Sophisticated Thursday Rundown

As I mentioned last week, September was tough in our area. Although many Carolinians continue to face hardships, I know a lot of people are happy that we have turned the page on a new month. Personally, I love October! Here we go with the Thursday Rundown…

National Taco Day – Next up in the line of ridiculous “National Day of _______” celebrations? Tacos! To be honest, I prefer a burrito, enchilada, tamale, chimichanga, or basically any other Mexican food item over a taco. Although I love Taco Bell, I don’t order the fast food joint’s signature item when I go there. So you will never see me write a blog post about my top 10 favorite tacos. With that said, if you wanted me to identify my only favorite type of taco, that is easy – the homemade ones we make at home! We have taco night about once a month at our house and I am more than happy to scarf those down. Happy National Taco Day!

Sidney eating a taco.

Massive Flooding – Our neighborhood was spared of major flooding. However, that wasn’t the case three years ago. On October 4, 2015, Sidney and I waded through the knee-deep flooded streets of Bellegrove. At the time, I had no idea that water levels could get that high on regular neighborhood streets. Thankfully the house never flooded and we didn’t get sick exploring the dirty water. Here is a YouTube video I made of the spectacle.

The flooding that the Bellegrove neighborhood received was insane.

Informed Delivery – I recently signed up for a great feature that the U.S. Postal Service started offering this year. Called Informed Delivery, each morning I receive an email from USPS showing me the letters (and bills) that will (or should) be in my mailbox when I get home in the evening. Every piece of mail is photo scanned and inserted into the email, giving me a complete visual on what I can expect. Although it does take away the element of surprise when I open my mailbox, the security it gives is worth it. If a piece of mail that I viewed in my Informed Delivery email isn’t in my box, I know I have been a victim of theft. I can then receive assistance immediately. The service is FREE so make sure to sign up!

Informed Delivery is a really convenient and free service.

Sophisticated Sloan – Thought I would slip in the below photo of Sloan. The latest funny thing about our daughter is that she has proven to be quite sophisticated. She likes to carry around her purse and keys. You see, she was so obsessed with our own keys that we gave her a ring of keys that we don’t use anymore. She will strut around the house with her accessories and encourage us to follow her by saying “Come on.”

Sloan with her purse and keys.

M&M Television – Sid and I are currently watching two new television shows with one-word titles both starting with the letter “M.” The first one is “Manifest,” the highly promoted series about a commercial plane that disappeared only to land five and a half years later. When the aircraft touched down and the passengers got off, no one had aged a day. The people on the plane felt as if it was just a normal flight and no time (except for the intended flight duration) had passed. How is that for a plot?! So far, just two episodes in, the intriguing premise is backed up with intriguing episodes. Watching the passengers re-adjust to everyday life is fascinating as they face both major and minor issues resulting from the time lapse. The series is only going to get better as questions start to be answered.

We are also two episodes through a series called “Maniac.” A Netflix exclusive starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, this one is probably more difficult to figure out than “Manifest.” All I know right now is that both actors are participants in a health study. I wish I could give you more info but I can’t. Reality is blurred and I am pretty confused…giving me even more of an incentive to watch!

“Manifest” and “Maniac” are both creative, interesting shows.

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Tonight, let’s pray for those battling terminal illnesses. May God provide these individuals with comfort and their families with acceptance. Don’t Blink.

Talking Social Media Customer Service

It is International Customer Service Week. At Coastal, we have an extremely innovative service excellence department called Feel the Teal. Each year, Feel the Teal marks this week with events, recognition opportunities, and training sessions.

For the second consecutive year, I was asked to speak to the campus community regarding social media customer service. It is always an honor to talk with my colleagues and our students about this topic so I always enthusiastically accept the invitation. Today, inside the training and development conference room, I delivered my “Social Media and Service Excellence” presentation.

Acting cool moments before my presentation started.

The speaking engagement couldn’t have come at a better time. Fresh off our Hurricane Florence/flooding response that saw social media activity to our main accounts skyrocket, I had numerous examples of customer service opportunities and challenges to share. As you can imagine, when a catastrophic storm is forecasted to impact your campus, you can count on plenty of students and parents who will need compassionate customer service during a difficult time.

Besides recapping our Hurricane Florence social media response, I also gave examples of bad social media customer service (hello Wendy’s) and stressed how social media service excellence is similar/different to other forms of customer service.

However, the crux of my presentation consisted of my “10 Ways to Provide Great Service Excellence on Social Media.” If you want all my tips, please contact me and I would be happy to send you my presentation. For the purpose of this blog post, I want to briefly share just three of them.

Always Respond – It is imperative to respond to every honest inquiry you receive on social media, especially those that are critical in nature. In a time of crisis or for those of us managing large digital audiences, this can be a tall task – but it is important. Audience members need to know that they can turn to their favorite social accounts for both answers and respect. Nothing makes a social media user feel more valued than when an organization/university/company responds to a question/comment, especially if the user already values the entity he is engaging with.

Have A Certain Mindset – I always stress that when you respond on behalf of your employer on social media, you must do so with a certain reality in mind. Respond knowing that anything you post can and will be screenshot for thousands, if not millions, of people to see. Any entity with any type of a social media following will have trolls looking for slip ups. Having a bad day and accidentally respond in a snarky or frustrated manner? Someone will take a screenshot. Guaranteed. It is imperative for social media professionals to put the pressure of possible public humiliation and job termination on themselves each time they respond. With this in mind, there is no way you can provide anything but immaculate customer service.

Know When to Continue a Conversation Elsewhere – Most of the time, if someone asks a question on a public thread, a simple response will prove adequate. However, sometimes an issue might need some hashing out. Although a back-and-forth conversation on a public Facebook post or tweet might showcase transparency and dialogue skills, I think it is in the best interest of the user if it is shifted to a direct message format. Specific details and personal information start to surface once conversations get more in depth. But you also might want to take a conversation to a private forum for another reason. It is sad, but any account with a large following will have users who will try to instigate and embarrass. Questions that can’t be answered or that are asked simply to make the account look bad are often posed. Don’t take the bait! Respond publically that you would like to continue the conversation via direct message and leave it up to the user to comply. If not, move on.

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Excellent customer service is imperative for any person who is running a brand social media account. Thanks to the typical grind of a higher ed social media professional, I have had my fair share of practice. However, I am still learning. Let me know your social media service excellence tips! Don’t Blink.

Be Tolerant, Be Respectful

There is no doubt that the current state of politics is toxic. It doesn’t matter what side you are on, it seems as if a dark, angry cloud of venom hangs over it all.

My point? None of us can claim that whatever party we happen to support is taking the moral high road. There are enough crybabies and instigators to go around.

I have brought up this reality before. So what’s different tonight?

I just want to stress tolerance.

As someone who tries to keep an open mind, I notice how social media users, whether it be a Facebook friend or a Twitter follower, chastise others for having a different opinion than them.

If someone supports a certain party or a certain candidate, it doesn’t make them a bad person. It doesn’t mean that a label needs to be thrust upon an individual. Whatever happened to respecting differences?

Have compassion and respect for those who are different than you. Even better, let your acceptance for the political views of others be underscored, either by a response or a lack of response, on social media.

We all need to do better. Don’t Blink.

Moving On, Learning From Florence/Flooding

Finally, some normalcy.

Today, students reported back to class here at Coastal Carolina University. A few miles away from campus, Sidney reported back to work at Palmetto Bays Elementary. Although she will be without students today, Mrs. Reser will be joined by her second graders tomorrow as Horry County Schools will resume instruction across the district.

It has been quite the 21 days, a passage of time that definitely did not fly by. But we made it. In tonight’s blog post, I wanted to share 10 quick tidbits from this unprecedented Hurricane Florence/major flooding period.

* Sid’s students have been out of class longer than they have been it. She says that they will be essentially starting over.

* Our President at CCU organized a “welcome back” gathering for our students today. Hosted on Prince Lawn, we provided lunch and had all of our campus services available to help our students get back into the swing of things. These cool #CCUStrong shirts were handed out as well  

Today we had a welcome back event on campus. We gave out these #CCUStrong t-shirts.

* The weekend that Hurricane Florence hit our area (Sept. 15-16), my parish, St. Andrew, took the extraordinary step and canceled all masses for that weekend. With the church extremely close to the ocean, it was a necessary decision. Luckily, thanks be to God, our beautiful place of worship received little damage.

St. Andrew canceled masses during the Hurricane Florence weekend. Thankfully, the church was unharmed.

* Hurricane Florence/flooding didn’t keep Sloan’s daycare out of commission for long. Seriously, Oxford Children’s Academy is the best. Although its policy is to follow the lead of Horry County Schools, our daycare opened up on Tuesday, Sept. 18, and stayed open the remainder of the month.

Thanks to Oxford Children’s Academy for offering great hours and doing what a lot of other daycare centers wouldn’t.

* Sidney’s school came to the rescue. Not wanting its students to feel disconnected from their teachers and classmates, Palmetto Bays staged an event at a Bojangles location for the school community. Families were encouraged to attend for free food and the opportunity to say “hi” to the teaching staff.

Sid and some of her other teachers back at school after the Bojangles event.

* Local and regional businesses helped out. Many hotels in the Grand Strand area offered reduced room rates to people displaced by flooding. Organizations around the South offered perks for those impacted by Florence. For example, the Atlanta Braves and Florida Gators both offered FREE tickets to North and South Carolina residents. The Jacksonville Zoo provided our family with discounted admission passes.

The Jacksonville Zoo offered us discounted tickets.

* Our football team made headlines. The Coastal football team was on the road for nearly two weeks, spending a bulk of the time in hotels in the Jacksonville area. The Chants made the best of it, winning two games, including a Wednesday afternoon matchup that was changed at the last minute. Out of all the articles written about the experience, I enjoyed the USA Today story the best.

* My relatives reached out. Things started to look pretty serious when the national news networks started to forecast a direct hit on Myrtle Beach. I had relatives and old friends reach out to check on us. When the forecast turned especially bad, my poor mom had a tough time keeping it together at work when people would ask her how we were doing.

* We were so fortunate. I can’t say enough how lucky our little family was. Things were looking pretty bleak at one point so to come away unscathed was truly a gift from God.

* We are #CarolinaStrong. I learned a lot about the resolve of this area. People and groups have gone out of their way to help others, demonstrating how special this part of the country is. I couldn’t be more proud to live here.

I am proud to be #CarolinaStrong!

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Although our family can move on, many others must rebuild. As we continue to live our lives, it is important to remember those not as fortunate as us. Don’t Blink.

Adios September Thursday Rundown

What a month it has been for our area. I know a lot of Carolinians will be happy to put the last several weeks behind them. With that said, here is the final Thursday Rundown of September.

A Little Gymnast – This past Saturday, Sloan, Sidney, and I spent the afternoon doing something pretty fun. Invited by our friend Susannah and her daughter, Jacqueline (Sloan’s friend), we attended the open gym session at Gymnastics, Inc. As you can probably tell from the name, this large facility boasts gymnastics equipment, trampolines, mats, and more. Our group of five shared the entire gym with probably only seven or eight other attendees. It was a great way for Sloan to do something a little different while burning off a bunch of energy.

Sloan enjoyed her time at Gymnastics Inc.

Update on Closures – With water sources cresting yesterday, meaning flooding levels have reached their maximum heights, services and offices are making plans to re-open. Here at Coastal Carolina, we will open our residence halls tomorrow at noon. On Monday, after nearly three weeks off, classes will resume. However, Horry County Schools is not at this point yet. There was hope that teachers would be able to report to work tomorrow but that has been pulled off the table. Sidney now has instructions to report on Monday. When students will return is still up in the air with an announcement expected from the district on Sunday.

Classes will resume on Monday for CCU!

Pool Weather – In many areas around our country, it is now autumn. When my family sends us photos through our text message thread, they are wearing jackets and long pants. Not the case here. In South Carolina, the fall season means perfect pool weather! Last Sunday, we checked out the community swimming pool in our new neighborhood for the first time. It was an ideal way to spend the late September day.

Hanging out at the neighborhood pool in the autumn.

Good Advice – This week, I had the pleasure of enjoying a one-on-one lunch with Fr. David Nerbun, a priest in the Charleston Diocese. It was so fulfilling to listen to this man of God speak on various topics. He recently tweeted (follow him here) a quote from St. Vincent de Paul that I found very timely. With so many people in our area suffering from the impact of Hurricane Florence and the flooding that followed, I hope they can find some solace in de Paul’s words. I can’t imagine the despair and uncertainty that many Carolinians are going through, but I know that a strong faith in God will help the rebuilding process.

Father David Nerbun tweeted out these words from St. Vincent de Paul this week.

Fun Memory – Four years ago on this date, I was in the audience during a broadcast of my favorite sports show. Sidney and I traveled to Columbia, SC, to watch College Gameday. Not only did I get to see Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit, but I also got to see my favorite musician and that day’s performer/guest picker, Kenny Chesney. It was an extremely early morning as we had to leave Myrtle Beach well before dawn so we could get a good spot but it was so worth it. Oh yeah, I also got on TV.

Follow the arrow…that is me during the 9-27-14 College Gameday broadcast.

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Pray for those impacted by the flooding, especially my sister-in-law and her fiancée. Things should start to improve but many people have a long road ahead of them. Water can be a very destructive force. Don’t Blink.

Big Brother 20: Disappointing

I wrote about Jeopardy on Monday and “This Is Us” yesterday. Because of that, I feel obligated to continue this week of television blog posts by chiming in about Big Brother. I apologize to my many readers who couldn’t care less.

The Big Brother 20 finale is tonight. After a 100-day power struggle, a winner will be selected. Three houseguests remain. One contestant will be evicted early on in this evening’s final episode. Then, a “jury” made up of the past seven houseguests to be evicted will vote for one of the two finalists to take home the $500,000 grand prize.

I hate to say it, but I have been unhappy with this season. Not to say I haven’t been entertained by it, but I am just bitter. Things didn’t unfold how I would have liked them to.

I would characterize Big Brother 20 as disappointing.

I went into the season supporting Rachel and Scottie. The former, a #CCU alumna, was evicted rather early on, missing out on a jury seat. The latter played a much bigger role, making it relatively deep into the season, but, despite winning the battle back competition, he couldn’t advance past the “Level 6” alliance.

About halfway in, I adopted Brett as another favorite who I threw my support behind. Viciously, he was the victim of a blindside on double eviction night.

Besides the disappointment of not seeing “my people” make it to finale night, I have had to watch houseguests I dislike ascend to power and thrive inside the Big Brother house. The ringleaders of Level 6 – Angela, Tyler, and Kaycee – never won me over. In fact, I openly hoped for their misfortune during every competition and ceremony. My dislike was fostered when Angela coordinated the blindside of Rachel and recorded a nasty farewell message, proceeding to even take shots at Rachel after she was evicted. When Angela became tight with Tyler and Kaycee, both of them received my ire as well.

Although I had to deal with watching that trio run the house for the majority of the season, I claimed some consolation when underdog JC won a crucial Head of Household competition, setting up the eviction of Angela. I am so glad she is gone.

My most despised houseguest (besides Rock Star) might be gone, but I don’t want to see her allies win either. Well, wait, let me say this – while not my preferred choice, I could probably sleep well tonight if Kaycee wins. However, I sure hope Tyler doesn’t leave the Big Brother studios tonight with the big check.

That of course leaves us with JC. I never rooted for him throughout the entire season but by the process of elimination, I hope he wins. Do I think the jury will vote for him? Well, they probably shouldn’t. But if there is one thing I have learned about Big Brother since I started watching three years ago, it is this: the jury doesn’t vote for the houseguest who should win. Rather, most of them vote based on pure emotion. With that said, if JC defies the odds and becomes one of the two finalists, he should have a chance.

I won’t be crying when this season ends. Yes, I did tune in every night to watch, but it is less enjoyable when your horses aren’t winning. Okay Julie Chen, I am turning it over to you! Don’t Blink.

My Favorite “This Is Us” Characters

Tonight is the season premiere of “This Is Us.” Call me soft, but my heart warms up a few degrees when I think about the show. As the third season kicks off tonight, Sid and I will once again be in front of the TV to watch. I enjoy the show because of the good acting, superb writing, and crazy plot twists. However, I love the show for a few reasons.

1. The family discussion that ensues – After the show, the Reser Pride 7.0 group message is turnt (did I really just use that word?). My family and our significant others discuss what happened and offer our theories and opinions.
2. The parallels to our own lives – No one can watch “This Is Us” and not have a theme or two resonate with them.
3. Holiday season is approaching – “This Is Us” always reminds me of the holiday season.

But that is my short list for the night, now time for the main event. In honor of the season premiere, I wanted to countdown my top 10 favorite “This Is Us” characters.

Time to reveal my favorite “This Is Us” characters.

10. Toby – I don’t like Toby.

9. Slyvester Stallone – You mean my favorite show also has guest appearances by Slyvester Stallone?! Sly was very understanding with Kevin as they worked together on a movie. He was down to earth and helpful when speaking to the former “Manny” star. Stallone’s charm is as strong and contagious as ever!

8. Randall’s daughters – These two little girls are just so cute and funny. Even more endearing, they are kind. When their parents randomly brought Deja home to live with them, they welcomed her with open arms. When she was sent back to live with her mom, they cried. When Deja came back, they greeted her with hugs. These girls are compassionate and loving, two traits that are lacking in this world.

7. Kate (young girl/teenager) – I feel so bad for Kate as she navigates the cruel world of childhood. Picked on by bullies and snubbed by friends, she also struggles to develop a meaningful relationship with her mom. Lucky for young Kate, she has her dad who can always shake her out of a depressed mood and get her to smile. I admire Kate’s strength and love for Madonna.

6. Miguel (present day) – Poor Miguel doesn’t have it easy. He married his deceased best friend’s wife and is resented by Rebecca’s adult children. However, he understands their bitterness and takes their jabs in stride. He has had some powerful moments and has proven himself to be a quality guy who didn’t pursue Rebecca until well after Jack’s death.

5. Randall Pearson (adult) – Randall, Randall, Randall. I like this guy, perhaps because I have a little of him in me. Sidney tells me that the two of us have the same personality and I am just fine with that. He is goal oriented, a workaholic, and a little obsessive. He can also be extremely corny! He tries to live his best life and I can respect that.

4. Rebecca Pearson (young mom) – Confession: A portion of my enjoyment for this character comes from the actress who plays her. I am a big Mandy Moore fan. She is talented, humble, and pretty. But as for the character “Rebecca,” she is the glue that holds the Pearsons together. She is an extremely strong woman – how else do you describe someone who delivered triplets, deals with an overbearing mom, watched her house burn down, and lost her husband to smoke inhalation?

3. Kevin Pearson (adult) – I know he is troubled throughout the series, but I like Kevin. I like his cockiness and some of his impulsive decisions. The role of “Kevin” needed to be cast the right way and I think the show nailed it. There is not an episode that this character does not bring a smile to my face.

2. Dr. Nathan Katowski – If this man was a regular character, he would probably be my number #1. He sealed it early on when he convinced the Pearsons to adopt Randall. You can’t help but shed a tear when Dr. Katowski delivers his advice and perspective to those who need it most. A compassionate doctor with a strong demeanor, this cast member should be in every single damn episode.

1. Jack – I would never go as far as to substitute the “J” in WWJD for “Jack” but the willingness of others to do so speaks to the character of this man. There is nothing that Jack can’t do for his family, even if it means beating an addiction or saving a dog from a burning house. He puts his kids first and treats his wife like a queen. Sure, he has his flaws but to question the heart of Jack Pearson would be to question the legend of Chuck Norris.

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Whew! Hopefully you haven’t missed any of the premiere by reading this. What are you waiting for? Turn on NBC, grab some popcorn, and hop on the couch. Enjoy. Don’t Blink.

Keeping Score

Throughout the years, I have devoted numerous Don’t Blink blog posts to Jeopardy. I can’t begin to estimate how many episodes of the game show I have watched in my life. The program is addictive to me. It is a fast-paced 30 minute escape with a basic premise, creative clues, and one hell of a host. What’s not to like?

Well, nothing, according to my wife. Just like me, Sidney loves watching Jeopardy on a nightly basis. I have joked on occasion that we resemble an elderly couple more than a millennial one – the highlight of our evening comes at 7:30 p.m. when Johnny Gilbert proclaims “THIS IS JEOPARDY.”

Sidney loves Jeopardy…and it is starting to grow on Sloan.

Since our dating days, we have made it a point to watch Jeopardy together. We plan dinner and Sloan’s bedtime routine around it. Once it is on, we don’t accept calls from family or concern ourselves with outside distractions. We sit side-by-side, turn the volume up, make sure each other is comfortable, and….

Compete.

You got that right. We don’t casually watch Jeopardy. Rather, we go head-to-head to be the smartest of the household, putting full effort into blurting out the answer before the other, many times answering before Alex is even halfway done with reading the clue. Yes, disagreements abound. I answered it before you. Judges wouldn’t accept that. You distracted me.

However, the biggest point of contention that would come up on a nightly basis was who performed the best. At the end of the show we would look at each other and argue over “who won” based on who answered the most clues correctly. With no documentation and our own biases, many times both of us would claim victory.

It took us long enough but during the summer we finally put an end to the ambiguity: we started to keep score!

We have finally reached the point where we tally the questions we correctly answer. Sid and I use a red spiral notebook to document our performances. Depending on who is the designated scorekeeper for that episode (we switch off every other night), that person will mark each clue that is correctly answered under the “Sidney” or “Brent” column. After all this time, finally, some clarity.

Sloan holding the infamous red spiral notebook.

Understandably, we have instituted our own rules. There is no penalty for an incorrect answer. All clues are worth one point each (answering a $2,000 clue will get you the same single point as answering a $200 clue). Daily Doubles mean nothing extra except for the fact that one point is on the line. After Double Jeopardy, the score is final, unless there is a tie. At that point, Final Jeopardy will serve as the tiebreaker (if no one answers it correctly, the game ends as a tie).

Thanks to our competitive juices, each night is an intellectual battle in the Reser household. The goal is to win that evening’s Jeopardy episode. However, the nightly episodes are only battles. The war is the all-time series we have set up. At the conclusion of each show, the winner gets a tally mark in his/her overall column. The running total of games won is what the two of us have our hearts set on.

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

At the moment, I hold an advantage. The current score is 9-6-1. Thus, out of the 16 episodes we have watched since instituting our scoring system, I have come out on top in nine of those shows. Sid, on the other hand, has answered more clues correctly in six episodes. We dueled it out to a draw early on in the series.

If you ever drop by our house during Jeopardy time, we would love to have you play. We will add your name to the spiral notebook and let you compete with us. Just be warned, it gets intense! Don’t Blink.

Past Jeopardy Blog Posts:
My Opinion on Jeopardy Champion Austin Rogers
My Misguided Jeopardy Judging
The Five Things I Hate About Jeopardy
My Disdain for the Current Jeopardy Champion

Zoo Crew Thursday Rundown

Happy Thursday to one and all! I hope you have had a great week thus far. Other than that, I don’t have much small talk tonight so let’s get right to the Thursday Rundown.

Jacksonville Zoo – How do you follow up a day at Disney World? You go to the zoo, of course. Last Saturday, the three of us went to the Jacksonville Zoo. We had a fun time looking at a wide variety of animals, many I had never even seen/heard of before. I specifically enjoyed viewing the monkeys/apes, tigers, and elephants. However, nothing could beat the giraffes. Seeing one of these animals in-person really puts into perspective how tall they really are. The exhibit had seven different giraffes and they would walk right over to you. In fact, if you really wanted, you could feed them. Props to the Jacksonville Zoo for giving all Hurricane Florence evacuees a major discount on admission.

We had a good time at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Happy Half Birthday, Sloan – On Monday, Sloan turned a year and a half. In my opinion, it is probably the most significant “half birthday” that we as humans celebrate. At 18 months, Sloan is happier than ever and is talking really well. She is persistent yet sweet, and loves her mommy and daddy. The below photo was taken on our way back to Myrtle Beach after we evacuated. We left a pack of cookies a little too close to her car seat and she managed to reach them and help herself. By the time we pulled over and realized what she had done, her face was a chocolatey mess.

Sloan celebrated her half birthday with cookies.

President Trump Visits Conway – Yesterday, the President of the United States was in our area ahead of the massive flooding we are supposed to experience. President Trump visited Conway, the small town that sits right next to Myrtle Beach and that is actually home to Coastal Carolina University. While I worked in my office, the Commander In Chief was walking the streets of Conway just a couple miles from where I sat. Although I wasn’t there, my future brother-in-law was. He was helping move the belongings from a house that was expected to flood when all of a sudden the President arrived. Not only was John Henry able to take the below photo, he also shook Trump’s hand. All in all, it was nice to know that the President is looking out for us.

My soon-to-be brother-in-law took this photo of President Trump yesterday.

Waiting Game – After being out of the office since last Tuesday (Sept. 11), Coastal Carolina University allowed its employees to report back to work yesterday. Although I had such a nice time with Sid and Sloan, it never feels right to me when I am out of the office unexpectedly. My wife, however, is still on standby. With roads impacted by current flooding, and with the situation expected to get even worse, Horry County Schools is shut down for at least the rest of the week. Sid will know on Sunday if she will be back to teaching on Monday. As for our CCU students? We announced today that classes will be canceled all next week as well. With the flooding threat, it is just too dangerous to have all our students return to campus.

Classes for #CCU students will be canceled through next week.

Wearing That Ring – Two years ago, I wrote about the adjustment I faced with wearing a wedding ring. No, the adjustment didn’t have to do with no longer being a bachelor! Rather, it was because I had never worn any jewelry my entire life up until I married Sid. Thankfully, it turned out to be a non-issue. Wearing the ring grew on me very quickly and I embraced the opportunity to sport a little bling. Nowadays, the ring is even more a part of me. I take it off when I exercise and when I shower, but that is it. I feel naked without it and I will immediately panic if I do my constant subconscious ring check and notice that it is not there. I love my wedding ring!

Sorry, my hand is not “model worthy.” However, I wanted to show off my wedding ring.

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Happy early birthday to my brother. His big day is this Sunday. Live it up, Glen. Have a great weekend, everyone. Don’t Blink.

Our Impromptu Trip to Disney World

It didn’t take long after we left Myrtle Beach for the “suggestions” to start. As Sid, Sloan, and I started our evacuation to Jacksonville, my wife started to pitch me an idea.

Before we had even entered Georgia, Sidney had made her case that visiting Disney World while we escaped Hurricane Florence would make perfect sense. With mid-September a relative tame time by Disney standards and with Jacksonville only 2.5 hours away from Orlando, she had a point. With time to spare and a Disney-obessed wife along with a Mickey Mouse-loving daughter, I really couldn’t say no. By the time we rolled into Jacksonville on Wednesday night, I told Sid we could go. By Friday morning, we were walking through the Disney World gates.

This is a photo I snapped as we drove through the Disney World arch.

That left us with a short amount of time to prepare. On Thursday, we hatched our plan. We would make it a day trip and only visit Magic Kingdom. Sidney did research all afternoon and we purchased tickets that night. If someone told us a week prior that we would be going to Disney World in the near future, we would have laughed.

We left early Friday and made it to the Disney World parking lot by 10 a.m. We had to take a shuttle from the parking lot followed by a ferry boat ride to actually get inside the park. Once inside, the three of us found ourselves on Main Street USA right in front of Cinderella’s Castle. It was a surreal feeling.

Last week at this time, I had no idea we would be going to Disney World. A couple days later, we were right in front of Cinderella’s Castle.

The “how crazy is this moment?” soon passed as I realized something: It was hot! Like really, really hot. But the heat discomfort soon became an afterthought as I realized something else. Sloan was laughing and clapping her hands wildly as she watched a bunch of Disney characters and other cast members perform a dance number right in front of the castle. With a giddy Sidney crouched by Sloan pointing out everything that was going on, I knew at that point that we had made the right decision to go.

This picture, taken shortly after we entered the Disney World gates, says it all. I knew we had made the right decision.

With the impromptu Disney trip already off on a great note, we started to explore. We visited a couple of the different lands and rode Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and It’s A Small World After All. Except for a couple antsy moments when Haunted Mansion stalled midway through, Sloan loved the rides! She sat between us and enjoyed every minute of the classic Disney attractions.

Sloan enjoyed the rides we went on during the morning.

Wait times for all the rides were 25 minutes or less. However, time flew by. After riding those three attractions and walking around, it was already lunch time. We ate at a Pinocchio-themed, air-conditioned restaurant.

Sloan enjoying her chicken nuggets and juice box at the Pinocchio-themed restaurant.

After lunch, we went back to Cinderella’s Castle and enjoyed probably the best part of the day. We had front row seats to the daily parade that showcased both classic Disney characters (Mickey, Donald, Goofy, etc.) and the movie Disney characters (Aladin, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, etc.). As the big floats passed by and the characters engaged with Sloan, I truly felt the Disney magic.

The Disney parade was special. It was enjoyed thoroughly by the three of us.

On a high from the parade, we went on more rides – Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction. With the heat starting to take its toll, we decided to seek out shelter.

Can you spot Sid?

We entered a structure made to resemble a large circus tent. Once inside, Sloan had the opportunity to meet Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse. Although happy to see them at first, she would retreat to Sid as they crept closer. It didn’t take long for Sloan to eventually embrace them, following the lead of her mommy who hugged each one to show her that it was okay.

Sid and Sloan with Daisy and Minnie.

Did you think we would do Disney World without eating ice cream? Sidney got a Mickey ice cream sandwich and I got something called a Dole Whip, which is ice cream and pineapple fused together, a Disney World specialty I am told. Of course Sloan enjoyed generous portions of each.

Sidney with her Mickey ice cream sandwich.

Time continued to go by at a rapid pace. Because of a Halloween event that night, Magic Kingdom closed at 6 p.m. With only about 60 minutes left, we headed back to Mainstreet USA to pick out a souvenir. Sloan chose a baby Dumbo stuffed animal. Around this time, another parade was taking place. This particular one had an international flavor but still included all of the classic Disney characters. As the parade concluded, we watched as military guests retired the American flag and performed the Star Spangled Banner.

Sid barely beat me in the Lightyear Space Ranger Spin ride.

It was time for the grand finale! With just a few minutes to spare, we stood in line for our personal visit with Mickey Mouse. We were extrememly hot and looked absolutely miserable but I assure you that we were happy inside. Sloan constantly says “Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse,” so it was a big deal that she could meet him in the flesh (or perhaps I should say in the furry costume?).

After a long and HOT day, we took this photo with Mickey (don’t judge).

After changing Sloan’s diaper it was back on the ferry boat and the shuttle. We got in the car and our daughter dozed off. The whole drive back to Jacksonville, Sid and I talked Disney non-stop, looking up various Disney-related Wikipedia articles along the way.

By the time we left the park, Sloan was one tired girl!

That night, before we went to bed, Sidney whispered to me, “Thanks for making my wish come true.” I am not the biggest Disney fan, but to hear my wife say that along with the joy I saw on Sloan’s face the entire day made me really happy that we visited the happiest place on Earth. We will hold these memories tight forever. Don’t Blink.