Girls and Phones

Us guys do some really stupid things. Check that, us guys do A LOT of stupid things. Because the list is so vast, I won’t even begin to list them here. Rest assured, when it comes to males and females, there is no doubt that males lack in the common sense department and make many more boneheaded mistakes and engage in much more disrespectful behavior than females. However… one is perfect, including women. I want to bring up an area in tonight’s post that I feel ladies can improve upon.

First off, let me lay it out here right now and say that I am addicted to my iPhone. I text probably a thousand times a day, tweet non-stop, Instagram like it is going out of style, check Facebook in meetings, google random things to answer questions, and sometimes I even use it to make/receive phone calls. Many people will say I look lost without my phone. In fact, at our work Christmas party, I received the “iPhone of the Year” award based upon the votes of my esteemed co-workers.

Addicted as I may be to my phone, there is a time when I can stop cold turkey, shove the device into my pocket, and act like I am not worrying about it. If I am on a date with a girl, hanging out with a girl, or just having a quick conversation with a girl, I am not touching/looking at my phone. Period.

Now I know I have went off on a couple rants before about things that irritate me about the opposite sex but I think my number one pet peeve might be the girl who can’t put her phone down. Let me just rattle off a few reasons why this behavior gets under my skin so much:

First off, it is disrespectful. When hanging out, you should concentrate your attention on the other person. There is nothing that puts up a middle finger to someone more than when you look down at your phone and start to type away. Especially if you are out on a date or if a guy is going the extra mile to treat a girl like a queen the best way to show him that you don’t really appreciate his efforts is to spend time on your hot pink cased cellular device. Do girls realize how inadequate it makes a guy feel? When I see a girl go to her phone right in the middle of us hanging out, I ask myself what I am doing wrong…it can shatter my confidence.  

Secondly, it is distracting. I hate nothing more than when I am engaged in a conversation with someone and all of a sudden she will say “I am sorry…one second.” She will look down at her phone, complete her text, and then look back up and say, “Okay…where were we?” Conversation completely ruined. It is hard to get back on track and even if the conversation does reignite, many times it is ruined once again by the exact same sequence. Oh yes, then there are the girls who will continue to try to keep the conversation going while they text. Really? You might as well just use the first cop out technique and take a timeout while you finish your phone business. I have no interest talking to you when your eyes are not looking at mine. I can’t talk to you when I know for a fact that your attention is elsewhere.

Thirdly, it is unnerving. I have no idea what you are doing on your phone. Are you telling your friend what a loser I am? Are you chatting with some other guy making plans for after this date is over? Are you playing a turn in “Draw Something”? Of course every girl will make it seem like it is no big deal and that they are just taking care of something but that is not what goes through our heads.

Of course, I have seen both ends of the spectrum when it comes to girls and cell phones. I have gone out with the ones who are absolutely amazing and put their phone in their purse and probably only look at it when I get up to go to the bathroom. Then there are the ones who will look at it occasionally throughout the night. These are the ones that really send your psyche through hoops. You feel like you have developed a good rapport and vibe with the girl and then all of a sudden she has to go to her phone and everything comes to a halt. Maybe there really wasn’t that connection you felt. Finally, there are the blatant violators who just don’t care and who will spend 75% of the time on their phone. I don’t stand for this.  I will call these rude people out and ask what is so important on their phone. If they can’t give me an answer along the lines of a family emergency I will let them know how I feel and then most likely pull my phone out for the duration of our time together.

Now I understand that just because a girl is on her phone does not necessarily mean that she is not interested in me. Conversely, I understand that just because she is not on her phone that it does not mean that she is interested in me. But come on, let’s just go back to the respect issue. No matter if you are in love with the guy or repulsed by him, just give him the decency of your undivided attention. Your phone, your texts, and your games will still be there at the end of the night.

Our society is chock-full of distractions. Many times, it is men who fall into the trap and let their attention be swayed by less important stimuli. We have a lot of work to do to improve. So while we chip away at the thousand things we need to do to get better, I am asking all females to focus on putting your phones down while you are out on your next date or just engaging in a ten  minute discussion. It would make us guys feel much more appreciated and significant. Thanks. Don’t Blink.

Player Heckling

I tend to write about fans a lot. I have taken on armchair fans, drunk fans, cyber fans, and uniformed fans. The irony is that some of these groups really are not “fans” at all but for the sake of clarity I am giving them much more credit than they deserve. Tonight, I want to talk about a different type of “fan”….the heckler.

Let me start by saying that I don’t have a 100% stance either for or against heckling. Rather, I have strong opinions on different situations and with the people involved in the heckling.  So while I am a little wishy-washy when it comes to my overall attitude to the art, I am completely onboard when it comes to the appropriateness of it in the many different forums of athletics. Let me explain.
I think heckling is fair game for high school and college students at the athletic competitions in which they are cheering on their classmates.  School spirit for a student centers on cheering for your own team while also making your presence known to the opposing team. Intimidating, baiting, and getting in the heads of opposing players is a part of the game when it comes to the high school/college experience.  It is also a way to unite a student body. It takes effort, coordination, and willingness for students who go to athletic events to band together and engage in effective heckling to have an impact. Many of the premiere college basketball teams have student bodies that rehearse before games just to make sure everyone is on the same page. Chants are planned out, cues are known by all. As long as heckling/chants/cheers are cleaver and in decent enough taste, I have no problem with students heckling other students.
I also feel heckling is legit at the major league level of sports (NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, etc) by any fan who is a diehard, loyal supporter of a certain team. Some of these pro sports fans are absolutely insane. They eat, sleep, and breathe everything about their favorite team and many of them would sacrifice their families for championships. These types of fans have earned the right to insult and yell at the opposing multi-million dollar athletes their team happens to be playing that day. Along with the major league level, I feel everyone has the right to heckle any athlete who happens to behave on or off the court in a shameful , inexcusable, or entitled way. If an athlete assaulted his wife, heckle him. If an athlete choked his coach, heckle him. If an athlete put down an entire city or group of people, heckle him. If an athlete made a mockery of your city by making a “Decision” on national television, heckle him.
Unfortunately, many people heckle who have no business heckling. By the time you graduate from college, much of the immaturity you displayed over the past several years should be washed away by your diploma and the next stage of your life. When It comes to heckling, you are no longer a student yelling at another student…you are a grown adult throwing insults at someone much younger than you.
This past weekend marked the opening homestand for our local minor league baseball team, the Missoula Osprey. As usual, I looked around and noticed many dudes around my age (25) and much older screaming and hollering at the opposing team. Not only do so many of these guys yell elementary, cliché remarks, they also seem to have no idea who they  are yelling at. Many of the players who make up the short season single A Pioneer League roster are seventeen and eighteen year old kids who are making a salary that many of us could never live on. Where is the honor in belittling these players?
But besides the audacity at heckling young athletes who are just trying to chase their dream, I find something even more troubling about these people I see hooping and hollering. Many are guys who only attend a couple games a year. They have no real investment/connection to the Osprey and they sure as hell don’t have any established vendetta or beef against the opposing team. Why would they care so much to stand up and look stupid as they mockingly yell out an opposing player’s batting average? Here is the answer: They are heckling just for the sake of heckling and that is my problem.  
This problem of course does not manifest itself on just minor league baseball. It goes across all levels and sports. The same morons I see getting drunk at Osprey games and making comments about the town that someone grew up in also exhibit the exact same behavior at college games, major league level games, and, sadly, high school contests. They feel that a ticket entitles them to act like jerks. Sure they want to impress their girlfriend, make their buddies laugh, sound like they know what they are talking about, draw attention to themselves, and get the most out of their buzz but it still means little because there is no passion or genuineness in their comments.  They don’t care about the outcome of the game but yet they continue to run their mouths.
Of course I understand that there are also the people who do have a fire burning in their hearts for their favorite college or pro team who sometimes like to yell at the opposing team a little more than they should. Remember my rules for major league sports? If you are a legitimate diehard or if a player has done something to offend others, go ahead and heckle. However, if there is really no good reason to insult an opposing professional athlete just don’t do it. Why waste negative energy? But please lay off screaming at opposing amateur athletes.  Let the student section do their job. What business does a forty-five year old have calling out a college freshman?
There is a time and place for heckling. Unfortunately, many of us will never be in that time or place again. Let’s accept this and conduct ourselves with class at sporting events. Realize that by keeping our mouths in check we are saving ourselves embarrassment.  Don’t Blink.

Thank Goodness: Summer in Missoula

Today marked the first day of summer and for once here in Missoula it is just not the alignment of the sun and a designation on the calendar that is verifying this fact. Looking ahead at the 10-day forecast, all I see are highs in the seventies and eighties. I see more sun graphics than cloud graphics, more blue skies and less rain. Finally! Summer is here and I couldn’t be happier.

I hear all the opinions and arguments defending the other seasons here in Missoula. Fall is the most beautiful time as leaves change colors, a refreshing crisp air rolls in, students come back on campus, and football season takes over. Winter is a time that defines the toughness of Montanans, it is ski/snowboard season, an excuse to eat hot comfort food and guzzle down hot chocolate.  Then there is spring, an entrancing period of new life, flowers bloom, animals have babies, grass starts to turn green.
I could care less.
For me, it is all about summer. You could take all of the attributes of the seasons above and combine them all into one mega season and I would still take summer. I love the heat and in a town like Missoula where you are lucky if you only see two real hot months all year long, this time on the calendar should be coveted. I know there are people out there who like sub-zero temperatures, blowing winds, torrential downpours, and weather that changes by the minute but I don’t. Give me the sun, give me the warmth, and give me the girls in bikinis. Thank you.
Once the weather part of summer is secured, all the activities that go with it trump anything else the other seasons have to offer. Activities such as eating and drinking on the outdoor patios of some of Missoula’s great restaurants. Hiking the “M”. Riding bikes. Stopping by Big Dipper for some ice cream.
These summer-musts just scratch the surface though. Summer in the Zoo also means Missoula Osprey baseball at beautiful Ogren Park at Allegiance Field. Nothing beats the laid back atmosphere, the people watching, the cold beer, and…oh yeah…the actual baseball. I got my tickets for the first homestand starting this Friday and I can’t wait.
Summer in Missoula also means great community events. Downtown Tonight, Out to Lunch, Farmer’s Market, Roots Fest, Testy Fest, Celtic Fest, outdoor concerts, and many more such events make late June, July, and August such fun months to hang out in the Garden City.
Let’s not forget the rivers and lakes as well. Camping, floating, and swimming are all rites of passage if you spend a summer here. Nothing beats the sun beating down on your body as the cool water underneath you neutralizes the rays while you down a beverage.
Summer in Montana also means long nights, beautiful sunsets, and breathtaking night skies. We have it so lucky here in Missoula. Summer nights in this state have provided me with some of the best memories of my life. Hanging out with friends while watching the sun set at 10pm is a special experience.
But the best part of summer in Missoula is the relaxation factor. Because most of the students leave the town for the summer and many townsfolk relocate to other areas, the city is just less busy and more mellow. This time of year makes people more care-free and, in my opinion, happier. Work is the slowest for me at this time so I get to enjoy myself with very little stress. I get to use vacation time and get away from the office a little. It is a time to get rejuvenated.
Welcome back, summer!! I am so glad you are here, please stay as long as possible. Hope everyone had a wonderful summer solstice and are ready for the next several awesome weeks that are to come. Don’t Blink.

Five Days of Life

I have enjoyed the last five days hanging out with my friends. While working out today, I reflected on the past several days and realized that I could kind of pull a certain story from each night that kind of defined that particular evening. Let me warn you now, there is nothing too overly exciting…well maybe one of the stories…but I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up. Basically, I have just lived my life recently and am deciding to write about it for tonight’s post. Hope you don’t get too bored!

Wednesday, June 13: Trivia Victory

This past Wednesday, a group of us went to the Broadway (Restaurant/bar in Missoula) for all you can eat wings and trivia. For only $9, you can gobble up as many wings as your stomach can handle while also playing in a pretty fun trivia game. While getting basket after basket of wings, we managed to hang tight in trivia. We managed to stay in the upper tier of the standings for most of the game. However, when the final round came along, it looked as if we would not leap frog into first place. Because of this, we all paid our tabs. The last round, the “music round”, came and went. We hung around just to see where we ended up.  Well, wouldn’t you know it? We actually did know our music pretty well and once the results flashed on the bar televisions, there was our team name, #Winning, sitting all alone in the number one spot. We had just won a $50 bar tab and none of us had a tab open. We remedied that situation and asked our server to bring us out $50 worth of Fireball shots. The Broadway staff was more than happy to help us consume the plethora of shots.

Our team, #Winning, won trivia.
Thursday, June 14: Making Friends at Downtown Tonight

During Thursdays during the summer, Caras Park in Missoula holds “Downtown Tonight,” a great community event that features food, beer, and live music. The food choice is always amazing and when the weather is decent, the fun to be had is pretty remarkable. This past Thursday, my friend Chris, my co-worker/friend Jimmy, and myself invaded Caras Park. While chowing down on gumbo and distributing business cards for Jimmy’s new BBQ restaurant, we also met a couple different groups of really cool people. First off, we met two girls working a booth ran by a very successful real estate agent here in town who we all know from work. As successful people usually do, they hire intelligent and motivated people who will in turn be successful in the long run. This was definitely the case with the two girls that Diane (real estate agent) had working her booth. Just a little ways from the real estate table, there was a wood oven pizza stand ran by three girls around the age of twenty-three. One of the girls happened to actually start the business. This girl hired two of her friends to help her run the business (it is called Ciao Bella Wood Fired Pizza…check it out next time) and the rest is history, they completely sold out of pizza on Thursday night.

So we got to know both groups of these girls pretty well. Once Downtown Tonight ended and everything was packed up, it just so happened that Chris, Jimmy, and myself found ourselves sitting on a patio deck of a popular restaurant with both groups of girls, Diane, and the dad of the girl who runs the pizza business. Don’t think I said this above, but all the girls were beautiful. We had a great time visiting and getting to know each other. Anytime you can enjoy an evening where you network with similarly minded young professionals who also happen to be very attractive you know that you did not have a bad night.
Diane with her two workers.
Friday, June 15: Sucker Punched

On Friday night, Chris, Dan, and I were at the Iron Horse (yet another established restaurant in Missoula). The Iron Horse has two levels, connected by a staircase. The staff closed down the upper half of the restaurant that the three of us happened to be in. As we made our way down the stairs, there was a big commotion just a few feet away from the bottom of the steps. A troubled and very intoxicated guy in probably his late forties was giving the Iron Horse staff problems as they were trying to get him to leave the place. Not wanting to get mixed in with the unfortunate scene, we veered to the left to completely avoid the confrontation. Well, that night my red and white striped Where’s Waldo shirt must have attracted just a little too much attention because as I walked by looking straight ahead away from the scene, I was the recipient of a sucker punch to my jaw.

The moment the blow connected with my face, no fewer than four Iron Horse staff members mobbed the dude, carried him out with his legs kicking, and threw him into the parking lot. The whole place watched the scene as the 86’d individual tried to get up, only to fall backwards. His friend who was beyond fed up with his actions took the guy’s shoe and started beating him with it. The place erupted in laughter. The Iron Horse staff was very professional and sympathetic to me about the whole situation. They said they had never seen an unprovoked attack like that before. I told them not to worry, they took care of the problem immediately. After all, it was really no big deal at all…the guy couldn’t throw a decent hard punch if his life depended on it.
Moments after getting sucker punched Jessie pointed out the point of contact.
Saturday, June 16: A Great Meal on the House

Friday night, Dan and I played in the Bingo game at the Lucky Strike. Dan happened to win one of the rounds and in addition to some cash he also got a coupon good for two free dinners in the bowling alley’s connected restaurant. We decided to cash in the coupon on Saturday night. The card was good for two dinners, two drinks, and two desserts. We sat down in the empty restaurant with a killer air conditioning system and just enjoyed a free meal. Our entrees came with either soup or salad and I chose the former which was meatball soup! I had never tried such a thing before but it was delicious. Next, our dinners came. I got steak and mashed potatoes while Dan got the steak and shrimp combo. Even though we probably could have passed, we couldn’t refuse the free dessert. I got a giant brownie topped with ice cream and whipped cream while Dan got caramel cheesecake. We enjoyed every bite of our food along with every drink of our bottomless Coca-Colas. Getting a hearty, good tasting free meal every once in a while is not so bad.

Dan digs into his dinner at Lucky Strike.
Sunday, June 17: Seeing an Old Friend

On Sunday late afternoon I got to see an old friend who I had not seen in person since the Miranda Lambert concert way back in October. A lot had changed since that last encounter and unfortunately it was not for the better. Ellie lost her dad in January, an experience that I can’t even begin to comprehend. She came up with her mom from Kalispell for a day of shopping. When they finished hitting the Missoula shopping spots, they invited me out to one of my favorite restaurants in Missoula, Johnny Carino’s. We visited and caught up and had a really nice time. After I ate every bite of my five meat Tuscan pasta, I got to taste some of what Dan ate last night as the three of us split a piece of cheesecake. I was honored that I got to spend some time with Ellie and her mom on what had to have been a very tough Father’s Day for both of them.

Ellie and I at Carino’s earlier today.
I look forward to what this next week has to hold. Hopefully I will continue to have good times with my friends, meet more new people, and not get punched in the face. We shall see. Don’t Blink.

Tom Dooley’s Review – Missoula

This evening I finally got to try the place that I had literally counted down the days until it opened its doors to the Missoula community. My anticipation for the opening of this joint exceeded my excitement for the debut of any other business that I can ever remember opening in the area (with the exception of maybe Hooters). Tonight I ate dinner at Tom Dooley’s, a gourmet hot dog shop located on east Broadway right next to the Campus Inn.

As a huge hot dog fan, something really delights me about the prospect of a restaurant that specializes in just that…hot dogs. When the place happens to be a one-of-a-kind, local establishment it just makes it that much better. When I walked through the doors of Tom Dooley’s with an empty stomach earlier this evening, I was ready for business.
The storefront of Tom Dooley’s
The set up is simple at TD’s. You walk through the doors and the main counter is right in front of you. A black board hanging behind it creatively presents the menu in a variety of different colored chalk. To the right of the counter (from the vantage point of the customer) is a sectioned off area where the “hot dog artists” prepare your order. To the left is where the narrow but long seating area begins, complete with high tables and low tables. The soda fountain is right at the beginning of the seating area, the single unisex restroom at the end.
The ordering process is even simpler than the set up. A very nice and attractive young lady took our order. As first timers we kind of stumbled through what we wanted, making tweaks here and there. She got every detail and simply told the hot dog artists a generic word for each item we ordered (i.e. “dog”, “brat”, “fry”, “tot”). We went and sat down at a table and within two minutes, the nice TD’s worker brought us our food. Everything was exactly how we ordered it, every sauce accounted for. Not bad for a new business with new employees.
The set up inside Tom Dooley’s

Because I wanted to try both varieties and because I am a pig, I ordered both a brat and a hot dog. I selected “The Fargo” brat and “The Cowboy Luau” hot dog. My main man and eating partner, Money Mike, ordered the “Shout Bamalama” hot dog. We also got sweet potato tater tots.

A nice look at the food we got at Tom Dooley’s

“The Fargo” is a brat that came on a pretzel bun with pepper jack cheese and sautéed onions. As  I ate it, I generously dipped it in their volcanic radish sauce and their special BBQ sauce. What stuck out to me first was just not the warmth of the brat but also the warmth of the bun. Mind you, it is not a regular bun from a sack at Albertsons, it is a high quality pretzel bun. Anyway, every part of “The Fargo” was at the same temperature, the pepper jack cheese was perfectly melted on both the brat itself and the bun, and the sautéed onions topped it off. So the presentation and temperature of the brat was perfect, how about the taste? It was good! The freshness of the bun and quality of the brat contributed to a very positive taste. The pepper jack cheese was pleasantly noticeable and the sauces brought out extra flavor. The onions were so-so with many of them falling from the brat/bun and into the boat tray.

“The Cowboy Luau” is a hot dog that was served smothered in BBQ sauce and then topped with grilled pineapples! The original Cowboy Luau also comes with relish but I requested that they hold it. I had never tried a hot dog with pineapples before so I did not know exactly how it would taste, but it worked. I found it very tasty and once again, just like the brat, the temperature of both the bun and the dog were the same. The hot dogs definitely have a much more BBQ-type taste than the brats so that is probably what you want to base your decision on when deciding between the two. Or, you can just do what I did and order both.
I love you Tom Dooley’s! I gobbled down both my brat and hot dog in no time.
Maybe the best part of the whole dinner though was the sweet potato tater tots. The small, reddish-brown gems tasted amazing. You would eat a couple and you would get that clean, sweet potato taste and then you would eat a couple more at the bottom and you would still get the sweet potato taste but added in would be a pinch of what I made out to be cinnamon-sugar. Although Mike ordered them for himself, I pretty much ate the whole order. Speaking of Mike, his dog, “The Shout Bamalama,” came with cole slaw, BBQ sauce, and french fries! I had not seen french fries on a sandwich since I visited Pittsburgh last year. Mike said it was good but he was too busy talking about sports and the new Adam Sandler movie coming out for me to get much more out of him.

The final breakdown on Tom Dooley’s? It is a well-organized, clean spot to pick up a bite to eat. The food quality is good. Both the brats and hot dogs run around $5 with the brats being about twenty-five cents more if I remember correctly. One thing to keep in mind is that you pay the $5 price for quality, not quantity. The hot dogs/brats are not gigantic. In fact, they are regular size. Before going in I guess I kind of envisioned sausages more along the size of what Costco serves…this is not the case. Because of the size and because of the atmosphere and quick production of the food, I recommend visiting Tom Dooley’s for lunch. For someone like me, if you were to order a single hot dog for dinner you might leave the place still a little hungry. For lunch, it is perfect. Idea wise, the place is awesome. Missoula definitely did not have a gourmet hot dog place before but now it does. I am just hoping that the city likes the idea as much as I do because I would love to see it be successful.  Don’t Blink.

2012 NBA Finals

Tomorrow night the Miami Heat will visit the Chesapeake Energy Arena to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in game 1 of the NBA Finals. While Oklahoma City could be a larger market, I don’t think the league can complain too much about this matchup. From a fan’s point of view, what more could you want? Rising stars, storylines, and exciting styles of play define this series. Buckle your seat belts, it is going to be a fun ride.

Now it should be a crime that I even have the nerve to make a prediction in this series after my disastrous prognostication of last year’s Finals but I want to see if I can redeem myself (or embarrass myself further). Neglecting to make some radical call or to go outside the  box, I am very conservatively going to say that the Thunder will defeat the Heat in seven games.
I think each team will “hold serve” and win each game on their respective courts, with OKC ultimately winning the championship because of home court advantage. I just don’t see either team taking one from the other on their home court. The Thunder enjoy the best fans and best atmosphere in the NBA. The Heat enjoy the best home court edge. What do I mean by home court edge? The Heat, and especially Lebron, get every single call under the sun when they play in AmericanAirlines Arena. It kills me every time I watch a game.
Normally I will try to save face and predict against the team I want to win. You see, by doing this I prevent myself from becoming too disappointed with the outcome. If the team I am rooting for loses, at least I can take some solace in the fact that I “branched out” and made a decent prediction. If the team that I am cheering for wins, then who cares about my lame prediction? I am a happy camper! But I can’t split it up that way this time around. I think the Thunder will win the series.
What the Heat have going for them is experience. They played in the Finals last year. They know what the stage is all about and they know what the travel and the series format entails. They also have motivation after losing last year, especially one certain superstar who embarrassed himself when it mattered most. But hey, I am not here to rip on Lebron, I did that enough in a previous blog post. Even with these factors going in the favor of the Heat, I still like the Thunder’s chances. They have home court advantage and they have the better team. They have played against much better competition the whole playoffs and they are coming off of more rest than the Heat.
Just a few NBA Finals odds and ends before I wrap this up:
Finals TV Braodcast Team: The only reason why I would want to watch every single Finals game in a deafening loud bar is to shield my ears from the analysis of Jeff Van Gundy. Out of all the color analysts in sports, he is on my top five list of guys I despise the most. Coming off as arrogant and whiny, I have a very tough time listening to him. He has a definite agenda too. He always hated Phil Jackson and all the years he was forced to call the Lakers playoff games, that bias always came through. I would love to hear Van Gundy’s counterpart for the Conference Finals, Steve Kerr, hold down the color duties. Articulate and very intelligent, Kerr is a joy to listen to. He is also very down to earth and brings the experience of both a championship player and a GM…a much more impressive resume than an over-the-top coach who never accomplished much. Mike Breen as the play-by-play doesn’t bother me but I would still rather listen to Marv Albert. Doris Burke as the sideline reporter? Hmmmmm….she is okay, but why doesn’t ABC/ESPN throw in Erin Andrews or take Rachel Nichols off of her team assignment and have her perform the duties? Again, I might have to watch more of these games in bars than in my living room.
Why is no one talking about this?*: I have heard very little discussion about how there will always be an asterisk by the 2011-12 NBA Champion. With a 66 game season, it is really hard to say that the additional 16 games that were cut off had no positive or negative impact on the teams. But maybe that is a testament to how exciting this postseason has been. The play, the games, and the series have been superb. Maybe this has covered up that minor detail. Even if the shortened season does escape the minds of fans, it will forever be etched in history at the end of either Oklahoma City or Miami in the record books.
Lebron vs. Durant: Although I think the Lebron-Dirk matchup of last year’s Finals was a little more intriguing to me than Lebron-Durant, this year’s battle should be very entertaining. Besides, Lebron and Durant will probably end up guarding each other for the majority of the series as opposed to Lebron on Dirk last year. Vegas has Durant winning the Finals MVP with 1/1 odds but Lebron has the second best odds at 2/1. I expect Lebron to show up at this year’s Finals (well, until at least the end of each game) and I see it as a series where Durant will get the best of Lebron one night and then King James will get the best of Durant the next night.

I am ready for tomorrow night. Ratings are projected to be high and it seems like I personally know a lot more people who are drawn into the NBA Finals this year. Please e-mail me/text me/Facebook me your Finals predictions. Who will it be? Thunder or Heat? Don’t Blink.

Posting Food Pictures on Social Media

Throw out social media drama, forget Facebook statuses about raising money for impoverished children, and don’t worry about the constant sharing/posting of generic memes. There is something that draws the ire of people perhaps even more than any of the above listed social media no-nos.

What am I talking about?
Talk to anyone half way literate in social media and there is a good chance that they will lambast the person who finds it necessary to post a food picture. Many people cringe at the social media user who snaps a picture of his/her plate of food, quickly writes a caption of what it is/where it comes from usually followed by a “YUM”, and then posts it for all to see. Critics of this practice seem to hate it for several different reasons. Some say it is weird. Some say it is bragging. Some say it is unimportant. Some say it is stupid. Some say it is spam-like. Many say it is all five of these things.
With the proliferation of IPhones, new social media sites, and enhanced photo editing programs, sharing food pictures over the past couple of years has really exploded. It is very easy to do…maybe a little too easy to do. I think this ease of posting food pictures is the problem, not the general act. Many people post food pictures without restraint or without consideration of what social media outlet they submit to. It is this negligence that has enabled food pictures to get a little out of control and for many people to get very frustrated.
Everyone loves a family food picture!!

Food pictures have a time and place, just like any other piece of content on social media sites. Something that works great for Facebook does not mean it works great for Twitter.  Something that works great for Instagram does not always work great for Facebook. As I am quite fond of preaching, take very special care not to post the exact same content simultaneously through multiple social media outlets. Not only is there not a perfect translation between different SM outlets, it is also just a sign of laziness. What is escalating this food picture problem so much are the people who use their iPhones to quickly take a picture of their dinner, filter it through their photo sharing app, and then check the option to share it across every single one of their social media accounts.

There is absolutely no reason to consistently share your food pictures on your Facebook wall. There is also no need to constantly tweet out photos of your latest meal either. What you are about to shove down your face is simply not important enough to clog your friends’ newsfeeds with. Constantly posting these photos is not just annoying for your friends, it also dilutes your own personal content. Facebook is such an amazing personal branding resource, use it to showcase selling points about yourself, not to take up space with a picture of the greasy hamburger you are about to eat.
Probably one of the most cliche food pictures is the “holiday meal” snap shot.

Believe me, I am not saying that food pictures need to be completely banned from Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes, you will come across a meal that is deserving of the prime real estate on your Facebook wall or your Twitter timeline. When you do take a picture of that gigantic birthday cake your girlfriend made you as a surprise or you are in Mexico and about to dig into a platter of fajitas that still has the steam rushing from it, go ahead and share! Once in a while is fine, multiple times each day is not.

For those of you who can’t resist sharing your more mundane food pictures on Facebook, let me offer a suggestion: Incorporate them into a general album with a bunch of other pictures. For example, when I go on vacation I usually come back with some food pictures. However, I post them at the same time as I post 190 other pictures. This makes it so I don’t have a ridiculous spot on my Facebook devoted to some spaghetti dish and it fights against angering the people who don’t want to see a random food photo on their newsfeed.
If you love food photos and don’t have Instagram yet, you must really not love food photos. In my opinion, Instagram is a totally legitimate social media outlet to post any and all food photos you desire. This service is all about posting both the unique and everyday things of life. With all the effects/filters that Instagram offers, you can make food look really cool. I make no apologies about posting my food pictures on this outlet because that is what it is there for. It is the antithesis of Facebook and the rules are much different. Just make sure to refrain from making the all-too-easy mistake of turning the Facebook button to “on” when posting to Instagram.
Before closing out, as a person who does enjoy taking pictures of food, I would like to try to explain the appeal to everyone out there who despises the practice. Many of us take pictures for the memories. Well, for us people who take pictures of food, we are doing nothing more than recording memories as well. Upon looking at a photo of a meal I ate two years ago, my mind will be flooded with memories of where I ate it at, who I ate it with, what was going on while I ate it, and of course, how it tasted. Yes, a simple picture of a plate of food can bring out so many details and memories. Also, for many, food is a thing of beauty. As a guy who loves food, I also like pictures of food. I like the way food is presented, the colors it contains, the size it is. I understand, many people could care less. But for people like me, it turns out to be a great picture. Taking pictures of food also serves as a great comparison tool as well. In the past few months, I have probably taken ten pictures of different macaroni and cheese dishes. I am working on a project where I will create a montage of all these different mac and cheeses…it is going  to be very cool.
Me with one of my many mac and cheese dishes. This one is from Albuquerque!

As always, think hard before posting something onto social media. Don’t just think on a personal level but rather think about how everyone else will react when they see what you post. If the worst thing you ever do on social media is post too many pictures of what you eat, you are really not doing too bad. But it never hurts to clean up a little bit and be even better. Bon Appetit. Don’t Blink.

Treat Your Waiter Right

I have wanted to write this post for quite a while now but this past weekend really motivated me to write it tonight.

Last Saturday I was at a popular Italian restaurant in Spokane. The place was packed, every single seat was taken. At a table right by us sat a group of around eight people, six males and two females. Because they were so loud, I got to hear much of the interaction between them and their server. These people were beyond rude as they never once said “please” or “thank you”, constantly ordered out of turn, complained about prices, and demanded a new bread basket every five minutes. I became embarrassed myself when the food handling staff came out with their entrees and as half the table yaked on their cell phones and the other half just didn’t care, the poor servers had to ask over and over who had ordered what. This is how it went: “Okay guys, chicken parmigiana….who had the chicken parmigiana?…..Chicken parmigiana?….who here ordered the chicken pamigiana?….Chicken parmigiana going once, going twice….” Again, it was just an eight person table. There was not a communication barrier, the table was just acting rude. As each ordered entrée went through this painful process, I had to use all my restraint not to say anything. Our tab came and we paid so I did not see the further shenanigans that I know occurred after we left.
That night I got to hang out with my friend who is one of the top servers at the busiest Red Robin in the state of Washington. Having just got off of a shift, she told me about a few of the tables she had that night that exemplified classlessness. Much of what she told me sounded familiar to a lot of the other stories I hear about customers from my other friends who hold waitressing jobs. This type of behavior from customers is inexcusable.
Serving is a tough job. Restaurants are very stressful places to work at with lots going on, lots to keep track of, and lots of people to accommodate. Many servers are tremendously overworked and dealing with much more than what they should. It is also a type of profession where when one thing goes wrong, several other things pile on top of it. Mistakes are magnified and great work is often overlooked. Many times us customers don’t realize what servers are up against when we sit down at that booth or table.
I never understood how people can treat their server with anything less than respect. An automatic sense of appreciation and gratitude should immediately be bestowed on the individual who is taking care of you for the evening. Your server is providing you a special service, show them the consideration and thoughtfulness they deserve for waiting on you hand and foot.
I form impressions and judgments on people based on how they treat three different groups: the elderly, children, and servers. When I go out to dinner with a girl, I watch very closely on how she treats the server. Nothing turns me off faster than when a girl shows the waiter/waitress little or no manners. Don’t  act like you are above or better than the person waiting on you. They are your server, not your servant. The moment someone belittles or looks down on a server I get very embarrassed and want to disassociate myself from that person. I will usually cover myself by mouthing “I’m sorry” to the server and then going out of my way to be extra nice to him/her for the duration of the meal, ending in an even bigger tip than normal. For the hard work and valuable service that a waiter provides, there is absolutely no excuse to not treat him/her with the utmost respect. Conversely, when someone I am with makes the job easy on the server, they immediately further my interest in them.
We need to treat servers right. We need to do our part to make their job easy on them. People with low self-esteem feel that they have every right to run their waiter through the gauntlet and make their life hell. Don’t portray yourself as a low-life. Going out to eat should be a fun experience. Nothing sucks fun out of an experience more than when others bring down the people who are trying to do their best to provide you with a quality evening.
Finally, be sure to tip well. When in doubt, remember it is much better to be remembered as someone who tips too much as opposed to someone who tips too little. Servers work for tips, they depend on the generosity of customers. Always keep in mind the context of which the server waited on your table. If he/she was a little slow getting to your table by all means look around at the restaurant and if it is packed show a little mercy and still reward that server with a decent tip. When the meal is done, the customer gets the honor of leaving the lasting impression. Why not make it a good one? Show the server that you valued him/her. It is worth the extra $10. Don’t Blink.
Two other posts dealing with serving:

More Fun With Condescending Wonka

Last month I published a post about the Condescending Wonka meme phenomenon that has overtaken the social media world and provided lots of people with funny, sarcastic commentary on everyday life. Although prominent in almost every SM network, Condescending Wonka has found no greater success than through Twitter. Basically with the 160 character format and instantaneous nature of the service, Twitter was made for parody accounts such as Wonka.

Since I last wrote on Condescending Wonka about forty days ago, the craze has just gotten bigger and bigger. While more and more duplicate accounts of the all-encompassing general Condescending Wonka theme pop up, there are now specific Twitter Wonka accounts for just about every possible subject you could think of. In addition to there being a CW account that plays off every single sport under the sun, there are also Wonka accounts that take on rock music, cooking, Las Vegas, redneck living, modeling, and more. Also, pretty much every college has a condescending account that pokes fun at the norms and traditions of life on campus. Many people say these accounts have gotten out of control and I would tend to agree a little bit but I still find them pretty funny.
For tonight’s post I am going to take five areas that either interest me or that I identify with and turn them into Condescending Wonka accounts! I am then going to give you five tweets from each of my created accounts. Without further adieu, let the comedy begin:
Condescending Blog Wonka  @BloggingWonka
Oh, you blog professionally? Who hosts your site, Blogger?
Oh, you like to blog in a way that showcases your passion? You can almost see that fire through all of your grammar and spelling errors.
Oh, your profile says that you are a dedicated blogger? Nothing attests to that more than the two posts you have written over the past seven months.
Oh, you would like to blog for a living? How noble of you, most people would die if they were forced to write a full 500 words a day.
Oh, you are an established blogger? Who is your editor, yourself?
Condescending Sports Marketing Wonka  @WonkaMarketingSports

Oh, you created a Facebook event for the upcoming game? Uh-oh, better prepare for a capacity crowd overflowing into the lobby.

Oh, your attendance numbers went up for baseball? Good thing that was all of your genius marketing plan and not the team’s undefeated season.
Oh, you played Zombie Nation at the game and the fans got into it? You are a revolutionary, that song has never been played in a stadium before.
Oh, you just became a member of NACMA? Just let the employers come to you, you should have a high-paying sports marketing job in no time.
Oh, you put on a Pink Game this year? Your originality is unlike anything this industry has ever seen.

Condescending Catholic  Wonka  @OhCatholicWonka

Oh, you just responded with “and also with you” instead of “and with your spirit”? Everyone around you can tell you are a dedicated Catholic.
Oh, you read the bulletin during the priest’s sermon? Your skills of multi-tasking and showing respect are so admirable.
Oh, you made it to mass on Easter? Consider your church obligation done for the year.
Oh, you like to recite all of the prayers and responses two seconds faster than everyone else? Looking like a dumbass must get you more points in Heaven.
Oh, you actually made it to Ash Wednesday mass? Please wear your ashes around all day and brag about everything you are giving up for lent.
Condescending Gym  Wonka  @WorkOutWonka
Oh, you talk on your cell phone at the gym? You just command respect from everyone else in the facility.
Oh, you work out on bench every single day? You inspire me with how hard you challenge yourself.
Oh, you like to grunt and yell whenever you do a set? You must just hate all the attention you get when people look over at you.
Oh, you never rack your weights when you finish at a machine? Good call, I hear that being discourteous makes your muscles grow much faster.
Condescending Bar  Wonka  @DrinkToThisWonka
Oh, you snap and whistle at the bartender to serve you? I hear that employees love being treated like animals, expect your drinks ASAP.
Oh, you stiffed the bartender after you ordered a round of drinks? Surely they will bend over backwards for you the rest of the night.
Oh, you got eighty-sixed from the bar last night and showed up again tonight?  Perseverance is key.
Oh, you like to steal bar glasses? Your courage is just so badass.
Oh, you threw up all over the bar the other night? Be sure to keep going there, you don’t remember it so the staff won’t either.

Well there you have it! Hopefully you enjoyed my Condescending Wonka proposed accounts. If you have any ones that you would like to add to these categories, I would LOVE IT if you tweeted them to me (@BrentR7) or posted them on my Facebook. These are also now fair game for someone to take and make an actual account on Twitter. Who knows, maybe it will take off! Don’t Blink.