Adjusting to Fourth Grade

Well, my wife has spent more than a week as a fourth grade teacher and is starting to get settled in. After five years as a second grade teacher, the jump in grade level has provided a change of pace for Sidney. Through our conversations at the dinner table, three themes seem to stand out about her new assignment.

Sidney started as a fourth grade teacher last week. This is her today in her new “flair” shirt (you have to be a teacher to get the reference).

Dang, these kids are smart – You might be thinking duh, right? But it doesn’t just revolve around their ability to understand multiplication tables. Sure, the intellectual capacity of fourth graders is greater, but they are smarter in other ways as well. Their understanding of cultural customs and differences is superior to what it was as second graders. They also understand social principles and problem solving strategies better. The gap in overall intelligence between Mrs. Reser and her new class has closed a bit.

Same dog, same tricks – In Sidney’s class there are several students she taught in second grade. When asked how it is to re-teach these children, she famously says “I like it but I don’t like it.” These students know Sid’s style and have quickly adjusted their expectations and tendencies to conform to it. On the other side of the coin, they also know her “tricks” and aren’t as susceptible to her ploys of harmless manipulation. But make no mistake, the familiarity is more of an asset than a headache.

Starting Over – Sidney didn’t just move to a different classroom. Besides her new digs, she also has a new curriculum and a new team of teachers. She can’t rollover past lesson plans from the last half decade as fourth graders learn entirely different material than second graders. As you can imagine, developing new lessons takes time and creativity. She is also interacting daily with a different teacher team. In the second grade, Sid had the blessing of learning and working with veteran teachers who had decades of experience under their belts. She is now with a fourth grade team comprised of teachers more her age and on par with her experience level. The situation has its advantages and disadvantages but the one major reality is that becoming a well-oiled fourth grade machine will take time as Sid and her co-workers learn to work and plan together. So far, it is going great!


I am proud of Sid for answering the call of her principal and teaching fourth grade. Change can be hard, but my wife is talented at making the most of it. Don’t Blink.

Walking Away

When I heard the news over the weekend that Andrew Luck was retiring, one thought came directly to mind: Good for him.

Well played, Andrew Luck. Enjoy retirement.

Why stay? Why continue to do something that is wreaking havoc on yourself both mentally and physically? That he is able to easily walk away at 29 years old with his body still healthy and his pockets still loaded is an accomplishment 99% of the work force will never experience.

Perhaps that is why Luck was booed after leaving the field on Saturday night. Was it just pure jealousy? To retire before turning 30 is a luxury all of us would like (or would have liked) to have. Or, perhaps the people who heckled the quarterback simply did so because of what it might mean for the chances of their team. But honestly, check your priorities if you are so wrapped up in an NFL franchise or a fantasy team that you need to boo someone who is doing what is best for his family.

I put the situation in perspective by thinking about it from my own career perspective. If I was working at a university led by an under 40 rock star president who brought the institution to new heights only to unexpectedly retire, I couldn’t hold it against him/her. Stress is intense for top administrators in higher education and even though it would be a huge loss, you got to respect that the person did what was right for them and their family.

By walking away from the game, I think Andrew Luck showed that Stanford really does produce geniuses. I wish him the best in retirement and hope he makes the most out of an opportunity many of us will only dream of having. Don’t Blink.

Blueberry Thursday Rundown

Greetings, everyone! Excuse me, but I must admit that I am a little tired, it has been quite the week. Needless to say, I am ready for Friday to arrive. But fatigue will never halt the Thursday Rundown so let’s get started…

The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich – I watched with interest as Popeyes duked it out on social media with other fast food restaurants after the release of its chicken sandwich. Although I know that being rude and crude on social media has paid big dividends for some companies, I could personally never follow suit. I wouldn’t want to work for an employer that would sell out its integrity for “likes” and perhaps a little larger bottom line. BUT, regarding the important part of this debate, there is no better chicken sandwich than the one you can order at Chick-fil-A.

This image of Popeyes’ chicken sandwich has become extremely popular over the past few days.

Coupon Cards – A couple nights ago, a Carolina Forest High School football player stopped by our house to sell us a coupon card. I am extremely familiar with this type of fundraiser because I had to do it when I played football for the Mead High School Panthers in the early 2000s (graduated in 2005). I HATED it back then so I felt plenty of sympathy for the young man at my door. As I purchased the $20 card filled with less than stellar deals, I wondered why a better fundraiser hasn’t been developed in the 14 years since I last sold the damn things. Heck, back in 2013 I was lobbying for the end of them. I guess some things never change.

We bought this Carolina Forest High School coupon card the other night.

#CCUfamily for Generation Z – A hallmark of our #CCUSocialMedia program, #CCUfamily, received a facelift for the new academic year. Wanting to modernize the solid feature, I relied on the suggestions of Geoff Insch, video superstar, and Anthony Bowser, our social media specialist, to create a fresh look. What we ended up with was a Buzzfeed-inspired, Generation Z-optimized final product. Best of all? We profiled my social media intern, Katie, as our first feature. If you have a moment, take a look!

Make sure to follow the link to view Katie’s feature.56 qtr

Latest Ice Cream Flavor – Over the weekend, we celebrated the end of our summer by hitting up one of our favorite ice cream shops, Brusters. I experimented with a new flavor that I feel is worth mentioning here. I ordered the month’s featured flavor, lemon blueberry cake. It was lemon ice cream with thick blueberry swirls and yellow cake pieces. I was impressed that the blueberry and lemon flavors could work in harmony to provide a taste that was unique, pleasant, and very “summer-yyy.” Two thumbs up.

A look at the lemon blueberry cake ice cream I had over the weekend.

Old School Laughs – How did I never know about “The King of Queens”?! Sidney, like she has done for other shows, has hooked me on reruns of the sitcom. My enthusiasm for the show comes from the character of Doug, played by Kevin James. He cracks me up and truly is relatable. My two favorite episodes so far are when Doug purchases an ice cream truck and when he gets out of exercising by bribing his trainer who has an addiction to video games. Good stuff!


Thank you for the opportunity to once again write for you! Enjoy your weekend and I look forward to touching base next week. Don’t Blink.

Walmart FTW

Funny story…

Although I work out at Gold’s Gym most of the week, I still escape to our gym on campus every Monday and Wednesday. When I go to Gold’s, I return to the house to shower and take Sloan to daycare. On Mondays and Wednesdays, Sid takes Sloan to daycare and I don’t come home after I exercise. You staying with me?…

Because I stay on campus once the HTC Center opens at 6 a.m., I shower in the locker room facilities after my workout. This of course requires that I bring my office clothes with me so I can change into them after freshening up. As your stereotypical Type A person, I select and pack my clothes the night before. Pants, socks, undershirts, shoes, etc., go into my gym bag. To avoid wrinkles, I carry the shirt I will wear that day in my hand. It is usually second nature for me to remember my shirt when I grab my gym bag and dash out the door in the morning.

I don’t know if it was excitement over the first day of classes here at CCU or some other factor but I did something I normally never do: I forgot my shirt.

It wasn’t until I turned onto campus that I realized I left my shirt at the house. Low key stressing out, I surveyed my options.
1. Turn around, go back home, and take a day off from the gym.
2. Forget the gym and do a quick workout on the track. Then quickly return home, shower, and rush back to campus.
3. Go to the gym as usual and then find some other option in terms of my wardrobe.

I opted for the third choice and decided on the “some other option” rather quickly: Walmart.

Unfortunately, to pull this off, I needed to complete an abbreviated workout. However, the shorter routine I went through was sufficient enough to at least not make me feel like a slacker throughout the day. When I finished I took a quick shower and then did something kind of embarrassing…because I didn’t want to walk out in front of everybody and go to Walmart in my undershirt, I slipped on my Gold’s Gym pullover that I wear prior to my workouts.

What a combo! I went out in public like this.

So there I was, rocking a Gold’s Gym pre-workout shirt with khakis and dress shoes. I looked like a real piece of work. I awkwardly walked past the students working the front desk and hopped in my car and went to Walmart. Luckily, the store is about halfway between campus and my house, so roughly a 10 minute drive. I did some quick browsing but I didn’t waste too much time making a decision.

A look at my selection this morning.

I opted for this $7.76 shirt that reminded me of something I would expect a senior citizen to wear, not some dude trying to satisfy his employer’s business casual dress code policy. However, it would make do for one day.

After some quick browsing, I made a selection.

I changed in the Walmart bathroom and then navigated the morning traffic back to campus in plenty of time. Even though I wanted to wear something CCU-related for first day of classes, I felt a little accomplished that I didn’t let my absent-mindedness rob me of a workout that I really needed (I have slacked with my eating over the summer).

This shirt served me well today.

In life, it is about the small victories. Don’t Blink.

American Honey

From time to time, my childhood neighborhood would become ground zero for people going door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions. I vividly remember the high octane energy some of these individuals would bring when they knocked on the door. They would get me excited and suck me in, usually with a spiel about how they needed to sell subscriptions to earn points for a trip.

However, despite their enthusiasm, they never pulled off a sale. My parents always said no. They came mostly in the summer, usually during the day, when it was just my mom and the three of us kids at home. Thus, it was my mom turning them down.

Except for one day.

To be honest, I can’t remember if it was a Saturday or simply a day he took off, but on one particular late morning my dad was the one to open the door (with me trailing). My dad listened to what this man had to say but then declined the pitch. He followed with asking the gentleman not to come back. As the guy turned his back on us to walk away, he muttered “Oh, I’ll be back.”

My dad responded, “You do and I will call the cops.”

“Oh, I’ll be back,” the guy responded for the second time as he walked down our driveway.

Sure enough, two minutes later there was a cop car a few houses down from our house. A police officer was standing outside the vehicle talking with the man who was just at our house. The magazine salesman was escorted out of the neighborhood.

To be honest, I had not thought about that story until this past weekend. Probably 11 or 12 when it happened, I can’t remember ever coming into contact with another door-to-door magazine salesperson. Not again at my parents’ house and never in Montana or South Carolina. But on Friday night, Sidney and I were aimlessly browsing Netflix looking for a movie to watch. As I do quite often, I selected a film without really even reading the summary. On this evening I selected “American Honey.”

“American Honey” was an entertaining movie.

Over the course of the two hours and 45 minutes that the movie ran, I learned about the wacky and tough culture of the door-to-door magazine sales business. “American Honey” follows a group of 12 or so teens and young adults who travel across the country selling magazines. Although Shia LaBeouf stars, the other cast members were literally pulled off the streets by the director. I quickly became fascinated by the pressures and tactics employed by these magazine sales groups, both on potential customers and internally within the group.

Besides the interesting plot, the cinematography is also very interesting. The movie is shot in several different states and you can see that reflected when the gang moves on to different neighborhoods. Also, no words are needed to show the disparity in standard of living between the magazine salespeople and the homeowners they target. From a visual standpoint, it is very well done.

If you have time over the course of a couple evenings, I would recommend “American Honey.” It is something different but also something you might be able to connect with. Don’t Blink.

Sticking a Fork in Summer 2019

Well, summer is over.

Like, really over.

Once August 1 hit, we felt our summer freedom slipping from our grasp. Sid had to return to school for meetings and classroom prep. I said goodbye to the beloved summer hour schedule at CCU. Sloan started going back to daycare for 3-day and 4-day weeks instead of the leisurely summer 2-day week. But even though we knew the end was coming, there was still a summer vibe around the house. No longer. The transition is now complete and the school year is here.

We spent our last summer night eating ice cream with Sid’s parents.

Horry County Schools held its first day of classes today and Sid went back to Palmetto Bays Elementary for her sixth year of teaching. However, although she in a familiar place, she is in a different role. Mrs. Reser came home this afternoon with one day as a fourth grade teacher under her belt. She is going to be wonderful in her new grade level.

Sid started her sixth year as a teacher and her first year as a fourth grade teacher today.

Coastal Carolina University students begin a new academic year on Wednesday. But with residence hall move-in taking place this past weekend and plenty of activities occurring today and tomorrow, it won’t take two more days for me to get busy.

Sloan is now attending daycare fulltime, a reality that is quite depressing.

But before you feel sorry for us, please know that we had a really nice summer. We had the best of both worlds as we spent half of it constantly on the go and then the latter half was enjoyed at a much slower pace here in Myrtle Beach.

Summer life started out daunting. The first several weeks were full of trips and events. We journeyed to Atlanta for a weekend to watch the Braves, Sid went on a trip to New York, we vacationed for a week in the Florida Keys, and we spent time preparing for/celebrating Sidney’s sister’s wedding. There was never a dull moment and it was nice to get out of dodge.

We had a very busy first half of the summer.

But as June started to conclude, we settled down a bit. We had time to ride Sid’s dad’s boat, hang out at the pool, go to baseball games, and spend summer nights watching Netflix and Redbox movies. Instead of us traveling, others traveled to us. We hosted my brother and his fiancé over the Fourth of July holiday. Then, later that month, my parents came for a special visit. The pace sloooooowed down and we had a chance to savor the season before it disappeared.

Our second half of summer was spent in Myrtle Beach just hanging out.

To say it has been an interesting summer is an understatement. We have been blessed in numerous ways and can’t wait to take the momentum we have generated these past couple months into the fall. But before we go full speed ahead, I want to thank my girls for making Summer 2019 so enjoyable. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t tough to see it go. Don’t Blink.

Wizard of Oz Thursday Rundown

Well it all goes down next week. Sidney will teach her first day of the 2019-20 school year on Monday and Coastal Carolina will kick off the academic year on Wednesday. But before all of that starts, let continue the laid back approach of the summer season with a Thursday Rundown.

Proof I Was There – Earlier this week, I wrote about our trip to Darlington to cover the unveiling of Brandon Brown’s No. 86 Coastal Carolina Camaro for Throwback Weekend. Although I said my working function was to document the event on social media, I got to put the “other duties as assigned” part of my job description to work as well. I helped push Brandon’s covered car into place prior to the press conference and helped him push it back into the trailer at its conclusion. In the days since the unveiling, the paint scheme has been highly acclaimed by the racing community on social media.

Can you spot me?

Sloan in a Nutshell – The below photo I took of Sloan this morning pretty much encompasses who she is as a two-and-a-half-year-old silly little girl. She is obsessed with applying band-aids to spots that don’t need them, demands a plastic cup to put her fruit snacks in, constantly wears a shell necklace her aunt won her from an arcade, nurses her newly developed taste for lemonade by sipping it out of her Disney-themed container, and always has a smile on her face. She is definitely a mess but we sure love her.

This is Sloan in a nutshell.

Mini-Bin – Our Office of Sustainability at Coastal Carolina recently traded out our trash cans for mini-bins. These new receptacles will promote recycling and allow our custodians to focus more on pressing tasks not involving emptying our individual trash cans. A cool concept deserves a cool rollout. Several of my University Marketing and Communication co-workers collaborated to create a mock infomercial to promote the mini-bin to our internal audiences. If you think a mini-bin is dull, just wait until you watch this video. Great work to everyone involved, they truly hit it out of the park.

My co-workers made this mini bin seem incredibly exciting! Watch the video!!

Wizard of Oz – Today, the “Wizard of Oz” turns 80. You want to know the weird thought that went through my head when I first saw this? Man, that means the movie was only 47 years old when I was born. But I digress. I think we all have stories and memories from watching the film. Personally, I remember watching it with my family during holidays when it would come on TV and also watching it over and over with my next door neighbor. Over the past several years, I have become really interested in the history of the film’s production. You can find out a lot of intriguing facts on the internet. Although I won’t be watching it tonight to commemorate the anniversary, I did take a couple minutes to discuss and swap experiences about the movie with Sidney.

The Wizard of Oz turned 80 years old today.

Revisiting Favorite Movies – On this date three years ago, I bit on a social media challenge and listed my favorite seven films of all-time. Looking at this list now, I hesitate to make any changes. However, if it was #fav9films, I would probably add “The Godfather” and “Taxi Driver” to the list. I actually just saw the latter this past weekend and I was so impressed with the score and the seedy depiction of the 1970s New York City streets. Robert De Niro’s performance wasn’t too bad either!

The tweet listing my top seven favorite films from three years ago.


Thanks for taking the time to read another rundown. I hope those who are enjoying their last weekend before going back to school make the most of it. I will catch up with everyone next week. Don’t Blink.

My Process for Deciding Where to Eat

Because I live in a tourist destination such as Myrtle Beach, I have unlimited options when it comes to dining out. With hundreds of different restaurants and not enough time to try them all, I try to be selective when Sidney, Sloan, and I decide to go out to eat.

To make the most out of our experience, I take these five steps (in order) when deciding whether I want to try a place or not.

I feel it is important to take some steps before deciding where to go out to eat.

1. Look up the menu online – It is no fun going out to eat if the restaurant doesn’t offer anything you actually like, right? I always pull up the online menu to see if the place we are considering has a fun and diverse menu that would cater to the needs of each of us. Usually the menu will pass my personal test, no matter how eccentric it is, as long as you can order a hamburger and fries. Previewing the menu on line also always you to price gauge.

2. Instagram! – After the menu is screened, I go to Instagram. No, I don’t look at the restaurant’s carefully curated account. Rather, I do a location search and look at the food photos that actual customers are posting. If the food looks good and the captions provide favorable reviews then I will be inclined to pay a visit.

3. Visit the restaurant’s Facebook page – With Instagram I don’t care about the restaurant’s presence but with Facebook I do. If there is a place we might potentially eat at, I scope out the Facebook page to get a sense of the restaurant’s culture. I read the specials, watch videos, and read the reviews. I also take notice of how the restaurant treats its customers on Facebook, paying close attention to responses to bad reviews and general questions.

4. Complimentary Food – Call me a cheapskate, but nothing wins me over more than a free basket of something upon sitting down at the table. Complimentary chips, bread, peanuts, hush puppies, etc. all make the meal exciting and enhance the value. I will forgive some sketchy social media reviews if I know that my daughter is going to be appeased by something to munch on the moment we sit down.

5. Word of Mouth – Because everyone has different preferences and criteria, I don’t 100% base my decision off of what people tell me about a restaurant. I will definitely take it into consideration but I feel the above factors weigh more heavily when it comes to choosing where we will eat.


Of course, none of the above usually applies because it is my wife that makes the decision on where we eat. However, if I have a vote, I am doing my research to make the best possible choice. Bon appetit! Don’t Blink.

A Sizzling Darlington Press Conference

It was another day to file underneath the “my job is so cool” file. This morning I set off with some of my University Marketing and Communication team members to Darlington Raceway.

We were heading to the race track for a car unveil and I was brought along to cover the event on social media. If you read this blog often, you are familiar with Brandon Brown, a NASCAR driver we have sponsored since his time as a CCU student. Now an alumnus of our University, we have continued our partnership with Brandon as he races fulltime in the Xfinity Series. Anyway, Brandon was unveiling his paint scheme today for the Darlington Throwback Weekend that takes place at the end of the month.

Brandon and I a couple years ago.

The unveil was done in grand fashion. Coastal Carolina University, Darlington Raceway, and Brandonbilt Motorsports (Brandon’s racing team) staged a press conference right at turn #3 on the track famously nicknamed Too Tough to Tame. With Coastal Carolina University track signage serving as the backdrop to the covered car, anticipation was high for the big reveal.

When we arrived, Darlington Raceway already had everything set up for the press conference.

Oh, wait one second please, there was another important piece I should mention.

Brandon Brown wasn’t the only NASCAR driver participating in the press conference. Joining him was NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte. To be 100% honest, I was a little unfamiliar with the legendary status of Labonte but I was made aware of my ignorance when I told my father-in-law who I was going to meet today. He let me know that Terry is kind of a big deal in the world of racing. This guy won at Darlington twice and is a household name in NASCAR circles.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte (far right) also had a seat at the press conference.

But why was Labonte there? Well, for Throwback Weekend the active drivers turn back the clock and use a paint scheme from a driver of the past. This year Darlington is paying homage to the 1990-94 era and Brandon liked the idea of using a design that reflected the one used by the Hall of Famer. Terry Labonte was honored to let Brandon run (or race) with it.

Brandon and Terry at the press conference (photo courtesy of Lindsi Glass).

When Brandon, Terry, and Martha Hunn, our chief communication officer, pulled back the cover, a sharp-looking Kellogg’s Corn Flakes 1993 design graced Brandon’s ZL1 Camaro.

A look at Brandon with his Terry Labonte throwback car.

The No. 86 car looked great with the black, white, and bronze color scheme. On the hood, our Chanticleer athletics logo took the spot of the traditional Corn Flakes rooster. The reaction from the people in attendance and those on social media made it clear that the scheme was a hit. It was another great accomplishment by our CCU design team.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Twitter account was pretty complimentary of our design.

After Brandon and Terry took time to scope out the car, they gave interviews to the media chomping at the bit to get reaction from both drivers.

I snapped this photo of Brandon and Terry.

Did I mention it was hot? Oh man it was a sizzling South Carolina August day. But the temperature doesn’t really matter when you are sweating it out with your fellow co-workers. Besides Martha, I was joined by these other talented individuals:
Lindsi Glass, assistant vice president for marketing and branding, set the press conference up and handled all of the logistics.
Geoff Insch, one of our production assistants, took footage and will be releasing one of his trademark quality videos tomorrow.
Scott Dean, assistant photographer, braved the heat and captured some spectacular images.
Daniel “Scoops” Mableton, graphic designer, could be considered the star of the show because he designed the scheme.

It was another one of those days where we felt like we were truly succeeding at promoting the University’s brand. We enjoyed lunch together at a local Darlington café before returning to campus to continue to market the  institution we work for. Best of luck to Brandon on Aug. 31! Don’t Blink.

Otter Pops Full Circle

My favorite summertime treat as a child was also my mom’s biggest annoyance.

Growing up, my brother and I tore through 500-count Otter Pop cardboard boxes like nobody’s business. Known by other names as well, the concept of flavored ice in long and skinny plastic sleeves has proven to be a kid-favorite for generations. Cheap and low in calories, you would think it would please parents just as much as it does youngsters. But for my mom, the mess canceled the economic and fat free advantages of Otter Pops.

My childhood was defined by Otter Pops.

You see, my brother and I basically centered our summer diet on Otter Pops. We ate them starting in the morning and continued eating them throughout the long, hot nights. Although we tried to pick up after ourselves, we probably only made good on our intentions around 60% of the time. So, when you are consuming at least 10 Otter Pops each per day, that leaves around eight plastic wrappers lined with a sugary colored juicy film not properly disposed of. Nothing ruins a clean house more than colorful discarded oozing wrappers. Oh, how much my mom hated them!

And that doesn’t even mention the freezer space taken up or the sticky state our scissors were constantly in from cutting the top of the pops.

Sidney is mad at me for showing our freezer, but this is the drawer that is devoted to freeze pops. Back in the day, my mom’s freezer was pretty much dominated by them.

As with a lot of things, I grew out of my Otter Pop dependency as I grew older. My preferred treat during the summer changed from frozen ice pops to premium ice cream. But now that I have a young daughter, my past has caught up to me. In the ultimate “payback” gesture, my parents bought Sloan freezer pops when they were here last week. She has quickly taken a liking to them.

Just like her daddy was at a young age, Sloan is a big fan of freezer pops.

At this point, I don’t deal with the problems my mom faced. Sloan is too young to storm through large quantities of the pops so I can easily keep up with the plastic sleeve trash she produces. Also, I humanely cut the treats open for her so we don’t deal with sticky scissors. However, I do deal with a couple of issues that are unique to a 2-year-old. I hold my breath as she clumsily pushes the pop up through the plastic, many times ejecting full pieces of ice onto the floor. I also cringe just a bit when she tips her head back to slurp the juice residue and majority of the liquid escapes past her open mouth and onto her shirt.

But inconvenient or not, this much is true: She seems to have the same passion for freezer pops that I did when I was younger.

Sloan ususally requests a “blue” freeze pop.

Inconvenient or not from a dad’s perspective, considering what I put my mom through, all I can do is embrace it. Don’t Blink.