Harvesting Spuds

Last month, I wrote about an activity that my dad did with Sloan. They planted tomatoes together in early June and then watched them grow over the summer. Early last month, they picked them together.

Some of the progression photos of Sloan and her tomato plant.

What I didn’t mention in that blog post is that they planted more than tomatoes. As a matter of fact, they planted potatoes too. Around the same time in June, Sloan and her papa planted seed potatoes in a large pot with rich soil.

My dad and Sloan preparing the pot for planting potatoes.

My dad let Sloan drop the bottom layer of the soil in the pot and then place the seed potatoes on top of that. My dad then dumped the majority of the soil into the pot, burying the seed potatoes. Over the weeks that followed, the two would monitor and water the potatoes.

Sloan planting the seed potatoes.

Exactly four months later, my dad and Sloan went back out to the pot. Both grandfather and granddaughter worked together to dump the pot over. My dad removed the pot revealing a neat mound of dirt.

Sloan and my dad dumping over the pot.

With potatoes already exposed in the soil, Sloan lived out every toddler’s dream and sifted through the dirt to find them all. After a couple minutes of using her hands, my dad gave Sloan a hand shovel that allowed her to find even more of the treasure.

Sloan finding potatoes.

The harvest was bountiful. Although most of the potatoes were on the smaller side, Sloan discovered some large ones as well. After she had found them all, we pretty much had to pull her away from the remaining dirt because she was still holding out hope that a couple more would surface in the dirt.

Sloan and my dad grew more than 50 potatoes.

In the end, my dad and Sloan grew more than 50 potatoes. Being the guy that my dad is, he wanted to give us them all. We won’t let that happen, but we do look forward to cooking with some of them. As I mentioned before, this type of activity is perfect for a grandpa and granddaughter to do AND it is a great lesson in horticulture. Make sure to read future Thursday Rundowns to learn how we end up using the potatoes. Don’t Blink.

Ace Thursday Rundown

Happy October, everyone! Hope your first day of the month went well and that you are ready to cap it off with a Thursday Rundown. Here we go…

National Homemade Cookies Day – We decided to celebrate this “holiday” a couple days early. Growing up, it was a tradition for my mom to bake cookies for my siblings and I after our first day of school. My sister has passed on the tradition with her daughter and on Tuesday it lived on with Sloan. However, it wasn’t me that kept it going. My brother showed up at the house a couple hours after Sloan arrived home with a plate of cookies AND a plate of candy. The act of kindness came with a card marking our preschooler’s milestone. Thank you, Glen and Carrie!

THis week, my brother helped us celebrate National Homemade Cookies Day.

Hiding Out – I shared some of these photos on Instagram and Twitter but I thought they were blog worthy as well. Last Sunday we went shopping at Old Navy. Upon entering the store we split up as I took Sloan and Sid took Beau. For a  second I thought I lost my daughter but then realized she had jumped into the middle of the clothes rack. I took these photos of her scoping out the activity in the store as customers oblivious to the little monster hiding in the clothes walked by.

Sloan hid in a clothing rack at Old Navy on Sunday.

October FTW – I love October and I am especially excited this year because I will get to experience it in its authentic autumn form. Besides the pretty colors and crisp air, there is much more to look forward to such as Sid’s parents coming to visit, my birthday month, Halloween, and plenty of sports. Oh yeah, it is now acceptable for you all to go crazy on your pumpkin-flavored food and drink.

Sloan loves October too!

COVID Collaboration – Despite the campuses being in different states, Washington State University is just a few miles away from the University of Idaho. In fact, the towns of the two universities, Pullman and Moscow respectively, reside in a region called the Palouse. Earlier this week a public health campaign launched titled Two Cities, Two Universities—One Community. The effort is all about the towns and colleges working together to promote and recognize responsible behaviors meant to crush the curve. The marketing and communication offices at WSU and UI took the lead on getting this campaign off the ground with the social media teams playing large roles. UI’s social media manager, our social media manager (Matt Haugen), and I collaborated a lot over the past few weeks. We each took on different responsibilities with the paid social ads falling on my plate. It sure has been fun watching #PalouseUnity come together.

The Two Cities, Two Universities–One Community (#PalouseUnity) campaign has been fun to work on.

Debate Humor – Look, there isn’t much I can say about Tuesday night’s debate that hasn’t already been said. However, I can share one of the tweets about it that made me laugh out loud. As a Full House fan, this reference from Bob Saget, aka Danny Tanner, hit home.

This Bob Saget tweet would make anybody who watched “Full House” and watched Tuesday night’s debate laugh.

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That’s it for tonight. Enjoy your autumn weekend and please remember to pray for the end of COVID-19. Don’t Blink.

Sloan’s First Day of Preschool

After seven months away from school, Sloan returned to the classroom today. She is the newest student in the Pre K-3 class at St. Mary Catholic School in Spokane Valley.

This was Sloan this morning prior to Sid driving her to school.

For more than half a year, we had the pleasure of keeping Sloan home with us. After I worked my last day at CCU in February, I took Sloan out of daycare and spent the next three weeks doing fun stuff with her non-stop. I then left to work at WSU and Sid watched both kids fulltime as they prepared to make the move west themselves. Two months later in early May they joined me in Spokane. For the past five months, Sloan has spent every minute of every day with us. It has been incredibly nice—and I suppose a little challenging at times too.

But no matter how sweet it has been having our little girl at home with us, we know it is best to give her a little bit of structure with kids her own age. So, Sid dropped her off at St. Mary for her first day of preschool this morning. The primary reason why we decided to enroll her as opposed to keeping her at our house until she turns 18 is because we are extremely comfortable with the school. St. Mary School is the parochial school of our new church, St. Mary Parish (shocker, right?). This connection and the desire of both Sidney and I to have our kids receive a Catholic education made St. Mary a no-brainer for us. Sloan is in great hands…and she also looks really cute in her uniform!

Sloan is attending St. Mary Catholic School in Spokane Valley (photo courtesy of the St. Mary Facebook page)

It was still just a little sad watching Sid and Sloan drive off today. Saying goodbye to her after getting so used to having her around at all times was a bit hard for this sappy dad, even if she is going to school for just three hours per day…two days per week 😊

Sloan had a great first day at school.

Let me tell you this: If you ever have the means and opportunity to keep your child at home for an extended period of time during their toddler years, do it. I am not saying never send them to daycare or preschool, but if they are going through a major change (like we were), easing the transition by keeping them close by is good for the child and rewarding for you.

We are proud to send Sloan to St. Mary (photo courtesy of the St. Mary Facebook page).

I am excited to see how Sloan grows intellectually, socially, and spiritually at St. Mary. Thanks be to God. Don’t Blink.

Presidential Debate Fireworks

For those of us who love competition, the return of sports has helped to fill a void. However, if we are honest, it isn’t the same. Shortened seasons, empty stadiums, and canceled games have watered down the intensity of the competition that we are used to.

But don’t fret. If you count yourself as someone who doesn’t feel like your thirst for authentic competition is being quenched, just wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday night will mark the first presidential debate of this bitter election season. After what has been an extremely unconventional race up until this point, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden will meet in Cleveland to duke it out in front of a television audience that will reach 100 million people.

Biden and Trump will clash tomorrow night.

It has become my custom to write about this competitive spectacle every four years on the eve of the first debate. I did it in 2012 and again in 2016. To me, nothing compares to this unique spotlight that shines on the two people vying for the highest office in the country. The strategy, the preparation, and the attention to detail that culminates in a presidential debate is the ultimate 1-on-1 chess match.

Perhaps tomorrow’s debate will have even more luster than those of the past. As I mentioned above, people are craving a confrontation such as this. They are eager for a high stakes competition that has more on the line than prize money or an asterisk-labeled championship trophy. This country is ready for a primetime battle filled with viral moments. Who will rise to the top?

I know of many friends and family members who are hosting and attending debate gatherings (with social distancing of course). I think this is great! To see people engaged and excited for this American exercise in democracy is encouraging. I hope tomorrow’s debate can generate healthy and civil conversation as we look to either give President Trump a second term or allow Joe Biden to show us what he can do. Make it a priority to watch the debate tomorrow night, folks. Don’t Blink.

Turquoise Thursday Rundown

Happy belated birthday to my brother. Glen turned 31 years old yesterday and I hope he enjoys his “Baskin-Robbins” year. In honor of his constant suggestion that I keep all my blog posts as brief as possible, I will try to breeze through this Thursday Rundown…

Sunset – There is nothing better than a Spokane sunset…well, actually there is…but I digress. I chased the sun on the interstate this past Saturday on my way home. Although I never caught up to it, I did snap this photo.

This was a pretty cool sight.

Golf Adventure – I played for the first time at a Liberty Lake golf course over the weekend. My dad, brother, his fiancée, and myself hit the links at MeadowWood Golf Course, a site located 18 miles east of Spokane. I found it to be a rather difficult course with a ridiculously long 16th hole par 5 but it made for a fun afternoon. My dad bested Glen by one stroke to win. Don’t ask about my score.

Posing for a photo during our round of golf at MeadowWood Golf Course.

TikTok Creativity – People like me who spend too much time on TikTok can rejoice. Facing a ban in the United States, a last-minute deal was made to save the insanely popular app. Speaking of TikTok, I love the creativity coming out of our account at Washington State University (@WSUPullman). One of our social media interns, Chloe, is creating content that even has our biggest trolls recognizing its creativity. Her recent hit was a play on the #GhostPhotoShoot trend. Check it out.

The ghost in this photo shoot is a stuffed Butch.

Jeopardy – The 37th season of Jeopardy looks different. The set has been updated, the contestants are physically distanced, and Ken Jennings has a role. Sadly, Sid and I aren’t the obsessed viewers we once were. Our cross country move, the coronavirus, and lack of cable have all contributed to the decline of our nightly habit of watching Jeopardy. On this date two years ago, I wrote about how Sid and I documented our competitive rivalry by actively keeping a running tally of who performed better during each show. We “kept score” for close to 200 different games. Will we ever return to our intense Jeopardy rivalry? You never know.

A page of our spiral notebook that displays some of our early games.

Punctuation Day – We celebrate National Punctuation Day today so everyone who uses the marks (f!@#$%^) to cover up their bad words can rejoice. Nah, I am actually thinking more about the people who use punctuation for its intended purpose—like me! Whether it be my day job or with this blog, punctuation is extremely important. But let me give a special shoutout to all the copy editors who are punctuation masters and save the butts of so many.

Happy Punctuation Day!

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Usually I remark about how quickly the week goes by but, to be honest, this week seems to be dragging a bit. As you can imagine, I am ready for the weekend. Please pray for an end to the coronavirus. Don’t Blink.

The World’s Largest Fair Food Drive-Thru

Yesterday, I did something for the first time…I went to a fair food drive-thru!

As a way to give a small taste (pun intended) to the thousands of people who missed out on this year’s canceled Spokane County Fair, organizers staged the World’s Largest Fair Food Drive-Thru. This was an event that Sidney really wanted to attend and on the final day of the event that spanned two weekends, we made it happen.

The scene as we approached the start of the line for the World’s Largest Fair Food Drive-Thru.

Upon entering the fairgrounds, we were given a menu that listed everything available. The selection was vast and there was something for everyone. Of course we didn’t really need the menu because we had already memorized it by looking at the online version (nerds).

The Spokane World’s Largest Fair Food Drive-Thru menu.

We were then pointed toward three long lines of cars. We entered one of the queues and waited…and waited. Ladies and gentlemen, this event was a smashing success. I am sure everyone who dutifully attends the fair during normal years showed up plus everyone else who usually doesn’t. I tracked the fair’s Facebook page throughout the weekend and there was consistently a two-hour wait from entering the line to receiving food.

Entering one of the lines of cars.

Luckily for us, this wait was cut in half. Because it was Sunday and because we went during the lunch hour, I think we missed out on the insanely busy hours. Although swamped nonetheless, the event was superbly organized. After waiting in the wasteland of the fairgrounds, we inched up to a checkpoint where a couple workers asked us the vendors we planned to purchase food from. They then put slips of colored paper under our windshield wipers that corresponded to those specific vendors.

More time passed and we eventually turned a corner that brought the World’s Largest Fair Food Drive-Thru in sight. Things seemed to pick up from that point. Before we knew it, we were right in the middle of all the booths!

Approaching the food booths!

Employees from the two places we wanted to order food from, Azars and Uncle Bill’s Homemade King Corn Dogs, came to our window and took our orders…

This Azar’s employee would eventually come to our window.

From Azars, Sid ordered a deep-fried cheesesteak. She gave me a couple bites and it was immediately obvious that it was worth the wait.

Sid with her deep fried cheesesteak from Azar’s.

From Bill’s Homemade King Corn Dogs, I ordered a corn dog, naturally. We also got a “Brick O’ Curley Fries” to split and chicken nuggets for Sloan. The corn dog was fantastic, the fries good, and the nuggets tasted like they were from the frozen section of a supermarket. But since we went 3 for 4 on our choices I wasn’t too disappointed.

Fair food!!

The World’s Largest Fair Food Drive-Thru was a nice Sunday activity. The food was good and both our kids were patient in the car. Even in future years when the fair is in-person again, I think they could bring the drive-thru back a couple months after the event and capitalize on extra revenue. The endless stream of cars proved that this concept is a hit. With that said, now I just need a couple weeks to burn all these calories off. Don’t Blink.

Singing Thursday Rundown

The smoke is starting to dissipate as Sloan can finally go outside again. But as our smokey reminder of the horrific fires raging up and down the west coast states starts to disappear , I am trying to do my best to keep in mind those who are living through hell. On that somber note, let’s start the Thursday Rundown.

Smokey Night – While on the subject of the smoke, I thought I would share a photo of what the evenings have looked like the past several nights. I took this image from our back deck as you can see what looks to be a white sky at 11 p.m. It was an odd site to fall asleep to.

Our back deck is accessed by the master bedroom. So falling asleep to this sight was definitely a little weird.

Happy Family – This past weekend we celebrated my niece’s birthday. My family, my parents, my siblings, and their significant others/children all attended. With all of us COVID-free, we posed for this photo. All 13 of us are represented and oh so happy. I really like it.

Frame-worthy.

Singing Dogs – The Sunday paper always has a feature that focuses on tidbits about animals and nature. Last week I saw something that gave me pause. Even though I am not a dog person, the quick report on singing dogs interested me. I kept thinking about how strange it would be if I heard literal singing coming from outside and I opened the door to find a dog that was believed to be extinct. I hope the hounds that were found will be able to multiply under a controlled environment.

This was the first time I ever heard of singing dogs.

Marking Sloan’s Half Birthday – Today, Sloan turned 3 and a half. I used to be strictly against celebrating half birthdays but my tune changed once we started having kids. A year ago on this date I wrote about my altered attitude and made some observations about Sloan’s half birthday. In six short months we will have a 4-year-old!

Sloan turned three and a half today.

Currently Watching – With “Captive” finished, we needed to watch something else to give us a little break from our “Boy Meets World” binging. Well, we have finally started watching “Yellowstone.” Even though we might be the last people on the planet to discover it, we are still enjoying it. I am also watching “Monday Night War,” a TWENTY-episode documentary series available on Peacock chronicling the ratings war between WWE Monday Raw and WCW Monday Nitro. Definitely no shortage of entertainment.

I am enjoying watching both “Yellowstone” and “Monday Night War.”

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Let us remember those impacted by COVID, the fires, Hurricane Sally, and senseless violence. Have a nice weekend. Don’t Blink

Six Months A Coug

If you had told me that I would spend the first half year of a new job primarily at home, I probably wouldn’t believe you. But that would have been my thinking pre-COVID. As we all are very familiar with now, this virus has a way of crushing norms.

Thumbs up for my six-month anniversary at Washington State University. Had to get Sid to snap a photo of me in my closet office.

Today I mark six months as an employee at Washington State University. When I have a meeting with someone for the first time, my go-to icebreaker is to tell them that I literally spent one day in my on-campus office before receiving the directive to work from home. It’s true. On March 16 I traveled with my supervisor to Pullman for that first day. When I was packing up to leave that night, we were told to prepare to work from home for the next couple weeks. Well, 26 weeks later…

I was all smiles my first (and only) day on campus.

Despite the strange circumstances and the unprecedented period we are navigating in higher education, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first six months at WSU and am so happy that I made the decision to work for the Cougs. I am in a good spot.

What I have treasured most during my short time at WSU is just being able to contribute. With the COVID crisis really turning everything upside-down, there was plenty to do the moment I switched from teal and bronze to crimson and gray. Besides assisting with our coronavirus response, I have been able to focus on the things that really attracted me to the job: analytics, paid social advertising, and campaign development.

Before moving into the closet at our new house, this was my at-home office

I have also taken on projects and efforts that are vitally important in the current educational climate. To be entrusted with such tasks at a major land grant institution is exactly the direction I wanted to take my career in.

To say I am grateful for both my position and the projects assigned to me is an understatement. I can’t thank my bosses enough for affording me both. I have remained impressed and inspired by our department leadership and feel fortunate to work in such a great work climate…even if it is a virtual one.

Our family is proud to be Cougs!

Making the work climate so effective and welcoming goes beyond my bosses. My co-workers have a lot to do with it too. I work with some talented and dedicated individuals who also are team players. Even though I have primarily worked with them via Zoom, the work relationships feel authentic and very similar to all of the ones I have had in the past.

The next six months will be interesting to say the least. Who knows where we will be with this virus and what instruction at WSU will look like. Needless to say, when March 16, 2021, comes around I will have a very interesting post to pen about my first year as a Coug. Don’t Blink.

Captive

Normally, if I watch something I like, I will mention it in a Thursday Rundown blog post. Occasionally, if I watch something that I feel is exceptional, I might devote an entire blog post to it (i.e. Wild, Wild Country). Tonight is one of those nights.

Listen up, if you have any interest in hostage situations, you need to give “Captive” on Netflix a chance. It is an eight-episode series that tells eight different tales of held-against-your-will, all-hope-is-lost situations involving some very unlucky people.

“Captive” on Netflix was really interesting.

From Ohio to Brazil to Somalia to Iraq and several more places, the documentary series will take you to some scary locations with evil individuals. The hour-long episodes will keep you in suspense as you desperately hope for positive outcomes.

But while the episodes will keep you on the edge of your seat, it is the inside look that will make it worth your while. From the negotiators to the kidnappers to the family members to the hostages, you will learn different perspectives, tactics, and motivations.

When trying to negotiate someone’s release, many times you are limited with what you can do and promise. A dose of creativity that goes beyond paying a ransom is needed. By watching “Captive” you will see how negotiators seldom give up and will do whatever is necessary to save a fellow human.

Go inside the head of a kidnapper. Learn how they got involved with the “industry,” how they manipulate and intimidate their victims, and how sometimes (but definitely not always) they might show compassion. That’s right, in some of these episodes they will have interviews with the real kidnappers themselves, giving a glimpse into the minds of some truly sick people.

Make no mistake about it, when these situations occur, family members are held hostage too. The documentary does a fabulous job showing the pain and uncertainty that loved ones are subjected to when a parent, child, or significant other is abducted. Sometimes, the family is catapulted into the role of chief negotiator, amplifying the unbearable stress that much more. You can’t help but feel for them when they are awakened every night at 2:30 a.m. to a phone call from the kidnappers with the latest threats and demands.

But of course the perspective from the hostages is what makes this documentary so captivating. To learn how someone could endure more than a year in some jungle or basement prison is fascinating, horrifying, and inspiring. The insight I received about how they engaged in their own psychological tactics to get the upper hand on their kidnappers was intriguing as well. The long-term effects on these people featured in the episodes varied and some of what you hear will surprise you.

Although the actions in many of the episodes are barbaric, the various moving parts in these unfortunate situations kept my attention. The context given and the participation from many of the key players involved made for riveting television. Give “Captive” a shot and let me know what you think. Don’t Blink.

SMOKE-an

This past weekend was a little hazy. No, it wasn’t because I hit the beer cooler too hard—heck, I am on a dental medication that won’t even let me take a sip of alcohol—but because of actual smoke that turned the Spokane air into a hazardous mess.

During this time of the year, South Carolina has hurricanes and Washington has wildfires. Although the former posed a more serious threat to my family than the latter, that’s not to say the byproduct of devastating fires is anything to brush off.

This month I have watched the local news solemnly as wildfires rage all over our state. These infernos have literally destroyed communities and burned hundreds of thousands of acres. There is no such thing as a break in 2020.

On Saturday, the Spokane Valley was reminded of the catastrophic flames in other parts of the state by hazy smoke that ushered itself in prior to breakfast. As the sun rose, I stood out on my back deck to this…

This is what it looked like outside from my back deck on Saturday.

What was supposed to be a 90-degree day never even topped 80. The sun remained a weird pinkish orb. Walk outside and the strong smell of smoke automatically overwhelmed you. Walk back in and you smelled like a campfire. Forget the bright September day, it was dark and eerie.

A look at the smoke as we drove down Sprague. Notice the sun in the top left hand corner of the image.

But for all the oddities that came with the smoke settling in the valley that is Spokane, the threat it posed was definitely most concerning. When the air category is at a “good” level, it hovers under a value of 50 on a scale of 500. On Friday, when the smoke started to settle in our area, it reached a mark of 170. By Saturday and through Sunday, it reached a staggering 499! That isn’t just unhealthy, it is HAZARDOUS.

The conditions climbed to 499!

The smokey conditions didn’t improve much today. I am still not comfortable letting my daughter go outside to play. Unfortunately, the wildfires still rage. Although Spokane will soon be spared the smoke, other towns will still be engulfed by the flames. We need to pray for favorable weather conditions, smart decisions by citizens, and the safety of fire fighters. Don’t Blink.