Festivus 2014

Inside our University Communication office we have a very special group. If you are drawn to interesting/nerdy/humorous dudes, you would love our graphic design department. They produce outstanding work while letting their bizarre personalities shine through. The reputation they hold around campus is one of craziness and creativity. I get to eat lunch with them every day.

Our graphics department holds a not-so-typical Christmas party each year. The story is long but to sum it all up, the graphics guys created their own holiday gathering because their twisted sense of humor and tendency to draw a little too much attention to themselves at other parties demanded they hold their own. Every year now, the graphics department hosts Festivus.

This was the brilliant graphic for Festivus.

This was the brilliant graphic for Festivus.

Inspired by Seinfeld, Festivus is a parody of Christmas. Our graphics folks use the term to create a party that is laid back, fun, and original. The past few years a different type of main event or exchange has highlighted the gathering. For Festivus 2014, the party centered on a bad t-shirt exchange. Attendees had to either create or purchase a bad t-shirt and sacrifice it up to the exchange. With the shirts concealed in gift bags, wrapping paper, and campus envelopes, numbers were drawn to determine the picking order. From there, one-by-one, participants went up and grabbed a t-shirt from the Coastal Ale House table. Drawing roars of laughter as each person opened up a package to reveal a hilarious shirt, he/she then had to put it on and wear it for the rest of the night!

Festivus attendees getting ready for the next person to pick his/her shirt.

Festivus attendees getting ready for the next person to pick his/her shirt.

By no means is Festivus exclusive to just the CCU graphic design artists. They make sure to invite anyone else who wants to forget about their reservations for a night and “nerd out like a designer.” I definitely had the evening circled on my calendar! Below is the shirt I designed for Festivus. I countered the good-natured ribbing I receive from the graphics department head honcho, Rob Wyeth, with a playful shot at his profession (he is pictured on the back). Although he told me that this means war, and even though the shirt is the exact opposite of what I truly think, everyone in attendance got a great laugh out of it.

This is my shirt that I designed for Festivus.

This is my shirt that I designed for Festivus.

Jady, one of our other graphic designers, ended up with the shirt I created.

Jady, one of our other graphic designers, ended up with the shirt I created.

Below is the shirt that I received in the exchange. Created by Ron Walker, one of the designers in the graphics department, you can put the following equation together: Walter White + Donkey + Text = Bad Ass to the Core.

This is the shirt I proudly wore for the whole night.

This is the shirt I proudly wore for the whole night.

This is the t-shirt that Ron Walker received. Designed by our graphics intern, Daniel “Scoops” Mableton, he created a Mr. Rogers shirt with the phrase “It’s All Good in the Hood.” Look closely and you will see some “enhancements” to the face of Mr. Rogers.

This is Ron Walker sporting his Mr. Rogers shirt.

This is Ron Walker sporting his Mr. Rogers shirt.

Sidney attended the party with me and got to experience the weirdness of Festivus. She had the privilege of drawing a souvenir t-shirt from a roadside attraction called South of the Border. Regarded as the biggest tourist trap destination in the state of South Carolina, the attraction’s t-shirts are just as tacky as South of the Border itself.

Sidney wearing her super tacky tourist shirt.

Sidney wearing her super tacky tourist shirt.

I want to include Director of Creative Services Rob Wyeth himself, the biggest jokester in the department and the biggest promoter of Festivus. He picked an ice cream shirt.

Rob wearing his shirt.

Rob wearing his shirt.

Finally, our Sustainability Coordinator Jennifer Sellers ended up with this t-shirt that showed it was perfectly okay to simply take a sharpie marker and go to town.

Jennifer received a homemade shirt.

Jennifer received a homemade shirt.

I think we had 18 shirts in the exchange. The reason why I am not showing more of them is because, well….some were a little inappropriate. But let me tell you what, last night was a ton of fun. Even with the weirdos in the graphics department (partly kidding of course) it was a nice evening of conversation, laughter, and holiday cheer. What a unique event I had the privilege of attending! Don’t Blink.

Last Rundown of the Year

The moment before I started to write this it popped into my head that this will be my final Thursday Rundown of 2014. While I can say for sure it will be my last, I can’t say for sure it will be my best. Let’s get this thing started.

My Social Media Awards – On Monday morning I met with my social media group for the final meeting of the semester. I got to surprise them by making a dramatic entrance dressed in a red suit and fake beard. Besides wrapping up the semester from a social media standpoint, I also handed out awards. Congrats to the following #CCUSocialMedia Dream Team members on their accomplishments: April Betsch (Most Inspirational), Travis Overton (Twitter User of the Year), Erika Pomerantz (Team Player of the Year), Jennifer Sellers (Social Media Promotion of the Year), and Jeff Stone (MVP).

I enjoyed presenting some awards on Monday morning,

I enjoyed presenting some awards on Monday morning,

Party Circuit – It is that time of the year where holiday parties are in full swing. Last Friday I had the pleasure of hanging out with a bunch of teachers at the Palmetto Bays’ Christmas party. Sidney was nice enough to take me as her date for the function. Yesterday we had our department holiday potluck up in the hospitality suite of the football stadium. It was a food-overload as I gorged on delicious entrees and desserts. As I wrote about in my previous blog post, yesterday evening my apartment complex hosted their Resident Holiday Party at Texas Roadhouse. This evening I get to enjoy the holiday party I have anticipated the most, Festivus 2014. The brainchild of our graphics department, this is the gathering that pokes fun at all other Christmas parties. The main event will be an ugly t-shirt exchange. It will no dubt be epic and I will make sure to share with you the hilarity that will take place in a future post.

Travel Plans – I leave the great state of South Carolina for the rest of the year on Sunday. I will be flying back to Spokane for the holidays. I will make sure to unpack my bags when I arrive at my parents’ house because I have a long two-week stay ahead of me. I am stoked for every minute I will get to spend out west and of course I am eagerly awaiting the chance to see my niece again. Something else will be making this holiday vacation especially memorable but I will address that a little bit down the road.

“The Interview” Pulled – I think my opinion aligns with what most people think. I totally understand (and support) movie theaters deciding not to show it, I agree with Sony responding by not releasing it, and I hate it that this is a big win for terrorists. I sympathize with the actors and crew over the decision. I know they received their paychecks but their hard work is going for naught. Their toil and talents will go unseen by the audience who they worked so hard to please. To me, that is a shame.

A Southern Christmas Card - To close out this post, I want to share a Christmas card I received today. My co-worker Mona gave the card to me and it is titled “A Southern Christmas.” For a guy who has loved getting accustomed to Southern culture over the past eight months, this card made me smile:

The cool Christmas card I received today.

The cool Christmas card I received today.

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That is a wrap! I got a Christmas party to get to. I hope you enjoyed the ever so random Thursday Rundowns. Just one week before Christmas! I hope you are all getting into the spirit. Don’t Blink.

My Apartment Complex Going the Extra Mile

Almost nine months ago I made a big decision based primarily off of social media research. After accepting my job at Coastal Carolina University I needed to find a place in the area to live. Well aware that I would not get to visit Myrtle Beach until my actual move at the end of April, I knew I would be making my housing selection blind. Once I narrowed down my top choices, I used Instagram hashtag searches to find out more information about my prospective finalists. After reaching out to Instagram users based on these searches, I chose an apartment complex called Alexan Withers Preserve.

When I pulled into the complex after a four day cross country road trip I knew I had arrived home. Alexan Withers Preserve is an insanely nice place with immaculate grounds, a sparkling resort style pool, and the best apartments I have ever stepped foot in. Maintenance is done constantly, a clubhouse equipped with all the amenities is available to residents, and the couches/refrigerator/gardens/television that surrounds the pool compliments the property in a big way. But all this stuff doesn’t mean anything if the management doesn’t care about the residents living inside the community. Fortunately at Alexan Withers Preserve they do.

This is the pool at Alexan Withers Preserve.

This is the pool at Alexan Withers Preserve.

This evening provided me with yet another example justifying the last sentence I wrote. Tonight I attended the Alexan Withers Preserve Resident Holiday Celebration. Please keep in mind that this wasn’t just a tacky, halfhearted attempt to justify that they did something for their residents at Christmas. Rather, my complex invited all of us to the Texas Roadhouse for a nice meal on them. I had the option between prime rib, baby back ribs, chicken, or fried flounder. It also came with a salad and a side. We sat upstairs in a private room while AWP staff members came around and mingled with the tables. Obviously the management at my complex not only cared about inviting us to a nice restaurant, they also cared that we enjoyed premiere menu items in a welcoming and warm environment. I was very thankful and impressed.

The menu we ordered off of tonight.

The menu we ordered off of tonight.

This is just one way in which my apartment has showed that they value their residents. Every month or so Alexan Withers will offer a free continental breakfast. In October they put on a Monday Night Football party. Just because my favorite team happened to be playing in the game and just because they won (Seahawks beat the Redskins) weren’t the only reasons why I had a nice time. Pizza, wings, and drinks were provided and I got to watch all the action outside on the deck overlooking the beautiful pool on a gorgeous night. This past month, Alexan Withers hosted a Thanksgiving potluck for all residents. Although I was not able to make that particular evening I thought it was really cool that they would do such an event.

My prime rib tonight.

My prime rib tonight.

My complex also does several little things as well. They sponsor charity initiatives, hold contests, and offer incentives for referrals. They communicate frequently with us residents via e-mail and social media. They do their best to put a halt to the inconsiderate people who let their dogs go to the bathroom on the grounds. Management is in touch with us and an effort that is sincere rather than desperate is always on display to keep us happy and content at Alexan Withers Preserve.

Yeah, you are going to pay a little more to live here. But that extra money isn’t just evident in the outstanding apartment units, it is also evident in the community that is fostered. Don’t Blink.

Southern Paradoxes

Since I have lived in Myrtle Beach I have written extensively about my fun adventures and discoveries of Southern culture. I covered everything from the restaurants to the accents to the music. I have taken on the various towns and weather. I have even analyzed snacking habits. But what I am about to do tonight celebrates Southern culture in a unique way that I currently have not addressed.

After eight months in South Carolina I have realized that there are some concepts in this part of the country that might seem to the Westerner as paradoxical or, to borrow a Southern word, wackadoodle. Mind you that I am not saying these Southern ways of life are backwards nor am I implying that Westerners must be living under rocks. Rather I am just happily trying to provide some context and translation that I have picked up on since living here. So very quickly let me go through five habits/attitudes of life in the South that don’t necessarily have wings in the West.

Southern Concept: Dollar stores on every corner.
What Westerners Would Think: Cool, I can now really stretch my dollar bills at numerous businesses.
Reality: Although very familiar with Dollar Tree, before moving to Myrtle Beach I had never seen a Dollar General or a Family Dollar. All of a sudden I couldn’t travel a half mile without passing one of these stores. Initially I thought it was great because I do buy some select items at Dollar Tree and with these two new stores at my disposal, I would have an even wider selection to purchase items for $1. Wrong. Although the name implies that stores such as Dollar General and Family Dollar sell most of their inventory for a buck, this isn’t even close to the truth. Majority of the items are much more than a dollar. The prices are just a tad lower than what you would find at a CVS or Walgreens and the stores themselves are dumps.

Southern Concept: What do you say we do BBQ tonight?
What Westerners Would Think: Sounds great! I love hamburgers and hot dogs.
Reality: I freely say this, us Westerners are so wrong on this. BBQ means pulled pork, brisket, and baked beans. It doesn’t mean using a propane grill to cook food. My whole childhood I grew up thinking that BBQ food consisted of burgers, dogs, steak, and chicken that my dad would prepare on his BBQ at least once a week. I was totally oblivious to the fact that BBQ really referred to flavorful comfort food that had nothing to do with tossing something on a grill and burning it to death.

Southern Concept: Hey bartender, could I please get a shot split four-ways?
What Westerners Would Think: That’s an interesting name for a shot! Does that mean I am getting a shot mixed with four different types of liquor?
Reality: I learned about the craziest drinking practice down South. Bar patrons will order a shot but ask that it be split up between them and their friends. Thus, if you want it split four-ways a bartender would pour a drop of alcohol into four different plastic cups and of course charge the tab for one regular shot. If you wanted to split it two-ways, you and your friend would each get a half of a shot. This is a responsible and noble way to curb overdrinking but this practice hasn’t come close to reaching out west. If it ever does I am afraid to say that people would probably just mock it and laugh at it. The first time a shot ordered this way was when I was with Sidney. She split up some shots and I had absolutely no idea what she was requesting until she explained it to me. I definitely found it very odd.

Southern Concept: USC = University of South Carolina
What Westerners Would Think: USC = University of Southern California
Reality: This really isn’t a Southern thing as much as it is a South Carolina thing. If you go anywhere within these state borders and someone mentions USC, please note that they don’t mean The USC in Los Angeles but rather the University of South Carolina. This persists even though Southern Cal has every legal document signed that says they are the only school that should be referred to by that acronym and even though the 49 other states in the country identify USC as gold and cardinal rather than garnet and black. But I get it, why wouldn’t residents of South Carolina use the natural abbreviation to identify one of their state universities? It doesn’t bother me but it does bother others. Because Myrtle Beach is full of transplants, I have seen several out-of-staters passionately try to tell locals that they are silly to refer to the Gamecocks as “USC.” I found it weird at first but by this time it is just second nature to me…Steve Spurrier is the head coach of the USC football team.

Southern Concept: It is chilly out here.
What Westerners Would Think: T-shirt, shorts, and sunglasses please because I am hitting the pool!
Reality: There is a stark contrast between what Southerners think is cold and what Westerners think is cold. For example, today it was sunny and 65 degrees here in Myrtle Beach. The low didn’t even dip under 40 degrees. I found the weather today and this month heavenly and warm while people who have lived in the South their whole lives call it cold. This is one gap between cultures that will just never be bridged.

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I get a kick out of things like these. Although I might joke around and say that one area has it right while the other has it wrong, I realize that these small differences help make this country so great and diverse. I appreciate both Western and Southern cultures. Don’t Blink.

SantaCon

Two years ago right at this time I found myself in a divey watering hole in Missoula, Montana. Immediately upon entering I noticed a semi-peculiar site. Huddled up at the bar was a group of about 15 people decked out in Santa suits. I only say semi-peculiar because although it was an interesting sight to see in such an environment I did remind myself that it was the middle of December. They didn’t stay too long and I forgot about the incident.

Last night the scene from a couple years ago came back to me. While looking at the trending stories on a lazy Sunday evening a headline jumped out at me. It said something to the idea of “SantaCon Terrorizing New York Communities.” The article photo showed a group of sloppy, disheveled men in Santa gear. Some had the whole outfit covered, some sported just the Santa beard, some only wore the red suit. It was a hodgepodge of disorganization and they looked terrible. Of course I was intrigued by the headline and the pathetic photo so I decided to learn more.

SantaCon is an established annual event where people dress up in character Christmas attire and bar hop, many not stopping until they have overindulged on Grandma’s egg nog many times over. While countless participants dress in varying degrees of Santa garb, you also see people opting for elf outfits or mascot-like snowmen and Christmas tree suits. This tradition is biggest in New York City where up to 30,000 people participate but it is also prominent in numerous other cities across the nation. In fact, SantaCon has reached to isolated places such as Missoula, completely explaining what I saw on that snowy evening two years ago.

A look at some of the 'Santas" that SantaCon attracts.

A look at some of the ‘Santas” that SantaCon attracts. (I got this photo from the New York Daily News).

Personally, I don’t mind the premise of the idea. To be completely 100% honest, I find it pretty funny. Although I do understand the other side of the argument.  From Halloween to Fourth of July to St. Patrick’s Day to Thanksgiving Eve, many people believe we have enough “drinking holidays.” Not only do we already have enough, but Christmas is the granddaddy of all the holidays to countless people around the nation. To downgrade it to a drunk fest while tackily wearing Santa Claus apparel is a slap in the face to many.

I don't mind the basic idea of SantaCon. I myself like to dress up as Santa every now and then and have some fun.

I don’t mind the basic idea of SantaCon. I myself like to dress up as Santa every now and then and have some fun.

But I stand by my opinion that SantaCon in and of itself is a harmless idea. However, idiots are making it rather despicable. Last night I probably read ten articles of the complete nightmare the event has become, especially in New York City. Participants overwhelm bars, act unruly, and destroy property. But what they do outside the bars is the most appalling. In full daylight in front of the whole community these hoodlums urinate in the streets, vomit in the corners, yell at random people, and make obscene gestures. Worst of all, these SantaCon participants do these activities right in the faces of children. I read numerous accounts about innocent kids walking up to these mean Santas thinking they were the real thing only to be flipped off, chastised, or even spat at. How dare these degenerates ruin the Christmas Magic of a little kid.

A look at a bar overtaken with SantaCon participants. (I got this photo from USA Today).

A look at a bar overtaken with SantaCon participants. (I got this photo from USA Today).

SantaCon can be a decent, tolerable event, I just think it needs a bit of a makeover. How about moving it to night where children won’t be exposed to intoxicated Santa imposters? Shifting it to the late evening will also cut down on the insane level of drunkenness some of these Santas reach from drinking all day long, thus cutting down on some of the vandalism and outrageous behavior. Bars have already started to take a stand by not allowing SantaCon participants into their establishments or just closing down entirely on the event day. If more places did this while offering an evening “Santa Frenzy” option I think we could make everyone happy. Heck, I might even throw on my St. Nick suit and join the legion of other Santas in some Yuletide fun. Don’t Blink.

Night of a Thousand Candles

Last night Sidney and I decided to get in the Christmas spirit by doing a fun holiday activity. In Myrtle Beach, if you ask where you can do such a thing, everyone will give you the exact same answer: Night of a Thousand Candles. Hosted at Brookgreen Gardens, a magnificent sculpture park spanning 9,100 acres located a couple miles from a nearby community called Murrels Inlet, it is allegedly the premiere destination to get your Yuletide cheer on.

For three weekends in December, the gardens are transformed at night to a holiday wonderland. The grounds are overtaken by Christmas lights, and, like the name suggests, candles. According to the event program, the area is covered by close to a million Christmas lights and each evening over 5,000 candles are lit. If you need spectacular lights to “make your season bright” there is no better option than Night of a Thousand Candles.

This is the program for Night of a Thousand Candles.

This is the program for Night of a Thousand Candles.

Yesterday morning I conveniently purchased tickets online and then around 6:45 p.m. Sidney and I got in my car to make the 20 minute drive to Brookgreen Gardens…only we didn’t go through the gates until 8:30 p.m. Because the event is so popular, traffic is absolutely horrendous. The last two miles of the drive took us over an hour to complete. Cars were at a standstill. It was a little frustrating because we didn’t realize how much of a cluster it would be to enter. I started substituting the last word in “Night of a Thousand Candles” with other descriptions, much to the chagrin of Sidney. I think my most fitting one was “Night of a Thousand Cars.”

Once we parked and stretched our legs we were ready to tour the gardens. As you can imagine, candles line all the walkways. They say it takes 40 staff members to light all the candles each evening. Besides just directing people where to go, you can find the candles floating in the numerous ponds throughout the premises. Enclosed in circle-shaped orbs, they provided a pretty cool effect.

A look at the candles floating in the water.

A look at the candles floating in the water.

The candles were cool and all but I was much more a fan of the lights. As I said above, Night of a Thousand Candles boasts just shy of seven digits when it comes to the number of Christmas lights they have on site. The bright white decorations adorned entire parts of trees, made ceilings across the ponds, and hung vertically from branches (my favorite part).

Some of the photos I took of the lights at Night of a Thousand Candles.

Some of the photos I took of the lights at Night of a Thousand Candles.

The most impressive lighting aspect of the whole display though was a giant fir tree covered every inch in dazzling lights. I thought it looked spectacular and I had to wonder how they were able to get all those lights strung.

This tree was pretty spectacular.

This tree was pretty spectacular.

If the event was just the candles and the lights though, I think I would walk away disappointed. The price of $18 per ticket insists that there must be more to it. Don’t fret, there is. While enjoying your evening you can check out several holiday toy trains that are spinning around on their tracks. You can also admire a pond that doesn’t really even look like a pond. Why doesn’t it look like a pond? Because its surface is completely covered with cranberries. That’s right, the water is completely hidden with some 100,000 cranberries (information from Sidney). It really is a sight to see.

This is the pond filled with cranberries at Brookgreen Gardens.

This is the pond filled with cranberries at Brookgreen Gardens.

But for me, the best part of the entire evening was the entertainment. Throughout the gardens they have a few different tents housing musical acts. Sidney and I got to sit in on a duo called the Thistledown Tinkers. Wearing kilts the musicians played Irish-inspired Christmas tunes with their fiddles. Much to my enjoyment, they also had a couple of performers walking around playing bagpipes. I absolutely love bagpipes. Sidney and I could hear them far off and we did our best to track them down as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, once they became within eyesight they were concluding for the evening. It was still cool to hear the powerful sounds out in the distance though.

Sidney and I at Night of a Thousand Candles.

Sidney and I at Night of a Thousand Candles.

The entertainment hit a peak at the end of the evening. We found a larger heated tent that was housing a band playing a variety of Christmas songs. Outside of the tent was a snack and beverage station. Sidney ordered a hot apple cider and I got myself a winter Sad Adams beer and we went inside, sat down in a couple of chairs, and just enjoyed ourselves. That probably got me in the Christmas spirit more than anything else.

I really enjoyed listening to this band. They are called the Ross Holmes Band.

I really enjoyed listening to this band. They are called the Ross Holmes Band.

You have one more weekend to experience Night of a Thousand Candles. I recommend you go early because as I painfully detailed, you will be waiting in traffic. I feel it is a unique holiday outing so if you don’t mind spending $18 then take a journey out to Brookgreen Gardens. Don’t Blink.

It Is Thursday Again

Sorry to everyone who was expecting my Wednesday blog post. I got home last night and fell asleep. I apologize and will do better next time. But that is in the past and today is THURSDAY. Time to hit you with my traditional five topic rundown. Here we go…

Early Mornings Just Got Less Enjoyable: This morning my favorite student-worker at the campus gym, Hannah Watkins, informed me that she is transferring to Clemson at semester. This girl brightened my day every Tuesday and Thursday that she would work the early morning shift. Always cheerful and positive, I looked forward to our 5:59 a.m. little chats as I entered the gym. I had the pleasure of profiling her for #CCUfamily and will miss her a lot.

I said goodbye to Hannah this morning. She is transferring to Clemson.

I said goodbye to Hannah this morning. She is transferring to Clemson.

So Long, Kevin: Speaking about farewells at Coastal, another person who I respected a lot recently left the institution. Kevin Olivett, our Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Social Media, headed even further south for a corporate sales position at Stetson University. Besides the people in my own office, no one reached out to me more than Kevin did when I arrived at CCU. He sat in on one of my interviews when I visited the campus so I guess that was a good start for us to get acquainted. The first week I was here he generously took me out to lunch and made me feel so welcome. He graciously asked me for my opinions and ideas, respecting that I came from a sports marketing background when he never really even had to bother. He served on my social media committee and was always willing to help. Best of luck, Kevin.

O’ Christmas Tree: I am no longer a Grinch! I have never had a Christmas tree in an apartment of mine until this year. Last week Sidney hauled over to my place a small, artificial tree. It is just the perfect size for my place! To make it totally fit the bill, she decorated it in Coastal Carolina colors. At night when I get home from work I plug the tree in and really feel the Christmas spirit. The only thing missing is that warm Christmas tree smell but what I got is pretty cool. Thanks, Sidney!

Me kneeling next to my Christmas tree.

Me kneeling next to my Christmas tree.

The Killer Dog: On Saturday night, Sidney and I went out to a popular restaurant in Myrtle Beach called Carolina Roadhouse. We were celebrating the birthday of one of Sidney’s friends. Anyway, I decided to order the one item on the menu that any guy would order: The Killer Dog. The menu described it as a gigantic hot dog covered in chili, onions, and French fries. It also said that you would need a knife and fork to eat it. When I told my server what I wanted he warned “get ready.” The dog came out and it was indeed huge and it was necessary that I use a fork and knife but it still paled in comparison to that one hot dog I ate two summers ago. Please, check out my blog post from a couple years ago that includes photos of the monster I ate.

This was the Killer Dog I had at Carolina Roadhouse on Saturday.

This was the Killer Dog I had at Carolina Roadhouse on Saturday.

FCS Playoffs: The Football Championship Subdivision is down to the “Elite 8” and I am stoked that Coastal is still in it. The Chants crushed a good Richmond team last Saturday, 36-15, to advance. The good guys just barely missed out on playing the quarterfinal game at home. South Dakota State had a lead over North Dakota State with under two minutes to go but couldn’t hold it. So instead of the Chants hosting the unseeded Jackrabbits, they must travel to Fargo for a rematch against the three-time champion Bison. Although it would have been preferable to play in the friendly confines of Brooks Stadium, you got to beat the best to be the best. North Dakota State is not invincible this year and I have a good feeling that Coastal will put an end to the phenomenal championship streak of NDSU.

On the other side of the bracket, Eastern Washington defeated my other favorite, Montana. The Eagles now have my backing to make it to the championship game. Having grown up right next to the EWU campus I attended numerous games and was an EAG fan as a youngster so it is no mystery that I am rooting for them now. A CCU-EWU title game in Frisco sounds awesome to me with the Chants holding the championship trophy at the end.

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Have a great weekend! I am looking forward to a holiday party on Friday and then football on Saturday. Hope you are all getting excited for this special time of the year. Don’t Blink.

Reaching His Goal After 30 Years

A little over a year ago, my dad received a tremendous honor when he was named the Official of the Year for the Inland Empire Football Officials Association (IEFOA). The distinction crowned him the best football official in the city of Spokane and the surrounding areas. I commemorated this very special achievement with a blog post. If you have not read it, I encourage you to do so because it is one of my favorite posts I have ever written. Well, just this past week my dad attained another very prestigious honor.

In November my dad received the news that every single football official wants to hear: Congrats sir, you have been awarded a state championship football game. Not only would my dad be on a crew that would officiate a state championship game, he would be the chief of that crew. He was selected to serve as the referee, or, as some people refer to it, “the white hat.” This was big time.

My dad and I when I was just a little boy.

My dad and I when I was just a little boy.

Earning a spot in a championship game as an official is very much analogous to earning a spot in a championship game as a player or a coach. Few might reach the peak early on, some might attain it after several years, most will never come close. For my dad, he received the coveted assignment in his 30th year as a football official. After three decades of service, countless years of flawless ratings, numerous playoff games, a few semi-finals, and an Official of the Year award it was time for my Tom Reser to get the nod.

My dad made my mom promise him that if he ever was lucky enough to get a state championship game she would come watch him. So last Friday my dad, mom, and brother traveled to the west side of the state to Tacoma, a city the size of Spokane right next to Seattle. The hotel they checked into was right next to the Tacoma Dome, the site of the Washington high school football championship games. Over the course of two days, the five classifications in the state would all hold their title games inside the dome. My dad had the honor of officiating the 1B championship game on Saturday afternoon between Neah Bay and Liberty Christian.

My dad getting his officiating bag ready before leaving the hotel for the dome.

My dad getting his officiating bag ready before leaving the hotel for the dome.

This will put my dad’s accomplishment into perspective for you: Besides my dad’s association of the IEFOA that covers the Spokane area, there are several other officiating associations across the state. Those associations have numbers of officials in the triple digits as well, just like my dad’s. All of these organizations are eligible to have their people officiate in these post season games. With so many officials and so few spots, it is very competitive to land a playoff assignment, let alone a state championship game. What the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) does is assign the different associations a certain amount of spots at certain positions. In the football world of officiating there are specific spots such as back judge, line judge, umpire, head linesman, and the referee (white hat). Some years my dad’s association won’t even have the option to send a referee. This year they did and my dad was chosen.

So with this system of associations receiving certain spots on state championship officiating crews, it sets up these mixed “dream team” crews. For my dad’s game he was the leader of a crew filled with officials from all across the state. Because they obviously had never worked together before, my dad did his best to create chemistry in the short amount of time he had and get everyone on the same page. He succeeded.

My dad and his all-star crew from the championship game (please excuse  photo quality),

My dad and his all-star crew from the championship game (please excuse photo quality).

In a game that stayed close most of the way but ended with a semi-lopsided score, the Neah Bay Red Devils defeated the Liberty Christian Patriots, 56-38. My brother and mom both texted me numerous times throughout the game to tell me how great my dad was doing. When I talked to him after the game he naturally said “it wasn’t a perfect game” but I have no doubt that on the largest stage my dad and his crew gave both those teams their best officiated contest of the year.

Dad smiling

My dad smiling as he does something he worked hard 30 years to do.

I am extremely proud of my dad for sticking with something for 30 years to eventually reach his ultimate goal. As I watched the Coastal Carolina football game on Saturday I thought about him often as I knew he was getting ready for his game. I could definitely feel some of the excitement inside of me that I knew he was feeling at that moment. Great work, dad! I love you and am proud of you. Don’t Blink.

What I Have Learned About the Bartending Industry

Last night I wrote about the crowd I have kept lately. Outside of work it boils down to teachers and servers/bartenders. In my Sunday evening post I described what I have learned about the teaching profession over the past several months. Tonight I will focus on the other group. Because I have already profiled servers a couple years ago, I will concentrate on bartenders. Just like yesterday, I will provide five themes I have picked up on when socializing with folks who tend bar.

Not All Glamour: I am sure many of us at one time or the other have thought that working as a bartender would be a lot of fun and, because of our lovely tip-inducing personalities, profitable. It just isn’t always like that. Many bartenders work long shifts at horrendous hourly rates. Yes, they are obviously working for tips but those gratuities don’t always come through. Many employees commute long distances to their places of work. Some have to pay for babysitters. There are nights when bartenders are actually paying to clock in.

Especially in the Myrtle Beach area you will meet people who bartend at multiple locations. During the non-tourist season, many establishments don’t have the need for a whole crew of bartenders. Because of this, qualified people in the craft take what they can get, picking up one shift here and one shift there. Whereas many of us enjoy the luxury of a consistent and steady paycheck, bartenders don’t.

Dealing With Drunks and Stiffs: It is the nature of the job that you have to deal with intoxicated patrons. However, you would be surprised at how unruly/mean/out of line some people get. Bartenders get abused by inebriated customers frequently. What might be worse than the drunks though are the stiffs. I have had many a bartender tell me that some people just flat out don’t tip. Or, some will order $50 in drinks and tip $2. Some will leave coins. Like I mentioned above, these people are working for tips. To see patrons not even give the minimal percentage of a gratuity is sad.

They All Watch “Bar Rescue”: Because my obsession with “Bar Rescue” is real, I will always eventually ask a bartender friend if he/she watches the show. I kid you not, the answer is always yes! Not only is the answer always yes, it is an enthusiastic yes…they all love it. Of course I then dive into conversations with them about Jon Taffer, favorite episodes, and whether or not their bar needs a rescue.

You Must Be Able to Multi-Task: You must be able to juggle a lot when tending a bar, I hear this from everyone I know. You have to pour drinks, close out bills, clean up spills, manage conflict, serve food, re-stock supplies, answer phones, and so on. When you have a bar that is full you must bring your “A” game. Everyone has different needs and it is the bartender’s job to satisfy them all. There is so much to keep track of that it can get very overwhelming. How many of us have seen situations where a place is packed and the mob to order drinks runs several people deep around the whole bar? Talk about pressure!

Close-Knit Community: The bar industry is extremely close. When an off-duty bartender walks into another bar, he/she will treat the on-duty bartender with nothing but respect. The conversation will be lively and the tip will be very generous. When I lived in Missoula, an annual event was held called Bartender’s New Year. On this night, a prominent establishment in town would shut down its doors to everyone except bartenders (think any industry night times ten). It would be a huge party and the lucky bartenders who worked would have their biggest night of the year. People who work in this business understand the struggles and sacrifices and that results in a great deal of camaraderie.

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Of course there is so much more than this that I am sure bartenders want the general public to know. But for someone like me who knows pretty much next to nothing about the industry, these are the main things that stand out to me when observing and talking with bartenders. Always make sure to treat the person behind the bar right and tip generously. Don’t Blink.

What I Have Learned About the Teaching Profession

Over the past many months I have learned a lot about two professions: teaching and bartending/serving. Because of who I date and who I hang around with, I have found myself spending many evenings out with people in these two lines of work. Over the next two blog posts I will detail the top five characteristics of each profession that I have gleaned from talking with and listening to the people in them. Tonight I will cover teaching, focusing primarily on elementary education.

My girlfriend is a second grade teacher in Myrtle Beach. Besides our daily conversations, I have also met several of her teacher friends. When Sidney is hanging with her co-workers and college friends who are now also teachers, I take note on what they have to say. Here are the main points I have learned about the elementary education teaching profession.

Teachers Really Care: Don’t think that teachers do what they do just to get a paycheck. They are invested in making sure that the students in their classrooms learn. They put a lot of pressure on themselves to make sure the kids progress and improve. A lot of thought is put in by teachers to make sure they are utilizing the most effective methods possible to get through to every child in the classroom. Besides just the educational portion, however, teachers also care about their students outside of school as well. If they know that certain children have a rough home life, they will spend time after school hours or during the weekend thinking about them and hoping they are doing okay.

Teaching Can Be Draining: Many of us non-teachers become envious of the shorter work days and the summer vacations that teachers enjoy. But the bottom line is this: Most of them deserve it. Instructing a classroom of 25 second graders for six hours a day is hard work. You keep order, you stand on your feet all day, you solve problems, and you educate. By the end of the day, many teachers are wiped out. When you are leading a classroom, you are giving it your all every minute of the day.

Parents Are Crazy: We all hear about parents who think their children are the best, who think they can do no wrong, and who think they will eventually cure cancer. We also hear about those parents who neglect their children, who are apathetic, and who hinder their growth. Teachers deal with both types of these parents on a daily basis. For every parent that will lash out at a teacher for even implying that their child was out of line there is another parent that won’t even answer the phone or fill out a field trip permission slip. There are the good parents in the middle of these two extremes but constantly dealing with rotten apples is frustrating.

Talking Shop: Last night I was joking with Sidney that I enjoy hanging out with her teaching friends because I know I will never be the center of attention. As one who doesn’t like fielding numerous questions about myself, being in the company of educators takes the pressure off of me. When teachers are together, they will talk non-stop about their school, their classrooms, and their techniques. To them, the teacher’s lounge and the bar might as well be the exact same place. While Sidney and her friends tell teaching stories and discuss methods I just sit back and enjoy myself as I zone in and out of their conversations.

In Need of Peer Interaction: During the week when you spend most of your waking hours with children who are seven and eight years old, you start to crave time with people a little older, such as adults. I absolutely loved this Facebook status that Sidney posted:

This status addresses the need for peer-to-peer interaction.

This status addresses the need for peer-to-peer interaction.

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Teachers are a critical part of society that do a very difficult and noble job. I have enjoyed receiving an inside look at the joys, struggles, and intricacies of this profession. I have a massive amount of respect for Sidney and all the other teachers out there. Don’t Blink.