That's Smart is LIVE! or "We Got a Faucet!"

Warning. Contains cute.

We wanted to announce the successful launch of our That’s Smart! How to Improve Learning Habits eBook/MP3 learning program on and our Lions Quarter Store when we got some great news Tuesday morning: less than 24 hours after our Amazon launch, we got our first sale!

Woo hoo! We got a faucet!

OK—That’s Smart! has nothing to do with plumbing. (though it can help you learn plumbing—or anything else!) The expression comes from my childhood, watching our dogs take care of their newborn puppies:

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Three little puggies clamped on for all they’re worth.

they’d blindly squirm and paw at each other until one of them found a “faucet,” (OK, I don’t use that term, but this is a PG blog) which it latches onto with grim determination. (for something so cute!)

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Likewise, we’ve finally got ahold of—er—something, and we’re going to—er—do something with it—for all its worth!

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Have an awesome evening!


How to Give a Damn, Part 2

This is part two of a mini-series inspired by “Mind Maps, Example 4—How to Give a Damn” from That’s Smart!: How to Improve Learning Habits, Second Edition, available as an eBook next week!

Mind Map 4 Preview

I approached my new mind map from the perspective of a wall covered with positive, life-affirming sayings—phrases, sayings, teachings I learned from my life and my parents, friends, and strangers. When I finished it, I made an enlarged copy and posted it on my wall as a defense from “hater” thinkers who try to convince me, however directly or subtly, that I can’t make my dreams come true or that things will never change.

Ain’t that right. You see, when you’re aware of the value of your life it makes you less susceptible to con games on a broad scale. Meaning con games in your life, love, faith, business and other life aspects. It teaches you to instinctively trust your inner truth about what is right—or not right—for you and others. It’s about being true to yourself and sidestepping what may be delusional or fake.

What makes mind maps so powerful is that you’re brainstorming on your own instead of in a group, writing your thoughts down in a free flowing style, without judging, letting all your thoughts flow—the good, the bad, the ugly—about whatever comes to mind about your topic. You can come up with solutions, perspectives and approaches that can solve problems, and potentially make for better life choices.

I think my efforts at work stemmed from the feeling that I didn’t want to work in an environment where nobody—no one—gave a damn. Where no one cared. That is just something that would not work for me. This became a personal exercise to try mind mapping on a subject that kept bugging me:

How can you get people to care about others if they themselves were not seemingly affected, or if there appeared to be no direct consequences to their own lives?

How can one get someone to have a conscience—care and respect for all human-related things and gain a perspective beyond their own, narrow borders for a wider view? To see the big picture of how we—and all living things—are connected?

I won’t say it was easy.

I won’t say it wasn’t damn frustrating at times.

I will say: after five years I started a “bandwagon” of caring about our fellow workers—our “family”—our “team.” And it has made for a far better work environment for us, for our management, and our visitors.

So I hope this episode from my life proves once again, “One Person Can Make a Difference.”

(image created by Omar Noory)

That’s DUMB! Taking Cursive Writing out of Schools

There’s beauty. There’s (scientifically proven) character. There’s nuances covering a wide range of human emotions connected to each pen stroke when we write that cannot be duplicated by text or email. Yes, texting and email and other electronic text/document communications are here to stay… but the usefulness of teaching printing and cursive writing in school is not yet out of date.

From That’s Smart! How to Improve Learning Habits, 2nd Ed. (2013)

When I heard a few months back that cursive writing was being taken out of school curricula, my first reaction was, “That’s dumb!” I’m heartened I’m not the only one who thinks so:

All American history is recorded in cursive….So I guess if our power grid goes down in some unforeseeable future, there will be no way to record what happens. History will be lost and our only form of written communication will be cave drawings, because that’s all we’ll be capable of. What idiot thought that THIS was a good idea?!

From a Google+ post by Keri Generalao

We are told students don’t have to learn cursive writing anymore. I suppose they don’t. I suppose the only skill students have to learn anymore these days is how to fill in little circles with a pencil, making the mark dark.

For many students, cursive is becoming as foreign as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. In college lecture halls, more students take notes on laptops and tablet computers than with pens and notepads. Responding to handwritten letters from grandparents in cursive is no longer necessary as they, too, learn how to use email, Facebook and Skype.

From “Cursive Handwriting Disappearing from Public Schools,” The Washington Post, April 4, 2013 by T. R. Shapiro and Sarah L. Voisin.

I don’t blame teachers for this. Yes, there are bad teachers, just like there are bad doctors, bad lawyers, and bad police officers. But for the most part what gets taught—or not taught—in schools is out of the teachers’ hands. School curricula these are based on National Standards devised by “academic experts” (who probably never set foot in a classroom), bureaucrats and—ugh—politicians. Then when (not if, unfortunately) the poor kids come out unable to read at an age-appropriate level, or add 18 + 6 without a calculator, or not knowing when the War of 1812 was fought, well, it’s those lazy teachers’ fault—and their darned union!

While the education world is all abuzz about so-called 21st century skills like collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking, research suggests that we might do well to add a strong dose of the 19th century to our children’s schooling. Here are a few old-school skills that are still worth cultivating. Source: Time [Magazine]

From NEA Today, Nov. 13, 2012

I can go on for hours about this, just as I can go on for hours about “what use” cursive writing remains, even in our high-tech age, and why it should still be taught in public schools. I can point out how cursive writing is a form of artistic self-expression—another “useless” subject being systematically removed from school curricula; I can point out how cursive writing binds us to our history—to our nation’s foundational documents, all written in longhand. Wouldn’t it be a shame not to be able to read the original Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution, or Abraham Lincoln’s first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation?

I agree with Keri: What idiot thought this was a good idea?


On Cursive Writing

The following post is inspired by “Cursive Writing” in That’s Smart! How to Improve Learning Habits, Second Edition, released this month.

With the growing prevalence of electronic communication—texting, e-documents, Facebook, Twitter, and blogging—it’s amazing to me that some schools are considering eliminating the teaching of cursive writing.

Some believe writing with pen and paper a dying art form and for most people future personal and business communication will be done electronically with legal confirmation by eye scan or fingerprint ID. But the idea of no longer teaching kids how to print with block letters and how to write in cursive letters makes no sense to me. America’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence was written in cursive. The original copy of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written in cursive. The Emancipation Proclamation was originally written in cursive. Why should we rob our children of the ability to read these foundational documents in their original form?

How valuable, as the years go by, would a letter that a father, mother, loved one or child writes you that encourages you and inspires you be if you can’t get a hold of it because your internet is down, or your software can’t open the file because the format is outdated? (This has happened! NASA can’t access original data from the old Viking Mars probes because the tapes are written in code modern computers can’t read!)

Yes, texting and email and other electronic text/document communications are here to stay, at least until some future technology threatens their viability; but there’s beauty—there’s (scientifically proven) character, there’s nuances covering a wide range of human emotions connected to each pen stroke when we write that cannot be duplicated by text or email.

We as citizens of this society and culture should work to teach and promote the timeless value of print and cursive writing in our current classrooms and in the future for generations to come.


Image credits: “Power of Words” by Antonio Litterio. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

From the Times: Hammond man hopes to take learning tutorial to Oprah's network

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The Northwest Indiana Times, June 27, 2010.

By Tim Shellberg Times Correspondent

If Dennis Smith has his way, he will be to learning skills what Dr. Phil is to self-improvement and what  Dr. Oz is to physical well being. Smith, the Hammond-based creator of the audio learning tutorial “That’s Smart! How to Improve Learning Habits” . . . .
Read the Article Here

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