Panthers #6 pick can’t fill two major needs, so 7 Ideas for GM Fitterer to consider along the way

Without burying the lead, but with a quantity of tongue in cheek, the answer is Testaverde. They wouldn’t owe anyone compensation picks.

Just kidding, a bit of shock therapy there. Its Kaepernick.

Every Panther fan, in fact the NFL WORLD knows how desperately the Carolina Panthers want-need an alpha-type leader as a quarterback. Sound of mind and limb (letting Cam out the side door easily with that criteria), able to hand the ball to McCaffrey regularly, and throw some long TDs to the now properly taken care of contract-wise DJ Moore.

With the DeShaun Watson dalliance settled after his trade to Cleveland (!?), and nobody experts project as a franchise QB in the draft, that #6 should mean General Manager Scott Fitterer grabs a documented and undeniably sturdy OLT (offensive left tackle) to settle an obvious long term line problem.

Names are circulating, but if you’ve heard the Panthers might select a stud edge rusher, that’s what they call ‘smoke.’

Highly Motivated – Absolutely!

Are Kaep’s skills anywhere near NFL levels after years (post 2016) wandering in the relative desert, essentially black-listed for his kneeling as a silent message about constant shooting-killing of young black men by white cops across America? Held to the light of retreads (Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick) who have gotten opportunities elsewhere, is he at all a consideration?

Just in case you didn’t know, Kaep and the Panthers passed this way before, in 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1z2kBAO5yI

While it would have to be one HELL of a workout to make such a bet-the-franchise move, when options include Cam and the un-good performance of Darnold over his first ten games, Baker Mayfield sure isn’t a more logical answer than Kaepernick.

You wouldn’t keep the lid on a workout with professional route runners Kaep says he’d like to throw to (Panthers have several), some PR circus would accompany it – Cleveland is getting a ration of negativity for bringing Watson in – but that isn’t Panthers problem. Would they have to make a huge offer to satisfy some sense of ‘worth’ after so long, or just put together a ‘Make Good’ incentive package (Wins? 4000 yards, Comeback Player of Year?) that puts him in camp and working full time on his skills?

Cam’s haberdashery and previous community efforts shouldn’t and won’t count in further discussions.

‘Make good’ sounds like a winner, and its doubtful Mr. Tepper pays prime $$$ for another stop gap QB. Like many teams, when you’re down, it behooves looking at all options, and Panthers continue to sign positional players. If Coach Rhule can’t turn a former Temple player like PJ Walker into the starter, Darnold is signed for $18MM, and Rodgers got $200MM to stay in Green Bay, Fitterer will have some leeway on a contract.

#2 – Sam Darnold

Okay, this isn’t Sam Darnold by any stretch of imagination, but would he be more likeable if he dressed like Cam?

Charlotte fans were willing to believe some good loving after three years in New York would cure the former #3 overall pick of all his demons, yet with an easy, 25th place schedule, his ability to throw the long ball, and a plethora of offensive options, he indeed under-performed in 2021.

How much blame for that goes with exiled Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady, whose LSU superstars (Joe Burrow, 4 receivers, RBs) blowing away college secondaries got him the job but didn’t seem to faze many pros, is open to discussion.

FYI – Panthers will be playing the 12th toughest schedule this year. https://www.panthers.com/news/carolina-panthers-2022-opponents-are-set

Yes, Darnold looks like a weak link, and whether anyone could fail while having CMC to hand off to (please, please!) or to drop swing passes he lugs 18 yards or so, we may never know. In gallows humor, if the Panthers can’t somehow package him in a trade, at least he isn’t the $40MM dead money salary cap hit former Falcon Matt Ryan’s team was willing to take by shoving him at the Colts.

Darnold looks like a weak link, but at least he isn’t wearing a massive, albatross level $40MM dead money salary cap hit former Falcon Matt Ryan’s team was willing to take.

FYI – An albatross has nearly a 10 foot wing span, and is considered an insult when its meant as a psychological burden that feels like a curse. In Rime of the Ancient Mariner  (Coleridge,1798), as bad luck (becalmed) continues, the ships crew blame their misfortunes on the mariner killing an albatross, which is hung from the his neck to signify the mariner’s culpability in cursing the ship.

Sam Darnold is not the unwieldy burden Ryan’s $40 million cap hit is.

Jury is out on Coach Rhule – Year 3

Ending pursuit of Watson means the Panthers will be able to keep many of their really good pieces, which includes a defense that’s regained a place in the middle of the pack compared to previous bottom three in most categories. Jeremy Chinn, Derek Brown, and edge rusher-mayhem maker Brian Burns are part of that cadre. Donte Jackson would belong in that category if he used that speed to *stop* receptions instead of laying a lick on receivers immediately after the catch.

Whether every former player (Temple, Baylor) of Rhule’s that comes to Panthers is an automatic best choice, Fitterer is a known and respected quantity as a trader. It seemed like a gaping hole had been fixed with his initial signing of Darnold, but he’ll be essential in continuing to bring in possibilities. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/04/09/panthers-take-care-of-business-gm-fitterer-lands-qb-darnold-to-get-rolling/

Coaches are hired to be fired, and the NFL landscape is littered with unsuccessful college transitions. If Rhule still has any reason to be thankful the last Thursday in November, so will a lot of Panther fans. Tepper’s new futbol team, Charlotte FC, came out of the gate with a record-breaking home crowd of over 75,000. https://www.charlottefootballclub.com/video/miguel-ramirez-talks-match-against-fc-cincinnati-first-win#miguel-ramirez-talks-match-against-fc-cincinnati-first-win. Success there doesn’t mean he’d be at all happy with a Panthers team that puts up less than a serious playoff-level season.

The Panthers Defense is up to Snuff

Two drafts ago the Panthers used all seven picks on defense, and Phil Snow came in with Rhule from Baylor as Defensive Coordinator. Last year their #1 pick was Jaycee Horn, who didn’t play after week three with a broken foot. Chinn-Horn could become a bona fide lock-down duo, the D moved to middle of pack, and while early raves for doing well against three weak teams to start weren’t reality, the Panther defense finished strong (36 sacks) by many metrics. https://www.catscratchreader.com/2022/1/19/22888030/final-2021-ratings-for-the-panthers-defense-per-pro-football-focus.

In all the messaging from Houston about Watson, it seemed like draft picks, help for the Texan defense, and even McCaffrey, were thought possibilities to go in the pot, so losing defensive progress would’ve replaced QB as a challenge.

Burns is an actual stud, this could well be his blossom year. Will speed rusher be the greatest necessity in draft? Highly doubtful.

McCaffrey Silences the Doubters

To say “It is what it is” about Christian McCaffrey’s two year holding pattern is almost legitimate, but if Kaepernick would be well motivated, CMC is a documented over-achiever https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/panthers-restructure-christian-mccaffreys-contract-reportedly-clear-up-5-5-million-in-cap-space/ Charlotte has paid for the best of what comes next, McCaffrey restructured that $21.5 MM bonus contract so many talk about, so you’ll see how he feels about being sidelined for most of two years.

At NO point should anyone be linking his name as trade bait. He might have made the offensive line look better than it was up until then, but great players elevate the play of those around them. Believing a block held an extra part of a second might mean McCaffrey breaks a big one fires a team up. The Buccaneers have Tom Brady back, you KNOW the belief he instills as The GOAT. Don’t sweat that the Panthers have worn CMC out by overuse, he is coming loaded for payback.

#6 – The McAdoo Offense

Perhaps there are doubts about getting anything from the Giants, but if the Panthers new offensive coordinator gets the benefit of salary cap funds (about $29MM, as noted) going into the offensive line instead of switching parts around every time someone gets injured, that would be progress. Fitterer doing anything except trading down a couple spots while still getting that stud OLT isn’t going to happen.

Just WHO is going to run *any* offense will be the primary question. Kaep is 34 now, he hasn’t taken a beating in a while, so it’s not a hard thirty-four, and he’s as worthy of being talked about as anyone. The NFL has mostly given up the RPO (run-pass option) that Cam, Russ, RPG III, and several others did well with early, because defensive coordinators quickly decided whacking the QB on every play would make teams leery of putting high value QBs health on the line.

Offensive line play WILL improve, and not getting Watson to Charlotte means lots of other people get paid. DJ Moore is on track to game-breaker status, but only if Panthers QB (Kaepernick?) has time, with ability to move around when necessary. Giants O-lines always had a reputation for grinding power game, Chubba and CMC will be able to work with that, and yes, long balls to Moore/Anderson should be expected.

Using tight ends for blocking may be necessary, more satisfying would be Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas evolving into ninja-level receivers, if watching Greg Olsen tape can be converted to productive pattern running.

#7 – Year 3 of Rhule doesn’t make us Detroit

Detroit allowed Matt Millen to single-handedly wreck the franchise (31-97) over eight years as CEO/team president, a job his linebacking career didn’t prepare him for at all. GM Scott Fitterer doesn’t have such limitations, and he’s at the controls. The necessary help is mostly on the way. Colin Kaepernick, we’ll see how that rolls.

With all due respect to Matt Stafford for escaping 12 years of servitude in Detroit and using his super arm to take Rams to a winning Super Bowl – or the end of the Baker Mayfield run in Cleveland with Watson’s arrival – four years of sub-standard football is enough for Tepper (and fans). Yes, a $62MM coach should do better than 10-23, even if not having an inspirational QB or stud running back sounds legitimate.

That delay with new headquarters in Rock Hill aside, Mr. Tepper has staked out quite a few successful operations in his time as an owner. If Coach Rhule’s leadership of 2022 team is regarded as a serious mistake at Thanksgiving, that would be cause for specific change.

Weddings, return to office, Peter Millar ‘Make you a suit’ Guy pumping my micro-economy

Third house on Brandon Circle, across street from my apartment. #gshorkonsharonroadseam is a good-looking ‘hood to walk around.

Seven out of last nine days I’ve had a suit or tuxedo sale at Nordstrom’s, and coming out 40% over goal last pay period means there’s no need to change positive projections into March-May.

“Don’t make me put on the black hat…” (great accessory though it is)

Kicking effort to the max – no break, only two people in department, no suit sale competitors that Sunday pre-Valentines Day – and working a terrific split while helping a newbie salesperson with a tuxedo ordering-Hugo Boss suit-sport coat triple play, made a gooood difference in my micro-economy.

SERVICE continues to be my point of excellence, but having some luck always works. Manager pulled off a tuxedo transfer that Monday, which arrived for alterations on Tuesday! and customer picked up WEDNESDAY (a day earlier than promised). He and wife were thrilled, but until I watched Marquelle for 25 minutes on phone Monday, I only knew he’d accomplished it for me before.

Telling my client of his effort, and introducing him as part of the package-difference maker, is good team stuff. Derrick (the new guy) got congrats on first suit ($2600 total) from the customer’s wife, she said he could handle any situation now, her hubby being juuuust a little tough-demanding.

Luck isThe wife-to-be, who handed her guy an off the rack amazing fit of a 44L sport coat, is smile-worthy. Super-affirming to cut the tags off so he could wear it out of the store. (With shirt, $800)

Kyle, an exactly my size 42 Regular, who came in two minutes later, as they announced 15 minutes to store closing. He’d left his clothes for an event at home, wanted a black Ted Baker, which became a first shot ($895) perfect fit – he only needed the pants hemmed. Ready the next day, $0 to expedite it.

–Me, 3/1/22

The Peter Millar Guy

Emphasizing which designers have trimmer side cuts, “and Hugo Boss moves the arm holes down, allowing guys with size in shoulders and arms to be comfortable vs. squeezed” has become part of my introductory patter. #gshorkonsharonroadseam

The pastries and warm coffee for the 8:00 ‘Make you a suit’ session with long-time (45 years) suit guru Rich Biegel were okay, and he’s going to get some immediate business, because recently I’ve been seeing strange shaped guys who need such help.

Biegel gave Nordstrom’s suit people across the organization props for selling a high percentage of suits at full price, which he linked to the perception of service provided, both affirming. Although I wasn’t aware of how popular the line was early on, after months of exposure to sizing guys, differentiating the Millar line as what those who definitely don’t fit in ‘younger cuts’ suits like Baker and Boss feel comfortable in, is obvious now.

Emphasizing which designers have trimmer side cuts, “and Hugo Boss moves the arm holes down, allowing guys with size in shoulders and arms to be comfortable vs. squeezed” has become part of my introductory patter with those buying a suit. It demystifies the more or less question up front. Millar has that touch more size, beyond leanness taken out of Baker, and its a comfortable price point ($650 sport coats, now $895 suits). Canali’s are a clear price point difference ($2,095).

The obvious questions about the cost of such a garment and production delivery time seem reasonably good for special fits. If 25-30% over regular price and delivered in four weeks is to be believed, there’s someone whose shoulders fit in a 48 and the rest of him – that extra tire at belt level, and shorter than average arms – becomes a challenge I’m better prepared to discuss in future. If that someone wanted *several* suits made for him (not custom though), that could be a new layer of business for me.

Tailoring is what Mr. Biegel was essentially promoting, and appreciation for the six people at Nordstrom’s who are aces in the hole for a suit seller, is very real. Working with (or ignoring) certain physical elements makes a difference – while everyone has a small difference in shoulders, Rich recognized my right side was a whole inch lower (bike accident two years ago, I was ‘tore up’), and that would be incorporated in making a suit.

Answers to the obvious question about cost and delivery time for such a garment seemed reasonable. If 25% over regular price and delivered in four weeks is to be believed, I’m better prepared to discuss ‘making a suit’ with someone whose shoulders fit in a 48, but the rest is a challenge.

When your suit seller knows their business

Holding-helping clients put it on allows ‘seating’ a jacket to best advantage, instead of letting guys swing it overhead, shrugging into it, and doing The Hulk move. Smoothing shoulders can reveal forward lean of shoulder or arm positioning considerations for sleeve most never consider.

Checking the sleeve length (hint of shirt or onto hand), lapels (comfortable or tight in chest), at the button (absolutely), and ‘it covers your butt’ fills essential boxes – the rest is what mirrors, girlfriends, wives, Moms, and fiancees are for.

Lifestyle and safety

Saturday was a day without a suit sale, and losing several hours of possible production – after a gunshot in the mall caused a surge of fast-moving people through our store and closed the mall for an hour – was legitimate. We’ve been trained on getting people in department out the back way, and we cleared customers as expected.

The guard at Gucci not having a holster for his gun was the alleged problem, but not enough employees came back into store to run the registers, so we closed down.

I’m somewhat more concerned about a very real rise in the number of customers and co-workers who immediately stopped wearing masks when the North Carolina mandate expired. Its been a small comfort that it was store policy, given how numbers have risen every time that hasn’t been enforced for last two years. I won’t be wearing anything while cycling the greenway today either – never did.

Tonight will be a meeting of my Men’s Club, and next week’s annual Fish Fry (March 11, St. Gabriel School cafeteria) will be the focus. Our Lenten Fish Fry and our Christmas tree sale have been a legendary thing over 30 years, and this will be our third community event since Thanksgiving. Protocols and numbers sure, but this seems just a little more like what life used to be like.

With fingers crossed for some similar degree of ‘Normal,’ I’m also thankful for the opportunity to bring flowers to Mom for her 88th birthday on 3/1/22. This was first time we (brother Steve and wife, Mere) have been allowed to visit since Christmas.

Now #gshorkonsharonroadseam instead of City View, still smarter than one trick bear

Retail sales, Upwork boost micro-economy, ‘Officially old’ with Medicare, #gshorkonsharonroadseam is born

The Myers Park CC pickleball courts across the street on Sharon Rd., ‘The Seam of Charlotte’

After becoming a Medicare eligible ‘person of a certain age’ last week, all previous Boomer attitudes are still locked in. I have no intention of quitting my blogging business and creative writing by arriving at sixty-five – I’ve got plenty of words left to twirl.

There’s some potential for a Russian invasion of Ukraine any minute, which piles an additional HOLY SHIT! situation onto the physical problems of an ongoing COVID disaster. I’m triple vaxxed, thank you, and those events are above my pay grade and outside my personal ability to affect.

Stephen Covey said keeping a better focus on things one can control – like my writing business – yields more desirable results than worrying about the 95% that will happen no matter how much you think or worry about them.

While checking in about many wild and scary political badnesses in these United States is both the job of a good citizen and tough to take at times, I’ve got my micro-economy to run. Odds are, at some point the sheer weight of evil done badly will take trump down, I’ll catch up to whatever news on that quickly I’m sure.

Retail, micro-economic POV

I posted my POVs on retail and economics regularly during seven years working for a major Southeastern retailer (Belk) during the Great Recession, I’ll now be using #gshorkonsharonroadseam while presenting my POV of retail economics in 2022. #gshorkonsharonroadseam is an intended word play, between my physical location in Charlotte and that personal job challenge of getting guys into good looking Ted Baker suits for allll the weddings we’ll be having in 2022.

These are usually the doldrums, and there’s barely any stock in back, but a backlog of weddings in America offers a near future payoff for Boss, Millar, Baker and Canali suit-selling in my 32 hour Nordstrom’s week. Get your suits in Southpark, guys!

Me, 2/01/22 #gshorkonsharonroadseam
Brother Steve had a small filet, but as Dad might have said, “That fine steak didn’t stand a chance.” I wish I’d owned a dog lucky enough to get that bone.

Having replanted my flag this time last year, I’ll give myself an Attaboy! for finally https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/01/18/smarter-than-average-bear-content-writing-boomer-replants-thought-leadership-flag-2021/ settling my housing situation well, after five moves between June-late October. Tip-toeing around homelessness for me, millions are still on the move, and not everyone has family that can help in these often tough times.

Going with brother Steve for a magnificent rib-eye at Capital Grille, with a bit of Tin Cup and watching the 49ers-Packers game later, I accepted being Officially Kinda Old on 01/22/22. Yes, it felt good to be out, and Capital Grille’s reputation is sterling by me. Pandemic-wise, they was FULL shortly after we arrived for 5:15 reservations.

A tenet of real estate training was DON’T TALK OLD or RETIRED WITH BOOMERS, most are Forever Young believers.

Cycling three mile laps on the Booty Loop in Charlotte just four blocks away, that’s part of an ongoing POV about a sixty-five year young mind-body working as well as I know how.

Boomer with Attitude, and Bias to Action

There’s some pride about getting an initial 3,600 words of synopsis going for my third book, ‘Betrayed with Cause: Scorch a Sister, Punish the Prince,’ and my New Years Eve purchase of the fantastically bright, fast, high quality DELL Inspiron 24 5000 has immediately improved my CDTalent Enterprises work rate. https://cdtalententerprises.com/a-writer-whos-smarter-than-average-bear/ That’s going to be a major difference maker in 2022.

Commenting on an unimportant factor outside my micro-economy, its absolutely Mr. Tepper’s money to spend if he’s willing to keep 10-23 Coach Matt Rhule as the coach of the Panthers for Year 3. There might be some buyers remorse for that $62 million contract – it can happen when said coach was sniffing about (no longer available) Michigan gig as a change – instead of playoff-level football that doesn’t include Panthers in NFC South – will be a very background concern for me.

How about a little love for the HORNETS though, Charlotte! Seventh place in East at 28-23, and Coach Borrega has a couple *players* worth watching in LaMelo Ball (19.5ppg, 7.7 asst), and forward Miles Bridges (20.2ppg). Hornets nailed 24-threes in Pacers game. https://www.indystar.com/picture-gallery/sports/nba/pacers/2022/01/31/pacers-give-up-franchise-record-158-points-loss-hornets/9281839002/

Production at a Premium

Fact: In two weeks, my retail schedule went from 39 hours a week to under 30 for several weeks. Retail blahs in January is a fact

Fact: I told people I hit for the cycle last Sunday: A $1000 suit, $600 car coat, $600 sport coat, and $400 fragrance buy – with barely six hours on the clock because the mall closed early. I need to have about $1,300 in sales in a seven hour shift to pay for myself versus ‘going in the hole,’ based on a $12.80/hr. draw. Those four sales would equal 13 hours draw.

Writers and actors are often advised to keep their day jobs, and beyond those anticipated weddings and suit sales, many buyers indicate its a back to work move. How many wore suits before the pandemic brings a legitimate “Who cares?” response – as long as the guys are enthused.

Working mostly afternoons through closing, my best morning hours are now blocked for writing production. That includes an Upwork account where pre-pandemic I’d gotten $35-40/sess. for tutoring reading and writing.

Fifth graders through juniors and seniors will especially need essay writing tutoring. This pandemic has screwed up the educational system, and reading-writing programs are dear to me. I’ve appreciated the seniors I’ve worked with through Communities in Schools (CIS) workshops about improving scholarship request writing.

I’m a terrific editor, and monetizing that long time skill by being Zoom savvy, tutor-assisting student essay writing, will contribute to both my passion and micro-economy.

– Me, 1/22/22, My mission statement for 2022, as #gshorkonsharonseam

I’m driving a top-flight, fully loaded DELL now, and with technology holes filled, my marketing and self-promotion will be considerably better.

Tweak the Assets, Work the Strengths

Service attitude is always a primary strength, both in retail and writing projects. Having couples try on 3-4-5 coats isn’t unusual when sizing, and guys pay attention with suits. What most dislike in regular clothes shopping is not knowing how many times they’ll have to take off-put on.

With suits, its all about them, one big task, make the effort and gain a significant reward. Focusing writing processes and editing generates a similar good suit confidence feeling for writing clients.

Serious buyers are ‘suiting up’ for internships and job interviews. Getting younger guys through the process without any mystery, mothers have thanked me for making it quick and painless in a totally good way, and chatting with Dads who remember first suits as important is always cool.

Frankly, our tailors at Nordstrom’s represent a huge resource for my productivity, by discussing what can or can’t be done with alterations, especially pants. Their pros and cons expertise is akin to bringing the lefty in to get a ground out in baseball, but always focuses the choices between designers and sizes. Any good salesperson, like me, should close a really high percentage when someone’s moved positively that far in the process.

When my manager put me into 42 Regulars to develop my knowledge base about suits, it felt like Money. After showing a younger client the sheen of blue with both a Hugo Boss and a lean Ken Baker, I cheered for the mother who recognized how much he reallllly liked picking the Baker.

–Me, about twice a week, and I’d like to think that becomes a reputation.

Will opportunities get better than SwedishBikiniTeam?

It doesn’t get any better than this! was an Old Milwaukee Beer commercial, circa 2014, but then came the Swedish Bikini Team! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-c2NEFPqTwY

The Swedish Bikini Team is NOT what’s going to happen next if we can’t get a grip on the pandemic America, and I still have a micro-economy that I’m particularly interested in continuing to move forward. Bet you do, too.

Older and wiser activists that they are, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell offered their artistry in the drama that is Joe Rogan and COVID misinformation. Those artists were willing to lose the significant presentation of their musical contributions Spotify provides to get a bad thing to stop – MANY GOP officials can’t bear to consider doing anything similar. Neil Young’s music isn’t GONE, but if all of the hoo-hah! moved the needle on disinformation, and just maybe it did, more power to them.

I’m #gshorkonsharonseam now, Sharon Road instead of City View. Better location, same writing-editing business.

Vaxxed, check with a comma, threat of homeless handled well – a Great Suit Feel to end of 2021

From my porch this side of Sharon Road, ‘The Seam of Charlotte’, Southpark left behind at S.Wendover. Down a long, definite downhill and past the tennis -pickleball courts. That little left hook on the sign is for Chilton Ave., where homes on left border Myers Park CC. Keep right for more *very* nice homes on twisty-turnie Sharon to the church and Queens University.

Having recently been gladdened by a Thanksgiving gathering – and that commission check with a comma in it – there’s a genuine feeling of peace about important subjects in the title, especially that booster shot.

After getting enough ‘nothing they charge for’ support from the techs at YouBreakIFix to be back on a laptop and producing my first blog in three weeks, I left $20 for tech snacks anyway. I’m writing about thanks and gratitude as soon as possible.

The Great Suit Feel comes from my manager at Nordstrom’s getting me into 42 Regular suits with four of the designers we carry: Baker, Boss, Millar, Canali. I noted in a LinkedIn post that the easiest way to describe it was “It felt like Money.”

The Check with a Comma

I’m very okay with reflecting and enhancing the good cheer of this season, and yeah, I appreciate what Maverick called a target rich environment right now to work with – I was $5,000 (25%) over goal for first paycheck. Business cards and a significant online resource to track customers is part of the process.

I received half the promised $500 sign-on bonus in this weeks check, and Saturday I’ll invest in extending my wardrobe – the employee discount during ‘House Week’ is 30%. Nothing earth-shattering, but I had needs.

Fact: My micro-economy is definitely better, I have wardrobe budget!

I’m pretty good in 1-1 situations, helping people make buying decisions, and produce about $600/hr. I don’t typically get many returns either. My essential credo of customer service is sell it right. My writing and sales communications background has always relied on assembling facts, so walking a motivated looker through a ‘how about this, what else, and how much’ process that ends in a sale has always seemed natural.

Career salespeople and content writers know that getting all the lights green, and somebody signing something, is what has to happen to create Success. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/08/05/content-creation-client-needs-same-as-dating-info-to-righter-decisions/

Nordstrom’s is my first time back in retail since leaving another SouthPark Mall retailer across the parking lot seven years ago. I blogged about retail during those rugged times (2008-2014) – pssshhh, nothing Great about that Recession – and as a single guy without a mortgage, kids in school, or even a car payment, I still accumulated significant credit card debt. Bare bones 28 hrs. a week retail jobs meant lots of coworkers were taking from their futures to pay the bills.

Buddy Jack W. and I worked the Nautica line strong, and even during a Recession (2013-14) nearly always made their bonus levels. Although we seldom created the two credit card applications a week Belk management obsessively valued, I had enough bonus that January to – with a little bit of credit card – self-publish my first book.

On the run room, October 2021.

This September I submitted my second book in the Marlena the Magnificent line, https://www.wattpad.com/story/218725526-with-platinum-fury-focus/ while tip-toeing with homelessness between June and the end of October, when I landed in the terrific location described at the top. Here is what I’m calling ‘The Seam,’ with a literary nod to my suit selling.

Having suit-buying customers see I’m well put together-being stylish means I’m wearing suits and ties again for the first time in years.

SUITS is where the action is in Men’s Furnishings. Just yesterday a load of those good suits showed up, and the velvet tuxedo jackets are $725 (“Yes, Mr. McDaniel, you were right on the money about 40 short…”), and those asking about black Canali suits ($1800) is consistent – I’ve talked about it numerous times in two weeks.

Laughably (almost) is fact many guys are still showing up three days before major events and requiring emergency measures. While $$$ can expedite anything, point is people are planning on formal occasions and dressing up for it.

Its a pleasure to talk with those who know what they actually want, and I’m now comfortable with the returns and alterations functions. Even compared to being a WFH (work from home) person for essentially two-plus years, I feel safe there. Corporate culture has all employees masked, as are vast majority of customers, and I’m never bum-rushed by a dozen people all day like maybe Walmart.

Customer Satisfaction

Our ‘Team Selling’ of Mr. Martin’s suit (Nordstrom’s has a button for splits), and my first suit sale included a GREAT job with alterations, but coming back with a promised article (I always say “8 of 9 yesterday”), creates customer anticipation and brings a smile when its presented.

The relief one Mom got from our good tailors was cool. She’d been a little tense about her HS football guy in Ted Baker pants wanting to show a little ankle, and the tailor’s, “I’m not cutting anything, we can always change it back” was the whew! she needed.

Getting my secretary back

Having recently referenced Jim Croce regarding work conditions, https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/11/01/croces-carwash-blues-is-an-anthem-for-american-workers-in-2021/ that he “should be smoking on a big cigar, talkin’ some some trash to a secretary…” well my secretary is a 200-plus year old, honey brown upright heirloom that two brothers are hopefully shipping to me for Christmas. (How about that Oriental rug Mom was so fond of too, for my wood floors…)

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It had to go north with brother Dave in early May, because I didn’t have a plan for an important heirloom when I was starting a five-moves-in-five-months odyssey in mid-June, and nobody wanted it to wind up by the side of the road,

More than just furniture, that secretary means reclaiming a psychological asset and another positive uptick to current lifestyle. I was never sure I’d see it again once it was on the truck,

2021’s been that kind of year. Plenty of angst, starting out lousy enough with the January 6 Insurrection, so many wondering how anyone could slow the train wreck of political considerations and deadly COVID concerns. There was a real powering up on vaccination front, and being Officially ‘immunized’ in mid-March instead of late May, I’ll continue putting that under customer satisfaction delivered by Biden administration.

(Closer to) Normal is Good

FINALLY – Last year was the first time in 35 years our community group didn’t sell Christmas trees, so getting ahold of 350 and selling out in nine days really put us back on track. (Sigh) The absolute JOY of three young brothers, those energetic little guys rolling down a small hill – wow! Unquestioned tree hugging fun, and pretty damn close to Life as Normal, y’know? It brought waves of good memories, years of ‘us four guys’ looking for a tree expeditions, cutting and tying onto our station wagon’s top.

$5 any tree back then! plentiful snowball throwing, “Here’s a good one!” and all the rest that decorating entailed.

The Great Suit Feeling as life in my micro-economy, things DO feel a lot better than even forty days ago, and I’m not alone on making positive changes. I’m better positioned on ‘The Seam of Charlotte,’ have improved personal lifestyle and economics – clothes and computer, about $700 each – will be small testaments to progress. I am safe by all applicable standards, and am willing-able to socialize.

I also believe its okay to give the guy walking the traffic median $2 any time of year.

Umpiring a Fall of American Family Baseball, It was often an Honor to Participate

Taking a foul tip in the collarbone is the worst. My equipment being a little loose almost cost me.

The shortage of certain people in many areas extended to umpiring, and when an ex-umpire mentioned at our monthly meeting about possibilities for anyone with experience, I started doing Little League games in Dilworth the next Wednesday.

I’ve done arc-pitch softball in FL and NY years ago, working with youth baseball has been super interesting because of the intense family aspect.

One recent assignment involved a second Blue, who I’d done my first game ever with. He reminded me about trying to get changed into shinpads in my car without undressing – I finally gave up, and did the game with the plastic over the pants. (Not a good look, not repeated)

I’ve put in some 14 hour days since, worked two weekends with blast furnace 96! temperatures, and taken my share of ‘meat shots,’ and umpiring is more than just a welcome cash cow. With about 20 hours game time, $40-50 per game averages $20/hr. with a much more exciting office. It’s fun, not a gripe.

Getting the mask relocated by a foul tip, my standard line is, “I don’t get up for breakfast if I don’t know I’m gonna get hit a couple times.”

Me, a couple times a day while umpiring.
Everybody has a back pack, usually with a pair of antenna-bats.

7 Innings of a Blue’s ‘tudes, Calling it as I See It

Chatting with people near the fence about the difference in early sunshine and cool Fall temperatures this past weekend, compared to the blast furnace 96 I’d done one of their teams games in early June, one Dad’s immediate response was, “Yessir, I remember you – you gave my son some great advice. Thank you,”

That advice involved him twiddling with the grip on his pitch – which all the younger pitchers with small hands do – even while he was going into his delivery. My point was, when you work to get a certain grip, that’s usually a signal – especially if other team has seen the results before – your ‘something different’ pitch is coming.

When you throw it for strikes, the question is, can they actually HIT it while knowing? If not, take your time, set yourself and grip, *then* throw the pitch was my sage counsel.

The umpire schedule organizers tried to tell me early not to chat with the crowd “because one bad call and they’ll turn on you,” but I’ve always been a yakker, so…

My attitude is I’m contributing a little something to the American lifestyle, not just judging balls-strikes-outs. Telling that pitcher, or a first base person to make sure they keep heel in contact with the bag, it seems to make a difference.

Yes, I’ve been surprised at overall support on a regular basis. That so many coaches swear they tell young charges not to question the umpires (You’re right, Hayden, that was too good a pitch not to call a strike, but…), is affirming a rule of order.

2nd Inning

Pregame, I regularly mention players asking for time out and stepping out of the batters box with coaches and dugouts. It’s often coaches trying to break a pitcher’s rhythm, and my sense of sportmanship extends to fact if he’s ready to go, you better be ready to hit. I am not going to grant time very often, and have called three balks resulting in two runs scoring from third.

While batters stepped out without permission, seeing them do so caused the pitcher to stop his motion, and if they don’t release the pitch, its a balk. Its unfair to the pitcher, and letting young minds know how I enforce it (and the high strike) is a good piece of info to put out there. Armpits to knees, yes, use that bat.

I’m willing to listen to a coach appeal a play, say, where several runners wind up after an infield fly pop-up gets dropped (they can run at their own risk). Do NOT keep going on an individual call, coach. Catcher, do NOT pose with a ball that’s over the other batters box line wanting a strike – nothing good will come from you trying to show me up like that. I’ll tell you that, once.

3rd Inning

I was only threatened one time by a spectator, and only once did I get fed up enough to have coaches confined to the dugout. That I could say, “Zip it, or see the game from further away,” and enforce it was a great tool to know was in my bag. That I restored the previous freedoms in the next (title) game was still about fairness.

Having a catcher ask why I’d called a recent pitch a ball, 10 year olds wouldn’t have the stones to ask that if they hadn’t seen coaches question every situation for three full games. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/06/29/america-and-family-baseball-joyful-4th-is-umpires-call/ I’ve told that story numerous times, and that *specifically* wasn’t happening on MY watch. Adults need some telling where the lines are too.

4th Inning

The single best thing an umpire can have is consistency, and high-low is easier for others to see than any distance off the plate. That’s why catchers are taught from earliest exposure about framing pitches, making them look closer to the strike zone. “How could that not be a strike?” is the crowd question, what I tell catchers regularly is “I saw where you caught it, and I saw where you put it.”

Doing a 9 year old tournament, where many were doing kid-pitch for the first time, my off the plate (17″) calls of two balls wider wound up taking 2:30 hours to have a victor. Calling it unhittably further outside was unfair, but walk-athons are deadly.

It was the single most brutal five games I umped all year. I had 8-9 bottles of water, a couple Gatorades, and still didn’t need to relieve myself until 9:00 at night. I told a nurse about it the next day, she said I was lucky she didn’t meet me in an ER.

5th Inning

Except for that one bitchy team (plus two other yellers), I was uniformly impressed with how dedicated coaches are to keeping kids in the game. Arriving early and having time to jaw with them is personally satisfying. That Dad and Coach sometimes have to deal with situations around a pouty son is reality. Listen to the constant barrage about hitting the next pitch, or what to do about a passed ball (“You should be here!”) at a game – coaches keep it going even in a rout.

When there was a question of not having enough time left to start another inning and get the home team last at bats, you’ve gotta love the answer: “So we get to practice our defense another half inning? Its our first game of the season, its okay if we don’t get to bat.”

That’s taking every opportunity to help kids get better. If I can help with an observation – “Your catcher is setting up on the outside third of plate, and if your pitcher misses at all, its going to be a ball” – I can be a difference maker too.

6th Inning

After taking two foul tips on the exact same spot on top of forearm one weekend, I changed how I positioned myself from hands on knees to always having the batter side arm tucked behind myself. Plastic only covers so much, then there’s meat shots. Making necessary changes to protect myself (I was also a hockey goalie in college…) was a no brainer.

There’s usually an Oooo! and “You okay Blue?” from the crowd and coaches when they hear the crack! of a chest protector or see the face mask get rearranged. Its more the blast in the bicep or maybe a hand that changes your machismo for a while.

As a physical challenge at 64, I feel good about an occasional thwack! I’m certainly not too good to think ringing the register with a $350 weekend, while talking baseball and peoples kids, is a bad thing in any way. The hard core travel teams are miles from the rec league supporters, most of whom recognize their kids might get pummeled for a season before age and experience kicks in.

7th inning

Yes, its seeing athletics as part of their young lives, getting to relate to some of that bonding and what’s happening between the ears I knew was important when I played Pop Warner football. Doing 10-under games, then 12-13s, the physical difference of two-three years is amazing.

The chunky 10 y/old who just learned a curve ball that week thought, “Maybe we should have a go, Ump.” I said, “Learned a curve ball this week and you want some of this? You must be a confident guy.” “Yep!”

The best way for an umpire to avoid 95% of any coach or crowd BS is to be right on top of the play versus calling it from across the diamond. The kid sliding into third and his coach yells he’s safe, my “Coach, he’s got the glove pinned against the base, he’s out!” means I just turn and walk away.

On a bottom line, “Don’t reward stupid” is legitimate. The slow-footed kid who tries going first to third when there’s a confusing play at the plate almost always deservedly, gets nailed at third, and if its close, he really shouldn’t have been going… Their coach will talk to them about a bad decision.

Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves for winning the World Series so convincingly. Everyone in Charlotte was rooting for them, all the young players for sure, and they epitomize the idea of sportsmanship and the bonding that makes a bunch of young people a team. See everyone again in the Spring.

Croce’s ‘Carwash Blues’ is an anthem for American workers in 2021

The statistics about how many millions of Americans are so dissatisfied with their pre-pandemic jobs and a willingness to take a leap of faith to change that is, in a word, incredible .

Singer Jim Croce’s first line, about an individual who “Just got out from the county prison, doing ninety days for non-support,” kind of pales in comparison to the massive hunkering down and unemployment millions of Americans have dealt with since the world found out about COVID-19 in early 2020.

“All I can do is shake my head, you might not believe it’s true, but working at this end of Niagara Falls is an undiscovered Howard Hughes.”

-Jim Croce, ‘Workin’ at the Carwash Blues,’ 1973 ‘I Got a Name’ album

Although there will be many who don’t know who Jim Croce or Howard Hughes (VERY eccentric rich guy, legendary talents) were, an unprecedented number of them seem willing to take a leap of faith about rectifying a negative by leaving an unsatisfying situation just as offices and industries start to open up. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/14/1-in-4-workers-quit-their-job-this-year-according-to-new-report.html

While this smacks of the optimism this country has always had about something better to offer, its also an attitude that will be tested mightily. For Boomers who used retirement accounts to skin through mortgage, educational needs, and basic bills in 2008-2014’s Recession, that nest egg for their Golden Years has probably been reduced to a significant degree.

While everyone seems to know there are an incredible number of jobs (10.4MM) available, https://www.bls.gov/jlt/ there are two factors that continue to stifle a workforce that SHOULD be ready and willing to dig into the possibilities.

Many of those jobs are a brutal combination of work conditions and low pay that only the most desperate are willing to consider, $15 an hour burger flippers (much better than starving) and ditch diggers still ranking low.

Perhaps more importantly – and this won’t be the first time most will hear this lament – recruiting systems and HR/placement personnel don’t seem to have a grip on how lousy a disconnect exists between resumes from applicants and archaic and confusing selection operations. https://theundercoverrecruiter.com/fatal-recruitment-flaws/

“You need to apply everywhere”

That’s the simplistic advice just about every job searcher has heard from family members, and while online capability makes the necessary delivery of one’s paper portrait easy, the volume of those a candidate is up against for any remote position is staggering.

Dissing of Boomers for relative ‘kids’ with more recent tech skills – but no idea how to talk to senior management or interact with customers – is often, and justifiably, called a disgraceful use of available resources. Just sayin,’ its ageist.

There’s no doubt that companies turned to recruiters to offload the enormous burden of sifting possibilities in 2008, when the Great Recession meant a flood of apps came to HR departments. The belief that ELIMINATING a large quantity of people based on “The client told us what they want, if a resume lacks *any* criteria (ie. software, years of specific experience), into the crap pile for you!” was operational.

The current Black Hole still doesn’t recognize the need to TELL anyone they aren’t being considered, a courtesy that would reduce some anxiety for those who need to move on.

Even at this time, when businesses are screaming they’re strapped for ‘qualified’ people to fill jobs, the system is still using antiquated formats of start-stop dates, rigid position titles, and ‘Describe job function-responsbilities’ boxes that can’t possibly fulfill every word combination that bots and ‘crawlers’ judge as necessary. Dissing of Boomers for relative ‘kids’ with more recent tech skills – but no idea how to talk to senior management or interact with customers – is often, and justifiably called a disgraceful use of available resources to fix such a talent shortfall.

Anyone who has checked what LinkedIn means when their resume is judged to have only ‘four of ten skills that other candidates have’ will almost always be surprised at what they supposedly DON’T have. Those with significant expertise in more than one field will be screwed by a dependence on chronological demands of formatting. Recruiters never recognize many factors because the industry standard eight seconds of review ignores all but the most recent experience relative to current position demands.

Achievement vs. ‘just what you did’

Achievement vs. ‘just what you did’ looks like this, https://cdtalententerprises.com/2018/12/16/could-millions-narrow-current-skills-gap-in-job-market-with-better-recruiter-interviewing/ and the blog being nearly three years old hasn’t changed how difficult it is to determine or satisfy what companies want to know.

Can cover letters or personal appearance make a difference?

The recruiting world seems divided on the usefulness of cover letters. Many have no use for them, when dozens appear, and the FACTS of a resume are all that matter. Concurring with writer Alison Doyle’s rationale for cover letters offers strong reasons to do so most of the time, even if it takes extra time by candidates and might not be read. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/should-you-include-a-cover-letter-if-it-s-not-required-2060291

If your skill set is anything but easy to describe, work it into your letter. ‘Customer Service Administrator’ is weak, so for those who WANT to see you are willing to put that extra effort into what it means, it counts a lot.

For the Boomer Generation and many others, the limitations of COVID-19 and The Great Recession were/are a spike in their greatest assets – personality and communications. Sales types are used to hearing ‘No,’ but having zero recourse to the fact so many companies outsourced candidate selection a decade or more ago, and the obvious negatives of the pandemic emptying offices of *anyone* to talk with or impress, are figurative handcuffs.

No face-face meetings or hands to shake, no clues about favorite teams to glean from displays in the office, no assistant out front to provide a name that allows an application to be sent more accurately.

When many jobs changed to work from home (WFH) options versus being sited in say, Charlotte, NC, job candidates started going against a whole lot more people than ever before. Anyone whose had difficulty getting a computer to agree that their information is inputted correctly when it sends a message about it being wrong without what might need correcting, your frustration is shared millions of times daily. A single typo could be a difference maker.

Falling back on “It is what it is,” flies in the face of getting results that demand change. Those family members who might have jobs that provided necessary paychecks over the last 20-plus months, will no doubt try to convince those on the edge to “Take whatever you can, you don’t have to like it, just make money and keep looking.”

A 1971 TIME magazine cover picture of a gowned graduate pumping gas was dramatic, and every generation has its challenges. Yes, its difficult as a Boomer – or a $250k in debt graduate – to think of much less satisfying jobs and an economic situation where the future is as murky as this job (and political and health) situation has become.

Croce’s “Steadily depressing, low-down, mind messin’, workin’ at the car wash blues” is right on the reality of 2021 for many.

Just to put a somewhat rosier glow on the idea overall, getting a face to face interview with a major retail operation Thursday became a call with a job offer Saturday while I was umpiring a Little League game for extra cash.

It’s essentially a commission situation ($12.80/hr. base and benefits), and IMHO, I’m an above average 1-1 sales and service person. A training class starts next week, but nothing is stopping me from continuing my freelance/contract writing career, which has been a side gig most of my life.

I’m not entering Croce’s executive position, but in an ‘opportunity rich environment’ like Nordstrom’s, I’m aligned with their expectations of productivity. Results should become obvious in the very short term.

It’s not the $50,000 and benefits gig with a CBD manufacturer for a content creation situation in 2019, but cashing commission checks is an upside, where lifestyle doesn’t rely on Social Security checks.

That my second book, ‘With Platinum Fury Focus’ gets elevated on wattpad or turned into a movie is still a lightening bolt possibility too, right? https://www.wattpad.com/story/218725526-with-platinum-fury-focus

Good luck on your next moves America, we all kind of need it.

Tip-toeing with homelessness still Job 1, finding it fast (THEN 35% of income?) crunch still a factor

When I move for real, I’ll get my fine, 200 y/old secretary back.

It’s been two weeks since moving out of a (thankfully) no-lease situation, after a hasty must-do decision on deadline in June became a gut-tightening strain through September.

‘Tin pot tyrant’ is the term I’ve used for last landlord, who dropped two – undocumented, so I say unvaccinated – NY/NJ kids in the house’s living room without talking to three residents, not the first reason it was time to move on. (They paid $500 for an air-mattress ‘room’.)

When Jeff taped tinfoil across top of the stove, I contacted an online legal company ($60, renews 30 days unless cancelled, not a good idea), and that night I made meatloaf IN the stove.

Me, 4 days before moving out.

Forgetting to cancel the lawyer would be worse, but I included ‘their advice’ in contacting landlord – texts leave solid trail of evidence, probably good to think like that, especially in pursuing landlords about DEPOSIT MONEY.

Delineate anything agreed on (ie. $30 for new door lock) out of $300 deposit = $270, and my response to “When I collect it, I’ll get it to you,” as a resolution of situation was a clear NO!

Moving as ‘Mission Accomplished’

  • Started Monday morning about 9:15, good buddy My Do came with a coffee and croissant for me. He saw the taped stovetop, and Jeff was shouting with the kids about them having to go soon, too.
  • It was painless, in and out without any problems. Stuff out of fridge and cabinet, outdoor storage closet, no dings, vacuumed up. Even went out through keyless entry front door, the one he told NY/NJ kids I somehow broke.
  • I reserved a 15-footer (U-Haul) because I didn’t want to have to come back. Overall mileage was exceptional – 43 driven included delivering a dresser to another part of town. Total expense – $61, plus $18 gas.
  • $139.95 for a 10x10x7.5 area at U-Haul was almost a bargain. Space is at a premium with that eviction process now a significant factor. I kept the queen-size frame, box, mattress, gave multi-drawer dresser and bedside table to a community group My and I do monthly collections for. Got a note by 3:00 it’d been given for a Vietnamese family of eight, definitely needed drawers.
  • I took three days in the Pineville Hampton Inn to decompress, love that free breakfast and plentiful coffee. Worth every penny ($351 total), as I finished and submitted my book to wattpad https://www.wattpad.com/story/218725526-with-platinum-fury-focus an hour before checkout on Thursday morning.
  • Currently residing at Carolyn R’s, with a General Delivery mailing address at the Post Office. Carolyn is a very nice lady, her offering a smaller room in her house, all kitchen access and high speed ‘Net/cable because I knew her from retail days, was another bit of interim moves good luck. Stallings is a short extra drive from the parts of Charlotte I’ve enjoyed most of my 29 years here, but $200 every two weeks is also another ‘soft’ landing in my run along the edge of homeless.

There are a lot of ways to blow cash, but failing to follow up on your deposit is only hurting yourself. Document everything!

Tiptoeing includes Utilities, WiFi

Even with some family assistance about guarantor – because I don’t have any verifiable previous rental history, or 3x monthly rental in income – prices have risen dramatically here in Charlotte, NC. I had a good agent with Alcove helping find places I could get into, but last half-dozen have all gone up $200 compared to what it was originally listed for online. With utilities, that turned a $645 place into $950.

https://mint.intuit.com/blog/housing/how-much-should-you-spend-on-rent/

The property I’m hoping/expecting some good news about is significantly higher than that, because its a 2 BR, and located across the street from the Myers Park tennis courts.

First floor, hardwood floors, smaller second BR will become my working office, 680 total sq.ft. Small four burner stove, good shower pressure, plenty of cabinets, closet space is fine by me – agent felt one could hold her shoes. Off-street parking spot, screened room for back porch.

The agent indicated utilities might be $150, and while the building (from 1950s) can have wifi, hooking up to even basic service I require as an online-WFH person at present, is going to push me to more like $1400/month.

Based on the $2800 month income used in Intuit article above, that’s 50% and a 12 month lease is the only option. This piece on Axios Charlotte presents a current situation in Mecklenburg that many won’t be able to deal with. The pandemic has sort of put gas on the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte, as shown in the county’s 2021 State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report.

Being settled again, even over budget, would be a load off my mind. I’m definitely back in a very central part of the city, SouthPark, and just maybe I’ll get a chance to play golf with Steve, a Myers Park member, or my nephew Ian. Continued best of thoughts for those grinding through the process.

Evictions have rules

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article253248123.html

RESPECT – “Our people” in Kabul, mask-vax, and umpiring

The bad old days before vaccine – brother Mike is retired now, rolling around the country in a 37′ RV, a state of affairs he always envisioned. Having two unvaxxed, essentially homeless people, dropped into my living space isn’t nearly as respectful a situation.

Start with the most important RESPECT

Having sent congrats! to several military people I know (especially you Malitzia) about the Kabul airlift, RESPECT should be the byword for all Americans. By all reasonable standards, a massive – over 120,000 person success versus any ‘debacle’ or stain on our military’s record – should be lauded. Hats off for all who served, in the air, on the ground, or logistically.

As Marine Corp General Kenneth McKenzie said at the time of an ISIS suicide bombing, when you’re in such a defensive posture, you KNOW you are going to be attacked – it’s only a question of when, and how well prepared for it you are. Noting that searching for body bombs like what killed some 60 Afghans and 13 U.S. service people is “a breath on breath,” intimate operation that was a threat every moment of the 17 days it lasted, one ‘successful’ attack was exceptional.

General McKenzie was also willing to credit the Taliban, which constituted the initial defensive perimeter, as being helpful and abiding by what had been agreed regarding the US departure.

That ISIS took advantage of the situation – very possibly using a female bomber that Sharia law prevented Taliban people from touching in the way necessary to detect a personal bomb – was probably a factor. It was detonated when faced with US personnel not restricted in that way is a simple fact, not the overwhelming fault that some Congressional (GOP) naysayers want to paint President Biden with.

The last American out was Major General Chris Donahue, 82nd Airborne, XVIII Corp. (hope that’s correctly delineated). It was NOT the frantic desperation of the last helicopter out of Vietnam when I was a HS senior, more the always messy end of a 20 year mission.

Mask-vax negatives are not a gov’t flaw

Nine months into the deployment of several 95-97% effective vaccines AFTER trump left office – most know the why of that – the United States has yet to reach group immunity (generally pegged at 70%), and the delta variation is overwhelming our health care system.

Every time there’s a huge increase in infections, and then deaths, it’s been tied to idiotic loosening of systems that are *proven* to work against such unseeable enemies. This quote from Martin Luther https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/martin-luther-plague-quote/ shows great sensibility about precautions. We have people poisioning themselves with horse de-wormer https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/why-you-should-not-use-ivermectin-treat-or-prevent-covid-19 because they feel ‘getting stuck’ hands a political victory to Biden that trump et al don’t want to happen.

Come ON! with basic smarts America!

CHILDREN have not proven in any way immune to COVID-19, especially the delta variant, and mandates from GOP governors that school districts cannot protect them by masking is criminal. Many school districts will fight such mandate restrictions with civil disobedience, but at the individual level, there seems to a YUGE lack of respect for extra caution (see Martin Luther, above).

When I walked into a Novant clinic on March 18th, while still a Category 5 person in North Carolina, I felt I’d been given as close a guarantee to *living* as was possible. After hunkering down for a year, two weeks after a 2nd shot (Pfizer) I was allowed into Carmel Hills Senior Center, where I got to hug my 87 year old mother.

As a bottom line philosophy, I’d considered “thinning out the gene pool” a matter of choice – until it was very probable that ‘those people’ who wanted to deny or spit in the eye of the death-dealing ferocity of COVID could easily take me with them.

That my landlord decided THIS WEEK – his house, apparently he felt no need to consult three bill-paying tenants – to allow two homeless people to ‘temporarily’ camp in the living room, is a direct affront to the idea of respecting others. I wear a cloth mask when I leave my room now – it makes no sense to let my previous caution allow delta a gotcha! moment.

Having shown the two NYC-Jersey refugees my vax card, I have NO REASON to believe “Oh, I threw that piece of paper away,” is anything but a lie. The female denied the clog of hair left in shower was her’s (kee-RIST!), why believe something considerably more important to my health is okay, just because the guy would ditch such a document during a pandemic? Moron, right?

RESPECT has always been earned

RESPECT has always been earned, and both landlord – for many reasons – and these people have given me plenty of reason to doubt they’re working with societal norms. Millions of others have their own reasons for lying, but in situations this up close and personal, protecting myself is Job One.

For that, and many other reasons, I’m looking to get out of this living arrangement a.s.a.p. Landlord has a heart condition, another resident isn’t vaxxed either, not a problem to be a pisser about this IMHO.

Telling me to put my car on the street instead of in driveway so newbies can park there, that’s a minor disrespect, more an inconvenience. I talked to ‘the kids’ (22 y/olds) straight up about it, because good communication should always be top of the list. They seemed to understand, but like many aspects of life right now, about half the people in the house aren’t hearing it. Even if he’s “being a good Christian” re: homeless, I’ve been there. (Update 9/20/21 – He’s not that good, charging pair of 22 year olds $550 a month) https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/06/22/america-truly-on-move-sheltered-homeless-challenge-millions/

Three sturdy HS football players who helped with a recent furniture drive said they wouldn’t get vaccinated, and I guess we’ll see how badly this continues to go on, based on lack of RESPECT for COVID.

“We know the difference with good umpires”

Tee ball doesn’t actually have umpires, your best player is the kid who jumps on the ball early, and 10 batters an inning is all you get.

Brother David gave me this nugget, and yes, the scheduler for the organization I work for has it as a mantra – “You have to be consistent, especially high-low.” Last week I umped five games of 9 year olds on Saturday, then three games of 15 year olds Sunday.

After a first game that took 2:30 hours (scheduled for 1:45), I was told to loosen up my strike zone, from probably two ball widths off the plate to three. Realistically, this was the first time the 9 yr. olds weren’t getting ‘coach pitch,’ and you can’t hit anything that far off the plate, but with a heat index of 105 degrees, getting done sooner was a matter of survival.

I thanked the spectators that offered water and Gatorade, especially the frozen bottle I drizzled on my neck between innings. That several every game understood how physically brutal that heat was kind of counted, 15 minutes between games in the air-conditioned clubhouse counted even more.

The games with 15 year olds was quite different

Even 10 year olds have curve balls now, despite evidence that its not good for them to be throwing curves, and I’m aware of that ‘hook’ at the end when calling the games. At the beginning of 15s I made it clear, 3 balls wide yesterday wouldn’t be the deal – the 17″ of plate is all anyone was going to get.

I should add the fact that 10-11 year old catchers learn to frame pitches early, and 15s are willing to pull a pitch from *anywhere* into a spot that’s close to strike zone.

After one particular pitcher kept signaling he didn’t know why he wasn’t getting calls, I went to the manager between innings and told him the catcher was set up on outer third of the plate, and if pitcher missed at all, it was going to be a ball. Turned out that catcher had that habit previously, and manager couldn’t see difference from dugout I could at plate. He had catcher reposition himself directly behind the plate and offered thanks for the input.

As someone interested in athletics beyond the win-loss aspect, I feel its my professional duty to offer a comment when I see an obvious situation deserving of one.

I’ve done it multiple times, and when a center-fielder crashed into the chain link fence Sunday (GREAT catch!), I went to both dugouts and reminded them such things happened in sports. That kid had a helluva egg on his forehead, and didn’t look all there at the end of game, even after they’d taken him for x-rays to check for a concussion.

Coach said “Thanks for the input, Blue” even though I was sure he’d probably told his players the same thing. RESPECT comes in a lot of different packages, and there’s noooo doubt we could use a lot more of it in the current climate of ‘Us-them’ on something as basic as health safety during a pandemic.

RESPECT a virus? You betcha. If you want to hug your Mom, living in a community that’s tougher on who gets in than you want, do something smart about it – get the shot. If you don’t want your kids to come back from school loaded with a virus they can unknowingly pass to you, and you to unsuspecting others – get the shot.

If you’d like to offer a positive response about how you’re handling safety or issues of RESPECT, comments are open. I label this in ‘Leadership Thought’ category, one of my favorite word-smithing abilities, available for hire.

‘Vanilla’ pre-season offense will surprise Steelers, Panther fans, NFL in 2021

Will the 2021 Panthers be capable of playoff caliber production? A lot of smart money is going to say “11-6 and we’ll see.”

I arrived in Charlotte (from upstate NY) the same year the Panthers started playing, 1995, and went to a game at Clemson that year against the 49ers. I took two pictures that I won’t forget – Sam Mills going up to stop Steve Young on a QB sneak, and Tyrone Poole trying to stop a high pass to Jerry Rice. I never liked the Giants or Jets, mostly because I had to watch regional doubleheaders of them during college, when they both stunk. I also got tickets to their playoff win against Dallas, and saw the full-moon win against New England when a last second Brady pass was incomplete. (Yes, Kuechly was holding Gronkowski.)

It’s a stone-cold given that the Panthers offense will put numbers on the board in 2021 season – the team record is 500, in the 2015 Super Bowl season – although the Carolina faithful may not be Believers yet. They haven’t seen any Darnold 70-yard bombs to those terrific receivers, ZERO from face-of-the-franchise Christian McCaffrey, and the second team defense hasn’t looked like they could step in and stop anyone better than in 2019.

Hang in there Charlotte, ‘The Quarterback Whisperer’ (Joe Brady), those fine receivers – Anderson and Moore were #3 producers in NFL in 2020 – and CMC is still the terrific over-achiever you remember from that 1000-1000 year.

Yes, Sam Darnold will pull the trigger

Rhule commented that Darnold throws a real nice deep ball, and fannies at BOA Stadium haven’t seen that factor in a long time. Steve Smith is still worshipped as the best we’ve had (836 catches/12,197 yds./67 TDs), he’ll probably become a Hall of Famer this year. Mushin Muhammed (860/11,438/62) gave the Panthers great service, and Greg Olsen will always be considered a ninja legend, a tight end who couldn’t be seen until he’d gotten the catch and first down yardage.

Defenses – and anyone in the stands – knew Newton almost exclusively kept throws to 20 yards or less, and his awkwardness in getting to the ground versus destroying DBs like before a 2016 injury, was painful to watch. Newton wasn’t close to a fearsome runner his last few years here, and in his MVP year (2015), only his 35 passing TDs (plus 10 rushing) was statistically much different from his career stats. While he enjoyed a 67.9% completion rate in 2018, a lot of that was dropoffs to McCaffrey, who obviously lugged the ball a lot in the Norv Turner offense.

Kyle Allen turned DJ Moore into a star by being able to hit him in stride the next year, Teddy Bridgewater didn’t scare anyone about going long, and Newton never threw a touch pass or jump ball to receivers in the red zone in nine years. Sam Darnold will change all that, including teams stacking the box to stop McCaffrey.

The Quarterback Whisperer

Ask Joe Burrow (Cincinatti Bengals) if Joe Brady made him the #1 draft pick last year, and he’ll admit that, talent aside, the juice Brady put into a somewhat stodgy LSU offense was the deal. Burrows top receivers his senior year are all in the NFL now, including Terrance Marshall, Jr. with the Panthers.

The potentially weak link in what should be a wide-open offense with CMC back and wide receivers galore, is going to be the O-line blocking Darnold gets. Yes, he sometimes had ‘happy feet’ trying to avoid sacks with the Jets, and *maybe* Brady wouldn’t say anything negative about his QB. Darnold is certainly under a microscope – albeit not a NY media one – and those at practice say he’s showing leadership and the arm that made him the overall #3 pick back in 2018. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/04/09/panthers-take-care-of-business-gm-fitterer-lands-qb-darnold-to-get-rolling/

Vanilla offense no more

With Burrow the proof of Brady’s offensive influence – (NCAA record 76.3% completions), 60 TDs, 5,671 yards (378 avg. per game) – more so than Bridgewater’s 15 TD/11 INT mark – NFL coaches are aware the Panthers offensive coordinator hasn’t shown much from what should be a substantial bag of tricks.

Last year the Panthers had four players accumulate over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, and while Mike Davis and Curtis Samuel have taken their games elsewhere, McCaffrey will replace – or once again become – that offensive production.

If you saw his shoulder injury, the defender pinned McCaffrey’s arms before he landed and he couldn’t protect his fall. Sure it could happen again, but its also impossible for linebackers to drop into deep zones to help with coverage when he, or possibly stud rookie Chuba Hubbard are carving out first downs running. CMC can just as easily go in motion and pick up eight yards on a short out, more if someone (few want to attempt open field tackles with him) isn’t coming to get him.

Robby Anderson is just the first of several Panthers who have received contract extensions (2 yr./ $29.5MM, $20.5MM guaranteed), meaning you’ll be hearing what this band is playing for a while. DJ Moore won’t totally break the bank with any new contract, but given Tepper and GM Scott Fitterer’s willingness to match production and paychecks (CMC got $21.3MM up front for his extension), he’ll get his piece too. Raiding well-paid Panthers personnel becomes a very secondary consideration.

If defenses had trouble with the speedy Samuel, they will not be happier with the size (6’2″, 200 lbs) of a third receiver like Marshall, who ran a 4.38 40 yd. dash and jumped 39″ in his pro day – and did 16 -225 lb. bench presses. DBs especially had better have it strapped on tight when he needs tackling.

Will the Panthers surprise Pittsburgh tomorrow and the NFL when games count for real? I’d say invoke Mr. Tepper’s financial stack and history of knowing what to do about what he wants results-wise. The smart money is on the steep though not prohibitive – cost of taking any of the current coaches away for head coaching positions elsewhere. Coaching WILL make a difference in Rhule 2.0.

Will Rhule rate a statue?

When Panthers owner David Tepper gave a big contract to Matt Rhule, he was betting against the history of terrific college coaches who fail in the NFL. Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer did real well with the Cowboys of course, but few others have made successful transitions to the pros.

After Coach Rhule’s 5-11 first year at the helm, not everyone was super-charged at prospects for 2021, especially lacking an A-1 QB to work with those quality receivers – of which there are now more. Rhule’s track record supports idea of significant second year progress – and he has a seven year, $60 million contract.

Right now, the statues outside the stadium are of Sam Mills, the linebacker who died of cancer in 2005 and is the inspiration for the teams ‘Keep Pounding’ theme. That he only played three seasons for the Panthers indicates the regard he was accorded. Mike McCormick was the team’s president and general manager from the time of Mr. Richardson’s bid, to formation in the NFL until 1997.

What might it take for Coach Rhule to get a stadium statue, generally a rare honor? Winning a Super Bowl would be a start. Winning as many games as Lombardi? Legitimate. Winning a title before Tepper’s new soccer team does? Ahhhhh… (The panthers at all entrances remain, original owner Jerry Richardson’s has been taken away.)

Let’s let him get through Year Two before the idea of statues comes up Charlotte.

COMING MONDAY – The Defense

Panther fans, closer to believing in football revived than pandemic?

Having 35,000 fannies back in the seats for an outdoor game, excitement should be as strong as its been in several years

Panther Coach Matt Rhule resting his first line players as “already having two tough days of practice last week,” and giving a number of others extended looks instead, was rewarded with pro-quality contributions right off the bat in Indianapolis.

That’s what pre-season games are for, sorting talent, but making decisions needs to happen faster than ever – first cutdowns https://jetswire.usatoday.com/2021/05/27/nfl-changes-roster-cuts-dates-2021-season-new-york-jets/X is this coming Tuesday.

If Jeremy Chinn has become the poster boy for crafty trading-drafting by Panthers, a handful of others presented sterling new production:

  • PJ Walker, QB 10/21, 161 yds/TD. When they say ‘mobile,’ he can run away from trouble and throw rockets doing it.
  • Chuba Hubbard (OK St.) 7 carries/80 yards. He sure looked like a stud backup for McCaffrey.
  • Terrance Marshall, Jr. Put an big ‘un on the board to start. As a #3 receiver, he won’t be doubled. Same 6’2″, 200 lb. size as all-time great Mushin Muhammed. https://www.nfl.com/news/which-nfl-rookie-receivers-will-be-most-productive-in-2021-my-analytics-based-to
  • Marquis Haynes, LB Out of Mississippi, is in a contract year. He’s good on putting a speed rush on QBs, and also at setting an edge. (I didn’t realize he’d gotten 4 sack in part-time role last year.) With Shaq sitting, he was the veteran making calls.
  • Tommy Tremble (Notre Dame, TE) 3 catches/19 yards, TD. He is blocking better, knows how to run routes well. Dan Arnold is #1 TE, but there’s every expectation Temble gets aspot on to roster. First TDs are always a grin-fest.

Recognizing the Panther faithful are hoping for a resurrection of previous Super Bowl status at SOME point, I’m reminded how many people I watched games with, who only believed “I think we might have a good team,” when the Panthers opened a full can of whupass on the Cowboys one Thanksgiving https://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2015/11/26/9805360/cowboys-panthers-2015-results-score-recap-thanksgiving to run their record to 11-0. Grannies were dubbin’ with Cam during his MVP season.

I’ve said before, there’s still room on the bandwagon. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/08/11/still-plenty-of-room-on-darnold-panthers-bandwagon-11-6-a-franchise-reset/ Starters will play probably a half against the Ravens, a night game here, which seems like very good scheduling.

Three weeks until home opener – Jets

Will a full house be allowed in Charlotte under current conditions is a legitimate worry.

Absolutely, a 21-18 loss on a field goal in the final seconds, where projected second line personnel started earning their professional spurs, its no coincidence Rhule’s path to the Panthers head job last year always includes major second year improvement at earlier stops.

This is already a younger but veteran team, and watching videos of Coach Rhule answering questions here in camp, his giving complete and straight-up answers to reporters has to filter through to his daily interaction with players.

He commented that they just missed a couple long throws in practices, smiled while stating Sam threw nice long ball, a factor missing in Charlotte for years.

Which new free agent played for Rhule at Temple? Quarterback PJ Walker (2013-2016), who was throwing ropes on the run against Indy, much like he did in XFL in 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._J._Walker

Moton got the money

After being franchise-tagged (avg. top 5 in league, $13-14MM), Moton signed a 4 year/$72MM extension, including a $15MM signing bonus. He’s been a Panther since 2017, going into year two, he was considered under-achieving. Panthers have historically rolled their O-line people around, Moton has been a solid constant.

There’s been some busy-body comments they “only” paid him *right* tackle money, and they might want him on the left, guarding Darnold’s back. Easy analysis: The position has been tried by several the last three years, backside safety gives Darnold the best chance to lead. If Moton’s the best at that, Rhule will make it happen, and Taylor won’t be thinking he got stiffed, he’ll be a professional.

When hasn’t $15MM of bonus cash bought you a decent amount of good will and cooperation?

Coach can call it a successful week

There was some disappointment regarding “fire in the belly” in the first practice against Colts, but everyone agrees Panthers righted the situation on Day Two.

PJ Walker is the 5th player who Rhule coached at Temple, Robbie Anderson is obviously in that crew.

The turf in Indianapolis was essentially the same beaded turf now in BOA Stadium, Anderson doesn’t like it as ‘fake.’ Could be some negatives associated with that stuff in NY. RE-LAX, Robbie.

I think my brother gave up his PSLs. Charlotte was the first stadium built with Personal Seating Licenses, apparently Mr. Tepper is planning something along those lines for a soccer stadium.GM Scott Fitterer is indeed doing a fine job.