My Friday Five: Life Happenings, Update Central & Panthers Pounding

Photo: Chris White This week's list has a mix of things going on in my own life, my final take on the 2015 State Fair and some spor...

Photo: Chris White
This week's list has a mix of things going on in my own life, my final take on the 2015 State Fair and some sports. Check it out!

1) Principal of the Year!

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day and happened upon a story by local station, WRAL, congratulating Durham's Principal of the Year. The principal was none other than Matt Hunt from my high school alma mater: Northern! Hunt - who I still call "Coach Hunt" even though he's no longer a coach at the school - became principal a few years after I graduated. 2013 in fact, according to a story on Durham Public Schools' website. I had Hunt as a teacher for one of my Algebra classes early on and AP Statistics senior year. There were several teachers great teachers at Northern but none compared to Hunt.

One thing I really liked about Hunt is he set out to develop partnerships with students to help us all achieve so much more than getting a passing grade on the final exam. Hunt was - and still is I'm sure - always there for students, whether they needed help on a homework assignment, get some advice, or just have someone to talk to. Even altering his personal schedule to do this if needed. Hunt was one of the very few teachers or professors I've had in my career as a student who I felt I could go to if I needed anything. Hunt is also incredibly passionate about what he does. I could see that everyday I was in his class. This video from when Hunt won Teacher of the Year in 2009 truly says it all. It was really exciting to see that and, knowing how great of a teacher Hunt was when I was a student at Northern, I have no doubt that he's doing a fantastic job as principal. This honor is well-deserved!

2) Final Fair Take

I went to the fair on Monday - ho hum. Honestly, I wasn't all that impressed as in years past. There was a huge void left after fair officials decided to completely change up the Dorton Arena concerts - blah - and I'm not a fan of the rides, so I was limited in things to do. I did eat some food and saw the King BMX Stunt Show. The stunt show (pictured right) was incredible as always! Everyone at King BMX are not only crazy good at what they do, they're some of the coolest people around, meeting fans, signing autographs and taking pictures after each show. By the way, I got a signed poster that's now proudly hanging in my room!

As far as the food, I didn't really eat as much as I thought I would. I had my traditional Italian sausage and fries from McBride Concessions to start things off. Then, I tried a Deep Fried Pop-Tart (pictured left) which is a strawberry Pop-Tart, deep fried, topped with powdered sugar and strawberry jam. Holy cow! It was delicious! It had a great flavor, but wasn't ridiculously sweet like I thought it would be. If it wasn't for the $10 admission fee at the gate, I'd go back just for another one.

I also realized another part of my childhood is gone. What do I mean by that? I've loved cherry-flavored Squeeze Pop candy since I was a kid. The candy is just a sticky, sugary, cherry-flavored liquid that comes in a tube kind of like toothpaste. That's the best way I can describe it. I used to be able to buy the stuff in virtually any store when I was a kid in the 90s. In fact, I remember going into my local Eckerd store to get them - yea it's been that long. As time passed, Squeeze Pops became harder to find, especially the cherry flavored ones. Several years ago, I walked into the Candy Castle booth at the state fair in hopes of finding them. Guess what? I did! From then on, it's been a tradition for me to go to the booth and buy about four or five cherry Squeeze Pops.

This year, after walking what seemed to be 20 miles to the Candy Castle booth, I went in and snaked my way through the mass of candy to the place where Squeeze Pops were normally located. They were not there! I asked a couple of the workers - one of them being the "boss lady" - and they said they were not sure why they didn't have them. I contacted Wrigley, the parent company of Squeeze Pops maker Hubba Bubba, and the guy told me that they were "forced" to discontinue them because people just didn't buy them anymore. Well, how can we buy Squeeze Pops when they're so hard to find in the first place? It's been at least 7 years since I've found Squeeze Pops in a regular store. The Candy Castle booth was the only place I could find them. Needless to say I'm upset that yet another part of my childhood is gone and I'm, subsequently, done with Wrigley products now. Oh well.

3) Updates, On Updates, On Updates

Speaking of the fair, I didn't hear anything on my photo and how it did in the competition until I went to the fair Monday. It took so long for fair officials to actually post the winners online that I actually found out quicker by going to the fair Monday. The result? Well, I didn't win again. Bummer. I will say, however that the photo that placed first was really nice. Some years, the winner is a real head-scratcher, so I was satisfied with that. You still can see my photo on display at the Scott Building until Sunday. A photo of my photo on display - with an unplanned cameo from my grandma - is to the right.

My second update is about Twitter. In recent weeks, Twitter has banned me - or anyone else for that matter - from tweeting out anything with a link to this blog. Apparently Twitter's systems didn't like it and deemed it "unsafe." After several attempts to contact Twitter Support to seemingly no avail, I thought I'd try tweeting my link one more time. I couldn't believe what I saw. The tweet went through! It's just like everything is back to normal. I don't know if I did anything or Twitter just updated its systems and they no longer are recognizing my blog URL as "unsafe" but I'm glad I can finally tweet it again. Despite this, I'm still getting closer to buying a custom domain for Reflections so stay tuned.

My third and final update is on Tyler Barham. As you know by now if you follow this blog or my social media, I've not only been a fan, but Tyler and I have developed a friendship over the past few years. Barham finished atop the leaderboard after both fan voting and judging for Challenge No. 4 in the Nash Next contest, making it to the top 40 and the Pic Collage Challenge - you can find out more about the challenge here and view Barham's Pic Collage submission here. The Nash Next contest is hitting the home stretch as the top 10 finalists will be announced and the final challenge will commence after this. But, here's the thing, fan voting started today and runs just through Saturday, so every vote counts. We've got to keep Barham at or near the top of the leaderboard. Whether you're a hardcore #Barhammer or new to the family, go to the Nash Next Challenges page, find Tyler and click the vote button - blue circle with white up arrow. You must have an account with Nash Next to vote but it's easy: all that's needed is a valid email address and a name. You can vote once per 24-hour period and, once again, voting closes Saturday so get to it. Even if you don't know who I'm talking about, check out Barham's profile, listen to some of his music, and vote. Help me to help him!

4) Carolina Panthers Keep Pounding

The term "Keep Pounding" has become the rallying cry of Carolina Panthers fans everywhere. Well, the team is doing just that, moving to 5-0 on the season after an impressive, come-from-behind victory at Seattle on Sunday. The Panthers' defense was stellar yet again and Cam Newton led the team on a game-winning drive to beat the favored Seahawks 27-23 - silencing many critics from the national media and beyond who didn't believe the team could stay undefeated past Seattle. Well, it happened and now the Panthers have yet another tough test against Philadelphia in Charlotte Sunday night. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

5) Missing Out

My church, Grey Stone, seems to pride itself on honoring married couples. One of the things the church has done in past years is put on a marriage banquet. I usually don't pay any attention when this stuff comes around - you know since I'm not married or anything - but I happened to see that the music at this year's banquet was going to be provided by a special guest. Roddy Chong is a violinist who I originally had not heard of. That is, until I read his credentials. Chong is lead violinist for the world-renowned Trans Siberian Orchestra and has toured with the likes of Shania Twain and Celine Dion. Yea, you read that right. Now, me being a clarinetist and a lover of just about anything orchestral, I was excited when I saw he was coming to my church. But, of course, that swiftly turned to disappointment when I realized that he's performing at the marriage banquet - that I can't go to because I'm not married. So I'll have to miss out. What a crying shame.

Thanks for Reading

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