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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2nd Inning

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

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

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

3rd Inning

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

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

4th Inning

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

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

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

5th Inning

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

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

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

6th Inning

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

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

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

7th inning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You need to apply everywhere”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Achievement vs. ‘just what you did’

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

Can cover letters or personal appearance make a difference?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me, 4 days before moving out.

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

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

Moving as ‘Mission Accomplished’

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

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

Tiptoeing includes Utilities, WiFi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evictions have rules

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

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

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

Start with the most important RESPECT

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

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

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

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

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

Mask-vax negatives are not a gov’t flaw

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

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

Come ON! with basic smarts America!

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

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

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

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

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

RESPECT has always been earned

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

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

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

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

“We know the difference with good umpires”

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

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

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

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

The games with 15 year olds was quite different

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three weeks until home opener – Jets

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

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

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

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

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

Moton got the money

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

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

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

Coach can call it a successful week

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

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

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

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

“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.

That actually counts as A Good Sign by the way. 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, travel, and socializing are assured.

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 – and I feel guilty if I forget mine. Out and enjoying live music at Camp North End? Bueno!

I’ve completed my video Q&A for a tutoring operation, and continue getting feelers about DICE resume – it’s a process. I’m back to cycling, there’s a wide-open municipal course ($32 senior, nine holes w/ cart) a mile away – with two glass backboards, well marked lane and 3-pt. distance – in a great pocket park out front, and hey, Government is working a little more like it should in Washington.

I’ll continue answering RFPs (requests for proposals) for my professional writing skills, and working on the final chapters of my book has put submission back on track mentally. I’m looking forward to the physical challenge of a weekend umpiring gig, and a lunch date with an outstanding Woman today.

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

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.

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

Having a nephew offer a place to stay – when having to move last month was required and my new ‘place’ wasn’t vacated yet – kept plans on a solid 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 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, and 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. Not expecting a lot of cooperation from online sources was a fact in my search, and 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.

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. OXY man rolled in to assess, we talked it through, 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, while important, has always been a hell of lot different than relocating even a small family will be. There are sketchy looking types every place (in Food Lion!) 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 between 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, maybe 100 feet from my bedroom window.

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 – FYI, Charlotte is ‘The Buckle on the Bible Belt’ – and when asked to contribute, to put something in the hat, he expresses gratitude. For all the negativity being projected at times, I’ll hold up my own little sign, ‘cuz that first Social Security check and seven other positives are legitimate signs that stress of moving has worked out fine. 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.

Communications, customer service, quality content writing, the greatest of these is service

Control Central, 2020. Working from home lacks a level of personal communication, quality product is alway an expectation, but customer service is a difference maker.

Maybe this is “preaching to the choir” – a term used often in Charlotte – as a leadership thought deal, but while giving myself and writers of many descriptions credit for writing ability, the customer service aspect is what makes one-shot clients into regular gigs.

While perhaps a stretch as political commentary, I’ll take the COVID-19 vaccination program – 309M doses given, 145M/43.8% of population fully vaxxed – as proof we elected a President who has delivered maximum customer service on a MAJOR promise.

Me, 6/14/21

Customer service-wise, if your Wellington’s somehow sprung a leak, just tell them, they will gladly send you another pair, is an example of Excellence. The Home Depot person who can lead you directly to the product you’d already walked by twice is A Cut Above, the gas attendant who feels empowered to comment about your tee shirt slogan because he’s already got your money, much closer to the bottom.

‘Getting stuck’ March 18th – for an investment of 26 minutes – with the COVID vaccine, instead of worrying it could take until mid-May, you’ll have to believe that cemented my concept of delivering customer satisfaction.

Dysean at T-Mobile delivered too. When he didn’t know the deal with my phone making a constant notice noise, he was willing to call a guy who might. Bazinga! Turn the phone all the way off periodically, not just screen off.

Getting my phone back doing as it should brought an appreciation of the service effort, but c’mon, the day a Novant supervisor at a clinic around the corner from my place – no extra effort to try – said to 64-year old, Category-5 person me, “Sure, let’s get you stuck,” that’s going to be tough to top as customer satisfaction.

How matters get handled

The point is, those who emphasize the customer’s satisfaction of the service delivered gain loyalty – business might have changed over the years, but its not an outdated, ‘used to be’ philosophy.

As a creative I can deliver written content that hits specific points I’ve learned from a client during interviews. With plenty of extra experiences communicating through Q&A to determine wants and expectations from sales situations, the truth is, the happiest people will ever be is when “Is that what we decided to do?” or similar matters get handled right.

A different POV

Having umpired Little League baseball the last two weekends, I’ve had three situations with balks resulting from batters that I didn’t allow a time out to just because they asked for it. Managers want to disrupt a pitcher’s rhythm when he’s working well, but I very seldom grant any requests when the pitcher is ready and a batter gets in the box.

Specific point: Unfortunately, the pitcher has to release the ball or yes, it’s a balk, even though one stopped because the batter was stepping out, without knowing I hadn’t given him a time out.

Late in a semi-final game, I have to allow the runner from third to score that way, and there is a third hoo-hah! with a particular coach. Best outcome: The ‘customers’ are really the spectators, and with that correctly handled balk call – even against their team – and two others in a wild game, one guy calls me to the fence with a “Hey Blue! I want you to know, I’ve told the tournament director he needs to do something about that screaming coach who charged you. You’re running things right, and we all got your back out here.”

THAT’S what I’m talking about! Customer satisfaction seal of approval.

Thousands of places across America…

Cycling along the Greenway in 88 degree Carolina heat, the fact I might be literally without a roof over my head in a week was sobering.

Having commented numerous times the last few weeks, that “This scene is being recreated thousands of times across America at this same time” – meaning family baseball – it’s a more sobering https://vocal.media/unbalanced/a-week-of-blue-was-umping-charlotte-baseball-now-its-panthers-blue-with-darnold-c-mc-moore-and-defense reality to recognize I may literally be homeless in a week.

Umpiring has been good extra cash – $400 last weekend – which helps make things happen like this move back into the Real World, after brother Mike and his two dogs head off into the sunset in his 37′ RV.

It’s always been his clear goal, and I knew this day was coming from the moment one of those “guaranteed cash offer” people briefly toured the house over three months ago and he signed immediately.

No, I didn’t get serious about the search until this month, and while its true some of the online operations – Roomster leaps to mind – are bona fide (mostly) scammers, I’m confident the cash from three full weekends income will allow this move to be smooth.

My point in mentioning this is how stressful such situations are for others, too.

Staying awake from before 5:00am, that’s never been a problem before. Like during the Great Recession years, I wonder how parents with tuition, car payments, and mortgages made it on retail wages. I was single, chiseling every nickel, and still wound with significant credit card debt. Others used their accumulated cushion to get past the last economic problem, and it won’t be available this time around.

My time essentially runs out in this house on the 23rd. I’m about half-packed, and while I don’t *think* I’ll wind up sleeping in my Hyundai, it’s going to make a difference how soon a real person responds to my phone messages. It’s also going to be an upheaval of way large proportions for MILLIONS. Families large and small are going to experience some REAL dislocation the end of June, when the protections of the pandemic social net expire .

Having stayed one overnight a month during the colder months for a Room in the Inn ministry for many years, I didn’t question that, with only minor changes, I could be some of those people.

Umpire-wise, I’m neither out nor safe in the moment. On the good side, I do have cash in hand now…

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.