‘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.
  • Over 1.5″ off bottom 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 to get to the GA (general admission) gates, so allow some time for that (Note: Took 1:15 to go last mile, coming from south on 75, only missed one race). The walk in from the far out fields is a decent trek, if you don’t catch one of the small tour buses. 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 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 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 Magainin 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. That made me #2 in the store, on Tuesday 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. 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

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.

I posted my POVs on retail and economics regularly during seven years working for a major Southeastern retailer during the Great Recession, I’ll now be using #gshorkonsharonseam while presenting my POV of retail economics ’22. #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

I’ll save my favorite story about 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 one of the 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 wondered 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 still put 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 a wave 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 Good 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 $500 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.

America loves family baseball, this Blue’s call is an official, Joyful 4th for all

Parents watching their 9-10 yr. olds play baseball in relentless, 88-degree heat – and VERY glad to be doing it after a year away – makes a starting point Americans can agree about. (Knights Stad., 2017)

Not homeless update

My Charlotte nephew, Ian, offering a spare bedroom – in the house he’s had for all of twelve days – changed my potential homeless gig over the last week. It’s a very nicely done brick, small 3/2 bedroom, hardwood throughout, quiet, well-shaded yard, and I wasn’t just stashing stuff elsewhere to be out of the house last Wednesday.

That immediately made umpiring all weekend easier to handle – I had better than just a place to take a shower and lay my head available. I’m keeping a couple boxes and my umpire gear in the car, a reminder of that short distance to much different.

For the record, that the Spain people were willing-able to assess a $500 fee for clearing out what was left behind, I’d say it was legit. I pared my stuff down to barely a room, left 20 years of hard cover journals behind. Bro felt the need to continue working at the office up till the last day, so umpire judgment-wise, maybe a bad call by him…

I heard Mike say $200 to guys across street for two queen mattresses. They didn’t come pick them up, knowing he’d wind up leaving them behind the next day. That’s how moving situations roll.

On the Tuesday before I’d normally be considering the second part of my big move back into the Real World, apparently the guy I’m renting from “Isn’t 100% sure what date the guy I’m replacing is going to be gone-gone.” This also, is how moving rolls.

I brought my large, 3-tree potted palm to Ian’s, one branch proudly waving out the front window, and that sense of flag-fluttering pride is recreated thousands of times a weekend across this country at family baseball games.

Over two days, nine games, *nobody* disagreed playing was HUGELY satisfying after nothing last year.

Glenn, ‘Blue’ 6/28/21

Family baseball is bedrock America

One thing for sure, nine hours of 88-plus heat, from after the 8:30 game (of five) on Sunday till the end, you had to WANT to be in that blast furnace. Little ones and adults still chase down foul balls. Tents aren’t a visiblilty factor as much as a recognized need, the periodic, “Hey Blue, I got plenty of water, maybe a Gatorade?” works for me.

I actually found out about Stella’s Mom promising the sub-5 foot, left-handed sometimes catcher would protect me at the plate, because I had her on Saturday. She actually clunked me in the back of the head with a throw while playing 2nd base late Sunday – said the protection guarantee only counted while catching.

And we had plenty of hooo-hah! to officiate. NOBODY is kidding when they say, “The kids are fine, its the adults you have to watch out for.”

An international rules overtime game, starting with bases loaded and one out was an above my pay grade call. From moments like this are small heroes made, so great to watch, and glad to make the call at the plate in the Bigger Picture.

Everyone I talked to – they are ALL glad to be playing ball again, and collectively they believe we can trust again. You can barely imagine how much these kids wanted to mix and talk instead of just tipping caps post game. Pitchers want to know how somebody throws such a good curve, and its shared with pride.

Umpires do not turn down Gatorade. Nobody expects my strike zone to change because I’m staying alive.

Pitchers with that ‘extra’ pitch usually telegraph it by smiling when their catcher signals for it. One chunky kid thought we should go heads up with his newly minted curve…

Making a Difference – 9 Umpire POVs

Head first slides

Early on, one kid slides into home head first. It’s a Little League rule- head first back to a base only – but most tournament 10 year old games use high school rules that allow it. One coach says he’s not for it, but… I remind him of that when a second kid does it. That he recognizes the moment as an immediate teaching time is great stuff – no more head first slides.

When the other coach approaches me with his own star kid, asking about head first sliding, I repeated situation with first coach, adding, “You probably don’t need to do it either.” He walks away, Dad-coach says, “He wants to get a sliding mitt so he can do it without jamming a thumb. More equipment…”

Thanks for asking, usually

I appreciate gentlemen coaches LOTS more than broadcaster-screamers (obviously). Regarding balks, one said, “Not trying to actually deceive,” with some move, that works for me. 12 year olds have to know better, but I’m inclined to give a 10 year old trying a pickoff and flubbing it to become their coaching time, more something we can discuss aside vs. scaring him from trying, y’know?

I tightened up my chest protection this week and a foul tip still found ‘meat.’

Yay! for rookie scorekeepers

Speaking with a first weekend rookie Mom doing the official scorebook, these are the people who make youth sports so truly wonderfully good for all. She loved the extra of knowing a backward K indicated “struck out looking” vs. swinging. I gave her the explanation for Stella’s run to glory, and why she hadn’t been out after striking out and a catcher-runner collision at home plate.

“Just in case anyone else wants to know, they had to step on the bag at first or tag her, and guy didn’t make the tag.”

They listen – I’m an expert

It’s terrific to impart a specific point to nine and ten year old pitchers and others, like an explanation of seeing one obviously fiddling with his grip in mid-delivery. Everybody knows your ‘out pitch’ is coming, but no sense rushing yourself.

“Not inclined to call time” effective in pre-game talk

I’ve made NOT giving batters time to constantly step out a part of pre-game talk at each dugout. I’m not bitchy about it, some kids its deeply ingrained, but telling them “I’ve called balks three times and its cost people runs. You can get set, but once pitcher is going, I’m not inclined to call time so you can get three more practice hacks.” It’s been effective.

“Of course I didn’t use the rule until I needed to!”

Every coach has something they’ll want called in the clutch. Sunday is was a runner at first shuffling feet around as a distraction, which everyone does, but… After pulling in the tournament director, and a cell phone call to higher ups, the appeal resulted in an OUT that caused an overtime situation with international rules. That’s bases loaded, one out, a situation made for being a hero.

The joy of that runner scoring off a passed ball was shared by the entire team.

Framing pitches is legit, no posing!

Every catcher is now coached on framing pitches. It’s legit – my standard is just no posing! because people question, “How could he call a ball when your glove is right there?” I *know* where they caught it, 4-5 inches from what fans think they saw, just no “want to change your mind?” posing like I’m not doing my job.

Umpires get to rub it, a little

Being right on top of plays is a point of pride, and somehow, taking a foul tip juuuust below the collarbone, missing the mask and inside the chest-shoulder plates has a certain effect on others. I showed off the stitching ‘tattoo’ on left hand, and told the crowd and players, “Umpires get to rub it, a little.” You’ve probably heard ten-year olds aren’t supposed to…Taking four in the mask, pssshhhh.

Yes, one call can do it

I can’t help myself, even knowing it only takes ONE CALL to turn a buddy in the crowd against you, I’m still a talker. Eleven hours for Demetri and me too, and no shade on that hard Carolina clay infield aside, I’ve had a gas “Being Blue.”

Stella, Heroes, Winning still counts

Most important play of the day? Glad you asked.

Our second consolation game was between REDS and TIGERS. Both are first year clubs, and playing four games in two days makes a difference, especially for next season, like September. The Reds lost by a run in their previous game, then immediately had to re-gather at another field, playing 20 minutes after the loss.

Watching them pre-game, they were sloppy, listless. Their man-child 10 yr. old first baseman waved at warmup throws, there was no chatter. They gave up seven runs in the first, it could’ve become a sorry, very hot, hour thirty-minute zombie march…

Things changed when the extra-large batter – only his coach was bigger, including me – drove a 3-run homer over the temp fencing to put a charge in the game. The defense made plays, a scrawny-lean young black man with dreads – who got pointers about throwing, possibly for the first time, and lasted almost three innings – allowed the Reds to come back and tie the game.

Going up against a time limit, Stella is at bat, a runner on third is dancing on every pitch. The large kid is playing catcher, and after Stella strikes out, the pitch gets past him, the runner comes from third, and 4’5″ STELLA is walking towards the dugout.

Technically, I’m in Low-C position, behind and to right of the pitcher, watching for pickoff plays at third, staying out of throwing lanes for catchers to second base and shortstops are considerations.

As runner GOES! the coaches yell for Stella to run to first, which happens a lot with wild pitch third strikes, and she manuevers around the pile at home plate.

I check the plate umpire, he signals safe at home, and a throw comes out of the tangle – but the receiving person isn’t on the first base bag, or able to tag the diminuitive Stella.

How important was that? If the play at the plate had been an out, Stella would represent the final out. Two bang-bang plays, and still only one out was the result. The Tigers score three, so in the bottom of the inning, holding the Reds to two is a win, three ends in a tie.

Without Stella legging it out, the game would’ve been a tie based on time, BUT…

The Reds score FOUR, winning their first game ever. As an athlete, YES! you absolutely do gain a stronger sense of self, of succeeding and doing things as a team, having others care just a little more, after a comeback victory.

And yes, its still about the size of the fight in the dog. Competition made this country great, so you go, Stella! Cheering FOR something always beats crying about the losses, and that’s not just a judgment call.

I’ll also continue to congratulate those American families who pull packed wagons, with tents and snacks for six, and my fellow Blues – things just don’t work quite as well without us and snacks.

America is truly on the move, sheltered-homeless a fact millions will be challenged with

Brother “Mike’N Stang” (and CharlieToo) is ready to roll right after the 4th. Fingers crossed for a couple nights sleeping in this vehicle in the yard.

What’s in your cards, these still legally UNITED States we’ve always loved? Pandemic safeguards will become forced mobility for housing soon? Friday I nailed down a 12’x10′, 4th bedroom in a good ranch-style home – rose bushes, new furniture, repaints happening, and the ability to store a small load of things for $100 deposit.

STORE – As in I can’t move in until July 1, and my brother hasn’t definitely said ‘yes’ to sleeping in the RV for, uhhh, several days after leaving the house tomorrow.

Me, 6/21/21

Just sayin’, there are various levels of success on the mass movement this country is going to experience in the near future. Many fear change and the unfamiliar – at least this time for me, its an easy lateral situation, very comparable to living with my brother.

Got the truck for tonight-plus

Mike wanted to move some 20′ sections of fencing pipe from his back yard (FYI, many turned out to be 28-30 feet!) so he’s splitting the cost of what I probably would have tried doing in two trips Monday night with a ten-foot truck and half the daily $39.95 + miles/gas for the twenty.

Rule #1 in moving: Whatever help you can round up, even one makes a difference.

My new place, after five years at my brother’s, is seven miles away, and there’s a good chance I’ll get a chance to use my golf clubs soon. Can’t honestly recall when I last even hit an $8 bucket…

Bonus point: Biking gets easier living even a little further out, I’m a little spoiled about getting on the Greenway behind the Hindu temple four blocks away, and rolling for 12 miles. That’s another point about moving, finding your good places to go for whatever gives you joy.

From just a week ago, things have turned out well, and in a timely manner for my necessary move, and that comes from consistent effort, nobody makes 20 calls for you. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/06/14/communications-customer-service-quality-content-writing-the-greatest-of-these-is-service/

There won’t be any way to avoid the pains of dislocation that are coming for many, but with a sigh of gratitude, I’ll echo the sentiment from here in the Carolinas and elsewhere, “I ain’t got a dog in that (need to find a place) fight,” at least not now.

I met the owner, a chattering good guy, and a second roommate, after brother and I quickly unloaded a decent amount of stuff into the garage last night. Now I’m working to find something more legitimate than crashing on a couch in a different living room for a bunch of nights if Mike and club pals don’t respond. I mean, it’s not 1978…

A very valid situation in 2021

This National Moving event that’s 2021 is a perfectly valid situation. Two days before I’ve got to be out, I still need to stash some stuff elsewhere, but things are actually breaking about 60% on my terms, especially economic. Because I’m working a plan, I’m not going to sweat being a relative statistic as – homeless.

The last time I had to exit an apartment on a deadline, I had five other post-poker playing guys, well after eleven, try to manuever my WATER BED out. At one point, wedged in the front door, it was obvious it wasn’t coming with me. Using the biggest knife from my butcher block set, we slashed it open and just kept pushing that bladder forward as it gushed.

After numerous previous moves, the base was crumbling, but man, those cold February mornings and nights in upstate NY, when I lived in the attic, that warm bed was GOLD, truly a difference maker as furniture.

Then or now, no place for it to go means, c’ya!

My MOST DRAMATIC move involved going to a rugby banquet until after nine, then clearing out everything possible into my Alliance – actually a terrific car for me – and driving to Troy, NY. Dramatic part was next morning, when fire engines gathering out in front of the building was because place next door was kind of smoking the area up.

I’d had a good time, then literally jumped from an economic fire into a literal one. Yeah, happy freaking Tuesday on that piece of history!

Got one better than that? Let’s hear it, but 2021, that’s moving along just fine, thanks.

Glenn S., 6/21/21

Right now I’m mildly worried about where a few items, like a three-tree potted palm might go, along with a last trunk and two boxes. And a half dozen picture frames. And these two cool portable wicker seats … I’m far less worried than last week though, when facts about a legitimate place to land lacked getting *somebody* to cooperate by calling back.

What comes, what doesn’t

At sixty-four, I’ve accumulated as much crap as anyone, but down-sizing to a room, not all the memories get to make any further trips. Know that I feel you at this time, America – I’ve been there, am again. My best advice is to channel your inner Matt Damon from ‘The Martian,’ an A-1 example of working through what has to happen next.

In ‘The Martian,’ Matt Damon quickly decides he’s got to “engineer the sh*t out of the situation” to survive. Moving isn’t nearly that tough.

It’s not brain surgery, it’s choices

Will it help my life the next 7 months? Yes-No, stay or go. Emotional weight though, that’s in the process. I’m donating a bunch of books to the library two blocks away, I hope I’m doing something worth while instead of just lightening my load.

The 200-year old upright secretary desk of pure, shiny brown, with slots and small drawers, and three drawers of storage that I cherished, went north with Mom’s cherry bedroom set (and a bunch of stuff Dave’s wife didn’t know was coming) back in early May. Nobody wanted that to wind up curbside.

Right now, I’m working from a 4-legged wooden card table that Uncle Leo made waaay back in the day, moved the half-filled cedar chest Mom refinished for my 25th birthday, and nightstand Dad won a blue ribbon for at the Florida State Fair. Things make the cut for personal reasons.

The folks bedroom set going to my niece Maria’s place in New York – she finally gets to attend her art institute for real – is a part of that life circle, passing things along. Stuff like yearbooks – or most of 20 years worth of hard cover journals I’ve written in – have to be jettisoned based on space and need. Here’s betting which brother winds up with Dad’s excellent smaller, hanging grandfather clock in the future.

I have ten of the bells I bought Mom for several years, its good to know nephew Ian even has a few of those from Mike’s china cabinet. If he’s got the good Waterford one, nice to know he has taste – make it an heirloom.

We’re going to have that terrific 4th of July people, hopefully near some water – its mid-summer hot here, and with essential moving done, some time for more baseball and maybe a date at the Whitewater Center.

May the times before and after that work out as well for my ‘on the move’ fellow Americans.

Good fortune to all in the upcoming search. Consider lighting a candle that they gain necessary help to find their way.

A good jump shot isn’t racist – having your throat choked helps focus the difference

I honestly hope my rugby mentor with the Schenectady Reds RFC, Dr. Julius R. ‘Skip’ Aycox III, is alive to read this, because his grabbing me by the throat for using the N-word made a difference the last thirty-five years.

Someone will have to show me a more macho game, and on the pitch, teammates color is about jerseys.

Now, “that word” was used in a sing-song style lots of close friends did in late 1970’s college, and I did it right after one of our team’s best players used it while talking to him, so getting clutched by the throat surprised me hugely.

“What? You didn’t do anything when Ted just said it!”

“He does it to try and upset me, and he can’t be changed. You I can help.”

When I moved to Charlotte in 1995, Carolina Panthers rookie QB Kerry Collins getting a black eye from his center sticks in my mind, smaller examples of “correcting behavior” compared to the massive upheaval this country experienced last year. Across the USA and beyond, George Floyd’s murder, at the knee of now-convicted white police officer, Derek Chauvin, had finally brought a specific reckoning.

The call to STOP! police brutality that continues to result – especially with young Black men – in violent death, literally echoed around the world. Not as significantly in certain parts of our Congressional representatives, but there have been large numbers of white faces available every step of the way.

I’ve lived most of my Boomer life believing we squared a lot of this stuff up during those wild ‘n crazy Seventies, but it’s time to step up again, do a booster shot, right’s still right. Remember thinking ‘Tricky Dicky’ was a real threat to our nation? It’s not every cops badge and gun we need to worry about, BUT… https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/01/18/smarter-than-average-bear-content-writing-boomer-replants-thought-leadership-flag-2021/

Without meaning to claim any special ‘wokeness,’ of course it’s time to consider walking in someone else’s shoes. It’s been part of the journalistic process since my HS days, and with all due credit for watching Ken Burns’ “Hemingway,” I appreciate it when people share the experience I’m putting on the page, too.

A guiding thought in my life process was a NYT Sunday Book section title, “Hemingway made his own hours.” Case closed, but now a few positive points on Attitude to set out.

Ideas recognized, ‘salt & pepper’ counts

White privilege?

Should I have to consider my willingness to walk into a Novant site around the corner from my house, on the way back from grocery shopping, ‘white privilege?’

While still only 64 and a Category-5 profile in North Carolina, I did exactly that, getting the Pfizer vaccine March 18th, a full two months earlier than I’d expected.

My May estimate was based on the trump administration having no actual stockpile of vaccine revelation, the number of distribution points at the time Joe Biden became President Biden, my birthday two days later being no real factor.

The nurse said they did 3,000 a day where I got mine. Reality at Novant was immediate – I’d barely started talking to a young lady with a laptop when a supervisor said, “Sure, let’s get you stuck.”

She also said, “You don’t ask, you don’t get” about Life. Pulling into that parking lot was taking the shot. Bazinga! But that was actually Novant #3 attempt. I’d also called Lancaster, SC about possible appointments when they were giving shots to 55+ there, long before things went into overdrive on options.

In early March, going to shoot baskets, I saw cars pulling in at McClintock (school), barely a mile from my brother’s house. Those “they had to use the extra shots” stories had been on TV, so I got in line and called my 65 yr/old brother about the possibility. Once a representative spoke to me directly about having accounted for any extra shots, I simply left to shoot baskets as planned.

Turns out, my bro apparently did some extra ‘yapping’/discussing about people in line, they couldn’t ALL be teachers, although when I’d checked earlier, all actually had after 4:00 appointments. When the (black) Novant rep delivered her message and I left, she came back out shortly thereafter, with a cop and two co-workers, apparently because she’d felt a little threatened.

Counting these as white privilege? I don’t rate it that way, just because I dropped in to a local unit and my brother didn’t get shot or manhandled for extra commentary. It was handled appropriately, and when he admitted why he was already back when I returned, I said yeah, I can imagine her feeling ‘something,’ based on what I’d heard.

Fact: Upset about his “65 and waiting until an April appointment!” status vs. those in line, he called Novant and wound up with a first shot (Moderna) the next Tuesday.

Freedom Park hoops with Rahim

Basketball ability is a legitimate baseline for judging another person, because its understood I’m talking about us, not LeBron, right? Black/white/whatever, female/older-cagey vet or wannabe, when we’re keeping score, how you perform reflects on whether we get to keep running the court, right? Save the yackety-yak, unless you got the chops to back it. High school doesn’t count here. Make it, take it.

Do not call stupid little fouls, especially if you’re the only ‘salt.’ I was playing tennis the morning I saw a wiry kind of rec-speced white dude take an old-school boat hook forearm right across the chops after some of that. Started right below the nose, the glasses kind of proving their worth. To be honest, I’d heard the yapping…

Oh, and it’s not racist to say everyone wants a piece of the white guy in a gorilla-ball game, where its all against all. Best thing to do is make up to three free throws after scoring a basket, reduces time banging heads with dudes for rebounds. Sticking a knee into a thigh, jacking a butt, or getting my money’s worth on a hack in the lane before a guy finishes his move, kind of a specialty. Being soft, waiting for a rebound instead of guarding someone closer, its not a label I ever had. Only brother of four under six-foot, I’ll let you know I’m back there.

We’ve got 7-8 guys in a gorilla game, one of them finally holds onto the ball, looks at me and says, “What are you doin’ here?” and I said, “I’m with Rahim.” Everybody there knew Rahim, a central figure way beyond the current game at the other end for sure. As others looked over, Rahim came out from the lane and *volleyballed* a guy’s 3-pt. shot out of bounds.

Couple minutes later, he calls me over, tells another player, “You’re out.” You have to be confident in your skills AND manhood at that point. Having a scorer’s touch always counts, like tucking putbacks in and making sure the big dogs get their touches, because you truly are repping white guards right then.

“No blood, no foul” is a legit guideline, and sh*t yeah, its better to give than (just) receive contact. Don’t embarrass yourself or your host is a Man Thing that crosses color-cultural.

Real Rahim, such a monster figure, I actually use him in my books, and yes, it’s good to be easy and right with people across a spectrum. Last night it was Karina, waiting in line together for a beer at Camp North End celebration https://www.camp.nc/events, it felt soooo rightly social with jazzy Spanish-centric music.

She appreciated my being able to say “I have two courses of Spanish at CPCC, but 10 years ago…” It was many people’s first time there, plenty of family and music, but out of beer and everything else before 9:00 – guy in front of me literally got the last cup of wine. That sort of goodness – plus more beer – is EXACTLY what builds communities.

‘What abouts?’ Four quick thoughts

At one of the Communities in Schools programs I think so highly of, https://www.cischarlotte.org/ helping HS seniors write better letters for scholarship money, I had an opportunity to listen to and speak with two young Black men. My straight up message was to let them know how different-better it was to talk with young people who weren’t using ummm, errrr, and you know every other word, was a legitimate asset.

“I noticed it and told you so, and every other adult you’ll meet will notice, too.” A positive affirmation is easy. What individual meetings with fertile minds can accomplish 1:1 *always* counts.

I got the same degree of change in attitude at a lunch meeting with perhaps eighty military people. They weren’t just trigger pullers like my Uncle Howard had been in the Pacific – this luncheon was about job search, and they KNEW what their ratings said they were qualified to do. When I admitted about being way off on that attitude to the gentleman next to me, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Nicolas ‘Chris’ Short told me about being Rumsfeld’s top kick at the Dept. of Defense. Definitely not just a trigger-puller.

Two last facts

Our Linton High Class of ’75 didn’t get to have its 45th reunion in 2020. At the 40th I’d decided to go into real estate, but waiting for a 50th, there’s no telling how many of us Forever Young Boomers might still be around for that. We might get it done this year, I dunno.

Paging through the yearbook, which our Journalism program put together – Take a bow, Liz Nealon, as Editor, your handwriting is all over it – I counted 20 Black seniors in a class of 540. If anyone wants to check me on that, fine. We also – can you believe it – let freshman (brother David) in that year.

Nobody’s brought it up that I know of, but at the time of 25th (2000) I know I wasn’t the only person who wondered if we’d be FORCED to have future reunions with the people from cross-town Mont Pleasant HS. Declining enrollment in Schenectady had forced a merger, at the Linton campus, but “we” didn’t particularly want to have an evening together with them.

I’ve mostly mellowed on the melding…it just took 46 years.

In 2021, I’m hoping to catch up to Scotty Grayman, Bobby Mazz – anybody know about Lussier? – and a couple dozen (probably not you, Malitz…) others. Here’s hoping we have it at Saratoga Racetrack instead of indoors – wasn’t that the plan? Let’s see if old people can agree on August fun instead of traditional Thanksgiving, just for starters.

Hey hey, Boo-Boo! Check the skills basket, an extra sandwich could make the picnic

Two recent technical writing recruiters, who supposedly know how certain skills may fit with work orders, told me Monster and Careerbuilder were places they found most of their placements and possibilities. I’ve never liked those chronologically-oriented sites, and there have been plenty of possibilities on LinkedIn and FlexJobs, including remote options. 

Two basic points: Know which sites work best for your skill set and goals, and my expectation is that perceived “talent gaps” could be mitigated if recruiters AND people with skills try moving the job needle differently. I’m a Boomer with a “Smarter than the average Bear writer” attitude, and I’m looking.

No Goldilocks recruiters?

Of the tech callers, one was totally in left field, because he was trying to chat about an Careerbuilder resume from 2015 . Trying to steer him to my current information, like LinkedIn, seemed futile. Thinking I could turn that option into even a 3-month contract wasn’t reality.

Trying to explain a 2015 post-Recession in retail resume, which  represented nothing  I was trying to accomplish in 2020 – just, no.

Talking with Recruiter #2, the ‘take over’ local (Charlotte) person I’d scheduled a call with, left me far less confident about success. Compared to the CBD company I connected with through LinkedIn right after New Years in 2019, was he describing a totally different job from what I’d responded to?

A month later he proved right on about a situation that sounded far above my comfort level regarding *real* technical expertise. While a third recruiter had sounded better, he was ultimately wrong about the role.

On the bottom line, there’s a definite difference in needing-to-be-done-a-certain-way, design for multiple layers, starting from scratch technical writing vs. something closer to compilation and interpretation of content with “editorial and technical values.” I’m generally the later.

KEYWORDS – BIG DIFFERENCE

It’s worth noting that early searching for ‘Writer’ roles on LinkedIn often produced more Underwriter and Service writer possibilities than creative positions. Putting ‘content creation’ and ‘writing’ vs. writer in the keyword box, that went from barely a handful to over 100, and often included marketing and editorial manager roles. 

Knowing more than one way to look for things is a legitimate piece of any search.

One recruiter indicated a training period, so that contract people were all trained in Open Text. Picking up skills on gigs is always career enhancing expertise for content people. I haven’t been intimidated about using systems listed in job descriptions, and knowing about up front training, that’s nothing but good business.

Recruiting #3 – Online with Clevertech

I’ve made the analogy before, of how better info makes better matches, be it potential clients or dating. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/08/05/content-creation-client-needs-same-as-dating-info-to-righter-decisions/ and nothing has changed my opinion on that.

Yeah, bald along the way, but not now.

Having previously declared The Super High end of good information was represented by 2 1/2 pages of printed who, what, why, how? relative to one company’s Content Marketing position, backing off of that doesn’t make it less desirable. A statement of corporate positioning, responsibilities, the necessary skill set, personal qualities, and some bullet points regarding the compensation situation that would be worth knowing, that’s beyond solid stuff to learn, but there’s a new sheriff on my RFP (request for proposal) sending front.

Content creation types understand that every CV or cover letter sent involves a judgment of our writing skills.

Almost without question – whether pursuing dates or a potential client – you’d invest more effort in something A-B-C, 1-2-3 clear about extra details to start. From the content creator side, responding to that well-defined description with an equally well-defined reason to investigate further is fundamentally right.

When you’re close to a like mind with what Clevertech CEO Kuty Shalev is dishing, going through some hoops in their information gathering process proves something for both parties. I took a couple hours to answer an 11 question panel that addressed several operational tasks, 300 character responses as I recall.

I ran across their ‘You’re not a Robot’ video on YouTube post-application, and I appreciated the searching questions. I want to put my Boomer journalistic skills to work for this operation, and coding isn’t even on my list of qualities. But, as an element of unique, I got to put my best shots FIRST THING.

What a difference – PRIMO space for ‘Extra’ Good Stuff

Have you wondered if your LinkedIn profile, and how real estate skills regarding database and research translated into project skills, actually got read?

How about blogs that linked job titles regarding career variety, like my “Smarter than the average Bear writer” line? Getting to lay out MY best links, is more than a little gratifying, a major difference maker. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/01/18/smarter-than-average-bear-content-writing-boomer-replants-thought-leadership-flag-2021/ I sing their praises, I’d gladly do two a week like that, and its a multi-part process from here, but I got confirmation my info is in their vault, and that’s part of ‘in it to win it,’ right?

The point is finding a totally online company, with a total reversal of standard recruiter ‘interview’ and 8-second rule scanning. Mr. Shalev isn’t rubbing it in anyone’s face that they’ve tricked people into responding in his videos, he does believe they’re above average on unique, especially being totally remote since 2000. Dammit, THESE guys will read what I send!

I still can’t code, but I believe in this process. If it’s a must have, I’ll learn it. Me, 2/20/21

One question involved a social media campaign – Was it successful, how could you tell? My year as VP Community Development of the (Albany, NY) Junior Chamber was a taproot of professional skills development through my thirties. How I recruited members to honcho career-enhancing extra projects instead of just raising $$$ by doing ‘thons, I got it in there.

How could I tell? Because the ‘Chairman’s Planning Guides’ (CPGs) were part of the documentation process for gaining three State-level awards. You rarely get asked about things people don’t know are possibilities, and all I had to do was paste good links? DONE!

COMMUNICATION is always the deal, and showing volunteers how this project had succeeded before, touching them with good follow-up was part of understanding how things worked. Having some fun while improving your resume and-or recognition factor is chicken soup for the soul. Try mentioning being a flying witch for a legendary Haunted House – people will know you’re a good kind of different by Tuesday.

When the bell is rung

Many freelancers and creatives like to think its just a matter of getting in front of a decision maker to ‘get in’ someplace. Perhaps we lack an attribute or two software-wise,  or depth of expertise required, but if there’s not an organic height requirement, face-to-face will win the day.

Uhh-huh.

That would be amazingly naive of the one picture dating profile to think, and just as unproductive for a content writing candidate. Don’t ignore the relative clues in a well-written description of  how to impress any ‘date’ appropriately. 

Immediate, verifiable info regarding  candidate

Verifiable intell regarding an All That candidate doesn’t always happen, but a pre-pandemic date was interesting, attractive, way better than just fit, a look-you-in-the-eye type with a compelling story about spirituality (including tarot, the hook in my books) that kept conversation flowing. OMG! she also wanted to go ‘dutch’ from the get-go.

Here’s hoping Clevertech looks at me the same way.

All positive responses constitute a successful ‘first date’ for content writing (with exceptional verbal dexterity) people like me.

Never let it be thought you only did the least that could be done. Quality communications don’t need to be all-revealing bikini shots of one’s career, just promote the belief that we as responders might be that terrific person you’ll want to discuss a future relationship with.