Christmas Wish for Knee–Bazinga! And for 32 years of Christmas trees, go guys go

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. Its cool that he comes to our Christmas tree lot, does the sales thing: 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.

Doc is exactly who everyone should want in such situations. 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 major physical problem handled, like this life-changing new knee and after a bicycle accident two Memorial Days ago. That would have been nearly $6800 in emergency assistance, and it came  came down to my $100 deductible plus $325 worth of ambulance. Getting crunched on a bike path isn’t even the consideration  Attitude for young-healthy people, buying something that might not use, si they rely on bad luck staying clear of them.  That’s kinda called ‘skating’,  and  you should be considering  buying.

How thankful am I NOT to be thousands of dollars in debt from two bumps in the road this Christmas? It meant losing last two weeks of temp assignment at that BSPC (Brown Shield Package Company), but even overtime rates wouldn’t be better than DOING IT NOW with surgery. I’m going to my 2nd PT session tomorrow, session with physical therapist about basic exercises to keep blood clots from forming.  I’ve heard about, and am tingling with anticipation of the constipation from oxy-whatever meds.

Everyone knows I’m going for surgery– at least 1/2 dozen in our club have used ‘Doc’ and no complaints. The next two weeks will likely be pain filled, but I’ve always been a good patient. Good, not ‘great’  patient. In earlier times, I played in a rugby tournament five weeks after earlier injury. 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 taking freedom to do whatever I used to choose, nice for the walk vs. skip across so I don’t get run over.

On Saturday we 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.

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: Working With Platinum Warrior Focus.   

I’ve promised I won’t tuck this under my bed for three year this time.

 

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Monday morning QB-ing: Nice Play, President Bush

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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.

Hope Springs Eternal Isn’t a Lock (but burn that MAGA hat anyway)

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We can’t be 100% sure what the Prez is up to, but these hot dogs will definitely taste better than those MAGA hats I smell burning.

Given the unreal twist of a week D.Trump had with the Democrats, there seems a tremendous analogy about Hope available, because it’s something said to spring eternal in the human breast. Let’s use sending a note to a Woman on line whose pictures and profile *totally* float your boat– the exact physical dimensions and attributes, sense of lifestyle, Attitude, and ability to articulate how she desires someone like YOU in her life– and getting a favorable response about a date. That’s outrageous and joyful, much better than finding $5 in the jeans you just took out of the dryer.

Having knocked (or cursed) all things Trump for eight months—justifiably, from all that I and the majority, screw those damned Russian ‘bots, have seen– about things people have been shocked-disgusted-afraid of, could anyone have seen the wonderful pivot that top Democrats Schumer and Pelosi had front row seats to the other day? An evening that came with Chinese dinner and chocolate pie, and featured positive discussion about DACA Dreamers and the possibility of that brutally expensive wall becoming a non-factor in our lives?

What could possibly come next? The Prez stopping the Dakota pipeline, “because it really won’t create that many jobs, and it’s a bad idea to put something like that over our biggest aquifer,” or saying “Just kidding” and returning to become a force in the Paris Accords? Wearing a tie that doesn’t hang 8” below his belt? Hearing that he watches the Rachel Maddow Show?

Really, which scenario would you have bet the grocery money on being touched by?

After feeling like civilization was hanging by a thread for so long, it seems *impossible* not to feel a sense of elation about the latter events arriving on a silver platter, with Mitch and Paul not even in the room to spoil the evening with their shrieks of betrayal. While Ms. Huckabee might walk the whooole thing back in another day or two as another misunderstanding– or that the ecstasy ends with an effed up tweet that causes a whacky North Korean dictator to push the proverbial button– I’d bet millions are willing to forgive her “more reaching across the aisle in last week than Obama in eight years” hyperbole, because Hope does spring eternal.

With the stench of a million burned MAGA hats in the air, it’s worth taking a deep breath and considering what might be the greatest turnaround since, well, the Patriots coming back from 28-3 down in the Super Bowl.

Things with an All That Woman can turn south on any number of factors. If she’s as rich and dynamic as the character (Marlena the Magnificent) in my book, concerns about bank account digits or the attentions of a supremely studly and equally thoughtful and articulate guy could wreck a dream. I’m just sayin’, Rachel on ‘Suits’ show is all about Mike, but in real life she’s dating England’s Prince Harry, and regular guys don’t win many of those situations. Having lived in a constant state of undies-in-a-twist with Trump, do this weeks gratifying changes mean everyone was wrong about the artless negativity of his dealings so far? Does he get off ‘good meds’ next, or just blow a nation’s surprise/delight on a fistful of ugly tweets and a definitive leak about Russians?

My reality– because awareness should be followed by action—would be doing all things possible regarding Ms. Right, even if its probably going to be a couple weeks before seeing her face to face. I waited this long, I can stand that. On the political side, there’s a whole country that’s wondering, after the longest eight months they could have imagined enduring, if they can/should consider trusting a person they never considered dancing with or saying a good word about.

The best part is, if I impress the lady sufficiently *and* D.T. continues to stiff Mitch and those who now want him impeached (whoa! there, Anne Coulter) more than you could have imagined two weeks ago, Hope won’t just be springing, it’ll be a factor that could launch a life of bliss I’ve envisioned as a Writer. I believe its legit to raise a glass of wine to both possibilities.

 

 

A Different Kind of Time Has Started Ticking for Me

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The chimes of my cell phone started at 6:05, and I dutifully turned on the bedside lamp so I wouldn’t/couldn’t ignore the fact of needing to get up. Coming back from putting on the coffee, reading a few pages from an inspirational book, there was a small acknowledgment it was already 6:25.

That today is 9/11, a date causing many in this nation to recall a significant, almost surreal event– those terrorist attacks with airplanes full of people that took down the Twin Towers in NYC sixteen years ago– is obviously legitimate. More personal, less definitive, and somehow scarier, was a conversation with Mom yesterday on the drive back from church, when she got a little upset about ‘not being there’ to help Dad at the time of his death from congestive heart failure. Even after explaining the circumstances– a good, graceful exit after only two days in the hospital– her not remembering where he was buried (next to her folks), or that she’s lived in Charlotte for over two years after staying two-plus years alone in Tampa, wasn’t easy to listen to.

For all the times she’s commented about “it’s another glorious day in Charlotte,” it was overcast and sweater-worthy instead of sunny and 80s yesterday, and somehow a different kind of Time began ticking with her admission that, “I just can’t seem to remember any of that.”

She called brother Mike several times Saturday, ‘worried about the house in Tampa’, because you can’t ignore the fact– a major part of every newscast– that the biggest, baddest hurricane in 100 years is going to pound the city where she grew up, and retired with Dad to for 25 years. It’s easy to see how TV watching got her thinking about her good neighbors, how much the guy next door had loved being around my Dad, and then drawing a blank about what came after that upsetting her. Easy to see, somewhat harder to deal with for both of us.

As Director of my church groups (32nd annual) Christmas Tree sale, I have to send the order quantities today for the various sizes to my top assistant to pass on to the supplier. I have a confirmed 10:00 meeting with a veterans organization that I expect to work on a housing proposal with, and I just got a text from my Italian lady about moving our 2:30 public speaking session to Wednesday. Time is a fact of life we tend to build around daily, whether that’s waking up, picking my brother up at work, or knowing at some point I’ll need to drop by Mom’s place at Carmel Hills and find the box of Excedrin PM I know we bought and gave her yesterday.

Today, most of America will be thinking about a long, ugly struggle that blew up into an unmistakably dramatic point 16 years ago in NYC. Many of us are still be thinking about a flooded-out part of Texas with billions of dollars of destruction from one hurricane, while millions wonder how long the specter of Irma, still plodding up the west coast of Florida– with two more major storms still brewing in the Atlantic—will rule their lives.

Mom-wise, a little different kind of time seems to have started ticking for me.

“They’d probably be glad to see anybody besides him”

Having watched a lot of the Little League World Series, I had to smile about one of the ESPN commentators making this observation last night.

The situation was Southwest team from (Lufkin,TX) was rolling over Conn. by about 12-2 at the time, after SW got 8 runs in bottom of first off three Conn. errors. A victory would cause a rematch for SW with the Southeast (Greenville, NC) team, which beat them 2-1 in 7 innings Wed. The nucleus of the comment was about the pitching of Matthew Matthijs, who simply took the air out of room on SW, striking out 12 of 14 he faced, including the last 11 batters of the game, with only *63* pitches.

THAT is just cockin’ and firin’ pitching.

The verdict was, how could you *possibly* take him out when he was pitching like that?

Hunter Ditsworth of TX team was sort of remarkable too, keeping Greenville scoreless from 1st inning until he ran out of pitches (85 is the limit, he threw 88 over 5 innings because he was mid-batter), and this was *great* baseball, the proverbial “too bad someone has to lose” game.

It brought a smile to see three Greenville coaches doing some chin-stroking as Matthijs got to the 55 pitch level, the question being whether to save him for another game, because Greenville has operated with a ‘three headed monster’ pitching staff vs. having anyone go a whole game and be unavailable for 4-5 days. The verdict was, how could you *possibly* take him out when pitching like that? and being under 65, he is actually available for World Series finale if Greenville wins American half of tournament.

And yes, Lufkin will be glad to see *anybody* else.

Little League WS Heroics, Blasts from My Past, Appropriate (IMHO) Statuary

CURTISS teeball

Curtiss is now ‘Capt. Curt’ and a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, but thank God for cameras that can save memorable moments in our lives.

After enjoying the last of a small bag of succulent, chocolate covered strawberries generously sent home with me after a Sunday steak dinner, I‘m shot-gunning (topically, not literally) what came to me last night while watching Texas beat Michigan 5-1 at the Little League World Series.

That the Southwest team whacked back-to back-to back home runs in the 3rd inning had everyone– including the announcers—jazzed. As a grownup, one might think the field isn’t actually that big, but as a participant, yanking one out IN THE WORLD SERIES isn’t something those young men will ever forget. Had to love the 3rd base coach, giving skin to the kid who tomahawked a high hard one for final homer and saying, “Yeah, you oughta be smiling about that one!” especially since he’d just gotten into game as a pinch hitter.

Hell, I still remember the first play of my Pop Warner football career, under the lights at Saratoga. The center neglected to snap the ball on first sound as planned, but we came back to the huddle saying, “Hey, our helmets are better than theirs!” because when we fired off, the other guys sounded plastic-y.  I’ve never forgotten that Bob Massaroni was devastated he didn’t get to play because he was ¼ pound under the minimum. (Shout outs to other players Jim Schermerhorn, who expressed interest in the LLWS, Bob Houlihan, who I see on FB on a regular basis, and Steve Lussier, wherever he is.)

Since I‘m tripping down memory lane sports-wise:

  • Going to my nephew Curtiss’ tee ball game (#4, above, with Dave walking behind him) and laughing with everyone else when batter hit a grounder right to him at first base and he couldn’t see it, because he had the glove in front of his face and didn’t take it away while moving head side to side.
  • Brother Dave, after being told by scorekeepers that this was the 10th batter, shocking the ladies by (kiddingly) saying, “Shhh, maybe we can sneak another one in.”
  • Volunteering to umpire a game in flip flops and tank tee (plus the pad), calling my nephew Spencer out on a maybe wide third strike, after he told me during an injury time out that the previous strike hadn’t actually been in the strike zone. I’ll always chuckle about that one. At *no* point does telling ump he was wrong work out well.
  • Several years later, I snapped a picture of Curtiss’ only hit of the season while on vacation in NY. He was thrown out at second by a mile moments later, because the next batter took a pitch when the hit-and-run was on.
  • Nephew Ryan, coming in to pitch when his team was behind like 8-1, and holding other team down while our family– including my parents, his brothers, parents, dog, and eventually all his buddies from other games, because their game took so long– cheered as his team came back to win.
  • Long ago interview with a Little League administrator, Circuit Judge Harry Fogle of Clearwater, FL, who felt participation meant actually playing. As a member of the International Rules Committee, he stumped long and hard for what became a tenet of the game, “because a kid doesn’t learn the value of an activity like baseball sitting on the bench, although it’s a different story later on.”
  • Umpiring softball in Florida, and asking about ground rules for a particular stand-alone fence in left field, which was an HR, but could also be caught for an out. Second inquiry, about the usual 10-run ‘mercy rule’, one player said with a wink, “Yeah, but this is against the Methodists.”

On an unrelated front, I was impressed by the statue erected to Napoleon at Waterloo when my brother Steve and I were in Belgium for his exchange brother’s wedding long ago. It’s a lion with its paw on a small globe of the world, atop a 300-ft. high mound of earth that *definitely* stands out when almost all of Belgium is flat as a table.

You might recall Napoleon LOST at Waterloo, so I guess it meant enough to everyone else that they immortalized the event. (FYI, someone had just recently spray painted one side of the monument in protest.) My take on statues: Some are legit, and bless Gettysburg for standing firm on not taking any of theirs down. That particular three-day struggle of a battlefield is the epitome of what the Civil War meant to this country, capped by Lincoln’s immortal ‘Gettysburg Address’. Certainly not a tweet, but memorable to the max.

‘Old School Interviews’ – One on One, When You *Knew* Face Time Counted

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Sometimes you wonder, beyond all your skills, how much more time and effort it’s going to take to get back on the smooth, fast job track.

There’s no guarantee that yesterday’s walk-in interview was as ultimately successful as I would like, at least I haven’t heard ‘You’re the man!’ by 10 a.m. I presented my various abilities regarding the administrative-sales hybrid position I had learned about to the decision maker, and got a decently hearty handshake after 15-20 minutes of the owner-Boss Man’s time though, and that’s tough to beat nowadays. Ask any car salesman about two hours with a ‘one-legger’ who wants to discuss an incredible deal with the not-there wife about the difference.

The job-seeker who actually gets such an opportunity should 1) thank God, or whatever entity/Universal force they believe in, 2) lay out your best case as well and succinctly as possible, and 3) send a follow-up note (vs. an e-mail!) recapping some high points and acknowledging thanks for the time and chance to present yourself. Having gotten up close and personal attention, you *don’t* want to blow it because they’re too busy to check the inbox for two days, or an e- somehow goes into Spam folder. Many gurus will tell you this, believe it.

Having decided to drive 31 miles to take such a shot, after recruiter indicated he was kind of clueless about how to deal with ‘old school’ type—and probably my resume, because he’s essentially a millennial-aged IT and finance guy—I’m taking time after filling out another online form and sending a couple e-s in follow-up to companies from a job board to make a point.

The recession pretty much blew away the walk in a door-impress the Boss Man-get a job-become Successful scenario many probably saw in a movie, especially if 40 is anywhere on your radar. When sooo many were looking for ANY job, recruiting firms became the way to deny seekers access to the boss’ time. A certain frustration crops up daily knowing that, whatever your conglomeration of skills are, not being a super-techie, having zero chance at becoming a home run hitting sports legend, or (probably) winning the lottery, means having to rely on someone who might have been a twinkle in someone’s eye when you got a college degree near the end of last century.

‘Bob’ told me twice I presented myself well, and that he appreciated fact I’d been able to find his company’s front door. He asked questions and listened to answers—“I don’t see that on your resume,” “It doesn’t fit on one page. Expectation (if sent vs. presented) is there’s enough to raise your interest, then I’d hope to tailor extra information if we got an opportunity to meet,”– even if one or two indicated I lacked something pertinent. Having asked about his company’s ‘footprint’ (area worked in, which was 200 miles), been able to relate ABCs of skills to the reality of position he’d discussed with a recruiter, and told him enough about current website–‘no testimonials, but your competitor only has one, and its negative’, or the spot for a blog had a two year old date on it– showed a definitive interest on my part. It’s impossible to deny how powerful that is in person vs. anything else.

There’s more to do of course, because only one result counts in sales, and that’s someone signing something that equals agreement (and you get paid). For one day though, hell, even 20 minutes! it’s no problem to be happy about having a great chance to present Glenn Shorkey to an honest-to-God decision maker.