Off to Iowa

Besides a very quick trip to the east coast earlier this month I have remained stationed in Missoula since late December. Now I love the town I live in but after a certain amount of time any reasonable person needs to “get out” for a little bit. Thankfully for me I will have a little weekend respite.

I busted out of work a little early today and made the 200+ mile drive to Spokane. As I sit in my parents’ recently remodeled kitchen I am passing the time until we go to our favorite Italian restaurant to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday. For a milestone occasion such as this it definitely required that I make the trip back west to join in on the festivities. After tonight’s celebration I will be traveling back in the eastward direction tomorrow, although it will be well past Missoula.

My sister turns 30 today. Happy Birthday, Miranda!

My sister turns 30 today. Happy Birthday, Miranda!

Tomorrow early morning I will hop on a plane and go to Iowa City, Iowa. I am going to the Hawkeye State to visit my friend, Carissa. As she visited me in Missoula this past February I now have the opportunity to make the return trip to her territory. I am excited as I have never been to Iowa before. I look forward to seeing a new place and making memories.

Carissa when she came and visited me in Missoula....I swear I will never use a Snap Chat photo in my blog ever again.

Carissa when she came and visited me in Missoula….I swear I will never use a Snap Chat photo in my blog ever again.

Although I hear the internet works perfectly fine in Iowa City I will not be posting to Don’t Blink during my mini vacation. Please feel free to check my Twitter account for “important updates.” If you know my sister, make sure to wish her a happy birthday. Have a great weekend everyone. Don’t Blink.

Rubbing Elbows With Five Country Music Stars

While posting my baby photos as my #ThrowbackThursday images are always fun I very seldom get blog post ideas from them. Although I get to prove to people that at one time I was semi-cute I have started to prefer posting throwbacks that aren’t over two weeks old. Why? Because I can follow it up with a post! When I featured a photo of myself with gnarly long hair in high school I received such a strong reaction that I decided to write about it. In turn, that blog post received numerous views and many more jokes at my expense.

Today I posted an even more recent photo of myself with country music star Dierks Bentley. Taken two years ago (yes, I think that qualifies as a throwback) it showed the both of us during a meet-and-greet session prior to his show in Missoula. As that photo garnered more than normal comments and likes an idea came to mind.

I am a huge country music fan. Because of my love of this genre I have attended a great deal of concerts over the past several years. At some of these shows I have even had the opportunity to meet some of the performers I listen to on the radio every single day. For tonight’s blog post I want to feature the five country entertainers I have recently met and rank them according to how genuine and nice they were. Let’s go!

5. Sunny Sweeney – The first question I can already hear all of you asking: “Who is Sunny Sweeney?” Well back in 2011 she looked to be a promising country female singer on the rise. So promising that Reba Mcentire made her an opening act on her tour. In August of 2011 my brother and I attended Reba’s show at Northern Quest, a large resort in Airway Heights, Washington. The concert venue is outside in a large grassy area. Sunny completed her set and then went to her own private tent roped off from everything. When Reba started to play my brother noticed that Sunny had emerged from her tent, crossed over the ropes, and was standing by a souvenir tent. My brother and I immediately went over to where she stood.

By the time we got to the tent a group of about five people had already surrounded her. She started to get visibly nervous. As more people approached she became more distraught and said a couple times that she couldn’t be visible when Reba was on stage. Finally someone from her team came and got her and they walked back to her private tent. Although I have no idea why she strolled over to the souvenir tent in the first place I will always remember her last words before she left: “Thanks hun.” She directed them at me when I told her nice show.

Because the situation was awkward, I only managed to get this blurry photo of Summer Sweeney (in the black with blonde hair).

Because the situation was awkward, I only managed to get this blurry photo of Summer Sweeney (in the black with blonde hair).

4. Justin Moore – I met Justin Moore in 2011 in Missoula where he opened for Miranda Lambert. My friend Fawn and I had “meet and greet” passes that enabled us to talk with Mr. Moore himself. If you don’t already know, meet and greet sessions can be about as impersonal and artificial as anything you can imagine. With that said, I compliment Justin Moore for at least putting a smile on his face for us. He talked about the elk he shot in Montana that day and how he was going to convince his wife to move to Missoula with him. The thick southern accent and his incredibly short stature are the things I remember most about him. Apparently though he remembers nothing about me! I saw him from the front row at a Blake Shelton concert about four months later and when I yelled at him he looked at me like I was crazy.

Fawn and I with Justin Moore where he opened for Miranda Lambert.

Fawn and I with Justin Moore where he opened for Miranda Lambert.

3. Dierks Bentley – Now we arrive at the man who inspired this post. After seeing him twice in concert beforehand, I finally got to actually meet Dierks Bentley in April of 2012. Like with Justin Moore it was another meet and greet situation. Even though Justin Moore was nice and gracious I felt that Dierks was just a little more genuine. He introduced himself to me and talked about taking a jeep up the Rattlesnake area in town. He complimented the beauty of Missoula and thanked me for coming out.

I met Dierks Bentley in April of 2012.

I met Dierks Bentley in April of 2012.

2. Toby Keith – I had the pleasure of seeing Toby Keith in concert at the same venue I saw Reba at. He totally rocked the show. At Northern Quest they have a large casino. My boss at the time, my brother, and myself were strolling through it a few hours after the show. At that time, the casino wasn’t too busy as some tables were occupied and others were totally empty. At one of the Three Card Poker tables with players at it I noticed something a little out of place. Two very big men were standing behind another decent sized guy sitting at the center of the table. Yep, you guessed it…Toby Keith.

The three of us went over the table trying to play it cool. My brother bought in and sat down at the table right next to Toby. I watched the action for a little bit before piping up the same way I did with Summer Sweeney by dishing out the “nice show” compliment. When Toby heard the voice he slowly looked around his shoulder, identified me as the person who had called out, and gave me a pound! He also gave my boss a pound too. We enjoyed small talk with Toby as he gambled away and drank Michelobs with his body guards and a couple band members who were also gambling. For someone of that superstar status not to mind getting bothered while gambling after a long show earned him tremendous respect from me.

1. Phil Vassar – Our former athletic director has a couple of big connections in the country music business and those connections led him to develop a friendship with country music star Phil Vassar. The friendship proved strong enough that sometimes Vassar would just randomly appear in the athletic department. I had the chance to meet him once in 2010. The guy was humble as could be. He asked my name, inquired about how I liked working for Grizzly Athletics (I was new), and talked to me about my duties. He didn’t blink an eye when I asked for a picture. He was just so relaxed and kind that it seemed like the fame had never once gotten to him.

When it comes to personality, Phil Vassar is my favorite country music star.

When it comes to personality, Phil Vassar is my favorite country music star.


Even though I don’t mind posing for a picture with a celebrity I do keep one thing in mind: they are regular people like you and me. Just some of them are better at embracing that reality than others. Don’t Blink

Road Rage, Lady Griz, Pen Update

It is that time of the week where I elaborate briefly on a few totally unrelated topics. Tonight I got three different items for you. For the sake of organization I will place them in chronological order.

1. Road Rage: Late last Saturday afternoon I entered the freeway via the Missoula Reserve entrance going east. Another car followed behind me. I managed to get on the freeway just fine as I occupied the right lane. However, for whatever reason when the other car reached the freeway from the on-ramp she decided to merge immediately into the left lane. Problem with this being there was another vehicle in that exact same spot. I watched through my rear-view mirror in a petrified state fearing a nasty collision. Luckily both drivers turned slightly away from each other and the car originally entering the freeway behind me swerved back in the right lane. Disaster averted but tempers ignited.

I watched as both cars exchanged honks and middle fingers. The car originally behind me cut off the other car in the left lane and blew past me and back into the right lane. The driver who almost got ran off the road would not be denied. He too blew past me and settled right behind the other car. Three miles down the road there is the Orange Street exit. The car that made the ill-advised mistake took it…the other car followed right behind. Because I needed to actually take the exit to reach my destination I followed as well and prepared to watch a confrontation.

At the end of the exit ramp there is a stop sign. As soon as the first vehicle reached the stop sign she put her car in park, flew open her door, and marched right to the driver’s side of the car that pulled up behind her. I watched the yelling match from inside my car for about one minute before deciding enough was enough (I was almost late for church). I got out and told the woman to just get back in her car. For whatever reason I guess I looked somewhat authoritative because the girl, who looked about my age, marched back to her car. The guy in the other car said nothing. We all took right turns and lived happily ever after.

2. Lady Griz Season Comes to an End: On Monday night our women’s basketball team hosted San Diego in the second round of the WNIT. Aided by a large and loud crowd the Lady Griz did all they could to defeat a Toreros team despite playing without a few key players. When our lone healthy senior got in foul trouble early in the first half things looked bleak. However, as they did all season long, the Lady Griz continued to compete and staged an admirable comeback that erased a ten point lead for San Diego, tying the game with a minute to play. Although Montana ended up falling 60-57 everyone knew the 2013-14 season didn’t go down in vain.

With 23 wins and a big victory over Washington State in the first round of the WNIT the Lady Griz have nothing to be ashamed about. Personally, I am thankful to the team for providing me with a couple memories. The first was witnessing Robin Selvig pick up his 800th win. I will never forget the joy on the faces of the players and on Robin himself as they huddled and celebrated at the conclusion of the milestone game. Then, to put the icing on the cake, the image of Robin Selvig addressing the crowd will always stay with me. He moved everyone in the arena to both laughter and tears as he gave credit to the players he had coached over the past three plus decades. It was a special night.

The second memory I will take with me was just the atmosphere for those two postseason games. Our fans came out to truly support the Lady Griz as they took on a couple big programs. Both nights you could feel the special energy inside the arena. No question, the most fun I had all season came during the WNIT and I am thankful to the Lady Griz for affording me the opportunity to work those bonus games.

This picture I took really captures that joy I was talking about. I love seeing Robin like this.

This picture I took really captures that joy I was talking about. I love seeing Robin like this.

3. Pen Update: Last night I wrote about the sweet custom made pens I purchased to promote my self-serving personal brand. I think because most people found my desperate attempt to look important and sophisticated so ridiculous they actually took pity on me and told me what I did was pretty cool. This morning I sent out 9 envelopes to people who texted me last night asking for a pen. Heck, even the person who always comments underneath my Facebook posts that my blog is worthless asked for one.

However, you can’t please everyone, even if it is your own mother. My mom was left scratching her head on why I would spend my money on so many pens. Even after you read our text message exchange I can assure you that she still claims to be proud of me….even though I have no idea why.

My mom usually tells me what's on her mind.

My mom usually tells me what’s on her mind.

I am hoping for a quick next couple days. I got a fun weekend planned and life is getting good. Thanks again to all my readers for your support. Don’t Blink.

My Personal Brand: Nerdiness to a New Level

This morning I read a blog post advocating that young professionals take care to present a consistent personal brand throughout all of their social media accounts. Despite my numerous faults in life I can say that this is something that I do a decent job at. I take pride in making sure that I utilize all of my personal social media channels to give my audience different content through each one while still promoting my brand and blog.

But I don’t stop pushing my consistent personal brand at a social media level. Rather I like to take it to a different, much nerdier level. I won’t sit here and lie by saying that I don’t try to acquaint people with my brand through promotional items. Before today I had premium stationary and a clothing line (okay, one t-shirt) dedicated to my blog and social media channels. Those items helped me reach an audience that doesn’t check Twitter 24/7 or own an iPhone but it wasn’t nearly enough. With my cargo that came in today via UPS I stepped everything up a notch.

Self-promotion at a totally shameful level.

Self-promotion at a totally shameful level.

Just a quick backstory before I get right to my newest item: A quirk about me that others like to make fun of is that I always carry pens with me in my pocket. Since about the age of 13 if you ever needed a writing utensil and you happened to be around me you didn’t need to scramble. You just asked me. To this day I am constantly whipping out pens for friends, co-workers, and random people to use. But I pack them more for me than for the convenience of others. I am a compulsive writer. Even though I mentioned last night that I use my iPhone notepad a lot I also jot down ideas and notes the old traditional way as well. Also, as I am a huge journaler I use ballpoint pens to write long passages every single day. Do you get it?…I use pens a lot.

When in discussion with our promotional provider rep at Grizzly Athletics, Pete, I noticed he had an interesting proposition on his e-mail signature. Advertising the special of the month it presented a very intriguing deal. For just $94.95 a customer could receive 250 custom made pens. Of course a light bulb immediately went off in my head that screamed Personal Brand + Practical Use Item + Great Deal = No Brainer. I immediately told Pete that I wanted to work with him as an individual customer for once as opposed to purchasing on behalf of my work. Within a short window of probably just 12 hours I had provided Pete with my color scheme and art work and he submitted the order.

Look how nice these turned out!

Look how nice these turned out!

Fast forward to today and I was grinning from ear to ear when I picked up a cardboard box full of my newest personal marketing item. With 262 total pens (yep, the manufacturer threw in a few extra) I knew I had to start spreading the wealth. Upon getting back to the office I distributed the blue trimmed writing utensils to my co-workers throughout the athletic department. That managed to clean me out of about 5% of my stash. With still a plethora of high quality, personal branded pens left that would take me 15 lifetimes to draw all the ink out of I know I need to find another way to get these in the hands of more people.

Read below and I will tell you how you can get one of these pens I am holding.

Read below and I will tell you how you can get one of these pens I am holding.

With that said, I would love to give my loyal readers a Don’t Blink pen. To make the request process legitimate and to protect against randos spamming this blog in island countries you must text me if you want a pen. If you don’t know my number and are not a spammer, reach out to me over social media and I will hook you up by mailing a pen off to you.

These pens work great!

These pens work great!

Thank you to Exact Image and Pete Aklestad for doing an awesome job on my order and providing me with a great product. You won’t believe how beautiful these things write. Don’t Blink.

The Five Best Built-In Apps

With over a million apps available to download via the App Store a person can download enough material to make his or her iPhone a gold mine of information, constant entertainment, and never ending communication. While my iPhone only goes three pages deep I do admit that I rely pretty heavily on several apps. However, if I didn’t have a job that centers on social media and if someone gave me $50 to delete all of my downloaded applications I could easily make do with the built-in tools that come installed on the iPhone.

Apple doesn’t drop its customers off in the middle of the desert and make them scavenge for resources. Quite the opposite actually. Luckily for us iPhone users we are pretty much set up right from the start when we activate our devices for the first time. Apple includes many valuable built-in apps that really give us all we need. Without ever visiting the App Store an iPhone without any downloaded apps will already make the user more technically advanced than 98% of the world’s population.

As I alluded to in a tweet last week I use several built-in iPhone apps religiously to get me through everyday life. In tonight’s blog post I would like to identify my top five:

1. Camera – The fact that the camera on my iPhone is my #1 most used built-in app probably comes as no surprise. With my obsession with taking photos combined with the high quality photos attainable with an iPhone most people won’t blink an eye when I tell them I have over 2,000 pictures saved on my device. I remember back in the day when a “camera phone” that could capture grainy photos if you managed to hold it completely still was a big deal. What a long ways we have come. Nowadays everyone is a photographer thanks to the powerful cameras on iphones.

Who doesn't like a camera that makes it so easy to take selfies?

Who doesn’t like a camera that makes it so easy to take selfies?

2. Alarm Clock – Thank goodness for the alarm clock feature on all iPhones! Not only is it always dependable and not only can you choose between 30 different tones to wake you up each morning but you can also add like six different alarms at once. The iPhone makes it so you never have an excuse to oversleep again. Did I mention the snooze option is great too? Not only do I use my iPhone alarm clock every single morning but I also use it throughout the day to remind me of certain events or appointments. Although I use the built-in “Night Owl” sound for most of my alarm tones I do every now and then use a song on my phone as my wake-up call (yes, I have been known to utilize Katy Perry’s “I’m Wide Awake” for this purpose).

I wake up at 6 a.m. each morning.

I wake up at 6 a.m. each morning.

3. Navigation – This tool is an absolute lifesaver (I have actually devoted a whole blog post to Navigation). If I was in a position where I was traveling all the time the Navigation feature most definitely would have earned the #1 spot on my list. I can’t begin to quantify the countless times I have driven around random cities for the first time with complete confidence because I knew my iPhone navigation would not lead me astray. Even here in Missoula I use it a lot when visiting residences or holes in the wall I have never frequented before. The fact that the tool will always lead you to Point A to Point B no questions asked makes it very valuable in my book.

In case I ever forget how to get home I can always just plug my address in and my phone will work its magic.

In case I ever forget how to get home I can always just plug my address in and my phone will work its magic.

4. Notepad – Dang I use my notepad like crazy. If you opened my phone and opened the feature you would see about ten different notes a mile long each. I jot down passwords, addresses, combinations, measurements, reminders, and even my Christmas list. Although sometimes I will go the route of just sending a text message to myself more often than not I utilize the notepad. Earning extra points from me is the option to e-mail your notes and print them off.

The notepad feature on my iPhone always keeps me on task.

The notepad feature on my iPhone always keeps me on task.

5. Calendar- Lastly, I use my calendar on my iPhone more than any other calendar. Whenever someone presents me with a date way in advance I always use my calendar on my phone to scope it out and see what day it is on. I also love going back several years as well to see when certain dates fell, a very informative and quick way to look at the past. The convenience of also adding notes to certain dates, setting reminders, and writing out schedules also adds to my love of the calendar app.

I can easily trace back to the day I was born!

I can easily trace back to the day I was born!

While all the million other apps out there are a lot of fun I appreciate that Apple hooks us up with the essentials. I would most likely choose the built-in apps over the flashy apps available in the store any day. I am just glad it will never have to come to that. Don’t Blink.

A Big Change at St. Francis Xavier

A couple times over the course of this blog I have mentioned that I attend mass at St. Francis Xavier in downtown Missoula. It is one of the all-star parishes in the Helena Diocese as the church itself is over 100 years old and breathtakingly beautiful. It is also one of the largest in the diocese. With the tradition, location, and demographics of the parish it definitely takes a special person to be in charge.

Ever since I started attending St. Francis Xavier over five years ago the pastor has not changed. Father Richard Perry, a man distinguished by his deep voice and impactful preaching style, has served as the top priest at the church. But where even five years is a long time for a priest to stay in one spot, Fr. Perry’s tenure goes back much longer. Currently in his 13th year at St. Francis you can definitely say that Father Rich has enjoyed an unusually long but very blessed stint at Missoula’s oldest parish.

Fr. Perry has served as the pastor at St. Francis Xavier for 13 years (photo courtesy of

Fr. Perry has served as the pastor at St. Francis Xavier for 13 years (photo courtesy of

So you can imagine the gasps of shock that escaped us parishioners in attendance at last night’s Saturday vigil mass when pastoral associate Fr. Kunkle announced that Fr. Perry would leave his current post as pastor of St. Francis in August. The vocal expressions of surprise quickly turned to joy and applause when Fr. Kunkle then announced the new pastor… (drumroll please)….Fr. Joseph Carver. Just very recently at St. Francis as associate pastor, Fr. Carver will make a very quick full circle and return from Seattle to take over as the head guy at the end of the summer.


Fr. Carver will take over as pastor at St. Francis Xavier.

Fr. Carver will take over as pastor at St. Francis Xavier.

To add just a bit of mystery to the reshuffling it was revealed that Fr. Perry would go on sabbatical at the conclusion of his pastoral assignment, a very normal thing for Catholic priests. But what caught me off guard was the announcement of where he would land after his sabbatical concluded. Ready for this? Fr. Perry will return to St. Francis Xavier as the assistant pastor! Never in my 27 years as a Catholic follower have I ever seen a priest leave a pastor post, go on sabbatical, and then return to that same parish in an assistant position (keep in mind all assignments are handed down by the diocese, priests have very little to no say in the matter).

I am thinking (although speculating) that this is something that Fr. Perry wants. Leading such a large parish for so long definitely has to take its toll on someone. The lesser role that an assistant pastor plays in day-to-day operations of a parish is probably exactly what he needs after serving so admirably over the past 13 years. The fact that he will be serving this assignment at St. Francis Xavier? Although I find it a little unusual I think it speaks to his love of the parish and the devotion he has from the parishioners here.

To say that Fr. Perry went through his 13 years as pastor at St. Francis without a hitch would not be entirely accurate. Last year he was put on leave for allegations that turned out to be completely untrue. When he returned to the church by way of a standing ovation my already top notch respect for the guy blossomed even more. To have his solid career of serving God and others almost ruined by lies and to see him return stronger than ever made me realize how amazing this man is.

I will make sure to take in every homily Fr. Perry gives for the next five months before he goes on his sabbatical. I will also look forward to the return of Fr. Carver. Change is something you can count on at any Catholic church in America, although very rarely does it take 13 years to happen. Good luck to both Fr. Perry and Fr. Carver. Don’t Blink.

Taking Time to Nap

I usually don’t take naps. For starters I normally never have time to take one. When I do have an hour of free time I rather do nerdy things like blog and tweet. Besides, in the past when I have taken short snoozess I have usually always felt worse when I woke up. Groggy, on edge, and hungry I wake up with a feeling of guilt and wasted time. However, sometimes I do find the perfect time to sneak a nap in.

Take this Saturday afternoon for example. After working the morning at our football scrimmage I came home to relax. At halftime of one of the NCAA Tournament games I decided to go from sitting on my comfortable couch to lying down on it. With the wind howling outside and nothing at the present moment to tend to I shut my eyes and fell asleep for about thirty minutes.

I felt completely at peace, had vivid dreams, and had the assuring sense in the back of my head that when I got up I would have basketball to watch. When I did open my eyes I didn’t feel guilty. I still had a full Saturday ahead of me and the nagging hunger that I usually have upon awakening was suppressed, most likely by the lunch I gobbled up minutes before I dozed off. It was totally worth it.

I think everyone can use a nap every now and then, even the guy who is obsessively fond of saying Don’t Blink. The time and the state of mind just need to be right. Now that I am good on naps for another six months it is time to go back to watching the tournament and of course blogging and tweeting. Don’t Blink.

Why I Choose Not to Fill Out a Bracket

When folks ask me if I filled out a March Madness bracket I always say no. I respond that way because it is 100% accurate, I choose not to go through the annual prognostication exercise of filling one out. However my reasons for not doing so go beyond NCAA regulations. As I mentioned in a recent post because I work in an intercollegiate athletics department I am forbidden from participating in any bracket competition where anything of value is at stake. This includes anything from a free dinner in a bet with a few of my friends to Warren Buffet’s $1,000,000,000 bracket challenge.

So what is stopping me from filling out a bracket just for the fun of it? Nothing, really. If I wanted to I could spend an evening penciling in six different brackets like many of my friends do. But I choose not to for various reasons, including:

I don’t know the teams in the field well enough. I don’t pay an adequate amount of attention to the college basketball landscape during the year to properly make decisions on the 67 total games that are played throughout the NCAA Tournament. I just don’t feel comfortable basically taking a wild guess on who would win a game between George Washington and Memphis. Not only did I not watch a single minute of the regular season of any of those two teams I also couldn’t tell you a single player or coach on either squad. I don’t like flipping a coin to determine which team should advance.

I hate the work that comes from maintaining a bracket and the blacked out disarray that results from it. Not only is putting streaks through my wrong predictions bad enough but the unreadable, sharpie soaked paper my bracket becomes confuses me on which teams are actually still alive in the tourney. Nothing is worse than when your Final Four team busts out in the second round and you got to scratch them out through the next several rounds. I rather watch over a blank bracket and fill it in as the action unfolds so that I have a clear picture of what is going on in the tournament rather than trying to decipher what is going on over my badly predicted sheet.

I also have a thing with being wrong over and over again. Like I said, I plead ignorance when it comes to superior knowledge of college basketball. Because of that I know if I fill out a bracket I am going to make wrong decisions…a lot. Instead of getting mad and ashamed about my terrible picks I rather just watch the tournament games in peace with no pressure. I prefer to watch a game and appreciate it for its unique twists and turns rather than stressing out over a random team I want to win solely because I made an uninformed decision picking them.

Another reason I decide to pass on filling out a bracket is I tire of telling people who I have going to the Final Four, which #12 seeds I have pulling an upset, and who my dark horse is to win it all. Going back to what I have said throughout this post I just feel unqualified to make such decisions so when people ask me these questions I feel like I am just spewing B.S. by answering them. Also, I will admit that in the years past when I have filled out brackets I commonly forgot who I chose as my Final Four, making myself feel very embarrassed when asked to state my picks. I also like to avoid the people who want to chastise my decisions or engage in needless debate.

Finally, I am lukewarm to the whole idea of filling out a bracket just because nothing is at stake for me. I stand to gain nothing. There are no consequences for my disastrous picks or reward for if I ever got incredibly lucky and managed to submit a decent bracket. To me, filling out a bracket “just for the heck of it” is a waste of time.

After the first day of the tournament (third day if you count the First Four games) I hope you are in the 0.4% of perfect brackets still out there. I think we were treated to some great basketball today and best of all I got to sit on my couch and watch all the evening games in comfort and free of stress. Can’t wait until tomorrow’s action. Don’t Blink.

Tweeting Smart vs. Tweeting Dumb

I have noticed more and more that some prominent people and national companies have started to embrace the hashtag, tagging, and shorthand culture we live in through every message they send out via Twitter. While I cringe enough at seeing friends and tweens compose tweets that contain no full words yet plenty of @ and # symbols I become blown away when professionals and important entities do the same.

A part of me dies when I see a semi-celebrity tweet something out like this: Can’t wait 2 see @BigMan453 & @FlyGurl34 2nite! We b #helping a good cause. Cum #support da kidz! #charity . Or when a respectable organization sends something like this out: ICYMI..Tonite join us 2 #celebrate #CustomerAppreciationDay at the @MustardSeed. #Free apps and #fun. CU there! #DontMissIt.

Twitter users who adopt this style look unprofessional, sabotage their message, and demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of how the social media service works.

As I said above shorthand is cool for 12-year olds, not for companies. When I see a business that misspells “cause” as “cuz” or “little” as “lil” I question whether their websites and other marketing materials employ those spelling mechanics as well. Same thing goes for when I see a respected journalist opt with “nvm” in a tweet instead of “nevermind” or mindlessly decides to use #traveling in the middle of a tweet rather than just traveling. It makes me wonder whether he actually graduated from high school and if he is just having someone else write his columns. Bottom line, this type of usage makes the company or person look childish…also known as unprofessional.

Most damaging, the method of using shorthand in combination with numerous hashtags and tags severely dilutes a tweet. The number one goal of social media should be to communicate, not to confuse. When I look at a tweet that hashtags every other word, mentions three people by their unrecognizable Twitter handles, and uses far-fetched abbreviations my head wants to explode. Accounts that utilize this strategy in hopes of cramming extra information in or in an attempt to look cool actually obtain the complete opposite and totally sabotage their social media Twitter effort. By all means utilize hashtags and mention someone by his or her Twitter handle now and then but don’t overdo it. When composing tweets we should be asking ourselves how we can be as clear and concise as possible. This differs tremendously from trying to put in as much “stuff” as possible. To illustrate my point let me use an example from my industry. What tweet do you think is more impactful?…

UMGRIZZLIES: Griz basketball vs. Idaho St. TONIGHT – 7 p.m., Dahlberg Arena. Enjoy a free t-shirt and see Kareem Jamar score 1,000 career points #GoGriz

UMGRIZZLIES: #Griz bball vs. #ISU 2night – 7 p.m. in @DahlbergArena. Get ur free #tshirt and see @Reem5Racks score #1,000 career points #GoGriz

See what I mean? Sacrificing a few characters for a much more clean and concise tweet trumps a jumbled up, hashtag plagued ramble any day. In the above tweet I know who the Griz are playing, who is going to reach a milestone, and what I stand to gain by going. All that I know with the second tweet is that I never want the person behind that account teaching my future kids grammar.

Finally, Twitter users show incompetence by littering tweets with hashtags and mentions. People and companies looking to get more engagement and hoping to get others to stumble on their account through this method will be very disappointed. Followers are gained by informative, witty, and interactive tweets. Followers are gained by strategically using specific hashtags based on research and backed by a marketing campaign. Followers are gained by demonstrating to the audience that a competent and intelligent voice is behind the Twitter account. Followers are lost and/or never found by sloppy, desperate tweets.

Always strive to inform followers rather than overwhelm them. All organizations and prominent individuals should be able to figure out if a tweet is solid or a mess just by quickly glancing at it. Accounts that address followers in a logical and adult like manner will have more success than accounts that address followers as if they were a middle school student composing a text message. Don’t Blink.

Blinding Me With Science

From time to time I mention how cool it is to work in an athletic facility that houses an arena. Besides sporting events a lot goes on around here. You got concerts, plays, circuses, comedy acts, religious events, and more. All these events transform Dahlberg Arena into something other than the basketball court that so many of us are used to seeing. Each year a more low-key and innocent event also sets up shop in our 7,000 seat facility.

Stimulating the minds of the youth while lighting an academic fire inside of them I always look forward to when the Montana State Science Fair comes to Missoula. The best science projects completed by middle school and high school students are displayed on the arena floor as well as on the second level balcony. All conceivable space is completely occupied. Out of what seems like thousands of projects judges pick their top four. The proud creators of those projects get an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to showcase their work at a national fair.

This morning I had the chance to quickly walk through the fair. While I have absolutely no idea what projects received the best in show recognition from the judges I definitely know which ones I liked best. Of course they dealt with things like soda and gum and other items that most people would not immediately associate with science but what do you expect from someone like me? Without further delay I would like to put the spotlight on my favorite projects at the 2014 Montana State Science Fair.

What Mint Makes Your Mouth Hurt the Most?

What mint will give your mouth the most distress if you dare to take a drink of water?

What mint will give your mouth the most distress if you dare to take a drink of water?

The student who conducted this project wanted to know what mint would make the mouth feel the coldest after sucking on it and taking a sip of water. This ambitious student had subjects suck various brands of mints for 15 seconds, drink water, and then rate it on a “coldness scale” from 1-5. The mint that will freeze the mouth the most? Peppermint sugar free mints (no brands given)! As I do experience the stinging cold sensation of drinking water after partaking in a stick of gum or mint I found this report helpful…I am definitely sticking to spearmint!

Most Corrosive Soda

Which soda will eat up a hot dog the quickest?

Which soda will eat up a hot dog the quickest?

This neat experiment tested what soda would eat something up the quickest. The student experimented with Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, Mountain Dew, and A&W Root Beer. Using nails and cut up pieces of hot dogs the student placed these items in the five different soft drinks and observed for fifteen days. This middle schooler correctly predicted that Mountain Dew would eat up the nail first before the other sodas but didn’t find the same result with the hot dog. Much to the student’s dismay, Pepsi broke down and dissolved the hot dog before the other pops. Sure am glad I don’t drink soda!

Video Game Mania

This video game experiment is a little on the silly side.

This video game experiment is a little on the silly side.

This self-proclaimed gamer wanted to see if what you sit in while playing video games will impact overall score/performance. Rotating his subjects so that they would all sit in a gaming chair (what does that even look like), a wooden chair, and on the floor while playing Super Smash Brothers Brawl he recorded the scores from the various different seating positions. After the games were played and the data crunched this student concluded that sitting in a gaming chair (whatever that is) will improve video game performance. Cool result in all but I question it…back in the day when my little brother and I would face off in our sports video game battles he would sit on the floor and I would sit in a computer chair and he still managed to always kick my butt.

How Much Sugar in Drinks

Sugar sugar sugar

Sugar sugar sugar

The visual aid of this project won me over. The student showed the amount of sugar in each bottle of soda/Gatorade/milk in a very literal sense. By using the nutritional label on the product he/she measured out the grams of sugar indicated and poured it into the empty bottles. Pop drinkers would probably look away at this exhibit because the Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Mt. Dew bottles had a sickening amount of sugar inside them. Even Gatorade had an alarming amount. The student then went on to make the very bold recommendation that if faced with choosing milk or soda that one should probably opt for the milk.

Gum Decomposition

Wait one second before you throw that piece of gum out the window!

Wait one second before you throw that piece of gum out the window!

This final student wanted to test how long it took different brands of chewed and unchewed gum to biodegrade in soil. Using Wrigley’s Winterfresh, Trident Layers, Dentyne Ice, and Hubba Bubba gum he/she planted chewed and unchewed pieces in wet soil. After two weeks the student checked back and found that the Hubba Bubba unchewed gum biodegraded the most over the time period. I found this experiment a little contradictory to my own experiences as a youngster. While in grade school I would chew a piece of gum every morning at the bus stop. When the bus would come I would spit it out at the exact same tree. That spot on the tree trunk was littered with hundreds of pieces of chewed gum, none of which I remember biodegrading in any degree.


Let me give the middle school and high school students of Montana a big A+. Thank you for engaging in cool (yet sometimes obvious) studies and thank you for having the guts to showcase them on a statewide stage. Best of luck to the students advancing to nationals! Don’t Blink