Content Creation, remote work, SHAZAM! Online options are worth the effort

20190313_212841During a recent run as a content creator in an SEO-focused area of a CBD manufacturing company,  all the research kept showing how far hemp/CBD oil had come while quickly morphing into a product sector.

How much online information there is about a LOT of things – monetizing writing skills draws me – is like tapping Will Smith’s SHAZAM! genie for assistance, with less craziness.

Having read plenty of online material about CBD and ‘less than 0.3% THC industrial hemp’ over several months, it’s been chillingly good to develop a handful of online possibilities related to writing style and  experience, in exactly the same way.

Having a beer for lunch while you work the proposal systems? Not a problem.

Post-college (for me), you were expected to blanket the world with resumes about experience you didn’t have, today its keywords and SEO. Face-to-face with an employer is still desirable, but three consistent days on a keyboard can set up a future course in bigger ways, and your doggie is the only one seeing you work.

When your materials (like PDFs and links) are set – let’s add ‘interesting’ cover letters for the heck of it – and you followed submission directions, qualifying oneself with four good prospects in a couple half-day sessions could become a kickin’ week towards achieving quality critical mass.

Commission-based companies promote a ‘You want it, go get it!’ mantra, set at high levels. You’re working for yourself in The Gig Economy – conduct yourself accordingly about wanting.

There are a plethora of help sites of course, but without schilling, I like FlexJobs. It kicks butt with results, quantity and quality possibilities, support functions are out the wazoo, and its a super-reasonable price.

Boomers to the rescue?

There are still problems with the recruiting process,  and thankfully, more awareness of ageism as diversity, a topic for another day. Employers think tech-kids know all the latest tricks, BUT… that talent thing doesn’t disappear when silver foxes appear in the hairline.

20181216_212044It’s no lie to say experience and perspective still counts. 

Ask a Boomer, the Forever Young generation. We’re not all DeNiro, starting a late career as ‘The Intern,’ but while the Great Recession messed up a lot of Boomers timing on retirement, some of us never intended to go quietly into that good night. 

If you recognize some of your professional skills are actually sub-par though, online is a great teacher, my Boomer brethren. Checking what the market looks like is legitimate. At many points we all probably got “what the position paid,” and in Charlotte, NC, the going rate for content creators is almost $56k,  about 6% less than the national average.

My first gig of the year produced just under 25% of that. I’ll be conducting myself appropriately going forward.

Glenn Shorkey

Creative eDitorial Talents Enterprises

‘The Producers’ was terrific theater, Social Summer rolls on


The first week of my 25th year in Charlotte certainly felt like a success, especially the social aspects of live Theatre Charlotte on Thursday evening for ‘The Producers,’ and then a quantity of long, pretty straight whacking of golf balls on Saturday, with oysters and beers post-whacking.

I’m very glad I was able to find the venue on Queens Road, although having circled the Booty Loop plenty of times, I didn’t recall passing Theatre Charlotte before. Still, I got my beer and popcorn and was able to get right into a third row seat during the first scene changes. THIS is what live theater is about people, enthusiastically performed and almost touchable close.

According to all I spoke with during intermission, no pros were involved either, so extra impressive and kudos to all, especially those young actors. The female lead was just the right stereotype of sexy-Swedish competence, and the singing-dance numbers were solid every time.

Always so cool, parents who care and families waiting afterwards, such a slice of American pie for performers, to catch those affirming positives.

It was an exceptional opportunity to talk with a variety of people about the theater and Charlotte in general, and quite an articulate crowd. Several teachers were proud to mention those in the cast they’d coached, citizens with opinions were easy to approach.

I’ve said it before about the Queens Cup Steeplechases: “An aura of Good Will permeates the environs,” and it was true post-final curtain at ‘The Producers.’ 

Mentioning the small annoyance of microphones taped to actors foreheads is a truth, as was the almost flawless flow in keeping with the movie version. (Well, except for the Nazi trying to blow the place up, and the bar scene where the producers first grasp that the crowd is loving on ‘Springtime for Hitler,’ and their guaranteed flop is actually a hit.)

I asked the lady next to me about photos, because it was a little giddy to be so close, it would have been a killer shot, but glad all were willing to abide the “please, no,” and enjoy the show. Short notes: The Bloom character was a really strong singer, the Nathan Lane character was channeling him, and the egoist-director who substitutes for the Nazi (after he breaks a leg) was All That.

I’m definitely willing to try local theater again, and it shouldn’t be a problem to stuff the tip jar when it helps operations like local theater survive with volunteers in any way.

* * * *


I love a little show time myself, and in two weeks I’ll be a morning Harambee reader again this year at Oakhurst STEAM Academy. Its “just” ten minutes of reading for a summer school morning jazz up session, but as I said last year, Never let it be said you didn’t do the least that could be done.

Early on in my picture book presentation, I used the TIME cover of Black Panther while asking if anyone knew who THIS guy was – so I had their attention for sure. If being relevant, and reading a story with excitement in your voice for ten minutes is all the world needs, I’ll do what I can for the READ Charlotte program.

* * * *

Alas,  having become more of a golf enthusiast, I need to get much better sticks than I have now.  I’ve hit the same bag of clubs for over twenty years, but y’know, even while coaching my date, Lefty,  I did tag the majority of a large bucket pretty well. My footwork is solid now, and even shots that leaked right had length. Looking forward to the summer for sure.

Glenn S.





Mea culpas for not writing, and on with the Good Stuff in 2019

It’s not right to blame sloth on watching a lot of late-night hockey, but…

The acquaintance that asked how things were going on the second book and other writing projects I’d mentioned last time we met was the difference maker, bless her soul.  Admitting I’d gotten – if not actually fat, very definitely lazy – about handling my personal blogging and project follow-up, was a thwap! in the back of the head.

Now that Awareness is right-er, Action is following.

It’s not like my thoughts are the second coming of the Mueller Report (un-redacted and with all supplements), and the world’s been waiting these past few months to hear from me. I did a 3,000 word guest post on world waste and recycling along the way though. Just sayin’…

Content creation is my forty hours a week job now, and economically I’m glad to have bennies, regular auto-deposits, and PTO! that I’m going to use some of for a golf outing this Friday. Still, blogging is not brain surgery, just a matter of discipline. I’ll stow any excuses about change in schedules, and state positively that I’ll never go this long again without doing MY blog.  Twice a week actually, count on it.

Absolutely nobody else to blame for non-production. Guilty, history now, mea culpa, Next.

* * * * *

Memorial Day weekend is my anniversary in Charlotte, although its a week earlier this year than when I actually landed here, back in 1995. I’ve got a concert date at the National White Water Center next weekend, and if the great weather we’re finally getting cooperates, I expect a great deal of psychic satisfaction coming.

Over the last couple months I’ve enjoyed getting a bunch of such satisfaction. Socially the Queens Cup Steeplechases last month were truly All That, and volunteering my communications skills for three scholastic events with the Community in Schools program was ‘social capital’ well spent.

I don’t really know if anybody got inspired during 3-25 minute talks at Career Day about my being a Writer, but one simple truth I mentioned was, the most important thing I ever wrote was my LinkedIn profile. After years of using it as an electronic resume, changing to a 1-1, tell-the-story-of-Glenn style produced a job offer in ten days, which was a terrific way to start 2019.

Having made a connection with a leader in the Marketing area of my company, I had the opportunity to discuss the benefits of our CBD oil company relative to a super organization called TEAM RUBICON. TR is about ‘veterans and kick-ass civilians’ doing disaster relief missions all over the country and world. It involves lots of intense physical labor, and I suggested our RECOVER product might be an element that would be greatly appreciated and (hopefully) have some PR value.

We’ll see how that rolls. I’m trying to help the world with some bigger stuff too, y’know?gs w-4lookers

Whether or not my golf game comes through in Friday’s captains choice format – three good putts can make you a hero – hey, its a PAID day off. It’s a specious analogy, but I haven’t put any effort into that golf area in a lot longer than I haven’t written a blog.

I may fix that practice thing after taking Mom to church though.

Writing is often about personal pride, and it definitely isn’t always about the money. I’m working on the Next One Thing though, and I promise it won’t take all summer to figure it out and let you know the results.

To all our veterans – and I told this to a couple active duty people in the tent at the Hotwalkers Ball for post-Queens Cup par-tayh! – the collective ‘We’ appreciates your service, and individually you are all loved by many.





About My Dad (and hoping you have similar memories)

Dad at nephew Curtiss’ graduation, 2012 (I think)

Saturday night after our super successful pierogi dinner (we served way over 500), I had a good talk about deceased parents with another Men’s Club member,  including minor stuff like learning how to read maps while being ‘shotgun’ on long road trips as kids, and an undeniable ‘good hair gene’ that means I have fewer silver foxes in my plentiful brown hair at 62 than most. Dad’s ‘good death’ after just two days in the hospital– versus a long, drawn out, painful, expensive, and wearying on family members decline—was six years ago tomorrow, so a few thoughts about Waldo Frederick Shorkey from Son #2:

  • He won a blue ribbon at the Florida State Fair for a terrific secretary (desk) one year, but lost out on the big prize overall to a jewelry box, the only time I can recall him voicing dissatisfaction about unfairness.
  • When I wrote a take-away piece for people attending their 50th anniversary in 2005, the first line was fact that Dad came down the driveway within five minutes of 5:00 every night, a consistency I’ve always told people was my ‘Leave it to Beaver’ life growing up.
  • That he served his country—as did three brothers—despite a noticeably thinner left leg as a result of childhood polio. He met Mom in Tampa while serving on a destroyer escort, and with only periodic visits, they corresponded for three years before she turned 21 and Grandpa Sevigny let her get married. I’m obviously glad that worked out.
  • I brought Mom flowers for my birthday last week, because she always appreciates them, and Dad put together arrangements for many, many years because he knew that.
  • While he rousted four boys early many times to shovel a path down 150 feet of driveway so he could get to work, when we finally got a snowblower, he always told us to shut it OFF! before trying to clear any blockage of the chute. I know at least three guys who lost parts of fingers because they apparently didn’t get (or heed) such obvious advice.
  • In reading some of the journals he kept while traveling after retirement (at 59!) its impossible not to recognize that whether it was a riverboat cruise in Europe, a chance conversation with someone who spoke English there and told he and Mom things of interest, or even the beef-barley soup a friend made–the first thing he was excited about eating in months after his stroke– his written reaction was always that “It was great!”
  • He was a genuinely positive guy, and truly thought highly of by everyone. That my brother Steve said the Belgian family he was an exchange student with always asked how Dad was doing first vs. even Steve’s family, when he visited over the years has to be some kind of proof.
  • He ate vegetables, which he really didn’t like, to be a good example to four boys.
  • Every time someone gives me an attaboy! about being a good son for getting Mom to church for 10:45 Mass, I know Dad would appreciate both parts of that.
  • When I’m thinking about something– like how to make a scene I’m writing work right-er, and I find myself tapping fingers on my left hand, I like to think it’s a signal from Dad, who was a lefty. His tapping the ring I now have on the steering wheel sticks with me.

I bounced the idea of providing a supply of a specific topical rub the company I’ll start work with momentarily (cbdMD) produces to an operation—Team Rubicon, made up of veterans and ‘kick-ass civilians’ doing disaster relief in the U.S. and abroad—because it relieves aches and pains from all that labor in a pretty amazing way. Helping make some small part of the world better seems like a decent way to be a little more like Dad.

And I believe I’ll have some beef barley soup for lunch today.

A ‘Tweener’ Feeling About Christmas

choir boys2016

First off, I’m not a Grinch-type, nor do I have an attic full of ornaments and lights and reindeer waiting to be planted on the front lawn. I have yet to try peppermint latte, and while I have a red stocking hung by the chimney with care, its more because my Dad made them for all four boys about 1,000 (okay, 50-something) years ago, with our names in felt and a glittery star at the toe. Putting it up is a reminder how we– and I include family and the many, many friends he treated so kindly– miss his cookies and good cheer. Like Santa Claus, everybody liked Dad.

Several cousins are coming to visit this holiday season, mostly because they want to be with Mom, who at 84 moved to the assisted living side at her senior community at the end of August, but hopefully because we haven’t seen each other in a while. Frank– who was Skip for the first thirty years I knew him– retired this year, and he is financially set to do whatever the heck he wants over the next couple years. He even mentioned going to Minnesota for some *really* cold weather, not something you normally hear from a true Florida Boy. He’s got three terrific kids, as do two of my brothers, Steve and David.

That’s where the ‘Tweener’ thing comes in, because having someone truly special in life to share such times with is way ahead of wondering what you can or should be considering gift-wise. While I could actually use a new basketball, how fully I’ll throw myself into this season of cheer is open to debate. I’ll drink your spiked egg nog, I’m good with any Woman who wants to walk around with some mistletoe and surprise me– hopefully its a worthwhile kiss– and I travel with a small bag of food behind the seat in case I run across someone on a street corner who needs a break from that necessary worry, even for a day. I’ve got six stamps on hand, so a couple people get cards.

late crewdoes tree12-17Okay, I just signed up for a Hawai’ian pig roast, and my experience on that is, no problem smiling about next Saturday. Brother Steve has an oyster roast on 23rd, and THAT’S always a winner, with enough testosterone–guys only at this event–  to float a battleship. Our church group’s 33rd annual Christmas tree sale ends in a couple days, and that’s been an uplifting experience, too.

The hitch of not being a Grinch– a role that’s soooo easy to slip into– or (overly) Super Positive Person for holidays– is over-thinking the Why not? that kind of comes with being a single guy, mistletoe or not. Yeah, yeah, I know its supposed to be about the Christ child’s birth, Peace on Earth-Good Will towards Men (and all other categories of humanity), but isn’t there some “What about me?” when you see a hottie elf nuzzling a geeky guy in one of those super-ridiculous tree lights suits? Without being disrespectful of the many who have much less, not having a couple things to open and wow! at someone’s thoughtfulness for getting it (or perhaps a negative if you recognize its a re-gifting with zero thought), that you’re getting the coffee on (as usual) and hanging out till church, football games and dinner is a relative downer.

It doesn’t seem legitimate to protest that things aren’t exactly as you’d want them to be

When brother Dave, Donna, Maria, Curtiss and his wife, Stephanie came down a couple Glenn w-captainsyears ago it was a great couple days, and even the recent Thanksgiving I got to participate in with twenty others in Gastonia, with food and beverage aplenty, was a harbinger of why many find the holidays somewhat depressing: It doesn’t last. We watch Trump being good (for Trump, no excessive butthead Twitter-ing, and there’s got to be PLENTY on his pea-pickin’ mind right now) at President George H.W. Bush’s funeral for a couple days, but there’s no doubt in our minds that’s going to change real damn soon, right? You don’t expect a three-year old grandchild to be perfect after the 26th either.

In the bigger picture, it doesn’t seem legitimate to protest that things aren’t exactly as you’d want them to be at a specific time. I pity the millions who will make New Years resolutions for 2019, knowing that 99.7% of whatever weight, job, relationship, economic, personal or altruistic promises they make to the Universe or whomever they’re accountable to in their goal-setting awaits failure. I’ve never worried about ten pounds too much-not tanned enough for swim suit season, never sworn I’d move into a perfect new, high-paying job before New Years. I loved the insurance commercial about Mayhem, who was resigned to doing the mundane safety stuff until he found out resolutions rarely make it very far into the new year, because he could be his regular self, the pressure was off at that point.

Of *COURSE* I’ve asked for the stockings I put in my stocking to be filled appropriately with a desirable Her. What I’m going to be glad about is Mom still recognizing me (most of the time) when I pick her up for church, for Mike, who never asks for the rent money absolutely on time (unless its poker week), and if he fixes the head he broke off the choir boys cutout, I’ll be glad to put it on the porch and put some framing tree lights in the window behind them. I’ll kiss under any mistletoe when prompted, just because. I’ll watch ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (original version) with spiked egg nog and know I’m not him,  watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and consider whether I’m that kind of difference maker in other peoples lives. I will *never* say “Bah, humbug!”

That it probably only takes getting another good gig work-wise (half a loaf is still good) to brighten things brings HOPE, and isn’t that what the season is truly about? Positive expectations people, and Season’s Greetings! to all who might need a little extra cheering to make it though. I’m not a Grinch, you probably aren’t either. Tweener isn’t *bad*, not with all the alternatives and/or blessings we have to help us over The Small Stuff.

And while you’re up, could you get me another egg nog?




Yes, America, it’s that Simple

No, this isn’t a post-election apocalypse, just the end of our Oyster Roast.

Thanksgiving Day I stopped by the fire station around the corner, and was glad the crew chief remembered me from bringing meatballs & sauce dinners a couple years ago. I brought dinners several times to two stations as a committed Thank you! for having given me another Christmas with my Dad at one point. I’d stopped by to say thanks over the years, finally decided I could do better.

I offered the hope that all their brothers trying to stop California from being a huge torch- and whatever calls Big 3 had for the day- were safe.

curt-stef-photo-bombThe next point isn’t about nephew Curtiss and Steph’s picture (I just really like it), it’s a straight-up, 180-degree political turn-around on Facebook with a guy from high school. Hard core Republican, I guess, but mostly on side of how athletes disrespect the flag version Trump flogged vs. freedom of speech and NOT what the kneeling was about, which was awareness of how many young black men were being shot to death by white police officers.

As many have noted, only VIETNAM has split large parts of America (as cynically planned by administration here in 2018) in recent memory, although those Stoneman-Douglas kids anti-gun tour certainly brought massive crowds into the streets– over 700 marches in one weekend

We can agree to disagree, on a factor that shouldn’t have split people so effectively.

I always mention ‘Nam was overrun the spring of my senior year in high school, 1975. I never served, all four guys in my Dad’s line did. Respect for those who serve has nothing to do with the message of kneeling, a pointed, silent event, not what Trump brands it with S.O.B! flourish. We can agree to disagree, on a factor that shouldn’t have split people so effectively.

On Facebook I mentioned dropping by that fire station, thanking them for service as first responders, and Tony Malizia, the long-time Air Force- 39 years– with stripes to the elbow for each three year hitch–guy from HS wrote it was cool what I’d done, they were the real heroes.

He also wrote that he’s taken politics out of previous gear, that  the country had so much more that bound us, which is certainly how we’d all like to live. I responded that was why I’d essentially reached out. For a lot of reasons, our COUNTRY is going to need to pull in same direction, heal and not commit continuous-contentious stressing. It seems likely indictments or publication of what could-should be damning stuff from Mueller’s investigation will upset the United States a while longer, and I believe Chief Justice Roberts, “We don’t have Obama judges or Trump judges…” even if everything Kavanaugh does will be under a microscope.

I’m heartened by how, under close examination (almost, sorry GA) every step of the way, there was absolutely NO DOUBT how America felt about VOTING for change. Don’t relax and think 2020 won’t be just as contentious people.

That tribe in the Dakotas that  managed to abide by having addresses, and people providing transportation so their voting counted, INSPIRATIONAL.

Like the judge said, “Both sides should turn down the rhetoric.” If I’m right in thinking it only took agreeing to disagree about the message or disrespect of pro athletes kneeling, we’re kind of back on a regular track. I mentioned going to school with the guy, right? He was a lightweight wrestler, Bob Massaroni’s best bud from forever.

Thank you again for your service.

Yes, America, that simple. 

It felt like a Pretty Good Week with Mom

It might be Mom’s last road trip, but Paul and Kaitlyn’s wedding was worth it.

November marks essentially two months since Mom moved from independent to assisted living side of the senior community (Carmel Hills) where she’s been since we moved her from Tampa, FL to Charlotte three Junes ago. I was her primary caregiver for seven months, and lunch-making, shopping, medication consistency, appointments, walking and just being around were the essentials. I worked my presence down to twenty hours a week for the last month before she moved to the assisted side.

I’m proud of having gotten her to Raleigh for my nephews seriously cool wedding weekend in July and yes, I was worried that her meds got messed up back in Charlotte during my terrific NY week without responsibilities. I went right back into service the morning after a 17-hour return trip, handling a situation with Mom’s cable because that’s what caregivers do.

Just days after we learned about a single room opening on the assisted side, my mother caused a smoke-out, the very first time she’d tried to reheat any leftovers.  The strangest part was getting a Sunday morning call just after pre-church shower about it, because nothing seemed amiss when I’d picked her up for ice cream at 7:30 and stayed till 10:00 the previous night, and smokers are still events that count heavily in determining when such moves are finally necessary.

Mom never mentioned it, mostly because she didn’t remember it. It turned out between 4:45 when I called about our ice cream date, the smoke alarm at 6:30 and time I arrived, Carmel Hills had done their emptying out drill, cleared up the charred stuff in the apartment, and was back to normal.  Overall, that was a fortunate stroke of timing, but having a plan for such moves when the time comes makes transitions easier on everyone.

That’s when we moved Mom, and its such a good situation for both her and- as I sit before a picture window with sunshine and finally changing color leaves outside- a lifestyle change I hadn’t really comprehended.

Primary caregivers have a different challenge

When I wasn’t jumping over there between 11:00-1:30 because she liked early lunch and card games, and post-dinner (7-9:30), I admit accepting that I couldn’t work for several hours because she wasn’t wired, and I felt guilty if I didn’t keep her involved in conversation.  While there was always a satisfaction about my caregiver role in the clutch, the difference when I didn’t have to  divide my time has allowed an obvious, positive rise in productive hours elsewhere.

My second book submission – with a tightened-up 7,300 word intro – is going out two weeks early, so this past month constitutes a successful conversion for me. A golf writing – travel gig possibility from August ended with several hospital stays by client, but I’ve had opportunities to present my flexible niche writing abilities  on a regular basis on well-populated professional sites. There are jobs and gigs, long enough and challenging assignments that make an economic difference.

Last week was a good one with Mom. Saturday evening I took her to an Oyster Roast by our Men’s Club, to church on Sunday, and Thursday I brought her tiger lilies after I bought a necessary new laptop, because that’s what you do when Mom’s are on the same side of town as business. I got to Carmel Hills when she was about to start a roast beef lunch, and  believe me, even if I was suit and tie dressed up and had flowers, that took priority. Helpers got the flowers into a container and on a table in her room.

I also let Mom know Edna, her best buddy since 2nd grade, was going to visit in two Fridays. Of course, I’ll remind her a couple times, but that’s definitely a good news thing, and repeating isn’t any kind of negative.

At the Oyster Roast Mom kept saying she wasn’t sure she liked oysters, but she’s eaten every one I’ve fixed her before. We settled at a table with a lady and her Mom who remembered me trying to sell tickets a month ago, and they kept Mom company while I wound up managing a variety of situations with the roast. I made sure she had a wine, got back several times, and found her a good slab of chocolate cake. She appreciated getting out, so I loaded up on karmic rewards.

Mom wanted to treat to dinner after church this week, so Mike, Mom and I went to Red Lobster, beating the rush easily. As often as she says she’s hungry, Mom still doesn’t eat much, although she always has room to work with her sweet tooth, and sharing a nice warm brownie with ice cream worked without a hitch.

Mom needed a nap after the wine, and by the time I got back to the house, the Panthers were pounding the Ravens on TV, including a semi-sneaky 54-yard FG to end the first half with a 24-7 lead. I’m a FanSided/CatCrave blogger, so by the time I’d watched until the surprising 36-21 conclusion, a last touch on a good week for me included a twelve-mile bike ride.

I’m still thankful to the ex-HR person who definitively stated NOBODY had writers working in staff positions any more, that everything was out-sourced.

Having embraced that attitude, and forgetting about knocking out a straight forty hour week, the challenge remains the same—making my time worth while to a paying client.

Bringing flowers and getting Mom out several times, that still makes for a no doubt feeling about being a ‘Good Son’. Having said before that being a caregiver is about making other people’s lives go right and taking care of yourself—that still works. Having picked up the habit of utilizing smaller time frames for proposals and entrepreneurial projects, I’m better at utilizing the technology that’s making it easier for me to (relatively)  put myself in front of significant others.

Prostate cancer news is Joyful! Awesome! when your best friend says ’10 years’

two men playing volleyball near red canopy
Photo by Jim De Ramos on

Having mentioned how a knee replacement from last December has affected my life so positively more than once, getting a couple videos from my best friend in college- Ivan Marquez– about surviving prostate cancer for ten years is a valid point to assess time and circumstances and how it affects those we love.

More than anything, my desire is to encourage communication, because that always make a difference with major illnesses. Not everyone reading this will care, but beyond understanding the medical marvel side requiring ninety pills a day and a whole lot more, there’s a very real feeling of Joy that bursts forth when you learn something that’s heroic or unexpectedly Good.

The fact I reached out another time Friday to share something I was proud of with him and got something so decisive back, that rarely happens without a small, extra effort.

 I’ll shorthand things by noting my Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was dead in two years, and he died five years ago. How could you not think the worst was coming for your best friend?

After Dad told us (four brothers) about diagnosis, we were more than a little surprised when doctors did anything surgical. They don’t usually think that chemo and radiation improve quality of life in eighty year-olds, but in trying to implant a few radioactive pellets to kill the suspected cells, Dad was taken off Coumadin, had a stroke that night, and lost his desire to eat almost anything beyond power shakes.

That Christmas he was a bag of bones. While he survived another Christmas and died in late January from congestive heart failure—a family weakness, my Uncle Don died two days earlier in the same Tampa hospital from it—he wasn’t close to the friendly, active guy he’d always been.

choir boys2016
The four choirboys, now 50 years old- Dad was an artsy guy

My brothers all agreed that we wish he’d discussed it with us vs. just told us the prognosis. It was his being relatively healthy, and a desire not to leave Mom alone, that drove his decision to try the pellets vs. rigors of chemo-radiation. The next thing we knew, the stroke was a fact. I drove to Tampa the day after I learned Uncle Don died, I would have gladly driven down many months before that to beg Dad to reconsider the course he eventually took, but we’d all assumed there’d be another chance at that.

I’m certain I went into denial when Ivan first called about his prostate cancer, because it was a well known and vicious killer. When he called briefly last year about his survival, I asked why he hadn’t told me, when of course, he had.

While I periodically sent him notes or articles I was proud of and he responded with, “Good going, keep it on the blacktop (vs. driving into a ditch),” I always assumed he was keeping the ugly negatives from me, although he’d never really been a guy who wrote much. I called every once in a while– most recently when I vacationed in upstate NY for a week– but didn’t get responses, which reinforced that notion.

It didn’t occur that he was frequently busy with hospital (Mayo Clinic) things, just that he wasn’t responding, so it must be bad- and hopefully I’d get some notice about a funeral.

Ivan created a fine men’s volleyball program at Concordia College, then dropped the coaching when he became the Commissioner of EVIA (Eastern Volleyball Inter-Collegiate Association) because his ‘men beat boys’ recruiting style was built on getting ‘older’ stud players who flunked out on scholarships elsewhere a second chance back on campus. Although legal, he didn’t want any potential negatives to come back at the school.

I’m certain I went into denial when Ivan first called about his prostate cancer,  because it was a known and terrible killer.

The video he sent—which was done by students in the Communications Dept. at Concordia, where he’s been the Athletic Director since 1995—gave me 1000% more insight to his situation, and also showed he still talked and treated others as he always had. He speaks of Concordia athletics in terms of ‘playing with the toy,’ meaning figuring out how to do something better or desirable for the program.

The point about communication is that you often HAVE to keep pushing people to share, because many don’t want to be pitied or thought of as weak. They can’t talk about the regimen without admitting it mostly sucks, which he admits in the video. Many equate not talking about it with sparing you the boring details of ugliness, and maybe that was a righteous reason for me in past, but I’m getting on the phone shortly so I can communicate how important it is to know more about my best friend’s life.

One Really Good Story: I get to take a portion of credit for Ivan’s career, because after I repeatedly beat his brains out in basketball back in the early ’80s– surviving the heat stroke waiting to happen that 90-plus degree Tampa afternoons always is– he said, “Nope, I can’t go back to Puerto Rico and play in some league if I can’t stop THIS guy’s jump shot.”

FYI- If you’ve watched college or beach volleyball, he was the thinker who determined that volleyball missed the TV spotlight championships usually draw because only service scoring (vs. every point) meant some five-set matches went forever with side-outs. He brought his alternatives to several coaching friends with clout (BYU, UCLA) and today its 25 points wins, and the 5th set is like sudden death, only to 15.

‘Hey, don’t do that (protesting) anymore’ OR ELSE isn’t going to work in NFL

The Panthers have always done a great job of showing the love to veterans. Full field-length flag was at home openers 2016.

For anyone who thought NFL players creating awareness by protesting a specific situation– the killing of young black men by police officers that seemed almost epidemic in 2016– in this country could be ‘fixed’ by executive fiat and fines, there’s going to be a long period of trepidation before the first pre-season game.

For starters, there’s that First Amendment (freedom of speech) thing, and if the Founding Fathers decided to put it atop the amendment list ahead of possessing firearms, it probably deserves real consideration. The chances all 53 members of every team will 100-percent agree on a choice between staying in the locker room OR standing at attention during the anthem is slim, and slapping that on the table without any input from NFLPA was a move that’s unlikely to produce lock-step acceptance. Many factors can cause regular people to hide their feelings, *demanding* they do it OR ELSE is another thing.

As recently acquired wide receiver Torrey Smith of the Panthers put it:

“The whole reason guys were protesting was to draw awareness to something. To take that away and be, ‘Hey, don’t do that anymore,’ like you’re anti-American or something like people try to paint – it is very frustrating to continue to see that false narrative.”

That the opportunity to play professional sports is a fairly limited one is obvious, and every player who has taken a knee to protest like Colin Kaepernick did knows they were doing something that would certainly be unpopular or have negative effects. Especially for players with ‘short resumes’, the choice between possibly sticking somewhere or putting it on the line and going back to a less glorious job seemed a no-brainer.

The Panthers brought Torrey Smith to Carolina because he is a fast, experienced receiver and while they might not have known his outlook before, he has both abilities and rights. Don’t count on Coach Ron Rivera – who has a very strong military background in his family – to put Smith back on the market for being outspoken. Communication, probably privately, produces understanding the vast majority of the time, and Rivera has a reputation for being a ‘players coach’.

For the record, veteran defensive end, Julius Peppers, was the only Carolina Panthers player to remain in the locker room during the national anthem last year.

What they’re NOT doing is disrespecting the flag or U.S. military, and Smith isn’t only one who is frustrated about how that false narrative has eclipsed the original intention of personal, *silent* protesting. Even Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villaneuva, admitted he was embarrassed about not being with his teammates in the locker room. Many felt he was standing tall because of his service as a Ranger in Afghanistan, but the Steelers understood he missed the boat on staying in locker room, not that he was trying to show anyone up.

President Trump recently dis-invited the NFL champion Eagles– of which Smith was a part last year– to the White House because many players publicly stated intentions not to attend. Several teams have stated similar feelings about the trip to White House situation – including the 2017 NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

Protesting via civil disobedience is going to happen – in Charlotte and elsewhere – not just as a knee jerk response, but with a strengthening of resolve: “This was mostly over, but…” in Smith’s words.  How new Panthers owner David Tepper reacts to any protesting – as both he and the Panthers organization are strongly involved in community service – will probably involve a meeting of the minds. New York Jets co-owner Christopher Johnson seems to have the best grip on protesting, stating he will pay any fines for players who kneel, because the prohibition was instituted without NFLPA coordination.

For fans throughout the NFL, its doubtful booing those who stand, stay in locker rooms, or kneel will affect them, and Kaepernick might well win a ton of money on the alleged collusion of owners to keep him unemployed, when someone like a (retired) Jay Cutler became the Dolphins quarterback at $10M for a sub-par effort.

If President Trump continues to amp the protesting situation, or somehow counts on owners to bench/cut players based on a specious factor that infringes on their team’s ability to win football games, that will show just how far anyone, including Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, is willing to go to– well, KNEEL— to his interpretation of events.

Memorial weekend starts Year 24 in Charlotte: Knee solution was truly The One Thing

pooltop office
While I’ve never believed an orderly desk and mind were necessarily linked, there’s no doubt that biking and writing are for me.

This Memorial weekend is my 23rd anniversary in Charlotte, and having successfully rolled into my second career at sixty-one, consistently completing content writing ‘gigs’ and blogs has become a scheduling priority. Being involved with a senior’s care demands hours be invested regularly as well, so for people who say ‘time on task’ is necessary to produce desired results, YES! 

While Mom questioned ‘Where’s my Carolina sunshine?” at lunchtime yesterday, I’d had no problem committing an overcast morning to finish another piece for my current sportswriter-blogging gig (FanSided/CatCrave) before getting out on a 16 mile bike ride. It’s a well-documented truth that discipline is what makes the difference in one’s ability to run on a desirable time track, and becoming the proverbial ‘good person’ who lets non-crucial activities encroach on actions constituting productivity is the downside.

Doing a sixteen mile loop out W.T. Harris to Idlewild, through Mint Hill-Matthews and back in on Monroe Rd. works fine for fitness, but 700 words about the Panthers draft picks being ready for submission comes first.

Time block combinations are tough to maintain in an 8-5 work world, especially relative to senior care involving appointments, walks, ‘emergencies’, and lunch times.  As an ever-expanding pool of telecommuters, ‘giggers’, and entrepreneurs of all stripes already know, anyone who considers working for themselves ‘ideal’ needs to set a higher bar regarding personal dedication to project completion.

The left knee replacement I’ve mentioned several times since December was THE ONE THING decision that fixed my humbling gimpy-ness as completely as I’d hoped it would.

The point with ONE THINGS is how attaining them changes elements downstream from that point.  My recovery wound up spilling over into helping with Mom’s needs after a hospital stay– and dovetailed  well with a writing career which I’m confident about being professionally well-equipped and enthusiastic about.  It’s been a goodness that’s flowed pretty straight ahead once the best decision (replacement) was actually made.

Riding has been a constant for years because it didn’t hurt to pedal while keeping me fit, and whenever I’ve listened to that knee for negatives since replacement, I continue to get a clear message that all is fine. Re-adding other sports– including a possibility of golf/travel writing that’s appeared on horizon– to the bike riding means I can go forward without physical fears, which is obviously a major improvement.


annual baseball game
Right field foul pole is a cozy 315 ft. Last time our group went, 3 HRs were hit into our section to the left.

If politics continue to bring stress and concern about Trump and the stuff that implausibly keeps coming out of the clown car he and the GOP enablers are driving, I’m still more concerned about Mom’s memory.  She asked who I was on Monday while playing cards  in her apartment, which is an every day occurrence, so I’m more aware of that than another swamp invader in DC (but thank God EPA louse is gone).

Invoking Covey’s ‘7 Habits’ principles, I won’t be overwhelmed by that vast majority of things worrying about can’t affect.  Catching a Knights baseball game Friday evening at this gem of a park, with it’s terrific, major league-ish skyline of downtown beyond the brightly lit field, Romare Bearden Park next door, in a  luxury box filled with catered food, quality beers, and nice people, the start to year 24– and my knee– feels very good to me.