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.

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“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.

Cycling shoes as a deciding factor for a next job? It sort of happened before…

3 riders on tour

These three led from first part of day until maybe four miles from end. Anyone else feel that sense of impending doom when *everybody* looks like they’re gunning for you?

The last couple weeks– including appreciation of a four day 4th of July holiday– have been a period of joy, energy, and appreciation of upcoming changes. Watching team and individual efforts from the Tour de France– and raising my personal mileage as result– has been an inspirational fact. When you talk about goal setting, surviving climbs that are 20 degree walls at the very end of 200-plus kilometer rides has *got* to beat making 20 cold calls or two hours of phoning potential clients.

The coverage has been excellent, including how several well-known riders had ‘cracked’ on climbs in the Pyrenees or Alps. ‘Crack’ doesn’t mean out of the race, more that a rider ‘lost their form’ and wound up back in the pack (peloton) instead of on the lead. Some of the climbs have legendary dimensions akin to the baddest bull in the rodeo: You may not want to ride it, but when the day comes, your options are ride or go home.

Last Friday morning, I had the misfortune to ‘crack’ my laptop on the well-known ‘Blue Screen of Death’. While not as painful as a high-speed, 26 bike pile up at the Tour, getting a bad drive replaced had me seriously worried about all the information I might lose, and it sure hampered my ability to follow up leads by sending samples and resumes for several days. After giving the unit to a techie, I blew off the rest of the morning to ride eighteen glorious miles in 90 degree heat, and gained a small but significant positive by discovering a new pair of Nikes fit superbly in my Miyata’s ancient rat trap pedals. The knowledge of how my pedaling efficiency had increased probably won’t affect my ability to illuminate work experiences to an interviewer, but it was a useful physical fact for every future ride.

A long ago physical fact stuck in my mind though, about walking with a ‘funny’ stride for the second interview that became my first job out of college. One seldom knows what extra factor makes the difference to a recruiter, but telling that VP about my funky walk as a result of thighs rubbed raw by cotton shorts during a 15k road race *did* get me the job. What he really wanted to know was, could I walk in anywhere and talk well enough to get results for the twenty cold call situation the regional rep position was predicated on. When I finished telling him all the things I’d done wrong as training, beyond wearing those shorts that created uncomfortable ‘strawberries’, he just said, “Okay, good story. Let’s get lunch.”

My Nike’s and well-rounded thighs might not earn the You’re Our Man! response I’d appreciate hearing right now regarding new employment, but stranger things have happened…

About the Tour: There are 21 ‘stages’ that can be won before one rider– probably Chris Froome, who has worn the maillot jeune (yellow jersey) most of the Tour– sips champagne on the Champs Elysee in Paris Sunday. It’s legitimate that recognition for best Under-25 rider, best Climber-Man of Mountains, team time trials, and frequent extra points for ‘sprinters’ who get to certain points first makes it something besides an all or nothing race. It makes a difference to be thought the best at something– Salesman of the Quarter anyone?– even if being a good domestique brings a decent level of respect in the cycling world.

The featured TV picture above shows three riders who are about to be swallowed by the main group (peloton) after 217 km. of substantial effort, having broken away even before the first kilometer marker, and leading this particular stage the entire time. Many of us know the feeling: You bust it day after day, doing as many of the small and necessary steps as possible, and hopefully you have the ability to dig deeper for special or difficult moments that come up. Froome seems to have that working well, for these three, that’s not how it worked out.

Dad’s Sneakers Have Cut Their Last Lawn, His Watch & Ring Go Onward, But the Pen was Personal

dadssneakers-penIt’s 90-plus degrees in Charlotte, and the humidity is brutal, so I’m glad to have done all the yard work yesterday. At post-church donuts and juice today, I smiled while telling a couple youngsters that my Dad always said, “There’s no reason for me to worry how hot it is when I have four boys to cut the lawn.” He said the same thing about shoveling snow from the sidewalk and 150 ft. of driveway, but that’s a truth I didn’t bother to impart.

Being the only brother Dad’s size, I’ve made it a habit to wear something of his on a daily basis the last four years. I like his hounds tooth jacket, sometimes it’s a pair of well-stretched socks, often it’s one of many primarily green tee shirts. Mom didn’t think Dad looked good in green, so while he didn’t have green dress shirts, he loaded up on the tees.

His sneakers fit in my rat traps for cycling, and everyone has a pair of beaters to do the lawn with, so they got used at both work and play. Three weeks ago the toes came un-stitched while doing garden maintenance for the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s group), and I brought a fistful of dirt into the house, so post-lawn cutting, Fathers Day became a good time to retire them, and some Adidas have stepped into the work role.

There will probably be ten million memories shared about fathers today. I was fortunate to have Waldo Francis Shorkey in my life until just after my 56th birthday, and I was grateful when Mom gave me his ring, and my brother Mike found the band on his watch too small for his wrist.

The pen, ahhh! that was truly special. Once he was unable to handle bigger pieces of wood to make secretaries and such (a blue ribbon in the Florida State Fair) we gave him a drill press to make smaller projects, and on vacation in Tampa, I asked him to make one with me. It took me three hours over two days to create the curved, slightly fatter grip I desired, sand it with five progressively finer grains, then polish and wax it.

At the end, Dad stated, “Glenn, you’re the worst I ever worked with!  Ryan (my youngest nephew) would have done two pens in that time.” My answer: “I’ve never done anything like this before Dad, and all I wanted was to work on something with you and have a great souvenir of the event. I got what I wanted.”

As proud of that pen as I was, I must have lost it by letting a customer sign with it when I was working at Belk. Yes, dammit! for stupidity, but the memory of making will never fade either.

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Trump as Ozymandias in ‘WATCHMEN’: Iffy Tactics for Hero to Maximum Bad Guy

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Its almost certain that I’m zeroed in on DTs attempt to grind US (my opinion, shared by many in lots of places in the world) into shambles through weird and vindictive methods. It seemed so reasonable (an inaccurate word for DT, but…) while catching ‘WATCHMEN’, a movie about superhero types.

Without going into entire story, the most gifted of the group financially & brain-wise, Ozymandias, offers the world FREE ENERGY as a result of his efforts in technology with another group member, Dr. Manhattan, who is an all-powerful, well, energy being (*serious* lab accident). It turns out, these major new plants are actually meant to blow up, killing many many millions. What this character wants, is to draw the world–specifically Russia-US which are teetering towards mutual destruction (movie is set in Vietnam era, includ. Nixon)– into a shared hate of ONE PERSON: the blue energy being.

Rich rich hero-type and, well, all-powerful, freaky blue energy-being, logically understand killing maybe 100 million in order to back away from mutually assured destruction of world is better choice.

Beyond the moral negative that a wave of his hand splat! and bloody scattering in the snow of an exceptionally vocal WATCHMAN– who insisted the world needs to know rich brain guy actually did unbelievable deed– the plan works out.

My premise: DT gets the hots for things from watching stuff on TV. He didn’t want to always just be the TV Fired Guy, and he proved he was better than a mess of other Repubs (shudder, Cruz). He must have seen this movie too, and wants the whooole world to know he’s going to do something amazing to them. All he needs is blue being’s cooperation for how to duplicate his energy, and after tweaking negatively, BOOM! the world becomes the world he sees as better.

Long way for the punch line, but destroying tens of millions of lives most of us know because he’s able to, just so more people know he’s The Bomb, that’s the same reasoning of that super-hero who ends up as maximum bad guy. In this explanation, Blue Power (Repubs) is given to ultimately evil-doer, who does worst kind of dirt to people everywhere, and they haven’t got a chance of stopping the big hits from coming.