Boost to best practices was time well invested for Week Two of COVID-19 “in place”

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Brother Mike was originally going to be at home on two-week rotation – now kitchen is his office.

The premise of “picking against homeys” question on my landing page, with a Final Four date in April for CDTalent Enterprises to write 1,200 word Leadership Thought blogs for two readers, has been extended. If you still want to leave a comment, feel free.

As a mostly remote worker, and someone who does a number of physical, outdoor activities solo, this world-event virus hasn’t changed that level of lifestyle, nor my operational effectiveness on a contract basis. Personally and professionally, there are still any number of effective projects to go forward with. Case in point:

During Week Two of “staying in place,” I edited a 73,000 word previously self-published book onto the wattpad application over six days, and adding pictures! I pushed my favorite project, CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent into a much better orbit.

What would jumping awareness of your corporate being 500% mean for your “operation?”

Work at home, THAT’S legit “Deal with it” bone

Saying it didn’t affect my active lifestyle or professional effectiveness, which has been primarily an electronic vs. site specific operation for several years, there’s still no doubt that COVID-19 is the overriding topic of the times. (Mulvaney who? but yes, deal with it.)

While often quoting Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) about how much energy we spend on worrying about things we have no control over, I’m believing that doing what you can, worrying can’t be 24/7.

I’ve done the plan on wash, wipe down, minimal contact-no crowd events, have food in the house, gas is like a buck-eighty, but the whole country is about to be in semi-deep freeze. Speaking for myself, I’m informed and still worried. That stock market screaming in the background, I don’t have a dog in that reallllly serious fight to worry about.

Please, I have toilet paper, but those front line medical people need protective gear. Things do not work out well if there’s less personnel.

I’m generally considered very fit, a Boomer who decided to keep on right side of Nature with eating and exercise. Might not get to show that off at 45th reunion, scheduled for October, but it also means being in upper age group most effected by virus.

I’ve relied on ACA for two major events – bicycling accident, knee replacement – and am beyond satisfied with the health care I’ve received. Part Two, yes, I’m worried about whether this bringing down the curve will help as much as necessary.

Doesn’t it sound like any kind of success when all sports leagues, the NCAAs, NASCAR, (eventually) the Olympics, *CHURCHES* in Charlotte, the buckle on the Bible Belt, two of the most populous states, have said “stay put,” and have the political will to do what’s best ASAP?

How many people KNOW Cuomo is doing a helluva job, or that Trump won’t allow that Dr. Fauci to say he was wrong too many times, even when Trump spreads mis-information in the most dangerous ways. World pictures show famous places with nobody in sight – so we’re maybe doing something right?

Yeah, I know, and then there’s Spring Break. That the Spanish Flu was primarily spread by all the soldiers coming back from WWI is a fact, and another is that a LOT less concern for social distancing on the beaches by millions of relatively young, is going to be equally dramatic in terms of the communities they return to.

First shot at tracking

One company tracked the location of cell phones in use from ONE beach during that period, and how those blips redistributed across most of the East was enlightening. Somewhere along the lines, you’re always taking a chance. Early scourges for my generation were herpes and AIDS, and certain behaviors mattered. Right now, almost nothing does. Not apocalyptic, but LOTS to think about, right?

Will that invalidate the safety factor I tried for by staying close to home for over three weeks, or how much longer beyond 6-8 weeks? Puts a dent in the idea for sure. A certain poll shows 81% to 8% NO WAY people go back to work “just because.”

Back to the idea of The ONE Thing

Recognizing that I accomplished the rejuvenation of a major project, elevating ‘Cards’ from bargain bin status to a platform with a terrific array of potential outlets – links with publishers, movies! – is still only two-thirds of an actual achievement. Admitting the look and feel of the online product surpasses even having first 60 copies in hand a while ago, is easy though.

Its also important to me, because the days after I put everything right on that site as a “creative,” the What’s Next? marketing persona took over. A number of options have been uncovered, one of which requires having a second 50,000 word book completed on the site. Long-form informational blogging and time on creative all put Writing back in prime slots of my schedule.

Which is an essential part of ONE Things – While you do an array of tasks in pursuit of the overall plan, your effort is on the result, not just movement. Putting minimal spin on the idea of “in place,” sending request for proposals information is part of the remote worker process, and time on task (creative) moves the overall project as well.

I don’t actually need to get out of the house for food, and I just picked up another video interview. Cap’n America slugging it out with Iron Man, “I can do this all day”? Might have to.

There’s been an immediate, dramatic change in these United States. We’re going to find out about having flattened any curves pretty soon, and no, not everyone is going to make it safely to “the end of this.” Realistically, the Spanish Flu was even more deadly when it came back around the winter of 1918-19.

But, just in case you haven’t got anything great to read socked away, come on back here, or check out that link. For now, my ONE Thing can be good for both of us.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Scholarship essay writing, CIS event-vols put focus on “better,” 500 words at a time

There were three important factors for my joy in participating in a Communities in Schools program Saturday morning, one of which has something to do with the view from Grandfather Mountain.

20190630_131300That I’m contacted for this is optimal “Social Capital” (time, effort, “being”), and to utilize my professional skills for a specific four-hour gig, working with already accepted HS students to write better essays as part of scholarship money applications, is right at the top of Satisfying.

I’m not a parent, but seeing my suggestions immediately and directly acted on, is affirming. That those changes *will* make a difference, that floats my boat.

The short time commitment shows both the respect CIS has for professional availability, and is a testament to how focused on the difference they recognize this time – essentially 1.5 hours online – can make.

The two dozen or so students who attended  the Access Granted Workshop at Philllip O. Berry – Academy of Technology, also learned about online sites that described available scholarships for another important aspect, “Where?” such money might be.

Essays often ask for response to ‘catastrophic’

The standard 500 word essays scholarship applicants are asked for usually focus on something catastrophic that happened in their lives, and what they did about it. The standard throughout most of my writing career has been “a good hook” in that first paragraph, and that’s more important in essays than the click value that emphasizes titles and subheads for readability now.

One simple step to improve almost everyone’s letter writing is to break up huge blocks of print. Yes, reading train-of-thought style for 26 lines will always look daunting, and people who have to do it LOTS of times for their jobs might miss whats in the sauce…

It’s just a good idea to start a new paragraph for visual relief, and its not a bad thing to even add an extra line. Knowing how ‘real world’ applications for company sites can be very unfriendly to submissions that are less than pro forma, be willing to go back through and edit. The extra effort to go back and change 6-comma, run-on sentences into two real ones with periods, plus that comment you thought of after finishing, usually feels like a small reward.

New thought, new paragraph, even if its only a significant one liner.

“I intend to go to Howard or some other HBC (Historically Black Colleges), because several people I respect a lot have talked about what it meant to them.” -Kai.

Confidence in the communicating

Having discussed the last line of  the business card I gave several kids, they were amused about “Smarter than the average bear” writer, which is explained at the top of my landing page.  While I hold Matt Damon in “The Martian” as a high end example, I state that having done a variety of projects, I’m confident about being better than Yogi, the one-trick bear, who only stole picnic baskets. Its a sense of self 17-18 years olds don’t easily recognize.

The “catastrophic” change for Kai was his mother – who he’d always lived with – taking a job in Maryland when he was twelve, and he stayed in Charlotte with his Dad, who he saw frequently, but only stayed with periodically. He said the change in parental styles was a very different world, that it affected him to the point where he got his first ever C’s before he finally figured things out.

So how long did that take? “Like a whole semester!”

I told him about going from Catholic grade school to public school in 8th grade, also getting my first C’s ever. I sloughed off instead of excelling, because I was way ahead at that point. The challenge had been going against the same peer group for better grades – get one wrong on a test, they had a better A.

In Kai’s case, he didn’t recognize the strength of having gotten BACK to all A’s in half a year. I was not the same student in that environment, but in his self-grading, he’d messed up. In describing how he put together a booklet for National Honor Society, he breezed past the fact 1) He did the app early, so it wouldn’t be hanging over him and 2) once he knew what they were looking for and how the process went, he began helping others put their stuff together.

Those he helped referred him to others, sometimes he gets paid for tutoring.

There HAS to be room in any essay for something like that.

Note to others: Just because you’re writing *about* yourself, doesn’t mean you need to include extraneous material that causes readers to think negatively. Keep any story simple, centered.

Something to help everyone

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This is the schizzle as an aid to all essay writers.

A Scoring Rubric for Scholarship Essay Questions was such a good, specific thing to have handed out, I don’t think there can be anything wrong with including it here.

There are four categories, based on point values (10,5,1,0).  The “quality” of the content is considered in terms of progressive excellence in structure and story-telling

’10’ is for what would be considered an Exceptional answer, based on five criteria, such as having a strong central focus to the answer, with sentences clear and varied, using appropriate vocabulary, complete sentences, and minimal mechanical errors.

5 point “qualities” would include using appropriate details, with clear and correct sentence structure and revealing some “character,” again with few mechanical errors.

0 Points, not meeting expectations – Not answering the question, little development of the topic (short answers), the POV is confusing instead of recognizing the sense of “audience” they might be writing to, and punctuation, slang, text style, undeniably not proofread.

While consistently making myself available for events like this and some elementary school reading programs, it still feels great to impart long-term expertise so cleanly with a one-one focus.

A personal philosophy is to not try lifting all of society a gazillionth of an inch, but when kids put in extra time to improve their skills – and its the reason I love Hugh O’Brian Youth’s three-day leadership program – I’ll try passing along some best practices.

In Yogi’s words, “Hey hey, Boo-Boo, now you’re smarter than the average writer too!”

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

 

 

“Smarter than…” a simple line easily remembered

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START posting meaningful articles, videos, podcasts, or blog posts. Put them on LinkedIn, your blog site, link to them from your FB and Twitter accounts, etc. Again, to qualify as meaningful, in this context, they need to display that you are a good person AND you have valuable professional knowledge and skills that will benefit others.

This message implies that your skills and knowledge will benefit potential employers. Some of your posts may tell stories from your work history where your past employer benefited greatly from your exploits. (Tom Sheppard – Playing Hard to Get, 11/07/19)

Periodically, with alllll the possibilities that doing even a little online surfing can provide, there is a “thank you” moment for tapping a YouTube environmental piece, learning exactly all you need to know about a specific something, maybe reading the rest of what wrapped around the essence of being a better blogger, according to Mr. Sheppard.

If its not ‘Good to Great’ (Collins) or ‘The ONE Thing’ (Gary Keller) management theory writ strong, Sheppard is around my mantra that pretty much everything that goes online or is presented in response to any gig is a small referendum on my abilities.

SEO content writing doesn’t have to be above eighth grade level, but whatever the purpose, my regular job is hitting the voice a potential client wants. Yes,  bloggers will tell historical stories that match well with situations where “fixing” similar pain resulted.  Readers want “meaningful.”

That is elemental marketing – I’ve got what you need. Just lookie here.

A simple line everyone remembers

The last line on my business card is “Smarter than the average bear” writer, and everyone I’ve given it to knows the basics – Yogi stole all the picnic baskets in JellyStone Park. The variety of situations I’ve adapted “writing” to is far less than Matt Damon’s creativeness with technology in ‘The Martian,’ but I’m confident about being ahead of the one-trick bear is the explanation I lock in.

Does everything I do have to glow with imperial splendor? Naaah, but it does represent me. I’ve just recently started working with video, and you can Google how to do anything, right? That’s another line everyone remembers, “You can Google that.” My youngest brother hits sixty this year, over the last three years, he’s relied on that in becoming a damn fine worker on BMWs. Just sayin’…

Capturing the simple makes a difference

In a couple weeks, the second time around with a Communities in Schools program, I’ll be helping high school seniors who have already been accepted to a college write better letters for scholarship money.  This is about passing on the idea of how capturing the simple makes a difference.

We all know people skim instead of read, right?

Readability counts. How shorter paragraphs break up large blocks of print, give the readers eyes a break, that’s easy to impart. “Use periods” is obviously useful to remember, and stopping the 6-comma, train-of-thought-OMG! run-on sentence is ALWAYS better writing.

Yes, one liners and subheads can be effective.

The Communities in Schools program where imparting some nuggets of editing and making things work better word-wise is a Keep It Straight, Simple moment for me. Getting tapped to help goes directly to my expertise, and its a four-hour session with these kids that includes hot breakfast during meet-and-greet. Last year, about two dozen showed up, and there were enough volunteers that we could double up. 

One scholarship my person (Rachel) picked as a possibility was LAWA (Latin Americans Working for Achievement) – and I knew I had the Executive Director’s business card on my desk. Watching my suggestions being immediately incorporated into her standard letter, hearing how this super-smart girl wanted to eventually lead a Doctors Without Borders unit, it was elementary to write a letter of recommendation for her.

That’s how simple things can be. Mr. Sheppard struck a chord for me. If the possibility of volunteering is what you got from this piece, that’s worth thinking about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content Analytics – Site measurables, behavior, politics, environmental activism

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I’ll admit being a little late to the party about website analytics. How measuring what matters – traffic sources, interaction with content (ie. Clicks) signups, purchases, ROI, demographics (age), by channel (YouTube) searches, and the grail of TIME ON PAGE – and how customers use your site and what can be adjusted to increase impact are righteous nuggets.

The time-honored concept this follows is “You have to inspect what you expect,” and that includes surveys, checking yourself against other sites and traffic analysis, KEYWORDS,   website analytics, website terminology, tools, and RANKING.

If you’re not paying attention, or got wrapped up in the necessary creative efforts for business and doing RFPs without actually money-tizing your blogging, take credit for production, that always counts. 

GOP political events in D.C. showing a refusal to entertain actual facts aside, accepting those Google Analytics now is because you should know what you’re looking for in professional blog analytics. 

  • Predictive – Is using statistics and modeling to determine future performance based on current data. After Iowa unscrambles itself from an informational snafu, there will be extrapolating and predicting on the numbers au nauseum. Through Tuesday evening, the (62%) numbers looked like Mayor Pete slightly ahead of Sanders, Klobachar with 13% of the delegates.
  • Behavioral analytics – Geared toward providing insight into actions of humans. The Senate “trial” was brutally bad right off the rip. Activism has been re-engaged. 
  • Site Analytics – to make conclusions about information. What changes can- will move my rank onto Pg.3? What words are peers using in their being selected? 
  • Algorithms – Are a set of instructions for solving problems or accomplishing a task, like assembling the physical elements of ‘dinner for six mac n’ cheese’ recipes. Computer trading relies on algorithms to buy/sell at a pace humans couldn’t process. Users set the parameters and events go to resolution, with desired functional output, when securities meet specified “this AND this AND this…” criteria.

Engagement and what people do NEXT is the #1 measurable.

Reworking my site’s top fifty keywords, upping a click factor or checking what the using public thinks of my professional offerings is more productive in terms of time and effort than tuning in to DJT’s blather. Didn’t watch his or Bloomberg’s Super Bowl ads either.

While this was actually a short – only seven weeks – process from impeachment charge to today’s window on US process, with “four more years” political crowing during State of the Union event, it’s doubtful Trump will have any awareness of having dodged a well laid-out bullet of impeachable facts. Like fixing the environment, any next times will be tougher to deal with.

“Don’t confuse progress with results” is a reminder from my real estate days, and if you’ve signed on as “Blue No Matter Who,” then just keep working the process. Admitting to a measure of interest about “Mayor Pete’s” numbers in Iowa will only require – well,  they’ll be in New Hampshire, and Sanders just became the rhetorical 500 lb. gorilla, so we’ll see what Pete’s got for game.

Thanks for visual of how Iowa caucuses work, Katie

The analytics of how the Iowa caucuses worked was a journalistic gem done by MSNBC’s Katie Tur. She dove deep and enthusiastically with the people sitting courtside in candidate corral areas, showed candidate areas with on-screen balloons, explained ‘not viable’ (less than 15%) and moving to another group, a process that proved problematic in what was supposed to be a three-stage operation of moves. 

Knowing things didn’t work right, owning up to it and keeping the bright lights on the situation, how can there be anything less important, when data security is on everyone not named (insert GOP name) list re: upcoming electoral processes? Had a long time to make sure? Yep, yesterday’s news now. Today isn’t ‘Groundhog Day.’

NOTHING indicates this extended hoo-hah was due to hacking, just a newer, incredibly never stress-tested process. There was-is a paper trail, the results will be accurate, that’s the word from the guy at the mike, repeated again and again. This system was trying to improve over the caucus in 2016, when data from Bernie-Clinton split  49.6% to 49.4%. This time it went seven candidates deep.

Working it slower-right will mean looking hard at what clunked so badly. Fixing gaps and examining alternatives is what legitimately comes from post-event review, and like site reviews, the answers may not always be warm-fuzzies. Yeah, physical site-ing (cinder block basements) could’ve caused trouble, yeah the ‘Pubs will slap that “disorganized, just like…” thing around.

Whatever Dems might’ve put up with for three years, taking lumps your people brought on themselves definitely beats not having any, or just not regular, ‘circular firing squads’ thus far.

Duke Energy rate hike, environmental factor involved witnesses

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Using optical analytics between two events as something measurable and that matters, let’s consider the difference between “the fix is in, with full facial slaps for the Constitution” Senate white-wash, and a simpler, very American event many remember from earlier days – Civil protest against a monopoly regarding environmental badness and corporate economics. 

After going to an environmental meeting led by Sanders people on Sunday, Thursday involved going to a well-attended hearing about a proposed rate hike for Duke Energy and $8 billion in coal ash cleanup costs vs. THEM paying. There was more than a whiff of environmental activism in the air, and just like the first time around, lots of AMERICANS remember fighting for “better” and a fundamental right that might require even more effort this time, because the clock is ticking.  

Why is Sanders favored so heavily by first time voters? He’s got a long term streak of consistency about caring for the world they’re going to get handed. The analytics say they’re the biggest bulge in the snake now, but there were silver foxes aplenty at the Duke hearing, people swearing in about truth in testimony, about the public not getting tagged for previous bad management decisions by Duke being data to pay attention to. 

It seemed inevitable, when those Stoneman-Douglas kids amped a large chunk of America two years ago, to say the demographics of what’s likely a two-issue group – guns and the environment – which still hasn’t been seriously counted, may be announcing itself in Iowa. 

The Senate ‘trial’ chose not to pay attention to massive data about public support for witnesses – safe_image

79% of anything is a HUGE slice of plurality and common cause

in an impeachment trial. Both public knowledge and recognition of some particularly troubling FACTS should have gotten additional comment on. 

Duke rate protestors handled their public duty 

“Think global, act local” isn’t just about recycling, it IS the Bigger Picture

They did it three minutes at a time, as often as not with documentation, filling all the bench space in a room on the 5th floor of the County Courthouse, with cops at the downstairs entrances, a metal scanner, four or five TV vehicles, and directions to the correct room from those polite cops. 

People got there at 6:00 to sign in. I stayed until after 8:30, watching them make their thoughts 100% known in open court, hand on the Bible about the environment and that $8 billion in cleanup Duke Energy should be paying for, not regular people. 

The coal ash situation is big-time costly and un-legal, and people kept testifying after I left. That outside of Washington  we’re *talking* about genuinely BAD events, with a more desirable outcome, it made me feel things should STILL work a certain way in America. 

The audience waved strips of green paper, forty or fifty giving a good shake of approval for certain thoughts expressed  

There was a white-haired woman with a doctorate in Ecology, several had red armbands saying “Extinction Rebellion”; a long-haired and bearded (just a fact) deep-thinking guy had copies of a multi-page document. A gentleman spoke from a Presbyterian minister’s view, noting the taxes on the 100-year old family farm, and solar being an under-utilized asset by Duke Energy.

You had to pay attention to another gentleman, a past chair of the Sierra Club, who used Dicken’s “Best of times, worst of times” intro, and yes, especially to the one who stated straight up that the specific pipe breakage that caused the whole coal ash situation to lay waste along the Dan River when it failed, had been cited every couple years since 1988.

That, to put an extra fine point on it, is hard core “oppo-research” from people who care, and are willing to plant a flag about it. The behavior analysis looked like 100% against the rate increase, as the commissioners occupied the 10-12 seats in the middle of the area and listened.

“Think global, act local,” this is a situation to physically get involved with, especially when it’s a right here effective option. You can’t think one meeting with a five person panel of Sanders people and voting to ban plastic straws constitutes commitment. 130,000 tons of poisonous coal ash went into the Dan River-eastern North Carolina in 2014. 

Shining all possible light on this goes to the core of corporate environmental responsibility.

Practical communication makes a point – for politics, pierogis, poker, and pooches

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While his destroying three sleeping pads by tearing them apart and distributing the insides like this was uncool, getting into my salad bowl required direct messaging.

Perhaps I’m working the P’s a little hard, but historically its one of the things (along with Q’s) we’re supposed to pay attention to.

The point is, whether you’re a communications specialist, content creation writer, blogger, or pet owner, its legitimate to be aware of how any messages are coming through for the intended parties.

While his pushing a bowl around the kitchen like Snoopy, or positioning himself near the front door for immediate petting works for CharlieToo, the swat with a folded newspaper was a simple, hopefully received and understood message I sent yesterday.

Yes, that set off some loud “messaging” with my brother, but I didn’t need to hear about a beagle’s acute sense of smell (again). I’d left the room for thirty seconds to get a beverage, and returned to find several spinach leaves outside the bowl, left well away from the edge of the kitchen table. My message to both was I wasn’t allowing such behavior with my food, and if the bro needed to get discipline classes for his dog, I could still handle some baseline corrections right then.

Poker night and commitment

Having decided to restart Hold ’em poker nights with two subsets of friends, notices were sent to twenty guys about the timing, BYOB and chili situation, cost ($20 to start, re-buys, and chip-up), and directions embedded. All information, starting three weeks before the event, was sent by e-mail and followed up with by text several times.

Two days after the stated deadline for confirmation, there were only four “can’t make it” responses, which is when my ‘no-go’ decision was made.

One ‘yes’ indicated he’d pick up an outlier (who had bailed), one said (at pierogi dinner Friday) he’d come, but I’d already decided to wait and try again next month. One was upset he’d driven by the house – and left three phone messages – without knowing it was canceled, although he hadn’t confirmed when we worked two nights on the prep and pierogi dinner.

While statistically that’s *about* a 30% response, the reality is most similar events will die without a predetermined level of positive commitment. This was easy to track, doing so with blog results is what makes it a business.

Pierogi pickups, oompah! band, and networking

For the first two hours of our group’s second hugely successful pierogi dinner, I worked the take out table, and unfortunately, once I’d gotten through a first pan of those slathered in butter Polish delicacies filled with cheese and potato, and fried onions aplenty, there was a period when the product didn’t come regularly enough to diminish the line of customers.

Although I sent messages with group members who came by, only drips and drabs came though for about half an hour – and somehow it wasn’t a problem

The great part of communications came with the realization that the 15 people standing in line understood I’d done what I could. Every single one was happy when the pans started flowing regularly and they got hot, tasty containers of food – including sauerkraut, garlic bread, kielbasa – and some had never tried a pierogi before!

Did giving the last cookie to one little girl, just before another tray appeared, work out righteously? Yep, it showed we cared, as did giving a piece of kielbasa to anyone who wanted to munch it waiting in line.

Doing my usual “schmoozing” around the tables a little later, it was great to learn that everyone appreciated the evening at all levels – not a single cross word, even though some had waited in a line around the cafeteria before getting served and seated.

When asked, “Did everyone get enough to eat?” smiles and “Great job, you guys!” and testimonials about how many of our (St. Gabriel Men’s Club) other community feedings they’d attended were gratifyingly glowing. Okay, “free beverages” and dancing to a lederhosen-garbed oompah band might have a little to do with that glow, but a $36 family price works wonders, too.

The best communication for me though? The very last couple I talked with went 20191214_200810exceptionally well. She was a physical therapist, so we discussed my two year old knee replacement, and her husband had done a little knocking around for two years before establishing himself as a management efficiency expert with restaurants. When I gave him my card, and explained some of what CDTalent Enterprises did writing-wise, he asked if I’d tried using a particular agency and recruiter, who had kept him busy during his knock around days.

THAT is the essence of networking, finding a commonality and helping each other with additional contacts. If you’re still worried about just talking to someone at a gathering, networking doesn’t have to be in a suit with your name plastered on a lapel.

POLITICS

For what its worth, Trump’s impeachment trial starts today, and IMHO, a *lot* more people will be dissatisfied with how that’s handled than how my lack of pierogies Friday night affected them. While I heard one of our guys pontificating that, “He’s going to be re-elected, you guys are wrong, case closed!” I’ve learned that its impossible to get a reasonable message through to some people, and walking away from situations is the best way to handle negative communications.

Unfortunately, the option of swatting them with a folded newspaper probably won’t get the intended message through.

“In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do” a sentiment Senators could learn from

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It may seem simplistic to juxtapose the essence of what retiring Carolina Panthers linebacker legend Luke Kuechly said, and what will probably be an even less satisfying or happy result in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the US Senate, starting Tuesday.

Kuechly was known for extensive film-watching, which made his always being in the right place a source of awe. By most accounts, Republican Senators barely feel the need to review the evidence provided with the House of Representatives impeachment charges. They’ve opined, in the most partisan way, that a trial is a waste of time when they could just as easily vote to acquit now as later, without worrying about clear, voluminous evidence of abuse of power or malfeasance.

In football terms, they will seemingly wander around like they’ve been concussed, even when the ball is snapped to resume play.

Never a doubt they played their honorable best

After suffering several concussions the last couple years that curtailed his time patrolling the middle of the Panthers defense, yes, Luuuuuuke! is taking a route that’s best for his long term health. Whether his numbers – 1,092 tackles, 5-times 1st team All Pro, Defensive Player of the Year (2013) – make him Hall of Fame material will be a matter of debate for others, his place in the hearts of fans is definitely assured.

Long time Panther fans don’t have to look far to see the shadow of Dan Morgan, the U-Miami hitting machine who couldn’t stay on the field during his time with the Panthers.

The 11th overall pick in the 2001 draft, Morgan helped move the Panther ‘D’ from worst in the league to second. Although he was an essential part of their first Super Bowl team in 2003 – Morgan was credited with 18 tackles in the 32-29 loss that became the New England Patriots first Super Bowl win – he was essentially out of football after a fifth concussion in the 2006 opener.

“I mean, I go back to high school, and I remember hitting people and seeing shades of green. You know, that was probably one there.”

That was a 2010 quote in ProCanes.com magazine, and Morgan admits he sometimes faked his way to staying on the field at a time before concussion protocols prevailed.

While Kuechly may not get a statue outside the stadium beside team icon Sam “Keep on Poundin'” Mills, who died from intestinal cancer in 2005, only the best of long life wishes from all who witnessed his ability to search out and stop runners that made him almost unblockable, is legitimate.

Given owner David Tepper and new head coach Matt Ruhle’s attitudes, if “It’s the right thing to do” becomes part of Panthers lore, that will work fine.

The U.S. Senate has the ball now

While it seems almost a foregone conclusion that their oaths to be a jury willing to reach a verdict after careful deliberation – are worthless, our country is seeing this ultimate extra-judicial step for only the third time in its history.

It won’t be of any more use to flay the situation regarding GOP enabling than it was to continuously say how badly the Panthers defense was whipped all year, “but that McCaffrey guy has been outstanding!”

If owner David Tepper ruled the Senate instead of “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, well, Charlotte and the rest of the NFL have already witnessed how decisively bad news can be redirected.

(Me, after just a week of watching and listening to the Senate’s approach to witnesses and  impeachment during a genuine crisis.)

Tepper went after a new head coach – Matt Ruhle, whose 11-3 record in his third season at Baylor was more winning than Trump has produced in a similar period – and offensive ‘genius’ Joe Brady (only 30!) of national champion LSU, winner of the Broyles Award as the #1 assistant coach in the country, as offensive coordinator.

Okay, the problem of being next to last in scoring defense (470 points/29.4 ppg, ahead of only the Miami Dolphins 30.9 ppg) and performing more like a matador (an ole! 143.5 ypg. against the run) can’t actually be fixed until next season, but the spirits of everyone who cares about this particular team have clearly been soothed and uplifted.

Like the NATO leaders who cattily talked about Trump’s politically light-weight status as being up to previous world-class/US standards, we must rely on a change in management and leadership going forward to regain real respect.

If that doesn’t happen over the next few weeks, the country might have to wait until November to make the sort of change the “Vote ’em ALL out!” cry of previous generations was, although 2018 saw some extraordinary progress on that front.

Hey, even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went from worst to first in 1979, winning the NFC Central and advancing to the NFC Championship in their fourth year (the Panthers did it in their 2nd, with a legendary expansion team 12-4 record). Up until that point, the attitude of Bucs coach John McKay might have been echoed by many thinking outside the impeachment box.

When asked what he thought of his team’s execution in a post-game interview, the colorful McKay quipped:

“I’d be in favor of it.”

 Many would settle for Kuechly’s parting words, “In my heart I know its the right thing to do.” Pay attention U.S. Senate – the world is watching. We’ve got plenty of fond memories of Luuuuuke! here in Charlotte, but we need action from you.

And “Vote ’em ALL out!” is still legit.

 

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The best of thoughts for whatever comes next, Luke Kuechly.

 

Panthers, Ruhle’s attitude of truth-respect a great analogy to ‘imminent’ message suspicion

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According to new coach Ruhle, “Running and stopping the run, making big plays and stopping big plays” – meaning DEFENSE – will be part of sustained excellence in Charlotte.

Panther fans are obviously feeling soooo much better about how owner David Tepper handled matters of concern with his football franchise and new coach Matt Ruhle, compared to a different message on ‘facts’ coming from every direction about the how and why of a possible or averted Mideast confrontation between the US and Iran.

As a content creation professional, sports fan, and human being, an important part of everything I do relies on listening and hearing what others put forth as either facts or attitudes.  The idea our country was very possibly being thrust into a war over “imminent danger” was far too easy to question when honesty and straightforwardness has never been part of the Trump administration.

Regarding Mr. Tepper’s decisiveness, nobody questions the idea of “Trust the process” and that he’s actually gotten a “best and brightest”-type guy in the right place. Even if the price tag – over $60 million for seven years is the initial word – might seem exceptional for a guy whose career record in moving two college programs our of the doldrums is still only 47-43, its his money to spend.

Its doubtful that 40% of any Panthers ‘base’ wanted any less dramatic change. Tepper didn’t just ‘take a bad guy off the field’ in a reckless way, he made a guy with winner tendencies and a philosophical depth of belief in people an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Its an easy analogy to get your arms around

While its almost impossible to put politics totally aside after the stress of possible war after the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Solemani, most fans in Charlotte will – after tonight’s “Tiger Tussle” between Clemson and LSU for the national championship – be ready to consider impeachment and whatever else 2020 has in store. Most are hoping for fairness on both situations.

To say a lot of people won’t be happy with either outcome, be it win-lose or impeach-let a dangerous person continue as a leader, is a stark reality.  What we see on the stage from Democratic candidates Tuesday, or exactly what happens after Wednesday in the Senate, its going to be a start of a tougher, longer than 60 minutes process. That the latter is quite a bit more important, well, that *might* be true for Tiger fans, but as voters, millions will have more input about matters beyond what happens in Atlanta.

In a better focused set of circumstances for Charlotteans of all stripes, be it birth or just the adopted home of more recent arrivals, Matt Ruhle’s becoming the replacement to Ron Rivera as Panthers head coach counts bigly.

Charlotte lost its love for George Shinn (and Bob Johnson’s Bobcats) over matters of what they expected from the citizens beyond the economics of ticket support and the product on the court. The hometown crowd was also stunned at everything regarding Mr. Richardson’s situation that led to his selling the team to Tepper, and the two seasons since then were almost worse than the crash and burn 1-15 times that brought Cam Newton to town, fresh off a national championship at Auburn.

Give Mr. Tepper credit for believing in and leaving alone a management team already in place in Year One, trusting there could be a continuation of success (11-5) after what had been a trip to the Super Bowl and MVP year for Newton in 2015-16. Give even more credit to him for being just as dissatisfied with 7-9, 5-11 seasons that moved believers (there is still that “Buckle on the Bible Belt” factor) to wanting more and making positive changes on multiple fronts.

Charlotte isn’t Cleveland or Iraq – Reality counts

Sure, its easy to bust on Cleveland, even if my community group is counting on lots of people from there showing up again this Friday at our second pierogi dinner (over 700 served last year). Baker Mayfield has talked a lot, done plenty of commercials, but the most memorable night of their season was a vicious brawl with the Steelers, with Browns DE Myles Garrett clubbing QB Mason Rudolph with his own helmet.

The biggest changes for the 2020 Panthers are moving their training came from the

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Fans won’t need to make the sweaty pilgrimage to Wofford, but no word on #1 at this point.

brutal humidity of the Wofford campus in Spartanburg, SC during July, finally creating a necessary indoor practice facility, and elevating the super-productive Christian McCaffrey onto the national scene with his 1,000 yard rushing and receiving season (only 3rd player ever to accomplish), and the development of DJ Moore to anticipated elite receiver status.

At least now Ruhle gets to coach Moore, whom he recruited out of high school to attend Temple (Moore went to Maryland).

There’s no equivocating from either the owner or new coach about “Trust the process,” and while positive results are clearly expected sooner v. later, there are no “laws of armed conflict” or lives to be considered by Ruhle, aside from Cam Newton’s physical status and the overall defensive pulse, which has taken a beating for two seasons.

Tepper’s early assessment was that Ruhle has done “pretty amazing things with less” by turning a hoops school like Temple into 10-game winners his last two (of four) seasons there, and resuscitating Baylor from 1-11 to to 7-6 and 11-3 over three seasons at the helm in Waco. 2020 figures to be a beyond interesting year in America, and for Charlotte and the NFC South, “amazing” would be a grateful upgrade from continuing mediocrity.

Everything we’ve seen and heard from “our guy” here, including his purchase of an MLS soccer franchise and the (expected) cooperation of City Council in bringing development to that side of the city with the former Eastland Mall site, comes as straight up and positive. You did not hear “imminent” from Ruhle or Tepper, the rest is trust by the Panther faithful.

As for tonight, Geaux Tigers!

 

“Think global, act local” still legitimate message for humanity, new year

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Our group’s second pierogi dinner on January 17th is a model community event, with oompah band and family pricing that served 800 in 2019.

As dramatic a negative as assassinating a Quds general in Iraq on the second day of the new year is, I’ll try remembering the little girl whose mother didn’t complain about another homeless person snoring like a chainsaw ten feet away from her five still awake children that night.

On a cold and raining Thursday, she said they couldn’t sleep because they’d taken naps that afternoon, then offered us blessings for the new year as she and the children boarded a bus to take them back downtown on Friday at 5:30 a.m.

Will four small pairs of colorful gloves and hot chocolate (but no cereal, sorry) make a difference in a child’s life for more than one day?

Two short messages: Yes, “the thought” still counts even after Christmas gift-giving, mostly because very little action comes without thought. Our shelter had a large container of gloves, why should she need to ask when it cost me nothing to do? She can lose six gloves and still be ahead, right? She’ll probably share a pair with a younger brother, so maybe *two* kids have warmer hands, and may that Panthers knit cap I gave another brother be worn proudly.

Secondly, while being aware of the ugly reality now facing so many – from a major piece of  Australia burning, to the deadly acts and accompanying outrage that will threaten the lives of so many, especially our troops in the Middle East – continuing to do what I can for those closer at hand like that family is a legitimate human-to-human plan.

Leadership Charlotte, church groups, YOU

Wrapped around the overnight for the homeless (Room in the Inn), I attended an open house at Queens University for the Leadership Charlotte program, and then Friday evening, the first monthly meeting of the (St. Gabriel) Men’s Club. While there were somewhat fewer than the 178 people who originally signed up to attend the Leadership event, I appreciated the kind of raucous group that filled every table Friday night.

Leadership Charlotte is an operation with over 40 years of bringing together a strong, diverse group that focuses on significant programs across a spectrum of areas to keep Charlotte moving forward. For relative newcomers, its a community effort that helped replace the previous ‘system’ of a small group of enlightened citizens who moved Charlotte from a low-key city of about 200,000 on the NC-SC border to the desirable, powerhouse location nearly a million live in today.

Church Angel’s directory list 17,119 churches of various denominations in North Carolina, but Charlotte celebrates its “Buckle on the Bible Belt” reputation, well, religiously, and most if not all have outreach programs to help the community. From mega-churches to slash store-fronts in retail locales and most corners, it is not a small consideration, especially in these trying economic and political times.

Almost all will agree that the Reverend Billy Graham was a Man of God, and that is probably as good a place to begin and end a theological discussion.

Without praising or forgetting any specific denomination, “helping others” is both a byword and above average place to start showing you care, here and now.

Put yourself out there just a little America. Volunteer to read with kids at the library, bring Johnny’s warm jacket that he outgrew in one year to wherever you learn they are collecting them. Make the lunch bags that Room in the Inn gives to those homeless over-nighters in the morning – you don’t even have to see them to know you’ve done something good. Prayers aren’t really enough, even the little actions count.

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Panthers ugly 2019 ends with questions on broken D, head coach, Olsen, Cam

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There won’t be any pilgrimages to Wofford in 2020, but the fans will still be faithful.

Here in “The Buckle on the Bible Belt,” its quite possible that more than a couple fans put some time into praying that Christian McCaffrey didn’t get hurt, especially during the eight loss spiral that ended in a soggy 42-10 whipping by the Saints at BOA Stadium.

Color commentators often opine that defensive backs best assets are speed and having a short memory about negative plays, and if a belated Christmas or Hanukkah gift could be given out to end the year, may Charlotte be so blessed memory-wise.

There was a whole lot of ugly going on after Kyle Allen started throwing INTs and the defense showed they couldn’t stop anyone, and not replaying it all is legitimate. Yes, it was smile-worthy that McCaffrey became only the third player in NFL history to post 1,000 yards-plus rushing and receiving, and Moore seems to have arrived as a premier receiver in only his second year ranked 9th, with 87 catches, 1,175 yards and four TDs.

As a two-time Coach of the Year, Ron Rivera will probably find another job in the NFL (Redskins?), although except for the 15-1 regular season the Panthers posted in their 2015 Super Bowl season, he wouldn’t be the franchise’s career leader in victories at 76-63-1.

Rivera arrived the same year as Cam Newton, and defensive bulwark Luke Kuechly became an instant star at middle linebacker the next year, but good luck to him working any instant magic for the 3-13 ‘Skins owner Daniel Snyder.

Do NOT expect many of the Panthers coaching staff to remain in Charlotte. While owner David Tepper gave Rivera an above average amount of rope during a second straight year of defensive under-achieving, he’s not going to let that become the sort of malaise that infects Detroit, Cleveland, or Cincinnati. How Cam Newton’s status looks after a bad shoulder (2018) and foot (missed all but first two games of 2019) injuries is an especially big question for fans this winter, and Allen’s turnover woes (16 INTs, 13 fumbles) don’t come across as the answer in the QB arena.

Is it really the thought that counts this time of year?

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Having given a brother several bags of mulch and some pea gravel – along with a promise to render his front garden area more presentable – and the roof of his house being done just before Christmas, the analogy of the back yard being a mess *right now* is a legitimate one for the Panthers.

The Carolina Panthers weren’t the worst at anything, although the 470 (29.4 ppg) points they surrendered was ahead of only the Dolphins (494, 30.9 ppg). The 143.5 average they were gouged for on the ground beat only Cleveland (144.7), Washington, and Cincinnati’s (2-14) bottom of the list 148.9. That made their 3,696 (231 yds. per game) by air look comparatively lofty, with 19 teams – including 12-4 division winner New Orleans (3,868) – behind them.

While that only proves numbers aren’t always the whole story, especially in a pass-happy league, the Panthers were pushed around plenty, with runners consistently picking up necessary first down yardage. McCaffrey was third in rushing with 1,387 yards and 15 TDs (287 carries) plus 1,005 receiving (4 TDs); Derrick Henry (TN) won the rushing title with 1,540 (16 TDs, 303 carries).

Although many fans, especially in the Carolinas, would consider C-MC’s efforts worthy of MVP consideration, his exploits the second half of the year were almost a curiosity to the rest of the country, though his 116 receptions and productivity were crucial to fantasy owners. Nobody doubted he gave his best effort every week, even when defenses were often stacked to stop his contributions along the way.

Mr. Tepper isn’t Yoda, but fix things he must

The Panthers boss man not only put his considerable $$$ where his mouth is while buying the Panthers at the beginning of 2018, he’s also added an indoor practice facility and a major league soccer franchise ($325 million), while targeting a rejuvenation of the former Eastland Mall area off Central Avenue with a practice facility and team offices for the soccer franchise. That goes beyond good thoughts, but fixing a great many lagging factors before their 26th season is uppermost on Panthers fans minds.

Recently released lesser performers like Gruden (Redskins), Kitchens (Browns), Shurmer (NYG) and the like will probably not be of interest to Tepper as a head coach, but former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy’s success makes him a possibility, along with a list of high profile college coaches. McCarthy apparently also wanted the GM role when he was considered for the Browns job, but Marty Hurney has done a good job on that front.

While the Panthers have always had a reputation for promoting from within, two years of negatives will probably call for new, pedigreed blood.

Whether a “defensive minded” head coach will get the call – based on the last two years of getting undressed regularly – as a deciding factor is iffy, although a strong defensive coordinator to replace Eric Washington is a 99% certainty. Sticking with the 3-4 or going back to the 4-3 is not the #1 question right now, with a small thanks for not being as pitiful on the pass rush as last year.

College coaches don’t have a great track record in the pros, Pete Carroll of the Seahawks being an obvious exception, and Chip Kelly, who nearly wrecked the Eagles before Doug Pederson took the reins and led them to a Super Bowl win, being the more normal result.

 2020 will be turn the page time

Charlotte was thrilled when its first professional sports franchise, the Hornets, came to town because it proved the city was major league. They bought PSLs (personal seating licenses) to build the football stadium when they gained an NFL franchise in 1993, the first time that route was utilized in the sports world, and gladly (??) chipped in major tax dollars to help refurbish it a couple years ago.

Charlotte now has about every pro sport covered, with the Knights (baseball), Checkers (AHL champs in 2018 season), Hornets, and Panthers. There’s also the historic enthusiasm for the college programs, which now includes the UNCC 49ers (7-6) after the first trip to a bowl game and taking their lumps as a newbie D-1 entrant for five years. The Tobacco Road hoops schools, Wake Forest, South Carolina’s Gamecocks, and of course, Clemson football, all have a dedicated following.

Keep wearing your Olsen, Newton, Kuechly, and McCaffrey jerseys proudly, even if Olsen decides he’s had enough after 2019. Cleveland (6-10) made only marginal progress in two years with Baker Mayfield despite a lot of talking, but count on Mr. Tepper not taking a back seat to anyone on getting results. He’s not Santa Claus, but he’ll deliver sooner than that merry old gent.

And if you want to keep working the beads for McCaffrey’s good health, that’s not a problem either.