Writing Another Rundown

Where the heck is April going? Are we really already three weeks in? Are we really less than ten days away from May? Oh my. Let’s not waste anymore time and get right to the Thursday Rundown.

Banner Week for My Blog – Two big reasons contributed to this week earning a spot in the top three busiest weeks ever for Don’t Blink. First, Barry Anderson retired. Who is Barry Anderson? He is better known as the mascot named Benny the Bull. Before that, he was Monte at the University of Montana. I worked with him multiple times and wrote this blog post about him. When his retirement was announced this past weekend, it resulted in thousands of Chicago Bulls fans visiting my site. Good luck in the next stage of your life, Barry (and thanks for the traffic).

The second reason for an influx of traffic was my “The Truth About a Bar Rescue Experience” post from Sunday. It just so happened that a major paraody Facebook page, Server Memes, decided to share it. I have no idea how they found it but I will take it! It was a great week for Don’t Blink.

Our New Show – Sidney and I have found our newest show! You can watch a program on Netflix called “Love.” The series tells the story of two people in their early thirties who have different careers and very different lives. However, they meet by chance and start to fall for each other. The show is hilarious and I really like the male lead. He is a nerdy/awkward type and has me constantly laughing. Check it out.

I recommend watching "Love."

I recommend watching “Love.”

Purchase – Sidney and I made our first big purchase as a soon-to-be married couple. Last Thursday we bought a couch! After work, Sid called me and had me stop by America’s Furniture Warehouse. She was looking at furniture and wanted me to give her opinion on a few couches. We never intended to buy that day but there was one couch I sat down in and didn’t get up from it until I told the salesman we would take it. The couch itself is reason enough to get excited about moving in with Sid!

Say hello to our new couch.

Say hello to our new couch.

More Speaking – This morning I spoke to a commerical recreation class about social media here at Coastal Carolina. Professors are adding social media principles to the curriculum more and more as I have spoken in several different classrooms this semester. I enjoy the opportunities because I get to engage with college students and also talk about what I do. Thankfully it also allows me to improve my public speaking skills. I am not a natural speaker but I feel I am getting better.

Wedding Update #28 – Sidney keeps telling people that the major responsibilities are taken care of. Now it is just handling the smaller things that will come up over these final 50 days. This past weekend, Sid’s mom finalized the reception dinner menu. Relatives of the bride are also now in the process of planning Sidney’s bridal shower. Little or big, each new development is exciting as we inch closer to the date.

We are 50 days away from the big date!

We are 50 days away from the big date!

————————–

Enjoy your last full weekend of April. Sidney is scheduled to be with you on Sunday so please be nice to her as she once again takes over my blog. The pressure is on her to leadoff a week that will be as successful as this one. Don’t Blink.

Pumped Up for the Thursday Rundown

This just isn’t any Thursday. This is the Thursday before the start of the NCAA Tournament and the Thursday that my parents arrive in Myrtle Beach. So how about we make this an especially good Thursday Rundown? Here we go…

The Dress – Many of you might be surprised that it took me this long to weigh in on this but better late than never. I never saw the internet sensation known as “The Dress” as anything but blue and black. Each time I looked I only saw those two colors. Never once did I see any inkling of white and gold regardless of the angle I viewed it, the device I used, or the mood I was in. It was a blue and black dress. It was funny though to chat with people who only saw white and gold. Coming from my perspective I just wanted to yell “What are you looking at?!” This reaction made the latest internet sensation a big hit.

I only see blue and black.

I only see blue and black.

New Office – I am the new occupant of a spacious office! A couple Thursdays ago I wrote about the appointment of our new athletic director, Matt Hogue. Before he was asked to serve as the interim AD, he worked over in our office as the Associate Vice President of Marketing. During his interim period over at athletics we kept his office as it was in case we were blessed to have him come back to us. However, now that he is the guy at Chanticleer Athletics I was able to move into his office. I am now living large with plenty of storage, a great view, and a powerful air conditioner. Life is good.

Up top is my view and below are a couple different angles of my new office.

Up top is my view and below are a couple different angles of my new office.

Blog Post Gone Viral – Every now and then, one of my blog posts will go “viral”, even if I did write it over two years ago. This past Monday a blog post I wrote in September of 2012 randomly received over 8,000 views in one day. The subject matter was of Barry Anderson, the talented guy who portrays the mascot of the Chicago Bulls, Benny the Bull. Barry used to be Monte at the University of Montana. During my tenure at the university, he would come back each year during football season and perform as Benny. As one of my duties entailed serving as the mascot coordinator, I got to work with him closely. In the post I wrote about that experience and his professionalism. The reason for the sudden explosion of views? A glorious highlight video of Benny at his best recently gained a lot of steam and my link was shared in conjunction with it on Reddit and many other places. Seriously, watch it.

At the top you can see the large number of people who viewed my Barry Anderson blog post on Monday. Underneath you can see the terms people typed into search engines that day that sent them to my site.

At the top you can see the large number of people who viewed my Barry Anderson blog post on Monday. Underneath you can see the terms people typed into search engines that day that sent them to my site.

Bracket Busted – So the other night I went out on a limb and offered up my Final Four picks. My projection was pretty unconventional as I had Coastal Carolina, Gonzaga, Montana, and Oregon State making it to Indianapolis. Well, last night Oregon State let me down. The Beavers fell in the first round of the PAC-12 tournament to Colorado. It is a 100% certainty that Oregon State WILL NOT make the Big Dance. Of interesting note is that in ESPN’s Bracketology, Coastal is tagged to play Gonzaga in the second round. Although I don’t have them playing until the national semifinal, it would be cool if one of my matchups actually did come to fruition, even if it was much earlier than I anticipated.

This did not go according to plan.

This did not go according to plan.

Fun Products – Although the selection of weird snacks at Wal-Mart doesn’t compare to what you would find at a dollar store, sometimes you do stumble across a gem. This evening when I was at my favorite spot in the whole world, I snapped this photo of an Easter-themed snack called Cotton Tails. It is just a simple cheese ball munchie but I loved the name and the artwork. No, I didn’t buy the bag but I did take a photo!

I didn't buy the bag but I would definitely eat some if the opportunity presented itself.

I didn’t buy the bag but I would definitely eat some if the opportunity presented itself.

——————-

Time now to get ready to greet my parents at the airport! Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day weekend, everyone. Don’t Blink.

The Analytics Part of Don’t Blink

Quite often people will start talking to me about my blog and ask if I have any idea about the analytics that my site garners. The answer is yes. Thanks to my friend Chris Lynn who installed it within the backend of Don’t Blink, I have a program called Jetpack that gives me a day by day account of the number of browsers that access my site. This information is invaluable to me as I like to have a good idea of how many people visit my blog and what topics the majority of my readers prefer over others.

Besides the volume of traffic statistics that I receive, I also get other really interesting pieces of information delivered to me regarding my blog. I am told what key words people type in to search engines to find Don’t Blink, what outside sites are referring people to my blog, what links people are clicking on once they are reading my posts, and a breakdown of what individual posts are getting accessed. I assess this information about two to three times every week to have a better understanding of my readers.

When it comes to my daily volume of readers there are a couple trends. I usually always get a large audience on Sunday nights, especially if I post something (which I always try to do). Also, the more consecutive days I post, the more traffic I will get on the latter days in that string. For example, if I published a new blog post Monday through Thursday my web traffic would increase each day, with an exceptionally high impression number on Thursday night. Readers reward you for consistency. However, there are random days when my traffic will shoot right through the roof even though I had not posted anything in a couple days. For example, last week when I was too busy with work to even think about writing a sentence for Don’t Blink I checked my analytics and saw that 900 people (browsers) had visited my site on Wednesday. After looking at the full report I saw that roughly 700 of those hits came by referral of a Japanese website. I had written a blog post 10 months back about Barry Anderson, the mascot of the Chicago Bulls. For whatever reason, Japan LOVES mascots. Barry visited Japan a couple years back and to this day he still has rock star status in the country. On this site there was some thread about Barry and someone found my blog post link and shared it on there. The floodgates opened.

I love looking at the key words people use to find Don’t Blink. Of course I get lots of searches dealing with “Brent Reser,” “Brent Reser Don’t Blink,” “Brent Reser Bio,” and “Don’t Blink Blog,” but many of the other searches are much more random. Just for today, here are some of the key words people typed in to find my site: “random ugly guy,” “Rascal Flatts time on stage,” “double pan fried noodles at PF Changs,” “cheer camp arrival,” “red robin mascot head, ”Boston Bruins stadium,” “iron horse queso recipe,” “embarrassing loss for Loyola football program,” and “don’t waste money on autographs.” Yep, I am proud to say that I have covered such a myriad of topics while authoring this blog that internet users from all over can type in seemingly random phrases and be directed to my little space on the web. Definitely a little creepy too.

I enjoy seeing which blog posts are performing well. As I mentioned in my 2 year anniversary blog post, my passage titled “Instagram Spam” is my all-time most read post. Even right now it is still the most read post pretty much each day. My newer posts are usually always right underneath “Instagram Spam” and then it is whatever post got shared on some random website rounding out the top five most read posts for that particular day.

Speaking of random websites, I pay close attention to which sites are contributing to my site’s traffic. Of course Google, Facebook, and Twitter are my big top three referrers but I am more interested in the websites that will pop up for a couple days and give me rushes of traffic. Because I wrote a couple posts related to Montana Athletics this week, I have had a lot of people from the popular blogging site eGriz take a gander at what I got going. Many times when I review a restaurant or a product the company will get wind of it and share it from their website or social media sites, thus sending people to Don’t Blink. Sometimes, just like with the Japanese website example, a link to my site will get shared on a random platform and I hit viewership gold.

Part of the fun of authoring a blog for me is definitely scrutinizing these statistics and identifying trends. It is cool to see that my writing has an impact on many people from all over the world. Seeing this evidence on a daily basis motivates me to continue to write and to do my best to put out quality work. Don’t Blink.

A True Professional: Barry Anderson

When it comes to my job, the one duty that I hold that most people don’t know about is that I serve as the mascot coordinator. I am in charge of our two students who play Monte as well as our mini replica, Mo. Basically I schedule all appearances, oversee the financial piece of the program, serve as the liaison between the mascots themselves and the general public, and help with the development of the mascot entertainment during games (notice how I say “help”… our student performers have amazing minds and they come up with most of the good ideas).

When I got hired in the athletic department a little over three years ago, the mascot program was already nationally renowned for its excellence. In fact, Monte had held a top spot in the mascoting world for several years running. If you were to go anywhere in Missoula and ask a random person how Monte exploded onto the national scene and became the darling of college mascots, most would simply respond with a name: Barry Anderson.

During the early 2000’s, Barry Anderson donned the Monte suit. For the sake of length, I am going to omit his laundry list of accomplishments and accolades while wearing the bear suit at The University of Montana and just say that he took the Monte character/identity/brand to an extraordinary level, a level that many mascots at much bigger schools will never come close to reaching. Besides the adoring fans of Missoula, many others took notice of the special talent that Barry possessed. Around 2005, the Chicago Bulls hired him to become the next Benny the Bull.

For the past seven or so years, Barry has kicked butt in the Windy City serving as the mascot of the Bulls. He has reinvented the character of Benny much to the delight of everyone associated with the organization. Just like Monte, the Bulls mascot is not limited to athletic contests but rather a wide array of other events, functions, and commercials. But while Monte usually completes his numerous appearances around the state of Montana, Barry completes his around the world. Because he works for such a prominent sports organization, because his job is so important, and because his duties and travels seem to never end, Barry has his own assistant that is assigned to him…pretty cool, huh?

With all this going for him, most people would probably assume that after seven years of sharing the court with some of the best athletes in the world and receiving more time on national television than the Vice-President, Barry would probably have little need or desire to return west to the much slower and less-populated life of Montana. What is that saying people use to describe what happens when people assume?…

Each football season, Barry Anderson makes one return trip to Missoula to hang out with his old friends and to perform for one half during a Montana Grizzlies football game. It is always a highlight of the season for our fans as well as a big surprise as no one knows that Benny the Bull is at the game until the moment of the much anticipated mascot entrance (well it is a big surprise for everybody except the roughly 5,429 friends that Barry still has in the city). Once it is revealed that Benny the Bull is in the house the place goes nuts and an extra burst of energy is pumped throughout Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

I opened up this post by mentioning that I am the mascot coordinator. Because of this, I have the privilege of working with Barry when he comes back for his annual homecoming. This man is simply just different than your normal specimen. When you meet Barry, you will immediately notice three things: First, his sense of humor. Barry is as witty, sarcastic, and funny as they come. Even if he is making jokes at your expense you can’t help but laugh and marvel at his cleverness. Secondly, you will quickly become aware of his professionalism. He takes every aspect of his job with the utmost seriousness (I will soon elaborate more). Thirdly, you will realize the amazing talent that he possesses. I will never forget last year when he surprised the crowd by zooming out onto the field on a Harley. I watched in awe as he flung his arms up and down rallying everyone in the stands as he sped around on the field. He owned that crowd. I told myself up in the press box at that exact moment that this guy is much more than a talented mascot…he is a first-class, good-as-they-come performer.

Because I help deal with the planning of the mascot entrance, I get a high dose of the number two thing you will notice about Barry, his professionalism. I love it when Barry comes back but I also know that I better be ready. He runs a tight ship and expects perfection. Do the things he asks and you will be fine, miss out on a detail and be ready to hear it from him. But that is what makes Barry such a pro. He has everything so far planned out in his head with exact precision that even the slightest deviation from the plan can dramatically detract from the masterpiece he is about ready to lay out. People like to laugh at mascots for their unplanned rough luck, awkwardness, and mistakes. Barry eliminates all of these common mascot ailments because he is just so well prepared. On Friday night when we rehearsed the mascot entrance inside the stadium, I sat back and watched as Barry conducted the scene on the field. Directing the two Montes, Mo, the limo driver, and the dance team, we went through the whole skit over and over. Funny and specific in his demeanor, he got what he wanted out of everyone involved. Leadership and professionalism at its finest.

Despite the loss our football team suffered, this past Saturday went great. The entrance went very well and our fans were once again treated to a wonderful performance by Benny the Bull. During a timeout I played “I Gotta Feeling” and I watched Barry jump from the sidelines up onto the top of the railing of the student section and lead a couple hundred of those kids in a fist pumping frenzy. It was the exact same thing as my memory from him on the Harley last year…that inexplicable generation of energy that so few can bring out. As with the prior year, the same thought went through my head….”This guy is the real deal.”

While Barry is demanding, he is also very gracious. As we exchanged e-mails on Monday he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to take part in Saturday’s game. He also thanked me for helping out with the rehearsal/gameday components. It always feels good to be appreciated by someone so established and highly regarded. Thank you Barry for sharing your talents with us once again. You are one of a kind. Go Griz and Go Bulls. Don’t Blink.