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?

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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. 
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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. 

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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!