Romney Fading Away Like Replacement Refs

Okay America. Whether you think NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was blowing big time smoke about Monday Night Football’s fiasco of a finale not being the ultimate rationale for giving the ‘real’ refs a sliver more of an $8 billion-plus pie that we all know SHOULDN’T have been a factor, that’s one major national focus everyone’s glad is finally fixed.

Whether the Packers will appreciate being a catalyst, that Wisconsin’s union-busting governor kinda flip-flopped on question of unions being good, or even whether fans will give the zebras  standing ovations this weekend isn’t the proverbial elephant in the room.  If maybe $9 million in pay and benefits brought order to everything, thanks Rog! and we’re moving on. The biggie now is, when Americans are supposedly feeling more secure with an economy that has slip-slided along at 1.3% growth, only gained about 79,000 jobs a month in the second quarter and unemployment as hung around  8.3%, what chance does the Mittster have in November?

A NYTimes/CBS News poll has 40% of respondents (vs. 23% last year) saying economy is on the right track, and if Romney didn’t get major traction before this, his chances of becoming POTUS vs. just ‘Presidential candidate Romney’ has significant parallels with the replacement refs situation.  Almost everyone wanted to throw a flag when he over-stepped all normal bounds to loudly comment on the killing of the US ambassador to Libya, but there was always a strong undercurrent of not liking the vagueness about actual plans or withholding his tax returns.  Almost nobody really LIKES referees, but when push came to shove, the analogy between allowing ‘new guys’ to pretend they knew whuzzup and wanting to bitch just a little at problems created by an arguably crucial holding penalty is serviceable.  Nobody said, “Hey, these guys are good! Who needs the regulars?” along the way, and even if the division between Dems and Repubs POVs is as profound as the first-place Yankees and bumbling Mets, Mitt had to bat better than a-buck-and-a-quarter to get the job.  The Mets R. A. Dickey is the first Met pitcher to win 20 games since 1990, but that won’t get him a start in the World Series, n’est pas? 

Here’s another analogy. I’ve got two days to produce $3000 in sales in order to qualify for bonus, and yesterday I got whacked with an $860 repair bill when I’d taken my PT Cruiser in for an oil change and inspection.  I scrambled a little before tapping some credit, maybe even helped myself by combining two high interest rate situations into a 0% extension through next July; $60 in fees will save me at least $42 in monthly interest. Not a bad result overall, though the $860 wasn’t a comfy hit vs. an expected $21 oil change.

I’ll take my chances on pushing out product and maybe getting a little extra something in a payday next month.  And hey–I *did* get one of those dang credit apps Wednesday. I’ll take the minor positives because like many people in this country I want to believe Better can happen.  If the economic recovery is weak, its persisting.

And of course, the real refs are back on the job too.

Glenn S.

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When ‘Lucky’ Isn’t Really the Right Word

Standing around customer-less for my first hour at work Sunday, there was some real regret about not going to an early Mass, one that would’ve allowed for the 7 mile bike ride I got in after breakfast and coffee, a shower, ironing a shirt, and scooting to the mall. Feeling physically strong didn’t feel BAD, but thinking about the frightening negatives people I knew are facing, maybe inconveniencing myself a little would’ve been a ‘righter’ thing to do.

‘There but for the grace of God’ is a phrase that usually gets trotted out at times of stress others are dealing with, and thinking about my work buddy Jack’s situation, a friend-man with a professional project worth exploring who faces major eye surgery and the desperate state my Aunt Josie’s in, well, ‘lucky’ doesn’t seem like the right word.

Jack’s on leave right now because his daughter is in a Memphis hospital. Without all the details, she was the ‘1’ in ‘1 out of X number’ to suffer an incredibly horrific drug reaction that’s left her in the most painful limbo imaginable. Think of burn victims with 50-60% of their body laid open and then multiply that gut-twisting picture. She’s made it past the first 48 hours, but whether she survives all the potential infections and constant pain for two weeks isn’t a question even the doctors have a great grip on.

Chuck J. is someone I met at work two years ago, and we’ve corresponded periodically about various matters since. A former P&G veep of Marketing, Chuck has been working on youth-related programs now that he’s semi-retired. While wanting to push for progress on events that might require my particular professional (vs. sales) talents, meetings cancelled because of a 42nd anniversary and then a sick mother-in-law were small potatoes compared to the letter received on Wed. about four major factors he’ll need to have fixed with his eyes. Getting a Blackberry update that indicated he’s amused by doc’s assessment he’s “too young” for the surgeries he’ll need was good, but looking out at another great Fall day in Charlotte while writing about his eyes does bring up the idea of being blessed about avoiding anything close to these potential disasters to this 55th year in my life.

I like to think I was Aunt Josie’s favorite nephew, and she was always interested in what was going on, especially when she heard about my taking Spanish courses. She was a flaminco dancer in Spain when Uncle Howard was there in the ’50s, showing Francisco Franco’s people how to use the flight trainer his company produced. My brother Mike said he was standing next to her in the hospital hallway and didn’t recognize her, wasn’t 100% sure if she’d called to him or because a large guy was looking in her room and she thought he was my *cousin* Michael. At 87 there’s both dementia and a huge emptiness in her life since Howard died last year, and her son, who works in Corning (NY), can only get to see her every other weekend in Albany.

Almost everyone gets their turn in the proverbial barrel at some point, but a balky (though not crippled) knee, my manager’s reminder about credit apps and a toss-up between a cancelled Friday poker game and my football picks not covering their respective spreads doesn’t even register as worth a “damn!” or “this sucks” in comparison.

Calling my folks in another 10 minutes or so so I can talk about anything my 83-year old Dad (Mom is 78 and says she never expected to feel so good at this point in life) wants to is exactly the kind of blessing you GOTTA give thanks for. Yeah, ‘Blessings’ is the right word.

And yes, I’m definitely getting that church time in this week.

Glenn S.

“Better than four years ago?” Actually…

I mentioned work cohort Jack and I blew away our sales goal (Nautica better sportswear) in August even while I was doing reunion trip to Upstate NY, and that I didn´t directly blame Obama for last week being crappy saleswise during Demo’s convention here. Slump kind of ended with paying for myself (need $1200/day) Wednesday, and with another major weekend sale in swing and my two biggest customers buying new, full-price Fall product, I hit $1600 Friday.

I was outstanding with one particular husband-wife client in particular, with key player a once-yearly type clothes buyer. While ANYBODY should be able to pump the total with that situation, I clinched trust about being All That Salesman early by finding two very different jeans that fit as desired and I’d described. After employee discounts the tab was $385, and thats definitely a win. Almost got that important credit app with another $500+ sale (would’ve meant bending another rule, but I got green light for future such opportunities) and finale was a gentleman just under that cha-ching! $500 level. Polo salespeople hit that on regular basis, but outside of outerwear, our highest priced shirts are $69.50.

To the point of better than four years ago. I began another reunion with retail the day before Thanksgiving in 2007, after an unsatisfying hitch with a Renaissance Festival operation that screwed me on contract where I would’ve been moving to Phoenix and EXACTLY when the crap hit the proverbial fan big time. Chances for returning to long-time professional situation as executive assistant were less than zero for quite a while, but I’ve recently gotten feelers/responses on better side of $30,000 and that’s encouraging in a basic way.

I made

    almost

$25,000 in 2011, but honestly wasn’t denied doing anything vacation-wise; I enjoyed eight days of Tampa in March, nephews commissioning/Mothers Day in Daytona and 35th reunion with great day at the track that paid for golf immensely even if gas has gone up 50 cents since. Four days facilitating a leadership seminar for South Carolina HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth) in late June was truly uplifting–I defy anyone to mix with 125 of a state’s best and brightest and not get inspired. I have medical coverage that includes both chiropractic visits and a co-pay for blood pressure meds. I live four miles from work, so gas isn’t the bear it obviously is for others. There’s a bus line in front of my apartment complex if things get too pricey. I really appreciate having a pool available for laps and sunning almost two years now, and the dryers are absolutely A-1; throw whatever you’ve got in, $1.20 does it.

Point is, its still a 1-1 case about looking at progress on American Dream and this current economic situation is no better (worse?) than FOURTH on my personal list of negative times. I’ve joked about my investments being in lottery tickets, but I also didn’t get whacked like what Maddow and others scammers did to many who thought they’d put themselves beyond economic woes. High-level number-crunching brother Steve has advised our folks on certain moves quite successfully forever. Bonus money I get from Nautica won’t make extraordinary differences in my economics, but if that lottery ticket thing ever worked, he or maybe former boss Bill Trahan would be on a short list of people I’d trust to help me.

I don’t believe the Republicans are as happy with Romney as Demos are with Obama, and CHRIST! did Romney go ballistic bad opening his yap about the embassy deaths, and even two of three brothers have issues with some BS stances. I offer online opinions with LinkedIn and policymic on a regular basis (okay, match.com too), so I’m aware and involved in the public discourse. I’d recommend (will find link for next time) a recent Al Jazzera ‘Cafe’ production as an example of great journalism, and thats not something we find everywhere. It featured REAL good thinkers from eight very divergent POVS and *rolled the film*. It was a fascinating look at slices of our situation from a “hey, its THOSE GUYS!” source definitively removed from AMERICAN politics, with all respect due to Bill Mahar.

This blog is generally about my eagle-eye view on the economy from retail front row-$$ in the registers-inventory and any fun being had. There will be sports notes of course, politics because I’m clearly going to be affected about that soon-future Next. Good thoughts sent as I head for poolside with a brewskie and feeling of yes, having paychecks every two weeks and a shot at bonus money now through Christmas means I’m better off than four years ago.

Glenn S.

DNC in Charlotte: No economic bounce for most

You can bet there’s going to be plenty of talk about accounting, that arithmetic Bill Clinton mentioned so effectively during his tour-de-force, A-1 speech on Wednesday night, regarding any tangible financial benefits to the recent DNC in Charlotte. I work for a major southeastern retailer in Southpark, and Tuesday through Friday was close to an absolute desert for every salesperson I talked to. No problem conceding that bars and places directly around arena did landoffice business, but I doubt the Chamber of Commerce is going to paint any MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! face of Economic Success on the event.

Among customers I talked to there was an almost universal aversion about idea of attempting to go Uptown in Charlotte at all because it was known “14 blocks are pretty well locked down” from convention. Two brothers of mine in banking were instructed to work from home all week (one gladly spent time at VA mountains locale with fiber-optic connection), and knowing a majority of other daytime customers wouldn’t be around either, many eateries were operating in lowest mode. Cold hard fact: in August my two person department crushed our monthly sales goal by 36%, 52.7 to 38.7 ($1000s). Labor Day we both knocked out $1900 plus–and didn’t total that much in next four days through Saturday.

This is the microcosm of economics I and many, many others deal with, the precise effect any one event (or, very pointedly True, how many of them) or action affects us in a daily, personal-professional financial way. I’m not going to blame the President directly for my having a lousy week, even if ‘his’ event probably had a peripheral effect. I’m much more likely to be tough on LOCAL connections that apparently didn’t have both oars in the water, even with over a years lead time. Take it for what its worth, but one customer who said he’d volunteered for numerous roles, including being at Southpark area hotels and directing conventioneers to easily accessible venues, was stunned to learn every single one had been cancelled. He got two shirts out of it, but nothing about Charlotte as a city got promoted, not even other side of the street.

Bottom line, I appreciated the bigger idea of Charlotte as an epicenter of political universe. There is plenty of evidence that ‘Back to School’ sales were done (I’d wiped out a LOT of heavily discounted inventory) a week earlier, and everyone was going to be hanging out until a ‘not here just yet’ change in Charlotte weather. While sales figures on the lower edge of acceptable might cause management to be eeeeever so slightly less concerned about credit card applications vs. actual business, I won’t count on that myopic POV changing for long. I’m just going to strap it on for another week.

And honestly, I don’t blame the POTUS for the new merchandise not moving, even if the arithmetic in a small sampling is saying otherwise.

Glenn S.

‘Longest Day’ of TV Tennis, Today & Then the DNC

Not certain that I’m EXCITED about the Democratic National Convention coming to town.  While just having hotels well packed with people and spare time on their hands in Charlotte makes it seem the mall I’ll be working at will have more potential buyers, Uptown is supposed to become a desert. Building workers are on vacation from hassles, those serving lunches have no need to be around– maybe we’ll find out later if the excitement was legit.

As for Labor Day Sunday and the semi-rememberance of a historic ‘Longest Day’ at the US OPEN, a year when every match went the maximum distance, I’m able to recall giving my best friend about 4 hours of tennis lessons and *still* catching nearly two full matches.  Old Jimmy Connors beat Lendl in the finale, had to use his time out to clear some diarrhea, but a match for the ages between ‘tougher than anybody’ Jimmy and Ice Man Lendl.  At 55 and kinda gimpy, I was inspired by that memory and 90 degree sunshine this morning, so I finally got my tail out and pounded some tennis balls against a wall for about 40 minutes.  Way back on that particular Sunday, I could almost PAINT balls into locations with the new racket I had, a Steffi Graf strung at 56; today I used a Prince Lite Titanium Long Body at 60 and probably couldn’t get that small Graf head on a forehand return of serve up the backhand line I rely on. Surviving 4 hours and two outfit changes?  Not likely on that either.

Brought water and a towel, didn’t overdo it, but something just clicked in after whats been quite a while without any practice, and forehands, serving location, two fisted backhand were all like, well….reliable! Letting out some aggression while considering a political note is legit too.

I think there’s an analogy there, between thumping away at a brick wall and feeling encouraged that progress was being made, maybe even that reliability thing. The GOP just ended their convention, and several others and I agree we have yet to hear a PLAN for the COUNTRY vs. just more “the Prez, does he deserve your vote after not getting us back to good jobs from the hellacious shape we were in back then?”  People recognize the difference, at least the average customers I speak with usually do. Polls show people may be disappointed, but they’re still willing to give him, as a smarter guy they can trust more than that Romney guy, another chance to make it work right. 

Can the GOP masses really believe the crapola churned out about winning when the speakers (other than wife Ann)  barely mentioned Mitt, certainly not in as supportive a manner as they gave their own credentials for oh, maybe a 2016 run? They did the thumping against a wall or unsat-in chair, and for some reason think they accomplished something.  Mostly they looked like a bunch of people, disappointed but steadfast in their convinction of rightness, wandering around waiting for something like a hurricane (or 2016) to happen.  Watch any soap opera wedding and you’ll see the same type of (not really) happy faces for the guest of honor.

I got some worthwhile calluses from todays tennis ball whacking, doing something I haven’t attempted in a while. I think the Prez is going to be doing some thumping this coming week as well, utilize that vast and available amount of focused attention to get a major platform in place.  The GOP seems content to tap lollipop serves to the masses, and I’d bet there are many more concerned with their next doubles match than whether he can beat Obama. Some will probably just be glad to know where he safely stashed his cash…

Glenn S.