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.

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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.

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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.

Portrait Thursday Rundown

Good evening and thank you for returning to my blog. I hope everyone is getting acclimated to August and enjoying the summer days that remain. Let’s begin the latest Thursday Rundown…

Daddy and Sloan Portrait – Remember the time I wrote how my dad marked milestones in my childhood by drawing pictures of me? Well, Monday morning, right before he flew out of Myrtle Beach, he drew another masterpiece. While I watched the morning news and Sloan watched my phone, he captured the moment in signature style. I think his rendition of me looks pretty spot on while Sloan might look a little more mature than she actually is.

My dad is the artist behind this work of art.

Price Dip – Last week I mentioned that I have “a thing” for Olli’s, a store that sells funky discounted products. Because I am part of the store’s loyalty program, I receive ads via email. I almost spit my coffee out (just kidding, I don’t drink coffee) when I saw the below ad. I know personal drones have been available for several years now and that the market is a bit saturated, but $29.99?!? I went and showed our video production director the ad. David, an accomplished drone photographer, raised his eyebrow when I told him I found a drone for $30. He confirmed my suspicions that the model was probably a piece of crap and pulled up on his computer a reliable and reasonably priced drone that sells for $399. Some things are too good to be true.

I wasn’t lying…$29.99 for a drone.

Making Someone’s Day – Recently, the father of a young NASCAR fan tweeted a video of his son with a magazine. The publication was Coastal Magazine and the cover was of NASCAR driver and CCU alumnus Brandon Brown. We saw the tweet and responded to the father and son through our main Twitter account (@ccuchanticleers), asking for their address. We sent them some signed Brandon Brown items. Yesterday, they replied with an adorable video thanking us for the loot. Brandon Brown’s team then jumped in on the conversation and invited Aiden to Darlington later in the month to watch the race…VIP style! If you have time, see how everything went down by clicking here. You will love Aiden’s videos!

A screenshot from the video of Aiden opening up the signed Brandon Brown hero card I sent him.

Back to School…Kind Of – Today, Sidney returned to Palmetto Bays School for her first mandatory day back. Don’t worry, the first day of classes isn’t until Aug. 19. But still, it is an obvious sign that summer is nearing its conclusion. Even though I am obviously not off during the summer, I really enjoy it when Sidney is. Three years ago, I wrote about some of the reasons why. However, a lot has changed since then and I now mostly appreciate Sidney’s summer break because she gets to spend lots of quality time with Sloan while also enjoying some time to herself (we sent Sloan to daycare two days during the summer weeks).

Sidney spent the first half of this week setting up her classroom.

No-Brainer – There is controversy that former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant won’t receive a national championship ring. The Tigers won the 2018 title but Bryant left the team after four games due to playing time issues. I guess I don’t understand why it is even up for discussion. I mean honestly, would he even want a ring? Many times I feel championship rings are given out to way too many people (for example, I received championship rings when I worked in the athletic department at Montana). The fact that Clemson is somewhat controlling the distribution of a valuable symbolic object is a good thing in my mind. I think a ring given to someone who played with a team for only a third of the season cheapens the value of it.

I don’t think Kelly Bryant is owed a ring.

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Let’s continue to pray for the victims and families of recent violent acts. While it might be trendy these days to discount prayer (especially in these situations), don’t ever stop. Have a restful weekend. Don’t Blink.

Meeting a Purple Heart Recipient

One of the many reasons why I love my job is that I get to meet incredible people. A couple weeks ago, I was making the latest content calendar for #CCUSocialMedia when I noticed that Aug. 7 was Purple Heart Day. I immediately knew that I wanted our Coastal Carolina University social media accounts to honor a CCU-related Purple Heart recipient when the first Wednesday of August came around.

I worked with our Office of Veteran Services to identify a Chanticleer who was awarded the Purple Heart. They connected me with Chris Trinemeyer, a 2017 CCU alumnus and United Stated Marine who served from 2005 to 2013. Other than his name, I didn’t know much about him until he arrived for his photoshoot last week. With our talented director of photography, Judy Johns, snapping the photos, the two of us quickly became acquainted with Chris’ friendly personality.

With his Purple Heart on the stool, Chris holds his other medals while Judy takes photos in the studio.

We shot first in the studio. When we concluded there, we went out in front of Atheneum Hall. From there we went to where his vehicle was parked and took some photos in front of his Purple Heart-designated license plate. Throughout most of the shoot we just discussed his military service and experience at Coastal. However, with the shoot coming to an end, I nervously asked him how he was injured.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t a minor accident or non-serious flesh wound.

In May 2006, Chris was part of a convoy in Ramadi, Iraq, when two IEDs detonated underneath the vehicle he was driving in. The blasts knocked him unconscious and sent shrapnel up and down his right side. When he awoke, he was still in his destroyed vehicle as chaos reigned around him. Mentioning that blood was everywhere, the violent scene was muted for Chris because the explosion temporarily left him deaf.

A look at the Facebook post we published this morning in honor of Purple Heart recipient Chris Trinemeyer.

Thanks to his will power and his fellow marines, Chris would survive. He still has shrapnel embedded in his side and is reminded of it every time he tries to go through a metal detector. As he told me the story, I was in awe that I was standing next to someone who survived such a horrific attack in one of the most hostile war zones of this century. I thanked him for his service and he graciously followed up after the shoot with an email describing more in depth what happened to him that day in 2006.

We need to be appreciative of our Purple Heart recipients. Many return to civilian life with more than physical wounds. Being hurt on the battlefield can carry with it PTSD and other trauma that can last a lifetime. I would be remiss if I didn’t take this post to also recognize my Uncle Danny, a Purple Heart recipient himself from his service in Vietnam.

We used a six-tweet Twitter thread to tell Chris’ story and showcase all the beautiful photography that Judy captured.

Do you know someone who has received the Purple Heart? Make sure to call or text them tonight and say thank you. Don’t Blink.

More than a Social Media Challenge

It happens more often than we think. When adults resort to squabbling and blaming, it is usually the younger generation that rises above and sets an example for us all.

With the recent mass shooting tragedies, as a country, there seems to be more venom and division than kindness and unity. This morning, I heard a story about an El Paso boy who has implemented an impactful social media challenge. Based on positivity and action, 11-year-old Ruben Martinez rolled out the #elpasoCHALLENGE to remember the 22 people who were killed in his hometown this past weekend.

I think the #elpasoCHALLENGE is a great idea.

The movement is simple but beautiful. Ruben is challenging El Paso residents to complete 22 good deeds, one for each person who perished in the senseless tragedy. The acts can be big or small, random or methodical. Meant at first just for El Paso, the #elpasoCHALLENGE has now spread across the country.

Ruben’s written plan.

Although nothing will reverse what happened, I find this challenge practical, do-able, and helpful. At first, it seems pretty ambitious––completing 22 acts takes time and planning. But when you can fully embrace that each act is to be done for someone who perished¬¬––whether it be 15-year-old Javier Rodriguez or 86-year-old Angie Englisbee or any of the 20 other victims––the task becomes much more inspiring than daunting.

Great work, Ruben!

There is no stipulation that says the challenge has to be done alone. I think completing it with family is ideal. Coming to grips with the hate that exists in this country while at the same time fostering the love and kindness that is needed to overcome it is the best family lesson there is. With the underlining focus that each deed is done for a specific person, I think the #elpasoCHALLENGE can be very powerful for loved ones to complete together over the course of a month.

Thank you for challenging us, Ruben. Don’t Blink.

Grandparents

My parents returned to Spokane today after a short (but sweet) impromptu trip to Myrtle Beach.

During their time here, my mom and dad enjoyed doing A LOT with Sloan, including…

Giving her all the watermelon she could eat.

Sloan never went without one of her favorite foods, watermelon, while her grandparents were here,


Riding in play cars, both big and small.

Sloan found a Ram at Walmart but also cruised a lot in her pink car.


Assisting with making coffee every morning.

Literally…Sloan’s favorite thing to do was help grandma make her coffee every morning.


Nestling her in the early mornings and late at night.

A lot of cuddling on the couch went on.


Dancing to the Hokie Pokie and “Move Like the Dinosaurs” over and over.

Sorry! No photos exist of my parents dancing with Sloan. You will just have to trust me that it actually happened. Here is a basic cute photo instead.


Pushing her in swings at the park and in the backyard as she screams “HIGHER!”

Sloan has no fear on the swing and her grandparents satisfied her demands to go higher.


Allowing her to play with Play-Doh all she wants even though her parents hate it.

We don’t always allow Sloan to play with Play-Doh…but this weekend we did.


Reading her every book in her play room library.

My parents spent a lot of time reading books with Sloan and were amazed at how she could follow and memorize the stories.


Eating candy, ice cream, and popsicles all weekend long.

My mom and dad let Sloan eat a lot of sweets, including this cup of ice cream at lunch.


Nudging Papa’s sunglasses on and off.

My dad usually doesn’t like people to mess with his sunglasses, especially by getting fingerprints on them. He made an exception for Sloan.


Throwing pieces of bread and crackers into the neighborhood pond to feed the turtles.

My parents took Sloan to the neighborhood gazebo to feed the turtles.


Smiling at her like she is the most precious thing in the whole world.

The smile on my mom’s face says it all.

We are so happy that Sloan was able to see her grandparents during a time we usually never see each other. I personally want to thank my parents for making the long trip and spoiling us. They truly are the best. Don’t Blink.

Dew Thursday Rundown

Happy August! I know this month is packed for many of us so I sincerely hope the next four weeks are productive and enjoyable for you. Let’s get started with the Thursday Rundown…

Gone Fishing – Sloan “fished” (just like she “bowled”) for the first time over the weekend. From the same gazebo where she feeds the turtles, Sloan was also able to cast her first line. Does Sloan have the patience to be an accomplished fisherwoman? NO. Well, at least not at this point in her life. But it was still nice to get a fishing pole in her hands.

Sloan went fishing this past weekend.

Impromptu Visit from Parents – My mom and dad recently booked a spur of the moment trip to Myrtle Beach and they arrived in town yesterday. With us not making a trip to Spokane this summer and the jury out on whether we will visit at Christmas, my parents made sure that they wouldn’t go too long without seeing their granddaughter. Sloan’s love for her grandma and papa is as strong as ever and watching them spend time together is the absolute best. We are excited to have my parents stay through the weekend.

My parents are in town. This is a photo of them with Sloan at lunch today.

Banana Creme Frosted Flakes – There is a store near our house called Ollie’s. It reminds me of a second-run movie theater. Instead of getting the newest and hottest right when it is released, it receives inventory a little longer down the line. The benefit is that the product (or movie) comes at a discounted price. Ollie’s is home to a large and eclectic mix of grocery/toy/hardware/personal care/etc. products that you might not see on the shelves at a Walmart or Home Depot anymore. The selection is vast and discounts many. I couldn’t help but purchase this banana-flavored family sized box of Frosted Flakes for $1.99. Make sure to take your own trip to Ollie’s to see the other oddball products you can take home with you.

I picked up these Banana Crème Frosted Flakes from Ollie’s.

Mt Dew Varieties – The highly caffeinated green liquid from the Pepsi-Cola company isn’t necessarily always green. Mt. Dew Code Red, Livewire, and Baja Blast are all drinks under the Dew brand that most of us have heard of. A rare trip to KFC recently introduced me to another. When I purchased one of the mashed potato bowls a drink came with it. I noticed the Mt. Dew Sweet Lightning option prominently advertised on the drive-thru menu. Without even asking about the flavor (because how do you conceptualize “Sweet Lightning”?), I decided to order it. Can’t say that I was that disappointed with it. It tasted like tangerine soda and on a hot July evening it hit the spot.

You can only get Sweet Lightning Mt. Dew from KFC.

Something to Snicker At – Even by social media standards, this is a shameless publicity stunt. Snickers says it will distribute 1 million free candy bars to America if the Federal Government changes the date of Halloween this year. The candy company wants to see Halloween moved from Thursday, Oct. 31 to Saturday, Oct. 26. Of course it would NEVER happen. Could you imagine Halloween on a date other than the last day of October? Not even Dracula himself could get it moved. The other part I find funny about this “bribe” is that having Halloween on a Thursday really isn’t that bad. Of course a weekend night would be preferred but compared it having it on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, it isn’t that terrible of a deal to have it on Thursday. What a crock.

Give me a break.

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It will be a weekend dedicated to family. I hope all of my readers can enjoy some family time too as we navigate through these dog days of summer. Don’t Blink.