All posts by hk8045qe


The StarTribune headline “St. Paul denies landlord’s request to lock skyway doors early” is not the catchiest title but still caught my attention. This article draws attention to concerns over Saint Paul’s skyway rules. Specifically regarding a City Council hearing involving building owner Jaune Brooks’ defiance of these rules.

The debate over Brooks’ building is a microcosm of the larger conversation going on in St. Paul. City officials, residents and building owners are trying to figure out how to improve safety in the skyway system without limiting public access.

Unlike Minneapolis, St. Paul’s approximately 5-mile network of enclosed walkways is public. The city paid for most of the skyways and, in exchange, requires private property owners to allow people to connect to them between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m.

The City Council members voted not to grant Jaunea Brooks forgiveness for violating Section 140 of the Skyway Ordinance. Brooks claims the fines she will be assigned will be less than the cost of cleaning and repairing after hours damage to her building.

I am sure which side I agree with on this subject but now I feel that I have a more whole picture of the issue. If only we could look into all news articles and world issues this easily…

Jaunae Brooks, a Lowertown building owner, stood in the skyway that she believes should be able to lock to prevent people from coming through her building and creating problems at night, Wednesday, June 7, 2017 in St. Paul, MN. The city will consider Brooks' request to close her skyway earlier at Wednesday's council meeting. ] ELIZABETH FLORES ï

Baking 101

Today is the last day of MDST 485 and we are having a pot luck. I couldn’t decide what to bring and then I realized it has been forever since I’ve baked anything and I should bring homemade cookies to class.

I have always loved baking. My favorite books are recipe books. I check them out of the library, borrow them from family, buy them at antique and thrift stores, and receive cookbooks as gifts. I am known in my family as the birthday cake maker. One of my Christmas traditions is to bake with my mother and sisters each year. I binge watch shows like The Great British Baking Show. I bake cupcakes for my friends to bring to work on their birthdays. I love bringing new treats in for co-workers to sample.

So why was the last thing I baked holiday sweets in December?

I can not remember.

This morning I texted my husband from work asking him to collect all the ingredients needed to make Reese’s Chewy Chocolate Cookies. I even felt creative enough to modify the recipe; removing the cocoa powder and adding Hershey’s Chocolate Chips.

Once I got home, I lined up all the ingredients on the counter & preheated the oven…
And then realized I was missing something critical…
Then I realized I forgot my computer…

I was going to document the process for a blog – duh – two birds one stone. So I grabbed my computer and started typing…

Next thing I knew…

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ashley (@hk8045qe) on

The dough was good to go…

My husband had creamed the butter sugar and flour. Sifted in the dry ingredients. And beat in the Reese’s and Hershey’s chips. While I was typing and homeworking he worked his magic.

Now one thing about my husband is he is a very literal man – if you say “toss me the remote” he tosses you the remote – he reminds me of Amelia Bedelia sometimes; so I was not surprised when…

7 minutes later I no longer smell vanilla goodness but burning badness…

View this post on Instagram

Things don't always go as planned

A post shared by Ashley (@hk8045qe) on

He had followed the recipe exactly minus the cocoa powder, adding the extra chips. My thought with modifying the recipe was to add more flour to replace the dry element of the cocoa powder… Did I say that out loud? Of course not.

So we tossed the blobs, added more flour to the remaining dough, and gave them a second go.

View this post on Instagram

Attempt 2

A post shared by Ashley (@hk8045qe) on

They look edible and taste great! I can’t wait to see what my classmates think about the finished product 🙂

Now the problem is it is 5:15pm on Thursday… I have 45 minutes to bake 3 dozen cookies and get to class… hmmmmm

Final Thoughts:

Maybe I should not bake like I am a contestant on a timed baking competition and give myself a bit more time than I gave myself today…

Maybe one of the reasons I haven’t baked in the last 6 months is creative failure…

Maybe the reason I receive cookbooks as gifts is more of a hint than I ever realized…

And no the picture of cook books at the top of the blog is not mine. All of my baking supplies are packed and stored while we live with my in-laws.



What to watch…


Rotten Tomatoes & IMDb are resources for movie and show ratings as well as filming details (actors, directors etc.). Both have web sites, mobile apps, twitter, and Facebook feeds. Both rate movies and shows from TV, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. So which site is the best? Which app should you download?

How often do they update?

Rotten Tomatoes:

  • website: multiple times per day
  • Twitter: often multiple times per hour
  • Facebook: about hourly
  • YouTube: a few times per week


  • website: multiple times per day
  • Twitter: nearly hourly
  • Facebook: every few hours
  • Instagram: daily

Where does their information come from?

Rotten Tomatoes collect movie and show facts such as actors, directors… The details they post come from top 100 daily/weekly US newspapers, top 100 magazine, top 10 entertainment-based publications, national TV & radio networks, as well as “reliable” online publications. They welcome edit requests if site visitors notice a discrepancy or missing information (this is a link to an electronic Fandango customer service form).  Rotten Tomatoes became apart of Fandango in 2016.

For their critic based ratings, Rotten Tomatoes uses their own creation for ratings called the Tomatometer. The Urban Dictionary considers the Tomatometer a reliable, unbiased rating system. Their audience rating is the percentage of all and users who have rated the movie or TV Show positively.

IMDb, Internet Movie Database, relies on various sources for information; studios and filmmakers, the bulk of is submitted by people in the industry, members, and site visitors. They use member input for a number of popularity lists. IMDb is an Company. There is a derivative site called IMDbPro which claims to be “The leading information resource for the entertainment industry” and requires a subscription at a cost of $19.99 per month.

IMDb shows Metacritic ratings. Metacritic calculates its’ scores based on a minimum of 4 critics’ reviews. The Urban Dictionary definition of Metacritic is less than favorable.

My Opinion

My father-in-law and I had a lengthy discussion about how use the two sites. We seem to have the same method:

  • RottenTomatoes
    • what in theaters is worth watching
    • knowing which movies are coming soon to DVD
  • IMDb
    • historical movie details
    • actor & director filmography

Well I am not sure if Urban Dictionary the voice of reason or if I like the idea of either site being controlled by a major company but… The IMDb site was less user friendly and I preferred my searches on RottenTomatoes.

View this post on Instagram

What to watch…

A post shared by Ashley (@hk8045qe) on

Breast is Best

Breastfeeding has benefits for the child, mother, environment, and the economy. The benefits include physical health and nutrition, positive emotional effects, and fostering a deep bond between the mother and child. As stated in the advocacy strategy Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative, developed by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, “Optimal breastfeeding practices consist of (1) early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life; (2) exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and (3) continued breastfeeding for 2 years or beyond.” The best option for feeding infants is natural breastfeeding.

Obstacles to Breastfeeding

Standard prenatal medical visits in the United States include education and instruction that emphasize the importance of breastfeeding and give basic support to expecting mothers. There may be medical reasons why breastfeeding is challenging or even unattainable. An infants’ medical conditions may include but are not limited to tongue-tie, lip-tie, glandular tissue deficiency, excessive reflux, cleft pallet, and cleft lip. Some of these conditions can be treated before the infant leaves to hospital while others require more investigation and occasionally symptoms are missed all together. Mothers may also have medical conditions that cause them to be unable to breastfeed easily or at all. Mothers may suffer from sore nipples, blocked ducts, thrush, and postpartum depression. thThe La Leche League explains that “Mother and baby need to be together early and often to establish a satisfying relationship and an adequate milk supply.” If breastfeeding is not initiated immediately or the mother and child experience another delays in productive breastfeeding the easy solution is often for mothers to give up trying to breastfeed and moving to formula exclusively.

Working mothers need adequate time in their work day to pump, a suitable space to pump as well as safely store the expressed milk. Although there are laws in place requiring employers to provide private space for breastfeeding; they are still so new there are evolving interpretations. The World Health Organization, states mothers should breastfeed for at least six months, preferably a year. However, in the United States the Family Medical Leave Act only guarantees 12 weeks of job protection an unpaid leave. Modifying breastfeeding schedules and pumping routines to fit the constraints of working mothers can be taxing and deter the continuation of breastfeeding.

Whether at work, in public, or at home, social stigma can be a hurdle for new mothers. Phrases and questions such as good mothers choose breastfeeding, will my colleagues treat me differently, how do I breastfeed at the mall, breasts are not appropriate for public viewing, can run through the minds of new mothers. Often mothers who breastfed have their child in sleep with them for ease of feeding and increased bonding; the benefit is not always recognized by persons outside the immediate family and may instead come across as odd practice. There may be pressure to wean between 6 and 8 months. Any longer may be seen as stunting the child’s development or in extreme cases as sexually inappropriate; when in reality studies show that breastfeeding is developmentally appropriate through age 2. This added stress can make breastfeeding seem unrealistic or not worth the worry.

Benefits to Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding within the first hour of birth has been proven to reduce the risk of thneonatal mortality. The first liquid expressed from the breast is colostrum which meets the immediate needs of the infant. Murkoff & Mazel’s, What to Expect: When you’re expecting, explains that a newborn’s stomach can hold only 6ml, or 0.20oz, on the first day. Around day three, when the newborn’s stomach is ready for it, the milk develops into copious production.  According to La Leche League, the only food necessary until the baby shows signs of needing solids is breast milk. The liquid the baby receives is more than milk; it contains various components that assist in the child’s development from birth to age 2 and beyond; helping to ward off disease, stimulate growth, and provide high quality nutrition.

Mothers who breastfeed often have strong feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction as a parent. A mother’s body naturally produces Oxycontin in correlation to breast feeding. Oxytocin is a natural mood enhancer and can help combat post-partum depression, anxiety, and stress. The strong bond developed during breastfeeding helps to increase attachment and build a relationship between the mother and child. Additionally the mother will experience positive physical benefits including hormone balance, healthy weight loss, and even reduced risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, heart disease, and breast cancer.

There are economic benefits to increased rates in breastfeeding. Breastfed babies have better overall health and require less medical intervention. “In the US, $13 billion could be saved in pediatric health care and other costs if exclusive breastfeeding rates increased. Another $17 million could be saved related to maternal health care and other costs” UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Increased rates of exclusively breastfed babies would decrease landfill use, greenhouse gas emissions, as well as water and energy resources. If more women were willing and able to breastfeed, world-wide there would be a decrease in medical and environmental costs.


Breastfed babies have better overall health and require less medical intervention. Breastfeeding was once the only option, it was normal and necessary for the majority of human existence. Based on this research the only downside to breastfeeding is the complications it may create in social and work place settings. Changing the perception and stigma surrounding breastfeeding is an up-hill battle. Fortunately, there are numerous, influential organizations currently advocating for breastfeeding.


What is the best social media platform for me?

I was struggling with what topic I felt I could be an “intelligent filter” for… So I began to brainstorm. The criteria was something related to social media that I wanted to learn more about.

I am a social media virgin who is expecting her first child in a few short weeks. The majority of my friends and family use Facebook, SnapChat, and/or Pinterest on a daily basis. I am facing a great deal of pressure from them to have a social media account as a way to share updates on the baby. 353fa8003c7a9b18265d79a9aad40d7d[1]I wanted to find something quick and easy but also something I could keep relatively private. This seemed like a tall order. *Please note, I do realize that nothing posted online is actually private.

I came across the image on the left after Googling “best social media format” and clicking on images. It caught my attention and seemed like a helpful graphic. After reading about the six apps, my focus narrowed. Facebook and Instagram seemed like the best options for sharing my baby photos so I Googled “Instagram vs Facebook”.

That search brought me to Jenn’s Trends. Jenn is a social media blogger with an honest no BS approach. Just the perspective I was looking for. Jenn explained the differences in Facebook and Instagram. She explained her perceived intention for each of the platforms. The highlights for me were:

  1. Instagram is not about memes or motivational quotes (the garbage stuff I don’t want to clutter my already fried brain with)
  2. Facebook is for games and sharing links (something I have ZERO interest in doing)
  3. Instagram is all about the images (images are what my friends and family are asking for)
  4. Instagram is about connecting with people (I believe that is why my friends and family want me to post…)

Making an Instagram account for class was quick (less than 5 minutes) and easy (all I needed was an email address). My experience in combination with Jenn’s evaluation made Instagram look more and more like the right fit. However, in order to be an intelligent filter I felt I needed to look a little deeper.

I found myself reading a Forbes article about the benefits a company can expect from Instagram. These benefits are appealing to me for my personal goals:

  1. It has greater control over spam and reasonably tight personal networks.
  2. It isn’t limited to just one social function, like LinkedIn is used for professional networking, and is approachable to a wide number of people.
  3. Instagram also wasn’t created for extended back-and-forth conversations. (ain’t nobody got time for that)
  4. In your image, posts, and comments, your goal should be to keep things as concise and light as possible. (hopefully there is nothing too deep about my baby’s first year in photos)

These two sources and the countless others I perused convinced me that Instagram is the logical choice for my criteria. Then I asked myself how private can I make my Instagram. I came across a blog on Mashable,  which informed me that “With privacy turned on, you still will have a Web profile, but your photos will be visible only to logged-in Instagram users you’ve allowed to follow you.”

So my plan is to get comfortable with Instagram during this semester, then create a personal page and invite my friends and family to follow it. Now to come up with a name for it…

STAR_mdst Statistics

Image result for sex trafficking

The term Human Trafficking refers to modern day slavery and includes sex trafficking, forced labor, bonded labor, involuntary servitude, and child soldiers. These horrific forms of abuse are all linked together. END IT states that human Trafficking happens in 167 countries (that is 87% of all nations in the world) and approximately 1 in 5 victims are children. The number of victims caught in this web of abuse is staggering. According to A21, human trafficking  is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating more than $150 billion USD every year. Traffickers use a variety of methods to recruit victims including abduction and even being sold into trafficking by their family. Often people are tricked into trafficking through false job advertisements, false immigration, and/or promises from supposed lovers/friends.

To emphasise the importance and impact of sex trafficking, our group would like to highlight the numbers.

Polaris Project provides four statistics on their Sex Trafficking page:

  1. Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline, operated by Polaris, has received reports of 22,191 sex trafficking cases inside the United States.
  2. In 2016, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims.
  3. Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.5 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally.
  4. In a 2014 report, the Urban Institute estimated that the underground sex economy ranged from $39.9 million in Denver, Colorado, to $290 million in Atlanta, Georgia.

Thorn‘s research on web based sexual abuse indicates that of victims identified 91% are African American & Latino youth, 50-90% have some form of child welfare involvement, 76% are refugees and/or migrant children, 50% are youth in the LGBTQ community, 25% are homeless youth, and 16% are considered runaways.

Image result for sex traffickingMN Human Trafficking Hotline has data on recorded Human trafficking cases in the state of Minnesota. As of 2016 there were 299 calls to the hotline, 62 cases were reported. Of those 62 cases reported to the hotline 53 of the victims were female and 14 victims were male. 48 of the 62 cases were specific to Sex Trafficking. The locations of the 48 Sex trafficking incidents included but are not limited to hotels/motels, commercial-front brothels, street-based, and escort services.


only 1% of victims are ever rescued *A21


STAR_mdst is a group of Metro State students working to increase awareness of sex trafficking. Our group was tasked with selecting an issue and developing a social media campaign for it. We chose sex trafficking because we felt there are multiple pieces to this issue that we can highlight and there are real opportunities for our readers to make a change.

According to Merriam-Webster, the legal definition of sex trafficking is the illegal business of recruiting, harboring, transporting, obtaining, or providing a person and especially a minor for the purpose of sex.

Equality Now states that at least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor. Victims of sex trafficking are often isolated, intimidated, sold into debt bondage and subject to physical and sexual assault by their traffickers.  Most live under constant mental and physical threat. Many suffer severe emotional trauma, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and disassociation. They are at greater risk of contracting sexually transmissible infections, including HIV/AIDS. Many become pregnant and are forced to undergo often unsafe abortions.

Our plan is to inform readers about:

  1. sex trafficking including definitions, statistics & basic facts
  2. local & federal laws pertaining to the various forms of sex trafficking
  3. organizations in Minnesota making a difference in sex trafficking
  4. national & worldwide organizations supporting change in sex trafficking
  5. the impact large scale events (super bowl, national conventions, Olympics) have on sex trafficking numbers

Our goal is to share pertinent accurate information about sex trafficking with our readers. We will link to local, national and worldwide organizations, create YouTube videos, and deliver relevant information through our blog, Facebook and Twitter.

It is important readers understand they can help:

  1. support an organization (with time and/or financially)
  2. lobby for change
  3. speak out (if you see something say something)
  4. promote awareness

Our hope is that the research we share will motivate our readers to act which will in turn reduce the occurrences of sex trafficking.

Check our Facebook and Twitter feeds.