Graphic Influences and Precious Text Messages

I like Thursdays more than half of the other days of the week and a reason for that is because of the Thursday Rundown. Here we go with this week’s five random topics…

Magazine Feature – Our latest alumni magazine here at Coastal Carolina University was recently sent out to the masses. I am tasked with contributing a piece of some sort to the twice-a-year publication. This time around I had the opportunity to do a short story on the opening of our beautiful new baseball stadium. I wrote the copy and conducted the interviews while our amazing graphics team came up with the sweet layout.

This is the portion that I got to contribute to Coastal Magazine.

This is the portion that I got to contribute to Coastal Magazine.

Fat Brent – Speaking of our graphics team, the head man of that group, Rob Wyeth, created this flattering image of me. Rob usually responds to most of my blog posts with a witty sentence or two but this time around he replied with a graphic. Of course this came about because of my post I wrote earlier this week regarding my Cookie Dough Café concept. If I did in fact open such a place I would indeed probably look like this. But then since I would be so rich I would get liposuction.

That cookie dough will catch up to you after awhile.

That cookie dough will catch up to you after a while.

Price of Parking – I explained last week that Sidney, her dad, and myself would be making the night trip to and from Charleston to pick up her car. Left at the airport for two weeks because we had to drive it there to catch a flight, the charges piled up just a little bit. Just another byproduct of Delta’s incompetence.

The cost to keep Sidney's vehicle parked at the Charleston Airport. Thanks Delta!

The cost to keep Sidney’s vehicle parked at the Charleston Airport. Thanks Delta!

Precious Texting – Sidney has an adorable six-year-old niece who I already pretty much consider my niece as well. Yesterday I was surprised when I received a text message from her! Using an old phone of her parents, she got my phone number and made my afternoon. We had a very meaningful conversation as we went back and forth a few times. You can never send too many emoticon hearts.

Russell and I had quite the conversation.

Russell and I had quite the conversation.

Wedding Update – Today at our second marriage meeting we expressed the date we want for our wedding and submitted it for approval by the priest! Also related to our wedding, I am amazed at the amount of planning that Sidney and her mom have already devoted to the big day. Although we won’t say our vows for another 11 months, important things still need to be done this early in the game. Shout out to my fiancé for picking out her dress this week!


Last weekend was extremely relaxing and I hope to do it again this weekend. I wish the same for all of you. Be safe and enjoy the British Open. Don’t Blink.

The Defining Songs of My Years

Each morning at the gym, the facility’s sound system plays a rather random selection of songs. While modern, the playlist always seems to span a good decade or so. Although not one who concentrates a lot on music while working out, I can’t help but notice what is being played.

For many, myself included, music instantaneously connects us to memories. When we hear a song, it elicits a response within us. When I work out here on campus, I play a game with what song is played. I immediately think to myself “sophomore year of high school” or “junior year of college” or “second season working at Montana”. Because songs are so strongly locked in my head with periods of my life, I can identify what year they were released in (give or take a year) with ease.

In tonight’s blog post, I want to share with you the particular song that I immediately associate with a given year starting with when I consciously started listening to mainstream radio. Keep in mind, in no way does this necessarily mean I love the song, it just means that for whatever reason it stood out for me during that year. To not leave you completely in the dark, I will make sure to briefly share that silly reason for each song. So let’s go back to right before I entered middle school…

Get ready for the soundtrack to my life!

Get ready for the soundtrack to my life!

Song: “Semi-Charmed Life”
Artist: Third Eye Blind
Memory: Driving around in my mom’s car hearing “doo doo doo, doo doo-doo doo” all summer long.

Song: “Livin La Vida Loca”
Artist: Ricky Martin
Memory: Played all through basketball camp and it also turned into a cultural sensation.

Song: “Hanging By A Moment”
Artist: Lifehouse
Memory: This song accompanied our 8th grade end-of-year slideshow.

Song: “Beautiful Day”
Artist: U2
Memory: Heard this song quite a bit in the post-9/11 months and it is one of my personal all-time favorite tracks.

Song: “Hot in Herre”
Artist: Nelly
Memory: Extremely trashy song but heard it all summer long in our high school weight room during football workouts. Best memory is one day when the lyrics “Get up onto that dance floor” started to play our conditioning coach yelled in his best Nelly voice “Get up onto that football field” (it was time to transition from weights to sprints).

Song: “Ignition (Remix)”
Artist: Usher
Memory: Still a favorite for many today, this was one of our victory songs that we performed on the bus ride home after football wins.

Song: “Let’s Get It Started”
Artist: Black Eyed Peas
Memory: During the 2004 season, the NBA used this song as its theme music during the playoffs.

Song: “Scars”
Artist: Papa Roach
Memory: My friends and I had just turned 18 and we would drive out to a big casino about 30 minutes away. This song was on one of my badly burned CDs that we would listen to on our journey out to lose money.

Song: “How to Save a Life”
Artist: The Fray
Memory: Not having a car my first couple years of college, I relied on other people for rides. This one friend of mine always played this song in his truck when I drove around with him.

Song: “Glamorous”
Artist: Fergie
Memory: I was a resident assistant my sophomore year of college and it seemed like the whole residence hall believed they were glamorous as I remember hearing this song coming out of many doors.

Song: “Don’t Blink”
Artist: Kenny Chesney
Memory: Right when this song came out it spoke to me. I watched the music video over and over. Anyone surprised that this made the list?

Song: “I Gotta Feeling”
Artist: Black Eyed Peas
Memory: How can anyone not listen to this song and think immediately of the summer of 2009? My greatest memory though is playing this song immediately after the Montana-Appalachian State semi-final football game in December of that year (before the song was cliché). The win was so big and the party on the field so crazy that it was the only time we played music AFTER a game.

Song: “Dynamite”
Artist: Taio Cruz
Memory: Someone submitted a Monte mascot audition tape to me in April or May of 2010. It was set to this song and was the first time I had ever heard it. Liked it right from the start.

Song: “Super Bass”
Artist: Nicki Minaj
Memory: I have multiple memories associated with this song, making it just a little bit more meaningful than runner-up “Party Rock Anthem.”

Song: “Give Your Heart a Break”
Artist: Demi Lovato
Memory: The first time I heard this song, right when it gets to the part where Demi sings “The World is ours, if we want it…” I thought to myself, man, this girl is really belting it. I became a Demi fan that day and still enjoy overdramatizing the song when it comes on.

Song: “Can’t Hold Us”
Artist: Macklemore
Memory: Became the theme of both Montana basketball programs when the Griz and Lady Griz made it to their respective NCAA tournaments. I heard it and played it a lot.

Song: “Beachin’”
Artist: Jake Owen
Memory: First several months in Myrtle Beach I would constantly hear this song and know it was written exactly for me.

Song: TBD
Artist: TBD
Memory: TBD

There you have it, the soundtrack to my life basically. Do you have any songs that bring you back to a specific period? I bet your playlist isn’t as cool as mine. Don’t Blink.

Cookie Dough Cafe

Now I can already hear a collective groan from my readers as I announce that I have another bright idea! My past crazy plans to get rich by thinking outside the box are usually met with either sarcasm or a notice that my “original idea” has already been thought of and implemented. Here I go putting myself out there again.

What do you all think about an eatery specializing in cookie dough? Yes, cookie dough. It would be called the Cookie Dough Café and the entire menu would consist of different types of cookie dough incorporated into various desserts.

I know you can buy tubs of cookie dough for fundraisers. I know you can purchase chocolate covered cookie dough candy. I know you can go to Dairy Queen and get a sundae with layers of cookie dough in it. But this idea of mine is completely different. I am talking about a gourmet cookie dough oasis.

My Cookie Dough Café would be very similar in layout to an ice cream parlor or fudge store. You would go inside and behind glass at the counter you would have around eight different types of cookie dough displayed in such a way that your mouth would instantly water. Think basic cookie dough flavors such as chocolate chip, peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia, triple chocolate, and snickerdoodle. But then for the more adventurous tastes you would have cookie dough flavors such as cake batter, orangesicle (hit with the kids), and red velvet cake.

You could order in the most absolute basic way like at an ice cream shop in which you could select a small, medium, or large cup of cookie dough. However, my business plan would make the most “dough” (come on, you laughed at that) by selling the premium cookie dough desserts. I am talking cookie dough waffles, cookie dough sandwiches (two baked cookies in between cookie dough), cookie dough shakes, cookie dough stuffed chocolate shells, or cookie dough covered apples.

The most popular item on the menu would be the “ice cream-less cookie dough sundae.” Customers would choose the scoop of cookie dough they wanted and it would be covered with whipped cream, hot fudge, and a cherry. I have yet to decide if I want to offer the product in a cookie crust bowl.

Two things would make the Cookie Dough Café experience memorable. First, customers would be sold the second they walk in the door. The aroma of all those different types of cookie doughs swirling together would create a euphoria for the nose the second they step inside the walls. Second, the cookie dough would be quality, just like what you can remember eating when your mom would give you a spoonful of her dough before she put it into the oven. In the past I have pushed cheap, easily made crap for my ideas. Not for Cookie Dough Café.

This concept is new, creative, and enticing. Who wouldn’t want to visit a dessert place specializing in cookie dough? We all say that cookie dough is better than cookies…isn’t it about time that we actually specialize in what we all want? I think I got a winner with this one. Don’t Blink.

Missing My Reunion!

It almost turned into a disaster. Several months back, a well-intentioned person (or people, I really don’t know), started a Facebook group to discuss plans for a high school class reunion. While the goal was to brainstorm and nail down dates for a possible reunion in the summer, some “class clowns” had other ideas. A crude joke or two was posted, draining the enthusiasm and support that initially existed from the page. However, true to the spirit of Mead Panthers, a couple motivated individuals swooped in and rallied support while setting up a reunion itinerary.

Next month my high school class will hold its 10-year reunion. The Mead High School Class of 2005 will host your typical agenda for such an occasion; an informal evening cocktail party, a family opportunity in a park, and a formal dinner to cap things off. For me, I am trying to figure out what I am more upset about…the fact that it has been 10 years or the reality that I will not be able to attend.

Sure, it seems like I have been out of high school for a long time but a decade? I don’t think the title of my blog could describe my thoughts on that any better. I just hold close to my heart that I am still in my twenties!

When it comes to my absence from my 10-year reunion I am bummed. I had a great high school experience and met mostly good people. I would love to see where all my former classmates are at in their lives today. But time off work is precious and flying across the country and back twice in the span of 30 days isn’t cost effective…especially when you are planning a wedding. With that said, while it is with regret that I won’t be attending, it is not like I am crying my eyes out.

You see, I visited Spokane for almost two great weeks recently. It just so happened that I ran into several of my high school friends randomly, whether it was during Hoopfest or some other chance occurrence. I also got to sit down with some of my high school football teammates, people who I consider myself much closer to than many of the students I am associated with just based off of my class year. And, although a bit embarrassed to admit it, during my time at home I went to the old Mead High School track to work out. So while I might miss the official reunion dates in early August, I feel like I already got my own mini reunion.

To all my fellow 2005 Panther grads, I hope you have a great time participating in the reunion activities. I will make sure to keep an eye on the Facebook page for all the photos uploaded during the fun. Still Alive 2005. Don’t Blink.

#UpForWhatever When It Comes to Brand Packaging

Sitting here on this Sunday afternoon I am contemplating why more food and beverage companies don’t do something so simple with their packaging. Giants like Coca-Cola and Snapple have done it with great success while other companies don’t make the minimal effort to do so.

I have always fallen sucker to big brands who offer interactive twists on the packaging of their product. While I have devoted a lot of my time and money in the past to playing promotional redemption contests that companies introduce (i.e. MyCokeRewards or McDonalds Monopoly), today’s blog post isn’t about the marketing campaigns that reward the customer with something in return. Rather, it is about the effort that some companies take to make the customer laugh, think, or share.

Let me cut to the chase. I will be much more likely to buy a product if a company does something humorous and/or creative with their packaging/labeling.

I really started thinking about this tendency of mine a couple weeks ago. While hanging out in Spokane with my family and fiancé, we were drinking Bud Light bottles. This summer, as part of the brand’s #UpForWHATEVER campaign, Bud Light is placing short phrases on its 12 oz. bottles starting with the words “The Perfect Beer…”. These little one liners are incredibly stupid. For example, I had one that read “The Perfect Beer to improve your beanbag marksmanship.” Or recently I had another that said “The Perfect Beer for walking the line between late night and early morning with tacos in hand and friends by your side.” Still another one read “The Perfect Beer for shaking what your mama gave you.”

Some of the silly sayings on Bud Light labels.

Some of the silly sayings on Bud Light labels.

The numerous phrases that Bud Light has pasted on bottle labels all share two things in common: they are all random and they are all dumb. But we love it!

Whenever my family reached for a new Bud Light, we read aloud the phrase on the bottle. It made us all roll our eyes but laugh at the same time. These stupid saying had such an impact with us that something interesting happened during the last BBQ we had in Spokane before Sidney and I went back to Myrtle Beach. My brother, a die hard Coors Light drinker, showed up at my parents’ house that night with a 24-pack of Bud Light bottles.

This was the BBQ where Glen brought over Bud Light bottles instead of his favorite, Coors Light.

This was the BBQ where Glen brought over Bud Light bottles instead of his favorite, Coors Light.

Last night, even though we were 3,000 miles away, the game still continued. While drinking Bud Lights during a low country boil, Sidney and I read our labels to each other. We then snapped a photo of the phrase and sent it back to my brother. Wonderful marketing by Bud Light.

Sorry to bring up another example revolving around beer but I must tell the story of Pabst Blue Ribbon. I am not a PBR drinker by any means, however, if I am drinking it from a bottle I can tolerate it. The company had the genius idea of placing a card value under each cap (think 10 of Spades or Queen of Hearts). When you have a group of people together, it is fun to create different hands and compete against each other. For some this simple tactic might not do much for them but it reels me right in. I now have no problem drinking the stuff with my PBR-loving dad.

A shining example of packaging fun goes to Coca-Cola. The #ShareACoke campaign has been a smashing success. Everyone wanted their name on a Coke bottle or can. The company wisely extended the campaign by recently offering terms of endearment such as BFF and Soul Mate. I go back to my vacation in Spokane. My parents stocked their fridge with cans of Sidney’s favorite beverage, Diet Coke. Each time she pulled a can out of the refrigerator we got a kick out of what it would say.

Jokes on popsicle sticks, facts on Snapple caps, and games on backs of cereal boxes are other examples of making products attractive beyond just their taste. While this type of marketing might not work on some, it definitely does on me. Companies that go the extra mile to liven up packaging will win over customers in the end. Don’t Blink.

Not Throwback Thursday but Rundown Thursday

Some call it Throwback Thursday but I call it Rundown Thursday. Here we go with five completely random topics.

Back to Work – Although sad that my vacation had ended, I wasn’t sad to return to work today. In fact, I expediated my reunion with Coastal Carolina University by stopping by the office for about an hour yesterday. Before plunging head first into a full day of work after two weeks off, I wanted to make sure the little things and housekeeping issues were in check. Today was a good day. When you are in a profession like mine, you never really have complete time off. While out west I was still working a little bit each day. When you are so far away and working from a lap top, it feels like you aren’t doing a good enough job. You long for the resources available at your home base. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I was still on vacation spending time with my family but it feels good to be back in the office devoting 100% to the job I love.

Water Challenge – Every now and then I like to share the wacky challenges I see on social media. A few weeks ago I wrote about the Brew Mile Challenge. I raised the white flag before I would even attempt such a thing. But the Water Challenge? Is this a joke? Who out there couldn’t drink a gallon of water over the course of a day? I know I could do that much more comfortably as opposed to drinking a liter of soda in a day. But after I saw about five people share it on Facebook I guess some are really considering it a task. I know the main purpose of this is to promote healthy habits but it seems like the “toughness” of it is being glorified as well. Is this harder than I think?

This is the Water Challenger. Am I underestimating the difficulty?

This is the Water Challenger. Am I underestimating the difficulty?

Big Brother 17 – I don’t usually watch sitcoms and reality shows unless I am watching them with my fiance. Well, she has reeled me in yet again. This time it is “Big Brother.” Unlike “The Mindy Project” or her favorites on Netflix, this one hasn’t grown on me yet. In fact, I find “Big Brother” incredibly stupid. When Kathy Griffin appeared on a recent episode I wanted to stop watching altogther. However, I am going to stick it out. Keep me in your prayers.

Wedding Update #1 – Speaking of prayers, Sidney and I met with a representative from St. Andrew Catholic Church yesterday to begin preparation for our big day next June. We are excited to start the journey that will help us grow as a couple and lead us to the altar in 11 months. In related news, by next week we will have a specific date selected.

I am a parishioner of St. Andrew and come June I will be getting married inside these walls.

I am a parishioner of St. Andrew and come June I will be getting married inside these walls.

A Round Trip to Charleston – Remember when I told you about our nightmare with Delta Airlines? Tonight we clean up another part that resulted from that snafu. Sidney’s car is still in Charleston from when we had to drive there in the middle of the night to catch a flight to salvage our vacation. We flew into Myrtle Beach yesterday but were too tired and too busy to make the trip to pick it up. Now I need to stop writing so Sidney, her dad, and I can make the two-hour drive to Charleston to pick up her car from long term parking. It is going to be a late night!


Best part of returning from vacation on a Wednesday is that you have a work week that is only two days long. I am looking forward to working Friday and then enjoying a relaxing weekend in Myrtle Beach. To all my readers, have a great weekend as well! Don’t Blink.

What Made My Vacation Special

After almost two weeks out west, I am back in Myrtle Beach. My time in the northwest was characterized by road trips, non-humid weather, reunions, and great food. However, there are two major themes of the trip that I will always remember my 2015 Summer Homecoming by.

The first hallmark will go down as the “Engagement Honeymoon.” It was so special to go on this trip with Sidney just a day after I proposed to her. We took the energy and excitement from that unforgettable evening and rode it throughout the trip. She got to meet the people most important to me in Spokane, Seattle, Missoula, and Walla Walla. I felt so fortunate to show her off while also revealing to her my background and influences. We brought back to Myrtle Beach many memories.

While out west, Sidney was able to spend a lot of time with the people closest to me.

While out west, Sidney was able to spend a lot of time with the people closest to me.

The second theme that I will always remember this trip by is FAMILY. I can’t express how special it was to be with my immediate family over the past 12 days. With the engagement, with the carefree attitude of summer, and with the chemistry of the whole Reser family together, I can easily say it was probably my most rewarding vacation. My last day in Spokane, I took time to read the picture frame surrounding a photo of the five of us from about eight years ago. While some might dismiss it as a cheesy greeting card headline, it really hit home for me: The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing. It is so true.

This quote rang true for me.

This quote rang true for me.

Thanks to everyone for making my time in Washington and Montana so special. I already miss you all but will see you soon. Don’t Blink.

An Independence Weekend for the Books

This past weekend we logged some miles as we drove across the great state of Washington. My brother, Sidney, and I went hard on our Fourth of July trip as we went from pretty much the eastern most point of the state to the western most point to the southern most point. It was a great time.

Right before we even logged one mile on our awesome trip, we posed for this photo in my parent's living room.

Right before we even logged one mile on our awesome trip, we posed for this photo in my parent’s living room.

On Friday morning, the three of us left Spokane and made the 4.5 hour drive to Seattle. About 60 miles from the Emerald City we stopped in a place called North Bend and picked up my brother’s friend, Cassie. From there we bulldozed straight to our destination, arriving in Seattle at around 12:30 p.m. We spent the afternoon exploring the downtown Seattle area as we explored Pike Place Market and toured the waterfront.

We had fun in Seattle! The top photo is of my brother and I at the Waterfront. The bottom left photo is of Sidney and I at Pike Place, and the bottom right photo is of our crew.

We had fun in Seattle! The top photo is of my brother and I at the Waterfront. The bottom left photo is of Sidney and I at Pike Place, and the bottom right photo is of our crew.

Sidney was a little overwhelmed by the density of people we encountered while walking through the market area. It was shoulder to shoulder the whole time. She also got to experience the incredible diversity of Seattle as well. When it comes to exotic cities, Seattle is definitely right up on top of the list so it was cool to show her it all. As with the rest of the state, it was HOT. After looking around for a few hours, we needed to cool off. While walking back to our car we found a bar tucked in with the endless coffee shops. We dropped in and had a couple cold ones.

Sid and I in front of Pike Place.

Sid and I in front of Pike Place.

From there it was time to prepare for Kenny’s wedding. After a day in the sun, we desperately needed to shower. Thanks to Cassie’s connection, Sidney and I ended up getting ready in a Seattle suburb YMCA. We left the facility all cleaned up and Glen took us to the wedding venue.

Sidney and I all cleaned up in the Shoreline YMCA parking lot.

Sidney and I all cleaned up in the Shoreline YMCA parking lot.

Kenny and Steve had their wedding ceremony on a ship overlooking the Seattle skyline. Specifically, it was on the MV Skansonia, a retired Washington State ferry. The ship was docked on the north shore of Lake Union and the view was absolutely beautiful. The ceremony itself only lasted about 15 minutes but it was enjoyed by all and done exactly to the specifications of Kenny and Steve. Once they said “I do” we enjoyed the reception and I had the privilege of chatting with old co-workers and friends from Missoula. I wish we could have stayed longer at the reception but we needed to get back in the car.

The top photo is of Sid and I with the gorgeous view from the ship as a background. The photo in the upper right hand corner is of the reception (courtesy of Kenny and Steve's photographer). The bottom photo is of the wedding party (courtesy of Kenny and Steve's photographer).

The top photo is of Sid and I with the gorgeous view from the ship as a background. The photo in the upper right hand corner is of the reception (courtesy of Kenny and Steve’s photographer). The bottom photo is of the wedding party (courtesy of Kenny and Steve’s photographer).

With Glen and Cassie waiting at the dock for us, we jumped in the vehicle and started to make the trek to Walla Walla, Washington. On the way we stopped in North Bend and dropped Cassie off. While Sidney slept in the back seat, Glen and I chatted the whole four hours to Walla Walla. We pulled up to my uncle’s house at around 2 a.m. and then crashed on his basement couches, exhausted after a long day.

Later that morning I awoke and talked with my Uncle Bob upstairs as we caught up after a couple years. Glen and Sidney then woke up and we went out and bought fireworks and other necessary supplies at the grocery store. We then went to my Aunt Nancy’s downtown shop where we met up with her, my parents, my cousin (Abby), Abby’s boyfriend, and Abby’s friend. Nancy and Abby showered Sidney with flowers and gifts.

All decked out for the Fourth of July with my cousin Abby in my Aunt Nancy's shop.

All decked out for the Fourth of July with my cousin Abby in my Aunt Nancy’s shop.

After our time at the shop, we went to Pioneer Park, a beautiful large green area in Walla Walla covered with magnificently old trees. On the Fourth of July, Pioneer Park holds a celebration with music, vendors, and food. We walked around and then settled in some shade and ate curly fries. From there we went back to my Uncle Bob’s and we swam in his pool for a couple hours and relaxed.

Some photos from our time at the park and at my Uncle Bob's pool.

Some photos from our time at the park and at my Uncle Bob’s pool.

A little later that night after we all showered we went over to my cousin Rachelle’s house for our big Reser Family BBQ. When Sidney and I arrived, about 20 people were on hand to welcome her to the family. They ushered us all into Rachelle’s kitchen and sang us “Happy Engagement” (to the tune of “Happy Birthday”). It was a great evening as Sidney got to meet my dad’s family and see what being a Reser is all about. We ate good food, played lawn games, told stories, and lit off a bunch of fireworks. It was perfect.

A photo of Sid and I at the BBQ on the left and then a couple photos of my bro on the right.

A photo of Sid and I at the BBQ on the left and then a couple photos of my bro on the right.

The next morning we all met up again for breakfast at a local restaurant. Once again it was a relaxing time where Sidney had the opportunity to get to know my family more. After the meal we took some photos and it was back to Spokane. On the way home, we stopped in another small Washington town, Dayton, so we could say hi to my Uncle Jim. Yet another relative I was able to introduce Sidney to. We arrived in Spokane at around 2:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon.

Me with my Aunt Debbie, Aunt Nancy, and Aunt Judy after breakfast on Sunday.

Me with my Aunt Debbie, Aunt Nancy, and Aunt Judy after breakfast on Sunday.

It was a crazy, fun Fourth of July weekend. It will definitely go down as a memorable one. I am so thankful to my brother who volunteered to drive us on our crazy odyssey. During that drive from Seattle to Walla Walla where Glen and I chatted about everything under the sun while Sidney slept in the back seat, I found it the perfect time to ask him a question. Nonchalantly I inquired whether he would honor me by serving as my Best Man next June. He accepted. By all accounts it was a wonderful trip! Not only did I get to see my good friend get married and not only did I get to see my family and introduce them to Sid, I also got to bond even more with my brother. Epic weekend for sure. Don’t Blink.

Fourth Of July Thursday Rundown

A happy holiday weekend to you all! It is my hope that most of you will enjoy a vacation day tomorrow. What better way to kick off your elongated weekend than to read my west coast Thursday Rundown? Here we go!

Southern Cuisine Out West – Although Sidney and I are enjoying our time out west, it doesn’t mean we have abandoned all Southern traditions. Sidney (with help from my mom) prepared two South Carolina delicacies for my family to enjoy. Last night she made chicken bog which was greeted by rave reviews from my brother and sister. Today she and my mom joined forces to prepare boiled peanuts. I can’t wait to see the reaction from Glen and Miranda once they try them. Will the texture and non-traditional peanut properties turn them off? Or will they love them as much as me? We shall see!

The delicious southern treats we enjoyed over the past few days. Up top is chicken bog, below are boiled peanuts, and the photo on the right is my mom by the crock pot.

The delicious southern treats we enjoyed over the past few days. Up top is chicken bog, below is a container of boiled peanuts, and the photo on the right is my mom by the crock pot.

Beautiful, Beautiful Baby – I can’t get enough of my niece. Mikayla has grown so much since I last saw her but she is ADORABLE. She smiles, claps her hands, sits up, and reaches out for me. She is so precious. I have seen her just about every day since I have been here and she definitely has my heart. She is coming over again this evening and I can’t wait to hold her!

Some of my favorite shots of Mikayla this weekend.

Some of my favorite shots of Mikayla this weekend.

Wedding Bells – Tomorrow Sidney and I will head to Seattle with my brother as a chauffer. During the day I will show Sid the sights of the Emerald City. Come night we will be attending a wedding for my very good friend and mentor, Kenny. A subject of a blog post several months ago, Kenny will marry his boyfriend, Steve, at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Sidney and I are excited for the ceremony and the start of their life together.

Kenny and I on the sidelines in Clemson's Memorial Stadium in October of 2014.

Kenny and I on the sidelines in Clemson’s Memorial Stadium in October of 2014.

Fourth of July Plans – After the wedding festivities, we will head back in the eastern direction and travel to Walla Walla, Washington. I grew up making regular trips to the “town so nice they named it twice” because my parents grew up there and all of their extended family still enjoy residency in one of the best wine towns you will ever visit. On tap will be fun in the pool at my uncle’s, a stroll at the city park’s Fourth of July celebration, and then a BBQ that night with my dad’s family. It will be a fabulous and eventful holiday.

Me in Walla Walla at our family Fourth of July celebration in 2013.

Me in Walla Walla at our family Fourth of July celebration in 2013.

Pop-Its – With a fireworks ban here in Spokane, what I have pictured below accounts for the only pyrotechnics you will find in Spokane (fireworks are legal in Walla Walla, however). Sidney bought a few boxes of Pop-Its at Walgreens and we played with them the other night. Sid was fascinated that I would snap them with my fingers, thinking it would hurt. While I have no problem popping them with my hands, I did not accept a challenge from a Periscope user. The person told me to detonate them with my teeth…no thank you.

Sid holding the Pop-Its.

Sid holding the Pop-Its.


Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I wish you a wonderful patriotic holiday. If you wish to receive my holiday text message and aren’t on my regular distribution list, please contact me. God bless America. Don’t Blink.

Delta Airlines Screwjob

Last week at this time I was crushed. A day after the happiest moment of my life, I was scrambling to salvage my summer vacation. Sidney and I had our reservations set to fly out of Myrtle Beach on the evening of Wednesday, June 24. After finishing the day at CCU I rushed home and packed a few last minute items. As I was zipping up my suitcase and waiting for Sidney to arrive before our first leg of our flight that would take us back to Spokane, I received a phone call from an unfamiliar number. After debating whether to answer it or not, I took the call.

“Hello, this is Brent.”
“Good evening. This is Delta Airlines. I am calling to inform you that your flight tonight has been canceled due to inclement weather.”

Pretty much right at that point I lost it. What inclement weather? It is absolutely gorgeous out. What are you going to do to get us to Spokane? How are you going to make this up to us?

The response from the Delta agent was almost as infuriating as the initial news. She told me that most flights tomorrow were full. She didn’t know exactly when she could reschedule us to get us to Spokane. She said Delta couldn’t control Mother Nature. She said the airline owed us nothing. Her lack of sympathy and solutions sent me off my rocker. I gave her a piece of my mind and she threatened to hang up on me. I apologized and told her that I would regain my composure and we would figure out a solution together. At first the best she could give me was an arrangement where we would touchdown in Spokane at 11 p.m. on Thursday. I told her that was completely unacceptable. Not only did I have an event that I had organized for 6 p.m. Thursday evening, but sacrificing a full day of my vacation with my family would not fly. I demanded that she do better. After much searching, the absolute best scenario she could give me was an itinerary where Sidney and I would get into Spokane at 7 p.m. on Thursday. I grudgingly told her to book us for those flights (noting that I would miss the majority of the event I had planned) but to actively look for a more suitable option.

Sidney’s sister, who was supposed to take us to the airport, instead had to just drop Sid off at my place since we would not be getting on an airplane that night. Sidney immediately sensed my despair and did what she could to work something out. She called Delta and suffered through long hold times until she reached an agent. On more than one occasion, different employees told her that the best they could do was to get us in Spokane by 7 p.m. the next day. It was devastating.

I only see my family a limited number of days each year. We had booked our flights way in advance and paid good money. It was a beautiful evening. I had taken precious time off of work. I had a function that I had organized for 6 p.m. on Thursday night. We simply would not accept this bizarre last minute cancelation with little to no assistance from Delta to make the situation better. Luckily, Sidney came up with a brilliant idea. Perhaps we could fly out from a different airport.

She called up Delta once again and sat through the long hold period. Once she reached an agent she inquired about other airports nearby. It just so happened that we could fly out of Charleston early the next morning and arrive in Spokane at 12:30 p.m. the next day. While definitely not the ideal solution compared to our original itinerary, it was the best we could do. We booked the reservation.

Our troubles weren’t over though. We had to figure out a way to get to Charleston. Of course we wanted to avoid leaving a vehicle at the airport for two weeks. Unfortunately none of Sidney’s family could give us a ride, connections we had in Charleston weren’t available to let us leave our car at their homes throughout the duration of our trip, and a last ditch social media effort on my part to pay a willing soul $100 to take Sidney and I to the city yielded no takers. After we experienced these disappointments, Sidney came up with another great idea. What if we took a rental car one way to Charleston? With Enterprise it would cost us less than $100 and we wouldn’t have to worry about bothering anyone. We made a reservation and at about 11 p.m. we drove to the airport to pick up our car.

We were immediately hammered with problems. When I tried to pay for the car with my debit card, Enterprise told me I needed a credit card. I have never owned a credit card in my life. They said they couldn’t rent to me and Sidney had left her own credit card at my apartment. We went to two other desks at the airport that would rent without a credit card. However, one agency had an astronomical rate that we decided to pass on while another agency rejected me because I had no credit to begin with (as I said, I have never owned a credit card before). Sidney and I drove all the way back to my apartment and retrieved her credit card. We went back to Enterprise only to learn that because of a technicality her credit card would be rejected. We then went to the other company but Sid was rejected this time because of her age. Things were looking really bad.

By this time it was midnight and the bad weather had finally arrived. It was pouring down rain and both of us were soaked and sad. With no other options and our backs up against a wall, Sidney and I came to the realization that we needed to just suck it up and drive ourselves to Charleston. At 1:30 a.m. we made the two hour journey to Chucktown. We arrived at the airport tired and emotionally drained but we made our flight and made it to Spokane before 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Trials and tribulations got our vacation off to a rocky start but we battled through it all and did the best we could to salvage as much of our time in Spokane that we possibly could. It was our first big setback as an engaged couple but we did what we could to problem solve. I was disappointed in the performance and customer service of Delta, an airline that usually always comes through for me. In the end we put the challenges behind us and got into Spokane only a few hours later than what was originally planned. I know these are first world problems but I was really stressing out. Luckily I have a wonderful fiancé who kept a cool head and helped us reach the best possible solution given the circumstances. Don’t Blink.