Being Bruce -: February 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shrimp & Grits at Front Street Brewery

When you visit or move to the Wilmington, North Carolina area (and you will, if you're not already here . . . . because why wouldn't you?), well anyway, when you're here you'll quickly discover a local comestible delight called Shrimp & Grits. Grits is (or are -your choice, it's a living language) a favored Southern carb used like rice in many regions in the world as a base for or accompaniment to other foods. It's also often eaten by itself, with any meal.

If you're of Native American heritage, as am I (shout out for the Passamaquoddy!), think hominy - it's the same thing.

If you like to cook (that would be me, too) and eat (well, yeah), grits provides substance, framing, and base without an intrusive flavor. Whaaa?? OK, it takes on the flavor of the food and sauces you serve on it.

So, that dragging intro aside, here's this blog piece about Shrimp & Grits at Front Street Brewery in Wilmington, NC.

Parking in downtown Wilmington isn't generally too bad, especially off season, and Front Street Brewery patrons can park for free in the public parking deck across the street (parking is free for the first hour, then you gotta pay), but I kept cruising the unusually busy streets for a spot. The street were busy because yet another movie or TV show was filming right on Market Street so we had to work around that and the usual crowds of onlookers. I think it was filming for an episode of One Tree Hill, which is made here and just got renewed for a 7th season (I'm sure that was headline news on your newspaper, too, right? Anyway, it's cool for us, even if we have to drive around a bit sometimes to find a parking spot). We did find a great spot after one loop around the center almost directly across from where they were filming, so it's not like it's all THAT hard.

We walked around the corner to 9 North Front Street and quickly got a table upstairs. Here's the door.

Manager Patrick Gaynor stopped by to say hello and we learned a lot about him. He's been running restaurants in Southport and Wilmington for years, moving here from the Binghamton, NY area I think he said when he was 17. Since he was from around Binghamton I asked if he knew about Spiedie Sauce (a regional sauce in that area with multitudes of rapid fans) and he said they stock it at Front Street Brewery for folks from upstate NY who visit or live in our area and for Marines from Camp Lejeune from Binghamton. Anyway, Patrick is a friendly guy.

We were there to try the Shrimp & Grits but started with appetizers. I meant to take a picture but they disappeared too fast. We had a large soft warm pretzel with mustard and tasty fried green tomatos.
We both ordered Shrimp & Grits. Here's what the plate looks like.
The menu says, "The Brewery brings this tasty Charleston style version of Shrimp and Grits to Wilmington. Sauteed shrimp in a Cajun Creole sauce served over a warm Polenta cake with sauteed roma tomatos, taso ham, and green onions."

And yeah, it was very very good. Marge isn't big on spicy sauces so just in case had hers served with the sauce on the side. I'm the opposite so I asked for a bottle of Tobasco so I could overheat mine. That way we were both very pleased. Here's a photo of my lovely wife Marge very happy after consuming Shrimp & Grits at FSB.

We're not really into the bar scene and wanted to get home to watch the eliminations on American Idol, so we left after the meal. I took the shot below on the way out, however, and as you can see, even at the early hour (around 7) the party was starting to get going.

We'll be back. If you see us there, say "Hey".

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just say "GAR"!

Gratitude. Attitude. Readiness.

I believe we are each of us extraordinary people. We can choose to live extraordinary lives.

There are no barriers, but living an extraordinary life requires conscious choice.

An extraordinary life requires seven elements:

1. Knowing your life purpose
2. Gratitude
3. Attitude
4. Readiness
5. Goal
6. Decision
7. Action

Simple, isn't it?

The sticking point, of course, is #1. You may not know your true life's purpose. Well, that's OK. If you seek to know your life purpose you will find it, but it may not come easily or quickly.

What you can do, right now, is just say "GAR".

If you're not sure of your life purpose and therefore maybe a bit confused about goals, focus on elements 2 through 4.

Start with Gratitude - Often referred to as the mother of all emotions - be grateful for everything. Everything is a gift and/or a lesson.

Add positive Attitude - There's really only one rational conscious choice here - all else leads to decline and decay. Don't go there; choose a positive attitude.

Be in a constant state of Readiness - You may not know what the world will bring and it's tougher to bring it to yourself if you're not clear on your personal purpose. If you're "ready" you'll be prepared to act on opportunity when it shows up - and opportunities will appear, if you're ready.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Save the Date - Paw Jam - May 2, 2009

I just found the date for PawJam 2009. It's in May this year, Saturday May 2nd to be exact. 11AM to 5PM in Battleship Park. Benefits dog rescue groups. Live music, food, drink, many dog centric vendors, dogs on leash welcome, lots of fun. More info here.

Pepper and I look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Layers of social media compared to cake!

[I've talked about the following enough a good guy and Internet marketing consultant named Daiv Russell from the Tampa area asked me to get it in writing, so here it is. - Bruce]

The topic is social media and the question can vary, but addresses the same issue:

"Why should I use more than one type of social media in my marketing?"

Here's my answer (- and don't run out of the room for a peanut butter-topped Oreo till you finish reading it):

Using just one type of social media can be fine if that's what your friends or colleagues use, but if you're marketing with social media, your greatest impact will be from using multiple forms.

If you use just one type of social media, say FaceBook, or LinkedIn, or Twitter, or whatever, that's like eating a Krispy Kreme glazed donut (of which I'm a fan so this is nothing against Krispy Kreme whatsoever); a glazed donut, even a great glazed donut, hot and fresh from the place where glazed donuts come from (I guess an oven, right?) is terrific.
It's sweet, it's good, but the experience is fleeting. Momentarily it's a delight, but then your attention shifts - either to more glazed donuts or to something totally different. Maybe you'll remember your first glazed donut, just maybe, but quite possibly not. Most people go through life aware of glazed donuts and what they're about but there's no huge impact (yeah, I said "most" and 1. it's based on research in the mirror - my favorite kind and 2. I realize there are some folks who base their lives on glazed donuts - don't be one of those or you could end up a game show host.

If you mix your social media, adding and mixing multiple forms, your personal message and effect is richer, more impactful, and longer lasting - like an eleven-layer Hungarian torte. I still remember my first experience with an eleven-layer Hungarian torte. I can describe the day, the people, the Saint Bernard dog that lightly bit me that hot August day in New Haven, and the gorgeous young woman named Svetlana from Hungary who was visiting my parents' friends that summer. I was 12 years old. Did it make an impression? Obviously. And I'm still impressed every time I encounter an eleven-layer Hungarian torte now (I met, and consumed a piece of one, just last summer in Salt Lake City).

Why is Hungarian torte more impressive and memorable than a single glazed donut? Think about the implied effort, knowledge, and expertise. A single glazed donut, once you know the recipes and method, is pretty simple: mix dough, stamp out a donut-shaped piece, deep fry it quickly, dip it in hot glaze, serve, eat. It's good, it's fun, it's gone. Probably a machine can make a good donut. (Just as a bot can create and send social media messages.)

Making an eleven-layer Hungarian torte however, is a whole 'nuther thang. I won't go into it here (not that I know, but I'll look for a link for what appears to be a good one) but clearly you have to know about and assemble a whole lot of ingredients, assemble them with great care, cook them just right, and then do a bunch of other stuff to make it all come out correctly. Lots of effort, lots of knowledge, lots of expertise and even skill. It takes a skilled cook to create a great eleven-layer Hungarian torte. I can't believe a machine could ever make a good torte. A skilled social media expert knows how to blend blogs with FaceBook and LinkedIn and Twitter, and so forth, using the right utilities and design elements to get the most from each - imparting knowledge, expertise, and, most important, personality!

So that's my short version (!) of why one should consider using multiple layers of Social Media.

Now, a whole other topic is how Social Media should be only ONE LAYER of your whole relationship marketing plan (quickly (really) other layers include phone calls, in person meetings, hand written notes, SendOutCards (of course), personal e-mail, e-newsletters, parties, and networking events).

Here's a recipe for a six-layer Hungarian torte . If you're so inclined, good luck making an eleven-layer one (and keeping it standing straight). I wasn't able to find a recipe for that many layers, but suspect it's just more of the same (only trickier because the layers need to be thinner and the whole keep it standing straight thing).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What is up with this "Freight Train" nonsense?

OK, so here's the deal. I put the nickname "Freight Train" in my e-mail signature in early January. Why?

On January 1st during the early shift (which for me is 4-6AM EST) someone, I think perhaps my Twitter friend and Internet Marketing Trainer and Business Coach Victoria Player (twittername: @victoriaplayer, website:, asked the question: "How are you feeling right now about the start of the new year?"

My reply was immediate. I wrote (or more accurately, I Tweeted), "I feel like a freight train of energy is pushing through me I'm so excited about 2009!" And that was that.

The following week at our Wednesday morning BNI meeting we met for the first time in 2009 and we each talked about our plans for the year. It struck me to say, "This year I'm going to use the nickname 'Freight Train' because of the massive amount of energy I feel about this year." And everyone laughed and said it fit and the meeting was soon over. And I thought that was that.

But, later that day a guy who had been a guest at our BNI meeting, the very likeable Brian Matkze from Logos Direct (which is an awesome company, BTW) called me about something and addressed me on the phone as "Freight Train." Shortly after that I got an e-mail from our group's Chiropractor Dr. Matt Bradshaw, and he started the e-mail with "Hey Freight Train, . . ". Later on I was talking with someone else from our group, I think it was Brad Hodges from Equity Services, or maybe Bernadette Hayes of N2 Publishing, and one of them suggested I add "Freight Train" to my e-mail signature. So I did. And I thought yet again that was that.

Except now I get questions quite often from people I've known for a long time (even my sister asked) as well as folks I've yet met, about what the deal is with "Freight Train." When our office had a transition luncheon for me, they gave me a toy engine with the words "Freight Train" on it.

So, I guess it stuck. So far most people I've met think it makes sense. What do you think? Anyway, that's the deal with the use of "Freight Train" in my e-mail signature.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Proof that REALTORs Cannot Sing

Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty singing to Becky Smith on her birthday.

Wilmington Twestival a Big Splash!

I don't know exactly how much money was raised for Twestival to build wells for drinking water in Africa or exactly how many people did show up at the Wilmington Twestival event last evening at Port City Pub. Those facts and stats will come elsewhere. What I do know is that a lot of folks showed up, there was positive energy in abundance, and we had a great time!

The Star News was there, not only as sponsors but also to report the event. Here's the link for the story in the Star News Online.

The founder of 3rd Street Plaza and major organizer of Wilmington Twestival Ty Downing kicked off the event.

Greeter and hostess Crystal Glass-Downing talks with RaDonna Torgeson, one of the big drawing winners of the night. RaDonna won a week's Surf Camp lessons from IndoJax Surf School.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wilmington Twestival - Access to Clean Water

If pictures tell a story better than words and videos better than pictures, please watch these three videos about Wilmington's Twestival event this Thursday evening from 6-10PM at Port City Pub, 121 Grace Street in downtown Wilmington. The cause is access to clean drinking water for people around the world, via "charity: water." Tickets are $15 in advance on or $20 at the door. Food, drink, drawings, karaokee, networking, fun.

Here's a nicely done slide-video set to music:

Find more videos like this on 3rd Street Plaza

If you can't see the video above, click on this link.

And here's a video that asks the question: "Would you drink this"?

Find more videos like this on 3rd Street Plaza

If you can't see the video above, click on this link.

And last, here's me talking about how we're going to "Rip It Up" Thursday night. Hope to see you there.

Find more videos like this on 3rd Street Plaza

And if you can't see that video (and want to) click on this link.

Remember, you CAN make a difference. And you can have fun, too. Please go to and join us Thursday night. Thank you.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Appreciation and Farewell Party for Rhonda Norris

On Friday afternoon the Board of Directors of the North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce held an appreciation and farewell get together at the NBCC offices for Rhonda Norris, our Executive Director, who is relocating to Mississippi with her husband Greg, where Greg has been promoted to a position at his company's headquarters.

Rhonda and Greg were likely not terribly surprised, but they sure seemed pleased by the party.

Two local powers-that-be, Scott Reeves (aka "Santa") and Jeff Harvell (aka "Jeff") helped make sure the chairs stayed on the floor.

Phyllis Murray, with husband George (barely visible in the upper left corner).

Connie Reeves (who organized the party and prepared much of the food), Rhonda, and Peggy O'Leary, NBCC President.

They said, "Let the eat cake." And we surely did. It was good, too.

Peggy presented Rhonda with flowers.

Attorney Randy Rhodes reported for duty.
One of these three is a banker who had to leave shortly to close up at 6PM. Can you guess which one? (Hint: his name ryhmes with Victor Pearsall).

When Dana Fisher and Charlie Riverbark arrived we knew the party was just beginning!

George and Phyllis Murray presented Rhonda with this beautiful piece of framed art, a piece she had admired since moving to town.

Dr. Sheila Hansby, a beloved local vet, worked hard on a chicken.

A reporter from the State Port Pilot interviewed Jeff while Rhonda listened in.

George Patterson had plenty of stories to tell to a mostly appreciative audience.

Although Connie Reeves didn't buy some of George's tales.

Albert Sikes had as much or more fun than Rhonda while she opened her gifts.

So the file name of the first photo on this blog is "prettyrhonda". This one is "sillyrhonda."

It was a fine, special time. Rhonda, thanks for all your work helping the Chamber make some big steps in our time of growth. We miss you but know you're not gone forever. So hurry back.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Comfort Suites Hotel Building Update - Feb 4, 2009

Leland today has no hotels. Within the next year or two there will be four. The first, a Comfort Suites Hotel, is going up next door from our office. The grand opening is on schedule for May 1st. Today I asked Project Superintendent Joe Stephenson for a tour of his work in progress and he graciously showed our Office Manager Kari Essig and me around. The hotel is being built by Harold K. Jordan & Co., Inc. general contractors. The manager will be Barry Eagle. I took the photo below while we were walkling to the building. (Is this what they mean by a "green" building?)

We went in the north end of the building. In the photo below looks from back to front down the central hallway.

This shot isn't too interesting, just looks from one room through the wall to others. They start putting up sheetrock next week.

Originally planned for two meeting rooms, the hotel is going to have one 50-person capacity room.

There will also be an inground pool.

And an exercise area adjacent to the pool.

Here's a shot of the lobby, looking across from what will eventually be the breakfast/lounge area.

The hotel will be on the far end of business upscale for the Choice Hotel's Comfort Suites Hotel line. There will be 106 rooms in all.
So thanks again for the tour, Joe.

What? Snow again? In the same year?

OK, this is so rare I'm not sure any one has any records. When it snowed last month everyone said that snow happens in the Wilmington area only every 5, 7, or 10 years (depending on who you talked to). And now it happened again. It didn't snow long and this afternoon it's all gone again, but we had more snow today - the shot below was taken about 10AM.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Superbowl Talkies at Talk, Inc

Marge and I had a great time at the Superbowl Talkies party at Debbie Elliott's Talk, Inc. Debbie was suited up in a ref's outfit, as were many of her staff.

The fish on the wall in one part of Talk's office were swimming so fast they caused a breeze that moved Susan Crispell's hair!

Award-winning Marge posed in front of some of Talk, Inc.'s awards. Marge's awards are in another field, but it's always fun to hang out with winners.

When Debbie and John Elliott's Camden arrived, he put on his shirt and had Debbie to put her hand up so he could try to read the game outcome from her palm. Watching her mentor (for real) is Debbie's mentee Blair Stokely from the UNCW Cameron School of Business.

Right after the first half we put on 3D glasses to watch the 3D stuff. The sights in the room were more fun than the stuff on TV. Holly Manning from Talk is on the left and Blair Stokely again on the right.

The half time show started The Boss.

And The Boss's Boss, Patti Scialfa.

The Talk staff was gracious and fun to hang out with. Katie White on the left is a Talk intern from UNCW and Kirsty Piper on the right is a frequent Tweeter who writes many of Talk's blog posts.

Oh yeah, and I had a Super time! Thanks, Debbie.