A Week Until My Family Arrives Thursday Rundown

No matter where you are reading this Thursday Rundown from tonight, I hope your quarantine is going the best it can. For those on the frontlines and behind the scenes working to keep us safe and defeat this virus, thank you. Let’s get to the five topics.

What a Crazy Four Months – Tonight we conclude the first “third” of 2020. That’s right, we are 33.33% of the way through the year. It doesn’t take a lowly blogger to tell you that this partial trip around the sun has already been like no other. Personally, it has been a crazy ride even without the Coronavirus. The blessings and challenges are numerous. Usually I will say that a year “went by fast,” but 2020 is entirely different. It already seems like 2020 has been a looooong year and we aren’t even to May yet. Can’t wait to check back in on August 31 as we evaluate the second “third” of the year.

The first third of 2020 that has been highlighted by a big move and a global pandemic.

Meaningful Gesture – I moved to Myrtle Beach six years ago. I made the memorable cross-country drive with my dad. He flew back west on April 29, 2014, but he left something that I would find the next day. The note he placed in my silverware drawer was worth much more to me than the $5.

My dad left me this note six years ago.

Side-By-Side – When I received this photo from my mother-in-law of Beau lounging on the bed, I thought I would compare it to a similar one of me as a baby. I think there is a minor resemblance but Beau is so much cuter than I was. I can’t wait until my family joins me a week from today!

Beau and I hanging out side-by-side.

Movie Recommendations – Over the past two weeks, I have watched more than 10 movies. I saw a couple Redbox films that I feel like you might enjoy. “Richard Jewell,” a movie that tells the story of the heroic security guard who was wrongly accused of plotting the Centennial Park bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, was much better than I anticipated. If you like good character development and remember anything about the 1996 Summer Games, you might want to give it a chance. Another option is “The Gentlemen,” an entertaining and suspenseful film that was bolstered by a star-studded cast. I think it is more of a “guy” movie but if you are craving action and a great ending, I think it can satisfy anyone. Out of the numerous movies I have watched on Netflix recently, I thought the 2012 Matt Damon film “Promised Land” was pretty good.

If you are a guy and like action, consider watching “The Gentlemen.”

Best Gift Card – We celebrated my future sister-in-law’s birthday this past weekend and I needed to pick up a present. I went to Walgreens looking for a gift card to Hobby Lobby or perhaps Dutch Bros. However, I canned those plans once I saw this Total Wine gift card. I guess it stood out to me just because I buy a lot of gift cards and I had never seen one to Total Wine before. Anyway, besides its novelty, I purchased it because, like it or not, Total Wine has been deemed an essential business. Now if I was using the gift card I would use it to purchase a six-pack of domestic beer but I know Carrie will put it to much better use!

A photo of Carrie on her birthday coupled with the Total Wine gift card we gave her as a present.


As we move forward in 2020, let’s continue to pray for a resolution to COVID-19. Enjoy the rest of your week and thanks for reading. Don’t Blink.

Science Fun During Quarantine

This morning I came across an article that offered at-home science ideas that kids could do outdoors. The idea of course is that even though children can’t formally learn scientific concepts inside schools at the moment, they can still educate themselves in their own backyard.

After reading some of the ideas that supposedly passed as science, I figured I could share some of my own at-home science exploits that I enjoyed as a kid. Take or leave any of these five suggestions.

Starting Fires – My parents purchased two magnifying glasses for my brother and I when we were little. i don’t believe they were trying to promote a science experiment, but we definitely didn’t use them to play “detective.” We were outside all the time burning leaves and ants. I will always remember the thrill of maneuvering the magnifying glass just perfectly to produce a strong beam that would effortlessly burn through leaves and spark small flames. I learned a lot about the sun’s energy and heat in general.

Growing Stuff – Nothing will keep a kid’s attention on a day-to-day basis like watching a plant grow. As a younger version of myself, I took seriously the task of planting a seed in some dirt, watering it, and watching it break through the earth. Want to know something that I grew regularly and that would be perfect to plant right now? Pumpkins! They grow fast and are very practical. Life cycles, water importance, meteorology, and so much more are all scientific lessons learned.

Ice Pops – The article I read today suggested throwing objects in a glass of water (i.e. small toys, play jewelry), freezing it, and then excavating the frozen items. I did this all the time as a kid and loved it. But for the sake of offering something a bit different, I would suggest allowing your young ones to make ice pops. Making homemade popsicles is fun and educational! Just pour Kool-Aid or another sugary drink into a mold, add sticks, and freeze. Kids learn about freezing points and the art of mixing something that tastes good.

Before I paid for frozen ice, I made it myself.

Rock Discovery – This sounds a little lame writing about it now, but when I was 8 or 9 I really enjoyed finding cool rocks. My friends and I would go to a couple yards in the neighborhood that had rock landscaping to try to find unique stones. We would look long and hard, psyching ourselves out if we thought we found something that resembled gold or crystal. We would always take a few home with us and trade them with each other later. Nothing like some remedial geology to get the young minds stimulated!

Snowballs in July – The parents of a neighbor friend down the street had a big chest freezer in their garage. During the winter we would form snowballs, place them in Ziploc bags, and store them in the freezer. Once the summer months arrived, we would take them out and sling them at each other. This was an important scientific lesson because…well…I guess it really had nothing to do with science at all.


Don’t let the learning stop just because school is closed. Let your children explore science while being active. But please remember, adhere to social distancing guidelines. Don’t Blink.

Takeout on Steroids

It has become a quarantine tradition. On Saturday nights, my parents order takeout from a local restaurant. Best of all, they feed me too (yay!). We have enjoyed some delicious meals from different eateries in the North Spokane area over the past several weeks. However, the tradition took on a slightly different form this most recent weekend.

Instead of ordering from a locally-owned restaurant, they decided to go corporate. The winner? Texas “Eat Your Heart Out” Roadhouse. Within the past several months a location opened not too far away from the house and how can you really say “no” to those rolls?

Around 7 p.m. this past Saturday, I had my excitement for the evening as I went with my parents to Texas Roadhouse to pick up our order. It was a culture shock!

Until that night, we had very tame experiences picking up our takeout. We would pull right up to the restaurant’s front door and a lone employee would walk out with plastic “thank you” screened bags filled with Styrofoam to-go containers. The transaction would take a couple seconds and then we would drive out of the lot just like we found it…practically empty.

The Texas Roadhouse experience was an entirely different animal. As we approached the restaurant, we could already see the cones and vehicles from a couple blocks away. Once we entered the parking lot it was almost like an obstacle course following the signs that led us around the perimeter of the property up to an energetic and eager employee.

This is what the North Spokane Texas Roadhouse looked like as we drove up to it.

“Hey guys! Spot 21!”

The individual Texas Roadhouse parking spots were labeled by small signs with numbers on them. No, these numbers didn’t correspond to a row of spaces at the front of the restaurant like a normal takeout operation during non-pandemic times. Instead, basically every single spot in the general lot was numbered and most of them were occupied by cars!

We pulled into our spot and watched the scene. At least seven employees were making runs to the cars. A couple other employees manned a cash register set up outside the main entrance. The employee who initially assigned us to a parking spot was sprinting around the lot chasing random cars. It was a hotbed of activity.

After the two cars parked in front of us got their food and left, I took a photo of the front of Texas Roadhouse. Look closely to see the cash register.

Amidst the chaos, there was a pretty solid system in place. Once in our spot, one of the runners checked in with us. Once they cross-referenced our name, they brought us a receipt with our order. Once we confirmed it, they placed a slip of paper under our windshield wiper signifying that we paid. Then came the food. No mass-produced plastic bags here. Our dinner came out in large, sturdy brown paper sacks with twine handles. What a waste of money, I thought.

But then I thought of other ways the Texas Roadhouse was saving money. As I looked around at the busy parking lot and the sacks and sacks of food that kept coming through those main doors, I mentally took note of potential cost saving measures in place…

Fewer rolls baked. We ordered three meals and only got a total of four rolls. If I was dining with my family in the actual restaurant, the ratio would not be 1.333 rolls per person.

No soda refills. Now I know people say there is a non-existent profit margin in soft drinks but you have to be kidding if you say that not refilling glass after glass of soda all night long doesn’t cut some costs.

Forget about the peanuts. Probably my favorite thing about Texas Roadhouse (besides the large mugs of beer) was eating way too many peanuts and throwing the shells on the floor. The chain no longer has to worry about keeping the barrels full nor cleaning up the mess.

Dishwashing costs, restaurant maintenance. Although the brown sacks and the quality food containers can’t be cheap, I am sure Texas Roadhouse is still coming out ahead without the obligation to wash dishes and thoroughly clean the restaurant on a daily basis.

I ordered the ribs! I would think that not having to wash dishes would save Texas Roadhouse some money.

Reduced labor. Yes, the parking lot was busy with Texas Roadhouse employees going in every direction but the 10 workers I counted on Saturday night paled in comparison to the roughly 100 employees I swear I see inside the restaurant on a regular night during non-COVID times.

So while many local businesses are going through a nightmare right now, could places like Texas Roadhouse be thriving? I have a feeling that loss of liquor revenue might mean a big N-O to my question but I would still like my restaurant business people to set me straight. Until then, even though Texas Roadhouse is one of my favorite casual chain restaurants, I think we will probably order takeout from a restaurant next Saturday that needs our business a little more. Don’t Blink.

How to Ruin TV For Your Spouse

In public, I am a pretty restrained individual. I don’t feel the need to voice my political views or offer commentary in group settings. The same holds true for social media. I don’t use my accounts as an avenue to pop off about current events or debate with others.

However, in the comfort of my own home I am a little more uninhibited. I might offer my two cents on certain topics if something irks me on TV. When skimming the newspaper this morning, I saw a certain letter to an advice columnist that almost made me feel like my wife could be writing it if only we haven’t been separated during the majority of this COVID pandemic (just 11 days until we reunite!).

This was the advice column that resonated with me today.

Truth of the matter, I started to develop a habit of freely gracing Sidney with my “expert” commentary when watching television together. Just like the person seeking advice, I could at times drive my wife over the edge with my unsolicited revelations.

I found myself in major violation on a few different fronts…

1. Demeaning the reality shows that Sidney enjoys watching.

2. Predicting what would happen in movies or pointing out inconsistencies in the plot.

3. Yelling at the news over national stories I did not care for.

For a while, I couldn’t help myself from chiming in with my hot takes. It inflated my sense of self with my perceived cleverness and provided an outlet to blow off some steam. But what I was too proud to realize at the time was that my outbursts were completely self-serving.

You see, my commentary made TV-watching for Sid miserable. We both work hard and after the kids are in bed at night, we enjoy relaxing in front of the television. This therapeutic time for both of us was dampened by a certain loudmouth. Sidney was able to communicate this to me and I got better at it. Was it instantaneous? No. But I did gradually improve.

I think the response from Carolyn Hax, the advice columnist, was too flowery and complicated. Just give straight-forward advice, right? I would have told the annoyed wife to have a conversation with her husband and not simply tell him to “go away.” Rather, explain how the commentary not only adds absolutely nothing of value to your television-viewing experience but that it actually detracts from it. Explain how it turns a time of relaxation into a time of dread.

If he is a decent dude, he will get it…pandemic or no pandemic.

Do you have a perspective on armchair commentators? If so, I would love to hear it. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Don’t Blink.

I Saw the Sign Thursday Rundown

Another Thursday in this uncertain COVID-19 has arrived and once again I am here to at least provide some certainty with my delivery of another Thursday Rundown. Let’s get started…

Such a Good Idea for Kids – My good friend from high school and his wife came up with the best quarantine activity for their kids. They set up a root beer tasting challenge! They purchased some of the heavyweights in the root beer industry and allowed their daughters (and themselves) to blind taste test the sodas. After everything was said and done, the verdict was mixed. Cody liked Henry Weinhard’s the best. His wife and youngest daughter opted for Sioux City Root Beer (I will have to try it one of these days). His oldest daughter chose the only canned root beer in the challenge––Barq’s! Nice work, everyone.

Absolutely loved this Root Beer Challenge idea!

A Sign… – For the first time in more than a month, I saw toilet paper actually stocked on the shelves of a grocery store with my own eyes. I was in Rosauers on Saturday when I spotted several rolls that were up for grabs. It definitely wasn’t Charmin or Cottonelle but it was a welcome sight to see. I know we have a long way to go but I have seen several encouraging signs this week with respect to our coronavirus battle.

It was good to see toilet paper back on the shelves!

Never Forget – On the three-year anniversary of Sloan’s Pyloric Stenosis corrective surgery, I would like to take a moment to thank Dr. Robert Cina and his talented surgical team at MUSC in Charleston. They are the reason why Sloan is a healthy and sassy toddler who makes us all so happy. It took a year of reflection before I wrote this blog post two years ago.

During Sloan’s bout with Pyloric Stenosis and for over a year afterwards, we kept it between immediate family. Sidney and I are so thankful for the support of our parents. This photo shows our moms and dads with Sloan at MUSC.

The Masked Coug – A little humor could be felt on campus last Friday when the “Cougar Pride” sculpture was outfitted with its own PPE. We don’t know who fitted the WSU landmark with the mask but it sure was a hit on social media. Breathe easy!

The “Cougar Pride” sculpture was outfitted with its own mask.

Have a Good One, Mel – The NFL Draft is already underway (so weird adjusting back to west coast start times) and I am not watching. However, if I do tune in later tonight, it will be to watch Mel Kiper’s analysis. Six years ago, I wrote this ode to one of the smartest people I have ever watched on television. Even if you aren’t a fan of Kiper, you have to admit that Darren Rovell’s tweet is pretty good.

It is Draft #37 for Mel Kiper Jr. tonight.


Thanks for spending a few minutes of your Thursday with me. Enjoy your weekend and be safe! Don’t Blink.

Reducing Our Wardrobes

When we started to pack up our house in Myrtle Beach, Sidney and I realized something…we had A LOT of clothes. No, it wasn’t just my wife with a stuffed closet––I was guilty too. For a dude, I had an embarrassingly large wardrobe. Unless we wanted to fill the entire 16-wheel moving truck with our clothes, we had to do some purging.

Well, purging isn’t exactly a good word. We threw out a very minimal amount of clothes, just the stuff that was pretty much unwearable. The other stuff we made available so others could get use out of it. We repurposed our clothes in three main ways…

I alone had enough thermals to fill a regular-sized closet.

1. Consignment – I feel a little guilty admitting this, but we did sell some of our clothes. Sidney and I each made a couple trips to Plato’s Closet with boxes of clothes. I would describe what they accepted and what they paid out as disappointing. Each time we went to the store, we walked back out with a majority of the clothes that we brought in. We averaged about $25 per trip and placed all proceeds in an envelope labeled Moving Fund.

2. Goodwill – When sorting out our clothes, we had boxes earmarked for Goodwill. In addition to those boxes, we added the rejected consignment clothing as well. Our trips to Goodwill were always therapeutic because it felt so good to drop off large loads that took up space in our house during the cluttered moving process. On a more somber note, it was also a reminder that we could have helped those in need much sooner if we made regular trips and didn’t hoard (bigger issue for me than Sid).

Even with multiple stops to Goodwill and Plato’s Closet, we still shipped UHAUL wardrobe closets filled with clothes to Washington.

3. Office Giveaway – I obtained TONS of Coastal Carolina University gear during my nearly six years at the institution. I took a couple items with me as keepsakes, but I knew I would have to leave most of it behind. When my mentor and friend, Kenny Dow, left the University of Montana for another job, he allowed his co-workers to poach his UM wardrobe. Likewise, when Bill Plate left CCU, he gave me his Chanticleer ties. I took their examples and put my Coastal Carolina gear up for grabs. I put a video of my large collection on social media, stipulating that you had to be a CCU employee if you wanted dibs, and within seconds it was claimed.

A glimpse at a portion of the CCU polos I had in my possession.


Funniest/Saddest thing of all? I probably still packed more clothes than what I needed. Something I am trying to work on is to let go of items and resist the temptation to stockpile. It is a learning process. Don’t Blink.

A New Home Office

Over the weekend, my parents surprised me. But before I describe what they did, let me give you some context.

Since I started working from home (aka my parents’ house), I have taken over the dining room as my makeshift office. It has worked fine for me, and, fortunately, my mom insists that she does not mind my main level occupancy. But I do feel bad that I am essentially closing down a large portion of the house during the workday.

For the most part, my “current” office has been working out.

Also, I can’t fully escape the noises from traffic and nearby yard work that regularly infiltrates into the dining room. Additionally, looking to the near future when my family arrives, my location in the middle of the house will render me as a play option for my 3-year-old daughter. As much as I love to entertain her, playtime isn’t conducive to the workday.

As our working from home arrangement continues at WSU, I brought up the subject of securing alternative office space to my “landlords.” They had the perfect idea…

Yes, my dad wrote out a nameplate to hang on my “office” door. If anyone gets lost on their way to a Zoom meeting I am hosting, I am sure it will help them find their way…

My dad made me this fancy nameplate.

Crack open the door a bit and you can catch a glimpse of the very nice work my parents did converting this space to my new office…

An initial glimpse into my new office.

But let’s actually go in, shall we?

Check out this work area! I got a desk, comfy chair, computer, and even a globe if I forget where Pullman is…

A look at my working space.

But let’s conclude this tour by zooming out.

Welcome to my new office…and old bedroom?

Here is the complete view of my office/guestroom.

That’s right! My parents converted my old basement bedroom from my teenage years into my new office as a 33-year-old professional.

Before the jokes start coming my way (besides the ones about me living with my parents) this bedroom was turned into a guestroom after I left the state 15 years ago. So, no, the floral bedspread and curtains aren’t a holdover from 2005.

Any sarcasm aside, I am really appreciative of my parents for doing this. Don’t Blink.

Thinking About Those Out of Work

This weekend as I consume the latest COVID developments and reflect on many of the devastating impacts, I find myself focusing on a specific byproduct of this mess: the layoffs.

It is hard to not feel discouraged about the many thousands of people losing their jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. These people are out of work due to absolutely no fault of their own. Most are outstanding employees who have had the proverbial rug pulled from underneath them. It is not fair.

It goes without saying that the impact is not industry-specific; rather, the ramifications seem to terrorize every line of work, including higher education digital marketers. But perhaps the biggest irony and kick to the gut is that healthcare workers, the folks who are most needed to battle this pandemic, are especially vulnerable to furloughs and layoffs. How is this possible?

Well, it happens when a once-in-a-lifetime deadly virus wreaks havoc on the world. The disease itself is just the tip of the iceberg as the trickle-down effect negatively upends many other aspects of life, including employment.

During this time I am thankful for my job but also very sad for those who have been let go. Again, their misfortune has been completely out of their control. I believe we need to do our individual part to help those out of work. Whether that be recommending them for other jobs, sending them a restaurant gift card, or just offering a word of encouragement, let’s take the time to reach out to those who have had their occupations disrupted.

Also, let’s make sure we continue to pray for a swift end to the coronavirus. Hopefully we will continue to make gains over this next week. Don’t Blink.

Movie Binge Thursday Rundown

Good evening everyone and thanks for choosing to spend a few minutes of your precious time on Don’t Blink. It is Thursday so you all know what that means. Let’s begin with the latest Rundown…

Honoring the Class of 2020 – Yesterday I called out the “post your senior photo to support the Class of 2020” Facebook gimmick as disingenuous. I offered a few alternatives to do something more meaningful but they didn’t come close to what I read about in the local paper today. Teachers and staff members from a Spokane high school (a rival of my high school nonetheless) did something special for their 2020 class. Overnight, they went to the houses of every senior student at Ferris High School and planted a sign in their yard that read “Saxons Class of 2020. #SaxonPride.” Based on interviews the students did with the paper, they really enjoyed it. What a thoughtful and morale-boosting thing to do.

I think Ferris High School hit the mark with this effort.

Quick Trip to Walla Walla – Due to some essential reasons, I had to make a quick trip to Walla Walla this past weekend. I had not visited the town in five years so it was good to return and see a place that meant so much to me growing up. I got to see the house my grandparents’ lived in, drive by the old family business, visit relatives, and even play a little bit of cornhole (one of the best social distancing games there is). It was nice to get a change of scenery!

A few shots from my very quick trip to Walla Walla.

National Siblings Day – Last Friday was National Siblings Day and I decided to go retro for my social media posts. An advantage of living with your parents is that you have quick access to the family photo albums. Below are the images I shared on some of my social channels. I am very lucky to have an awesome sister and an awesome brother.

Some old photos to celebrate National Siblings Day.

Movies – In the wake of current events, I like to escape in the evenings from the news cycle. For me, this means watching a lot of movies. Over the course of the past week, I have watched the following films with my dad….

The Score
The Water Diviner
End of Watch

All of these films were pretty good and it became no secret to me why “1917” was an Academy Award-winning film. Out of the other movies listed, all of which can be watched on Netflix, I think I liked “End of Watch” the best. It is a cop movie from 2012 that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena.

1917 was an outstanding film.

Mamba – Everyone enjoys a good Kobe story and this one hit home for me. I attended high school with Adam Morrison and followed his college and NBA careers closely. I thought it was really cool that Bryant would do this random act of kindness while Adam was going through a tough time.

I thought this stpry was kind of cool.


Let us continue to pray for a resolution to this pandemic. Promising developments are starting to transpire but it is going to take some time. Have a great weekend. Don’t Blink.

Missing the Mark

This post isn’t meant to criticize anyone’s Facebook prowess, but I am just seeking clarification. Before I elaborate, let me preface what I am about to say with a fact: I really enjoy many of the current social media engagement trends. In fact, I am so tickled by some of them that I wrote an entire blog post about it last week.

However, I am scratching my head at a certain one that is extremely popular right now. Again, please don’t take this personal if you have participated because it is a fun idea. My point of contention is whether it really does anything to promote the cause it is supposedly triumphing.

I am not a big fan of the senior photo post. You know what I am talking about, right? Facebook users are asked to copy and paste text that states something along the lines of “In solidarity with the Class of 2020, share your own senior pictures no matter how silly or old they might be.” Of course, this text is paired with a photo (or an entire album) from that individual’s senior portrait photoshoot.

If only it was just a prank…

Okay, I couldn’t care less if people are sharing photos from their senior year on social media. Heck, I am known to post images from my unremarkable high school football career. If you want to relive your glory years and celebrate a time when you weighed less and had more hair, I get it.

But my problem is when this reminiscing is done under the guise of a worthy cause.

In no way, shape, or form do I understand how posting professional photos of oneself is “showing support” for this year’s senior class. How does uploading an old photo of yourself to Facebook help a poor high school student dealing with the loss of their senior year? You aren’t “honoring” any students—you are only honoring yourself and perhaps the photographer who took the photos. And if that photographer isn’t a high school senior devoted to media arts, you are falling short there too.

If we truly want to honor the Class of 2020 on social media, I have a few options that I thought of off the top of my head…

1. Post the senior photo of an actual member of the Class of 2020.

2. Share to your wall the photo of the Class of 2020 from the local high school in your area or from the high school you graduated from.

3. Attend and share virtual high school events that are taking place on Facebook Live.

During this time when students are missing out on major rite of passage events that we all got to enjoy, let’s try harder to be empathetic. The focus should be on them, not us. Don’t Blink.