Mom is Forgetful, School Slaughters and a Definitive Response From ‘Kids’ Shouldn’t Be Glossed Over

Every day since we brought my mother back from the hospital last Wednesday, she has expressed sorrow whenever she reads or sees mention of the 17 students killed at Marjay Stoneman Douglas HS in Pageland, FL. Mom turns 84 on March 1, and while she often asks the same question several times in a single conversation, such forgetfulness is a LOT less acceptable from so many Americans taking a similar “Oh, that’s a terrible thing to hear (again)!” route regarding such carnage, forgetting the last time and thinking this just happened.

God’s honest truth, that there’s an on-going slaughter of people of all ages in places like Chicago or Detroit, including fact that so many of them are black lives lost, isn’t lost on ‘them’. That many in this country beat their breasts over the agony of 17 dead teenagers killed in this school shooting is shown repeatedly on TV, but almost zippo is heard about *constant* death elsewhere isn’t ‘fair’, but I’ll stay with the basics on this.

Paper wraps rock, scissors cut paper,

GUN ends argument.

This problem is pretty much an American deal, because we have TONS of guns, and lots of people who are willing to settle a situation without further ado who will reach for them. Point to that situation in Sweden (years ago) where a gunman killed like 80 kids on an island because he was ONLY one with guns, well, it happened. That cases like England and Australia, where it only took ONE major slaughter to get guns banned effectively enough that it hasn’t happened again, and you wonder what could stop U.S., even with that gnarly deal about ‘well maintained militia…keep and bear arms shall not be abridged.”

SOMEONE has to make a difference, and if kids from the latest massacre want to take up the grail, and others pour in along the way, I’m kind of thinking that’s how both VIETNAM and getting Big Tobacco under control happened. You know what? Throw in *environmental concerns* and civil rights, and you can understand that while its not EASY, concentrated actions by such groups brings results. The first anti-war protesters were labeled cowards, and even when it was obvious the war was just churning out young American corpses at incredible cost of material for an unwinnable situation, it tore families apart, because it was your JOB to support what your country was doing…

The only line where that works now is *politicians* MUST defend guns and the NRA that supplies a high financial incentive to them—pols are reminded that campaign contribution $$ can go to someone else who will watch out for their (NRA) interests more carefully. If Marco Rubio, Republican Senator from Florida, got upset that a 16 year old who lost friends in that school last week braced him with, “Will you say right now that you won’t accept contributions from NRA?” that’s a legitimate question for every one of our representatives in Congress.

Those who (and how ‘bout those bots, getting ‘re-tasked’) smear articulate youths, and declare that the situation has been hijacked by LIBERALS to further anti-gun programs, I declare bs! I’ve worked with HOBY program for years, and the 15-16 yr. old rising juniors ARE that good, and they LISTEN to good counsel. Try to deny them or use stupid arguments your co-workers won’t put up with either, they tune you out and walk away. Stopping guns in schools any way possible is a worthwhile agenda, and they WILL get help from professionals who recognize high schoolers can’t craft legalese enough to get it on anyone’s legislative agenda. That’s not co-opted, that’s *smart*.

It won’t be easy by any stretch, but trying for the Biggest Difference they can imagine counts. Don’t denigrate their efforts, HELP THEM.


Politics? Ehhh–Hanging with Mom at Hospital Takes Most of the Caring I Have


It’s not easy to admit, but politically I’m starting to lose some control of whats been a pretty solid Caring function because its been used up on my Mom. One of the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ (Covey) is don’t worry about things you can’t affect, and while I haven’t pulled that book off the shelf in a while, I know 90% of the stuff many/most of us worry about will happen no matter what. That’s why ‘effective’ means dealing with things you CAN control, like taking an hour away from TV watching and putting some effort into a novel, or sticking to diet goals by not eating (another) frosted doughnut just because it looks lonely in the box.

Time with Mom in her hospital room hasn’t exactly been productive, but politics, geeez! it seems to come up hourly, in an almost relentlessly negative way. Even Rachel Maddow takes a few moments now and then to mention she knows it sounds a bit repetitive. I’ve busted on CNN because Wolfe and the crew show the same 4-5 clips and repeat the story heard 20 minutes ago because they have LOTS of time to fill, and if you watch more than one of the political shows –with a snarky ‘versus the puppet shows on FOX’– yeah, there’s lots of same old, same old. The Mueller Russia investigation grinds on, and while its good poker playing to not show your cards (HE sure doesn’t), this waiting for Godot feeling ain’t cutting it on the Whoopie! Scale.

It seems like I’m shirking my duty as an American who cares about right and wrong to just shrug

The problem is, it seems like I’m shirking my duty as an American who cares about right and wrong to just shrug about a TON of bizarre stuff out of D.C., especially the exceptionally stupid enabling/stonewalling/stick up for the Prez while cramming a mess of brutal negatives (example A-1 being that $1.5 trillion ‘tax break’) down our– well, the non-1% anyway– collective gullets. Yeah, I know some people got extra $$ in their paychecks from that, but along with rolling back civil rights people *died for* 50 years ago, crushing of environmental regulations that truly made a difference, and hey, more than a whiff of misogyny from guys at the top, how can numbly “letting him do the job he was elected to do” be legitimate, liars and Russian bots be extra damned?

Bottom line, what *possible reason* could there be for not wanting to get to the bottom of what is clearly a blatant, documented interference in our election process?

Is there an alternative? Olympics watching maybe, but what about at work? I’m not generally a whiner, but a couple blowhards/apologists/cretin-y Trump-eteers, or even a Demo-centric ‘did you hear?’ conversation just rrrrrs! me. Offer it up for Lent? Sounds whack, doesn’t it? I haven’t done that suffering bit in quite a while, but hey, stop my beer drinking is not a *real* option. A lot of information to be gained from watching triple headers on multiple channels to prepare for upcoming March Madness, y’know, and water with all those chips (but no politics) just doesn’t seem right. I’m doing some volunteer work for Reading Buddies, but that won’t affect politics, nor will getting back to bicycle riding with my new knee, because there is plenty of time to think about things beyond shifting gears on 10-12 mile rides.

Curling up in a ball and just taking it? Naah, that’s useless to the max.

So, my decision is to focus on writing, working on a fantasy world and events I *can* control. I knocked out 50,000 words for annual NaNoRiMo event on November mornings  while working crazy graveyard shift hours, and getting three chapters edited and sent to a couple publishers by the end of the month is legit. I KNOW my heroine (Marlena the Magnificent) will pull her fiancee’s bacon out of the fire in time, because while his getting kidnapped sort of messed up the week before their marriage, I have an exciting and righteous path already laid out.

America, good luck to the rest of you about having things work out as necessary– I’ve got Mom and Edgar Allan ‘Poe’ Starkes to think about.

Sex for a Past-60 Writer in #MeToo Era: Something is Amiss


Having knocked out 50,000 words for a NaNoWriMo submission this past November while working a never-saw-this-possibility-on-radar job pre-loading UPS trucks from 1:00-9:00 a.m., I recognized (not for first time) how much more difficult the love scenes were to write without some, you know, relatively recent transfer of that sexual energy.

Watching reruns of ‘Mad Men,’ I’m not talking Don Draper, drunk but always ready-able to get it up and in at any opportunity–THAT hasn’t been a reality for waaay longer than being sixty. An aunt I truly respected suggested (well, stated) that I needed to have more/better bait vs. just being a Good Guy and the right equipment, and I get that in capital letters now. Frankly ladies, we all want to know we’ve still got ‘It’ on that front, and not that you’ll be needing The Rabbit to satisfy you when we leave.

For those who might be expecting an analysis of recent opportunities or techniques related to that 60+ category, ummm, today I turned 61, and the past 366 days haven’t included sharing that desirable activity, so I’m sorrier than you’ll know about not being able to enlighten anyone about empirical factors the title might suggest. Mostly I’ll believe I’m not the only guy wondering which end is up in the post-Weinstein scheme of things, a million miles from getting through awkward breakfasts in college, much closer to Seth Meyers recent proclamation when hosting the Golden Globes that, “For the male nominees here tonight, this is the first time in three months it won’t be terrifying to hear your name read out loud.”

There’s been LOTS of documented abuse of women along the way by Hollywood and/or male brethren of all stripes, but I’ve never been a ‘crotch cricket’ as Dad referred to certain womanizers (like a college roommate), or walked around with my pants to my knees. As Meyers noted, I’ve never had the power to hold sex over anyone, although I undoubtedly said something similar to what local Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson allegedly did about the shapeliness of certain jeans-wearing females posteriors. Hey, college and the herpes-challenged ‘80s featured Jordache and similar $100-plus jeans, and it was pretty much mandatory that noticing and commenting was expected. Now and sixty-plus is an obviously different day.

Working in scholastic fundraising in the ‘90s– where younger, smart, good-looking teachers were common and I wasn’t close to 60– wasn’t the place for ‘cutting a filly out of the herd’ reputation-wise; the divorced moms with kids I’ve dated after moving to Charlotte were okay– often just a scheduling thing. Ditto for working in real estate years (although I was in a relationship then), and the recession flat out sucked, which is kind of the nut I’m working with.

Fundraising success and feeling very Good Human Being-ish while participating in Junior Chamber of Commerce activities back then was legitimate, and can we admit that ‘successful’ usually trumps POS Guy at this point, Chippendale types always being an exception? I’ve been told I’m pretty well-preserved, and with recent knee replacement, personal energy is higher than its been in years, but finances since recession haven’t sparkled.  It seems those Women who bought houses (or got as result of divorces) are a bit more concerned about possibility of sharing resources with ‘keepers’ than less equal if kind of studly older lovers.

‘A good man is hard to find, but a hard man

is good to find’

SEX, whether sweaty or sloooow good, is less like the lady who once told me, “Just because we’re not going to be forever doesn’t mean we have to give up something we obviously both like,” and more about Beyonce and ‘Put a Ring on It,’ although relationship status doesn’t really affect The Act. I’d bet that a quantity of the negatives we’ve heard about still kinda fit in the category of “I seem to remember the circumstances a bit differently,” that Lauer and Rose used, as un-PC as that might come out.

And really, is it possible Al Franken is the ONLY guy from SNL days that groped someone?

Writing-wise, I seem to be using OLD memories, and while I’ve never been graphic-graphic in book scenes, and the sensuality and caring still flows, actual pillow talk and fitting in last night’s interludes, or bouncing previously written material off a date while noting which parts reeeeallly worked for her, made things so simple. Sex isn’t as distant as the moon, but it doesn’t show up every Friday night either– and FYI, contrary to what ol’ Bill Clinton danced around, sexually guys DO know what is, is, but cuddling isn’t sex.

My question is: If-when I hammer that 50,000 or so words into a script and it miraculously become a Success, will it get easy to find mutually desirable-willing ladies again, or will *I* be on guard about life resources coming down the proverbial stretch? Am I, hard to believe, being too picky myself?

I admit missing the notion that, ‘A good man is hard to find, but a hard man is good to find,’ ‘It takes two,’ or yes, very definitely, “There’s a Good Woman behind every successful man (and she wants you to get your clothes off NOW!)” To say good sex still comes from the heart and not a little blue pill is problematic—I’ll let you know after I’ve been in a situation where that little blue pill might make a helluva difference.

‘Trump’s America’: If We’re Still on the List for ‘His Light Shine Down on Thee’, Cool

stat3 spag dinner

“Believe me, EVERYBODY says my spaghetti and meatballs are absolutely the *best* they have EVER had the privilege of putting in their collective mouths.”

Saying my spaghetti sauce and meatballs is world famous, that I came out of a knee assessment meeting Friday and sank my first five free throws (nothing but net) in a light rain, and that I made an AMAZINGLY ballsy $50,000 bet on Jacksonville to beat the Steelers would be (1) an un-humble opinion, even if these firefighters liked having dinner made for them, (2) seriously un-good counting, and (3) an absolute and outrageous lie.

In Trump’s America, this range of alternative facts clearly leaves Truth outside in the cold– it’s been hovering around freezing in Charlotte most of the last two weeks– and dissing other countries and people has never been in my personal mix.

Okay, I’ve made fun of New Jersey a couple times in my life– nobody cares about that.

I’m just Glenn Shorkey, a decently above average writer and human being, not the President of the United States, and very few people care what outrageous things come out of my mouth. Actually, to have one of those resumes I sent last week draw enough interest to schedule an interview would be gratifying, but at no point will my signature be enough to affect the health care of millions of fellow Americans, or roll back forty years of  progress on issues like the environment, voting rights, and social welfare.

I can’t be the only one worried about what the relative avalanche of negatives D. Trump has brought to this nation means in the Biggest Picture. Yeah, yeah 18% No Matter What base, I gotcha about he’s doing what you– and the Russian robots– supposedly elected him to do. (Charlie Coalminer, you been called back to work yet? Uh huh, didn’t think so.) All the Sunday morning politicos seem to believe midterm elections, where the Dems will regain control over in the House and *maybe* impeachment can begin? is on the horizon for late 2018. (Sigh) Control? Yeah, that worked soooo well for eight years, when Repub minority was willing to stop the government and toss the country over an economic cliff rather than let Obama get *one*stinking*thing*done* that they might have to give him and Demos credit for.

Politics hasn’t made life better in the United States for a while. To continually see the disdain Trump and GOP have for almost everyone– and that $1.5 trillion ‘tax break’ takes the proverbial cake– is stupefying to watch, outrage after outrage that nobody could have imagined 16 months ago. Most are simply hoping Mueller scrapes a few of the real S**tholes (pedophiles aren’t his deal) away from the political scene, while others swear that when the jackboots are on different feet, ohhhh BOY! is there going to be payback.

I sang that ‘God shed his light on thee’ verse for years, but I’m starting to wonder if fatigue is going to set in on resisting, or whether we can gut this current mess out and be somehow worthy again. The world is truly watching, and amazingly, they don’t hate US (vs. U.S.) for what’s coming from the Twitterer in Chief’s mind and fingers. They don’t trust us to be the light of the world we always kinda prided ourselves on, but that’s legit. The only real power we actually had was the ballot box, and man, we got schtupped on that front, no matter HOW many times anyone says, “No collusion!” Fingers crossed on next time…? (and if you say “Oprah” that’s kind of what got us to here, y’know?)

For the record, today’s spaghetti sauce was the worst batch in a very, very long time, I missed the first six free throws– including two that were so off to the left they didn’t even draw iron (FYI–my knee assessment isn’t until the 17th), and the last time I put 50 thousand on the line, it was in CHIPS, not actual dollars, and I had quad eights.

I’m just thinking we have to get back to saying things that are True True, not b.s. that anyone with a cell phone can Google to check on– like who was/wasn’t #1 in their class at Wharton. If as a country we still rate having His light shine down on us, cool.


Knee rehab, 2018 and Beyond: Effort is Always a Primary Ingredient to Success

Ever-lovin' night crew gets the tree for front display done - M. Rivera, C. Squires, K.Demert, D. Wilson, J. Morgan.

Late night crew gets the decorating done for display out front at 32nd Christmas Tree sale

It was a very different final quarter to 2017, so I’m catching up to many friends and contacts about where I’m at with start of new year as a good and necessary idea, and ‘Where’ is within touching distance-completion on my very personal One Thing. When I started in real estate (with Keller Williams-Southpark, 2016), that was a factor they wanted us to articulate during training: What reason would get you out of bed every morning, getting busy with whatever was most important to you and your Success?

Economics of real estate aside, that One Thing always meant my iffy left knee getting replaced in 2017. I wasn’t  sure HOW (Christmas Wish for Knee–bazinga!), but was willing to pursue as possible. Getting x-rays became a major immediate step, from go-go, more-faster! environment pre-loading UPS trucks overnight, to front of the Make Me/Knee Physically Better line. When you catch a major break like that, I’m thinking you owe the Universe your very best effort in return.

I believe that *every*little*bit* more*I*do* goes directly to helping the strength and functions of my knee-quad-whatever. (What I’ve told my PT person, Amanda, often, and myself even more frequently)  

Saying I’m knee deep in rehabbing is certainly accurate, and it’s definitely a quantifying of effort deal, doing whats needed to become Better. Better? Maybe not a crazy good jump shooter again, but able to plant left foot for a forehand up the line, or maybe throw a snowball and hit the damn tree? How many toes risers or quad flexes, and how often for that? Newsflash: Today I made it to ‘13’ vs. 16 on Tuesday, which meant something, because I was at 18 the session before. Hearing ’90’ enough times means wanting to hear 1-2-3 with it, today I nailed *96* on another measure. I am pleased that Becca kept saying, “little bit more!” until I hit 13, a solid point. Psych!

There are obvious economic goals to be handled soon in 2018, but a couple times a day I look at ERMI (Extended Range of Motion Improvement, Inc.) machine, pull that hydraulic lever a bit further than ‘uncomfortable’, and I can SEE my new knee working. Bringing that quad back to life, *every quivering extra second those muscles twitch* means Glennie is doing best and necessary on Effort Front. That 96 becomes one hell of a motivator when I’m in the saddle getting scrunched for 10 minutes. 100 in sight?

Right now, politics are kind of ‘over there’, and ten days of meat locker temperatures here in Charlotte, well, its cold everywhere, but physical therapy is PERSONAL. You know that ‘You can’t fake steak’ commercial? Its like that, and if anyone is going to fake vs. do a bit extra for THEMSELVES, hmmm…


Friday was my Men’s Club meeting (St. Gabriel), and we had a special send-off for a super-dedicated member, Mark Herboth, who among other things, fed our group well for as long as I remember. While he’s moving to Raleigh area for grand kids availability, ‘Herbie’ is the guy who got me doing overnights for ROOM IN THE INN program–this would’ve been Year 8 with same crew… My taking on the ‘Tree Tsar’ role for our group’s  Christmas tree sale the last two years came from examples like Herbie—my brother, Mike too— guys who have cared and DONE for a long time, but Herbie was an Inspiration. When we needed a leader on trees, our biggest project of the year, I was willing-able to step up. And doesn’t that float most of our boats? A couple sincere attaboys! when what you do makes a difference, doesn’t hurt to let people know you appreciate the effort. We had an exceptional sale, even if there were a couple code red calls for workers on evening shift. My Attaguy! guy was Greg Hebesian.

We’re going to need more, not less, of similar willingness to stand up and help each other going forward, give the best little bit of You possible to someone who maybe needs it a little more. The beauty of RITI program is that like 7 groups all do a piece– there are drivers, dinner people, lunch makers, laundry people, and yes, overnighters.

I’ll continue being thankful for two good legs to stand on in 2018. I’ll also work with a ‘Less Trump, more Matt Damon’ (reference from ‘Martian’) attitude. Stranded on Mars, astronaut Damon takes an *awful* lot of events in the chops for a long time, even starving. At the end, he gets told to cannibalize and turn his recovery spaceship into a convertible, but his mantra is to ‘do the numbers, and if you get enough of them right, you get to keep going’.

Think about that for working the whole plan, step by step. I gotta go scrunch my knee.

My Christmas Wish for Knee–Bazinga! In 32nd year of Christmas trees, you go guys!

When I mentioned a Christmas Wish on timing of long-time necessary knee replacement– because who know’s what health care will look like in 2018?– it was an acute surprise when scheduler said two cancellations would mean I could have surgery the following Monday, at least if I wanted friend and highly-regarded ‘cutter’, Dr. Robert McBride.

Doc is exactly who everyone should want in such situations, you immediately know where you stand. Its cool that he comes to our Christmas tree lot and does the sales thing: just one of the guys.  This  is our clubs biggest fundraiser of the year.

After six years of very gimpy knee, I’d set this year– at age 60, and in better than average physical shape– as the time to be ‘physically whole’  again in my mind. To be rehabbing a week later AND not being $1000s in debt, was only possible by ACA coverage through Blue Cross-Blue Shield.

The speed of x-ray appointment on Tuesday and ability to be rehabbing a week later was only made possible by ACA coverage through Blue Cross-Blue Shield. Give a shout out to those people, everything I needed to overcome two major physical problems, they handled it, like this life-changing new knee and after a bicycle accident two Memorial Days ago.

That accident would have been nearly $6800 in emergency assistance, and it came down to my $100 deductible plus $325 worth of ambulance. Getting crunched on a bike path isn’t even a consideration for many young-healthy people. Even under generous terms of ACA, they often see buying health care as something they might not use, so they rely on bad luck staying clear of them. That’s kinda called ‘skating’,  and  you should be considering  buying vs. alternative of NOT being all lucky.

How thankful am I NOT to be many thousands of dollars in debt from two bumps in the road, here at Christmas? Surgery meant losing last two weeks of temp assignment at UPS, but even overtime rates wouldn’t create better economics than my DOING IT NOW with surgery. I’m going to my 2nd PT session tomorrow, first session with physical therapist was about basic exercises to keep blood clots from forming.  I’ve heard about, and am not tingling with anticipation of constipation from oxy-whatever meds.

Everyone knows I’m going for surgery– at least 1/2 dozen in our club have used ‘Doc’ and nothing but praise. The next two weeks will likely be pain filled, because PT is about *getting you walking*, and they base their Success on getting that done. I’ve always been a good patient– Good, not ‘great’. In earlier times, I played in a rugby tournament five weeks after earlier injury– doc had said ‘at least 4 weeks’. The first time I tried a fake punt move, my knee buckled on me: 9:10, done for the day. I’m thinking more of the freedom to do whatever I used to choose now, nice for the walk vs. skip across street so I don’t get run over.

On Saturday our Men’s Club decided to extend the sale, and these guys are the troops. Do I feel guilty at not being there down the stretch for our 32nd year in tree selling? Not a problem– these are cagey veterans, they know about making decisions. They take pride in finishing off the event, I believe they won’t leave extra dollars around.  Of course, the knee is the culprit, but that’s changing as we write.

Lastly, at the end of November I submitted just over 50,000 words to NaNoRiMo, which they consider having written a book. I’m already several sessions  into editing for the follow up book about Marlena the Magnificent, ‘With Platinum Warrior Focus’.  Nailing  the sequel while working over-night shifts and an epic family Thanksgiving, I’ll take credit for the W because it was a goal, clearly 100% earned.  I’ve promised myself this won’t get tucked under my bed for three years like before.

Lots of social events coming, I’m looking forward to walking around to every one of them.


Monday morning QB-ing: Nice Play, President Bush

curtiss pilot

Gotta give some props to President Dub-yah Bush, it always counts more when strong thoughts come from experience. I definitely wasn’t a fan of W most days, but that speech, I believe he hit the nail on the orange head quite well, a voice of reason for sure. Trumpy’s time at the wheel has scrambled *everything* about this country. Signing stuff just to tear down what came before is a failure as progress. And the constant negativity on all fronts, its not what most of us voted for. Germany is leading the free world, and the Euros continue to support that Iranian deal because just *maybe* they don’t have ego involved in what it accomplished as Obama legacy– which DT hates so damn bad.

I make a point of informational difference to many, and especially to my Italian public speaking client, Sabine, who feels Prez has totally polarized this country. “Watch ‘Vietnam’ on PBS,” I tell them, “because THAT was when people decided to make a difference, 500,000 at a time saying STOP THE WAR!”

A lot of changes came with 60s and 70s protesting, and having rights and expectations of fairness ‘rolled back’ by every twisted hump that Trump has put into a position of power more than rankles me. If you want ‘take a knee’ to mean anything except what its intended for– a peaceful protest about young black men being killed at an unacceptable rate in police situations, not disrespect for this country– this climate is a great fit for  a similar personal guarantee of 1st Amendment expression. The crowds may not be the same gargantuan events, but on the issue of whats better for the U.S. and world, we should agree on that.

Vietnam went down my senior year of high school, Spring 1975. I’ve never regretted missing that particular meat grinder of a war. That PBS series was how I remember things, including the Kent State shootings– very powerful. Trump has *nothing* on that period of strife in this country, and like with Nixon, I have a belief in Justice (and Mueller’s step-by-step progress) that we’ll get through this crisis as well.

And fyi, foreign policy-wise, nice freaking job on screwing up with Chad. Straightest talk  –by Kelly, of course– about getting called by a President as a Gold Star, since DT and weasels started ‘fake news’. Keep any nuke buttons out of the adult day care area.

Glenn S.