Ex-Yankee, Jr. Chamber Commerce VP – Haunted Houses were greatest fun, collaboration, and skill builder

There’s a house in Monroe that is the epitome of Halloween greatness. Our Junior Chamber edition grew to over 150 panels, and single greatest scarer was Jason with a Chainsaw – you could hear it the whole time, you just didn’t know when it would be your turn.

Having a successful Haunted House was great for group morale throughout the run. Documenting the process (Chairman’s Planning Guides) proved early on how necessary the paperwork is in successful companies – the ability to repeat Success is in the details.

I recently took advantage of a community group’s Oyster Roast (Two tickets – $75, beverages free) return to annual lineup of events on Saturday, and a small sigh still escapes when I see particularly well-done Halloween decorated porches in my #gshorkonsharonroadseam neighborhood.

During Junior Chamber of Commerce days of long ago, our chapter (Albany, NY) produced six memorable Houses, all at different malls, with unique setups.

Improving the skills of our members, making them better workers for their companies, capable of handling different situations, was always my organizational goal as Community Development VP. Doing -thons of various kinds are common for many groups, Haunted House was our biggest fundraiser, an All Hands on Deck! collaboration for most of six weeks, involving engineering-hard core construction, planning, food supply, characters, and community-scholastic support.

Many people don’t know that the PGA tour stop long known as The Greater Greensboro Open, was originally a Jaycee project.

This was one of 23 documented projects our chapter worked on, earning three State-level awards, in my Community Development VP year. Having a successful Haunted House was great for group morale throughout the annual run, and documenting the process (Chairman’s Planning Guides) proved early on how necessary the paperwork is in successful companies – the ability to repeat Success is in the details.

Greatest Scare #1- Jason with Chainsaw

The kid hit every wall on the way out.‘ Even wiseguys are willing to pay a couple bucks to see how great a Haunted House is, and sometimes they try messing up a good time along the way. The walkie-talkie message “Get this kid” was unnecessary – one-on-one, I never missed a Diss-er.

Looking through the blinds into a blood-splattered shower Psycho scene, the disser was right in guessing there was someone, me, in the area behind the shower, but I knew he wouldn’t DARE open the door to find out. We had a strobe light linked to that door opening, and after waiting an extra couple seconds, kicking it open and charging out with that chainsaw going, it really didn’t matter what I said behind the hockey mask (“Not so cool NOW, are you punk?!”). He was crabbing backward until I backed up a step, then he hit every wall in second half of the House running out.

It was the topic of much discussion at pizza break, who had gotten that kid, and its always been a point of pride, keeping my Never Missed rep.

Okay, Year Two, when a young black girl (factual) got similar treatment, she’d just had something to say to three witches, the end of House was in sight, then I boosted myself on a railing, and was about nine feet tall, waving that chainsaw. The girl did a full 3-second movie scream and was GONE.

Group Scare, Nine Pancaked People

7 Girls, 2 high school guys were on floor, 5 characters kept them screaming. Again, Jason with Chainsaw was big factor, plenty of fog machine, mirrored back wall, and strobe were great – I was actually running in place and yelling. While that was usually enough, a bunch of Key Club-ers were also there, and every one (person in grave, Dracula, Frankenstein lurching from a wall, a zombie popping up next to the group) were joyful about having a piece of getting their friends flat on the floor. The two guys who climbed over the girls to escape, LOL.

Best lessons learned, #1, 2

While a terrific success financially and creatively, the fact that everyone came down with wicked sore throats (and still showed up) was an obvious challenge, and wiping down-disinfecting each sweaty mask at every break was the solution forever after. That we’d had *loose leaves and electrical cord* throughout our first House was stunning in retrospect. The setup-walking space was tight, if there had been an emergency, it probably would have been a disaster.

Early in Year 2, the Town of Colonie showed us zoning laws-fire ordinances still needed to be obeyed, when they tore down a nights work of covering the windows in an old Burger King location with dark paper. We wound up having to paint a lot of glass black, but weekend days were still a lot lighter, though props held up well.

Amazing how younger kids wanted to come in, but were definitely scared of the monsters. We gave the little ones lollipops or small plastic spider rings to show to monsters “and they’ll be nice.” Parents loved the creativity and energy.

Great Engineering-Construction

FLYING WITCHES!! Having a couple engineers-architect types in the group is helpful in making things work. For the Witches, it was filling three-50 gal. drums with water (counter-balance) and having a supply of smaller HS girls willing to be hooked up and go about 30x a shift. The cable they were hitched to didn’t need to be a steep incline, just keep them moving, and a light flashed on them going past, with the accompanying cackle and witchlike behavior in a 10′ view.

One drawback: A couple times the required ‘catchers’ didn’t do their job, and the witches came through the black cloth at end and crashed into a barrier only 6 feet later. Trying to protect themselves, the girls came through with knees up, it was a little something extra to watch out for in the relative dark.

Safety is always paramount, touching isn’t allowed. While residents of Insane Asylum could reach from behind rebar to within inches of passing viewers, nobody grabbed even a school buddy, and no-touch works both ways. Workers ‘inside’ featured rooms have to know escape routes for any emergencies.

FOOD!

Considering the amount of time and personnel necessary for construction, free food is an economic necessity. Because most Jaycees were coming from work, being able to grab some chow on breaks was necessary. McDonalds was willing to have someone pick up a bunch of burgers at specific times, pizza-donuts-cookies-soda were always around. Thankfully, mall food court merchants were always generous, Haunted House was always a traffic builder – kids bring parents with $$$.

Having people on the phones willing to ask strangers for food was a big job, like a constant three person job determining the when and how much we were able to get ahold of for a month of thirty-plus people daily.

COLLABORATION TO THE MAX

Stating that the collaboration of efforts and leadership skills – sharpened in the reality of projects and available for years thereafter – is always going to be my #1 “You should try” advice about Junior Chamber activity, thats REAL effective networking. Having that link, being part of a specific cadre of talents that brought events together for a greater good, that counted in all my professional accounts going forwards.

Often quoted in complaint, ‘Getting volunteers to move the right way is like herding cats,’ isn’t wrong.

The Haunted House construction was always a terrific challenge, with a whole trailer-load of props to utilize, and the screaming and scaring was the payoff. Knowing how great the gig was (again) versus thinking it would be economically beneficial to our chapter was #1 Attitude.

The chapter had lots of bankers (Key Bank), and was a ‘rebuild’ of what had been a 300 member (Metro size) Albany Chapter that divided into three smaller groups. Albany had some history, being in that initial dozen or so, some previous ‘Roosters’ (past age 39) provided direction, and we carried forward. Continuing good handoffs help the community and the helpers.

Yay! for seasonal Halloween scaring, for the houses that decorate, and may there be a Haunted House for the kids and you to enjoy in 2022.

Haunted House tours often began with the Psychic, who told worried kids that she foresaw a time they might use a lollipop to make the monsters be nice.

Micro-Economy ‘Suits’ me well – All Blue Weekend as Umpire & Hugo Boss seller, #gshorkonsharonroadseam continues

After posting three straight $2,000 days to hit sales goals, taking a Saturday from retail to umpire four 12 yr. old girls (1 hr.) softball games was a solid touch with American Goodness. Talking with people at fence is intrinsic income, $160 for Sat. behind the plate, 10:00-3:00 is valid micro-economy, working in brilliant weather is karmic. Lease renewal of ideal Charlotte location is important to continuing micro-economic progress over the last year.

People driving a distance are buyers

1st time out with gold-blue paisley tie. Light blue button down, Boss Blue suit, cognac Maddens.

True that. Nordstrom’s draws people from even three hours away.

People are still spending money, we’ll see how things continue to roll. There is MUCH more product available, especially Peter Millar sports and cooler weather coverings. Half-zips jumping out already, the cords, we’ll see – new Brooks Bros. supply of big wales cords ($118) hasn’t been disturbed much.

Weddings are still the major buying point. We run out of the most popular sizes quickly in suits, but we received full runs for most designers (Boss, Baker, Millar, Canali). Sports coats ($645-750+) are steady.

The point of being a ‘professional’ came up recently on LinkedIn site, I have to believe the extra respect I draw looking Right makes a difference, because people tell me so.

Its not just ego, or a magic blue suit – SERVICE is a legitimate dividing line between real good sales help and somebody who just rings your stuff up, or asks if they can take your armload of clothes and open a room for you.

Glenn, Mr. Hugo Boss & Blue 10/08/22

Umpiring – Even negatives are short lived

As a Little League umpire, balls and strikes, outs and safes control the game, hitting and fielding are difference makers. There was really only one altercation over four games, but its the kind most spectators consider when they say, “I could never do that job.”

In this complex world, where handling of nuclear secrets is parsed and litigated, making a coach aware of FACT he has two options: Stop talking right now and stay in the dugout, or watch the rest of the game (down 11-1) from the parking lot with ability to make it stick *immediately,* that is controlling a situation. (Chewing on a twenty minute old event – or a two year old election – isn’t good, let it go Coach)

When you start umpiring, they tell you not to talk with people along the fence, because it only takes one call to turn them against you, but I’m still a yakker. Talking with catchers is my prerogative. I’m 100% sold on umpiring gig as good for American Family Baseball, some small affirmations of respect count personal pride-wise. I got hit 4x Saturday – twice in chest protector, once ‘close’ on upper inside of thigh…thanks for asking.

I’ve got the 22nd open, I might do it again this Fall.

The roof to left is a three car garage, the back yard is large and well-supplied with amenities. Just another corner property in Myers Park, where walking is sort of entertainment.

SHELTER – Another year

Landing at #gshorkonsharonroadseam this time last year was the finale of five moves in five months, so every time I walk or ride around this neighborhood, that’s the standard I use for having improved in my micro-economy. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/12/11/vaxxed-check-with-a-comma-threat-of-homeless-handled-well-a-good-suit-feel-to-end-of-2021/ The pickleball courts at Myers Park CC are across the street and Queens University is an easy walk away.

They’re going Division I in hoops this year, I will cheer the local guys regularly.

The flow of traffic fifty feet away on Sharon Road reaches a level that awakens about 7:00am, sometimes earlier with school buses; recent construction in front yard to change flooding at bottom of long downhill section was good work. There are a couple owls hoot-hooting in nearby woods.

The stove is small, so are the sinks, and definitely not enough outlets, but the Booty Loop (bicycling) is four blocks away, I have a screened porch and actual office in 2nd BR, with a quick drive, still on Sharon Road, to work at Nordstrom. My rent is only going up $25 this year, that’s excellent, given concerns about inflation. On a regular basis, nodding to dog walkers around eleven as we all enjoy Fall weather, I’m secure as I can imagine in 2022.

Big Government, Being Part of the Solution

Finding a place to plant my housing flag at end of 2021 counted, so did benefitting from SNAP program. $235/month that millions got as direct deposit during the worst part of the pandemic – instead of the $15 I would ordinarily have qualified for – was a difference maker.

There are PSAs about how a Mother sends kids to bed with soup, nothing for herself, heartbreaking and factual. That counselor telling me everyone was going to qualify for $235, the knowledge I wouldn’t go hungry was beyond a huge weight lifted.

After the program payments ended in June, I had nearly $600 unspent, still about $100 on it. Count me as someone who clearly benefitted from a government that addressed the biggest needs facing average citizens the last two years. Gratitude, yes. Reworking my personal micro-economy a-sap by to get over that homelessness hump, and assuring my food resources were secure, I was given exactly the right and necessary stake to accomplish my here and Now positives.

There’s $$$ in the bank now. Job in retail, food, and Social Security was a restart point in late 2021. IMHO, getting vaccine on March 18th is still THE biggest example of government done right.

I’ve already volunteered for poll worker. I’d rather be part of the solution necessary for this country, in even a small way, and able to know how democratic elections are supposed to operate. In 2020, I asked quite a few questions of a gentleman at E. Independence library about election safety, I had no doubts the voting in Mecklenburg County, NC was secure. I’m going to pay that forward for others.

Voting with enlightened self-interest is easy, Medicare is an obvious factor for this Boomer with Attitude, but if Roe v. Wade is your concern, it seems the ‘Pubs are against whatever most people feel seems right. I promise not to politicize the voting process, just help with the mechanics, like at work.

I’ve been a Harambee reader for a summer school program, all they required was about ten minutes of time with students. Putting in some inconvenient hours being at a polling place early, that’s reasonable for a Good Citizen, right? https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/06/28/well-delivered-messages-work-wonders-at-all-levels/

Panthers HC Rhule is Fired

Another shade of Blue for the weekend was the Carolina Panthers 37-15 shellacking by the 49ers, Coach Rhule’s end a move everyone saw coming. I don’t recall hearing the death knell comment “The organization has full confidence…” but whatever he considered an understanding with Mr. Tepper, going 1-4 while losing three straight at home didn’t hit any positive standard.

He won’t be mourned. A pre-season analysis that Rhule needed 9 wins as a significant jump in success to keep earning paychecks seemed optimistic as hell now. No, it didn’t look like the Carolina Panthers offense was about to catch fire and get close to that number.

Tack on #1 quarterback Baker Mayfield getting dinged enough to probably miss the next game, Charlotte justifiably has the blues.

For one of my customers who mentioned tickets perhaps being available, this looks like a golden opportunity to unload a couple, right? I’d still go. Have the wheels fallen off enough that Sam Darnold reappears, and becomes the leader Panthers GM Scott Fitterer thought he’d fixed the Panthers QB problem with last year?

Luckily, the icky situation Panthers face won’t affect my micro-economy, where consistent effort brings results. Those gentlemen I worked quite hard for Sunday will come back, we’ll order them suits, expedited if necessary. Panthers woes won’t affect midterm elections either, when America crosses its collective fingers and retains its democracy by Voting Blue.

New cards are coming, #gshorkonsharonroadseam is looking good for 2022-23. Figure on left: Part of ‘Welcome to Real World’ poster, 1st CDTE project.