The Abu Thursday Rundown

I have a genuine appreciation for my readers so thank you for returning to Don’t Blink. You picked a good day to do it because it is the Thursday Rundown. If you are a rookie, that means five random topics are about to come your way.

Cup On Head – I want to start the Rundown with a cute photo of Sloan. On Sunday, my daughter managed to put a Cookout cup on the top of her head. Not only did she look absolutely silly, but my sister-in-law made an interesting observation, saying that she looked like Abu from “Aladdin.” I don’t think the comparison was that far off.

Sloan with a Cookout cup on her head. Does she look like Abu to you?

Coin Dance – Earlier this week, my sister and brother-in-law celebrated their seventh anniversary. As I looked through Timehop I saw many photos from the reception, including one from the best wedding reception tradition ever: The Coin Dance. An Italian custom, the coin dance occurs during a designated bride-groom dance. Wedding guests shower the dance floor with coins and all the kids in attendance rush to pick up the silver (don’t think about throwing pennies). Not only does it break up the monotony of a reception while giving the children something to look forward to, it also provides good luck to the bride and groom. Judging by my sister’s marriage and my own (Sid and I did it at our wedding reception), I would say those Italians got it right!

A look back at the Coin Dance at both receptions of Sid & I and Miradan & Jay.

Summer Social Media Campaign – This week I was thrilled to introduce our summer #CCUSocialMedia campaign. With the PopSocket craze still going strong, I came up with something called PopCHANTet Texts. I am asking current students, alumni, and faculty/staff to describe what Coastal Carolina University means to them. However, they have to do it in 280 characters and I am encouraging them to write it as if they were sending a text message. For the visual component of the campaign, I am supplying each participating person with a CCU PopSocket to put on the back of their phone. The volunteer will then have a person snap a photo of them as they “text” what Coastal means to them. See below or click here for what the final product looks like. My goal with PopCHANTet Texts is to encourage the CCU community to be frank and to the point about why they are proud of their university.

I am excited about #PopCHANTet Texts!

Lemonade? – I got wrapped up in a debate with Sid and one of my co-workers about a tweet I sent out a year ago. I had expressed my opinion that I don’t think lemonade really goes with any food item or meal. I concede that it is a thirst quencher on a hot day, but I would never pour a large glass of lemonade to go with my Mexican food or a steak. Geoff, my co-worker, believes it naturally goes with Chick-fil-A and apparently Sid thinks it goes with anything but I can’t agree. What do you think?

This tweet that I sent on June 3, 2017, was debated again this week.

Knockoff vs. Premium – One of my personal favorite blog posts of all-time was written exactly three years ago when I had Sidney do a blind taste test of five products. Each product was represented by its premium version and a generic version. From snack foods to breakfast favorites to macaroni and cheese, I had Sid try all products and give me an honest assessment on what tasted better. I will say this: my wife’s taste buds are on point. I encourage you to read the post!

Sid sampled a popular cereal as part of the Knockoff vs. Premium showdown.

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To everyone attending the Carolina Country Music Festival this weekend, have fun! To all those who don’t live in Myrtle Beach and who have no idea what I am talking about — you have a good weekend too. Catch up with you soon. Don’t Blink.

How to Enjoy and Behave at an “Eat Free” Promotion

Last night, I found myself at Red Robin. Coinciding with the end of the school year, the popular burger chain offered a national promotion that invited teachers and educators to eat free. Heck, even I was included simply because I work at a university. Those with a valid school/college identification card could choose from one of Red Robin’s tavern burgers (bottomless fries included).

But before we could eat one fry or simply lift our burgers out of the baskets, we had to wait. When we arrived at our Myrtle Beach Red Robin, people were spilling outside the front entrance. The secret was out among teachers in our area! We waited patiently (except for Sloan) for over an hour before we were seated.

Some of the people waiting outside at the Myrtle Beach Red Robin.

Not that we didn’t expect it. “Eat Free” promotions are notorious for packing restaurants to the brim and sending lines out to the parking lot. A common trick in the industry, restaurants hope positive PR and customers spending a lot of money on “extras” not covered in the promotion will offset the cost of free food.

It is easy to become cynical. As customers, we might declare that the time spent to get seated isn’t worth the free food. Some might even do math to back it up, arguing that the cost of their time doesn’t compensate for a free $6.99 hamburger. Others just hate the chaotic scene that these promotions produce.

We got what we came for. This was my burger and fries from last night. I would say it was worth the wait.

But if you are able to “stomach” these eat free promotions, I came up with 10 tips (in no particular order) on what to keep in mind and how to behave.

1. Arrive during a non-meal time – Beat the rush and arrive at 10:30 a.m. or 3 p.m. Otherwise, you can wait 75 minutes like us.

2. Know the promotion – Before arriving at the restaurant, and definitely before ordering, know exactly what the business is offering for free.

3. Be nice to the hostess – No one is more stressed out than the person up front putting people on the list and seating them. Try to refrain from bothering them too much and don’t lose your cool if it is taking a little longer than expected.

4. Social media appreciation – A great way to thank the restaurant for your free dinner is to give a shout out on social media. Don’t kid yourself, another big reason these promotions exist is the likelihood of positive organic digital engagement from customers.

5. Tip your server appropriately – Most will take this into account, but tip your server based on what the bill would be if you had paid full price.

6. Keep modifications to a minimum – If you are getting a free dinner, refrain from making it tough on the restaurant staff by requesting various modifications to your order (i.e. Could you please hold the pickles, add BBQ sauce, toast the bun, and bring me some Sriracha on the side?).

7. Don’t take advantage of bottomless items – Last night, our server kept bringing us out extra plates of french fries. When she brought out the final helping, Sid and I questioned whether we should ask for a to-go box. We decided against it.

8. Prepare for the wait – If you are going during a busy time, brace yourself for the wait. Last night, we observed people sitting in lawn chairs as they waited in the parking lot.

9. Don’t linger – After you have finished your meal, pay the tab and leave. Let the staff prepare your table for the other people who have waited a long time.

10. Lower your expectations – Realize that your free food item might not be the exact same quality it would be if you were paying full price on a night when the restaurant wasn’t slammed. Don’t let it get to you.

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Thank you to Red Robin for a delicious meal last night. We appreciate the fact that you value our educators. Now, when is the day I can get a free pizza from Papa John’s? Don’t Blink.

The Latest #CCUSocialMedia T-Shirt

As a marketer, I am a firm believer in branding. My affinity for “establishing a brand” filters down to the social media program I am in charge of. When I arrived at Coastal Carolina University, I wanted the campus community to know that the engaging and memorable content they were seeing came from an overarching source that stretched from our Facebook page to our Snapchat account to our LinkedIn profile to our various other channels.

We confined our brand to a hashtag, #CCUSocialMedia. It didn’t take long for people to realize that if a piece of content was stamped with the tag, it meant that it was created by the University specifically for #TEALnation.

It was important to develop a brand for our social media program at Coastal.

But how did we get word out about the brand? Well, we developed a website, came up with creative content, utilized brand ambassadors, and followed an organized plan.

Oh yeah, we also created t-shirts…

We announced our new #CCUSocialMedia t-shirt today. Thanks to Katie, my social media intern, for being a great model!

Yesterday, I picked up our newest #CCUSocialMedia t-shirts. Designed to reflect the current social media climate, this shirt is the third version in our program’s history.

Me sporting the new #CCUSocialMedia t-shirt.

The front is our brand. Actually, it is a 2-in-1. Not only does it contain our University’s social media logo but it also boasts our #CCUSocialMedia hashtag. Tricky, right? A logo that is, for all intents and purposes, your hashtag.

The front of the shirt features our logo/hashtag and is to the point.

But the back of the shirt is where it is at. Ron Walker, a designer in our office, polished the concept I gave him and created something really cool. In a live streaming world obsessed with “likes” and “loves,” we knew this shirt would need plenty of hearts and smiley faces. He placed our increasingly popular Chants Up sign inside the screen of a phone marked with our social media handle (@CCUChanticleers). He then let the instant gratification flow as the reaction emojis begin at the bottom and hover upwards to the top of the shirt.

I must say that Ron Walker did an extremely creative job designing this shirt.

Will this shirt be as popular as our Chauncey inspired Twitter design? Talk about a difficult task! We didn’t re-order those shirts TWICE for no reason. But judging by the reaction on social media, I think these shirts will rival the past ones in terms of popularity.

The past two #CCUSocialMedia t-shirts.

I know you want a shirt. All you have to do is participate in #CCUSocialMedia to win one. Sorry, they won’t be available in stores to purchase. As for me, I am excited to wear my new #CCUSocialMedia shirt and continue to spread the brand! Don’t Blink.

School’s Out For The Summer

I was in-and-out of the house this weekend covering the NCAA Baseball Regional. However, during the time I spent at home, something was obvious. Although always a sweet person and cool customer, Sidney seemed even more mellow and happy the past couple days. She had a constant smile on her face and joked around freely.

A couple times I straight up asked her why she was in such a good mood. Both occasions she denied anything was responsible for her joyful demeanor and I just let it go. But I couldn’t completely shake it from the back of my head. This morning during my workout I started thinking again about Sid’s mood and it hit me.

It is the last week of school!

It is the last week of school for this teacher!

To call it a “week” is probably inaccurate. Sidney’s last day of teaching for the school year is tomorrow. Better yet, tomorrow isn’t even a full day; like today, it is a half day. Yep, she only has a few hours left inside the classroom before she is on summer vacation.

I am a dummy for not initially identifying the concluding school year as the reason for my wife’s glee. It was a busy weekend and I guess I had a “silly husband” lapse.

With that said, I want to congratulate Sidney on successfully completing another school year.

When she leaves Palmetto Bays School tomorrow, she will have officially finished her fourth year as a teacher. Do the math, and that means Mrs. Reser has been a primary teacher for roughly 100 students in her career. Track those kids down when they graduate from high school and I am willing to bet that most of them will count her as one of their favorites.

Sidney and I in her classroom during her rookie year as a teacher. She completes her fourth year tomorrow.

But enough about claims that I can’t prove. Let me say something that I know for a fact: I am very proud of my wife! We have been together since she started teaching and I am always so impressed with the job she does. Sid has always given 100% and left an impact on those kids, but I have definitely watched her grow as a teacher throughout her time in the classroom. Each year she improves and becomes more comfortable. She started as a rookie teacher and has developed into a leader at the school.

So why all the euphoria? If she is a natural at her job, why is she giddy for summer? Um HELLO…being a teacher is very hard work!

After 180 days in the classroom, students aren’t the only ones ready for a break. Teachers earn their extended time off and you better believe they look forward to it. I would be all smiles if I was Sidney too! Don’t Blink.

Last Day of May Thursday Rundown

I hope everyone had a great month. As we enjoy our last few hours of May, let me help send it out with a Thursday Rundown. Here are my five topics…

Coastal Baseball Weekend – Our baseball team at CCU had a fabulous regular season and a dominanting conference tournament performance. It all pays off with an NCAA Regional right here at Springs Brooks Stadium. Over the next few days, our University will host UCONN, Washington, and ULI-Brooklyn to determine which team makes it to the Super Regional round. I have the pleasure of covering the action for our social media audience and I couldn’t be more excited. Go Chants!

I am excited to work the Regional baseball games this weekend.

Baby Teething Hack – I have a couple Facebook friends who raved about the comfort that a teething necklace brought their young ones. With Sloan’s teeth starting to come in (she already has five), Sidney went out and bought one for her at the Kangaroo Pouch, a local baby supply store in our area. It works wonders! Sloan will sometimes wake up from a nap crying in pain with her hand in her mouth. Knowing that her teeth are bothering her, I will slip on the necklace and it will calm her. The relief will last for as along as she has it on. I highly recommend this piece of “bling” to anyone who has a baby battling teething issues. Not only will your child appreciate it, but she will feel pretty cool with such a stylish accessory around her neck!

Teething necklaces just aren’t useful, they are stylish!!

Great Work, Sid – I wanted to recognize Sidney for an extracurricular activity she has involved herself in the past two weeks. My wife has worked hard to assist with her school’s production of “The Lion King.” She volunteered her makeup and costume skills to make the students stand out. When I sent the below photos to my family’s text messaging thread, they couldn’t believe how cool the costumes looked. My dad responded, “Is Sid moving to Broadway?!” (dad joke). It will be standing room only at Palmetto Bays Elementary this evening for the first of two performances. I have enjoyed listening to Sid tell me about her experiences and how talented the students are.

Some of the costumes that the Palmetto Bays students are wearing tonight. My family sure was impressed!

Movie Heaven – We are movie buffs. Although we don’t get out to the theater as often as we would like, we make good use of Netflix. But now we have another option! We recently changed cable providers and one perk we received for signing up is access to all the movie channels. For 90 days, we get HBO, Showtime, and Starz. Since those big names all have a family of channels under their umbrellas, I can turn on my TV at any given moment and choose from 10 different movies. It is really nice! We have already made good use of this luxury, with the last movie we watched being “Man on the Moon.”

Weather and Disney – I have written two prior blog posts on May 31. Two years ago, I addressed my obession with the weather in relation to long term forecasts when I had an event or vacation coming up (it has gotten a lot better!). Three years ago, I wrote one of my more controversial blog posts of Don’t Blink when I had the audacity to suggest that Disneyland was better than Disney World. My wife sure set me straight!

I have been on the Teacup ride at both Disneyland and Disney World.

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Hope everyone has a great June. Enjoy the long days that come with the month and remember to root on those Chanticleers! Don’t Blink.

The Best Glade Air Fresheners

When I was a kid, my mom kept an air freshener around the house called Pure Citrus. It would make any room smell as if an Orange Julius store was built on an orange grove—it was that good!

As I grew older, I became aware of the popular discount air freshener brand, Glade. Sure, the numerous different scents didn’t pack the same aromatic punch as Pure Citrus but some of them were pretty good—and some were really bad.

Although this post would be more comedic if I focused on the awful Glade scents, I elect to stay positive and identify the ones that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to use in my actual home. So, tonight I give you my top 5 countdown of Glade air fresheners.

A few Glade cans hanging out at our house.

5. Powder Fresh – The scent of baby powder is a universal smell of cleanliness and comfort. You can’t really turn many people off to its smell because there is nothing overpowering about it. Glade didn’t mess up too badly with its Powder Fresh spray so don’t feel like you are taking too big of a chance if you cough up the dollar for a can.

Who doesn’t like a powder fresh smell?

4. Red Honeysuckle Nectar – I bought this one a month ago because it sounded a little mysterious and because the artistic depiction on the can was enticing. It didn’t disappoint. Although it is technically a floral scent, it smells more fruity to me. It’s description on the Glade website begins with “Prepare yourself for an uplifting experience.” I don’t think it inspired me but I did enjoy it. It isn’t rated higher on this list because Sid hates it.

We have a can of this at our house right now.

3. Apple Cinnamon – When it comes to “air freshener” smells, the apple cinnamon combination is a classic—and for good reason. The combo works together to leave a smelly situation better than when it found it. The fruitiness of apple and the spice of cinnamon is a winning team, no matter if it is in a Glade bottle or not.

Apple Cinnamon is a classic air freshener scent.

2. Crisp Waters – Ah yes, the one option that both Sid and I can agree on! The two of us tolerate this scent that is actually listed under the “outdoor” section of the Glade website. True, it does have that musky scent that might remind you of what it smells like when you come across a stream in the wilderness, but we don’t mind bringing a little bit of nature into the house. If I use a Glade air freshener and I don’t want to get an eye roll from Sid, I use Crisp Waters.

Sid and I can both agree on this one.

1. White Tea and Lilly – I don’t like tea but I do like Glade’s White Tea and Lily air freshener. It has pink labeling and flowers on the outside but it’s what is in the inside that counts. This air freshener is so pleasant that it makes me happy. I once wrote that a great trick to sleep well at night is to spray an air freshener—this is the one that I would spray! I was so fond of this scent that I would carry a can in my travel bag! Sidney can’t stand it so it has been phased out of our house but I still fondly remember its smell. Because it is too good not to, I must share the White Tea and Lily description on the Glade website in its entirety: The funny thing is, if you had more time to meditate, you probably wouldn’t need more time to meditate. Let the relaxing scent of white tea and lily take you from at home to at ease in no time. If Zen had a fragrance, this would be it.

It doesn’t get any better than White Tea and Lily.

Yep. That’s my #1!

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Do you have a favorite Glade scent? If so, please let me know. Remember, moderation is key when you have Glade in your hand! Don’t Blink.

This Memorial Weekend Has Been…

It has been a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. Because the last thing you want to do on your day off is read my blog, let’s dash through 10 things this weekend has been (so far)…

This weekend has been about the aquarium. We took Sloan to Ripley’s Aquarium here in Myrtle Beach, an experience she really enjoyed.

Sid and Sloan enjoying Ripley’s Aquarium.

This weekend has been about watching movies. Sidney and I watched “A Beautiful Mind” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”

This weekend has been about worship. We attended Holy Trinity mass at St. Andrew and heard Fr. Morgan deliver a powerful homily that had Sidney and I looking at each other at its conclusion mouthing “That was good!”

This weekend has been about Coastal baseball. The Chanticleers won the Sun Belt tournament title and earned the right to host the NCAA Regional round in Conway.

The Coastal baseball team will host Regionals.

This weekend has been about family. On Saturday night we ate pasta with Sidney’s parents at our house.

This weekend has been about the outdoors. Sloan and I went on a long walk together and the next day Sidney, Sloan, and I went to the pool.

This weekend has been about Dave and Buster’s! We had a nice dinner ordering off the eccentric menu and enjoying the atmosphere. Our plans to play any games fell short though when Sloan had a vomiting episode (thanks to our server, Connor, for being so helpful!).

Sloan hanging out at Dave & Buster’s (before she threw up).

This weekend has been about catching up on sleep. Sloan miraculously slept until 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, allowing mommy and daddy a chance to snooze a little longer than usual.

This weekend has been about donuts. Earlier this morning, Sid brought me home Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins.

This weekend has been about remembering those who served. Over 1.3 million men and women have lost their lives in combat and we all need to take several moments to reflect on that.

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I hope everyone enjoys the remainder of this holiday weekend. We can’t thank enough those who made this weekend necessary.

Deal or No Deal Thursday Rundown

What a great week it has been! Beautiful weather, a healthy little girl, and a Memorial Day weekend on the horizon. Let’s get this Thursday Rundown started…

Good Deal or Not? – I sometimes stay up at night scrutinizing whether a dinner offer is a good deal or not. The new restaurant by our house promoted this opportunity earlier this week. Not only do you get unlimited tacos, but you also get all-you-can-eat rice and beans. To tie a bow around the deal, you also get an adult drink of your choice (yes, they have Bud Light). All of this for just $15! Wait…$15? I have gone back and forth debating whether $15 for all the tacos you can eat plus a few extras is worth it. Judging by the fact that I would eat way too much and leave the place feeling sick, I am going to have to say no.

What do you think? Worth it or not?

The French Fry Chart – Because it is the two year anniversary of when I blogged about the infamous fry chart, I felt obligated to bring it back for the Thursday Rundown. In my opinion, this remains a work of art in the world of fried potatoes. The encyclopedia of processed spuds, if you will. This graphic will have longevity in our family because Sloan has demonstrated the same love for french fries that Sid has. Oh, by the way, my one big issue with this chart still stands—tater tots don’t belong!

This list ranking french fries is pretty cool.

Royal Wedding – On Saturday morning, I gently woke Sidney as Charles escorted Meghan down the aisle. Sid wanted to watch the wedding and I didn’t want her to miss the best part. From that point on, Sid and I watched until the happy couple walked out of the church. It was fashion that intrigued my wife the most. For me? I enjoyed watching the ceremony itself. The music was superb, the sermon was powerful, and the church beautiful. But the best part for me was watching Harry and Meghan interact with each other when they sat side-by-side on the altar. I observed them holding hands and whispering to each other as the grand spectacle unfolded. It reminded me of our wedding. What I remember the most from our day was sitting next to Sid on our own altar chairs at St. Andrew, the beauty of the moment engulfing us and the power of the Holy Spirit entering us. Thank you to the Royal Family newlyweds for reminding me of that special time.

The Royal Wedding reminded me of our own.

Holy Trinity – This weekend, we will celebrate Trinity Sunday at church. Many times, it is tough for Christians to conceptualize that our one God is also three entities—Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. A Cardinal I follow on Twitter recently used the example of family to help explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity. You have separate people—a mom, a dad, and a child—but you have one family. If you have time, I encourage you to read Cardinal Wuerl’s blog post.

I stumbled upon this tweet from Cardinal Wuerl today.

What I Watched This Week – Sidney and I finished watching a really interesting documentary series called “Evil Genius.” The four show presentation told the story of an unlucky soul who had a bomb collar put around his neck and was sent on a scavenger hunt to find the key that would unlock it. The first leg of the hunt ordered him to rob a bank. Incredibly he pulled it off but his luck ran out there—the bomb exploded. The documentary focuses on the unsavory group of people who pulled off the heist, a collection of individuals with extremely high I.Q.s but evil motivations and mental illnesses. It is worth your time.

“Evil Genius” is a documentary series with no shortage of crazy characters as well as twists and turns.

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There you have it, my latest Thursday Rundown. Happy Memorial Day to everyone. Enjoy your weekend and make sure to remember those who have departed. Don’t Blink.

My Top 5 Favorite Beers

I enjoy a cold beer every now and then. If it is a weekend night and I am in the mood, I might indulge. However, in my advancing age, I have found that unless I want to go to bed early, I usually don’t drink more than two. For tonight’s blog post, I thought it might be fun to countdown my top 5 favorite beers.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a beer snob. Despite once living in a town that is celebrated for its eight breweries and beer-loving culture, I am embarrassingly boring and corporate when it comes to my brews.

5. Michelob Ultra – I became a fan of Michelob Ultra because it is Sidney’s favorite beer. How can I not like the beer that the love of my life enjoys? Although I drank it occasionally before I met Sid, I didn’t appreciate it fully until I started to date her. Now, whenever it is time to “get a 6-pack,” Michelob Ultra is a possibility of what I might be coming home with.

Sid drinking a Michelob Ultra during one of our first dates together.

4. Bud Light Lime – This is my summer jam. If I am out on the boat or sitting at the pool, I will grab a Bud Light Lime. Some people don’t care for the artificial taste but for me it is refreshing. I don’t care for Bud Light’s other spinoffs such as Bud Light Wheat or Bud Light Orange, but I do enjoy this one. This brew reminds me of long days, warm weather, and lots of fun!

My friend Dan and I enjoying a Bud Light Lime on the Vegas Strip.

3. Dragon’s Breath – Beer connoisseurs are going to hate this list but hopefully they will cut me a little slack for at least including one craft brew. My favorite brewery in Missoula was Bayern and my favorite beer they make is called Dragon’s Breath (no, not the crazy frozen dessert found at mall kiosks). It is a dark Hefeweizen and although I usually don’t opt for dark beers, I do like hefes. Obviously, the Hefeweizen is more prominent than the darkness. It doesn’t have an overpowering taste and you can pick up on some pleasant caramel tones when you sip it. Dragon’s Breath also has a nice smell and a really cool logo.

Dragon’s Breath is pretty dang good.

2. Bud Light – Okay, now I really got my readers who know anything about beer mad at me. He put Bud Light at #2 on this list? It is true, Bud Light is one of my favorite beers. I am the guy who will order a Bud Light after the waiter suggests several seasonal, 6.7% ABV hoppy beers. I am the guy who will opt for a Bud Light at an ale house with 70 different beers on tap. I am the guy who will still select a Bud Light even if everyone at my table has already ordered a sophisticated, “flavor of the month” type beer. Sorry not sorry. I like the simplistic taste of Bud Light. I don’t care if it is watered down, contains a low percentage of alcohol, or is the least imaginative drink at any bar. It tastes good to me. It is consistent. It quenches my thirst. I am an unapologetic Bud Light drinker.

You can’t go wrong with Bud Light. Photo is of me with my cousin Cody last summer.

1. Blue Moon – For my loyal readers, you could have already guessed this would be in the top spot. Almost two years ago I wrote my ode to Blue Moon and my feelings have not changed. Nothing beats the refreshing, unique taste of my favorite beer. Few things are greater in the world than enjoying this golden liquid after a long week. You know how I define beauty? After Sidney and Sloan (of course) it is a frosted beer mug filled with Blue Moon and topped with a fat orange slice. I know this is not a popular choice but I am not writing this blog to make friends. No doubt about it, Blue Moon is my favorite beer.

My brother and I enjoying Blue Moons.

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Anyone need a drink? I know most of you probably didn’t enjoy my list so just take comfort in the fact that I am not your bartender. Have a great night and I will see everyone tomorrow with the Thursday Rundown. Remember, drink responsibly. Don’t Blink.

A Sloan Memory Clouded by the Berenstain Bears

As a kid, I made my parents read me the The Berenstain Bears books over and over. We had every book in the series and each one was read probably a million times.

Although each Berenstain Bears book was read about equally, if there was one that got a little more attention it was The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies. This particular story addresses the issue of not asking for too much and being happy with what you receive.

The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies is a book that will always be cemented in my memory.

The context of this lesson takes place in a grocery store. When Papa and Mama Bear take Sister and Brother along, they have the tendency to ask (or sometimes demand) for everything—candy, toys, gimmicks, etc. Before Papa and Mama called for help from Grandma and Grandpa Bear to teach the cubs about moderation and thankfulness, the shopping trips would always end with one more splurge.

When exiting the grocery store, there would always be a coin operated ride. You know what I am talking about? The rides for kids that they sit on—whether it be a horse, airplane, tiger, car, etc—and it “moves” once a quarter is put in the slot. In the Berenstain Bears, they are called “bucking” rides.

Brother and Sister Bear just had to ride the bucking frog.

One day, the family is leaving the store after a particular bad episode of the “gimmies.” Sister has the nerve to ask if she can ride the “bucking frog” that had recently been installed, replacing the “bucking duck.” Papa initially said “no” but because both cubs ended up literally on the cement throwing a fit, he gave in. The intervention by the grandparents soon followed.

For my whole childhood, whenever I saw a coin operated ride, I immediately thought about the Berenstain Bears. I thought about the bucking duck and the bucking frog. I thought of Sister Bear rolling around on the pavement. I thought about Papa Bear begrudgingly putting coins into the slot.

However, it didn’t deter me from wanting to ride whatever circus animal or fantasy vehicle was in front of me. Worst of all, it didn’t stop me from asking my parents to fund that 90 second, choppy adventure. So much for me applying the morals I learned from the Berenstain Bears, right?

I rode coin operated rides a lot as a kid…and every now and then as an adult as well.

I mention this solely because of an experience we had this past weekend. Our little family plus my father-in-law found ourselves at an old school ice cream parlor in Myrtle Beach. This place had a separate room from the area where the actual ice cream operation was set up. This room had several tables for the flocks of people who visit the parlor to eat their ice cream at. It also had various arcade games, and—you guessed it—a couple coin operated rides.

One of those rides, a handsome looking gray horse, was right by the table we were enjoying our ice cream at. As we sat there, a couple kids stormed over to the horse and started riding it, hollering the whole time. Sloan’s eyes were fixated on the spectacle of two kids on sugar highs swaying to the horse’s movements.

After the machine stopped moving, the kids got off and left. Sloan was still looking at the horse. What else could I do?

Sloan had her first experience on a coin operated ride this past weekend.

With Sidney’s permission, we got up and I placed our daughter on the ride. I put a quarter in and off she went. Feeling that Sloan probably wanted to travel on her horse a little longer, my father-in-law put in another quarter. Although a little hesitant at first, Sloan was smiling and laughing for the majority of both rides.

But all I could think about the whole time was one thing: The Berenstain Bears. Don’t Blink.