6 Solid Concerns for Panthers at end of 2022 Season (yep, a new stadium)

As a sports analyst, I’m ‘money,’ but Rhule’s 3rd year was my worst prediction ever.

Can Sam Darnold, game manager, sling it like the #3 stud pick five years ago more than once? If DJ Moore hadn’t pulled his helmet off, and Mr. Tepper hadn’t yanked (and given no reason for) the financial rug on a facility in Rock Hill, would Charlotte have been even more hyped about beating Tampa Bay/Brady for a playoff spot?

The answer was Yes, fans would have loved to see the playoffs after brutal early season situation. Football still counts in Charlotte, even if its gained some image as a futbol town after Tepper’s soccer team posted a 13-18-3 inaugral season, with a league record 74,759 for its home opener, and a playoff chase until next to last game.

https://www.panthers.com/news/rapid-reactions-panthers-finish-season-with-10-7-win-at-the-buzzer

The quarterback situation and Darnold ‘s ‘value,’ a contract for Steve Wilks, more Scott Fitterer magic in the draft, sports fannies and the economy, and a stadium are The Six Concerns, with the QB position and person (Sam Darnold) being two questions at same time.

Darnold – The jury is out

Expectations for Darnold’s return were based on what Walker did during a running game fueled string of successful outings. Back in the lineup after 11 weeks with a high ankle sprain, he did what was asked, while the running game dominated. Last weeks game in Tampa -341 yards and three TDs, two thows that were really ripped, is what most had expected in Years 1-4 of his career. The productive display in loss was Bucs stopping the Foreman-Hubbard running tandem, and GOAT Brady taking advantage of turnovers and CJ Henderson.

Part Two is Darnold becoming a free agent after Sunday, when his rookie contract expires. Does he get a raise and guaranteeed contract? MORE than $20MM, compared to what? $18.85MM was what Panthers were always on hook for, but he was disappointing and considered expendable until the last part of season.

His 5 of 15, 47 yards and a fumble game line, even if it scored, doesn’t sound like a fully revamped version of Darnold worth $20 million.

-Myself, 1/8/23

Panthers expecting Matt Corral back from a broken ankle, okay; PJ Walker knew the system well enough to make a difference, the Atlanta game with Moore’s penalty aside, he would have been 3-2. Neither is considered a top line, Insert for Success QB.

Mayfield wasn’t answer

There was plenty of hand-wringing early about whether new QB Baker Mayfield would be the solution to the Panthers poor offensive production, but his numbers as a 1-6 starter in Charlotte (57.8%, 1,313 yards/6 TD-6 INT) look like those of a journeyman vs. a former #1 pick. His 24/28, 230 yards, 2 TDs in rout of Denver weren’t a sign of anything more.

That he he was picked up by Rams and got a W on a Thursday night despite knowing almost nothing about their offense is what medical personnel call ‘a false positive.’

Mayfield being picked up by Rams and getting a ‘W’ Thursday night, despite knowing almost nothing about their offense, is what medical personnel call ‘a false positive.’

–Myself, a fine sports analyst. 1/5/23

CONTRACT for Coach STEVE WILKS

Early whispers about Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh and Charlotte abound, and NOBODY fails to understand what a damn fine job 6-6 was for Wilks, AND he’s personally responsible for turning around every aspect of Panther pride, on team and in community.

Don’t throw out the fact he’s A Local Legend, or what the numbers offered would have to be. Would/should he be disappointed if Panthers put ‘reasonable’ four years- $36MM on the table? Forty-one mill, paying a little for job just done?

Mr. Tepper slathered Rhule in $$$, and it would take a major commitment ($12MM, and probably a management say in personnel) to get Harbaugh away from Michigan and past other suitors.

Wilks is a home-grown Charlotte Legend from West Charlotte, he’s 100% responsible for rebuilt Panther Pride in community. While Harbaugh has undeniable credibility at pro level, Wilks deservedly owns the loyalty of this locker room.

While there will be Big Money laid on the splashy notion of Harbaugh as coach here, Tepper couldn’t go far wrong with a head coach that holds such sway in a locker room making a transition. If the real losing is done here – with DETROIT LIONS as example – Wilks would be an outstanding choice.

Fitterer Continues GM Magic

Panthers will have a full seven picks in March draft, including a 3rd, (2) 2nds, (2) 4ths this year from McCaffrey trade. Panthers have steadfastly refused trade offers for Brian Burns, Pro Bowler and stud defensive end, who they will shortly have to negotiate with. They feel the 7th round pick that brought WR Shenault was worth it. https://www.panthers.com/team/players-roster/laviska-shenault-jr/

If Fitterer bringing in Darnold last year wasn’t the solution expected https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/04/09/panthers-take-care-of-business-gm-fitterer-lands-qb-darnold-to-get-rolling/ at this point he’s perhaps a different quantity, but a *valuable* asset…? An old football axiom is “If you have two quarterbacks, you have a problem. If you haven’t got ONE, you’ve got a real problem.”

Panthers are still in latter category. Free agents and Ikem Ekwonu transformed the reputation of the offensive line for Panthers in 2022, RB D’onta Foreman is looking to get paid well over the $2MM for this year. https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/carolina-panthers/donta-foreman-21831/market-value/ If Fitterer and Dan Morgan get more input on drafting for need, like OLT Ekwonu, 2023 draft could be a bellweather year, like all-defense picks three years ago.

STADIUM

Its going to come up again, probably sooner more than later. There have been two upgrades on BOA stadium, there was a promise to stay X years after last one, but owner-Charlotte are on horns of a dilemna, including five negative years and strong progress only at end 2022. Would Charlotte spring for a NEW! stadium after Tepper’s Rock Hill debacle, where he blew off/bankrupted his corporate real estate arm? He paid bills off to county ($80MM) but it tarnished his image as great businessman.

Panthers coming off 1-6 start to 7-10 finish, that’s when fannies are going to get tapped as taxpayers.

— #gshorkonsharonroadseam It won’t officially be a negotiation in 2023, but its an awareness of hmmmm.

Agreeing on a new stadium with public contribution is probably a tough sled in 2023 economy. Not that anyone hates the team, but a $Billion sports palace doesn’t seem in the cards. Would Tepper threaten to move TWO teams, having been so proud of great first season for soccer/”Charlotte is a soccer town”?

It seems problematic for other reasons besides where a stadium would go besides downtown. Baseball Knights did LOT better in Charlotte vs. Ft. Mill, and that was corkscrewed into its location next to Romare Beardon Park, and benefits from regular downtown and stadium parking.

Fannies and the Economy

Hotwalkers Ball, after Queens Cup Steeplechases, 2022

For those who invested in live ticket events in 2022, as the country pulled out of the full force of COVID, Charlotte now has professional teams in every major sport, including lacrosse. There are plenty of overlapping seasons, and you can look up the stats on what it costs to take a family of four to a hockey, football, basketball game – hot dogs and beers, parking, etc.

If there is retrenching, where is the most reasonable spot to do that? Discretionary events like sports, where interest can be accomplished with online-cable membership. EVERY time someone says “WE NEED” a stadium, I know Mr. Shinn didn’t get what he wanted, even if it got built anyway. Original Panther stadium was built with PSLs (personal seating licenses), an incredibly unique solution back in 1992. Tepper doesn’t have free reign over such a consideration, his $800MM Rock Hill fiasco is a legitimate concern.

There are plenty of options for Charlotteans, including chilling at Whitewater Center. Having survived a Great Recession and COVID-19 the last ten years, people still vote with their dollars. Change requires planning. Choices get made. Don’t take too much for granted, Sports.

And as far as best practices Mr. Tepper, get Mr. Wilks his contract.

Micro-economy still ‘suits me,’ Moore blunder speaks of excitement too

During pandemic, hoops behind Rama Elementary were only ones in Meck. County not double-2×4 stopped from use. New net was least I could do.

With two shifts left this pay period, I’m $2000 from goal, so yes, I’ll wear the Hugo Boss Blue on Saturday. Like Astros no-hitting Phillies, you ride your best players – that suit is $$$.

Having Sunday off, I shrieked with all of Charlotte for HUGE Moore helmet blunder, guess many still care. *Very* interesting game PJ!! up to finale. D’onta Foreman 118 yds, 3 TDs – that O-line was working. #Glenn Bossnblue, author, is a new cdtalententerprises.com product.

FYI, I early-voted, a ten minute commitment from parking and crossed blue line to check in to done. Visited with Mom before that, she just got her new chair with head rest, so took her outside to look at the lake and trees, then shot hoops for 25 minutes before 12:30 lunch and ready for work. That’s why people aren’t willing to surrender their daily freedoms in WFH mode instead of office mandate.

New Normal works for many. Hanging another net at Rama Road Elementary required standing on top of my car and holding onto the rim while threading the loops through. Took about same ten minutes as voting…Broke it in right, you betcha. I’ve liked shooting there forever, draining shots from Anchorage, Alaska part of America painted in parking lot is satisfying.

An undeniable Aww shit! moment

It doesn’t seem possible even yet, that Panthers star receiver DJ Moore would do ‘something like that.’ He’s been a great pro for couple years, a highly regarded route runner and genuinely tough guy to get on the ground. All respects due, and he got the contract extension to prove he’s All That. Yeah, BIG dramatic moment, because with a point after, a crucial victory would have immediately thrust the struggling Panthers back into a playoff position in the division.

Is it possible, watching as kicker Eddie Pineiro missed a 1) 48-yard extra point and 2) a chip shot FG to avoid defeat after Moore’s electrifying moment, we’ve achieved a renewed passion in Panthers fanbase? There wasn’t a bemoaning of being losers who stupid things always happen to, most attitudes include hope that got injected with the 62-yard TD, a beauty of a throw by PJ Walker, and Foreman’s productivity all day.

34 points! From end of third quarter, down 21-13, they displayed their most consistent playmaking all season. Marshall’s 40 yard catch-run to ten was a key play, and despite lots of flags, Panthers still finished the drive. The secondary was getting burned by Demarius Byrd on 47 yd. TD (31-28 ATL, Mariotta’s 3rd TD pass), with 2:14 to go, then CJ Henderson’s interception and 53 yard return changed the game.

A MISSED FG in OT! Some want to point blame there, but without that helmet penalty on Moore, its a cinch comeback W instead of an L – those two clutch misses would’ve never been necessary.

Voting is of infinitely greater concern

The prospects for near future mayhem and stressful times in the United (really?) States puts Moore’s bonehead move waaaay down the list of what the collective We the People should be thinking about.

As another weekend awaits, stating how I believe in the voting process is based on long term facts, two local elections worked on long ago, AMERICA writ large, and that US thing, is fact. My first vote as a 19 year old freshman was post-Nixon Watergate, as a J-major. A Boomer with Attitude, I’ll always take that responsibility seriously.

My first vote as a 19 year old freshman was post-Nixon Watergate, as a J-major. I’ll always take that responsibility seriously.

Contrast democracy as most of us have lived it, with a Wisconsin politician who proudly stated, “No Republican will ever lose an election again,” based on new proposed voting regulations. WTF?!

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/nov/02/wisconsin-republican-gubernatorial-candidate-tim-michels

Being disappointed/borderline shocked at the final result, the game itself was a good back and forth rivalry games should be. Meanwhile, the Russians have consistently rocketed utilities in the Ukraine, leaving many in the dark and cold of November. Winter approaching without Russian gas is a very real concern for most of Europe.

An American footballer took off his helmet and his team lost the game? Speaking of football, we’re taking the first round of World Cup at the Royale & Blathering in Blightsworth, right? Nobody ‘out there’ cared about it for a second.

Ron Johnson (Senator, WI), and in North Carolina, Candidate (R) Ted Budd want to eliminate the Social Security system, what this Boomer with Attitude has paid into, like MILLIONS have, their whole lives. Pres. Biden understands that basic, which seems lost on every Repub’s talking/non-talking campaigns points about ‘entitlements.’

Took bundled up Mom in her just-arrived new ‘buggy’ outside to see the lake and check foliage. Its 73 degrees today, bike ride as New Normal max affirming..

Will a woman’s right to determine what she does with her body be a MAJOR factor in stomping out ‘white guys know better’ thinking on the most elemental level in 2022 elections? You better believe it, GOP.

DJ Moore will catch more touchdown passes, one unsmart action probably forgiven very soon, and he’ll (almost) certainly keep his helmet on. Perhaps, relative to a one-off event, previous (election) experience proved early and mail-in voting is legitimate and effective, and some of those many millions of already cast votes are from GOP-type people who recognize using other methods of exercising their rights.

If not, those ‘unqualified candidates’ Mr. McConnell spoke of might want to borrow that protective helmet, most deserved defeating.

Ten minutes of effort, and $50 in donations, that’s ballots not bullets America. Things figure to be as close on Tuesday as 34-34 was last week, just a lot more important going forward than what happens regarding a single athlete’s mistake.

Deliberately deciding to have NO PLATFORM to vote for, just saying INFLATION INFLATION INFLATION and threatening litigation by every election-Denier that could destabilize America another two years, I vote against that negative, irrational, non-governmental non-agenda. Sorry if your micro-economy isn’t ‘suiting’ you as well as mine. Stay strong.

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WFH upgrade, 5 suit day count in micro-economy, Boomer with Attitude starts Year 28 of Charlotte Experience with ‘New Normal’

With sincere thanks to NY bro David’s effort in delivering the desk 800 miles, having a chocolate donut with Mom, and snap decision to drive to/stay overnight at Steve’s place in the VA mountains are quality family time. ‘Stable’ is $700 of new wheels not being a crisis, #gshorkonsharonroadseam is Home in Year 28.

Its a reboot for #WFH (#workfromhome) career to have family heirloom upright secretary back. Uncramped work area in second bedroom vs. living room, and Mom’s favorite rug becomes the space I’ve needed. #gshorkonsharonroadseam
Bro David and Mom, who still likes her donuts.

Ready to hop on my trusty 12spd Miyata and GO! after finishing this blog is very much included in any New Normal, and I’ve taken comfort from maintaining a decently high physical balance even before lockdown end of March, 2020 or Medicare 65 Boomer.

Working a retail schedule, I push myself to continue above average habits on cooking-eating and exercise. I refuse to consider current 190 means I’ve lost muscle mass from 193 ‘best,’ become a littler, older man.

I hadn’t stepped on a scale until lately, and I’m not worried.

Take a collective breath on another glorious, sunny North Carolina blue sky, high 80s day instead, and catch the Rangers-Lightning game later pal, New Normal isn’t all bad. One-ninety? I look good. Doing two laps of the Booty Loop nearby? Sure, and riding, walking around, or close to work, #gshorkonsharonroadseam is a great New Normal.

I say Boomer with Attitude, and my physical body movement is still an expected positive. I’d like to thump some tennis balls to check out my swing, after shoulder injury from a bike accident two years ago, but I pulled a calf muscle. What do you mean, did I stretch first?

–Me, officially Medicare-old 65.

New Normal

New Normal was willing to take part in a sweaty Hotwalkers Ball tent with LOTS of excited people at the Queens Cup Steeplechases in early May, my first major crowd time in a while really. Bros Steve, Dave and I went to Charlotte FC soccer game Saturday, 26,000 in lower bowl, but I hadn’t considered how close things would be on the train I took in. I’m three-vaxed, but last four stops to stadium were maximum crowded, and I don’t pretend to be bullet-proof to whatever else comes down the pike.

Yes, I used ‘bullet-proof’ instead of other words, not lightly, but because these most recent slaughters cannot possibly EVER be considered as a New Normal.

–Me, and 90% of America

Will Ukraine and Russia pummeling each other – using former Russian satellites ammunition, aircraft, and tanks- become part of New Normal? If Poland feels Ukraine’s pain based on pre-World War II, Booyah! Everyone wants to be in NATO now. Putin’s self-fulfilling worst fear. The button, and pulling the whole world down with nukes – does that reenter the world worries as New Normal?

I was four and living in West Palm Beach, FL during Cuban Missile Crisis of ’61, even a kid could feel the tension. I can’t fathom full out war outside my door like in Ukraine.

A week before Fourth of July, the economic pros say 50/50 on recession, while I finally had inventory and posted a four suit week. My writing gig as http://www.cdtalententerprises.com proceeds.

Bros Weekend -Soccer, Mom, Road trip

The donut with Mom was a son who cared treat, David even had a big ol’ glazy fritter for me, as we wheeled her out to the gazebo in middle of Carmel Hills parking lot. Since then, I turned getting her out of the room where I usually fed her lunch into a New Normal for me, reading to her twice a week while getting rides in earlier to beat real heat.

We three decided to road trip up to Steve’s place in Meadows O’ Dan, VA (147 miles) right after visit with Mom, and figured out the TV situation in time to see two blowout games. It was the first time I’d been up there, and it gave David a two hour head start on return to upstate New York on Monday.

First visit to Steve’s place in Meadows o’ Dan, VA. peaceful. Eggs & coffee, discussion beyond just sports, 15 min. drive to a ‘real’ road, then pedal to the metal driving

The Bro stuff wasn’t anything extraordinary, except that we haven’t done it all that much recently. We did a goodly amount of opinion passing during a British movie about a WWII espionage effort that helped a successful invasion of Sicily, and several episodes of a whacky as hell series regarding a pregnant 40-yr. old Brit and younger American who cares. Both of them seemed to know about it.

Going back, it took a full 15 minutes on twisty roads to get to something I could connect with at I-77 . Blowing down the highway to get someplace on time is a road trip staple, affirming I can plan and execute with precision.

Nailing a FIVE SUIT DAY after getting back, on a MONDAY! Ooo-rah!

Already doing a happy dance from two customers buying two suits each, a gentleman appeared just before closing, said he had an emergency in New Orleans the next day, and needed a black suit right then. Two black Baker suits was all I had in stock, one was the 44 Regular customer needed. Whether one of us was lucky, or maybe living Right, it worked for my micro-economy.

My Micro-Economy

It wasn’t pollen, but something had me draining crazy bad for three days, enough that I called out on Wednesday. After day four of those little pills, results for drying up were as desired. No suit sales again (one for week) but still $2000+ overall Saturday. One customer liked the shirt I suggested so much, he had me order THE LAST ONE in system to get 34/35 sleeve.

We’ve done it more often than should have to for standard replenishment level items.

A former Davidson football player – so said the tee shirt – bought five of the eight Peter Millar shirts he tried on (surprisingly, three Smalls) while upgrading his look to what others in his office are wearing. Right, everyone still likes Peter Millar.

Knowing the back is FULL of suits that we’re not supposed to sell until *mid-JULY* for Anniversary (and will be strongly discounted then), when I have people NOW who will pay full price, its a definite crimp in my micro-economy.

Inflation? As the WORLD gets things back in gear supplying whatever to whomever, there will still be choke points, like Ukraine (winter wheat) and Shanghai shipping (20% of shipping, lockdown) but annual 9.1% rate isn’t the sweet spot. We, the collective America, don’t have any sway on that, so we’ll have to adjust micro-economics to reflect What Is in real time. More umpiring income again this Fall?

Getting new rubber all the way around for 2013 Hyundai Sonata, the $700 wasn’t a crisis in my micro-economy. Saying “Do it” without a hitch is a cool New Normal. WFH gigs as consistent parts of micro-economy is still New Normal.

Lifestyle

Yes, I’ve watched a lot of hockey and hoops after work, don’t know if I’ll apologize for wasting time either. Watching our sports is a very real part of Normal Culture. Nobody is putting out COVID warnings for all those raucous crowds for March Madness, 75,000 here in Charlotte for home opener, and plenty of towel-waving people in tight, dramatic hockey games I’ve watched.

Minus The Breath of Death possibility of recent past that COVID-19 represented, having dates for Whitewater Center concerts in search of Ms. or Mr. Right could be New Normal good too.

#gshorkonsharonroadseam is still where Home is.

‘Great Suit Feeling’ in retail continues, Queens Cup races a social grace, Panthers get stud left tackle Ekwonu

My personal micro-economy gets #1 for attention, but the steeplechases are a premier Must-Do live in NC sunshine event, one I’ve enjoyed five times. Our American football? vs. futbol team has drafted help in a VERY big way. Hellllloooo Ikem Ekwonu!

Tony did a great job on an old pinstripe

Customers respond to someone who walks the talk with style, redone pinstripe was a worthy micro-economy investment.

An analogy between what the Carolina Panthers have recently said regarding QB Sam Darnold and my new-look classic blue suit is righteous. You appreciate the bones-skills, but it doesn’t look quite right.

Who didn’t know the Panthers have been wringing their hands, about how to upgrade the position AND fix an underlying problem with offensive protection, specifically at left tackle in the draft? Darnold hadn’t overly-impressed anyone in ten starts in 2021, picking up his 5th year option early was seen as a misstep.

Then, in days before yesterdays draft, there were headlines about ‘Mr. Tepper likes QB Panthers have,’ and ‘Steve Smith says Carolina hasn’t seen how good Sam Darnold can really be’ (duh), and similar stories.

Did someone in the brain trust decide running down Darnold for $18MM due in another season and negatives of stats https://www.pff.com/nfl/players/sam-darnold/29048 was less effective than putting a “We could win with Sam!” face on things? (Still, I doubt anybody would want to be in Baker Mayfield’s cleats right now…)

Relative to my suit – I can’t really remember how old it is, certainly from the previous centuryit owed me nothing. ‘Just a suit,’ like Darnold coming from Jets, just a QB.

It didn’t cost anywhere near $18 million to make important changes though.

Panther fans won’t be as unanimous about how Ekwonu (salvation by local boy!) and Darnold (still here, huh?) present themselves when things get real this fall, but everyone has been positive about my suit’s transformation. Tightening things up with Darnold’s game would be a similar deal.

While wearing an older-‘experienced’ pinstripe suit and ties was already classier than most coworkers wear at Nordstrom’s, I believe customers relate to a professional image. ‘I have the suit, what can I do with it?’ didn’t take Scott Fitterer-level smarts to invest $145 in upgrading this regularly used asset. (Thanks Tony!)

  • Legs not billowy, tapered now.
  • No cuffs, almost showing ankle, Shortest I’ve worn in forever.
  • I still have pleats! Waist and behind taken in
  • The top button, at bottom of lapel, is repositioned.
  • Jacket difference is huge,*definitely* feels closer, sleeker. Wallet goes to back pocket, it changes the line on right side.
  • We didn’t mess with lapels – its always a classic pinstripe.
  • An inch off bottom was an immediate, noticeable change. ($52)

Yes, I picked up the option on doing another suit – then negotiated with the shoe shine guy for polishing and a tight left boot situation. Spirit of the season on ‘additional considerations’?

Queens Cup Steeplechases

The aura of Good Will that permeates the QCS is legendary. Congrats on Silver Anniversary!

Whatever they’d told me a ticket cost at Harris Teeter, I’d have gladly paid it. The event history is a specific charity – Alzheimer’s Association in this, the events Silver Anniversary running – gets a significant jolt from proceeds. For $60, after three years away, vowing NOT to miss this All Kinds of Good social event to WORK! was easy. Using the “Never is heard a discouraging word” is Truth – once you’ve been, you’ll know.

There are ‘good horsies’ in a central area, where children and sorority sisters can be led around on or have pictures taken astride. If the Raptor Center can be allowed out again safely, previous owls and hawks were excellent for kids, wildlife up close. Newbies are the greatest to show around, its impossible not to strike up conversations with total strangers over cornhole, haberdashery, or tailgating.

The bright yellow Garcia tie with blue-blue Bugachi, topped with ‘antique’ 1979 Ferrari hat, from final Watkins Glen (NY) Formula I race.

It’ll be seersucker or Nantucket Red pants, and because I’m saving #1 Tommy Bahama shirt for a costume change, a bright yellow Garcia autograph tie with good-fitting blue-blue Bugachi (long sleeve, $160) to show some Ukrainian support. Ahhh! and an ‘antique’ Ferrari hat, purchased with poker winnings at Watkins Glen Formula races waaaay back, never fails to get comment.

I haven’t experienced the major sponsor tents – in tiers along the finish line, after a loooong final straightway – but the Top Tailgate award winner (entrants around infield of the 1.5 mi. turf) is often an excellent place to get an additional beverage or snacks.

Operationally, its a slow drive through Waxhaw (Note: Took 1:15 to go last mile, coming from south on 75), to get to the GA (general admission) gates, so allow some time for that. If you don’t catch one of the small tour buses, the walk in from the far out fields is a decent trek. Being even a little early on the 1:30ish first race, you’ve got a shot at closer parking.

The After-Party (Hotwalkers Ball) is a buffet and an always jumping band, which continues about 1 1/2 hours after last (of usually six) races.

Micro-economy still a Great Suit Feeling

While pleased with my own haberdashery after suit upgrade, setting up one dude with something that spoke of ‘uptown casual’ tone of invitation for QCS was fun for all.

We were on a Millar sportscoat (silver-gray-black with almost Panther-blue window pane, $700) early, but the final choices were a blue Hugo Boss unlined hyperlight ($390), Millar sueded-medium gray pants (a must have, $158), Bugachi short sleeve ($150) white with smaller, three-color swirls, and cognac Mangianni weave belt ($150). I told him most of his outfit was free, if you put it against the original sportcoat $$.

Cranked it ($4,700) on Monday, capping a hustling last two hours with a $2,000 Canali suit as they counted down the last 15 minutes to 8:00 close. That made me #2 in the store, and Tuesday night I sold handled another suit past 8:00. For someone who STILL hasn’t gotten a Sunday in six weeks, my numbers are strong.

I’ve interviewed for another sales situation (with a much higher upside to a good day) that’s appeared, so my micro-economy is like millions of others – ready to do more than listen, I’m ready to make moves.

Absolutely nailed a Hugo Boss black suit, 44 Regular, first shot out of barrel Friday. Gentleman was impressed with long-sleeve Bugachi black shirt (ooooCotton! $160), killer textured off-black belt ($1300 total), scoring a last minute-kick save! on classic black funeral outfit for him. The hem on pants (+$60 alterations) was ready in morning.

Losing another suit to politics was an unfortunate situation, but I’ll be over it well before I’m done with my second Lazy Bird Brown Ale tomorrow.

My micro-economy is like millions of others in USA – ready to do more than listen, I’m ready to make moves.

We’ll see how my picking of horseflesh – there’s no real betting, just sayin’ “I think the gray one” – results stacks up with whenever/whomever the Panthers get to pick again.

Extra note about draft: Panthers GM Scott Fitterer is the bomb-diggity, trading up to third round to get Matt Corral, the necessary QB upgrade that was Item 1-A in draft. https://www.nfl.com/news/panthers-trade-up-to-select-ole-miss-qb-matt-corral-in-third-round-of-2022-nfl-d

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.

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.

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

“Thank you Lord, for thinking ’bout me,” 1st Social Security check & 7 signs of doing fine

Winner of hat contest at Queens Cup Steeplechases

Copping and swapping that shouted gratitude from Five Man Electrical Band‘s 1970 classic ‘Signs’ https://www.songfacts.com/lyrics/five-man-electrical-band/signs came through this week while shooting some hoops in the 94 degree-plus heat and humidity of Charlotte, NC.

Heat dome or not, we recognize its the end of July, and at least there’s no massive firestorms raging here to go with that heat, which actually counts as A Good Sign by me. We had some unfavorable air quality here, but until now, often a breeze instead of just sweltering. Nothing like that 157 negativity NYC had to put up with.

That a specific part of Government directly affecting me – my first Social Security check – happened as expected on the 28th, is good. My personal economics of bills, rent, food are mostly covered.

More events register as positives now, not always hurdles to overcome. Wearing a mask while shopping or getting gas is just one small thing I always do because it can’t hurt. Do I notice Hispanic ninos wearing masks now? Thankfully, yes. Out and enjoying live music at Camp North End? Bueno!

It’s a positive, kinda Boomer process

I’ve completed my video Q&A for a tutoring operation, and continue getting feelers about DICE resume.

I’m back to cycling, there’s a wide-open municipal course ($32 senior, nine holes w/ cart) a mile away. In a great pocket park out front, there’s two glass backboards, well marked lanes and 3-pt. distance I’ve already shot at four times already.

The checks not in the mail, it’s in my bank account. It’s not an entitlement, it’s the payoff, that safety net we – American workers – were told would be there when FICA took a chunk of every paycheck, starting with that first $1.65/hour job at McDonald’s.

8 Elements as positive considerations

Besides the Social Security check – this is what ‘not homeless’ looks like after three relatively settled weeks for me.

Getting vaccinated in mid-March was an elemental start on things moving righter. Politics aside, it almost guaranteed I’d live, and mentally I’d been figuring on a shot mid-May. After being hunkered down for a year, its an un-good difference, knowing necessary move (house sold) will include contact with many “out there” who will never get vaxxed.

Having a nephew offer a place to stay – when moving last month was required and my new space wasn’t vacated yet – kept plans on a good path. Being technically homeless – not knowing where I might be sleeping or storing my ‘stuff’ – was a concern, and like many, my need was CONSISTENCY, starting ASAP.

Mask-vax question (3 of 4 here at house) is a factor in any housing. Next two weekends I have major BBQs scheduled (yay! social and MEAT!) where there’s no reason to think I can’t trust my hosts and others from previous meetings. I smirk – their being primarily Democrats, few deniers and liars should mar things. Knowing the statistics in some parts of the country, I question how tough finding a safe living space like I did, will be.

A place to land, with wifi, was a BIG #2, worth a liter of Tito’s in thanks at the end. There wasn’t an Option B either. You can say lucky, I’ll say ‘family.’

I wasn’t making light of the spectre of homelessness I faced before and after June 22nd in my blogs https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/06/22/america-truly-on-move-sheltered-homeless-challenge-millions/ – not knowing where you’ll lay your head isn’t funny. The 18 days at my nephew Ian’s were an excellent break, but even he wanted me moved on the 10th, when current occupant of where I was going was definitely moving out.

The number that keeps many awake at night is 13 million facing eviction, starting almost immediately. “I got mine” on shelter front, but I understand its a business for those owners. It doesn’t seem possible or reasonable to hold people who have non-paying tenants hostage to the situation forever. https://www.cbpp.org/research/housing/housing-assistance-in-american-rescue-plan-act-will-prevent-millions-of-evictions

Background, credit check, or heavy deposit – Not!

Without a background, credit check, or heavy deposit, I more than lucked out, getting into the process for this room on a days notice successfully – I might have even benefited from ‘white privilege.’ Other two residents are young Black man working long hours at a senior center, and a 40-year old female, both of them here for over a year, so maybe owner had a spot for this older white guy.

Hint or Fact

  • Time pressures force more bad decisions than anything. Signing a lease with terms you KNOW will be a concern in short term – with loss of deposits probable – is just a flat out don’t do it.
  • Don’t expect a lot of cooperation from online sources. As a hangover from pandemic, not everyone wants to show a stranger around. I only saw two places, the other I drove by had razor wire around it.
  • I’m also glad my rental amount is split, on 10th and 25th. As family, my brother was beyond reasonable for nearly five years, but I doubt many renters get even twice a month flexibility.

As a hangover from pandemic, not everyone wants to show a stranger around. I only saw two places, the other I drove by had razor wire around it.

Early warning about moving

It shouldn’t be a surprise if the previous tenant has often been a louse. My first look at that room Saturday was an ugly surprise, getting it immediately Oxy-cleaned was a major positive. I took a three hour lunch half-way into edging and came back, SUPER glad how he’d undersold expectations of what the final terrific result turned out to be.

In a 12×10 room, things fit snugly. I expect to wear a path in space between card table-desk and bed.

While the painting and cleaning to visual and health standards involved my effort too, owner gave me $50 credit towards deposit for painting job. I don’t feel weird about going barefoot in any of the rooms, a small but definite element in having landed well.

Vacuuming a half-inch thick layer of gray off the ceiling fan and tossing cruddy blinds are taking care of personal standards in what’s now My Space, and the owner is redoing the flooring in central room, with new furniture as well. Lump all that together, its a reasonable #4 Positive.

I appreciate signs that the owner takes care of situations quickly. If you’ve rented bad before, you know what ‘situations’ means – everything is a hassle.

The house is nicely landscaped – I cut the significant yard, front and back this week, because it needed it – the AC is set at 76, and the decking out back is plentiful, A-1 condition, has a late sunfield, and is a worthwhile place to dine. I sat outside while a storm tried to organize Tuesday, lots to look at in other people’s places, too. Depending which direction you go, the range of houses in the locale varies greatly. Yes, its a good neighborhood.

Get living right, America

The first view of refrigerator was far from inspiring, but progress has been made. That third drawer of fridge still needs attention, and I eat less in the room, plus I found enough of my cooking stuff to survive with, cooking knives, spaghetti pots, plates and glasses, even containers for leftovers. It makes a difference to me.

Health concerns about stuff lying around, including recycling situation, brings out my “enlightened self-interest.” There are usually cleaning supplies available after cooking – use them. At my brother’s, stuff often wound up in sink. You can’t do that living with strangers – load and run a dishwasher, preferably without bitchin’.

If you are hesitant about using the kitchen facilities where you wind up living, you are destined for a miserable time. –Me, 7/18/21

In real estate, we encouraged clients to keep a Top 5 sheet of what they liked about a certain property, otherwise searching through 10-12 rentals or houses over 2 weeks gets confusing. Reality: Last month was a time when decisiveness was mandatory. Everyone takes care of their own TP here, the kitchen is fine, the shared bathroom, communal areas are solid. Shower especially is hot and strong, the laundry equipment new and high quality, a definite 6th positive sign – clean facilities – toward feelin’ fine.

Several of the others use TV to doze off, all are what is now referred to as ‘420 friendly.’ Late TV is something to discuss and get acted on. Being the last entry into house doesn’t mean you have to be awakened at 3 a.m.

Do I feel safe?

My ‘Seven factors and a check’ standards aren’t stack-ranked, so being safe as a single adult male, has always been a hell of lot different than relocating even a small family will soon be. There are sketchy looking types every place you might get out of your car and they can approach you nearby, but the house is in a Neighborhood Watch area. I’ve cycled and walked around quite a bit, just like in Tampa, FL and Schenectady, NY, and no reason to feel threatened.

We had three break-ins at brother Mike’s over 27 years, and a violent home invasion across the street in Charlotte; several times cops with dogs tried finding people between the fences with us and apartments, including helicopters circling. Yes, I feel safe here.

I look down into a neighbor’s active yard, with a large trailer in side yard, and weekends there has been musica musica, but nothing like the regular 3:30-4 a.m. still-going, loud outside music parties from the C-level apartment complex, 100 feet from my bedroom window for three aggravating years.

A new police station was built on Independence at the corner of brother’s street in the last year, but this is a neighborhood, 11:30 on weekends is all you get, and I’d rate that positive overall.

A lack of shoulder or bike lane once you start using back roads compared to years on greenway is physically less safe, but that’s always kind of a choice.

Five Man Electrical Band ends with the character finding peace in church, and when asked to contribute, to put something in the hat, he expresses gratitude.

For all the negativity being projected these often difficult times, I’ll hold up my own little sign, ‘cuz that first Social Security check and seven other positives are legitimate signs that early stress of moving has worked out okay. Best of thoughts on that for the many in need.