COM0015 Blog Post #1 Stacey Ingrey My Tools!


Measuring and monitoring your social media account and your online presence is a daunting task when you first start. The only experience I had with this was during our Measuring and Monitoring social media certificate course. We made an Excel spread sheet of key words and tags, then entered them in Google Analytics, transferred them to Yahoo Pipes and then connected them with NetVibes. It seemed overwhelming at first. Many of us aren’t techies so to speak and it meant we had to figure things out as we went. That being said, it was fascinating and I actually felt quite proud when my NetVibes dashboard started to slowly trickle and fill.

I had chosen a small local start up company. It was easy to see what was wrong with their social media presence. They had none. I would see similar companies consistent posts on their products, sales of product in the millions from one company to another but as the weeks passed, still nothing from the start up. It was an immediate view into the importance of building your brand with a social media presence at your fore front. We live in a world where social media is accessible to everyone. You do not need millions of dollars in advertising to give your company an international platform but you do need time and commitment and wether you are willing to put it forth says a lot about your brand. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to speak with some of the folks at the start up and explained what I had measured. I wondered if their product really needed a social media presence, or if it was able to maintain its profile as a startup until it would be bought out by a larger company.

Since then, many of the original employees have left the company and my connection to it has ceased. I came to the conclusion a buy out was probably in their best interests and something they had already planned. Maintaining a Twitter account or FB page didn’t seem to matter.

I did however thoroughly enjoy using NetVibes and was amazed at how you could actually measure traffic so easily (despite a few hiccups). I have not used a measuring or monitoring program since but I am curious as to how Hootsuite works as I have heard many great things about it.


We all know this logo….Facebook!

I do measure the traffic to my Facebook account in a minimal way. I notice how many of my “friends” “like” certain posts. It’s interesting to observe that posts on children or disasters seem to get the most attention. The sharing of celebrity death posts this year was more pertinent than missing children, climate change or Boko Harram kidnapping school girls. All based on “likes”. There is a lot you can tell about a person by the way they post or their reaction to yours. I consider it a form of measurement in itself.



Being in my thirties means most of my friends near and far communicate through Facebook. My younger students prefer Instagram and Snapchat. They are typically light and fun (mostly) and that’s the way it should be when you’re seventeen. I like my Facebook friends and consider them to be intelligent people. I would have to say I get most of my news from them. I’m not a huge fan of Twitter, it never really clicked with me. Maybe because it seems less personal. It’s silly to admit I get most of my news from Facebook but it’s the truth. We watch the news on television but tend to Google for a more in depth backstory. I do like Instagram as a way of staying in touch with my students. They rarely use Facebook so it’s a good way of keeping the lines of communication open and keeping on top of the trends. Snapchat is smart however, and they know their followers are growing up. National Geographic, CNN and the Daily Mail all have active Snapchat accounts. The young will grow and desire to be informed on the platform best suited for them. Especially one they are familiar with. News outlets wanting to stay afloat must reach out to the adults of tomorrow via an app they know best. I think it’s a wicked idea on Snapchat’s behalf!


Do you recognize this logo?


My son having fun with Snapchat!

So fellow classmates, do you use the newer apps like Snapchat as a news source? Do you use your Facebook account as often as I do? And, do you honestly like Twitter??? Let me know in the comments below!



Images courtesy of Netvibes, Facebook and Snapchat



My top 5 social media number 1s – Blog Post #6 – COM0011




As I sat down at the computer “just about” ready to write my final blog for Intro to Social Media, I realised I had too many topics I wanted to cover. This week for example, I came across a hashtag that meant something to me. While a hashtag can be funny or sarcastic this one was an acronym for a serious and unjust subject. Sometimes a hashtag can lead you to more information on a particular subject that really interests you as this one did for me. I wanted whatever audience I have to know about it and care about it. I also noticed a picture posted by a celebrity that made me stop in my tracks. I wanted to write about what it stood for and give it an even bigger platform. Then, I read probably the best blog I have ever read. It just hit me like a ton of bricks and I wanted everyone on my Facebook page to read it. While listening to Spark on CBC on my way home from work, bam, a social media movement that may bridge the gap between the racial and poverty divide in the United States and lastly I really wanted to write about an application I think will change the world for so many people, giving them independence by being virtually dependent. How could I possibly narrow it down? All of the topics are incredibly important to me. Then I realised these necessary bits of information were shared by different social media platforms. Why not write a list of five of my social media number ones? So here they are, my fav hashtag, image, blog post, use of Web 2.0 and app!

My favourite Hashtag:

#mmiw is an acronym for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (and girls). I am not an indigenous woman but I am a woman. First, let’s be clear that the way this country has treated those native or indigenous to it, is absolutely deplorable. Apologies mean nothing when change is not in effect. I recently read about 10 First Nations reserves with more than 10 years of bad water, only receiving media attention this week because of the recent Winnipeg boil water advisory.



49% of murdered Canadian women are indigenous. Aboriginal women make up 4.3% of the total Canadian population and 16% of all accounted Canadian homicides. Why? Highway 16 “The Highway of Tears” is an 800km section of highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, British Colombia. Records show 18 murders on the highway between 1969 and 2011 but families say over 40 murders have occurred. Because of little police interest and an almost non existent investigation, these murders continue to be unsolved. Some say racism is also the reason the Pickton murders went unsolved for so many years.

#mmiw gives immediate attention to these women. The lack of respect we as a nation have shown those native to this land has always bothered me. This hashtag made me feel like there is the possibility of change. Hopefully with the recent star power of Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq (freak out, she follows me on Twitter!!!), these issues will make the “front pages”. If you Google #mmiw, you will find a boat load of incredibly important information regarding this issue. Also, please consider First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s, 7 free ways to make a difference.


My favourite image:

We know the tension between Israel and the Palestinian People has resulted in so many lives lost on both sides. I think despite whatever view you have, peace is what we wish for everyone.  I have many Jewish and Muslim friends. They are equally peace loving and important. This picture took my breath away.

A Muslim allowed a topless Jew to sit on his camel. And we say we can't live side by side? I say we try and we can and we will. - Chelsea Handler

A Muslim allowed a topless Jew to sit on his camel. And we say we can’t live side by side? I say we try and we can and we will. – Chelsea Handler

I mean just read the caption. The best part? I shared it and both my Muslim and Jewish friends ‘liked’ it. It’s the little things that can evoke a break in the heaviness. The power of an image is unlike any other. It really can say a million words. For me, this picture summed up the sadness and waste of war, odd I know. Chelsea Handler has 2.6 million Facebook friends and 5.6 million Twitter followers. Imagine what might happen if we all share this image?


My all time favourite blog post!!!!!!:



Have you heard of Tess Munster? Well if you haven’t, you will! Tess Munster is the largest plus size model to be signed by a mainstream modeling agency. She started her #effyourbeautystandards movement and describes herself as a “body positive activist”. And, she is sooo gorgeous! She is a single mom (go girl!) and is engaged and HAPPY! Imagine that (note the sarcasm)? But I said this was the “my favourite blog section” didn’t I? So here’s the best part. Obviously Tess received a slew of hateful and downright disgusting comments about her incredible success (note my annoyance) but the blog this writer wrote in response was absolutely the best blog I have ever read. You know when someone says “Well, she’s so unhealthy and she’s disgusting, and if she cared about her child she would lose weight, and she can’t be happy if she’s that fat!”? You know….those people, the ones who say those things and you don’t know exactly how to respond? Well look no further, please read WHY PEOPLE HATE TESS MUNSTER (AND OTHER HAPPY FAT PEOPLE) by Jes at The Militant Baker. It’s the perfect read if you need a dose of reality or need valid points when arguing;).


My favourite use of Web 2.0:

Recently while listening to Spark, I learned about an ingenious idea thought up and implemented by Darryl Adams, Superintendent of Schools for Coachella Valley Unified District. He noticed a divide between children who have access to wireless devices and Wi-Fi and those who did not have access to the internet off of school grounds. His belief is that internet requirements for students without access is a civil rights issue. How can students graduate and be able to compete if they do not have access to the internet for homework? The “poorer neighborhoods” would images6YH89GJ8continue to fall behind at a greater rate if access could not be acquired. It’s one thing to give your students laptops but if they don’t have service at home, research becomes difficult or impossible. Solution? School buses. School buses with secure Wi-Fi park outside of low income neighborhoods. The students can log in from their bedrooms and get their homework done! What about battery power for the bus? Solar panels! I mean this podcast will make you grin from ear to ear! One step closer to equality! Information is power! You can listen to Norah Young (Spark host) and Darryl Adams here.


My favourite app:

Last but not least, my pic for this year’s number one app is Be My Eyes. Be My Eyes is an app that connects blind people with volunteers willing to be their eyes from their smart phone! Let’s say for example a visually impaired person is grocery shopping and needs help differentiating one product from another or help reading the ingredients on a particular item, they simply place a request to the app and are connected with a sighted volunteer, like Facetime!!! This can change the world for so many people. It really is the best app I think has been created in forever! Volunteers can earn points andimagesMM54FQ64 be promoted! As of yet, it is only available on iOS but should be available for Android soon! Be My Eyes is a free app and anyone can volunteer! Just get it! There are currently almost 10,000 visually impaired and 112,000 sighted signed up. Isn’t this a most incredible use of social media?



So there they are folks, my top five number ones! I hope these either opened your eyes or were moments that resonated with you as well. Social media may have its faults but more importantly, it has the power to be beautiful and evoke positive change.


How about you? What were your top social media moments of the past few months? Are there other social media platforms that  have exposed you to something interesting or life changing? Would love to hear from you!



Yik Yak app, here to stay? COM0011- blog post #5


This social media world we live in is so vast I can’t imagine I will ever wrap my head around even a fraction of it. I was reminded of this while teaching one of my students last week. I have mentioned before I teach privately in the evenings, so the kids have every opportunity to have a quick chatyik yak about what has gone on in their lives over the past week. On Wednesday, one of my students opened my eyes to the world of the Yik Yak app. “It has taken over our school in a matter of a 3 days!” she told me excitedly and continued to explain what its function is as I had only heard of it in passing. Yik Yak is an application that uses GPS and instant messaging simultaneously, allowing the user to share Yaks (similar to a tweet) anonymously to those within a ten mile radius and more specifically a 1.5 mile radius. Yaks do not typically last longer than an hour and are measured for popularity in a variety of ways. The intention to connect a community on a variety of topics such as a really cool band playing down the street or a great sale at the local clothing store. Sounds leading and a little dangerous though right?

So here’s a bit of background. The Yik Yak app was created by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington (they learned to design apps in a college course together). One is a former med student and one put his career in finance on hold in order to devote his time to Yik Yak. Yik Yak was launched in November 2013 and within one year, with secured investors, is worth of over 350 million. Within six months of its release, Yik Yak was the 9th most downloaded application in the United States. Talk about going viral!

Yakarma: A numerical score based on the number of responses by users in your area or “group”. Measures popularity. DownVotes will negatively affect your Yakarma.

UpVote/DownVote: Do they like your Yak or do they not like your Yak? This is how they show you (anonymously…).  If users in your “group” give you five DownVotes, your Yak will be deleted (not that it lasts longer than an hour anyway). If they like ya, UpVote!!!! Remember, lots of UpVotes means your Yakarma will go up. Right.

Peek: For the uber secretive and nosy mom or you know, stalker. Allows you to “peek” into groups outside of your 1.5 mile radius. You cannot however, Upvote, DownVote or Flag.

New/Hot Tags: Keeps Yaks at the top based on popularity.

Flag: Allows users to immediately delete Yaks they find offensive or ones they simply don’t want up there.


What did they think this app would be used for?

It’s easy to see why my grade 10 high school student was excited. But she’s a smart girl and it didn’t take long to realise how hurtful this app had the potential to be. She wasn’t excited because she thought it was fantastic. When she told me one of the more harmless posts was a comment on the size of her friends breasts and how lovely she was to look at so long as she didn’t open her mouth, I very quickly reminded her that this was sexual harassment. The worst however was a post mocking the innocent victims of the Holocaust. This one she flagged immediately. What struck me, was not only the ignorance behind the comment but its violent approach. I was shocked!.

Many schools throughout the Ottawa region have had a negative experience with Yik Yak. GeoFencing (a tool used to prevent cyber bullying, gives the ability to block the app within a certain radius) them from their Wi-Fi but most kids have 3G so this doesn’t seem to help much, although a good effort on the part of the creators. Students from four Ottawa high schools were left out in the cold after fire alarms were pulled within two hours of each other yesterday. Police believe Yik Yak was used by students to dare one another into doing it. I am sure we will continue to hear more stories in the news.

In a time when we are trying so hard to prevent cyberbullying it seems ironic this app should even exist. The intentions seemed good but logic could predict the outcome. With the recent Charlie Hebdo killings we are reminded of the importance of freedom of yik-yak-threatsspeech but at what cost? And what is “freedom of speech” if you are hiding behind the name “anonymous”? How many youths will continue to take their lives as a result of cyberbullying and why do we keep giving not yet developed brains the ability to do such horrible things to one another without consequence? Is it our fault?

Do you think apps like this should have the right to exist? How do you think we can curb cyberbullying? What do you think will be next?

Your social media assisted New Year’s resolution – Blog post #4 – COM0011


So here we are, it’s 2015. The hangover is over, hopefully (or in my case, the shock of staying up past midnight), and the reality has set in. Time to make good on those resolutions we promised ourselves way back at the end of 2014, or at least start on them. Right?

To be perfectly honest, I have never once made a New Year’s resolution. Never. So in order for this article to make any sense, I have spent my week thinking about what mine would be. Surprisingly it wasn’t that hard. I’ll get into my resolution a little later in the post but first, let’s talk about skeptics. There are so many reasons why New Year’s resolutions are doomed from the moment they pop into your head. The internet is filled with articles corroborating those points. Here’s one. But I say, the entire intention behind making them is good, so why not at least make a great effort?

Hilarious, right?

Hilarious, right?


According to Statistic Brain, the top three resolutions are: lose weight, get organised and spend less save more. Others included: fall in love, spend more time with family and quit smoking. These all sound like great goals to me and in fact sound like fabulous ways to want to spend your life. It also makes me a little sad that these seem unattainable to many. Surely there must be a resolution to these resolutions!

Is social media the solution? What if applications and websites are the key to reaching our goals and making good on our top three? What if their help and support will make our achievements viable and easy?

Let’s start at the top of the list. Lose weight. This is a biggie and one I know little about. I personally like the idea of being a little heavier and think being healthy is far more important than being thin. I think it’s a bit drastic to sign up for the gym on day one of the New Year and since I can’t stand “working out” and prefer outdoor physical activities, I would like to suggest a less aggressive approach. Winter is a tough and long season if you don’t enjoy winter sports and an easy way to put the pounds on if you hibernate. Skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and skating are wonderful ways to stay fit and feel great throughout the winter months. What if you commit yourself to one day of outdoor activity a week? For example, my son and I love to snowboard and ski, in fact we can’t wait for winter to start. We commit to being on the hill every Saturday, rain, snowstorm or shine. There are also many inexpensive ways to do this. Most hills offer night skiing 2-for-1 passes at least twice a week. It costs as little as 20$ for two people if you have equipment. Rentals are also half-price on these evenings.

Skating on the local rink is free and a ton of fun. It gives you an opportunity to connect with your neighborhood and is an instant play date for your kids. It makes “working out” fun! You can purchase second-hand skates if you like and even head out to Lansdowne or the Rink of Dreams (my plan for later tonight).



This can seem easier said than done, I know. So this is where social media can help. Here is a great app to help you get started. Active is an app to help you find activities that are going on near you such as walks, runs, ski clubs etc. My son and I are certainly not runners but we wanted to take part in a run so we entered Ottawa Race Weekend. We only did a 2K and we walked for part of it (he was only seven) but we had a wonderful time and everyone was so encouraging that we entered a 3K last fall and had a blast! You realise pretty quickly that you don’t have to be a track star, you can walk and feel just as proud of yourself! Applications like Active can help you find these events and help organise your time so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Being fit doesn’t have to happen overnight and it certainly isn’t a competition. Baby steps are more than okay.

Outdoor activities are also a great way of spending more time with family (another resolution in the top ten).

Number two on the list is one I can totally relate to. Getting organised! Let’s face it, life is busy and clutter is a heavy weight to carry around when you haven’t got the time for it. The messier the space, the less amount of time you will have for yourself and your family. Cleaning takes at least twice as long and makes your life so much less efficient. In fact, I think it’s a total waste of time to live in clutter. Everything from homework to laundry and dinners to extra curricular activities, can be almost pleasurable if there is some sort of order to them. Apps are the perfect tools to help simplify and manage our busy lives. Let’s start with organising our space. It’s useless to organise our grocery list if the space we fill up is in clutter (a tidy fridge and kitchen is also a wonderful incentive for healthy eating, aiding in the sustainability of number 1!!).



Here are some wickedly awesome apps to help you de-clutter and mstay organised!

You know that pesky paper work that builds up? Receipts you know you will need, warranties, important documents? These can all take up a lot of space over time and can you ever find that receipt when you need it? You must try Evernote, an app with the ability to scan your documents and store them in digital form! All of that annoying space consuming paperwork, gone!

One of my favourite apps is Brightnest! It’s kind of like the Pinterest of home maintenance. The website and application are stunning. It even has cleaning playlists! How much fun is that? It teaches you how hashtags can kill clutter, hello?!? All I can say is check it out and get ready to be inspired!

MagicPlan is another fabulous app! Great to use once the clutter is out! MP reminds you to clean everything from your purse to your oven. It keeps you on task throughout the year so you don’t feel over loaded!

Other apps to check out with help for anything from groceries to daily schedules include Checkout 51, Gasbuddy and Sunrise.

Once your home is clutter free you can enjoy the time you never thought you had. It takes a lot of hard work and determination at first but is so easy to maintain once everything has its place.


Spend less save more. This kind of fits into my resolution. I would really like to take my son to the ocean but I just paid off my loan last March and am saving for a down payment to put towards the purchase of the home we currently live in. I do not have paid vacation as I am self-employed, so I need to make sure I have enough money set aside to get me there without dipping into my savings. Here is where online banking is great. You can make it so a specific amount is withdrawn from your checking account and placed in a savings account either weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. It doesn’t have to be a large amount but over time it can make a significant impact toward whatever it is you are saving for.

I’m sure some of you have seen the 52 week money challenge on Facebook. 000 Again, there are naysayers but I think this is a painless way to save for yourself!

Here are some apps to help you keep your funds close: Saving Made Simple and Mint.


It wouldn’t be a true New Year’s resolution self-help blog post without adding some advice for those who have quitting smoking on their list. My best friend LOVES smoking but had a health scare a while back and over the past few years has become a professional quitter. He vowed to quit last year for the last time and it seems he has found success! He sends me updates from this app every so often. Cigarette Quitter Coach App. He swears by it. He has been smoke free for over five months! It’s worth a try folks:).images8NRWTK7C






I think New Year’s resolutions have fabulous intentions but of course need a lot of hard work to accomplish. Just remember you have all year. You don’t need to “fix” everything in one day. The worst thing you can do is feel guilty if they don’t materialise over night. Take your time and breathe. Once your home is organised, you have quit smoking, become more active and saved your first million;), maybe it will be time to achieve #8 on the list. I have zero experience in this but many of my friends have had very successful and happy experiences with online dating ( app). Finding love has never been easier.

What about you? Do you have any New Year’s resolutions you intend on keeping? I personally look forward to writing a blog post from the beach! I’ll keep you posted!cde57b3e118be80be5a433a958dd039d











My online Christmas shopping tips – COM0011 Blog Post #3


kid xmasWell, another year has almost passed, but before we ring in a new one and say goodbye to 2014 we must not forget the most exciting day for so many kids around the globe, CHRISTMAS! Let’s face it, as beautiful as it is meant to be, Christmas requires a lot of time, creative brain cramming and money! Fortunately, with the benefits of technology and Web 2.0, the most spectacular day of the year has become a lot less stressful.

Hear this, in 2001, 13.4 out of 2.2 million households bought online. By 2007, 70 million orders were placed online out of 8.4 million households and by 2012, there was a whopping 7.7 billion Canadian online purchases! It’s almost unbelievable but it makes sense. We don’t have time to spend countless hours in shopping malls scouring the shelves to complete a near impossible list. Canadian weather rarely permits speed shopping, at least not if you want to make it to Christmas dinner in one piece. So, it seems logical that online shopping is increasing yearly by the billions.


Before I dive into my picks for holiday shopping sites, let’s very briefly discuss security and fraud. BORING!safety

Here’s the thing, your credit card information runs the risk of being stolen even if you aren’t buying online. If you have serious concerns you can use a pre-paid credit card to ease your fears. I have never had an issue primarily because I only shop from reputable sites. I don’t search a random toy on Google, scroll down fifteen websites and buy something from number sixteen. It takes a little common sense but with that being said there is always a risk. If you or a family member are nervous and you need help convincing, here are some steps to keep you safe.


Phew, that’s out-of-the-way! Now onto something a little more fun. I like to think I’m the finder of anything. My mom spent months looking for a matching sugar and cream bowl to a butter dish I had bought my sister six years ago, yes, six years ago. We were out for lunch last week when she began to describe in detail the amount of stores and kilometres she had travelled to find said pair. My ears were exhausted by the end so I quietly picked up my phone, searched for about 2 minutes and voila! Of course, she is too scared to buy online so she gave me cash (maybe I’ll forward her this post). It took 48 hours for them to get to my door. I think I saved Christmas and her sanity, in less than 5;). What a beautiful feeling!



Now, I’m organized, my shopping is long stuffed away and hidden in my storage closet but for those of you who are like many of my friends, last-minute shopping can bring great deals along with an awful headache. If you are looking for really fast shipping, I would have to suggest (the everything store), BestBuy (for all your necessary electronics and games), Indigo Chapters  (who doesn’t love a good book or board game?) (for all your personal hygiene needs;)) and Toys R Us (for obvious reasons). Online shopping can only thrive if consumers get their product quickly, and fortunately big online distributors such as the ones I listed above get this in its entirety. Not a single item I have ordered from these sites has taken more than 48 hours and the shipping for everything was free (provided I spent over a certain amount)


Online shopping is neat because you can do your shopping from a website or from their app. My favourite app to shop from is eBay. It saves my recently viewed items, suggests what I might be interested in and links me to items similar to ones I have previously purchased or bid on. I love bidding on items. My son and I used to get so excited when bidding on rare hard to find Skylander figurines. Many listings have BuyNow options as well.

The eBay app keeps my PayPal information stored so I never need my wallet with me when I find the perfect gift. A seamless way to shop.

There’s a catch. I would not suggest eBay for last-minute Christmas presents as they may not make it under the tree in time. EBay is a an online marketplace with different sellers.  Shipping lays in the hands of the seller, however, you can grade your transaction and most sellers rely on high scores to ensure future sales. It is a bit riskier though so I would recommend eBay for “non rush” purchases.

So far eBay is the only app I shop from consistently. Apps like IKEA or BestBuy are not as good as their websites at this time. Application shopping is fabulous for companies you purchase from often because your information is stored so easily. If you don’t want newsletters I would suggest shopping as a guest on the actual website.

% off bags

So what about savings? Let’s face it, we all love a good bargain and if online shopping uses discounts as incentives, I’m all for it!

My favourite part about online shopping, besides finding the perfect item, is the promo code. I recently purchased tickets for my entire family for the holiday musical Freezing. My friends are producing the show and had posted a Cyber Monday promo code on their Facebook page. Perfection! I immediately linked to their ticket sales provider Vendini, picked “the best seats possible”, entered the promo code, purchased the tickets, printed and added them to separate envelopes with personal holiday invitations to see a wonderful show as a family. I had intended to go regardless but the advertisement of the 25% off promo code really sealed the deal for me. It didn’t take long at all and I cannot wait to see their expressions when they open their Christmas cards.

Theatre and concert tickets are a great last-minute gift as you can print them immediately after purchase (check out the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s 3 concerts for 75$ deal).

Where to find a promo code? A promo code coupon website of course! There are websites that list numerous promo codes you can then type in near the end of your purchase. Here are some examples you can check out for yourself:, (my personal favourite) and These coupon sites are reliable and have some pretty awesome deals.

It’s Christmas time of course, and who doesn’t love a little carolling? Have a piano or guitar but no Christmas sheet music? Check out for all your holiday favourites. Guess what? They have tons of promo codes so you can’t go wrong! Simply purchase the piece you want, transpose to whatever key, pay and print. Feeling a little rusty? What a fabulous excuse to pick up that old instrument and feel like a star! If you purchase often, simply save your account information for an easy breezy, wallet free transaction!

music notes logoWhile it’s easy to want to spend our entire Christmas budget buying things our loved ones want, let us not forget to help out those who are in need this holiday season. has a wonderful online gift catalogue to help you help others. You can donate in the name of your child’s classroom, teacher or even the grand parent that already has everything.  Here are some of the items our family has donated: a goat, bug nets, bedding, classroom supplies and we have been fostering an amazing little girl for the past eight years. You can include your children so they learn the importance of giving back.wv

Christmas is accused of being a consumer based holiday, the true meaning lost years ago but I beg to differ. The beauty and magic of Santa exists in our home and in the homes of our friends and family. Yes, finding a great gift is wonderful too and is all the more special knowing we have picked the perfect one rather than grabbing something at Shoppers. The beauty of making handmade ornaments as gifts and surprising the kiddies with a new iPod touch can have its balance. Online shopping can be a great little helper in all of this. It can save you time so you have more of it to spend with your loved ones playing in the snow and building the most epic snowman or fort. Gifts can be the promise of family events (concerts or hockey games) that continue long after Christmas has passed. My view would be to make online shopping your friend because the possibilities are endless.

Online shopping has changed my way of doing Christmas forever. How about you? How much of your Christmas or Chanukah shopping have you done online?


WAIT!!!!! Silly me, I almost forgot. From our cozy decorated home to yours,
















Social media and its war on Monsanto – COM0011 – Blog Post #2

control seed control food

Scary right? About as scary as Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin teaming up to rule the world. Here’s another one.

breat feed


I breastfed for what seemed like forever. Based on this, I think my child might be an alien. I don’t think I even knew what glyphosate was before I decided to write this article. All I know is that my Facebook friends hate Monsanto. In a major way. They hate Monsanto and anyone who supports it or uses GMOs. According to their posts, Monsanto is about to take over the world and we are all doomed unless we stop it…them…hmph!?! Stop them from what? Stop them from this…….


mankind #3


It’s all so overwhelming, so I thought I should start with some definitions to help me decide if I should join the war or buy a Starbucks latte and hit Target up for some not so last minute holiday shopping.

G.M.O. – A genetically modified organism (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. Created to improve crop protection and diminish use of pesticides.

Monsanto – A publicly traded American agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation. Leading producer of genetically engineered seed which it markets under the Roundup Ready brand. Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Robert Fraley won the World Food Prize (equivalent to Nobel Peace Prize) in 2013.

Roundup (or glyphosate) – The name for glyphosate systemic herbicide used to kill weeds. Enables farmers to kill weeds without damaging their crops.

Roundup Ready Crop – Glyphosate resistant crops.

Here are some other terms you might want to look up – Biolistics, Agro Bacterium, Gene Knockout.


Okay, not bad. I come from a family of scientists. My father was an award winning physicist and chemist, and my sister has a PhD in molecular biology. My father is no longer with us so I figured I would pick some of his former colleagues brains for some answers. The truth? They looked at me like I was kind of crazy. In their world, GMOs have existed forever. Not only are they necessary in the accommodation of our lifestyles, they are also engrained in every part of our daily lives, like cars for example or hydro and  “evil” vaccines. Now these guys are all in their late seventies, I thought for sure my much younger Dr. Sister would have a different opinion. NOPE. The conversation seemed almost irrelevant to each of them. Of course, cars aren’t really that good for us but most of us “need” them in order to maintain our way of life. GMO plants require less water than non GMO plants, are resistant to pesticides, and yield overall healthier and more plentiful crops. They are a huge help in the fight against world hunger, and looking a little better than cars right about now.

That being said, we don’t know what effect GMOs will have on us in the long term. We don’t know if herbicide resistant crops will in turn help create herbicide resistant weeds. The unknown can be scary. Since 1997, Monsanto has filed suit against 145 farmers in the United States for illegal use of seed and patent infringement. Only eleven went to trial.  All eleven cases were found in Monsanto’s favour. Apparently, studies in the UK indicate soy allergies doubling since the release of GM soy but from what I have read, the studies have proven to be inaccurate. The Indian farmer suicides also turned out to be myths. I researched Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser. Schmeiser plead guilty. The more I dig, the more “facts” against Monsanto seem to be bogus. Looks like I might be going to Target after all.

I’m all for supporting farmers and buying local but I’m beginning to think this anti-Monsanto social media trend is illogical. Go ahead and label what you want. If all GMOs are not created equal, then be clear about it. There may be other ways of feeding the world’s hungry but no one else is stepping up to the plate. And what about DARPA and its potential in rebuilding veterans lost limbs? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Sometimes I think we jump on social media bandwagons and attack heavily without doing our research. This allows us to seem illogical and unreasonable to law makers and good arguments often get ignored. I’m sure Monsanto has its faults but no one is going to take this seriously.child


At least I hope not.




COM0011 – Blog Post #1 – We Saw, We Cried, We Moved On…


We all remember our news feeds lighting up last April 15th. 273 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School by Boko Haram terrorists. We were outraged and we showed that anger. We condemned Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for sitting idly by while we yelled and chanted “#Bring Back Our Girls” across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Michelle Obama, along with dozens of celebrities joined the campaign by posting selfies  with the slogan. Surely, enough “sharing” would free these girls. But, the World of Terror is far more complicated than that, and soon, we got bored and moved on. The anger faded. It was time for summer, beaches and swimming. We didn’t sit “idly by”, we simply moved on.

53 girls risked their lives and fled to safety. No thanks to Social Media. It has been 217 days. 220 girls remain kidnapped.bring back our girls


On August 19th 2014, our feeds lit up yet again. Freelance photographer James Foley was the first American beheaded in Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant ( ISIS or ISIL). Filmed for the World to watch. And it did. IT DID!!!!!!!!!!!!James Foley


Try doing a James Foley search on Google. The first to pop up are links to the video of his murder and we all know how Google operates.  How could peace loving, cellphone and laptop using individuals be viewing this killing by the millions?


However, the World was again outraged. The beheadings continued and the World watched by the millions, literally, until it got bored and moved on.


And then came “Celebgate” or “The Fappening”. On August 31st 2014 hundreds of stolen iCloud photos of nude celebrities spread across imageboard4chan and were later released to “the public” via Reddit, Tumblr and Imgur. Of course a few nutjobs and hackers would find this coup quite exciting but even more shocking were the millions of people who thought it their  right to view these vial invasions of privacy. The following is a statement by one of the victims.


“It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime.” Jennifer Lawrence to Sam Kashner of Vanity Fair. “It’s disgusting.


” I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”Facebook-20141118-100231


And so, maybe it’s time we ask ourselves a few questions.  Is Social Media a playground for stripping away our decency? Can we trust ourselves to self monitor? Are we desensitized? And what comes of this? What happens to our Social Media raised children? Where will their morals lie? Who will hold us accountable? Most importantly, what effect are these images going to have on our future selves?


Let’s start the conversation.