I have written a book that explains a little about my transition from an unhappy twit to a happy, joyful, peaceful member of society. If you feel the need, click on this link and let me know what you think.
Rodney Hays Writing Portfolio
In Perspective Columns
These columns were a weekly installment in the newspaper. I received feedback from readers and awards from the Texas Press Association for these columns. It was a lot of fun. They were mostly tongue-in-cheek looks at real life events. It was an attempt to have some fun and educate, entertain and inform readers.
Sweet Until the End
By Rodney Hays
Last week, my sweet Grandma Kinslow slipped away in the middle of the night. She died just a week shy of her 89th birthday.
A few years ago, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was the same terrible disease that three of her siblings died from and the youngest sister was just diagnosed a couple of years ago.
To make matters worse, recently she slipped and fell in her nursing home and broke her hip. The doctors told the family that few women her age and her condition make it more than six months after an accident like that. She made it less than one month.
El Reno Payne was born in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma in March of 1925. She lived there most of her life. Her and my grandpa, Marvin Kinslow, graduated from a country school called Excelsior and started their life together a little more than 70 years ago. Since then they raised five kids and been a part of the lives of 10 grandkids, a dozen or so great-grandkids and one great-great grandchild.
It was sad to learn that she died, but honestly, I lost my grandma several years ago when she started losing her memory. For the longest time after her memory started to slip she remembered my name, for a reason I’ll never quite understand. But about three years ago those memories were gone too and all I had were my own memories of her.
When I was about 5, I was fortunate enough to live with my grandparents after my parents divorced. Grandma started spoiling me right away but she didn’t give into my every whim. One day she scolded me for doing something and raised her voice a little. I looked her dead in the eye and said, “I don’t think you and I are going to get along.” She must have laughed at the thought of a 5-year-old snotty-nosed brat holding too much of a grudge.
Holding a grudge would have seemed foreign to her.
Grandma Kinslow also had a smile on her face and wanted everybody around her to be happy and feel loved. She wouldn’t sit down until all her guests had been offered a drink or a bite to eat.
My grandpa traveled a lot when I was young. Whenever he got home from a business trip, grandma would have two hot dogs and a glass of milk ready to go for his late-night dinner. She brought a whole lot of love and encouragement into our family and she will be missed.
Even the last time I saw her right after her hip surgery a couple of weeks ago, she asked us if we were hungry or needed anything as we stood around her in her room. They say a lot of patients become mean and angry in the final stages of Alzheimer’s but for the most part, her sweet spirit never left, even if her memory did.
As kids we were always excited when she came for a visit. And I’ll never forget how she let me borrow her fancy new Cadillac to drive to the prom.
Death is a struggle for most humans. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with it too much. Any type of death causes pain and I don’t know if it’s better to have a sudden, unexpected death or a long drawn-out illness. Either way, it hurts. But death is inevitable for us all. We might as well face it, I suppose.
I think Grandma Kinslow was ready to go. She was ready to meet her maker and deal with whatever was on the other side of this world. I don’t worry about her. But I do worry a little about my Grandpa Kinslow as he struggles with the loss of somebody who has been by his side for 70 years. That can’t be easy.
For the past year, she has been in a nursing home and he drove the 50-mile round trip to visit her almost every day. The last time we were there, the visits were starting to wear on him a bit. He looked at me and said, “Coming here really makes you appreciate every day of your life.” He was right. Every minute is precious.
We can all find a little peace in the fact that Grandma Kinslow will always be with us because she left a little piece of her sweet soul with each of us. A perfect example of a sweet, sweet spirit up until the very end.
Her memory may have faded at the end, but our memories of her never will.
Goodbye, Old Friend
By Rodney Hays
In 1933, James A. Dewar started on the path to genius. That was the year Mr. Dewar suggested to his bosses at the Continental Baking Company of a new pastry treat, something that would obviously revolutionize the snack cake industry. That was the year, Continental, who baked snack cakes under the Hostess banner, created the Twinkie. The company had been making strawberry shortcakes for several years but when the strawberries weren’t in season, the machines sat idle. Dewar suggested a new treat filled with banana cream. One day while driving down the road he had an epiphany for the name when he saw a billboard advertising shoes from the Twinkle Toe Shoe Company. He shortened the name to Twinkie and priced them at a nickel for a pair.
When World War II caused a banana shortage and rations were put in place, the good folks at Hostess changed the recipe and filled the spongy cake goodness with vanilla creme.
The popularity of Twinkies grew in the 1950 when the little yellow cakes sponsored the Howdy Doody Show. Under the constant threat of a doomsday nuclear scenario in the 1960s sent Twinkie sales soaring again, when it was discovered the cakes would “stay fresh forever.” It became an American icon.
President Bill Clinton included a Twinkie in a time capsule. During its heyday, Twinkie sold half a billion a year.
In 1966 another cultural icon would come along: Me. A couple of years later I started a 40-year love affair with the little snack cakes. I was smitten from the start. Twinkies, and their closest cousins the Ding Dongs, were staples in the Hays’ house when I was a kid. My Scooby Doo lunch box was packed with one or the other of the snack cakes every day. I must have broken open and licked the creme out of the center of nearly 10,000 Twinkies as a child.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a nice, award-winning article when Hostess Brands decided to move the Twinkie-making mother ship to the Dallas-area burg of Irving. I went on and on about how the Twinkie had brought so much joy to my childhood. I informed readers about how whenever a teacher somehow misunderstood my genius during a school day, the Twinkie would be there waiting for me. I talked about how I considered Twinkie the Kid, the lovable Twinkie mascot, one of my best friends. I recounted all of the joy those little guys brought.
But, like many things, it was too good to last.
One day, almost out of the blue, I realized that Twinkies didn’t taste quite as good as they once did. The once spongy yellow cakes oozing with creme, somehow seemed to be more springy than sponge and the creme wouldn’t even pile up on my upper lip anymore. Soon thereafter I figured out that Twinkies might be the cause of what some doctors might call, and I quote, “a weight problem.” So I quit them — or at least limited my consumption to maybe one box of Twinkies per year.
Then, several months ago, Hostess began working with its union bakers trying to come up with a solution to a shrinking snack cake market. Those talks eventually failed and Hostess asked a judge to allow them to liquidate the assets. Twinkies could be gone forever. I was sad. Then the baker’s union said it would buy the recipe and equipment and keep making Twinkies. I was elated. Then the union said they couldn’t work out a deal. I was sad. Now it seems, save from a miracle from the good Lord himself, the Twinkie brand will be no more.
I can’t look at my little Twinkie the Kid mascot on the corner of my desk without waxing a little nostalgic. The demise of the Twinkie brings one of the last connections to my childhood. Pretty much all I have left is Pancho’s Mexican Food Buffet and Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers. What happens when those are gone? I shutter to think.
So, with a sad heart, I say good-bye to another dear friend. So long, Twinkie, you gave me more than I could ever repay (including about an extra 60 pounds or so). Thank you for everything.
As I write these words, I sit here in one of my favorite Twinkie shirts. It has a Twinkie cut in two pieces exposing the delicious creme filling and the words “It’s what on the inside that counts.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
Dallas Sports Nation Blog Posts
Dallas Sports nation is a blog covering the major sports teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I covered the local MLS team, FC Dallas. We tried to take a hyper-local approach to covering these teams. I tried to write these blog posts as if I were writing to a “newbie” soccer fan … like myself. I commonly search for terms (SEO) to write the stories and used links to other stories on the Dallas Sports Nation site and sports stories in general. I have included the “Call to Action” sentence at the bottom of each story. They were put in as a way to engage the audience through the blog posts and through social media (mostly Twitter).
Here’s a link to the stories I wrote for Dallas Sports Nation:
Here are a few of my favorite stories:
Can FC Dallas Duplicate Chiefs’ Success?
By Rodney Hays
Lamar Hunt must have been smiling down this past Sunday as his family and a beloved sports franchise, the Kansas City Chiefs, raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LIV.
It was an impressive 31-20 win from a franchise that has been on the rise the last six years after 50 years of championship drought.
Now, can Clark and Dan Hunt do in Frisco what they did in Kansas City? Hopefully.
Clark Hunt took over the reins from his father Lamar in 2006, becoming the CEO of both the Chiefs and FC Dallas in the process. Dan Hunt became the vice president of the Hunt Sports Group and president of FC Dallas. After Clark took over for his father, the Chiefs only won one AFC West division title in 2010.
After going 2-14 in 2012, Clark Hunt wrote a letter to the Chiefs’ season ticket holders. His uncle Ray Hunt, who is also a Chiefs’ season ticket holder, remembered getting a letter from Clark in the offseason. Ray Hunt told the Dallas Morning News Clark Hunt wrote, “I want you to know that this city deserves better than what we provided. We can do better. And I promise you, we will do better.”
In 2013, Clark Hunt fired the Chief’s head coach Romeo Crennel totally reorganized the front office. He hired Andy Reid and a completely new staff that reported directly to Clark Hunt. He kept his promise. The Chiefs won their division the last four years and this year, of course, won the Super Bowl.
What was the difference? Clark Hunt told the Dallas Morning News that he held the staff accountable, but let them do their jobs.
Now, how does that relate to FC Dallas and winning championships?
It seems that the two flagship programs of the Hunts $3 billion sports empire are on similar paths. A year after Reid was hired in Kansas City, Hunt hired Oscar Pareja to lead FC Dallas. The Hunt family also made a commitment to making the FC Dallas academy the best in the MLS, opening a pipeline of young talent for the senior team.
While Pareja never was able to secure a MLS championship, in 2015, FC Dallas won the Supporter’s Shield (the MLS team with the most wins in the regular season). Now, the Hunts have turned over coaching duties to Luchi Gonzalez and promoted Marco Ferruzzi to the general manager post. Last season, the team made the playoffs and took the eventual MLS Champions, Seattle Sounders, to overtime in the first round of the playoffs.
Will the Hunts step back and allow Gonzalez and Ferruzzi and the rest of the front office to do what they do best? It seems like it so far.
But will that be all FC Dallas needs to bring home a championship? There might be one more piece.
The Chiefs also went out and found a playmaker, a guy who can make a difference not only in one or two games but across a season. That player was quarterback Patrick Mahomes. After sitting on the bench his rookie season, Mahomes has gone on to prove that he can play at this level. In just his second season in the league, Mahomes earned the MVP award. This year he followed that up by throwing for 4,031 yards and 26 touchdowns with only five interceptions. Along the way he also picked up a Super Bowl victory, was named the Super Bowl MVP and went to Disney World. Not a bad season.
Does FC Dallas have their playmaker this year? It remains to be seen, but Franco Jara could be that guy. In January, the team reportedly gave Jara the largest contract in team history. Jara scored 16 goals last season for Pachuca in the Liga MX. He is a definite playmaker.
While it will be several months before we get to see Jara wearing the FC Dallas crest, he could be a difference-maker on an already talented team. And with young talent like Reggie Cannon, Jesus Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal, Brandon Servania, and others mixed in, this team could allow the Hunt family to lift another championship trophy in November.
It all starts on Feb. 29, when FC Dallas opens the season at home against Philadelphia.
What do you think? Can FC Dallas repeat the success of the Kansas Chiefs and win it all?
4 Things to Get You Excited About the 2020 FC Dallas Season Opener
By Rodney Hays
It’s that time of year. YEEEEEEEEE. The first FC Dallas regular-season game is this Saturday and it could not get here fast enough.
There are so many things to be excited about this new season.
Here’s a list of 4 things to whet your appetite for the Leap Day game against the Philadelphia Union.
1) The Atmosphere
There is nothing more electric than a live professional sporting event. Imagine trying to read your favorite author using nothing but emojis. Something seems to be missing. That’s what it’s like watching a game on TV versus in real life.
All of the senses are engaged from the moment the stadium pulls into view on the drive-in. It’s like a wave of fresh energy washes over your body. The pulse of the crowd, the beat of the music, the smell of the freshly mown pitch. It’s a delight to the senses that it is difficult to replicate on even the smartest of TVs. All of that will be in play at Toyota Stadium this weekend. It’s a beautiful feeling.
2) The Food
Gone are the days of boring nachos or wrinkly hot dogs on cold, damp buns at stadiums. We live in a time where even stadium concession stands are making food worthy of the Food Network. Okay, maybe not Food Network quality, but comfort food like mama used to make. One of the new food items the staff at Toyota Stadium will be dishing up this year is the Hot Cheetos Chili Pie topped with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, chili, cheese, elotes, and green onions. (You had me at Flamin’ Hot Cheetos).
It would probably be a good idea to not eat anything for at least 24 hours before coming to the game to be able to gorge on this bad boy. The new chili pie will be available from the Main Street Kitchen near Section 112
Before anyone judges, just take a look:
Other new items on the list this year include:
Green Chili Chicken Mac and Cheese Bites (Burgers and Beer – Section 133)
Elote Dog: Bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with elote (Mexican street corn), hot sauce, green onions and crumbled Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (Main Street Kitchen – Section 112)
Pulled pork sliders (Bent Buckle BBQ in Section 125), BBQ smoked turkey sandwich (Burgers & More – Section 121), Meatball Sub (Calcio Cafe – Section 108), and, of course, Chick-fil-A. A fan favorite from last year will be taking on new digs as the Chick-fil-A will relocate to Section 108 this year. And, just like in the real world, the Chick-fil-A will be closed for Sunday games.
3) The Chants
Chill bumps, chicken skin, heebie-jeebies, the willies or jimjams. Whatever it’s called when the hair stands up on your arms as emotions are stirred, that’s what happens when the chants ring out in unison across the stadium.
Whether you’re a member of one of the FC Dallas supporter groups like the Dallas Beer Guardians or the El Matador Club or not, everyone is free to sing along. There’s no doubt the players can feel the energy from the songs. Let’s all make sure the players hear.
4) Something Else?
There has to be something else. Something else that’s going to happen at the stadium. What is it? Oh yeah, some fantastic soccer. FC Dallas and Philadelphia already squared off in a friendly last week in Florida, with FC Dallas winning 3-2.
Philly leads the head-to-head record over the last five matches, 3-2. But this is a new season with brand new exciting possibilities.
Before heading out to the stadium, it might be a good idea to catch up on the FC Dallas preseason so far from other Dallas Sports Nation writers. A couple of reading material suggestions are here and here.
And it all starts Saturday at 5 p.m. at Toyota Stadium. Tickets are available here
What are your thoughts? What are you most excited about this season?
Do you get pumped up at the stadium watching FC Dallas?
Real Estate Training Company Blog Posts
These blog posts were meant to be used by real estate agents across the country to help educate clients about buying and selling homes. The call to action was added by the individual agents after they received the copy.
9 Projects to Add Value to Your Home
If you are in the market to sell your home, there are a couple of items you can check off your list to increase the value and appeal of your home to potential new owners. Let’s look at some of the ways a little money and/or elbow grease can help you get top dollar for your home.
1. Landscape – First impressions can make a break any deal, especially a real estate deal. A yard full of beautiful flowers, green grass and easy-to-care for foliage, will catch a buyer’s eye from the moment they pull into the driveway. And don’t forget to update the backyard as well.
2. Basic home maintenance – According to Remodeling Magazine, marking some basic home maintenance items off the to-do list can be an inexpensive way to add value to your home. Plus, for a small investment a new furnace or HVAC unit or a upgraded roof can go a long way to assuage the fears of a new home buyer while adding value (http://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/clean-and-organize/which-home-improvements-pay-off).
3. Bathroom and kitchen upgrades – Bathroom and kitchen upgrades are still two of the best investments you can make to your house (http://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/clean-and-organize/which-home-improvements-pay-off). New appliances and countertops can really make any old kitchen and bathroom look like new.
4. Painting – A fresh coat of paint is an easy way to give any room a completely new look. But step one of the process should be choosing the right color. Leave personal preferences aside and pick toned-down colors while leaving the bold, brash colors up to the new homeowner (http://time.com/money/4379015/yellow-color-home-value-zillow/).
5. Create the mood with lighting – Movie production companies spend millions to get the lighting right to project a certain feel to their movies. Adding the right lighting and dimmer switches can create a feeling “you could be living here” to a potential buyer.
6. Go Green – Installing a newer energy-efficient air conditioner or furnace system could put 20 to 30% percent back in your pocket through energy bill savings. And something as simple as a solar-powered water heater could earn you a $2,000 tax credit from Uncle Sam (https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/brokers-tell-all-10-ways-to-boost-house-value).
7. Add space by subtracting – It’s not just additions that add value to your home. Sometimes a simple subtraction could open up a room and give the impression of a bigger, more valuable home (https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/brokers-tell-all-10-ways-to-boost-house-value).
8. Ask the experts – Hiring a certified home inspector could save your thousands of dollars by finding things that need to be fixed before putting your home on the market. And for a small fee, a realtor or interior designer might be able to help put value back in your home. (http://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/design-101/10-tips-to-increase-your-homes-value).
9. Start at the Front Door – You could recoup 96.6 percent of the amount you spend on a new door to the front of your house, according to remodeling magazine (http://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2016/) .
Sometimes even something as simple as painting the current door would be enough to make the space look new and increase the perceived value.
Can ‘Slapping On a Little Lipstick’ Increase Your Home’s Value?
There’s an old saying that says “you can’t put lipstick on a pig” or “if you put lipstick on a pig, it will probably eat it” or something like that. In other words, you can put lipstick on a pig but it will still be a pig. Where was I going with that? Oh yeah, if you put a little paint on your house, it’s still gonna be a house, but that house could be worth a whole lot more.
Painting the walls will help you get top dollar for your home, says Jon Box, sales manager for Southern Painting in Dallas, Texas. “You get the biggest bang for your buck by painting your walls. It’s the most inexpensive thing you can do,” Box said.
Potential homeowners don’t want to walk into a home and immediately think they are gonna have to drop a couple thousand dollars on painting the walls. They want the house to be move-in ready. Freshly painted walls send the message to any potential buyers.
There are a couple of things to remember when getting ready to paint. First, choose the colors wisely. That “tangerine sunrise” might have been perfect for your kitchen or that “tickle me pink” for your daughter’s room, but the new owners only see two more rooms they are gonna have to paint.
“You want to choose a neutral color,” Box said, “where someone can say, ‘I can move right in without having to repaint the walls.’”
Zillow seems to agree, especially when it comes to the living room. The real estate marketplace company looked at 50,000 photos of homes to determine how paint color affected the selling price of the home (link: http://www.consumerreports.org/paints/right-paint-color-can-boost-home-value/).
Zillow found that living rooms painted with more neutral colors like dove or light gray sold on average for around $1,100 more.
However, when it comes to the kitchen, yellow seems to increase the value more on average. The study found that yellow kitchens sold for about $1,300 more on average. White kitchens might be prominently featured in home magazines, but Zillow found white kitchens actually did not increase the value.
Other colors that produced above average selling prices according to Zillow were purple hues in the dining room, light green or khaki in the bedroom and tan or beige in the bathrooms.
Also, don’t neglect the outside of the house. When you decide to paint the inside, take a walk around the outside of the house, too. Look for signs of aging or neglect like chipping or peeling paint. Take care of those projects at the same time.
And when you look to paint a home, hire a professional. “If you try to paint it yourself, it’s gonna look like you painted it yourself,” Box said. “The new buyer will probably have to repaint.”
Box said the average price of hiring a professional painter in the Dallas area is about $1 to $1.50 a square foot. But that little difference could mean the difference in setting your home apart or it getting lumped in with all the other lipstick-wearing pigs in your neighborhood.
Instagram Posts from Signarama
These posts were a way to stay engaged with our customer base, letting them know we were staying busy and that we could design a sign to fit their needs, even if they didn’t know they had the need yet. Also, since the sign industry is somewhat of a commodity, it was a good way to let customers and potential customers know that we were human beings working, designing, installing quality signs and that we had regular lives just like them. Included a call to action to get customers to call and get a quote on a sign.