The Thursday Rundown Club

Let me wish you all a pleasant good evening! This is a busy time of the year for me but my hope is that you are still enjoying these dog days of summer. Here we go with the Thursday Rundown…

Spitting Image of My Dad – To commemorate my parents’ 36th anniversary yesterday, I posted a couple photos across my social media accounts of my mom and dad on their wedding day. I received several responses telling me that I look just like my dad when he was my age. I like to think my dad was (I mean is) a pretty handsome guy so I take it as a compliment. How about you? Do you see a resemblance?

Do you think I look like my dad?

Eclipse Perspective – Earlier this week, I wrote about the challenge of adequately stating the significance of the upcoming total solar eclipse. Thanks to a co-worker, I now know exactly what to say…or at least I know what link to send. This video really helped put the magnificence of the Great American Eclipse into perspective. If you have two minutes, watch this to really understand the opportunity we have to enjoy on Aug. 21.

Girls Trip – Going to the movies used to be a favorite pastime for Sidney and I. However, things change when you have a kid. On Friday night, we went to the theater together for the first time in well over 6 months. The feature presentation? Girls Trip. Although it was 100% Sidney’s choice and although I was more excited for the popcorn than the movie, I must say it wasn’t that bad. I laughed quite a bit and really enjoyed relaxing in the theater recliners with my wife.

Sidney tweeted about the long duration of time it had been since she last saw a movie in the theater.

Oreo Stuffed Cookies – Every now and then I need to feature a treat from my favorite Twitter account. These Oreo-stuffed cookies came from the @ItsFoodPorn account. I think they would be worth a try. I think a soft, homemade chocolate chip cookie would taste great baked around a crunchy Oreo. It would be a win-win for both taste and texture. Who has a glass of milk?!

I would eat these up like a maniac.

Sloan Collage for 8/17 – Today Sloan turned 5 months old! Time flies. She is now eating baby food carrots and tips the scale at 14 pounds! She had a great appointment at the doctor’s office this week and is sleeping soundly in her crib in her own room. It is hard not to smile when you see this face.

Here is the latest Sloan collage.

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My readers are the best! Thanks for tolerating another Thursday Rundown and I hope you have a great weekend. Time now to go cover an eclipse event on the CCU campus! Don’t Blink.

A Question About the Eclipse

Last night, after we put Sloan down to sleep, Sidney and I sat down on the couch to relax. I watched TV while Sidney browsed her phone. After a few minutes, she put down her phone, looked me in the eyes, and asked a great question:

Why is this eclipse such a big deal?

It caught me a bit off guard. Although I am very excited about the eclipse and although I wrote an entire blog post on the subject last week, I didn’t have the exact words in my head to answer her question. After all, excitement doesn’t necessarily translate to “a big deal.” Heck, I am excited to eat dinner each night.

Sidney’s question was sincere and well-intentioned. For the past week, she has dutifully researched the Great American Eclipse. She has done her best to understand it from scientific, contextual, and cultural angles. She has paid close attention to the hype and spent plenty of time reading articles on her phone. However, despite her efforts, she hasn’t quite pinpointed the significance of what will happen on Monday.

As I thought about how I should respond to Sid’s question, I resisted going with the cliché “it is a once in a lifetime event.” If I have learned one thing from meteorologists and eclipse experts over the past several weeks, it is that eclipses occur quite frequently (about twice a year). Even the ones of the complete totality variety occur over a span shorter than what we might think. After Monday’s show, the next total eclipse to hit the United States will be in 2024.

I decided to respond to my wife with the dramatic visual/physical changes that will occur. I told her that it will become like night, the temperature will drop, and birds will start chirping. To me, this is extremely cool! It will be an eerie and unusual experience.

“So it will just be dark for two minutes and that will be it?” Sidney asked, obviously not overly impressed.

Talk about a tough crowd! At the time, I didn’t have much to counter her question. It wasn’t enough for me to respond with how can you not think that is cool?  because Sid and I obviously have different ideas of what constitutes “a big deal.”

Reflecting on our conversation, I think I should have said this: I can’t explain to you why the Great American Eclipse is a big deal but once you experience it for yourself you will know in your heart why it is.

You see, I have heard both experts and amateurs who have observed total eclipses call the experience moving, and, in some cases, life changing. Perhaps the best answer to Sidney’s question is to wait and see.

Or is there a better answer? Tonight I want to ask my readers what I should tell Sidney regarding the significance of the eclipse. In your minds, why does she need to pay attention? I welcome all suggestions. Not only will your input help Sid, it will also increase my enthusiasm even more! Just six days to go. Don’t Blink.

The Reser Bros Handshake

My brother and I have established several bonds of brotherhood over the years. We have experiences, inside jokes, words, and facial expressions that are unique to us. However, our greatest bond might be something even greater.

We have a handshake.

Our special handshake goes back at the very least 14 years. We have executed it thousands of times and it will forever be etched into our respective muscle memories. I can sit here and type while feeling the flow of the handshake go through my body.

My brother and I in 2003 right before we executed our handshake.

The “Reser Bros Handshake” is comprised of high fives, back hands, clasping, chest bumping, and pushing. It is not for the faint of heart. In fact, I have reached the age where I have to ask Glen not to be too aggressive when we go through the glorious motions. It is pretty epic.

Why did we start the handshake? Many of our favorite sports stars had special celebratory shakes and we wanted to emulate them. We put our heads together and came up with the Reser Bros Handshake.

When we visited Spokane last month, Sidney campaigned to dust off the old home movies at my parents’ house. She was successful in her efforts. We had a great time watching videos that dated back over the past few decades. On one particular tape was the first day of school from 2003. In it, my brother and I stand in front of the living room discussing the upcoming school year. Before you know it, the two of us can be seen executing the handshake.

Sidney busted out laughing at our complete nerdiness.  Glen was downstairs in the basement watching with us. The two of us knew what to do. We stood up and performed the handshake with the same amount of smoothness and precision that we performed it with that September day in 2003. Sid made sure to film our present day rendition and I filmed the TV to get the version  from 14 years ago.

I threw the two videos together and posted it on my Instagram account for Throwback Thursday a few weeks back. My Instagram followers responded with words such as “beautiful,” “hilarious,” “awesome,” and even “touching.” That reaction was enough for me to post it on YouTube. Tonight, I would like to give you the chance to watch the “Reser Bros Handshake” both then and now. I must warn you, my hair was hideous. Click here to watch.

As I mentioned above, the handshake will live on forever. Thanks to all those who appreciate it. Don’t Blink.

Judging the 2017 #DoUsAFlavor Lays Potato Chips

When it comes to my Don’t Blink traditions, you have my Thursday Rundowns, my top ten blog posts of the year, and then my reflective end of year posts. You also have one other sure thing tradition: my annual review of the Lay’s #DoUsAFlavor potato chips.

A look back at the previous four times I sampled the different #DoUsAFlavor Lay’s potato chips.

Since 2013, I have reviewed the wacky and creative line of chips inspired by the suggestions of the American people. Today will be my fifth time giving my expertise on whether Lay’s hit the mark (such as its Brazilian Picanha chips in 2016) or totally bombed (like the Wasabi Ginger chips in 2014). This year, the company only released three flavors, a relatively good thing. I get to cut back on the calories and also write a little less. So, without further ado, I give you my annual review of the Lay’s #DoUsAFlavor potato chips.

For the fifth straight year, I reviewed the Lay’s #DoUsAFlavor potato chips. The 2017 class left much to be desired.

Fried Green Tomato – These wavy chips didn’t have much of a smell. They didn’t pack a bold taste either. However, they weren’t completely flavorless. The Fried Green Tomato chips did have a mild taste. Sometimes mild is good. A chip with great texture and a subtle, pleasant mild taste is a winner. But the Fried Green Tomato mild taste is not pleasant. To me, it screams pure vinegar. There is a slight tomato taste thrown in that can be traced in the aftertaste but to me the chip is forgettable if not outright disgusting.

Stay away from the Fried Green Tomato Lay’s potato chip flavor.

Crispy Taco – Whereas the Fried Green Tomato chips lacked a bold flavor, the Crispy Taco flavor was the exact opposite. I ate the first chip out of the bag and it reminded me exactly of homemade tacos at my parents’ house growing up. It had a distinctive, authentic taste. Each chip thereafter packed the flavor punch as well. Some pieces had hints of spice mixed in as well. To me, it was almost as if Lay’s took original potato chips and then ripped open a taco mix and poured it all over them. I thought they tasted great.

The Crispy Taco Lay’s potato chip flavor was very good and by far the best of this year’s class.

Everything Bagel (with cream cheese) – I was a little intrigued to see how these chips would taste. Would they taste like a Panera bagel, or, like it specifically says in its name, would it have an overbearing cream cheese palate? Well, after eating the whole bag to try to identify what the chips tasted like I can confidently say this: they don’t taste like bagel and they don’t taste like cream cheese. In my opinion, they kind of tasted like nothing. My wife tried to help me identify any trace of a flavor and she said that perhaps there was a faint sour cream and onion characteristic to them. Flavorless or not, the Everything Bagel chips are kettle cooked and that always adds points in my book.

The best part about the Everything Bagel Lay’s potato chip flavor is that the chips are kettle cooked.

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My Rankings (from favorite to least favorite)
Crispy Taco
Everything Bagel (with cream cheese)
Fried Green Tomato
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Regrettably, this is probably the weakest #DoUsAFlavor class produced by Lay’s. If not for Crispy Taco, this year would be a complete disaster. I look forward to next year’s flavors when perhaps Sloan can sample them with me. Don’t Blink.

Tooth Fairy Thursday Rundown

Good evening and thanks for returning to Don’t Blink. My wife says she doesn’t read all my blog posts but she makes sure to read every single Thursday Rundown. So, with that said…Hi Sidney! Here we go…

Tooth Fairy Traditions – It is common for children to place a tooth they lost under their pillow. The Tooth Fairy then arrives in the middle of the night and exchanges the tooth with some cash. That isn’t exactly how it happened in my household growing up. When I lost a tooth, my dad instructed me to put it in a glass of water by my bed. When I would awake the next morning, the tooth would be gone and a bunch of coins would be submerged in the water. Did you have any Tooth Fairy traditions growing up?

A photo of me as a little boy after I lost my first tooth.

Honoring My Parents – Last month at the joint 60th birthday party for my parents, we showed a slide show in their honor. Toward the end of the gathering, we instructed everyone still in our backyard to venture through the slider door into my parents’ basement. With the downstairs area filled to capacity, I briefly addressed the crowd and then pressed “play” on the slideshow. It was one of those moments where you could feel the love and wonderment in the room. To view the tribute, click here.

A look at a portion of my parents’ basement when we showed the video. We crammed a lot of people in so they could watch the special presentation.

Latest MOD Pizza Creation – I got off work late last Friday and with Sidney and Sloan still out of town, I picked up dinner on the way home. I stopped at MOD Pizza and had them bake me a pie. As usual, I went with a pesto base but this time around I added a couple ingredients. Friday’s version included mozzarella, spicy Italian sausage, grilled chicken, corn, pineapple, and blue cheese. While not the preferred combination of everyone, I sure enjoyed it!

This was my MOD Pizza from Friday night. Corn, pineapple, and blue cheese go together…right?

Pregnancy Reveal – Today is the one year anniversary of when Sidney and I surprised my parents with the news that we were expecting Sloan. Hard to believe that just 52 weeks ago today Sloan was still just the size of a poppy seed and, until later on in the evening, completely unbeknownst to her grandparents. We made sure to capture the reveal on video so if you want to see my dad cry, click here.

I created a video of the reaction of my parents after Sidney and I told them we are expecting.

More Updated Sloan Photos – Tomorrow Sloan will turn 21 weeks. On Monday she started going to daycare. Her new thing is standing up (with my assistance) on my lap and then after a couple minutes collapsing down on her bottom. Over the weekend we gave her a taste of formula mixed with rice cereal. Here is her latest photo collage.

This is the latest Sloan photo collage.

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Tomorrow is my last Friday of early summer release at work. Going to try and enjoy it with Sid! Just because the summer schedule at work might be over, the season itself has by no means reached a conclusion. Make sure to enjoy these next few weeks. Don’t Blink.

My Top 5 Favorite Donuts

It has been several weeks since I did one of my quick countdown posts so why not get back at it today? In a July post, I mentioned I recently ate donuts for the first time in a long while. Although I don’t really eat donuts anymore (except for that day), that was not the case a decade or two ago. Whether it was after church, before early morning FCA meetings, or during the summer when my mom would bring them home from the supermarket after her gig as a mystery shopper, I ate my fair share of these sweet pastries growing up.

When someone shoves a box of donuts in my face and tells me to help myself, which one am I grabbing for? Well, read on to find out…

What are my favorite types of donuts/doughnuts? Read on to find out. —
Me with delicious Fractured Prune donuts in October of 2014.

5. Blueberry Cake Donut – I don’t think any donut smells better than the blueberry cake donut. In my opinion, not too many taste better either. Although artificial in flavor, you really can’t beat the combo of blueberries and breakfast. Add a little bit of glaze in there and you have it made. Best served warm, a blueberry donut is the perfect option for those who want something that is not messy and that won’t completely fill you up.

4. Sprinkled Donut – The desire of any kid under the age of six, it is tough to pass on a donut covered in rainbow sprinkles. Although sprinkles have plenty of sugar but no taste, they still persuade many, including myself, to snatch up. With a fresh white frosting, I think a donut covered in sprinkles gives you a mild sweet taste with good texture. I feel no shame acting like a kid and going with sprinkles.

3. Old Fashioned Donut – Tell me if I am crazy but old fashioned donuts taste, well, um…..old fashioned? When I eat one, it does seem to pack a retro taste that I would expect to enjoy at a world’s fair in the 1930s. I like it. Although basic and slightly smaller than other donuts, the glaze and nostaglic taste make me a fan. If there was ever a such thing as a donut diet, you would probably be best going with the old fashioned variety.

2. Vanilla Cream Filled Chocolate Donut – When our family would eat donuts, my dad would always go with a Boston cream chocolate filled donut. Respecting my dad, I wanted to emulate him and eat the type of donut he enjoyed. But while I could do a chocolate filled donut, I couldn’t embrace the Boston cream filling. However, I could definitely embrace a vanilla cream filling! My favorite donut for the majority of my childhood, I loved the light and fluffy vanilla cream that would fill up a delicious chocolate donut. I loved how from the outside of the donut there was just a speck of cream poking out of the top but the minute you took a bit the inside was filled with it. Although I have a new #1 now, I still have a special connection with the vanilla cream filled chocolate donut.

1. Apple Fritter – I absolutely love myself an apple fritter! Although some might make an argument that fritters deserve their own category outside of the umbrella of donuts, I actually consider them one of the most distinguishing options within the category. I enjoy apple fritters because they are BIG. It is almost like you are getting two donuts for the price of one! I also appreciate how you can pull them apart and eat a piece at a time instead of just biting into it. Apple fritters taste great both chilled or warmed up. The cinnamon, apples, glaze, and pastry itself work heavenly together. Although some might enjoy fritters kept in the oven until slightly burnt, I enjoy one that is a little less cooked. I always feel bad taking an apple fritter just because they are bigger than the other donuts in the box but I usually can’t help it.

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What do you think of my list? (sorry in advance to all my maple bar lovers out there). While it might not be the best idea to eat a donut every day for breakfast, I think treating yourself to one every now and then is more than fine. Just make sure to leave the fritter for me. Don’t Blink.

The Hype is Real

I never thought anything could be more hyped than a Presidential Election or Super Bowl. However, I think both of those events have met their match. The contender? The Great American Eclipse of 2017.

Two weeks from today, many of us in this country will observe an amazing spectacle as a total solar eclipse will take place. While most in the country will just see it in partial form, it just so happens that South Carolina is the last state in the narrow path for complete totality!

The Great American Eclipse will pass right through South Carolina, just miles from where I live.

Thus, because of where I live, the buildup has been nothing short of intense. Let me explain it this way, reverting back to the Super Bowl as an example: No matter where you live, the Super Bowl is always a major event. Regardless of where you reside, pretty much everyone knows who is playing and who is performing. Most importantly, everyone is watching. However, if you live in a part of the country where one of the teams is from, the hype is turned up to a whole different level. From the local news broadcasts to the city newspaper to the citizens, it is all about the Super Bowl.

The Great American Eclipse is going to be one spectacular sight.

Well, this Super Bowl type of bias is directly applicable to those of us in the 70-mile band of totality that will stretch across 14 states. For those of us in this path, we have been hearing about and anticipating this event for a long time. Now that we are just 14 days away from it, pandemonium has started to set in. We have reached the point in South Carolina where most of us just have three words on our minds: ECLIPSE ECLIPSE ECLIPSE.

At a time like this, it sure is awesome to work at a university. Here at CCU, our professors in the Department of Physics and Engineering Science are working overtime to help our community understand and appreciate the Great American Eclipse of 2017. Aside from our academic brainiacs leading the way, Coastal Carolina University as a whole is trying to really make August 21 memorable. We will be hosting an eclipse viewing event right smack in the middle of Prince Lawn for our students, faculty, and staff to enjoy together. With campus already buzzing with the first day of classes, the eclipse will surely make for one of the more historic days at CCU.

Here is a social media post advertising what we have planned for our campus community.

Although Myrtle Beach isn’t in the direct path of totality, it is extremely close. In fact, the coverage of the sun will be about 99%. The temperature will drop and birds will start chirping. For those of us wanting the complete experience of totality, a short 40 mile car ride is all that separates us from complete darkness.

Are you pumped up for the eclipse? I know people who have had this on their calendar for well over a year now. Although my own personal countdown didn’t start until August arrived, I can tell you that the enthusiasm for the Great American Eclipse is really starting to engulf me. What will occur in two weeks will be pretty huge. Don’t Blink.

The Tradition Comes Full Circle

Over three years ago, I wrote about one of the coolest traditions my parents did for us growing up. Each year, everyone in my family would create a plate. Wait, what do you mean create a plate? On a random night each year, my mom would place circular pieces of paper in front of us. We would then have the freedom to draw whatever we wanted on it. My mom would then ship our artwork to a factory and a few months later they would come back to us in plate form.

We would draw designs on a circular piece of paper and then my mom would send them off and they would come back in plate-form.

As I described in the blog post from April of 2014, this “china” was pretty much exclusively what we ate off of growing up. When us kids left the house, my parents quietly “retired” some of the plates from circulation. My mom was stashing them away for safe keeping so one day she could give our respective plates to each of us when we were settled and had families of our own.

This passing of the torch occurred for me last week. I arrived home from work and waiting on our doorstep was a big brown box. My mom had shipped me my plates.

Last week, this box arrived with the plates I created during my childhood.

I tore open the box and carefully took out the contents and placed them on the kitchen table. In front of me was a stack of plates created by yours truly ranging from the year 1988 all the way through 2000. As I transferred the new cargo from the table to our cupboard, I crossed my fingers that Sid wouldn’t mind these plates, many of them covered in scribbles, mixing with the nice china we received as a wedding gift.

A portion of the plates my mom sent us can already be found in our cupboard here in Myrtle Beach.

Well, to be honest, I actually didn’t think that. You see, Sidney openly endorsed the idea of my mom making good on her long term plan to finally pass on the plates. As I mentioned, my parents put away a good portion of the plates but they also let some “live on” in the cupboards. When we would visit Spokane, Sidney was always tickled when she would “have the honor” of eating off one of them. When we were visiting last month, we expressed to my mom that we were ready to take them off her hands.

When Sloan gets a little older, I wonder what her reaction will be to eating off her dad’s plate from 1991, a full 26 years before she was even born. I hope she finds them as cool as we did and I also hope we let Sloan create her own set of plates as well.

What will Sloan think when she starts eating off her daddy’s plates?

Growing up, we didn’t have the newest Nintendo system or hottest toys in our house but we did have the best dinnerware. I thank my parents for taking the time to do such a loving and lasting activity with us. After thousands of meals served on those plates when they were in Spokane they now have a new shelf life 3,000 miles away in Myrtle Beach. Can’t wait to serve up some country cooking on them! Don’t Blink.

Thursday Rundown: Back By Popular Demand

So, did you miss it? It has been almost a month since I wrote my last Thursday Rundown (July 6). However, to be exact, the last “rundown” I wrote was on July 15…it was a rare Saturday Rundown. Regardless, you are probably just itching for my latest random five topic tangent. Here we go…

A New Italian Dish – As a dude who grew up eating the cooking of his full-blooded Italian mom, there aren’t many Italy-inspired dishes I haven’t tried. Well, I tried a new one last week. Our last night in Spokane we went to a downtown restaurant called Europa. The atmosphere was lovely and the food delicious. For the first time ever, I ordered a dish called a rotolo. Don’t know what a rotolo is? I didn’t either. Basically, it is an Italian pastry-themed pasta dish where a filling is rolled up in pasta sheets. Think of it as a cross between a calzone and manicotti. Anyway, the rotolo I enjoyed was stuffed with pork, cheese, ham, olives, and more. It tasted great but I was more impressed with how pretty it looks in the below photo.

This is the rotolo that I enjoyed from Europa in Spokane.

Another Sketch From Dad– Over two years ago, I wrote about a special tradition my dad carried on for us kids growing up. He would always draw sketches of us for our childhood milestones. I came across this one in the mail yesterday. It is over 12 years old and commemorates my high school graduation. Do you think it looks like me?

My dad drew this in 2005.

Water Balloon Madness – How did we prepare ourselves for hosting a major party at my parents’ house? We had an enormous water balloon fight right before it. My dad’s family staged this balloon battle at the park right across the street from where my mom and dad live. We filled up over 2,500 water balloons and then “let a rip” for ten minutes of water war shenanigans. I cut my foot and got drenched but it sure was a lot of fun. If the water balloon fight didn’t do enough to satisfy the competitive juices of my dad’s family, they made up for it by hosting a corn hole tournament after the party.

A look at some of the water balloons we filled up for the water fight.

S-L-O-A-N – It is very difficult not to love Sloan. She has discovered her feet as she will hold both of them in her hands while in her crib or rock-and-play. Her smile seems to have an even greater spark to it than it did three weeks ago. She rolled over several times for us when we were in Spokane. Our little girl will turn 20 weeks tomorrow!

Some recent Sloan photos for you.

From the Archives – I have a couple of good blog posts to share with you that I wrote on this date. A year ago, Instagram shook the social media world when it debuted Instagram Stories. I jumped right on it and wrote that Insta did it right by developing a feature that was for all intents and purposes better than Snapchat. A year later, Stories is more popular than its competitor. Two years ago, I reviewed the newest (at the time) #DoUsAFlavor Lays potato chips. I always love the posts where I am required to eat. Take a look at both if you have time!

Me holding the 2015 #DoUsAFlavor Lay’s potato chips.

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Have a great weekend. I am working the Coastal Carolina summer commencement ceremony tomorrow night and then I welcome Sidney and Sloan back home on Saturday. Blessings to you all. Don’t Blink.

Surviving While Away From Wife and Daughter

On Monday night, I did something very unusual and uncomfortable. In fact, I did it for the first time ever: I stayed in our house alone.

I came home early from vacationing with Sidney’s family so I could get back to work. Sid and Sloan, however, are staying for the duration of their well-deserved vacation in Hilton Head. They won’t be back until Saturday.

Sidney and Sloan are in Hilton Head for the rest of the week enjoying a well-deserved vacation.

Living without my girls is tough. And how can you blame me? When you are so used to spending every minute at home with the two people you have an infinite amount of love for, it turns out to be quite the adjustment when they aren’t there.

Of course it brings me great comfort to know that they are surrounded by family in a beautiful place having a great time. However, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have an empty/eerie feeling when I walked in the house after I returned from work yesterday. The living room is always the first area I see and usually the television is turned on, baby toys are strewn across the floor, and Sloan and Sidney are cuddling on the couch. On Tuesday, the living room was dark and quiet. Sleeping last night felt strange just like it did on Monday night. My wife was not by my side and the constant baby noises that usually come from Sloan as she sleeps in the rock-and-play in our room were non-existent.

These two are enjoying a lot of pool time together while on vacation.

Two nights in, I have an appreciation for military families and other couples who spend large amounts of time away from each other. Being away from your spouse/kids just doesn’t feel natural.

However, I am trying to make the best of it. This time away from Sloan and Sidney is allowing me to tidy up the house a bit and get myself organized. I can stay at work longer without feeling guilty. I can sleep a few minutes later in the morning. Tonight I will most likely eat at my favorite sports bar.

But if you think catching up at home/work and grabbing a burger while watching a game is consolation for the presence of my wife and daughter you are crazy. I miss them and can’t wait for Saturday. Don’t Blink.