Reality TV Three Years Later

Exactly three years ago, I wrote a blog post that detailed the experiences of Bryden Vukasin, a former cast member on “The Bachelorette.” The night before I published that particular entry I sat down with Bryden to pick his brain at a now defunct restaurant/bar in Missoula, Montana. He graciously answered every question I had about his experience with stardom in the world of reality TV. Our conversation opened my eyes to the fact that many of these programs rely both on authentic and  rehearsed components.

I published my blog post about Bryden Vukasin exactly three years ago on January 7, 2014.

I published my blog post about Bryden Vukasin exactly three years ago on January 7, 2014.

This morning I asked myself this question: After three years, has reality television improved when it comes to delivering “reality”? I wanted to write a blog post taking one side or the other, either asserting that the genre has improved in portraying a genuine experience or vehemently arguing that it has gone completely downhill in serving viewers a load of scripted crap. However, after going back and forth I reached the conclusion that reality TV has not shifted either way.

Bryden Vukasin and I during the summer of 2013.

Bryden Vukasin and I during the summer of 2013.

I believe that reality TV can be categorized in two separate camps:
1. The shows that are centered around a competition and don’t need actors or a predetermined script to skew reality.
2. The shows that revolve around a family, business, moral ground, theme, or a makeover that needs an extra shot of energy to make it interesting to viewers.

Shows in my first group include “The Bachelorette,” “Big Brother,” “The Apprentice,” and “Survivor.” These programs pick casts comprised of competitive, motivated, successful people. They then bait these individuals with a significant prize, whether it be money or a potential spouse. The recipe of above average people battling it out for a grand prize makes for television that doesn’t need significant scripting. Rather, it just needs the type of touching up that Bryden explained such as recreating events or editing scenes for optimal suspense (such as the rose ceremonies).

When it comes to shows in the second group, we are looking at programming such as “The Kardashians,” “The Jersey Shore,” “Bar Rescue,” “Vanderpump Rules,” “The Real Housewives,” and many, many more. Producers have to constantly bring in outside talent and introduce unlikely events to make these episodes entertaining. But make no mistake about it, when it comes to generating viewers, this formula works. The thing is, I don’t think many of us who watch these shows have wool over our eyes. It doesn’t take an interview with a “Bar Rescue” cast member to know that the show is fake. As reasonable beings, we can all identify that shows such as “The Kardashians” aren’t based on reality. However, just because the name of the genre might be deceptive does not mean we can’t enjoy it.

Even though we know that many of these shows skew reality, it doesn't mean we stop watching them or liking them. Sidney and I once went on a road trip where we visited three different bars that were featured on "Bar Rescue." This image is of Sidney and I in front of the tank at Klick's 22.

Even though we know that many of these shows skew reality, it doesn’t mean we stop watching them or liking them. Sidney and I once went on a road trip where we visited three different bars that were featured on “Bar Rescue.” This image is of Sidney and I in front of the tank at Klick’s 22.

Reality TV over the past three years has changed much less than it had the three years prior. People who work in TV are smart and know what works. By 2014, the reality show formula was down to a science. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?  Look for the reality TV landscape in 2020 to look very similar to that of 2014 and 2017. Don’t Blink.

An Artificial Beach

The point has already arrived in the year where I drive to work in the dark and come home in the dark. I know depravation of sunlight really impacts people but fortunately for me, it doesn’t mess with my mental health. However, do I prefer the light to the dark? Of course.

Driving to work this morning, I thought about an interesting business venture that developed in Missoula, Montana, over six years ago. For those who are unaware, winters in Montana are long and bitter. Not only are the days gray and the nights dark, but the whole climate itself will wear on you unless you love freezing cold, howling wind, and loads of snow.

Needless to say, if you live in Montana you will really start to crave the sun and some cheerful weather during the winter. Looking to capitalize on this desire that many Montanans had, including myself, an extremely unique business opened up in Missoula around 2010. It was called Staycations.

Built to cater to both Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers and those people who just wanted to get out of the ugliness, Staycations was a pretty innovative place. You would enter inside the doors to a lobby area. Then, when it was your turn, you would stroll inside to one of the several rooms that waited past the front desk. You would then open the door and walk into an island oasis.

Each room was overflowing with white beach sand. Matching the color of the sand was one of those “happy lights” that transmits magnificent bright white light. A large television displayed ocean and tropical scenes. Sounds of the sea radiated throughout the area. A lounge chair was available to sprawl out on. As you can imagine, it was a very welcoming scene to walk into.

Here in Myrtle Beach we definitely take the ocean for granted. People desire so much for what we have in our backyard that they do all they can to replicate it inside rooms in landlocked geographical areas.

But don’t knock the attempt until you have lived in Missoula. I thought it was the greatest idea ever. I paid a visit to Staycations once. I believe I had some type of a promo card (if I remember correctly you paid by the half hour) and was able to spend 30 minutes inside one of the rooms. It was an interesting experience.

However, I never returned and I don’t know if Missoula ever really got on board. Staycations didn’t stay in business long.

Despite the lack of success, I stand by my belief that in theory it was an incredible idea. Perhaps the premise could be revived somewhere else. I thank my morning commute to campus for making me think of something that had not entered my head for over a half of a decade. Don’t Blink.

Going Back to My Roots

I am enjoying my vacation out west immensely but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t feel weird not writing five times a week. With a hectic schedule the past several days, I have not posted at the typical rate that many of my readers expect. Hopefully you can forgive me.

I did want to update you on a couple fun ventures I have embarked on over the last week. First of all, I completed my seventh year as a court monitor this past weekend for Spokane’s Hoopfest. While all the locals complained about the 100+ degree heat as they pretty much melted on the asphalt, I was doing my thing while saying “What’s the big deal?” The Southern humidity conditioned me well and I had no problem staying out in the extreme conditions for ten straight hours on Saturday and eight hours on Sunday.

As for my court, I must say from top to bottom it was the most talented bracket I had ever officiated. With the high talent level came high competitive juices. Two fights broke out under my watch throughout the weekend. At the end of the game that contained the second fight, the instigator, who was a huge bald man with a goatee stood on top of the curb and yelled at me. With his already intimidating presence magnified by the few extra inches given to him by where he stood, it was a nerve-wracking experience. Luckily the Hoopfest rapid response team was right there to keep me safe.

Me meeting with two of the teams in my bracket prior to the game.

Me meeting with two of the teams in my bracket prior to the game.

A couple personal memories from Hoopfest 2015 will be forever documented thanks to media coverage. KXLY, a local news station in Spokane, did a story about Sidney and I traveling so far to volunteer. To view Grace Ditzler’s report, click here. Also, a team in my bracket was composed completely of homeless gentlemen. KXLY was also on hand to tell that story. To view that report, click here. This past weekend was awesome and I owe a big thank you to Sidney, my mom, and my dad for all taking turns keeping score for me.

Just doing my job during Hoopfest 2015.

Just doing my job during Hoopfest 2015.

Yesterday, Sidney and I made the drive to Missoula, Montana. Driving over the two passes, it was Sidney’s first time ever seeing real mountains. Making the trip to Missoula was important to me because after 15 months since setting foot in the city, I wanted to go back to the place that gave me so much.

We arrived in Missoula at around 10:30 a.m. and went right to the University of Montana campus. Sidney and I walked straight to the Adams Center so I could say hi to all my former colleagues in the athletic department. It was nice chatting with these people who I worked so closely with over the span of five years. It was especially humbling that Kent Haslam, Montana’s athletic director, took time out of his day to talk with me for about 15 minutes.

After visiting with Grizzly Athletics, Sidney and I went outside and met Dan, one of my very best friends from my college years. We walked around the campus and then enjoyed lunch at the Press Box. From there we hit up the mall where we met another friend and then we ventured over to a bowling alley. Dan dominated Sidney and I over the course of three games in the outdated, empty building. Mad that he crushed us so bad, I dropped Dan off at his car and he made the trip back to Kalispell (thanks for making the day trip to see us, Dan).

We enjoyed walking around the beautiful University of Montana campus.

We enjoyed walking around the beautiful University of Montana campus.

After checking in at our hotel, we met up for drinks with my great friend Pete at a new place in Missoula called the Thomas Meagher Bar. After some great conversation, Sid and I went to one of my favorite places in the city, the Iron Horse, to meet Shaun Rainey, his wife Britt, and their new son Brandon for dinner. We had a delightful time catching up and sharing a few laughs. From there I took Sidney around downtown Missoula where we made a few stops at some of the city’s famous watering holes. We returned to Spokane early this morning.

Shaun and I in the photo on top, Pete and I in the photo in the bottom left corner, and a view of the scenery on the drive back.

Shaun and I in the photo on top, Pete and I in the photo in the bottom left corner, and a view of the scenery on the drive back.

I am excited for the next couple days. While I enjoyed the hectic-nature of the past week, I am looking forward to just relaxing around the house for the next 48 hours. I plan to use every minute to enjoy myself and re-charge. Come Friday we will be traveling again on what will be a very busy few days.

Hope the month of June was a great one for you. As always, it was awesome for me. In a blog post at the start of the month, I mentioned how June of 2015 was going to be a special one for me…you would say my prediction was spot on, right? Don’t Blink.

Heading Home for Summer Vacation

It is the eve of another long trip out west for me. Don’t take that as a complaint by any means, I am stoked! Whenever you get to go home it is a joyous occasion. Tomorrow after work I will rush to my place, grab my bags, and head off to the airport to begin my trek to Spokane.

This particular trip, just from the travel standpoint, will differ a little bit from my flights during the holidays. First off, I will have a travel partner! Sidney (more than just my travel partner) will be at my side the whole time. Although she visited Spokane for a short period during the Christmas holiday, this occasion she will be with me every step of the way starting when we take off from Myrtle Beach tomorrow to when we return on July 8. Additionally, we will tough it out through an interesting experience as we spend the night in the Seattle airport. Throughout my flying career I have never spent a whole evening at the airport but that is the price you pay when you fly weird times in the middle of the week.

It will be very well worth it. We have a lot planned over the next two weeks. After a one year hiatus, I will once again volunteer at Hoopfest, the planet’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world. Back for my seventh season as a court monitor, I am excited to once again be part of my hometown’s signature event. After Hoopfest weekend, we will venture outside of Spokane and make visits to Missoula, Seattle (outside of the airport), and Walla Walla. I can’t wait to show Sidney these western cities!

Of course the best part of this impending trip is the opportunity to see my family. In addition to my parents, brother, and sister, I will be reunited with my niece who is now 9 months old. She has grown so much since I last saw her at Christmas. Snapchat videos can only do so much justice. I will also meet a new member of the family for the first time. My parents welcomed a kitten into their home about three months ago and I can’t wait to meet and play with her.

There is one thing awaiting us out in Washington state that I didn’t anticipate a couple weeks ago, however. The area is expecting record heat throughout the next several days. Hoopfest weekend has forecasted temperatures for 100 degrees and 104 degrees. Sure the humidity won’t be as intense as I am used to down South but let’s not kid ourselves….100 degrees is 100 degrees. When we arrive on Spokane soil we will be fully expecting a scorcher.

But it doesn’t matter, 0 degrees or 100 degrees, I am so excited for a vacation with my loved ones. For those of you who live in the places I mentioned, I hope that we can connect. Over the next couple weeks my posts to Don’t Blink might decrease a little bit. Never fear, I will be back at it after that first week in July. West coast here I come. Don’t Blink.

A Thursday Rundown Where I Close a Chapter

I must admit that this Thursday Rundown feels a little different. It will be the first time in eight weeks that I don’t include a Sean Carty update. Thank goodness though! The district spoke, Coach Carty was reinstated, and parents were silenced. As Mead High School moves on, so will I. Here we go with the rundown!

End of a (Journal) Chapter – Last night I filled out the last page in my latest journal. Many of you are aware that I am an obsessive journaler with an in-depth recorded entry of every day I have lived since the seventh grade. As a typical journal usually takes me about a year and a half to two years to completely fill out, closing one up is always bittersweet. I take the task of choosing my succeeding journal very seriously. This time around, I have an attractive option. Sidney gave me a custom made leather bound journal with my life motto on it. If I choose to go with it for my daily purposes I will have a very well-branded spot for my personal reflections.

The new journal that Sid gave to me. Don't Blink.

The new journal that Sid gave to me. Don’t Blink.

Happy National Burger Day – Even though I dislike gimmick dates, National Burger Day is just too hard to pass up. I want to recognize the best burger places in the cities I have lived. For Myrtle Beach it is not even a contest, River City Café is amazing! Besides the peanut butter burger they serve, I have tried other selections as well and the quality and taste is unmatched. For Missoula I would go with the Burger Shack, a hole-in-the-wall place that unfortunately didn’t last long. Because it is out of business, I will give my current nod to the very popular “Mo Burger” at the Missoula Club. When it comes to Spokane, I got to go with a casual dining restaurant called Prospector’s in North Spokane. Of course, nothing beats a burger off my dad’s grill!

Me enjoying a burger at Burger Shack in 2012.

Me enjoying a burger at Burger Shack in 2012.

Go Home, Electronic Cigarettes – What is a Thursday Rundown without a rant? I just want to put on record how much I despise electronic cigarettes. Why aren’t these things banned just like all other smoking products? While I know users blow out “vapor” instead of “smoke” please give me a break. I don’t care if it is vapor or smoke, I don’t want it blown by me while I am in a restaurant, at the pool, or waiting in line somewhere. Folks casually pull them out in public as if it was their iPhone. I could definitely do without.

NBA Finals – It took me all but two seconds to have an opinion on how I want the 2015 NBA Finals to go down. Simply, I hope Golden State demolishes Cleveland. I am crossing my fingers for a 4-0 sweep. I don’t even want to bring up Lebron, I just want the Warriors to do some damage. The sooner Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry are hoisting the trophy, the better.

End of May – When I reflected on April I explained that allergies bothered me for most of the month. I mentioned how nice it would be that right when May hit, my system would automatically clear up. You know what?? It did! I felt like a million bucks the whole month and besides just feeling great the month went great as well. But to be honest, I can’t wait for June. Traditionally, June is right up there with March for me when it comes to the 30 day blocks on the calendar that always seem to produce plenty of fun and big moments for me. I have a good feeling that June 2015 is going to be special.

Enjoying some boating time on the Intracoastal Waterway with Sid during Memorial Day weekend was a highlight of May for me.

Enjoying some boating time on the Intracoastal Waterway with Sid during Memorial Day weekend was a highlight of May for me.


Enjoy a big juicy hamburger tonight, okay? Thanks again for your readership and enjoy the weekend. Don’t Blink.

To Everyone at Grizzly Athletics: THANK YOU

Earlier today I walked out of the Adams Center for the final time, ending an almost five year ride with Grizzly Athletics. I like to think I left a small part of me behind. With the long hours I worked and the contributions I made I hope I left the department better than when I arrived. But this blog post is not about me (By the way, for all I know my employers could have thrown a celebration party after my car drove out of the parking lot). Rather, this post is to say thank you to the people who supported me, helped me, and listened to me. It is to show gratitude to those individuals who believed in me and let me grow. It is to recognize my co-workers and bosses who helped make me look good and who always took my best interests to heart.

First and foremost I want to thank Christie Anderson. She hired me, she believed in me, she mentored me. Without Christie I would not be where I am at today. I learned everything I know about marketing in intercollegiate athletics from her. For over a year before we got more suitable offices I sat behind Christie and observed everything she did. What an awesome learning experience! I have so many memories with Christie whether it be going on trips, working games, or doing things totally unrelated to work such as going to concerts or bowling.

Next up I want to thank Jim O’Day. My first role model in the college athletics world he treated me with so much respect and kindness. He knew about the power of social media long before many other college administrators even knew what the phrase meant and he gave me the green light to take Grizzly Athletics full throttle down the new media avenue. Two years ago on that terrible day when he had the rug pulled out from underneath him I will never forget the address he gave us at the hastily called all-staff meeting. He epitomized class and humility in a very dark moment and that will always stay with me.

I owe so much gratitude to Brynn Molloy. She came into the Marketing Director position and just kicked butt. Definitely one of the most positive people I know I had a wonderful ten months working for her. We had such a solid working relationship based on collaboration and respect. She was there for me and I was there for her. She allowed me to continue to do my thing and always took the time to tell me good job. We came in each morning on fire for Grizzly Athletics and it made for a great work environment. It is no secret why everyone loves Brynn.

I don’t think I had a bigger supporter when it came to getting me to where I wanted to be than Greg Sundberg. Besides being the best leader I know, no one took the time to help me reach my goals more than Greg. He cares so much about his employees and brings the same positivity to the office each day in the same way Brynn does. I said Jim was my first role model in college athletics; after Greg started overseeing all external communications a couple years ago he became my second. “Sunny” played a big role in getting me to where I am now.

Then there is Kent Haslam…the third person I identify as a role model of mine in intercollegiate athletics. I was so happy and relieved when he got hired as our athletic director. You would be hard pressed to find someone with greater integrity than Kent. Over the past couple years he has been a great supporter of mine. Always sending recognition my way and 100% supportive of my decision to go to Coastal Carolina I feel very fortunate that our AD cared so much about me. Grizzly Athletics is in great hands.

Thank you to our sports information staff! I had the opportunity to work very closely with our legendary SID, Dave Guffey. I earned Dave’s respect and he treated me like a son. I will miss him a lot. I also feel like I got a lot from Joel Carlson (Assistant SID). No one writes better than Joel and I had the pleasure of reading award winning material from his desk on a daily basis. I know by paying attention to his techniques and style that it made me a better writer myself. Rounding out the staff is Renee Valley who never ceased to lend a helping hand when it came to making a few more credentials or helping me find something in the archive room.

I owe big thank yous to the people who generated much of the great content that I was able to use on our new media outlets to give our fan base a great experience. Nate Michael (Griz Vision producer) is an extremely talented individual and one of the best guys I know. Todd Goodrich (University of Montana photographer) works magic with the lens and pours a lot of his time into covering athletics. Jerek Wolcott (videographer, now at Idaho State) really started the video tradition at Grizzly Athletics and was a great friend of mine.

Thank you to our genius I.T. man, Aaron Heiner. This guy gave me a new perspective on what it is like to work under pressure. He also bailed me out of numerous situations involving technology on game days. Speaking of smart people, I couldn’t have succeeded at my job without the help of Chuck Maes. That man has a computer for a brain with incredible knowledge on how every device and piece of equipment under the name of Grizzly Athletics works. . Just like with Aaron, Chuck has helped me out many times when I needed quick assistance.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my office mate, Paul Hengel. Paul became a great friend of mine and provided me an example each day of what hard work is all about. No one works harder in the department or has more demanded of him than Mr. Paul. We got along great and our office arrangement couldn’t have worked out any better.

Much appreciation to Heather Alexander (business manager) who showed great patience towards me when I asked stupid questions or accidentally went away from protocol when completing a business transaction. I also am very thankful for how much she has made my transition between jobs easier. Heather, you better make good on your plans to visit Myrtle Beach during the summer of 2015!

Then there are just the people who have supported me so much during my time with Grizzly Athletics. I am talking about people like Janie Haight, Sue DeMers, Cyndi Steigers, and Celine Fisher. They have acted as moms to me and supported me since I have stepped foot in the Adams Center. I was overjoyed when my “Montana Moms” got to meet my real mom at my going-away party late last week.

I don’t want to forget about the coaches. I learned a lot about the crazy lives they live full of pressure, stress, and travel. Take it from me right here: Our “Big Three” head coaches (Robin Selvig, Wayne Tinkle, and Mick Delaney) are absolutely class acts. They are passionate for the Griz and are incredibly kind. Each one of those men took time to congratulate me when I announced that I was moving on. Special shout out to Griz softball coach Jamie Pinkerton who became a good friend of mine. I am sad that I will miss the first pitch in 2015. Also thank you to soccer head coach Mark Plakorus who always took time to talk to me and even attended my going-away party.

Finally, thank you to all the students I had the privilege of working with over the years. From our student-athletes to our Spirit Squad to our team of interns to our mascots I felt so fortunate working a job where I got to interact with young and motivated individuals on a daily basis. In the end my ultimate mission was to serve them and I felt so lucky that I was able to do just that.

The chapter is closed. I now move onto the next stage of my life at Coastal Carolina. However, I will always be indebted to the wonderful people at Grizzly Athletics who gave me my start. Please know I hold all of you in very high regard. THANK YOU. Don’t Blink.

The Gym That Became A Home

First the bad news: This is another blog post consisting of me saying goodbye to something in Missoula. Now the good news: You only have two more days of this left.

When it comes down to the one place where I have spent the majority of my days in Montana it is surprisingly not at work. It is not a residence I have lived in. It isn’t even Buffalo Wild Wings. From the time I arrived in Montana in 2006 to my departure tomorrow I have spent some part of probably 90% of my days at the University of Montana Fitness and Recreation Center.

Out of my years in Missoula, I entered the doors of this facility more than any other place in the state.

Out of my years in Missoula, I entered the doors of this facility more than any other place in the state.

When I complete my final workout at the rec tomorrow it will put an end to an exercise era for me where I went through the turnstiles of the facility no less than 2,000 times (yes, I did the math). The UM Rec Center provided me with the one constant I had during my entire eight year odyssey in Missoula. It will be strange walking out of it for the last time.

Right when I got to campus as a college freshman I started to hit up the gym. Throughout my time as a student I would rise at 5:30 a.m. every morning so I could arrive at the rec for the 6 a.m. opening. I would get my workout in and then move on with my day. When I got hired by Grizzly Athletics I had the ultimate perk of working only 200 feet from my loyal gym. My exercise sessions transitioned from early morning to the lunch hour but as my iron pumping times switched something else stayed the same: Relationship building.

Me standing outside of the University of Montana Fitness and Recreation Center this afternoon.

Me standing outside of the University of Montana Fitness and Recreation Center this afternoon.

I have met many people by way of working out at the rec center. When you bust your butt to get better at a consistent time each day you notice the other people who are also consistently busting their butts to get better too. A bond forms. Many times the bond develops into a verbal, first-name relationship. Other times it doesn’t get to the talking stage but more than enough is expressed by the nod of respect that is exchanged each time paths cross. I have developed both of these types of bonds over the years.

Besides the people, I will miss other things about the rec center. I will miss the beautiful facility itself, a multiple story building complete with an outstanding weight room floor, top notch cardio equipment, climbing wall, racquet ball courts, running track, and great smoothie bar. I will miss the convenience that I have enjoyed so much over the past 4+ years working for Grizzly Athletics. I will miss the interactions, conflicts, and people watching I observed. I will miss the respite I got each day when I would stop what I was doing at around noon and sweat it all out at the gym.

But with that in mind I still go back to the people. You can’t replace them. When I interviewed at Coastal Carolina my student tour guide took me to their rec center and it is a beauty! I will have no problem getting my workouts in and getting a good escape from the rigors of the daily grind. However, the people who go to the rec center at the University of Montana will still be in Missoula. But you know what? People bust their butts at gyms all across the country. Soon enough I hope to have relationships with the folks I will see on a consistent basis at the CCU facility. But I won’t forget about the regulars who I shared the gym floor with at the University of Montana Rec Center for eight years. With that said, I can’t wait to dominate my workout tomorrow. Don’t Blink.

My Final Sunday in Missoula

The “lasts” keep coming as I prepare to move out of Missoula and the final Sunday that I will ever spend in the Garden City provided me with a lot of them. I enjoyed a packed day driving around town and taking in experiences that are unique to this western Montana town. Let me share with you my Sunday adventure.

I woke up early and attended the 8 a.m. Palm Sunday mass at St. Francis Xavier. I have thoroughly enjoyed attending services in this absolutely beautiful and historic church. I have benefited from the excellent preaching and ministering by the priests and deacons that have presided over the St. Francis altar. I have taken great refuge in the peace and tranquility I have gained while attending mass during stressful and crazy times. This morning I tried to pay a little more attention to the stained glass masterpieces that enclose the church and cemented a mental picture in my mind. I walked out of St. Francis Xavier today hoping that I will find a great Catholic church in Myrtle Beach as well.

Driving out of the parking lot this morning I took one final picture of St. Francis Xavier. What a great church!

Driving out of the parking lot this morning I took one final picture of St. Francis Xavier. What a great church!

After mass I headed over to the Adams Center to watch University of Montana Cheer Squad tryouts. Even though I worked my last football event last night I still wanted to see who would be performing on the sidelines during the games this fall. Most importantly though I wanted to show up and support the returners on the squad who have enriched my life so much. I got to see the tumbling portion of the tryout, talk to a couple of the girls, and meet the mom of one of my favorites on the squad.

I made it a priority to catch some of the UM Cheer Squad tryouts today.

I made it a priority to catch some of the UM Cheer Squad tryouts today.

I stayed too long at the tryouts and had to dash from the University of Montana to the other side of town where I paid my last visit to the hospice family that I volunteer for. Over the past few months I have become very close to this strong couple. Last week when I served my volunteer hours with them I didn’t know if I would be making today’s final visit because of the woman’s deteriorating health. However she was still her kind and thoughtful self this afternoon. Leaving their house today was hard. The husband had a tough time keeping his composure when telling me thank you and I had to do all I could to keep mine when I went inside the room of the wife. Confined to a bed now she used all her strength to reach her arms out and give me the biggest hug while saying “Thank you and God Bless you, honey.”

Needing a little time to just take it easy for a little bit I went back to my apartment and packed a few things while watching the final round of the Masters. I am satisfied with Bubba Watson’s victory and find his achievement of winning two out of the last three green jackets pretty darn good. Once again I was very impressed with the broadcast.

Before I could even see Bubba put his green jacket on though I zipped back over to the University of Montana for a little bit of Sunday exercise. For the final time I hiked “The M.” On an absolutely gorgeous and sunny early evening I trekked up that mountain and sat up at the top for longer than usual, admiring the breathtaking view of the Missoula valley. As I started to go back down I saw everyone beneath me looking over to their right. I of course looked in that direction as well and spotted four elk grazing about 300 feet off the trail. Perhaps they showed up to say goodbye to me?

Myself at the top of The M and also a grainy photo of the elk I saw.

Myself at the top of The M and also a grainy photo of the elk I saw.

I drove down Stadium Way and into the Adams Center parking lot where I went to my office and continued that process of packing up. As I put things away I realized that even though I am 100% ready to leave the state of Montana I am still going to miss Missoula. Don’t Blink.

Sunday Evening Smorgasbord

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I feel like treating my readers to a Sunday evening smorgasbord of topics so let’s get right to it and watch out as I throw five different things at you.

Iowa Recap: Last weekend I visited a friend in Iowa City, Iowa. It marked the first occasion that I actually got to spend time in the Midwest. I enjoyed seeing a different part of the country. I saw my fair share of cornfields and might have felt a little exposed with no mountains around me. I had the opportunity to meet some super nice people and relax a little bit from my hectic life. I enjoyed seeing the Iowa football stadium and driving around a few of the different communities that make up Iowa City.

The Wolf of Wall Street: On Thursday night I finally got around to watching “The Wolf of Wall Street.” I thought the movie for the most part was pretty good, although I wouldn’t want to watch it again. It was just a little too long for me. Also, I must claim ignorance when it comes to the stock market. You could fit my knowledge of stocks into a thimble so a lot of the “shop talk” addressed in the movie went over my head. However, I did enjoy the premium acting. Leonardo DiCaprio killed it and I especially liked the scene with him and Matthew McConaughey in the restaurant for lunch and also the scene on the boat with DiCaprio and Kyle Chandler (he played the FBI agent). Jonah Hill provided some good laughs.

Hosting Glen: This weekend I got to enjoy time with my brother. Glen flew out of Missoula for a job interview so after he returned on Saturday morning he got to spend the day with me. From the wonderful confines of my apartment we had a nice time watching Felix Hernandez and the Mariners dominate the Oakland Athletics and then witness the Connecticut victory over Florida in the Final Four. For the second Final Four game we watched the action at Buffalo Wild Wings. From there we concluded the night bowling with a couple of my friends. This morning we enjoyed a nice breakfast and then watched a couple episodes of “Bar Rescue” before Glen hit the road for Spokane. As it marked the last time I will ever host my brother in Missoula again I am glad we once again had a great time.

Speaking of That Breakfast: Glen and I ate at Stone of Accord for breakfast this morning. Over the past couple of years the brunch offered at Stone of Accord became my favorite. Although I love the traditional breakfast fare of pancakes, waffles, and French toast the Irish themed options at “The Stone” always just hit the spot for me. I became a huge fan of the cow pies offered…meat, eggs, veggies, and mashed potatoes combined together for a filling and unique meal to start the day. Don’t forget the soda bread that comes with each entre either. I am beyond stoked for the southern eating I will soon become introduced to but I will miss Stone of Accord.

NCAA Basketball National Championship: Although I wanted to see a Florida-Kentucky national championship game at least I get to see one of those teams in the chipper tomorrow night. I hope the Wildcats defeat Connecticut. For some weird reason I kind of like Coach Calipari and I love the story line of a freshmen starting five getting the better of much more experienced players. Go Kentucky!


Have a great week! It is going to be a very busy one for me but it won’t slow me down from publishing to Don’t Blink. I will talk to you guys tomorrow. Don’t Blink.

My Personal Brand: Nerdiness to a New Level

This morning I read a blog post advocating that young professionals take care to present a consistent personal brand throughout all of their social media accounts. Despite my numerous faults in life I can say that this is something that I do a decent job at. I take pride in making sure that I utilize all of my personal social media channels to give my audience different content through each one while still promoting my brand and blog.

But I don’t stop pushing my consistent personal brand at a social media level. Rather I like to take it to a different, much nerdier level. I won’t sit here and lie by saying that I don’t try to acquaint people with my brand through promotional items. Before today I had premium stationary and a clothing line (okay, one t-shirt) dedicated to my blog and social media channels. Those items helped me reach an audience that doesn’t check Twitter 24/7 or own an iPhone but it wasn’t nearly enough. With my cargo that came in today via UPS I stepped everything up a notch.

Self-promotion at a totally shameful level.

Self-promotion at a totally shameful level.

Just a quick backstory before I get right to my newest item: A quirk about me that others like to make fun of is that I always carry pens with me in my pocket. Since about the age of 13 if you ever needed a writing utensil and you happened to be around me you didn’t need to scramble. You just asked me. To this day I am constantly whipping out pens for friends, co-workers, and random people to use. But I pack them more for me than for the convenience of others. I am a compulsive writer. Even though I mentioned last night that I use my iPhone notepad a lot I also jot down ideas and notes the old traditional way as well. Also, as I am a huge journaler I use ballpoint pens to write long passages every single day. Do you get it?…I use pens a lot.

When in discussion with our promotional provider rep at Grizzly Athletics, Pete, I noticed he had an interesting proposition on his e-mail signature. Advertising the special of the month it presented a very intriguing deal. For just $94.95 a customer could receive 250 custom made pens. Of course a light bulb immediately went off in my head that screamed Personal Brand + Practical Use Item + Great Deal = No Brainer. I immediately told Pete that I wanted to work with him as an individual customer for once as opposed to purchasing on behalf of my work. Within a short window of probably just 12 hours I had provided Pete with my color scheme and art work and he submitted the order.

Look how nice these turned out!

Look how nice these turned out!

Fast forward to today and I was grinning from ear to ear when I picked up a cardboard box full of my newest personal marketing item. With 262 total pens (yep, the manufacturer threw in a few extra) I knew I had to start spreading the wealth. Upon getting back to the office I distributed the blue trimmed writing utensils to my co-workers throughout the athletic department. That managed to clean me out of about 5% of my stash. With still a plethora of high quality, personal branded pens left that would take me 15 lifetimes to draw all the ink out of I know I need to find another way to get these in the hands of more people.

Read below and I will tell you how you can get one of these pens I am holding.

Read below and I will tell you how you can get one of these pens I am holding.

With that said, I would love to give my loyal readers a Don’t Blink pen. To make the request process legitimate and to protect against randos spamming this blog in island countries you must text me if you want a pen. If you don’t know my number and are not a spammer, reach out to me over social media and I will hook you up by mailing a pen off to you.

These pens work great!

These pens work great!

Thank you to Exact Image and Pete Aklestad for doing an awesome job on my order and providing me with a great product. You won’t believe how beautiful these things write. Don’t Blink.