Monday, July 23, 2012

Your Cell Phone Can Save a Child

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, almost 800,000 children are missing each year.  That’s an average of 2,185 children reported as missing every day.  Of these children, more than 200,000 were abducted by a family member.  That means that over 58,000 were abducted by nonfamily members and 115 of them were “stereotypical” kidnapping which means child does not know the person who took them or only has a slight acquaintance with them.  The outcome of these kidnappings have been holding a child overnight, transporting them 50 miles away or more, killing them, demanding ransom, or intending to keep the child permanently.

For those of you who may not know, in 2003 President Bush authorized and signed the national AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert program as part of the PROTECT Act.  This act confirmed our federal government's role in the AMBER Alert program and appointed the Department of Justice to be the agency that coordinates AMBER Alerts on the national level.  The Department of Justice then partnered with National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and made them the agents to coordinate and distribute AMBER Alerts to other providers. 

When a child 17 years old or younger is reported to authorities as being abducted, and they meet certain requirements, those authorities issue the alert notifying the NCMEC of the information to put in the alert.  In turn, the NCMEC electronically submits this information to Syniverse which then sends the alert to wireless participants.  Those participants then send text messages to those subscribed to receive the messages.  If you have information to report, simply call the number included in the text message. 
“Statistics show the first three hours after a child's abduction are most critical to recovery efforts.” (  

That statement alone should prompt all of us to go to the Wireless Amber Alerts site  or your cell phone provider’s website and register to receive what could be lifesaving texts.  The service is available and completely free of charge, as long as you can receive texts, in all fifty states and you only receive them for your area, defined by the up to five zip codes you can enter at registration, not the entire country.  This service can also be discontinued at any time by going back to the same website and following the easy steps.  Why would you not want to be part of this?  Our government is using a mass media device for something so important and we should all take responsibility to help. 

What if it’s your child that’s gone missing?  Would you sign up then?

For more information on the above topics, please visit:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Billboards – Distractions or Inventive

We see them every day on the highway, on a main street in our town, or even right outside our yards. . . . .
Billboards have been around since ancient times, but became part of the American landscape in the 1950s when the Interstate Highway System was built.  As Americans began driving longer distances, companies realized the potential wide open spaces that could be used for their products and so major billboards began. 

They help us find the places to sleep, eat, get gas for our cars, and conveniences like banks.  They can be funny, downright strange, offensive, or even ironic. However you view them, billboards are a part of our lives. Whether you enjoy the 3D versions with objects that hang from or stick out from them or get irritated with the constant half naked ads, we look at them and take in what they have to say.
In a recent article in the New York Times blog, it was noted that the Dove Corporation was holding a new promotion in which the winners will have their pictures displayed on a billboard in Times Square.  The called “Show Us Your Skin” contest is directed at women who are to submit tasteful pictures of their skin.  I view this use of advertising as positive for both the self-image of woman and advertising as a whole.  Seeing “real” women on a billboard instead of airbrushed, hyper sexed, anorexics is a welcome change.  This is a very inventive use of advertising.
In a similar article in from MailOnline dated June 2012, the contrast to the positivity Dove is attempting to promote can be seen in what I view as negative stereotyping of woman in the same location – Time Square New York.  Rihanna is featured in a full size billboard where the red-head is covering her naked body with only her arms.  The ad is to promote her latest fragrance, Rebelle.  If this isn’t distracting, I don’t know what is. 
There have long been debates over the placement and the content of billboards, but one has to admit, they get the job done no matter who has issue with them. 
For more information on the above topics, please visit:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just Say No - To Credit Card Mailers

If you are like most Americans, you possess a credit card or two and therefore receive on average two to three direct mailers from credit card companies a week.  Maybe you get more than that.  Over the years, I have been the proud owner of various credit cards; therefore, I realize I’m bound to receive mail telling me I’ve been pre-approved for a card I already have, mail containing gift cards that are mine to keep if I activate their card, or very cute and catchy fliers with people on vacation or doing all the things I can do if I only sign up for the debt. 

Maybe you’ve never been blessed with receiving them.  If you are, please tell me how you’ve done it.  I’ve tried several tactics to be taken off these mailing lists.  I’ve even been to the Federal Trade Commission site to remove myself from these mailers, but shockingly, I still receive them all the time.  The site boasts:
Tired of having your mailbox crammed with unsolicited mail, including preapproved credit card applications? Fed up with getting telemarketing calls just as you're sitting down to dinner? Fuming that your email inbox is chock-full of unsolicited advertising? The good news is that you can cut down on the number of unsolicited mailings, calls, and emails you receive by learning where to go to "just say no.”

Logging all of your personal information into the forms they provide, writing in, or calling are supposed to allow you to opt out for five years at a time (hello?) or permanently.  I’m beginning to think this is like being on the “Do Not Call List for your phones – has it helped you?  So I’m wondering if this site to opt out of unsolicited mail, telemarketing and email really works or if it’s just a myth full of promise to not be bothered.  Someone once said that if you open the mail, stuff everything back in the envelope without filling it out and mail it back, these companies would stop sending them to you.  Well, that isn’t working either.
Recently while reading an article on Citi Bank, I realize that I’m not imagining this.  They do in fact target existing customers.  This year, they have already sent out two million letters to existing customers to let them know about their new AAdvantage Debit Card.  I guarantee I received at least three of those letters.  
I understand that marketing is key for such companies, but enough is enough.  You have to admit, it’s sad - how much money they must have to simply throw it away on people like me who do all their credit card business online (paperless statements and mail) so we tear up everything received from them without ever opening it.  What a waste for a company, but it must be paying off as they never stop. 

For more information on the above topics, please visit:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Not Your Average Summer Camp

How many of you went to summer camp when you were a kid?  I was lucky enough to grow up in Minnesota, Land of 10,000 lakes, many of which made for great locations for camps.  My experience with camp was to say the least a fun one.  I attended Luther Crest Bible Camp for three summers in a row when beginning the summer after fourth grade. 

We had all kinds of activities that were somewhat centered around learning about God, but for the most part – it was camp!  We swam every day, made so many crafts I can’t believe we had room to bring them all home in our duffle bags, put on performances consisting of dancing and singing skits, stayed in cabins that had no bathrooms, air conditioning or a real good screen system so you were on your own to fend off those lovely pests of nature that buzzed around your head as you tried to sleep in the sweltering summer heat.  At night there was inevitably some activity that consisted of traipsing off into the woods to have a sing along and roast marshmallows. 

Camp was usually attended with a friend or two, but you made so many more friends while you were there, made them friendship bracelets and took down their address so you could write them letters.  Yes all of you stunned by that, this was before computers and cell phones and all the other fancy devices graced the average American household. 

Now looking to send my own children to camp, I’ve been looking up different options online as I don’t have the background here as I did in Minnesota, in other words, no family history of attending such camps.  In doing so, I discovered something that shouldn’t surprise me, but it kind of does - Computer Camps and Technology Courses for Kids & Teens at Prestigious Locations.   
According to, kids and teens can attend summer camps at universities ranging from Stanford and Harvard to the University of British Columbia.  Instead of creating simple skits and learning how not to burn a marshmallow, these kids head off for a week or two to learn things like Digital Filmmaking, Game Design, Programming & Robotics, Art & Design, Science & Engineering, and Sports & Technology. They come home with a unique project and the confidence to continue their new skills.

Not that there is anything wrong with the average summer camp, but I think I’m going to look into this a little further.  What a confidence booster for any child interested in media!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Secure Communities?

On Monday June 25th, 2012, in Escondido, California, a meeting was held to discuss State Assembly Bill 1081 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Fransisco.  The bill would forbid local law enforcement agencies from detaining illegal immigrants unless they have a prior felony conviction until federal agents can get to them.  Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is attempting to restrict the federal Secure Communities program, which has helped deport thousands of illegal immigrants which have been held in local jails.  You might ask why.  Or you might even as what the Secure Communities Program is.

In 2008, State Identification Bureaus entered into a Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with the federal government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  These two associations share data between state and the federal governments in order to better track immigrant criminals.
For a time, it was thought that states could opt out of these agreements, or could quit using them if they wanted to stop participating in the program. However, in August 2011, ICE rescinded all signed MOAs and announced that no signed agreement was necessary for the data sharing to take place and that the data sharing program is in fact mandatory for all jurisdictions.
According to the Immigration Policy Website, “Secure Communities is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program designed to identify immigrants in U.S. jails who are deportable under immigration law.  Before, people’s fingerprints were only sent to the FBI to be checked against a criminal database when they were booked in local jails.  Now because of Secure Communities, they are also sent to the ICE, where they are checked against the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program (US-VISIT) and the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT). 

There is much debate in the news nationally and locally about this program.  Many critics feel the program has caused unfairness to immigrants who are not high level offenders but rather traffic violators or immigration violators as some have been deported.  Yet others are pleased that something is finally being done about all of the illegal immigrants in the United States. 
In the Jamestown Sun, reported by Elliot Spagat of the Associated Press, between state and local police and the fingerprinting program, almost 300,000 deportations from October 2007 through September 2011.  

I believe that a move toward getting illegal immigrants out of our country is a good one.  I also believe that anyone should deserve a chance at a better life.  But if a foreigner wants to live here, they need to become a citizen, pay taxes, learn the language, and not be on government or state assistance.  The majority of that statement could be used for a multitude of Americans who were born here also, so I’m not singling out just immigrants.  All of us need to abide by laws, earn a living and quit trying to get something for nothing while all those around you pay for it. The Secure Communities Program is a good way to show that America demands respect and that it is not here to be giving eternal hand outs.  What do you think?

For more information on the Escondido story visit:  

For more information on the Secure Communities Program visit: 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Movie Rental Stores - Who Needs Them?

How many of you have subscribed to Netflix?  Do you download movies that you haven’t seen in years, TV shows that have long been taken off the air, or the most current movies you can find?  I don’t know about you, but I have become pretty fond of the services Netflix offers.  For the reasonable price of $7.99 a month, you can watch unlimited movies and TV shows.  That seems pretty impressive.  One part that I really enjoy is the option to cancel or suspend your account at any time.  We tend to suspend our account in the summer as we don’t watch much TV.  This is also when a lot of kids movies come out too so we tend to go to those in the local theaters.  However you look at it, Netflix seems to be a win, win situation for those who enjoy their TV or movie time.  Or are you someone who is annoyed with the instant access and the wading through of the thousands of options Netflix offers?  If you are, maybe you’ll enjoy it better once they separate their site into separate movie and TV tabs.  This re-design is being tested and might soon be available to all. 

If you do subscribe to this service, what do you use to view them – your PS3, Wii, Xbox, PC, Mac, iPad, Apple TV, Smart TV, Blu ray player, Smart Phones, or some other device connected to the internet?  It seems the instant access possibilities are quite endless.  Looking at the convenience of it all and the $7.99 per month price tag, there’s good reason that Netflix is doing well.

 Someday I hope to quit saying this, but I am amazed at the capabilities we have in this day and age.  Can you imagine back in the 1980’s if we could’ve downloaded movies and TV shows on our Atari’s?  What a thought!  We thought the VCR was an amazing invention.  Being able to watch a TV show some other time than when it was actually on – how great was that!  So what is next for our instant access culture?  Are you one that dreams of the days when we have virtual movie theaters in our own homes so that we would never have to leave for even that?  Or are you the type that still wants to get out and mingle with the people at the rental stores and movie theaters?

 For more information on Netflix please view:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What's in a Name?

If you have followed any college sport in the last couple decades, you have probably heard something about the controversy surrounding the University of NorthDakota’s ‘Fighting Sioux’.  (Update 6-15-12: My previous link is no longer active. I assume do to the vote being past to retire the name UND is updatubg their site.)
Seven years ago, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) placed UND on a list of schools they referred to as “hostile and abusive” and if the nickname was not removed, UND’s athletic teams could risk sanctions.  In the past, other schools in the same position quickly removed these (according to some) controversial nicknames when pressured by the NCAA to do so.  Yet others like the Florida State Seminoles actually got approval from the tribes to use a reference to them as their mascot.  North Dakota tribes cannot seem to agree on doing this and have taken legal measures against UND.

Should we be expecting the same suggestion for the team the Sioux were influenced by – The ‘Fighting Irish’ of Notre Dame?  Will the Irish be the next to voice their offended feelings about a nickname that has been attached to the UND (University of Notre Dame) since the late 1800’s?  Is the moniker ‘fighting’ not considered a prideful description of these teams?  Are those who back these nicknames calling those they are attached to hostile and combatant or are they referring to them being strong and prideful?  This is where the ‘fighting’ moniker can get taken the wrong way.  However, it’s only in the past decades that this has risen as a problem.  The nickname was added sometime in the 1930’s because the school’s main opponent has been the NDSU Bison and Sioux are great at exterminating Bison.   Over all these decades, the nickname has been accepted.  What spurred the issue?  Are people jumping on a bandwagon just to say they did or do they really feel the Sioux tribe is being called murderers?
However you look at it, this issue divides the state of North Dakota, fans, students and the tribes in the area.  Federal lawsuits have been filed on behalf of Native Americans on both sides of the argument with none of them reaching a settlement.  As of June 12th, 2012, the issue had reached the level of being voted on during the North Dakota Primary.  Regardless of the outcome, supporters state they will continue the fight as there seems to be many who believe the name should stay indefinitely. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Where have all the “Family Friendly” sitcoms gone?

Most of us watch T.V. and likewise have probably wondered from time to time, where have all the “family friendly” sitcoms gone? In an article from titled "Honey! I’m Home!" Sitcom Evolution Since the 1950’s, the author states “Sitcoms have evolved in response to lifestyle trends." Do our lifestyles trends show that the nuclear family and their social interactions no longer exists and therefore these situational comedies are no longer needed?

Shows like “The Big Bang Theory”, “The Office”, “30- Rock” and “Two and a Half Men” can’t really be compared to the more innocent and lighthearted show that could be watched by the entire family. In the past, we watched shows like “Who’s the Boss”, “The Wonder Years”, “The Cosby Show”, “Family Ties”, "Home Improvement”, “Roseanne”, and “Reba” that didn’t really embarrass you, or cause constant awkward explanations to your children, or to rest your figure on the Previous Channel button waiting for an inappropriate scene or comment. Is this new format the one we are stuck with simply based on lifestyle trends or will there ever be another “I Love Lucy?”