality she had been in dire straits this day!

Btw, this was her next photo, her rescuer - The Constable!

It seems like she could easily be being hauled off in cuffs in the back of that police car, lol, but no, no - instead, he saved her!

I am going to share now her exact comments to friends who commented and asked questions, so you can see what truly happened to her that day, what a scary situation it really was, and how this all relates to pool:

"He [the Constable] heard the call someone needed help and drove down the wrong side of the closed freeway to reach me."
Someone ask her how her car was: 

"The car will be fine. I stopped in that shade when I saw my situation."

Another friend exclaimed "Thank goodness you were rescued!" To which she replied and shared: 

"Yes! I'd already resorted to writing on a paper plate with a cube of pool chalk to get cold water bottles from people who were creeping by. I'd stopped in the last shade I was aware of and wouldn't risk going further, then having it stop again completely, which it did."

Another friend complimented her on being so resourceful. She replies:
"I wasn't too proud to call for help. It could've gotten bad really quick. After people gave me ice cold water and I cooled off my brainstem, I decided I'd be better off ANYWHERE else."

I asked her how she was feeling and figured it had to be scary, to which she confided openly to all: 
"I love you too, Melinda. I am feeling better, and it WAS scary. I'd gotten to where my fingers were tingling, my head was dizzy and my arms and knees were weak. It could've gone really wrong, and I'm very thankful for the folks who jumped out and handed me ice cold water bottles. I used them as cold compresses on my brainstem, and poured them over me as well, lol. Before bed I took a long salt bath to help replenish myself.

That experience really has me rethinking driving this car anywhere long distance this summer, during the heat of the day."

And after the many thank you's to everyone for the sincere concern and glad she was okay, she ended with: 
"Spent the day very glad that I had that cube of pool chalk!!"
Us too, Julie. Us, too.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Doing Well from Past Losses - The Cueist Project

I’m going to just copy and paste part of an email The Cueist sent to me last year, to start off this topic today:

“Quite frankly, I was majorly disappointed in the team event [last year] at our State league event. Our team consisted of really top-notch players. Even the weakest player placed 5/6th in singles!  In fact, our team was so strong, a few of the other teams saw our roster and thought that we probably had the 3rd strongest team on paper in the event! 
I know we shouldn't have, but we all had high expectations for this team with our lineup. And I think that was part of the problem. 
But, we only won ONE match the entire team event.  It left a lot to be desired for the entire team.”

While I could go on and on about how I believe expectations are unfortunately a part of the Evil Kingdom (no really!), there is actually some good that conquered that evil!

Later on that same year, The Cueist’s strong team went on to play in a larger tournament in Vegas (I believe it was Nationals or something). How do you think they did?

They sucked again!

No, no, I’m kidding! That would make for a horrible ending to this blog post, lol.

Yes, they did better - much better!

The placed top 3 in their division! Going from zero place and zero money in the state-level tournament to top 3 in their national-level tournament, was great!  What happened? What was different?

It is my opinion that they did so well BECAUSE they did poorly at the state-level tourney.

There is something to be said for situations like this.

I strongly feel if they finished well at the state-level tournament, they wouldn’t have done well at their national-level tournament.

The state-level tournament proved to them that their high expectations hurt their chances. I have written a ton of times to stay in the moment – thinking ahead or in the past gets in the way of shooting the balls right in front of you. You can’t play your best pool at all if you are thinking about outcomes, or finishes, or expectations.

Luckily, his team had The Cueist on their roster! He reminded them before the event if any of them started to talk about the future, “don’t worry about expectations, and just worry about the matches one at a time.

He shared with me in that email last year,

“We capitalized on the other teams mistakes and they didn't fire back when they had the chances to. So naturally, the guys started to wonder if we could win the event. But I reminded them to stay in the moment!  As time went on, we just kept winning. 
Surprisingly, after day 2, the guys weren't nervous or had those same high expectations. Day 2 had us in some tough matches, and we knew we had to just simply play good to win the matches.

Going into the last day of the tournament, that morning Cueist shares:
“I relayed to the guys that we needed to stay in the moment and take it all in. Who knows if we'd be there again. I'm not sure it helped, but everyone was firing on all cylinders. Which is the first match where that happened. LOL.
I'm a big believer that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes, things are meant to be. Maybe it was meant for us finish so poorly at the state tournament.  And then maybe it was meant for us to do so much better at the national tournament. The universe works in mysterious ways sometimes.”

I’m a big believer in that also – everything does happen for a reason.

Their lessons learned at the state-level tournament helped them to do well at their national tournament.

I know it seems counterintuitive - play bad one event, do better the next.  Wait, what?

But, - it's their mentality about the team event and team itself that changed.  And they wouldn't have realized that if they hadn't of lost so badly a few months before.  See what I mean?

Go Cueist! (and team :)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Cristina Delagarza Schneider Interview - Oct 2019

For the October issue of Billiard Buzz, I interviewed my friend and fellow pool player Cristina Delagarza Schneider.

If you haven't read the interview yet, I highly recommend it.

Ladies, you will understand deeply when Cristina talks about her goals, how it was tough in a man's world, and being taken seriously.

For the men, you will be appreciate when Cristina talks about what she learned from the a top pro (Shane) - and the lessons from being on the road.

And finally, if you ever wondered about the differences between US and European pool, this is a must read.  However, even if you aren't interested, it's still extremely eye opening to read the differences.

I beg you to take the time to read it - I promise you will be surprised.

When I first had the idea to do interviews, I jotted down a few names to start my list of the people I wanted to interview. Cristina was one of the first I put on it.  She is a wonderful and smart and has so much experience already.  I was so excited when she said yes to being interviewed!  I knew it would be a treat for you all.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Additional Tiffany Hardware

Well, Tiffany and Co is at it again!

You might remember back in July 2016 when I wrote about Tiffany and Co having a sterling silver rack for sale (~$1,000).

Well, they have upped their inventory!

If you love their shade of blue, then you will love these new items!

The rack is oak with a sterling silver accent/removable sterling silver plate you can personalize (nice touch). Along with it, custom-made Tiffany Blue® pool balls.  $1,500.

And they have also added to their collection sterling silver Tiffany Blue® chalk.  Only $195 if you want to give gifts to your pool playing friends that you really really love.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Give Examples When Giving Advice - Project Hunger Games

A few months ago I sent Katniss a little tip via text before a tournament she was playing in.  I normally just say "Have fun! Enjoy playing the game we love to play!"

I never say good luck or kick ass - I just keep things upbeat and positive.

I looked online and saw that the pool room where the tournament she was going to play in, had diamond bar tables. I wondered if she had ever played on them before (we hadn't ever discussed it). I also don't know how many diamond bar tables are in her town. She doesn't live in Dallas / Fort Worth and I'm not privy to most other areas anyway.

But, I learned something that helped me exponentially one time, and I wanted to share that with her.

From a previous blog post (linked here), describing advice from my scotch doubles partner who was a pro:
"...he knew them [the 7foot Diamond tables] well. He stressed that the team who stroked the balls the smoothest would win. He showed me how he barely had to hit the ball to get it around the table."

While I don't like to give advice right before any tournament, surely not the morning of a tournament, I decided to this time. I broke my rule of thumb, went out of my comfort zone, and after I hit send on my phone, I was nervous.

REAL nervous.

Did I do the right thing? Maybe I shouldn't have done that.  What did I do?

You see, most players should already be prepared before a tournament and if you throw something at them new right before, it could throw their game off (not on).

But, I did something different this time.  Instead of just saying something like, "The tables are fast, so have a smooth stroke," I gave her an example to go along with the tip.

I told her (hold on a sec while I go look at my text, this was several months ago...…)

Okay, I'm back.

I told her: 
Goal today: have fun. And if you're playing on diamond bar tables, you don't need to hit the ball hard, just a smooth stroke to get around the table.  Picture Mister B playing on the diamond, he never strokes hard, just smooth and pocket speed.

('Mister B' is a top player in her area that she has seen on streams, that I already knew played with a smooth stroke well on Diamond tables)

She said thank you and I didn't hear from her again.

I wondered throughout the weekend.. how is she doing? Did that mess her up? Did it help or hurt? WHaaaaat?!


I heard from her the Monday after (that's usually when I get tidbits from her for the Katniss Project of my blog), and she shared:  "OMgosh that helped me SO much!"

Immediate relief came through my soul.

"It did, really?"

"Yes!" she exclaimed.  "It helped me to visualize him playing; helped a lot. I focused all day on the "Mister B mantra."  And I believe that's what helped me finish well in this tournament. "

I giggled at her words, "Mister B mantra."  Evidently, that's what she focused on throughout the tournament and it helped her on the tables.

I was relieved and very happy I didn't hurt her. I think the key was to share an example she could visualize.

Let me give an example (see what I did there?).  If I tell you to lower your body so that your cue is near your chin, and that will give you a more solid stance, you would think, whatever Melinda.

But what if I added, 'Picture Allison Fisher.'  The tip all of a sudden becomes more impactful because you can see in your mind her doing that.

Same for Katniss.

So, don't forget to use concrete examples people can picture in their mind, when giving advice.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Steve Lipsky Interview - Sept 2019

While I wasn't able to submit an interview for the July and August edition of the online magazine, Billiard Buzz, I did get an AMAZING interview with Steve Lipsky for the September edition.

I realize I am biased, but I promise you will also enjoy it and think it's amazing as well.

Please take some time to read this interview with Steve Lipsky! He graciously said yes when I asked if I could interview him and I am sincerely over the moon with this interview.

His responses are funny, thought-provoking, and said in a way I am enamored by. I can't wait for you all to read it - you will see for yourself why this interview is priceless.

I want to also add what a JOY it was to interview Steve. He was gracious and kind with his words as we went through the process. We had more revisions than most, only because we took more time than usual to work on it and also because every new answer promoted me to want to ask another question, haha! He was very complimentary about me on social media about working with me, and I truly feel the same about him.

The other thing I want to say is, in this interview, while it wasn't the intention at all, I asked him about several other players. It didn't start that way at all - I asked the normal questions I usually ask, but when he would answer, he would bring up someone in the pool world. Normally, I don't ask about others too much as I want the interview to focus completely on interviewee. But I recognized right away that Steve would have insight about certain people we may never know more about. Further, his way of describing his friends was interesting and captivating.

It was natural for me to ask about George (Ginky) SanSouci, as he is from New York and passed away way too young. Steve talked very highly of him and how he helped him with his game. And then Steve mentioned a poker pro (Nick Schulman) who started out playing pool and was a real good friend of Steve's before he became a poker pro (this is a truly interesting story!). 

I debated to ask Steve about John Schmidt (for those not aware, after trying weeks on end in a row, John ran 626 balls on May 27th of this year, beating the long-standing 526 ball run record by Willie Mosconi), but I wondered if Steve had any thoughts about the high run and boy did he ever! So insightful and nothing I even remotely thought of. Steve then mentioned in an answer how impactful Danny Barouty was to him (pretty cool connection and story!). But I then asked him in the interview, "You speak of Danny Barouty as if we all should know him – for those who don’t, tell us about him real quick, please." And again, his answer was so entertaining and interesting! 

Steve has a way with words. I hope you read his interview soon (if you haven't already).