Church, Monte, Work, Gangsters, Typhoon

Good evening, everyone. Usually I end my posts by saying this but let me start one off with it for once: Thanks for reading my blog! I appreciate your loyal dedication to reading what I have to say and I always enjoy the feedback you give me via text messaging and in face-to-face passing. You guys are awesome.

Tonight I want to go through five topics to give you the typical rundown of what is going on in my mind and in my life.

Complete Transparency: I go to church at St. Francis Xavier, an absolutely gorgeous place of worship here in Missoula. Part of the reason why I choose to go here is because of the traditional, pre-Vatican II type feel I get when I walk inside. However, a very small part of what gives this church that feel will disappear this week. During the announcements during this past Sunday evening’s mass, Father notified us that windows would be installed inside the confessionals. Because of some terrible and vicious false allegations against members of the St. Francis clergy in the past year and with just the overall state of abuse allegations worldwide in the church, this move is being made to offer protection to both the parish staff and to parishioners. To me I find this very sad yet I understand why St. Francis is doing it.

Do-or-Die for Monte: The regular season of the 2013 Mascot Challenge is winding down and Monte is going to have to finish strong to make the playoffs. With two weeks left, he most likely will have to win out. Currently he is part of a group of three mascots who hold identical records of 6-4 and occupy the 6th-8th places of the standings. The competition takes eight mascots to the playoffs. However, there are three other mascots right under that 6-4 group who hold 5-5 records. If Monte loses, one of those mascots will surely take the playoff spot he now occupies. This week Monte is up against Wilbur T. Wildcat from Arizona. Next week he tangles with the Hokiebird from Virginia Tech. Monte should win this week. That would set up a battle for his playoff life against the 7-3 bird next week. Please vote for Monte at .

Five Events in Five Days: This is the busiest time during the calendar year to work in intercollegiate athletics with the overlapping of fall and winter sports. Case in point this past week. Wednesday through Sunday I worked five straight Griz Athletics events. Our Griz basketball team played Wednesday evening, our women’s basketball team played on Thursday, our volleyball team played Friday and Saturday evenings, and our women’s basketball team concluded the madness with a matinee game on Sunday afternoon. Wednesday through Saturday were 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. days for me. By the time the Lady Griz disposed of MSU Northern at around 4 p.m. on Sunday I was ready for a break. Although fatigued I had a great time watching our teams go 4-1 during that span and I got to enjoy a nice day off on Monday.

Dang It Feels Good to be a Gangsta: I am on a bit of a gangster kick. Last Tuesday I watched “American Gangster” with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe for the first time from start to finish. Great movie! Last night I picked up where I left off on Tuesday and I stayed up until 2 a.m. watching the “Gangsters: America’s Most Evil” series on A&E. Starting at 11 p.m. I watched three of the hour long episodes chronicling some of the baddest and most violent people to ever roam the streets of this country. Learning about how these people rose to the top and then how they came crashing down is fascinating. Even though it is a show on cable TV, you get exposed to some very grisly images and some ear covering descriptions so if you do end up watching based off of my recommendation, please know that you have been warned.

Typhoon Haiyan: Can we all pause for one second and say a prayer that we live in a part of this world where we are free from unfathomable natural disasters? I have a tough time comprehending the damage that these outbursts of rage inflicted by Mother Nature do. Besides the shots of pure destruction we see on television, how can anyone see past that 10,000 number? Yeah, as in 10,000 people wiped out. How does a region deal with that? How can you go about your day after seeing the streets littered with bodies? I complain about the snow we get in Montana but something like what happened in the Philippines always makes me feel like a little baby.
That’s my rundown for this week. Can you believe it will already be Wednesday tomorrow? Thanks again for reading and love life. Don’t Blink.

Veterans’ Day 2013

My dad has had a long career working for United States veterans and currently serves in the administration at the Spokane Veterans Affairs Hospital. Because of my dad’s career choice I was raised to always respect and appreciate the people who have put their lives on the line to defend the richest freedoms that any human being on this planet could ask for. Besides my dad’s influence, brave members of my extended family who honorably served our country also resonate within me and remind me of how indebted I am to the men and women who have fought for the founding principles of this country.

I grew up going to Veterans’ Day presentations, I grew up talking to my relatives about military service and the horrors of war. I thought I appreciated all what our past and present service people had done for us. I thought I got it. However, it took a trip to our nation’s capital to really realize the sacrifice and price that had been paid for our freedoms.

During my junior year of high school my dad took me on a very memorable trip to Washington D.C. to really get a grasp of my American roots. We did everything from the monuments to the museums to the cathedrals. We walked past the White House, walked on the steps of the Supreme Court, watched Congress in session, saw the newly constructed 9/11 museum, and walked through the National Mall. For a history buff like me, my eyes were wide open the entire time. It was an awesome experience, one that I will never forget.

However, the part of the trip that will forever be engrained inside my mind and in my heart came when we visited Arlington National Cemetery. We got off the metro and after just taking a few steps you could see it. Rows and rows of white tombstones poking out of the earth and expanding further than the eye could see. As we got onto the cemetery grounds and started looking around a thick aurora of reverence engulfed me. Although other tourists were all around me there was no noise whatsoever. We were on the hallowed grounds of where close to a half million people were buried, people who had the courage and inclination to give up their lives so someone like me could live a comfortable life with invaluable freedoms. It was an absolute overwhelming experience.

Myself at Arlington National Cemetery in 2003.

Myself at Arlington National Cemetery in 2003.

A blog post will never come close to scraping the surface of how much we owe to our veterans. I could have provided a more fitting offering by serving myself but I never had the guts to do so. That is why it is imperative for people like me to give extra respect to veterans and to this country. Many of us have received so much but have given so little. Happy Veterans Day. Don’t Blink.

Goodbye Jimmy Gibson

This evening I said goodbye to a co-worker and friend who is moving back to his home state on Thursday. In tribute to him because it was always the way he did things, I performed a “Montana Exit*” at the popular Missoula restaurant where his going away celebration was taking place without really even saying goodbye. I figured I would save that for this blog post.

Tonight I said goodbye to my good friend, Jimmy Gibson.

Tonight I said goodbye to my good friend, Jimmy Gibson.

When I got hired at Grizzly Athletics a little over four years ago, Jimmy Gibson was coming up on his one year anniversary with the athletic department in his position as the Assistant Athletic Director for Business and Finance. He had arrived in Missoula from Texas where he grew up. After some years working in the Texas A&M system he eyed the Montana position, went through the application process, and landed the “money job” as I called it. As I am sure most people would admit, Jimmy wasted no time earning a reputation as someone who liked to have fun and joke around. When you are overseeing million dollar budgets some people might automatically perceive you as someone who is always serious; someone who has no time for small talk and someone who might be a little socially aloof. If you thought Jimmy might be a little like that before meeting him you were in for a surprise.

I got to know Jimmy pretty well over time. Although I don’t really hang out with people from work that much, I would hang with Jimmy from time to time in those first couple years. In 2012 I got to be his assistant on the travel advance team for football and we got to know each other pretty well. Spending long hours on planes, rental cars, and in hotels will do that to two people. We worked well together and a strong bond of trust and friendship developed.

It was during these football trips where he would tell me about the exciting developments of his new business, Dickey’s Barbecue. Jimmy had decided to follow his dream of opening up his own restaurant franchise. I got to stand back and watch the whole process happen from when the restaurant was just a wild idea in Jimmy’s head to the opening of its doors in March of 2013. During the football season of 2012 things really started to move fast for Dickey’s and I got to see firsthand the focus and stress it takes on a person to work two full-time jobs. I gained a lot of respect for Jimmy during those autumn months of last year.

As I mentioned in the above paragraph, in March Jimmy realized his dream and opened a restaurant in Missoula that this town had never seen before. He poured his heart and soul into that business. In life when you put every ounce of your energy into something, you usually have to cut back on something else. This summer, Jimmy left Grizzly Athletics on a full-time basis to focus completely on Dickey’s. Luckily he was still nice enough to coordinate football travel and help Brynn and I tremendously as our on- field point person for football games.

This is Jimmy and I at the soft opening for Dickey's on March 20, 2013

This is Jimmy and I at the soft opening for Dickey’s on March 20, 2013

In the end, Jimmy knew that in order to maximize his personal profitability, a move back to Texas was necessary. In an example of his talents and employability, Jimmy quickly landed a job back in the athletic department at Texas A&M overseeing a hospitality facility. Mr. Gibson will once again be making crucial athletic business decisions, this time in a department much bigger than the one he was previously at. The Aggies are in good hands.

I want to wish Jimmy the best of luck in his move back to College Station. It was great getting to know him, getting to work with him, and getting to go on a few adventures with him. We send Jimmy back to his home state with his accent fully intact and his Texas pride attitude still as strong as ever. Goodbye, friend. Don’t Blink.

* A “Montana Exit” is when you secretly leave a place without telling anyone who you are with that you are leaving.

The Imagined Impact of Daylight Savings

As with an infinite amount of other things, this is a topic that has become a bigger deal because of the explosion of social media, blogging sites, and 24/7 news channels. If not for the proliferation of these mediums, daylight savings probably would not get the attention it now gets. Rather we would just pull the clocks back in November and push them forward in March. These days though we give this man-appointed, energy saving tactic lots of coverage and in my opinion we do this just to give us yet another excuse.

Personally I am sick of all the people who complain about the negative impact daylight savings has on them. Physically, emotionally, and mentally, daylight savings somehow wreaks havoc on the human body, many people say. I constantly hear the following: It ruins my precious circadian rhythm. It makes me grumpy and sad. It messes with my ability to make important decisions on work. It takes me off my “A” game.

Give me a break.

People use daylight savings as an excuse to be unproductive.

People use daylight savings as an excuse to be unproductive.

I am not disputing that the fall back part of daylight savings causes crime to spike because of extended night hours. I am not arguing that a few more car accidents occur because people have trouble driving in the dark. You won’t hear an objection from me that chronically depressed people experience a tougher go with a further reduction of natural light. But you won’t get one ounce of sympathy from me about the “hardships” of daylight savings if you are a normal, healthy person.

Even though the beginning of daylight savings is traditionally supposed to disturb the health and productivity of people more than the end of it, I couldn’t believe since Sunday all the whining I heard in person and over social media about how the fall back of the clocks had done a real number on them. People couldn’t sleep, they couldn’t stay awake, they couldn’t rest, they couldn’t focus, they couldn’t function. Pretty much every excuse for just not giving 100% was given. Nonsense.

I don’t know if this is a placebo effect in action or if people really are just looking for a major crutch to slack off. A couple days before daylight savings hits there is always the extensive media coverage detailing how it is normal to feel certain symptoms relating to the gain/loss of an hour. Then 2 a.m. comes around and social media users start posting about how exhausted they are and how much they hate daylight savings. Do people take in this media coverage and see these status updates and then have something go off in their minds and bodies that tell them they aren’t feeling right? Or, like the second suggestion I offered, are people just looking to be downright lazy?

What I do know is that it is ridiculous for any of us to let daylight savings impact our daily lives. We gain or lose one single hour in the middle of the night twice during the year. One hour. That’s it. Most of us wouldn’t even know about this time change if it wasn’t for the media and for clocks that don’t automatically change. I am one of the biggest proponents of the human mind that you will ever find. I believe that we can accomplish and overcome anything we want as long as we have a strong mindset. If at any second we started to feel as if a symptom of daylight savings was starting to set in on our bodies we all have the capability to send waves from our brain through our system saying that the fatigue or irritability that we are feeling is absolutely false and made up. That should take care of any lame excuses.

To add one more point to the invalidity of daylight savings symptoms all one has to do is look at professions where cross country or cross continental travel is common. Professional athletes, entertainers, national politicians/ambassadors, etc. all make a living crossing time zones on a weekly, if not sometimes daily, basis. They lose and gain big chunks of time constantly, much more than a single hour twice a year. Do they complain? Do they stop working? Do they throw their hands in the air? No. They don’t make excuses and they get the job done.

In my opinion, the daylight savings fatigue/productivity factor is a myth. Even if there is some scientific data to back up small disruptions in our biological cycles, it is definitely not enough to make us unproductive zombies. We need to come up with better excuses. Don’t Blink.

A Minor Scam

On Friday afternoon I finally said enough is enough and I contacted my bank about a monthly charge that kept popping up on my online bank statement. For what had seemed like the past year, each month I had a $16.99 charge on my statement that was preceded by this description: Visa Purchase (Non-pin) Recur Tlg*shopper61256800-5264848 Ct.

For way too many months I brushed it off. I told myself that it probably was from a magazine subscription or rental insurance. Most typical months I rack up numerous different charges and as long as I don’t see anything outlandish on my online statement I don’t think too much about some random $16.99 charge that is smashed right in the middle of a bunch of different charges. Definitely laziness and a lack of attention on my part.

However, as I reviewed my account activity for October the mystery charge stood out much more than usual. You see, I tend to notice things more when instead of having 40 different charges I just have four. Bottom line, I just didn’t spend money in October. It is amazing how much less you fork out when you work every single day of the month. So with the knowledge that I had no magazine subscriptions to pay and already seeing my rental insurance charge on the statement, I decided to get to the bottom of this glaring random charge on my account. I straight up e-mailed my bank about the issue. Within just two hours they responded to me, giving me the phone number of the entity that was associated with the charge on my account. I immediately closed out of my e-mail and dialed the 1-800 number that my bank provided me….

Keep readng to see who it was who scammed me.

Keep readng to see who it was who scammed me.

“Good Evening, Shopper’s Advantage, how may I help you?” the foreign voice greeted me after the first ring.

At first I was at a loss for words. I guess I didn’t think at all in the couple seconds it took me to exit my e-mail and call the number about who might answer on the other end of the line. After a couple seconds of silence I spit out my story. I told them I had no knowledge on who “Shopper’s Advantage” was, I didn’t have the faintest clue on how I became associated with them, and I had no idea in hell how I consented to letting them take $17 from me each month.

The voice answered back: “Is this Brent Reser of (he correctly identified my address).”

“Yes it is,” I responded, knowing that my phone number was associated with my personal information.

The guy then went on a two minute tangent where he explained how I became signed up for Shopper’s Advantage while trying to get me to upgrade to some other package while sprinkling in “Mr. Reser” no fewer than a dozen different times. By the time his solicitation was over my head was spinning. Wanting to yell at him but knowing that never pays off, I told him to please cancel whatever account I had with them immediately. After that he countered with another pitch and at least six more “Mr. Resers.” Again I told him that I was uninterested and to please end any agreement I had with them. I kid you not, another scheme and additional “Mr. Resers” came my way but I am sure you want to know what Shopper’s Advantage is and how I got suckered in to giving them my money.

Shopper’s Advantage is a company that sells products online at discounted prices. For example, you can purchase items such as apparel and electronics for probably 20% less than the retail price. Of course I had no idea about this until I googled them after canceling my account. Besides learning about what the company sells upon my internet search, I also learned about the thousands of people the company has scammed. My Google search was overwhelmed with angry people describing the frustrating charges from Shopper’s Advantage.

And how I got entered into the scam? My “customer service representative” told me that when I purchased plane tickets off of Allegiant Air’s website a year and a half ago I clicked on an option that asked if I would like a rebate. I faintly remember clicking on it and then exiting after realizing that it was not legitimate. Unfortunately my initial click was enough for the information I fed to Allegiant to be transferred to Shopper’s Advantage.

After I made myself clear to the guy I was speaking to that all the persuasion and “Mr. Resers” in the world would not convince me to continue with the scam I asked him a question:

“Hey sir, could you please tell me how long I have paid this monthly charge for?”

“Sure thing Mr. Reser….you entered into this agreement in April of 2012. After your free trial ran out and charges started to incur, we got you down for 17 completed payments.”

So even though a charge of $16.99 a month is minimal, I have sadly put in a total of $288.83 to this scam over the past year and a half. Never once have I received one benefit, one product, or one mailing from this company. It pays to be attentive to your bank account activity and to take action whenever you notice something that you don’t recognize. Hopefully a $288 lesson right now will save me from an even more expensive one in the future. Don’t Blink.