A Proud Digital Newspaper Reader

A couple weeks ago I stopped cold turkey a practice I had enjoyed for the past 20 years. Over the last several months I had really considered pulling the plug and I believed the time was finally right. After two decades of religiously reading the daily newspaper in physical form each day, I recently made the switch to the online edition.

Dating back to living in my parents house, going through when I lived in the dorms, and following me every place I have lived on my own since college, I have (or my parents have) subscribed to the local newspaper. Without fail, I have read the paper every single day for the longest of times. As an 8-year-old kid I emulated my dad at the kitchen table and it turned into my own habit.

I used to always read the print edition of the newspaper. I have since changed my ways.

I used to always read the print edition of the newspaper. I have since changed my ways.

I really had no good reason to continue reading the print edition. I read sappy newspaper columns all the time about people who can’t live without the touch/smell/look of a physical paper but that was never my issue. I had no emotional bond with the paper and ink. If anything, I kind of got annoyed at how the papers would fill up my garbage can (I don’t recycle) and how the Sunday paper would just completely overwhelm the space of my living room.

I converted to the digital newspaper because I could no longer rely on the print version showing up on my doorstep before 5:30 a.m. When I moved to Myrtle Beach, the local newspaper here unfortunately had problems getting the paper to me before I left for work. Many times, it would never arrive at all. It frustrated me a great deal.

However, with my print subscription I also was given access to the online edition. When the papers first didn’t start showing up I went and bought a replacement from the gas station, not knowing about my digital perk. Probably about the fifth time I complained, my newspaper told me that I could view all content online in the exact same layout as the print edition. Another morning came where I didn’t get my paper and I pulled it up online. After viewing it that first time, I knew I wasn’t going back to my old ways.

The digital version of the newspaper is awesome. Outside companies contract with local papers to scan the actual newspaper and use fancy software to make it very user friendly and readable. You are looking at the newspaper as if it was the print edition (layout and all), you just simply don’t have to worry about disposing of it or getting ink on your hands. It is all right in front of you on your computer. Again, you aren’t presented with a wasteland of links, you are presented with the actual paper…just in digital form.

This is what the digital version looks like on my computer. I can click on a story for a window that will open up with the full text. I can easily go back and forth. I can zoom in as much as I please.

This is what the digital version looks like on my computer. I can click on a story for a window that will open up with the full text. I can easily go back and forth. I can zoom in as much as I please.

The best aspect of this all is the price. The subscription rate for the digital version is much cheaper than the print version. At times I think my newspaper lost business and money with me because of the poor delivery service but then I reason that they probably did it on purpose. I think there is a big push to  convert all customers to digital.

No nostalgia from me! I am glad to now be an online/digital newspaper reader. It is convenient and eco-friendly. I wish I made the upgrade a few years back. Don’t Blink.

The Hangover Thursday Rundown

With Thursday here, it is time for the rundown. However, this might be the hangover posts of all hangover posts. After my Sean Carty resignation post last night, what you are about to read will be an afterthought. As far as posts that receive a high volume of views within 24 hours go, my Carty article will enter the all-time top five for Don’t Blink before the day cycle is over. Needless to say, I made sure that my five topics tonight especially sucked. Let’s get to it!

Kicked Out of the Office – The building that houses our University Communication offices here at CCU will undergo a renovation this summer. With that date looming soon, all of us will be moved out by Monday. In the interim while the building is remolded, our whole team will shift to a temporary location off campus. Well, I stand corrected, actually one person will stay on campus grounds. That person is me!! Because of the nature of my job, our Vice President worked out an arrangement that will keep me on campus. For the next year or so, I will be located with Media Services in Hampton Hall. I am so thankful that I will continue to be able to cover Coastal Carolina University while still located in the heart of campus.

I will be moving from Singleton Hall (left) to Hampton Hall (right).

I will be moving from Singleton Hall (left) to Hampton Hall (right).

A Return to Taco Bell – I used to love Taco Bell! It was a high school hangout and even into adulthood I enjoyed stopping by for food every week or so. Then I just kind of stopped going. Due in large part because I can only think of one location in Myrtle Beach, the opportunity just isn’t there in general. Before I stopped at that lone restaurant yesterday, I had not ate at Taco Bell for at least two years. When I walked in yesterday, it was like a whole different world. The menu had Fritos burritos, Doritos burritos, desserts (besides empanadas), a full dollar menu, and breakfast. What was this? The restaurant layout was something I had never seen before either. I ordered a bean burrito and Fritos burrito and went home and ate. Honestly, I had been missing out! That $3 meal was incredible, even better than I remember it. I don’t think it will be another two years until my next visit.

Pitch Perfect 2 – Sidney and I went and watched “Pitch Perfect 2” this past weekend. I kind of enjoyed the first one and Sidney wanted to see the sequel so it was an easy choice. We both left a little disappointed. For Sidney, she just thought it was stupid. For me, the movie lacked the iconic songs that “Pitch Perfect” provided. You didn’t have anthems like “Titanium,” “Give Me Everything,” and “The Sign.” I mean come on, they performed an ORIGINAL song for the finale of their championship routine. Who wants to see that? What really spoiled the movie for me though was just way too much Fat Amy. I am not her biggest fan and it seemed like she never left the screen. Not to mention her antics and jokes annoyed the heck out of me.

My ticket to "Pitch Perfect 2".

My ticket to “Pitch Perfect 2”.

Wal-Mart Brawl – I don’t typically write about trashy viral videos like this on my blog but since I have pretty much already called this the worst Thursday Rundown ever, this would be the time to do it. If you have a few minutes, click here to watch these two women go at it in a Wal-Mart aisle. The name calling, the swings, the commentary, and the products falling down provide all the ingredients for millions of YouTube views. The one regrettable part is the little boy who is participating in the melee.

Where Were You When American Pharoah Won The Triple Crown? – I was at a Tex-Mex restaurant called Nacho Hippo in the Market Common district in Myrtle Beach. The race was on inside the full restaurant and it had everyone’s attention. As American Pharoah went down the last stretch with a big lead, everyone started cheering. To be honest, I wanted the horse to lose. Although it is cool to say that I saw a Triple Crown winner in my lifetime, I kind of like the mystique of a long streak that just can’t seem to be broken. And although he is not at Fat Amy’s level, I didn’t really want to see Bob Baffert celebrate.

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It is going to be a hot hot hot weekend here in Myrtle Beach. I am ready to get my half day done tomorrow and then enjoy it. Thanks to all for your loyal readership. Don’t Blink.

On Carty’s Terms

This past Monday evening, Sean Carty stood up in front of parents at an information meeting and announced his resignation as head football coach at Mead High School. To some who first heard the news, the reaction was shock. Why would someone who fought so admirably to retain his job turn around and walk away? Why would someone who put his name and his reputation on the line to save the post he held for 14 years step down? Why would someone who pulled off one of the greatest victories ever over parent interference and entitlement call it quits? The answer is easy:

This was never about Sean Carty.

This was about securing the confidence of coaches in the district who feared they would have to work according to an outrageous and flawed precedent. This was about preventing parents from thinking they could hire an attorney, make false claims, and ruin someone’s life. This was about retaining the dignity of the Mead community, a community that had its reputation suffer greatly when the initial decision was made. It just so happened that the burden to make things right fell on the shoulders of Sean Carty.

Sean Carty resigned as head football coach at Mead High School on Monday. His leadership will be missed.

Sean Carty resigned as head football coach at Mead High School on Monday. His leadership will be missed.

For six turbulent months starting with the investigation and ending with Coach Carty’s reinstatement, the man went through hell. However, even though Sean admits that his “health suffered drastically” throughout the ordeal, he kept fighting until the victorious end because simply it was the right thing to do. He fought so the next amazing coach victimized by delusional parents wouldn’t suffer what he endured, he fought so the district that many of us grew up in wouldn’t become a joke.

After engineering a major win for the Mead community, Carty was finally in a position to do what he felt best for him and his loved ones. Once the parents were silenced and the decision reversed, he decided to step away under his own power and on his own terms.

“The pressure stopped and that is when I felt I could clear my head and finally do what was right for my family and I,” Carty told me last night.

With the crusade behind him and a strong message sent, his family decided that football could go on the back burner for a little bit. Of course, because of the person Sean Carty is, he didn’t take the decision lightly.

“This decision was difficult because I didn’t want to let anyone down,” Carty remarked while once again offering up heaps of gratitude to the community for the tremendous support throughout the trying months.

Carty assured me that neither the district nor parents put pressure on him to resign. Despite a quote from a parent suggesting otherwise in the local newspaper (which he erroneously attributed to the wrong historical figure), defeated moms and dads played no factor. I recognize that I have been critical of this group so let me say that I do appreciate their respect of the reversed decision. Bottom line, you can take it to the bank that Coach Carty’s call to step away wasn’t influenced by anything or anyone besides Sean and his family.

Also, Sean asked for the clarification of one thing. In the Spokesman-Review article that covered his resignation, it mentioned that an improvement plan was completed Friday. In reality, that plan, according to Carty, was “not even a document yet.” In fact, there had only been a loose discussion on what any such document would stipulate. He called this piece of the reinstatement process “no big deal” and added that it “had zero to do with my decision.”

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The legacy of Sean Carty during his tenure as head football coach at Mead High School is twofold. The first component will be his success working with students. He will be remembered as a brilliant coach who ran a clean program that produced great individuals. He will be remembered for his four Greater Spokane League Championships and solid win-loss record over a 14-year-span. The tradition, passion, and integrity he brought to Mead football will resonate within the program for a long time.

Of course the battle he fought over the past six months will serve as the second component of his legacy. As I have already talked about what his resiliency meant during this period, let me just say this: A lot of district coaches, community members, and Mead football alumni will be walking up to Sean Carty and shaking his hand for a long time to come.

In the end, Sean Carty got his job and reputation back. However, it took him a couple extra weeks to finally realize what he needed to do to get his life back. He made that decision on Monday night. Just as the community can now move on, so can Sean.

“I am very happy right now and at peace,” a relieved Carty breathed.

You deserve it, Coach. Don’t Blink.

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Previous Posts About Sean Carty’s Ordeal:
Feeling Bad for Coach Carty
The Triumph of Sean Carty and the Community

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Periscope

Not since I discovered Instagram almost four years ago have I been more excited about a social media channel. In its short two month life, this live streaming app knocked out its closest competitor while taking the new media world by storm. Although many have heard of it, many have not heard of it. Within the next six months, it could be a household name. No doubt about it, there is a hot new social media application out right now that has limitless potential and a concept that will draw just about anyone in. It is called Periscope.

For those who feel lost when I write about social media, please bear with me. You need to hear about Periscope. I promise I will make it super simple for you.

Get used to seeing this logo. Periscope will soon be a major player in the social media world.

Get used to seeing this logo. Periscope will soon be a major player in the social media world.

Periscope is a live streaming social media application for iPhone and Android. If you get lost with the words “live streaming,” let me make it even more clear. Periscope is a service where you record something on your phone and that video stream is shown LIVE on a global scale. As you broadcast through your phone, whoever is watching has the opportunity to participate by posting questions or comments in real time. I like to think of Periscope as a hybrid between Skype, Chat Roulette, and Twitter.

The power that comes from Periscope is what draws me to it. You can target your “broadcasts” (Periscope’s term for a live video) to your Twitter followers but unless you have a privacy setting on, the whole world can watch. Knowing that you have folks from every corner of the country and abroad watching your content is pretty cool. It adds just a tiny bit of pressure and accountability to what you put out, more so than the other social media services that are out there. Your performance is critiqued. Give your audience garbage and they will embarrass you with mean comments. Produce quality content and you will receive compliments and “hearts,” the equivalent of an Instagram “like” or a Twitter “favorite.”

This is my Periscope profile.

This is my Periscope profile.

I have already instituted Periscope at Coastal Carolina University as I briefly wrote about it last Thursday. Since then, I did another broadcast yesterday and I will conduct two more this week. It has taken off here at #CCU. But for this blog post, I want to talk more about it on a personal level as opposed to a professional level.

Periscope just makes you feel special. It is as if you are in the confessional on a “Real World” episode or as if you are holding your own press conference. Quite simply, if you like the feeling of swimming around in the fishbowl while everyone looks in at you, Periscope is your thing.

Periscope has great reach. Who would have thought that 135 people would be interested in a live broadcast of me driving?

Periscope has great reach. Who would have thought that 135 people would be interested in a live broadcast of me driving?

I have conducted 20 Periscope broadcasts and garnered over 1,600 hearts over the past week and I must say I am a little addicted. It is just so much fun. Throwing ideas at people and conversing with a global audience is a little intoxicating. For me it is also just good practice when it comes to communication. We live in a society where Skype interviews and video correspondence are becoming more and more prominent . To have the opportunity to stage Periscope broadcasts will do nothing but improve my skills in this area.

I also enjoy Periscope because I don’t have a shortage of topics to talk about. When you are a blogger who has published over 800 posts, you have a large library of subjects you can pull from print and have come alive on a Periscope broadcast. For example, last night I chatted about whether I should go to Great Clips for my next haircut or go to a more reputable salon, a topic based completely off of a blog post from three years ago. Although the subject was old for me, it was fresh and interesting to my Periscope audience as the questions, suggestions, and jokes steadily came in.

The hearts go up and a user comments during a recent broadcast I conducted on energy drinks.

The hearts go up and a user comments during a recent broadcast I conducted on energy drinks.

Of course with any social media service, advanced users will make sure it is a two-way street. I can’t get enough of hopping on random broadcasts from all over the nation. You never know what people are going to say and what you are going to learn. Engaging with interesting folks is a lot of fun. In the past few days I have gone to sleep early in the morning just because I was watching people on Periscope. Users can be very creative, honest, and entertaining.

If you aren’t on Periscope yet, I encourage you to download the app and explore. Although I have anointed social media services before that never materialized, I think Periscope is the future. If you ever want to catch me live, make sure to follow me on the service by searching “@brentreser.” Don’t Blink.

What Made Me Ashamed as a Kid

When I look back on my childhood, there is one slightly embarrassing struggle I battled with. Until around fifth grade, I saw a speech therapist.

My mom tells the story every now and then. She took me in for a physical check up when I was about four years old. The doctor performed the exam and while he worked he talked me up. When the check up was nearing its conclusion the doctor looked at my mom and said in a disgusted tone, “Take your kid to speech!”

My mom knew I would need speech therapy. It wasn’t a total shocker that I needed help pronouncing my words. Both my parents needed speech lessons as kids. I just don’t think she was expecting to be condemned by the family doctor. Not too long after the physician’s “lighthearted” suggestion, I was attending speech classes in preschool. In fact, because I had a speech problem, it qualified me for an early start type of preschool program where I went to school with children who were either in wheelchairs or who had severe behavioral/mental problems. After a couple years in this type of classroom, I entered Kindergarten at the normal age in a mainstream class. I was just like any other kid.

However, I still didn’t pronounce all my words correctly. I struggled mightily with the “s” sound and the “th” sound…even if I didn’t think so. A couple times each week I would be pulled from class. A speech therapist would lead me down a different hall where I would practice pronunciation with her along with one or two other unlucky students who also had to do the walk of shame. We played stupid games, did tedious pronunciation exercises, and received nightly homework. It sucked so much. Overall, I considered it embarrassing and distracting to my overall education.

During fifth grade the therapist surprised me during one of our sessions with a smile and a handshake. She said I had graduated from speech. By that time I no longer had any tendency to say “shoes” like “shoezz” or “three” like “free.” Although I hadn’t said words as blatantly bad as that since probably second grade, I went through a lot of language refinement in those latter years.

Of course I never had to physically be in speech. My parents had the power to make the decision. Even when I begged them to take me out of it in third, fourth, and fifth grade, they kept me in it until the speech therapist said I was good to go. I remember classmates who talked even more messed up than me who didn’t have to attend the terrible classes. I didn’t understand it, it seemed so unfair.

But of course it all makes sense now. My mom and dad wanted me to grow up so I could talk clearly and articulately. What would have happened if I didn’t go to speech? Could my bad habits have reversed themselves naturally as time went by? Perhaps. But what if they didn’t? I would be at an extreme disadvantage as an adult trying to make my way both professionally and socially. Although I felt shame at the time, I am just glad that now as a 28-year-old guy, people can understand me (most of the time). Don’t Blink.

Premium vs. Knockoff Showdown

With not much to do on this beautiful Sunday, I decided to go chase a silly blog post idea. I got in my car and went to Dollar Tree and bought five random, knockoff food items. I then headed to Wal-Mart and bought the real version of the product. If you have followed my blog for a couple years now, you know that I once wrote about my views on when to buy premium and when to buy generic.

On this table you will find the products I purchased for my very special (silly) Sunday blog post.

On this table you will find the products I purchased for my very special (silly) Sunday blog post.

I then took my grocery bags over to Sidney’s house and, one by one according to the similar product, I presented her with both the name brand item and the off brand item. I hid behind the kitchen counter preparing the plates while she sat on the couch so she had no idea which product was which (although just by looking when I presented them to her she had an idea). She then thoughtfully tried each product and told me which one she liked best. Let’s get to the results!

Cheetos vs. Cheez Doodles

I first had Sidney try an All-American, stain-your-fingers-orange classic. She sampled Cheetos and a similar product called Cheez Doodles (I wish the word “Doodles” ended with a “z” also). It didn’t take her long to choose which one she liked best. She identified Cheetos as her favorite, citing its crunchiness and freshness as the main factors in her selection.
Winner: Cheetos

On the plate, the real Cheetos are on the left.

On the plate, the real Cheetos are on the left.

Cheez-Its vs. Tangy Cheddar Squares

This was the competition where Sid knew immediately the real thing from the impostor just by looking at the plate. The brighter, crispier looking Cheez-Its definitely outshined the Tangy Cheddar Squares in appearance. It did in taste as well. Sidney remarked that the Cheez-Its tasted way cheesier than the “stale” Tangy Cheddar Squares.
Winner: Cheez-Its

The real Cheez-Its are on the right.

The real Cheez-Its are on the right.

Strawberry Pop-Tarts vs. Strawberry Toast’em Pop-Ups

I had Sid decide her preference on a famous breakfast pastry. Kellog’s Pop-Tarts went up against Toast’em Pop-Ups. This was another battle where you had a pretty good idea which was the legitimate product just from a quick glance. Once again, the prototype won out. Sidney preferred the Pop-Tart over the Pop-Up because she simply said the latter tasted like “cardboard.” I tried both of them as well and I have to say that although I didn’t think the generic pastry tasted that bad, the Pop-Tart was definitely superior.
Winner: Strawberry Pop-Tarts

Do I even need to tell you which one is which?

Do I even need to tell you which one is which?

Fruity Pebbles vs. Fruity Dyno-Bites

Knowing that I needed to throw a cereal into the mix, I went with Fruity Pebbles. With the next “Jurassic Park” film set to debut soon and with the clever spelling of “Dyno” I knew I had to go with it. Sidney and I will both say this, these two products tasted the most similar to one another than all the other tests. However, Sidney gave the edge to Fruity Pebbles because they had a seemingly more natural taste than the Dyno-Bites. I thought both tasted very pleasant. Although I said they tasted the most similar to each other than the other four trials, at the same time they also had distinctive tastes. You could have fed me either one of them and I would have been happy.
Winner: Fruity Pebbles

The legit brand is on the left.

The legit brand is on the left.

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese vs. Greenbrier International Macaroni & Cheese

It was a no-brainer that I would introduce my favorite food into this fun taste testing blog post. I had the giant of the mac & cheese world, Kraft, go up against a brand so obscure that I had to scour the cup of the knockoff to find its maker. In tiny white lettering, I saw the phrase “Distributed by Greenbrier International.” Obviously the company was just fine going by the very generic “Macaroni & Cheese Dinner” billing. I prepared both cups the exact same way and then transferred the contents into a couple of paper bowls for unbiased tasting. Even with this measure taken, it was two totally different sights. The Kraft came out creamy and vibrant, the off brand came out dry and dull. This one was no contest, Sidney scored the Kraft dinner way higher. It was just much cheesier and fresher.
Winner: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

The Kraft Mac & Cheese is on top.

The Kraft Mac & Cheese is on top.

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If you are scoring along at home, the premium brands went 5-0. Except for the Fruity Pebbles, according to Sidney’s taste buds, it wasn’t even that close either. These results suggest that there really is something to say about that brand written on the box.

In the aftermath of this all, Sidney will be keeping the Cheetos, Cheez-Its, Fruity Pebbles, and Pop-Tarts at her house. I will be bringing the misfit brands back to my place. Hey, I am a guy, I am a little easier to please. Thanks to Sidney for putting up with my silly idea, you never know what is going to be asked of you when you date a blogger. Don’t Blink.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Summer is in full swing and I could not be happier! What an awesome time of the year. Thursday is upon us again and that means it is time for the rundown.

Guilty Pleasure – As it is National Candy Month, I thought it would be appropriate to start with this. For the past year I have turned more and more to Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites. If you go to the bins in front of the checkout aisles at Wal-Mart, you can buy a box for a buck. It is a very low quality candy with stale cookie dough but for whatever reason it doesn’t deter me from eating it. Believe it or not, sprinkling them on ice cream or pouring them on your tub of popcorn at the movies is not a bad idea either. Do know that if you don’t sneak a box in at the theater you won’t be paying the $1 Wal-Mart price…most movie houses sell the exact same box for around $4.

My favorite candy sits on my kitchen counter.

My favorite candy sits on my kitchen counter.

A Boatful – Last week I had the opportunity to celebrate the 6th birthday of Sidney’s niece, Russell. It was a joyous affair where we hopped on the family boat and cruised down the Intracoastal Waterway to a fabulous seafood restaurant for dinner. Filling up the family boat was, well…family. The photo, posted by Sid’s sister (AKA Russell’s mom), generated a lot of social media engagement. My good friend Ellen Seder posted a comment suggesting that I blog about the photo. Great idea, Ellen! Consider it done.

It was a full and happy boat. Sid and I are way in the back!

It was a full and happy boat. Sid and I are way in the back!

Periscope Debut – I absolutely love Periscope. This live streaming social media service is incredible and I am already having a ball fooling around with it for personal use. However, I will write about that in a whole separate blog post. Today I used it the first time for work. I introduced the app by taking our #CCUSocialMedia audience on a tour of Brooks Stadium. Of course the focal point was showcasing the teal turf. For about 20 minutes I gave 88 people a live look at the stadium. I went to every vantage point in the venue so our audience could see the teal turf in all its glory. I had a splendid time answering questions and providing a service that not many universities are utilizing.

A screen shot from our Periscope live stream broadcast of the teal turf tour. As you can see, someone is asking a question in this instance.

A screen shot from our Periscope live stream broadcast of the teal turf tour. As you can see, someone is asking a question in this instance.

The Social Circle – We released our latest episode of “Coastal Now” this week. During my Social Circle segment, I talked about how we utilized social media to make the big announcements about our new residence halls. It might be worth a watch to you (probably not though). Click here to be taken directly to my segment.

Another cool professional development happened today. Terminal Four, a gigantic content management company headquartered in Ireland, randomly published a blog post on how Coastal is going above and beyond with its summer social media efforts. I was completely caught off guard with the flattery but of course pleasantly surprised. To read the post, click here.

I talked about how we revealed our new residence halls in my latest "Social Circle" segment.

I talked about how we revealed our new residence halls in my latest “Social Circle” segment.

Another Blunder – Earlier this week when I wrote about the times I had messed up in my blog over the course of the past four years, I missed something. A loyal reader reminded me about an especially embarrassing mistake I made not too long ago. One word: TWINS.

I wholeheartedly believed that this commercial made for my blog featured twins. It took one quick look from by girlfriend for her to tell me that I was crazy. When I asked all of you for a second opinion, you also yelled back at me that I was nuts. Chalk that up as another moment of stupidity.

So I guess this is really just one girl instead of twins.

So I guess this is really just one girl instead of twins.

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Enjoy the first game of the NBA Finals tonight. Hopefully we will witness domination by the Golden State Warriors. I have been completely outspoken, I hope Lebron and the Cavs get swept. I don’t bow down to King James. Don’t Blink.

The Anonymous Big Tipper

When the slow news day comes around, we all know the feel good stories that both local and national news outlets will roll with. You will see something about a seemingly healthy and spunky person turning 112. Or you might see a package about some long overdue library book finally returned that accrued a $20,000 fine while stuffed in an attic. Quite possibly you will hear about a long lost family pet that wandered away only to randomly come back to the household’s front porch a decade later.

These stories all generate human interest and by no means is there anything wrong with them. It is just that for me personally, I favor another cliché story. Just like the three topics I previously mentioned, you will see this type of story numerous times each year, a true “dime a dozen” of the media world. I will try to explain why I don’t mind hearing a variation of this particular situation 87 different times a year.

I have a soft spot for the tales of caring souls who come into restaurants and excessively over tip the server. I am talking about a 1,000% gratuity or a triple zero gesture that really makes the day of an overworked, stressed college student or a down on her luck single mom. I enjoy looking at the receipt (which always goes viral) that shows the $13.54 charge for a sandwich and cup of coffee followed by the line underneath it with the handwriting of some saint who wrote in $4,986.46. The common ending detail is pretty much always the same…the customer asks to remain anonymous (or is able to stay anonymous through it all).

These stories just never get old to me. I like hearing how thankful the server is, I gobble up the details about how the customer acted during the meal, and I love the mystery that is left in the end. These gratuities usually are never enough to completely change a person’s life but they are big enough where the beneficiary can use the funds to at least make a difference.

I am writing about this subject tonight because, sure enough, one of these happy situations just recently occurred in Myrtle Beach. A server who had only been on the job for two weeks at the Gulfstream Café waited on a couple who left him a cool $1,000 tip on a $69 bill. As I have dined at this restaurant before, I couldn’t help but think perhaps I sat in the proximity of that very generous man and woman.

This was the check left for the server at the Gulfstream Café (photo courtesy of Brooke Holden of WMBF News).

This was the check left for the server at the Gulfstream Café (photo courtesy of Brooke Holden of WMBF News).

I think my intrigue with massive restaurant tippers originated about 10 years ago. I was at a restaurant with my mom’s family during Christmas time. We had a nice meal and the bill came to probably $100. One of my uncles paid the check while the other uncle left the tip. The latter presented our server with a $100 bill. Seeing how thankful and surprised that waiter was made me feel some type of way. These days when I hear of a server receiving a truly outrageous tip I can’t help but light up thinking about how overjoyed that employee must have been.

The kindness of my uncles set an example for me that I should always over tip (and I do). However, I have yet to ever do so in a newsworthy way. I hope to one day be in a position to do such a deed that many kind, anonymous people have done before me. Don’t Blink.

Those Times Where I Was DEAD WRONG

From time to time I get it wrong. An instance of this most likely took place this past Sunday when I boldly declared that Disneyland is better than Disney World. Some of the comments I received both on Facebook and in person made me realize that while I might have liked Disneyland better as a fourth grader, the park really doesn’t match up to what Disney World offers. Blame it on grandiose memories over two decades old.

Too bad it wasn’t my first time getting something wrong in my blog. After four plus years of writing Don’t Blink, I can admit that I have not always been perfect. Tonight I want to go back through the archives and pull the five posts where I especially messed up. As you will see, every now and then I actually am capable of blinking.

(these five posts are not ranked but rather organized in chronological order):

JACKED 4 JACK3D (June 1, 2011) – For probably a six-month period I took the only workout supplement I have ever used. Called Jack3d, it was a caffeine-powered drink mix infused with creatine. About 30 minutes before my workout I would prepare a drink and let my body and mind race. It gave me a major boost and I praised the supplement in my blog post. However, as time went on I started to question whether it was healthy to subject my body to Jack3d on a daily basis. The way the mixture made me feel and perform was definitely not natural. I stopped taking the supplement and it has since been banned by the FDA. Four years ago I would have recommended it, today I would not.

Vine (May 14, 2013) – I pretty much dubbed Vine the future of the social media kingdom when it first started to pick up major steam in early 2013. In fact, I even had the audacity to tell Snapchat to move out of the way and make room. To make matters worse, a month later I even penned a follow up post in which I told readers how they needed to use Vine to diversify their social media content. Just days after that post, Instagram introduced its video feature. Although it didn’t completely kill Vine, Instagram’s video response caused the six second looping video service to suffer a major fall from grace. No longer was Vine a major player in the social media landscape, instead relegated to a tool that can be used every now and then in conjunction with Twitter.

A screen capture from my first ever Vine I took.

A screen capture from my first ever Vine I took.

Praying for Peace in Sochi (February 5, 2014) – Although I crossed my fingers for a smooth two and a half weeks, I was convinced that something terrible would scar the 2014 Winter Olympics. With so many problems plaguing Sochi prior to the games and all the threats that seemed to keep pouring in, I noted in my post that I had “a very uneasy feeling in my stomach.” However, I was more than happy to be completely wrong as the Sochi Games went off without a hitch.

Where All the Restaurants Taste the Same (August 16, 2014) – Last summer I proclaimed my belief that you could pretty much randomly choose any Mexican restaurant in your local town to eat at because they all taste the same. I reasoned that enchiladas, beans, rice, and chips taste very similar at Mexican Restaurant #1 as they do at Mexican Restaurant #2. I will admit though that over the past several months my thinking has shifted a little bit. I paid a visit to a restaurant where we were the only non-Mexicans there, chowed down at a place that served eggs, and dined at a joint that I felt didn’t even meet the standards of the million family Mexican restaurants I ate at before. So in conclusion, no, I don’t think all Mexican restaurants are as equal and identical as I thought before.

This was a plate of Mexican food that I ate in Albuquerque at a restaurant called Sadie's.

This was a plate of Mexican food that I ate in Albuquerque at a restaurant called Sadie’s.

Welcome Back to Relevancy, McDonalds (February 3, 2015) – When McDonald’s introduced its “Pay With Lovin’” campaign during this year’s Super Bowl, I thought the struggling restaurant had achieved its breakthrough. Combined with the other changes the chain was making, I believed that the slump was finally over. But unfortunately the “Pay With Lovin’” campaign never took off like I thought it would. I really believed that it would make a much bigger dent in pop culture and on social media than what it actually did. As updated sales numbers continue to come out, McDonald’s is still declining. Another wrong prediction by me!

I thought recent changes would bolster McDonald's. Not quite so.

I thought recent changes would bolster McDonald’s. Not quite so.

**Honorable Mention: My Vendetta Against Cupcakes (January 21, 2015) – I practically crucified cupcakes at the beginning of this year. I called them boring, disappointing, and unsatisfying. I want to rescind some of my scorn. As I have given cupcakes a second chance and tried some of the fresh creations from the bakery at a local grocery store, I am starting to turn around a little. This past weekend we celebrated the birthday of Sidney’s niece with cupcakes and they tasted lovely. I want to admit to everyone that I was a little too hard on cupcakes. That doesn’t mean I like the chicken wing and Bud Light variety, however.

My attitude has changed regarding cupcakes but that doesn't mean I like the Bud Light and chicken wing variety.

My attitude has changed regarding cupcakes but that doesn’t mean I like the Bud Light and chicken wing variety.

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When you have written over 800 posts, you can be wrong every now and then. I mean a 99.25% correct rate isn’t bad, right? Okay, I will stop with the jokes. This post was meant to illustrate that I make dumb predictions and statements every now and then. It is true and the above examples prove it. I will try to do better and I thank you for your continued readership throughout my blunders. Don’t Blink.

What Really Fascinates Me About Caitlyn Jenner

I admit it, I caught the final glimpses of Bruce Jenner. I sat down and watched his 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer. He came across as a very personable and eccentric guy. I got an extra dose of him when Sidney convinced me to watch “The Kardashians” for the first time in my life. We watched the two episodes that dealt with how Bruce’s family was handling his decision. Once again he seemed like a super nice guy. Well, he is not a {super nice} guy anymore.

The Vanity Fair cover blazed across social media like wildfire. We have all probably heard the same cliché punchlines hundreds of times by now. I am not writing this blog post tonight to make fun of Caitlyn Jenner. I am not writing it to question or condemn Ms. Jenner either. Rather, I am writing this post to actually marvel at modern surgical procedures.

This image of Caitlyn Jenner created quite the buzz today.

This image of Caitlyn Jenner created quite the buzz today.

In my mind, I am always amazed that a person can be a man and completely transform to a woman. I feel the same way about a woman completely morphing into a man. I am saying this in a strictly transformation sense. I mean holy cow, doctors are incredibly good. To sit back for a moment and take in the fact that we have medical professionals who are skilled enough to legitimately turn a man into a woman is pretty crazy. I wonder if these doctors thought to themselves in their toddler days, “Hey, I am going to grow up and develop the skill where I can change the sex of people.”

From the completely objective view, the capability of anyone being able to do this is fascinating. For someone like me who knows about as much about medicine/surgery as I do about Khloe Kardashian, it almost seems to me like magic. People should not be able to just go from a boy to a girl or from a girl to a boy (saying this in a bewilderment state, not in a condemning state).

I think the Jenner saga blew my mind even more. When I saw him just a short time ago on 20/20 and on his reality show, he had female characteristics but was still very much a man to me. Then, seemingly at the snap of the fingers, she is now a full-fledged woman. Jenner seemed to go through a door in one condition and then walked out in a whole different one. When Jenner told Sawyer that the next time he would give an interview would be when he was a woman I was expecting that date to be a couple years down the road. I had no idea it would happen so fast. Absolute craziness.

Human advancements in medicine/surgery are absolutely crazy. No matter what way you lean in all of this, and I am keeping my own mouth shut, you can’t help but admit that. It makes you wonder what the next major transformation procedure will be. Don’t Blink.