Fancy-Ish Thursday Rundown

And just like that, the first month of 2020 is almost in the books. How was your January? Mine was great! Let’s get started with my latest Thursday Rundown…

A Delicious and Relaxing Dinner – As I mentioned, Sid and I were able to sneak out on Tuesday evening for an intimate dinner. We went to Rivertown Bistro, a popular restaurant in downtown Conway that Sid describes as “fancy-ish.” We had such a nice time and the food was superb. We split spring rolls for an appetizer and Sid ordered the lobster, shrimp, and scallop au gratin while I opted for the bacon wrapped pork tenderloin. Sidney needed an adventure outside of the house and yesterday’s outing was perfect.

Our dinner date at Rivertown Bistro was wonderful!

Cheer – So we binge watched the Netflix documentary “Cheer” over the weekend. Although I once worked closely with cheerleading coaches and even went to cheer camps and national cheer competitions, I didn’t know if it would be my cup of tea. Well, the verdict is in and I enjoyed it! The documentary itself is just so well done and many of the subjects are really interesting. “Cheer” does a masterful job leading up to the climax and even though the filmmakers couldn’t shoot the final routine with their own cameras, they still did a great job capturing it. In fact, it had my wife in tears (she blamed the late stage of her pregnancy for the waterworks). You can’t go wrong watching the first episode and judging from there whether you want to continue.

I thought the “Cheer” documentary was pretty good!

Sloan’s Gift to Her Mama – Recently I mentioned that I sometimes let Sloan go on $3 spending sprees at the Dollar Tree. She has become pretty good at those so I entrusted her with buying birthday presents for Sid. This week I let her go through the store to pick out a handful of presents. Sidney couldn’t help but laugh when she opened up the interesting lineup of gifts: Dum Dums, bath bombs, makeup, Crunch ‘N Munch, a toothbrush, and a solar light stick. Although she found it humorous, she also found it extremely pure and thoughtful of Sloan.

A look at Sloan’s gifts to Sid. Each item was wrapped and placed in a gift bag.

MVP Christmas Gift – Later this year when I declare my hot Christmas gift of 2020, I might have to go with a lunch box. Sidney got me one this past holiday season and it quickly replaced the plastic grocery sacks I used to bring. I think I look a lot more professional when I put/remove my lunch in the breakroom refrigerator, even if I am taking up more space.

This is the lunch box that Sid gave me for Christmas.

What’s Wrong With Hot Dogs? – We are a month into 2020 so I figure it is time to share my first Life’s Little Instruction of the year. This one had me scratching my head. What is so bad about posing for a picture with a hot dog in your hand? I am not arguing about the alcohol component of the instruction because that is Common Sense 101. But hot dogs? Seriously?! To be frank, I must admit that I have violated this norm in a huuuuuge way.

Seriously, what is wrong with aphoto with a HOT DOG?!


That’s a wrap for tonight. If I take any selfies over the weekend I will be sure to make sure I am not holding a hot dog. Don’t Blink.

Feeling Vulnerable

I wake up at 2 a.m. from nightmares of our @ccuchanticleers Twitter account getting hacked. For any social media professional, the thought of an account under our watch being compromised is downright scary. We change passwords frequently, utilize multi-factor authentication, and stay up to date with cybersecurity best practices but we never know if it will be enough.

NEWS FLASH: It isn’t.

Over the past several days, twitter accounts from half of the teams in the NFL and multiple ESPN-affiliated accounts (including @ESPN) have fallen victim to hacks. Hello!? How could social media heavyweights like @Packers and @Sportscenter get hacked? With mega followings and A LOT of money invested into their social presences, shouldn’t they invest in protection that wouldn’t make them susceptible to such breaches?

These are the types of tweets the hacked NFL Twitter accounts sent out after they were compromised.

But this is where it gets even scarier. They do. Don’t kid yourself, these teams and brands are set up to thwart hacking attempts. They know full well the negative impact of someone else broadcasting random tweets to their millions of followers. The somber reality is that certain hackers are simply ahead of this cat and mouse game.

A hacker group called OurMine is currently causing the carnage. They have successfully managed to infiltrate the security provisions of highly popular accounts and take over. This is no fluke, folks. You don’t gain control of Twitter handles from the NFL, UFC, and ESPN by getting lucky; rather, you have to be damn good at what you do.

How much would this suck to happen to your Twitter account?

Of course the ramification we have to look at first is how hackers could impact the lives and well-being of millions of people. Instead of hacking the account of a football team, what if OurMine hacks @CNN or @DeptOfDefense? Could you imagine the panic that would be caused if they decided to drop their self-promoting-white hat hacking “help us improve your account security” garbage and instead tweeted something about a bogus impending nuclear attack? It would be pandemonium.

The much minor ramification is the impact that groups like OurMine have on my mental health. Obviously the accounts I manage are free for the taking. What happens if one day OurMine decides it wants to terrorize the social media accounts of a medium-sized liberal arts college as opposed to those of the Worldwide Leader in Sports? Yikes!

Sometimes we can’t obsess over the “what ifs?” Instead of beating myself up over the possibility, I need to tighten my plan of how we would react and regain control of our accounts if the catastrophic ever did happen. By no means are the accounts we run invincible. Aside from doing the absolute most to secure our accounts and plan for an actual hacking, we can cross our fingers that the social media channels themselves are going to do all they can to regain the upper hand over hackers. Don’t Blink.

A Birthday at Home

My wife has spent her past three birthdays in dramatically different situations. Two years ago she was taking care of a sick daughter and a sick husband. Last year she was traveling to Columbia for a teacher rally. This year?…

Sidney is currently on doctor-ordered bed rest. Now in the final weeks of her pregnancy, the medical professionals at her OBGYN office thought it was best to shut her down until she gives birth next month. The bed rest, which has been in effect for two weeks now, is doing wonders for Sid. Teaching is a stressful profession and going to the classroom each day wasn’t doing her any favors with her blood pressure.

Happy birthday, Sidney! You deserve to have a wonderful day.

Although the time at home is just what the doctor ordered, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to an eventful birthday. But don’t feel too bad for Sidney, she actually probably wouldn’t have it any other way. The way she sees it, a low key celebration with her family is far from a disappointment.

As we celebrate her birthday today, I am impressed and thankful at how Sidney has managed herself (and that baby inside of her) over the past few months. With a child growing inside her combined with a couple other stressors, she has been an absolute rock. Believe me, she deserves a very nice birthday today. In fact, tonight might even call for the slight bending of rules…

Sidney and Sloan just moments ago. The in-laws have now arrived and will watch Sloan so we can slip out for dinner!

Please don’t tell the doctor, but I might smuggle Sid out of the house for a quick birthday dinner. If anyone has earned it, it is her. Happy birthday, Sid––I love you. Don’t Blink.

Kobe and Other High Profile Deaths That Hit Home

When I saw the @TMZ tweet that Kobe Bryant had died, I had the reaction thousands of other Twitter users had…please don’t be real. As other sources started to confirm the tragic news, a deflating feeling set in. Unfortunately, that feeling became even more grim as updated reports circulated about additional people involved.

Learning of Kobe’s death was a gut shot.

The deaths of famous and noteworthy people, especially in sudden ways, can jolt us. Although it might not hurt as much as when a member of our own family passes away, there can still be pain involved. Despite the unpleasant emotions we feel, high profile deaths deliver a message that we can all take a heart: Death spares no one. Regardless of whether an individual has been gifted with political power, athletic prowess, or international popularity, we all must face mortality. Although we don’t know when, where, or how, we all will be judged…regardless of how many Instagram followers we have when we pass.

A common theme on social media yesterday was that Kobe’s death will cement itself in the timelines of millions of lives. Years from now, many of us, especially sports fans, will remember where we were when we heard the unbelievable news that one of the greatest basketball players to ever walk the planet had his life cut short. This will hold true for me. Whenever the movie “Inglorious Basterds” is brought up in discussion or shown on TV I will think about Kobe Bryant because that was the film I was watching when I heard the news. As I sat on our living room couch staring blankly at the tweet, I glumly told the news to Sidney as she hung with her friends who came over to celebrate her birthday.

I believe the news of the Kobe helicopter trash will engrain itself in my memory in the same way as three other famous deaths. Although Osama Bin Laden’s demise will always ring fresh in my mind, I prefer to focus this blog post on the souls who had a positive impact while on earth.

Princess Diana – I know I am dating myself with this, but I vividly remember Princess Diana’s death in 1997. I was at my grandparents’ house in Walla Walla, Washington, when news broke that the Princess of Wales had been in a car accident. We watched CNN’s coverage as the network tried to sort out what had happened and who (if anyone) had survived. When the lower third displayed the unthinkable news and the screen showed a photo of the Princess with “1961-1997” written underneath it, my grandma looked straight at me and said “Uh-oh.”

Pope John Paul II – The leader of the Catholic Church since 1978, Pope John Paul II had been in his post for 27 years when he fell critically ill in 2005. I was a high school senior at the time and my family watched coverage for two days straight as the Holy Father’s time on earth neared its end. When he did finally pass, we sat in front of the TV in the basement, thankful for the example he set for the entire world.

Michael Jackson – I had just started my first professional job after graduating college. It was an afternoon in July of 2009 and I was in the athletic offices at the University of Montana. Word started to spread around the Adams Center that Michael Jackson had died. Not much work was done the rest of the day. That night I went downtown with a couple friends and it was a circus-like atmosphere. Even in Missoula, Montana, there were Michael Jackson impersonators roaming the streets and every bar was playing music by the King of Pop.


Let us pray for the souls of those who lost their lives in the helicopter crash and also for the families left behind. Don’t Blink.

Iguana Thursday Rundown

The second half of January has not been as pleasant as the first. After a couple weeks of sunny and warm conditions, Myrtle Beach has joined in solidarity with the rest of the nation by becoming very COLD. Now that the obligatory weather report is finished, let’s begin with the Thursday Rundown…

When Breakfast Turns Into Brunch – I shared my love for going out to breakfast with Sloan this past Saturday. I took her to the Early Riser Diner and I read her my favorite traditional breakfast offerings on the menu such as pancakes, waffles, and French toast. When I asked her what she wanted, I was just a tad disappointed when she opted for a grilled cheese and fries. I think she had a case of food envy because she only took one bite out of her sandwich and ate just a couple fries. Then again, who am I kidding? Her poor eating effort had less to do with the plate that was in front of her and more to do with the jelly packets and coffee creamer containers that she played with the whole time. On a side note, my chocolate chip pancakes were really good!

Sloan got the grilled cheese she ordered but she was anything but interested in it once it arrived.

National Handwriting Day – Today is National Handwriting Day and I am celebrating myself! As an avid journaler, I practice my penmanship on a daily basis. As someone who struggled writing neatly as a child, I have developed a respectable handwriting style over the years, mostly because of practice. My wife characterizes my handwriting as “neat but very masculine.”

Happy National Handwriting Day!

Falling Iguanas – The cold snap is impacting areas further south than just my state! Florida is experiencing freezing temperatures as well and there is a rather strange byproduct from the chilly temperatures. On Tuesday night, the National Weather Service warned the Sunshine State to be cognizant of falling iguanas. The forecast proved correct as the lizards started falling on Wednesday. As you probably guessed, the cold blooded iguanas froze in the trees they hang out in and fell to the surface. Because the invasive species has reproduced so rapidly over the decades, the ground becomes littered with the fallen reptiles. This story had the group messages for both my family and Sid’s family blowing up!

These green iguanas are all over the place in Florida. Currently they are waking up from a deep freeze.

Thanks for Helping a Pregnant Girl – At almost 35 weeks pregnant, Sidney is experiencing a lot of uncomfortable nights. It is just so hard to move around and find a comfortable spot. Can you imagine how an uncontrollable coughing spell would heighten your misery even more, especially since she can’t take most medicines? On Friday night, Sid suffered a nasty coughing attack that lasted for hours. As I watched the tears start to come in my wife’s eyes, I asked Twitter for help. Followers responded with remedies ranging from pineapple juice to raw honey. However, the idea that provided her relief was rubbing Vick’s Vapor Rub on the bottom of her feet and then slipping on socks! Thanks, Twitter.

This was the Twitter plea I sent out on behalf of my wife.

Rewinding It Back – Let’s go to the archives to conclude this Thursday Rundown. On this date a year ago, I wrote about how we were dealing with our newest houseguest…ALEXA! On Jan. 23, 2018, I sounded off on the reality shows that Sidney watches, ranking them according to how unbearable each one is. Finally, on Jan 23, 2017, I listed my top five pizza delivery places. Any guesses on my top choice?

Me holding the Fritos Chili Pizza.


Don’t you love short weeks? It is already Friday tomorrow! Treat yourself to some hot chocolate and have a great weekend. Don’t Blink.


Today is #SquirrelAppreciationDay, a “day” on the calendar that I think all of us can “observe.” I say this because it seems like squirrels cover this entire nation. I have never lived in a place or visited a location for an extended period of time and not seen squirrels. Like them or hate them, they are all over!

This is what a University of Montana squirrel looks like.

However, the cool thing is that squirrels vary greatly. With more than 200 species, there is plenty of variety. This diversity plays itself out across the country, or even just across county lines. I mentioned that squirrels have inhabited every town I have lived in but by no means are they all the same. If I was knocked out cold and had no idea where I was at, I would immediately come to my senses and know my location if a squirrel moseyed by. I would look at its size, fur color, movement, and tail and immediately know the town I was in.

Myrtle Beach is home to some pretty gnarly looking squirrels.

Those who have spent time in higher education could identify a college campus based on a squirrel. Universities are havens for these rodent-ish animals that become part of an institution’s culture. There is just something about the cute appearance and social nature of a squirrel that endears itself to students. Everyone loves to make specialty brackets during March Madness and I think it is about time that a bracket is created for the squirrels of our favorite universities. Trust me, people would become very invested.

One day I looked out my office window and saw this guy just chilling out!

I don’t have any personal great squirrel stories to tell other than we fed them growing up. We would place peanuts on my parents’ back yard deck that connected to our house and watch them up close through a glass sliding door. Because we have always had cats, a few squirrels are buried out back. Although I don’t have any crazy tales to write about, I have simply enjoyed watching squirrels do their thing over the years.

Happy #SquirrelAppreciationDay! Gotta love the Coastal Carolina University squirrels!

Do you have a squirrel story to tell? Please don’t hold back. In the meantime, make sure to throw out a couple extra nuts for your resident squirrels tonight. Don’t Blink.

Five Fun Ideas for $5

Lucky for us, we live just a couple minutes away from a Dollar Tree. Pre-Sloan, I would frequent such stores for specific products, but these days we visit our neighborhood Dollar Tree on a more regular basis. Why? It is a great place to entertain a toddler…both in-store and out.

On days when it is chilly and I want her to expel some energy at a place other than the trampoline park or indoor playground, I might take her to the Dollar Tree. I will let her loose in the store with a $3 budget and let her shop! While she picks out her lollipop, knockoff barbie doll, and unicorn poop, I pick out some items on my own that I know will translate into a few minutes of entertainment at home.

In tonight’s blog post, I want to share five items that I have recently purchased at the Dollar Tree that have helped Sloan have a good time at the house during these “cold” Myrtle Beach days.

A look at our neighborhood Dollar Tree.

Silly String – I introduced Sloan to silly string just this weekend. Things got off to a rough start! Sloan started to cry when Sidney sprayed me with it. However, we told her there was nothing to be sad about and she calmed down. We put out an intimate object for target practice and Sloan loved it.

Sloan was introduced to silly string this weekend.

Bath Fun – We really never have a problem getting Sloan to take baths but we have found a way to motivate her to quickly hit the tub instead of stalling. The Dollar Tree offers bath toys, bath bombs, and bubbly soaps. She gets a kick out of throwing a bath bomb in the water and watching it transform into a colorful, aromatic experience.

We get Sloan bath bombs to add another element to tub time.

Kinder Eggs – I didn’t know much about Kinder Eggs until I let Sloan try one but I am now very aware! A Kinder Egg has two halves––one with sweet cream and wafer bits and one with a toy. It is an extremely tough call but I would say Sloan likes the candy more than the toy because she does her eating first, usually licking the egg completely clean. We then assemble the basic toy, which usually comes in a few parts, together. You can buy a Kinder Egg anywhere, but they usually cost a little more than a dollar. So, I guess it goes without saying why we purchase them at the Dollar Tree.

Sloan is obsessed with Kinder Eggs.

Fun Based Off YouTube – Sloan enjoys a YouTube sensation named Ryan. In one of his older videos he participates in a classic “Minute to Win It” challenge with family members. Two teams race to pull out all the contents of two full Kleenex boxes one tissue at a time until both are empty. At the end, they throw the tissues in the air to simulate a snowstorm. Because Sloan has seen this video so many times she was overjoyed when we recreated it for ourselves. Thanks to $1 148-count tissue boxes at Dollar Tree we had more than a snowstorm––we had a blizzard!

I re-created one of Sloan’s favorite scenes from the Ryan YouTube series.

Toothpaste – I think Sloan is the only toddler who finds brushing her teeth fun and the only one who will do it for five minutes at a time. At the Dollar Tree, a wide selection of toothpastes with princesses and Mickey Mouse are available. Letting her choose one of these fun pastes goes even further to promote her commitment to good oral health.

Sloan loves to brush her teeth and has fun choosing her toothpaste at Dollar Tree.


These five ideas combined will give you at least two hours of fun with your toddler. For $5, that is pretty good! Well, technically it is $6 because you will have to buy two Kleenex boxes…but you get the idea! Creativity awaits at the Dollar Tree. Don’t Blink.

Cookie Monster Thursday Rundown

We have had a week full of 70 degree days. Not bad for January, right? Time for me to step out of the oppressive humidity and start my latest Thursday Rundown. Here we go…

Cookie Monsters – Do you know someone who is selling Girl Scout cookies? If so, please send them our way. PSYCH! I hate turning down youth fundraising efforts but we exhausted our Girl Scout cookie budget when Sidney purchased SEVEN boxes from someone at school. Needless to say, our pantry is well stocked. If you like trefoils or peanut butter patties, feel free to stop by our house.

Sidney left one box in her classroom at school.

Weekend of Movies – Over the weekend, our household went hard on 2020 award-nominated movies. We watched “Marriage Story,” “The Two Popes,” “The Joker,” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” They are all very different movies with different storylines and themes. I think I was most surprised by “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” because it wasn’t anything like I thought it was going to be…something I should have expected out of a Tarantino film. To be honest, none of the movies stood out to me as an Academy Award Best Picture film.

Me holding “The Joker” DVD that we rented from Redbox.

Fun Blizzard Flavor – On Friday night, we celebrated the weekend by ordering Blizzards from Dairy Queen. I gave Sidney a case of dessert envy when I opted for a new flavor called Oreo Cookie Jar. It contained Oreo cookies (big surprise), chocolate chip cookie dough, and hot fudge. It was so good that Sid got one the next night!

This was my Oreo Cookie Jar Blizzard from the other night.

1,095 Days Ago – A couple of significant (but not really) events occurred three years ago this week. First, I tried MOD Pizza for the first time. After enjoying my first pie all that time ago, I still feel the same way about the concept and restaurant itself…I love it! Second, I received a very unusual package in the mail. When I opened it up, I was the brand new owner of a potato! My fellow higher education social media professional at the University of Houston sent me the special gift from a service called Potato Parcel. Yes, completely bizarre.

On Jan. 15, 2017, I tried MOD Pizza and received a delivery from Potato Parcel.

The GOAT – When I wrote about the Jeopardy Greatest of All Time tournament last week, I admitted that I didn’t know if I would watch each hour-long show in its entirety. Well, I did, and I am happy about it. I enthusiastically rooted for Ken Jennings each night and to see him come out on top this past Tuesday was a thrill (I realize I am a nerd) for me. It was also a pleasant surprise because I did hear a spoiler that James won the tournament. How can you not be happy for Ken? In my opinion, you can’t find a millionaire with a better personality than him. Congrats, Mr. GOAT.

Ken Jennings is a very, very smart man (photo courtesy of ABC)


We are now 4.16% through 2020. Be careful or the year will fly by! Have a wonderful weekend, my friends. Don’t Blink.

Sticking Up for the Clemson Mascot

I admit it, I feel bad for the Clemson Tiger. For the past 48 hours, the big pop culture story has centered on the mascot of Clemson University. During the CFP National Championship game, there was a lot of social media chatter about the differences in appearance between the LSU Tiger mascot and the Clemson Tiger mascot. Unfortunately for the Clemson feline, public opinion of him was rather harsh.

The appearances of the LSU Tiger (left) and the Clemson Tiger (right) was a hot topic during the CFP National Championship game.

In response to ridicule directed at The Tiger (official name of the Clemson mascot), an LSU fan (of all people) set up a GoFundMe account to purchase a new mascot suit for the Clemson athletic department. The fact that a Louisiana State fan created a GoFundMe account as an act of pity hurts just as much as him writing “It seems that the University purchased their mascot costume from the clearance rack from TG&Y in 1981.” Ouch.

This was one of the G-rated memes that circulated on social media.

But I am here to defend The Tiger. Yes, Clemson’s mascot was the punching bag for social media jokes on Monday night. However, was it warranted? It goes without saying that Mike the Tiger (the LSU mascot) looks more modern and polished but does that mean his worth as a mascot is greater than The Tiger? Hardly. Although a national audience sided with LSU’s costumed depiction of a striped cat, I don’t find many Clemson fans who object to the appearance of The Tiger. Sure, Clemson would have liked to win the social media “beauty contest” that took place on Monday night but at the end of the day their campus and fan base resonates with their mascot in its current form.

With that said, I also wanted to add some personal insight. Creating and PAYING for mascot suits is much more intense than most people think. During my time at the University of Montana, one of my responsibilities was to serve as the mascot coordinator. Monte, the costumed grizzly bear that serves as UM’s mascot, was constantly in need of suit maintenance because of his extreme stunts and a schedule that saw him make hundreds of appearances each year.

Monte and I at the NCAA Tournament in 2012.

Anyway, providing the necessary upgrades wasn’t always easy. Creating a mascot suit is a science that needs to be handled by talented professionals. At Montana, we worked with a national company that did mostly good work but every now and then we received something that looked off brand (for example, during my time with the athletic department we had a Monte head that was never used because it looked like he was smiling). To keep costs manageable, we usually wouldn’t order an entire suit all at once. Believe it or not, a mascot costume costs thousands of dollars. So we might purchase hands and arms one year, a head the next, and then surplus fur and shoes after that.

Mascot suits are expensive!

Hold on. Doesn’t the university or athletic department pay for all maintenance? Not necessarily. At UM, we had a mascot account that was funded by the paid appearances that the student performers made and any donations our program received. Those monies funded any costume purchases. 

In closing, don’t judge the appearances of mascots too harshly. They could be well-loved by their fan base just the way they are or the funds might not be there for a makeover. I am personally fond of The Tiger’s unique look. Don’t Blink.

Avoiding Mouth Burns

Last night I was at the 810 bowling alley in Market Common. I bit into a chicken tender and the pain was instantaneous. While the breading was warm, the chicken itself was scalding hot. The roof of my mouth was burned immediately. I rolled my eyes, knowing that the burn would linger for a couple days.

Although I would take a minor mouth burn before a canker sore (I get them really bad), there is nothing fun about burning your mouth. It causes you to curse at the food you are eating and to take a step back from the rest of the meal. Trying to get some relief with cold water only agitates the burn more. You go to sleep that night only to wake up the next morning with a couple seconds of obliviousness before you feel and remember the burn. Eating other food throughout the day is compromised by the nagging wound in your mouth. It just sucks.

Throughout my life, I have tried to take precautions against mouth burns. Some people might view these measures as “tacky” but I prefer to avoid incinerating my mouth tissue. A few of the tactics I employ…

1. Drop ice in my soup or hot liquid – Using my spoon to scoop a couple of ice cubes out of my water glass is the best way to take the guesswork out of using the tip of your tongue to test the temperature of a piping hot cup of chicken noodle soup.

2. Place an entrée that just came out of the oven into the refrigerator – Oh my sister used to hate this. Sometimes I would take my entire dinner plate and throw it into the fridge immediately after I dished up. Although it seems counterproductive to some, I try not to take any chances. After a few minutes I would take my plate out and eat the cooled food.

3. Cut the cook time in half – Ask my wife about this. If I am microwaving something, I will usually cook it for a shorter amount of time than prescribed. If potato skins are supposed to cook for two minutes, I am throwing them in there for 90 seconds. I tolerate an ice crystal or two better than I do intense heat.

I realize some of these methods might be unconventional but hopefully you can understand my distaste for mouth burns. Now I turn it over to you. Two questions: How do you treat mouth burns? What do you do to cool down a sizzling dish? Remember everyone, small bites! Don’t Blink.