The Many Words of Russell Dickerson https://www.rhdickerson.com Content writing, fiction and non-fiction, Creation Thu, 14 Sep 2017 01:34:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Diabetes, Depression, and Strange Psychology https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/09/diabetes-depression-strange-psychology/ https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/09/diabetes-depression-strange-psychology/#respond Thu, 14 Sep 2017 01:33:48 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=5063 Over the years, I've written a fair amount about the depression I fight with (example). It's a gray shadow that follows me through life, and when I was diagnosed with diabetes in May I thought that the darkness would really set in very hard. But it didn't.

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Over the years, I’ve written a fair amount about the depression I fight with (example). It’s a gray shadow that follows me through life, and when I was diagnosed with diabetes in May I thought that the darkness would really set in very hard. In fact, the American Diabetes Association reports that those with diabetes have a greater chance of fighting through depression, so I was right in the crosshairs.

Except, in the four months since I was diagnosed, that has not happened at all. I’ve been somehow a happier person.

The Reality of the Diagnosis

Sure, getting diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is a real kick in the face. I was not happy about that part of it, naturally that hit me pretty hard. It would be unfair to call it a death sentence, with so many people out there fighting diseases that are far worse. But, speaking at a truthful level, there’s the highest probability that I will eventually die from something related to my diabetes.

logo-mayoThe Mayo Clinic lists a number of complications for diabetics, and any one of them could lead to my doom:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Of course, I might just get hit by a car tomorrow instead. Then again, maybe I get hit by the car because the diabetes damaged my eyes to the point that I didn’t see it coming. With all of this, my emotions should have just tanked.

An Emotional Fall That Did Not Happen

From the moment I left that initial appointment with the doctor, I was on-mission. It was, and remains, a mission that I can’t fail to fight for. That mission is working with all of my abilities to fight the disease, if not to come out on top than at least to live as well as I can with it. Instead of depression, I started with determination.

My opinion on the matter is that the determination that I felt to win this fight, and not turn out like others that I know who essentially gave in to the disease, I needed to always look forward. In a way, having to detail every moment for exercise and nutrition forced me to be right here, right now.

There are naturally always long term ideas in my mind, but being in the now is important to making sure my diabetic life stays on track. I think being concerned with this very moment has made me more cognizant of those moments, to make them count more. I have lived with an eye on the past for most of my life, dwelling on things that I should have let go.

No More Dwelling On Things

But I don’t have the time to dwell on things now, I have time to learn from them. For example, I had dark chocolate in my hot cereal a couple of weeks ago. The darker chocolate gets, the less sugar it has, so typically I’m safe with that from a carbs standpoint. But I had to learn that through experimentation, and the first time with it I put way too much chocolate in it. Not only was it was too sweet, my glucose pushed up an extra 20 points the next morning.

That rise in glucose wasn’t something I dwelled on though. Unlike my past, now I simply learn from it and adapt my life around it. I don’t think about that mistake, or beat myself up about the issue. I just remember it the next time I’m making hot cereal and use just a half a square of chocolate instead, if I use any at all.

The effect of not beating myself up or dwelling on things has affected all of my life, not just how I approach my disease, and it has made me a happier person. I might still get angered about the truly awful bosses I’ve had in the past, but now I don’t get bothered by it. I realized that I learned from those experiences, and with a new position in sight I’m moving to better things anyway.

Fighting the Darkness of Depression

I have seen the better things give way to the darkness anyway, which wasn’t unexpected. As with diabetes, depression is a lifelong fight, it’s something I’ll always deal with. But the last few times the shadows fell, including last week, the depression didn’t hit as hard. I was able to work my way out of it, without falling down the rabbit hole yet again.

There are many reasons that could be applicable as to why I didn’t fall. I have a better diet than I used to, with more fruits and vegetables than probably ever before. I walk most days, and I’m moved from one mile a day in May to over four per day here in September. That raises my level of endorphins, which certainly would help my mood.

My mood would also be enhanced just by the better things in my life right now. I am about to start a new job. Finishing my long-gestating Bachelor’s degree was definitely important to my new year. I was able to see old friends recently, and meet new ones in person (finally), not to mention spending good time with family watching the eclipse. So there are many reasons why my mood would have improved.

Mood Improvement Through Conflict

But I think my mood improved for the very simple reason that I now have a static thing to fight. I know what the exact problem is now, I can see the monster before me and I can strategically and tactically think around it. Diabetes is a solid, known form that I can fight, with tools I understand.

That fight is radically different from my battle with depression. Depression is a ghost, around you but never corporeal enough to get a hold of. It comes out of nowhere, regardless of current emotions or events. I can be smiling, even laughing, and still have depression at that same moment. Depression is a whisper that turns life to gray, pushing the fight away almost before it begins.

Diabetes gives me what depression won’t, a fight that I can make an impact with. My strict diet and watchful eye on carbs and calories has helped me lower the impact that diabetes has. In turn, that diet has lowered my cholesterol and evened out my other health indications, and despite my diagnosis I may be healthier than I have been in decades.

I am happier because I now fight something where I can see actual progress, something else that hasn’t happened in decades. I can now see that I am heading in a good direction, and it helps me see the same path in other areas of my life. The battle for my health has become the lantern in the dark, seemingly now leading me out of the dark tunnel and into a future of light.

 

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Day 91: Diabetes Doctor Visit Follow-Up https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/09/day-91-diabetes-doctor-visit-follow/ https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/09/day-91-diabetes-doctor-visit-follow/#comments Tue, 12 Sep 2017 02:01:26 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=5053 After about 90 days, I was scheduled to have both another blood test and another doctor's visit to see how my adaptations to the diabetic life were working out. I simply hoped that my numbers were on the right track.

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Once you’re diagnosed with diabetes, that’s what you have for the rest of your life. There’s no cure, no backing out of it, it’s just your new life. As I chronicled at the start of this blog, my glucose and various other measurements of health were terrible. That first visit to the doctor was a punch in the face, the realization that my world is now forever changed. It was time to fight, or see it fall apart.

I chose to fight, quite dramatically, in the hopes that the ends justified the means.

A Hope For 90 Days Of Action

After about 90 days (91, really, hence the title), I was scheduled to have both another blood test and another doctor’s visit to see how my adaptations to the diabetic life were working out. My big fear was that the blood test would show no real change, and that I would have to start taking insulin. With a starting numbers of May of 325 md/dl glucose, an A1C of 11.5%, and Triglycerides off the chart, I was expecting the worst.

Now, to be fair, and as is being chronicled in my other diabetes articles, I made quite a few life changes over the course of those first 90 days in order to avoid the worst. I had crossed fingers and toes that my numbers would be better after that time, if not groundbreakingly so maybe at least enough to avoid insulin. It was bad enough that I had to stab my finger most days for the blood test, I didn’t want to have to deal with a constant threat of insulin dependence as well.

I wasn’t sure 90 days would be enough time to change anything. I was definitely limiting calories and carbs, and doing my very best to keep everything in line. The American Diabetes Association suggests that meals should have 45-60g of carbs as an average. Being dramatic in everything that I do, I considered that to be the maximum that I wanted to shoot for. I didn’t want to maintain anything, I wanted to kill the beast AND EAT IT’S MOTHERFU—

Ahem.

Instead of simply maintaining a diet to keep the glucose counts stable, I intended to lower my glucose as best as I could. I planned to do that quite harshly at first, and only if it worked out would I allow myself to lean back in to the occasional food with a higher carb count. I’ve spent years watching a family member with Type 2 diabetes doing it all wrong, to the point that Olive Garden and Snickers bars were their favorite. I was damned if I was going to fall like that.

Going in for the blood test, I simply hoped that my numbers were on the right track. I hoped to be heading towards a better situation at least.

Blood! Blood Everywhere!

Okay, so maybe not blood everywhere. I went in for the blood test during the week before the doctor’s visit. The nurse asked if I needed to turn away when she stabbed me. I thought that I would be a pretty piss-poor horror creator if I needed to.

But getting blood drawn is a fascinating tangent to the story. She answered lots of questions for me, including if many patients pass out, how many watch the needle go in and how many can’t bear to see it, what kinds of tests will be run. Interestingly, the tests I received would not tell me what my blood type was. That was a mystery for another day.

That day was extraordinarily busy as I volunteered with my daughter at the Loveland Art in the Park festival. I was impatient to get my tests back, but I was too busy to dwell on it. By “too busy” I mean that I walked over 6 miles that day, just in the park, back and forth helping both the vendors and the Thompson Valley Art League. But eventually, while on a short break, I received an email with my results. I moved into the shade to sit down, take a deep breath, and find out what my future would hold.

diabetes day91 A1C rdickersonTest Results

As I logged into the health website, and logged in three more times thanks to wonky technology, I saw my results. I would discuss them with my doctor the following week, of course, but I knew immediately what those tests revealed:

I still had diabetes.

Of course I still had diabetes, I will always have diabetes. Silly rabbit. What the blood tests also revealed was a serious drop in all of my bad health counts.

  • My blood glucose dropped from 325 mg/dl to 110 mg/dl (my current low is 91, August’s average was 106).
  • The A1C result dropped from a disastrous 11.5% to the current 5.8% (considered high normal).
  • My cholesterol dropped from a borderline 207 mg/dl to 89, well within normal.

Does That Mean I’m Out of the Woods?

No, sadly it does not. But it means that I have a fantastic control over my diabetes at the moment. It will be a never ending battle, but I am starting out on the right track. I am exercising daily, eating better foods (mostly), and keeping strict accounts of what I do every day. I have to keep at it, and though there will be moments in life that I’ll stray from the path, if I want to keep this thing called life going I’ll have to learn how to course-correct when needed.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will watch my food intake. I’ll make myself take those long walks. I’ll remind myself not to eat those tater tots, or that slice of cake. I’ll also write soon about the curiosity of diabetes, depression, and the odd evening out of my emotions that this whole adventure is revealing. More on that next time.

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Diabetes: Restaurant Nutrition https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/diabetes-restaurant-nutrition/ https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/diabetes-restaurant-nutrition/#respond Wed, 30 Aug 2017 03:42:49 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=5037 Finding the nutrition contained in a restaurant's meal can be tricky for diabetics, but often using an app can help. If an app can't find the information, often nutritional values can be found on the restaurant's website.

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It is tough enough as a diabetic trying to work out the right nutrition in a meal, and going out to eat can be even more difficult. When you suffer from diabetes, you have to watch out for carbs and calories, of course. Add sodium, fats, and cholesterol to the watchlist makes nutrition even more challenging. Every restaurant creates their food in different ways, too, so a salad at one restaurant can be wildly different from the next.

Hope is not lost, however, since there are ways to keep an eye on meals and nutrition. Between apps, ingredient lists, menus, and common sense, often you can get close enough with nutritional measurements that you aren’t exceeding any limits. There’s not a perfect system, and sometimes information is outdated. But typically some information is better than none.

My Fitness PalMy Fitness Pal and Other Apps

Finding the nutrition contained in a restaurant’s meal can be tricky, but often using an app like My Fitness Pal can help. As discussed previously, the app is very helpful to find the nutritional values for most anything. Like many apps, it includes a strong connection to several food databases, and to the menus of popular restaurants.

These features are essential to tracking nutritional values, especially to remove some of the guesswork out of the data. Restaurants like McDonald’s, Jimmy John’s, Panera Bread, and many national chains are featured in the app, which is perfect to cut down on guessing. While guessing at values based on individual ingredients might do in a pinch, it isn’t obviously the most accurate.

The other problem with tracking is that data from chains isn’t always accurate, if a restaurant is featured at all. My local Colorado favorites are not in there, so I have to take an educated guess at ingredients and cooking methods. La Luz Mexican? No. Lucille’s? No. Austin’s? Of course not. Panda Express? Yes! It’s a chain, of course it’s in there. Silly rabbit.

So, I simply try to use the menu or educated guesses to figure out what ingredients are in the meal. It’s never perfect, and different types of the same ingredient offer different nutritional values. Guessing at the type of beans in the chili could include kidney beans, pinto, great northern, black, and any other kind of legume. But it’s worth taking a stab at it, to try to get as close of a data point as possible.

Torchy's Tacos nutrition facts and nutritional information

Torchy’s Tacos nutrition facts and nutritional information

Download A Menu With Nutritional Information

If an app can’t find the information, often nutritional values can be found on the restaurant’s website. Some, like McDonald’s, have tried to show off their programming prowess with as difficult and useless nutritional guide as can possibly be made. Others, like Torchy’s Tacos, offer a downloadable PDF or dedicated webpage with all or most of their nutritional data.

Finding a meal on a PDF menu is very helpful, since, like My Fitness Pal and other apps, all of the nutrition is already figured out for you. Menus may also fill in gaps of values that the apps might not have, especially with local eateries. Take Torchy’s Tacos for example. I can find the Beef Grande Burrito on the menu and—holy crap, there are 111g of carbs and 1260 calories in that.

Let’s back up. I can find the Ranch Hand taco with 17g of carbs, 763g of sodium, and 423 calories, and know how that’s going to affect my diabetic test results in the future. Or, if I’ve kept carbs down to that point in the day, whether I have the wiggle room to have guacamole or another low-carb taco as well.

Unfortunately, not all restaurant websites post their nutrition information. Some only post their general menus without that information, which leads back to guess. Some offer so much information that they can be difficult to sort through for the right information. Luckily, there are enough restaurants posting nutritional values that it is usually easy to find the important data.

Take a swing at nutrition with the old guessing box

Sometimes the nutritional data simply isn’t available, especially with smaller establishments. Or, in a situation like Torchy’s, the restaurant is offering a special that isn’t in a larger corporate menu. In these cases, you just have to take a guess. If you have an app, combined with some common sense and experience, a guess might not be too far off at all. An educated guess is better than having no information at all, and at least in data tracking you would be able to see what the original dishes’ ingredients were. With that, if some food causes an issue, it would be listed in your records even without the entire calculated meal.

 

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Diabetic Diets Part One: At Home https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/diabetic-diets-part-one-at-home/ https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/diabetic-diets-part-one-at-home/#respond Sun, 27 Aug 2017 23:00:55 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=5015 As a diabetic, it is important to always consider a proper diet and the right foods. With diabetes, different foods cause different reactions in the body, so keeping an eye on carbs and calories is a constant requirement.

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As a diabetic, it is important to always consider a proper diet and the right foods. With diabetes, different foods cause different reactions in the body, so keeping an eye on carbs and calories is a constant requirement. It isn’t just when you go out to a restaurant, it is every kind of food that gets tossed in the old cakehole.

For me, I have a lot more leeway than I did in May at the time of my diagnosis. Where my glucose was 370 and my cholesterol was 207, in August here those numbers average 100 and 89, respectively. I can expect that the times where I might not eat as I should, or am forced into worse choices by location or availability constraints, to see the next morning’s glucose results to be 15-25 points higher.

Diabetic meal requirements can be dramatically different between those with the disease, and I choose to shoot under the typical allowances. The American Diabetes Association and many other medical organizations suggest that 45-60 carbs for each meal is the sweet spot to maintain health and manage glucose levels. But I don’t want to manage diabetes, I want to come as closely as I can to beating it. Nothing will ever cure it, so the next best thing is to fight as hard as I can. So I have chosen mostly to keep my carbs down as much as possible, trying to stay under 30 grams if I can. I consider the 45-60 gram range to be a true maximum, the area where it is at least acceptable if I simply must choose meals that are abnormal.

We will keep restaurant foods off today’s menu, but we’ll discuss those tomorrow. This also is only part of my list of foods, I’ll write a second home foods article next week. While all of my diabetes articles are naturally linked and are important, the food ingredient posts may ultimately become the most helpful. Diabetic diets can also get pretty damn boring, and the foods listed below give a more controlled freedom with food choices.

Ole Mexican Xtreme Wellness High Fiber Low Carb Tortilla

Ole Mexican Xtreme Wellness High Fiber Low Carb Tortilla

Testing Various Types of Tortillas

We eat a lot of Mexican food in these parts, so finding a decent tortilla is important to my general love of food. Many tortillas average between 10g and 30g of carbs, and while the lower end is usually fine it can put a strain on the ingredients that go in the tortilla.

Earlier this summer, we found Ole Mexican Xtreme Wellness High Fiber Low Carb Tortillas at Walmart. and then recently at our local King Soopers, and they have been perfect for what we need. They taste good, something important of course. Nutritionally speaking they are excellent, having only 16g of carbs and 11g of dietary fiber. Net carbs, where you subtract the fiber from the carbs, are a mere 5g, which is extremely low carbs per tortilla and only 50 calorie each. That’s wonderful, and since tortillas can work with nearly any kind of meal they have become very important to my diet.

Oatmeal and Farina (Cream of Wheat)

Oatmeal is the old standby, mentioned nearly everywhere as being a healthy food. There is no exception for diabetics, oatmeal is a great way to start the morning and still keep the carbs and calories down. My morning bowl of oatmeal is only 16g of carbs and 114 calories, which is exceptional. It’s the second lowest of my typical morning meals, behind only two scrambled eggs and some strawberries. I keep all of the brown sugar and other sweets out of it, but I do add cinnamon for flavor. I miss my brown sugar, but I prefer that my feet not fall off.

Farina, mostly sold as Cream of Wheat, is a filling meal and is one meal (along with scrambled eggs) that I alternate with the oatmeal. Farina has more carbs, at 24g, but that is offset by the cup of milk it is made with. I get calcium and other minerals, which makes up a bit for the higher carbs.

Skinny Pop

Skinny Pop

Skinny Pop

There are quite a few popcorn choices on the market, and some work for diabetics better than other choices. Some are way too high in carbs, others taste like puffy cardboard. I’ve tried a number of them, but the one I found that works the best is Skinny Pop.

We have the individual size and the great big Sam’s Club-sized bag. The individual size is just 100 calories and only 9g of carbs, perfect for a quick snack. At only 9g of carbs, it also means that a snack later in the evening won’t have a huge impact on the next morning’s glucose test, but offers enough of a snack to keep things moving before bed.

Veggie Straws

I am told by my daughter that these are often referred to as “veggie fries,” which I can see. The rectangular straws look like colorful fries, and have a crispness to them. A serving size of 38 straws, each around 3″, makes for a nice snack or a side dish for a meal. 16g for that serving works nicely, providing a good sense of being full without overdoing it. Veggie Fries have a good flavor, though I prefer their Zesty Ranch flavor. The Sea Salt flavor is fine, but I’ve noticed during my diabetic summer that I’ve come to prefer more sharply flavored foods.

Outshine Bars

Clearly, dessert is usually off the table when you are fighting diabetes. No cakes or cupcakes. Only a small amount of chocolate (which we’ll cover in the next article). Few popcicles or ice cream cones. No muffins or cookies. Sigh.

Outshine Bars

Outshine Bars

But Outshine Bars are made with natural fruits instead of flavoring (and barely juice), and really fill a gap of frozen sweets missing in an ice cream-free environment. They taste good, have no added sugar, and usually have a lower carb count. Carb counts range between 15g and 19g of carbs, and 50-80 calories each. Outshine Bars are a good size too, a good snack size that neither completely fills you up nor too small to be insignificant.

Part Two: More Foods For More Meals

Later this week, the next edition of foods from home will cover other helpful foods. But, since I want to be helpful and not leave you hanging, below is a list of some of the things I’ll cover next.

  • Fiber One Bars
  • Kind Bars
  • Dark Chocolate Pieces
  • Almonds/Dark Chocolate Almonds
  • Jerky
  • Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Peppers, Pickles
  • Explore Cuisine – Organic Black Bean Spaghetti Explore Cusine

 

 

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Diabetes and the Analytical Brain https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/diabetes-analytical-brain/ Fri, 25 Aug 2017 21:21:45 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4986 Here are the apps I currently use on my Android phone to track my diabetic data. I also detail the spreadsheet I use to track everything, and the charts that make it easier to instantly see trends related to the data.

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After receiving my diagnosis of diabetes, the two sides of my brain started an argument. Despite being known as a creative person, my brain is equally split between the creative and analytical sides. That gives me what I think is a fascinating vision of curiosity and an ability to adapt to most situations very well, since I’m already thinking of a thousand things at once.

My creative side was exploring the worst things imaginable. My feet would fall off, my blood would boil during a sugar rush, my organs would dissolve into buckets of goo if I ate a french fry, and the like. Basically an armageddon of the goriest nature.

From the analytical side, the discussion was different, even calmer. I had to start testing for glucose every morning (I call it the “Great Stabaroo”), watching the calories and carbs I consumed during the day, and keeping track of my now-daily exercise. To do that, my analytical side needed data. To accomplish this task, I started researching and testing the best apps and other technologies available. Since I have my phone on me nearly all the time, using said phone made sense.

myfitnesspal

My Fitness Pal food data

Below are the apps I currently use on my Android phone, after testing quite a few options. I also will detail the spreadsheet I use to track everything, and the charts that make it easier to instantly see trends related to the data.

My Fitness Pal

First, I needed to find an app that would track what I ate, so that I could add the data to a diabetes app and my spreadsheet. After trying quite a few apps, I ended up with the My Fitness Pal app from Under Armour. My Fitness Pal is typically used to track calories for exercise, and many of the app’s key features are extraordinarily helpful for diabetics.

  • My Fitness Pal features an enormous database of foods, listed on the site as over 6 million items.
  • The app has a built-in barcode scanner, which uses the phone’s camera to scan a barcode, search the database for anything that matches the barcode, and send back all the nutrition information about the item. It is enormously helpful since it is so quick, and something can be added before forgetting about it. It’s not perfect, it won’t find everything. But it’s what I would call a 90% solution.
  • The app has a built-in restaurant database as well. It doesn’t work well for smaller restaurants, usually local ones, but if someone has added it through their personal information it will show up. With national chains, like Mcdonald’s, either the entire menu or individual items are typically available.
  • The great advantage of the app is being able to look so many things up very quickly. Just this weekend it was very handy to look up the Village Inn’s breakfast menu, to decide on carbs and calories of various dishes. The first one I looked at was a veggie omelette that I thought would be a safe bet. The app reported 78g of carbs and over 1400 calories, a clear “nope.”
  • All of the nutritional information, which is fully tracked throughout the app, can be modified and reviewed, including different serving sizes and amount eaten.
  • My Fitness Pal not only remembers that information, individual items and full meals can be copied to other days and meals as well. For complex meals, that’s very helpful, as something with many ingredients can easily be pasted later.
  • The connected website includes reports about every ingredient and meal tracked since the inception of app usage. That’s great for tracking health concerns. For example, if my daily headaches were enormous on a certain day, I could retrieve the entire day’s ingredients to see if there was any kind of pattern.
  • One vital part of using the app is having a digital food scale in the kitchen, especially one that list data in grams, ounces, and even pounds. It is hard to guess at what an ounce of something is if you haven’t tracked an ingredient before. With something like the grapes I ate which typing this, the difference between 50 grams and 150 grams, a few grapes versus a large handful, can mean the difference between a fairly insignificant carb load versus a dangerous one that can throw off the whole day.
mySugr reporting

mySugr Report sample

mySugr

Unlike the general nature of My Fitness Pal, mySugr is specifically a diabetes app. It is a simpler app than My Fitness Pal, but the advantage is that it doesn’t really need to be more complex.

  • It easily tracks daily blood glucose tests, showing each test in a chart at the top of the app.
  • Adding carb information for each meal is easily done, with available notes for the record.
  • Small icons for types of individual foods and meals makes it easy to track. For meals there are typical entries such as breakfast, and there are other choices like “Hypo Feeling” and “Office Work.” There are a number of icons that would help, such as no icon for mushrooms.
  • A second app like My Fitness Pal is required for nutritional information, which is a drawback. Having those features combined would make life easier, tracking carbs in both apps can be a little annoying.
  • mySugr’s website reports are well done, with helpful daily charts to visually identify where a hyper or hypo feeling have occurred and what was eaten (or not) at that time.
  • mySugr will also help to track body weight, location (useful for out of town restaurants), blood pressure, and many other items. I tend not to use the app in that way, but it’s nice to know that those features are available.
google fit

Google Fit Data

Google Fit

The pro version of the My Fitness Pal app, combined with paid-for add-ons, can track steps, mileage, and other exercise information. However, being dirt poor, the cost of my prescriptions and doctor’s visits take the rest of my small nest egg, so paying for an app is out of the question. Instead, I use Google Fit to track the number of steps each day, and the distances covered. Currently, my maximum distance in one day is 6.25 miles, and the minimum is basically nothing during the day we drove from Colorado to Reno, Nevada.

  • Google Fit, when connected to my phone’s location data and Google Maps, can very accurately track the mileage I have walked.
  • Maps integration provides a step-by-step map of every designated activity, available within the app or through fit.google.com. Seeing how it maps my lawnmowing, with so many repeated red lines in such a small area, is hilarious.
  • Fit often doesn’t track mileage unless a specific activity has started and ended. Instead, I have relied on step tracking over mileage tracking. Miles are better, of course, but using steps can still help show which days had the most activity.
  • The Fit website offers many easily understood and convenient charts and data-related visuals, though the lack of real customization can be an annoyance.

Desktop Data Tracking With a Spreadsheet

glucose spreadsheet

Glucose Spreadsheet

To have reports and other items to print and show my doctor, I created a spreadsheet in Libreoffice Calc. Now, the reports from all three apps are pretty decent, and with the pro versions are probably better. But they are full datasets, with little in the way of dashboard-style charts. Being an expert in spreadsheets, I just decided to create my own versions.

  • While the spreadsheets have evolved a bit since May, at their base they have been tracking the same data each day: Carbs, glucose (as of this writing now every other day), miles, and steps. In July I added calories to the charts as well.
  • Each information column also lists the minimum and maximum values for the entire month, and averages of each column.
  • Each row is based on a specific day of the month, and includes notes as needed to help track the reasons for low or high readings. For example, notes for August 11-13 indicate that I volunteered with my daughter’s theater class for the Loveland Art in the Park event, which is where the aforementioned 6.25 miles reported by Google Fit comes in.
  • There are four charts included, which show trends and report data on carbs, glucose tests, carbs versus glucose, and steps per day.

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Day One: The Diabetes Diagnosis and Instant Life Change https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/day-one-the-diabetes-diagnosis-and-instant-life-change/ Thu, 24 Aug 2017 20:33:52 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4979 My doctor knew immediately on seeing my test results that I had Type 2 Diabetes. Everything in my life since is completely different. This is day one of my new life.

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So I’m swimming along in life, being a typically sarcastic person with a depressive edge, when I start feeling a bit under the weather for the first few months of the year. Now, I’m not really a big fan of the medical community as it is. None of the times that I’ve been to the doctor over the years have helped in the slightest, especially when it comes to the frequent headaches I have become accustomed to in the last 20 years.

This was a bit different though. I just didn’t feel right at all. At the same time, we tried to renew my life insurance when the unexpected happened. I failed the health tests, and the life insurance company refused to renew the insurance for at least a year.

To say that was devastating is an understatement.

While I have had health concerns in the past, in the last four years I had dropped a considerable amount of weight and I was eating healthier. Like most people, I had my small vices. Too many snacks, a reliance on bagels and juice in the mornings, since dairy products can hurt my stomach. I was reading articles on how juices are not as healthy as they appear, based on their sugar content, but I was beginning to limit that. Blood pressure tests at local stores showed that I had low to normal blood pressure, so I felt no issues there. Concerned at my failure, I quickly made an appointment with a local doctor to get checked out.

I took my initial blood test and health information to the doctor, and we went through the results together. She stopped on three specific numbers: A1C hemoglobin, glucose, and cholesterol. Many of you who are familiar with those results probably know where this is going. Upon seeing those three results, she immediately knew what the problem was: I had Type 2 Diabetes.

Test Results

Many of my test results were considered catastrophic, at least based on my research. My blood glucose level was an astronomical 325 mg/dl, normal is considered to be 70–99 mg/dl after fasting and less than 140 mg/dl two hours after a meal1. My A1C Hemoglobin, a measure of glucose percentages over a three month timeframe, should be less than 5.7% for a normal person and diabetics should aim for less than 7.0%1. My A1C reading was 11.5%, a patently ridiculous number. On top of all that, my cholesterol was 207 mg/dL, borderline high, with my Triglycerides coming in at a whopping 453 mg/dL (150 or less is normal).

diabetes chart1

It’s like this chart is trying to tell me something.

A Shock to the System

Hearing all of this made for a rough few days, and some soul-searching. It’s not akin to getting told you are going to die tomorrow, but at the same time it does represent what I will eventually die from (save for our current executive doing things that are not presidential). Suddenly everything became a big concern. The doctor put me on a low-carb diet, and explained that I needed a good amount of exercise each day. I took all of that to heart, but it was tough.

Did that mean no more desserts? No more potatoes, breads, or pastas? What if my sweet tooth said “to hell with it,” what were the consequences? Would that single chocolate chip cookie kill me on the spot? The doctor suspected that I would need insulin on a daily basis for the rest of my life, a daunting effect. Considering myself healthy or not is one thing, but being told that I was unhealthy, and that I would have to change everything, was a bit of a downer.

Next time on the blog: Facing a different future and the first two weeks of my new life.

 

References

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My Resume https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/my-resume/ Mon, 07 Aug 2017 03:28:59 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4968 Below is my current resume as of August 2017. I have nearly 20 years of experience behind me across many industries and types of projects, and that experience continues to change. I try to update my resume often, not only for different positions but in favor of different aspects of my expertise. My full resume is a much longer document with a curriculum vitae, and this one is designed to be an overview of my long career and expertise.

My full resume is a much longer document with a curriculum vitae, and this one is designed to be an overview of my long career and expertise.… Read the rest

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Below is my current resume as of August 2017. I have nearly 20 years of experience behind me across many industries and types of projects, and that experience continues to change. I try to update my resume often, not only for different positions but in favor of different aspects of my expertise. My full resume is a much longer document with a curriculum vitae, and this one is designed to be an overview of my long career and expertise.

My full resume is a much longer document with a curriculum vitae, and this one is designed to be an overview of my long career and expertise. If for any reason the file does not appear below, my resume can be downloaded or viewed here as well.

Note: This version, for privacy reasons, does not include my contact information. I am happy to provide that with the full version of my resume, otherwise the content is identical.

 

russell dickerson resume

 

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Writing Sample: Grant Proposal https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/writing-sample-grant-proposal/ Sun, 06 Aug 2017 21:52:55 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4955 This grant proposal was developed through the coursework for my Bachelor of Science in Communications degree from Colorado State University. It is based on real information for a makerspace grant. The original project spans many pages, and an edited, APA-formatted PDF version appears below. This proposal explores the expansion of the makerspace at Windsor High School, and the grant funding that can begin the process. Makerspaces increase practical learning opportunities for students, providing students and faculty with a unique combination of formal and informal learning practices.

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This grant proposal was developed through the coursework for my Bachelor of Science in Communications degree from Colorado State University. It is based on real information for a makerspace grant. The original project spans many pages, and an edited, APA-formatted PDF version appears below.


Executive Summary

This proposal explores the expansion of the makerspace at Windsor High School, and the grant funding that can begin the process. Makerspaces increase practical learning opportunities for students, providing students and faculty with a unique combination of formal and informal learning practices. Makerspaces are hands-on centers for learning not just about a subject, but getting students involved directly with how science, technology, engineering, art, and math can be practically used. Students will be able to design their own unique creations, and hold a final physical object in their hands. The theory students learn in classes gives way in a makerspace to reality, important practical knowledge that students can use as they move on to college and the working world.

A planning process across multiple years is important to help the Windsor High School makerspace grow from a single computer and 3D printer, up through electronics and textiles, through to the final technological marvel respected throughout the district and state. In the first year, initial grant funding would help the makerspace expand into electronics and textiles, at approximately $4,000. Electronics and textiles would not drastically increase the makerspace footprint in the library, and would provide and expanded vision of a makerspace to more students.

The PDF version of this file is formatted with an APA style for my coursework. It includes a letter of transmittal and table of contents. For the full PDF click here.

Funding the first small stage would based on a grant from the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program. The program, offered twice yearly, is specifically designed this year to help educational institutions with STEM-related projects. With grants available up to $5,000, the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant would be perfect to help Windsor High School expand the makerspace.

Introduction

This proposal provides information on offering and expanding the makerspace at Windsor High School. The proposal takes the stance of increasing practical educational opportunities for students of the school through a makerspace. It includes a planning process that builds the makerspace from its origins as a single computer and 3D printer, through electronics and textiles, through to the final stage of the broad features of a fully operational makerspace and technological marvel. Funding the initial stages would come through grants, particularly the first small stage based on a grant from the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program.

Overview of Makerspaces

In the last decade, the terms “maker” and “makerspace” have entered the collective consciousness. Museums, libraries, schools, and independent organizations now offer makerspaces worldwide, bringing technology together with an eager community. Fascinating new technologies such as 3D printers and scanners, laser cutters, and software, combined with traditional knowledge like woodworking and metalworking, allow anyone to create nearly anything their heart desires.

But the idea of makerspaces, and indeed making anything, is not a new concept at all. Humans have been making things as individuals for thousands of years, and every day people around the world are creating new pieces of art, writing, and items needed in their daily lives through their ingenuity. In many ways, calling someone a “maker” or using a “makerspace” is just a new, fancy term for those people who want to create things themselves, and having a space to work in.

From an institutional standpoint, making has been around for centuries. Quilting societies date back to the 19th century, and art and crafts flourished in public libraries in the 1930s (Oliver, 2016). Libraries and educational programs have promoted hands-on learning for many years, especially in art and media both during and after school (Oliver, 2016). The intent of the maker movement is to provide the opportunity for students, and anyone else, to use the concepts of creating new ideas and products without having to rely on mass production.

Modern makerspaces vary in the activities offered, and depend on the amount and type of space available. With makerspaces as large as a Walmart, and as small as a simple table in the corner of a library, the idea of a makerspace varies widely. The maker movement is built on a do-it-yourself model, and is often characterized by the high technology involved in many of the publicized spaces (Koh & Abbas, 2015). Participants not only have the opportunity to design an item, they can turn those designs into real objects using 3D printers and other technology (Koh & Abbas, 2015). The advantage of a makerspace is having a place that offers tools and materials that many do not have access to, everything from power tools, to sewing machines and soldering irons, all the way up to expensive computer controlled laser cutters and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) routers (Koh & Abbas, 2015). The ideas and concepts are endless, and only depend on the size of the makerspace, funding, and maker imagination.

Makerspaces allow for freedom of creativity and knowledge, and within the makerspace a community of like-minded people can learn new ideas and come to rely on each other. Windsor High School has taken a great first step by offering a new, small makerspace with a 3D printer, opening the door to a new and exciting program (Windsor High School, n.d.). With a small grant for funding, Windsor High School can continue the journey by taking the next step into the maker movement and expanding the program.

Why offer or expand a makerspace?

Makerspaces share similarities with movements from the past, including general shop classes and internet entrepreneurship, but with some important modern differences that could put students ahead of their peers. Former Wired Magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson called the maker movement a “new industrial revolution,” based on differences with historical movements (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Anderson specified three important distinctions with the maker movement from others: standard design practices throughout the maker community, the open culture of sharing everything about projects online and with other makerspace participants, and the common use of similar computer-based tools (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). A major difference with previous movements is that makers create physical objects from their work, instead of merely computer output or general ideas (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). For students, makerspaces are not just a place to learn, but provide ways to literally produce what they have learned through advanced means.

Different types of makerspaces allow for varied projects, not just advanced technology but traditional engineering and science as well. Makerspaces can include 3D printing and laser cutting using advanced computer software, but they are also places where someone can build a wooden table by hand. Makerspaces of vastly different sizes can offer woodworking, metalworking and forging, electronics and robotics, casting and molding, and advanced digital fabrication (Oliver, 2016). Each makerspace can offer many choices, or concentrate on just one or two. Some makerspaces prefer working face-to-face in a warehouse environment, other makerspaces are quiet digital spaces in the corner of a library or school, and both present ways of combining old and new methodologies (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Makerspaces do not have to be linked with high technology either. Work by makers often starts, and sometimes stays, with unique cardboard constructions, and knitting, gardening, and craft work have been popular in some makerspaces (Daley & Child, 2015). Those opportunities are important not only for a makerspace to thrive, but add an exciting energy for education-based makerspaces.

The maker movement defined makerspaces with important ideas in mind. Oliver (2016) gathered those qualities in a list that explains the importance and value of makerspaces (p. 161):

  • Self-directed according to student interests (Educause 2013; Wyld 2014);
  • Supportive of curious play and creating with tolerance for failure and retrial (Britton 2012; Kurti et al. 2014a; Wyld 2014);
  • Encouraging of peer collaboration and sharing skills between experts and novices (Abram 2013; Britton 2012; Kurti et al. 2014a; Wyld 2014);
  • Physically-sited and open for ongoing project work that is both scheduled and unscheduled (Abram 2013; Educause 2013);
  • Well-stocked with salvaged/sourced materials or common equipment for project work (Abram 2013; Wyld 2014);
  • Drivers of the maker movement include cheap technology, open source hardware and software, and globalization, with different players acting in the maker ecosystem—beginners, collaborators, and market innovators (Hagel et al. 2014).

These qualities highlight the importance of material support and critical thinking within a makerspace, perfect for an educational environment. A great makerspace means excellent energy for students, aligning with their studies and teaching them through making to use thought and reason, not simply retelling facts they were told in class (Smay & Walker, 2015). Students do not simply create a report of information for a class, they use real-world knowledge and skills to produce the exact things they were learning about.

Producing items in a makerspace that had been only theories in a class highlights the importance of practical learning, and the connections between formal and informal learning. Students in a makerspace are not limited by the strict guidelines and course plans in formal education, but can openly discuss the intricacies of how, who, and what practical learning is (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Students can find what they are interested in and build expertise for it, and link their classes and makerspace to their plans for future careers (Koh & Abbas, 2015). Particularly with the rapid pace of technological changes, regular classes might only teach a student about the current programming language in use. As fast as technology moves, that programming language could be useless by the time they leave high school. A makerspace is designed to give practical experience to a student not just about a specific coding language, but how to find solutions to software issues based on the type of program and family of coding options (Craddock, 2015). In a makerspace, students do not simply learn one programming language, they learn the far more useful understanding of how to find the correct coding language for the task and implement it (Craddock, 2015). Students build expertise and knowledge, and at the same time they build the capacity to understand putting the right skills in play (Craddock, 2015). Changing methods and technologies remain true for many of the projects available in a makerspace, from printing and fabrication technologies to different metalworking techniques, and the value for students to learn adaptability to change is one of the strongest advantages of a makerspace.

Learning new methods and being adaptable to change helps both the student and the makerspace community. Students with increasing knowledge become sources for their peers, and over time teachers and administrators need to be involved on a decreasing basis (Craddock, 2015). Students learn vital community skills by working together, and collaboration of different social groups and types of thinkers adds to the unique experience (Craddock, 2015). Student collaboration in a makerspace becomes the perfect experience for students as they move on to working with teams in college and their future careers, as they learn to work together to build the expertise of the entire community.

STEAM/STEM opportunities.

In the 21st century, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs have become important to schools, and makerspaces excel in offering practical STEM knowledge to students. Educational institutions often have STEM goals to meet, and a makerspace can help to reach those by increasing opportunities for all students (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Since makerspaces provide opportunities to all levels of users, students at all economic levels can take advantage of technology and materials they might not otherwise have access to, and help the school reach their STEM goals even faster (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Reaching those goals means more opportunities for students in the school, and a step forward towards a career in STEM-related positions.

Makerspaces offer practical knowledge for students that can help them gain experience for future STEM-related jobs. Many positions require a knowledge of computers, and makerspaces offer a wide range of opportunities to learn how to code, build apps and websites, learn video and podcasting, even working with digital files for 3D printed items (Goodman, 2014). Figure 1 shows several STEM-related positions with at least a 24 percent expected increase in job openings through 2024. Many of the projects in a makerspace perfectly fit the knowledge for those positions, opening up new careers for students.

Figure 1: Fast growing STEM occupations; Bureau of Labor Statistics (n.d.)

Figure 1: Fast growing STEM occupations; Bureau of Labor Statistics (n.d.)

Many programs also add another element that makerspaces can influence, art, the “A” in the often-used STEAM acronym. Studies show that scientists and innovators of technology are typically non-linear thinkers, including a number of Nobel Prize winners, who use both cognitive and creative methods for the best results (Kurti, Kurti & Fleming, 2014A). Makerspaces, much like the beginnings of the Windsor High School space, often have advanced technology that requires both an artistic sense and a technical mastery that provides a perfect solution for the best innovative students.

Combining Makerspaces and STEAM Education

By using makerspaces alongside traditional coursework, Windsor High School will be able to bring participation more thoroughly into a student’s experience. As with all things, however, there are challenges to using makerspaces, and these possible problems would need to be addressed with thorough planning. Despite those concerns, the maker movement is an important asset to the future of education, and has many positive effects for both students and the school. Students learn the positive aspects of making things and working within a community, and they also learn through trial and error how to solve their own problems, an important lesson growing into adulthood (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Increased STEAM goals and achievements are important, and makerspaces help students and staff to work towards personal and professional goals and towards a strong future.

Possible negative effects of educational makerspaces.

While the makerspace at Windsor High School will be overwhelmingly positive, there are a few negative considerations that need to be addressed. Each potential issue has solutions that with work and planning can be kept under control. From personal and financial standpoints, each should be considered carefully so that no further issues will appear in the future.

Makerspaces are filled with various tools and machines, depending on the space, and there will always be potential concerns for the students and faculty that use the space. Technology, particularly with printing both traditionally and in 3D, raises legal and ethical issues based on proper content, intellectual rights and piracy, privacy of students, and using public information (Crumpton, 2015). Makerspaces also feature a variety of machines with moving or hot parts, and safety, access, liability, and the legal use of equipment both for certain age requirements and potential misuse must be considered through new policies (Crumpton, 2015). Even smaller items that only have a slight chance of injuring a student, such as a battery or LED bulb, would require some sort of release or liability remark prior to usage.

Educators might not be on board with a makerspace due to concerns about information and current knowledge. Teachers might not be used to teaching from either an informal or project-based side, and could choose not to let their students link with the makerspace (Oliver, 2016). Teachers are also under pressure to make sure their students can pass standardized tests, and may not have the time to teach students or themselves how to learn new procedures and lessons (Oliver, 2016). With classes planned out specifically to stay on track, there may not be the opportunity to work a makerspace project into the classroom setting.

Students may have their own concerns about being a part of a makerspace. The MAKE organization and Make Magazine have been accused in the past of highlighting mostly white male participants in maker programs, and specializing only in electronics, vehicles, and robots (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Some consider the dominant culture of white males in the maker movement to be inaccessible to others, and makers who do not identify as such might not participate in what they feel are not inclusive programs (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Students might also feel that, by makerspaces becoming a formal part of school instead of a separate club, the institution might crush the innovation and creativity that are a typical part of the maker movement (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Students might opt out before the makerspace really gets moving, and never see the positive effects of the space.

Possible positive effects of educational makerspaces.

A makerspace in Windsor High School will have many positive effects on students, staff, and the entire school. Learning through practical knowledge and making things is the base of how people learn, and makerspaces provide this opportunity through open experiments, critical thinking, and the final production of a work (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Students learn valuable techniques and lessons informally away from the educational environment, and a makerspace brings that participation into the school for educators to adapt and grow with (Daley & Child, 2015). Combining formal and informal techniques helps teachers increase outcomes for students, and clears the way for more teacher-student projects and innovative curriculums in the classroom (Daley & Child, 2015; Oliver, 2016). The effect is overwhelmingly positive even outside of the makerspace, and can lead to more community efforts between students and faculty.

The community of students and faculty in a makerspace allows an exploration of different opportunities between disparate disciplines, and clarifies unique principles. Makerspaces encourage STEAM by mixing together aspects of all disciplines, putting the theories and ideas of each course of study to the test (Oliver, 2016). For example, a makerspace project could be used to engineer a trellis covered in a specific type of moss, designed to grow only on certain boards, to create a living checkerboard pattern. Students could sell the products in a fundraiser to further support the makerspace, even adding custom embroidered hats with the Wizard logo on them from another project of the school makerspace (Oliver, 2016). With a makerspace, designs can easily be swapped for others, specialized through makerspace tools and materials to fit a new perspective that mass produced items cannot match (Belbin & Newcombe, 2013). Projects like these not only combine different ideologies and disciplines together, they offer a unique, community-building means to encourage further makerspace use and support.

A makerspace can also provide more personal needs, and build future strengths through important lessons. Makerspaces are designed as open communities, with flourishing ideas and a safe community of supportive and noncritical participants (Koh & Abbas, 2015). A safe, supportive community is often what a student needs, and makerspaces provide a space where students can feel important and accepted. Those who cannot afford materials or tools on their own, or are not normally able to find someone with expertise, can come to a makerspace and be welcomed (Koh & Abbas, 2015). Students not only get technological and project information, they also learn important lessons about sustainability, as most makerspaces use take old products and reuse, fix, or recycle them into new creations (Daley & Child, 2015). Reusing and recycling is at the heart of many makerspaces, as it saves money and offers new ways to learn.

The Scope of Makerspaces and Potential Funding

Makerspaces vary greatly in size, scope, and intent, and it is important to move forward with the best plan in place. Investments in space, tools, and materials depend on what stage Windsor High School is ready for, and if the makerspace will be based on STEAM, art, technology, woodworking, or any combination of options. Understanding what Windsor High School teens want, need, what interests exist, and how to pull off a makerspace are all important considerations (Koh & Abbas, 2015). Gathering information on student interests can help, but a perfect time and exact set of tools will never happen at exactly the right time (Kurti, Kurti, & Fleming, 2014B). Building up a makerspace over time is the best plan, and understanding the costs involved at each stage helps to determine how and when Windsor High School will be ready for each step. Table 2 shows the approximate costs for different stages of a high school makerspace, from a general work area to offering a full CNC router and computer.

Table 2: Cost for Approximate Makerspace Stages; based on Makered.org (n.d.)

Table 2: Cost for Approximate Makerspace Stages; based on Makered.org (n.d.)

Best starting choice: electronics and textiles stage.

Since the Windsor High School makerspace has already started with a 3D printer in the library, the best course of action would be to continue on a smaller scale. With a library space, woodworking, metalworking, and other projects with loud noises and more shop-related experiences would not match the current plan. Adding electronics, such as robotics and small computer-part projects, along with textiles such as embroidery and sewing machines, would be a much more economical and environmental method to move forward with. Table 2 shows these elements highlighted, with costs shown. More specific costs and makerspace information is available in Appendix B. These new tools and materials would add a new dimension to the Windsor High School makerspace, and could be easily funded through a small grant. The plan would then be to set goals for further additions to the makerspace in future years, and Table 3 offers a plan for the entire makerspace and its needs.

Table 3: Approximate Costs for Makerspace Stages; based on Makered.org (n.d.)

Table 3: Approximate Costs for Makerspace Stages; based on Makered.org (n.d.)

Funding opportunities.

To avoid using school funds, a grant is recommended to fund the next stage of the makerspace. Grants are common when it comes to makerspaces, as one survey reported that 65 percent of polled makerspaces were funded through grants and a mere 36 percent were funded through an organization’s budget (Craddock, 2015). The Fayetteville Free Library in New York started a makerspace through grants, receiving a $10,000 grant through the Contact Summit and another $20,000 grant through a New York state construction grant (Belbin & Newcombe, 2013). A good grant fit for the next stage of the Windsor High School makerspace is the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant, featuring smaller grants up to $5,000.

Grant Source: Lowe’s Toolbox for Education

Reasons to use the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education

Since the combination of the Electronics and Textiles stages add up to $4,039, and the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant is typically between $2,000 and $5,000, this grant would fit perfectly with the makerspace needs, and possibly include enough money for upkeep and supplies through the first year. Windsor is also equally between three different Lowe’s retail stores, which should help the local profile with the organization. Below is further information about the grant, and complete information about Lowe’s is available in Appendix A.

Types of projects funded.

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grants fund a variety of projects throughout the year. Funding preferences are for projects that will have a permanent community impact, encourage parent and community involvement, and increase community spirit (Lowe’s FAQ, n.d.). The 2016-2017 application also specifically asks for projects that will enhance STEM programs and education, particularly technology, facility, and safety upgrades and improvements (Lowe’s FAQ, n.d.). The grant fits perfectly with the needs of the Windsor High School makerspace, a project driven fully by STEM and education.

Overview of grant amounts and number of yearly proposals.

Lowe’s provides a limit per school, per year, and for overall giving. Grants between $2,000 and $5,000 are given to individual programs, with Lowe’s donating up to $5 million to 1,000 different schools in a school year (Lowe’s FAQ, n.d.). Grants must fall within the individual grant range, or they will not be considered. Lowe’s limits each application cycle to 1,500 applications, and closes the cycle when that limit is reached (Lowe’s FAQ, n.d.). There are other Lowe’s grant programs that feature greater funding amounts, but they are beyond the scope of this proposal.

Specific funding criteria.

As a public K-12 school, Windsor High School is eligible for the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant. Grant applications are accepted twice yearly, in the spring and fall, with deadlines posted on the Lowe’s website (Lowe’s Open House, n.d.). Lowe’s awards grants to communities with a local Lowe’s store, but since a distance is not required Windsor should fall into that designation (Lowe’s CR, n.d.). Funding is not meant for various uses such as memorial campaigns, continuing education for faculty, or travel expenses, which should not effect the makerspace plan (Lowe’s FAQ, n.d.). Otherwise, the grant seems to be quite open for schools and other organizations to apply.

Conclusion

The maker movement and makerspaces have changed the way the students learn, and the combination of formal and informal learning is vital to education in the 21st century. This proposal provided information on expanding the makerspace at Windsor High School. To increase practical educational opportunities for students of the school, an expanded makerspace and planning process was proposed that builds the makerspace from its current simple status to a fully operational makerspace. Funding the initial stages would come through grants, particularly the first small stage based on a grant from the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program.

References

  • Belbin, N., & Newcombe, P. (2013). Fab labs at the library. The Education Digest, 78(7), 65-68.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). Fastest growing occupations. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_103.htm
  • Craddock, I. L. (2015). Makers on the move: A mobile makerspace at a comprehensive public high school. Library Hi Tech, 33(4), 497-504.
  • Crumpton, M. A. (2015). Fines, fees and funding: Makerspaces standing apart. The Bottom Line, 28(3), 90-94.
  • Daley, M., & Child, J. (2015). Makerspaces in the school library environment. Access (Online), 29(1), 42-49.
  • Goodman, A. L. (2014). Equipment and software. Library Technology Reports, 50(6), 16-28,2.
  • Halverson, E. R., & Sheridan, K. M. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495-504,563,565.
  • Koh, K., & Abbas, J. (2015). Competencies for information professionals in learning labs and makerspaces. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 56(2), 114-129.
  • Kurti, R. S., Kurti, D., & Fleming, L. (2014A). The environment and tools of great educational makerspaces. Teacher Librarian, 42(1), 8-12.
  • Kurti, R. S., Kurti, D., & Fleming, L. (2014B). Practical implementation of an educational makerspace. Teacher Librarian, 42(2), 20-24.
  • Lowe’s CR. (n.d.). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from https://1g0r7s45brd833po5f1d5yyb-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/CSR-FAQs.pdf
  • Lowe’s FAQ. (n.d.). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from http://toolboxforeducation.com/faq
  • Lowe’s Open House. (n.d.). Apply for a grant. Retrieved from https://newsroom.lowes.com/apply-for-a-grant/
  • Makered.org. (n.d.). High school makerspace tools and materials. Retrieved from http://makered.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Makerspace-High-School-Makerspace-Tools-And-Materials-April-2012.pdf
  • Oliver, K. M. (2016). Professional development considerations for makerspace leaders, part one: Addressing “what?” and “why?”. TechTrends, 60(2), 160-166. doi:http://dx.doi.org.csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s11528-016-0028-5
  • Smay, D., & Walker, C. (2015). Makerspaces: A creative approach to education. Teacher Librarian, 42(4), 39-43.
  • Windsor High School. (n.d.). Makerspace at WHS. Retrieved from http://whs.weldre4.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=3055869&pageId=26506305

Appendix A

Information on Lowe’s and Lowe’s Foundations

All Lowe’s Foundations

Lowe’s features a number of different grant programs, from small grants starting at $1,000 to large grants up to $100,000. These include the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grants program, Lowe’s Community Partners Grants, and Hometown Grants. For full information on each grant and Lowe’s overall giving program, visit https://newsroom.lowes.com/apply-for-a-grant/

Sample Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Application

Featured on the Lowe’s website is a sample grant application for the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant program. Sample information is included in the interactive PDF, so that users will know what answers Lowe’s is looking for. Download or visit the interactive PDF on their site at http://toolboxforeducation.com/resources/Lowes_TBFE_Sample_App_08-09.pdf.

Windsor Area Lowe’s Stores

There are a few Lowe’s stores in the immediate Windsor area. While the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grants program is a separate system administered from Lowe’s corporate offices, information about the local stores could be beneficial for the grant and for further charitable contact directly with the stores.

  • Front Range Village, 4227 Corbett Dr, Fort Collins, CO (970) 232-7910
  • 1355 Sculptor Dr, Loveland, CO (970) 663-9910
  • 2400 47th Ave, Greeley, CO (970) 506-2280

Appendix B

Maker and Makerspace Resources

The maker movement is a very broad one, with many resources online both specifically for educational spaces and generally for all makerspaces. Below are some of those resources, including the full dataset on predicted STEAM jobs in the future.

Full Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics features an extremely large dataset of employment in 2014, and projections through 2024, that are briefly touched on in this proposal. For more detailed information, visit the full dataset at https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables.htm.

Make Magazine

Make Magazine is an important resource for the maker movement, and contains everything from makerspace plans, Maker Faire information, and projects. Visit their website at https://makezine.com/

Makerspace Lab Resources

Makerspace Lab Resources provides information for schools and other organizations entering the maker movement, and is also a supplier of many of the materials that may be needed in a makerspace. For more information, visit http://www.makerspacelab.com/white-lab-coats-for-kids-resources/

Makerspace Playbook and High School Makerspace Data

Maker Ed provides many resources for the maker movement, including plans for makerspaces, costs, proposal templates, material and tool lists, and much more. Brief information from Maker Ed’s High School Makerspace Tools and Materials resource (full version here) was used as two of the tables in this proposal, and the Makerspace Playbook was listed in several places online as a valuable resource in creating makerspaces.

Makerspace Products and Materials Lists

Makerspaces.com features a long list of potential products and materials that could be useful in various types of makerspaces. For more information, visit https://www.makerspaces.com/makerspace-materials-supply-list/.

 

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Writing Sample: Website Comment Policy https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/writing-sample-website-comment-policy/ Sun, 06 Aug 2017 21:06:15 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4953 This is a sample of the type of policy documents I have written for a business. This document was intended give information primarily to college students. It is intended to be informative, but not so tied to legal speak that might cause students to quickly abandon it.

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This is a sample of the type of policy documents I have written for a business. This document was intended give information primarily to college students. It is intended to be informative, but not so tied to legal speak that might cause students to quickly abandon it.

Our Website Comment Guidelines

We love comments about our articles, and we want to hear what you respectfully have to say. Remember to:

  • Be nice, courteous, and stay on topic;

  • No profanity, name-calling/personal attacks, or inappropriate content;

  • If you harass others or joke about tragedies, you will be blocked;

  • No spam posts, or posts trying to sell anything.

The primary rule here is pretty simple: Treat others with the same respect you’d want for yourself. Trolling and posting inappropriate content will lead to you being banned, and we don’t want that. Play nice.

Our moderators do their best not to delete comments, we feel that the community has individual, often strong opinions and points of view. We do, however, reserve the right to remove comments for the reasons mentioned above, as well as:

  • anything that violates our Privacy Policies;

  • anything derogatory based on race, religion, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation and/or otherwise derogatory in any perceived way;

  • any other comments that are detrimental to the community.

Our moderators try to catch inappropriate content, but we also hope that our community will help us police it as well. If you see a comment that is inappropriate, you can click on the small flag to mark it for us. We’ll review the comment, and determine whether it should stay or go.

These guidelines are not intended, and may not be relied upon to (and does not) create any right enforceable by any party other than our business. It doesn’t require our business to take (or even not take) any action.

Our business will sometimes change the technologies that run our websites. These include different software, hardware, and even web hosting. Some comments, especially older ones, may not be available in future versions of our sites.

Can’t find your comment on the site?

  • We do occasionally run into technical difficulties, and your comment may not have made it to our site.

  • We may not have approved it because it broke one of those rules listed above.

  • We may have deleted it because it violated the comment guidelines.

Why am I blocked from commenting?

While we do our best to let everyone have a voice in our online communities, sometimes commenters step over the line. We sometimes block and ban commenters who break the rules. Banning procedures use various technologies and information to enforce the block, including emails, IP addresses, and any other available information.

This stops the abusive commenter from commenting on the site in the future, even if later or other comments are not abusive. Depending on the software we are using at the time, banning might cause other previous comments from the abuser to disappear as well.

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Writing sample: Technical/Privacy Policy https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/writing-sample-technicalprivacy-policy/ Sun, 06 Aug 2017 20:50:29 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4945 Writing Sample, Policy: This is a sample of the type of policy documents I have written for businesses. This document was intended give information to primarily college students. It is intended to be informative, but not so tied to legal speak that might cause students to quickly abandon it.

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Writing Sample: Policy

Note: This is a sample of the type of policy documents I have written for businesses. This document was intended give information to primarily college students. It is intended to be informative, but not so tied to legal speak that might cause students to quickly abandon it.


Website Student Media Privacy Policy

Updated 7/14/2015

General

Our business is committed to maintaining appropriate privacy of personal information that you provide to us when using any of our sites or products. This Privacy Policy lists how we treat personal information received about you when you visit.

We may make content or services from other websites, such as Youtube.com, social media sites, or other websites, available to you through links or content embeds. Those other sites are not subject to this Privacy Policy, and will have privacy policies that differ from ours. Our business always recommends that you review the privacy policy at each of those sites, to determine how those sites protect your privacy.

Email List

We do not rent, sell or share any of our email lists. If you do not wish to receive our emails anymore, an unsubscribe button is located at the bottom of each email for your convenience.

Surveys

Any surveys offered are entirely voluntary. We don’t track or use information that is tied to you personally in any way; we only use information for demographic purposes.

Website Usage Information

We always want to offer our customers the very best with our products, and we use information gathered from our website and app visitors to make your experiences with us better. The websites and products of our business, using various technologies, may automatically collect IP addresses and website usage information from you when you visit our website. This information helps us see how our visitors use our websites on an aggregate basis, including the frequency of visitors, the length of their visits, how they use navigation, and more.

Cookies

Some elements of our different websites use cookies, to help with the overall user experience. Cookies don’t let us have any additional personal information about you, or anything else from your computer.

Policy Changes

From time to time, our business will alter and/or update this privacy policy. Often that is for clarity, or changes in technology that require an update for the way we operate.

Third Party Advertising

Our business uses third party advertising networks and applications to serve ads to you on our websites and apps. These companies may use information about your visits to our sites and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information and your choices about the information used by these companies, please see:

http://www.doubleclick.com/us/about_doubleclick/privacy

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Writing Sample: News release https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/08/writing-sample-news-release/ Sun, 06 Aug 2017 20:26:57 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4935 This news release sample was written for my Bachelor degree in Communications program, through Colorado State University. It is an example news release based on a fictional product, but researched as if it was a real device. A PDF version is included below.

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This news release sample was written for my Bachelor degree in Communications program, through Colorado State University. It is an example news release based on a fictional product, but researched as if it was a real device. A PDF version is included below.


NeuProsthetic Challenges Medical Norms With Custom

3D Sculpted Replacements For Lost Appendages

Customizable, personal design lets any patient wear distinctive prosthesis

Windsor, Co. (July 16, 2017) – The NeuProsthetic prosthesis cover and replacement models give hope to those who have lost appendages, through personalized, distinctive designs. NeuProsthetic replacements change the way prosthetics are approached by offering a new way to replace lost limbs with a profound statement of courage and creativity.

NeuProsthetic replacements are created uniquely for each patient, using state-of-the-art technology. Patients and healthcare providers work with NeuProsthetic creators to sculpt distinct designs using 3D modeling software. Patients are scanned digitally, and the information is added to the 3D model to create a comfortable, perfect fit for the prosthesis.

NeuProsthetic replacements can then be printed on a 3D printer using various materials, to integrate with an existing prosthesis or to replace one. NeuProsthetic replacements can be reprinted in the future as many times as needed. Any future design changes easily work with existing data, easing the replacement process.

Information for patients, families, and healthcare providers, including costs, insurance processes, and availability is located on the NeuProsthetic website at www.NeuProsthetic.com.

###

PDF:

rdickerson_news_release1

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Parody: Legal, Ethical and Organizational Communication in Landmark Court Cases https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/legal-ethical-organizational-communication-landmark-court-cases/ Thu, 20 Jul 2017 00:35:10 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4859 Parody has been a part of media and entertainment for centuries, with seemingly few public figures escaping notice. Parody and satire, particularly in politics and with public figures, dates back at least to a political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin from 1754, predating the United States as a country7. From political caricatures and books of the 19th century, through the Keystone Cops and comedy films of the 20th century, parody has been a vital part of American culture. Even in just the past few months, television shows such as Saturday Night Live featured acerbic parodies of public figures such as President Donald Trump.… Read the rest

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Parody has been a part of media and entertainment for centuries, with seemingly few public figures escaping notice. Parody and satire, particularly in politics and with public figures, dates back at least to a political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin from 1754, predating the United States as a country7. From political caricatures and books of the 19th century, through the Keystone Cops and comedy films of the 20th century, parody has been a vital part of American culture. Even in just the past few months, television shows such as Saturday Night Live featured acerbic parodies of public figures such as President Donald Trump.

While parody typically enjoys protection through the First Amendment as free speech, it is possible that parody can be offensive, even causing distress for public figures. The landmark Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) case Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell asked the question of First Amendment protection for offensive parodies, and effects on public figures. This paper summarizes the court case, analyzes the ruling based on the First Amendment, and evaluates the final ruling.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

Summarizing the Case

Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell centered on a parody advertisement (Figure 1), and whether or not the First Amendment protects offensive parody when it causes emotional distress to a public figure. In 1983, the sexually explicit magazine Hustler published a parody advertisement featuring popular Christian minister Jerry Falwell, satirizing the well-known Campari advertisements of the time5. The advertisement, carefully offering a parody disclaimer at the bottom, suggested that Falwell had lost his virginity to his own mother in an outhouse.

Despite the parody disclaimer, and listing in Hustler’s table of contents that the advertisement was fictional, Falwell sued the magazine. Falwell’s initial lawsuit was based on privacy invasion, libel based on the content of the advertisement, and “intentional infliction of emotional distress”5. Of those, the jury awarded Falwell damages only on the final charge of emotional distress, with Falwell awarded $150,000 in damages.

Hustler Magazine, Inc. appealed the ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Hustler Magazine, Inc. argued that the parody, no matter how outrageous, was protected under the First Amendment as free speech, but the Fourth Circuit found the level of outrageousness to be an irrelevant factor6. Hustler Magazine, Inc. also argued that a defamatory standard of actual malice against a public figure must be met, based on previous court cases6. However, the Fourth Circuit denied this approach as well, citing reckless behavior and protections against inflicting distress6. The Fourth Circuit upheld the decision in 1986 made by the lower court, and Hustler Magazine, Inc. appealed to SCOTUS for a final ruling.

SCOTUS ruled on the case in 1988, in favor of Hustler Magazine, Inc. and support of parody based on the First Amendment. The unanimous court ruled that the protections of the First Amendment trumped protection by the state for public figures against offensive parodies, provided that the parody could clearly not be taken as truth and that the offensive speech did not contain false statements of fact featuring “actual malice”8. The ruling only covered public figures, such as Falwell, and did not address parodies of private citizens.

Analyzing the Ruling

The SCOTUS ruling on the case gets to the heart of the First Amendment’s protections of free speech, and how that speech is communicated. The decision was a unanimous one by the court, and pointed out that outrageous speech could only be considered subjectively, as a jury would have wide-ranging tastes and personal views on the parody itself6. In a video interview given at the time of the decision1, Herb Block, Washington Post Cartoonist, supported the ruling and the methods that he himself uses in satire:

It doesn’t have to be the way you would do it, it doesn’t have to be in good taste, it doesn’t have to be something you agree with. It’s simply a matter of the person having the freedom to do it when it’s done in a satirical way1.

The court ruled on the emotional distress for public figures aspect of the case through the idea of reckless falsities. In describing the court’s ruling, As long as the satirist does not make false statements of fact, while recklessly ignoring the truth, the First Amendment takes precedence over liability2. SCOTUS ruled that parodies of public figures were a part of American culture, and that suing for emotional distress allowed public figures to drown legitimate and truthful free speech2. Public figures, including celebrities and politicians, have long been the targets of satire. Claims of emotional distress can chill not only free speech, but the freedom enjoyed by Americans to freely and openly discuss the public machinations of those figures, much of which affects the daily lives of citizens.

 

Falwell-Hustler Magazine Print Ad

Figure 1: Hustler Magazine Print Ad. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qkbzjx/larry-flynt-profile-2016

As the daily lives of citizens could be affected by punishing creators of satirical works, even more so the court’s ruling found that the government should not take sides in American culture. The court found it unconstitutional to require standards of speech based solely on what a certain community finds appropriate3. American culture is a mixture of many different groups across the nation, and allowing one community’s guidelines of proper and improper speech is not what a government, which should remain neutral, can support3. Despite the explicit nature of Hustler Magazine and the potential for distress caused by it, the court decided that the clear parody was upheld by the First Amendment. What is offensive to one group may not be offensive to another, and limiting what can be openly said based on such limitations goes against the fabric of the freedom of speech laid out in the First Amendment.

 

Evaluating the Ruling

Much of the case relied on whether or not the outrageous nature of the parody was protected by the First Amendment, and in the shoes of a Supreme Court justice the decision could be a tough one. In the social media firestorms of the 21st century, allegations of fake news and the popularity of satirical media groups like The Onion and Cracked.com offer the American culture a possibly different modern view of the Hustler Magazine parody. The ease at which social media can turn a satirical article into a viral piece is something that did not exist in the 1980s, and services such as Snopes.com have evolved to counter untruthful claims.

The fierceness of how quickly false and satirical articles can spread unchecked through social media is a reminder of what Chief Justice William Rehnquist, overseeing the Hustler Magazine v. Falwell case, said about jury subjectiveness. In 2011, Justice Elena Kagan used Rehnquist’s words in a similar case, that outrageousness is completely subjective and would push a jury to award damages based on their own views4. The majority opinion by SCOTUS was that parody protections could lead to harsh, offensive, and even hurtful speech against public figures5. However, while obscenity does not get First Amendment protection, it is impossible to separate the outrageous from the culturally acceptable5. Allowing microcultures within society to decide what is acceptable, particularly in satire that often requires an amount of harshness against public entities, would chill the freedom of speech that the First Amendment is built on. The justices decided correctly that, much as Herb Block said, citizens do not have to agree with, condone, or appreciate satires and parodies. As long as there are no falsehoods, freedom of speech requires those statements to continue openly, without being restricted by cultural patterns.

Conclusion

Parody has been a part of media and entertainment in American culture for centuries, particularly in politics and with public figures. Parody typically enjoys protection through the First Amendment as free speech, but parody can be offensive, even causing distress to public figures. The Supreme Court of the United States case Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell asked the question of First Amendment protection for offensive parodies, and effects on public figures, and found that the offensive nature of parody cannot be chilled by the distress of public figures. This paper summarized the court case, analyzed the ruling based on the First Amendment, and evaluated the final ruling.

References

  1. ABC News. (n.d.). 2/24/88: Larry Flynt wins first amendment case. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Archives/video/feb-24-1988-hustler-falwell-12278659
  2. Chen, A. K., & Marceau, J. (2015). High value lies, ugly truths, and the first amendment. Vanderbilt Law Review, 68(6), 1435-1507.
  3. DeCosse, D. E. (2010). The Danish cartoons reconsidered: Catholic social teaching and the contemporary challenge of free speech. Theological Studies, 71(1), 101-132.
  4. From the bench. (2011). From the bench: U.S. supreme court. Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, 60(2), 53-55.
  5. Justia. (n.d.). Hustler magazine, inc. v. Falwell 485 U.S. 46 (1988). Retrieved from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/485/46/#annotation
  6. Justia Case. (n.d.). Hustler magazine, inc. v. Falwell 485 U.S. 46 (1988) full opinion. Retrieved from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/485/46/case.html
  7. Katz, H. (2004). An historic look at political cartoons. Nieman Reports, 58(4), 44-46.
  8. Oyez. (n.d.). Hustler magazine, inc. v. Falwell. Retrieved from https://www.oyez.org/cases/1987/86-1278

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Persuasive Case Study Analysis https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/persuasive-case-study-analysis/ Wed, 19 Jul 2017 23:31:02 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4851 Understanding how persuasion can affect a reader is an important skill when writing about a controversial topic. J.J. Keith of The Huffington Post editorialized one side of the vaccination debate, and used both Aristotle’s proofs and Kenneth Burke’s theory of identification in an attempt to persuade the reader5. This paper analyzes the methods of persuasion used in the editorial and how effective those methods were in convincing the reader of the author’s stance.

Summarizing the Editorial

The featured editorial took a position on whether or not parents should vaccinate their children, based on the vaccination safety debate.… Read the rest

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Understanding how persuasion can affect a reader is an important skill when writing about a controversial topic. J.J. Keith of The Huffington Post editorialized one side of the vaccination debate, and used both Aristotle’s proofs and Kenneth Burke’s theory of identification in an attempt to persuade the reader5. This paper analyzes the methods of persuasion used in the editorial and how effective those methods were in convincing the reader of the author’s stance.

Summarizing the Editorial

The featured editorial took a position on whether or not parents should vaccinate their children, based on the vaccination safety debate. Human Organization explored the history and science of vaccinations, reporting the small percentage of vaccinations that cause complications each year1. Coupled with research by Andrew Wakefield linking autism to vaccinations, a strong anti-vaccination movement was sparked, despite Wakefield’s claims being discredited4. The editorial covered one side of the debate, with the author taking a pro-vaccination stance.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

The editorial took on both a direct, researched voice and a more emotional one, in an attempt to convince readers of the author’s stance. Keith linked to several other articles that featured the science behind vaccinations, and explained how vaccinations work5. Keith offered examples of where the anti-vaccination movement failed, as with a church in Texas that was struck with a measles outbreak after the pastor denounced vaccines5. Keith also used emotional pleas to make the article more personal, not only mentioning her own ideas of parenting but also highlighting two children suffering from leukemia5. Telling the story of the two immunocompromised children was an emotional plea, humanizing not only the topic but the idea that others in the community are affected by a parent’s choice not to vaccinate.

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

The featured editorial used Aristotle’s proofs throughout to support the author’s discussion of vaccinations. Human Organization detailed the social science side of the vaccination debate, including factors such as forced requirements for vaccinations, the perception some people have of the deviant interests of the vaccination corporations, and the fear of the risk involved with vaccinations1. Keith countered equally with ethos, pathos, and logos, in an attempt to match theory for theory5. Each of these points followed Aristotelian proofs, with questions on the ethics, emotions, and facts of the debate.

Part of the problem that the author faced is that, despite the links and explanations of scientific facts, the other side of the argument historically has ignored legitimate facts. Aristotle’s rhetoric theories state that an argument is separate from the style in which it is made, especially if the direct route is not taken in the discussion but is avoided peripherally6. With a peripheral route, one side ignores strong arguments and facts, and is either unwilling or unable to assess them6. In the editorial, the author is starting from a position where the scientific facts are seemingly irrelevant, and must use all three Aristotelian proofs to make her case.

The editorial weaved through the Aristotelian proofs as the author attempted to make her case to the reader. Keith used ethos in two ways, from the perception of who she is and the research she featured in the article5. The author mentioned several times how she is a parent, that she writes often about parenting culture, and that in her position she sees many online debates about vaccines. To back up her position, she offered research throughout the article, and links to other sources of information, defending her stance on vaccines. The information not only showed her ethos, but promoted logos as she used data to make her point. Keith included information on vaccines, databases of vaccination rates, and featured a story on how the anti-vaccine movement failed with the Texas church measles outbreak5. Using the Texas outbreak showed logic of a different sort, the fact that not following the data can backfire substantially.

While the author’s point of the Texas outbreak lead into pathos with a bit of cynicism, the rest of the article featured a more emotional thread throughout. HEC Forum explained the peripheral route of ignoring the facts, and in the case of the anti-vaccination movement that problem might defeat the use of logos in the article6. Keith used the story of Jack and Clio, two immunocompromised children suffering from leukemia, as an emotional thread to counter the loss of logos for some of her audience5. The story bookended the article, and combined with the author’s pleas as a parent effectively used emotions to bring a personal feel to the article. Keith also effectively used humor and sarcasm in a few places, including the comment, “However, while there is nothing more “natural” than large numbers of children dying in a Malthusian cesspool of unchecked contagious disease, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we should avoid that”5. The sentence is a great use of pathos, not only in getting the reader’s attention but in softening the blow just enough to keep them interested.

Identification

In the course of using ethos, pathos, and logos with the reader, the author used Kenneth Burke’s theory of identification throughout the piece. Burke’s theory is explained as someone identifying with a certain group or type of person2. Keith mentioned several times that the author is a parent, framing herself as more than just a bystander5. Burke described identity as not just the individual, but in other groups such as parents, and that individuals create identities shared symbolically with others in society3. In a vaccination debate about children, as a parent she made clear that she had also made similar decisions to what she was defending. By identifying with those who have vaccinated their children, the author hoped the reader will see her as being a part of the societal group. Keith made the point near the end that vaccination is a community-wide problem5. Using parental identification inferred that she and the reader should both identify with the entire group.

Persuasion

As a parent, the author’s use of Aristotelian proofs was personally more effective than Burke’s theory of identification. Several times, Keith promoted the author as a parent, with the intent of using that identification to add strength to the argument for vaccinations5. Parenting is a tricky thing, however, and every parent treats their children in different ways. A person declaring they are a parent only verifies that fact, it does not explain if they are good or bad at parenting. Due to the author’s effective use of ethos, pathos, and logos, she ultimately did not need to rely on identification for her agenda.

The editorial benefited from the author’s consistent, thorough use of Aristotle’s proofs. Starting off with the ethos of the author’s experience as both a parent and author of parental culture, the editorial moved into pathos with the story of Jack and Clio. Within that pathos, the author added logos through the explanations of vaccinations and links to vaccine rates and herd immunity. Keith then weaves in and out of all three Aristotelian proofs, effectively persuading the reader through multiple means5. In a very controversial subject like vaccinations, when both sides are very emotional, using multiple methods allowed for room to say what needed to be said in different ways. Using only one method might have bored the reader, or even offended them. Using all three proofs essentially kept the reader from settling on just one issue, effectively keeping their mind open for the next sentence.

Conclusion

This paper analyzed the methods of persuasion used in an editorial on vaccinations, and how effective Aristotle’s proofs and Kenneth Burke’s theory of identification were in convincing the reader of the author’s stance. Keith editorialized one side of the vaccination debate, using identification to set the stage for the article and Aristotle’s proofs to weave a persuasive argument for vaccinations5. Understanding how persuasion can affect a reader is an important skill when writing about a controversial topic, and the editorial is a good example of using all of the persuasive methods to make a case.

References

  1. Brunson, E. K., & Sobo, E. J. (2017). Framing childhood vaccination in the United States: Getting past polarization in the public discourse. Human Organization, 76(1), 38-47.
  2. Colorado State University-Global Campus. (2017). Module 4: Persuasion and communication contexts [Schoology ecourse]. In COM425–Communication Conflict and Persuasion. Greenwood Village, CO: Author.
  3. Crable, B. (2006). Rhetoric, anxiety, and character armor: Burke’s interactional rhetoric of identity. Western Journal Of Communication, 70(1), 1. doi:10.1080/10570310500305570
  4. Hook, L., & Mishkin, S. (Feb. 6, 2015). US measles outbreak: Spots of resistance. FT.Com. Retrieved from https://www.ft.com/content/4eea183c-ade3-11e4-919e-00144feab7de
  5. Keith, J.J. (2013, September 24). I’m coming out… as pro-vaccine. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jj-keith/vaccines_b_3829948.html
  6. Powers, P. (2007). Persuasion and coercion: A critical review of philosophical and empirical approaches. HEC Forum, 19(2), 125-43. doi:http://dx.doi.org.csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10730-007-9035-4

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Connecting PR & Writing https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/connecting-pr-writing/ Wed, 19 Jul 2017 23:13:30 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4847 Organizations in 2017 have found a new problem to solve, a fight generated by fake and exaggerated news on social media spread by celebrities. When that falsity is spread by the President of the United States, an organization must defend itself from enormous publicity. PR Week explored the attacks that President Trump has made against organizations through his Twitter account and how those organizations responded1. Just as individual people do, organizations have a “fight or flight” response to the event, and choosing the right option comes down to how the organization has prepared for it.… Read the rest

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Organizations in 2017 have found a new problem to solve, a fight generated by fake and exaggerated news on social media spread by celebrities. When that falsity is spread by the President of the United States, an organization must defend itself from enormous publicity. PR Week explored the attacks that President Trump has made against organizations through his Twitter account and how those organizations responded1. Just as individual people do, organizations have a “fight or flight” response to the event, and choosing the right option comes down to how the organization has prepared for it. Organizations must have public relations crisis plans for digital media situations, such as when they are the subject of an exaggerated or fake news story that gains traction on broad social media.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

Social Media Attacks

President Trump has attacked a number of businesses through social media, most recently the high-end retailer Nordstrom, and the organization used its resources to answer back. Forbes reported that President Trump had tweeted about his daughter being unfairly treated by Nordstrom after they canceled orders for her clothing line3. Nordstrom defended itself against the accusation, explaining that Nordstrom and Ivanka Trump had already been having discussions in the previous year, and that it was not a personal decision3. The battle in the social media arena was fought publicly by the celebrity against the organization, and highlights the importance of how organizations react in the modern age of social media attacks.

The Bandwagon and the Celebrity

When celebrities such as President Trump attack an organization, it becomes much larger than simply one person attacking a larger entity. Trump has over 24 million followers on Twitter1, and as a celebrity, Trump is able to use his fame to persuade his audience, and even those outside it, to manipulate the truth through social media. Three persuasive techniques fit Trump perfectly6: card stacking, transfer, and bandwagon. With card stacking, celebrities like Trump use only part of the information to build their case, while hiding other facts6. When Trump complained to his Twitter followers that Nordstrom was treating his daughter unfairly, he kept out the information that Nordstrom had been in discussions with her team long before the present moment.

Trump’s accusation also showed the techniques of both bandwagon support and the transfer of association, if in a negative way. Bandwagons imply that everyone wants a particular service, and that transfer is the concept of connecting a celebrity with credibility6. Trump send out a critical tweet, using his credibility as the President, to attempt to get his followers to harass or ban Nordstrom, shown by the temporary negative effect on Nordstrom’s stock3. Nordstrom’s stock quickly recovered, but the effect that a celebrity could have was apparent.

Trump’s celebrity, and his ability to offer a narrative style, captures a large audience that attempts to align themselves with him. With a large audience, the way he writes his posts on Twitter is clearly influential to some, and that narrative could explain why his followers would then attack another organization. In discussing crime and journalism, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly examined how news events in a narrative form gave readers the feeling of being a “mediated witness” (p. 581) instead of a passive reader5. Mediated witnesses do not experience events personally, but vicariously, and the narrative evokes the emotions of the reader to find the passages more persona5. Trump’s narratives work in the same way, by using persuasive, narrative speech he moves those who follow him more readily than the organizations he attacks. Without a plan in place, an organization would have a tough time defending itself.

Organizations that are not ready for such an attack could find a financial backlash, especially when social media users come out in force to attack an organization. Nordstrom’s stock fell, but recovered quickly3, and other organizations might not end up so lucky. Celebrities can amplify messages against an organization, resulting in collaborative brand attacks that get strong quickly4. Especially when an organization is seen as acting in an unfair manner, social media users can attack an organization in an attempt to harm it4. In Trump’s attack on Nordstrom he clearly calls them unfair, and using his celebrity allowed him to quickly amplify that message to his millions of followers.

Planning for the Worst

Social media attacks, especially with very popular brands or from well-known celebrities, are difficult at best to fight, and executing a well-considered plan ahead of time can lessen the damage from an attack. The best plan starts with observation, that organizations that understand their target audience ahead of time are able to work out messages that retain the most followers2. By understanding their base, organizations are able to rally both followers and their friends to support the organization, possibly deflecting any damage an attack would cause2. While keeping a sharp eye on social media helps to mitigate damage, being an active part of the community especially during a crisis is important. Being responsive and respectful to comments was vital, and by controlling cyberbullies and making sure to include followers in social media strategy, helps during crises4. By having the plan ahead of time, and executing it before, during, and after the crisis, an organization can escape any real damage.

Conclusion

Organizations must have public relations crisis plans for digital media situations, such as when they are the subject of an exaggerated or fake news story that gains traction on broad social media. In the modern social media age, organizations have to fight fake and exaggerated news on social media spread by celebrities. When that falsity is spread by a President, an organization must defend itself from publicity and attacks by others. Choosing the right options before and during an attack comes down to how the organization has prepared for it, and will mean the difference between a slight drop in the markets and financial disaster.

References

  1. Daniels, C., (2017, Feb. 10). Engage or walk away? Brands’ dilemma after a Trump twitter attack. PR Week. Retieved from http://www.prweek.com/article/1423990/engage-walk-away-brands-dilemma-trump-twitter-attack
  2. Kinsky, E. S., Drumheller, K., & Gerlich, R. N. (2014). Weathering the storm: Best practices for nonprofits in crisis. International Journal Of Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Marketing, 19(4), 277-285. doi:10.1002/nvsm.1502
  3. McGrath, M. (2017, Feb. 8). Nordstrom draws Trump’s ire after dropping Ivanka’s products. Forbes.Com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/ 2017/02/08/after-dropping-ivanka-trump-products-nordstrom-finds-itself-in-the-middle-of-a-presidential-twitter-storm/#3821cad5772e
  4. Rauschnabel, P. A., Kammerlander, N., & Ivens, B. S. (2016). Collaborative brand attacks in social media: Exploring the antecedents, characteristics, and consequences of a new form of brand crises. Journal Of Marketing Theory & Practice, 24(4), 381-410. doi:10.1080/10696679.2016.1205452
  5. van Krieken, K., Hoeken, H., & Sanders, J. (2015). From reader to mediated witness: The engaging effects of journalistic crime narratives. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 92(3), 580-596.
  6. Wilcox, D. L., & Reber, B. H. (2013). Public relations writing and media techniques. Boston: Pearson Education.

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Evaluating Social Media Customer Service https://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/evaluating-social-media-customer-service-2/ Wed, 19 Jul 2017 17:23:14 +0000 https://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4840 The ways in which organizations use social media to feed their audience is not much different than the varied ways in which zookeepers feed the animals in their care. In the petting zoo, the hens are looking for whatever food they can get. At the other end of the spectrum, feeding the lions takes a specific set of rules, to keep everyone safe and happy with the care provided. Smaller organizations are closer to their audiences, and stricter guidelines, much like feeding a lion, need to be in place to protect the organization and the audience.… Read the rest

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The ways in which organizations use social media to feed their audience is not much different than the varied ways in which zookeepers feed the animals in their care. In the petting zoo, the hens are looking for whatever food they can get. At the other end of the spectrum, feeding the lions takes a specific set of rules, to keep everyone safe and happy with the care provided. Smaller organizations are closer to their audiences, and stricter guidelines, much like feeding a lion, need to be in place to protect the organization and the audience. Jerry’s Artarama, a national art supply chain, uses its Facebook page to interact with a relatively small audience. In contrast, the following of HBO’s Facebook page for the television show Game of Thrones is enormous, an audience of hens ready to be fed whatever they can get. Each organization approaches their social media differently, leading to the question of what companies should do with social media to effectively engage their customers.

Jerry’s Artarama

Jerry’s Artarama is a small, nationwide art supply chain, with an informative Facebook page. While most of the chain’s 17 retail stores have their own, localized Facebook page, the corporation has an overall national Facebook page with nearly 202,000 likes5. The national Facebook page offers a community to artists, featuring live and recorded technique videos, featured artists of the day, news and commentary about the art world, and upcoming national events for artists both online and in their retail stores. Many of their posts have hundreds of likes and comments, with a vibrant, engaged following.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

As an art supply store, having an engaged following requires a social media technique where both expert and novice artists are present, and a commitment from the organization to interact with followers. Companies that interact regularly with followers of their social media profiles give the perception of higher quality, friendliness, and trust2. In a competitive market such as art supplies, with internet sales giants like Dick Blick Art Supply, and larger, brick and mortar art chains like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s, Jerry’s Artarama needs to have a social media profile that exudes trust and quality. Engaging with their followers, and keeping with polite and informative customer service, are strong, necessary ideals for Jerry’s Artarama to be seen in a good light.

To be seen in a good light sometimes requires working through conflicts in honest ways, with solid customer service, and Jerry’s Artarama does a good job of working through conflicts. Those conflicts are inevitable when followers range from new artists who have never held a brush, to professionals who have specific needs. Providing a consistent message is important, and Jerry’s Artarama typically posts cheerful and helpful updates overall. In one interaction after a video on March 7, the social media manager for Jerry’s Artarama had a conflict with a new artist who felt her question was skipped during a video5. The conflict was answered successfully, with the representative from Artarama explaining the situation, and apologizing for the confusion. For a smaller organization like Jerry’s Artarama to succeed, calm, rational, and friendly customer service is like feeding the lion, carefully helping out while trying not to take the wrong step. A good discussion can turn a conflict into an informative conversation, keeping the follower and possibly encouraging them to shop with Jerry’s Artarama.

HBO and Game of Thrones

Smaller organizations like Jerry’s Artarama spend much of their time working from within the community, but in larger organizations like HBO it is often the message alone that gets sent. With tens of millions of followers, the techniques used on a Facebook page change due to sheer volume. In the case of a popular television network, and especially with an audience starving for up-to-the-moment information, followers are often the hens.

On March 9, 2017, the Facebook page for HBO’s immensely popular Game of Thrones held a Facebook Live video event. HBO broadcast live video of the season release date set in a massive block of ice, promising to increase the fires aimed at the melting ice, thus revealing the date, if their followers reshared the video7. The cult of Game of Thrones followers complied, with 3.4 million views, over 19,000 shares, and 198,500 comments7. When the date was finally revealed, Adweek reported that more than 162,000 people were concurrently watching the video1, and HBO then released the full trailer on its Facebook page. The trailer was viewed over 37 million times, with 608,000 shares, a huge success for their Facebook page7. Fans of the series have been anxious to see a trailer for a long time, and offering up the trailer and release date with some spectacle fed fully into fans excitement.

Unlike Jerry’s Artarama, HBO and the television series feed into a different customer base, one that exists in fandom and speaks to millions at a time. The approach to answer a few questions when you have a couple of hundred comments makes sense, but when your audience is leaving nearly 200,000 comments on a single Facebook update, it becomes a much different animal. Observation of HBO7 between March 7, 2017, and March 11, 2017, revealed that representatives of HBO’s social media team did not interact at a commentary level during that time, but instead released new updates each time something needed to be said. With the sheer volume of traffic, that may be the simplest way not only to pass information to a crowd, but to avoid a misstep along the way.

The Facebook Live broadcast of the Game of Thrones reveal did run into serious issues, and people on social media were quick to comment on the problems. CNN noted that it took nearly 70 minutes for the ice to melt, with two of the video feeds failing after only 15 minutes at a time3. With such a huge following for the show, internet comments about the failures were inevitable, including “And the ice block melting video just ended with a cut to black! Very Sopranos, HBO”8. With so many still watching the reveal at the end, HBO was able to keep the broadcast from becoming a disaster by seeing it through, and making further social media updates.

HBO was relying on the cult-like popularity of Game of Thrones to keep the issues from causing a disaster, and the large following may have helped. People use television viewing and social media to try to fit in with larger communities, and social media provides a method for co-viewing shows4. Followers of a community like the Game of Thrones page connect with others who have similar needs, especially of belonging and fitting in with the correct group4. Running the HBO social media becomes less about constant interaction and more about putting the right content on at the right time, and keeping the community happy. Instead of engagement between the page and the community, the community is designed to engage with itself, even when things might not seem to be going well.

Conclusion

The ways in which organizations use social media can vary based on the nature of the organization, and are important to get right. Smaller organizations, closer to their audiences, need stricter guidelines to protect the organization and the audience. In contrast, the massive following of a popular television show is ready to be fed whatever they can get. Each organization approaches their social media differently, each with uniquely effective ways to engage their customers.

References

  1. Adweek. (7 Mar., 2017). HBO made fans watch ice melt for 69 minutes. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/tv-video/hbo-made-fans-watch-ice-melt-for-69-minutes-to-find-out-when-season-7-of-game-of-thrones-premieres/
  2. Calefato, F., Lanubile, F., & Novielli, N. (2015). The role of social media in affective trust building in customer-supplier relationships. Electronic Commerce Research, 15(4), 453-482. doi:10.1007/s10660-015-9194-3
  3. CNN. (9 Mar., 2017). Game of thrones. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/09/entertainment/game-of-thrones/
  4. Cohen, E. L., & Lancaster, A. L. (2014). Individual differences in in-person and social media television coviewing: The role of emotional contagion, need to belong, and coviewing orientation. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 17(8), 512-518. doi:10.1089/cyber.2013.0484
  5. Artarama Facebook. (n.d.). National facebook page. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/JerrysArtarama/
  6. Jerry’s Artarama. (n.d.). Jerry’s local art supply and materials retail store locations. Retrieved from http://www.jerrysartarama.com/retail/store-index
  7. HBO. (n.d.). Game of thrones facebook page. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/GameOfThrones/
  8. Hibberd, James; Twitter, @JamesHibberd, March 9, 2017

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