Cheesy Thursday Rundown

Good evening, one and all. Hope your first week of June is going well and that your friends and families are healthy. What do you say we rattle off five more topics tonight?…

Retro Snack – Who else loved Dunkaroos as a kid? Before I developed a taste for dipping chips in salsa, I preferred dipping cookies in frosting! Dunkaroos bring back fond childhood memories so I was happy that after a long discontinuation, the snack was brought back this year. Sloan is able to enjoy the gloriousness of Dunkaroos thanks to Uncle Glen and Aunt Carrie––they bring her a package pretty much every time they see her. Now, if only I can convince her to share with me.

Sloan eating Dunkaroos. I used to love those things.

June Summer Nights – It is that time of the year when I encourage everyone to savor these summer nights. The longest days of the year take place in June and are prime opportunity for making memories and having fun. It stays light out longer in Washington than South Carolina, something that Sid and I are trying to take advantage of with Sloan. We are enjoying evening wilderness hikes, strolls through the park, and lawn games in my parents’ front yard. Just trying to soak it up.

Sloan and Beau have spent a lot of time outside with us (and gradnma) during these early June evenings.

National Cheese Day – Today has been designated National Cheese Day, something I have no qualms with celebrating. I don’t know what life would be like without dishes that depend on cheese such as pizza, nachos, and mac and cheese. My favorite snack is cheese and crackers. I live for the cheese trays you can buy at Costco. A restaurant that Sid and I adore is called the CHEESEcake Factory. But I wanted to mark National Cheese Day on Don’t Blink by revealing my favorite type of cheese. In a world full of delicious cheeses, pepper jack ranks at the top of my list.

Even parmesan cheese is worth celebrating on National Cheese Day!

Happy Anniversary – Wanted to end tonight’s rundown by extending a happy anniversary to my sister and brother-in-law. They said their vows nine years ago here in Spokane. I hope they get the chance to celebrate tonight. Congratulations, Miranda and Jay.

Miranda and Jay are celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary today.

Rocks – Remember in a recent blog post when I described “scientific” stuff I did outside? Well, one of the things I mentioned was collecting rocks. My old habit has rubbed off on Sloan. When we go on our walks around the neighborhood and in the woods, she will pick up “souvenirs” along the way. We will then ceremoniously place them in a plastic cup I have in my office. Better cool rocks than overpriced toys, right?

This is Sloan’s rock collection.

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Get out and enjoy your evening, it is beautiful! Thanks for reading and I will touch base next week. Don’t Blink.

Tweaking Our Viewing Habits

When I was in that weird eight-week-type Purgatory between when I moved to Spokane and when my family joined me, I did something more than anything else: I watched movies.

My typical schedule during that 56-day stretch was pretty monotonous. I would wake up, work, eat dinner, and then watch a movie. During that period I watched approximately 40 films with my dad. It felt so strange at first. After I clocked out for the day, it felt like I had an endless evening with no responsibilities. This “freedom” allowed me to not think twice about setting aside two hours each night to sit on the couch and watch some random Netflix movie.

However, trust me, that freedom wasn’t worth the emptiness of not having your family with you. So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t heartbroken when my movie binge ended once Sidney and the kids arrived. Parents simply don’t have the luxury of devoting 120 minutes to the TV screen each night with multiple kids. Spending quality time with them, bathing them, getting them ready for bed, and then actually helping them fall asleep is a complex process that takes time. When you complete it, you often just want to go to bed.

But Sid and I have found a middle ground between throwing in the towel and watching a feature-length film. The two of us have embraced watching series on Netflix. Taking 45-55 minutes to watch a single episode aligns much more with our schedule than investing two hours in a film that you might not even like.

Looking back at the past 25 days, Sid and I would recommend the following three Netflix series selections…

Waco – This true crime series chronicles the final days of the Branch Davidians and their eccentric leader David Koresh. After pretty much watching everything possible on the Jonestown tragedy, I decided to learn more about a different cult. I liked this series because of the portrayals of Koresh and his right hand man, Steve Schneider. But what interested me the most were the negotiation tactics employed throughout the series. You learn a lot about how the FBI negotiates and how in-fighting between government agencies sometimes derails major crisis situations.

This series really gave you great insight into FBI negotiations.

Sweet Magnolias – A series completely chosen at Sidney’s discretion, I decided to watch because it takes place in South Carolina. The episodes follow three women who have been friends since childhood and features their various exploits and drama. It has a little bit of everything and is pretty lighthearted…not exactly my thing but Sid really enjoyed it.

Sidney loved this show.

Reckoning – We are currently right in the middle of this series. It is a whodunit as we are spinning our heads trying to figure out who the sadistic serial killer is in a small California town. The characters are complex, shocking, and unpredictable. Scandal is constantly present and cringe-worthy moments are abundant. I have noticed a lot of symbolism and dualism, so if that is your thing you might enjoy this series. Or, if you just fancy a good mystery, “Reckoning” might be for you also. We can’t wait to watch the next episode.

This show will entertain and thrill you.

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The summer is here and we still don’t have sports, so buy some ice cream and pick a Netflix series for these long June nights. Don’t Blink.

Hoping For a Better June

On May 1, I tweeted that it was going to be a promising month. I wrote it from a self-centered point of view, hoping for the best about events happening in my life. Yes, May turned out awesome for me. I was re-united with my family and we took numerous big steps toward building our life out west. Additionally, it was another positive and fulfilling several weeks at Washington State University.

I had high hopes for May. It delivered for me what about so many others?

But how good can a month be on a personal level when it is so horrendous on a national one?

You can’t really spin it, May 2020 was rough for the United States. Many things contributed to the ugly month but a big fat exclamation mark was added in the final week with the inexcusable death of George Floyd and the events that followed.

The month was another tough pill to swallow in what has been a forgettable 2020. In February you could find people joking on social media about how the year was already cursed. Well, it isn’t a joke anymore––the year 2020 has already brought enough sadness and gloom to last a decade. This isn’t funny.

I feel guilty that I have heralded 2020 as “The Year of the Resers” because it is more like “The Year of Catastrophe” for so many others. Although I can’t downplay the birth of my son, all the other blessings and milestones of this year seem absolutely trivial to the grim reality that millions of others are feeling.

I am praying that our country turns a corner in June. We need some breaks, we need some compassion, and we need people to wake up––myself included. Don’t Blink.

Routine Thursday Rundown

How is everyone doing this evening? I must say this Thursday Rundown seemed to sneak up on me a bit. Holiday weekends sure make the ensuing week go by fast! How about we get started? Here are tonight’s five topics…

Handshake 2020 – Although I mentioned that I could see the handshake “going away” post-pandemic, I don’t think the greeting my brother and I have been doing for 17 years ever will. Back in 2017, I wrote about the special handshake we made up as kids that we continue to do to this day. This past weekend, we filmed our little routine once again. For our most updated rendition, click here.

Last weekend, we filmed our classic handshake.

Update on Babies – Thought I would give a quick update on my children! Beau truly is a good baby. He is mellow and low maintenance. The little guy is doing well and will celebrate four months of life next week. Has it really been a third of a year?! Sloan is over the moon happy and will say some of the silliest things to ever come out of a toddler’s mouth. On the other hand, she will also “wow” you at times by saying some deep and loving thoughts. Every morning that I wake up with these two I can’t believe how lucky I am.

These two bring so much joy to my life.

Lotus – One of the best parts about moving to Washington for Sidney is the COFFEE. She goes to an espresso stand called Bean Me Up every day. I don’t drink coffee but she brought me back something special today. She delivered to my home office a Lotus flavored drink. Lotus is an energy drink but the espresso stand mixes it with flavoring and cream. When Sidney drove up to the window, she ordered here usual white chocolate mocha and then told the barista to make me a Lotus drink using whatever flavoring she thought would taste good. Although I couldn’t pinpoint what flavoring she used precisely, I think it may have been strawberry. Whatever it was it tasted great and gave me a boost!

The Lotus drink I enjoyed today gave me a nice boost.

Cotton Candy Kool-Aid – We didn’t get to drink soda much growing up, but we did drink a lot of Kool-Aid during the summers. My mom would let us pick several packets off the grocery store shelves to bring home but I definitely never saw a cotton candy flavor. Supposedly you can find the new flavor at CVS but I am a little out of luck because Spokane doesn’t have a CVS. Oh well, if the cotton candy Kool-Aid flavor is anything like the cotton candy Bang flavor, I don’t think I will be missing much.

Say hello to cotton candy Kool-Aid.

Hamburger Day – It is National Hamburger Day so what better time for me to say that I love myself a big, juicy hamburger? I also love a good topping to go with it! A few years ago I actually blogged about my favorite hamburger toppings and, yes, peanut butter was definitely on the list. I like my burgers cooked medium with a fresh bun and lots of cheese. My favorite burger place is River City Café in Myrtle Beach but now that I am out west a hamburger from Red Robin or the Onion will do just fine. Hope you all have fun “celebrating” tonight.

Nothing better than a good hamburger!

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So that will do it for this latest Thursday Rundown. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your May and live it up this weekend. As always, please continue to pray for an end to this pandemic and for those first responders who are actively battling against it. Don’t Blink.

A Spokane Chinese Restaurant Story

Sometimes you just feel like ordering takeout Chinese food, right? That was the sentiment of Sidney and I last Friday. After a long week, we wanted to decompress by watching Netflix and enjoying some General Tso’s chicken and egg rolls.

We opted for a place located in a mini strip mall close to my parents’ house. As a child I ate there numerous times but it had been at least 15 years since my last dining experience with this establishment.

Sidney phoned in the order and I went to pick it up. I walked through the doors and approached the owner who was at the counter. I gave her the name of my order and she started to bag my items. As she did this, I looked up at the chalk-written menu and based on what we ordered I started to calculate the total in my head.

When the owner finished putting all of our items in a couple different bags, she announced the total. I was pleasantly surprised because it was about $15 less than what I estimated. After I paid, we had a nice conversation about how business was doing during the pandemic. When I asked how long the restaurant has been open, she replied with 29 years. She was really nice and I left the restaurant with a smile on my face.

I returned home and took out our items. I immediately knew something wasn’t right. We had steamed rice instead of fried rice, almond chicken instead of General Tso’s chicken, soup instead of egg rolls, etc. On the bright side, they did include Sid’s favorite item, crab ragoons. We probably could have eaten what they gave us, but we were kind of itching for what we ordered. I called the restaurant to alert them of the mix up and to give the head’s up that I was going to return.

The owner was extremely apologetic and kind. I assured her it was no big deal and that I didn’t have to drive far to get back to the restaurant. When I walked through the doors, the owner was once again sympathetic and polite. I had realized that I paid less than I thought I would because she charged me for a different order. I asked her if I could please pay the full amount for our original order but she wouldn’t take any additional payment. Not only did they re-make our entire order, but they also let us keep the original side of crab ragoons and steamed rice. I once again walked out of the restaurant smiling.

Once I returned home, I took the food out of the bags for a second time. Everything that was supposed to be there (in addition to the free items she threw in) was there. After organizing all the food on our table, I went to throw the plastic bags away when I noticed a small slip of paper at the bottom of one of them. I took it out, flipped it over, and smiled at a $20 gift card to the restaurant.

I thought it was so nice of the owner of Mr. Wok to include this gift certificate in our takeout bag.

Although an honest mistake was made, I was so impressed that the owner went way out of her way to overcompensate for the mix up. It was a very kind gesture and I can’t wait to go to Mr. Wok again. Don’t Blink.

Memorial Weekend 2020

It was another “first time in a long time” Spokane experience this past weekend. I had the opportunity to spend the Memorial Day holiday with my wife, children, siblings, parents, and relatives. What more could I ask for?

Spending Memorial Day weekend with these guys was simply awesome.

The long weekend really allowed me to spend some uninterrupted family time with my South Carolina transplants. This was the third weekend since the big move but the previous two were filled with activity and adjustment.

Well, perhaps the “adjustment” part was more just me getting used to waking up in the middle of the night again. Truth of the matter, Sloan and Beau adjusted to the relocation better than we could have ever hoped. I have never seen Sloan happier and after a few nights of mastering the time zone change, Beau is rocking this Washington-thing like a champ.

It warms my heart to see these twp girls so happy.

With that said, the stage truly was set for a memorable Memorial Day weekend. When I clocked out on Friday evening, I was ready to take full advantage of being around the people I love. I thought I would share the best part from each day during the Memorial holiday.

Friday – After helping us so much over the past two weeks, Sidney and I kicked my parents out of the house so they could have some fun (and peace and quiet) with each other. We opted to order Chinese food and watch our latest Netflix series. Sloan and Beau hung out with us as we just relaxed like old times. Once they fell asleep, Sidney rushed out of the house and brought us home Cold Stone ice cream!

It was a sweet end to our Friday night.

Saturday – Spokane County moved to Phase 2 of the governor’s re-opening plan on Friday, allowing restaurants to open for dine-in service. On Saturday evening, Sidney and I went out with my sister and her husband to Tomato Street, one of my favorite restaurants of all-time. It was so nice to enjoy adult conversation and eat a nice meal in an actual restaurant!

Sidney and I on our date night. So nice to eat in a restaurant!

Sunday – Perhaps the best day of the weekend! Two of my aunts traveled from Walla Walla to see Beau for the first time. We celebrated the occasion by having a big cookout. It was a gorgeous evening as we ate ribs outside and followed it up by playing lawn games. With everyone over, we all just really cut loose and enjoyed each other’s company.

Sunday was so much fun! My Aunt Nancy and Aunt Judy spoiled their great nieces and nephews.

Monday – Sloan played with her cousins, Mikayla and Johnny, all weekend long––but it still wasn’t enough by Monday afternoon. So, Sidney and I took her over to my sister’s house for the ultimate play date. Miranda had prepared a couple of activities for the kids. First they made molds from color crayon scraps and then they made something called Moon-Dough. After the crafts they concluded the ultimate “cousin weekend” with a game of hide-and-seek.

It was a lot of fun watching the kids make Moon-Dough.

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It was a holiday weekend where I truly felt blessed. To spend a few carefree days with many of the people I love while watching my little ones embrace their new surroundings was special. Thanks to everyone for making it possible. Don’t Blink.

Bad Combos Thursday Rundown

Good evening to everyone. I know we are all anxiously awaiting the Memorial Day Weekend––I can’t wait to spend it with my wife and kids! Let’s get started with my latest Thursday Rundown…

Not a Good Mix – I enjoy both of these cereals, but I don’t necessarily know if I would prefer them together. A frosted cereal and a fruity cereal just don’t seem like they would mesh well together. I think Froot Loops and Lucky Charms could possibly work as a duo but for the time being how about we just keep each classic sugary cereal in its own box?

I don’t think I could do this.

Ultimate Tag – After watching the finale of the Masked Singer last night, we decided to stick around for the debut of Ultimate Tag, a show hosted by the Watt brothers. The program is literally based on the game of tag but it takes place in a small arena and has a definite “American Gladiators” vibe to it. The concept is decent and the action itself is entertaining, but it has the same cheesy production style that has turned me off from other programs. Don’t think I will watch again.

This tweet explained my thoughts while watching “Ultimate Tag” last night.

Magic Eye – At my parents’ house, they have several books in the Magic Eye series that was popular in the 1990s. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t do them back then and I can’t really do them now. Last month, my team at work had a Zoom background contest for one of our Friday meetings and I turned my background into a Magic Eye image. I didn’t consider that my big body sitting in front of the puzzle would impact the ability of my co-workers to focus on the design. Oh well, I guess I go with Magic Eyes just about as well as Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops.

A Magic Eye book that I was skimming through at my parents’ house a couple nights ago.

Peanut Butter Sandwiches – Working from home these days, my peanut butter sandwich consumption has dropped to historically low levels. Six years ago on this date, I wrote about how I ate PB sandwiches obsessively for lunch. More recently, I wrote about how I started to scale back. Don’t get me wrong, I still like them, I am just not eating them…at the moment.

My peanut butter sandwich consumption has dropped drastically from six years ago.

Cousin Love – One of the best parts about Sidney and the kids arriving nearly two weeks ago has been watching Sloan play with her cousins. The past couple nights after work, I have walked up the stairs from my office and into the living room to see Sloan running around with Mikayla and Johnny. They are a handful but watching those three interact sure is rewarding.

I took these photos over the past couple night.


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Have a safe weekend everyone. I value your readership and interest. Please continue to pray for a swift resolution to the current pandemic. Don’t Blink.

Reviving An Old Collection

A collection from my childhood that has gathered dust for the past 15 years is enjoying new life. Granted, it took me moving back to my parents’ house and the curiosity of a 3-year-old girl to make the collection relevant again, but things are once again “ballin.”

Unless you are a major fan of Don’t Blink and remember me making quick mention of it in July, you probably didn’t know that my brother and I amassed a giant collection of bouncy balls during our childhood. During our formative and pre-teen years, we hoarded the miniature rubber colored balls like they were going out of style.

Most kids would go out of their way to collect candy or new toys; we went all-in to bring home bouncy balls.

A look at our bouncy ball collection. More than 230 balls are pictured here.

We did all we could to obtain them from feeding loose change to the bouncy ball machines at Old Navy to trading all our tickets for them at the arcade. We scoured toy aisles and ripped into goodie bags at birthday parties hoping to find them. We accepted white elephant bouncy balls from friends and even sought them out at yard sales. It was a serious collection.

But it was also more than a collection; It was a hobby. We didn’t simply bring home the balls and place them in some shrine to admire. Rather, we played with them…a lot. Out of the hundreds of bouncy balls we collected, we would rotate them out of a large sack and into our pockets. Everywhere we went, Glen and I would have bouncy balls to throw around. Supermarket aisles, the bus stop, basketball courts, and parking lots were a few of the places where we would improve our eye-hand coordination by throwing the balls back and forth…back and forth.

Each bouncy ball in our collection is unique.

By the time I reached high school, I realized it wasn’t cool to stuff my pockets with rainbow-colored bouncy balls. So, a year or so after the new millennium, the balls spent more time in a large white laundry sack than they did on the streets of Spokane.

As I left my parents’ house and lived in different places across the country, my mom and dad threatened to throw out the bouncy balls. I think they were just about at their wits’ end and were seriously going to chuck them just a couple days before I told them I would be moving back to the state to work at WSU.

This is the sack that contains our bouncy balls.

I am grateful for the patience of my parents because those bouncy balls are now being enjoyed by a different Reser generation. It turns out Sloan enjoys bouncy balls just as much as her daddy and uncle. For the past several nights, we have spent time in my parents’ driveway throwing them around in what we call the #BouncyBallChallenge.

You should have seen my daughter’s face light up when I opened the same plastic laundry sack that has held the bouncy balls for two decades. How could a 3-year-old resist the countless colors, designs, sizes, and textures? Each night I let her grab a couple from the sack and we go outside to play. Sidney comes out too and we enjoy some clean, cheap entertainment.

Sloan has grown to really like my old bouncy balls.

It feels good to see your daughter enjoy an eccentric pastime that you couldn’t get enough of as a kid. I am appreciative of my parents for preserving our collection and I look forward to many more fun times with our bouncy balls in the future. Don’t Blink.

Replacing the Handshake

Perhaps I will no longer be judged by my naturally weak handshake?

Recently, I have heard multiple predictions on cable news shows that the handshake won’t survive COVID-19. People are saying that once this pandemic is over, the once popular greeting will essentially be extinct.

My days of extending my right hand might be over.

By no means will I be heartbroken if the prognostication proves correct. I have never really bought into the “you can tell a person by their handshake” adage. Besides the whole disease-spreading concerns, I think handshakes can be as awkward as hugs. But, in the same vane as hugs, although sometimes awkward, a handshake can sometimes be fulfilling.

So, if we really do forgo handshakes for the rest of civilization, I won’t miss 95% of the obligatory embraces that I would have extended if this pandemic spared us. However, for the times when a handshake could communicate emotion, warmth, celebration, and/or reconciliation––I will miss them.

I am mildly concerned about people (including myself) having the self-control to cease handshaking. Will it be easy for all of us to refrain from offering our hand when encountering Joe Blow? Perhaps an even better consideration, how will we deal with people who insist on shaking hands? I can see some pretty uneasy situations developing. But I do believe that over time, the urge to shake hands won’t feel so natural and those who are hell-bent on doing it will eventually fall in line.

I used to shake hands freely and even pose for photos while doing it.

What I am genuinely concerned about is replacing the handshake with something that doesn’t involve person-to-person contact. I do believe it is important for some type of non-verbal recognition to take place between parties. What could possibly replace the handshake?

Although I think it would be neat to invent something new, I think our best option might be something that has been around for thousands of years. I would not be opposed to adopting the Asian custom of bowing. Not only is it a beautiful gesture of respect, but it meets all physical distancing guidelines. As long as the bow is about recognition as opposed to an over-the-top maneuver that might be misconstrued as an act of worship, I think it might be the direction that we need to head in.

What are your thoughts on the handshake going away? There is no denying that is has been not just a courteous act but a powerful symbol. However, if it is going to be a casualty of the coronavirus, we need to look at other options. Don’t Blink.

What Mount St. Helens Means to a Washington Native

Today, Washingtonians observe the day that Mount St. Helens blew its top. In fact, this year’s date is a milestone––we are talking 40 years! On May 18, 1980, the active volcano in the western part of Washington state erupted, spewing ash EVERYWHERE.

Mount St. Helens was a massive volcanic eruption that happened 40 years ago on May 18, 1980. (Photo courtesy of the USGS).

This event has cemented itself in the fabric of the Evergreen State. As a kid, Mount St. Helens was basically the central part of our science curriculum in grade school. We learned all about the eruption. Teachers would bring in ash, homework assignments entailed us interviewing our parents about what they remembered from the day, and we would “blow up” the cliché vinegar/baking soda volcano.

Our local library had countless books on Mount St. Helens, everyone still hung newspapers in random spots from the fateful day, and you weren’t worth a damn if your parents didn’t have a secret stash of ash somewhere. The eruption had taken place nearly two decades ago but Mount St. Helens mania was still alive and well.

My parents have held onto a Yakima Valley Community newspaper from May 19, 2020.

Fast forward another 20 years and the transformative event has not lost a bit of luster. I did have to return within state lines to feel it, but the anniversary is as significant now as it was when I was a kid. Case in point: the local newspaper is doing a SEVENTEEN-day series on the explosion. My department at Washington State University has written some brilliant pieces on the monumental event. Tonight, Mount St. Helens coverage led off newscasts statewide.

How did I explain Mount St. Helens to my southern wife? I told her the volcano is on the same level in Washington as Hurricane Hugo is in South Carolina.

For all the scientific glory and state pride that surrounds Mount St. Helens, it is important to remember that people did lose their lives 40 years ago. Sadly, 57 people perished in the explosion.

There is no doubt, Mount St. Helens has proven staying power. Although the mountain blew several years before I was born, sometimes I feel like I was alive that day––the sign of an event that has truly been thoroughly documented in a community’s historical record. Don’t Blink.