Thanksgiving 2019: Gratitude

Over the past two years, I have written longer-than-needed blog posts about this holiday and its meaning. So, in a departure from 2017 and 2018, I plan to write much less.

Today is Thanksgiving. It is not the official start of the Christmas season, nor is it Black Friday Eve. It isn’t about making a magazine-worthy spread or polishing off numerous holiday nums nums. It isn’t about your fantasy football team or whether the Dallas Cowboys will finally fire Jason Garrett. It isn’t about saving room for pumpkin pie or making yourself a plate of leftovers for tomorrow. It isn’t about a parade or a dog show. It isn’t about social media likes or photo ops.

Thanksgiving is about gratitude. It is about recognizing that we have consciousness. It is about cherishing our loved ones. It is about accepting that we have what we need. It is about realizing we are so lucky to live in this country. It is about thanking God.

Take time to be thankful today. Enjoy the food and the football and the parade (I love the parade) but don’t let the extra stuff overshadow the real point of today. Happy Thanksgiving.

Overusing War Terms

For a week now, I have been intensely focused on a series available on Netflix called the Greatest Events of WWII in Colour. Comprised of 10 mini documentaries chronicling some of the pivotal moments of the war, this British series has captivated my interest and sent chills down my spine on multiple occasions.

So far, I have watched the first six shows: Blitzkrieg, Battle of Britain, Pearl Harbor, Battle of Midway, Siege of Stalingrad, and D-Day. Each one tells the stories of these events in masterfully restored color with the brilliant narration of Derek Jacobi. The episodes are complimented by the commentary of war historians and the real accounts of war heroes involved in the battles.

You will learn a lot from this series.

Each mini documentary delves deep into the respective conflicts. The intentions of the world leaders are revealed and the strategies of the generals are analyzed. No decision is made lightly as every move is tactical; it is the ultimate chess match––a chess match that often-had millions of lives riding on it.

As I have watched these programs, and become more aware of the brutality and death of war, I have felt a little ashamed at how often I have used war terms/analogies (“chess match” included) in everyday life. From sports to simply going to Walmart, I have used terms such as “going to war,” “in the trenches,” “hostile territory,” and “behind enemy lines” to describe mundane life experiences that don’t involve thousands of people getting killed.

Growing up, I would hear people say that war and football share common experiences and that war terminology is valid on the battlefield and the football field. You know, I am not so sure about that.

No matter how violent and popular football might become, it is still simply a game. War, although characterized sometimes in terms of a game, is not. Perhaps we should keep the two separate?

If in fact we decide to do that, this blogger needs to lead by example. In my eight years authoring Don’t Blink, I am sure I have probably hundreds of instances in this blog where I use a war term to describe something non-war related. What can I say? I have been ignorant.

I hate to say that it has taken me over three decades and a Netflix documentary to think twice about my word choice, but I guess better late than never? Time to do some re-evaluating. Don’t Blink.

My Recommended Gift for the 2019 Holiday Season

A year ago on this date, I revealed my best $10 gift suggestion for the 2018 holiday season. I recommended that my readers purchase an LED cinema lightbox for their next Chinese Gift Exchange or simply for their holiday sweetheart. Leading up to that blog post, I had vigorously used my own lightbox that I won at a gift exchange during the 2017 holiday season. I still use it to this day.

Throwback of Sloan playing with our lightbox. This was my recommended gift idea for the 2018 holiday season.

From what I heard, my endorsement of the product led to an additional 1,923,431 lightboxes being sold.

But a new year is here and that means I have to throw my support behind a new gift. In 2019, I am ditching last year’s $10 or under stipulation and simply recommending a gift that would be worth any cost you pay for it.

My 2019 holiday gift suggestion is a blanket.

If you need to purchase a material gift for someone, I feel there is no better option. In terms of use, a blanket should last forever. My parents still routinely use a couple blankets they received as wedding gifts. Sid still uses a blanket she received as a child. We have blankets that we have had since we started dating.

Blankets rule in our house!

Blankets don’t lose their warmth over the years. In fact, I would argue that they age like a fine wine, becoming more form-fitting and comfortable as the years go by. You don’t grow out of them, you don’t lose interest in them, and they don’t break. A blanket is for life.

You also need not worry about whether someone will put a blanket to use. Our family lives in one of the warmest climates in the country and we use blankets on a nightly basis. If you walk into our living room, you will find a large wicker basket containing five different blankets. Each one is used on a regular basis.

Or living room wicker basket holds our blankets.

Which brings me to my next point. Out of those blankets in our wicker basket, a couple were homemade just for us and the remaining ones came from stores. Although the homemade ones are very special and have love woven into the fabric, we really enjoy the ones that were purchased for us as well. So if you can’t sew, don’t think you can’t give someone a blanket you bought from Target…it will still be well-used and appreciated.

In closing, shut your eyes and think about someone draping a warm blanket around your body on a cold winter night. The practical feeling of warmth is nice but the psychological feeling of protection and homeyness isn’t too bad either. Remember what I said above about blankets being worth more than what you pay for?

Struggling for a gift idea this year? Want to be the hero at your gift exchange? In 2019, go with a blanket. Trust me. Don’t Blink.

Our Mystery Oreo Taste Test

Did you think I was joking on Thursday when I said I was going to review the Mystery Oreo snack that recently hit shelves? If you know me, the dude who once wrote a blog post exclusively about Oreos, I am guessing not.

Yesterday I braved the pre-Thanksgiving week Walmart crowds to buy myself a package of Mystery Oreos. The $2.98 purchase was more than worth a little Sunday afternoon fun.

Well, to be honest, I didn’t go to Walmart just to buy Oreos…I was on a diaper run!

When I arrived home I swung open the front door and told my girls it was time to eat some cookies! Before ripping open the top of the package I let my mind drift a bit on what the flavor might be (or what I hoped it would be)…

The Mystery Oreo package on our dining room table.

Dr. Pepper. Cake batter. Snickers. Sunny Delight. White chocolate macadamia. Coconut. Marshmallow.

I wanted something fun! I was hoping for a flavor that was unique and not something you would necessarily expect an Oreo to taste like. Spoiler alert: I was disappointed.

The smile on my face was not reflective of what I thought about the Oreos.

The moment I opened the top of the package I already had a good idea what the mystery flavor was. The aroma that drifted out was that overpowering and telling. Hoping that my sense of smell was off, I took a bite of the cookie. No disconnect between my smell and taste. I untwisted the remaining cookie and ate the wafer with very little filling on it. I then scraped the filling off with my teeth on the second wafer before eating that too. Both the wafers and filling tasted the same.

A look at the Mystery Oreo package ripped open.

Hiding my disappointment so I wouldn’t skew Sidney’s opinion, I gave her a cookie. She took a bite and looked at me. Well, someone had to give their opinion so I spoke up…

“It’s gingerbread.”

Sidney immediately concurred. The flavor was so distinctive and so unpopular (at least for us) that there was a lot to be desired. It tasted like a dang Ginger Snap. As you can probably guess, I am not a big fan of Ginger Snaps.

The Mystery Oreo itself looks exactly like a regular Oreo.

Although a majority had already been reached in the Reser household, we still let Sloan give her opinion on the Mystery Oreos.

“I like the butter,” she said, using her own term for the Oreo filling.

Sloan liked the
butter” of the Mystery Oreo.

So, um, 2-1 in opposition of the Mystery Oreos?


After tasting the Mystery Oreos on our own with no outside influence, I did do an internet search. There is a common opinion that the flavor is graham cracker or possibly a more sophisticated s’more flavor. In my opinion, I think graham cracker is just as boring as gingerbread.

Whatever the flavor Oreo was going for, I think Nabisco missed an opportunity to really pack a punch and leave an impression. I love the promotion, just don’t love the taste. Don’t Blink.

Twinning Thursday Rundown

In a week it will be Thanksgiving! As someone who enjoys the holiday and the personal traditions that go with it, I am excited. But we still have seven days to go before I get my hands on any turkey so let’s begin this Thursday Rundown…

Will You Be My Twin? – When I picked up Sloan from daycare yesterday, she had a gift bag in her cubby. The teacher told me who it was from and when we arrived home I let Sloan open it. Inside was a pair of Christmas pajamas and a note. The note was from Jacqueline (well, Jacqueline’s mom) and it asked if my daughter wanted to “match” with her at the Oxford Children’s Academy holiday program next month. The duo wore the same pajamas last year and will be doing the same in a few weeks. What a cute and sweet thing for Jacqueline and Susannah to do!

Sloan will once again be twinning with her best friend, Jacqueline, for her daycare’s holiday program.

Mystery Oreos – I spotted these at Walmart this past weekend but was on a mission and didn’t pick up a package. I plan for that to change in the near future. As a sucker for these mystery flavor promotions, I can’t wait to put my taste buds to the test with Oreos. My only regret is that I most likely won’t be trying them with my mystery flavor partner-in-crime, Geoff, who is going out of town next week (I will save him a few).

It won’t be long before I try these out.

Another (but specific) Honor for #CCUSocialMedia – A trophy from the W3 Awards was recently delivered to my office. Our social media program was recognized for our stab at influencer marketing. Last Spring we debuted Social@Coastal: Influencers, a video series that profiles Coastal Carolina students who are savvy digital masterminds with large social media presences. Our goal was to start a relationship with these influencers in hopes that later down the road they might feel inclined to help us out with a large scale influencer marketing campaign. The W3 Awards, a body that judges marketing work from all industries, liked our strategic approach as we won the silver award in the Influencer Marketing category.

This was delivered to my office recently.

This Is Us, Season 4 (Fall) Review – It just keeps getting better. In my opinion, the episodes that made up the first half of the fourth season of “This Is Us” were the most suspenseful and well-done yet. It was Tuesday after Tuesday of mesmerizing and thought-provoking endings. There was the brutally awkward episode that centered on a couple of cringe-worthy dinners but other than that I thought the season was pretty solid. Last night’s Thanksgiving show delivered once again (I really enjoyed the three previous Thanksgiving episodes) and I am already looing forward to new episodes in 2020.

Thank You, South Carolina – Earlier this week, I opened up the daily email I receive from the USPS that shows me a screenshot of every piece of mail I will receive that evening. When I glanced at what was coming, I noticed an envelope from the South Carolina Department of Revenue. Oh no, why are they sending me something? To say I wasn’t a little nervous about the contents of the letter would be a lie. Luckily, I was put out of my misery before I even arrived home. My mother-in-law sent an image to the family text thread that showed a $50 check she received from the agency. My sister-in-law immediately chimed in saying she received one as well. Relieved, I opened up the letter the minute I arrived home and read the explanation that accompanied the check. The state of South Carolina decided to distribute the tax funds generated by the 2018 Mega Millions winner to taxpayers! Because Sid and I file jointly we only got one check but I am not complaining! Perhaps we will be going out to eat courtesy of the state of South Carolina tomorrow…

At first I didn’t know what to think about receiving a check from the South Carolina Department of Revenue.


To those who are working their last day tomorrow until Dec. 2, I envy you. Thanks again for your readership and I hope you have a fabulous weekend. I will catch up with everyone next week. Don’t Blink.

My Recurring Dream

It was one of those “NO WAY” moments. I was talking to a person about dreams the other day and we started discussing the recurring variety. As this person spoke, my eyes widened as a dream very, very similar to one I have often was described.

I have a couple recurring themes.

Let me back up. I have two recurring dreams that both produce anxiety. The first one is pretty lame because it centers on high school football (yawn…get over yourself, Brent). When I played, I put a lot of stress on myself. In this recurring dream, I find myself in practices and at games totally unprepared. I am out of shape and overmatched. I dread taking the field because I know I am out of my league and I lack the talent and desire to be successful. In the dream I am the age I am currently, making things even more confusing (oldest high school football player ever!).

One recurring dream centers around my high school football days.

The other recurring dream, which I share with my friend, also takes place in a high school (sometimes college) setting. In the dream it dawns on me that I have neglected to attend a class all semester. It is the day of the final exam and I need to take the test. With guilt and anxiety weighing me down, I frantically pace around the school trying to find my classroom. Each time I have the dream the layout of the school is different but the feeling of hopelessness is the same.

Despite overwhelmed with negative feelings in the dream, there is always a faint sense of hope that I can somehow pull off a miracle and pass the test. Although passing a final when you didn’t go to class all semester still wouldn’t do you much good, it is a tiny piece of consolation in an otherwise gloomy dream.

Of course the ultimate consolation is when I wake up and realize I was dreaming. It Is one of the best feelings ever. I wake up in a panic but then it all fades away as I realize I don’t have football practice and I don’t have any academic obligations.

Before chatting with my friend about the dream we share, I never put it in context. I never really questioned why I was having the dream and at what times I was having it. Thankfully, the person I was speaking with offered some suggestions, at least in their particular case. Next time I have the dream I should be mindful of whether I am experiencing stress or battling deadlines at the time. For people with Type A personalities (like me), there is nothing worse than being late, missing the mark, or not doing what is required. When the dream plays out, it might parallel a situation in my actual life where I have a lot going on.

Do you ever have recurring dreams? Better yet, do you ever have the ones I experience? Whether or not, I hope you sleep well tonight! Don’t Blink.

Our Family Portraits

It took us long enough, but we recently had traditional studio family photos taken. Our parish is putting together a church directory and it brought in Lifetouch Photography to take photos of all the parishioners. Last month, we went in for our appointment.

I thought I would walk you through some of our photos. The first one I am showing you is the image that will actually go in the St. Andrew Parish directory. All directory photos must have a white background which is why this one will make print…

This shot will be in the St. Andrew Directory.

This one is our favorite! If it was our choice, it would be the one used in the directory. But it’s okay, pretty soon this will be framed and placed in a spot of honor inside our house…

I love this shot of our family! It will be framed in our house.

Remember how I shared Sloan’s school photo a couple weeks ago? Well, shortly after she posed at daycare, she was posing again at our church shoot…

Even though she had individual shots taken at daycare a couple weeks prior, she got some portraits taken at our church shoot too.

I must say that this second image is not only my favorite of the church shoot but also my favorite out of both shoots…

This might be my favorite photo of Sloan!

This photo melts my heart! These two have such a special bond and this is the only framed image I need at work to keep me going!…

Such a sweet moment.

The ogre of the family had to get in for a photo with Sloan as well. I don’t think she will be so willing to pose with me like this in about 10 years.

Me with my little sweetheart.

This final photo is also one that I will treasure. Not only had we never had a traditional studio family shoot, but we also had never sat for a couples one either…

This is our first studio shot of the two of us since we have been together.

Thank you for taking a peek at some of our family photos. These will soon be outdated as we welcome our second child but they will always remind us of a special period in our lives. Don’t Blink.

Vanderpump Thursday Rundown

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but I guess that doesn’t really apply for sicknesses. I developed a cold while I was in Nevada and it has taken my voice away. Luckily, it can’t touch my typing skills. Here is my Thursday Rundown…

Charlotte Beauty Photo – When we made our descent into Charlotte yesterday, a gorgeous sunset surrounded us. The brilliant colors reflected my mood because I was just an hour away from seeing my wife and daughter. I managed to take a quick photo.

I snapped this photo as we started to land in Charlotte yesterday.

Vanderpump Rules – While we were in Las Vegas, we were mostly business. We came to the city to present and learn. But we did have a little bit of extra time on Tuesday evening so we went some place fun…well, a place that Lindsi and my wife consider “fun.” We found ourselves at the Vanderpump Cocktail Garden, a lounge in Caesars Palace that belongs to infamous reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump. If you are a fan of “Vanderpump Rules” then chances are this place might interest you. I poke fun about it not being my cup of tea but I did have a nice time sitting inside the establishment and admiring the elaborate décor and flowers. Although I couldn’t bring a cocktail back to Sid, I did manage to swipe a napkin.

Visiting the Vanderpump Garden was pretty cool and the goat cheese balls actually weren’t that bad.

Made AMA Video – In my past couple of blog posts , I have written about the American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. If you still don’t understand what the heck it is, I recommend that you watch this 1-minute recap video of the conference. Look closely, you might see this blogger speaking at the :23 second mark.

Free Chili – Any of us who have ever attended a sporting event at the college or professional level know about promotions based on the home team compiling a certain point total or other meaningful statistic. When I worked in intercollegiate athletics at the University of Montana, we had a Wendy’s chili promotion. If the Griz basketball team scored 73 or more points, everyone in attendance would receive a coupon for a free cup of chili. I never knew how popular a few bites of a meat and bean stew could be until we started doing this. Not only would people cheer enthusiastically for the Griz to score 73 points, but they would make sure they received their coupon as if their life depended on it. Crowds would swarm our poor interns who were passing them out. A lot of reaching and grabbing would go on. If for some reason a fan did not receive a coupon, we would get an email about it. Since my UM days, because of fatigue, I have not had any desire to eat a cup of Wendy’s chili.

This promotion drove fans into hysteria!

Back in the Doghouse – Sloan had a playdate at Jacqueline’s house this past weekend and once again my daughter decided to hole up in the dog kennel. She eventually played with stuff actually meant for toddlers but I couldn’t help but laugh.

Sloan found her way back in the kennel with Jacqueline.


Thank you for your time this Thursday. Hope your November is going well and that you are starting to feel the Thanksgiving spirit. I will catch up with everyone next week. Don’t Blink.

Our Moment in the Sun

It was an experience that surpassed all expectations.

As I sit on this plane and reflect on the past few days, all I can really say is wow. On Sunday I flew to Las Vegas feeling nervous and excited; tonight I return home feeling relieved and empowered.

It was a great three days wearing this credential.

Lindsi and I made the most of our moment in the spotlight. Vegas was the temporary higher education marketing capital of the world this past week and we made our mark. Not only did we get the chance to network with the more than 1,400 higher professionals who attended the conference, we got to present to a large portion of them.

After earning the right to present via our successful proposal, we spent eight months preparing for our presentation. We were able to build something that adequately described Coastal Carolina University’s creative and innovative Generation Z-optimized Instagram strategy. With many rehearsals under our belts, we also developed the speaking confidence required to supplement our ideas.

We presented “Stop Posting, Start Collaborating: Digital and Gen Z.”

But, just to be sure, you could find the two of us rehearsing our presentation once more in a random hallway of Caesars Palace on Monday morning at 6 a.m. When we concluded, we looked at each other and said we got this. Although still nervous, we knew we had done pretty much all we could do.

At 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, the stage was ours. For the past 20 minutes we had watched person after person filter into our conference room, taking up every single chair and crowding around the sides and back. The room was overflowing with conference attendees either standing or literally sitting on the floor.

People filled the conference room for our American Marketing Association presentation.

There was no turning back.

We hit the audience with our special intro and then we aced each of our initial speaking moments. It was at this point that the jitters went away and we could simply do our thing. To be on that stage was exhilarating and we couldn’t have asked for a more engaged crowd; they laughed at the appropriate times, asked questions throughout the entire presentation, and stuck around long after we finished to chat with us face-to-face.

Me presenting on Monday.

The 60-minute opportunity allowed Lindsi and I to represent Coastal Carolina University but more importantly to really credit our incredible University Marketing and Communication team for providing the necessary talent and support to implement the tactics of our Instagram strategy. You see, the most repeated question we received during our session and throughout the entire conference was this: How are you able to do so much?

Simple. It is because we have the best team.

After we finished the presentation, Lindsi kept saying Oh my gosh, Brent. Oh my gosh. The adrenaline was still pumping through our veins as we tried to contain our excitement after presenting in front of a capacity crowd made up of the brightest higher ed marketers in the country. We were on Cloud 9.

We wouldn’t step off that cloud for the rest of the conference. As Lindsi described it, it was as if we were celebrities. Throughout the next two days we were stopped not just inside the conference but in the elevators as well. People wanted to compliment our presentation and engage with us about our social media strategy. To develop so many new connections based off our presentation was really cool.

I wouldn’t have wanted to present with anyone more than Lindsi Glass. As our associate vice president for marketing and branding (and my supervisor), she has allowed #CCUSocialMedia to do what we feel is necessary to successfully connect with our audience. As I mentioned before, we make a great team and it was evidenced again this week.

It was an honor to present with Lindsi.

It will be tough to forget this week. We took the ideas we came up with in little Conway, S.C., and presented them in LAS VEGAS at CAESARS PALACE in front of lots of people. I am thankful for this career highlight but even more appreciative to everyone at Coastal Carolina for making it possible. Don’t Blink.

A Career Moment in Las Vegas

In just a couple hours, I will be hopping on a plane bound for Las Vegas with my supervisor so we can go do something we have worked hard on for the past eight months.

In March, Lindsi Glass, our associate vice president for marketing and branding, asked if I wanted to work on a proposal with her to present at a conference. But it wasn’t just any conference. She wanted to submit to the American Marketing Association in hopes that we would receive an invitation to present at the 2019 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education.

Lindsi and I will be presenting at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education on Monday, Nov. 11.

Long shot? Perhaps. But we had a great presentation topic and we drafted an intriguing proposal. A couple months after we submitted, we received word that our proposal had been accepted! We took a day or two to celebrate the achievement and then we started the process of mapping out our presentation. Little by little it started to come together. Lindsi and I are both Type A personalities so we set deadlines and objectives to make sure our prep was productive and that we would be in a position to succeed come tomorrow.

Ah yes, tomorrow. In front of higher education marketing executives and staffers from all across the country, we will take the stage at Caesars Palace to represent Coastal Carolina University the best way we can. We will present “Stop Posting. Start Collaborating. Gen Z and Digital.” Using research and examples from our #CCU social media strategy, we will explain how we optimized our Instagram account (@ccuchanticleers) for Generation Z. We will provide six tactics we used to formulate our strategy and the research that inspired each one.

Monday afternoon will be a career highlight for me. This will be my first time presenting at a national conference and to have it come at one of this stature makes it even sweeter. But this milestone isn’t just about professional growth, it is about personal growth too. I probably took too many trips to Las Vegas in my early and mid-20s simply to have fun. Six years after my last visit to the city, I will return to Vegas not as a young, immature know-it-all but as a higher education professional.

I can’t thank Lindsi enough for allowing me to work with her on this. We make a good team and it has been a pleasure watching everything come together. Cross your fingers that it all pays off tomorrow! Don’t Blink.