topic of the week # 6 pillsbury

For this week’s topic we were instructed to find a company (brand) that we liked and discuss what they do in social media. I chose to examine the Pillsbury brand. #1 because I think there website is really fun and #2 because I love to cook and get many ideas from them. Pillsbury has a presence on twitter, facebook, and pintrest. If you are part of the “mailing” circle you can receive daily emails regarding recipes, food, nutrition, and cooking advice. The website is chock full of great information including written recipes with pictures so you can see how your dish should have come out and videos with easy step-by-step instructions on a variety of topics. http://www.pillsbury.com/
Pillsbury is a household name in the US – we allgrew up watching commercials with the cute little pillsbury dough boy getting poked in the tummy and uttering his trademark giggle. This brand makes me feel not only nostalgic but a little bit like “home” – you know how the smell of fresh baked bread or warm chocolate chip cookies just takes you back to better days. If you are a die-hard true blue doughboy fan then there are some fun links on their website that allow you to interact with the DB himself including video bloopers and an interactive dancing DB for your viewing delight.
Pillsbury has been part of american culture since 1972 when it was founded as a grain operation. In the 1950’s and 60’s it became a true household name with its “ready-made” products that nade our lives just that mich easier. Unbeknown to most Pillsbury is not a stand alone company – in 2001 it was bought out by General Mills and its various product lines are now actually products owned by General Mills and Smuckers.
Pillsbury is also known for quality and convenience in conjunction with one another. It has moved through the decades and rolled through the various changes of not only the American lifestyle but media as well. As the needs of families and individuals have changed so too has the marketing and media strategies of the company. part of the innovation of their online presence is their ability to speak to the “nostalgia” generation as well as a new generation of health conscious folks looking to eat well and eat well.

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open door policy

So as most of you know by now I have a daughter in the 2nd grade. Part of her school’s philosophy is to have an open door policy. For those of you unfamiliar with the term that basically is an invitation for parents to come in and participate in school activities at any time. Sounds great right? I mean who wouldn’t want to come to their child’s school and see what it’s all about as well as get to participate in some fun learning activities? Okay I can think of a few parents but for some of us it sounds like a really great invitation and one that I have taken the school up on several times. This is not to say that is was a fun experience for me – there seems to be some unwritten tule out there that if you are not a member of the PTO (parent teacher organization) you’re not part of the “in” crowd. So how does that affect the open door policy at school? Well obviously I don’t want to go and hang out with a bunch of people who give me the cold shoulder or feel that they are more important than me – I mean come on I survived high school and don’t plan on ever going back there again! This negative vibe that parents give other parents is often reflected in the ways that children treat one another. So how can we get around this and still participate in our children’s education and school programs?
Learning starts at home ladies and gentlemen – parent participation does not have to take place in the school building. Building a relationship early on with your child’s teacher early on in the year and letting them know that you are interested in the things your child does throughout the day. This establishes that open door to the most important door – your child’s classroom.

Who took the fun out of school?

So I son’t know about you all but I thought school was really really fun when I was a kid. We had wonderful things to do during the day like art, recess, PE, music, assemblies, plays, and lunch served on portioned trays by “the lunch lady” and the lucky 6th graders that were taking their turn learning about responsibility by working the lunch line for a free nutty buddy. Now the “fun” things are called “specials”, lunch has been reduced to a 15 minute fiasco where kids don’t have time to finish eating much less have any social interaction with one another, and no one actually cooks anything in the lunch room. The other day I sent my daughter to school with a fruit cup in her lunch box and told her to grab a spoon in the lunch room because I forgot to pack her one. Guess what?? Apparently sporks are a hot commodity because the cashier actually charged her for it. If our school are in such dire straights that we need to charge kids for plastic utensils there is something seriously wrong! Recess has been reduced to two 15 minute breaks in which you better not play any game even remotely resembling cops and robbers or army guys for fear you’ll get suspended. Lasat time I checked fresh air and exercise were important for the growth and development of our children. Music and art helped us learn about things outside of our classroom books to allow us to become more well-rounded individuals. Music and Art are now two 20 minute classes kids go to once a week – I don’t find anything “special” about that. Somewhere along the line pur school systems have forgotten that we sometimes learn best when we are not being “taught”. The focus now is to make the grade – not for each individual child to make the grade but for the school itself. So let’s take away the nutritious lunch, fresh air, freedom of learning expression through the Arts and make the school day shorter so we can fit more “learning” with less resources into the budget. Who needs to have fun at school anyway?

Topic discussion week 5 – Content

Well for this week’s discussion I chose to peruse the wwritings of Chris Brogan at http://www.chrisbrogan.com and I am certainly glad that I did. Chris writes on a variety of topics but this particular site is dedicated to the growth and development of his readers as professionals and individuals. He is the CEO of Human Business Works which is a “publishing and media company dedicated to helping professionals work better, do the work they want, and to be brave.” Now doesn’t that sound like an interesting undertaking in itself. I read a few of Chris’s posts and found all of them to be interesting but not terribly full of what I would call “content” which I believe in this instance is exactly what Chris was going for. Rather than a diatribe of do’s and don’ts and you’ll definitely be successful (or more so) if you follow these easy steps he has a way of simply asking a question or making a point that casues you to ask a question of yourself. In the post Start Your Own Whatever he does this by simply reminding us that we need not be professionals or experts in any field that we wish to explore – we must simply have an interest and most importantly get others to share in that same interest and read what we write, watch our videos, basically WANT to see our content. SOunds pretty easy right? Yeah I thought so too until I really started thinking about what that entails. The big word here folks is dedication. Just like any other endeavor in life it is important that we dedicate ourselves to our online endeavors in order to be a success. Part of what I enjoyed about Chris’s site is the diversity of content. All of his posts have something to do with being a better you but that is such a broad topic it gives him a lot of room to maneuver.

the skinny on the school day

So – ever wonder who determined the length of the school day and why our children are free to wander about unfettered for three months out of every year? Here in Farmington we follow a 6.5 hour school day and our kids go to school approximately 182 days out of the year. For those of you out there without a pocket calculator handy that equates to almost exactly half of the calendar year and 14 hours a day that our kids are NOT in school. According to the National Cetner for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/tables/table_2004_06.asp) the US on average sends their children to school 180.4 days a year and kids spend 6.7 hours per day in their hallowed hallways. Each state is left to its own devices to determine the length of the school day and the length of the school year. Now back in the 1800’2 when our beautiful country was just getting established and public school became part of the norm it was quite useful to have Johnny and Sally home from school well before dusk and off during the planting and harvest seasons. After all there was work to do on the farm – those cows weren’t gonna milk themselves! But nowadays how many of us actually live on a farm? For that matter how many of us are even off of work at the same time that our children come home from school? Unless you’re a school teacher I would wager that would be a slim few of us. The school years has remained unchanged for nearly a century – I don’t know of anything else in our society that has remained so static! School start and end time is usually dependent upon the bussing schedule – different types of schools start at different times to allow the same bus to be used for multiple “runs” of students. According to the New Mexico Public Education website the minimum required hours of instruction are as follows:
“A.Except as otherwise provided in this section, regular students shall be in school-directed programs, exclusive of lunch, for a minimum of the following:
1.kindergarten, for half-day programs, two and one-half hours per day or four hundred fifty hours per year or, for full-day programs, five and one-half hours per day or nine hundred ninety hours per year;
2.grades one through six, five and one-half hours per day or nine hundred ninety hours per year; and
3.grades seven through twelve, six hours per day or one thousand eighty hours per year.
B.Thirty-three hours of the full-day kindergarten program may be used for home visits by the teacher or for parent-teacher conferences. Twenty-two hours of grades one through five programs may be used for home visits by the teacher or for parent-teacher conferences.
C.Nothing in this section precludes a local school board from setting length of school days in excess of the minimum requirements established by Subsection A of this section.
D.The state superintendent [secretary] may waive the minimum length of school days in those districts where such minimums would create undue hardships as defined by the state board [department].”
Essentially our school board can opt to make the school day and school year longer which may well be in the best interest of our children since the US is ranked 17th in the world on quality of education and performance of students. We are one of the only industrialized nations that does not require our children to attend school on Saturday – then again we are one of only a handful of nations that prescribes to the 5 days on 2 days off work week adage.
So in essence if you would like to see the length of the school day changed you must petition the school board and get enough parents on your side to force the change to happen. As with anything else in our children’s education it is up to us as parents to be the force of change!

Topic of the Week #4

Video…
Well the old saying goes that a picture can say a thousand words so I guess video can say a million. The power of video is certainly awesome – when used in conjunction with the other technological wonders that we now have at our fingertips it is truly awe-inspiring the power that it has. For instance in the carity:water video I will freely admit that I cried. Video has the power to touch our emotions on ways that print cannot. Why is this? Well let’s look again at the charity:water clip – what really touched me was the music. If I had seen the video with no sound it would still have been touching but add that song to the mix and you have something new all together. I think 9/10’s of the effectivesness of a video is the soundtrack. This was one of the points that Ira Glass was making in his advice on creating effective video – have something to say and say it in a way that actually makes a point and has meaning. Any organization would do well to utilize video as a means for advertising or information dissemination regardless of the content. The portrayal of information through the use of “moving media” creates something entirely different than print – whether it is words or pictures. Video does not leave a watcher room for interpretation as in a book or written document – there are far less imaginings as video is much more concrete. YOu can write in a book that the heroine had flowing raven locks yet in my imagination I can make her look any way I want whereas on video the heroine has flowing raven locks whether I like it or not.
The utilization of video in social media is an ever increasingly used tool. We live in such a look at me society in the Western world with the constant posting and updating of information. The beauty of video is that it can supply immediate gratification which is what social media and technology are all about. As Hendrix discussed in the notes and also a point that Ira Glass made is that the human attention span is relatively short and getting shorter all the time. In the world of social media we are not making full fledged block busters but trying to get our point across as quickly as possible in the most effective manner possible.

School Lunch – would you eat it?

Today’s topic is – you guessed it – school lunch.  Now this particular entry will deal mostly with the Farmington, NM municipal school distric elementary school lunch menu since I have access to it and it is what my child may be eating (I stress the word MAY but should probably say DOUBT!) in the coming month.

So here is a “typical” week of school lunches:
Monday:  Hot Dog on a Bun, Baked Beans, Raw Carrots, Applesauce
Tuesday:  Beefy Penne Pasta, Baby Carrots, Chilled Mixed Fruit, Bread Stick
Wednesday:  BBQ Pork Riblet on a Bun, Chinese Style Vegetables, Garden Salad, Whole Fresh Orange
Thursday:  Beef Tacos, Shredded Cheese, Romaine & Tomato, Refried Beans, Salsa Cup, Chilled Peaches
Friday:  Sausage Patty, Tater Rounds, Fresh Veggies w/Dip, Fresh Fruit

So all in all that doesn’t sound too bad right?  I mean who doesn’t like hot dogs, ribs, and tacos.  As to what a sausage patty is well… you got me there.

So in the interest of science and the interest of parental interest I embarked on a journey to find out some information as to what was really on my kiddos plate and more importantly what was in what was on my kiddos plate. And here I hit a dead end – which does not inspire confidence in the mother that the things on the plate are things I necessarily want in my child.

I started off by contacting the school district as there was a phone number on the bottom of the lunch menu that I found right on the distric home page. This seemed promising. I would assume that this would be a number to the nutrition office or dietitian… my first mistake was yes ASSuming anything about this would be easy. The number was to the distric office secretary who informed me that the nutrition information for all menus was calculated by the sitrict dietitian and assured me that the contact information for this person could be found in the same place the menus were found. So I went back to the menu and found an email address. An email was sent to this person and I have yet to receive any follow-up or acknowledgement of my request for nutritional values for the foods on this weeks lunch menu. After this I attempted to access the Summit foods website who are the providers of the school lunches for this district. There website is completely ambivalent and ambiguous. Sort of like Jello – it’s nice to look at and pretty darn sweet but there is no substance or actual value to it.

As a consumer I have found that there are two times to be worried when I want information from a source – when it is TOO available and when it is not available at all. Of course being too available is not always a bad thing; there are lots of companies, people, and organizations out there that are very proud of their products and services and have nothing to hide. Information that is not available at all is always cause for concern… Needless to say my quest for information will continue and I will keep you all posted on the mysterious school lunch.

….And I’ll be packing my daughter’s lunch from now on!