Singing Thursday Rundown

The smoke is starting to dissipate as Sloan can finally go outside again. But as our smokey reminder of the horrific fires raging up and down the west coast states starts to disappear , I am trying to do my best to keep in mind those who are living through hell. On that somber note, let’s start the Thursday Rundown.

Smokey Night – While on the subject of the smoke, I thought I would share a photo of what the evenings have looked like the past several nights. I took this image from our back deck as you can see what looks to be a white sky at 11 p.m. It was an odd site to fall asleep to.

Our back deck is accessed by the master bedroom. So falling asleep to this sight was definitely a little weird.

Happy Family – This past weekend we celebrated my niece’s birthday. My family, my parents, my siblings, and their significant others/children all attended. With all of us COVID-free, we posed for this photo. All 13 of us are represented and oh so happy. I really like it.

Frame-worthy.

Singing Dogs – The Sunday paper always has a feature that focuses on tidbits about animals and nature. Last week I saw something that gave me pause. Even though I am not a dog person, the quick report on singing dogs interested me. I kept thinking about how strange it would be if I heard literal singing coming from outside and I opened the door to find a dog that was believed to be extinct. I hope the hounds that were found will be able to multiply under a controlled environment.

This was the first time I ever heard of singing dogs.

Marking Sloan’s Half Birthday – Today, Sloan turned 3 and a half. I used to be strictly against celebrating half birthdays but my tune changed once we started having kids. A year ago on this date I wrote about my altered attitude and made some observations about Sloan’s half birthday. In six short months we will have a 4-year-old!

Sloan turned three and a half today.

Currently Watching – With “Captive” finished, we needed to watch something else to give us a little break from our “Boy Meets World” binging. Well, we have finally started watching “Yellowstone.” Even though we might be the last people on the planet to discover it, we are still enjoying it. I am also watching “Monday Night War,” a TWENTY-episode documentary series available on Peacock chronicling the ratings war between WWE Monday Raw and WCW Monday Nitro. Definitely no shortage of entertainment.

I am enjoying watching both “Yellowstone” and “Monday Night War.”

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Let us remember those impacted by COVID, the fires, Hurricane Sally, and senseless violence. Have a nice weekend. Don’t Blink

Six Months A Coug

If you had told me that I would spend the first half year of a new job primarily at home, I probably wouldn’t believe you. But that would have been my thinking pre-COVID. As we all are very familiar with now, this virus has a way of crushing norms.

Thumbs up for my six-month anniversary at Washington State University. Had to get Sid to snap a photo of me in my closet office.

Today I mark six months as an employee at Washington State University. When I have a meeting with someone for the first time, my go-to icebreaker is to tell them that I literally spent one day in my on-campus office before receiving the directive to work from home. It’s true. On March 16 I traveled with my supervisor to Pullman for that first day. When I was packing up to leave that night, we were told to prepare to work from home for the next couple weeks. Well, 26 weeks later…

I was all smiles my first (and only) day on campus.

Despite the strange circumstances and the unprecedented period we are navigating in higher education, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first six months at WSU and am so happy that I made the decision to work for the Cougs. I am in a good spot.

What I have treasured most during my short time at WSU is just being able to contribute. With the COVID crisis really turning everything upside-down, there was plenty to do the moment I switched from teal and bronze to crimson and gray. Besides assisting with our coronavirus response, I have been able to focus on the things that really attracted me to the job: analytics, paid social advertising, and campaign development.

Before moving into the closet at our new house, this was my at-home office

I have also taken on projects and efforts that are vitally important in the current educational climate. To be entrusted with such tasks at a major land grant institution is exactly the direction I wanted to take my career in.

To say I am grateful for both my position and the projects assigned to me is an understatement. I can’t thank my bosses enough for affording me both. I have remained impressed and inspired by our department leadership and feel fortunate to work in such a great work climate…even if it is a virtual one.

Our family is proud to be Cougs!

Making the work climate so effective and welcoming goes beyond my bosses. My co-workers have a lot to do with it too. I work with some talented and dedicated individuals who also are team players. Even though I have primarily worked with them via Zoom, the work relationships feel authentic and very similar to all of the ones I have had in the past.

The next six months will be interesting to say the least. Who knows where we will be with this virus and what instruction at WSU will look like. Needless to say, when March 16, 2021, comes around I will have a very interesting post to pen about my first year as a Coug. Don’t Blink.

Captive

Normally, if I watch something I like, I will mention it in a Thursday Rundown blog post. Occasionally, if I watch something that I feel is exceptional, I might devote an entire blog post to it (i.e. Wild, Wild Country). Tonight is one of those nights.

Listen up, if you have any interest in hostage situations, you need to give “Captive” on Netflix a chance. It is an eight-episode series that tells eight different tales of held-against-your-will, all-hope-is-lost situations involving some very unlucky people.

“Captive” on Netflix was really interesting.

From Ohio to Brazil to Somalia to Iraq and several more places, the documentary series will take you to some scary locations with evil individuals. The hour-long episodes will keep you in suspense as you desperately hope for positive outcomes.

But while the episodes will keep you on the edge of your seat, it is the inside look that will make it worth your while. From the negotiators to the kidnappers to the family members to the hostages, you will learn different perspectives, tactics, and motivations.

When trying to negotiate someone’s release, many times you are limited with what you can do and promise. A dose of creativity that goes beyond paying a ransom is needed. By watching “Captive” you will see how negotiators seldom give up and will do whatever is necessary to save a fellow human.

Go inside the head of a kidnapper. Learn how they got involved with the “industry,” how they manipulate and intimidate their victims, and how sometimes (but definitely not always) they might show compassion. That’s right, in some of these episodes they will have interviews with the real kidnappers themselves, giving a glimpse into the minds of some truly sick people.

Make no mistake about it, when these situations occur, family members are held hostage too. The documentary does a fabulous job showing the pain and uncertainty that loved ones are subjected to when a parent, child, or significant other is abducted. Sometimes, the family is catapulted into the role of chief negotiator, amplifying the unbearable stress that much more. You can’t help but feel for them when they are awakened every night at 2:30 a.m. to a phone call from the kidnappers with the latest threats and demands.

But of course the perspective from the hostages is what makes this documentary so captivating. To learn how someone could endure more than a year in some jungle or basement prison is fascinating, horrifying, and inspiring. The insight I received about how they engaged in their own psychological tactics to get the upper hand on their kidnappers was intriguing as well. The long-term effects on these people featured in the episodes varied and some of what you hear will surprise you.

Although the actions in many of the episodes are barbaric, the various moving parts in these unfortunate situations kept my attention. The context given and the participation from many of the key players involved made for riveting television. Give “Captive” a shot and let me know what you think. Don’t Blink.

SMOKE-an

This past weekend was a little hazy. No, it wasn’t because I hit the beer cooler too hard—heck, I am on a dental medication that won’t even let me take a sip of alcohol—but because of actual smoke that turned the Spokane air into a hazardous mess.

During this time of the year, South Carolina has hurricanes and Washington has wildfires. Although the former posed a more serious threat to my family than the latter, that’s not to say the byproduct of devastating fires is anything to brush off.

This month I have watched the local news solemnly as wildfires rage all over our state. These infernos have literally destroyed communities and burned hundreds of thousands of acres. There is no such thing as a break in 2020.

On Saturday, the Spokane Valley was reminded of the catastrophic flames in other parts of the state by hazy smoke that ushered itself in prior to breakfast. As the sun rose, I stood out on my back deck to this…

This is what it looked like outside from my back deck on Saturday.

What was supposed to be a 90-degree day never even topped 80. The sun remained a weird pinkish orb. Walk outside and the strong smell of smoke automatically overwhelmed you. Walk back in and you smelled like a campfire. Forget the bright September day, it was dark and eerie.

A look at the smoke as we drove down Sprague. Notice the sun in the top left hand corner of the image.

But for all the oddities that came with the smoke settling in the valley that is Spokane, the threat it posed was definitely most concerning. When the air category is at a “good” level, it hovers under a value of 50 on a scale of 500. On Friday, when the smoke started to settle in our area, it reached a mark of 170. By Saturday and through Sunday, it reached a staggering 499! That isn’t just unhealthy, it is HAZARDOUS.

The conditions climbed to 499!

The smokey conditions didn’t improve much today. I am still not comfortable letting my daughter go outside to play. Unfortunately, the wildfires still rage. Although Spokane will soon be spared the smoke, other towns will still be engulfed by the flames. We need to pray for favorable weather conditions, smart decisions by citizens, and the safety of fire fighters. Don’t Blink.

Pavilion Thursday Rundown

Thursday sure arrived quickly! Even by four-day week standards, this one went especially fast. But I never let my guard down and I am prepared for tonight’s Thursday Rundown. Here we go…

Boy Meets World – Thanks to Disney+, Sidney and I are making our way through the “Boy Meets World” series…all seven seasons. Watching these episodes sure brings us back to entertaining nights watching TGIF. But it also led us to YouTube where we stumbled upon a 17-minute documentary with some very insightful commentary from the BMW cast. If you have any childhood connection at all to “Boy Meets World,” I strongly encourage you to watch it.

“Boy Meets World; Back to the Beginning” was an insightful look back at the series.

Under the Lights – In 1974, Spokane held the World’s Fair. A large structure called the pavilion was built as the center piece of the event. During the fair it was draped but when it concluded the cover was removed. For the next 40+ years it would be a spot for rides and other attractions. With the renovation of Riverfront Park came changes at the pavilion. The rides were removed, green space was added, and a super cool light show that spans the inside of the pavilion was built. On Sunday night, we met my sister and her kids at the park. When dusk fell, we headed to the pavilion and enjoyed the show. If you live in Spokane, I recommend checking it out.

The Riverfront Park pavilion light show was terrific.

Never Forget – Tomorrow is the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. In my less-than-adequate attempt to remember the tragedy, I always try to watch a documentary on the attacks and occasionally write something as well. If you are interested, here are some pieces I have written in the past: the importance of teaching our youth about the attacks, putting the tragedy in perspective, highlighting true courage, and re-visiting what I did on 9/11. 

Let us never forgot what happened on 9/11

Florence – During my time in the South, we faced hurricane threats every single year. But nothing compared to Hurricane Florence in 2018. With potential to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane and with Myrtle Beach on alert as a possible spot for a direct hit, it was a very scary time. Sidney, Sloan, and I evacuated to Jacksonville and even made a trip to Disney World. When we returned to Myrtle Beach, our new house was still intact and the area was spared from major catastrophe. Although everything turned out fine, I can still remember the sick feeling I had in my stomach as we would watch endless news coverage and brace for possible disaster. Today marks the two-year anniversary of when CCU shut down so employees could enact personal evacuation plans. On that particular day, I came clean about my anxieties in this blog post.

Evidently, the message I put on my marquee did the trick.

Desserts at Rosauers – Oh, did it come across that I was the only one who got dessert at Rosauers last Friday when I picked up my cookie dough? Not true. Sidney selected a pint of Americone Dream Ben & Jerry’s ice cream while Sloan picked out this unicorn cookie. Surprisingly, it tasted as good as it looked as I was able to steal a nibble when Sloan wasn’t looking.

This was the cookie that Sloan got from the Rosauers bakery.

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Thanks for stopping by this evening. Make sure to take time tomorrow to reflect on 9/11 and to also say a prayer for the end of the Coronavirus. Stick in there, everyone. Don’t Blink.

The Alphabet Challenge

Abcdefghijklimnopqrstuvwxyz.

How long did it take me to type the above? Oh, about 5.917 seconds. With any luck, that is how long it will take me to write this blog post tonight as well.

You see, this latest Don’t Blink entry is less about words and more about letters. This evening we are talking about a CHALLENGE.

While watching TikTok, Sid saw a video that showed people engaging in the Alphabet Challenge (#typethealphabet). The objective is simple: type the Alphabet as fast as you can. Smart phones need not apply for this one, a keyboard is required.

The Alphabet Challenge is simple and addicting: type the alphabet as quickly as you can.

Once you have the website up, you simply start typing…as fast as you possibly can. It is almost like starting and stopping a stopwatch—you can’t just do it once. It is a little addicting and you will want to keep trying to set a new personal record.

Can you beat my time?

But don’t let yourself be your only competition. It is more a thrill to compete against someone else. Sid and I went a few rounds on Sunday and I came out the victor. Who will you challenge? Or, an even better question, can you beat me?! Don’t Blink.

Eating Raw Cookie Dough

It is no secret that I eat way too much cookie dough in various forms. I have documented it time and time again over the years.

That cookie dough will catch up to you after awhile.

Although cheap and sometimes stale, I have eaten many boxes of the movie theater-style chocolate covered cookie dough bites…

These are cheap and not very good, but I still really like them.

I once had Sid make me a cookie dough ice cream pie for my birthday…

Sidney made me an ice cream cookie dough pie for a birthday.

Speaking of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, I infamously bought five different brands of the dessert for Sid to taste test

One of the cookie dough ice creams that Sid tasted in 2016. I encourage you to read this highly entertaining blog post!

On one especially lucky day, I indulged in deep fried cookie dough wontons delivered to me courtesy of HuHot because I won a social media promotion.

The fried cookie dough wontons were delivered to me at work by a HuHot employee.

I have scarfed down cookie dough cheesecake, topped it on froyo, and tasted many different artificial cookie dough flavors in various snacks. Perhaps craziest of all, I even pitched a business idea for a cookie dough café.

But I think I really outdid myself this past weekend when I ate cookie dough in its rawest form…literally. I did pretty much the closest thing you can do to grabbing an actual bowl of cookie dough meant for cookies and eating it by the spoonful…

I purchased this “edible” cookie dough from Rosauers on Friday night.

Thanks to Rosauers, I bought cookie dough designed to be consumed directly out of the container. Yes, in case there was any confusion on what I was supposed to do with it, the label specifically said “edible” on it.

I gave it a try on Friday night and I only made it through a few bites. Perhaps it was because I was really full from dinner but to be honest it didn’t taste that great. It was as if someone made some tasteless dough that looked like cookie dough and then sprayed it with cookie dough artificial flavoring and dumped a lot of salt on it.

Here is a better look at the texture of the Rosauers cookie dough.

Although you might call me crazy, I did give it a second shot on Saturday night. Surprisingly enough, it tasted better! In fact, I ate probably 12 bites. I think this might have been because my expectations were lowered significantly. Despite a tastier experience, I didn’t finish the container and I haven’t opened it up again.

I guess I wanted to write this blog post to point out that containers of cookie dough meant to be devoured via a spoon while watching Dateline actually exist.

However, at least in the case of what I bought from the supermarket, the recipe is yet to be perfected. Let’s hope a vaccine for the coronavirus comes before decent-tasting edible cookie dough. Don’t Blink.

Boom! Thursday Rundown

I hope your month has started off on the right foot. As I present my first Thursday Rundown of September 2020, I want to thank you at the start of my blog post instead of the end of it for your readership. Thank you. Now, let’s get started…

Look at Those Tomatoes – At the end of July, I wrote about something my dad did with Sloan. He gave Sloan her own tomato plant. They planted it and then watched it grow as I documented the progress. Earlier this week, they picked all of the tomatoes, bringing in quite the harvest. The photos below were all taken 3-4 weeks apart. What a wonderful grandpa/granddaughter activity! 

The progression of Sloan’s tomato plant.

Monte’s Roommate – It was seven years ago when I became a very minor Missoula celebrity. In a blockbuster 2013 opening weekend football game, the Montana Grizzlies hosted Appalachian State. In front of the largest ever Washington-Grizzly Stadium crowd at the time, we debuted a Monte movie on the video board that starred yours truly. I look at the video now and cringe, but I do vividly remember sitting in the press box and listening to the collective laughter of the 26,000+ fans in the stands as the movie rolled.

The opening scene of the movie!

Grandma’s Birthday – If my maternal grandmother was alive today, Virginia Fazzari would be 103. She was a quiet but strong woman who was committed to her family and her faith. Three years ago, I wrote one of my all-time favorite Don’t Blink entries about her life and the traits that defined her.

My grandma would have turned 103 today.

Not New – Yesterday I took the early morning, my lunch break, and right after work to watch a movie called “Here Comes the Boom.” It stars Kevin James, who I really like, and Henry Winkler, my hero. In the film, James is a slacker teacher who ends up participating in MMA fights to raise money to save his school’s music program and the music teacher’s (Winkler) job. Here is what is funny: I discovered this movie on the IMDb section of Firestick and thought it was a new release. I announced out loud to Sid that I thought Salma Hayek, who also plays a key role in the film, looked really good for 54. Coincidentally, yesterday was her birthday and I found out her age by watching the news, a couple hours before watching the film. Anyway, when I turned on the movie to watch the final 20 minutes of the film last night, I saw that it was made in 2012! A movie I thought was brand new was actually eight years old.

I watched “Here Comes the Boom” as if it was made in 2020.

Directionally Challenged – Every Thursday, my friend Lindsi shares a collection of memes on her Instagram Story. This particular one below made me laugh as it definitely resonated with me. Sidney and I always smile when my dad gives us directions somewhere because he will always say “go west, turn east, head south, etc.” Although I should be more competent with this type of direction expression I do much better with landmark point of references. Or, better yet, I just use the navigation app on my phone.

This resonated with me.

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That will do it for another week. Have a relaxing and safe Labor Day weekend. Please pray for the end of the Coronavirus. Don’t Blink.

Taco Tuesday

A couple weeks ago I was scrolling through Instagram on a Tuesday and it was almost comical. During one stretch, I must have encountered back-to-back-to-back-to-back Taco Tuesday posts…yes, I follow a lot of local restaurants. The mania for the taco special was so intense that I had to tweet about it.

Seriously!

Not that I didn’t know about this “trend” before my feed was flooded by it. Taco Tuesday is a tradition that is beloved by restaurants and customers alike. Although I once referred to it in jest as “cliché,” I do appreciate that it is something embraced by many. Are you surprised? Bars can capitalize on a popular promotion that costs them a minimal amount but packs their establishments. For customers, it is one of the best excuses to drink beer on a weekday.

Sidney eating a taco.

I have been aware of Taco Tuesday for almost 20 years (really dating myself here). When I was a freshman in high school, our football program partnered with the local Zips on a Taco Tuesday bargain. After practice on that special day of the week, a lot of hungry high school football players would pay $7 for all-you-can-eat tacos and tater tots. For those who live in the Inland Northwest and are well aware of what a Zips is—an extremely popular BURGER drive-in restaurant—you are probably scratching your head wondering how such an highly esteemed business could jump so far off brand.

Well, it was possible because Taco Tuesday is such a major piece of Americana that even Krispy Kreme could probably get away with offering its own version. People want tacos on Tuesdays and are willing to travel to places that give them what they want, even if these restaurants and taverns would otherwise have absolutely no business adding tacos to their menus.

Every Tuesday, my Instagram feed is inundated with Taco Tuesday plugs from local restaurants that I follow.

Although Taco Tuesday has been on my radar for nearly two decades, I have seen it really explode in the past five years, evidenced in part by my Instagram feed. In fact, it has done more than just infiltrate every corner bar in the country—it has entered the home.

A couple tacos prepared at our family Taco Tuesday last night.

As the World’s Most Interesting Man might say of our family, we don’t eat tacos every week, but when we do, we prefer to do it on Tuesdays. If we do have a taco night, we do make an effort to stage it on a Tuesday evening. Take last night for example. To celebrate it not being Monday anymore, we had our own Reser Family Taco Tuesday. It was delicious.

Sloan enjoying our Taco Tuesday last night.

Whether in your home or local watering hole, keep Taco Tuesdaying it up! As something that benefits and satisfies pretty much everybody involved, I approve (and happily participate). Don’t Blink.

Losing Track of Time

September is here but in a way it doesn’t feel like September. In a normal year, I wouldn’t need a calendar to tell me that it is the ninth month of the year. Rather, I could tell by the tailgates springing up around whatever campus I was working on. Or, I would know by flipping on the radio and listening to the opening topic on any sports talk station. Or, I could turn on the TV during the first Saturday of the month and see stadiums filled to the brim under the beautiful sunlight of a late summer day.

Basically, September always arrived when the college football season kicked off in earnest.

We all complain that the Coronavirus has stolen sports from us. But of course, there are so many other implications besides the big picture of no athletic competitions. We miss our traditions, our fantasy leagues, our television packages, our evenings at the ballpark, our escapes from reality. Those of us who are sports fans feel the sting in countless different ways.

For me, I miss the way sports serve as my calendar.

I know it is September when college football is in full swing.

Throughout most of my life, I have used major sporting events synonymously with different times of the year. Sports rightfully took a backseat when COVID-19 ripped through the U.S. in time to wipe out all of the NCAA basketball conference tournaments. This of course led to the cancellation of March Madness. Well, I guess it should come as no surprise that the greatest sports tournament on the planet made me think of March because of its namesake, but it also made me think of other things. I have always equated March Madness with the start of spring and the ushering in of warmer weather…light at the end of the tunnel if you will. With COVID, all we got was a false sense that there could be light at the end of tunnel in terms of the virus being defeated.

I have always known it was April when golf’s greats converged on Augusta National for the sport’s most riveting tourney. The Masters remind me of Easter and the start of my own personal golf season. I would become aware that showers turned to flowers when the Run for the Roses was contested in early May (don’t forget that the Kentucky Derby will run this Saturday!). Although I would never actually forget the very special day, the pink bats used on Mother’s Day weekend in Major League Baseball never failed to drive the point home that my wife and mom deserved nothing but the best in mid-May.

The NBA Finals in mid-June always signified for me the early start of summer and a slate of fun activities coming up in the ensuing weeks. The month of June also screams golf again with the U.S. Open, usually taking place during Father’s Day weekend.

You know it is the heart of summer when a couple of big time July sporting contests take place. Wimbledon occurs during that first week of the month and then what I recognize as the epitome of all summer athletic events, the MLB All-Star game, takes center stage not too long after. Seriously, I didn’t know how I was going to enjoy Summer 2020 without the Midsummer Classic (I somehow managed).

The Little League World Series, along with training camp for all levels of football, wind down the summer in August. The month is always a little bitter because the days start to get shorter and we head back to work/school fulltime but there is tremendous optimism because the football season is right around the corner…

Which is where we should be right now…at least in terms of the college season. But we aren’t, and that’s okay—there are more pressing issues in the world. But I would be lying if I said that the sports calendar didn’t keep me up to speed with the Gregorian calendar. It has definitely been a little strange navigating through the past several months without athletics to keep me on track. But dang it, what a small thing to trivialize over, right? Don’t Blink.