Seniority Card Not Working Here

In a Dear Abby column on Sunday, a reader described her recent frustration at her apartment gym. She had a longstanding routine each day where she would arrive at the gym, hop on her favorite machine, and turn the television to a certain channel. At one point, the reader noticed a younger woman arriving shortly after she started her workout. After a couple weeks, this younger woman started arriving before the reader did. To the reader’s horror, when she would walk into the gym the younger woman would be on her machine with the TV set to a different channel. The reader explained that this new development was ruining her exercise time.

The reader asked Abby if it would be appropriate to pull her “seniority card” and ask the younger woman to defer the machine and the television remote to her. The woman was obviously hitting the gym earlier so she could beat out the reader for the preferable equipment and the TV privileges. It wasn’t fair, the reader reasoned, because her work schedule didn’t allow her to “one up” the younger woman and get there even earlier than her.

Rightfully so, Abby told the reader her proposal was out of line. It is gym etiquette, Abby responded, that equipment usage and amenity availability is distributed on a “first come, first serve” basis, not a “seniority” system.

I will say this, I know the reader’s frustration. A fan of routine myself, or, as my wife calls me, “a creature of habit,” I like doing certain tasks in a predictable manner. This translates to my workouts as well. Depending on what I am focusing on that day, I have a specific plan on what benches, machines, equipment, etc. I will be using. In a perfect world, everything will be clear and available to me at the exact minute my body says I need it. One reason why I exercise right when the gym opens early in the morning is so I can increase the chances of this “perfect world” scenario.

But, it doesn’t always happen that way. When I am in a groove and all I want to do is keep the momentum going by jumping on the incline bench, nothing sucks more than when someone else is using the only incline bench that happens to be in the gym. It might cause me to say a bad word in my head.

Although I am already at fault for letting it get to me, I always do have a backup plan. I have created my workouts in a flexible manner so that even if the backup to my backup to my backup is being used, I have something else to turn to. Although having this many alternatives is easier said than done in an apartment gym, the Dear Abby reader needs to learn to cope.

We don’t just need backup plans in the gym, we need them in all facets of life. If a meeting goes off schedule, a trip is delayed, a show is sold out, or weather ruins an occasion, we have to respond the best way possible by countering with an alternative. In most cases, pulling the “seniority card” or writing to an advice columnist is not going to solve the issue. Don’t Blink.

My Top Ten Presidents

Today is Presidents Day. For someone whose obesession with presidents reached an almost unhealthy level when I was younger, it is hard to believe that I have never written this type of blog post before. So, even though I can no longer recite all the United States Presidents in order while giving you obscure information on each one, I still have my favorites. In tonight’s blog post, I will countdown my top ten favorite commander-in-chiefs.

10. Grover Cleveland – It always intrigued me that on my presidents poster that hung above my bed was a portrait that appeared twice. Grover Cleveland is the only president to be elected to two non-consecutive terms. This distinction made him special to me and is the best explanation on why he cracks my list.

9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt – The only four term president, it is hard to overstate the good that FDR did for this country. By ushering America out of the Great Depression and leading it to victory in World War II, he goes down as perhaps the best president in history as well as one of my favorites.

8. Dwight Eisenhower – I always loved the look of a modern day decorated general going from the battlefield to the Oval Office. Dwight Eisenhower just fit the bill of what it meant to look presidential. The guy experienced the horrors and triumphs of both world wars, thus giving him a pretty extensive worldview when he took office.

7. John F. Kennedy – Growing up, I always felt sadness and asked “what if…?” when I would pass his pages in my presidents books. Through my eyes as a kid, he seemed to look 50 years younger than all the other leaders. As I grew older, I still asked “what if…?” as I became more fascinated with both his political career and family life. He had so much potential.

6. Abraham Lincoln – For me as a youngster, Abraham Lincoln was extremely interesting. He was on money, he was the tallest president, and he was assassinated! Of course as I evolved from just knowing interesting facts to knowing the impact the presidents had on our country, my respect for Lincoln grew even more. Perhaps no president governed in such hard times as President Lincoln.

5. John Adams – The David McCullough book on the life of John Adams is a must read. It took me on an extraordinary ride through the times and career of our second president. Adams served our country both at home and abroad and his contributions helped shape this country. The relationship between him and Thomas Jefferson was one for the ages, as well as his beautiful marriage to his wife, Abigail.

4. Theodore Roosevelt – When it comes to personality, I don’t think any president (including President Trump) can match that of Theodore Roosevelt. When I watched the documentary done on the Roosevelts a couple years ago, Teddy was rightfully portrayed as a complete badass. Forget that he went to Harvard, served in the army, and became president….I was fascinated by the safaris he went on that brought him face-to-face with some of the world’s most dangerous animals. In fact, on one of these safaris he was pretty much left for dead. I also like Teddy because when I was little my dad would take me to Pioneer Park in Walla Walla, Washington, and lead me to an area where Roosevelt once gave a speech. To know that a president at that time in history made it that far our west proved pretty cool to me.

3. Thomas Jefferson – Although this man had his flaws, he did write the Declaration of Independence, the greatest document ever authored in this country. He also goes down as one of the nation’s greatest presidents, serving young America for two terms. But what drew me to Jefferson was his flamboyancy. Although he was a great writer, politician, and ambassador, he was also really into art. The man loved nice things but was extremely well-educated on what was “nice.” He was good looking and smart, a man who would absolutely take over a room when he entered. Having the distinction of appearing on the $2 bill, Jefferson is one of my favorites.

2. Ronald Reagan – The first actual adult biography on a president I ever read was about Ronald Reagan. The man had a very colorful life and encountered his fair share of disappointments. He served his country, thrived in Hollywood, governed over the largest western state, survived an assassination attempt, and did so much good during his two terms in office. Just like John and Abigail Adams, his marriage to Nancy was another example of true love and selflessness. There is no wonder why even Democrats genuinely respect the guy.

1. George Washington – It all starts with him. Remember above how I said I liked the story of a modern day general succeeding on the battlefield and succeeding in the highest office? Well, George Washington might not be modern but his heroic story is the epitome of the American spirit. Ask yourself this: what would our country be like without Washington? Kind of a scary question, right? In fifth grade at lunch, my teacher put in a movie about George Washington’s life. The film was extremely long because I think it took us about half the school year to finish it. But it was awesome. Washington paved the way for this great country and it is fitting that Presidents Day is celebrated right around his birthday.

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Happy Presidents Day, everyone. Don’t Blink.

Attending A Birthing Class

My eyes were recently opened even more to a major event that will soon bless the lives of Sidney and I. Yesterday we went to Conway Medical Center, the hospital where our daughter will be born, for a birthing class. On our calendar for about a month now, we both had anxiously anticipated this all-day event as an opportunity to become more accustomed to what we could expect on the big day. With the stork marking the spot on the door we were supposed to enter, we quickly found the location where we would spend the next six hours.

With the stork marking the spot, we walked through this door to enter our birthing class at Conway Medical Center.

By the time the class was called to order at 9 a.m., we were surrounded by five other couples. The 12 of us (or 18 of us depending how you look at it) would be under the direction of a labor and delivery nurse named Tammy. A 37-year-vet of this type of nursing, we knew we were in good hands with her. Nurse Tammy opened the session with a pep talk on how the women in the room were more than capable of the monumental task of giving birth while also stressing the importance us guys play in our role as “coaches.”

Then the movies started. Throughout the day, we watched videos that followed various couples around as they navigated the realm of childbirth. Filmed in an educational/documentary style, Nurse Tammy showed clips that addressed preparing for the hospital, prelabor signs, true vs. false labor, onset of labor, labor itself, the different types of birth, medication options, and postpartum care.

A look at the layout of our birthing class. You can see three of the five couples that joined us. Nurse Tammy is up front starting a video. Our class took place at Conway Medical Center.

It was a lot to take in but the clips were broken up and we had a discussion after each one. The biggest eye opening part for me? In my life, I had never watched a woman give birth before, whether it be through the natural process or through a Cesarean. These videos made no qualms about showing the miracle of life in an up close and personal manner. When I walked out the door at the end of the day, I knew exactly what it looks like for a baby to enter the world.

Of course it wasn’t just videos and discussions though. Nurse Tammy took us on a tour of The Birth Place, the place at Conway Medical Center where we will have our baby. We strolled through the entire wing, walked inside a delivery room, met the staff, and looked at a postpartum room. While on this tour we had the opportunity to view all the room amenities such as the retractable mirror on the wall, the rollout bed for the husband, and the monitoring system used by nursing staff to insure that we are never alone in case we need something.

The opportunity to tour The Birth Place at Conway Medical Center was very much appreciated. I took this photo as we followed the other couples into the facility.

We also learned breathing exercises. Although one of the videos covered it as well, Nurse Tammy took time to offer us some breathing hints for when labor comes. She also gave us some massage techniques and stretching exercises that can help reduce stress and relieve pain for the mom.

A couple more photos of us touring The Birth Place at Conway Medical Center.

Toward the end of the day, Nurse Tammy brought out what she called her “toys.” She showed us an epidural tray, a skeleton of the pelvis, a vacuum extractor, a catheter, and several other instruments. It was cool to see these things right in front of us. Nurse Tammy explained that “knowledge is power” and that it is important to be familiar with some of the tools we will encounter while in the delivery room.

In the days leading up to the birthing class, Sidney joked that I was most excited about the free lunch and snacks advertised on the registration form. The free food did not disappoint! Fruit, graham crackers, and juice/water were offered in the classroom throughout the day. However, the best part was the lunch. They let us loose in the cafeteria and allowed us to get whatever we wanted. I hauled out a tray that included pasta, turkey, cornbread, and pudding. I told Sid that the lunch itself pretty much paid for the class!

Sidney and I enjoying our time at the birthing class.

But the complimentary food wasn’t what I wrote down as the best part of the day. When I filled out the evaluation, I noted that the biggest strength of the class was the opportunity for Q&A with Nurse Tammy. Throughout the day, and especially at the end, we could ask questions about anything and everything. Sidney asked a lot of great questions and the other couples asked some really good ones as well. Nothing was off limits and it was very nice to have a person who has seen it all through four decades in nursing give us truthful and compassionate answers.

The birthing class was worth the time and investment. I thank Conway Medical Center and Nurse Tammy for preparing us for an upcoming major event in our lives. Don’t Blink.

A Normal Thursday Rundown

Don’t Blink because February is more than halfway over. Here we go with my latest Thursday Rundown…

Latest Buffalo Wild Wings Visit – As I mentioned in a previous post, I am going to update you on all the meals we enjoy from the many gift cards we received at Christmas. My sister and brother-in-law gave us a card to Buffalo Wild Wings and we used it this past Friday. We usually order wings and split them, but this time around Sidney and I ordered our own non-wing items. She got the Bayou po’boy chicken sandwich and I went with the new buffalo mac and cheese. The mac and cheese comes with chicken covered in your favorite BWW wing sauce (spicy garlic for me) and it is topped with bread crumbs. Although it looked like kind of a small serving when they brought it to me, I soon found out that it was more than enough. Best of all, it was delicious.

We enjoyed a Buffalo Wild Wings date night on Friday.

Grammy’s Review – Over the past couple of years, I have been pretty hard on the Grammy’s. It just seemed to me that the content and quality of the show kept declining. I think 2017 was a step forward for the awards show. The energy was back and it seemed like the Grammy’s ditched efforts from the past couple years to be as artsy and symbolic as possible. It was more about the awards and performances this year. I actually even thought James Corden, someone who I am not a big fan of, did a great job with the hosting duties.

The Lego Batman Movie – On Saturday, my father-in-law and I took my nephew to the theater to watch “The Lego Batman Movie.” I assumed the film would be completely geared toward kids but I was wrong. I actually enjoyed “The Batman Lego Movie” and laughed often throughout it. In fact, at times it felt like I was watching something off of Adult Swim. But don’t think that the film was lost on the children! Harrison was so engaged with the movie that he refused to go to the bathroom, doing his best to fight off nature’s call (he was successful) until the credits started to roll.

The “Lego Batman Movie” was pretty good.

Latest Netflix Documentary I Watched – I recently finished watching a documentary titled “Curse of the Man Who Sees UFOs.” The film profiles this guy who believes he sees UFOs pretty much on a nightly basis. He has video proof but it is sketchy at best. However, what really stands out is his personality. I was shaking my head in amusement throughout the whole documentary at the degree of eccentricity the dude constantly displayed. If you are weird like me, you will like it.

If you pass “Curse of the Man Who Sees UFOs” on Netflix, give it a try.

Marco Rubio – One year ago today, Sidney and I attended a Marco Rubio rally. At the time, he was at the peak of his popularity in the Republican Primary race. However, Chris Christie would soon embarrass him on the debate stage and he eventually dropped out. But Marco has nothing to be ashamed about. He won re-election to the U.S. Senate and he is very relevant on the national stage. He will run again for president one of these days.

A year ago today, Sidney and I met Marco Rubio.

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Hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day. I will be back on Sunday to share an interesting experience with you. Have a nice weekend. Don’t Blink.

Be Happy With What You Have But Work For What You Want

Every now and then, I come across a page on my Life’s Little Instruction calendar that I want to do more with than just tweet out. Sometimes I like to elaborate with a paragraph or two. Today is one of those days…

This was today’s Life’s Little Instruction.

This instruction gives us two big nuggets of wisdom:
1. Be happy with what you have.
2. Work for what you want.

I subscribe to the thinking that all of us living in this country hit the lottery. With so much of the world’s population living in poverty, filth, and danger, it goes without saying that we have it pretty good. How did we get so lucky? Why did we get picked to live in a non-third world country?

It seems like I have been asking myself versions of the above questions quite frequently the past several weeks (making today’s instruction speak even more to me). Lately I have been extra mindful of the fact that I get to go to sleep in an actual comfortable bed under a nice roof in a climate controlled room. Many people will never even experience this once in their entire lives.

What makes me even more aware of my luck is that I know I have it pretty good just in terms of others living in the United States. Our country is great but we definitely have way too many people who lack necessities that many others enjoy. Undeservedly, I have it incredibly good. I have a job, I have reliable transportation, I have a family, I have available food. When I take the time to break this down, there is no way I can feel any way other than ecstatic about what I have.

However, just because most of us (I am referring to my blog audience) have it great and can bring ourselves to be happy with what we got, it doesn’t mean we have to be complacent. In my opinion, there is no issue with working one’s tail off to improve and get what it is that we want. As long as we keep the charmed life that many of us enjoy in perspective, working hard to achieve goals is not something we should be ashamed of.

I have always taken heed of the bible verse from Luke that says whomever is given much, much is expected. To me, it is the command for all of us to reach our potential. It is a directive that in order to live our lives to the fullest, we must work hard.

To boil the entire instruction down in a different set of words, I think it is safe to say that we need to be happy but not complacent. We need to recognize on a daily basis everything we have been given but we still need to push ourselves. Never underestimate the power of both gratitude and hard work. Don’t Blink.

Another Sweet Valentine’s Day

I have said before that Valentine’s Day is not my favorite holiday. However, I have also boldly denounced the people who viciously attack it. It might not come as a surprise, but February 14 has become a little sweeter to me over the past few years. When you get to spend a love-obsessed designated holiday with your life partner, no matter how commercialized that holiday might be, it does take a bit of your cynicism away (I still don’t love Valentine’s Day though!).

On the first Valentine’s Day I spent with Sidney, I pulled out all the stops. The two of us dressed up and hit arguably the most well-known fine dining franchise in the country. We enjoyed an extravagant meal at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, an experience that I still fondly remember.

Sidney and I at Ruth’s Chris on Valentine’s Day 2015.

Last year, we scaled back a bit. Fresh off purchasing our honeymoon and with a wedding months away, we celebrated at home. I brought breakfast and flowers to Sidney’s house and we simply enjoyed the day together.

I gave Sidney a very simple Valentine’s Day gift in 2016.

This year, we are celebrating by merging together components from the past two Valentine’s Days…kind of. To pay homage to our first V-Day, we will be eating steak once again; it just won’t be $100 steak. We are ordering takeout from Outback! I am just about to go pick up the food to bring back to the house. We will then slip in a Redbox that Sidney picked out earlier this evening and enjoy the same “meal and movie at home” concept we did last year.

But this year isn’t a complete mashup of the past two years. Believe it or not, we started a brand new tradition this morning. At 5:15 a.m., we traded Valentine’s cards. During a period where I am usually hustling to get out the door to hit the gym and Sidney is getting ready to go teach school, we spent a few peaceful moments together. We opened the cards we each got for one another and admired the thought that each person put in, even it was a small gesture. It was an amazing way to start the Tuesday.

The Valentine’s Day cards we exchanged this morning.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone. No matter if you have a sweetheart or not, remember that the sun will come up tomorrow. Don’t Blink.

Not Completely Sold on Casinos

On the front page of this morning’s The Sun News, the primary newspaper of Myrtle Beach, appeared a story about casinos. The state of South Carolina is looking to improve its roads and in order to accomplish this, funding is needed. An idea that has been proposed to raise the necessary money is to build casinos.

Of course, the proposal has supporters and critics. The article in the newspaper did a nice job reporting on both sides of the argument. It basically boils down to this: Gaming is an extremely effective way to generate revenue. In fact, it works so well that 40 states in this country already have casinos. On the other side of the coin, casinos can lead to irresponsible behavior and crime. Many lives are destroyed by gambling addicitons and bad decisions.

I always hate not taking a side, but I have a tough time throwing my full support behind either the pro-casino or anti-casino stance. At the core, the arguments made by both camps are valid. Casinos are a gold mine for the economy but of course there is a price, the non-monetary kind, that comes with them.

The moment I turned 18, my friends and I hit the Vegas style gaming that was available to Washington state residents. Fueled by the poker craze that overtook the country a couple years before I became a legal adult, I was ecstatic to finally leave the basements of my friends and enter the big boy gambling establishments. It was an absolute rush and we all had a lot of fun…initially.

However, it didn’t take me long to figure out that gambling was not profitable. I lost much more than I won but I continued to go with my friends. We were heading to the casino multiple times a week. Thankfully, my casino days ended when I went off to college in a different state. When living in Montana, the poker machines and slots didn’t call my name like the Vegas style tables in Washington. My thirst for Blackjack, Paigow, and live poker tables slowly went away.

The same can’t be said for everyone else in my circle who I gambled with. Many ended up throwing thousands of dollars away and had to admit that they had a real problem. It wasn’t pretty.

These days, I consider myself a responsible gambler. When I go home to Spokane, I love going out to Northern Quest, a gambling resort, with my family. Because I can hardly stand to lose any money, I will gamble away $20 and call it good. While I am at Quest, I will spend money on food and drink and basically support the economy through other means besides gambling. For pro-casino folks, they would probably point at me now and say “This is the type of person we are targeting. The responsible, laid back guy who knows his limits and enjoys the atmosphere.”

But I wasn’t always this guy and that is why I understand the anti-casino stance. Then again, I also can concede that just because I was vulnerable when I became of age doesn’t mean that other people will be as well.

Basically I think we have to ask this: Will the dollars that will undoubtedly flow in from casinos justify the lives that will be ruined? It is a tough question and I can’t answer it. Don’t Blink.

What More Restaurants Should Do

Yesterday, I ate lunch with Sidney’s family out on the patio at a popular Myrtle Beach restaurant. With temperatures reaching into the 70s, it was a great afternoon enjoying the atmosphere that River City Café provides. Part of the charm of the place is the ability to use provided crayons to color on the paper table cover. My niece and nephew certainly let their creative juices flow over the course of the lunch.

Enjoying our lunch at River City Cafe during the gorgeous Myrtle Beach afternoon (photo cred to Brenda).

This reminded me of my favorite restaurant in Spokane. Tomato Street is a well-known Italian restaurant in the north part of the city that offers amazing food and, just like River City Café, a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. In addition to the cans of tomato sauce that line the walls, the chalkboard stations that are installed around the restaurant, and the servers who take “flair” to a whole new level there is another “experience building” part of Tomato Street. Whenever a family sits down at a table, it is covered in a fresh white sheet of paper. A cleaned out can of tomato sauce filled with color crayons waits upon the blank slate. Customers go nuts letting their inner artist run wild.

Tomato Street in Spokane is my favorite restaurant.

When drawing on a Tomato Street table, you always want to do your best work. Why? Well, the restaurant will take the very best pieces of dinner art and display them in a glass showcase located in the very large waiting area. When we were younger, it was always a thrill for my family to go to Tomato Street and see if the drawings we did on our previous visit made the showcase. Before social media, it was one of the very best and creative examples of user generated content.

A drawing my dad did of me a couple years ago at Tomato Street. No, it did not make the showcase.

So, what is so special about coloring on the top of a table? Thousands of restaurants across the country do it, right? Yes and yes. However, these days I am surprised that more restaurants don’t do it, primarily because of the phrase I used to end the previous paragraph.

Besides being cost effective and besides serving as a way to entertain guests, Tomato Street utilizes paper table covers as a way for customers to help promote its restaurant (aka user generated content). When someone is drawing/coloring at a restaurant, the common tendency is to create something that is somewhat related to that restaurant. It was not a coincidence that the drawings that made the Tomato Street showcase had something to do with Tomato Street. Each piece of art hung was basically a testimonial for the restaurant.

Now we are in the age of social media. No longer do these pieces of user generated content need to be sheltered inside the walls of the restaurant for people who are already customers to see. Social media can now take these ultra-creative works of art and broadcast them out to an audience that could potentially reach millions. Forget marketing slogans, forget corporate designed logos, and forget staged photos…table cover art made by actual customers is where it is at!

Sure, any restaurant that converts from a traditional table cloth to one that allows customers to draw on it is not reinventing the wheel. The ploy has been around forever. But from what I have seen, businesses have yet to monopolize on this quirky method inside of the digital world. For the Instagram or Facebook account of any restaurant looking for fresh content to post, I think a gold mine awaits with customer produced table art. Don’t Blink.

Free Hugs Thursday Rundown

Because of my quick trip to Nashville, this week seems a little out of sorts for me. However, someone told me today is Thursday and that just means one thing: The Thursday Rundown.

Free Hugs – Speaking of Nashville, when I was at the CASE Conference, the keynote speaker was Ken Nwadike. This man started the Free Hugs Project. Ken shows up at hostile situations and tries to serve as a peacekeeper between opposing parties, freely giving out hugs along the way. Lately, this has been in the form of helping ease relations between law enforcement and protestors. He was present at recent events such as the Dallas shootings, Charlotte protests, and President Trump’s Inauguration. Watching him literally stand in between adversaries and sooth tensions is incredible to watch. Despite being on the front lines in very dangerous situations, he is an extremely mild mannered and humble man. It was a pleasure listening to him speak.

I listened to Ken Nwadike, AKA the “Free Hugs Guy,” in Nashville at the CASE District III Conference on Tuesday.

Baby Update – Over the weekend, Sidney and her mom spent a lot of time getting the nursery ready. I have shown pictures before of the area coming together but after they finished with it on Saturday night, it looked baby-ready! My father-in-law helped me provide the muscle for moving heavy items, but it was all the work of Sid and her mom to make it look so nice. In other news, Sid and I had the chance to see our daughter via another ultrasound today. Words can’t describe how beautiful she already is. We are now under two months until she is due.

This is what the nursery looks like now.

Kettle Corn at My Theater – A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I bought a popcorn tub at my local Cinemark theater that grants me discounted refills throughout 2017. Although I already knew I made a good decision by making the purchase, my investment recently got a little sweeter. Last week when I visited the theater, I saw that an entire popping cage is now devoted to KETTLE CORN. I absolutely love kettle corn and although I do prefer regular popcorn at the movies, I can see myself every now and then opting for the sweet and savory option instead (yes, kettle corn is included at the same discounted tub rate).

Kettle corn is now offered at my local Cinemark theater and I can use my refillable tub to get it.

Gold – The reason why I made my kettle corn discovery was because I attended the early bird showing of “Gold” this past Saturday morning. If you don’t know, “Gold” stars Matthew McConaughey as a prospector looking to strike it rich. He travels to Indonesia and teams up with a geologist to find gold in the country’s jungles. As per usual, McConaughey turns in a great performance but the film was just a little too slow for me. I followed it the whole way and found it interesting but I was by no means impressed by it. I would wait for it to come out on Redbox.

I saw the movie “Gold” this past Saturday.

Cool Stationary – Cleaning out drawers the other day, I stumbled upon something pretty cool. A few years ago, Sidney’s mom gave her this stationary for getting organized before embarking on trips. I always write out a manual list from scratch when I go on a trip so this intrigued me. In fact, I actually used a piece of it when I packed for Nashville. I just circled the items on the list I needed to pack and then scratched them off as I packed them. It was extremely efficient and it saved me time. What a useful little gift!

I am a big fan of the travel stationary that my mother-in-law gave Sidney.

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There you have it, another Thursday Rundown in the books. Thank you for reading, I appreciate the time you devote to Don’t Blink. I look forwarding to reaching out to you again on Sunday. Don’t Blink.

A BitterSWEET Experience in Nashville

Please take note that the first word in the title of this blog is written as “BitterSWEET” as opposed to “Bittersweet.” This is by design. You see, the past 48 hours did hold a small dose of disappointment but it was far outweighed by a certain major surprise.

But first, let’s start with the bitter. I went to Nashville primarily to attend the CASE District III Awards Banquet, as our #CCU Keys to Success social media campaign was a finalist in the Social Media Strategy and Execution category. I obviously wanted to take first place. It was not meant to be. Among the finalists there is a grand prize winner, an award of excellence winner, and several special merit honorees. Our campaign earned the award of excellence, the silver medal in the category. No doubt it was great to be a finalist and to place ahead of three other finalists but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want the grand prize.

Coastal Carolina University received the Award of Excellence in the Social Media Strategy and Execution category at the 2017 District III CASE Awards.

You can’t always get what you want in life and I understand that. However, despite missing out on the gold when it came to the award, I hit something much more valuable about six hours before the banquet started. It came in the form of a surprise I never saw coming.

In the early morning of Tuesday, I texted my dad before going into one of the sessions of the CASE Conference just to tell him to have a good day. He responded by asking me to call him after I was through with that session.

After listening to a couple of great speakers from Troy University detail their Instagram strategy (the entire conference itself was AWESOME), I started walking quickly from the conference room I was in to the ballroom for the day’s keynote address. In full conference mode, I almost forgot to call my dad. However, as I approached the doors of the ballroom I remembered to give him a ring.

What happened from there was almost surreal. My dad immediately picked up and started asking about my whereabouts, which I found odd. I told him where I was and he told me a very important person was there to see me. Now I was even more confused. At first I thought he was just using his typical “dad humor” and messing around with me. Mulling it around in my head a bit further I thought perhaps he was talking about Sidney. But then he said that it was an old man waiting for me.

At that point I realized he was under the same roof that I was. In a complete state of shock, bewilderment and confusion, I gave him directions on where to find me. The conference was held at the Gaylord Opry Resort and it is a large place that is built in a complex manner. After a couple minutes of chatoic directions on where I was at in the hotel, my dad and I were face to face.

The first selfie I took with my dad after he surprised me in Nashville.

Knowing that I was up for this award, my dad coordinated with my wife and people at work to come on his own dime to surprise me and support me. He had planned this for a month, taken time off of work, and counted down the days until he would arrive in Nashville. He had planned on arriving at the venue on Monday night, just a couple hours before I arrived, so he could surprise me as I walked in. But like I said above, things don’t always go the way we want them to.

My dad went through hell to get to Nashville. He flew from Spokane to Seattle. From there he was supposed to fly directly to Nashville. But weather and delays got in his way. His flight was canceled and instead of arriving in Nashville at around 4 p.m. CT as his itinerary indicated, he was still in Seattle at 4 p.m. PT. He thought about just going back to Spokane but he said he wanted to tough it out. He finally got on a plane that took him to Atlanta. He spent the night in the Atlanta airport and  got on a flight in the morning that took him to Nashville. By the time he reached the resort at around 8 a.m., he had been traveling for over 24 hours.

But he said the travel debacle didn’t matter. He was now with me and that was all that counted.

My confusion I mentioned above turned to happiness and humility. My parents travel across the country to Myrtle Beach once a year; my dad had just traveled the same distance all the way to Nashville to be with me for just a day. It was such an extrememly nice thing for him to do.

During the day we hung out between sessions. We ate burgers at one of the hotel restuarants, visited the Grand Ol Opry, and chatted it up in the room. Then, we dressed up for the banquet.

Some photos of my dad enjoying his day in Nashville.

It was great to have my dad at my table at the awards banquet. It was an elegant dinner and we sat next to some really nice people. I desperately wanted to get the top award in front of him but I knew he was proud of me anyway.

My dad and I at the awards banquet.

After the banquet, my dad got to visit a couple honky tonk establishments, something he has always wanted to do. We reflected on the complete whirlwind of the past 48 hours and agreed that this entire experience was pretty special.

A photo of my dad and I in the hotel lobby at the end of the night.

This morning we had a nice breakfast. We also got to spend a little extra time with each other because this time around it was my flight that was delayed (my dad’s plane didn’t leave until later in the afternoon). As I departed Nashville, my dad reminded that next time he sees me, he will be able to call me “Dad.”

Some photos from today.

Again, I can’t say enough how humbled I am. I can also say that what occured yesterday was the biggest surprise of my life. Thank you to my wife, my great people at my work, and my mom for making this happen. Most of all, thanks to my dad. It is something that I will never forget. Don’t Blink.