COVID continues, 9-11 counts, NFL’s content was great Sunday, my NC ballot arrived

Of all the St. Gabe’s events that haven’t happened, our annual cookout for the Mens Shelter was a real loss

Having recently questioned whether American football had been forgotten, let’s put a legitimate stake in at least one national concern – NO. Without preseason games, when 53-man rosters (plus 16 on practice squads) were announced Labor Weekend, that kind of snuck up while I was watching all that hockey, but yes, games without fannies in the seats is happening.

Having all playoff hockey and hoops and baseball get interrupted last week was a great way to focus attention, and after watching three relevant, well-played, and produced games Sunday, there’s a quality of getting something done to a high level that should be considered a positive, very American vibe.

  • Starting with the local Panthers, whose fans have LOTS to be concerned about in 2020, after last two years (5-11, 7-9) were beyond rocky. No Cam, Luke, or Greg, all new coaches, and 30 people who weren’t on 53-man roster last year. At home against the Raiders, a 34-30 loss wasn’t unexpected, but on all other fronts, it easily fulfilled every expectation.
  • New QB Teddy Bridgewater spread it around with a 22/34 for 270 yards and TD day, and McCaffrey’s production – 23 rushes for 96 yards, 2 TDs plus 3/38 yards on catches was part of a good as anticipated Panther offensive mixture. That Bridgewater ran when necessary, four times for 24 yards, he’s not playing afraid of previous injuries. (Just saying, because Newton got clocked at goal line for New England because he couldn’t decide to get down or put his shoulder into it.)
  • DJ Moore (4/54 yds.), Curtis Samuel (5/38 yds.), and Robby Anderson (6/115 yds, TD) were all solid as hoped for, McCaffrey contributed of course, and TE Ian Thomas (2/16 yds.) got a taste as well.
  • Pharoh Cooper looked good on kickoffs (4/109) and punts (2/29), and while Joey Slye missed a PAT, he was 3-3 on field goals. Pretty much everybody did their jobs, including new safety-DB Jeremy Chinn with seven tackles.

Nothing for anyone in Charlotte to be at all discouraged about going forward, putting up thirty while knocking the competitive rust off is a much better view than almost anything last season. All systems responded nicely, even if Troy Pride, Jr. got way too good a look at Ruggs TD. Donte Jackson’s name will come up often this season, but he was out after the 11th play in opener, opening the door for Chinn.

The Raiders Derek Carr was a respectable 22/30, 239 yds, TD, but it was RB Joshua Jacobs 25/93 and 3 TDs on the ground that made the difference – the Panthers defensive line will be a problem until its not. Ruggs III TD catch was after the ‘Bama star had a 45-yd. gainer and before getting injured, a reason to still be concerned about the secondary after only giving up one passing TD.

Through many hours of viewing

Two things that came through across many hours of viewing: What’s supposedly a player-driven awareness of social aspects – the Milwaukee Bucks started the whole “no sports, so think about shooting another black man for a day” – was put forth every step of the way from Thursday – Sunday night. Overall, the ability to keep “the product” so well-done technically doesn’t appear less valid to me, lacking a season ticket but with a big screen and six pack. Isn’t it a gas how they’ve gotten the crowd cues for EXTRA excited about certain plays, like go-ahead TDs and OT goals?

Many questioned how ‘no fannies sports’ would go over – mark me down as believing crowds keep the pandemic alive, and for the entertainment factor all the current sports provide without that negative, things can actually be called Normal on that front. I’m taking that as a positive of the TV sports moment, not an absolute approval of being without social interfacing over cold ones.

As noted about previous hockey watching (Go STARS! in the Finals), we’re seeing everyone’s best effort, including stats and studio people, while skill is still what winning is about, with intense analysis and replays when necessary. In the current political climate, the idea of Fairness comes out as righteous – we’d like to think that’s not JUST a sports expectation.

Was this 19th year of 9-11 rememberance less significant?

Was this 19th year of 9-11 rememberance any less significant during our trying national times? Given the recent use of pegoratives by the president regarding those who lost their lives in battle, was there a stiffening of national will that THOSE 9-11 AMERICANS – lost a while ago in that War on Terror theme – wouldn’t be thought of as ‘losers’ much longer by this stain on ‘Merica’s pride, dammit?

Millions spilled their collective guts protesting all summer, thankfully, apparently, without the wicked consequences of COVID infection seen by other, often maskless masses. Serious props to the Moms and every other stripe of America that stood together in Portland. Nah nah nah nah, hey hey – GOOD BYE! to Fed thugs. Being tear-gassed for freedom of assembly and “Let’s roll!” on 9-11, same heroes by me.

You want a memory of 9-11, replay this Jon Stewart speech https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uYpDC3SRpM to the bummer treatment a roomful of first responders got in Congress. Yes, we can do better, and I’d have *sworn* we had this malfeasance, and sexual-racial and environmental situations – including Roe v. Wade – locked down legally back in the Seventies.

Perhaps, yet there’s also been room to talk about lessons the upheaval that COVID and ‘social unrest’ have brought. Its uncomfortable at times, yet the personal spots, like Calais Campbell of the Jaguars in a spotlight, shows how articulate they are about this cause. If you’ve heard LeBron’s ‘More Than a Vote’ spot, SPORTS continues making a social difference. https://lebronwire.usatoday.com/2020/09/15/lebron-james-narrates-new-video-for-more-than-a-vote/

Don’t take TV as mollifying the masses

For the record, the best record in baseball belongs to the LA Dodgers, their 33-14 being just ahead of the San Diego Padres 31-17. Tampa Bay’s Rays (30-17) are four games ahead of the Yankees, and OAKLAND leads the AL West by six with a 29-18 mark.

The other games that were kind of Must See TV, was Future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady’s first game in Tampa Bay (34-23 loss to Saints, 23/36, 239 yds,, 2/2 TDs-INTs) after all that legendary stuff for the Patriots, and seeing the absolute glory of the sports palace of all time as the Rams (Chargers home too) beat the Cowboys 20-17 at the end of NFL Week 1.

(I use that Future HOF thing like when sportswriters used ‘Marvelous’ so often, boxer Marvin Hagler changed his first name)

The Kentucky Derby has a worthy winner, 8-1 AUTHENTIC going wire to wire, and becoming trainer Bob Baffert’s record sixth victory. May or September it was a grand run, especially the whole stretch after getting caught right after the final turn, when Authentic pulled away decisively.

HEY, ‘MERICA! You got that kind of kick in you?

I obviously didn’t get to attend the local Queen’s Cup Steeplechases in late April, and that difference is kept in mind when watching TV – its not the same thing as picnic baskets and friends and hats and cornhole and dressing up and LOTS of people to dance with.

Sunday was nine hours of football, several beers, terrific chili, a washed car, and 30 minutes shooting hoops. Does sports mean something more at this point? A qualified ‘Yes’ seems legitimate, because anger won’t really change anything. Many days before, football watching would be a simple fact of life, relaxing, a little extra Yay! if the home team won, so putting it down as lacking in urgency relative to big world problems, not to worry. Hey, at least there’s an actual difference to WEEKENDS now.

Fifty days to go was yesterday

I received my North Carolina ballot Saturday, two days after my brother, who sent in for his weeks before I did – timing was as expected when NC was first in the country to send on the 5th. No postal service on Monday, Labor Day, so all good on that part of things. Plan is to deliver to Board of Elections, and I’m most of the way on decision to become a poll worker.

Recognizing anything like that puts extra risk into my personal situation, I’ve been hunkered down for a while, maybe this is the time for being part of a necessary solution vs. relying on others? https://cdtalententerprises.com/2020/03/30/hoops-heat-for-lockdown-prep-weekend-worries-about-ny/ I think so.

I okayed (and paid for) a background check for Team Rubicon while examining what else is necessary for deployment with this GSD (Get Shit Done) organization. Its a process, you have to *prove* you belong with the mission, and there’s no problem having a standard like that to work from, right?

And don’t worry, just because 1,000 people voted twice in GA, that doesn’t mean I’ll do anything because the prez suggests it.

8 ways a bike accident and “low grade depression” match U.S. mess

Lately a “Be safe!” wish seems related to continued success dodging anything COVID-related, but I didn’t “fall off my bike” ten days ago, I had a solid accident. Just making a distinction guy-wise, nothing silly like falling. I’ll get to that shortly, but some dings from this most recent one look like they’ve got potenial to be long-term problems.

This country has been battered by a constant series of similar “bike accidents” in 2020, and having recovered from several incidents in the past, when someone asks if this will be the end of my cycling days, I’m sure both this country and I will survive. Bike riding has kept me in shape for over 35 years, and like our democratic roots, its a deep positive I won’t give up.

Thankful that anti-bacterial cleared this mess up.

I couldn’t have been the only American who heard Michelle Obama’s “low grade depression” in describing current events that gave her a draggy feeling and immediately said, “I feel like that too!” Pretty much everything that’s come down the pike in 2020 has been like that, including unreceived stimulus checks, which brings a legitimate sense of pissed-sad.

That the protests regarding George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer set off weeks of people in the streets across the country was inspiring. Anything important enough to do that during a pandemic already causing huge amounts of suffering and death (171k) should get appropriate attention.

Like my bike accident, we can be thankful that protesting apparently didn’t become the super (spreader) negative it could have been. If I said the same about trump’s Tulsa rally, that would be snarky though, right? (I hear even Putin was swearing about that non-“super-spreader” fiasco…)

Of course, now we’re on to situation with USPS and voting, also reeeealll important, but Ms. Obama was absolutely right about how daily crushing of spirit seems to be integral to this administration’s operation. It takes discipline to produce if you’re one of 40 million? 50 million? who don’t have a specific (PAYING!) job, and Tuesdays look almost exactly like every other day.

For me, riding a keyboard, re-editing two online books on wattpad, without even touching my bike, is a driving force in making today count.

How my bike crash is like the U.S. mess

  • Whatever small change from the usual angle of my tire landing after ‘humping’ it over an inch high ledge of concrete was, it made a (BAM!) BIG difference in my ride. If trump’s EO extends unemployment at $400/wk. instead of previous $600 – but states have to kick in $100 of that – that’s $50 million/wk. that can’t be used elsewhere, according to Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. $100 won’t pay the rent, but its a small, tough difference to deal with.
  • While several body parts – shoulder, shin, calf, head, ankle – took impact, if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, it could’ve been seriously worse. Bad as things seem now, if people hadn’t left work and school to fearfully hunker down at home in March-April-May, yes, the healthcare system would have broken. Front line workers are still short on PPE and reagents for testing, and exhaustion before the expected second wave this Fall is a very real possibility.
  • Does luck have anything to do with it? After suffering some wicked ‘gouges’ in leg from accident, I got to talk with a physican’s assistant (PA) during furniture pickups for a church organization Saturday. While she commented on a swollen ankle as possibly torn ligaments, that she suggested a salve – Bacitraycin – for possible infection from those bad scratches means they’ve healed remarkably in just four applications. Trump’s valet and his son’s girlfriend both tested positive for COVID, but nothing actually happened to him, Junior, or the girlfriend. (He didn’t catch it, I got better fast.)
  • Shoulder took a helluva crunch, because I went straight down when wheel popped off from (I assume) torque of landing. I’ve never done much weight work, just curls for arms and pullups, but fact it didn’t totally come apart makes me feel that years of bicep work was like hydroxychloroquine. Experts say that doesn’t do anything for COVID, but if you did it and nothing bad happened at clutch time, just take the non-event as a stray blessing and say thank you. On other hand, that Bacitraycin worked gratifyingly well on what it was MEANT to – infection.
  • Cycling has always been good for my body in the Big Picture. At sixty-three, I’m less than five pounds from best (188) rugby weight in 1986. If you’re active, things happen, and wearing that helmet doesn’t help with face plants, but wearing a mask everywhere except house, riding, or shooting hoops is NOT something I take for granted. If it only really helps one specific time – say, when you wind up with several non-maskers in an elevator – you’re more willing to continue wearing it.
  • There was nobody around to blame when I crashed. I sure didn’t see that wheel popping off when I’ve done that ‘up Simba!’ move hundreds of times over obstacles since I was a kid. Its obvious LOTS of Americans didn’t see asymptomatic people coming, and many didn’t know better themselves. I was the only person affected – quite directly – but non-maskers can pull off their particular mistake an untold number of times.
  • ‘Social distancing’ is a cinch at 15 mph. Walking the neighborhood has its benefits on the calming front, but stretching it out physically, passing families who are getting through this together on greenway rides, its a good thing. Saying “We’re all in this together” is simplistic, but the mental health people say its worth the effort to move our endorphins vs. just moaning in isolation.
  • On a bottom line, I look and feel (minus or despite current dings) physically better in cycling gear than *anybody* does on a ventilator.

Worth the effort against depression

“Low grade depression” America? Yep, see it, understand it, know that drinking cheap wine won’t change anything for the positive. Can I get back on the bike any time I want and cycle safely again soon? Sure, but I’ll need to tighten up that front fork that allowed my wheel to pop loose and dump me so dramatically and painfully.

For years I rode in the streets, ignoring the potential dangers of swerving around potholes and dead possums and expecting drivers behind me would not clip me with a fender. You can’t take all the danger out of riding, I know that – when you’re active, things happen. I also know I can be a little more careful on specific things, like ‘humping’ over small obstacles.

Central to current events, I’m going to pay extra attention to how I can deal with “low grade depression” by more significant marketing of my previous blogs, and moving that second book along on wattpad. https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/218725526-with-platinum-fury-focus

Oh, and my vote WILL be counted, because I’ll safely *walk* it right to the Board of Elections office, and I look forward to a 64th birthday, when the cause of todays depression is removed from office. Just sayin’.

Tear gas wasn’t as serious at Watkins Glen, with a side of white privilege to start

The Winnebago we had at Watkins Glen wasn’t as grand as brother’s current 57-footer, but getting a place inside was a good thing

Well, it was the Fall of 1979, which kind of makes it ancient history, but having paid $15 and change for two wall panels I’d written some important Kansas lyrics on (that’s right, graffiti!), I had my college degree, and it would only be another two months before I got a job to use it on.

Our carload of properly stoked-up college buds were heading across New York to pick up a seventh passenger near Rochester before getting a Winnebago for the weekend of Formula 1 races at Watkins Glen, when the flashing lights behind us got everybody a LOT more serious than discussions about Mario Andretti’s chances or the powerful Ferrari team.

It was dark-thirty or so, we probably weren’t doing 55, and the trooper said he stopped us because there were a lot of heads in the car. There might have been a little haziness in the vehicle, but knowing we were definitely going the wrong direction with a transporter plate on that big ol’ Caprice was a reality.

Every time I hear that “white privilege” phrase I think of this event, and hearing the officer say, “Well, if you’re transporting this to Massachusetts, you’re going the wrong way,” was just as chilling as the possibility he wouldn’t ignore the smell of that haze. I’ve never doubted that a black driver or any ‘brothers’ (besides our two Italian guys) would have entailed a much more significant interruption of our race plans.

About fun with tear gas

Seven guys with nine cases of beer worked out fine, as did setting up camp the first site we tried, because once the wheels went off the pebbled road into soggy earth, we were there. That two guys crapped out and I got a place inside the ‘bago, that was great. We never went anywhere without beers in every pocket, I still have the Ferrari hat purchased with poker winnings. But about the tear gas…

Watkins Glen fell out of the F-1 scene because it lacked the financial backing to improve the track adequately, but part of the historic ‘charm’ of it was a place called The Bog, where rowdiness was available every night. This was the time of a second OPEC gas crunch, and I haven’t forgotten the guy standing next to a gas guzzler, hoping somebody would take it to that wild area and sacrifice it, which is how torching cars was regarded. Allll part of the party, although the yahoo trying to aim a Bic lighter into the gas tank of an upended Datsun was about as smart as not wearing a face mask during a pandemic.

It was actually the second night there when “Joey G.” and I roamed that direction, picking up the pace as people went past the other way, talking about getting gassed. Neither of us had that life experience yet, and after standing aside so a phalanx of riot-geared cops could go past, we headed to The Bog. Imagine our disappointment when we arrived and no tear gas – something I’m SURE the people who’ve gotten that, plenty of pepper spray, and some of that “non-lethal munitions” nastiness won’t feel the same about.

Sorry I can’t tell you how it felt, but ask the mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, for a recap – I’m sure his memory is fresh about it.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, center in black with goggles looking away, stands at a fence guarding a federal courthouse as tear gas drifts by early July 23, 2020, in Portland Oregon, during another night of protest against the presence of federal agents sent by President Donald Trump to quell unrest in the city.Jonathan Maus/BikePortland via AP

Young men still do adventures, bonding counts

While I’m going nowhere next week while bro Mike does D.C. and Carlisle, PA trip, youngest nephew and recent UNC grad buddies flew west while several of their job starts were delayed, nailing an 18-day odessey in something more like Mike’s vehicle above than that long ago Winnie. Fishing because they’re all good at it, catching some SNOW in July, and rolling wherever. Any other time this would be the shit that cements friendships as a damn-straight American rite of passage, but this particular time, scarily dangerous beyond all norms.

Don’t we have the same data-driven fact, that LOTS of America is on COVID fire? Yet he and his buhds, and David, the NY part of us four brothers – who I couldn’t bust in person about hitting SIXTY yesterday – wife, and daughter, went NY-KY-Dakotas-Washington State driving, hiked a few of the major parks that just reopened. Ryan & Crew got trail passes easily after parks reopened from COVID.

That’s just people I know, but keeping to themselves over 3,000 miles, being very traceable if anything happened out in the wild – and David, 60 yesterday, Donna and Maria have self-quarantened in Ballston Spa, NY for two weeks afterwards – but so far, all ultimately safe.

As the French say, “C’est la vie.” Reopening anything safely should be as carefully planned as those successful trips.

Tuesday I’m hoping that the only driving I’ll be doing is nine holes at a local club, while Mike starts his road trip Wednesday. I still think cutting my time “out there” with COVID is legit. I’m still primarily a remote worker, and my options improved by two this week – I’m in 2nd phase of process, with video interview portion scheduled and skills evaluation.

I’ll be getting out for first time, and seeing how the muscle memory is on my irons would be getting back to normal a little, maybe playing two balls. Could be more people available to play Tuesdays with almost 50 million unemployed, I don’t know. I’m ready to invest around $20, Hitting off the tees is a decent option, they have chipping and putting too. More 90s in weather forecasts? Psshhh, it’s July in Charlotte, man.

On the topic of memory, its been good to see America recognize the passing of a passionate American, Rep. John Lewis, an iconic figure from the days of Martin Luther King, Jr., the March to Selma where he nearly died, a gentleman who epitomized the looking forward ‘Merica we want to fight for, getting into Good Trouble.

That a practical memorial would be renaming a certain bridge for Mr. Lewis, for what its worth, I concur. Keep it together ‘Merica, we’ll get the EPA back on that “sea to shining sea” thing again. Black Lives Still Matter.

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Westbrook, MLB, others won’t play with COVID, Reality says NY road trip not worth it either

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Editors Note: About 10 hours after I wrote this, I got a text from NY brother. Some places are a LOT more serious about COVID (in red, below)

The most up-close and personal examples of disaster almost always involve family, and one brother of mine repeatedly asking another to reconsider a three day car show as part of a 2,000 mile road trip to upstate New York and back, was such a toughie.

My decision last week not to accompany an older brother in his 57′ motor home, then just hanging while he shows off his terrific Mustang with all the trimmings in Carlisle, PA on the way back, still doesn’t strike me as worth the risk when the country is on fire with COVID-19. Sadly, this is a situation where votes – and fears apparently – won’t make a difference.

Mike, You need to reconsider your trip to NYS. EVERYONE in NYS takes this seriously (14 day quarantine in NY, NJ, CT from states with high COVID rates). Violators are fined and publicly shamed. We see it on the news every day and wouldn’t have it any other way.

We are self-quarantining through 7/22 because of the states we traveled through (going NY to KY and X-C to Wash. St.) NYS will *require*us to register you (for coming to NY) because your state (NC) is above 10%. Failure to do so is a $2,000 fine. For the 10 days you are here and TWO WEEKS after, Donna cannot see clients, Maria and Donna cannot work at the farm store, Maria cannot coach rowing, and Donna’s Mom can’t work in the office because you will need to use that bathroom.

These are our families livelihoods, and Maria’s final coaching stint before college. To give you an idea how bad your state is, NYS is below 1% and is VERY serious about contact tracing. Thus the hefty fines per violation. NYS system is working extremely well, stops the spread dead in its tracks. They deal swiftly against dissenters.

The safest place to stay is PUT. But, if you insist on going to show, I can send you trump wearables for the car show. 

While staying ‘in place’ together since mid-March, my getting out for sanity-saving bike rides and shooting baskets without facial covering is legit. Wearing a mask and gloves when going to the grocery store, doing a first church furniture pickup since February recently, and no dates/social life, its been a careful, not so onerous couple months. I’ve been a remote worker (and still available) as a content creation – writer for about a year, so the change wasn’t dramatic for me. Bro Mike just went back to his office last week, with only a handful of other workers around.

I still haven’t seen any $1,200 stimulus check, family has thankfully helped with some economics, and whether I’m a weenie because I don’t feel as free or – well, lucky – as the last road trip I made to New York. is a small but real pinprick to the mind. I’m not concerned about the NBA’s (in Orlando) or NHL’s (two cities in Canada) ‘bubble’ efforts to have playoffs as I am about his health, and my safety when he returns.

Baseball begins a sixty game season July 23rd, hockey is restarting in August, and nobody will have fans in attendance.

Considering how much TV I’ve watched – although not F-1 or NASCAR racing , Australian rules football, and only a smidge of golf – I suppose I should be grateful for all that high-priced talent putting real sports back on the menu.

Luck, control, dangerous heat

Is it dumb luck that makes the difference during a pandemic? Perhaps taking the words seperately is more accurate: Both the prez (valet) and his son (girlfriend) have been very close to people who have tested positive without becoming positive themselves.

On the other hand, the 30-year old who admitted going to a COVID party, where the host is *known* to be infected and people were apparently willing to find out if being there would bring on a truly negative result – DEATH – instead of being a hoax, that’s dumb.

Recognizing that several employees have been shot by shoppers who reacted VERY badly to being told they couldn’t be in the store without masks, its made me (somewhat) easier on the stores who tell employees NOT to try changing things. Shooting baskets near a father with son and daughter also shooting, I was glad to hear HIS kids wouldn’t be going back into schools “just because” trump or his Education Secretary, the reprehensible and equally incompetent Betsy DeVos, threatened school districts with funding cuts.

In Charlotte, this will be a second straight week of definite 90 degree weather, which certainly isn’t too crazy for July here. Looking at the weather map, the entire middle of the country is blazing (100+), and its doubtful you’ll hear that usual “But its a dry heat,” out of many Arizonians.

Of all the things America has to be concerned about, including a new name for the NFL’s Washington team since sponsors like FedEx really put the wood to owner Daniel Snyder, Roger Stone, Russian ‘bounties’/payments to Taliban members for killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, or whether the Repubs get more delegates to their Jacksonville convention than the mere 6,200 who appeared in Tulsa (and VT cancellation), some things come across as more important. Pay attention to those.

I know “my people” are safe, at least for now. I have a significant supply of quality CBD oil to help keep things on a relatively even keel, and I hope that despite wicked temperatures, we can keep our collective mojo from boiling over regarding dumb and/or criminal actions by our “leaders.” 

President Kennedy said we – meaning the country called the UNITED STATES – didn’t have lofty goals, like putting a person on the moon AND bringing them back safely before the end of the decade (1960s), because it was easy, but because they were hard. If it was easy to believe my brother, your nephew-elderly aunt-Dad-best bud-neighbor can stay safe, that wouldn’t be the hardest thing, keeping it True might be a bit tougher.

See you in the streets if our “leaders” try to EXTORT the behavior that will put your kids in schools that aren’t truly safe (DeVos got *nailed by CNN on “whats the plan IF…” but don’t forget that Black Lives Matter just because six weeks have passed.

(Ed. Note: Bottom line, bro is not doing NYS, but still on track for 3 days at car show.)

 
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Maintaining ‘lifestyle’ is a worthy goal during Regular Times, too ‘Merica

beauty stad-skyline
Knight’s Stadium in downtown Charlotte, NC has big city ambiance, and civic jewel Romare Bearden Park the other side of right field fence. Pro sports are facing challenges of gearing up, but good thoughts for your Fourth ‘Merica.

Exchanging FB messages with a favorite cousin, we concur that, whatever is going on in lots of places at this point in time, we’re still not severely cut off from all civilized pursuits, our lifestyles, as it were. Confederate statuary be danged, that “When you’ve got your health…” stuff comes up on both our attitude-radar regularly.

Frank is retired, would probably be spending the summer in Minn. if not for all that’s transpired. My brother Mike and I have been in-place since just before the official start in late March, and having lived together off-on during long stretches of life before, we’re doing pretty good on staying relaxed. I’ve got an office at one end of house, he winds up using the kitchen table. Yes, there’s been too much TV watching, the dogs demand regular petting, and they follow my every move in the kitchen.

I was essentially a remote worker the last year, so COVID-19 didn’t have a major effect on my daily timing. Knowing this week will be a scorcher, I expect bike rides will be earlier vs. in energy-sucking humidity of Charlotte afternoons. Brother Steve asked Mike for a lift back from here while riding yesterday – I shot hoops earlier this morning, had early lunch and being blog productive all afternoon.

Time on task

Sometimes it really does feel like vacation, and what needs to be accomplished in any 2-3 hour window might be vague. Missing a blog is most often a lack of discipline, but also a signal that’s reminded  you throughout life about attitude affecting outcome. You let it slide, it becomes a negative.

Every time I leave mid-program, after any too long escape from screen/keyboard or food-making, I give myself an attaboy! Artificial Intelligence (AI) might be able to turn ‘it’ on-off in the future, but only being in the saddle actually gets results in 2020. Period.

Having opinions about BLM, face masks, and when stimulus checks show up? are kind of in the personal mix, but really, only getting the dialogue written for my creative stuff with wattpad, or making sure an RFP hits the clients criteria described on Indeed, thats a ‘more is better’ situation. Discipline is always the deal.

Sports – Who knew we’d do okay without…?

  • Charlotte has Carolina Panthers football, Hornets basketball (23-42, 10th in East, out of any restart) and Triple A hockey Checkers (2018-19 champs, 34-22-5, tied for 3rd in Atlantic Division), and Panthers owner David Tepper pushed through his purchase of an MLS soccer franchise ($300M worth) that doesn’t have an official name yet.
  • It’s doubtful any of these will be putting fannies in the seats in the near future. After two train-wreck seasons, the Panthers return is certainly the most anticipated. The retirement of beloved Luke Kuechly, the amazing goodness of Christian McCaffrey’s rarely achieved 1000-1000 yard productivity, an exciting new coach (Matt Ruhle), a necessary all defensive (7 picks) draft, and the arrival of QB Teddy Bridgewater from New Orleans, and offensive coordinator Joe Brady from national champion LSU are all positives. 
  • According to CBS Sports, the big sendup for Major League Baseball will be the Yankees and reigning World Series champs the Washington Nationals on July 23rd. That will be the focus game, with the rest of whatever season they figured out starting the next day. Could be Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasberg for the Nats, Yanks battered 306 HRs last year (and the Twinkies-no-more had one more).
  • I got my motorsports ya-yas out years ago, with a couple Formula I races in Watkins Glen and Montreal, and satisfied any NASCAR yearnings with a 300 miler in Charlotte that took almost seven hours, with wrecks and rain delays. I was in a hospitality suite, so food, drink, staying dry was all good, with a great view of everyone pulling into the pits without the various fumes.
  • Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick were at the top in Pocono 350, Harvick leads the standings with 581 pts. (3 wins, 8-Top 5s), Hamlin is 4th, with 506 pts. (4 wins, 9-Top 5s). You figure it out.
  • Dustin Johnson’s -19 took the Travelers Tournament, Kevin Streelman was 2nd at -18, and because he was one of the ‘names’ in tournament, Phil Mickelson was T-24th at -11, Sergio was T-32nd at -10. Webb Simpson leads the FedEx standings with 1,583 points (7 tournaments), Justin Thomas (1,543 in 11 events), Rory McIlroy (1,270 in 9 outings) is 4th.
  • Formula I is a whole ‘nother deal than just going left, and if you’ve had the opportunity to samba in the streets with Brazilians, you have partied with the best. Having no crowds trackside, those sports mean very little. The golfers don’t seem to mind any lack of  crowd ‘juice,’ and its probably easier to keep your mind on doing what most think of as free money, hardly a real job.

For those who wondered, former Panther Cam Newton has landed in New England as their probable #1 QB, since 42-year old Tom Brady has left for Tampa Bay.

Bombshell good news – ‘The Comeback Trail’

While doing our first furniture pickup for a shelter supply ministry since February, our four-man crew moved a large table downstairs for a lady’s neighbor, receiving 300mg. vials of prime CBD (hempseed oil) for the effort. Having been a content creation person for a manufacturer last year, I appreciate the quality of it, much better on anxiety levels with .5 of a dropper several times a day, compared to the $2.49 version (wine) from Aldi.

good timesdave-michStill, beyond just knowing everyone is safe – including Mom, even if they had a breach at her senior community on 17th – and Favorite Nephew and wife arriving in other corner of country, getting really GOOD news is a slice of Life that works wonders.

Family counts plenty under circumstances like whats out there, with 40 million in some stage of unemployed, and not many you can have a beer with.

 

That came with a note on FB about a movie my “fifth brother,” David Ornston worked, and his getting a producer credit for comedy ‘The Comeback Trail,’ starring Robert DeNiro, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Zach Braff.

It’s not “Jenny from the Block” or “Straight Outta Compton” huge, and for most its just info you’d look for at the beginning or end of the film. As a bro thing, when an important part of your life involves getting a bunch of stars on the same project like ‘Comeback,’ that’s a good professional result, worth an attaboy.

Right now I’ve got RFPs for remote work out, I’d like to try some outdoor brew pub entertainment three blocks away, will keep an eye out for that elusive stimulus check, continue a healthy amount of activity including my good-looking jump shot, and edit another chapter of Platinum Fury.’ y’know?

Time on task man. And please wear your mask.

 

 

 

It’s the ’60s again – SpaceX, civil rights, but COVID-19 is bigger than Vietnam

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During a week of exhaustive coverage for nationwide protesting over the killing of George Floyd – a black man whose life was ended by a Minneapolis cop who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes – many people were still excited about Americans taking off from historic pad 39-A at Cape Canaveral Saturday.

NASA was involved, but the SpaceX launch, with visions of “Mars and beyond,” was Musk’s baby. So what if he got a $700M bonus for success.

It didn’t take over the news, but after a non-launch Wednesday, Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 rocket, a slim, 24-story tall projectile compared to the thundering Saturn 5s of yore, it wasn’t another COVID-19 related story either. When Doug Hurley and Rob Behnken successfully docked with the International Space Station 19 hours later, science nerds weren’t the only ones loving it.

That said, for over fifty years Vietnam has been the standard for a situation that divided our country, but in less than 100 days, the lies and mismanagement by an administration that perpetuated a meat-grinder of young lives and treasure lost for nearly a decade, is now relegated to second place.

With a pandemic that has cost more American lives – over 106,000 as of yesterday – than any 20th century war except the Big One, WWII, and 40 million unemployed that trumps the Depression our parents and grandparents told us was the worst of times, reliving the tumultous Sixties proves there can be a new bottom.

But America DID put people on the moon, and now we’re trying to match that shining pinnacle, even as we struggle with civil rights brutality and personal malfeasance at the highest levels by an administration that seems to thrive on sucker-punching its citizens.

The Real Sixties

The Cuban Missile Crisis, hippies, the Beatles and English Invasion, Hendrix, Baby Boomers, the protest marching and sit-ins, the Black Panthers, Muhammed Ali, the Black Power salute of John Smith and Juan Carlos in Mexico City that shoved athletes 100% into political mainstream awareness. The 1969 Amazin’ Mets, Jets, Knicks, Woodstock! Timothy Leary and LSD, Rachel Carson and the beginning of environmental awareness, American astronauts walking on that orb in the sky “before the end of this decade,” winning the Space Race against the USSR. Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America; (original) Star Trek!  LOTS of hair; the oral polio vaccine (Sabin, 1963); Ford’s Mustang; Smiley face; Mr. Ed and The Wild, Wild West.

A legendary one liner is “If you remember the Sixties, you really weren’t there.” I was a well-sheltered Boomer (1957), getting A’s in Catholic grade school who saw life on TV more than I participated. I saw Lee Harvey Oswald get killed live, police *whaling* on protesters at the ’68 Democratic Convention, couldn’t have missed the moon landing, and Jim West was THE coolest imaginable dude. We prayed for Apollo 13 (which was actually 1970).

I’ll qualify that “more than I participated,” because our family of four boys traveled plenty of places with our pop-up camper, that we routinely got set up in fifteen minutes and could go exploring or swimming, always a prime consideration on a 3-day drive. Dad helped Mom make dinner.

Our classic was 5,353 miles over 13 days. Yes, I’ve been to the Lincoln Memorial, climbed into the crown of the Statue of Liberty, watched a game in the Astrodome, ate bignets in the French Quarter, two blocks from a *very* high Mississippi River. Walked on the turf at Dallas Stadium and Michigan, rode the Arch in St. Louis. Gettysburg.

Being shotgun meant something when you were on-off the interstate every 40 miles for three days going to Florida. We read the maps, knew what south and west were from anyplace on the map, how good the road would be. We counted all the military vehicles in convoys, mostly kept track of totals.

I hit the floor *fast* when an arch-typical red-faced with hat, BIG ol’ gun and gut cop, somewhere in the Deep South going to Tampa, snapped a look at the station wagon where someone had decided to give a double snort of piggy sound.

My baby brother, David, was born in 1960. We lived in West Palm Beach when the Everglades and airboats (and snakes!) were across the dirt road and adults were nervous about Cuba; Dad’s 7-Up floats were a big treat, and a $1M house, pssshhh, build it where?

There was also unending violence.  Church bombings, lynchings and vicious German shepherds, the assassinations of now iconic figures – JFK and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. But as a fact of life and death, VIETNAM, especially nightly body counts on the 6:00 news, over-shadowed this country like nothing since the American Civil War a century earlier.

History repeats itself because…

Lincoln said “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and after 3 1/2 years of Trump’s us/them-red/blue division, there’s nothing to indicate he was wrong. After 243 years of democratic rule of law, it looks like even agreeing that covering our faces to protect ourselves from each other during a pandemic is impossible to accomplish.

Prayer, even saying the Pledge of Allegiance, has been essentially stricken from our schools as a daily factor, replaced by on-going, onerous, and instant profusion of “tweets” that are taken as “Word from on high” by some.

COVID-19 may not have been caused by Trump’s administration, but his willingness to take the low road, and kill by 1,000 cuts, the rule of law in this country that we’ve held up to the rest of the world as something to be desired is the side that’s crumbled. That return to the Sixties was epitomized on Monday by a black man who died with a cop’s knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Even Brian Williams suggestion that parents get the Spot the ISS app, while not new but still definitely cool, cannot overcome how dramatically wrong what happened in Minneapolis, MN was, or that this country, actually the WORLD, knew it.

We can take this SpaceX mission as a slice of Goodness, and for police who took the extra step of interfacing with instead of tear gassing protestors in LA or a city near any of us, who physically KNELT in acknowledgement of that wrongness and silently asked for forgiveness, that wasn’t a lesson from the Sixties.

More like Colin Kapernick, 2016. Think about it.

Dad’s ‘Good Death’ had finality of “rest in peace” – COVID families won’t get that

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Mom and Dad’s 25th annniversary, with a gym full of friends and family at St. Helen’s. Best buddy Al Loffredo’s wife and Mrs. Kline kept it a total surprise.

That Monday “Would’ve been” Dad’s 91st is the way some people represent a loved one’s passing, adding the years since to their chronological age at the end. In Waldo Fitzgerald Shorkey’s case, that was the end of January, 2013. He was laid to rest on Groundhog Day, and unlike many of the 70,000-plus Americans who have died in this pandemic over just the last three months, there were friends and family joined communally close afterwards to recall a man’s life well lived.

Congestive heart failure was the end reason – Dad was down to about 15% function, on straight oxygen – and his youngest brother, Donnie (USAF) died in the same Tampa hospital two days before from the same thing. I mention Donnie’s service because Memorial Day is close, and all four guys in Dad’s family served – Howard was a Marine trigger-puller during two Pacific island assaults, Harold was a tail gunner on a Corsair (USN), Dad was also Navy.

That’s when one nurse said, “I can’t help that guy, but I don’t like the looks of you either” to Dad. He got checked out and they kept him. Monday afternoon, Mom said she really didn’t know why, “he didn’t look that bad to me,” and the doctor who came in shortly after I arrived said small declines or changes over a long time are often not recognized by those who see it every day.

“He looks a lot better than he did yesterday though.”

That’s when Mom stated again that both of them had agreed anything like this would be a DNR situation; no extraordinary means, no ventilator. No sense cracking an old man’s chest, or putting him on a machine he’d never come off was Mom’s position, so the end was only a matter of time.

We weren’t in control, but things moved in a steady, reasonable, end of life way. No ugliness or unknowing stress and foreboding by families, seperated much earlier by the rules COVID creates, not witnessing the suffering of their loved one’s end.

I took Mom to the retirement house they’ve lived in since 1988, just a block and a half off terrific Bayshore Boulevard, and came back to sit with Dad, lifting the mask and giving him occasional ice slivers until after 11:00.

It seems a good death because they got to follow through on choices made long before, not hasty decisions violently thrust on them. Dad was only in the hospital two days; there was no pain, no emotional roller-coaster wreck for Mom, no expensive treatments totally dismantling the safe economic future they’d worked on for her to go forward with.

Compared to most COVID-19 families, Dad’s passing will sound like a fairy tale. It might be close to how you’d imagined those final circumstances for yourself though.

Being there for even a day of service to my father, Gratitude is the word. I was there for Mom, knew he went in peace, that he wasn’t alone and unseeable, or just an image on a screen. Ask those 70,000 or so families if events like that came together so well in the time of COVID-19, the ability to gather a family worth of support. 

He had a good death, being there counted

We didn’t get to the hospital until almost ten on Tuesday, and I went to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee. Waiting to be buzzed back into ICU, I met two communicants from my folks church, and I put Dad on their list for delivery. When we had to leave so they could “do hospital stuff,” to the phone call, and the final breaths after the oxygen was turned off, was about ninety minutes.

Almost like the movies good timing, I walked in the back door and Mom’s phone was ringing, the hospital saying there’d been a turn for the worse.

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“The Dad Project.” Hand tools and famous blue level as apartment ‘homage.’

Mom had actually dropped me off at the house to go shop, I got the message just as my cousin Debbie arrived. Sending her after Mom I rolled, making calls to three brothers on the way back. One left Albany, NY with the clothes on his back; I caught Mike just as he started driving from Charlotte to Tampa, and he made it back to the airport, catching the same flight as brother Steve.

Dad received Last Rites by the time I got back to the hospital, and Debbie delivered Mom – Dad passed at 2:00. Not too long after he passed, we drove two blocks to the same neighborhood funeral parlor that had served Mom’s parents, and my Aunt Jo’s and Uncle Frank’ s funerals.

We had to made arrangements to move Dad, because the small hospital didn’t have facilities for keeping bodies overnight. It wasn’t the piling up of bodies in refrigerated trucks in NYC we’ve seen on TV though.

My three brothers all arrived at 6:00, just one trip to the airport for me, and eventually a week together for the mourning. I got to fill them in about how things went down early in the process so Mom didn’t have to remember. The next morning we all went to the funeral parlor with the right paperwork – Yes, a veteran funeral, left or right location relative to her parents, do you want the $350 inset vase, or just what the VA provides?

There was a roomful of people at the wake, and a good-sized group at the funeral service the next day. Cousin Pam and her husband had another funeral in upstate NY Friday, then made it to Tampa. I took a couple random pieces of wood from Dad’s scrap barrel and quietly put several hand tools into my car – ‘The Dad Project’ pictured represents how he always kept his work area neat.

Mom told Mike he hadn’t spoken very loudly during his eulogy, he said he’d done the best he could. I got through some words at graveside, using ideas from the takeaway piece I’d produced for their 50th anniversary in 2005, a thank you to people who had loved them from the beginning, had shared joy with them for so long. At the top is my favorite picture, Christmas, 1983 I believe, and some forty reasons why it made a difference to be part of their family.

Having always believed that listing was a feeling I wanted to share at the point of their greatest joy, I knew it would stand the test of time, be true to the end. That idea of not saving the thoughts till the end when someone can’t hear them guided me, and its got to be a lousy thing to miss saying final goodbyes to someone dying from an invisible monster.

At some future time, a great many Americans will have a collective time to mourn our dead. Yes, I’m grateful for the difference of being there for Dad, and Mom, made. If its possible to convey that simple caring for someone resting in peace to any readers, consider it sent.

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

“In-place” Sunday on greenway, a moral lesson from bike accidents

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Sunday’s accident was a scraped knee, it could have been worse, like Memorial Day, 2016

Because the parks in Charlotte are blocked off to traffic, brother Steve came by Sunday with his carbon fibre bike, but he zoomed away as soon as we got to bottom of the ramp for the greenway behind the Hindu temple.

He’s considered essential with Wells Fargo, is looking for a workout when he gets the time, and using other brother Mike’s knobby tired, 21-gear mountain bike instead of my usual Miyata, I wasn’t worried about matching any training pace.

Sunday was an optimal day though, LOTS of people on the greenway, and whatever medical ungoodness is a fact of Life in America right now, being grateful for family and Carolina sunshine was working to lighten the load in a big way. Getting out again today, with mid-70s possible, has been part of a regular routine built around remote ‘gig’ work for most of two years.

I had an accident at the furthest point of my ride Sunday, right at Providence Road, and while I took some skin off a knee, kind of jammed two fingers, and heard my helmet scraping on the concrete, it could have been a lot worse, so lets talk health care.

2017 and ACA is the Standard

Cycling is more recreational training than a separate sport for me, I’m not even sure about the mileage of several urban routes I’ve used for years. I’ve had a couple glorious rolls in a peleton during three MS 150 Bike to the Beach fundraising rides with the Mojo Riders, and two-100 miles in a day (with a mountain in the middle) rides that required some extra training time to not get embarassed.

Since the earliest days, biking has been part of freedom, and it also gets most of the credit for keeping a solid fitness level (194) all those years of having a bum left knee. Biking meant I’d regained full range of motion after a late 2017 knee replacement, allowing me to walk versus have to skip across the street to avoid getting run over.

On Saturday of Memorial weekend, 2016, I was enjoying a ride like Sunday’s, when I became too enchanted looking at *something* and crashed into a curb, catapulting over the handlebars and face-planting on concrete. Everyone asks “Were you wearing a helmet?” but its not as helpful when your face is the contact point.

Four people stopped to ask if I was all right (I was bleeding, but not gushing), the EMTs arrived shortly thereafter, eventually there was an ambulance ride, and several nurses at Novant mentioned my good humor for a guy whose face was kind of messed up from sunglasses and concrete scrapes. (No, the nose was like that long ago)

The puncture wound – deep but not long – in bony (protective!) area over my right eye took six stitches, but the fact I was still using BOTH eyes to see was a great reason to be excited.

The two times I’ve really needed fixing up, the Affordable Care Act worked for me. On the top line, that bike accident was $6900 – I paid $325 for the $900 ambulance, and my $100 deductible. 

Knee replacement and rehabbing,   with a top line of $28,700 changed my physical trajectory for a small fraction of that from me, and no one will ever convince me “Obamacare” didn’t work exactly as I needed it to. A huge difference maker, you betcha .

There is zero respect for the social club member who pooh-poohed it every step of the way, but got HIS knee worked on with explanation that, “He shouldn’t be only person who didn’t take advantage of the (terrible, over-reaching, Democrats forced on us) program.”

CHOICES and Reality

What seemed like a legitimate analogy, even a moral, came with a two-beer examination of just how lucky someone can get while putting a bicycle into some rocks.

Maybe its germaine that having missed a deadline for submitting a simple tax form by one day several months ago, I’ve been “skating naked” insurance-wise. Not that the premiums were exorbidant for me as a 63-year old single, but just ONE MONTH I’d be required to pay almost $1,000 before ACA coverage kicked in was more than I could handle. Statistics indicate a lot of people are that close to similar lines.

So nobody else was going to pay for an emergency room visit when, in the moment I asked two ladies “How much further to the end of the greenway?” my foot slipped off the flat pedals of the clunky mountain bike, I lost my balance touching down, different brakes, boom! I’m down.

The two ladies come over to check on me, and I’m smiling from six feet away, feeling lucky there’s no real problem. The bike isn’t damaged, I tell them the same story about last accident, and away I go.

Community spread –  my biking example

When I needed first responders for that 2016 accident, the number of people involved:  4-6 drivers with passengers who stopped to help, with thanks again for the gent who delivered my pretzeled bike to the house. Plus two EMTs checking me out, two ambulance people, probably 4 nurses along the way, a doctor, and my sister in law who picked me up.

That’s 16 people, minimum.

It only took one instant, with the right answer directly in front of me, (“duh, the new section ends at Providence) and a flat pedal situation almost got me messed up. I don’t know how I’d handle a major economic hit for that.

Watching this situation about a renewed spike with COVID-19, protesting in-place regulations as tyrannical, and I think of elder care, where it truly only takes one careless moment for someone out and about at a protest among often unprotected others, to kiss their favorite aunt or grandmother, to touch a child, and THAT triggers “more.”

Freedom of speech, “except for yelling fire! in a crowded theater” was the theory I heard growing up. What’s righter about that gridlock stuff? 

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This scene at Whitewater Center isn’t the way of the world in April, 2020, but social distancing is going to be a byword for foreseeable future.

And for God’s sake, that old expression about “If you can’t be part of the solution, at least don’t contribute to the problem,” still works. Causing traffic jams that prevents those front line people from getting to where they’re needed, that is SUCH a negative.  That nurse blocking a pickup from jamming up a crosswalk, that’s an American I’ll shake hands with – well, at some point.

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

44 days of COVID in-place discipline won’t be tossed in trash by “re-open” pressure

12-5booking it
 ‘Discipline’ can mean four days of studying for a State license, or maybe getting 1200 words right for a submission before lunch, but pro wrestling as an “essential business,” THAT must have another meaning I haven’t encountered.

Trying to work my sports as a release during this current, constant COVID focus, going to a local park and finding sections of 2×4 “blocks” bolted onto the hoops wasn’t a happy moment. That the Prez was stumblin’ and fumblin’ on national TV for ten minutes didn’t contribute anything to my happiness…well, actually, I didn’t watch it – and I’m good.

Okay, something got around my sunglasses and irritated an eye during a great bike ride Saturday, I had three beers while binge-watching five episodes (four hours worth) of ‘Defiance,’ and I’m sure it annoys my brother the dogs jump off his lap to watch my every move in the kitchen, but I delivered Mom’s Easter flowers and a chocolate egg, so I’ll call it karmically even.

Blowing off the last four (or five…) days without progress on a second wattpad book and not finishing two blogs (did anyone miss me?) along the way was a sign of mental drag, which is where discipline comes in. Discipline says get back to best practices; even if its later than it should be, get it done, then get on to Next.

A strong bike ride in Charlotte sunshine reassured me that I’m still capable of doing the right thing personally.

Discipline

If you haven’t got the coffee on and laptop fired up by 7:15, you’re behind IMHO, although eight-ish during this in-place situation is a reasonable standard. The writing game is obviously different from being an office admin or my first job out of college, making a minimum of 20 cold calls daily, while putting in beaucoup windshield time,  with more of the same during the years in scholastic fundraising.

Being at the schools by 7:15 was a necessity then: Calls, demos, signings, and starts were well-defined signals of numeric and organizational rigor. The numbers spoke to time on task, better production and group averages came from managerial follow-up.

Having shut down writing sessions at 2:30 a.m. many times, “productivity” there isn’t in terms of on-the-clock hours as an admin associate, or group starts and product sold in scholastic fundraising role.

“Thinking about” writing can be a vague laziness, for me it doesn’t really count unless there’s an aha! moment about what comes next, at least a page of notes scribbled in a blank sketchpad, a system I’ve used forever.

Discipline is aligned with good and consistent habits. If you’re a night owl, own it, rework what a timely start to a day means. Doing brain downloads with notes to self over java in bed? Sure. Not everything needs a computer.

My best production from time on task writing was during latter part of the Great Recession, when I worked an 11-7 shift in retail and edited two years of group essay materials from SCHOBY (So. Carolina Hugh O’Brian Youth) into stories-chapters for an Aesop’s Fables-type read-along book.

Two months of sitting in a warm waterbed every morning, cranking along on 800-1,200 word chapters, polishing leadership thought about trust, sharing, self-confidence and the little kid level – with a 10:15 deadline so I could shower before work – set a great base for the push to self-publish a 73,000 word project when I’d finished the SCHOBY deal.

I brought pages of my own stuff to work, stuck it under bags on my counter while Jack and I cranked production well enough to gain a 1% of sales bonus money nine months in a row as Nautica specialists. Editing between customers, I completed my first book over the course of  seven months and saved $500 by shooting my own cover. January bonus money made publication possible.

That is, after three more months of editing for actual printing.

That’s nothing extraordinary compared to success stories-in books I’ve read, more like a must do. Absolutely NO DOUBT that time on task makes or breaks things, and with the current ‘in place’ situation, time is a discipline I have plenty of to invest.

Pro wrestling as “Essential?”

In keeping with my desire to provide something sports themed in the current desert of possibilities, what can be said about Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis declaring WWE professional wrestling an essential business?

For those of us raised on “Mr. Fuji and Professor Ta-rooooo Tanaka!”, ref’s looking the exact wrong way during tag team mayhem, Chief Jay Strongbow’s ‘spirit’ rising from an almost limp state into tomahawk chops and the bow-and-arrow submission hold victory, the idea THIS is an “essential” business is ludicrous.

This latest TV iteration, with people double-somersaulting over the ropes into the chest of a waiting rival, as we all knew, there was ‘real’ wrestling and pro wrestling. When that Florida story dropped, brother Mike and I discussed Grandpa Sevigny taking us guys and cousins to the television studio for wrasslin’ a couple Saturday mornings when our family visited Tampa as kids.

There was certainly plenty of thumping on each other later.

In the early Eighties I returned to Tampa as a sportswriter, and after watching David VonErich, of the legendary (bad guys) VonErich wrestling family, get disqualified for tossing someone out of the ring over the ropes, I got to interview he and a tag team partner about the lifestyle choice of life on the road, and the body as “office” for a job.

At about 25 myself, making $25 an article (and picking up some scrip for a BBQ place, where the beer was free because they didn’t have a license and they gave you a takeout container of chicken and sides), I even asked him about “the fake factor” and good guy-bad guy economics.

David was one of those “love to hate him” guys, and he said when people were booing him, he was shouting back, “That’s right, and I’m a millionaire!” His plan was “Five more years, then take the wife and retire in Colorado to continue raising palomino show horses.” Not sure if he was kidding about the horses, but he didn’t get there, dying in a plane crash before thirty.

He had a younger brother who died in a wrestling stunt as the “entertainment” factor really blew up in the Hulk Hogan-‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin-The Rock years, when everything was beefcake bodies, steroids, and higher tech drama. VonErich’s death was something with a bad release element while being lowered on a cross from ceiling deal. Boom! glitch became a dead wrestler.

David was demonstrating what’s beneath those turnbuckles so many get their faces bounced off (no, its not a fluffy pillow thing), then sling-shotting off the ropes and bounding loudly across the canvas, when he suddenly jumped up and grabbed a low beam over the ring.

“Hey, you wouldn’t have to worry about missing a drop kick with a guy, you could nail him in the chops EASY like this!

1984 Olympic Greco-Roman gold winner,

Heavyweight Jeff Blatnick

With all due respect to fellow Brockport State (NY) grad Frank Famiano, in his prime as a 126-pound Greco wrestler, but one of the many athletes whose career goals were trashed by the US boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Russia, Jeff’s “I’m one happy dude!” interview on ABC became iconic after the victory.

Jeff was also from Schenectady, NY, and during a Webelos meeting long, long ago, I caught him in a choke hold, then got chased around a car until my Dad came out and I could safely open a door. Not saying I beat him, more like lucky he didn’t squash me against a partition, or catch me before Dad came out.

Jeff was “a real wrestler,” two-time Division II champion, and a three-time All-American, who died in 2012 – Hodgkins got him the third time. Frank Famiano created a profitable “roach coach” coffee truck operation in the mornings so he could continue training another four years for the 1984 Olympics.

Great athletes have a discipline that puts sticking to my keyboard and finishing a presentation into very real perspective.

Anyway, we met while he was competing in the 1983 Empire State (NY) Games, after he beat Hodgkins disease the first time, long before he became the first commissioner of the MMA (mixed martial arts) operation, or beat Hodgkins a second time. With his singlet rolled down, there was a *major* “railroad track” scar down the middle of his chest.

He didn’t know the Russians would boycott the LA Olympics the next year, and he told me that the only person he’d really been afraid of was somebody I mentioned as being the baddest of the bad. They’d changed the weight limits for super-heavies, and this other guy was 280-plus pounds of steel, whose signature move was pile-driving an opponents face-head into the mat.

If that Russian got you up in the air, it was surrender there or risk a broken neck. Turns out the guy becomes a no-show because of Soviet payback for US not coming to their Olympics in 1980. That Jeff admitted that fear again the last time I ran into him, on a cold, windy day in Albany, NY, just two guys on a corner ready to cross the street, kind of gives perspective to what athletes have to consider can happen in an instant.

Jeff never failed to correct writers who called him the first American gold medal winner in Greco-Roman, because long-time buddy Steve Fraser (90kg/198 lb.) had won his gold the night before Jeff.

A nation cried along with a very sweaty Blatnick as he offered a hands-together prayer upwards after the victory, and repeatedly used the “happy dude” phrase while giving thanks to everyone else who had anything to do with his career getting to that lofty spot.

***

STAYING IN PLACE instead of blowing off the social distancing that has made the difference with COVID-19 here in 2020 is still a legitimate piece of discipline. Hang in there America.

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

 

 

 

A rugby – COVID-19 analogy for a lack of sports Wednesday: Gotta make the catch

man of match jerseys-kutz

Having used the analogy several times over years of writing, the ultimate factor as the receiver of a downfield kick-punt in rugby, a game everyone knows is rough, is you can’t whiff on it or let it go, you HAVE to catch it. That high, hanging up there one especially.

You’ve seen it dozens of times in football, “the bomb squad” guys who pulverize a punt returner who doesn’t wave his arm in a fair catch signal.

Now take out the pads and helmet. And the fair catch signal. Yeah, crunch time, pal.

Well, actually you can TRY fair catching it, by simultaneously catching the ball, digging a heel into the turf, and shouting, “Mark!” but most experienced players will tell you to run even if you do it right, because not everyone knows the rule.

I sure didn’t back in 1981, when I went *through* a guy who invoked it. I learned about it at the keg later, when the guy – who was a referee and certainly did it right – told another guy about running and not everyone knowing the rule.

Part Two of that is being on the receiving end of getting railed, where you can SEE that ball and different colored jersey are going to arrive at the same time. Whether or not you’ve been clobbered at such a moment, that very short moment of impact, your life gets changed.

It’s going to be a problem (challenge? pssshhh!) either way.  If you try to avoid the blast and let the ball bounce, and bing, bang, boom! they score, thats a mark (soft?) you’ll have to carry for a while.

Otherwise, when they peel you off the turf, there are only a couple questions that make any difference. The primary one related to potential concussions is supposed to be “What’s your name?” with the expectation you don’t know that, fuggidaboudit. After taking the abuse, many want to know if their team kept the ball.

If you say something about, “But I don’t wanna go to school, Mom!” they put someone else in the game.

The Analogy

Lots of Americans, and people around the world, are “sheltering in place” now, WAITING, as a rugby fullback often does, for the ball to finally get there. Nobody else can make the play, and whether people think differently about you at this specific time, will count on how you handle the opportunity.

We’re not talking about taking the kick all the way back for a score, we’re not talking about the ball bouncing off you, and everyone scrambling while you hopefully have the ability to choose between covering your head or curling in a ball to protect yourself, and will someone PLEASE get that telephone!

It’s absolutely about making the catch. Not doing anything crazy, but nooo, its not going to be easy either way.

Staying in place is making the catch without sweating a different colored jersey in your peripheral vision. There’s no “Whats your name?” factor either. You cannot hurt the team by hanging out around the home work space right now, maybe even have a beer during work hours. 

Need another rugby analogy? So, this THICK, Samoan-looking #8 guy (and yes, the tats are part of it) picks up the ball and comes around the scrum, motoring right at our captain, and from inside center position, I swear I heard him gulp.

Captain sat out the previous season after a broken collarbone, and having this ever-lovin’ chunk of humanity coming full steam ahead, he knew somebody had to stick their head in there and stop that bowling ball.

Which I did, taking him low, because otherwise you bounce off, have no effect. I’ll remind any readers that, in rugby tackling, there’s no roll blocking someones feet,  so a legal tackle involves circling your arms, which means having to put your head in near knees and feet.

Doing whats needed

That’s what “somebody” needed to do about stopping that situation, it didn’t have to be Davey at that point though. We need LOTS of somebodies doing whats needed to get “real life” back any kind of sooner. Like rugby, this COVID-19 isn’t a one shot situation, more like Spring and Fall season. Sports-wise, its going to be more of a marathon-like survival than a win-loss on any scoreboard.

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AME Zion Church during Sanders rally for environment

If I stay in place another couple weeks, doing leadership thought blogs, and working on another book instead of deciding to pack a church next weekend,  that’s making the best choice, given the alternatives. Even here, in the Buckle on the Bible Belt, I don’t believe we’re going to break on what needs to be done even at a holy time on most calendars.

I’m for sure not planning on taking COVID-19 straight up, but I’ll make the catch or right play when its needed. I can certainly feed myself without any problem, my last expedition to neighborhood Aldi, had no problem getting everything I needed to batten down, including a couple bottles of 3-buck chuck. Here’s hoping we can rely on “the other guys” to do their part as well on the best practices front.

And yes, the people working smile when you ask if they’re getting enough props.

A high caliber nurse in this arena offered to make me two masks, which makes me sure its going to be of a quality those brave people wear, ones for my brother. She and a couple others are cranking them out besides doing 24s and a couple 12 hr. shifts a week. I’m doing the bandana and gloves, and hell yes! you take your gloves and whatever garbage with you after shopping or whatever.

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