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The process is a roller coaster

July 6, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

When I decided to change course in my career and move from the banking and insurance world to that of education, I knew things would not be easy. In addition to going back to school to FINALLY secure my degree in elementary education, I knew the job market was already saturated with prospective teachers. Or in other words, a college education is not a free ticket to securing employment. That is true in the world of education or any other field.

The past two years of taking classes, writing papers, taking tests, over 100 hours of teacher observations, student teaching and making sure I was meeting all of the requirements set by the state and the college, was a job in itself. Especially since the majority of people who enter this profession are doing so at a much younger age.

I guess you could say that I am the Ronald Reagan of up and coming teachers. Reagan, who was nearly 20 years older than his 1984 competitor, Walter Mondale, had this memorable line during a Presidential debate on Oct. 21, 1984; “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

As I have said before, however, teaching is something I have always wanted and dreamed of doing, so to me, it has all been worth it, even if I am competing against those who are nearly two decades younger than me. Age is just a number in my opinion, and while those whipper-snappers may have age on their side, I can still battle when it comes to desire and passion!

All kidding aside, the most frustrating part is happening now.
The job search.

Looking for a job is never an enjoyable process. Making sure your resume and cover letter look good, securing references, letters of recommendation and going over potential interview questions in your head over and over is at times more stressful than actually starting a new job.

With a flooded job market, however, you need to be prepared and on top of your game.

The other day I posted a message on my Facebook page asking the following question: “What is more frustrating, interviewing for a job and not getting it or receiving an email saying that they went with another candidate without ever being interviewed?”

I was not asking the question as a way to garner sympathy for my lack of success (so far) in my search for a teaching job. I was merely wondering what others thought.

The majority of people that responded seemed to feel that being sent an email without being interviewed was worse.

I agree.

But I do acknowledge that employers know what they are looking for. When you are receiving hundreds of resumes and applications for one or two jobs, you need to narrow your search. Employers will weed out, for lack of a better word, the applicants whom they feel do not fit the mold they are looking for.

It still stings, though. You want to be able to get that chance to shine, answer the questions and wow them with your charm, intelligence and overall zest for the position you are applying for. When you are not given that chance it can be rather deflating.

I know my time will come, but until then, this process is quite a roller coaster. But it is a ride I chose and I fully believe was the right choice. Good things will come.

As the great Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

And pursuing I am!

Comerica Park reflections

July 3, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

I have been a Detroit Tigers fan for many, many years. I grew up listening to them and the late, great Ernie Harwell on the radio. I watched them on TV when Al Kaline and George Kell did the play-by-play.

As a child, I would cut out articles and pictures about the Tigers and tape them to my bedroom wall. And every Sunday I would take the sports section from the paper and copy down all of the players’ stats from the past week in my notebook. Yes, I was a big Tigers nerd.

These days I watch them just about every night, whether for a few innings here and there or for an entire game. I love my Tigers. But one thing I have not done as much as I would like is attend games live and in person.

I ventured to Tiger Stadium just three times in my life. My brother Terry and his family took me to my first game in the late 80s, and I went on two bus trips over the next two years.

Even more shocking, especially since it has been over 20 years since those bus trips, is that I have never been to Comerica Park.

A friend and I have been talking about going to a game for the past few years. We agreed that a bus trip would be fun because you are with a group of other die-hard fans, meet new people, and just have a good time without having to worry about the drive and parking.

A few months ago I added our names to a waiting list for a sold-out trip that was being sponsored by a local brewery. I found out this past Wednesday afternoon that we could go, but my friend was unable to get time off work, as the game was the next day. Gotta love the short notice.

My friend Andrew was able to go, so we boarded the bus and headed to the game. I was as giddy as a child at Christmas. I was finally going to see IN PERSON the field where my beloved Tigers play. As we ventured into the park, Andrew joked that I was acting like a tourist: I was looking at everything in amazement, snapping pictures and just taking it all in. For Andrew, this was his third game of the year and one of many in his lifetime. I, however, was in my element.

As I strolled the concourse, I thought of another die-hard Tiger fan, my Grandma McGlothlen, and imagined how much fun the two of us would be having at the ballpark watching our favorite team.

The day was not perfect however. The Tigers lost, there were no home runs, I forgot sun block so my knees are currently on fire, and the trip home was anything but a joy ride.

Weather and other traffic-related issues caused our two-and-a-half-hour trip to extend to nearly four hours. That led to many of the tired and slightly intoxicated passengers (I said this was a trip sponsored by a brewery) entertaining themselves in a slightly annoying way.

What started out as a fun sing-along of 1980’s theme songs turned into a continuous ballad of songs from heavy metal, rock, hip hop, and the like.

Even worse, a few of them actually thought they could carry a tune and enthralled us with Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”

As I departed the bus, I turned to the driver and said, “This may sound strange, but you look really familiar to me.”

“I thought the same thing about you,” she replied.

After a short Q & A, she informed me that she used to be a security guard at Wings Stadium years ago.

Small world.

All in all, it was a great day. As the theme song from the 80s show “The Facts of Life” goes: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have the facts of life.”

Although I would do it again in a heartbeat, there is one thing I would change. Prince Fielder, when you can win the game with ONE swing of the bat, please do it. It was rather annoying listening to the two ladies in front of me complain about how much you make and how badly you were playing.

Most athletes are overpaid. Just another fact of life. GO TIGERS!

The pat heard around the world

June 19, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

It was the “pat” heard around the world. Well, that may be exaggerating a little bit, but it certainly became newsworthy.

While standing before a judge in regards to a probation violation in a Florida courtroom, former NFL player and Dancing with the Stars contestant Chad Johnson, formerly known as Chad Ochocinco and Chad Johnson before that, decided to have a little fun with his attorney.

Broward County Circuit Judge Kathleen McHugh was debating whether Johnson should go to jail for the violation from an earlier offense or if she would accept Johnson’s plea deal of community service and counseling instead.

As you may recall, Johnson found himself in a whole lot of trouble last year when he was arrested for domestic battery on his then-wife Evelyn Lozada. During an argument, Johnson head-butted his wife prompting her to call the police for which he was subsequently arrested.

Avoiding jail time, Johnson was put on probation for 12 months and was required to spend 26 weeks in a battery intervention program.
During his court proceeding this past week, the judge seemed ready to accept Johnson’s plea deal in addition to adding three months to his probation. When the judge asked Johnson if he was satisfied with his attorney, Johnson promptly gave his lawyer a congratulatory pat on his posterior, causing laughter to break out in the courtroom.

Now, anyone who watches sports knows that this is how athletes say “good job.” It may seem odd or a strange way to exhibit your appreciation for someone else, but that’s just what guys, and some ladies, do in sports.

The judge was not laughing. Instead of just giving Johnson a verbal lashing, she decided to toss the plea deal aside and send Johnson to jail for 30 days. Her reasoning was that Johnson did not seem to take the proceedings seriously. In all fairness, Johnson could have been sentenced for up to 100 days due to his probation violation.

I do agree with the judge and her reasons for the ruling, while I am not sure that her decision was the right one. Sending Johnson to jail may have been a little too harsh. My feeling is that she wanted to make an example of Johnson, which is fine, but I am not sure if sending him to jail at taxpayers’ expense was the right move. But then again, I am not a judge.

I will give her credit though. I am glad she called him out on his behavior. Johnson was in a court of law because he BROKE the law and was being punished for it. I hardly think that is the time to display inappropriate behavior.

And let’s not forget what led him to the courtroom: domestic violence! The last thing you want to do in front of a judge when you are in court because of a domestic violence charge is to lay your hands on another person, whether in jest or otherwise.

As Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler say on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, “Really?”

Can you imagine if someone was in court on a weapons charge and they decided to go all Yosemite Sam on the judge and point a fake gun (using their fingers, of course) at them as a joke?

A court of law is not the place to practice your stand-up routine. Because of tabloid magazines, entertainment news shows and other forms of media, anything and everything is one big joke, and to me, THAT is not funny. It sets the wrong example and lowers our standards and expectations.

Why is losing our maturity, professionalism and respect for others such a popular fad these days? Makes you wonder how different things would be in today’s world if people cared a little bit more about how they presented themselves, how they were perceived by others and how they treated one another.

Mark McGlothlen was born and raised in Constantine but spent much of his time in Three Rivers; his family has deep roots in Three Rivers.  He can be reached at

Suffering from presentee-ism

February 19, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

I read with interest a story in the Wall Street Journal last week that was titled “Go Ahead, Hit the Snooze Button.”

I love sleep. I love sleeping in even more. But I never use the snooze button. My wife, on the other hand, is just the opposite. I usually set my alarm to go off about 6:40 a.m. If I feel that I want to “sleep in” a little longer, I will just re-set my alarm for 6:45 or 6:50 before I go to bed. If I still do not want to get up, mostly because I am all snug in bed and do not want to face the morning cold, I will just lie there, hoping I do not fall back to sleep and then end up being late for work.

My wife is a snooze button abuser. I think that is something that she would admit, too. But she does things opposite of me. She sets her alarm earlier, knowing that she will be hitting that button several times before getting up. I must sleep like a log, because I rarely hear it and she gets up before I do.

Anyway, back to the article. The subtitle of the story was “Calculating the cost of workers who don’t get enough sleep.” I do not want to say that I fall into that category, but I am still one of those who don’t go to bed until midnight on most nights.

According to the article, the estimated cost to U.S. companies from workers with insomnia, who lose an average of 7.8 days of productivity a year, is $63.2 billion! In other words, this problem is caused by “presentee-ism,” which is people who show up for work but perform at below-average levels.

People waste 8.4 minutes online for every hour of interrupted sleep the previous night. I am pretty sure this has applied to me a time or two. The number of American workers who sleep less than six hours per night is 40.6 million, or 30 percent of the civilian work force. Guilty as charged!

Nine percent of Americans say that they are likely to fall asleep at an inappropriate moment, such as during a meeting. This has never happened to me. But I have witnessed this on several occasions, and not just in boring, lengthy staff meetings, either!

The article goes on to mention that those people who are exhausted from work and under tremendous pressure would rather learn about how to perform better on less sleep than how to get more. Interesting. I guess this is just a side effect from the “doing more with less” adage that many companies are adhering to these days. Yes, you can save money by slashing a 40-hour-a-week employee and giving those responsibilities to another person, but, aside from the bottom line, is it really a good idea?

I am not saying that companies do not have reason to trim the fat now and then, but when you have four employees and five managers, there is a problem. See the movie Office Space for a great example of this situation. Yes, once you start pushing too much onto a select few, the problems usually begin; morale and quality decrease, and then articles like this are written to explain the problem.

I don’t know. I was talking with a few co-workers the other day about getting older and how back in the day it was not uncommon for us “younger” folk to stay out until two or three in the morning, go to bed, and be at work by 8 a.m. The only reason that would happen these days is because of a restless or sick child, insomnia or some other odd instance.

But then again, there is always that snooze button …

**Stats used were provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Harvard scientists.

On maintaining professionalism in the face of loss

January 27, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Nobody likes a sore loser.

It doesn’t matter who, what, why, where, when or how, we have all been taught to hold our head high, even in defeat, no matter how heartbreaking the loss.

A loss is tough, no matter the situation. We do not like to lose. But we all do come up as a loser every now and then, whether we admit it or not.

You win some, you lose some.

The losses I am talking about, however, are sports-related losses, and the athletes and coaches that have to deal them. Rather, how they deal with them.

Last week, after his team lost to the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick refused to talk to CBS after the game, as is customary. The losing coaches have always made time for the post-game interview, although I am sure they would much rather just get out of the stadium as fast as possible, especially when that loss resulted in your team missing the Super Bowl.

Former NFL player turned CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe called Belichick out for his unprofessional behavior on the air during the broadcast.

“There’s something to be said about being gracious in defeat,” Sharpe said on the post-game show. “We’ve seen the New England Patriots five times in the last 12 years be victorious [in the AFC championship game]. We’ve seen the opposing coaches who lost come out and talk to our Steve Tasker.”

Sharpe goes on to say, “Bill Belichick makes it real easy for you to root against the Patriots. You can’t be a poor sport all the time. You’re not going to win all the time, and he does this every time he loses. It’s unacceptable.”

I could not agree more.

Belichick is no stranger to controversy. Aside from stiffing members of the media after losses in that past, he paid a hefty fine for a spying controversy that took place a few years ago. Just this year he was fined $50,000 for impermissible physical contact with a referee after a game following, you guessed it, a loss.

As many of you know, I cover the Kalamazoo Wings for this paper. The K-Wings, while a professional team and organization, are a few steps away from the National Hockey League, so to compare the ECHL and NFL is like comparing apples to popcorn. But what they do have in common is professionalism.

Since I started covering the Kalamazoo Wings, I have interviewed three head coaches and countless players, from both the K-Wings and the opposition.

Two of those three head coaches, Mark Reeds and Nick Bootland, stand out as how a professional looks, acts, and sounds. The third coach didn’t even last a full season in Kalamazoo, and I bet you can guess why (as well as other factors).

Reeds coached the K-Wings for four seasons, winning the UHL Colonial Cup in 2005-06 and falling short of a repeat performance the following year in Game 7 of the Finals. That is the year I started covering the K-Wings. I was in Rockford the night they lost. As the Ice Hogs celebrated on the ice, Reeds quietly, but professionally, talked to us reporters with grace, giving props to the winners for a hard-fought series. Bootland was a player on the team at that time. He also spoke with us and took the time to respond to our questions, even though we could tell that his disappointment ran deep. Whether they were angry, disgusted, or whatever they felt, they did not treat us with any less respect than if they had been the ones hoisting that Cup over their heads at center ice that night. Reeds is currently an assistant coach for the NHL Ottawa Senators.

Two years ago, the K-Wings were again in the finals, this time in the ECHL, and this time Bootland was the coach. Again, they lost. And again Bootland displayed the kind of grace and tact that you hope to see in a professional. And so did his players.

Reeds and Bootland have always stressed the desire to have not only great players on their teams, but also to have players who project the kind of attitude that the team and organization feel they build their teams around: professionalism and character. Win or lose, they are there waiting for us, are gracious to us, and, more often than not, thank us for being there.

Losing hurts. I get that. But as a professional, you have a job to do, win or lose. Maybe certain coaches and players should come to Kalamazoo to see how true professionals do their job. It could be a real eye opener.

Banished words: A New Year’s tradition

January 6, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

What words make you cringe when you hear them? Are there some words that you could go without ever hearing again?

Lake Superior State University recently released its annual “banished words list” and has been doing so since 1976. What began as a silly publicity stunt for the little-known school has since turned into a New Year’s Day tradition.

According to their website, the school — which was founded in 1946 as a branch of Michigan College of Mining and Technology — was opened to make room for returning World War II veterans. W.T. (Bill) Rabe, then the university’s Public Relations Director, released his first “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness” on New Year’s Day, because it was typically a slow news day and the story would get more press.

He was right.

People from all over the world now send in their suggestions for words, phrases or expressions that they would like to see banished from our lives … for good. After Rabe retired in 1987, the University copyrighted the list and continues it to this day.

The 38th annual list includes the following words:

Fiscal cliff, kick the can down the road, double down, job creators/creation, passion/passionate, YOLO (you only live once), spoiler alert, bucket list, trending, superfood, boneless wings and guru.

Other banished words/phrases from previous years include:

Git-Er-Done, holiday tree, I see what you’re saying, I’m just saying, you’re fired, your call is very important to us, vast majority and up or down vote. Obviously you can see that many of these came from specific time periods over the last 38 years.

I was glad to see the phrase “double down” on the list. I grew very tired of hearing every reporter and talk show host say “the Romney campaign is going to double down on that comment” or “Obama is going to double down on his request to raise taxes” all throughout the election.

I was also pleased to see that my least favorite phrase ever was on the 2006 list: hunker down. I hate it. I do not know why, but I have never liked it and I can bet I never will. And yes, people who know I despise that word, use it whenever possible when they are around me.

I would like to see anything related to the Jersey Shore, including Snooki, the Situation, JWOWW and the rest of the crew be banished, not only in word form, but also from television. How about award winners, who instead of thanking those that helped them achieve their “greatness,” use their acceptance speech as a political soapbox. I know that is a little off topic, but it drives me crazy nonetheless. Give it a rest already!

And finally, why not add the word compromise to the list, at least as it relates to our elected leaders. You know, the same leaders who vow during a campaign and in their acceptance speeches that they will work with both sides of the aisle to compromise on issues to help move our country forward, only to forget that they ever said that.

It is too bad that our country has to be at a place where compromise is supposedly wanted, but when it comes down to it, both sides only want what they want and to heck with everyone else. And has much as I would like to say it happens just in politics, that is sadly not the case. But yet, we keep supporting the same candidates who only work for themselves, so what can you do?

Oh well. We can hope that 2013 will be a year of compromise. But I am not “holding my breath” (which should be on the list as well, but isn’t). Maybe next year.

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