Fourth Of July Thursday Rundown

A happy holiday weekend to you all! It is my hope that most of you will enjoy a vacation day tomorrow. What better way to kick off your elongated weekend than to read my west coast Thursday Rundown? Here we go!

Southern Cuisine Out West – Although Sidney and I are enjoying our time out west, it doesn’t mean we have abandoned all Southern traditions. Sidney (with help from my mom) prepared two South Carolina delicacies for my family to enjoy. Last night she made chicken bog which was greeted by rave reviews from my brother and sister. Today she and my mom joined forces to prepare boiled peanuts. I can’t wait to see the reaction from Glen and Miranda once they try them. Will the texture and non-traditional peanut properties turn them off? Or will they love them as much as me? We shall see!

The delicious southern treats we enjoyed over the past few days. Up top is chicken bog, below are boiled peanuts, and the photo on the right is my mom by the crock pot.

The delicious southern treats we enjoyed over the past few days. Up top is chicken bog, below is a container of boiled peanuts, and the photo on the right is my mom by the crock pot.

Beautiful, Beautiful Baby – I can’t get enough of my niece. Mikayla has grown so much since I last saw her but she is ADORABLE. She smiles, claps her hands, sits up, and reaches out for me. She is so precious. I have seen her just about every day since I have been here and she definitely has my heart. She is coming over again this evening and I can’t wait to hold her!

Some of my favorite shots of Mikayla this weekend.

Some of my favorite shots of Mikayla this weekend.

Wedding Bells – Tomorrow Sidney and I will head to Seattle with my brother as a chauffer. During the day I will show Sid the sights of the Emerald City. Come night we will be attending a wedding for my very good friend and mentor, Kenny. A subject of a blog post several months ago, Kenny will marry his boyfriend, Steve, at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Sidney and I are excited for the ceremony and the start of their life together.

Kenny and I on the sidelines in Clemson's Memorial Stadium in October of 2014.

Kenny and I on the sidelines in Clemson’s Memorial Stadium in October of 2014.

Fourth of July Plans – After the wedding festivities, we will head back in the eastern direction and travel to Walla Walla, Washington. I grew up making regular trips to the “town so nice they named it twice” because my parents grew up there and all of their extended family still enjoy residency in one of the best wine towns you will ever visit. On tap will be fun in the pool at my uncle’s, a stroll at the city park’s Fourth of July celebration, and then a BBQ that night with my dad’s family. It will be a fabulous and eventful holiday.

Me in Walla Walla at our family Fourth of July celebration in 2013.

Me in Walla Walla at our family Fourth of July celebration in 2013.

Pop-Its – With a fireworks ban here in Spokane, what I have pictured below accounts for the only pyrotechnics you will find in Spokane (fireworks are legal in Walla Walla, however). Sidney bought a few boxes of Pop-Its at Walgreens and we played with them the other night. Sid was fascinated that I would snap them with my fingers, thinking it would hurt. While I have no problem popping them with my hands, I did not accept a challenge from a Periscope user. The person told me to detonate them with my teeth…no thank you.

Sid holding the Pop-Its.

Sid holding the Pop-Its.

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Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I wish you a wonderful patriotic holiday. If you wish to receive my holiday text message and aren’t on my regular distribution list, please contact me. God bless America. Don’t Blink.

Delta Airlines Screwjob

Last week at this time I was crushed. A day after the happiest moment of my life, I was scrambling to salvage my summer vacation. Sidney and I had our reservations set to fly out of Myrtle Beach on the evening of Wednesday, June 24. After finishing the day at CCU I rushed home and packed a few last minute items. As I was zipping up my suitcase and waiting for Sidney to arrive before our first leg of our flight that would take us back to Spokane, I received a phone call from an unfamiliar number. After debating whether to answer it or not, I took the call.

“Hello, this is Brent.”
“Good evening. This is Delta Airlines. I am calling to inform you that your flight tonight has been canceled due to inclement weather.”

Pretty much right at that point I lost it. What inclement weather? It is absolutely gorgeous out. What are you going to do to get us to Spokane? How are you going to make this up to us?

The response from the Delta agent was almost as infuriating as the initial news. She told me that most flights tomorrow were full. She didn’t know exactly when she could reschedule us to get us to Spokane. She said Delta couldn’t control Mother Nature. She said the airline owed us nothing. Her lack of sympathy and solutions sent me off my rocker. I gave her a piece of my mind and she threatened to hang up on me. I apologized and told her that I would regain my composure and we would figure out a solution together. At first the best she could give me was an arrangement where we would touchdown in Spokane at 11 p.m. on Thursday. I told her that was completely unacceptable. Not only did I have an event that I had organized for 6 p.m. Thursday evening, but sacrificing a full day of my vacation with my family would not fly. I demanded that she do better. After much searching, the absolute best scenario she could give me was an itinerary where Sidney and I would get into Spokane at 7 p.m. on Thursday. I grudgingly told her to book us for those flights (noting that I would miss the majority of the event I had planned) but to actively look for a more suitable option.

Sidney’s sister, who was supposed to take us to the airport, instead had to just drop Sid off at my place since we would not be getting on an airplane that night. Sidney immediately sensed my despair and did what she could to work something out. She called Delta and suffered through long hold times until she reached an agent. On more than one occasion, different employees told her that the best they could do was to get us in Spokane by 7 p.m. the next day. It was devastating.

I only see my family a limited number of days each year. We had booked our flights way in advance and paid good money. It was a beautiful evening. I had taken precious time off of work. I had a function that I had organized for 6 p.m. on Thursday night. We simply would not accept this bizarre last minute cancelation with little to no assistance from Delta to make the situation better. Luckily, Sidney came up with a brilliant idea. Perhaps we could fly out from a different airport.

She called up Delta once again and sat through the long hold period. Once she reached an agent she inquired about other airports nearby. It just so happened that we could fly out of Charleston early the next morning and arrive in Spokane at 12:30 p.m. the next day. While definitely not the ideal solution compared to our original itinerary, it was the best we could do. We booked the reservation.

Our troubles weren’t over though. We had to figure out a way to get to Charleston. Of course we wanted to avoid leaving a vehicle at the airport for two weeks. Unfortunately none of Sidney’s family could give us a ride, connections we had in Charleston weren’t available to let us leave our car at their homes throughout the duration of our trip, and a last ditch social media effort on my part to pay a willing soul $100 to take Sidney and I to the city yielded no takers. After we experienced these disappointments, Sidney came up with another great idea. What if we took a rental car one way to Charleston? With Enterprise it would cost us less than $100 and we wouldn’t have to worry about bothering anyone. We made a reservation and at about 11 p.m. we drove to the airport to pick up our car.

We were immediately hammered with problems. When I tried to pay for the car with my debit card, Enterprise told me I needed a credit card. I have never owned a credit card in my life. They said they couldn’t rent to me and Sidney had left her own credit card at my apartment. We went to two other desks at the airport that would rent without a credit card. However, one agency had an astronomical rate that we decided to pass on while another agency rejected me because I had no credit to begin with (as I said, I have never owned a credit card before). Sidney and I drove all the way back to my apartment and retrieved her credit card. We went back to Enterprise only to learn that because of a technicality her credit card would be rejected. We then went to the other company but Sid was rejected this time because of her age. Things were looking really bad.

By this time it was midnight and the bad weather had finally arrived. It was pouring down rain and both of us were soaked and sad. With no other options and our backs up against a wall, Sidney and I came to the realization that we needed to just suck it up and drive ourselves to Charleston. At 1:30 a.m. we made the two hour journey to Chucktown. We arrived at the airport tired and emotionally drained but we made our flight and made it to Spokane before 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Trials and tribulations got our vacation off to a rocky start but we battled through it all and did the best we could to salvage as much of our time in Spokane that we possibly could. It was our first big setback as an engaged couple but we did what we could to problem solve. I was disappointed in the performance and customer service of Delta, an airline that usually always comes through for me. In the end we put the challenges behind us and got into Spokane only a few hours later than what was originally planned. I know these are first world problems but I was really stressing out. Luckily I have a wonderful fiancé who kept a cool head and helped us reach the best possible solution given the circumstances. Don’t Blink.

Going Back to My Roots

I am enjoying my vacation out west immensely but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t feel weird not writing five times a week. With a hectic schedule the past several days, I have not posted at the typical rate that many of my readers expect. Hopefully you can forgive me.

I did want to update you on a couple fun ventures I have embarked on over the last week. First of all, I completed my seventh year as a court monitor this past weekend for Spokane’s Hoopfest. While all the locals complained about the 100+ degree heat as they pretty much melted on the asphalt, I was doing my thing while saying “What’s the big deal?” The Southern humidity conditioned me well and I had no problem staying out in the extreme conditions for ten straight hours on Saturday and eight hours on Sunday.

As for my court, I must say from top to bottom it was the most talented bracket I had ever officiated. With the high talent level came high competitive juices. Two fights broke out under my watch throughout the weekend. At the end of the game that contained the second fight, the instigator, who was a huge bald man with a goatee stood on top of the curb and yelled at me. With his already intimidating presence magnified by the few extra inches given to him by where he stood, it was a nerve-wracking experience. Luckily the Hoopfest rapid response team was right there to keep me safe.

Me meeting with two of the teams in my bracket prior to the game.

Me meeting with two of the teams in my bracket prior to the game.

A couple personal memories from Hoopfest 2015 will be forever documented thanks to media coverage. KXLY, a local news station in Spokane, did a story about Sidney and I traveling so far to volunteer. To view Grace Ditzler’s report, click here. Also, a team in my bracket was composed completely of homeless gentlemen. KXLY was also on hand to tell that story. To view that report, click here. This past weekend was awesome and I owe a big thank you to Sidney, my mom, and my dad for all taking turns keeping score for me.

Just doing my job during Hoopfest 2015.

Just doing my job during Hoopfest 2015.

Yesterday, Sidney and I made the drive to Missoula, Montana. Driving over the two passes, it was Sidney’s first time ever seeing real mountains. Making the trip to Missoula was important to me because after 15 months since setting foot in the city, I wanted to go back to the place that gave me so much.

We arrived in Missoula at around 10:30 a.m. and went right to the University of Montana campus. Sidney and I walked straight to the Adams Center so I could say hi to all my former colleagues in the athletic department. It was nice chatting with these people who I worked so closely with over the span of five years. It was especially humbling that Kent Haslam, Montana’s athletic director, took time out of his day to talk with me for about 15 minutes.

After visiting with Grizzly Athletics, Sidney and I went outside and met Dan, one of my very best friends from my college years. We walked around the campus and then enjoyed lunch at the Press Box. From there we hit up the mall where we met another friend and then we ventured over to a bowling alley. Dan dominated Sidney and I over the course of three games in the outdated, empty building. Mad that he crushed us so bad, I dropped Dan off at his car and he made the trip back to Kalispell (thanks for making the day trip to see us, Dan).

We enjoyed walking around the beautiful University of Montana campus.

We enjoyed walking around the beautiful University of Montana campus.

After checking in at our hotel, we met up for drinks with my great friend Pete at a new place in Missoula called the Thomas Meagher Bar. After some great conversation, Sid and I went to one of my favorite places in the city, the Iron Horse, to meet Shaun Rainey, his wife Britt, and their new son Brandon for dinner. We had a delightful time catching up and sharing a few laughs. From there I took Sidney around downtown Missoula where we made a few stops at some of the city’s famous watering holes. We returned to Spokane early this morning.

Shaun and I in the photo on top, Pete and I in the photo in the bottom left corner, and a view of the scenery on the drive back.

Shaun and I in the photo on top, Pete and I in the photo in the bottom left corner, and a view of the scenery on the drive back.

I am excited for the next couple days. While I enjoyed the hectic-nature of the past week, I am looking forward to just relaxing around the house for the next 48 hours. I plan to use every minute to enjoy myself and re-charge. Come Friday we will be traveling again on what will be a very busy few days.

Hope the month of June was a great one for you. As always, it was awesome for me. In a blog post at the start of the month, I mentioned how June of 2015 was going to be a special one for me…you would say my prediction was spot on, right? Don’t Blink.

Back Again for Hoopfest 2015

After a one-year hiatus, I am thrilled to participate in the world’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament once again. I am back to serve as a court monitor at Hoopfest, the signature event in the city of Spokane. This tournament is so big and so distinctive that ESPN is in town and Sportscenter will broadcast LIVE from Hoopfest for three hours tomorrow.

This weekend will mark my seventh time volunteering as a court monitor. From 2008-2013 I labored on the streets of Spokane helping to keep order on various courts. Each year brought different challenges and different memories. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store.

This is me wearing the 2015 Hoopfest t-shirt and shorts while holding the 2015 Hoopfest ball.

This is me wearing the 2015 Hoopfest t-shirt and shorts while holding the 2015 Hoopfest ball.

To be honest, this year has already been memorable. This morning when we went downtown to pick up my court monitor equipment and gear, Sidney and I were interviewed by Grace Ditzler of Spokane news station KXLY. She told the tale of a “Hoopfest Love Story” in which Sidney and I traveled all the way to take part in this marquee event, making it our first major activity since our engagement. The report turned out awesome. Click here to watch it.

Sidney and I on the news this evening. KXLY interviewed us this morning. The report turned out great.

Sidney and I on the news this evening. KXLY interviewed us this morning. The report turned out great.

This year my assigned court monitor post is once again in the Main and Washington area of downtown Spokane. My court backboard is Langenhorst & Self CPA’s. I have an adult male court so you can be sure that the competition will be hot and contested. And believe me, I am not kidding about the “hot” part. The forecast calls for tomorrow to hit 104 degrees and Sunday to reach 106 degrees. The hydrating for me starts right now.

2015 Hoopfest court monitor t-shirt with my bracket book, the ball, and shoes.

2015 Hoopfest court monitor t-shirt with my bracket book, the ball, and shoes.

To anyone in town for Hoopfest, please don’t hesitate to stop by and say hi. I am so excited to be back in town for one of my favorite events and I can’t wait to share it with Sidney who will serve as my scorekeeper. Enjoy the weekend and I hope to see you on the streets of Spokane. Don’t Blink.

The Proposal

Last night I stood at the end of a pier overlooking a South Carolina marsh and asked Sidney to marry me. Over 13 months from the last time we stood there on our first date, she looked into my eyes and said yes.

A proposal about a month and a half in the making, it felt so good to actually do it. Although I had it planned for several weeks, it wasn’t something elaborate or over the top. However, just because the deed didn’t contain a bunch of different elements didn’t mean I took it lightly.

Sidney and I had been moving in this direction for quite some time now. We had talked about marriage, looked at rings, and even discussed when the time would come. She had a feeling that I would probably ask her on my home turf in Spokane. I played along and hinted that it probably would occur during that time. However, in my heart I knew I didn’t want the pressure to be on her or myself once we were on vacation in Washington. The last thing I would want was for her to be in limbo for two weeks anticipating when the question might be popped. This thinking plus the stern direction from my mom that I must ask Sidney in her hometown with her parents around settled my plans.

When we looked at rings, Sidney hinted at me that she liked this one the best. This is her hand last night after I put it on her finger.

When we looked at rings, Sidney hinted at me that she liked this one the best. This is her hand last night after I put it on her finger.

After I received approval from Sidney’s mom and dad to marry her last week, I started planting the seeds for my proposal. On Friday I casually mentioned to Sidney that Coastal Carolina University was having a benefit night down at the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk on Tuesday. I told her that a select few restaurants would donate 10% of their proceeds to the Coastal general scholarship fund. I even pulled up a graphic on my phone that I had created advertising the fake event. I went on and on about how bad the timing was and how I didn’t really want to go but felt like we needed to attend to show support for Coastal. She agreed, not suspecting a thing.

Over the next couple days I scouted the MarshWalk area. On Monday I met with Lindsay, a Coastal student and photographer. We went over the specifics of my plan and what she would do to best capture it. Lindsay assured me that she would have someone on hand to help with crowd control so I could ask Sidney in relative peace while at the same time securing clear photo access for herself.

Preparing for the proposal meant sending a photo to Sidney's mom on the best place to stand and wait for us. Brenda was so awesome throughout this all.

Preparing for the proposal meant sending a photo to Sidney’s mom on the best place to stand and wait for us. Brenda was so awesome throughout this all.

I started to get a little nervous driving home from work yesterday. I made it home, showered, retrieved the ring from my closet, and prepped myself. I was meeting Sidney at the restaurant because she was tending to her ailing grandmother who happened to live in the Murrells Inlet area. I actually preferred this arrangement because it gave Sidney less of an opportunity to see the big bulge in my pocket.

Sidney posted this photo to social media while we were inside the restaurant. She had no idea what was about to happen in the next few minutes.

Sidney posted this photo to social media while we were inside the restaurant. She had no idea what was about to happen in the next few minutes.

We had reservations at the Wicked Tuna for 7:30 p.m. I had told Lindsay and Sidney’s parents that we would probably finish no later than 8:15 p.m. For whatever reason, service was extremely slow last night and we didn’t receive our food until the time I told them we would be walking out. I discretely texted both parties to let them know that we were running late and Lindsay reminded me that the precious daylight was expiring. I started inhaling my burger while also encouraging Sidney to eat fast, using the excuse that I had a lot of packing and work to do at home.

The server came to check on us and I just gave her my card to swipe. I then gently asked Sidney if, for old time’s sake, we could walk down the MarshWalk pier to commemorate our first date. I told her I ate too fast and needed to walk off my discomfort. I signed the bill, excused myself “to go to the restroom,” and went and called Lindsay and Sidney’s mom to tell them it was go-time. I went back for Sidney and we walked down the stairs of the restaurant to the pier.

As the stroll started, emotion started to fill me. As we walked down the pier, conversation between Sidney and I centered on what a beautiful evening it was. I could sense Lindsay behind us taking photos, a reminder that this moment in my life was here. As we approached the end of the pier, I noticed people turning away and walking by us in the opposite direction, many of them staring at Sidney and I. At that point I immediately knew that the plan was in full effect, Lindsay had indeed recruited someone to get word out that the area needed to be cleared out for a proposal.

This was the photo from our first date on the pier. Now fast forward 13.5 months....

This was the photo from our first date on the pier. Now fast forward 13.5 months….

We reached the end of the pier. I muttered something about this being the place where it all began and I put our leftover box on a nearby bench. I pulled Sid close and we talked. I then got down on one knee and proposed to her. She said yes. Applause broke out among people hanging out behind the area that Lindsay’s dad had roped off once we reached our special spot. Sid kept it together better than I did.

That magic moment.

That magic moment.

We then walked back down the pier. Waiting for us was Sidney’s mom and dad. She hugged them and showed off her ring (I got hugs too). Lindsay then took photos of us. Sid’s parents left and then we called my parents. I also received calls from my brother and sister. We then went to one of the bar patios and had a drink. Lindsay had sent me some photos by this time and we posted them on social media. Watching the response was a lot of fun. After we finished our beers, we came back to my place and basked in the very special moment.

A photo with Sid's parents after a successful proposal.

A photo with Sid’s parents after a successful proposal.

When I look back on it, I will never forget the reaction of Sidney. It was simply the happiest I had ever seen her in my life. She kept repeating “I love you so much” and “I am so happy” over and over again. The sound of her voice was absolutely beautiful and genuine, reaching an angelic level that even I had never heard before. The emotion had completely swept over me and it was the most special moment I had ever been a part of.

I want to thank everyone who reached out through calls, texts, and social media to congratulate us. It has been spectacularly overwhelming. Our goal is to marry in either May or June of 2016. In less than a year I will marry the girl of my dreams. I am so thankful that I was guided to make the move to Myrtle Beach where I would meet Sidney. God is so good. Don’t Blink.

Heading Home for Summer Vacation

It is the eve of another long trip out west for me. Don’t take that as a complaint by any means, I am stoked! Whenever you get to go home it is a joyous occasion. Tomorrow after work I will rush to my place, grab my bags, and head off to the airport to begin my trek to Spokane.

This particular trip, just from the travel standpoint, will differ a little bit from my flights during the holidays. First off, I will have a travel partner! Sidney (more than just my travel partner) will be at my side the whole time. Although she visited Spokane for a short period during the Christmas holiday, this occasion she will be with me every step of the way starting when we take off from Myrtle Beach tomorrow to when we return on July 8. Additionally, we will tough it out through an interesting experience as we spend the night in the Seattle airport. Throughout my flying career I have never spent a whole evening at the airport but that is the price you pay when you fly weird times in the middle of the week.

It will be very well worth it. We have a lot planned over the next two weeks. After a one year hiatus, I will once again volunteer at Hoopfest, the planet’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world. Back for my seventh season as a court monitor, I am excited to once again be part of my hometown’s signature event. After Hoopfest weekend, we will venture outside of Spokane and make visits to Missoula, Seattle (outside of the airport), and Walla Walla. I can’t wait to show Sidney these western cities!

Of course the best part of this impending trip is the opportunity to see my family. In addition to my parents, brother, and sister, I will be reunited with my niece who is now 9 months old. She has grown so much since I last saw her at Christmas. Snapchat videos can only do so much justice. I will also meet a new member of the family for the first time. My parents welcomed a kitten into their home about three months ago and I can’t wait to meet and play with her.

There is one thing awaiting us out in Washington state that I didn’t anticipate a couple weeks ago, however. The area is expecting record heat throughout the next several days. Hoopfest weekend has forecasted temperatures for 100 degrees and 104 degrees. Sure the humidity won’t be as intense as I am used to down South but let’s not kid ourselves….100 degrees is 100 degrees. When we arrive on Spokane soil we will be fully expecting a scorcher.

But it doesn’t matter, 0 degrees or 100 degrees, I am so excited for a vacation with my loved ones. For those of you who live in the places I mentioned, I hope that we can connect. Over the next couple weeks my posts to Don’t Blink might decrease a little bit. Never fear, I will be back at it after that first week in July. West coast here I come. Don’t Blink.

A Wikipedia Addict

You might be a little surprised by the website I spend the majority of my own time on. Believe it or not, it is not a social media channel nor is it ESPN.com. For all those academic brainiacs out there, you probably won’t like what I am about to praise as my favorite site to waste 45 minutes on.

When it comes to satisfying my curiosity or checking something of importance, I turn to Wikipedia.

Sorry if that made you vomit. I can’t lie to you though, I love Wikipedia. Six years removed from writing my last academic paper, you don’t have to worry about me using it as an official source or a God-given fact. Rather, I just use it to look up random information. I might use it to read up on a television show of my youth. I will pull it up to learn about a restaurant chain. I will refer to it for a quick summary on a historical event. I use it to read movie plots. If I am ever daydreaming and a question pops into my head, chances are I am searching Wikipedia.

This afternoon I went to a local Subway by myself for lunch. I got my sandwich and sat down inside the restaurant. I took out my phone and perused Wikipedia the whole time. The funny and addicting thing about Wikipedia is you can start on one article and then jump around to a variety of other articles. For example, today at lunch I read about Pringles and that article led me to Chex Mix which led me to Chex Cereal which led me to Kix which led me to Trix which finally landed me at Bugs Bunny (apparently the Trix rabbit once appeared with Bugs Bunny). I pretty much went on a carousel of random snack and cereal trivia. Little did I know when I went to work today I would come home with the knowledge that the Trix pieces became brighter in 1991 and then again in 1995. Talk about an educational lunch!

Wikipedia is great because it is easy reading. The information is laid out in bold sections and the literature is written in a clear and basic way. My main struggle is to finish an article rather than click on a blue highlighted word that will take me to another article. This weekend I was reading about Major League ballparks and I was on Kauffman Stadium. I was going right along when I saw the the word “AstroTurf” highlighted in blue. I just had to click on it.

I know a couple people who consume YouTube like I do Wikipedia. They jump from one video to the next, never thinking about stopping, satisfying themselves with mindless internet entertainment. I get their addiction and they get mine. The only difference is that I don’t do videos, I just do the text.

My goal is to one day have a Wikipedia page about me! Of course it would contain my blog address, my different degrees of weirdness, and a “controversies” section. Until that happens, I will just continue to read about snack foods and ballparks. Don’t Blink.

Happy Father’s Day to My Dad

Today we celebrate Father’s Day. Most of us do all we can to recognize and honor our dads as we make this day as much about our patriarchs as possible. Excuse my selfishness, but today I am feeling pretty good myself. This isn’t a year where I tell my dad Happy Father’s Day and then wish that I was there with him, knowing that I still have to wait until the holidays to see him again. Rather, this year I get to wish him a Happy Father’s Day and then say “See you later this week!” It is true, by Thursday I will be in Spokane, together with my dad and family once again. I think this upcoming reunion definitely makes Father’s Day a little more special this year.

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

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

It seems like I hear people describe their dads all the time as strict, unemotional, down-to-business-type figures. This is definitely the exact opposite of my father. I grew up with a dad who was about as invested, loving, and interested in the lives of us Reser kids that a parent could possibly be.

Whether it was creatively documenting our major achievements or coaching our sports teams as kids, my dad was there. If it was helping me with my penmanship or aiding me on a school project, my dad was the guy. When it came to having someone take me to sporting contests, parades, and movies, I was riding with my dad. As I grew older, I knew he would be at every athletic event I played in, every team banquet I attended, and every school-related function I needed him for. Once I hit college I knew he would always be up to call me, always there to attend the family weekends, and always eager to welcome me home when I returned to Spokane on breaks. As I started my professional career it was my dad who wanted to know every detail of my job, who asked me non-stop assiduous questions, and who would at the very end always say, “I sure wish I had your job.”

My dad and I on the field after a football game in Missoula a couple years ago.

My dad and I on the field after a football game in Missoula a couple years ago.

No matter what, both of us will forever fondly look back on the amazing cross country trip we took together in April of 2014. It wasn’t even a question, my dad was going to help me move from one part of the country to the other as I started the next phase of my career. Driving a U-Haul some 2,700 miles, we had a very special time spending every minute together as we passed through some of the most scenic parts of this nation. It was the absolute bonding experience, an experience that consisted of four days living in strange hotels in sleepy towns. It went perfectly.

A photo from a rest stop during our epic voyage across the nation in May of 2014.

A photo from a rest stop during our epic voyage across the nation in May of 2014.

On this Father’s Day I would like to tell my dad how much he is valued and appreciated by our whole family. Dads don’t come any better than Tom Reser and that just isn’t me blowing smoke. This upcoming week will be the start of a very memorable time and I can’t wait. See you soon, dad. Don’t Blink.

Starting the Rundown on a Somber Note

Good day everyone! Hope you all have enjoyed your week thus far. It is that time of the week! Here comes my Thursday Rundown…

On Charleston – I really can’t say anything more than what has already been said. Even if I could think up something else to add it wouldn’t matter because words just can’t explain the evil. What I can say is that Charleston is an awesome city, a historical hot bed of our country that I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit a couple times since I have moved to the South. With the rest of the country, I pray for that poor church community and the city as a whole.

Sidney and I in front of The Citadel in Charleston last summer.

Sidney and I in front of The Citadel in Charleston last summer.

Food I Need to Eat – Over the past couple of weeks I have come across some food items on social media that I need to try. Of course all of these are terribly unhealthy but I would love to sink my teeth into them. In no particular order, I need to try Dr. Pepper cake, cake batter cheesecake, Pizza Hut’s hot dog pizza, and the Jurassic Park Blizzard at Dairy Queen. I am going to try to make a deal with Sidney. If she will make me the first two items, I will pick us up the other two items. Although eating all of this would put the functioning of my heart in a very precarious position, it would make a great blog post.

I need to try these food items!

I need to try these food items!

 The Brew Mile – Have you heard of this yet? The Brew Mile is a challenge that encourages you to run a mile while pounding a beer every quarter of a mile. You attempt it on a track and each time you circle around you chug a can. This has become a big thing. I have thought long and hard about this and I have humbly concluded that I don’t think I could do it. I calculated that probably by the third beer I would be so bloated and side ache-stricken that I would have to walk. It gets me thinking though if anyone out there could complete a Brew 5K or maybe even a Brew Marathon.

South Carolina Heat Wave – The past week we have experienced temperatures that reached well past 100 degrees on the heat index. The humidity that we “enjoy” in this part of the country has made breathing and staying outside for just a couple minutes a tough task. But you know what? I will take this weather over snow, wind, and cold every single day. When you have the beach and a beautiful pool at your disposal you can overcome the nastiest of warm conditions.

The forecast in Myrtle Beach for the next five days. Temperatures in the mid-90's mean conditions that feel well over 100 degrees.

The forecast in Myrtle Beach for the next five days. Temperatures in the mid-90’s mean conditions that feel well over 100 degrees.

NBA Finals Wrap-Up – First off, congrats to the Golden State Warriors on a big championship victory. It was very well-deserved. Over the past couple weeks, I had been critical of Lebron James’ performance in the Finals. Because of this, a few of my friends routinely trolled me on Twitter. However, their attempts to change my thinking always fell short. Lebron put up CRAZY numbers during the series against Golden State. However, he simply wasn’t “at his best when his best was needed.” Every game during the NBA Finals he either blew it during crunch time of the fourth quarter or wasn’t a factor at all. Again, King James put up astronomical numbers but when it mattered most he fizzled. Twitter users tried to win me over to Lebron’s camp with outdated articles or blog posts that never addressed the main issue. James is an incredible player but he definitely was not the MVP of that series.

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Have a fantastic weekend! Once again, thoughts go out to Charleston. Don’t Blink.

Staying Relevant on Social Media over the Summer

When summer rolls around and students leave campus, many professionals in higher education have the opportunity to become lackadaisical. The good ones don’t of course, including the social media marketers. While things definitely do slow down it doesn’t mean you stop trying to improve. Especially in the realm of social media where you spend all academic year trying to engage your audience, the last thing you would want to do in the summer is slack off and lose everyone.

The months of June and July give me an opportunity to be especially creative while experimenting a little bit. In tonight’s blog post I will give three quick examples of what I have done this week to make sure we stay in front of our social media audience.

Snapchat Alphabet Soup – Yesterday afternoon I placed a time sensitive challenge over our large and engaged Snapchat audience. I gave them a half hour to spell out “#CCU” anyway they pleased. They then of course had to Snap us a photo. In 30 minutes, I received about 30 images! Some people got really creative as one person used waffles, another used M&Ms, and another used s’mores ingredients! Others wrote the hashtag in cool calligraphy or wrote it on the beach. In the end I chose a winner (the s’mores entry won) and posted a really cool photo gallery on Facebook from the Snaps I had captured via screenshot.

Here is a collage of some of the Snaps we received from our Snapchat audience spelling out #CCU.

Here is a collage of some of the Snaps we received from our Snapchat audience spelling out #CCU.

Value Your Alumni – During the summer, students have the tendency to stray away from social media because they are on vacation. However, that is not the case with alumni as most work year round so they stay consistent with their daily habits (which includes looking at social media). Today on Facebook I asked our alumni audience to comment underneath my post so that we could thank them for attending Coastal. With that motivator of a personal thank you from CCU, we had hundreds of alums leave comments. I spent today writing over 230 replies to Coastal grads. Don’t think I was just saying “thank you” either. I tried to work in a personal note for each person. It was time consuming, but fun, and best of all, our audience really appreciated it.

On the left you can see the original post. On the right you can see three examples of the dialogue that I had with alums.

On the left you can see the original post. On the right you can see three examples of the dialogue that I had with alums.

Face-To-Face with the Future – During the summer, our university hosts nine different freshmen orientations. Last year I used guerilla marketing tactics to reach this very valuable group. On the second day of each orientation, there is an info fair that takes place. When this year rolled around, I wanted to take a more organized approach than what I did previously. I requested my own table for #CCUSocialMedia. This past Friday I was given a half table but by the second orientation on Tuesday I had my own space. During this one hour info fair I run social media promotions exclusively for the freshmen and bait them with sweet swag. I have had the opportunity to talk to many parents and students while literally watching our following on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat shoot right up.

Myself with Chauncey on the left at my table. On the right you see students engaged.

Myself with Chauncey on the left at my table. On the right you see students engaged.

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I don’t love summer just because it is hot outside and I get to eat a lot of ice cream. I also like it from a work aspect. Although it is more of a low key time, there is the potential to make some big gains. While some higher education social media marketers might use it as a time to rest, we at Coastal Carolina University are using it to get better. Don’t Blink.