Category Archives: Uncategorized

Oreo and Big Data

As some of you may know, Oreo is currently running a mass media contest looking for the next great cookie idea. If you haven’t heard of it, please direct your attention to this link.

Oreo has advertised this contest on every social media outlet, including on the news. So far they have gotten hundreds of thousands of comments filled with the most outrageous (and sometimes brilliant) ideas meaning their marketing strategy has worked. Now I am all about delicious cookies and getting a chance at half a million dollars but suddenly something scary happened.

I have had a Twitter since it can out but I have never posted a thing in the multiple years I’ve had it. When this contest came out, I decided to add to the lottery of Oreo ideas but posting my first ever tweet…well actually three. (Cause hey the more ideas the better the change right??) Within an hour after my first Twitter post, I went on Instagram and guess what popped up. A sponsored advertising for the Oreo Creation Contest.

@oreo Three brilliant ideas just waiting to win… #myoreocreation #contest

A post shared by Marissa MSU (@marissa_msu) on

Now sure could it have been a coincidence? One could argue it was but then I started seeing it constantly. What are the odds this contest would just happen to show up for the first time after I post about it? I would say the odds are pretty damn good. Why you ask? Because of big data, which you can read about here.

I know that my post was public but the fact that my never before used Twitter was then connected to my Instagram in a matter of an hour is scary to me. I showed one interest on Twitter and suddenly I am being directly marketed. In other words, the seemingly fun contest has given Oreo more insight to who they should be marketing towards.

The fun and games are over because we know Oreo is not the only company using big data to help target their audience…





Locally Sourced Conservation

Saving the Earth, Our Home

When it comes to preserving planet earth, it is easy to feel like there is nothing you can do as it is truly a huge, global issue. What we often overlook is that if each of us as individuals make minor changes to daily life that could add up to big benefits for the earth. The usual ideas that come to mind surrounding this topic are things like turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth, turning off the lights when you leave a room, biking, walking, or using public transportation instead of taking a car, etc. I think that the impacts of buying and eating local are often overlooked. If more people were to support the local food movement numerous positive outcomes would follow. The aim of the local food movement is to connect producers and consumers in communities in order to create self-reliant food networks. This farm to table strategy allows for much more sustainable living and eating within communities.

My favorite local market

A post shared by Jacob Farmer (@bz2899sw) on

Local vs. Large

Large corporations such as Target, Walmart, Costco, Cub foods etc. must buy and sell mass amounts of products which results in a lot of waste. Large stores also leave massive carbon footprints. The benefits to buying local are plentiful. Consumers are able to support local farmers who rely on local buyers for their livelihood. It also provides the opportunity to buy food that is much more fresh than if you were to go to a grocery store. There are also environmental benefits that go along with eating local. If food is being produced and bought within the same community cuts down on the green house gas emissions used for transportation and storing of food. Factory farms that supply large grocery stores create very concentrated areas of manure and pollution whereas local farms produce much smaller amounts of pollution in a more spread out area. Supporting these local farms also promotes humane treatment of animals as it encourages free-range and pasture-grazing farming techniques. As you can see there are countless benefits to going local and it is something you should try to get involved in within your own community.

Wasted produce from a big grocery store #shame

A post shared by Jacob Farmer (@bz2899sw) on

Dairy Good According to Dairy

Dairy Industry is Sustainable… Apparently

The National Dairy Council discusses the rising concern of how to eat sustainably. The meat of the article (excuse the pun) covers suggested criteria by which we can measure and judge the sustainability of food and eating patterns. Generally speaking, I did not have a problem with the factuality of the article. Rather it is the context surrounding the article and the way it dances around the main issue at hand, which is the environmental impacts of the dairy industry. I am not refuting the facts stated but rather I’m bringing light the bias present in this article.

Gregory Miller, PH.D., FACN

Taking a look at the author’s name and photo placed at the left side of the article, it says Gregory Miller, PH.D., FACN, this title demonstrates his academic merit but does not say much more about the author. It is not until you click his name that Gregory Miller is the Chief Science Officer at NDC, Executive Vice President of Research, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs for Dairy Management Inc. and Global Dairy Sector Lead for Nutritional Security for Global Dairy Platform. While his extensive resume is impressive, a more thorough look at the author reveals that there may be some bias present as he has a large stake in the dairy industry.

Filtering the Bull

A key element in critically viewing media as the author’s background, it may be a tell tale sign that there is bias present in the article. In addition, it is not until the concluding paragraph of the article that the author mentions how this relates to the dairy industry. The author states that dairy farmers are the “original environmentalists” because they use land and provide products to consumers in the “most sustainable way possible” and that the dairy industry has made huge improvements to their carbon footprint in the last 7 decades. My view on the issue is that the dairy industry has proven to have serious consequences on the environment: methane production, water usage, and land erosion, among other things the dairy industry is also known for inhumane treatment of cattle. The presence of this article on a website titled “DairyGood” is so obviously an attempt to avert people’s eyes from all the “DairyBad” being shown in other media outlets.

Do you think dairy farming is sustainable? Post your answer under the hashtag #dairyopinion

A post shared by Jacob Farmer (@bz2899sw) on

The global philosopher: Who should pay for climate change?



The global philosopher: Who should pay for climate change?


I came across this article last semester during the period I took the environmental philosophy class. The instructor thought us about global warming and gave us the causes of it, but allowed us to make the decision about who should be held responsible for global warming

The first question in my mind was where will the money come from? Many worry that it will come from existing foreign aid budgets. And that is exactly what happened when the UK created the adaptation-oriented International Climate Fund with money transferred from existing aid commitments.

The sad truth is that the poorest countries on the planet will be hit first and hardest by climate change. In the last decade, it is poor counties like Honduras, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Bangladesh and Thailand that have been most battered by the climate storm.

The article at the beginning picked a stand, by blaming the developed countries.

We have been pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in ever increasing quantities since the industrial revolution. Some countries in the developed world are, of course, responsible for the bulk of this. Since 1850 the US and the nations which are now the EU have been responsible for more than 50% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions….


Much needs to be worked out both on a national and international level. Who should dispense the money? What formula should govern the funds disbursement (i.e., what percentage of the costs should the national or international fund cover)? How do we assess the actual damages? Are funds available to cover only the costs of climate-induced natural disasters or for broader natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanoes?

This conversation in the article was hard and loud, making the developed country look guilty of their actions.  Although the underdeveloped countries should have a part to play either small or big because they also contributed some amount to the issue at hand.

# blog 3


Getting Started for Fishing Bass

Why Bass?

If you are not familiar with Bass fishing you are missing out on the most sought after freshwater fish in the United States. The reason for that is that is they are some of the hardest fighting, highest jumping, and most aggressive game fish there is. The thrill of catching a bass is like no other, which, has inspired hundreds of TV shows, Fishing Tournaments, and Clubs. I am one of the many people that has caught the “Bass Bug.” I am willing to share some of the secrets on getting started.

Nothing like a big bass #Fishing

A post shared by Jacob Farmer (@bz2899sw) on

First Things First

If you want to fish bass you have to first have to figure out the lakes they live in. The best way to find that out is go to your local bait shop and ask them where they are biting. Next, when you pick a lake you like you have to get a read on what habitat bass are living. Bass are ambush predators they basically hide until they see prey then move to strike.  I look for three things with bass, fallen trees, lilly pads, and weed edges. They offer great hiding spots for bass where they wait for bait fish, frogs, worms, snakes, and pretty much anything that fits in their mouth.

What Bait Should I Use?

The bait you use should depend entirely on where you are fishing. If you are fishing a weed edge it is usually deeper so crankbaits, weedless jigs, and spinners are a good option. When fishing lily pads my alltime favorite is weedless frogs. They imitate a frog swimming on the surface. Bass hit these HARD! It is not uncommon for a fish to jump all the way out of the water as they attack the bait. When fishing trees or other sunken structure I like to use plastic worms. Heck, I like to use plastic worms everywhere. They can be hooked in so many ways and rigged with weights so they are effective in anywhere from 1 to 25 feet. If you follow this you should have no trouble getting into the best type of fishing, Bass.

Different ways to rig a worm #EndlessPossibilities

A post shared by Jacob Farmer (@bz2899sw) on

What is Scarier Korean or Cuban Communism?

In Recent News…

Two major news stories that have been developing in the past several weeks. One story is Trump strickening the relations with Cuba cutting off what Obama set in place three years ago. As well as the decision by Trump on Cuba, there is tragic new from across the Pacific Ocean. Otto Warmbier, a 22 American student that decided to travel to North Korea, died after being sent to 15 years hard labor a year before. Although his choice to travel there is a whole different topic, he was allowed to go there. My question is why can I travel to one and not the other?


Background of These Countries

Almost immediately after Soviet Russia stacked Berlin winning World War 2 in europe, the US and Allies decided that Communism is the next big threat for the west causing decades of flexing between the superpowers USSR and USA. In 1950, this led to a war in Korea between US backed South Korea and USSR backed North Korea. In 1953, an armistice was signed pausing the war. To this day North Korea and South Korea are still technically at war. In 1959, Castro officially took control of Cuba which deteriorated US relations leading to an embargo in 1961. Both countries were heavily influenced by the Soviet Union which fell in 1991 leaving North Korea and Cuba the few remnants of Communism.


Why Can I Visit One And Not The Other

Short answer, I have no idea. Each year about 1000 thrill seeking Americans decide that North Korea is their next travel destination. They decide to travel there even though 16 Americans have been detained in the past 10 years with 3 still in custody. If an American wants to visit Cuba they have to have family there. The hypocrisy gets even better because because the reason the US set an embargo because Castro threatened the United States. The same thing North Korea does every time they test a long range missile. What I am trying to say is that both countries are Communist extremists and go against American values yet we can visit one and not the other. I would like to see consistency in our policy for once.

Apparently 1,000 Americans every year think it's a good idea to visit here #badidea

A post shared by Jacob Farmer (@bz2899sw) on

Air Travel: You May Know Less Than You Think

Flying, the thing that the average American does a few times a year, and is immediately an expert. Working for an airline for the past 4 and half years, I’ve learned that the public is extremely un-educated about how airlines operate. And, why should they? I mean with flights being so expensive and so highly secure by TSA, how could someone get a full glimpse into life of an airline?


A post shared by Jason (@jasonmdst) on

In recent news, United airlines (before the man got dragged off the plane), got flack online for denying boarding for two girls because they were wearing yoga pants.  Now that’s what the title reads. But if you read any article that describes what happened, they just state what United stated, but unless you work for an airline, you’d still probably think that United Airlines is a sexist company.

 Disclaimer: I do not work for United Airlines.

That is Quentin Fottrell writes in his article for MarketWatch. Although the writer does state all the facts from both sides, there is an “anti-United Airlines” tone to the article. Especially all the tweets that were posted by flyers and celebrities, bashing the airline for how absurd they were being for not letting young girls get on a flight because of yoga pants.

But here’s the catch (the part that only people who work for an airline would understand), those girls who got denied boarding were “pass riders.” In other words, they flew for free on some buddy passes given to them by an employee. And the culture that average travelers don’t understand is that EVERY airline in the world has a dress code policy for employees when they use these benefits. As employees, we are responsible to know and inform those who travel on our buddy passes, about that dress code policy.

So here is where I have beef with this writer. He kind of just wrote about the situation and talked about United’s side of the story, but he didn’t explain that these are strict rules that every single airline enforces. In the 90’s, the culture for “pass riders” was to wear suits and ties and be business professional when you traveled on a buddy pass. The airlines let you fly for free, on the condition that the traveler represents the company well.

And because people aren’t aware of this unique culture, you even get celebrities like Sarah Silverman tweeting that she is “changing all my @united flights to other airlines”. When in reality, every airline would deny those two girls in yoga pants if they were traveling on buddy passes.


A post shared by Jason (@jasonmdst) on

Air travel is one of those things that people think they are experts on, but it’s a unique world that you can only truly experience from working in it.


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…

I haven't baked in over 6 months. I am excited to bake cookie for class tonight!

A post shared by Ashley (@hk8045qe) on

And then realized I was missing something critical…

Almost forgot a critical ingredient… Maybe there was a reason I stopped baking for a while.

A post shared by Ashley (@hk8045qe) on

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…


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…

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.

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.



Fidget Spinners: Useful or Distracting?

Ahh the fidget spinner. Arguably the dumbest thing ever invented. Or is it?


A post shared by Jason (@jasonmdst) on

Promoted as a toy that is supposed to help kids with ADD and autism pay attention better, has caught the attention of kids, and even adults all over the nation. Personally, I think they are an extreme fad, not to mention pointless. I feel that watching from the outside these fidget spinners seem to be more of a distraction than they are helpful.

But who am I to bash on these fidget spinners if they are truly helping kids with ADD and autism focus better. So, I took to the internet to consider both sides of the argument.

According to an article by teacher, Jessica Fear on called the horrors of the fidget spinner, the latest classroom menace, fidget spinners are doing more harm than good. The article talks about how even with the science behind the toy, the people who claim the fidget spinner is helpful, have not spent much time in a secondary education classroom. And that it has a bad effect on those around the kids playing with the toys. While the fidget cube was just distracting and may help some students focus better, the fidget spinner is pure distraction.

Although Forbes gave me a different look the fidget spinner in their article Here’s The Science Behind The Fidget Spinner Craze. This article presents three different scientific possibilities of why fidget spinners can actually help a person focus. The first one talks about how “fidgeting may occupy parts of your brain that otherwise would distract the rest of your brain with random thoughts.”  The second being that body movements are “actually part of the thinking and expression process.” And the third being that fidgeting can offer a sense of comfortability, predictability, and structure to a person.

Whichever you choose to believe, there are always two sides to every story. Spin on my friends. or don’t.



A post shared by Jason (@jasonmdst) on

The Power of Social Media

Last month, my best friend Bethany got hospitalized due to immense pain and numbness in the left side of her body. She couldn’t move her left arm or hand. While Bethany was undergoing the many tests the doctors put her through to find out what was wrong, they discovered a benign brain tumor as well.

The Power of Social Media #blogpostone

A post shared by Jason (@jasonmdst) on

Well, if you’ve ever seen the show ‘Friends’, you’d know that if that happened to one of the characters, the rest of the gang would be incredible stressed and sleepless. That’s exactly what happened with my closest group of friends. One of us was always at her bedside the entire time she was at the hospital. Especially when her husband (my best friend Wes) needed to be at work. A week and a half went by in the hospital and still no answers, among the stress of the unknown, Bethany who is a professional photographer, had to find fillers for the scheduled weddings she had to shoot. We realized that there was going to be a lot of gaps to fill for us. But we were happy to help.

So we came up with a solution. We launched a YouCaring fund raiser, to help with all the unforeseen hospital bills that would need to get paid. And the next couple of days blew me away.

Not only did we all post this to every social media platform we have accounts on, but we encouraged everyone to at least share the link, and give if you can. The next thing I know, I’m seeing this being posted by all our mutual friends and acquaintances with Bethany, on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and even Instagram stories. And every single person that posted about it on their Instagram story, said the same thing of “Link in Bio.” People that knew Bethany closely or decently well, replaced their Instagram biographies with the link to her You Caring page.

This not only moved me, but also taught me a lesson about social media. That even though social media can be seen as a platform to promote self-centered posts, celebrities’ selfies, and company products, in a moment in time of need for Bethany, our internet circle of friends and acquaintances used these platforms to raise them the money they needed. The goal was set at 20K at first, but that was met in a day and a half. Then it was raised to 30K, and that was met in 3 days.

 No matter what negative connotations social media may carry, I believe that when used for purposes such as these, it can be one of the most powerful tools in the world.


Link In Bio #blogpostone

A post shared by Jason (@jasonmdst) on