Beads, Biden transition, no Christmas tree sale, but Asteroid 2020 VT4 missed us (so thanks?)

First time in 34 years our community group won’t have a tree sale, but a LOT of things won’t be the same about 2020.

Beyond the dancing in the streets that was seen alllll over the world after the US elections, just maybe there should be some thoughtful extra nods sent over dinner for Asteroid 2020 VT4, which passed Earth a mere 400 miles over the Pacific last week. It came from the Sun-ward side, which is apparently why nobody appears to have raised the alarms about seeing it coming.

While South Dakota governor Kristi Noem might have been relieved about it lifting the burdens of trying to repair her COVID ravaged state, I have no idea how big a blast hole a house-sized asteroid makes, so I’ll go with thinking it was a warning shot and buy a frozen turkey today. We’re not expecting to be together for the holiday, but brother Steve will deep fry it, maybe socially distancing with a cigar and a little bourbon while waiting, to maintain a tradition we’ve had for the last ten years.

That MILLIONS are still on the move for Thanksgiving is as good a snapshot of why over 12 million have been infected, a perfect “chicken or the egg” argument. People want to see grandkids or be together “one more time” just in case, when the actual being there is probably going to cause an already out of control pandemic to hit whatever gear comes after ‘overdrive.’

If innocents would somehow be spared the negatives, it would’ve been worth the extra bead-work to have it land directly on trump

As a content creation writer, its still a stretch to have a lighter touch regarding the negatives in the USA at this current moment. If you want the Life SUCKS! outlook, you can find 1200 words in that direction anywhere, but looking forward to 2021 doesn’t make anyone a bad person. A lot of ‘Merica is ticked about the delay in transition because of crackpottery and legal wrangling that threatens the safety and very roots of our democracy, but hey, no asteroid, a turkey leg and cranberry sauce, some beers and enough football, being a day closer is a positive, y’know?

Beads, as in prayer

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For what its worth, the rosary pictured was my Grandfather Shorkey’s, who was a WWI ‘doughboy’ in 1918, although he was kept in Greenville, SC during his service time. The carry pouch also had a small page of questions to ask wounded-dying soldiers about conversion to the Catholic faith.

Its been said many, many times that there are no atheists in foxholes, and knowing to any extent the ugliness of that conflict’s trench warfare, I’d bet more than a few said yes along the way, just so a well-meaning soldier wouldn’t leave them to die alone.

That said, I’m equally certain a large number of the 250,000-plus Americans who have died essentially alone during the COVID-19 pandemic would have liked the chance to have any kind of last contact with a human being before passing on.

In 2020, it turns out we often had to go with FAITH instead of trips to the physical churches, because having hundreds of worshippers singing and not being socially distanced created a breeding ground for that COVID virus.

You don’t have to dig too deep to recognize that a President Biden will feel, and hope to assuage, this country’s collective pain as much as a WWI soldier would for a dying comrade. Certainly more than trump, who mostly wants credit for the vaccine Pfizer and Moderna – who were NOT part of the governments Operation WarpSpeed – and his enablers ever will.

As they often say in the Carolinas, “Not to be ugly about that,” more hallejuah! for the knowledge of a couple 95% effective vaccines being available in the near future. That I haven’t personally lost anyone that way, yes, a prayer can’t hurt, some focused gratitude is fine any time.

More outside time in Charlotte

Living in Charlotte, “The Buckle on the Bible Belt,” for 26 years, its also easy to look at all the fires out west (5 million acres of Washington, Oregon, California) and the stream of hurricanes that have landed in the Gulf Coast region (seven) and offer an un-sad “Thank you God, it wasn’t us.” HUGO (1989, 67 dead, $11 billion damage) is still remembered here, there were six hurricanes last year, but two named hurricanes in 2018, while wet, weren’t epic disasters like 2005’s Katrina (1,800 dead, $125 billion in damage) in New Orleans.

I watched college football and barbecued under clear blue skies during the second one; Steve’s man cave is open aired, and our Fall weather has been terrific.

Whether having over 1,200 churches in town makes a difference nobody can say, but compared to spending five days of the coldest February EVER the last time I drove to upstate NY, I wouldn’t trade our weather here for anybody’s. Well, maybe Hawai’i, and growing up a Yankee (which is still a term used frequently in these parts), I recall promising I’d *never* say it was too cold if nothing fell off while delivering my paper route in -60 wind chill.

Hey, no asteroid, a turkey leg and cranberry sauce, some beers and enough football, we’ll be a day closer to 2021, y’know?

Beyond the voting chicanery

The WORLD is watching how this country handles being a powerful leader laid low in so many ways. Political animus was an overwhelming fact even before the additon of over 12 million citizens infected, a blown up economy, the shockingly brutal battle between factual Truth, constant misinformation, and administrative malfeasance that left each piece of the once UNITED States of America to fend for itself.

Thanksgiving is uniquely OUR holiday though, and it goes beyond what’s on the table, family from afar arriving (fingers crossed) safely, or the approach of other seasonal holidays and the end of another calendar year, a traditional marker that we’ve collectively cherished.

For the 150 million plus Americans who voted for change this year (well, 80 million anyway), there’s still an element of fear in how the process works out. President Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and Franklin Roosevelt put a pin in the Great Depression with his. “The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself.”

The joke about “If you remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there” is on a par with those dancing in the streets post-election – our Euro-friends might equate it with the Nazis being defeated.

They, like our Founding Fathers, didn’t imagine there would be people in the White House who would sell this country out like modern day Benedict Arnolds, as trump and his enablers have tried to do by screwing with this election as they have.

Copywriting revolves around the use of keywords, and while ‘hunkered down,’ ‘gratitude’ and ‘thanks’ might be a little tougher to find than ‘election fraud,’ ‘transition blockage,’ or ‘COVID deaths,’ this year, take any part of Thanksgiving that makes a difference to you, especially the family part, and cherish it. That my Mom’s best friend the last fifty-five years, Joanne Kline, whose family we alternated holiday dinners with, laughed in mentioning she’d finally gotten better at mashed potatoes (don’t ask) is the sort of Memory buttons copywriters like to push.

Even the best content writer would have a tough time imagining how an asteroid would have become the quintessential and ugliest cherry on top of a tougher 2020 than we already had. I’ll smile and be grateful knowing “my people” are all safe at this point, and while Mom won’t remember telling Dad she’d always hated me wanting a big ol’ leg to chew on like a mountain man while I thought it was a tradition, stuff like that should always count.

A little bourbon, a cigar, family, and being a day closer to 2021, that’s worth writing a little something about too.

Panthers, NFL (almost) puts ‘normal’ back on the U.S. mental menu

While its uncertain about when the crowds will be allowed to return to BOA Stadium, good football is back in Charlotte.

In a week where a presidential “debate” caused alarm and general cringing for so many things wrong, and my personal production on a book and being a WFH long-form informational blogger dragged, catching the Carolina Panthers 31-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals was a definite goodness.

The Panthers (2-2) now have as many wins as the combined NFC East, RB Mike Davis has shown he can do more than just give Christian McCaffrey an occasional breather, and well, on a sunshiney fine Monday, that’s three facts to go forward with, smiling.

After stopping a 10-game Panther losing streak with a 21-16 win over the Los Angeles Chargers last week, QB Teddy Bridgewater continues to be exceptional as a distributor, hitting eight different receivers in a 26/37, 276 yd./2 TD-1 INT effort. Of those eight receivers, free agent Robby Anderson (from Jets) just missed a third straight 100 yd. game (8/99), Samuel (3/51), Moore (4/49), Bonafon (2/18 with a TD, 10/53 rushing), and Davis 5/27) means Teddy B. is doing well.

He also added 32 yards rushing, one an 18 yd. TD run, and the Panthers controlled the ball for 37 minutes of the game. Without casting too much shade on the departed Cam Newton, for a guy who has come back from a devastating knee injury, Bridgewater runs better than the version of Newton Charlotte saw the last two years, when it looked like he couldn’t decide to get down or punish a tackler.

Most experts picked the Panthers for no better than a 6-10 record, and McCaffrey’s high ankle sprain (out 4-6 weeks) probably had most of them ready to take a win or two off that idea.

In what most of America will recognize as a continuing slow, closely watched reopening of stadiums at the college (Alabama-Texas A&M had 19,424 in Bryant-Denny Stadium, apparently that constitutes ‘social distancing’ in a 101k seat stadium) and pro levels, 5,200 fans got to watch a total team effort under optimal Carolina blue skies.

In putting the metrics up for examination, the Panthers were 4/5 on trips to the red zone, scoring four TDs (1/6 last week, 5 FGs by Joey Slye), and 7/11 converting 3rd downs (3/12 v. Chargers), and they only punted ONCE. As announcers noted, Cards QB Kyle Murray gouges many teams that fail to maintain ‘rush discipline,’ so with a defense that held the elusive Murray to 133 yds. (3 TDs) on 24 ‘dink & dunk’ completions, plus 48 of his 78 yards rushing on one of his six carries, results on both side of the ball were encouraging.

Put a check mark next to Jeremy Chinn, listed as a safety, but very flexible in the Panthers defensive scheme, for your All-Rookie team. He leads his class with 34 tackles. and smile again, because new defensive coordinator Phil Snow has earned his paycheck and Panther pride is on the rise.

Really, in a 2020 world thats been truly scary since COVID appeared, last years 5-11 seems like just a bad dream, definitely worth forgetting. Unfortunately for the Texans, Washington, Giants, Jets, and Atlanta (0-4), they are probably headed into really undesirable territory. That the Falcons haven’t been able to shake their unreal Super Bowl collapse to Tom Brady’s Patriots two years ago is a fact. A recent re-do of disasterous endings – that onside kick fiasco that saved the Cowboys was a gobsmack.

Whether Falcons get healthy receiving bodies back or not bothers nobody I know – this is man-up divisional, at all times genuinely hostile time for Panthers. I’ll watch that almost any weekend.

That’s kind of where I’m going on ‘normal,’ knowing I haven’t wiped down the kitchen in two weeks, but kind of penciling in my fall Saturday afternoon: leftovers for lunch, clearing out and washing the car, grocery shopping, a walk, blocking out another blog through four-ish, and no long gun carrying dudes like in Michigan? Normal’s cool on a rainy weekend.

Sunday football makes a real weekend

Most of the sports world is settling its champions in a strange mix of seasons, and scrambled though it was, its easy to admit that getting sports as an option while most of the country was staying hunkered down helped greatly. In shorthand mode:

  • The Tampa Bay Lightening beat the Dallas Stars for the NHL title in six games, and while there was no lack of effort from teams that lived in protective “bubbles” in Edmonton and Toronto while playing before empty arenas for two months, the TV ratings, probably due to the late starts in Edmonton, were less than great. Still, they were 33% better than last year, when it usually goes against the NBA and baseball in April, May, June.
  • The Portland Timber took the “MSL is Back” tournament (July 8 – August 11) and immediately began the 18 games remaining on the regular 2020 schedule. Stay tuned…
  • The Los Angeles Lakers lead the Miami Heat 3-1 in the NBA Finals, and LeBron was ticked off enough about 20 turnovers in the Game 3 loss to walk off the court before the end of the game. Even though the Lakers weren’t in great sync Game 4, their 3-pt. shooting was significant. Of concern to most is how things go Friday – it could be the Lakers 17th championship, LeBron’s something in a row, probably another MVP and he’s done great with his ‘More Than a Vote’ https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2898497-lebron-james-more-than-a-vote-pushing-nba-arenas-as-mega-polling-sites campaign , getting the Lakers to offer their arena (as have many other teams, including Panthers, with unused stadiums) as a polling station.
  • The Triple Crown of horse-racing was won by three different horses, with the Kentucky Derby – usually the first Saturday in May, not going off until September 5th, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Authentic taking charge at the top of the stretch to give him a record 6th win. Swiss Skydiver became the 6th filly in 145 years to win the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes (first, but usually last) cutting the distance from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8, won by Tiz the Law  against a small field. Even if you’re a real horse fan, that’s still barely six minutes of action over three months though.
  • Baseball has begun its second round of playoffs at about the usual time, the LA Dodgers had the best regular season record (43-17) in NL, and the Tampa Bay Rays topped the AL (40-20). The Rays-Yanks Game 5 is Friday, no days off in the bubble.
“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks…”

Oh, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the Tour de France’s maillot jaune (yellow jersey) in dominant fashion, also taking the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey and white (best young rider under 25). Going into the time trial final stage, he was 57 seconds back of leader Primož Roglič, but made that up and beat him by 59 seconds.

In the cycling world (actually, most places) that’s getting crushed.

FOOTBALL – A traditional hold on Fall sports

But FOOTBALL! with its traditional hold on the Fall sports schedule, has brought back American weekends. Yes, there are Monday and Thursday games along the way, but a brewskie or twoskie and some salty snacks, that’s the deal to chill with, COVID to the rear of the bus. Having watched nine hours, from the 1:00 Panther game till the end of the 49ers-Eagles Sunday night game, the ‘Normal’ aspect of sports watching has returned with a flourish, although commercials during timeouts are LOADED with (frequently brutal) political ads.

OH BOY! Monday Night Football is a double header! “Hunkered down”

is just a little bit better with a 60″ screen and Tony Romo.

Sports are definitive

Sports are definitive – cool, even regular compared to everything else involved in this grinding Red-Blue struggle wrapped around a panemic absolute clarity delivered with instant replays. No chicanery, no long term battles over information, or who did what on which side of any philosophical line. In or out, catch/no catch, breaking the plane, the quarterback won’t play because of a knee injury, next guy up, period.

Its not a voting situation, and personal effort counts – their defensive end strip-sacks your QB (Brian Burns of Panthers has done it two weeks in a row, Grosse-Matos got one) and when everyone unpiles, guy with the ball at bottom is the only thing that counts. Dak Prescott (Dallas) throws for 502 yards and 4 TDs but Cowboys get taken to the shed 49-38 by the Cleveland Browns, all he gets is a quick “nice try, see you next week.”

Op-Ed – Off my chest

Debate-wise, there was nothing good to say about the embarassing level of negativity that the president pumped into the event for the entire 90 minutes on Tuesday. Having gotten my fill of athletic achievement the last two months, one experience I won’t repeat is watching even as much as the four brief snips of that debate I checked out. There was no honor or triumph to be had there, and trump’s ‘tactics’ certainly aren’t any ‘normal’ I believe befits the leader of this country. (Okay, a little editorializing)

The Panthers won because Coach Rhule seems to use almost everyone on the roster. Teddy Bridgewater has a steady hand on the wheel – more 13-play, 66 yard drives please! – and the coaches he brought to Charlotte, Snow and Joe Brady, who won the Broyles Award as the top assistant in college football last year, have made a difference quickly.

Tadej Pogačar won the Tour de France because he combined superb mountain climbing with the strength of will to triumph over 2,165 miles (21 stages, 23 days). America, unfortunately, will have to wait considerably longer to gain any real victory over COVID-19, but the potential dictator thing – thats over on November 3rd (or so).

And yessir, its true, “hunkered down” is just a little bit better with a 60″ screen and Tony Romo. (OH BOY! Monday Night Football is a double header!)

Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/glennshorkey
https://cdtalententerprises.com/about
(704) 502-9947

Sports content fine without fans, Dems show creative-successful, “$1B Peace of Mind”

Al fresco dining on the back of the vehicle, that easy hour WFH encourages.
Take destressing where/when you can.

As a content creation-sports journalist-leadership thought writer, on the cusp of a very significant September, I’m putting out a certain “Bring it!” attitude for what’s coming politically.

I got out to shoot hoops five times and walked twice this week – didn’t watch any of the trump family gathering – and while the ankle gets a little puffy, I definitely don’t have a torn ligament, which was a concern when I had a bicycle crash early in the month.

The usual bromide is, “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything,” and in-place safety and masking aside, full recovery from what could have been a much worse outcome is part of my enthusiasm for the turn into Fall. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2020/08/18/bike-accident-low-grade-depression-match-us-mess/ After nailing a 70,000 word rewrite of my favorite all-time book project after a breach at site wiped out everything at the beginning of the month, I’m good to go on all fronts.

The shoulder took heavy abuse when I went down, but in hoops, the J is going up painless; I’ve slept on my right side twice.

SPORTS! on TV, appreciate the difference

For those who find a sense of normalcy with the ability to watch soccer, baseball, hoops, and hockey, there’s nothing wrong with getting some joy from all the extra television most are watching. To say they don’t need us isn’t accurate, but… When SSDD (same stuff, different day) became SPORTS! on TV again, it didn’t take a sportswriter designation to appreciate the difference PLAYOFFS meant. Social slogans on the back of NBA players and piped in crowd noise are legitimate ‘production values.’

That SPORTS! stopped on a dime when ALL the players in their bubbles made it a social point, THAT is media that can’t be – and wasn’t -ignored by most of the USA.

Credit to Bayern Munich for its 6th UEFA title vs. Paris-St. Germaine, and for the Portland Timbers 2-1 ‘MLS is Back’ tournament win, which then morphed into a continuation of their season (18 more games.) Baseball, sure, but that’s later. There will be a Kentucky Derby winner this coming Saturday, 19 contestants.

Hockey has been particularly fierce for me; some 10:45 starts out of Edmonton are killers. On balance, their content has benefited the most from bubble presentations, jazzy video stuff, knowledgable studio personnel, and NO lack of effort on the ice.

ISLANDERS! are the word, up 3-1 against the Flyers in playoffs, which are actually proceeding exactly as usual. Well, as long as their playoffs often run, September is usually when they get ready for training camp. Gotta go with the explosive STARS out west, but boy! do the Vegas Golden Knights have team size. Goalie Robin Lehner is listed at 6’4″, 240, and with the equipment on, he’s a space eater. There weren’t any Lightening games in Tampa when I lived there in early ’80s, just the Suc-aneers. Hey, cuz got us in as one of band drummers (shout to Skip!) Will have to ask him about Brady there now…Back then it was Doug Williams.

LAKERS crushed Portland 4-1, don’t bet against LeBron, even if he might be distracted with social ideas, like turning stadiums into polling stations (way good idea, and official now). Celts took Raptors in first game of their series, Kwai Leonard is doing same good things in Clip-Land as he did in pulling off a championship for Toronto last year.

The Effort from everyone is clear, playing well when the world is watching really counts.

USPS gets its own section

USPS gets its own section, and people aren’t worried about “going postal” as much as the fact of postal GOING. Its truly important that the 90% approval rating it has beats any business definition as an INSTITUTION worth keeping – who spreads actual CONTENT better? They handle 1.3 billion Christmas cards, so another 80 million ballots over 30 days shouldn’t be crucial, but furor over disenfranchisement is real.

Black leaders note that, while they’ve seen such interference for a long time, when it came to veterans meds, Social Security checks, and of course, ballots, THEN it got attention. So be it – the question of how logistics expert DeJoy screwed things up so dramatically so quickly, that was a sound bite with bite.

Yes, I watched something besides sports and the Obamas, including one specific Rep. – Ro Khanna of CA 17th – grind on Mr. DeJoy about those 671 disassembled, high-speed sorters, eventually getting the resolution, “You can’t get me the billion dollars, but if you could, yes, I’d put the machines back.” Getting it stated as “$1 billion peace of mind,” that’s not letting it just drop out, it’s semi-officially holding someone’s feet to the fire, and that’s transparent *content.*

Seeing Jacob Blake shot seven times in the back – let alone in front of his family, isn’t content – was it, somehow, a heinous refresher some people needed after FB repeated how weary a statistical part of society was becoming of the struggle? Response was strong about George Floyd, this still seems the time and place to consider changes.

“We” of any stripe are watching LOTS of things in the current churn, and the election countdown has started for real, but thats not taking a side. In high school, I (naturally) ran the last part of the cross country course – when I could absolutely see where the finish line was, while circling the soccer fields in Central Park – its easy to keep a better speed and focus. I enjoyed picking off people at the end.

I can see the ballot box choice clearly from here. I’m charged up physically, mentally, involved as an individual and in union with others, doing what needs doing. Should I have to mention without automatic weapons (or even paintball, which could become gas versions at some point)?

What’s the Point?

That I’m Better leaving this point of COVID-19 semi-stall than when I came in, has been my standard

Team Rubicon could be difference maker. I have my health, I’ve put a solid achievement on the board https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/216172684/write/847519167, and with immediate goals, like ‘Watty’s’ submission and a 22,000 word running start on second book ‘With Platinum Fury Focus,’ I know what professional content creation will mean.

ATTITUDE – The social science people look at how we process things, how you react, and often the Pollyanna “all is well,” or personally stressful version, doesn’t allow for just being holy shit mad about things that are going on . My opinion from a year ago https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/08/12/renew-mojo-preseason-nfl-golf-sat-bbq-pool-breaks/ about giving your mojo some breaks, still stands.

This past week of healing, on days I didn’t stress test my shoulder and ankle with hoops, I walked the greenway. All is very good there, and as noted, I lacked any political negatives on my mind. I’m healthy, motivated – still without that stimulus check I heard about in April – but more fortunate than many that there’s no threat of eviction on my horizon.

I’m actually impressed with a contact from Team Rubicon, a veteran-focused, real immediate, disaster relief organization, whose operational code is summed up in GSD – Get Shit Done. They also take on Grey Shirts who are kick ass civilians, and I’d like to think I have that finishing kick to a career that touched on doing better for parts of the world. Pursuing an actual part of ‘build better’ in US? I’ll let you know.

In tune with The Times?

When I originally got in touch with Team Rubicon (early 2019), I was considering a good-paying (with benefits) gig for a CBD manufacturer in Charlotte. I’d liked everything about the mission focus, but at the same time, fact I had zero military background seemed a legitimate self-DQ.

But here at the end of August, 2020 after five months in the house, just as I nailed down the last five thousand words of chapter-izing and re-editing my book on wattpad, just as the last of the huge hematoma-infection I took care of with REAL medication – Bacitrycin – that worked great immediately; after hearing Barak Obama speak in as intimate a way and setting as anyone could have delivered the CONTENT of a great speech, without the usual covention hoo-ha, I got three communications in one week from TR.

There are openings as their coverage has grown, splitting off into Charlotte and Rock Hill. The specific Communications – Operations role I was interested in seems to have been filled professionally – all the information I asked for in followup Saturday, including my official number, was readily available. “The new guy” in command structure has let it be known that for specific roles, “We’ll train you up, if you want to step up and see about having the goods.”

I’ve got plenty of communications chops, and thanks to that good-looking site, I’ve actually COMMITTED by signing up for a specialist class in early October, and doing a background check. This sure feels like the time to put a mission-specific shoulder behind the wheel, solid American way. I WILL VOTE! and I will be Better on the other side of this.

Really folks, relax when you can. I’ll put the sports question – definitely hockey – up tomorrow. A couple series could be ending quickly.

Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises  

http://www.linkedin.com/in/glennshorkey
https://cdtalententerprises.com/about
(704) 502-9947

If Dr. Fauci was an umpire, his SAFE! call would be the end of “in place” griping

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Equating Dr. Fauci’s influence in so much relative to this pandemic with the ability I, as an umpire, held sway over decisions that affected how events went forward in the lives of others,  is specious.

Still, while its permissible to gripe about some calls, when the ump says, “This is how it shall be,” well, a lot of  ‘Mericans seem to count that as more factual than Fauci’s forty years of expertise gets him about Next, coronoa-wise.

Before each game, I went to both dugouts to discuss “the high strike” in arc pitch softball, that area at the top of arm but below the shoulder, where the tough calls are. Anybody can call ’em down the pipe, and pointing out the specific area *I* called a strike, my exit line was usually, “But you’re all hitters here, right?” meaning working walks is mehh.

A player I recall saying he didn’t LIKE my strike zone – but I called it consistently – was all anyone should ask for. For those clamoring for “freedom” from the  tyranny of being told not to congregate to improve chances of NOT getting sick, just know that I let a pitcher throw a strike to someone who stepped out of the batters box without asking permission.

‘Outside’ as helpful, not ‘bum rush to’

Umping in a medium pitch league, by the third inning I’d sent enough guys to first that the catcher was catching heat from his pitcher. I told him, again, “Tell your guy he’s this much (thumb-forefinger couple inches) off the plate.” A couple more walks in the fifth, he yells, “Hey ref! I been putting it in the same place all night!” I took one step onto the plate, pointed at him and asked, “Which of us better change what they’re doing then?”

The reality was, that strange motion he had when looking at his catcher for location, was because HE WAS LEGALLY BLIND in his left eye. Talk about flipping a cliche. The point I expected to convey was, straight up, that my opinion was the one that counted.

Frankly, Fauci has done that step up more than a couple times during truth-oriented situations, even with his political boss nearby. In the video conference he did with the Senate this week, he handled Rand Paul admirably – no, he’s not political or the “be all” on answers – but there is forty years of well-regarded expertise.

When Trump said “Maybe there’s nothing in the fall,” he came right to the mike and said, “We WILL have a wave of corona virus in the fall.” IMHO, that’s a definitive call on the second half of a double play grounder.

If anyone, my nephew included, questioned my calls (he did, in a minor league LL volunteer stint), you are two pitches from being struck out.

Umpiring and standing up for ‘right’

There was a girls league in Charlotte where they apparently worked the “run rabbit run!” style. The (obviously) better team would get people on, then, because *you can’t lead or steal until the ball crosses the plate,* they essentially went wild on the catchers throws back to the pitcher.  Inaccurate throws around the infield to stop runners quickly became a cycle of two runs and someone on second.

I see part of the umpire’s job as fairness. Following the catcher to the backstop (she really couldn’t stop much), I told her to call time out. Then throw the ball to the pitcher, after which I said, “Play ball.” After a single inning of that, the A-team manager asked what I was doing, and while I knew I’d never be coming back, letting people run wild and getting mercy-ruled by errors is a humiliating way to lose an un-fun game in three innings, that I could do something about.

Fauci as Umpire:  Check the states “re-opening” and having spikes in their infected rates about un-fun. If Dr. Fauci controls the “we’re gonna go-go-go operation” (I did), makes the call on scientific results (and expertise) vs. going to instant replay or another court case, that’s an ump who hits a righteous standard.

Rules matter

While unprepared, I volunteered to do a charity tournament game wearing topsiders, a tank top, and Ray Bans. Left field was actually unfenced, allowing outfielders to chase foul balls. With runners on 1st and 2nd, left fielder catches a long foul, and throwing to third from an angle, he clongs it off a light tower, it ricochets into center, and two runs score.

After searching for the guy with ground rules, it becomes one base on the throw, so only one run scores. Unfortunately, one person (female) wouldn’t quit “discussing” it, so I finally gave the word: Next yapping I heard, she’d be leaving.

After the game, two large players came over and asked me about singling her out. I explained that I went and found the ground rule and applied it. I had umpired plenty before, I didn’t have to put up with the sh*t, but if I left, the game was going to be in trouble. I wished them good luck and walked away..

An all time favorite was a runner interference call. Runners on 1st and 2nd, one out, with a major pop up to the shortstop. Runner from second was *right* in front of her, she dropped it, girl from first scored off two errant throws.

I couldn’t help myself – I said, “Boy, if that happened to my shortstop, I’d probably want to talk to somebody about it.”

The catcher held her hand up to stop the pitcher, turned to look at me, then walked out, and while talking to the pitcher, pointed back at me. She came back and said she wanted to make an appeal; I asked whether the runner going from 1st-2nd, or 2nd-3rd. She got the answer right, I yelled “runners out!” and both teams changed, with the manager having no idea what happened.

As for one guy cheating up in batters box, knowing the pitcher couldn’t get it in his strike zone with arc AND across (vs. land on) the plate, or, very likely have to give him a pitch he could cream, my job is still ensuring a fair game. I told the catcher, “Throw it any way you want,” which was essentially flat.

Batting box cheats and  people carrying military-style assault rifles while protesting ‘in place’ rule in Michigan, but not in NY is a valid analogy. Why? Because in NY the rule is you empty your pockets into little trays before going through a metal detector in state buildings, and pistols, AR-15s, and grenade launchers DON’T come in the building.

There are things YOU want to do, that might be good for you, but that aren’t fair to others. If it was simply a matter of rights, and it might trim the herd appropriately by doing something uncool like exposing themselves to unseeable but deadly viruses, fine, but the fact is, that behavior might affect me, and that’s not the best way to run a pandemic.

I’m still willing to look for the SAFE! sign from Dr. Fauci instead of listening to the bench saying, “Looked good from here, ump.”

 

Hoops and heat for ‘Lockdown Prep’ NC weekend, some worries about NY people

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Its never a bad time to notice stylish local artwork, sunny or not.

Going into a statewide lockdown on Monday didn’t stop it from being a glorious spring weekend in Charlotte. Eighty-eight on Saturday was plenty hot, getting out to shoot for forty minutes or so brought back hoops memories from Tampa, those times mi amigo Ivan and I beat each other to death in Tampa, FL humidity and blazing heat.

This isn’t a eulogy, but yes, I’m thinking about him being vulnerable and, as far as I know, unless he’s at the Mayo Clinic again because he’s lived with prostate cancer a dozen years now, he’s right at Ground Zero.  in Bronxville, NY. He’s like ninety-odd pills a day a medical marvel, but when you hear “underlying causes” with COVID-19, he’s definitely in that category.

We never even brought Power Ade with us back then, maybe a water bottle, then game to 100 – you could make up to three free throws after a basket.  It would be 94+ degrees, we could have stroked out. Younger then of course, stupid but physically capable of recovery, maybe a little like those Spring Breakers…

I’ll mix sports and some piece of the tale about making Ivan Marquez, former commisioner of the EIVA (Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) and Concordia College Athletic Director-legend  the coach-person he became, because he DIDN’T go back to Puerto Rico when we both had to retreat to New York from Tampa in 1983.

My claim to fame was disabusing him, by raining my good jump shot on him time after time, of the idea he could fit back into his old ways of league basketball in Santurce, PR, because he recognized, “If I can’t stop THIS guy from getting to the hole or shooting 3s, that’s not an option.”

My  recently turned 86-year old Mom in a nearby senior living community in Charlotte – locked down two weeks ago, and no Sundays in packed churches in any near future – is definitely safe, my best bud from college and forever, I don’t know.

TV sports are all repeats now, so…

I watched the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup, Christian Laettner still made “The Shot” in that classic 104-103 game against Kentucky, and I’m sure to see Flutie make that incredible throw again soon, but since there’s no new sports happening, I’ll offer a couple personal athletic considerations in place of TV.

Ivan and I went to the first pro beach volleyball tournament outside of the Southern Cal scene, held in Clearwater, FL. We got included in the judging for best bikini at one point, but there were a *bunch* of people sitting in on that. I’ve kept the typewritten original for ITS SPORTS! since 1982, think of it as a historical document, at least for that new sportswriter.

Yes, Karch Kiray was there, and won the Jose Cuervo-sponsored event.

Ivan’s analysis stuck with me: Unless there was a LOT of $$$ (which proved not a problem) going into beach volleyball, whether the stars of the California lifestyle would travel well was the question. He was also the guy who years later suggested scoring every point in volleyball to appropriate collegiate icons, because time-wise, long side-out games weren’t “TV friendly” like all the other NCAA championships.

Because of Ivan, I have the BEST hockey story, involving EJ McGuire – who became VP of NHL Souting, and died in 2011 of a cancer so rare, they don’t even have a slogan – but I knew as the cool as hell coach of the men’s team at Brockport State (NY). In the most generous of terms, that made us contemporaries, as I coached the Womens Hockey Club all of four games, before we ran out of bodies.

Those guys were tight, and I needed green jerseys for a game against Ithaca College – which we wound up whuppin’ 8-2, a week after they scored an empty net goal with :02 left to beat us 3-1 – so Ivan asked EJ after Friday practice, and he says, “Sure. Couple of you guys, give Glenn your jerseys for the girls.”

I chucked those jerseys in an equipment bag, and didn’t think about them again until we were in the locker room pre-game. As I started tossing them out, the girls were “Oh God, they’re cold, wet, stinking!” I said, put ’em on, we have to tape numbers on the back.”

Ithaca had 20 skaters in identical uniforms, skates, helmets with cages. The game was at Cornell’s Lynah Arena, my brother Steve brought my folks and aunt, uncle, cousin to my game before his JV basketball game. My feet didn’t touch the ice going over to shake the other coach’s hand after a HUGE victory.  There’s more, trust me, but my only win as coach.

author-sharp dressed man#1 for me and most, a championship

1981 Upstate Rugby Championship, beating arch rival Knicks in OT penalty kicks in semis. First time in 13 years!

We were the ‘B’ side entry, wound up having 6-7 guys from other teams play with us, what they call “rugby whores” (you give them a jersey, they do whatever you want). It was all about lights out defense – we didn’t give up any scores after first half game one (of three games on first day), then until last play of game against Knicks.

One of our guys punched somebody right in front of ref. They made a penalty kick, we made two in OT to win. That ‘B’ side only lost once all year. (That’s right Skip, we bad.)

Toughest opponent

Everybody needs someone to compete against (Brady-Manning, Yankees-Red Sox) and brother Dave was my toughest opponent, especially when he got lots bigger in college. Barely 6′ and could dunk.

Best 1-1 athletic moment, splitting tennis and late night hoops victories in a test of macho and his leg brace. I moved him all over the court to win, then he shot outrageously, *one parking lot light “over there” in the DARK, at a hoop he’d never seen before* to kill me in hoops.  I’m laughing at how he had to suck it up around wife Donna, pretend his leg wasn’t in a world of hurt for a week.

Other biggie in sports – Best guy to make a competetive bet with – pays off.  We “had a Wimbledon,” meaning if it takes five sets to have a winner, we go five sets, AND he said he’d take me in straight sets. Dave was kind of a beast to pass at net coming in behind a good bending serve, but I chipped-blocked a ton of those serves back on his feet coming in, and he didn’t put many away, so I took the first two sets.

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One of regular spots to shoot, a lot of good rim action, like a home court should be.

He wants to go double or nothing, case of Mich Light and $20, “Do you want the bet or not?” Sure…and I took him out.

Case of beer and $$ was at bottom of attic stairs before I came down for breakfast. 

Much as beer drinking is glorified, at a personal level, for me, it still counts to know you’re drinking what someone else paid for because you were “better.”

***

Oh, shooting on Saturday. I tore it up in two selfie games of 21, first time in a while I haven’t gone back to 15 like three or four times because I missed my “and one.”

Between some early afternoon raking and that, I believe I got a little sun. So that’s at least a *piece* of a pretty good day, right?

Cold beer with tortolini and some of best sauce and meatballs I’ve made in a while, its a regular Saturday… kind of. Whatever we can do to stay a little more relaxed, doing it by ourselves, that’s the deal in the here and now.

Just FYI – I consider myself informed and willing to do the obvious (wash hands, stay home), I have Skype interviews scheduled Monday and Tuesday, but no, I’m not going anywhere for a while  especially “just because.”

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

 

Agape -The taking care of those we love, Mom still loves pretty flowers

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Mom isn’t a Leap Baby, she’s a March 1-ster, but we called her 86th on Sunday “birthday,” and celebrated in common with Steve’s (62!!) at dinner the week before.

Having often opined that other three bros can fight for the wood-working title, handling the creative aspect of flower arrangements turned into some extra Mom joy getting spread around.

Mom’s favorite is daffodils, so that’s finally available for thoughtfulness, and there always has to be a rose.

Dad was great with flowers, and Mom still knows she likes them, so its a little agape, a Greek word I learned from a commercial, about being of service,”the highest form of love, charity.” 

Mom was a little weak with holding on today, commented about how far she’d walked, was half-stepping slower than usual, and that glass of wine probably contributed to being so tired mid-afternoon, but the flowers, ahhh, the flowers. 

Gotta give a shout out to the younger nurse at Carmel Hills who found a nice clean vase while I rummaged for a second one for Mom, and put a bucket worth on display at the nurses station. She was cool on knowing-telling anyone who wanted a pretty flower was welcome to it.

Personally, my Dad is thought of while taking care of his girl. Simple stuff still counts, like flowers anytime, as far as Mom’s concerned. Agape, you can look it up.

Mom’s been on assisted living side a year and a half now, and its good to know our elders are being treated right. Elder care will continue to be part of any national picture, including us Boomers, OK? but the day to day living, that isn’t political. Mothers birthdays, being the good son with flowers, that stuff is still personally important.

At church and having a donut with people afterwards, the promise of spring in Carolina blue sky, sunshine, and faked out trees already bloomed, she’s a happy camper.

We didn’t shake most hands or have the chalice available this week, that seems a reasonable precaution healthcare-wise, a word to the wise. We’ll see how often is seems reasonable to put Mom in what has become a very popular time (10:45) and crowded situation. She is the most vulnerable, apparently not the ton of kids she watches while having a juice-donut.

Our groups annual Fish Fry (#33?) is still on for the 13th. We usually serve over 600, we’ll see how things work out.

I might be doing a lot more take-out serving, the success of our late-January pierogi dinner in that area was an indication of how  people feel about supporting our popular community events. Our Men’s Club has an excellent reputation for food and friendship, and yes, a full cafeteria of people, often with a line waiting for seating, is something to consider at this point in healthcare.

I’m already a part of the remote work force, and deaths or not, there simply isn’t going to be a lock down of 100 million Americans.  Strap it on America, and lets not be stupid or outrageously afraid of this.

We didn’t shake or use chalice in church, that seems reasonable.

“Locking down” 100 million ain’t happening, but wash your hands, use YOUR sanitizer, even if that doesn’t appear to be strong enough to matter.

And to-go service, I’m not kidding, that might be an option people really buy into. You won’t be able to hear the band at home though, and Don’t forget the clam chowder. 

 

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. 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 klochy 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.

Christmas Thoughts for Panthers 2019 are a mixed bag for ‘fruitcake’ 5-9

Would Christian McCaffrey tell you, “Honestly, this ugly sweater is going right to the bottom of any drawer I can find space,” if you’d gifted him so? Doubtful, but there’s no reason to believe he’s doing anything less than giving each game his best effort. As a team, there’s also no reason to believe otherwise, even if the defense was sliced and diced by Seattle, dropping the Panthers to 5-9.

Fruitcake season? Just because you hear someone say “It’s not that bad” doesn’t mean you want any more of it. (Gonna have to use that one again…)

Everyone will point to McCaffrey as a bright point in a sub-par season, but holy moley! DJ Moore has 86 catches for 1,174 (4 TD) in his second year. Nobody is “happy” with six straight losses, and yes, eyes goes naturally to Kyle Allen’s 15 INTs (and 3,027) yards as a replacement for Cam Newton after two games .

It wouldn’t be any glaring sign of giving up if 3rd round pick Will Grier got a chance at QB the last two games.

Its pretty certain the Panthers have had a look at Allen after twelve games. Rookie name of Gardner Minshaw II did fine in Jax’ville, its not like they’re clearing the bench to give everyone a couple plays to consider over the winter, but a time when Panther fans will hear about LOTS of changes.

KEY PLAYERS

Doesn’t everyone have a favorite nephew, whose exploits you like to remind others about? McCaffrey is obviously as productive as anyone you can think of, and if he gets 186 yards receiving the next two games, “The Legend-Weapon that is Cee Mac” will be firmly anchored.

Like the kid who demands Santa’s “sled” in the commercial, Dad saying, “He was pretty good this year,” is very legitimate. C-Mac needs those 186 yards to hit 1,000/1,000 level, so I hope that item gets wrapped up real nice and arrives, FedEx or whatever. You’ve heard only two guys have done that, so expect some serious effort to deny him.

Speaking of favorites, congratulations to Drew Brees, a GOAT of GOATS. *That* is a team needing one LESS maximum negative a play in the clutch at some point, but they’ll play an extra inspirational bit harder for that/Drew’s championship this year. Topper on the tree stuff.

Most would agree the O-line has done its bit. Despite constant churn at positions with injuries, McCaffrey doesn’t get all those yards himself. Allen does hold onto the ball at times, so while the line has given up quite a few sacks, eliminating throwing errors (one hopes), although his mistakes, including fumbles, have clearly hurt offensive production.

Curtis Samuel got some different looks in the Seattle game, and using him as a runner like they do with Moore is always intriguing, because he’s a bolt coming at defenders. If he continues to learn how to evade, he could become a devastating slot receiver. Whether Ian Thomas is able to take the tight end job after an Olsen retirement is open to question.

Joey Slye has made seven 50-yard plus field goals this year, but he also missed some kicks that cost games. Overall, do you return cheap gifts and maybe stick with a higher priced version, like a $17 million kicker? Ahhhh! Something has gotten into the egg nog…

The Newton question is the big package hidden in the closet. He may have everyone’s good thoughts for recovery, the question is whether his injury and style – as a passer, all he has is a fastball – and price tag work for 2020.

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Panther fans won’t be sure what they’re getting for 2020, but ‘D’ will need to look less undressed.

The Turner offense certainly put certain players (Moore, McCaffrey) on a very strong path, just like it was designed to, and with a relative newbie at the controls to boot. Newton was +10 pts. over his career passing percentage last year before the shoulder really crimped his production, is he really-really going to be “okay” (you know the commercial) when games count again?

If someone doesn’t pay for Allen to attend some serious camp committed to cutting down his turnovers (13 fumbles), its because he’s getting that proverbial hunk of coal on the way out.

Yes, there needs to be something small but appreciable in the “Running back, besides Christian M.” under the tree for Panther fans to rest assured he won’t be toast in two more years.

DEFENSE WAS LIT UP LIKE CHRISTMAS TREE

If Mr. Tepper keeps Eric Washington as Defensive Coordinator after the way the front was repeatedly gouged for yardage all year, it would be a massive surprise. While the sack total is back up to historical levels, and Kuechly is #3 in the league with 131 tackles (17 against Seattle), Chris Carson went for 133 yards and 2 TDs last week.

Stats: The Panthers have given up 386 points (27.6 ppg) thus far, ahead of only Miami20181223_220242 (29.6 ppg). Pitiful Cincinnati (325, 23.2) was #22: Cleveland and Indy were middle of the pack (311 pts/22.2 ppg); New England (157, 11.2 ppg leads the league).

In 2018, the Panthers started giving up 100 yard rushers regularly, and it hasn’t stopped. It was suggested that opposing QBs didn’t mind throwing against their secondary either, and an improved rush didn’t lessen effectiveness going long. Whether the 3-4 alignment or standard 4-3 is better will require examining the potential of 2nd, 3rd year players like Brian Burns and Marquis Haynes.

Eric Reed was every bit the hitter they wanted at safety and run support, but a lot of people (not just Falcons, Saints; Jax had a receiver get 2-60 yard gains out of 383 total v. Panthers) seemed to be running free far too often. Give Dante Jackson credit for “make up speed” and no lack of confidence, but even when he gets there, people are still making catches. With expectations that he will blossom into the A-1 cover guy Panthers obviously need in 2020, lets hope the Big Boy pants under the tree fit right, or he acquires ‘sticky’ vs. anything figgy by next season.

Shaq Thompson is the speed linebacker many expected him to be with more playing time, but Dontari Poe doesn’t appear to  be a run stopper by any $9 million definition, and I didn’t hear Butler’s name often, that probably can’t stand either. Mario Addison might be trade bait after another decline in sacks.

While Fewell got the nod for interim coach, as the coach of secondary, he might not be around for New Years either.

If some Panther stockings are still hung by the chimney with care after New Year’s, look for when “Bonus $$ for on roster – (X date)” about decision time. James Bradbury’s stocking has something in it, hopefully a situation he can share with Ross Cockrell, who had a quietly good year after a broken leg kept him out all of 2018. Most probably its just a thank you for keeping things respectable with most receivers.

Nobody wants to see Greg Olsen ride off into the sunset (with or without a Man of Year award), it will be up to him and family to decide whether 2019 was enough.

Philosophically and realistically speaking, its going to be an uncomfortable winter for Panther fans. Mr. Tepper has big plans for his soccer franchise, but his NFL franchise will need considerable tending too.

 

Knee replacement turns two, and ‘Obamacare’ is still law of the land

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Still proud of myself for ‘re-purposing’ the bicycle seat that served me for 28 years as a wedding gift.

Having started with Affordable Care Act coverage when legally mandated in 2015, I’m proud to announce that the replacement knee that made me physically whole again after a dozen years as ‘a gimp’ and restored my personal confidence levels, turned two yesterday.

A physical game changer at 60, replacement was the most anticipated gift I’d ever received.

After asking my doctor if I could possibly get the surgery in December, 2017, the scheduling person said, “You’re in luck. Two cancellations means one spot has opened up. The doctor is booked on the 18th, Christmas is the 25th, and after that its a new program year. You can have surgery this Monday, but you have to tell me,” and she literally looked at her watch, “now.”

After a difficult economic 2016 as a new real estate broker, getting a knee that was totally shot at the end of 2017  fixed as a long-term negative was far from a given. In the final accounting, the numbers turned out super-doable: “Obamacare” meant my maximum out of pocket – on an insurance breakdown with a $28,700 top line was $600.  The $20 a session for physical therapy – seven weeks, twice a week – was money extremely well spent.

Thankfulness has abounded since, and I have no reason to listen to anyone knock the ACA. This past weekend I popped off an 18 mile ride without any protest or strain from “Lefty,” and while a second day of Christmas tree selling brought a minor ache, two beers watching the LSU game took care of that.

I’m a happy camper about the knee, and have said so in every survey they sent me.

Rehabbing is definitely a challenge, nothing fun

When you catch a major break like the timing and cost factors I had, you owe the Universe your very best effort in return. Whatever other exercises Amanda and Becka came up with, knowing how important a factor an ERMI was in my progress, I worked the hell out of it.

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A significant extra from having Dr. Robert McBride (OrthoCarolina) as my surgeon was getting that ERMI (Extended Range of Motion Improvement) machine as a 30 day ‘loaner.’ It’s not kidding to say, with your heel in a foot-scoop, “You pull the pneumatic lever until the bend is uncomfortable, then give it another little tug, and keep that position for ten minutes.”

After taking a break, the system calls for coming back for ten more minutes and doing that twice a day. In physical therapy for knees, they quantify your progress in range of degrees, and at least for me, clicking that lever another line or three while in the ERMI saddle and channel-surfing hit an “I got this” machismo.

I believe that *every*little*bit*more*I*do* goes directly to helping the strength and functions of my knee-quad-whatever. (What I told my PT person, Amanda, often, and strangers in grocery stores even more frequently)

Its a process, and goals help

My initial, somewhat whimsical goal for being “better” involved planting my left foot without pain and being able to hit a tree with a snowball. The last time I’d tried on a trip to NY, I literally couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Charlotte doesn’t get snow that often, so it was a touch of luck that a decent skim appeared in late February to help fulfill that “leveling up” affirmation.

By the end of May, with the help of regular, mostly flatter 8-10 mile bicycle rides for training, I could handle my favorite urban route, one that features a three-mile stretch with several long rises about the mid-point. Thumping a forehand up the alley in tennis as an opponent flails at its passage still hasn’t been put on the official scoreboard, but I’ve killed a nearby wall.

In a captain’s choice golf event before Memorial Day 2018, I played amazingly well off the tees, STRAIGHT drives that located well and allowed better players to shoot for higher risk options. For years that knee clicked and wobbled at exactly the point I settled into an optimal swing position, which was more than just distracting. When my balance was restored, wow! Without that constant niggling, my swing came through smoothly.

That old joke about, “Will I be able to play the piano after surgery, I never could before,” that’s what solid drives felt like.

My bike ride is a working antique, a 12-speed Miyata with gears on the up-angle from my pedals instead of in the middle of the handlebars. I bought ‘Clyde’ for $125 in 1990, refurbished it for $185 many years ago, and finally bought a more ergonomically friendly seat vs. the slab of leather (see photo at top) that lasted 28 years. Riding Clyde was a saving grace, what allowed my staying in shape because it was really the only physical thing that *didn’t* abuse the knee, and biking is an almost year-round possibility in Charlotte.

Post-replacement and therapy, I honestly never expected to become the long-distance shooting threat in hoops I sort of recall being a dozen years before, when I started needing a bracier brace. Having stopped playing even 4-on-4 games six years ago – I sure didn’t want to be the guy *anybody* can drive on and they want to guard – I just wanted to move naturally. I continued catch and shoot hoops by myself over the years, but having to WALK after misses, that didn’t really square with the inner athlete.

Not having to skip across the street so I didn’t get run over made having that knee replacement a simple decision.

This October, after declining to play the previous week, I tried “going easy” for a short game to seven, shooting 4-5 with three long shots, and an assist. I’ve been back four times since, even though my doctor says, “You’re playing basketball?” with concern in his voice. (No sweat doc, I’m playing with old, broken down guys…) I resisted for over a year, I swear I know my limitations, but running after misses because I can, is another reason for thanks.

When doing a content copy writing gig for a CBD manufacturer early last year, I did several articles about how CBD’s effect on the endocannaboid system (ECS) can help with anxiety and depression.  Other research, regarding physical activity as a good overall tool on those fronts, echoed a personal mantra, and that Forever Young Boomer inside me does seem to respond well to CBD’s “focus factor,” having both going for me is terrific.

In my humble opinion, when your moment comes to pull the trigger, do it. The physical therapy is going to hurt, but do it – and then do a little bit more. Happy second birthdays depend on it.

“Real Writers” still best option, AI or 1 million chimps on computers creativity aside

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Artificial intelligence and computers can do amazing things based on previous analysis, but can they imagine a perfect David without that?

After being fed a trillion-gazillion bytes of previous human blood, sweat, and tears involved in artwork or literature, Artificial Intelligence is becoming/has begun to be judged capable of original production.  Professionally speaking, that sounds more reasonable than a million (or 10 million?) chimpanzees on keyboards knocking out even a couple verses of Bill Shakespeare-worthy prose by accident.

At the current time, I’m a way better writing alternative.

Without going deeply into whether its a good idea or not, the AI future has been coming almost 70 years,  and the chimps haven’t produced anything noteworthy.  Having read on LinkedIn about AI “knowing” how to make hiring decisions though, that’s a belief I can’t get on board with.

Having a “presence” – something that might push a magic button for a potential employer of my talents – and result in a tah dah! moment HAS to be better, because its worked that way before. Many sites still don’t recognize MSOffice includes Word, or journalism as somehow lacking “media and communications.”

Case in point, the recently concluded series SUITS.

Could the Zen of Harvey Specter and Mike Ross coming together on the basis of – well, a busted drug deal – and Mike’s statistical memory out-dueling Harvey’s ego on trivia happen with AI? I think not.

Far above the vast area between accidental genius and synthesized, analytical material becoming heart-breaking romance, discovering the answer to someone’s pain about any number of factors is what INTERVIEWING is about, and where writers of all stripes wear the sales hat.

Sports writing is easier than CBD content creation

Of course there are the numbers, the stats, the win-loss conclusion and opinions of the result, but sports have their own voice, and quotes are usually the most compelling part. If we have or haven’t seen the event, can you appreciate how a journalist presents it, accurately and colorfully?

That’s part of what interviewing does for “client voice.” Putting them together, with the proliferation of websites and blogs that require on-going production, is what long-form informational blogging has become.  Although not as direct as words from a winning coach, corporate voice is THE voice.

From high school journalism on, the need to set the hook with readers in the first paragraph was considered paramount. Now its the click value of the headline, because people scan vs. read.

Relative to value, while Charlotte pays above the national rates (as reported by Indeed, Glassdoor, Payscale), its often a case of job title-category being a determinant.

Copy writers at $26.38/hr, content writers,  and writers generally are close to $50k (Payscale says $47k is 10% above national avg., Glassdoor pegs avg. @ $55k), while content creation, including editors and social media types, are in the middle-upper teens per hour. Indeed puts these North Carolina rates at 15% below national averages.

Obviously there are ranges.  ‘Freelancers’ is a relative term ($22.46/hr., Payscale), tutors average $23/hr. (I usually bill at $30) and technical writers lead the overall pack at $32/hour. While descriptions for all have terms in common (white papers, blogs, SEO), writers seem to involve more interfacing with other creatives. Content creation is often  list-cicles or amalgamated research and rehashing as a group effort, with the focus on Google positioning.

*Everyone* wants copy/blogs/leadership thought that “meets and exceeds customer expectations.”

Technical Writing

“Leadership Thoughts” style has become a strong part of long-form informational blogging, and contrasting two previous projects with a recent sketchy client description highlights the importance of interviewing.

According to a Thumbtack lead, the client had an ESL (English Second Language) situation, and to his credit, knew he needed some expertise to make a business proposal sound right.

In hearing the project was “between 2,000-10,000 words” represented an awful lot of territory to offer overall pricing. Informing the client my blogs are often 1200-1500 words, so 10,000 was a lot, is a concrete example of both parties knowing what a project entails. Whether this business plan was going to include enough budget for technical writing was also a consideration.

jensenprocedOn the other hand, writing procedures for Parts Ordering and Returns was for “guys in the pits” using industrial laundry equipment (driers, folders, belted delivery systems, timing), not front office people. The primary point was well-defined, especially how plucking a part off a machine and reading the number was actually the third best option when ordering.

Two pages of specific information only took 945 words, and fact it included addressing issue of returns, so extra junk didn’t clog up the back dock area, was gravy.

Interviews as sales calls

Because client-facing verbal understanding is at the core of all successful work interactions, my mantra is that the Q&A to be most effective is always about determining those factors most important to clients, not an interrogation. Good information makes for better decisions.

During several other career stages, interviews were more accurately sales calls, where I was providing the information aspect, and how other people reacted was a measurable outcome.  “Interviewing” with the lawyer of someone whose property had a billboard I represented was another slice of interpretation – most would consider that “negotiation” though.

In scholastic fundraising, there was essentially 40 minutes to build rapport, present information and possibilities, (hopefully) get the green lights and signature that meant putting it on a calendar.  Most interviews focused on “fixing” a sponsor’s group problem in tough economic times.

That (fix some pain) remains the central theme for all kind of ‘gigs’ now, and Writers understand that every RFP (request for proposal) type of content we send should  be intended as a statement of what we bring to the table.

Without denigrating ‘foreign competition’ on the content front – because getting ideas across in writing is not bound by location or time zones – language differences when I’m just trying to make a point with outsourced service operations are multiplied in complexity when clarifying a corporate tone or voice.

ESL clients require extra attention, and grammatically and professionally, it still seems like some corporate material has been put through a Google translator called “English” that comes off as stilted in “American.” That might be where AI can makes inroads.