The Three Best Unhealthy Cereals of All-Time

So I know this following blog post is kind of a little stupid and might make me look a little desperate on something to write about but I like to  keep things light hearted from time to time. Plus I am starving right now and would love to eat something ridiculously sweet so please forgive me for this softball post.
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I think my parents raised me and my sister and brother the right way when it came to our diets. We definitely did not get to live on junk food and sweets but we did get to be kids and indulge in some of the finer not-so-healthy crap from time to time. We only got to drink soda when we visited my grandparents’ house and when we did, we got no more than half a can. Continuing with the moderation theme, my parents would only let us eat half of a candy bar as well. When it came to fast food, whenever we got to go out to McDonalds it was a special occasion. On those nights where my mom and dad would really wanted to reward us,they would take us out for ice cream.

However, one aspect when it came to food that my parents let slide a little bit was breakfast. Whereas Monday through Friday before we went to school we got the option to eat oatmeal or cheerios, when the weekend came, we got to open the bottom shelf and eat whatever sugary cereal we had picked out at the store earlier that week. We usually had at least two cereals to choose from and sometimes we would get to have a bowl of each!

Growing up, I not only looked forward to the weekends because of cartoons, sports, and no school, but also because of breakfast! I loved those sugary cereals with the colorful boxes and wacky characters associated with each different kind. While I loved everything from Froot Loops to Trix to Cap’n Crunch to Lucky Charms, there are three cereals that I absolutely LOVED growing up that I would still eat today at any given second. Of course they are the most sugar loaded and unhealthy creations ever made that really have no business being called a “cereal” but who cares?!I will share with you which cereals they are and even rank them for you!

3. Cinnamon Toast Crunch- “Cinnamon and sugar in every bite” is the slogan and they definitely were not kidding. This cereal was so good and so addicting. Even as a young tike I could probably eat the whole box. Putting a spoonful in your mouth really gave you a rush of flavor as the sugar and cinnamon assaulted pretty much every taste bud you had. Downside was definitely the rather unpleasant film that would encompass your teeth after eating a bowl. Not my favorite feeling in the world but oh so worth it. One thing about each of these three cereals that I am listing is that they all taste just as good without milk. Attesting to the greatness of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, if you ate them dry with your hands, all of your fingers would be completely covered in cinnamon and sugar. Just a sign of how potent and loaded this cereal really was.

2. Reeses Puffs- There is no other description for this cereal that fits it better than “eating a bowl of candy with milk and a spoon.” Really, it is beyond me how my parents even let me eat this stuff. I can close my eyes and envision taking a bite and tasting exactly what it tasted like. The rich peanut butter and chocolate flavor was so strong, the texture so perfect! Honestly, I am pretty much salivating right now. Again, I can’t describe enough how much of a stretch it really is to call Reeses Puffs a breakfast cereal. I remember my mom pouring the cereal in a zip lock bag and bringing it to the movie theater with us to serve as a cheap snack for me. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Besides Coco Puffs, there is no better cereal than Reeses Puffs that produced a better milk to drink after you had finished eating every piece.

1. Rice Krispie Treats Cereal- My all-time favorite sweet cereal though is Rice Krispie Treats Cereal. The concept of one of my favorite desserts in cereal form captured my little head when I was a youngster. I actually liked the cereal better than the actual treat in bar form…that’s how good it was. It also just put the original Rice Krispie cereal to shame. My favorite part of eating the cereal was getting the especially large clusters in my bowl. My brother and I would compete to see who got the biggest one.  The sweet, marshmallowy taste of each bite was taste bud sensual overload. Looking at it in a bowl you couldn’t help but shake your head and concede that it really looked nothing like a cereal.

So there you have it, my three favorite sugary cereals growing up. These days for breakfast I am rather plain…Monday through Friday I eat a piece of bread with crunchy peanut butter on it. On the weekends, I prefer eggs, sausage, pancakes, etc. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I had a sugary cereal. I am definitely not above it, if the opportunity came I would definitely dive right in. But as I mentioned in a previous post, our minds tend to over glorify how things tasted years ago. Who knows how good a big bowl of Rice Krispie Treats cereal would taste today (do they even still make it?).

I apologize again for this lame post. I promise to go back to topics and issues that actually take a little bit of thought. However, I think every blogger is entitled to the nostalgic, lazy “let’s make a list” type post. Until next time, be sure to eat your Wheaties. Don’t Blink.

Taking the Sunshine Too Far

For an early March day in Missoula, today was beautiful. With the sun shining the whole day and the temperature hitting an unseasonably “warm” fifty-three  degrees, I found myself smiling. Who wouldn’t? For the most part, we have had the great fortune of experiencing a rather mild winter here in Missoula. The heavy snow, the arctic cold, and the brutal winds have decided not to pulverize our town as harshly as they have over the past few years. All that I can say to Mother Nature is THANK YOU.

Because of the fact that we have gotten a nice break this year from a typical Missoula winter, I figured that most people would still be able to differentiate between an early (teaser) spring day and, let’s say, a summer day in the middle of August. I am sometimes too optimistic.

As I walked out of the house late this morning to hop into my car to complete some errands I caught out of the corner of my eye my next door hippie neighbor in the middle of his lawn. My peripheral vision caught enough of the site that should have told my brain not to look over and give it a full glance but I guess I needed confirmation of the ridiculous site. With the outside temperature at forty-seven degrees at the time (according to my car), my granola neighbor was pacing his lawn shirtless and with shorts on. As I always do I avoided eye contact and got into my car as quickly as possible to avoid any type of interaction with the neighbor and drove off.

As I drove down the Rattlesnake*, I saw numerous bikers and runners/walkers in summer clothing getting their exercise in. When I drove through downtown Missoula it looked like people were about to attend the farmer’s market or something. When I unfortunately had to make a stop at Wal-Mart it was hard to ignore the multitudes of people dressed like it was the flippin Fourth of July.

Timeout.

The thing that makes Missoula great is that it is free spirited. People do their thing and judgment for the most part is low. But come on, there has to be a line between free spirited and stupid. Have some type of grasp on what type of clothing is appropriate for various situations. Just because the sun happens to be shining does not mean it is a pass for swim wear. How about besides just looking to see if the sun is out before going shirtless you look at two things: 1. The calendar – If you live in Missoula and it is not even June yet, stay covered up. To make it easier on yourself, if it is still technically WINTER, shorts need not apply. 2. Look at the temperature – If the thermometer indicates that it is a balmy fifty  degrees outside, please make an appropriate decision on how to dress. Fifty degrees will not get you a tan.

By all means, please enjoy the weather. Today got me energized and made me feel happier than I normally would have. Missoula does not see very many nice March days so today was definitely a special treat. But don’t go overboard. Sometimes I feel that Missoula gets such crappy late Winter/Spring weather because Mother Nature can’t stand the way our citizens react when she graces us with a mild, crisp day.  Enjoy it in a windbreaker and jeans…not a tank top and shorts. Don’t Blink.
* The Rattlesnake is the long road that connects the residential area I live in with the main part of town. Rattlesnake Road is a popular place for bikers and runners to utilize for their workouts.

Championship Week

The first couple months of 2012 kind of dragged on but finally March has arrived. Of course the month of March is synonymous with one thing: College Basketball.  Many people will equate the month of March and college basketball with just March Madness. However, true fans know that the third month of the year brings us college hoops fanatics so much more than just the NCAA Tournament.

I believe one of the greatest spectacles in sports is Championship Week for men’s NCAA Basketball.  Championship Week is actually longer than a week. This year it started on March 1 and will run all the way through Selection Sunday on March 11. For those of you who don’t know, CW is the time where all the conferences who host post-season tournaments to decide automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament stage their competitions. Now I am not going to go as far as to say that Championship Week is better than (or on the same level as) the NCAA Tournament, but it is close. Without taking too much of your time, I hope to convey to you why CW is so awesome for fans and how it distinguishes itself from the NCAA Tournament.  To cut it down to the basics, nothing beats Championship Week because of the inclusivity, the drama, and the scenery.

To me, Championship Week is a shortened, excitement-heightened, steroid-injected version of the regular season. Conferences will beat up on each other for three straight months pretty much only to put themselves in position for the conference tournament at the end of the season. Even if a certain team did not have the best results during the regular season, besides the seeding part of it, they have new life come the conference tournament. This is what I am talking about when it comes to inclusivity. Many of these post season tournaments that are played by the many conferences across the nation include most of their teams, if not all. Teams and fans alike can go into these tournaments totally disregarding the seeding and grasp onto a mindset that all they need to do is win a few games and they will be in the Big Dance….regular season be damned. There is just something special about seeing a whole conference come together at one site to battle it out for such a prestigious prize.

You can’t beat the drama of Championship Week. What you got to keep in mind is that pretty much all of the matchups that take place in these tournaments are teams playing each other for the third time that season. I won’t even start to get into all the clichés that are thrown out when teams play each other for the third time, but you know what I mean. All of the storylines, the bad blood, the controversies, and the trash talk are brought over from the regular season and magnified on the conference tournament stage. For the tournaments that take place on neutral courts, these matchups carry with it even more intrigue. What will happen when you take away the home court advantage between two teams that split during the regular season? 

The drama that carries on from game-to-game in the conference tournaments is so much fun to watch as well. If there is a coach who is in his last season, all eyes are on him as he tries to  prolong his career and help his team advance. If there is an NBA caliber player, especially in the conference tournaments where the only bid that is going to be given out is the automatic one, everyone is watching him. How will he make sure that his team will advance in the tournament? Can he play at his high level for four straight nights? If there is a whole team that has come under scrutiny during the season, their drama and dirty laundry is definitely going to be put under a microscope throughout the conference tournament.  You see, these storylines must be magnified during the conference tournaments because it is that unique spot between the regular season and the NCAA Tournament….that spot where the stage is the highest it can be with almost everyone included.

My favorite aspect of the conference tournaments though is the scenery. I love the contrast that is involved. I can enjoy watching both the major conferences play in the greatest entertainment venues in the nation and then flip the channel and see two schools I have never heard of duking it out in some 1,000 seat gym. You can’t go wrong watching the premiere conferences play. The best conference tournament there is, the Big East Tournament, is played in Madison Square Garden. Before I die, I want to attend a Big East Tournament. All sixteen schools in the conference play in it over five days. I try to watch every single game I can. The tradition, the personalities, and stamina of that tournament radiates through the television screen and captivates any college hoops fan.  As a Pac-12 guy, I love watching their conference tournament as well. Played in the Madison Square Garden of the West, the Staples Center, the tournament is definitely big time. Not only does the arena provide a great backdrop and atmosphere, I also get to watch the hottest sideline reporter in all of sports, Rebecca Haarlow, work the whole tournament. Talk about scenery! Growing up in Spokane, I obviously was a Gonzaga guy. I also have an obsession with Las Vegas. Because of these two traits of mine, the WCC Tournament staged at the Orleans in Sin City is also one of my favorite tournaments to watch. Just something about taking all of these Jesuit schools plus the one Mormon school (BYU) and throwing them in the Vegas environment to decide an automatic bid is pretty intriguing.

Although the glitzy big time arenas holding the elite tournaments do captivate me, I equally enjoy the obscure as well. Nothing gets me glued in more than watching the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game or the Patriot League finale. Watching some of these games taking place in tiny gyms with overflow crowds is the best. The shaky camerawork at these sites that is attributed to the volume inside the facility gives me delight. As this is the only time that many of these conferences get any of their games on national television, fans are at their best. You can feel the passion and intensity from watching these games…no, you can’t get something like this during the NCAA Tournament. It truly is a unique experience.

Finally, because of the intercollegiate marketer that I am and because of my love for the college atmosphere, I crave the opportunity to see all of the mascots, spirit squads, and bands that are shown throughout Championship Week over and over again. So fun to see what everyone all around the nation is doing.

So by writing this blog post I definitely distracted myself from watching a lot of basketball that is on right now. Did you know that my city newspaper lists fifteen games that are going to be on local cable just today?! Heaven! Enjoy Championship Week everyone! Don’t Blink.

Facebook Pages Changed For the Better

Because I never write about Facebook (#sarcasm), I decided tonight would be a great opportunity to discuss an exciting new change that the social media network started to offer yesterday. It is definitely a game changer for people who depend on Facebook for communicating/marketing when it comes to their company, business, or group.

I have anticipated this move for a long time and finally timeline is now available for Facebook Pages. While timeline has been available for personal pages for several months, Facebook Pages were still stuck with the archaic straight vertical type format.

Yesterday I went into work and on all of my Grizzly Athletics FB pages I had the option to upgrade to timeline. Because I had prepared myselffor this change all the way back in October, it took me really no time at all to convert the eight different official pages I run for Griz Athletics (one for the main department account and then one for each individual sport) from the old format to timeline. In October I created a general cover design that every official page in our department would adhere to and then personalized each individual sport page with pictures, Twitter info, and head coach info. For example, here is what our main account looks like, here is what our football account looks like, and here is what our women’s basketball account looks like.

The new features for page administrators with timeline are pretty cool. Whenever you go to a page that you administer, at the top  (only visible to you) is an administrative panel that immediately gives you all the pertinent info about your page. It displays all of your notifications for that page, displays your insights, shows the new people who just liked your page, and shows you any messages that you have. See, the message feature is a really cool thing that has come out of the timeline version for Facebook Pages. No longer do users have to stumble around a page looking for information on who to contact or post an awkward question on the wall to reach the page creators. Now, all they have to do is click “Message” and they can get in touch with the page administrators immediately and in complete privacy from other users.

With timeline for Facebook Pages you can highlight stories by making them take up more space. For example, we just hired a new offensive coordinator at Montana. If I was working on timeline at that time, instead of having the story just take up a small square one column section of the page, I would have enlarged it to be a rectangle that extended across two columns of the page. Also, you can “pin” stories/pictures/news that will make it so that content will stay at the top of the page regardless of the new material that you add.
Just a couple more cool things about timeline for Facebook Pages:  Besides the option to message the page, users can now easily see who the page owners are. Of course this is up to us as administrators to decide if we want to reveal this information. I believe it is a good move though, it adds a “face” to the page so to speak. You decide who the page owners are. You could have ten different administrators for a page but you might only want to include two as the “page owners” for the public to see. Another cool feature is that there is an “activity log” that only administrators can view. You can go to the activity log and see every single thing you did on the page and see the likes and comments that each page got. It is very informative.
On March 30, all Facebook Pages will be automatically converted to the timeline format. If I can give advice to you, convert your Facebook Page over to timeline right now! Get ahead of the game and show the people who “like” your page that you are innovative and tech savvy. Besides the image you will portray as an entity that is with the times, by converting you are just going to give yourself much more important information about how people are interacting with your page as well as more opportunities for these people to interact with you.
If you do want to wait until the very last minute to convert to timeline, be sure to be ready come March 30. By this I mean have your cover photo already designed and have a good grasp on how the new version of Facebook Pages work. Nothing could be worse than having gray space taking up your cover photo and confusion dominating your page once the conversion takes place. Do your homework.
Of course I do have a couple concerns with the new version. While we can do all we can as page administrators to make sure we are not confused/caught off guard by the new changes, the same can’t be said about the people who “like” the page. Since I made the conversion on all of our Facebook Pages at Grizzly Athletics I have been pleasantly surprised that I have received no negative feedback or questions about what the hell happened to the pages from our fans. However, like my friend reminded me, lots of interaction with Facebook Pages take place on the newsfeed, where the new design is not reflected. I also fear about how corporate some of these pages are going to get with all of the new real estate that is available via the cover photo. Should be interesting.
All in all though, my concerns are completely overshadowed by my optimism for the new era of Facebook Pages. With an increase in the possibilities of both creativity and interactivity with the new version, it is a good thing. Time to get excited about the new stage in Facebook marketing!! Don’t Blink.

A Privilege: Hosting the Big Sky Conference Tournament

Yesterday was one of those long, but unbelievably fun, days at work. I strolled into the office at 7am and then happily exited out at a little after 11pm. The reason why I pretty much skipped my way out of the Adams Center after the sixteen hour day rather than limped to my car in pure exhaustion was because I had just been guaranteed a few more of these types of days in the coming week. Let me explain.

Last night our men’s basketball team played in one of the most important games staged in Dahlberg Arena in a long time. As the scheduling gods and fate would have it, the very last game of the regular season between Montana and Weber State happened to be for the Big Sky Conference championship. When the schedule first came out way back when, no one knew that the Grizzlies and Wildcats would both stand at 14-1 in the conference, thus ironically pretty much erasing those fifteen league games that each team played and making Tuesday night’s game a true championship bout. What was at stake? Not just the Big Sky Conference regular season crown but also the right to host the Big Sky Conference tournament.

It was a special night for the team and all of us in the athletic department. We sold Dahlberg Arena out as over 7,100 fans came to the game dressed in white to cheer the Griz to victory. As the people started to filter in I looked over at my partner who runs the in-game audio/video with me and told him it was going to be an electrifying crowd. Our team played great and defeated Weber State 66-51. For the basketball team, with the win came a great deal of respect , glory, and the right to host the tournament on their home floor, things that they worked for all season long and wholeheartedly deserve. For many of us on staff at the department, with the win came a whole lot of work…just the way we want it.
It was a fun atmosphere on Tuesday

We get the privilege of putting on the Big Sky Conference tournament. We get to host three teams, two different broadcasting networks, league officials, NBA scouts, numerous media personnel, and fans from all over the region. Starting March 6, Missoula, Montana, will be the site where the final four teams in the Big Sky Conference will battle it out for an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. For me, I have always held championship week in NCAA basketball right up there with the NCAA Tournament itself (in the next few days I will devote a whole post to championship week). Having the opportunity to be right in the middle of it in a working role is a dream come true.

First thing you need to know is that our planning for this tournament began way before Montana beat Weber State last night. As soon as the landscape of the Big Sky Conference kind of came to focus and our men’s team stayed at the top of the standings, key people in our department started to make arrangements for the scenario in which we would host. Acting as “middle (wo)men,” these all-stars in our department communicated with the Big Sky Conference league officials on one end and with us staff members on the other to secure that in the event that the Grizzlies were number one in the conference at the end of the night on February 28, The University of Montana would be all set to host the tournament.

Objective One completed.

After the buzzer sounded last night, we went to work getting ticket information out and marketing our campus as the home of  the Big Sky Conference during March 6-7. Working off of the high that our basketball team gave us with their victory made the late night work so much fun and exciting. It definitely set the tone for the next several days.

You would not believe all of the logistics that go into hosting a four team tournament: Where do the teams enter the court from, where do teams sit when they are not playing, what benches do they occupy, where to seat visiting fans, where to place visiting cheer squads and mascots, parking issues, staffing issues, where to station the media workroom, where to stage the press conferences, how to best accommodate ESPN, how to make all the various radio crews happy, what to provide in the hospitality room, where to sell Big Sky Conference merchandise, internet issues,  pregame and postgame protocols, and so much more.

I have the utmost respect for the very valuable people in our department who are charged with taking the lead in overseeing all of these tasks and delegating them down the line to us staff members. The stress that comes with it is immense. The knowledge and experience that they possess is amazing.

From here on out, each day will become more and more intense as we approach Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Meetings will be held, one-on-one conversations to tie up loose ends will occur, long e-mail chains will grow and grow.

My main role leading up to the tournament will be to market it the best way possible through new media. Our website, social media channels, text messaging data bases, and e-mail lists will be devoted to the tournament. Also, the three of us who make up the marketing department along with our great crew of interns are going to work together to put a special emphasis on attracting the student body to the game on Tuesday, and, hopefully (if the Griz win Tuesday night’s contest), the game on Wednesday.

Come the actual tournament, I will be at my usual spot, running the in-game audio and video (aka music and Griz Vision). I am personally thrilled that for the second time this athletic season, we get to welcome ESPN to our campus. When they came for a football playoff game in December, Griz Nation put its best foot forward and impressed the ESPN crew and the nation. If Montana wins on Tuesday to earn a spot in the championship game to be broadcast on ESPN2 on Wednesday night, I know our players and fans will give off the same impression. Welcome American to Dahlberg Arena!

We are embarking on the last couple hours of February. Can we please get to March? There are few things better than March Madness and to be able to have a role in the lead up to it is pretty sweet. Thank you so much to the student-athletes and all of Griz Nation for affording us the chance to host this tournament. You make us so proud and our jobs so fun. Don’t Blink.