3 Ways of Teaching: When It’s Right, It’s Golden

As schools begin disgorging students for the summer, a few teaching moments from the past seem worth recalling. Although I’ve never been more than a substitute in any public school system, its legitimate to feel good about knowing you’ve conveyed a specific fact in an unforgettable manner along the way. As a scholastic fundraiser, career sales person and writer-content creator, certain Aha! moments have helped me remember actual teaching is a pretty amazing thing.

Cooking class of eight 1st-3rd graders. While working on a (successful) mayoral campaign in upstate NY, my folks ‘suggested’ I do something job-wise, so I became the Cooking Instructor at a Girls Club. It was about a two month gig: four classes a week, right at 100 minutes a class, from explaining what we’d be doing for the day, aprons and hands washed, through practice peeling or whatever, produce food,  eat, clean up, out by 5:00. Eating was an essential part of the learning for sure.

Getting eight-1st-3rd graders through a spaghetti dinner from scratch felt amazing. Opening cans and stirring were kitchen skills I knew many of these young students would actually be called on to do at home. We cooked the meat and seasoned the sauce– they knew things were hot, we were careful while ladling the burger into the sauce. The ultimate moment, because *everyone* wanted to break up their own spaghetti, was pausing slightly in my explanation of holding in the middle– because one girl didn’t and sprayed pieces all over the counter–and finishing, “so that doesn’t happen.” Lesson locked in. The one about tossing spaghetti at ceiling to check for done…

Ballston Spa Pop Warner cheerleaders My first fundraising group out of training, our product is cookbooks, and its 48 cheerleaders who want to earn money for their football jackets. Girls don’t know what they’ll be selling, but everyone brought a list of at least 30 potential customers. We always drape the product until a certain point—no sense having anyone decide what you’re pushing is the wrong thing and they’re not doing it.

I ask the girls if they knew what the best selling book in country (overall) was, and while there were some guesses from mothers, nobody said ‘the Bible’ until I did. As I turned to unveil the cookbooks, to show them what #2 was, a little voice said, “We’re gonna sell BIBLES!” and after I swallowed a laugh, kept them REAL excited about why these books were a great idea.

It wasn’t the girls that got taught something that day, it was me. My company had prepared me for this, I did as we practiced, and BAM! everything worked just the way it was supposed to. All 48 girls earned enough for jackets, I had important first start under my belt, and having learned I could 100% trust the system, I confidently began three good years of fundraising.

Judy with a goalie stick is easy. As Head Coach of the Women’s Ice Hockey Club team at Brockport St., I did whatever I could to help our goalie, Judy. Just before we played a (supposed) mens ‘B’ team (no checking or slap shots) to tune up our team for the season, I reminded her to keep her stick on the ice—she had a habit of waving it, often because in intramurals, making one save was usually adequate. Playing against obviously stronger and more experienced men, with our first-time-ever-all-together defense, we couldn’t move guys out, so they kept poking at the puck when Judy made saves.

At the end, a solid 11-5 moral victory of a loss, we counted 73 shots on goal. After she skated to the bench, Judy pulled up her mask and said, “Guess I kept my stick on the ice, huh?” Perfect! Is ANY lesson better learned than a measure of success in adversity? Hey, if it didn’t kill you, you get to use the experience whenever similar situations come up again.

JA class-5th grade noise levels. I was a volunteer for school-related Junior Achievement, a 5-week program. The last session, it turns out the teacher won’t be there, it’s a substitute. As we get into things, the noise level just keeps going up, you can’t hear the group presentations or questions. The third time I whistle for attention, there’s a second of quiet, but they’re not looking at me—its another teacher from down the hall.

“WHO is doing the shrill whistling down here?” she looks around. I don’t recall if anyone actually *pointed*, but I admitted I had. Teacher digests that a second, turns back to kids and says, “WHY was this teacher feeling he needed to whistle to get attention?” That she might need to tell Mrs. Whoever what happened– and it mattered to those kids– taught me the whole system isn’t broken yet.

Best teaching moment in a long time came as a reading tutor with WyzAnt. In my first session with 8th grader, I asked her to pay attention to the punctuation, take pauses when dashes, commas, semi-colons, or periods showed up vs. run things together. By the 3rd session, I could tell she was consistently pacing the way I was reading along.

Teachers make a difference; remember that when you get a chance to act like one.

Four checks in a Row: Why Ringing the Register Counts

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A week shy of ten months from my last check in retail– a situation friends tell me is worse than before I Ieft– that first smallish-but-accepted-at-the-bank one with my name on it accomplished more than just stopping the bleeding. Coming the day of our Men’s Club annual banquet, it allowed telling EVERYONE I was finally done with that streak of zeroes. Never underestimate how important telling friends-supporters that things have improved is as Reason #1: Especially compared to whining, we ALL like to hear the pressure is off anybody.

If you give the brother you live with a Newcastle Ale because four paydays seems a decent enough indicator of ‘Success’ to celebrate–and still fits with overall economics– its also worth giving a karmic nod to being on the Hopeful Side again. Those who had kids school tuition, a mortgage, or even car payments (which weren’t part of my calculus); who benefited from programs regarding unemployment– North Carolina went from 26 to 14 weeks of benefits in the one week I hesitated before registering; had a swipe card for food programs, or paid rent at cash advance rates, take a short bow for surviving Real Economics 2015.

In ‘Outlaw Josie Wales‘, Clint Eastwood tells Sandra Locke that at some point in the coming battle, “when you don’t think you’re going to make it, you gotta get mad dog mean,” and that translates to staying above water most of the Great Recession 2007-14 with a BPBPJ (Bill Paying, Benefit Providing Job), then looking credit card debt in the eye from September to March. On the bottom line, this whole unlikable recession didn’t get past #4 on the Worst of Times Ranking– Schenectady ’84 and Charlotte ’03, that was real Despair. Hell, I still had $6,800 left on my secondary card; that option, at any rate, wasn’t available before.

Compared to pursuit of return to executive assistant role after that retail stint, this new situation is esoteric– reselling of woodworking machines– and definitely sales. The experience of moving between databases to research/find what customers call in about is getting easier; in some ways its like real estate, because whatever I list gets me a piece of eventual profit, in others its very much a training rate of pay. Last week I listed 16 machines; yesterday I input and tagged pictures to seven in about 2 1/2 hours. That’s administrative, but its a production job, and I’m in a position where competence with transmitting needs-information will mean I get my share of whatever happens with MachineKing.com. I was actually second guy in the door when Kurt (boss) started back in 2006; I’ve been involved with him on two other projects over the years, and hey, we’ve played basketball for like 16 of my 20 years (Memorial Day) here in Charlotte. That trust level, *knowing* he generates cash, that’s as good a reason to work with somebody as any nowadays.

I was almost as thrilled with three checks earned during same stretch as a reading tutor with WyzAnt— that my students grandma told me she’d gotten a 100% on vocabulary test after two sessions counts as some psychic income– but deciding, without any hedges, that you’ll have a quantity of $$ goes beyond just thinking about it; doing what needs doing to HAVE cash demands acknowledging it when Plans become Truth.

$87 being auto-paid to some multi-billion dollar company that sweated you with late fees during dry times is nowhere near as satisfying as having CASH money in your pocket when the check arrives for a wine, tasty snacks, and Oreo cheesecake weekend dates on Lake Norman. Oh yeah, weekends are *much* better after ringing the register.

That’s elementally understood, right? It can’t just be a guy thing.

Glenn Shorkey

‘Unbelievable’ a Less Useful Term Now

I had planned on writing about the social imprinting a small black child has received when I watched him walk with one hand holding onto his mother and the other unnecessarily grasping the top of his small gray sweatpants. Trying to remember when walking around with one’s pants belted below butts/around their thighs became mandatory for so many isn’t a memory I’ll spend time trying to research, but why it has such staying power is a mystery. Compared to say, 7-9 million previously uninsured people choosing health coverage through the ACA in one year as a positive change, I’m befuddled.

The negatives of that imprinting couldn’t stand up to seeing ANOTHER white police officer– Michael Thomas Slager of Charleston, SC to be precise–putting *8 BULLETS* in the back of a black man who ran away after he’d been stopped for a minor traffic violation. The officer failing to even TRY running after him, just drawing and blazing away, is a minor footnote of depraved behavior. That the murder, which is the charge Slager now faces, was captured in toto by someone’s ever-present cell phone, including the officer handcuffing the corpse and dropping his taser beside the body (he claimed the man took it), is why the word ‘unbelievable’ is no longer effective in describing such real life situations.

‘The X-Files’ tag was “We are not alone,” and brother, you can count on that when it comes to pulling something like that shooting; SOMEBODY has a cell phone picture, and even if it didn’t help that poor SOB in New York when a cop choked him to death, I bet it has Slager’s union appointed lawyer saying OMG, OMG, OMG steadily.

I thought similar footage of **5** officers shooting a NAKED man in LA would’ve been an absolute low– couldn’t that many guys somehow control an unarmed, naked man WITHOUT gunning him down?– but it’s difficult to call those two events a tie. Unbelievable? Sorry to say, its actually NOT something we can see and find a corner or our minds that can’t comprehend it at this point. I’m watching for a verdict on this closely, because anything beside a 2-day deliberation before a guilty verdict would be, uhhh, cause for extreme concern? Nothing is probably going to be a while though– the police chief ‘handling’ the Tamir Rice (very young kid with pellet gun) shooting was on news last night, says STILL have “witnesses and forensic evidence to work on…”


I’m going to give Duke’s ‘Forgotten Freshman’ Grayson Allen a huge and gratuitous attaboy! for making the Dookies NCAA champs. While Okafor, the studly Winslow Justise, and Tyus Jones (19 second half points and Most Outstanding Player, he probably deserves some props, too) were starters, Grayson’s 16 points led them from nine points down and dead in the water to OMG! 68-63 victory. I admit to being a Sam Dekker (Wisconsin) fan during the tournament, but when a highly regarded recruit like Allen gets the chance and truly produces, THAT is why college ball is different from pros.

On a similar note, eight of Calipari’s ‘one and done’ (check that, some were ‘two and skidoo ‘cuz i gave up checks for nuthin’) recruits at Kentucky immediately opted for the NBA draft, along with Duke’s Okafor and Tyus. Okafor is a back-to-basket center, but I think many others will learn how unexceptional they are when confronted by experienced pros over an 82-game season. That’s still a part of things I’m thinking sends a bad message.

Just like a pre-kindergarten child holding up his sweatpants.

Glenn Shorkey

Coldest February Since 1820, Not Quite as Long Unemployed

On an ugly, rainy Sunday in Charlotte, I guess I should be glad I’m not still in upstate NY. Was up there five days this past week, and Friday on flight back, sis-in-law texted me it was coldest February since 1820, second coldest month since 1970. I recall one of those days in 1970 as minus-60 with wind chill as I delivered my paper route– promised God I’d *never* say it was too hot if I made it home without something falling off.

For the record, when I moved to Florida in June,1981 and my Aunt Jo said (re: 94 and like 80pct. humidity), “Oh my, darlin’, you must be dyin’ in this!” I said only, “Yeah, its pretty warm.”

Not planning on riding my bike today for sure, but will have to call Mom and wish her happy 81st birthday. Trip to NY was ending to couple days clearing out miscellaneous crap from her place in Tampa, which is getting very close to sold, and dropping non-furniture stuff here in Charlotte as part of 3-day drive north with brother Dave. Threw a bunch of snowballs at side of a building in VA rest stop, and discovered that along with that shaky knee spelling the end of my jump shot, not having regular throwing sessions in 20 years has turned me into a chicken arm. Ahhh, so much to talk about at 40th reunion this Fall…!

About this ‘net neutral’ FCC deal– does that mean Coach Cowher will have to stop LYING about internet speed with TWC? I know its got to be in smaaaalllll print at bottom of screen, but if you’ve ever timed out of applications because that $14.99 level is criminally slow, and you didn’t think paying 2x as much for high-high speed would make THAT much of a difference, I’d love to see how not having different levels would work out. Based on how phone service rates have become so competitive, I’m believing they won’t be able to charge that robber baron rate for the good speed stuff, or just provide the crappy speed for that ‘no, thats regular rate, not a special deal we’ll change in three months’ level I ground my molars about.

Went to a Davidson basketball game last night, and while they’ll almost certainly make it to the NCAAs in a couple weeks, the fact a 6’10” semi-thick center for George Washington ate their lunch on offense and made them almost totally reliant on jump shots for scoring by altering shots in the paint seems to signal uh-oh! time for the Wildcats. Add some 6’4″ defenders every mid-major program has for pressure and ‘nice bunch of shooters’ become first round victims.


I received another free resume review, and while it might come across as ego resistance, I am still kind of PO’d when the analysis points to ‘only having done things’ vs. achievement relative to resume pointed towards administrative/EA positions.

I copied and sent a totally random and *lengthy* position description back to reviewer, because the an EAs job core has *always* been about PRODUCTION, not about raising sales by 22%, bench-pressing 825 lbs., or even publishing a 73,000 word book, only one of which I’ve accomplished. If recruiters actually READ resumes– and yes, I know they get plenty every day– even a *little* more carefully, and didn’t refuse to have anyone come for an interview unless they were 110% of what client put in description (WHAT software program don’t I have after spending Great Recession in retail?), unemployment as an E-6 wouldn’t be my most pressing problem.

Glenn S.

Cheating Probably Won’t Change the Memory

Having just read a column by local Charlotte Observer writer Scott Fowler (‘Misguided adults taint purity of a kids game’), I agree with overall premise about adults rule bending-cheating to win. To say I didn’t cheat, maybe because one season as coach of a womens club hockey team playing inter-collegiate others never produced an opportunity, is legitimate though. We won one game, crushing Ithaca College at Cornell’s Lynah Arena 8-2, then folded the team a couple weeks later because we didn’t have a goalie, injured in a mens hockey class trying to stay sharp.

It’s still a memory that brings a thrill, mostly because my brother brought my folks, aunt, uncle, and cousin– who’d come to Cornell to see his jayvee basketball game– to see my 10 ragamuffins (4 different jersey types, including stinky, wet, COLD jerseys I borrowed from the mens team and tossed into a bag Friday afternoon) tear up those exactly uniformed and outfitted IC players; several of my players didn’t have facemasks on the intramural helmets we borrowed. When the underdog comes through in such a defiant manner, that’s truly the best, and my feet barely touched the ice when I went over to shake the other coachs hand and offer a “good game.”

That was 1979, and I’ve never forgetten one of our girls noticing an IC player being interviewed post-game and saying, “Hey, we kicked the crap out of them, how come nobody’s interviewing us?”

At one point Fowler notes, “and now its all come crashing down,” but I really doubt that. For exactly the same reason UKentucky’s (26-0 so far) latest batch of one-and-done hoopsters won’t clarify any facet of (possible championship) season, PLAYERS PLAY. For them it *is* ‘our guys vs. your guys’, because whether a talented teammate is from Suburbia or Alaska, they’re wearing the same uniform, and thats most of what counts. Now, that 14 yr. old pitcher, a 6′ tall lefty with a 100mph fastball and fixed birth certificate, anybody who saw him KNEW he didn’t belong.

About coaching in that US championship game though, I’ll always remember two examples of The Good Stuff youth coaches are about. The Chicago pitcher gave up 3 runs early, and it was obviously because he was using breaking balls instead of his fastball– the other team was death on fastballs, although most high end LLers can hit heat well. Once his coach recognized he couldnt rely on breaking balls– again, good hitters will wait on something if they know you *aren’t* bringing the heat– and let him work, the game worked out better.

The crucial point in championship came in the 5th, when, leading by two, the Chicago pitcher gave up a *second* 3-run dinger to same kid who homered early. He was obviously devasted; you get to that point against a good team, you feel you let your guys down. Coach comes out, and at end of conference, he looks kid in the eye, says, “We’ve got two more at bats to get the runs and win this. Right now we need you to get out of the inning,” slaps him on a shoulder, and after a shaky next batter, he closes the inning out.

Coaching Situation #2: Other teams (I think from Arizona) pitcher hits the 85 pitch limit, and while the coachs son hadn’t been able to start because of a ‘tight shoulder’, coach brings him in to try and finish the game. After two batters, and with color commentators Nomar Garscioparra and Barry Larkin both saying the kid obviously doesn’t have the stuff that made him almost unhittable in his last game, the coach-Dad takes his son out and puts him at 2nd base. Larkin immediately mentions that lefties almost/NEVER play second, the inability to turn the double play being a primary reason. Chicago hits a ball to him right off the bat, he boots it– the teams first error in a MONTH of all star play– and Chicago eventually winds up the champs, because all star hitters can *always* powder the other guys #3-4-5 pitchers.

The lefty, who both commentators said was an exceptionally gifted hitter, was devastated at the error that cost his team the championship. Another (inspired) Chicago pitcher had to come in and get the final outs, and the difference between those pieces of coaching, and especially those two young players, is ALL they are ever going to think about.

Cheating? Sorry to hear about it, and yeah, adults are usually the culprits. Feeling sorry for the kids though, not so much. You’d NEVER be able to take away the actual playing, the joy of a crowd cheering you when you got home, a trip to the White House. I don’t recall how long ago Little League changed the size of districts because the teams from Taiwan were dominating by pulling talent from huge pools in a baseball crazy nation. That 14 yr. old mowing kids down also caused an extra layer of scrutiny for every organization’s eligibilty documentation.

But feeling sorry for the Chicago kids? No. Players played, and the winning-losing was on the field. Thats all I would ask for.

Glenn Shorkey

Smooth Transition on Super Sunday-Last Stuff Moved, Great Football

Yesterday was Groundhog Day, plus cousin Frank’s b-day, and the second anniversary of my Dad’s burial down in Tampa, FL. Nothing dramatic about the day this time around, and I’ll always maintain his death went about as smoothly as anyone could conceive. I went directly to the hospital after driving in on Monday afternoon from Charlotte, got to be of service with sips of water till after eleven. He died the next afternoon, and I’d known since Mom told the doc there weren’t going to be any extra-ordinary measures, this was going to be the end. My three brothers flights all came in at 6:00, and everyone appreciated a steady week of family to take the edge off. I got the talk at graveside done pretty well, glad I’d written/printed it as a giveaway at time of the happiest event in their lives, their 50th in 2005.

The line Frank used that day was perfect: “Uncle Walt kept all those extra pieces of wood because he thought some project might need it. When you’re thinking like that, you’re not worrying about dying.” Dad died two days after his youngest brother, Donald, died in the same hospital, also of congestive heart.

I always mention that he got the last joke I made, about his meatloaf-mac ‘n cheese-green beans plate needing tabasco. Dad rolled his eyes, because he’d said for years I would put it on corn flakes.

It’s certainly been examined and opined about since the second of decision, but “Twice in Beast Mode” wasn’t ABSOLUTELY the BEST call that should’ve been made? Bro’s chili was his best effort ever. The word most asked was ‘cemented’ regarding Brady, and that is a stone-cold fact when discussing his place in the QB hiearchy. Hiya, Joe!

Simple, Cheap, Tasty ‘Shorkey Soul Food’ for Singles

Today was almost a deluxe edition, with an entire Andouile sausage (vs. hamburger) cut up, and a Medium onion, diced. The stars of dinner are snap peas and bean sprouts, and this goes over 2 pks. ramen noodles beautifully (most selections are done with rice as default).

I’ve used olive oil to sautee the sausage and beans– in my humble opinion, thick fresh beans show you care in this dish, especially since nobody leaves the pointy ends on, right? Some of my SSF variations include garlic; I feel the andouile sausage gives all the flavor necessary here, but I make a generic-thorough couple revolutions with hand ground pepper.

Couple extra items experimented with: small jar of pimentos– good! Slivers of red were noticeable and the second half use of .85 condiment. Added a large handful of frozen-chopped spinach– very good effect. You know there’s never anything wrong with an extra leafy green, and it clings to stuff nicely, a constant reminder something good is definitely in this.

Lastly, an unknown amount of jalapeno slices from the jar, but the *juice* is what turned this into something distinctive. Yes, some spiciness from sausage and jalapeno, no problem throwing anything you want in as ‘end of the saving it’ fodder. Hey, its over ramen noodles…!

Glenn Shorkey

How I Became a Better Candidate This Week

It’s been somewhat– make that *definitely*– frustrating to be a week from turning 58, and seven months into search for employment, without a lot to show for it. ‘The Great Recession’ might officially have been over a while ago, but you wouldn’t be able to convince my bank account of that.

There’s an old adage about ‘with age comes wisdom’, and while I’ve locked in several important facts of Life years ago– never guess a woman’s age; don’t drink and drive; forget playing one more game of basketball after a shaky left knee has signaled ‘time to go’– the factors about becoming a better candidate for career Next’s shouldn’t have been major revelations.

The Reality is, I ABSOLUTELY knew this stuff, and though I’m not generally a List Guy, three specific ‘oh, rights!’ that support the premise have come through crystal clear.

1) However its phrased, look ‘I could never do that’ in the eye and accomplish one small step towards a goal anyway.

2) Stay in touch with those who really count in your search (including ‘cheerleaders’)

3) SSDD (same stuff/different day) won’t get what you desire, even assuming you know what that is

On the first point, I’ll give a shout out to Jeff Haden; I read two pieces of his thought-provoking philosophy on Monday, and I’m going to make it a habit to continue feeding my mind similarly going forward.

The most obvious change I made was putting my book, ‘CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent’ into a book contest (please check link at the end), and then posting that fact in two places, as ‘currently happening’ on LinkedIn profile and in ‘LinkEds and Writers’. The question I had to ask myself was, why DIDN’T I think I could do those simple and obvious things to publicize something I’d put so much effort into achieving? Even if I’m not chosen for a share of Bookbzz’s $$ in first contest, $25 on the credit card *should* get me some level of reviews, and thats kind of important in a bigger picture. The ‘C’ in CDTalent Enterprises stands for Confidence, so you have to believe in yourself/the product at least that much.

I sent a short note to the artist who’s supposed to be working with me on a children’s read-along book for the South Carolina Hugh O’Brian Youth organization. Without his production, the two years-plus of material I’ve written is left in limbo. Our last meeting was late August and I hadn’t seen a single thing more from him; I needed to push things, get concrete results. My first boss out of college told me (as a ‘road guy’/regional rep for TIME, Inc.) that nobody would throw People magazine out of their stores if I pushed for getting it displayed at the register; what did I have to lose if the artist didn’t produce after I asked him to come through with what was needed/expected?

Staying in touch, especially with recruiters and references, definitely counts. To show how serious I was about entering home solar power industry in the sales area with a major energy company, I found a relevant article about real estate industry financially recognizing solar on house as an asset, and e-mailed it with a short note to person I’d done a phone interview with. Then I cc’d several references, including Charlotte Works counselor, to let them know what I was considering, sales being a very different idea from administrative areas that have been my focus.

I talked to a recruiter from a temp agency about re-taking some tests, because I know my home equipment contributed to lower than expected scores, and the possibility of getting short term gigs HAS to go up when you’re perceived as being more capable, right? Why not take the obvious step?

As for SSDD, doing same things and expecting different results is supposedly the definition of insanity, and I’m a writer, not crazy. Okay, I’ll always consider myself a writer no matter what I do for a regular paycheck, and blogging 3x/week like this (and LinkedIn contributions) was a New Years resolution; I also fixed old information on three job boards, so I’m taking righteous small steps in that direction.

I’m also figuring out how to do links: http://bookbzz.com/cards-consequences-by-glenn-shorkey