The Grammar/Spelling Nazis of My Blog

My job entails that I write a lot. From crafting social media posts seen by thousands to writing for our widely circulated alumni magazine to penning a monthly column for our staff newsletter, I get my writing out in front of people. Luckily for me, if I just step out of my office I have two editors down the hall at my disposal who are more than happy to turn my work upside down and mark it up in red. Having JoAnna and Doug as a safety net for my copy is very re-assuring. I can jot down my thoughts freely knowing that it will make as much sense to the readers as it did to me before I turned it over to the professionals.

A very hasty cutting and pasting job by me but here are our two editors...Doug on the left and JoAnna on the right.

A very hasty cutting and pasting job by me but here are our two editors…Doug on the left and JoAnna on the right.

When I sit at home during the evening and write for Don’t Blink, I don’t have this luxury. I am my own proofreader, editor, and publisher…kind of a scary thing. While I go to great lengths to re-read and catch mistakes I make, I don’t always spot them all. Additionally, I am prone to leave errors in my posts that I didn’t even know were errors to begin with. But because I have written my whole life and because I read a lot, I still believe I have a slightly better eye for catching blunders than the status quo. By no means does this mean I am perfect.

Two people who constantly remind me of this fact are my sister and brother. Miranda, 31, and Glen, 25, message me for two reasons: either to send photos of the baby/cat or to make fun of me for making grammar and/or spelling mistakes in my blog. Although my brother won’t even admit to reading Don’t Blink, somehow he knows the moment a mistake is made and informs me immediately. My sister will go through five blog posts and 4,000 words until she finds something that she can call me out on at which time she will send out a text, making sure to include Glen.

My sister will point out my spelling errors. Most of them come when I type too quickly and make a basic typo and overlook it.

My sister will point out my spelling errors. Most of them come when I type too quickly and make a basic typo and overlook it.

While I do welcome corrections, I prefer to have them pointed out in a constructive way. I think sometimes my siblings enjoy rubbing it in a tad. They like to play with my perfectionist personality and the last thing they would ever want is to let my head get too big.

I had to screen capture twice to get the full conversation.

I had to screen capture twice to get the full conversation.

While in college I had a professor for several courses who would give us an extra point on his exams if we found a spelling/grammar error on the test. I thought about offering my readers an incentive for finding mistakes in my writing but I thought better of it. I know I make errors and I am afraid of the influx of e-mails and comments I would receive, not to mention my phone blowing up with texts from my brother and sister.

A photo with my brother (Glen) and sister (Miranda). My sister is holding her daughter, Mikayla.

A photo with my brother (Glen) and sister (Miranda). My sister is holding her daughter, Mikayla.

My writing is not perfect but I think for the most part it is readable. While obviously my brother doesn’t want to be my personal editor, maybe someone out there does. Would an occasional shout out on my Thursday Rundown blog post work for payment? Don’t Blink.

CINO Day 2015

Another example of what makes the university that I work at stand out from all the others took place this past Friday. Under sunny skies and warm temperatures, I covered my first CINO Day at Coastal Carolina University. The acronym-named day (CINO stands for “Coastal is Number One”) is circled on the CCU calendar each year and is a major source of pride at our institution.

CINO Day has evolved quite a bit over the decades but what it has established itself as over the past several years is a full blown afternoon of fun, food, and celebration. While many universities have annual festival days, I think you would be hard pressed to find an event as anticipated and glorified.

This is what CINO Day looks like from above. A few minutes after the event started I climbed to the top of the Prince Building and took this photo.

This is what CINO Day looks like from above. A few minutes after the event started I climbed to the top of the Prince Building and took this photo.

I went into my coverage of CINO Day not knowing exactly what to expect. I had heard people rave about it for the past year but you never know how much is legit and how much is hype. I received a good indication of how seriously this event is taken when I went out on Prince Lawn at 11:15 a.m. to see a huge line of students waiting patiently for the noon start time. When the clock hit 12 p.m., the students in line would receive the free CINO Day tank top and the fun would begin. Right when the designated time hit, the line started moving and the party began.

Students lined up well before the noon start time of CINO Day so they could get the free shirt of this year's event.

Students lined up well before the noon start time of CINO Day so they could get the free shirt of this year’s event.

Most first notice the rides at. The organizing body of CINO Day, the student-run Coastal Activities Board (CAB), orders in a full-sized ferris wheel. Students who hop on this attraction enjoy a wonderful view of Prince Lawn once their cage takes them to the very top. Then you also have the Round Up, a ride that was packed the whole afternoon. Most impressive though is the zip line that is brought in. The particular one for CINO Day allowed two people to go at once. I watched more than one time as riders had to overcome their fears and take the plunge. I saw one girl stand at the very top for about five minutes before descending.

A look at the rides at CINO Day this past Friday.

A look at the rides at CINO Day this past Friday.

If inflatables are your thing, CINO Day had you covered this year. A large blow up climbing wall was set up, a Velcro bouncey jump was installed, a freefalling double slide was offered, and a mechanical surfboard surrounded by an inflatable pit intrigued countless students to give it a try.

A look at the inflatables at CINO Day.

A look at the inflatables at CINO Day.

I knew little about the exotic animals on display until I arrived on scene. You had a leopard, birds, a big ol’ snake, and a MONKEY. The excitement for the monkey was insane as people circled around the creature and his caretaker for the full four hours. Although I don’t know how exotic this animal is, they also had a porcupine out there as well.

The animals were a big hit with the students at CINO Day.

The animals were a big hit with the students at CINO Day.

For all that is made about college students always being hungry and on the lookout for free food, CINO Day is an oasis for them. Since the theme was Hawaiian, students could pick through a large spread of tropical food under one of the tents. Buffalo Wild Wings was also on hand serving up free wings. Cotton candy was unlimited. An island smoothie stand and an Italian ice cart provided cool treats throughout the course of the warm day as well. Everything was free.

CINO Day had a lot of food options. Above some student enjoy cotton candy and below students go through a Hawaiian line.

CINO Day had a lot of food options. Above some student enjoy cotton candy and below students go through a Hawaiian line.

You also had the attractions that give CINO Day such personality that don’t really fit in the categories above. A fire breather performed the whole afternoon. A DJ was on hand as students danced in the middle of Prince Lawn. Several campus and community entities set up booths and handed out free items. Art stations were set up for students to create something that they could take home and always remember CINO Day 2015 by.

A glimpse of the fire breather and the dance floor in addition to a couple photos of happy students.

A glimpse of the fire breather and the dance floor in addition to a couple photos of happy students.

Yes, I think CINO Day lived up to the hype. A lot more went on at the event than what I had anticipated. I kept thinking to myself that I wished something like this existed where I went to school at. As I mentioned above, CINO Day was organized by one of our amazing student organizations, an incredible feat considering the festivities went off without a hitch. Great job to the Coastal Activities Board and I can’t wait for CINO Day 2016. Don’t Blink.

Carty Leading Off, Dreams on Deck, Documentary in the Hole

If you are looking for my latest Thursday Rundown, you found the right place. It is that time to run through five topics and hopefully not waste too much of your time. We start serious and then mellow out. Here we go…

Carty Latest – I can report to my readers who depend on me for Sean Carty updates that his first appeal is scheduled for the week of May 4 – May 8. This initial round will depend on the mercy of the principal. Often it is easy to overlook the impact of a hasty and ill-advised decision such as Sean Carty’s termination so here is some perspective: When the contract of the head coach is not renewed, the contracts of all assistant coaches are not renewed either. These parents not only sabotaged Coach Carty’s passion, leadership role, and income source but they sabotaged it for every man on the coaching staff as well. As of right now, there is no one presiding over the football program in an interim role.

Of course this hurts the student-athletes the most. Currently, there are no plans for spring ball. Hopefully Coach Carty is reinstated. Even with the enormous disruption that has been caused he will no doubt be able to pull the team together and use the delusion and selfishness of a small group to make the squad stronger. But could you imagine the catastrophe if the decision stands? Who knows after a coaching search when the replacement would be installed. The summer could very well be halfway over. Implementing a new philosophy, offense, and strength program at that point would be to sacrifice the season. As I have encouraged in the past, please contact the Superintendent of Mead Schools, Dr. Rockefeller, and voice your support for Coach Carty and for the Mead football program. You can contact him via e-mail by clicking here.

In Your Dreams – Earlier this week I was searching the App Store for something that could help me keep an electronic dream journal. During my search I found something even cooler. Dream Talk is a service that captures your rambles while you are unconscious. If you are like me and talk in your sleep, this is a very powerful tool to let you know what you actually say. Before you go to bed you simply press a button and once you say a word the app will immediately start recording. When your babbling stops, Dream Talk stops recording and saves whatever you said. It then resets so it is ready for your next dream-induced conversation. I also use it for what I was originally looking for (dream journal). When I wake up from a dream I just record what it was about by talking into the app. Sure beats the traditional method I used to keep.

This is what the app looks like.

This is what the app opens up as.

The Imposter – If you are into documentaries and hard-to-believe stories, “The Imposter” is for you. The film tells the story of a family who had a child go missing in Texas. Three years later they received a call that their son was found alive in Spain. They went overseas and picked him up and brought him back to the states. Although his eye color had changed and he spoke with an accent, the family believed it was actually their son. The documentary chronicles how the mid-twenties man posing as a 16-year-old did his best to blend in before a private investigator revealed the fraud. It is a fascinating and twisted story.

NBA Finals Wish – With the marathon that is the NBA Playoffs here, I have an early preference for who I want to see in the championship round. I would enjoy watching the Golden State Warriors duke it out with the Chicago Bulls. I am a big Steve Kerr fan and I love Golden State’s style of play. When it comes to Chicago, I think it would be a great story for Derrick Rose to lead his team to the Finals after all the trials and tribulations he has been through. Additionally, I would love to see my favorite mascot in professional sports, Benny the Bull, showcase his talents on the league’s biggest stage. Unlike most of my championship picks, this one actually has a chance of happening.

iTunes Spree – Our athletic director recently gave me a $25 iTunes gift card for covering the NCAA Tournament. Really, you are rewarding me for going to the best sporting event on the planet?! Gee, thanks!! Anyway, I have since taken the very kind token of appreciation and used it to buy some songs. With still $15 left to spend, here is my random six-song playlist (editing note: I have had “Blank Space” for a few months now. I didn’t mean to add it to this list).

The songs I purchased with my iTunes gift card.

The songs I purchased with my iTunes gift card.

BONUS: Start of an Odyssey - For the first time ever in Rundown history, I am adding a sixth item. A year ago today I cleaned out my apartment in Missoula, picked up the U-Haul truck, and prepared for the longest drive of my life. The next day my dad and I would embark on a trip that we will remember for the rest of our lives as we U-Hauled it to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Sorry for adding this but I thought it was worth mentioning.

This was me in Missoula exactly one year ago today. We had just gotten our U-Haul.

This was me in Missoula exactly one year ago today. We had just gotten our U-Haul.

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Who is ready for Friday tomorrow?! I usually never have long weeks but this one seemed to drag a little. Have a wonderful night and I will catch up with you on Sunday. Don’t Blink.

My Pet Peeves and Joys of E-Mail

While new technology has taken away the dominance of e-mail, it is still extremly prevalent in society. Last night I tweeted out a minor pet peeve I have with how people use it. However, I am also often delighted by the great practices others use when communicating via electronic mail. In tonight’s blog post I am going to zip through three e-mail practices that I don’t particularly like and then end on a positive note by recognizing three techniques that I really appreciate.

The Negative

Misplaced Gratitude – Often I will receive e-mails that ask me to complete a task such as filling out paperwork, donating to a cause, or performing a favor for someone. While these requests are perfectly fine, sometimes the way they “thank me” irritates me. Instead of offering gratitude for reading the e-mail or considering it, some folks repond with “thanks in advance.” I guess this bothers me for two reasons. First, I never agreed to do what was being asked. The sender seems to intentionally put pressure on a person to do somethng by implying that the deed at hand is already accepted and is as good as done. Second, it implies that the sender won’t have to thank the person once the task is actually completed. Hey, I am just thanking you right now to get it over with so I don’t have to say it after you actually decide to do the work. I dislike this.

Random CC – I feel a little deceived when I am corresponding with someone back and forth about an issue and then out of nowhere the person pulls in someone via carbon copy. I am talking about the times when it isn’t 100% obvious that the additional person should be brought in. I am referring to when a person will bring in a superior or someone who might not need to see the whole transcript. If I am going to CC someone in a conversation that has been on-going, I will at least call the person and let them know who I plan to include. If for some reason that step is not appropriate at the time, when I do CC the other person I will write out in the body of the e-mail explaining why I am doing so. Under no circumstances would I ever completely surprise someone.

Read Receipt – I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate read receipts. Why must I tell you if I read your e-mail? I have a 100% record of NOT sending a read receipt.

 

The Positive

Good Morning, How Are You? – I know we are all busy and e-mail can drain a lot of time. This is why I really appreciate the people who will start an e-mail off by greeting me and asking me how I am doing. At Coastal Carolina we have many people who do this and it is so refreshing. An e-mail that starts out like this Hi Brent – Good morning! How are you doing? It was nice running into you a couple days ago. By chance could you please send me a photo…. is always more appreciated than Brent – Please send photo….

I respect people who take a couple seconds to make their electronic correspondence courteous and pleasant rather than impersonal and short.

Fast Response – The people who respond to e-mail in a split second are the real MVPs. I know there are many folks out there who can’t respond the second the e-mail hits their inbox because of technology deficiencies or serious workload. However, I commend the people who given the choice to respond now or respond later will always choose the former even if it means they are laying in bed.

Organized and Clear – I know a couple people who will compose e-mails on Word documents to make sure all grammar and spelling is flawless. I think this is awesome and shows a lot of respect and care. Of course I don’t expect everyone to do this. An honest effort to compose e-mails that make logical sense and avoid terrible spelling errors is enough for me. I once corresponded with someone via e-mail who had an iPhone signature that read “I am not responsible for spelling/grammar errors.” Ummmm…why not? I love the people who do hold themselves responsible

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From what I have read, e-mail could be totally gone in ten years. But while we still have it, I want to try to be as respectful and helpful on it as possible. Do you have any e-mail pet peeves or best practices? Don’t Blink.

Dramatic Website Overhaul

Although I would argue that social media is closing the gap, a website is the number one marketing tool of an organization. To have a powerful and innovative website is crucial to success. In higher education, this importance is even more pronounced.

These days a good university website engages prospective students the moment they access the URL. In a short amount of time, the story of a college must be told creatively and clearly. Gone are the days when a university homepage served as a bulletin board of information where you could find out about the next public lecture.

It only takes a quick glance at our Coastal Carolina website to realize we are behind the times. In our marketing office, we don’t feel an overabundance of pride directing people, especially prospective students, to it. However, we are in the process of changing this.

Bill Plate arrived at Coastal Carolina University about two and a half years ago to serve as the Vice President of University Communication and Marketing. Almost immediately upon his arrival he lobbied for the opportunity to lead the charge to revamp the CCU web experience. Explaining to the administration that we could either patch up the current site or build a top of the line, sparkling new one, our President elected the latter. By the time I joined Coastal about a year ago, this project was about to get started.

Bill is the man on the left with the tie.

Bill is the man on the left with the tie.

In December we started working with a company called iFactory. Not just a higher education web design firm but rather a wildly successful multi-industry design firm, we knew that investing in them would lead to something special. Bill created a small “core team” that would work hand-in-hand with iFactory throughout the whole project. Knowing the major disadvantages of having too many cooks in the kitchen, it was important to assemble a tight group that could focus on a nine-month project with our new partner while at the same time making important decisions.

We have partnered with iFactory to re-design our website.

We have partnered with iFactory to re-design our website.

Bill asked me to join him on the team. He also asked another member of our University Communication team, our Director of Creative Services, to serve on it. The three of us merged with four folks from our IT department. In a very smart move, Bill also added two web design professors to sit in with us as well. For the past five months our core team has met at the very least once a week to work on this monumental project.

Of course joining us a thousand miles away via conference call in Boston have been our friends at iFactory. We started small working on discovery stages such as developing a strategy and analyzing our users. But, over the past couple months, the project has started to take shape. We have developed our user personas, built our site map, constructed our wireframes, and started in on the fun stuff…the art design! With things really heating up, two big developments occurred over the past couple of days.

Yesterday the two people in charge of the project from iFactory’s end, Pete and Courtney, flew in from Boston to meet with us. After meeting them in-person at the start of the project in December, it had been a long time and countless conference calls since we got to see them in the flesh. After lunch we delved straight into the user experience portion of the project. Pete offered us out-of-this-world, crazy concepts…exactly what we wanted. You see, our mission of this project is to not develop just another typical .edu site. The options he gave us were unlike anything you would associate with your typical ________ State University. It was exciting.

Today was the big day though. We held a university-wide town hall meeting for the community to attend. During the meeting we would discuss the scope of the project and then (gulp) open it up for questions. You can’t deny it, change is difficult on many. With news that a major overhaul would soon overtake coastal.edu, staff and faculty at CCU wondered what it would mean for them.

Bill delivered the opening address and then turned it over to Pete. With all eyes on our strategist from Boston, Pete was on his game. He eloquently explained the stages of the project and the desired outcome. He made no qualms about the fact that our website would now be about prospective students. He put it very bluntly that the homepage of coastal.edu is not for current students to access Moodle or for faculty members to pull up university policies. Sprinkling in doses of humor throughout his hour presentation he also reminded the audience that while feedback was appreciated, the big decisions would rest with the core team. He then turned it over for questions.

Bill started the town hall meeting off. The event took place in Johnson Auditorium of the Wall Building on the campus of Coastal Carolina University.

Bill started the town hall meeting off. The event took place in Johnson Auditorium of the Wall Building on the campus of Coastal Carolina University.

Pete had done an excellent job but would the audience be receptive? It was clearly put that major changes were coming. I expected moderate pushback. But surprising to me, the resistance was actually minimal. The audience asked several good, well-phrased questions. Pete and Bill both did very answering them. The town hall was by all accounts a success.

Pete from iFactory poised and ready to answer questions.

Pete from iFactory poised and ready to answer questions.

Of course the real test will come in the fall when we launch. I remember when I was part of the website overhaul while working for Grizzly Athletics. We replaced our static, embarrassing website with a brand new site created by CBS Sports that incorporated video, sophisticated statistical tracking, and an enhanced fan experience. Some people claimed to prefer the old one. Unbelievable. But then again, to draw on the major point of this whole thing, it is not about “some people.” Rather, it is about the prospective student. When our final product is ready for all to see, our target audience visiting coastal.edu will be blown away. This isn’t going to be your grandfather’s university website. Don’t Blink.

In Defense of Britt McHenry

Over the past several days a rising star at ESPN has come under major scrutiny. You don’t have to like sports to have heard about the Britt McHenry blow up. This attractive reporter went viral in the worst possible way when a camera caught her berating an employee at a tow shop. Incensed that her vehicle was towed, McHenry blasted the business while also taking personal shots at the employee’s weight, teeth, and education. ESPN responded by suspending her for a week.

While the majority of America is outraged at her outburst, there is a segment of the population that is on the side of Britt McHenry. While I don’t condone her personal attacks, I do understand her frustration.

Last month I flew out of a very small airport. With time running low I parked in the first lot I could find. I got on my flight and forgot about my park job. When I returned a few days later my car was gone. Knowing I probably didn’t make the best decision on where to park I figured my vehicle had been towed. Sidney came and picked me up and after some driving around we found the sign explaining where unauthorized cars (such as my Toyota Solara) would go…it wasn’t to my apartment complex.

I called the tow company and they told me gruffly that they had my car but I only had 30 minutes left in the day to claim it before the shop shut down and the ransom on my car would go up by $50. Sidney hurried through Myrtle Beach traffic to get me to the location in time. Thanks to her timely driving I arrived well ahead of closing. After some previous bad luck with my vehicle, the annoyance of having my car towed, and the way I was dealt with on the phone, I walked inside the shop with a small chip on my shoulder.

When I entered the tiny and cluttered shop, no one was at the front desk. I could hear someone in the small adjoining office watching TV. I breathed loud and shuffled my feet to get the point across that someone had just walked in. With no bell to ring and still no one coming to help me I took one of my Don’t Blink pens out of my pocket and held it up as high as possible and dropped it on the counter. The lady who I had talked to 15 minutes ago who knew I was coming finally shuffled out to the front desk.

“What can I do for you?” the lady asked.
“You can give me my car back,” I said in a frustrated/joking tone.

She gave me some attitude and I wasn’t the nicest back. She informed me that the price to get my car back would be $200. I tried to hand my debit card to her.

“We only accept cash for these types of tows,” the lady said.

That didn’t sit too well with me. Who carries $200 cash in their pocket? I flat out refused. Nope, not gonna do it. She relented and said she could run my debit card if I paid an extra $5 fee. For some reason she thought that would deter me.

“Run it,” I said.

She grabbed my card and grudgingly swiped it. I signed the paperwork releasing the tow company from all the damage they could have done to my car and walked out into the tow yard. I spotted my car boxed in by three other cars. There was no way of getting out and the lady at the front desk sure wasn’t moving the cars. She told me that “the guys” were out on a job and I would have to wait for them to return.

I walked back in the office and waited for 20 minutes. The lady went to her little TV room and left me to wait. Sidney didn’t like the tension so she just waited in her car. With the time I had to wait I examined the place and realized there was an ATM in the corner. Perhaps if the lady alerted me about it I would have used it and given the cash she wanted instead of serving her my card. Oh wait, never mind, the ATM was out of order.

Not wanting to be in that cramped store any longer I went out and waited in the gravel yard. “The team” finally arrived and moved one of the beater cars so I could get out. The tow place had scribbled a number across my windshield. I asked the guy how I could remove it and he suggested a razor blade or the corner of a credit card. I hopped in my car and got the hell out of there.

I am not protesting my car getting towed. I parked in a spot I shouldn’t have and I paid the price. What I am trying to get across is that not all tow companies provide the best customer service. In some instances, they just offer up rudeness.

In Britt McHenry’s case, the audio on the video is edited. You can only hear her voice and not the employee’s. While the personal insults were out of line, you do have to wonder what the employee said. I know from personal experience that some workers will antagonize folks who walk inside their stores. Perhaps some might insult too? On this one, I think I am going to give McHenry the benefit of the doubt. Don’t Blink.

Taking on the Waterdog Challenge

Last Sunday I asked my readers to pick an experience for me to embark on. Whichever option received the most votes I would then do and write about today. I offered up three options: visiting a palm reader, playing 72 holes of putt putt golf in one day, or taking on an ice cream eating challenge. With my mom nixing the palm reading idea and with it raining yesterday, I was left with the ice cream challenge. My apologies to my readers for my mom’s veto, you definitely preferred that I visit the palm reader.

Although most people wanted me to visit a palm reader, my mom requested that I didn't. She first responded on my Facebook post and then I had her clarify why in a text message.

Although most people wanted me to visit a palm reader, my mom requested that I didn’t. She first responded on my Facebook post and then I had her clarify why in a text message.

On Saturday I returned to O.D. Pavilion Ice Cream, the same parlor I visited in July. At the time of my first visit I had aspirations of completing the store’s Waterdog Challenge. However, because of nerves, a full stomach, and a cowardly mindset I caved under the pressure as I passed on attempting the challenge. This time around with my intentions already published on this blog, I had no choice but to man up and do it.

I took this photo of O.D. Pavilion when I visited in July.

I took this photo of O.D. Pavilion when I visited in July.

Sidney and I walked inside O.D. Pavilion Ice Cream at around noon. Right away I already felt more comfortable than the previous time. No one except for one store employee was around. If I was going to embarrass myself, it was just going to be in front of two people. The young girl greeted us and I told her that I wanted to do the Waterdog Challenge. She remarked that we were the first customers of the day and that our order was a great way to start things out.

So the Waterdog Challenge is SEVEN scoops of ice cream and FIVE toppings on a waffle plate. The kicker is that you must finish it in FIVE minutes. The employee got to work on creating my giant sundae. She first had me pick out my souvenir plate that the waffle plate and then the frozen dessert would go on. I chose a Spiderman one. She then had me pick out my ice cream. I went for two scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough, two scoops of banana pudding, one scoop of cookies and cream, one scoop of strawberry cheesecake, and one scoop of chocolate. For toppings I went for butterscotch, caramel, marshmallow, hot fudge, and, because you had to have at least one solid topping, peanuts.

The very  nice O.D. Pavilion Ice Cream employee making the Waterdog Challenge.

The very nice O.D. Pavilion Ice Cream employee making the Waterdog Challenge.

She brought my ice cream mountain out from the back of the counter and told me to choose a place to sit. Once I found a table she pulled up on one side of me and Sidney pulled up on the other. The employee got her phone out and brought up the stopwatch feature. She said the five minutes would start on me. I took a deep breath and dug in…

Seconds before I started the challenge I took a photo with my nemesis.

Seconds before I started the challenge I took a photo with my nemesis.

After the first bite I was thinking there is no way you can possibly do this. My spoon went so deep into the dessert and the ice cream felt so hard that it seemed like this would be an impossible task. I told myself that I would have to save face and do the absolute best I could so that I would at least put in a respectable performance. I started to eat as fast as I possibly could.

The very start of my effort to eat all that ice cream.

The very start of my effort to eat all that ice cream.

When I first started eating, I thought I am so screwed but at least this tastes really good. I am not kidding, for the first six or seven bites I was enjoying what was in front of me. That delight would soon dissipate though. Like I said, I was a machine going through that ice cream. After I had ate about half of it I took a glance at the employee’s phone. I was at the 2:30 mark. I was right on pace to finish. The girl remarked that a lot of people don’t even get this far. In a moment of overconfidence I spoke for the first time since my time started and quipped “I think I am going to do this.”

By this time, my tongue and the roof of my mouth were both completely numb. There was no more enjoyment. It was all about completing the challenge. I thought I was keeping pace but as the four minute mark approached, I knew I was going to have to turn it up to conquer the Waterdog. Something that you have to know is that you are given a rinky-dink plastic spoon to eat with and you are not allowed to use your hands. You must consume the entire waffle plate and doing that with just a spoon is not an easy task. With time running out and with a decent amount of ice cream to go along with a stubborn waffle layer, I flipped a switch.

I did my best to respond under pressure.

I did my best to respond under pressure.

Knowing that it would come down to the final seconds I went all-in. I literally ate like I had never ate before. Ice cream was going all over my face as I shoveled it into my mouth. With about 20 seconds to go, the girl gave me permission to use my hand to help guide the waffle pieces into my mouth. With the ten second countdown on, I gave it one last push.

My very last bite! The final push was intense.

My very last bite! The final push was intense.

“I’ll give it you,” the compassionate and nice O.D. Pavilion employee said as her timer went past the five minute mark.

The very nice O.D. Pavilion employee who administered my Waterdog Challenge. You can easily see that I grew fatter immediately after completing the challenge.

The very nice O.D. Pavilion employee who administered my Waterdog Challenge. You can easily see that I grew fatter immediately after completing the challenge.

Those words felt like music to my ears. Besides a couple small waffle pieces, the cherry, and some melted ice cream, I had given the Waterdog all it could handle. Sidney remarked that she probably wouldn’t have declared me a winner but then again she is not in the ice cream business. My new best friend asked me for my t-shirt size and cleaned off my souvenir plate. We posed for photos and I walked out of O.D. Pavilion feeling triumphant.

Wearing my victory shirt while holding my Spiderman plate, I felt very accomplished.

Wearing my victory shirt while holding my Spiderman plate, I felt very accomplished.

As for the aftermath, my tongue soon went back to normal. The roof of my mouth, however, stayed numb for a few hours. My stomach felt like it had expanded quite a bit (not too much though that I couldn’t enjoy a couple celebratory beers). Surprisingly the answer is no, I never experienced a brain freeze during the challenge. Sitting here the day after I can say that I am fully recovered. Whether I feel more pride or gluttony for completing the Waterdog is still up for debate. I don’t anticipate participating in another eating challenge in the foreseeable future. Thank you Sidney for cheering me on and thank you to O.D. Pavilion Ice Cream for letting me participate in the Waterdog Challenge. Don’t Blink.

Great Mistake, One Year, Camp Carty, Olive Garden

A reason why I like my Thursday Rundown weekly post is because it breaks up the traditional paragraph format that I usually write in. However, this past week I have written a few times in a bullet point/list style. So let me apologize right now for taking away some of Thursday’s thunder because here I go again with a list of five random items.

Happy, ummm… Half Birthday? – Today my office went out to lunch to celebrate those people who have birthdays in March and April. During the meal, our graphics team handed out birthday cards. If you didn’t read my post about this very special tradition, please click here and do so because what they do is awesome. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I was given a card! There was a miscommunication and our Director of Creative Services (the one who I put on a t-shirt) had one created for me, thinking it was my birthday. I don’t turn another year older until October 8. I felt a little bad that so much effort was put into creating something for me that I didn’t deserve but man what they created sure was funny. Join me as we go Behind the Blog.

Our graphics department created this hilarious birthday card for me based on VH1's "Behind the Music." Yes, that is my face on Slash's body.

Our graphics department created this hilarious birthday card for me based on VH1’s “Behind the Music.” Yes, that is my face on Slash’s body.

One Year Ago – Today marks one year since I last worked for Grizzly Athletics. On April 16, 2014, I walked off the campus of the University of Montana for the last time, lured away by the amazing opportunity at Coastal Carolina University and the beautiful weather of Myrtle Beach. A lot has changed within the Adams Center since I left but I definitely still feel connected to the place. If they aren’t playing the Chanticleers, I am cheering for the Griz.

It has been one full year since I last worked for Grizzly Athletics.

It has been one full year since I last worked for Grizzly Athletics.

Carty Camp – Regarding Sean Carty’s quest to retain his rightful spot as Mead High School head football coach, the appeals process is close to getting started. From what I have been told, union leadership and district coaches (not to mention the Mead community) are devoting all efforts to get this terrible decision overturned. In a development that will make any student-athlete or 99% of parents cringe, the small group who fought for the ouster of Carty actually did so with threats of a lawsuit. Can you imagine? I don’t like my kid’s coach so I am going to sue. I hear that as time goes on, these parents will be exposed more and more. Once again, the e-mail address of Dr. Rockefeller can be accessed by clicking here. If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to write a letter of support for Sean Carty.

The community is united to save this warrior (photo courtesy of Dan Pelle).

The community is united to save this warrior (photo courtesy of Dan Pelle).

Olive Garden Improvements – In the past I have been critical of the Olive Garden but I love the changes they are making. Pretty soon every single table in every single Olive Garden restaurant will have a tablet. Via the device, customers will be able to order drinks and appetizers. Talk about convenience! Having the power to bypass the wait for a server to come to your table to take such an order in my mind is a nice luxury. The human interaction will still be there though as servers will take entrée orders and provide customer service. Probably best of all though, customers will be able to use the tablets not just to pay bills but to split them as well. Although I might think Olive Garden breadsticks are extremely overrated, I have always appreciated the restaurant’s dedication to improving the dining experience.

Two Babies – It has been too long since I updated you on my niece so let me get you up to speed. Mikayla is now seven months old and is smiling, playing, and kicking. She is starting to get a fuzzy head and is developing a very loving personality. This past week, my parents welcomed a brand new baby kitten into the family. Muffin replaces Nabisco, a treasured cat our family had for about 16 years who passed away in September of 2013. I can’t wait to get back to Spokane at the end of June and see both Mikayla and Muffin.

Mikayla and my sister on the left and Muffin on the right.

Mikayla and my sister on the left and Muffin on the right.

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Another Thursday Rundown in the books! Have a great evening and thank you for your readership. Don’t Blink.

Striking it Lucky with Food and Drink

This afternoon I opened up a two-piece Starburst pack just hoping to avoid getting a yellow chew and an orange chew paired together. Imagine my jubilation when I opened the corner and saw a pink chew and then ripped all the way down to see a second pink piece! It was as if I won the lottery. My excitement with the contents of a pack of candy left over in my office from Halloween had me strolling down memory lane. I started thinking about other lucky scenarios with food and drink back when I was younger. For tonight’s blog post I want to quickly touch on four other awesome edible joys that defied the odds.

I got very lucky with my Starburst pack today...double pink chews!!

I got very lucky with my Starburst pack today…double pink chews!!

Solid Chocolate Peanut M&M – From a young age my mom told us the story about how at the M&M factory the workers sometimes forget to put a peanut in the Peanut M&M sized chocolate shell. To make up for the embarrassing mistake they instead fill the hollowness with delicious milk chocolate. This actually happens! Never one to shy away from scarfing down Peanut M&Ms, I have enjoyed several solid chocolate ones over the years. When we were kids though, it was a huge deal. If I ever ate a solid chocolate one I would let my brother and sister know about it and they would do likewise. I am pretty sure we also lied every now and then about eating one just to make the others jealous. Racking my brain right now, I would say that for every five packs of Peanut M&Ms, you will find one M&M that is peanut-less.

That Special Gumball – If you are my age, you must remember when malls would have gigantic gumball machines. Picture a classic red mini gumball dispenser and enlarge it a thousand times to have an idea of what I am talking about. Anyway, about halfway through the hay day of these machines, they started inserting gumballs inside that had the word “winner” written across it. The chance of putting a quarter in the slot and having the winning gumball dispensed was always a dream of mine. However, I never achieved this glory. Sadly enough, I can’t even remember what you received for getting the special piece of gum.

Fruit Snacks Special Piece – Growing up, especially at the houses of my friends, we ate fruit snacks like I eat peanut butter sandwiches now. We of course ate the character inspired ones, whether it be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes, or whatever. A quirk with all of these packs of fruit snacks (my family called them “fun fruits”) was that there was a unique shape in all of them. For example, when it came to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles you would have shapes of all the turtles but then there would be a piece that was round in shape and looked like some type of special coin. It was totally different from everything else and if you even got one in your pack, you considered yourself very lucky. If you managed to received two in a pack, you were living very large. In my group of friends it was mandatory to share one of your special pieces (if you received two) with your poor buddy who didn’t receive even one.

Winning Free Soda From Bottle Cap - Growing up, my brother and I participated in every single Coca-Cola and Pepsi promotion you could think of. My obession for collecting Coke and Pepsi points/caps lasted through college where people in my residence hall would hand deliver me their consumed drinks so I could cash them in. My first introduction to winning free stuff from soda companies was the simplest promotion of them all…twisting off a bottle cap for the 1 in 7 chance of winning a free 20 oz. beverage. Now you are going to think terribly of me for this but back when I was probably 11, I would go to the coolers in stores that carried Sprite. I would then take the bottles, tip them at an angle, and would be immediately able to tell if it had a cap on it that was good for a free beverage or not. It was way too easy. When you lifted the drink you could easily tell if the bottle had three lines of text (a winner) or a single line of text (loser). I enjoyed several free Sprites during my pre-teen days. I guess this is more about being really greedy and dishonest rather than lucky.

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I will be back at it tomorrow evening with my Thursday Rundown. Until then, indulge in some type of snack or drink from your childhood. Have a great night. Don’t Blink.

Taking Advantage of Free Scoop Day

A cool thing for a guy like me is that Myrtle Beach is a major ice cream town. As the area is both an ocean and a tourist city, it just kind of comes with the territory. All over Myrtle Beach you will find awesome mom and pop ice cream shops. You will also find the corporate giants as well.

Today, Ben & Jerry’s held its Free Cone Day across the world. From noon to 8 p.m., customers could walk into any location and receive a free scoop of ice cream in a cone or a dish. If you live in Myrtle Beach, you don’t have to travel far to take advantage of the offer. Ben & Jerry’s has definitely invested in some real estate in this area with various stores across the city. Well, I decided to not just take advantage of the offer, I decided to abuse the offer. With Sidney accompanying me on my ice cream journey, I hit up four different Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlors this evening. Below I will briefly summarize my experience at each  location with a few photos and a few words.

Location #1 – 1200 Celebrity Cir.: We kicked off our tour at the location right off of Celebrity Square. This shop definitely was the busiest out of the four but it was also the most efficient. About eight scoopers worked behind the counter to make sure everyone got their ice cream quickly. I wasn’t even that close to the actual counter before an employee hollered at me to see what I wanted. After you ordered they herded you down to the end of the counter where they handed you your cone. I chose The Tonight Dough, a Jimmy Fallon-inspired cookie dough ice cream with a mixture of caramel and chocolate flavors. Sidney opted for classic cookie dough. We went outside the shop and ate.

This was the first location we went to. Busiest but most efficient.

This was the first location we went to. Busiest but most efficient.

Location #2 – 1303 Celebrity Circle: For the second round, we visited the Broadway at the Beach location just across the bridge. This shop had a carnival type feel with a tent outside, a local meteorologist scooping cones, and plenty of gifts to purchase at the end of the line. This location was busy but not as crazy as the first one. I opted with a flavor called banana peanut butter and Sidney just went with classic strawberry. Out of the four flavors I tried tonight, banana peanut butter was my favorite.

The second location we went to had a very festive feel to it.

The second location we went to had a very festive feel to it.

Location #3 – 2005C Ocean Blvd: On the third leg of the ice cream odyssey we found ourselves at a location on Ocean Blvd. and 29th Avenue. It was definitely an eclectic type of shop as it shared space with a cheesesteak/burger joint. This location was the second busiest but the least efficient. We stood in line for a long time and it was a little disorganized as people entered the store from two different doors. The line was already backed up to the wall so when people walked in they didn’t really know where the end of the line was and who was there first. Not to worry though, they still had ice cream left by the time I reached the counter. With Sidney out for the count, I put in my solo order for a scoop of turtle cheesecake. My scooper pretty much gave me a double scoop, giving me more ice cream on that cone than the two separate servings I received at the other stores combined. There was just one problem…he served me butter pecan. I wasn’t going to complain though, it was free. I took a couple bites and then threw it away.

Location number three was a cluster.

Location number three was a cluster.

Location #4 – 2913B Ocean Blvd: Our victory lap was at a small location ten blocks down. Nestled next to a Starbucks shop, the location had several elderly volunteers greeting us as we walked in. Compared to the other Ben & Jerry’s locations we visited this evening, this place was pretty much dead! I walked right up to the counter and ordered a cotton candy cone. We walked out and I took a couple licks/bites before throwing it in a garbage can right before we got in my car.

I took me no time to get my cone at the final location.

I took me no time to get my cone at the final location.

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I know every restaurant/convenience store/retail shop has a “Free _______ Day.” Usually I don’t get sucked in. But with ice cream at stake and a stupid blog post right in front of me I had to take Ben & Jerry’s up on the offer…four different times. Don’t Blink.