The Most Overrated Parts of October

October has arrived. Thank goodness, I love this month! Yes, it is my birthday month but there are so many other reasons why I enjoy it. As I am sure you are not surprised, I actually blogged about my fandom of October. However, I don’t think it is all tricks and treats. Here is a list of my five overrated aspects of October…

I love October, but there are a few things about it that I don’t particularly care for.

Pumpkin Spice – I am a big fan of pumpkin pie but the pumpkin spice-flavored explosion over the past several years is out of control. I don’t want a pumpkin latte, pumpkin-scented hand soap, or pumpkin-flavored ice cream. Oh well, I suppose it isn’t something to get too worked up about.

Hocus Pocus – I prefer scary Halloween movies so perhaps that automatically puts me at odds with “Hocus Pocus.” But I just can’t understand the mania for this film. I guess it conveys an authentic Halloween spirit but I don’t think it is worthy of marathons, cult worship, and classroom party viewings. With that said, I did honor my wife’s request to watch “Hocus Pocus 2” with her on Saturday night.

Candy Corn – I scorn candy corn. Not going to apologize for my dislike of a chalky, weird-tasting confection. If I lived in a neighborhood where I hated all my neighbors, I would pass out candy corn on Halloween. Unless we are talking about candy corn-flavored M&M’s, I want nothing to do with the treat.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – No. Just…no. Roasting pumpkin seeds is actually a family tradition that my parents introduced but I could never jump on the bandwagon. I don’t know what I hated most…the smell of the seeds being cooked or their actual taste. I much rather plant the pumpkin seeds from my jack-o-lantern instead of consume them.

Christmas Commercialism – Wait, what? This is an October-themed blog post. Unfortunately, the commercialization of Christmas is now a big deal in October. Before trick-or-treaters even hit the streets, we are inundated with gift catalogues, Costco holiday displays, and even Christmas music in stores. Come on!

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Now that I have released all of my October negativity, I will return to enjoying the month that I love. I hope your October is glorious. Don’t Blink.

Worms In Dirt Thursday Rundown

Good evening, my highly esteemed readers! As we close out September tomorrow, let me give you some of the final joy you will receive this month with my Thursday Rundown…

Best September – There is no place in this country that can hold a candle to the perfect weather we had in Spokane this month. Perhaps it was Mother Nature’s way of throwing us a bone after a delayed start to summer, but the weather we have enjoyed in September has been nothing short of spectacular. The mix of warmth, slight briskness, and zero humidity all contributed to many beautiful days and prime “eating outside” weather. Just this past Sunday we celebrated my brother’s birthday on my parents’ back deck and it was glorious. Hey October, feel free to pick up where September left off.

All smiles this past weekend as we celebrated my brother’s birthday on the back deck of my parents.

Worms in Dirt – At the beginning of the month, I shared an animal cookie donut that Sloan devoured from Casual Friday Donuts. I thought it made sense to share a different type of donut she ate at the end of the month. After good behavior at mass, she once again had the chance to pick a treat from behind the Casual Friday Donut glass and she chose the “Worms in Dirt” donut. The play on the popular children’s dessert-themed donut garnered the same rave review that the animal cookie one did.

Sloan holding her “worms in dirt” donut from Casual Friday Donuts.

Froyo Flashback – Back in the infancy of my blog, I used it as an excuse to do a lot of unhealthy things. Case in point: On this date nine years ago, I chronicled my Spokane froyo tour. During the peak of the froyo craze, I visited three froyo shops during a weekend visit from Missoula. In the same vein as area coffee stands that I wrote about yesterday, the froyo joints were all essentially similar but did have a couple attributes of distinction. You can read my froyo post from Sept. 29, 2013, by clicking here.

A photo of me at Froyo Earth in Spokane during my froyo tour of the city in September 2013.

First Ever Top Ten – I was a fan of David Letterman when he had his late night show. Heck, I even went to a taping of it when I visited New York. I always enjoyed his top ten lists and even had a book that featured a compilation of them. This month marks the 37th anniversary of when Letterman presented his first ever top ten list. I saw that original list on Twitter and I found it be very….um…unfunny? #SorryNotSorry.

Am I missing something?

What Happened? – Blame it on me. I jinxed it. Earlier this month, I wrote with jubilation about gas prices going down. Well, I went to bed last night and when I woke up this morning I swear prices jumped 50 cents per gallon. And don’t tell me Hurricane Ian is responsible. I hope they go back down as quickly as they went up.

Gas jumped to $4.79 this morning at the station closest to my house. What happened?!

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September was awesome but I am a big fan of October for many reasons…including one that entails cake. Have a safe and relaxing weekend. Don’t Blink.

Coffee Land

A quirk of the Pacific Northwest is that the streets of our region are lined with drive-thru coffee stands. If you need your caffeine fix, you need not drive more than 100 yards to find an aesthetically-pleasing, “cute” hut-like structure to satisfy your coffee dreams.

Although I am not a java drinker by any means, I am quite familiar with drive-thru coffee stands. Having a wife who is frequently in the mood for a white chocolate mocha will make you well-acquainted.

Tonight I thought I would share with you some of the eccentricities of these stands. I am well aware that National Coffee Day is tomorrow but who plans such a grandiose day on a Thursday? Don’t they know I write my rundown on that day? So excuse me for jumping the gun a day early, but here is my #NationalCoffeeDay post…

Shotzy’s is a Spokane Valley coffee stand that we visit frequently.

Every driver for themselves. Apparently the million coffee stands that already exist in our state aren’t enough. Go to any stand right before 8 a.m. or slightly after 5 p.m. and you will encounter a line even more intense than one at the grand opening of a new Chick-fil-A restaurant.

Free smells. Even for a non-coffee drinker like myself, the headache of waiting in line forever is lessened just a bit by the fresh smell of brew permeating from the stand. Roll those windows down!

Card club. If your coffee stand doesn’t have a punch card, is it even a coffee stand? If you live in Spokane, then nope. You should see the different colors, textures, and designs of all the different cards from various stands we have in our front stowage. People who want to save the trees would be appalled.

$$$. An additional way these places are all the same are the prices. Inflation gave the stands justification for another price hike and it’s a little paiful. Pretty much any 16 oz. drink will cost you north of $5.

The name game. Higher Ground. Brews Bros. Bean Me Up. Shotzy’s. These are all the coffee-inspired names of our favorite local stands. While these are all creative, I appreciate the name of the business that used its location in town for an especially unique moniker—Bigelow Gulp.

Do it for the gram. All of these stands are on Instagram and it is a cutthroat competition to see who can photograph the prettiest cup of coffee, which baristas can radiate the most spunk in their selfies, and what dog hanging out the driver’s seat window can generate the most likes.

Speaking of spunk. I would say that although a lot of the coffee stands are similar in many ways, these businesses differentiate themselves with their baristas. Some are super happy, some are sassy, some are reserved. Different stands carry different vibes.

Tip please. I pay with a card pretty much every time I visit a coffee stand. Half of them will shove a tablet in my face to leave a tip and the other half will just return my card to me. After paying $5.75 for 16 oz. of coffee, I prefer the latter gesture.

Coffee and more. Many of these businesses are transforming from coffee stands to restaurants—or at least bakeries. I have watched the menus of many places we frequent expand to include pastries, breakfast sandwiches, stuffed bagels, gourmet cookies, and much more. From cheers to Bon Appetit.

It’s about the kids. Kudos to the coffee stands who keep a cup of Dum Dum suckers at the window to give Sloan and Beau when they are riding with me. Congratulations, you legitimately increased your chances of me stopping at your stand if the wife calls and asks me to bring her a coffee home.

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Hope everyone is able to get their favorite cup of coffee tomorrow…except for me, because I don’t drink coffee. Thanks to everyone in the business who keeps this city so well-caffeinated. Don’t Blink.

Big Brother 24: Average

Make it a dozen! With the finale of Big Brother 24 tonight, Sid and I will have watched 12 seasons together (2014-22 summer seasons and three celebrity seasons). Not bad for a former reality TV sourpuss.

Big Brother 24 concludes tonight.

However, this post isn’t about my television habits. Rather, the focus should shine on the 16 houseguests who battled it out on CBS over the past 70+ days.

Coming off last year’s historic season that saw the Cookout alliance do something incredibly special, it was tough—if not impossible—for #BB24 to top it. Naturally, it didn’t—but that’s okay. Although I wouldn’t say this music fest-themed season will go down as especially memorable, Sid and I were still engaged from start to finish as we watched every single episode.

A couple stories from this season stick out. Taylor’s rise from house villain at the beginning to respected competitor on finale night is at the top of my list. She managed to shake off Daniel’s savage “apologize for some things you’ve said in this house” rebuke to not only outlast him but at least 13 other houseguests as well.

I like Taylor and respect the journey she has taken in the house.

Then there is Michael. I was so impressed with his social game and competition prowess. During a significant stretch of the season I was rooting for him. However, that all changed after he schemed with Brittany to bring to light comments that Kyle made a couple weeks prior. I found this strategy insincere, desperate, and self-serving. I went from “I hope he wins” to “I hope he gets evicted.” Thankfully, he wouldn’t last long after Kyle as he received his eviction vote during the round of six.

I thought Michael was great until the stunt that he pulled on Kyle.

Except for my desire to see Michael evicted after the Kyle stunt, I didn’t really have super strong feelings of either admiration or disgust for any houseguest. This lack of passion certainly contributed to my assessment that #BB24 won’t go down as “especially memorable” for me. With that said, I do have an opinion on who I want to see win the $750,000 tonight…

I could live with either Monte or Taylor taking the top prize. Monte has played a solid game and won key competitions when he needed to. He has been level-headed and a cool customer from start to finish and I think that deserves to be rewarded. When it comes to Taylor, I simply admire the journey she has taken in the house. As I mentioned, she went from public enemy #1 to power player. My apologies to Turner, I just never could jump on his bandwagon.

Monte is a solid player and I would be happy if he won.

With respect to America’s Favorite Houseguest, if it isn’t Monte or Taylor, I am pulling for Joseph. In addition to playing a competitive game before running into some bad luck during Dire Fest, I enjoyed his personality and found him to be a cool guy.

This upcoming week will be strange without Sidney and I catching up on “Big Brother” episodes during the lunch break. Oh well, it will free up our time a bit. Thanks to CBS and Julie Chen for another fun season and thanks to my lovely wife for watching with me. Until next season, America! Don’t Blink.

Reaction Thursday Rundown

Happy Autumn (or “Fall,” if that is what you prefer)! I always feel when Fall comes around it is always kind of like “well, duh.” School has already been in session for weeks, the weather has started to get a little cooler, and the days ae shorter…I don’t need the calendar to officially tell me that the season has changed. Alright, rant over. Let’s get to tonight’s Thursday Rundown…

Uniform and Pajamas – I am sticking in a random photo of Sloan and Beau. This was taken right before Sloan went off to school earlier this week. On Tuesdays, students at St. Mary go to mass and are required to wear their sweaters which explains Sloan’s outfit. Beau? He is wearing his favorite lobster-patterned pajamas (although he calls them crabs). The combination of wardrobes made for an interesting picture.

There is never a dull moment, even early in the morning, with these two.

Happy Centenarian Day! – Today is when we give special recognition to all the amazing people who have defied the odds and lived to 100 and beyond. I once wrote about whether I would want to live to 100 or not. At the time I was a little wishy-washy but I have since solidified my position: I would be honored and blessed to see my 100th birthday. My favorite Centenarian is Emma Lommasson, a University of Montana legend who lived to be 107. I met her in 2013 when she was 103. Do you know a Centenarian? Make sure to reach out to him or her today.

This is me with Emma Lommasson in December of 2013.

Honey Charms – In our pantry we have this limited edition of Lucky Charms. If you like a little honey with your cereal, this might be your cup of tea. As I was looking up the origin behind this newest version of the classic breakfast staple, I learned a couple interesting facts about Lucky Charms. Did you know Lucky the Leprechaun was replaced by a wizard for a short period? Or that General Mills sold small packages of just the marshmallows? Or that when the cereal first debuted in the 1960s, the corn pieces were Cheerio-type pieces instead? You learn something new every day.

These aren’t the best but not the worst either.

Texting Reactions – More than four years ago, I wrote about Apple’s iMessage reactions that allow you to “like,” “love,” “question,” and “emphasize” text messages. Back in 2018 I made it clear that I was both a big fan and user of them. Well, nothing has changed in 2022. I still use (and some people will say abuse) them. I thought it was funny that the topic of iMessage reactions came up in a recent Miss Manners column. You can tell there is a generational divide both on the part of the advice seeker and Miss Manners herself as they try to explain and address reactions. In typical Miss Manners fashion, her response packed some sarcasm at the end.

Perhaps Miss Manners’ advice should have been “ditch the Android and just get an iPhone.”

Happy Birthday, Bro – I wanted to wish a happy early birthday to a special dude. He is my fiercest critic but also one of my main supporters. He brings me down to earth but also allows me to have some glory every now and then. He will call me out but would also defend me if I ever needed it. Happy 33rd birthday to my brother, the one and only Mr. Glen Reser. Enjoy your special day tomorrow, good sir.

I would give this speech again in a heartbeat. Happy birthday, Glen!

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I hope everyone has a great first weekend of Fall. Thanks for reading and let’s continue to pray for innocent Ukrainians impacted by the current conflict and everyone else in this world suffering from the horror of war. Don’t Blink.

Complete Trash

A convenience of suburbia living is trash pickup. The luxury of a weekly service that arrives at our residences and hauls away garbage is something most of us take for granted. I know we do. To combat this ignorance, I have tried to educate Sloan on this modern day amenity by explaining how the waste management system works and where the trash goes.

Sloan taking in the trash this past Monday.

To make the trash pickup process smooth for waste management workers, we need to take responsibility for a few simple things. They include placing our bins at the end of our driveway on our designated day, paying attention to the holiday schedule, and making sure that trash isn’t overflowing.

Unfortunately, we aren’t always perfect. Some weeks we have to use strength to crunch down our trash bags so they “fit” within the can—even if that means that the lid is fully ajar. The holiday schedule also occasionally throws us for a loop (Sid, it is Labor Day—is our trash getting picked up?). But probably what causes us to think twice the most is our designated pickup day.

You see, for about 34 years, my trash was always picked up on Thursday. It didn’t matter what city I lived in or what residence I called home, the garbage man came on Thursday. Period.

Growing up, the three of us kids would always bring the small trash cans from our rooms up to the front door on Wednesday night for my dad to empty into the big bin. When I lived in a house in Missoula with roommates, Thursday was always the day. In Myrtle Beach, I lived in three different houses and trash pickup was Thursday for each one. When we moved back to Spokane, trash pickup was also Thursday for the first house we lived in. I basically assumed that Thursday was trash day for everyone!

What a shock it was 13 months ago when we moved into our current house and trash pickup was…Monday? It seemed so foreign to me. Perhaps the transition would have been easier if pickup was Wednesday or Friday but Monday just seemed to extreme. More than a year later, I am still getting used to it.

However, when I communicate my struggles to others, they actually say Monday is a great day for garbage day. It comes right after the weekend when trash can pile up and with Monday being the start of the week, trash removal is just kind of a natural thing to have done.

Well, okay. When it all comes down to it, whether it be Thursday or Monday, I am grateful that we have the first world luxury of trash pickup. Don’t Blink.

Fair Themes

This past Friday night, as advertised in my latest Thursday Rundown, Sidney and I took Sloan and Beau to the Spokane County Interstate Fair. We had a really nice time enjoying the fair on a pleasant evening as the sky above us shifted from day to night. Here are five items from our experience…

Deep Fried WHAT? – I caved and purchased a slice of DEEP FRIED PIZZA. I definitely felt pretty guilty eating it, both from a caloric and price standpoint (it was $17), but both kids happily nibbled away on it too. I brought almost half of it home with me. The next day when I heated it up for lunch, Sloan commented, “Wow, daddy, it smells like the fair!” It still tasted like the fair too and was even better than when it was fresh out of the fryer.

This was my slice of deep fried pizza (from Azars) at the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

Night Rides – We let Sloan take flight on the swing ride. Is there anything more magical than hopping on an attraction that elevates you to a level that allows you to see the whole fair lit up at night? The ride went pretty fast so Sid and I were a little concerned that Sloan was scared out of her wits. Quite the opposite, actually. She had so much fun that she asked to ride it again.

Sloan rode the swings a couple times.

Magical Snow – We really enjoyed walking through the fair pavilion that housed countless booths and vendors. There was a good mix of adult-based and kid-focused exhibits that kept us all engaged. The magical snow, however, appealed to all four of us. It had the most satisfying texture and it was cold! Although it was extremely hard to pull Beau away from the table, it was worth the pleasant therapeutic sensation of handling it.

Beau wasn’t the only one in our family who found the magical snow completely satisfying.

Sideshows – I applaud the Spokane County Interstate Fair for the multiple free performances and shows that took place throughout the grounds while we were there. We watched parts of a magic show and a hypnotist show. Sid also caught part of a high dive exhibition. While waiting in line for ice cream, Beau and I were treated to a roving juggling act that performed right in front of us. Nothing like clean and free entertainment.

Beau enjoyed the jugglers who basically found us at the fair.

Bargain – Speaking of waiting in line for ice cream, there was a reason why we were standing in that particular line. Ice cream cones for just $3! At a fair where the starting price for many of the food items was $12.50, it was refreshing that there was a classic treat for a reasonable price. I bought a cone for both kids and they ate every bite.

You can’t beat $3 ice cream cones…at least at the fair.

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To say the least, it was a successful night at the fair. Given I am now at heart attack risk after eating that deep fried pizza, I hope to be alive for next year’s 😂. Don’t Blink.

Buggy Thursday Rundown

Happy Mid-September everyone! I hope your first half of the month has been all you wanted it to be. If not, make the second half awesome. It is that time of the week for a Thursday Rundown so let’s get started with tonight’s five topics…

To Fair Or Not to Fair? – It is fair season around the United States and the Spokane County Interstate Fair is in full swing right here in our neck of the woods. In fact, our family plans to check it out this weekend. But packing everyone up and heading to the fair is no light decision. Last year I thoroughly investigated the pros and cons of taking the plunge. If you are on the fence about going to the fair, you will be glad that you read this.

Sloan got her face painted at the fair last year.

First-Time Dish – Last night we tried out a recipe that found us on Facebook. We whipped up taco stuffed shells although we made some modifications. The original recipe calls for jumbo shell pasta, ground beef, cream cheese, salsa, and taco seasoning. We axed the salsa and taco seasoning for pizza sauce. It turned out to be a good decision because the dish was delicious! I can’t wait for leftovers tonight.

Our shells before they were baked and after they were baked. It turned out awesome!

BUGS…YUCK! – Sloan now likes bugs, much to my chagrin. She has entered that little kid stage where she doesn’t think twice about picking them up or keeping them as “pets.” I sure hope this is an abbreviated stage. As I have mentioned before, I can tolerate snakes, spiders, and rats BUT I hate bugs. On the bright side, because I don’t live in the South anymore, at least I no longer have to co-exist with cockroaches.

Sloan now has a fascination with bugs. This is her holding a couple of her friends last week.

Looking Back – I couldn’t help but reminisce about a couple of cool things that happened on September 15 in the past. Just last year, Sid and I went on a cool date night to the Davenport Grand Hotel to listen to Magic Johnson speak. What a fun evening that was! On Sept. 15, 2018, we found ourselves exploring the Jacksonville Zoo. Hurricane Florence had chased us away from Myrtle Beach so we evacuated to Florida. The day prior to the zoo, we actually visited Disney World!

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

Latest Prep Football Stop – After Sloan, my dad, and I watched a high school football game at East Valley on Sept. 2, we went to a different stadium this past Friday. We visited University High School where we cheered for the visitors, aka my alma mater, Mead High School. Our trio more than doubled as Sidney, Beau, my mom, and my brother all joined us. It was another beautiful late summer/early autumn evening and Mead registered a convincing victory. We used the game as a training ground for Beau. If he could sit still and behave himself, Sid and I were going to consider taking our whole family to a WSU game later this fall. To put it mildly, we won’t be making that trip to Pullman 😊

Sidney and I pose for a photo during last week’s Mead vs. University high school football game.

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I appreciate your attention to tonight’s five topics. I will try to remember all my readers as I munch on a corn dog this weekend at the fair. Don’t Blink.

Don’t Blink Q&A – 2022 Edition

The Don’t Blink mailbox is starting to fill up given I have not answered any letters since 2016. But tonight I am in the mood to respond to a select few of the overflowing envelopes. So let’s get started.

Tonight I answer your questions about my blog.

Q. I thought you were going to quit blogging after you had kids? Or, at least that is what we hoped…

A. Well, that was the plan. But then I realized all the fun and noteworthy content that my children gave me to write about. I couldn’t leave all that content gold on the table.

Q. But what about after you celebrated your 10th anniversary of Don’t Blink? Don’t you think that was the perfect time to pull the plug?

A. I considered it. Ultimately, I decided to keep writing because the truth is that I am still in a decent blogging rhythm. It might cost me some sleep, but I am still able to carve out time to write a few times a week. Blogging is a hobby of mine so why walk away? It’s not like it costs the same amount to write a blog post as it does to play a round of golf.

Q. Speaking of “carving out” time, when do you have time to write your posts these days?

A. I made the pledge not to write when my children are awake because the last thing I want to do is stab at a keyboard when I could be playing with them. So I either write after they go to sleep or really early in the morning after I return from the gym.

Q. What is the difference between your blogging process 10 years ago and your blogging process today?

A. Quite frankly, I spend less time today. I write shorter posts, tackle less complex topics, and pen fewer blog posts in general. Although getting married and having kids couldn’t stop me from writing, it could slow down the volume I was producing.

Q. Over the years you have established some Don’t Blink annual pieces. Can you remind us of those?

A. Sure, glad you asked. Most of them come toward the end of year. I always write about my top five favorite songs of the year. I also select an annual recommended gift for the holiday season for readers looking for a useful and inexpensive item to give their loved ones. Then of course you have my top 10 blogs posts of the year and my Dec. 31 wrap up post.

Q. Many years ago you gave us a boring answer about your favorite blog posts. You said something about particularly enjoying the pieces you write about people. Is that still the case?

A. You bet it is! In fact, since I last addressed this question, I have written several more profile and in remembrance pieces. These are labors of love and my favorites.

Q. Ever consider getting with the times and converting your blog to a vlog or podcast?

A. I don’t have the voice nor the looks (not to mention the editing time) for those content forms so you are stuck with the written word when it comes to Don’t Blink.

Q. Your blog is pretty cool, daddy!

A. That is the best non-question I have ever answered. Thanks, Sloan and Beau. Don’t Blink.

A Word of Encouragement

I am writing feverishly on this early Monday morning because I need to get ahead of this one. You see, it is the National Day of Encouragement and what good would it do if I published this tonight? Sure, some readers might be able to scramble and send out some rushed words of encouragement to certain people. But the potential is so much greater if everyone, including my readers on the eastern time zone, has the whole day to take action.

Today is National Day of Encouragement–or–as some people like to call it, National Encouragement Day.

If you remember, a couple weeks ago I touted World Letter Writing Day. I can’t stress enough how powerful a written letter can be for a recipient and how therapeutic it can be for the sender. But sometimes it is imperative to get your message across in a slightly faster manner.

So today I challenge you to offer some encouragement to five people you know. A phone call, text message, email, DM, and other instantaneous modern communication methods are all acceptable. It is my guess you have some folks in mind who could benefit from some inspiration, a sincere compliment, or a kind word.

Maybe it is someone going through a tough trial in life. Perhaps it is someone struggling with the 9/11 anniversary. Or someone just mildly depressed that it is Monday or that their favorite NFL team lost yesterday.

In fact, it doesn’t even have to be someone navigating a rough patch. Reach out to anyone who inspires you or plays a big role in your life. Or, reach out to someone who inspires or plays a role in the life of someone else who you care deeply about.

I know I am using a gimmicky day as the impetus for making a small impact, but why not? Take a moment today to let someone know you are thinking about them. Have a great week. Don’t Blink.