The Grand Social Media Experiment. We learn by doing.

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Social Media Helps My Paradigm Shift for Food



Growing up, I never really understood why my mother would say that she never knew what to cook. I do remember her saying she was tired of her own cooking. The menu was typical American food: hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, baked chicken, etc. No, the chicken was never fried –she probably did not want to have a hot oil mess on her hands. Funny, when we went to grandma’s, she made some darn good fried chicken in her black cast-iron pan and my mother always said that she liked it.

Julia Child

Julia Child with one our her fabulous dishes.

Oh, how did I forget to mention potatoes and hot dishes? There was some form of potatoes at nearly every evening dinner. I get it. We needed our starch. The hot dishes all seemed to have a base of some type of Campbell’s soup, either tomato or cream of mushroom. There was one hot dish she made that was just plain tasteless. It was hamburger and chunky slices of potatoes. I am almost positive that one of the ingredients was cream of mushroom soup. I believe I let it be known at least once that I did not care for that dish. My wish was never granted. Thank God, I did not hate it. Sometimes it is better to just eat it and move on. The porcupine meatballs (hamburger, rice, and surprise-Campbell’s tomato soup) were tasty. They were always served with a side of mashed potatoes covered with creamed corn. I love creamed corn to this day. My partner will joke with me when I do occasionally have creamed corn with the mashed potatoes. He likens it to waste from a diaper. I should not complain. She fed us well and made sure that we received nutrition from all of the food groups.dreams and casseroles

Yes, mom did have cookbooks, but she never seemed interested in trying out new recipes. Her mother did not work from written recipes. It was all in her mind. As a result, there never were any unique dishes from Czechoslovakia that were made at our house. Kolacky are a Bohemian pastry filled with fruit that both my mother and I like. Grandma did make them, but did not teach my mother how to make them. Mother claims that they are difficult to make–you have to get the dough just right.

I think because my father was content with the menu, fine cuisine– just kidding, new foods were never going to see the light of day.

As an adult, I can relate to my mother’s feeling stuck with her cooking. I am breaking the mold and attempting to be a little more adventuresome. The internet has been a great source of recipes and inspiration. As Rachel Maddow, a host from MSNBC, says “Watch this space”. TAM


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Langston Hughes: from “Montage of a Dream Deferred”


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes

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The cast of TV's Community.


No More Pencils. No More Books.

A myriad of individuals came into this cohort study last September, like those who came before us and those who follow. We became a motley crew who are about to disband.

(OK, if only for Janis, or to beat him to the punch:

motley crue )

In that Social Media is one of our classes, and this WordPress site serves as our social media blog-central for our course work, what better way to broadcast my gratitude than to make my seventh blog (a gimme, academically) an homage to my cohort, my instructors, the academic program, and my school? I am grateful for the entire experience. And while I had vague expectations going into this nine-month study, I found it was more than I expected at every level.

First for a reason, I am thankful to my teachers. Every instructor in our study was exceptional. As an adult learner, it is refreshing to be taught by genuinely engaged professionals who bring their entire skill-set, lives, personalities and passions into the classroom. Most of us came into this program with an established, professional foundation but the teachers helped add a story or two to our structures. Some of us added a couple wings! Your words and lectures will resonate for the rest of my life.

(OK, Janis, Chuck or Rob, because I know you wanna.

Bette Midler, who sang The Wind Beneath My Wings

You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings

http://youtu.be/jorJh8DTMVM )

The curriculum wasn’t perfect, but in any varied student composition, that is a challenge and never prefect. Still, as an adult learner, I was able to personalize my work for my purposes and still work the cohort process. It was more challenging than I’d expected. That’s good. But I never expected the program to lead me to – or back to – a place that would marry my past education, professional strengths, passion and inner talents like it did. I am leaving school with a sense of ease I could not have reclaimed without it.

This institution opened its doors for a new kind of student with its grant programs. Without changing its essence, everyone let us learn and explore with freedom. You taught us by example. The faculty and advisors listened and helped me refine the steps to my next chapter. You have made a life-long friend and partner. Thank you.

Like Dorothy with the scarecrow, I bid farewell to my cohort with the whispered words, “I think I will miss you most of all.”


Dorothy saying good-bye to the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

I Think I’ll Miss You Most of All.


We were told this relationship would feel like family and that we would become best friends as quickly as we would separate. I have experienced enough loss in this life to know that may be something I can’t change. But before we drift to the four corners of this planet like dandelion seeds in the summer wind (all right, Chuck:

Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra, chairman of the board.

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/2954582 ), please know that I will keep my friendship open to anyone who calls and will always be there to help if I can. In other words (for everyone this time), I won’t be Alex Forrest, played by Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.


Fatal Attraction

Drowning Alex: “I’m not going to be ignored!”


But I will keep the lessons you taught me forever.


The cast of TV's Community.

The cast of Community.


Farewell. Forever and always, Skeezix’s brat. SB



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Social Media Fuels The Craft Brewery Explosion: Profile of Indeed Brewing Co.

Indeed_badge_colorLowEarly one spring day in 2012 I got the news, big news.  I was working at my job at the cartography company in the cavernous  Northrup King Building in Northeast Minneapolis, an old warehouse converted to artist lofts,  when the property manager strolled in and casually mentioned, “Did you hear that there’s going to be a brewery in our hood?”. “Where? When?”, I could scarcely contain my excitement. “About 50 yards from here, across the railroad tracks.”  From that moment on, I began scheming ways of running a tap line under the train tracks and into the our office.

Alas, the fantasy was short lived,  by the time the Indeed Brewing Company opened in the Solar Arts Building early the following spring, my days at Hedberg Maps were coming to a close. Map publishing is not exactly a booming business these days. Craft beer, however, IS! Hedberg published a couple editions of Twin Cities Beer Map, and I …um, volunteered to do some research.  There were a few pints enjoyed on Indeed’s patio, a mere stone’s throw from my desk.

So, in the name of academia and for 25 points in this Social Media class, I, once again, donate my time and effort to…volunteer some “research” on local craft breweries. Of course, one must know about what products one is writing about, but that story, my friends, will have to wait.  As you know, there has been an explosion of craft brewery openings in Minnesota and throughout nation.  In the Twin Cities alone, we have 15 at the latest count,  with more under construction.  Scarcely a day goes by without craft beer being mentioned in the local media, it is a BIG DEAL.

So, imagine the new revival of an industry that is being championed by and catering to a generation of urban hipster, 20-somethings to early 40-somethings.  Pop you head in a any new brewery tap room and there’s hardly a male without facial hair, this ain’t your father’s beer hall, (though he might like it!).  The women follow the same demos (minus the facial hair). It all looks like a scene out of Portlandia.  That being said, this is an industry that is being promoted and fueled by social media.  In this blog series, I want to examine the role that social media plays as these baby beer companies learn how to crawl, or, in some cases, are already running gracefully.

indeed postersIf I couldn’t have a tap line coming into my office, I could at least enjoy the whimsical artwork behind Indeed Brewing Company’s brand. Kind of steam punk meets Alice In Wonderland, they have a very creative approach to their website.  Indeed Brewing opened during the 2nd wave craft breweries in the Twin Cities,  following on the heels of Surly, Flat Earth Brewing Co and Lift Bridge.  When they opened their doors at 711 15th Ave NE in the Solar Arts Building on a side-street in NE Minneapolis there were no retail stores,  bars or restaurants around for blocks – only old warehouses, some converted to artist lofts, in an aging industrial park.  How in the hell was anyone going to find this place? Indeed did not have an advertising budget when they launched (I know, I tried to sell ads space to them in the beer map!) to lure in the masses.  Enter social media!  Their large patio and tap room was filled almost from their 1st week because they had done their homework and communicated; what they were, what they offered and where to find ’em – all via Facebook, Twitter, their website, events and earned media. Their creative efforts were poured into stunning artwork and design that complimented their brand.

These early efforts have paid off, they’ve gone through two expansions in the past two years to increase brewing and bottling capacity.  The tap-room remains very popular.  Events like Art-a-Whirl bring in thousands to their location.

Some observations on Indeed Brewing Co.’s social media:

  •  Facebook:  10,000 Likes,  almost daily posts,  mostly self-promotion, always including photo/graphic
  • Twitter:  12,000 Followers,  3100 tweets,  3-6 tweets daily,  mostly self-promotion,  lots of retweets
  • Blog:  weekly,  very well done!
  • Google +:  1132 Followers,  last post in January
  • Vimeo:   4 videos,  last posted 5 months ago
  • # of events promoted digitally = 20 during the month of May

Clearly,  Facebook and Twitter are the engines that communicate to their target audience. Where Indeed stands out is that they pay attention to the artwork and photos posted and tweeted. It reflects the image of the brewery and is of high quality.  I give their social media efforts an “A”.

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Is There Really Privacy Settings?

The one thing that I’ve learned from my Social Media class is that “Privacy” is used in its most loosest terms. There is no electronic media that is totally private between two people. There is no email, Facebook post or Tweet that isn’t seen by some third party. The worst thing about this is that we are not doing anything to stop it! Why do we become outraged if our postal mail is opened and read or even if looks like the mailperson has taken a look at your new magazine, but not when our email is looked at either by the our government or someone at Google? Have we given up on having any kind of privacy in the electronic world? Are we too addicted to the convenience, speed of technology and to social media that we are willing to give up most of our rights to privacy.

Here are of the few things that we, as a society, are overlooking to have our social media fix: Facebook revealed that it could access smartphone mics to capture and analyze songs, TV shows, or any other sounds that your phone could pick-up! Google’s new glasses would capture everything you saw and add it to their data base for some future use. Google did announce though that it would stop reading students emails for marketing purposes. Yahoo with their newest user agreement withdrew the option that a person’s online behavior would not be tracked, calling it an improvement in “personalized experience.” That, is an experience I will opt out of!

Those breaches of privacy are some of the most notable ones. How many user agreements are out in the world that lawyers, with a lot of time on their hand, have had a chance to read and let alone bring more breaches of privacy to the light of day for all to see? What about all the data that marketers and other entities have gathered on most everyone over the years. Who is protecting this date from hackers? As we have all seen in the news, companies are reactive and not proactive about protecting our private information.

Now, I’m not a Luddite who wants to go back to the 19th century. I love my computer and smartphone and all the conveniences that go with them. I just want to send an email or post something to my family and not have to worry that some government agency(s) or marketing company taking a look at it. I don’t think that is asking too much. It seems like I’m in the minority on this point though; so I’m going to have to live with it for now. I thought, just in case thing got worse, I would start to learning about  cyphers and cryptology just to make it a little harder on the marketers and government in finding out that I like Belgian beers and I buy my wife’s jewelry at Tiffany’s, but I’m sure they already knew that anyway!

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Why it’s so difficult for we adults to change our minds even when it would work out in our favor, is one of the great mysteries of the universe. It took more than a year of cajoling from a professional to get me to move past the perception that LinkedIn was simply a form of Facebook for the unemployed. After another few months I was eventually persuaded to attend a class specifically designed to teach how to set up a personal LinkedIn page.

In line with this, I had been employed in the corporate world where for decades the buzzword or term “networking” was constantly thrown at supervisors and manager. Unfortunately, it did not always carry the best connotation for many of us. As with LinkedIn, my view of networking was mostly negative. However, once I put on my listening ears I discovered the term had an entirely new meaning.  It was as if a veil was lifted and a new world of possibilities was opened up to me.

I had become unemployed for the first time in decades. To make matters a bit more challenging, the last time I had applied for and had to actually interview for a job was in the mid 70s. In addition, though I had been a hiring manager, many things had changed in the world of screening and hiring practices. As a result, I felt a little lost and unsure of what routes to follow in finding meaningful work.

The class for LinkedIn was my first big step in discovering how this social media venue could be utilized as a great tool for networking. While in some sense it was like its cousin Facebook; LinkedIn was presented in a more professional environment. And as with Facebook, I was able to reconnect with a number of employees and management I had previous worked with, but had lost contact with over the years. In addition I was able to connect “professionally” with a number of people who volunteered with a non-profit organization I worked with.  I learned how to utilize this venue to find and join organizations which were directly connected with the type of businesses I want to work for.

As an added bonus, I found organizations or clubs which while not necessarily directly connected with the business world, were linked with individuals who had similar interests.  I was about ready to give up on a personal project when this social media outlet enabled me to find someone who specialized in repairing specific types of an old British car of mine.

Needless to say, while I won’t say it is perfect and for everyone; I have become a supporter and big user of LinkedIn.   (CMH)

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The Social Media Gap

Is there a new gap being created between people who use Social Media and those who do not. If there is a growing gap, does it make any difference. These are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself when I am out asking about social media in casual conversation. What I’ve found out, in my very unscientific questions over a drinks, is that most people over thirty use some kind of social media, but if it wasn’t for friends using Facebook or having to use social media for a job, they would not bother with it. The younger generations, Millennials and X’ers are using social media like the rest of us use a cellphone. They would rather Tweet someone or post a message on Facebook than pick up a phone and make a call. What will this lead to?  At some point will these generations and the ones to follow stop having meaningful conversations with the Y’s and Baby Boomers? Will information given to us by the media become partitioned for those people who understand social media and those who do not!

This fall there is going to be a TV show, on ABC, called ‘Selfie’ and will be the first show based on aspect of social media. Is this the start of the divide between the social media savvy and the non-savvy or will people learn something of this area? As for myself, I am starting to see just how important informative from  these media channels can be to a person. Information of all kinds is transferred so much quicker to people who have devices that can access social media. Is this another growing gap between the rich and poor? How quickly information is received and how quickly a person can react to it?

Where is all this going, well I’m not really sure. Social Media in all it forms is here to stay. It is growing everyday in its use, not only here in the US, but around the world. Will it bring more people together as it spreads or will it drive more people apart? I can’t answer any of these questions. It is my hope though that people will see social media as a tool with more benefits than hindrances to society.