A Night With Magic Johnson

Have you ever written to a celebrity, completely forgot you did so, and then have a letter arrive from the famous person way after the fact? If you were born prior to electronic communication you might have. The feeling of receiving something that you value but long lost hope that it would ever arrive is pretty cool.

A more modern example of this happened to me last week. On Tuesday night I was notified that I had won a retweet contest on Twitter from a week ago. Now, in the social media sphere, waiting one week to hear the results of a contest is analogous to waiting one year for a letter from a famous person.

Needless to say, I had completely forgot about the contest.

On September 7, I had retweeted a tweet from the @SpokaneHoopfest account. Thinking it was a long shot, I didn’t think I would be the lucky winner. But there I was last Tuesday night looking at a Twitter DM informing me I had won two tickets to see Magic Johnson speak the following evening. I worked fast to twist Sidney’s arm to go with me and to secure childcare (big thanks to my brother). A spur of the moment date night with my wife was organized!

This is the @SpokaneHoopfest tweet that I retweeted to win the two tickets.

The Association of Washington Business is the state’s premiere business association. This year, the organization was holding its annual Policy Summit in Spokane at the Davenport Grand. The AWB managed to bring in Magic for its big dinner keynote. If the association had never partnered with Hoopfest on the Twitter giveaway I probably would have never even known that Magic Johnson was going to be in town!

After I finished work on Wednesday, I slipped on a tie and jacket while Sid dazzled in a knockout dress. We drove to the Davenport Grand and were greeted by extremely friendly AWB representatives who gave us our name tags and some delicious peanut brittle.

Sid and I on our way to the AWB Policy Summit keynote address at the Davenport Grand.

Sidney and I had a table all to ourselves. This was nice because if you are familiar with conference dining, it can be a little inconvenient and awkward passing bread baskets and wine bottles around the table with strangers. To just be at the table with Sid made the date night a little more romantic.

We listened to addresses from the Spokane mayor and our area’s power company CEO before the headliner took the stage. As Magic Johnson emerged from behind the curtain I noticed his mile-wide smile while Sidney noticed his “huge hands.”

Magic Johnson on the stage at the AWB Policy Summit.

But once he started speaking, our attention shifted from his appearance to his intelligence. With unmistakable intuition and an unbreakable competitive spirit, it became easy to see why he has led such a successful life. Confident and personable, Magic used his many experiences, perfect memory, and humor to engage and relate with the crowd.

It was a well-balanced keynote. He discussed at length both his basketball career and his business empire. When it came to his time on the hardwood, he told stories about Larry Bird, the 1992 Dream Team, Jud Heathcote, turning down a Nike shoe deal, and playing against the Seattle SuperSonics. These musings were all very entertaining and of relevance to a sports fan like myself, but I think I might have enjoyed it even more when he talked business.

You can’t keep Magic Johnson seated for long. Although the keynote was set up to be a 1-on-1 sit down interview with KHQ’s Sean Owsley, Magic would leave his chair and address the crowd.

Magic talked about being turned down constantly when he was trying to get into the industry. He stressed the importance of mentors. He highlighted his successes with Starbucks. He chatted about work/life balance and how he tries to take time for himself in the morning. He mentioned a lucrative deal he has with Disney. He related the business opportunities in urban America.

But what Mr. Johnson drilled home most of all was the need to support minority-owned businesses and empower minority professionals looking to begin and advance their careers. He reminded us in the room that many of us have been taken care of and now it is our responsibility to take care of others.

Honestly, it was so relaxing to just sit back with a glass of wine and listen to Magic talk. Sidney and I thoroughly enjoyed his address. After we took advantage of the dessert reception we exited the Davenport right as Magic was getting into his motorcade. We enthusiastically waved him off as he disappeared down the Spokane streets.

Thanks to my hot date for accompanying me to the AWB Policy Summit keynote dinner!

Sidney and I would like to extend our gratitude to Brian Mittge and Paulette Beadling for making sure we had a memorable time on Wednesday evening. What a joy to attend! To all my readers, never be afraid to tap that retweet button. Don’t Blink.

Funnel Thursday Rundown

Don’t look now but we are now officially more than halfway through September! Good evening, friends, thanks for visiting Don’t Blink once again. You have obviously returned for the Thursday Rundown so here you go…

Paw Patrol: The Movie – On Sunday, Sloan and I went to the movie theater to watch “Paw Patrol: The Movie.” Even though we could have watched the film at home, Sloan was itching to do something and didn’t mind spending the afternoon eating popcorn and watching one of her favorite animated series. With only one other family in our auditorium, proper social distancing wasn’t a concern. It was our first time in a movie theater since we watched “Polar Express” back in November and Sloan loved our view from the back row. As for me? I thought the movie was cute.

Sloan enjoyed going to the theater to watch “Paw Patrol.”

Gas…Then and Now – This photo of me at the gas pump was taken exactly 5 years ago today on September 16, 2016. If you look closely you can see that the price per gallon was $1.79. That is more than double what I am paying today (roughly $3.65 per gallon). Dang, I miss filling up for under $30 as opposed to $55.

Gas prices have soared over the past 5 years.

Scenic Commute – I commute to Pullman once a week for work. The 90-minute drive is always beautiful as you drive through rolling green hills and wheat fields. But Tuesday morning was especially serene with the gorgeous sky. I quickly snapped a photo of God’s canvas.

The morning drive from Spokane to Pullman is a scenic one.

My Annoying Habit – Two years ago I came clean. I admitted I had a problem. I conceded it was causing me to alienate my loved ones (my wife). In that fateful blog post I had an about face and revealed that I am a chronic hand rubber. Don’t worry, I wrote those last four sentences in a half-sarcastic tone…but seriously…it drives Sidney bonkers. Take a look into my irritating quirk by traveling back in time 730 days.

I have rubbed my hands together obsessively for a couple of decades.

Falling Cat – By now I am sure most of you have seen the viral video from last weekend’s Miami football game with the free falling cat. If you did not see it, the animal clings from the mezzanine level with its front paws only to lose its grip. Thankfully, alert students were waiting below to catch the cat in an American flag. I know it is just a cat, but I still have a tough time watching that video despite its immense popularity. I must be turning into an old sap because seeing that cat fight for dear life was heartbreaking to me. Watching it fall through the air also gave me negative emotions. I am glad the cat is okay but I would be fine never seeing that video again.

I hated to see this.

————————

I hope everyone has a nice weekend. If you ever have a blog post idea for Don’t Blink, please reach out. Look forward to catching up next week. Don’t Blink.

To Fair or Not to Fair?

This past weekend, Sid and I took the kids to the Spokane County Interstate Fair. You see, we had to make up for lost time. Last year we were able to “taste” just a small “piece” of the experience as we did the Fair Food Drive-Thru. It was cool that vendors made an effort to do that, but there is just something different between eating a corn dog in your car and eating a corn dog on a grassy bench in front of the Ferris wheel.

Sloan got her face painted at the fair.

So as you can imagine, we didn’t take for granted the opportunity to enjoy the Spokane County Interstate Fair in-person. With that said, I must be honest and say that although that we did have a good time, it wasn’t a complete slam dunk. Tonight, I thought I would do a brain dump and rattle off 7 reasons why you would want to attend the fair and 7 reasons why you might want to take a pass. Perhaps this post will help you decide whether you attend the Spokane County Interstate Fair this upcoming weekend or, for that matter, any fair that is coming to a town near you this year.

Beau approaching the Canine Stars show at the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

7 Reasons For Attending the Spokane County Interstate Fair

– The indoor exhibits were diverse and interesting.

– There were free activities at these exhibits that Sloan could participate in. At one of them she made a bookmark.

– The free Canine Stars show was really cool!

– Food selection was very vast with something for everyone.

– We loved the animal exhibits! So many different furry critters spanning a wide variety of species, sizes, and colors.

– Bathrooms all over the place.

– Sloan and Beau were both free admission.

Sloan making a bookmark at one of the booths at the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

7 Reasons For Not Attending the Spokane County Interstate Fair

– You have to pay for parking ($5).

– Many things inside the fair are cash-only meaning that if you didn’t bring cash with you (we didn’t) you need to use the fair ATMs that charge expensive fees.

– Speaking of expensive, although the selection is great, basically every food item is $12 or above.

– Continuing the pricey theme, everything from the rides to the carnival games to the face painting are offered at very inflated prices.

– Some things never change. The carnival games are still rigged or at the very least extremely hard to win.

– After going to Silverwood the weekend before, you realize the major gap in the customer service offered at the theme park compared to the lack of it offered at the fair.

– When you leave the parking lot, you run the risk of getting hit by cars that enter the lot by zooming through the exit so they don’t have to pay the $5.

Although expensive, Beau enjoyed the fair food.

—————

Hopefully this resource will provide you with enough information when deciding whether to attend the fair or not. On the fence? Do it for your kids and GO! Don’t Blink.

Putting Faces to the Victims of 9/11

On Saturday morning, I wasn’t in the mood for College Gameday. Instead, I watched the World Trade Center remembrance ceremony. Throughout the program, the names of the 2,753 people killed in New York City on 9/11 were read aloud.

The two decades that passed didn’t make the ceremony any less gut-wrenching. So many lives senselessly taken away. As a name was read, the lower third of the screen displayed that person’s photo and age. After about 30 minutes of simply watching, I started to do something…

I started to Google.

The names were going by fast and I felt like I wasn’t able to give proper attention to these individuals. It was like they were getting lost in the shuffle. So, I started to randomly type the names of victims into my phone. It was pretty easy to do—I would type a first and last name followed by “9/11” and I would immediately have an obituary or a newspaper article.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t Google everyone. I did have to pick and choose. I found myself selecting people who were around my age or either really young or elderly.

Here are just five people I learned about on Saturday…

Hilda Marcin was 79 years old when her plane was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center. A German immigrant, she was flying to California to live with her daughter.

Hilda Marcin

Katie McCloskey was 24 years old and had just realized her dream of moving to New York City. She was working as a computer technician on the 97th floor of the north tower.

Katie McCloskey.

James F. Murphy was 30 years old and happened to be in the World Trade Center on September 11 for a trade show. He left behind a wife and devastated parents who loved hosting family meals.

James F. Murphy

Paula Morales was a mother of four and a systems analyst for the AON Corporation. The 42-year-old who had just bought a house was working on the 102nd floor of the north tower.

Paula Morales

Patrick Sean Murphy was a 36-year-old vice president of Marsh & McLennan who loved basketball, whether it be playing in rec leagues or going to Knicks games. He was happily married and a father of a 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.

Patrick Sean Murphy

It is easy to be overwhelmed watching the towers fall and the staggering death toll that came with it. That perspective is important and painful. But a different perspective—just as important and painful—is taking a deeper dive into the individual lives that were taken. For many years I had neglected to examine that latter reality. I started to finally take a closer look at personal stories this past Saturday, even if it was just a sampling of victims who had the last name of “M.” But I am committed to expanding my reflections. I have every intention of learning about more of my fellow Americans who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Don’t Blink.

Pinball Thursday Rundown

Are you getting a taste of autumn yet? I can sense it coming around these parts but we are still enjoying warm days. Here is a taste of this week’s Thursday Rundown…

Pinball Wizard – When Sid, Sloan, and I went to Silverwood last weekend, we played at the Retro Arcade. It was filled with arcade games from the 1980s and 1990s such as Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, NBA Jam, Pac-Man, and many more. Best of all, it had a row of classic pinball machines! Some of the game themes included Wizard of OZ, Twilight Zone, and AC/DC. However, the one that Sid and I played was called Arabian Nights. Sidney and I each took a couple turns on the machine with my wife actually setting the high score for that day.

Sid playing the Arabian Nights pinball game at Retro Arcade in Silverwood

Sloan’s Board – On Tuesday I wrote about Sloan’s first day of school and shared a photo of her posing with her back to school board. I have decided to devote some time and space from this Rundown to give you a closer look at the board’s design and content. Sid purchased the design from Etsy, filled it in with Sloan’s information, and had Walgreen’s print it out. We then placed it in a frame and let Sloan pose with it. You didn’t go to school on the first day if you didn’t have a board, right?

This is the board we created for Sloan on her first day of Pre-K 4.

Dollar Tree Ice – And if you don’t know, now you know! Over the weekend, my sister and I both discovered that bagged ice is now offered at Dollar Tree stores, at least the ones in Spokane. I wish this product made its debut at the start of summer because we certainly would have taken advantage but better late than never.

It is true! Dollar Tree now has ice. I took this photo at the Dollar Tree on Sullivan in the Spokane Valley on Sunday.

9/11 20th Anniversary – It seems like as the years go by, it gets tougher for me to watch September 11 programming and re-watch the horrible events from that day. I tried watching the first episode of “Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror” on Netflix but had a real tough time. With that said, my admiration and sympathy for those individuals who showed bravery beyond words that day hasn’t wavered a bit. As we mark 20 years on Saturday, let us pray for those who lost their lives and their families. Let us also be thankful that an attack of that scale has not occurred on American in the two decades since that Tuesday morning.

It isn’t just a cliché….we truly must never forget.

Dollar Dollar Coins, Y’all – I can’t believe it has already been 7 years but on Sept. 9. 2014, I wrote about a surprise I received from a vending machine…and I am not talking about a bag of chips I didn’t select. When I inserted a $5 bill for a $1 item, my change was distributed in the form of four $1 coins. These coins happened to be of the Presidential $1 Coin Program variety, something I had never heard of before but sure was interested in once I had. In this blog post I posed multiple questions, including whether people would look at me funny when I tried to re-insert them into circulation (they really didn’t).

Me holding the four coins I was given from the vending machine.

———————–

Time to wrap things up on my end. Thanks for reading and remember…Never Forget. Don’t Blink.

The Youngest He Will Ever Be

Beau can definitely be challenging at times. Although he hasn’t reached the “Terrible Two” (at least by age), he keeps us very busy at 19 months. He is an endless ball of energy that can turn any room inside out in a matter of seconds.

We can “kind of” contain him when he is strapped in his chair.

He is a food throwing-hair pulling-toy destroying-non-edible swallowing-sister aggravating-mess making-electronics pushing-pantry raiding toddler.

Yesterday, Sloan took her back to school photos on the porch. Beau decided that he wanted his photo taken too.

But, on the other side of the coin, he is the sweetest, most affectionate little boy there is. When Beau decides he wants to cuddle or sit down on the couch and watch TV with you, there is nothing better.

I never know what random thought is going to enter my head when I wake up in the morning. They come from all angles, ranging from work-related to weekend planning to memories from my past. This morning, something inside of me kept saying these exact words: Beau will never again be as young as he is today.

He won’t be any younger than he is today.

For all the craziness he can pack in a single day, there is currently nothing more endearing than his smiles, gobbled words/sounds, and willingness to give kisses. His baby-ish cuteness and innocence will not last forever. Tomorrow, he will wake up a day older so it is best to savor Beau in his young state today. Don’t Blink.

Back to School for Sloan

It’s back to school in the Reser household! After a successful Pre-K 3 year, Sloan returned to St. Mary Catholic School today for the beginning of her Pre-K 4 year.

Photo we took of Sloan prior to her first day of school as a Pre-K 4 student at St. Mary Catholic School in Spokane Valley.

It is bittersweet now that Sloan’s summer has come to an end. I enjoyed having her around the house five days per week. But this is a situation that is more sweet than bitter because I know Sloan was so excited to return to the classroom. St. Mary had its welcome back orientation last week and Sloan connected with her new teacher and couldn’t contain her enthusiasm seeing all of her classmates’ name tags.

Sloan cruising in the car to her first day of school.

So it goes without saying that Sloan was chomping at the bit this morning. We carefully put on her uniform and loaded her backpack. When it was time to head to school, she didn’t show the least bit of nerves as we helped her into the car.

Sloan confidently held her mommy’s hand as she skipped through the parking lot and into school.

Once at St. Mary, there was no hesitation. We walked her to the classroom and without hesitation she ventured into the big world…ummm…I mean ventured to her desk.

Sloan standing inside St. Mary Catholic School right after arriving. She was ready to go!

When she returned home, Sloan was still ecstatic about school and ready to return tomorrow.

Once Sloan sat down at her desk she was in the zone and ready to learn!

Please pray for a fruitful school year for not just Sloan and her classmates but all students returning to school. May everyone learn lots! Don’t Blink.

Labor Day Weekend 2021

Looking back on this Labor Day weekend I feel thankful. Thankful for the break. Thankful for the opportunities. Thankful for the weather. Thankful for family. In my holiday weekend wrap up post, I figured I would just highlight one item from each day.

Friday, Sept. 3 – I took Sloan to her first high school football game and it wasn’t just any ordinary high school football game. We drove out to watch my alma mater play its home opener in its brand new digs, Union Stadium. The facility technically opened during last spring’s COVID-adjusted season but this was the first time that it was open to the entire public. What a beautiful night to watch football in a gorgeous stadium! As Sloan explored the nooks and crannies of the facility with her cousins, I sat in the stands with my mom, sister, and brother-in-law watching high school football under the lights on a pleasant Friday evening. Doesn’t get any better.

Sloan stands for a photo prior to the Mead vs. Ferris football game in Union Stadium on Sept. 3.

Saturday, Sept. 4 – As a reward for a reading program Sloan completed in the spring and to celebrate the end of summer, Sidney and I took our daughter to Silverwood. The theme park is located in Idaho but is only about 40 minutes from our house. Grandma and Papa took care of Beau as Sloan got to be “the only child” for a day. We spent the morning at Silverwood’s water park, Boulder Beach, and then used the afternoon to go on the rides. We also managed to eat plenty of good food, try our luck at the carnival games, and play in the retro arcade. When we left the park at around 8:30 p.m., Sloan had played hard for more than nine hours straight. Needless to say, she fell asleep in the car on the ride home.

Sidney and Sloan at Silverwood. Great time!

Sunday, Sept. 5 – As much as I couldn’t believe it, my niece turned 7 on Sunday! It seemed like just yesterday when I wrote this blog post about her birth. Shock aside, we had a wonderful time at her birthday party. Warm weather, games, cake, and plenty of fun to go around. Here’s to a great year, Mik!

As birthday girl Mikayla looks on, Sloan is spun around as she tries to pin the tail on the donkey.

Monday, Sept. 6 – Ryan and Allyson, our good friends we met through our Catholic Adult group, invited us for breakfast at their house. It just seemed right to conclude the summer with them on Labor Day weekend as we started the season at their lake property over Memorial Day weekend. What a nice morning it was catching up with them and admiring their beautiful baby girl, Aria.

Don’t mind the mimosa, but Beau covers up a plate of waffles while Allyson cooks.

What a weekend it has been! And, believe it or not, it isn’t over just yet. We are about to head over to my parents’ house for a Labor Day cookout. I hear grilled sausages are on the menu so I got to run. Time for one last hurrah! Don’t Blink.

Lucy and Virginia Thursday Rundown

I think it is Thursday, right? Well that means it is time for the Rundown. Thanks for hopping aboard, let’s get right to the five topics…

Chuck E. Cheese Wrap Up – I know you are probably sick of me writing about Sloan’s adventures at Chuck E. Cheese but just one final note. Last weekend we went to the fun center for the final time this season. I purchased Sloan a summer pass that allowed her to go once a week for 30 minutes of unlimited play. We made Saturday mornings our special time to play together. We played a lot of games, earned a lot of tickets, and won a lot of prizes. We had tons of fun that went far beyond the $40 I spent for the pass.

After we exited Chuck E. Cheese for the last time for the summer on Saturday, I took this photo of Sloan. The pass we purchased provided a lot of entertainment.

Happy Birthday, Grandma – I always like to mark my grandma’s birthday in this blog when it comes around. If she were still alive, she would turn 104 tomorrow. My grandma was a quiet but strong Italian woman who was devoted to her faith and loved a good joke. To get a better sense of the tough lady she was, consider reading this post I wrote in 2017.

Before my grandma was an “amazing lady” she was just a girl. Here is a photo from her earlier years.

Gourmet Ramen – Every now and then, Sid and I decide to have Top Ramen for dinner. However, we have different approaches. I just add a couple cups of water and throw it in the microwave. Sid, on the other hand, cooks it on the stove and adds numerous ingredients from sauces to spices to sesame seeds. She truly goes gourmet. Last night she added teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, garlic, honey, and more. Our kitchen smelled like an Asian bistro and her ramen tasted like it was straight out of P.F. Changs.

A look at Sid’s ramen she made last night.

Let’s Talk to Lucy – Although it won’t make my top five Sirius channels, the new Let’s Talk to Lucy format on 104 is pretty interesting. Lucille Ball had a radio talk show in the 1960s where she interviewed a lot of people—some famous and some not so famous. After the show ended in 1965 no one heard the recordings again…until now. I personally like listening to the channel because although you can get a sense for how different people were back then, you gain a greater appreciation for how similar they are to us today. And Lucy herself is a hoot—enjoy listening to her express her own personal views and talk to her guests like they are old friends. The channel is worth 10 minutes of your time.

You might consider giving the “Let’s Talk to Lucy” Sirius channel a listen.

Overthink – This is so me! I have a true disdain for these online security measures that “test” to see “if you are a human” and the ones that force you to choose boxes with objects in them are the absolute worst. Many of the grainy, random photos are so ambiguous that it is more like a guessing game than a simple security measure. Can we please get rid of these things forever?

These online tests are terrible.

————————-

That will wrap up things for tonight. I hope you get plenty of time this weekend to watch some college football…let’s hope for an exciting and uninterrupted season. Don’t Blink.

The Other Way A Mexican Restaurant Can Stand Out

Earlier this year I wrote a long blog post about what makes a Mexican restaurant stand out. I zeroed in on the signature item that comes out in a basket when you sit down—chips. Now I am still pretty adamant that good tortilla chips paired with a flavorful salsa can bring any family Mexican restaurant to the next level. But this past weekend I had an experience that teleported me back to my childhood and also reminded me that there are other ways that Mexican restaurants can separate themselves from the pack.

Chips are very important at a Mexican restaurant.

On Saturday night, my wife, kids, and I piled into the car. We were actually going to pick up sandwiches at Jimmy John’s but as we were driving down Trent in Spokane Valley a small (dare I say hole-in-the-wall?) Mexican restaurant called Dos Amigos caught our eye. Sidney and I looked at each other and that’s all it took for me to signal out of the turn lane we were in and go through the intersection and then switch lanes again so we could reach Dos Amigos which was on the other side of the street.

We stopped at Dos Amigos in Spokane Valley on Saturday night.

Despite its diminutive size, the restaurant had character with murals on the walls and pinatas hanging from the ceiling. With delicious food, low prices, exceptional service, and (yes) good chips, we were satisfied. But then came the literal cherry on top. As our server cleared our dishes she announced that she would be right back with dessert. Again, Sidney and I looked at each other.

Soon thereafter the server came back with four dishes that each contained a sopapilla topped with whipped cream and cherry sauce. The festive desserts, which are essentially cinnamon and sugar fried dough, were fun and fresh. It was totally unexpected but made our visit to Dos Amigos even more special. Sloan had never seen anything like that before.

But I had.

Have you ever been brought a complimentary one of these at a Mexican restaurant before?

Granted, it had been a long time. When I was a kid, there was a Mexican restaurant called Rancho Chico that my family always went to for nearly a decade before Azteca opened closer to our house. Besides the bad checks plastered to the wall behind the cash register and the oversized sombrero that was placed on the heads of people celebrating a birthday, the fried dough dessert the servers never failed to bring out at the end of the meal was another pleasant memory.

Sloan sure enjoyed his dessert at Dos Amigos in Spokane.

However, the memory grew faint as I visited Mexican restaurant after Mexican restaurant for the ensuing couple decades only to get a mint at the end of dinner if I was lucky. But the childhood magic was rekindled this past weekend when Dos Amigos pulled a page out of Rancho Chico’s playbook.

Do the chips at your Mexican restaurant suck? Hope is not entirely lost. Salvage the dining experience of your customers by offering sopapillas. I can you tell you this, Dos Amigos now holds a special place in the hearts of our kids. Don’t Blink.