Scholarship essay writing, CIS event-vols put focus on “better,” 500 words at a time

There were three important factors for my joy in participating in a Communities in Schools program Saturday morning, one of which has something to do with the view from Grandfather Mountain.

20190630_131300That I’m contacted for this is optimal “Social Capital” (time, effort, “being”), and to utilize my professional skills for a specific four-hour gig, working with already accepted HS students to write better essays as part of scholarship money applications, is right at the top of Satisfying.

I’m not a parent, but seeing my suggestions immediately and directly acted on, is affirming. That those changes *will* make a difference, that floats my boat.

The short time commitment shows both the respect CIS has for professional availability, and is a testament to how focused on the difference they recognize this time – essentially 1.5 hours online – can make.

The two dozen or so students who attended  the Access Granted Workshop at Philllip O. Berry – Academy of Technology, also learned about online sites that described available scholarships for another important aspect, “Where?” such money might be.

Essays often ask for response to ‘catastrophic’

The standard 500 word essays scholarship applicants are asked for usually focus on something catastrophic that happened in their lives, and what they did about it. The standard throughout most of my writing career has been “a good hook” in that first paragraph, and that’s more important in essays than the click value that emphasizes titles and subheads for readability now.

One simple step to improve almost everyone’s letter writing is to break up huge blocks of print. Yes, reading train-of-thought style for 26 lines will always look daunting, and people who have to do it LOTS of times for their jobs might miss whats in the sauce…

It’s just a good idea to start a new paragraph for visual relief, and its not a bad thing to even add an extra line. Knowing how ‘real world’ applications for company sites can be very unfriendly to submissions that are less than pro forma, be willing to go back through and edit. The extra effort to go back and change 6-comma, run-on sentences into two real ones with periods, plus that comment you thought of after finishing, usually feels like a small reward.

New thought, new paragraph, even if its only a significant one liner.

“I intend to go to Howard or some other HBC (Historically Black Colleges), because several people I respect a lot have talked about what it meant to them.” -Kai.

Confidence in the communicating

Having discussed the last line of  the business card I gave several kids, they were amused about “Smarter than the average bear” writer, which is explained at the top of my landing page.  While I hold Matt Damon in “The Martian” as a high end example, I state that having done a variety of projects, I’m confident about being better than Yogi, the one-trick bear, who only stole picnic baskets. Its a sense of self 17-18 years olds don’t easily recognize.

The “catastrophic” change for Kai was his mother – who he’d always lived with – taking a job in Maryland when he was twelve, and he stayed in Charlotte with his Dad, who he saw frequently, but only stayed with periodically. He said the change in parental styles was a very different world, that it affected him to the point where he got his first ever C’s before he finally figured things out.

So how long did that take? “Like a whole semester!”

I told him about going from Catholic grade school to public school in 8th grade, also getting my first C’s ever. I sloughed off instead of excelling, because I was way ahead at that point. The challenge had been going against the same peer group for better grades – get one wrong on a test, they had a better A.

In Kai’s case, he didn’t recognize the strength of having gotten BACK to all A’s in half a year. I was not the same student in that environment, but in his self-grading, he’d messed up. In describing how he put together a booklet for National Honor Society, he breezed past the fact 1) He did the app early, so it wouldn’t be hanging over him and 2) once he knew what they were looking for and how the process went, he began helping others put their stuff together.

Those he helped referred him to others, sometimes he gets paid for tutoring.

There HAS to be room in any essay for something like that.

Note to others: Just because you’re writing *about* yourself, doesn’t mean you need to include extraneous material that causes readers to think negatively. Keep any story simple, centered.

Something to help everyone

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This is the schizzle as an aid to all essay writers.

A Scoring Rubric for Scholarship Essay Questions was such a good, specific thing to have handed out, I don’t think there can be anything wrong with including it here.

There are four categories, based on point values (10,5,1,0).  The “quality” of the content is considered in terms of progressive excellence in structure and story-telling

’10’ is for what would be considered an Exceptional answer, based on five criteria, such as having a strong central focus to the answer, with sentences clear and varied, using appropriate vocabulary, complete sentences, and minimal mechanical errors.

5 point “qualities” would include using appropriate details, with clear and correct sentence structure and revealing some “character,” again with few mechanical errors.

0 Points, not meeting expectations – Not answering the question, little development of the topic (short answers), the POV is confusing instead of recognizing the sense of “audience” they might be writing to, and punctuation, slang, text style, undeniably not proofread.

While consistently making myself available for events like this and some elementary school reading programs, it still feels great to impart long-term expertise so cleanly with a one-one focus.

A personal philosophy is to not try lifting all of society a gazillionth of an inch, but when kids put in extra time to improve their skills – and its the reason I love Hugh O’Brian Youth’s three-day leadership program – I’ll try passing along some best practices.

In Yogi’s words, “Hey hey, Boo-Boo, now you’re smarter than the average writer too!”

  Picture 
Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 
(704) 502-9947

 

 

“Smarter than…” a simple line easily remembered

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START posting meaningful articles, videos, podcasts, or blog posts. Put them on LinkedIn, your blog site, link to them from your FB and Twitter accounts, etc. Again, to qualify as meaningful, in this context, they need to display that you are a good person AND you have valuable professional knowledge and skills that will benefit others.

This message implies that your skills and knowledge will benefit potential employers. Some of your posts may tell stories from your work history where your past employer benefited greatly from your exploits. (Tom Sheppard – Playing Hard to Get, 11/07/19)

Periodically, with alllll the possibilities that doing even a little online surfing can provide, there is a “thank you” moment for tapping a YouTube environmental piece, learning exactly all you need to know about a specific something, maybe reading the rest of what wrapped around the essence of being a better blogger, according to Mr. Sheppard.

If its not ‘Good to Great’ (Collins) or ‘The ONE Thing’ (Gary Keller) management theory writ strong, Sheppard is around my mantra that pretty much everything that goes online or is presented in response to any gig is a small referendum on my abilities.

SEO content writing doesn’t have to be above eighth grade level, but whatever the purpose, my regular job is hitting the voice a potential client wants. Yes,  bloggers will tell historical stories that match well with situations where “fixing” similar pain resulted.  Readers want “meaningful.”

That is elemental marketing – I’ve got what you need. Just lookie here.

A simple line everyone remembers

The last line on my business card is “Smarter than the average bear” writer, and everyone I’ve given it to knows the basics – Yogi stole all the picnic baskets in JellyStone Park. The variety of situations I’ve adapted “writing” to is far less than Matt Damon’s creativeness with technology in ‘The Martian,’ but I’m confident about being ahead of the one-trick bear is the explanation I lock in.

Does everything I do have to glow with imperial splendor? Naaah, but it does represent me. I’ve just recently started working with video, and you can Google how to do anything, right? That’s another line everyone remembers, “You can Google that.” My youngest brother hits sixty this year, over the last three years, he’s relied on that in becoming a damn fine worker on BMWs. Just sayin’…

Capturing the simple makes a difference

In a couple weeks, the second time around with a Communities in Schools program, I’ll be helping high school seniors who have already been accepted to a college write better letters for scholarship money.  This is about passing on the idea of how capturing the simple makes a difference.

We all know people skim instead of read, right?

Readability counts. How shorter paragraphs break up large blocks of print, give the readers eyes a break, that’s easy to impart. “Use periods” is obviously useful to remember, and stopping the 6-comma, train-of-thought-OMG! run-on sentence is ALWAYS better writing.

Yes, one liners and subheads can be effective.

The Communities in Schools program where imparting some nuggets of editing and making things work better word-wise is a Keep It Straight, Simple moment for me. Getting tapped to help goes directly to my expertise, and its a four-hour session with these kids that includes hot breakfast during meet-and-greet. Last year, about two dozen showed up, and there were enough volunteers that we could double up. 

One scholarship my person (Rachel) picked as a possibility was LAWA (Latin Americans Working for Achievement) – and I knew I had the Executive Director’s business card on my desk. Watching my suggestions being immediately incorporated into her standard letter, hearing how this super-smart girl wanted to eventually lead a Doctors Without Borders unit, it was elementary to write a letter of recommendation for her.

That’s how simple things can be. Mr. Sheppard struck a chord for me. If the possibility of volunteering is what you got from this piece, that’s worth thinking about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practical communication makes a point – for politics, pierogis, poker, and pooches

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While his destroying three sleeping pads by tearing them apart and distributing the insides like this was uncool, getting into my salad bowl required direct messaging.

Perhaps I’m working the P’s a little hard, but historically its one of the things (along with Q’s) we’re supposed to pay attention to.

The point is, whether you’re a communications specialist, content creation writer, blogger, or pet owner, its legitimate to be aware of how any messages are coming through for the intended parties.

While his pushing a bowl around the kitchen like Snoopy, or positioning himself near the front door for immediate petting works for CharlieToo, the swat with a folded newspaper was a simple, hopefully received and understood message I sent yesterday.

Yes, that set off some loud “messaging” with my brother, but I didn’t need to hear about a beagle’s acute sense of smell (again). I’d left the room for thirty seconds to get a beverage, and returned to find several spinach leaves outside the bowl, left well away from the edge of the kitchen table. My message to both was I wasn’t allowing such behavior with my food, and if the bro needed to get discipline classes for his dog, I could still handle some baseline corrections right then.

Poker night and commitment

Having decided to restart Hold ’em poker nights with two subsets of friends, notices were sent to twenty guys about the timing, BYOB and chili situation, cost ($20 to start, re-buys, and chip-up), and directions embedded. All information, starting three weeks before the event, was sent by e-mail and followed up with by text several times.

Two days after the stated deadline for confirmation, there were only four “can’t make it” responses, which is when my ‘no-go’ decision was made.

One ‘yes’ indicated he’d pick up an outlier (who had bailed), one said (at pierogi dinner Friday) he’d come, but I’d already decided to wait and try again next month. One was upset he’d driven by the house – and left three phone messages – without knowing it was canceled, although he hadn’t confirmed when we worked two nights on the prep and pierogi dinner.

While statistically that’s *about* a 30% response, the reality is most similar events will die without a predetermined level of positive commitment. This was easy to track, doing so with blog results is what makes it a business.

Pierogi pickups, oompah! band, and networking

For the first two hours of our group’s second hugely successful pierogi dinner, I worked the take out table, and unfortunately, once I’d gotten through a first pan of those slathered in butter Polish delicacies filled with cheese and potato, and fried onions aplenty, there was a period when the product didn’t come regularly enough to diminish the line of customers.

Although I sent messages with group members who came by, only drips and drabs came though for about half an hour – and somehow it wasn’t a problem

The great part of communications came with the realization that the 15 people standing in line understood I’d done what I could. Every single one was happy when the pans started flowing regularly and they got hot, tasty containers of food – including sauerkraut, garlic bread, kielbasa – and some had never tried a pierogi before!

Did giving the last cookie to one little girl, just before another tray appeared, work out righteously? Yep, it showed we cared, as did giving a piece of kielbasa to anyone who wanted to munch it waiting in line.

Doing my usual “schmoozing” around the tables a little later, it was great to learn that everyone appreciated the evening at all levels – not a single cross word, even though some had waited in a line around the cafeteria before getting served and seated.

When asked, “Did everyone get enough to eat?” smiles and “Great job, you guys!” and testimonials about how many of our (St. Gabriel Men’s Club) other community feedings they’d attended were gratifyingly glowing. Okay, “free beverages” and dancing to a lederhosen-garbed oompah band might have a little to do with that glow, but a $36 family price works wonders, too.

The best communication for me though? The very last couple I talked with went 20191214_200810exceptionally well. She was a physical therapist, so we discussed my two year old knee replacement, and her husband had done a little knocking around for two years before establishing himself as a management efficiency expert with restaurants. When I gave him my card, and explained some of what CDTalent Enterprises did writing-wise, he asked if I’d tried using a particular agency and recruiter, who had kept him busy during his knock around days.

THAT is the essence of networking, finding a commonality and helping each other with additional contacts. If you’re still worried about just talking to someone at a gathering, networking doesn’t have to be in a suit with your name plastered on a lapel.

POLITICS

For what its worth, Trump’s impeachment trial starts today, and IMHO, a *lot* more people will be dissatisfied with how that’s handled than how my lack of pierogies Friday night affected them. While I heard one of our guys pontificating that, “He’s going to be re-elected, you guys are wrong, case closed!” I’ve learned that its impossible to get a reasonable message through to some people, and walking away from situations is the best way to handle negative communications.

Unfortunately, the option of swatting them with a folded newspaper probably won’t get the intended message through.

Panthers, Ruhle’s attitude of truth-respect a great analogy to ‘imminent’ message suspicion

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According to new coach Ruhle, “Running and stopping the run, making big plays and stopping big plays” – meaning DEFENSE – will be part of sustained excellence in Charlotte.

Panther fans are obviously feeling soooo much better about how owner David Tepper handled matters of concern with his football franchise and new coach Matt Ruhle, compared to a different message on ‘facts’ coming from every direction about the how and why of a possible or averted Mideast confrontation between the US and Iran.

As a content creation professional, sports fan, and human being, an important part of everything I do relies on listening and hearing what others put forth as either facts or attitudes.  The idea our country was very possibly being thrust into a war over “imminent danger” was far too easy to question when honesty and straightforwardness has never been part of the Trump administration.

Regarding Mr. Tepper’s decisiveness, nobody questions the idea of “Trust the process” and that he’s actually gotten a “best and brightest”-type guy in the right place. Even if the price tag – over $60 million for seven years is the initial word – might seem exceptional for a guy whose career record in moving two college programs our of the doldrums is still only 47-43, its his money to spend.

Its doubtful that 40% of any Panthers ‘base’ wanted any less dramatic change. Tepper didn’t just ‘take a bad guy off the field’ in a reckless way, he made a guy with winner tendencies and a philosophical depth of belief in people an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Its an easy analogy to get your arms around

While its almost impossible to put politics totally aside after the stress of possible war after the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Solemani, most fans in Charlotte will – after tonight’s “Tiger Tussle” between Clemson and LSU for the national championship – be ready to consider impeachment and whatever else 2020 has in store. Most are hoping for fairness on both situations.

To say a lot of people won’t be happy with either outcome, be it win-lose or impeach-let a dangerous person continue as a leader, is a stark reality.  What we see on the stage from Democratic candidates Tuesday, or exactly what happens after Wednesday in the Senate, its going to be a start of a tougher, longer than 60 minutes process. That the latter is quite a bit more important, well, that *might* be true for Tiger fans, but as voters, millions will have more input about matters beyond what happens in Atlanta.

In a better focused set of circumstances for Charlotteans of all stripes, be it birth or just the adopted home of more recent arrivals, Matt Ruhle’s becoming the replacement to Ron Rivera as Panthers head coach counts bigly.

Charlotte lost its love for George Shinn (and Bob Johnson’s Bobcats) over matters of what they expected from the citizens beyond the economics of ticket support and the product on the court. The hometown crowd was also stunned at everything regarding Mr. Richardson’s situation that led to his selling the team to Tepper, and the two seasons since then were almost worse than the crash and burn 1-15 times that brought Cam Newton to town, fresh off a national championship at Auburn.

Give Mr. Tepper credit for believing in and leaving alone a management team already in place in Year One, trusting there could be a continuation of success (11-5) after what had been a trip to the Super Bowl and MVP year for Newton in 2015-16. Give even more credit to him for being just as dissatisfied with 7-9, 5-11 seasons that moved believers (there is still that “Buckle on the Bible Belt” factor) to wanting more and making positive changes on multiple fronts.

Charlotte isn’t Cleveland or Iraq – Reality counts

Sure, its easy to bust on Cleveland, even if my community group is counting on lots of people from there showing up again this Friday at our second pierogi dinner (over 700 served last year). Baker Mayfield has talked a lot, done plenty of commercials, but the most memorable night of their season was a vicious brawl with the Steelers, with Browns DE Myles Garrett clubbing QB Mason Rudolph with his own helmet.

The biggest changes for the 2020 Panthers are moving their training came from the

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Fans won’t need to make the sweaty pilgrimage to Wofford, but no word on #1 at this point.

brutal humidity of the Wofford campus in Spartanburg, SC during July, finally creating a necessary indoor practice facility, and elevating the super-productive Christian McCaffrey onto the national scene with his 1,000 yard rushing and receiving season (only 3rd player ever to accomplish), and the development of DJ Moore to anticipated elite receiver status.

At least now Ruhle gets to coach Moore, whom he recruited out of high school to attend Temple (Moore went to Maryland).

There’s no equivocating from either the owner or new coach about “Trust the process,” and while positive results are clearly expected sooner v. later, there are no “laws of armed conflict” or lives to be considered by Ruhle, aside from Cam Newton’s physical status and the overall defensive pulse, which has taken a beating for two seasons.

Tepper’s early assessment was that Ruhle has done “pretty amazing things with less” by turning a hoops school like Temple into 10-game winners his last two (of four) seasons there, and resuscitating Baylor from 1-11 to to 7-6 and 11-3 over three seasons at the helm in Waco. 2020 figures to be a beyond interesting year in America, and for Charlotte and the NFC South, “amazing” would be a grateful upgrade from continuing mediocrity.

Everything we’ve seen and heard from “our guy” here, including his purchase of an MLS soccer franchise and the (expected) cooperation of City Council in bringing development to that side of the city with the former Eastland Mall site, comes as straight up and positive. You did not hear “imminent” from Ruhle or Tepper, the rest is trust by the Panther faithful.

As for tonight, Geaux Tigers!

 

Panthers ugly 2019 ends with questions on broken D, head coach, Olsen, Cam

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There won’t be any pilgrimages to Wofford in 2020, but the fans will still be faithful.

Here in “The Buckle on the Bible Belt,” its quite possible that more than a couple fans put some time into praying that Christian McCaffrey didn’t get hurt, especially during the eight loss spiral that ended in a soggy 42-10 whipping by the Saints at BOA Stadium.

Color commentators often opine that defensive backs best assets are speed and having a short memory about negative plays, and if a belated Christmas or Hanukkah gift could be given out to end the year, may Charlotte be so blessed memory-wise.

There was a whole lot of ugly going on after Kyle Allen started throwing INTs and the defense showed they couldn’t stop anyone, and not replaying it all is legitimate. Yes, it was smile-worthy that McCaffrey became only the third player in NFL history to post 1,000 yards-plus rushing and receiving, and Moore seems to have arrived as a premier receiver in only his second year ranked 9th, with 87 catches, 1,175 yards and four TDs.

As a two-time Coach of the Year, Ron Rivera will probably find another job in the NFL (Redskins?), although except for the 15-1 regular season the Panthers posted in their 2015 Super Bowl season, he wouldn’t be the franchise’s career leader in victories at 76-63-1.

Rivera arrived the same year as Cam Newton, and defensive bulwark Luke Kuechly became an instant star at middle linebacker the next year, but good luck to him working any instant magic for the 3-13 ‘Skins owner Daniel Snyder.

Do NOT expect many of the Panthers coaching staff to remain in Charlotte. While owner David Tepper gave Rivera an above average amount of rope during a second straight year of defensive under-achieving, he’s not going to let that become the sort of malaise that infects Detroit, Cleveland, or Cincinnati. How Cam Newton’s status looks after a bad shoulder (2018) and foot (missed all but first two games of 2019) injuries is an especially big question for fans this winter, and Allen’s turnover woes (16 INTs, 13 fumbles) don’t come across as the answer in the QB arena.

Is it really the thought that counts this time of year?

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Having given a brother several bags of mulch and some pea gravel – along with a promise to render his front garden area more presentable – and the roof of his house being done just before Christmas, the analogy of the back yard being a mess *right now* is a legitimate one for the Panthers.

The Carolina Panthers weren’t the worst at anything, although the 470 (29.4 ppg) points they surrendered was ahead of only the Dolphins (494, 30.9 ppg). The 143.5 average they were gouged for on the ground beat only Cleveland (144.7), Washington, and Cincinnati’s (2-14) bottom of the list 148.9. That made their 3,696 (231 yds. per game) by air look comparatively lofty, with 19 teams – including 12-4 division winner New Orleans (3,868) – behind them.

While that only proves numbers aren’t always the whole story, especially in a pass-happy league, the Panthers were pushed around plenty, with runners consistently picking up necessary first down yardage. McCaffrey was third in rushing with 1,387 yards and 15 TDs (287 carries) plus 1,005 receiving (4 TDs); Derrick Henry (TN) won the rushing title with 1,540 (16 TDs, 303 carries).

Although many fans, especially in the Carolinas, would consider C-MC’s efforts worthy of MVP consideration, his exploits the second half of the year were almost a curiosity to the rest of the country, though his 116 receptions and productivity were crucial to fantasy owners. Nobody doubted he gave his best effort every week, even when defenses were often stacked to stop his contributions along the way.

Mr. Tepper isn’t Yoda, but fix things he must

The Panthers boss man not only put his considerable $$$ where his mouth is while buying the Panthers at the beginning of 2018, he’s also added an indoor practice facility and a major league soccer franchise ($325 million), while targeting a rejuvenation of the former Eastland Mall area off Central Avenue with a practice facility and team offices for the soccer franchise. That goes beyond good thoughts, but fixing a great many lagging factors before their 26th season is uppermost on Panthers fans minds.

Recently released lesser performers like Gruden (Redskins), Kitchens (Browns), Shurmer (NYG) and the like will probably not be of interest to Tepper as a head coach, but former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy’s success makes him a possibility, along with a list of high profile college coaches. McCarthy apparently also wanted the GM role when he was considered for the Browns job, but Marty Hurney has done a good job on that front.

While the Panthers have always had a reputation for promoting from within, two years of negatives will probably call for new, pedigreed blood.

Whether a “defensive minded” head coach will get the call – based on the last two years of getting undressed regularly – as a deciding factor is iffy, although a strong defensive coordinator to replace Eric Washington is a 99% certainty. Sticking with the 3-4 or going back to the 4-3 is not the #1 question right now, with a small thanks for not being as pitiful on the pass rush as last year.

College coaches don’t have a great track record in the pros, Pete Carroll of the Seahawks being an obvious exception, and Chip Kelly, who nearly wrecked the Eagles before Doug Pederson took the reins and led them to a Super Bowl win, being the more normal result.

 2020 will be turn the page time

Charlotte was thrilled when its first professional sports franchise, the Hornets, came to town because it proved the city was major league. They bought PSLs (personal seating licenses) to build the football stadium when they gained an NFL franchise in 1993, the first time that route was utilized in the sports world, and gladly (??) chipped in major tax dollars to help refurbish it a couple years ago.

Charlotte now has about every pro sport covered, with the Knights (baseball), Checkers (AHL champs in 2018 season), Hornets, and Panthers. There’s also the historic enthusiasm for the college programs, which now includes the UNCC 49ers (7-6) after the first trip to a bowl game and taking their lumps as a newbie D-1 entrant for five years. The Tobacco Road hoops schools, Wake Forest, South Carolina’s Gamecocks, and of course, Clemson football, all have a dedicated following.

Keep wearing your Olsen, Newton, Kuechly, and McCaffrey jerseys proudly, even if Olsen decides he’s had enough after 2019. Cleveland (6-10) made only marginal progress in two years with Baker Mayfield despite a lot of talking, but count on Mr. Tepper not taking a back seat to anyone on getting results. He’s not Santa Claus, but he’ll deliver sooner than that merry old gent.

And if you want to keep working the beads for McCaffrey’s good health, that’s not a problem either.

 

 

 

 

Panthers thumping aside, Charlotte’s seasonal activities welcomed four terrific days

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Doubling down on goodness at Christmas tree lot.

Having chosen to invest my time in a solid bike ride to enjoy the primo weather we kind of expect around here, I missed the entirety of the Panthers 40-20 debacle against Atlanta on Sunday. After the ride, something to eat, and making a few landing page adjustments, it was time to scoot to the Christmas tree sale.

I’ve watched the highlights, seen a lot of quotes with consistent sorrow-breast beating (this is ‘The Buckle on the Bible Belt’) about what is now a five game losing streak. Yes, Christian McCaffrey got his contribution in, with 11/58 yards on the ground and 11 catches for 82 yards. QB Kyle Allen was 28/41, 293 yards, TD/2 INT, and rushed for a TD late in the game. DJ Moore (4/81) continued closing in on a 1,000 yard receiving year (980), and TE Ian Thomas had his first five catches of the year, with Greg Olsen still in concussion protocols.

Four turnovers and allowing BIG plays (again) to the Falcons – Matt Ryan was 20/34 for 313 yards and two TDs – and the run defense that gave up 159 yards, Atlanta’s best production of the year, I’m willing to say I didn’t miss much. Now 5-8, it confirmed for many that not believing was legitimate, fire up the BBQ.

Owner David Tepper makes decision on Rivera

Ron Rivera is gone, and Perry Fewell didn’t wave any magic wands in his first game as the interim coach. Owner David Tepper is every bit as pragmatic about what comes next as the fans can ask for, which probably means hiring from outside the organization. Hold onto your PSLs.

Tepper rolled with the field operations group and facilities during Year One, but they’ve moved on from Wofford, have an indoor practice facility now, and Rivera got pretty much the standard amount of rope in 2019, considering a disastrous second half of 2018. The Cam Newton factor of losing #1 QB is factual, but lots of teams lose top personal (ask Houston about JJ Watts). Its still a Ws and Ls deal to be a coach anywhere.

“(Long time Charlotte Catholic Coach) Jim Odo said he won a championship because in OT he chose to defend in front of the student section. He felt it made a difference.” – Current Coach Mike Brodowicz

On the other hand, local favorite and two-time defending 3A champs, Charlotte Catholic won their game 56-49 in seven overtimes against Kings Mountain to advance to the State finals against first-timer Southern Nash (15-0). That it was 7-7 at the end of regulation is the amazing part, and there were a bunch of 4th down plays to test wills.

I can only imagine the juice running through that stadium, and you betcha, those young men felt the love. Friday night lights, baby!

For those considering getting off any Who Needs Cam? bandwagons that appeared when Kyle Allen led the Panthers to four straight wins with no INTs (he now has 12), fan-dom doesn’t mean blowing off the rest of the year now.  (Seahawks, and even if it rains, you’ll want to see Drew Brees…) Geez, if this was the NFC Least, the Panthers would only be a game out.

Tree selling, schmoozing, Beer Garden tent, singing, joyful kids

Business-wise, getting into December doesn’t change anything about my approach to writing gigs, and most ‘project resources’ know about end-of-year and future funding considerations. As military types might say, “Stay frosty,” meaning on the lookout for what makes a difference, and hang your professional stocking out there with expectations of being filled for the effort.

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Tree selling though, that is 100% satisfying, like Mom’s smooth gravy on mashed potatoes, or a slab of cinnamon-y apple pie. If you never ran away from siblings among the trees (lots of snowballs in upstate NY) while looking for one to cut down, may your kids enjoy the search for bigger or smaller or fatter anywhere you decide to look.

This year our Men’s Club had an activity tent that included karaoke, brots, and some simple – a hole drilled in cut-off tree bottoms with a twig of Frazier insert – crafts we’ll undoubtedly keep going in the future.

That a handful of guys who hadn’t really been part of club activities before showed up was an extra goodness, with the genuine good will generated while talking to customers and tying trees onto rooftops being priceless.

At a time when tensions around the world seem wound pretty tight, especially our political situation that has kept center stage, unplugging from that to watch the Panthers get clobbered to the point of a captain apologizing for it, what still matters is the spirit of the season. Sometimes its still legit to walk away from miserable others who might otherwise suck the joy from a candy cane.

Congrats to Charlotte Catholic, “bless their hearts” for the Panthers from the locals, and since its always the thought that counts, especially two weeks from Christmas, think of me if the opportunity arises.

  Picture 
Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talents Enterprises 
(704) 502-9947

Day 1 as Christmas tree volunteer, cheery family event, plenty of sales, Scouts were super

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Yanking a decently big one through the baler was earning your spurs. Its a dang poor job that can’t afford a supervisor, this one has two.

Post-Thanksgiving and upcoming-Christmas have a grand meeting the day after Turkey Day, and beyond super deals on 55″ wide screen splendor, getting the family Christmas tree acquired extra ASAP priority because of the “late start” on that part of the season. We (St. Gabriel MC) had a splendid, even optimal first day – ideal weather and easy to say ‘yes’ to product and pricing, the Scouts and a bunch of HS kids getting service hours were consistently good workers, the families we served excited.

This is our 35th year of selling trees at St. Gabriel, and as a challenge to working your verbal skills and keeping projects moving positively, volunteer activities count. The ‘crew’ spans from 13 to 93 years old, cash table and wreaths and chainsaws. Everyone was on the same page in getting the show on the road, and it turns out, several of those Scouts can actually SELL.

I believe how well things operate goes directly to work-force education programs, giving concise instructions, getting  actions described and checked on (stocking trees, picking up branches), shaking branches to open things up was instilled as best practices. I sold and chainsaw-trimmed the first two customers myself over an hour before we officially opened because people showed up.

Getting young workers filling racks with trees by size was task one, cutting blue string-bound trees (especially junk around the top), and expecting two carriers taking trees to cutting area was procedure. You can’t help smiling when strong young men tell you they can handle the White size themselves.

A sense of humor works great. Scouts were *death* on tying knots for trees on roofs after I reminded customers, “We haven’t lost one in 35 years, nobody wants to be #1 on that list.” 

Cutting loose and having fun, selling Christmas trees is a joyful no-brainer. You KNOW people are there to get that tree *now,* and while mentioning that $$$ raised stays in Charlotte for a variety of community projects, the fact that PRICING barely even registers for the vast majority of Day One customers is a lock. With no hourly wages for our workforce, how much tree you want gets easier to accomplish.

We’ll sell 900-plus trees in less than three weeks, and having an A-1 supplier (I usually say “4-time Grower of the Year” when people ask where we get the trees from) certainly counts. It’s an old school relationship, built on time, and whatever big (9′-10′), big-based trees we received, not everyone else is selling those. Tree size availability goes back to the recession years, when many tree farms going out of business didn’t plant what would now be the popular 7-8 footers.

The last family on Friday, the little girl with her princess dress and lighted sneakers, had brats for dinner and then bought the tree that had the fat bottom Dad liked, with a yellow tag price. Bingo, memories for everyone.

They’re not customers, they’re people and families

Having previously mentioned the opportunity to work your communications skills, we can all become teachers and leaders. On a hustling, eight-hour day, some scenes and ideas stick in my mind.

The collegiate VBer (center hitter) on crutches, three days after surgery, six people had input on how BIG a tree on that. We talked about upcoming therapy because I had a knee replacement two years ago.

The middle school kid who was able to explain the difference between 7-point-8 and 7-dash 8 on our size chart (hey, that he spotted it was something to start) – giving him an attaboy, a small, positive affirmation that cost me nothing.  Proud Mom, and maybe her smart kid helps on a future Men’s Club project.

Lead by example

There are always safety concerns at work, but at a tree lot during early set up, I let my experience inform their work efforts, like lying the tree down instead of stretching to cut something at the top of a 7 footer.

Early on, a HS volunteer who took directions about cutting open a tree, getting better all the time.  Telling guys its okay to press into the tree branches enough with a cardboard cutter to pop the strings, going from bottom to top is the most efficient.

Making sure at least one guy in each group had a blade increased efficiency by a ton.

Being able to yank a tree through the baler was a rite of passage. Give the lightweight20191128_144148 freshman credit for turning down the chance to try – he’d seen it wasn’t easy even for a 220 lb. wrestler. Hey, even two guys pulling a tree through qualifies for getting spurs. At some point, the guys want to see you tug a sort of big one through, and that was fine.

Technology. Even, or especially, our oldest members benefited from clear, picture-labeled products in a lightweight unit, like “10” decorated wreath’ and ‘7 ft. tree.” All sales stats could be brought up immediately, and knowing the actual Day 1 totals was affirming. (Yes ma’am, we can do debit cards.)

The first customers arrived about 9:30, we weren’t officially supposed to start until 11:00, but the customer is essentially right – they came to buy a tree, so find the one they want.

About Thanksgiving dinner

It was super successful, especially for Mom, because there were plenty of older women who were willing to talk with her. The funny part was a LOT of North Carolina lovers watching their #6 Tarheels get thumped by unranked Michigan 73-64. They’d all been looking forward to dissing Duke fans after the  Blue Devils lost on a tip in by Stephen F. Austin at the end of overtime the night before.

It was great that a deep-fried drumstick was reserved for me. Ahhh, tradition.

With all the college age kids around, none seemed at all concerned about politics and 2020 elections.

That one, crucial, must-have piece that moves projects forward

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I might have thought I had problems with a camera, but Mike was the boss with heat all around him before Oyster Roast.

Before packing up the laptop  and sending it to Memphis over a camera not functioning – and recognizing I’m sometimes behind the curve tech-wise – there was recently a quantity of angst over getting a specific video off my phone and attached to a Google document that needed to be sent for a proposal.

After performing the operation three times myself – then tapping Librarian #1’s understanding for forty minutes – I’d expected a $99 visit with the Microsoft people would move things from “Does not recognize camera” error message to productive asset again. Being able to move forward because I stayed on the problem until it was resolved, that’s what I call my Matt Damon in “The Martian” moments.

Sweating further delay regarding that proposal made the relief of getting some necessary help a moment worth sharing with others. Anyone who has been on group calls where a certain person – with the element that everyone is gathered to learn about – is late, knows both the feelings of frustration and relief.

Your patience factor definitely counts

Trust me, people who have dealt with someone who gets frantic about a computer snafu and wants to make it *their* problem too, probably won’t be gracious by a third time around. That two different library workers tried their darnedest, and eventually found an effective option, is also a (small) credit to submerging my often squeaky wheel style.

Journalistically and as a content creator, my expectation is that equipment should do what its supposed to – I require a keyboard and access to information. Getting many, many things in-out of electronic media daily, even as a realtor, the message was always, “Make sure your technology works.” The least gratifying thing I hear when enterprising a solution is, “Well, that should’ve worked.”

While “should’ve worked” is an affirmation that my being stymied was perhaps appropriate, it still involves a dammit! because its a sticking point unhandled.

Searching for help works best without extra attitude. Bitching about the inconvenience to you isn’t going to motivate others to provide answers or assistance. Getting to the point is like using your Elevator Speech, or that first paragraph in any article – give potential helpers a reason to keep listening, or maybe point you in a right-er direction.

After a steady extra examination with Librarian #2, the BINGO! moment came with his suggestion to utilize YouTube to download the phone, and copy the link from that into my document instead of Google Pictures/video.

After three previous attempts, bam! that simple option-change was The Right Piece, with the focus on getting a crucial detail handled a very real result. No telling how things roll now that I’ll have to use library for a couple weeks because I don’t have a backup at home, but I’m not scared they’ll consider me a dummy for asking why my machine doesn’t work.

FYI – Backed up and packed up

Sending 99% of everything a potential client asks for with position descriptions might not even be enough, so paying attention to details counts. That video I wanted so bad? It was :58 because the gig description said “No longer than 1:00 video.”

Reviewing the proposal, and recognizing some notes for a social media element hadn’t been turned into specific post samples. While stating the importance of getting that one, crucial piece handled, its always a good idea to check the details one last time.

While this unit goes into the box right after this blog, its contents have been backed up. Tomorrow I’ll go back to that refurbished library in SouthPark and thank Ed again.

Oh yeah, saying Thanks! is still a simple courtesy that makes helpers happy. My tutoring in reading and writing keeps a positive attitude about sharing expertise to carry forward, so there’s no reason not to send that outward when you’ve gotten the necessary results.

From story reading to community org’s, well-delivered messages work wonders

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Wednesday morning was the second time I’ve had the opportunity to prepare a ten-minute reading for the summer school program at Oakhurst STEAM Academy.  What they call a Harambee reader, is part of a half-hour psyche-up session for about fifty seven-eight-nine year olds.

The picture book I read – about an eight-year old boy learning to play lacrosse – was built around an Aesop’s Fables-type moral about “dependability.”  Reading enthusiastically was a reminder of the SHOWTIME! of doing group kickoffs for three years in the scholastic fundraising days.

More directly, reading at Oakhurst stemmed from being aware of the Chetty Study, a Harvard/UC Berkeley project that correlated a link between 4th grade literacy and economic mobility.  Economic mobility is how many children rise from the bottom of one economic quadrille to the top of it as an adult. That study showed Charlotte, NC has the lowest ranking (4.4%) of the largest fifty US cities, so it became an obvious place to put old SHOWTIME! abilities to good use.

My bottom-line in volunteering for short, meaningful opportunities to help with reading and writing is always, “Never let it be said…”

That the male voice was appreciated as such a significant factor in this setting wasn’t lost on the previous days reader, Steve Echenique, or myself, because the Freedom School sponsors regularly say its a presence the kids simply don’t get often enough. Bearded college volunteers are one thing, men with ties, yeah, it’s a different visual that counts.

These are actually the luckier kids, both because this program of two-3 week sessions takes some edge off the “knowledge drop” summer often brings, and there is a cereal and biscuit, milk/juice, fruit cup breakfast to start the day with.

For parents who don’t always know whether their kids are touched by enough of the right information you’ve tried providing for situations that may come,  this audience raised their hands and responded. Having that level of connection with an energized and attentive group, it *should* put a little hop in your day.

Eye contact is at a premium in such presentations. 99% of the time, moving through your group and not just pontificating from behind a podium works best.

Having introduced the idea of writing this story for them based on Aesop’s “morals,” and shown them the covers of the binder really had nothing to do with the 8-year old boy in my story, two girls provided the correct moral, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Extend  the positive vibe

Giving some attaboys! to the counselors here, or volunteers at other events, is a legitimate way for speakers to extend  the positive impact of physically being there. Practice your good communications skills someplace besides a networking event. See who looks you in the eye, can articulate their young person ideas, knows why they’re there at 8 a.m. in the middle of June.

One-to-ones with a couple college students in this situation is a freebie – (almost) everyone likes talking about themselves – and nothings lost if you don’t get an impressive response.

Having participated in several Communities in Schools “social capital” programs this spring, complimenting high school students on their speaking without “umms, errs, y’knows” as out of the ordinary – and a factor easily noticed by adult others – was definitely a simple, effective teaching moment.

Communications: Oyster Roast meeting

Even as a homogeneous group of older guys in a community projects organization, it took over two hours to work through operational Q&A regarding our 5th annual Oyster Roast Wednesday night.

Oyster Roast is a mature product – we were tweaking things, not debating whether an idea will accomplish certain financial goals, or whether to attempt it at all. When 16 guys show up mid-week though, its a good problem to have a quantity-quality number of opinions in steering the club.

After working with friends and members on dozens of similar projects over the years, you develop a sort of shorthand communication,  where a nod, thumbs up, or quick comment lets them know you’re clear on/in favor of what they just discussed, even if others might still be talking.

That doesn’t happen immediately, but having history with individuals usually makes things work easier. The fact we often view opportunities and challenges with very similar results-oriented reasoning or career training, is an organizational strength to draw on.

When it came to how the low-country boil is done for the Oyster Roast, the President answered as the man responsible for that aspect of four previous OR’s. The Community Development VP ticked off his list of pricing, marketing, and What abouts? as the guy who brought the unique idea to start with, and welcomes input like this to tweak the positives.

Finally, its elementally a 1-1 world. Speaking with the Prez about a specific lack of cooperation related to donuts at Meet & Greets after the official meeting, he said a roadblock for several years has been mostly negotiated with a parish official. The results, more suited to our needs without making a single change in an established system, was good news to end the day.

That operational block had bothered me for a while, and now its been pretty well fixed. Hurrah! for good communications.

Picture 
Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talents Enterprises 
(704) 502-9947

 

TSA, HHS, NASA, DOJ, CDC—and GJS—Waiting on Next Check

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We made about 1,200 Polish cookies last night for Pierogi Dinner. Here’s hoping TSA and air traffic controllers take advantage of free dinner offer.

(FYI- GJS is me.)

For sure, many Americans will have personal feeling about Trump’s shutdown of government functions in pursuit of his vanity project wall. IMHO, you can’t broadcast to the nation that, “I’d be proud to wear the mantle…shut it down for border security…Won’t blame it on you,” and keep carping that the other side isn’t negotiating.

Whatever slick remarks I’ve EVER made about Federal employees, being held hostage to one person’s massive ego goes against the basic tenets of ‘serve and protect’ the people.

“Good enough for government work,” was a phrase my Dad never liked, for fairly obvious reasons.

The government paid him decently and on time; it put four boys through college, and he retired at 59, taking a ‘silver bullet’ combination of years of service– including Navy hitch– and age. Nobody EVER expected the U.S. government could be in the economic fix it seems to constantly battle now.

“No, but I know where you can get a bunch of $6,000 toilet seats,” was my brothers freestyle response to people he spoke with about his Army Audit job.

I got a job offer two weeks ago, right on the screws with doing what I truly wanted to (content creation vs. writing), decent bucks and benefits. I do NOT judge the value of benefits lightly. I’ve had a new knee for just over a year, and I’m thankful as hell for the ACA/Obamacare that made it possible.

On a very real Bottom Line, I’m still antsy waiting for the okay to come in and do paperwork because of a background check,  mostly because it’s a situation that I have no control over, and there’s always some holding of breath at times like that. There’s nothing negative to be found in such a check, but you can’t SPEND a job offer, y’know?

Having just turned 62, I guess I’m officially semi-old, but there is no tuition due for kids anywhere, no car payment, and certainly no mortgage. That’s a biggie for sure–I’ve lived with a brother in other half of his house for a couple years, and he *knows* I pay the rent off the top of whatever I bring in, and a share of the phone/cable is usually on time. Insurance and gas, yeah, I got that. Groceries, just mine. I’m not getting bounced if the next period for rent is a little late. All I’m concerned about is how soon the situation moves forward with that background check– its only been two weeks and I’m staying positive.

I read a piece on Facebook where some bozo threw down on ‘unnecessary individuals’ whose duties (Army mostly) they took up easily and did in far less than full time job as a Fed employee, and while that came across as a planted comment from one of those ‘bots (they ARE still screwing with us folks), some fat in Federal employment is neither here nor there about 800,00 hostages and the economic stress that puts on them AND this country.

I hope we comp a hundred dinners tonight. We’ll have done something positive. Getting the call for my paperwork, I certainly wouldn’t mind hearing about that today either. Or tomorrow, or even Monday.

Please, not later than that.

My church social-community group is having a Pierogi Dinner tomorrow, and we’ve reached out to appropriate people about giving free passes to TSA employees with ID and their families. We have always told people at successful Oyster Roasts, fish frys, and during 33 years of Christmas tree sales that the $$ raised stays in Charlotte, and we’re proud of that. Yes, the last couple years we’ve sent contributions (for the beverages we provide) to Eastern North Carolina and a small parish in Houston after huge flooding, because they know who truly needs a couple hundred bucks to survive a situation dumped on them. If we make less of a profit on this event, no problem, the piece we’re breaking off to give some families an evening out with good food and people is being applied in the strongest possible way.

Waiting like this isn’t the worst situation I’ve ever been in. During the Great Recession I survived in retail for seven years, and while the pay sucked, I still drew a check. I can’t imagine how many of my peers with kids in college and mortgages did it, I assume they stole from their future to pay bills during an extended period of hellish stagnation. That old bat in charge of Commerce Department saying without blinking that he can’t understand why furloughed Feds are going to food banks when they *should* be able to get loans against back pay that will (absolutely?) come after things are settled, has to get most of those 800,000 people as mad as it does me, and I technically don’t have a dog in this fight.

This situation is so obviously WRONG, because holding 800,000 people’s lives in the balance is only the tip of the economic iceberg. The whole mentality seems so skewed to screwing, with total tone-deafness to understanding the unreal stress this WORKING WITHOUT PAY brings. (Which butthead said they are *volunteering*?) All those people probably get the money later, but holy pierogies! Batman, there’s no good reason that all of us are suffering because ONE PERSON and some attending enablers are blaming “the other guys” for a political intransigence–nay, a HOSTAGE situation– over a singular point (the wall), that so many were famously and regularly told would be paid for by others.

I hope we comp a hundred dinners tonight. We’ll have done something positive. Getting the call for my paperwork, I certainly wouldn’t mind hearing about that today either. Or tomorrow, or even Monday.

Please, not later than that. My brother deserves a couple bucks from me soon, even if he KNOWS what I’m waiting for.