My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2023

Another Don’t Blink tradition celebrates its 10th rendition and it just so happens to be the biggest tradition of all. Today I present “The Big Blog Post”—my annual evaluation of the top 10 blog posts from the past 12 months. This end-of-year entry aims to recognize my most memorable and best work from the calendar year in an organized and fun fashion.

But it never is easy.

In 2023 I wrote 185 entries, a figure that bests the quantity of posts I wrote the previous four years (2019: 165 posts, 2020: 172 posts, 2021: 173 posts, 2022: 180 posts). Needless to say, signaling out 5% of the posts and then ranking them is no simple task.

However, as difficult as it may be, I do try my best. And when I say “my best,” I mean that I don’t pick and rank my top blog posts on total views and other vanity metrics. Instead, I make my picks solely based on what I feel is my best and/or most impactful writings. So let’s get to it…

10. Streaks (February 27) – This post cracks my top 10 because I feel it does a great job of explaining me. As a Type A personality who craves routine and wants to make sure everything is organized/planned, I depend on streaks to keep me on-task and challenged. I find motivation in simply doing something one day because I did it the previous day (and the day before that etc.). In this post I coined my obsession as streakism and shed light on some of the current streaks I was engaged with at the time. I also was frank that streakism can be good but also harmful if you let streaks rule your life and define whether you have a good day or not.

My Timehop streak is over 2,340 days.

9. Donut or Doughnut? (September 19) – A big question deserves a spot on the big countdown. Perhaps investigating whether America’s favorite pastry is spelled “donut” or “doughnut” might not be a big deal to you, but it kept me up at night. In this particular blog post I diplomatically laid out the merits for both spellings. If nothing else came of this post it might not have seen the light of day on this countdown but here is where things got really interesting: an actual donut business owner responded! Did I give away which spelling he sided with? Jon Fine, owner of Retro Donuts in Spokane, said that most of these pastries in question should be spelled “donut” because most of them aren’t made with actual “dough.” You can check out the post for the detailed explanation but Jon’s expertise made this blog post one of the best of the year.

Raise your hands if you know how to spell “donut.”

8. Third Year at WSU (March 16) – I will forever be grateful to WSU for the incredible employment opportunity I was given so whenever I write about my job it has special meaning to me. In this blog post I recapped my third year as a Coug and summarized it with one word: progress. I described how I “wasn’t new anymore” and that my third year was also an emergence of sorts as I “crept from behind the anonymity of the screen to the front of conference rooms” thanks to the lifting of COVID restrictions.

I had numerous speaking engagements in my third year at WSU, but none more important than my presentation with colleagues at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed.

7. Vanity Tipping (April 18) – If you are looking for a post where my mild-mannered self became a little unhinged, you found it. In mid-April a shameless solicitation for a tip at a Papa Murphy’s restaurant put me so over the edge that I had to sound off. I blasted the current day gratuity culture that guilts you into tipping for everything, whether it be preparing your own froyo cup or paying for bowling. The passion that I injected into this blog post and my still-firm belief that tipping has catapulted out of control lands it a spot on this countdown.

I was given the opportunity to tip at the bowling alley earlier this month. It is out of control.

6. Happy 12th Ordination Anniversary, Fr. Jeff (May 26) – A very special man had become a regular in many of my blog posts over the past few years that it made sense to finally devote an entire entry to him. When Fr. Jeff Lewis’ ordination anniversary approached in May, I jumped at the chance to do just that. I commemorated the occasion by describing the amazing impact he has had on our family. Not only has “Papa J” brought the four of us closer to Christ but he has become one of our best friends. What a blessing it is to have him in our lives!

On Friday, May 26, 2023, Fr. Jeff Lewis celebrated his 12th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

5. The Ice Cream Fruit Roll Up Hack (April 17) – One of the many TikTok hacks we attempted this year, the ice cream Fruit Roll Up hack actually exceeded my expectation. The Fruit Roll Up molded into a hard shell around the ice cream that produced a satisfying crunch and delicious taste when bit into. But the successful experiment itself is just a portion of why this blog post made the countdown, let alone found itself in a very respectable mid-spot. The reason why this post stood out is because the photography complements the writing. I wanted to make sure the photos I took chronicled the steps to pull off the hack and were also visually appealing. I think I accomplished that as this post was by far the one that used imagery most effectively in 2023.

The use of imagery played a big role in landing this blog post in the countdown.

4. Blessed By The Sacraments (June 11) – Our wedding anniversary will never be the same. This year we did more than just celebrate the date we tied the knot as we marked it by attending a baptism. And we didn’t just “witness” it as spectators—we participated in it as godparents! Ryan and Allyson Andrade made our year by asking us to be the godparents of their baby boy, Noble Josiah Andrade. This blog post underscored the even greater importance that June 11 now holds in our hearts. Whenever this date rolls around in the future, Sid and I will reflect on it as a day truly blessed in the sacraments for us with both the graces of holy matrimony and holy baptism.

Sidney and I became godparents to Noble Andrade. Fr. Jeff Lewis of St. Mary Catholic Church in the Spokane Valley performed the baptism. Noble is the son of Ryan and Allyson Andrade (photo courtesy of Rachael and Josh Photography).

3. Mary Reser: A Mead High School Legend (June 16)* – At the conclusion of the 2022-23 school year, my mom retired after 21 years at Mead High School. She spent those 2+ decades in the Developmental Learning Center (DLC) helping students with disabilities. I wrote this blog post to illustrate the talent, patience, and kindness that she displayed every single day in that classroom. I also described some of the typical situations my mom mastered with absolute grace and I took the reader through her last few minutes on the job when my dad, sister, brother, and I walked her off the campus for the final time. Mead High School is not the same without her.

My mom stands with her co-workers right before she walked off the Mead High School campus as an employee for the last time.

2. Tom Reser: A Devoted and Patriotic Career (January 8)* – My dad hung it up at the very end of 2022 but this blog post in his honor was published at the beginning of January. It was a tribute for the 37 years he devoted to the federal government as he helped thousands and thousands of our country’s veterans. Whether it was making sure they received benefits, housing, medical care, and so much more, my dad was (and still is) a fierce advocate of the men and women who served the United States of America. This post traced my dad’s career, chronicled the rapport he had with his team, detailed his tireless work on behalf of veterans, and examined his impressive legacy. My dad had a great first year of retirement with many more to come which is good—because he deserves it!

Besides helping thousands and thousands of other people, this guy taught me what it means to be a professional

1. Hoopfest 2023: More Than A T-Shirt (June 26) – An unforgettable weekend transpired at the end of June with a Hoopfest experience for the ages. Even though our St. Mary team had success on the court as we made the championship, our run to the title game was but a footnote. In my #1 blog post of 2023, I wrote about how we played for more than just wins. Four of us—JJ Nazzaro, Ryan Andrade, Amy Martin, and myself—were out on the hot downtown Spokane streets to give thanks to God, pay special devotion to our Blessed Mother, and promote the Catholic faith. In addition to the four of us, Fr. Jeff Lewis and our families also played key roles in our successful tourney run by being present for every game. From the basketball action to the bonding to the testimonies of our faith to the special mass after the tournament, this blog post captured the entirety of an incredible couple of days and is by far my favorite blog post of 2023.

There was no doubt that my 2023 Hoopfest blog post would be #1.


This annual countdown is usually a challenge to put together but I must say the “top 3” was pretty straight forward for me this year. Thanks to everyone who takes time to read Don’t Blink. Your support is a main reason why I have invested more than 10 years into this project. I plan to continue to write in 2024 but I can never guarantee the frequency or quality 😂. I hope you will return here tomorrow for my final blog post of the year as I reflect on 2023. Don’t Blink.

* It was a tie between these two blog posts. Because one post had to come first, I flipped a coin to determine the order.

Past Annual Top Blog Post Entries
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2022
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2020
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

Tom Reser: A Devoted and Patriotic Career

At the very end of 2022, the federal government lost an extraordinary asset. After 36 years of service, Tom Reser retired. By the time my dad walked off the Spokane Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center campus for the final time on December 29, he had helped thousands and thousands of veterans. It would be an understatement to say he earned the United States flag that was given to him just prior to his last day.

This is the flag that was presented to my dad upon his retirement.

Early Origins

My dad spent his entire career as a social worker. A bachelor’s degree from Washington State University and a master’s degree from Eastern Washington University, both in social work, prepared him well for the field. In the early 1980s, he worked a couple different jobs, including a position as a mental health counselor at Walla Walla Mental Health. But the federal government would soon come calling.

In 1986, he entered the VA system by accepting a position in the nursing home care unit at Mann-Grandstaff. The new job with the Department of Veterans Affairs meant my dad would re-locate to Spokane. He briefly left my mom and sister in Walla Walla and moved north. A few months later, his family would join him in Spokane. I would arrive a couple months later. 😊

It wouldn’t take long for my dad’s work to be recognized.

Did my dad envision that he would still be in Spokane, let alone still with the VA, nearly 37 years later? I can’t speak for him but it definitely worked out pretty well. Starting with that first nursing home care assignment, my dad would excel as he climbed the ladder and built an incredible career.

My dad gave nearly 37 years to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A Decorated Career

A lot happened between that first day in February 1986 and his last day in December 2022 when his grandchildren helped walk him out of the VA Hospital for the last time. A blog post can’t come close to scraping that surface but I can at least highlight just a few of my dad’s accomplishments…

On my dad’s last day, his grandchildren came to walk him out of the hospital for the last time.

They include launching the Health Care for Homeless Veterans program in 1995. A couple years later he would keep that program rolling by bringing the services and support directly to the veterans themselves by opening a center in downtown Spokane. He was promoted to Chief of Social Work for the VA in 2004. In 2008 he was whisked off to Washington D.C. for two weeks where he would work in the federal central office and oversee the 10,000 VA social workers scattered across the country. He won several awards, including the coveted Hands & Hearts honor in 1993. He would receive consistent acclaim from his bosses, co-workers, and community members throughout his nearly four decades of service.

My dad won the Hands & Heart Award in 1993. It was one of the many honors that would be bestowed on him.

A Veterans Advocate

Throughout his long, diversified career, my dad never lost track of who he was serving. The rapport he built with veterans was uncanny and honorable. I always marveled at the reverence and attention-to-detail my dad had for his patients. For everyone my dad helped, he could easily tell you the branch and location of where they served. But he could also describe, in expert detail, exactly what the veteran did/achieved (duties carried out, battles fought, awards won, etc.) and place it in perfect historical context. This genuineness and respect endeared veterans to my dad—they instantly trusted him.

Again, I can’t stress enough how much my dad cared for his patients. Although he was so good at turning off “work mode” upon returning home when we were growing up, the veterans he helped were never far from his mind. I could tell by how he would cut out newspaper obituaries of his patients, take me to weekend veteran ceremonies, and gaze long and hard at residences where he knew a veteran lived while we were out on family drives.

My dad never lost focus of why he was doing what he was doing.

Team Player

To know my dad is to know a very considerate, humble, and hard-working human being. These traits made him a special person to work with. Need evidence? Just take a look at the trophy he was presented with by several of his admiring former employees at his retirement party. So much of what I learned about relationship-building came directly from my dad. Whether it was how he treated his bosses, co-workers, and direct-reports when I would visit his office or how he rolled out the red carpet at the numerous office parties/dinners he threw at our house, everybody loved having Tom Reser on their team.

My dad stands with the trophy that his employees presented to him at his retirement party.

This sentiment was thoroughly expressed to me at his retirement party. VA employee after VA employee came up to this very proud son to say what an incredible impact my dad had on them over the years. To the very end, my dad was the ultimate team player, the fair and compassionate boss, and the one who stood out because he gave 100% every single day.

On the trophy, my dad’s employees placed this note.


My dad’s career impact undoubtedly touched veterans, VA employees, and the Inland Northwest community. But if I can get personal for one moment, his career legacy does not stop there. It also extends to his three children. My siblings and I had the distinct privilege of living under my dad’s roof for 18 years. During that time, he taught us first-hand what it means to be a professional. No, he didn’t vocally convey it to us because he didn’t need to; we simply just had to observe. By watching my dad, we learned that being a professional meant waking up early every morning, embracing a positive attitude, and showing up at work ready to serve your employer. He taught us that being loyal and ethical always pays off and that there is no greater honor than supporting your family. His example has helped me tremendously in my own career.

Besides helping thousands and thousands of other people, this guy taught me what it means to be a professional

There is one final thing I need to make note of. My dad achieved his career success entirely upon his own devices. No one was about to do him any favors. He grew up in a poor family, lost both of his parents early, and was a first-generation college graduate. Despite obstacles, my dad didn’t take anything for granted, he didn’t complain, and he earned everything he achieved. He epitomized the American dream, and, in my opinion, is a modern-day American hero.

Happy retirement, dad. Don’t Blink.