Reaching My 7,000th Tweet

Tonight I reached a personal milestone as I sent out my 7,000th tweet. Over the past two and a half years I have turned to my cell phone to record my thoughts, opinions, observations, favorite quotes, favorite sayings, musical lyrics, and random crap that no one really cares about. It has been a lot of fun.
I became part of Twitter Nation in February of 2009. At the time I was a wide eyed intern at Grizzly Athletics just loving life. Our athletic director got back from one of his national conferences and at the center of this particular conference was this weird thing called Twitter. Well Jim O’Day came back from this convention and he shared the news with our marketing department  and told the that he wanted it implemented within Grizzly Athletics. My boss and my predecessor both got their personal Twitter accounts and because I wanted to be like them, I did too! The rest is history.
If you follow my Twitter account, @BrentR7 , you know my basic style. I tweet about pop culture and about what I am doing. I start each day with a quote that I take right off of my “Life’s Little Instructions” page-a-day calendar and I end each day with a my life motto, “Don’t Blink.” Very rarely do I say anything personal, emotional, or negative. Over time, Twitter has become much more of a conversation tool between users and I feel like I have adapted along with it. It is a lot of fun responding to the opinions and questions of Twitter users and having all day running conversations.  The use of hash tags is another one of my favorite parts of Twitter. I have rolled over laughing at some of the hash tags people I follow have dropped in their tweets and I try to bring a smile to the faces of my followers with some of mine as well.
When it comes to my Twitter account, I don’t use it as a platform to say whatever outrageous thought comes into my head. I have my place of employment and my family to represent. I will never include profanity in my tweets nor will I send anything out when I have been drinking. I will never, never use Twitter to get back at a girl or to call her out. I am not in junior high. As is our department rule, I can’t tweet past 11pm MT.  I honor this and at around 10:57pm – 11pm, you will always get my “Don’t Blink” tweet, signaling that I am signing off for the night.
Enough about my personal Twitter account though, let’s talk very briefly about how revolutionary this amazing social media tool is. Twitter has transcended the way we get information. Instantly we can get updated on everything that is happening around the world. We have unprecedented access to politicians, sports stars, and celebrities.  No longer do influential people have to go through news media or publiscists to get their message out, they can just piece together 140 characters, press a button, and send it out to millions of people.
Thanks to Twitter, people have the ability now to follow along in real time as events thousands of miles away take place. If you want to follow a sporting event, a protest, a rescue operation, a court case,  or many other events that take place over a period of time you can track it all on Twitter. When breaking news occurs, you are going to hear about it first through Twitter. I remember watching the whole Michael Jackson death saga play out over a string of tweets. I was two steps ahead of all the people in my office who were watching the television. I really do credit that event as really bringing the power of Twitter’s reach to the forefront of society. People really started to take notice.
The way that Twitter connects the world via trending topics is beyond cool. Over 3,000 tweets per second were sent when President Obama delivered the new of Osama Bin Laden’s death.  Just a couple months later, 7,000 tweets per second were sent during the Women’s World Cup championship match. Then, just a month and a half later, 9,000 tweets per second were sent when Beyonce revealed that she was pregnant on the VMAs.  Not only is Twitter delivering the news to the world, it is providing a forum for people to react to it at the very second that the story is unfolding.
A couple years ago, Twitter had a lot of skeptics.  So called experts thought it was a fad, a type of new media with no substance. Boy, were they wrong. Twitter still has its skeptics today. Among them are the many people who just don’t want to give it a chance or who feel it is beneath them. They will purposely mispronounce the name and criticize people who use it. I got news for these people: Twitter is not going anywhere. Educate yourself on it, embrace it, and use it.
Twitter has done a lot of good things for me. It has allowed me to win numerous prizes, receive assistance from major companies when I did not want to deal with phones or long lines,  accelerate my career,  cash in on many exclusive deals and promotions, and make me a more knowledgeable person. It has also helped me further my own personal brand and has introduced me to many contacts. I have also made genuine friends off of Twitter, a couple who are very close to me. Another good thing that Twitter has done for me is pave the way for me to start this blog! One of the main reasons why I started “Don’t Blink” was so it could serve as an extension of my Twitter account. I felt the need to expand on some of my 140 character thoughts.
Reaching my 7,000th tweet today really made me reflect on the above and realize how big of a part Twitter is for me and how crucial it is in society as a whole. So what are you waiting for?! If you already have a Twitter account, start tweeting! If you don’t, sign up for one right now. But most importantly, be sure to follow me!! Send a follow request to @BrentR7 ASAP! Don’t Blink.

The Superstars of the Gym

Ever since I started this blog, I have wanted to do a post on the gym. I typically make it to our campus recreation center about five times a week so it is definitely a big part of my life…not that you can tell by looking at me. Of course, I have wanted to write on the people who go to the gym. I thought long and hard about making this an insult grenade filled post directed at the people who I can’t stand who go to the gym and  the people who have absolutely no business setting foot in a gym in the first place but I have decided to refrain. Let’s face it, that type of post has been done so much. Who has not read about ten different times the typical rant about “the creatures of the gym?” Who has not read the various categorical summaries of workout slackers? Who has not read the judgment of a workout king inflicted upon the inferior peons who try to take over his workout session?
It is just a tired subject.
So in my quest to try to offer something unique in this blog and to stick to my pledge to make a better effort to offer more positive posts, I want to recognize the gym all-stars who I see each and every day who inspire me to pick up my game and work harder.
The String Bean Work-A-Holic Wonder:
Gender: Male
Age Demographic: 18-24
The String Bean Work-A-Holic Wonder (SBWAHW) is the kid who I see at the gym who does not have the million dollar body, not even a thousand dollar body, but doesn’t really even care in the first place. He is a scrawny fellow who wears race t-shirts from 1996 and shorts that are pulled up a little too much. Many of these kids have shaved heads. He is there simply to push himself day in and day out because he likes the challenge and realizes the benefits of a tough workout regimen. From my observation, this is the type of kid who ran cross country and track but also wrestled as a lightweight while in high school. Basically, the SBWAHW is a tough kid who has a clear idea on how far one’s body can be pushed. He works out alone and does a lot of body resistance exercises. He is constantly on the pull up bar and he lives on the mats doing push ups and crunches. He works out with circuit type weights, doing a lot of high rep-low weight sets. Yes, he is awkward if you ever got into a conversation with him but he stays out of everyone’s way and is always very respectful.
The Rock Solid Hottie With A Body:
Gender: Female
Age Demographic: 18-26
The Rock Solid Hottie With A Body (RSHWAB) is the drop dead gorgeous girl who even the most dedicated, focused gym dude can’t help but look at when she walks into the gym. She wears a bright tight tank top and figure flattering pants that highlight her assets but she has every right in the world to come dressed to the gym like that. She knows that every guy is looking at her when she walks into the facility and she might make one or two unnecessary trips up and down the gym floor but other than that she is all business. The RSHWAB will get on the elliptical for a tough thirty minutes and then do a quick spinning session and then work her abs for twenty minutes. Next, she will get in her anaerobic workout while working a lot with dumb bells and the various cable weight machines. She will do dips with added weight resistance. She will work the calf machine. She will then get on the treadmill, then run the track, and then do another session of abs. The RSHWAB will put in a 2 ½ to 3 hour workout every day. She will be there when I show up and she will still be going hard when I leave. This girl knows she’s got it going on and she is not going to give that up anytime soon. The thought of gaining two or three pounds scares the living daylights out of her.
The Ripped Obsessive Body Builder:
Gender: Male
Age Demographic: 18-26
The Ripped Obsessive Body Builder (ROBB) is that guy at the gym who every guy wishes he could look like. The ROBB is 100% lean with amazing biceps, 8-pack chiseled stomach, defined legs, and a powerful chest. He is on at least seven supplements and he is probably on roids  but he works his ass off to make sure all of that unnatural shit he is putting in his body is going to work for him. This guy comes into the gym focused solely on making his body his temple. He puts up incredible amounts of heavy weight and in between his grueling sets he is doing something aerobic such as jumping rope or running laps around the track. Even though he is focused and easily the most imposing person in the gym, he is a nice guy with good gym etiquette. He politely answers the people who wonder up to him and ask what type of program he is on. He does not find it beneath him to spot someone who is putting up 200 pounds on the bench press. This guy will stop the whole gym with the amount of weight he puts up. It is hard to miss this guy because he will come into the gym about three different times a day.
The Body Conscious Noble Professional:
Gender: Male/Female
Age Demographic: 40-58
The Body Conscious Noble Professional (BCNP) is the man or woman who has worked out his or her whole life and is not about to stop now. These people are successful in the real world and they understand that their effectiveness in business corresponds with their looks/physical physique. I saw many BCNPs when I worked out at Gold’s Gym and I see my fair share now at my campus gym (most of these people are professors). Usually, these people put themselves through a tough grind of aerobic and anaerobic exercises. They have a time of the day that they go to the gym and they stick to it. Many of these people work out early in the morning so they can go right to their job after their workout and then back to their family after work. BCNPs bring the work ethic that enabled them to have professional success into the gym with them. They are not slouches. Many of them run marathons or participate in triathlons. These people are always very nice, have perfect gym etiquette, and will treat the younger people in the gym very well. They serve as great examples for people like me.
The Golden Aged You Can’t Ever Stop Me Old Timer :
Gender: Male/Female
Age Demographic: 70 and up
The Golden Aged You Can’t Ever Stop Me Old Timer (GAYCESMOT) is the elderly man or woman who hits the gym because he/she is not going to sit around in a house all day as their body goes downhill. These people are a little slow and you might have to have a little bit of extra patience as you navigate around them at the gym but then you realize “Hey, this person is 80 and he is still making the effort to get some exercise in, that’s pretty cool.” Some of these GAYCESMOTs are still putting forth amazing efforts and are in great shape while some are not as impressive. For a lot of these people, pride is a huge factor in them hitting the gym. GAYCESMOTs might not have the best gym etiquette just because they simply do not know basic guidelines but they are so overjoyed and thankful to see young people that they will treat you like gold and make your day. Not bad in my book.
Any gym will have its fair share of losers but there are also the people who work extremely hard who I would love to have in my corner in a variety of different situations, inside the gym and outside the gym. I feel the gym crowd is really a microcosm of society as a whole.  The next time you are in the middle of a workout and you become depressed at some of the dead wood around you, just try to ignore them. Instead, look at some of the shining stars around you and challenge yourself to work harder than that person. Don’t Blink.

Every Day of My Life Recorded

It seems like a long time ago, even though it has only been about three months, since I blogged about my dream journal. For those of you who never read that post, I just wrote about a habit I started doing when I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream. Instead of just falling back to sleep and forgetting my dream forever, I conditioned myself to write it down. It became a pretty cool deal. I would wake up in the morning and read what I had written in the middle of the night, never really 100% remembering writing it.
Well, I lived it up this past summer and while doing so I let several of my good habits go by the wayside. My dream journal was one of the sacrificial lambs. Throughout the whole summer I maybe  had five entries. Now that I am on a more structured schedule, my dream journal is making a comeback. However, there is one unwavering habit that I have that will never cease no matter how fun my life becomes. Coincidently, it  deals with a journal as well.
Ever since I was in the seventh grade, I have kept a daily journal. For every single day of my life between the age of thirteen and my present day age of twenty-four, I have a detailed summary of each day I have lived on this earth. That is around 4,380 different journal entries.
Kind of a funny story behind my inspiration for starting my journaling. One day in middle school, Pro Bowl kicker Jason Hanson visited my middle school. Yes, the same Jason Hanson who just kicked a game winning field goal yesterday to send the Detroit Lions to their first 3-0 start in ages. You see, I attended the same high school that Jason attended and the middle school that I attended was one of the feeder schools for this particular high school (Mead High School). Jason Hanson is one of the nicest professional athletes you will ever meet so it is no surprise that he gave back as much as possible to his old school district by making regular visits to the various schools in it. Well this particular day he made it a point to tell us to write in a journal each night and to always find something to be thankful for. Thinking this guy was a god, I took his advice to heart and that is how my daily journal started.

                            A few of my filled journals. Each one holds about a year.

Each night before I go to bed, I journal about my day. Of course, for various reasons, it is not always possible to journal right before I go to bed so if I miss a night, I catch up right away the next morning. What do I write about in my journal, you might ask? Well, I guess I can say I am pretty boring. I don’t write about my feelings, my thoughts, my secrets, or the girl I like. I don’t write about ideas, I don’t jot down poems, I don’t ramble about political ideas. Rather, I just summarize everything that I did and what occurred that day. Everything from the time I got up to what I did for my workout to what I ate for dinner is recorded.  I try to write as specifically as possible so I can go back over the years and basically flip to any page that I want and relive that day.
All the time I have family members and friends ask me to look up a date in my journal and tell them what happened so they can remember how they went about organizing a certain event or who they invited to a function. My Mom will often have me go through my journal and tell her exactly what she cooked for various holidays over the years. My roommate will ask me what girl he was hanging out with at some random college event from four years ago. A friend will ask me what time we left for a certain movie at a certain time so she can be sure to leave exactly at that time for the next movie she sees because she felt it was the perfect time for arriving at the theater.

                               What a typical page in my journal looks like

While I love the fact that my journal helps other people out, I don’t do it for them. I do it for me. As I mentioned earlier, it is very important to me that I have a detailed, written record of every day of my life. It is important to me because if I did not have these meticulous summaries, many of my days would be gone with the wind. I can say this because I can open up to a day seven years ago and not remember the events  that occurred during that day for the life of me but at least I have a written record to prove that it happened. It is a little sad to not remember living a certain day even though you have a detailed account right in front of you but I guess it is just the way the human brain works. Conversely, I can open to another day that took place seven years ago and read the account and remember it just like it was yesterday. It all depends.
The few people who see my journals are usually blown away. I write very small. Many people ask me how I can possibly read what I wrote. It is easy for me, it is my handwriting. Don’t you get it though? That is the point. I write in a way that I can easily decipher but not in a way that any snooper can glance at and read. Even though I just write about factual events without any sense of emotion, I still don’t want people picking up my journals and reading them. It is still personal. And to let you all in on a little secret, the last sentence in every journal entry that I have ever written departs from my summary theme and refers to something greater. Kind of a little curve ball for you, huh?
I would say that my journals are the most precious items I own. If there was a fire in my house, those journals would be the possessions that I would run in after. I want my kids to have a record of my life. I don’t want to be sixty-eight years old and have no recollection of the awesome times I had forty-five years ago. Someday, if I do have the ambition to write a memoir if I ever become half way successful, I want to have all the material I need. I want to continue to feed off of the therapeutic feeling I get while reflecting on my day each night. I want to know, and I want everyone else to know, that I existed. Don’t Blink.

Yo Waffle Review

Maybe you have already noticed it but there is a trend sweeping the nation dealing with frozen yogurt. What this trend entails is people going into these new yogurt shops and serving themselves. All you do is grab a container around the size you think is going to satisfy you and then you fill it with the yogurt of your choice. You then move onto the toppings and once again you serve yourself, pouring as much and as many of the toppings you want on your yogurt creation. You then go to the cashier and they weigh it for you. The price is usually based on the ounce. Obviously, the point of this whole system is to do away with fixed sizes/flavor choices/topping choices and let the customer have complete control over how much he/she wants to eat.
The first time I entered one of these shops was just this past summer in Las Vegas. While on the strip in the midst of a 100 degree day, I ducked into one of the hole-in-the-wall shops that was advertising “healthy” frozen yogurt. I saw the signs directing customers to serve themselves and thought it was a pretty cool concept. Even though the yogurt dispensaries in this sketchy shop were all leaking and the counter that held the bins for the toppings had just about as much of the toppings on it as the bins had inside, I decided to prepare myself a cup. I got enough yogurt to fill maybe a small cup at Baskin-Robbins and was charged over $8 for it…but it is Vegas, what do you expect? Well, I expected it to taste better.
So although my first experience with the self-serve yogurt craze did not go over too well, I could not help but get excited when Yo Waffle opened up here in Missoula a couple months ago. Yo Waffle took up residence in the heart of downtown, right in the middle of the bar district. Combining frozen yogurt and Belgian waffles, this place definitely had a unique concept that caught my eye.
Tonight was my first time trying Yo Waffle. Dan and I decided to get some ice cream after the Thursday night college football game ended.  Right when we entered Yo Waffle I was relieved to find a clean, well-lit, inviting shop. It took ten seconds for us to walk through the doors before the owner was right in front of us, offering a warm greeting and an explanation on how the shop worked (same thing as Vegas…get as much as you like – yogurt, flavors, toppings, sauces – and then get it weighed and pay). However, the Vegas shop did not have waffles! The first option you have available to you are two waffle makers sitting on top of a table. Under the table is a refrigerator where the batter is. Unfortunately, this is the part of the self-serve experience that I did not care so much for and I will explain later. Anyway, Dan and I skipped that part.
We moved on and picked up our yogurt containers. They had a few different sized containers that you could choose from and then fill them with as much yogurt as you pleased. We each took a medium sized one. Next, you got to the frozen yogurt bar. There were five dispensaries with two flavors per dispensary, giving you a very decent selection of ten different frozen yogurts. Flavors included outrageous orange, strawberry kiwi, strawberry banana, pistachio, a coffee flavor, apple pie, and the traditional flavors. I opted for filling my container with half strawberry banana and half chocolate/vanilla swirl.

                                             The frozen yogurt bar at Yo Waffle

After the selection of our frozen yogurt, we approached the toppings station. If you like variety, you will love Yo Waffle. They had pretty much every topping you could think of: Chocolate chips, sprinkles, cookie dough bites, animal cookies, fruity pebbles, peanuts, butterfinger, brownie bites, m&m’s, reeses, coconut, etc. etc. I put cheesecake bites and oreo cookies on mine. Finally, you get to top your creation off with your choice of sauce. Once again, they have all of your bases covered. I am a peanut butter lover, so I covered mine in a reeses peanut butter sauce.
We then went to pay. Once you approach the cashier, you place your container on a scale and it neatly converts the weight into a price right in front of your eyes. I might be off by a couple cents, but the price at Yo Waffle is $0.42 per ounce. Dan and I both made creations that cost around the $4.30 mark. Yes, we are slobs. We both filled our containers very generously and liberally applied our toppings so we got our money’s worth.

                                  These are what Dan and I made!! (Dan on left, me on right)

I enjoyed my dessert. The strawberry kiwi yogurt was great, the chocolate/vanilla swirl was pretty basic. You might not think that cheesecake bites and peanut butter go well together but I loved it. As for Dan, he said he really enjoyed the coffee caramel flavor he got but was not as big of a fan of the apple pie flavor. That of course did not stop him from eating every single bite. We talked at length about what kind of combination we were going to get next time we come in and we even briefly entertained the idea of going through again that night but cooler heads prevailed.

                                     Dan pigging out on his Yo Waffle creation

Overall, there are a lot of pros about Yo Waffle. The shop is clean and they have indoor and outdoor seating. The frozen yogurt quality is great. The variety of toppings and sauces is superb and the quality is fresh. I thought the price was very fair and they also have a loyal customers program which I appreciate. The owner was very nice and the other person who was working is a member of our Spirit Squad so the staffing is awesome! Monday through Thursday the shop is open until 11pm and on Friday and Saturday it is open until 12am so the hours are flexible.

                                           Me enjoying my ice cream

The only major con I felt centered on the Belgian waffles. As it is with the yogurt and toppings, the waffle station is also self-serve. When I stay in hotels that have continental breakfasts that offer self-serve waffles, I stay away. I hate waiting in line for people to cook their waffles and I hate making them even more. It is messy, it is confusing, and it is impossible to get your waffle just right. I struggle with turning the machine over once one side is done and I worry about whether I am going to burn it or not. Making my own waffle just puts way too much stress on me that it is not worth it to attempt when I go into Yo Waffle. The sad thing is, I would have LOVED to have a waffle with my frozen yogurt. I bet it would have tasted like heaven. But I am not going to risk the embarrassment and time of making my own waffle as the whole shop looks on. The only other con I would point out is the diversity of the yogurt flavors. It is awesome that they have ten different flavors but I feel that the fruit flavors are way over represented. Aside from vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, and the coffee flavor, the remaining six are all fruit flavors. I would love to see flavors such as peanut butter, marshmallow, red velvet cake, or white chocolate macadamia. Then again, I bet they have rotating flavors and I just caught them on a day where they decided to feature more fruit flavors.
I had a great time at Yo Waffle and will definitely be going back. The concept is awesome, although I do have some concerns on whether it will catch on in Missoula. I sure hope it does though. Good luck to Yo Waffle and I hope all of you get a chance to try it, please be sure to get a waffle and tell me how they are. Don’t Blink.

Want to Fire People Up? Change Facebook!

When I am sick and feeling like crap, I tend not to smile as much as I usually do. However, one thing that became a reoccurring theme today made my lips move ever so slightly from my constant frowning position into a faint smirk. While scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed I saw all the people having heart attacks over the new changes to the most popular social networking site in the world. You honestly would have thought that overnight someone must have gone into the houses of some of these Facebook users and robbed them of everything they owned, killed their dog, and then set fire to the place based on some of the reactions of outrage that I saw. Likewise, for every two posts of outrage that I saw, I read at least one post using just as many capital letters and just as many exclamation points as the anti-new layout people by Facebook users who wanted to make their point that “change happens” or to “just live with it.” I found it humorous how so many people let the new Facebook changes impact them one way or the other to speak out against it on, ironically, their Facebook pages.
To be completely honest, back when I was a Facebook rookie I too would get a little agitated when I would go to sleep after using one version of Facebook only to wake up the next day and see that it had been replaced with a version that made it so my notifications were in a new place or that certain chat settings had been changed. Didn’t Mark Zuckerberg know that my whole social existence hinged on Facebook and by pulling the rug out from underneath me he was severely damaging my cred? You know though, after about the third time changes were made on Facebook about four months into my initial time on the service, I kind of stopped getting worked up about it.
If you are over eighteen years old and you have been on Facebook for two years or more, you should probably not act as if the world is ending when changes are made. Let’s face it, changes on Facebook approximately every two or three months is about as likely as the sun rising and setting each day. What I find so amusing is that the new changes will occur, people will bitch about it for a day, they will get used to it, and then they will pretty much completely forget about what the older version was like before  they were introduced with the new version that they initially despised.
I think the only people I feel sorry for when changes are made are the “older” generation of Facebook users. I know my mom is going to go on and she is going to be a little puzzled about the bigger pictures and the numerous help bubbles that are going to pop up explaining to her the new changes. I do expect a phone call from her the minute she logs on (“No Mom, it is not your computer acting weird. Everyone now has this version of Facebook. Yes, you still write on my wall the same way you always do. No Mom, that girl is just a friend.”)
To the people who let the complaints about the new Facebook layout get to them: Take a deep breath and don’t let the complaining bother you so much that you have to devote a status update to it. Just realize  that these complaints are just as much of a sure thing as the Facebook changes themselves. No matter how elegantly or non-elegantly  you put it, people are always going to resist the change, it is just a fact of life in pretty much every aspect.  Hate to break it to you, but your attempt at trying to make people “grow up” and “get on with their lives” is falling on deaf ears. Just give it a rest.
In business, it is a catch-22 when you have a successful product and you have to wrestle with the prospect of change. If you ride your successful product for a long time without change, there will be a group in your customer base who will become tired of the same old thing and they will put pressure on you to add something new. Once you appease that group and you do add new components to the product, you piss off the other group in your customer base  who can’t tolerate change and who probably eat the same thing for dinner every single night. It is impossible to please everyone.
Just a quick non-Facebook example of this: At my job, we produce the best in-stadium game day football experience at the Football Championship Subdivision level and one of the best experiences in all of college football. Yes, we could continue to do the same thing year in and year out but we would get crucified by people in our fan base who expect to see new and exciting elements each year. Once we do add new stuff though, the old school fans will complain that things “are not done the way they were three years ago, and the way they were done three years ago was much better.” It is amazing how people resist change so much that they can get a vastly superior product placed right in front of their eyes and still tell you with a straight face that they think the past version was better.
I am an advocate for change in the modern business model and I do support Facebook making frequent changes. Do you understand the gold mine that Mark Zuckerberg has? Do you know how many aspiring social networking sites he has chomping at his bit right now? The dude is a competitor and he is going to keep tinkering and improving his product every chance he gets to keep his monopoly. It is just what successful business people do. Facebook could care less about pissing people off for a day or two after they make changes because they know that they will eventually adapt. If Facebook kept the same version they had three years ago they would be about as relevant as Myspace is right now.
People  need to chill when Facebook makes changes…both the people who dislike change and the people who dislike the people who dislike change. Instead of spending your time spewing out an emotionally charged status update, either (if you dislike  change) take the time to understand the new version and appreciate the fact that the company is trying to offer you a better product or (if you dislike the people who dislike change) save your frustrated energy and take comfort that you will probably make a lot of money when you grow up because you understand the necessity of change. Besides, if you wise up the people who don’t like change you are just going to be adding more competition to your chances of achieving your big pay day one of these days. Enjoy Facebook. Don’t Blink.

Getting Sick

I could feel it coming on last night. My throat started to have that tingling feeling way in  the back, my nose started to become a little sniffly, and every once in a while I would have to cough a couple times. As I somehow managed to stay up past 2am once again, I accepted the fate that was going to greet me when I woke up in a few hours: I was going to be sick.
Sure enough, at 6am this morning I awoke to a runny nose, watery eyes, annoying cough, and sore throat. Basically, I got the usual cold that always makes life less pleasant than what I would like. I got ready as the cloud of drowsiness that always comes with the type of cold I get hovered all around me.  I drove to work and dove  into all the fun that a Monday morning entails (lots of work). A few minutes later my boss walks in and announces exactly what I knew she was going to announce: “I’m sick.”
You see, Christie and I this summer could have pretty much written on the calendar the exact day in which the plague would hit us. It never fails. It seems every year that once we get the first couple of home football games under our belts and late September starts to creep in, the long hours of hard work and stress combined with the changing temperature outside catches up to us and punishes our bodies. It is just not in marketing either, it impacts our whole department. Other people reported the same type of symptoms this morning. Just call it the “Fall Sports Craziness Syndrome.” Once August hits we are under constant pressure to get ready for the fall sports season. We work non-stop preparing and then before we know it, it is September and the actual games and the annual events are starting and you really have no time to think about it, you just take it on headstrong. September is a brutal month for anyone who works in intercollegiate athletics. Well, this past Saturday we completed our second football game in as many weeks. The team is out of town this next Saturday. With this brief wave of fresh air comes the annual realization that we have been neglecting our basic needs like adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and social relationships. When this epiphany hits, the predictable sickness rolls right in.
I hate being sick. When I am sick it makes the most mundane tasks 10x more taxing. For whatever reason, the common cold takes a pretty heavy toll on my body. I know, call me a pussy, but it is true. My eyes get red and droopy and I tear up constantly. My nose becomes red. My throat gets so clogged up that my voice sounds like death. My shoulders hunch over. My body language just sucks. It is not fun at all.
Funny thing is, my whole life I have always gotten sick on a “schedule” so to speak. In high school I would always get extremely sick in late September. For our football schedule, we pretty much played our conference opponents in the same order each season. Thus, whenever I looked at the schedule and I saw that we would be playing Ferris (one of our rivals in the Greater Spokane League), I knew I would be sick for that week. Sure enough, I always was. Once I hit college, I always knew that once midterms came around (end of September), I would be in for it.
I have come to terms that there is really no way I can prevent myself from getting sick at these times. It is just something that is programmed into my body. I am always going to get sick at certain times during the year, now deal with that Brent! What I could do better on, however, is recovering as quickly as possible. When I am sick, especially during this time, I do take lots of medicine but that is pretty much the only method I use to take care of myself. I still work out each day when I am sick. Everyone says that I should let my body rest but I honestly feel that working out gets healthy juices flowing through my body again and I kid you not, when I am sick and I am working out, for that hour and a half it seems as if all my symptoms go away and I am just in the zone. The minute I hit the locker room, I feel like garbage again. Also, working out is a major stress reliever for me and because stress is one of the major reasons why I am sick in the first place, it is a good idea to keep fighting it the best way I know how. I know I should also probably get more sleep when I am sick, but it is hard. I just can’t sacrifice all of the stuff I do at night for a couple more hours of sleep in hopes that it will make me feel better. I also know that I should maybe take it a little easier at work while I am not feeling too hot but there is no time to do that, there is too much going on and too much work to do. Also, it is just not in my nature to miss work due to sickness. I was one of those kids who strived to have perfect attendance at school no matter what the cost. I hated to get behind. My senior year of high school, my senior year, while everyone else was skipping class, I made sure to attend every single day of class (confession: I missed ONE day because of some terrible food poisoning that I got). Of course, because I played sports year round I could not afford to miss a day of school or else I couldn’t practice but there were many days when I was sicker than a dog and should have stayed home (sorry to all the kids I got sick by being at school when I shouldn’t have been). Yes, I don’t take many excuses from my body when I am sick.
Basically, this is a very therapeutical post for me. I am recognizing that it is just that time of the year  where I feel a little under the weather and that like all things, it will pass. It also provides an outlet for me to complain about being sick because everyone knows that one of the most annoying things people do is bitch about being sick. It is much better if you complain via a blog post as opposed to in person about feeling like shit, right? So here I am saying bring the sickness on!! Give me a hell for a week and then get out of my body. I promise, I won’t miss you. Stay healthy everyone! Don’t Blink.

Cell Phones

I attend church at St. Francis Xavier in downtown Missoula. The church is very old but also very beautiful. Tonight at mass a funny event occurred. For whatever reason, the speaker system at the church was unintentionally picking up a radio station. Because of this, throughout the whole service you could hear the faint broadcast of the station radiating throughout the church. After our priest delivered his homily he walked back to his chair and sat down. Before standing up to start the recitation of the Nicene Creed he addressed the problem by saying “I am sure you noticed the radio interference we are picking up, please excuse it.” Then, just a couple seconds after he said that, someone’s cell phone went off. It had one of those loud, annoying ringtones designed specifically for cell phones. Without missing a beat, Father followed up his request for tolerating the radio station noise by simply adding “…and cell phones.” This got a nervous laugh out of the congregation. As this muffled laughter started, everyone watched in amazement as the person with the cell phone did not embarrassingly shut it off/silence it but rather he excused himself from the pew and walked out the side entrance of the church where he could presumably took the call.
The minute he stepped out of the church, our priest quipped, “This happened to Jesus all the time in the synagogues.”
The whole church roared with laughter and started applauding. It was one of those moments and one of those reactions  that you rarely see during a catholic mass service but it was totally appropriate. Even though the guy had left the church and could not witness himself being put in his place by the priest, I like to think that the laughter and applause was so loud that he could still hear it as he stood outside to take the call.
It amazes me what little shame people have with their cell phones. I can’t begin to tell you how many times cell phones go off during meetings that I am in. I can confidently say that if at least one cell phone did not go off in a meeting I was in, it had to have been because either A). Everyone had simultaneously forgotten to bring their cell phones with them or B). Some catastrophe occurred and destroyed all of the cell phone towers.
Let me set one thing straight real fast. If you know me at all, you know I practically have my cell phone glued to my hand. You might think I am hypocritical in writing this. Yes, I utilize my phone more than the average person  but I do practice what I preach. My phone has never gone off in a meeting, I would never think of bringing my cell phone into church, and I would never let my cell phone take precedent over a person who I was talking to.
It always puzzles me when someone’s cell phone goes off in a setting where it shouldn’t. First off, why do you have your cell phone on ringer mode in the first place? Doesn’t it bug the hell out of you? The only time I have my phone on ringer mode is when I go to sleep just because it will wake me up if someone needs to reach me in the event of an emergency in the middle of the night. Other than that, I have mine set to vibrate at all times. There is really no need to draw attention to yourself by notifying everyone that someone is calling you. You are not impressing anyone with your “Soldier Boy” ringtone….you are just annoying them. Secondly, if you must have your cell phone on ringer mode, how hard is it to silence it before going into a meeting, movie, lecture, etc.?
Aside from having the common courtesy to make sure that your cell phone does not go off when it shouldn’t, the amount of disrespect that people show to others when taking calls on their phone is appalling. It is tough for me to keep my composure when I see people yaking on their phones while ordering their sandwich at Subway, paying for groceries at the supermarket, or while working out at the gym. Why is it that your conversation is more important than the person who is trying to serve you or the people around you who could care less about the latest drama in your life? Nothing speaks arrogance like that.
I always laughed at the people who walked around with those Star Trek Spok type ear pieces. They thought they were so cool having the ability to conduct their phone conversations via a handless device but really they just looked like mentally ill fools because it looked like they were talking to themselves. I feel like I see less and less of people utilizing the Bluetooth devices…I think they finally realized how ridiculous they look. But I think the fascination with these type of devices harkens back to what I just touched on…arrogance.  Before people realized that they looked stupid, I really think they thought it made them look important. It was a status symbol that made them feel better about themselves.
So after rambling for a little bit, I feel cell phones are abused for two primary reasons: Stupidity and arrogance. Some people are just too dumb to make sure their phones are on vibrate. They can’t make it a habit to check the settings of their phone before entering a place where a cell phone should never go off. Some people just hold a self-importance about themselves that they feel their phone conversations are the most important things in the world and other people should not only see them engaging in these conversations but realize that whatever they are talking about is much more pressing than giving courtesy and respect to others at a store, gym, workplace, etc.
If you are stupid or arrogant (and in many cases, both) when it comes to cell phones, please try to change your ways.  Cell phones are great tools but just like anything they can be misused. Utilize your cell phone with common sense and class! Don’ t Blink.

The Necessary Price for Safety

I must admit that once September hit this year, I started to worry a little about September 11th. With the landmark ten year anniversary and the threats that were leveled at our country by the crazy people who live in this world, I braced myself for potential problems. I do tend to get paranoid at times. In yet another amazing job by our government, the United States escaped September 11, 2011, without a single attack. Lord only knows how much security, diversion,  and intelligence went into keeping everyone safe last Sunday.
A story that made news early this week centered on a woman who happened to be half Arabic and half Jewish named Shoshana Hebshi. After a flight from Denver to Detroit, her plane was stormed by homeland security agents and the row that contained her and two Indian men who did not know each other were detained. Little did Hebshi know at the time but the plane was escorted to its landing by fighter jets. You see, someone on the plane reported suspicious activity when the two Indian men got up at the same time to use the rest room. The three people in the row were taken into custody and questioned extensively. It was then determined that all three passengers were not involved in any type of suspicious plot.
Hebshi wrote an extensive blog post blasting the authorities for detaining her and the two Indian men based on her belief that it was due solely on how they looked. She also wrote quite a bit on how humiliating the whole experience was.
Do I doubt for a second her assertion that she was detained because of the way she looked? Of course not. Do I believe that her experience was probably humiliating? Yes, I do. Do I think that the person on the plane who filed the complaint, the airplane pilot, and the authorities acted inappropriately? Absolutely not.
While I do have some sympathy for Ms. Hebshi for the traumatic experience she had to go through, I completely support the measures taken to ensure that no one was hurt on a day that had everyone shaking in their shoes. I just don’t see how anyone could object to a serious and thorough reaction to any perceived suspicious activity on the tenth anniversary of the worst day in American history. When I go to airports and when I am on planes I am very mindful of my surroundings, it is just my nature. If I saw something that I thought was out of place, especially on any 9/11 date, I am alerting authorities. Do you realize that we have gone ten full years without a terrorist attack on American soil? Do you realize the myriad of ways that a destructive act could have been carried out during any given minute of the past decade? We did not achieve this by letting the small signs go by the wayside. Yes, this does result in false alarms but that is a price all of us should gladly pay for our safety and the safety of our families.  This summer, people have said I look Arabian. If I got on a plane and started doing weird stuff and someone called me out on it and I got apprehended, I would thank the authorities.
To be brutally honest, I don’t think it was too much of an overreaction by the anonymous passenger who reported the suspicious activity as Ms. Hebshi contends. Again everyone, put yourself in the context of sitting in a plane on 9/11 and you observe three people who look of middle eastern descent sitting next to each other. Next, you see two of them get up at the same time and head to the bathroom where you see them disappear. Like it or not, some people are going to grow concerned. Because this tip was anonymous with few details released, who knows what else he/she saw that might have pushed this person even more to react the way he/she did. Hate to use a cliché but it is so appropriate….better safe than sorry.
But really, who flies on 9/11? Better yet, who flies on the tenth anniversary of 9/11? You could not pay me money to fly on that date. Sure, people say they fly on 9/11 so they can travel without experiencing long lines and busy airports but you are still running a greater risk than any other date on the calendar. To me, it just seems a little morbid and a little out of place. I personally think all air travel should be shut down on September 11. I know people might say that is just letting the terrorists win but I like to think it is much more along the lines of paying respect to the victims who lost their lives on that day with the skies quiet.
Back to the topic at hand though. I am 100% behind the system of looking out for each other and reporting suspicious activity. After all, the airports repeat this message like a broken record. Let’s just accept the fact that innocent people are going to get searched and they are going to get apprehended. Don’t worry, things will all get sorted out and they will get cleared. Hebshi was detained for just a few hours. It is the times we live in. There is no way to ever know but If I was pressed to give an estimate I would say that for every innocent person who has been taken into custody for a short period of time, 500 lives have been saved as a result of our government’s intelligence and the watchful eye of citizens like us. Let me say it one more time, ten years without a terrorist attack on our soil. Let’s not complain about the small price that accompanies the gift of safety for ourselves and our families and let’s ccheers to ten more years of homeland security perfection. Don’t Blink.

The Streaker at the Griz Game

This past Saturday at the school I work for, we had our first home football game. On Saturdays in the fall, The University of Montana hosts the biggest event in the state, Griz Football. I am fortunate enough to play a role in this massive operation as I serve on the game production side of things. However, all of these details will be for another blog post. For tonight’s contribution, I want to talk about something that happened at the game this Saturday that has stirred up a lot of controversy.
The Griz play in                 Washington-Grizzly Stadium, a jewel in the state of Montana that hosts sellout crowds of 26,000+ every single game. It is the place to be in Montana during the autumn, nothing else remotely comes close in the state to comparing to the excitement and electricity that the place generates. Anyway, in the second quarter of an impressive Griz victory on Saturday, a streaker got onto the field. He was a nineteen year old student who climbed over the rail in the student section and stormed the field. He proceeded to dance around, slap his ass, make thrusting motions, yell into a megaphone he stole from our spirit squad, and do whatever he could to draw attention to himself. Interestingly, the security we hire for the games have implemented a policy where  they let streakers tire themselves out on the field and finish their antics on their own power before arresting them. Because of this policy, this moron stumbled around the field for a good minute. Believe me, a minute is a loooong time when you have to watch something that disturbing in that type of setting. Our game production crew sits up in the control room of the press box. We call all the shots when it comes to the non-football  aspect of the game. We were absolutely powerless as we watched this guy on the field. About half of us were laughing, the other half were not. I was not. Once the streaker realized that no one was making an attempt to restrain him and that the crowd was really not enjoying his show he literally walked off the field and was handcuffed. Security then took him from the ten yard line of the Griz sideline, across the back of the nearest end zone, down to the thirty yard line of the visiting team’s sideline, and then up the tunnel…while he was completely naked.
I am not here to talk about the security’s philosophy or how they handled the arrest, that is all up for interpretation. What I want to address is the debate going on in Missoula right now about whether it is a big deal or not.
Before I get into that though, how drunk must you be to do something like that? You mentally have to be on another planet millions of miles away from Earth to have the complete stupidity to  pull that off. Even if you are completely blacked out drunk, most people still have a very dim light that is barely flickering inside of them that is able to prevent them from doing something like streaking in front of 26,000 people. It really does bewilder me. And did the dude have any friends at all who tried to convince him not to do that? Of course I know that if he did all of them had to have been completely bombed but you would think one of them would have had that little light flickering as well that would have made him/her tell the dude not to go onto that field.  The streaker told the local news station that all he remembered was suddenly being on the field and people chanting “Dan the Man.” He was obviously blitzed beyond belief because I am pretty sure everyone was chanting “Dan the Perv.”
The debate is raging in Zoo Town right now about whether what that kid did was a harmless college rite of passage type prank or if it was a sexual felony that should stick with him for the rest of his life. The kid is basically in limbo right now as authorities are wrestling with the exact same question the public is debating. He could get off with a simple slap on the wrist or there is talk that he could be charged as a sex offender and have his whole life screwed up.
First off, if you run onto the field fully clothed at any sporting event you are an idiot. It means that you could care less about the event that you came to watch and it means that you are an attention seeking jerk. In this day and age, if I was a player and I saw some maniac sprinting onto the field I would be scared out of my mind. Who knows what that guy is carrying or what his intentions are. I fully support the use of force on any loser who runs onto the field….powerful force. Again, I don’t want to criticize how our security went about the situation because obviously it worked out but I just want it to be known what my first choice for dealing with the situation is.
Running onto the field clothed is a stupid thing to do. Running onto the field naked is a sickening thing to do. It can have a negative impact on a lot of people, especially children. When that fool was being hauled off the field, many kids got an up close view of something they should not have to see unless they were watching some Discovery Channel documentary on some aborigine tribe. I have heard that several parents are going to press sexual harassment charges against the streaker. To that I say amen.
When you do something in life that is stupid, there has to be consequences. When you do something in life that is stupid and you take absolute no regard for how you might affect children, there has to be severe consequences. I hope the streaker gets the book thrown at him. I really hope he gets expelled from school at the end of this week (supposedly when the decision is going to come) and then I hope thirty parents file against him. His name has been released to the public and I really have no idea if he is going to be a hero on campus or if he is going to be public enemy #1. I personally don’t care cause I knew what he did was wrong. I hate to keep repeating the same thing but you just can’t get away with crap like that.
I can’t help but wonder what must have been going through that kid’s head when he started to sober up. By the time he could actually feel his feet again I bet his youtube video had already been viewed a few thousand times. How is he going to explain that to his kids one of these days? What must his parents think? Do you think they will watch the youtube video? While he has local celebrity status right now, there is no way he is enjoying it. With his life in limbo and the biggest mistake of his existence on the internet for the whole world to see, it really would be hard to. Don’t Blink.
(I will not give a link to the video but if you so desire, type in “UM Streaker” on youtube).

Ten Years Later

Today we marked the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. What first comes to my head when thinking about this is disbelief that it has already been ten years since that day. Time goes by so fast, so Don’t Blink.
I am not going to give you a whole recount of my day on 9/11, but just a few things that stick out very vividly to me. I woke a little before 6am PT and as I always did, I turned on the TV. The first plane had already hit. I will never forget the words of a correspondent they had phone into the network I was watching. The anchor greeted the correspondent by saying “Good Morning to you” and the correspondent grimly responded “It is not a good morning.”I then watched live as the second plane hit the south tower. I was a freshman in high school. When I got to school they had all of the news coverage projected onto the walls inside our mall area. Our principal cried over the intercom when explaining to everyone what had happened. It was surreal.
At my school, they decided to allow sport practices to continue. I will never forget the passionate speech my freshman football coach gave our team at the start of practice. He let us know that  what had happened that day was an attack against each and every one of us.
9/11 is a day that is very near to my heart. I don’t really know how to describe it other than it left a mark on me. This is coming from a dude who was two thousand miles away from the disaster in a comfy city in Washington State. I can’t even begin to imagine the toll, heartache, and stress that the event has inflicted on people who were near any of the three sites on that day or who were directly impacted by the events. Some of the stories I have heard surrounding the acts of heroism that day make me feel like the most insignificant, worthless coward in the world. Some of the things people did that day to sacrifice their own safety, and in many cases their own lives, are beyond words.
The word “Courage” does not even begin to describe what some of these people have flowing through their veins. I always question myself about whether I would have the guts to do what that group of people on Flight 93 did to prevent that plane from smashing into the White House.  I know it is easy to say that of course I would have acted like they did but talk is cheap, especially while I am sitting here in my comfortable house while sitting on a nice leather couch while watching Sportscenter. Their death sentences were already sealed but they acted so that other people could live. Some of the stories I have heard about office workers in the towers saving multiple people while they ultimately perished touch me very deeply. Of course the heroic acts of the NYPD and the New York Fire Department have forever made those two organizations the face of our nation when it comes to courage.
I don’t want to get into too colorful language about 9/11 because it has all been said before and it pretty much goes without saying but we learned a lot about our country in the aftermath of that day. We are a very strong country with very strong people. It is just by the luck of the draw that we are fortunate enough to live here and we need to thank God every single day for that.
Perhaps the most amazing thing is that there has not been a major terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. What a tribute that is to our leaders on both sides of the political spectrum who implemented necessary safety measures/procedures to keep us safe. Amazing work by both the Bush Administration and Obama Administration on setting up cabinets, security agencies, and undercover special operations that tirelessly worked to investigate anything that remotely resembled a threat against our country. Thanks so much to all of our troops who have crippled the various terror cells across the world. Think about that: Ten years and thousands of threats later, no crazy terrorist operation has touched us. 
I had the opportunity to visit Ground Zero and was overcome with emotion. Without making that trip, I know I would have still never forgotten about 9/11 but when I got to see first hand the place where so many people perished I knew that not only would I never forget it, but I would always vividly remember it. Again, thank God that we get to live in such a wonderful place where we have the freedom to live the way we want to. Thank all the military personnel you know. We are living the good life. Don’t Blink.