Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Under construction

I thought of something else to do over the break: re-design my blog. Maybe I’ll even narrow the theme of the content a little more, too. I want to post more regularly (New Year's resolution), so maybe this is the first step.
Picture from http://goo.gl/5ztnE
I just finished the branding assignment for Ad class and I plan on applying some of the things I put together for that over here. If you had told me in September that I'd have three InDesign projects on the go, I would have curled up into a little ball and wept.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but… I really like InDesign. It turns out that pressing the wrong key doesn’t make the computer explode. Once I had that figured out, I started to have some fun with it. I have a lot to learn, but I’ve found the best way to figure out the program is by messing up (which I’ve done a lot).

So, keep your eyes open for some changes. However, I reserve the right to do nothing over the holidays except eat cookies, watch movies, etc. (see previous post).

Not likely, though.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The countdown's on...

The end is in sight –just over one week until our first term at RRC is done. All that stands between me and Christmas break is about three dozen assignments and tests. Maybe not that many, but it sure feels like it.
I’m working on a top-ten list of things to do over the winter break.
1)      Read a book. Any book.
-         I’m hoping to sit down with Lynn Coady’s The Antagonist and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

2)     See a movie. Any movie. Top picks are:

-         Beginners (dir. Mike Mills)

-         Midnight in Paris (dir. Woody Allen)

-         Melancholia (dir. Lars von Trier)

-         Synecdoche, New York (dir. Charlie Kaufman)

-         The Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Mallick)

-         Being Elmo (dir. Constance Marks)

-         Take Shelter (dir. Jeff Nichols)

-         Like Crazy (dir. Drake Doremus) 

3)     Eat good food. It’d be great to head to Stella’s at least once.

4)     Go to the Festival of Trees and Lights downtown.

5)     Spend some time at McNally Robinson.

6)     Get in touch with friends and family I haven’t seen since CreComm orientation.

7)     Goon a steady diet of Christmas cookies.

8)    Go to the Canad Inns Winter Wonderland.

9)     Go skating at The Forks.

10)  Recharge for term 2.

But first thing’s first—survive until the end of next week…

Friday, November 25, 2011

Every little bit

It turns out that changing the world is trickier than I thought.

My big plan of feeding all of Winnipeg over the holidays (well, not quite) hasn’t exactly turned out as I planned… but I’m not giving up yet.

I’m still convinced people do want to do good—but as I’ve mentioned time and time again on this blog, there are only so many hours in the day.

The first problem was that I underestimated just how busy students are, especially as the end of term assignments start raining down. Everyone has deadlines and jobs to worry about, so finding the time to get organized and even receive feedback from people who want to help has been challenging. 

Image from http://goo.gl/FY9Ur
I think this year the best course of action will be to at least have each of the three CreComm sections sign-up to feed one family. Every little bit counts. Next year I’ll be more prepared and give myself plenty of time for the preparation that goes into organizing an initiative like this.

It’s a bit frustrating because I want to do it all. I’ve realized that what’s important is not making this particular project work--- it’s about doing something. Anything.

I think it’s important to point out that there are several students who are giving back in their own ways. Some have told me they make annual donations to Winnipeg charities and at least two of my classmates are signed up to work at soup kitchens over the holidays.

So, hopefully you’re inspired to donate your time or money this holiday, too. Check out the following sites for more details.

Siloam Mission:

Winnipeg Harvest:

Christmas Cheer Board

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A CreComm Call to Action!

I’ve got a full plate with more than enough to do, but this holiday season I’m making an effort to fill up others’ plates—literally.

Ever since I wrote a column referencing Winnipeg Harvest, the stats I found out have been weighing on my mind:
          -The organization provides emergency food assistance to nearly 58,000 people a month across Manitoba. This is up 21 per cent over the same period last year.
         -Fifty-one per cent of Winnipeg Harvest clients are children.

There are plenty of ways to help out your fellow Winnipeggers, including dropping off food donations at dozens of locations around the city (including Staples and Winners stores).
Shopping list suggestions from the Christmas Cheer Board include:

Cans of Soup
Cans of Vegetables
Jelly powder
Cans of Fruit
Macaroni & cheese
Spaghetti sauce

Or, buy an unwrapped toy and drop if off at any fire department as part of the Toy Mountain campaign. The Salvation Army will distribute them this holiday season.

The ball is rolling…  
Section 1 of Creative Communications is going to sponsor a family through the Christmas Cheer Board.

It’s a good start, but we can do better. I’ll be talking to other CreComm class reps to get this started…We're going to make a big difference this year.

How about a competition? Which class can bring in the most donations?...  Does anyone have some other suggestions?

PR Power
I’m putting the lessons we’ve learned in PR to good use:

We’ve got the Identification Principle (what’s in it for me):
The official title of CreComm Food Drive Champions!!! (plus that warm fuzzy feeling you get knowing that you’re making a positive difference in your city).

And perhaps most important is the Action Principle. People want to do good. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t want to help others out… but actually doing it is another story.

I understand that everyone’s got busy lives and a limited budget, so it’s my mission to make helping easy… I’ll figure out the details.

If anyone wants to help, leave a comment!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day road trip...

I just got back from attending a Remembrance Day ceremony in Arborg, Manitoba (about an hour north of Winnipeg). I'm back a little later than expected (it was a full day) but am glad I had the chance to go to a ceremony outside of the city. The sense of community in the small town was amazing -- unlike any service I have ever attended before.  

Image from http://goo.gl/aoYjG
Six WWII veterans still live in the town and they were all in attendance today. My great-uncle was from Arborg and his picture is mounted on the wall of the legion there. He died in World War II at the age of 22. He is buried in Berlin and no one from my family has ever been to his gravesite.

Today during the service a retired RCMP officer gave a presentation about his travels to Europe. On his latest trip he visited many military cemeteries and had prepared a slide show with some pictures for today's special occasion.

Photo by Glenn Syme
One of the very first pictures he showed was a picture of my great-uncle’s gravestone. No one in my family has ever been to see it and it came as a shock to see his name etched in stone.

Photo by Glenn Syme

Photo by Glenn Syme
Needless to say, it was a Remembrance Day I will never forget.

Friday, November 4, 2011

So many stories...

I've been spending a lot of my time writing a Remembrance Day article for journalism class. I interviewed a sergeant corporal who joined the army when he was 19 years old (he's in his 40's now). I thought since he is a high-ranking officer, he would want to talk most about what he's seen and all of his accomplishments. Instead our conversation focused on his son who followed in his footsteps and joined the army when he was 18 years old (just a few years ago).

The hardest part for me has been trying to focus my article. There are so many stories within this story. Based on how my article is shaping up, I'll be sticking with the father-son theme, but what about the wife and mother story? I can't imagine what she goes through when both of the men in her life are overseas. It reminded me that Remembrance Day is about paying tribute to the families of soldiers as well. I've decided to ask her for an interview, too... I'm interested in what she has to say about her life and the other side of military life. So many stories, so little time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kids and TV

How much is too much?....
Image from http://goo.gl/RsJV9

When I was a kid…
When I was growing up, my parents allowed me and my younger brother to watch 30 minutes of TV per day. No more and most often less. This was considered to be a torture tactic by many of my friends, but my brother and I didn’t mind. It was just the way it was.

Now that I have a child of my own, I’ve had to start thinking about all sorts of things, including TV time.
I allow my 20-month-old daughter to watch TV once a week. On Saturday mornings I put on an Elmo DVD that’s about 30-40 minutes long (she loves Elmo). She doesn’t usually watch the whole thing and most often toddles off before it’s done. She’d much rather be outside.

Image from http://goo.gl/49HbJ

Too much TV
I also found this: “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.”
I think I'm doing pretty good at less than 30 minutes a week.
My daughter also doesn’t eat candy, fast food, or drink pop. And no, I’m not one of those parents who plan to shelter their child from the evils of the world (like sugar- Grrrr).
There’s going to be a time when my little one starts asking for junk food and TV and until then, why introduce or encourage it? I'm not planning to forbid any of it because that will just backfire eventually. Plus, it’s just not realistic.

Breaking News...
This past week I was feeling mighty fine about our TV restrictions when my brother sent me a link to an interesting article about the effect of TV on kids under the age of two. The article read:
It goes on to say that “barely a 10th of children in some areas can repeat even one nursery rhyme and, in extreme cases, some do not even know their own name” and that the problem is “now more prevalent than dyslexia or autism.”

Braggin’ Time
My daughter can sing her way through Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Row Your Boat, and likes to add her own twist to the end of Skinamarinky (her version ends in “I love me”). She also knows a few Wiggles songs (including the actions) and can make her way through the whole alphabet song, adding in a few mumbles of “next time won’t you sing with me” to the end.
She can recognize and say around 10 colours (my mom taught her “aqua” as a joke, but she knows it!) and knows her names (both her nickname and her full name), along with Mommy, Amma, Grandpa, Auntie and Uncle. Oh yeah, and all the characters from Sesame Street including Prairie Dawn and Abby Cadabby (she learned about them from books).

She knows the names of several animals and the sounds they make in addition to other words in her growing vocabulary. She often wakes up and “reads” to herself and practices her ABC’s for up to 45 minutes before wanting to get lifted out of her crib.
As you can see, I could go on forever…  And no, she doesn’t pronounce all the words or letters clearly, but she’s definitely got the sounds and the rhythm down. I’m not listing all of this just to brag about my daughter (okay, maybe just a little bit).

Cause and Effect?
Does any of this have to do with limited screen time? Who knows.  All kids are different and each develops at his or her own pace, but I can’t help but wonder. I’m not judging other parents’ choices and think there are some great educational programs out there… but again, I’d rather teach my girl how to count by reading a book or playing with her than have her see it on TV. The TV has its place, but I think it’s something that can easily get out of control, especially considering “children who consistently spend more than 4 hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight”.

Food for thought
So, I am going to try and stick with the Saturday morning TV tradition and lead by example. The only TV she sees me watch is the news at 6 pm. In fact, when she hears the TV being switched on, the first word she says is “news”.
I think it’s also important to take the lead from my daughter. Who knows, maybe she’ll never want a chocolate bar or want to watch TV… yeah right.
But a mommy can dream.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stranger things have happened...

So, I started writing about my foray into the world of sports and it quickly turned into something much bigger than a 100-word post... I want to put some more thought into it, maybe even turn it into an article of some sort... we shall see. That's my "problem"--- once I start writing, I can't stop.

I can say that in addition to becoming an author and journalist (see previous posts), I think I'll add sports person to the list. What does that mean? Not too sure yet. But the Winnipeg Blue Bombers game last Saturday had a surprising effect on me...

Alana, a sports fan? Stranger things have happened....

Friday, October 21, 2011

A date with my blog...

I’ve noticed the one phrase that most commonly follows “Yes, I have a blog” is “but I don’t write as often as I’d like.”

I feel the same way. I love to write, but finding the time to blog isn’t easy. It’s kind of like exercising: you feel great after doing it, but getting started is tricky.

Usually a week passes before I realize I haven’t blogged in a while. In a perfect world I’d like to be posting 2-3 times a week.

So, because I don’t have 28 hours in a day, I think what it’s going to take is planning. I'm a very organized person, so maybe scheduled blog sessions are the way to go.

Will planning dates with my blog lead to more posts? Stayed tuned to find out.

Image from http://goo.gl/0Tt0x

Friday, October 14, 2011


Friday. End of the week.

This week (and every week since the end of last August) I’ve spent more time at school than at home, which means during the week I spend more time with my classmates than my own family.

Our instructor Duncan often tells us to partner up with our BFFCC (best friend forever in CreComm) and we all laugh, but when you’re with the same 25 people day in and day out, it’s amazing how fast you bond.

It’s safe to say that no one understands what’s going on in our daily lives better than our classmates. We’ve been through the autofailing lows and the post-election highs together. For the next two years CreComm will be front and centre in most of our lives and no one gets it better than other CreComms.

And I think there’s something really great about that. It’s been one of the surprising highlights of this program so far.

Image from http://goo.gl/h9tvi

Recently one of my classmates was absent for two days in a row. In my university days I wouldn’t have been concerned (or even noticed) but in CreComm, missing a day is a big deal. Missing two is cause for concern.

When he got back (he’d had the flu) he said he’d never had as much support from classmates before. A few people sent him a text or email to see if he was all right, and I was one of them.

At the end of August, I would’ve thought that would be crazy, a little stalker-ish and just plain nuts. Now, maybe some people in the program do think it’s nuts, but I’d like to think we all feel the same way: like we’re in this together.

My free time tonight is going to be spent with the same 25 people I’ve seen all week. Again, anyone from the “outside” might think that’s crazy. But you just don’t understand – you’re not in CreComm.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Black as midnight on a moonless night.

It was a late (but exciting) night last night and I'm feeling a little drowsy today (understatement of the year).

So, as boring as it sounds, if I had an extra four hours today I would use them to catch up on some sleep. But since that's a no-go, I'd like to dedicate this post to something that’s always been there for me during this first month of CreComm: coffee (my substitute for sleep).

It gets my heart racing and gives me the strength to keep on going. Without it, I’d be nowhere (or fast asleep in the middle of class -- something that's bound to influence my professionalism marks).

Image from http://goo.gl/OlqKi

And with that, I'd like to throw it over to my favourite Special Agent, Dale Cooper. How can you not get excited about java after hearing what Coop has to say about it?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The CBC & Me

This weekend was a mix of work and play. There’s no question that the highlight was attending the CBC open house on Oct. 1.

I started the morning off with breakfast at the new Stella’s Café downtown. It’s a beautiful location and the food, as always, was delicious.

(I recommend the Veggie Breakfast Sandwich: two fried eggs, sautéed spinach & mushrooms with tomato, mayo & cheddar cheese on toasted rye. Is your mouth watering yet?)

As nice as it was to sit and enjoy breakfast, I was anxious to head back to the CBC building (just up the street) because I had been warned that last year the lineup for the open house was so long it wrapped around the side of the building.

So, I showed up early and was first in line, so excited that standing in the cold wind didn’t faze me.

I should explain that I’m an avid radio listener and felt like a kid at Disney World at the prospect of getting to see the inner workings of a newsroom.
CBC newsroom.

During my childhood, the radio was a staple in the kitchen. It was always on and always tuned to CBC. This was partly because of the quality programming and partly because my mom cannot stand radio ads.

(I should add that now that I've had to write a few radio ads, I can say a lot goes into those 30-second spots...)

And so I grew up listening to the voices of Peter Gzowski, Barabara Budd and Vicki Gabereau. To this day my mom always has the kitchen radio on and set to CBC.

My dad, on the other hand, is definitely more of a CJOB man but has to do his listening in the truck or on his own radio somewhere else in the house (poor dad). I should mention that I also really enjoy CJOB (I grew up also listening to and loving Peter Warren). 

Image from http://goo.gl/Ehvh6

When I lived in Iceland I always had the radio playing on my computer in the kitchen. Back in 2009 I even wrote one of my weekly Iceland Review Online articles about it. 

I've always been interested in working in a newsroom. In journalism class we’ve talked about the link between journalism and serving the public, as well as having the work benefit citizens. Being a journalist is noble and important work, and I’m realizing more and more that I want to be a part of that.

Am I a little naive? Maybe. But that doesn’t change how I feel, at least not at the moment. And based on the conversations I had with the people who work at CBC, I got the impression that they are just as excited about what’s going on around them as I am. Everyone was curious and energized about the thought of learning more. It was easy to see they loved their jobs.

Needless to say, the tour was great. I definitely got a lot more out of it because of what we’ve covered in our radio, TV and journalism classes so far.

So, that was my Saturday: devoted to the news. Interestingly enough, I ended up on it that day. Check out http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Canada/Manitoba/1304130959/ID=16338395 (around the 3:30 mark).