My Friday Five: From Pho To Twitter

Photo: Chris White

This week’s “My Friday Five” is filled with positive stories, a battle over artwork and an issue I’ve been having that has caused me to seriously consider a major move for my blog.

So without further ado…
1) Pho Nomenal Dumpling Wins “The Great Food Truck Race”
Raleigh-based Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck was crowned the winner of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” on Sunday, beating out runner-up Waffle Love and five other trucks for $50,000 and the title of “Best Food Truck in America.” The Pho Nomenal team is comprised of co-owners, Sunny Lin and Sophia Woo, as well as Becca Plumlee – who the duo called a “pho nomenal third wheel” in a feature by Alix Vo of Technician. It’s also worth noting that Lin is a N.C. State Grad and Woo is a UNC grad. The truck’s name is a play on words that includes the name of a signature Vietnamese dish, pho, which is usually made with beef broth, rice vermicelli noodles and garnishes.

The Pho team entered the race as the underdog right away, no thanks to a broken down truck. Despite that, the team got a new truck and continued – ahem – trucking on. Pho narrowly escaped elimination several times throughout the competition but I think the team really turned a corner in the penultimate round when the remaining trucks had to create a roadside attraction. Pho’s attraction was clearly better than its competitors and I think it catapulted the team into the final round. The Pho team really showed some great culinary and business skills throughout the competition – and did so with a positive and enthusiastic attitude. I can’t wait to try this food truck when I’m in Raleigh – particularly the Cheerwine Bulgogi Sloppy Joe – yum!
2) The Year of Spieth
Jordan Spieth ruled the first part of the summer, winning The Masters and U.S. Open and being in contention in the other major tournaments. Then came the FedExCup Playoffs. Spieth missed two consecutive cuts for the first time in his career and Jason Day rose to the top. After a solid finish at the BMW, it all came down to the final tournament of the season: The TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola where the top-five – Spieth included – controlled their own destinies to become FedExCup champ. The TOUR Championship turned into a battle between Spieth and Henrik Stenson, with Spieth winning the tournament and the FedExCup. With that, Spieth received a huge payday: $10 million. That’s in addition to all his earnings from the TOUR Championship and other previous tournaments this season. Somebody get me golf lessons for Christmas! In all seriousness, though, I’m excited that Spieth won. I was a fan before Spieth really took off and it has been incredible to see his game progress since seeing him play in person at the 2014 U.S. Open in Pinehurst.
Now, as the PGA Tour season comes to a close, I’m thankful that I was a part of it – albeit in small capacity. Of course, I’m talking about working at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro in August. It wasn’t just another experience I could add to my resume but it allowed me to get a different perspective on how a major sporting event operated. Plus, I had fun being right there on the course, just feet away from some of the pros. It’s something I won’t soon forget!
3) Tyler Barham Nash Next Update
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog or social media lately, I’m sure you’ve seen a plethora of posts about Tyler Barham and the Nash Next contest. The third challenge tasked contestants to hold an exclusive Periscope concert to cover either a Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande song, since Scooter Braun lended his time to be a guest judge for the challenge. Barham chose Bieber’s “Baby” and actually “broke” Periscope during his concert when the livestream broadcast became inundated with viewers.
The fan voting and judge review periods just finished and Tyler Barham fans – or “Barhammers” as Barham affectionately called them on social media – rallied to keep him near the top of the leaderboard. However, after the judges’ review, Barham finished…wait for it…No. 1! As a fan and friend, I was so freaking excited to wake up on Monday morning and see that No. 1 ranking. The Nash Next contest is coming down the stretch as there are now just a few challenges left. In the next challenge, contestants must create a visual story on Instagram using original images and song. It should be a good one! Find out how you can help Tyler Barham here.
4) Stealing Artwork?
Freelance artist, Sam Larson, took to Instagram on Tuesday accusing clothing retailer, Forever 21, of stealing his design. Larson’s incredible works of art have earned him a big following on Instagram but his success has come with its downfalls. Larson said in an interview with BuzzFeed News that he’s seen people steal his artwork and put it on products to sell for profit many times but he was “outraged” to discover a mm eerily similar design to one he created two years ago ended up on a crop top sold by Forever 21. Larson’s Instagram post has garnered almost 13,000 likes and numerous people have blasted Forever 21 on its social media accounts. This comes just as a story was released the same day reporting that H&M was suing Forever 21 over apparently copying a hand bag design.
When I saw this, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think a national retailer could stoop this low for profit. Whether the retailer’s designers honestly didn’t know about Larson’s design or they blatantly ripped off the design remains to be determined. If the design was stolen, that is wrong and pathetic. There’s no other way to put it. I’m no where near as talented – or popular – as Larson but I’m always keeping tabs to make sure people don’t steal my work. This is especially true for my blog as well as photography I post on social media. In fact, Reflections is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives 4.0 International License. Basically, people can share any of the works I present on my blog but must give me credit as deemed appropriate by Creative Commons and are not permitted to distribute any derivatives they create from my work. Artists in any field can put these safeguards up but they can only do so much. I believe social media outlets should really step up to protect all users from infringement and blatant stealing of work. Until that happens, however, we’ll see more and more of these kinds of cases.
5) Twitter Trouble
Last but not least, I’ve had some trouble with Twitter for the first time since I joined in 2010. It all technically started last Thursday when I tried to tweet out a link to a blog post on Reflections like I’ve done hundreds of times before. When I hit the “Tweet” button, I received a message saying that the tweet could not be sent and it was saved in my drafts. I figured that it was some kind of issue with Twitter. Man, was I wrong. Apparently, Twitter just all of a sudden decided that any tweet with my blog URL was deemed “automated” or “spam” and I could not tweet with that URL anymore. I can’t even put the URL in my bio. I’ve steadfastly contacted Twitter Support for the past week and I’ve heard nothing. I finally sent a pretty critical tweet to Support and got a semi-response, asking me to reply with my case number and someone would get back with me shortly. Well, two days after that and still nothing. I’ve learned that this is commonplace with most Twitter users who seek help when experiencing a problem, which equates to poor customer service in my book. 
This issue I’ve had with Twitter has prompted me to think more seriously about something I’ve casually thought about in the past: getting a custom domain. It’s actually not that expensive to register a custom domain and I could still keep my blog right here on Blogger, but just with a .com URL (a.k.a. “top-level domain”) vs. the current URL (a.k.a. secondary-level domain”). This is still in the thinking stage and any tips on this would be much appreciated. I’d like for Twitter to respond so I can ask them if getting a custom domain would change this issue I’m having. Regardless of that, however, the pros are outweighing the cons and I may be close to getting a custom domain, which would be a major step for Reflections. I’ll keep you updated.
Thanks for Reading

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