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Small Business

Author: Joseph Sandoval

It’s so nice being a small business owner with kids – I’ve never had a job with so much flexibility and it’s totally needed at this time in my life. I didn’t imagine owning my own company at this point but it just kind of happened – my stationery hobby turned into a website and that’s really started rolling and here I am making more money than I ever thought possible doing something I love. I have also quite recently begun spending more time on sites such as Salesforce looking for a trustable CRM software, as its high time I implement one in my business. It’s been really fun learning the technology behind my smallbusiness.xo website and design applications and I really loved being able to stay home with my kids when they are sick and having dinner on the table at six o’clock when my husband comes home. Owning your own company is a lot of work and a ton of responsibility but not having to sit in a cubicleevery day and ask a boss if I can take off the afternoon to go to a doctor’s appointment for pick my child up from school is really invaluable if you ask me.

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Blues and Java

From the diaries of Erin O’Riordan, author of erotic romances, including the Pagan Spirits novel series, and book blogger at http://www.erinoriordan.blogspot.com. O’Riordan lives on the Indiana side of the Chicagoland area, where her current favorite local performer is Anthony T-Swang Gullens. Here, she dips into nostalgia.

November 8, 1997. [Morris Civic Theatre, South Bend, Indiana]. At 8 was the Shawn Colvin concert. The opening act was Paul and Kate. They did an acoustic set, just an acoustic guitar, Kate’s voice and a viola played by a college freshman named Adrienne. They did 3 or 4 songs from their own CD, Some of Us, plus “Come Together” and “Because the Night.” Their sound was a little like the 10,000 Maniacs’.

Then Shawn Colvin came out with her acoustic guitar, completely solo. She looked small, and a little tired, and her hair was blonde and boyish. She was wearing black jeans and a shiny black top. She played for an hour, pausing in between songs to talk about G.I. Jane and Lyle Lovett. I thought she said she was from Texas; she had sort of a Tommy Lee Jones-type accent.

“Sunny Came Home” sounds much better live than on the radio. After her set she came back and did a 3-song encore. Some people were calling for “Sunny” again, but she did a Crowded House song and then 2 more from her CD. I was pretty impressed.

December 5, 1997. In the evening, parts of my Winter Fantasy came true. Musically, it was the best night of my life. I went to the Blues Festival in LaFortune Ballroom [at the University of Notre Dame]. Refreshments were served. I had cookies–chocolate!–candy–mint!–and coffee–Irish Cream! Then a series of increasingly cool bands played the blues for me. One was Stomper Bob. No Megan McDowell, but that Megan chick, and she sang “Walkin’ After Midnight.”

The highlight was the Off the Wall Blues Band. They’re not a campus band but a local band. They played hard, and their sound is heart-pounding, foot-stomping good. Then they had guests! A singer named Lorenzo Thompson–I can honestly say, without exaggeration, that his was the BEST vocal performance I have ever heard.

It was hot, wild, unrestrained. Later he shook my hand, autographed a poster for me, and even hugged me. He was wearing an extremely pleasant cologne, some of which came off on me. I was amazed.

Then a Chicago bluesman name of Dave Meyers took the stage, sang and played an amplified hollow-body guitar. He played “Rock Me Baby” and “Kansas City,” all the boogie-woogie blues guitar stuff. My ears were grateful.

Like a little miracle, when I got to the bus stop, there was the bus, waiting. It smelled like beer and puke, but it got me home in under 20 minutes. Not that I would have minded walking home in the drifting snow. Though technically banned on campus, the Christmas lights in dorm windows looked beautiful through the haze of snowflakes.

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Keeping Your Relationships Fresh

This post brought to you by TwoOfUs. All opinions are 100% mine.

It’s no secret that everyone has relationship problems at some time or antoher.  But who do you go to for advice? Your best friends? Your parents? Or an outside source? TwoOfUs.org is a relationship advice website where you can go if you are looking for advice but don’t particularly want to tell your situation to friends or family.

TwoOfUs.org has advice for any stage in your relationship – whether you are Dating, Exclusive, Engaged, Married or Parents.  The site has polls, articles and other hot topics for you to check out and hopefully end up getting the advice you need to keep your relationship going strong.

TwoOfUs.org has tips on keeping your relationship fresh. It also has videos from celebrities, such as CSI: NY actor Hill Harper (http://www.twoofus.org/educational-content/videos/hill-harper-the-conversation/index.aspx) discussing his views on technology and how important having conversations are.  While facebook and other social networking are keeping us connected – at the end of the day they mean nothing if people aren’t actually hanging out.  He talks about having a “conversation party” where as people arrive you have them place their relationship questions (Or any question, really) in a hat and then later on ask the questions to the party – since no answer is completely right or wrong, you will get the perspective of others in the room and share information with each other.  But most of all, you are having a real face to face conversation and discussion – something that many are lacking due to social networking.

You can also like TwoOfUs.org on Facebook if you’d prefer to keep up with the hot topics through your facebook news feed.

What is the most common relationship question you hear from your friends or family?  What is the most common question that you ask your friends and family about relationships?  Let us know in the comments.

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Win an IPad!

This post brought to you by ogilvy. All opinions are 100% mine.

On April 12th, a new iPad app known as the collection launched. The “appazine” will be published in monthly English, German and Chinese and will be exploring globally relevant topics and challenge top-tier audiences.

Using ground-breaking innovation this highly interactive design will be media rich and ensure a uniquely compelling and entertaining user experience like you have never seen before! Articles, audio, photos and videos will be first-class and include interactive panoranic photography, 3D animation, creative morphine, rubbing, X-Ray lens and much more!

In today’s ever changing world, it is important to stay up to date with current events.  Information is everywhere and technology that brings us that information is constantly changing.  Having the collection will help keep you stay informed and keep your attention with globally relevant topics.  If you already have an iPad, the collection is available now for you to download in the App Store, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts if you have already checked it out!


Don’t have an iPad yet?  Enter the contest to WIN your very own ipad!  tweet to enter  The iPad will come loaded with 7 months of the collection for free!

To enter, simply send a tweet with the following message:
Stay up-to-date with current events by using #thecollection iPad App

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College Affordability – Education

This post brought to you by Flat World Knowledge. All opinions are 100% mine.

It is no secret that college is expensive. You have your tuition – which is through the roof.  On top of that you have lab fees and all sorts of other fees and then of course there are the textbooks!  I have had classes which required 4 or more textbooks and in some cases – we never even got around to using them in class!  Sure, the bookstore would allow you to “sell back” your books, but for a huge discount compared to what you paid for them – and then they would put them back on the shelf and make money off of them again! (Assuming that the professors did not choose to use the newest edition in the next semester!)
Fortunately, I won a full college tuition scholarship to my #1 choice school when I was a senior in high school.  While this saved me a TON of money, I still spent a small fortune on textbooks.  As I mentioned above, I had a few classes that required 4+ textbooks.  I also had a lot of classes with HUGE textbooks.  I think my Physics book cost more than I made in a month at my part time retail job and it may well have weighed more than I did.
I wish that Flat World Knowledge was around when I was in college that my college utilized it.  I’d have had a lot of money left each semester to eat something other than easy mac every day!  And maybe even some extra money for concert tickets!
With the current economy, having a degree is important in finding a job.  But tuition and other fees are on the rise, making it difficult to obtain that degree.  Many have opted to go to a community college.  But no matter where you go – textbooks are an integral part to your education.
According to The College Board, in the past year students spent an average of $1,137 on textbooks and supplies.
The Department of Education has found that textbooks costs almost as much as tuition and fees (72%) for those students enrolled in a community college.  42% of college costs goes to textbooks for these students.
Textbooks are rising at 4x the rate of inflation (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
According to Gates Foundation Study, the rise in cost of textbooks is having an impact on students abilities to do their class work.  60% of students who did not end up graduating have stated that the cost of textbooks and other fees aside from tuition played in to why they did not graduate.
Flat World Knowledge iis going above and beyond to try and reduce the cost of textbooks by using an open license in 2 critical ways:
  Enabling faculty to change the textbook from a book to a platform
  Enabling the students to consume content that suits their learning style
Since Spring 2009 Flat World Knowledge‘s books have been used by 1600+ professors in 900+ schools.  That’s over 115,000 students.  Flat World Knowledge has raised 27 million dollars plus over the last 2 years to build a model and help build open content.  Several early studies done by colleges who have started using Flat World’s open textbooks have reported significant increases in the course completion rates, 10-15% higher, when open textbooks were used versus traditional text books.
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NMEDA – National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association

This post brought to you by NMEDA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Living with Cerebral Palsy, I know first hand that no two people with a disability are exactly a like and it is important to find the right equipment for you.

NMEDA is a non-profit trade association; they educate consumers on buying products from a NMEDA qualified dealer.  NMEDA does not sell anything, they are the only association that promotes safe driving and equipment for disabled people.  They are non-profit and their members are required to adhere to the safety standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  NMEDA dealers (members) are the ones who sell handicapped vans and vehicle modifications for disabled people.

Beware of adapted wheelchair vehicles sold over the Internet or through catalogs.  After a personalized “in-person” evaluation, you can be sure you are getting the right driving solution customized to your specific lifestyle and needs.  If you need additional training or product refinements, your NMEDA dealer is there to help you.

The Quality Assurance Program (QAP) is the only nationally recognized accreditation program for the Adaptive Mobility Equipment Industry.  It is based on the principle that in order to satisfy customers consistently, companies must have a systematic and documented approach to quality.

Go to NMEDA and on the homepage, hit the dealers locator and type in your ZIP code to see if there is a qualified dealer near you.  Leave me a comment letting me know where your closest qualified dealer is!  My state of Connecticut has 4 locations 45 minutes or less away from where I live!

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Classical Concerts 101: Why You Might Enjoy One More Than You Think

Jennifer (Miss Mnemosyne) is a 20-something nerd/artist from Oklahoma on a perpetual quest for the simple (and not-so-simple) joys in life. Check out http://missmnemosyne.blogspot.com/ for her adventures, finds, thoughts and giveaways.

Many people shy away from the thought of attending a live classical concert, opera or other music event. Often this is because they don’t know what to expect, don’t feel they know enough about classical music or simply wouldn’t know where to start looking. This series of guest posts for Concert Katie’s Blog is geared towards music-lovers who would like to broaden their experiences and concert-going horizons.

You love concerts: the adrenaline, being surrounded by sound, the connection between the musicians and the audience, knowing that the exact music you’re hearing is unique because it is live, etc.

Just because a concert is “classical” doesn’t mean all this goes away. Here are a few reasons why you might enjoy a classical concert more than you might think:

Not all composers are 100-year-old Dead Guys

Classical music is a living, breathing genre just like any other. People are still composing and their works are still being played. New types keep springing up, and then later are enveloped into pop culture: jazz, for
example, is considered a classical art form. Even the more “conservative” genres keep getting new spins: there’s a new opera commissioned by the Royal Opera House in London over the life and times of Anna Nicole Smith and another composed entirely of tweets (the Twitterdamerung).

Not all concerts are in stuffy, quiet halls


Lots of classical groups are doing outdoor concerts now. I know our local Philharmonic does plenty of shows outdoors during the Summer.

You probably know more classical music than you realize

It’s everywhere. Even if you don’t know their names, you could probably recognize tons of classical pieces with just a few seconds of listening Don’t believe me? Test yourself! Check out Kick Ass Classical’s youtube channel – they have 10 videos with short clips from 100 famous pieces. http://www.youtube.com/user/kickassclassical

It’s not all top hats and coattails

While you may want to dress up a little for some events, you don’t need to wear special clothes for most concerts. Classical music fans are normal people too.

Classical concerts can be free or cheap entertainment

While you may have to spend the big bucks for prime seats at the Met, most local classical events come with either modest or no cost. Inexpensive date night anyone?

“Classical” music influences everything

If you’re serious about music, you should have at least some exposure to its roots. Like guitar shredding? Go listen to some Bach and hear some crazy modulation and scale work. Like crazy rhythm schemes? Go find some “Bebop” jazz. Like subtlety and the fine art of the gradual build-up? Check out minimalism.

You’re not going to like everything you hear, but if you take the time to delve into what’s out there it can open another level of musical tools to you.

You like it loud? Want to feel the bass? 

Hearing loss is a common problem among classical musicians because classical music is designed to fill huge halls without amplification. In some settings (outdoors, for example, or in jazz groups with electric instruments) amplification is used, but usually having a hundred or so instruments playing at once can give a pretty good amount of sound.

You liked it when Bugs Bunny did it – Operas are great entertainment, and you don’t need to speak a foreign language

Opera was the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll of Europe for several centuries. Tabloid-worthy celebrities, racy plots, extreme drama, hilarious comedies – this is what people did before movies. I dare you to go watch a good opera and not be blown away. You can also catch plenty of shows in English or, with today’s technology, they’ll just project translations above the screen so it’s like watching a movie with subtitles.

Interested yet? In the future I’ll be posting guides for finding and attending live events, music you might want to know and other classical-type concert info.

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Spotlight on Seattle: How One Woman is Changing Business as Usual

by Ed S. who has written at length about various subjects including online accounting degrees, Christian counseling degrees, music and more.

Hip-hop is neither a music nor a culture that is particularly open to women. A general lack of female musicians of a note and a boys’ club attitude makes the scene a mostly male affair. Concert promotion is also a male-dominated game, a tough and often ruthless business where the weak are taken advantage of, quickly eliminated — and financially broke. For those seeking to start their own businesses but stay in the black, check out these government grants.
One woman is standing tough with the boys and has become the go-to gal for booking hip-hop shows of all sizes in Seattle. Melissa Darby, better known as the ubiquitous Meli, is a true power-player in the hip-hop scene, one interested more in furthering the culture and providing fans of all ages chances to see their acts than simply making a quick buck. As head of Reign City, formerly the recently-revamped Obese Productions, Meli produces a substantial portions of all the hip-hop shows that come through the city, now a major stop on most tours. In addition she is the talent buyer for the Nectar Lounge, a Fremont venue that has quickly established itself as one of the city’s premier clubs, in large part due to the both nationally-touring and locally-recognized acts Meli brings in.
Darby’s career began out of a love for music as an underage fan. She was involved with the Old Fire House, an underage Redmond venue famous for breaking some of the Northwest’s most notable talent including Modest Mouse and Elliot Smith. In Seattle, underage shows were few and far between because of the 90s’ Teen Dance Ordinance, which greatly restricted the availability of all ages shows. Meli and other like-minded individuals found the Ordinance unfairly targeted hip-hop shows, great stifling the growth of the burgeoning culture.
She and other hip-hop fans who would soon be major players in the scene, including power-player Marc Matsui and both members of highly-touted local act Blue Scholars, formed the Student Hip-hop Organization of Washington (SHOW) to make live hip-hop possible for the under-21 crowd. Over 5 years SHOW put on many successful underground hip-hop shows, every single one of them all-ages.
From there as the group disband to pursue their own respective interests, Darby started Obese Productions, whose signature logo could be found on the promotional flyers for almost all the big shows occurring in Seattle until very recently. Booking gigs for nationally-touring acts gave Obese the opportunity to showcase local acts as openers, helping to foster the burgeoning local scene that has seen significant notice from local mainstream media. Obese did all the shows, big and small, with Meli occasionally booking shows she knew would lose money — just to give artists she thought deserved the spotlight a shot at growing their music.
That’s really Darby’s mission right there — to help artists grow and reach new fans, by teaching them how to promote themselves and be well-rounded entrepreneurs, as well as make great music. A local gal who rides hard for the 206 hip-hop scene, she is keeping the promotion aspect of the scene in good hands, ones that, as the popular mantra goes, “bumps local.”
Darby’s story and values are ones that should inspire businesswoman in all walks of business. In a male-dominated scene and business, she is the top dog, out of hard work, unmatched hustle, and having her heart in the right place. By trying to do right by a scene and a culture that is quick to point out artifice and greed, she has risen to the top by unquestionably being authentic and having goals to help further the entire culture and not just her own financial success. That alone can get someone much, much further than any gender restrictions in place.

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15 Awesome Music Industry Blogs You Should Be Reading Right Now

by J. Moore, who has a degree in social work and enjoys writing about radiology technicians.

Tight Mix’s acclaimed blog reaches out to the music industry with a blend of reviews, up-to-the-minute music news, and stories of interest for the music community at large.

Ah, music – our only universal language. We all have our favorite tunes, tracks, and artists. But how to maintain tabs on your preferred genres? More important still, how to make sure you hear the hottest new tracks and get the lowdown on new discs and concerts before your friends? Take a serious look-see at our selection here of fifteen amazing music industry blogs. They’ll guarantee that your status as the hottest music buzz insider is always a sure thing.

  1. Top 40. (Contact: http://top40.about.com/bio/Bill-Lamb-15651.htm) We begin our listing with the best blog we found to keep lovers of popular music well-informed about the latest. This blog was the among the first to break news of Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga to the masses.
  2. Indie Rock Cafe. (Contact: http://www.indierockcafe.com/about/) Indie music lovers, unite in this blog’s ability to place you at the forefront of the latest releases, mixtapes, and more. The writing here will turn you into an indie connoisseur pronto.
  3. The Burning Ear. (Contact: http://www.theburningear.com/what/) Find yourself frequently inundated with tons of new music, but none of it gratifying to you? The burning ear works like an auditory salve, delivering only the most prime and most worthwhile tunes to your cochlea.
  4. Aurgasm. (Contact: http://aurgasm.us/contact/) Many of us are into a hodgepodge of musical strains and varieties. We pledge allegiance to no one particular genre. This blog made its name on offering a blend of nice assemblage of quality musicianship.
  5. Gorilla v. Bear. (Contact: http://www.gorillavsbear.net/about/) This frequently acclaimed music blog has earned its acclaim for distilling the sprawling music scene down to only its most salient sounds. GVB is where the press goes to determine the next big things, while they’re still little.
  6. The Smoking Section. (Contact: info@uproxx.com) The hip-hop music scene has been hip to this blog’s fumigatingly fine surveillance of rap, et al, for quite a while now. Despite the hype, the writers maintain an intimate, whispery feel to the site.
  7. Stereogum. (Contact: http://stereogum.com/about/) Think of Stereogum as the Time Magazine of indie music blogs. It’s pretty prestigious, yet manages to keep a foothold on being personable and worthwhile to the public.
  8. Music for Kids who Can’t Read Good. (Contact: http://musicforants.com/blog/?p=10) Culturally illiterate? This blog guarantees you won’t complete your visit here without a lesson in Hot and Pretty Music Now, 101.
  9. Aquarium Drunkard. (Contact: http://www.aquariumdrunkard.com/contact/) This Los Angelino blog does it utmost to dirty up an otherwise pretty indie music scene right now. They accomplish this by enlisting the freshest soul, garage, country, R&B;, and like tunes that they can uncover.
  10. Nialler9. (Contact: http://www.nialler9.com/contact-nialler9/) Blogger Nialler9’s site is founded on Duke Ellington’s statement of the century: “there’s good music, and the other kind.” The music scene in Ireland has basked in a raised profile due to this site’s coverage.
  11. The Hype Machine. (Contact: http://hypem.com/contact) Come to this blog not once, not twice, but A MILLION times a daily. Seriously. A constant stream of new songs and mixtapes selections pours over this page frequently throughout any given day.
  12. Pretty Much Amazing. (Contact: pma.editor@gmail.com) Don’t even think about looking at this page if you’re a single-genre purist. PMA points out for its readers the absolute freshest new music first, regardless of category.
  13. Live Music Blog. (Contact: http://www.livemusicblog.com/contact/) Gosh darn it, keeping up-to-date on the latest concert news can be a real drag, especially if you hear about your favorite artist’s latest tour just selling out…two minutes ago. Safeguard yourself from that forlorn fate with LMB’s promise of bringing you live music news first.
  14. Rap Basement. (Contact: http://www.rapbasement.com/features/features/contact-us.html) The writers of this blog understand that proper aficionados of hip-hip don’t just love their music — they live it. Implement new swagger in your step with this blog’s well-spiced and timely hip-hop reporting.
  15. The Boombox. (Contact: http://www.theboombox.com/contact/comments/) Hip-hop, rap, and R&B; fans, get your favorite music news and updates hot and fresh here, all the time. New music here is mixed into steaming-off-the-presses music scene coverage.  

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Want to be a guest blogger?

Would you be interested in Guest Blogging for Concert Katie? I am thinking I will make this a monthly special, or maybe even every other week (depending on how popular it becomes), where I will get the “day off” and someone else will share their concert memories and get their blog promoted!

The range of topics can be anything related to music/entertainment/celebrities.  Your first concert, favorite concert, dream concert lineup (maybe even a festival to fit all your favorites in on one day!), favorite CD, silliest or dumbest thing you have done to get close to a celebrity, how you met your favorite celebrity, etc!

If you think that this would be something fun – feel free to “pitch” a blog topic to me at blog@concertkatie.com. We can work out the details and figure out a schedule that works for you to write the content via email. All I ask in return is that the day your post is featured on my blog that you link from your blog to the post so your readers will know to come check it out!

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