TRENDING: Unplug, Revisit, Remember
by Michelle Farnsworth Technology has made us greedy, impatient, and spoiled. Long gone are the days of waiting for film to be developed, a cup of coffee brewed drip by drop into a pot, or typing and printing a document. Now, these are considered “retro” or “vintage.” When I was growing up they were all we had. No digital cameras. No K-Cups to pop into a Keurig for instant gratification, and certainly no computers to type up a story for Inspired Woman magazine. My super official, scientific Facebook research on these topics led me to a conclusion: everything old is once again cool, and trending. POLAROID CAMERAS Anyone that knows me can testify to my love of a good photo, selfie, or documenting an event. My favorite response to the naysayers is always, ”I come by it honestly.” My mother, Donna Hardt, is a television news photographer for KFYR-TV in Bismarck. I grew up in the newsroom and going on assignments with her. I look at the world through a different lens. Everything is a potential story. Everything is worthy of photographing. And sharing is caring. Smartphone technology is a way of life for me. I believe my iPhone is attached to my wrist. But last year at this time, I decided to delve back into my childhood and purchase the latest version of the Polaroid camera. They are more compact. The film is one-step; pop it into the camera and you’re ready to roll. I even took the camera on a vacation to Mexico and was taking Polaroids to place into my tiny photo album. It was also entertaining to take Polaroids of locals and hand them a photograph of themselves. And for the selfie enthusiast, a Polaroid camera is not ideal, but can be mastered. (See photo. Sorry Frankie.) DRIP COFFEE MAKERS Many people don’t like a Keurig K-Cup for their morning jolt of java. In fact, they prefer an excellent coffee bean, ground to perfection, and brewed just like their grandpa liked it. “I use a drip coffee maker because it’s my favorite way to enjoy an entire pot of coffee,” says Jenn Bailey of Bismarck. ”There is nothing better than waking up to the smell of freshly made coffee in the morning.” Another fan of the old ways of brewing coffee, Erika White, says, ”I switched back from a Keurig because K-Cups are expensive, filters are better for the environment than K-Cups, and I can drink an entire pot if I want.” ”My husband is too cheap to have anything else. Put that in your article, Michelle,” says Annie Carlson. (Well, Annie, I just did.) After over 40 comments, shared photos and experiences, I’m wondering if I should also revert back to the good ol’ days. I’m not gonna lie, I am a sucker for marketing, and I also enjoy my cute K-Cup holder, but I digress. TYPEWRITERS I have always loved a good typewriter. I never minded typing classes in junior high and high school. I was competitive and always wanted to type the most words per minute. I remember the humming of the electric typewriters: the clacking and tapping on the keyboards in a room full of inexperienced students; stopping to use Wite-Out and then letting it dry before typing over the mistake. But an old typewriter is more than a relic or a nod to the past. I think it is a handsome piece of home decor. Collectors line shelves with coveted models. And many people love to still compose on an old typewriter. Pounding each key is a workout. After a sentence, your fingers ache. It takes work to type an entire story, let alone an entire book—probably why I quickly wimped out after only typing three words on my old machine. Local author, Josie Blaine’s typewriter is more than a typewriter. Sentimental value and a personal story makes it a symbol of unending friendship. “It’s completely functional. I can use it to type special notes to my loved ones,” says Josie. I like to consider the trend of using old as new more of a challenge to step away from digital and step back in time. I may just resort to handing out Polaroids and sending typed letters, while drinking a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Jenn Bailey Josie Blaine and her beloved typewriter and her drip coffee maker Michelle Farnsworth is a local writer and owner of her own Younique Makeup and Skincare business. Two humans, one fur baby, and her husband, Richard, occupy her free time.
The African Clap & Cooper’s Law
by Patrick Atkinson | Submitted Photos Let’s go back. Way back. Back into time. Back after the time when the only people that existed were troglodytes, but long before Apple’s iPhone X Plus ruled our world. The drums beat, beat, beat, and the people knew, knew, knew. The message conveyed. Technology won. I was working in Africa a few years ago when I experienced a moment going back to the earliest of times. There was a devastating malaria epidemic going on. We were taking medicines collected across North Dakota to ravaged villagers across Malawi. We loaded our Range Rover with medical bags, boxes, protein drinks, and high-nutrition crackers. We arrived at the first village unannounced and caught all the villagers by surprise. Some people were in the fields, others were bathing at home. Just a few saw us arrive but that was enough. “Mzungus” they cried out. Dropping their hoes and wrapping themselves in towels, they ran toward our truck laughing, shouting, and clapping their hands. At first it was a small handful, but within minutes more came in from the bush. “How do they know we’re here?” I asked my colleagues. Then we heard the soft gentle drum. A log hollowed out and hit by a stone. A clear rhythm I couldn’t understand, but which brought in people running from all directions. When we arrived at the next village several miles away, they had been readied. Women lined the road and swayed in dance. Children had washed faces and hands and still wet shirts. The village chief had set out his chairs. The medicine man wore his welcoming mask. “How do they do that?” I again asked my associates. There again was that beat, beat, beat. The largest of the ancient Greek galley ships had 440 rowers. They worked in perfect coordination while sitting on three different levels and in dozens of parallel rows. For the oars to strike the water together, the human clockwork-like rhythm had to be perfect. They had no gears or digitally-switching timers. There were only men who worked in forced or voluntary tandem, while sharing sweat, commitment, and a singular mind. Coordination kept in perfect synchronization by that omnipresent beat, beat, beat. Technology evolves to meet the needs of those who need it to be mastered. During America’s antebellum era of the Civil War, the machinery of the voice and, again, the rhythm of song transmitted hidden messages over long distances and across dangerous ground. The spiritualist song, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” conveyed to slaves working in the field that a group was about to escape. The message of the harmonic “Follow the Drinking Gourd” gave instructions on how to use the Big Dipper to travel safely to the north. Twelve years after the American Civil War ended, Alexander Graham Bell invented his telephone. His father-in-law then created Bell Telephone to take that cutting-edge technology to the masses. Wires first carried the messages that had earlier been transmitted by that beat, beat, beat, but by 1900 wireless calls were being made. My neighbor’s uncle, Martin Cooper, invented the handheld cell phone in 1973. He’s also credited with making the first-ever cell phone prank call—to his top competitor at AT&T. Flying toward us at an ever-increasing pace, technology doubles and triples at a mind-splitting speed. Cooper’s Law, formulated by Martin Cooper, states that the number of phone and data calls that can be simultaneously made doubles every 30 months. Moore’s Law, by Intel founder Gordon Moore, asserts that processing capability doubles every two years. Beat, beat, beat go the drums at their ever-faster pace. To move the ship quicker, the sweaty oars must go deeper, the fatigued arms stretch out farther, the fallen men dragged to the side quicker. When we approached our fifth village in Africa on that hot and sunny August afternoon, there were well over a thousand excited people dancing and clapping together. In our near-empty truck, we had supplies for maybe a tenth of them. We slowed our truck and waved. They cheered, and we cheered back. Some swayed and danced. Together with them we laughed. And we kept on driving. For the safety of all, we had to tell technology, “Enough.” Patrick Atkinson Patrick Atkinson is the founder of The GOD’S CHILD Project international charity (GodsChild.org) and is an award-winning author with six books in worldwide distribution. He lives in Bismarck, Minneapolis, and Guatemala, Central America.
Sew Easy: Technology Advances Crafting Potential
by Kylie Blanchard | Submitted Photos Gone are the days of just a needle and thread to make sewn creations and simply a scissors and stamps to make cards and other paper wonders. With advancements in technology, crafting now has endless possibilities. Fancy Machines “These advances have completely changed the size of the projects people do, the ease at which they can do them, and how quickly they can get them done,” says Joy Papke, owner of Bismarck Sewing & Quilting. “This means the most advanced machines are not just for retired people with lots of time. Younger people are justifying purchasing nicer machines as they can do more and do things faster.” Joy says she has been sewing her whole life and quilting and embroidering since 2000. “I have been in the industry since 2008 and have seen huge advances in the technology of sewing and embroidery machines. The sewing and quilting industry continues to excite me, there is always something new to learn.” She says machines now have faster processors, more memory capabilities, larger hoop sizes, larger screens and graphic programs, and range in price from $99 to $20,000. “I particularly like the laser beam function on some of our machines that can act as a seam guide line. It can tell the machine where to stop sewing automatically, and it can even eliminate the need for drawing lines on the back of quilt blocks,” Joy notes, adding machines also have the ability to download embroidery artwork and fonts or allow crafters to create their own artwork. “We also have long-arm quilting machines that can be computerized and can literally quilt for you.” While the technology of today’s sewing and quilting machines can be intimidating, Joy says it often just takes a demonstration to ease hesitations. “Many times, I have had customers say, ‘I hope I can figure this fancy machine out,’ but you show them a few things and they are amazed at how easy they are to learn and how intuitive the machines are.” Joy expects technology will continue to advance the sewing and quilting industry. “I am always amazed at what our manufacturer comes up with. I can’t even imagine what they will be able to do next.” A Cut Above When Kris Olson bought her first Cricut® cutting machine, she did so with a bit of hesitation. “I bought it not knowing if I would like it. I had it a week and was so frustrated, I was going to return it,” she says. More than a decade later, she now owns five Cricut machines along with a Silhouette® cutting machine. “The Cricut came out, and it had the whole craft world in the palm of its hand. You can do so many things with these machines from cutting fabric to making the pieces of a ‘busy book’ for a child and even etching glass.” She says the machines have evolved from using changeable cartridges loaded with designs to machines now loaded with designs. The latest models have the ability to download designs and even allow users to create designs or make changes. “When the machines first rolled out, you could just pick a letter to cut and adjust the size,” says Kris. “Now, technology allows you to do so much more. With a software program you can take any image, pull it from its background, trace it, and cut it out.” Kris says she still enjoys testing the boundaries of the machine’s abilities to make gifts and projects for family and friends and to try custom orders. “I’m not very nice to my machine, and it hasn’t broken yet,” she notes. “If people only knew it’s more than just cutting paper and vinyl.” She also hopes to one day hold workshops for the crafters wanting to learn more about the possibilities available with a cutting machine. “I want people to know all the machines can do,” says Kris. “The machines can do pretty much whatever people want to do. Cutting gifts and cards, quilt pieces, leather, fabric for clothes, baby blankets, Christmas stockings, and specialty decorations. The coolest thing I ever did was a 12-foot wall mural.” Owning Cricut and Silhouette machines has helped her to learn a lot about technology and expand her crafting abilities, says Kris. “It’s made crafting quicker and easier. You are able to put your own personality on what you do, and make it special.” Kylie Blanchard is a local writer and editor, and busy mom of three, who admits she’s not one to sew much more than a button onto a shirt.
VIRTUAL Classroom: Life & Home Skills REALITY
by Pam Vukelic | Submitted Photos For those of us who have been around for a while, the technological changes that have occurred in our world are mind-boggling. I remember when my father was approaching the end of his life, he was in a hospital bed, and he had not met Mollie. Mollie lived in Kentucky and was engaged to be married to our son, Reed. We arranged for Mollie and Grandpa to chat via laptop and thus they met. After we logged off, Grandpa said, “Can we rewind and replay that?” He must have been so amazed at our evolution from telephone party lines to Skype. In my own experience, I’m amazed at the opportunity I’ve had to evolve from being a classroom teacher to a virtual instructor. Courses I taught in the classroom, such as child development, parenting, independent living, and family living, I now teach through the Missouri River Area Career and Technical Center (MRACTC) to students in member schools across North Dakota. The mission of the MRACTC is “to provide career and technical educational opportunities to our member schools’ students, in the most economical fashion, where every student has the same educational opportunity regardless of the size or location of the school.” Courses in agriculture, aviation, electronics, information tech, health science careers, family and consumer sciences, graphic arts, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are offered. My students are high school kids. A typical class consists of 20-30 students from 10-12 schools. We work together through a learning platform called Moodle. These are strictly online classes. We do not meet at a set time of day, nor do we see each other through a television-like link. The students can log on any time of the day or night to find information I post in one-week blocks. They will find assignments, announcements, quizzes, and forums. Their textbooks are electronic versions of regular textbooks. Augmenting content with current and relevant material is just an easy link away. One important component of each semester class, and the only element that is not online, is our “Day in Bismarck,” when the students all come together to meet with me and their classmates at the Bismarck Public Schools Career Academy. This gives us the opportunity to see each other face-to-face. The students meet all of their classmates and we get to put names to faces. The agenda for the day, tailored to each specific course, might include practicing with the RealCare computerized babies (each student takes one for a weekend); learning activities that are best done in a hands-on group setting; speakers who provide personal, meaningful content; and a little bit of fun. I have found the students really appreciate the opportunity to enroll in these online classes. They are afforded tremendous freedom and flexibility to progress at their own speed. The number of elective courses from which they can choose is huge compared to what their local—often small—schools can offer. What a student learns through taking an online class far exceeds course content. These students need to be disciplined and show initiative. The students learn to problem-solve regarding technological issues. My student might be the only student in her school in this class. She might have an access issue or a submission problem. Then invariably, in a day or so, the student gets back to me saying, “I figured it out.” This is music to my ears and builds confidence in my kids. Online teaching offers me freedom and flexibility, too. There was a day not long ago when I messaged my students to say I was leaving Anchorage, Alaska that morning for Florida, so my ability to communicate with them would be limited. I was able to catch up with their messages in Seattle, Washington and Denver, Colorado, and then log-in again that night when I got to Florida. What classroom teacher wouldn’t welcome that freedom? The reality is my students would not have even known I wasn’t in Bismarck had I not told them. There are responsibilities classroom teachers have, but don’t enjoy very much. Examples are recording tardies and absences, monitoring cell phone usage, guiding students through yet another necessary (and sometimes frightening) drill, or smoothing out conflicts between a couple of students. An online teacher does not deal with any of these things. As I visit with people from all over the country and tell them about my work, the responses I get are, “That is fascinating!” or, “Really, for high school students?” or, “That sounds so important—I wish every student could have that opportunity!” I wish every teacher could have this opportunity, too. Photo courtesy of Realityworks, Inc. Photo courtesy of Realityworks, Inc. Even though Pam rarely is face-to-face with her students, she relishes the opportunity to get to know them through various messaging techniques. Photography: Realityworks, Inc.
Health & Fitness: Tech Style
By Melanie Carvell We all know the downside to spending too much time on our phones, iPads, and computers, but what about capitalizing on the benefits technology can have for our health? There has been an explosion of fitness technology options in the last decade. Twenty-one percent of Americans use fitness trackers—tracking metrics such as steps, sleep habits, heart rate, and nutrition. Some scientific studies show that these trackers are not particularly effective at helping users lose weight; but other studies show that users are much more likely to accumulate at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily, leading to a long list of health benefits. Many people find that tracking activity is helpful in boosting motivation, and anything that helps us get up and moving is a good thing! The options for health and wellness technology are endless, but some of my favorites include: NETFLIX Who doesn’t love getting immersed in a television series without commercial interruption? My non-negotiable rule: I can’t watch the next episode of “Call the Midwife” or “Doc Martin” unless I am in motion—doing some sort of strength or cardio at the same time. FITNESSBLENDER.COM This impressive online workout company was developed by a registered dietician and her personal trainer husband. Together, they coach participants through over 500 challenging—but easy to follow—free workout videos, most requiring very little fitness equipment. I appreciate their down-to-earth style, the modifications that provide for all fitness levels, and the fact that they don’t sell any nutritional supplements. JENNYHADFIELD.COM Join this online fitness challenge anytime for about $5 a month. This group is ultra-supportive and positive with tons of resources to improve your running, swimming, and cycling. Health focuses also include strength training, nutrition, and mindfulness. One of my pals was able to dump added sugars from her diet (including her Dr. Pepper habit) as a result of this nurturing, supportive, and educational group. MEDITATION & MINDFULNESS APPS In our busy, stressed-out, divisive world, we could likely all benefit from a personal meditation practice more than ever. Taking some quiet time—even just five minutes—to take some deep breaths can do wonders for our physical and mental health. Easy-to-use apps can demystify meditation techniques and help guide us on the way to making it a part of our day. Insight Timer, Breathe2Relax, and Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics are helpful meditation apps that have a wealth of free guided meditations and they are easy to follow. The Gratitude Journal app is an easy way to take note daily of the many things you are thankful for—a proven technique to add more peace and joy into your day. FITNESS GAMIFICATION APPS Working together in either virtual or face-to-face fitness challenges can make our workouts fly by while we are having fun chasing our goals. Research shows that we are likely to work 50 percent harder when we workout with others rather than when we exercise alone. New technology has made its way to our local indoor cycling classes, helping us to collectively work harder to meet group goals and individual goals that are visible and energizing, while improving our fitness level in measurable—and fun—ways. And of course, don’t forget to take technology breaks as well. Head out on your own without your headphones or grab a pal or a furry friend to enjoy the fresh air and the many health benefits to just spending some time in nature, no matter the season. Hopefully we will be able hear the meadowlarks sing on a hike or run soon! Melanie lives in Bismarck with her husband, Charles, and her dog, Case. She is an author, health and wellness speaker, and grandmother of six. She loves sharing her fitness enthusiasm with others and hopes to see you in one of her cycling classes soon.
Wearable Technology: The Personal Trainer at Hand
By Stephanie Fong Technology can be a double-edged sword: technological advances that make one part of our lives easier can actually create problems in other areas of our lives. For example, in today’s world, technology has cut out so much of the physical work faced by generations past that—unless we are purposeful about a fitness routine—many of us don’t naturally get the exercise we need to stay fit and healthy. Luckily, technology also affords us great tools to help combat sedentary lifestyles. Fitness trackers such as the Fitbit or the Apple Watch are forms of technology that can have a positive effect on our health. Measuring Progress & Meeting Goals Sara Rhode, registered respiratory therapist in the cardio & pulmonary rehab program at CHI St. Alexius Health Dickinson, uses a fitness tracker daily. “I started out with the simple Fitbit that clipped onto your pants just to make sure I was getting 10,000 steps a day. I’ve had updated versions of Fitbit until I got my Apple Watch last summer.” Sara uses her Apple Watch to track her workouts, from walking her dogs to doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes, and everything in between. “I used to focus on getting 10,000 steps a day; now with the Apple Watch I focus more on meeting my exercise minute goal, calorie goal, and active goal (standing every hour). “I think fitness trackers are accurate if you have your correct information synced and calibrated, and you keep them updated. Even if they aren’t spot-on at times, I feel like most people use them as motivation to meet certain goals. I’ve learned if you have goals or something measurable, you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable to reach those goals. Fitness trackers do just that.” In the cardiac rehabilitation program, Sara finds that fitness trackers are helpful to patients who need to be aware of their target heart rate range. “The trackers allow our patients to do a quick heart rate check to see where they are at. It’s also helpful if there is a step tracker or exercise minute tracker to help them set goals. Once they reach an initial goal and they see it, it’s easier to set another goal to push further.” Hands-Free Helper As a runner, Ashley Hepperle started using a Fitbit when running while pregnant, utilizing the heart rate monitor often. “I love it for running and the constant encouragement, no matter how silly it is,” Ashley explains. “I enjoy the GPS and heart rate tracking. And I am able to use some of the workouts it offers if I am in a pinch.” And when Ashley’s hands are full caring for her four young children, she says her Fitbit Blaze is truly a hands-free asset. “It allows me to leave my phone on the shelf and read text messages and only feel the need to respond to the ones that are important.” As for her choice of brand in a Fitbit, “It is really easy to use, which was important to me.” Employer Support & Work Life Many companies are embracing the need for proactive wellness initiatives for their employees, and fitness trackers can help employees tap into company-run wellness programs. Robyn McChesney is proud to be the “Wellness Champion” at CHI St. Alexius Health Dickinson. “Our wellness program does encourage trackers, and the first one was the Fitbit. Employees could get a discount if they decided to purchase one,” she explains. The CHI Wellness Program has ongoing challenges for employees to meet, such as meeting goals for daily steps taken, which helps them earn financial incentives. Robyn points out that trackers make participating in the challenges even easier. “Most trackers can now be synced to our wellness portals so participants don’t have to log in and manually track their steps anymore.” While motivating fellow employees to tap into their fitness tracker’s capabilities is part of her job, Robyn also utilizes a tracker herself. “I do love my Fitbit. One of my favorite features is that it reminds me to move every hour. I could probably sit at my desk eight hours straight, so the reminder gets me moving and using my standing desk more. I think it makes me more conscious of my lack of activity at work.” Stephanie Fong lives in Dickinson with her husband, Carter, daughter Sydney, and son, Parker. Originally from Powers Lake, North Dakota, she has lived in southwestern North Dakota for over a decade.
Coming Soon: Flying Cars & Home Robots
Founder of National Day Calendar, Marlo Anderson, declaring National Autonomous Vehicle Day along with North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, and Senator John Hoeven by Marlo Anderson | Submitted Photo Have you ever reflected on just how much technology has changed our lives over the past decade? We now carry devices that can tell us where to go and how long it will take. They allow us to order everything from a car to pick us up or toilet paper to be delivered to our homes. Some people even use them for their original intention: making a phone call. Robots are vacuuming our homes, 3D printers are creating parts, and cars are marching toward not even needing us behind the wheel. We talk to our TVs to change a channel and ask a little round device for the weather forecast or to play the latest song from Lady Gaga. With all the change we have experienced, are things going to slow down a little so we can catch a breath, or are we about to accelerate at a pace never before experienced? Well, you better buckle your seat belt and hold on tight, as we are about to take the technology roller coaster ride of all time! SELF-DRIVING CARS There is so much buzz about self-driving cars right now. We are already seeing advanced features being introduced into many new models, such as adaptive cruise control that will automatically slow down or stop, depending on obstacles and traffic conditions. Many are now stating that we may see fully autonomous vehicles ready for us to purchase by 2021 or 2022. One major hurdle is our wireless infrastructure and its ability to handle the massive amounts of data that need to be transmitted for a self-driving fleet. 5G data plans will begin to emerge in the next year or two, which will provide internet speeds 10 to 20 times faster than our current 4G capabilities. FLYING CARS What is even more exciting is the possibility of flying cars. You read that right; FLYING CARS. We really are about to enter the age of the Jetsons. These are basically drones that fly people here and there at over 100 mph. Since it is totally autonomous, you will not be required to have a pilot’s license. Just tell your phone where you want to go and your flying car will take you there. Even better is the price. You should be able to get a flying car starting at $15,000. Yes, much less than a new, ground-based vehicle. ROBOTS So what about robots? They will soon be cooking our food at many fast-food restaurants. Robots will be mowing our yards, cleaning our houses, doing our laundry, protecting our property, and taking our pets for a walk. We spend 45 percent of our time driving to chase after things like bread, pizza, and packages. In the future, many of us will send our drone to pick up those items, saving us time and money. Our drones will also patrol the perimeter of our homes, keeping us safe. 3D PRINTERS 3D printers are about to rock our world. In medicine, 3D printers will create perfect knee and hip replacements at a fraction of the cost. The time it takes to recover from these types of surgeries will also be significantly reduced. The impact of this technology will go much further in medicine as well. It is possible that they will be able to create living organs for our bodies. The day may come very soon that a person will not have to wait for someone else to die to get the organ transplant they need. The printing of custom prosthetics for people missing limbs is already happening and will become more widespread as we adopt this technology in medical centers across the country. At home, your 3D printer will print replacement parts for your appliances or your vehicle. If you are hosting a get-together at your house, print the plates you need to fit the theme for your event. You will also be able to print clothing, art, furniture, tools, cookware, and toys. The 3D printer in your home will become one of the most valuable and useful items you own. Even our homes will be constructed with 3D printers. There are dozens of homes that have already been printed and usually average about half of the cost of building a new home the traditional way. FLAT SCREEN TVS Flat screen TVs as thin as a couple of pieces of paper will start to emerge in the next few years. Some of this technology can be folded, meaning you can easily take a screen with you to meetings or the next room. Your smart device will simply become your computer. You will carry it with you and then dock it when you get home or at work and use it with a traditional monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Wireless electricity will continue to expand. There is even some speculation that wireless electricity will eventually power all things. That would mean no need for a battery in your smartphone or plugging in your electric vehicle. Most of these changes described will be seen over the next decade. With machines doing most of our tedious work, that will leave more time to pursue our passions in life. With robots cleaning our homes and cooking our food, we may even return to a time where families will enjoy meals together again. Known as the “Guru of Geek,” Marlo Anderson of Mandan hosts his own talk show, “The Tech Ranch.” He also owns several tech companies, including Awe- some 2 Products, Zoovio, Inc., Pakkage, 3sixty5, and National Day Calendar.
Oh Man: Because Guys Inspire Too! – Dr. Denver Fowler
by Marci Narum | Submitted Photos We are not likely to see the extinction of video games in our lifetimes, but one game being developed is going the way of the dinosaurs in the sense that the players participate as dinosaurs. “Saurian” is a simulation game; the goal is to survive. “It amazes me every day when they put out these videos of the models jumping around and running about. Their dedication to scientific accuracy is incredible,” shares Dr. Denver Fowler, Curator of Paleontology at the Dickinson Museum Center. Nick Turinetti is the mind behind “Saurian.” The 30-year-old is operations manager of the North Shore Scenic Railroad in Duluth, Minnesota. But in his spare time, he works on developing the game with 11 other dinosaur enthusiasts who are also designers, programmers, and 3D artists. Dr. Fowler serves as one of the team’s consultants. “Dr. Fowler is very confident in what he knows,” says Nick. “He also has data and real-world experience to back up what he knows. Many people don’t seem to realize that we actually know this much.” “I was so thrilled to be contacted by them,” Dr. Fowler says. “The idea that they take it seriously and they actually have read some of the work I’ve done and thought I was worth contacting, that was a real kick.” A native of England, Dr. Fowler worked as a researcher for Impossible Pictures, London—the production team that made the BBC’s original television series, “Walking with Dinosaurs.” “The models that “Saurian” is doing are absolutely top-notch. They are better than what you see on TV, better than what you see in movies. It’s really quite incredible,” he says. The game takes place 66 million years ago in the Hell Creek Formation. “That’s the rock formation where you get T. rex, Triceratops, and many of your favorite dinosaurs. It also happens to be the dinosaur-bearing rocks we get here in North Dakota and across Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming,” says Dr. Fowler. “We discovered and published in 2014 that if you’re at the bottom of the Hell Creek Formation, Triceratops has a small nose horn, but if you’re at the top of the Hell Creek Formation, Triceratops has evolved a big nose horn. “Saurian” wanted to make sure they got that right in the game, so they’re using the Triceratops species with the big nose horn.” Dr. Fowler’s wife, Liz, is also a dinosaur paleontologist, and teaches at Dickinson State University. “One of the main things [“Saurian”] got in touch with me for was a piece of research Liz and I did together in 2011. This focused on how raptor dinosaurs kill their prey. You may have seen a Velociraptor in a movie; it has a big claw on each of its feet, and they talk about Velociraptor slashing prey with this claw. Well, that’s not how it works. Our new research showed that raptor dinosaurs probably used their big foot claw more like a modern bird of prey: for keeping its victim pinned down, while the predator feeds. Playing a raptor dinosaur is a big part of the game. So how they show the claw being used is based on the behavior model that we presented in 2011.” Despite some early skepticism from colleagues, Dr. Fowler says many more scientists are taking an interest in “Saurian” as they see the game’s quality and accuracy. He hopes “Saurian” will stir up interest in a way that brings more museum visitors. “Children have a natural fascination with dinosaurs. But that sort of teenage through young adult demographic is really hard to hit. There’s a great deal of enthusiasm for this game. Even if you don’t want to play the game, even if you’re not into that, it’s still sort of on the radar.” “Saurian” is in the late alpha stages of production. Nick says the development team is still adding significant aspects of what players will experience, including smell. The game is on schedule to be complete in August 2019, along with a field guide. Until then, click here to try out the current version. “I’m hoping when the full version of the game is available that we can do an opening event here at the museum,” says Dr. Fowler. “And the development team is enthusiastic about it. How often do you get a video game launched in Dickinson, North Dakota?” In the meantime, a new exhibit based on the Fowlers’ Velociraprot research is in the works for the Dickinson Museum Center. “Claws” will be open in time for Memorial Day. Dr. Denver Fowler excavating the skeleton of what he says will probably be a new species of armored dinosaurThe Dickinson Museum Center eld crew exca- vating the new nodosaur skele- ton in Montana The Dickinson Museum Center field crew excavating the new nodosaur skele- ton in Montana The big nose horn species Triceratops ( Triceratops prorsus) on display at the Dickinson Museum Center
Bright Kids, Bright Ideas: Ideas for the Age of Technology
by Tanna Kincaid | Submitted Photos If you overlook their size and adorable child voices, third and fourth graders in three classrooms at Bismarck Public Schools could be mistaken for professional entrepreneurs and business think-tank teams. Teachers across the district are seeing rewards in student passion, deep thinking, creativity, and collaboration through their implementation of more inquiry-based challenges. Kerry Mosset, a third grade teacher at Prairie Rose Elementary School, challenged her third graders to come up with an idea they felt would benefit society. Students took their idea and formed it into a “pitch” that was presented to their class and others (similar to the television show “Shark Tank”). Students identified a topic, determined why it was important and what they would need to know to further develop their idea, and then how they would measure success. Student topics included a robotic hat that helps with everyday tasks, a website that connects orphans to forever families, a culinary goal to make donuts both delicious and healthy, and a design goal to make gymnastics more accessible to those with disabilities. As students presented, the “audience” provided feedback on the pitch and what they liked or thought could be improved. Across town at Sunrise Elementary School, fourth grade teachers Andrea Frovarp and Katie Babcock engaged students in a challenge to create original, innovative energy prototypes that would save money on energy cost and use. The idea generation, research skills, energy science knowledge, and teamwork of these students makes the future look bright. The teams pictured were designing prototypes that leveraged wind energy and solar energy. The students in these classes and others across the district are learning to apply a variety of academic skills as well as skills in collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity to solve complex problems. These students use technology as a tool throughout the projects and with seamless competence. Whether they are researching, collaborating on a digital presentation, or preparing a multimedia product to present, they access and use the technology when it is helpful to their goal. Tanna Kincaid is the Director of Technology for Bismarck Public Schools. She holds a Ph.D. from Syracuse University and has been involved in educational technology most of her career. She and her husband have two children.
Mandy B. Anderson and Raychel Chumley: Tech-Savvy Besties
by Jody Kerzman | Photography: Photos by Jacy The offices at Big Blue Couch® Coaching in downtown Bismarck, North Dakota are buzzing with activity. There are podcasts to record, Facebook live videos to do, and online orders to fill. To say that this business thrives because of technology would be an understatement. “I don’t think we’d exist if technology wasn’t a thing,” says Mandy B. Anderson, about the business she and best friend Raychel Chumley founded together in 2014. “We didn’t have a well thought out business plan when we started. We literally jumped in with a bottle of wine and an ounce of courage,” Mandy smiles. Their original idea was to combine their two separate life coaching businesses and manage Big Blue Couch Coaching together. “We realized we are stronger together than we are apart,” says Raychel. “We originally thought Big Blue Couch was a ministry, but we soon realized it was actually a business. Being a business has allowed us to get into schools and businesses. We’ve been able to reach women in all walks of life and faith,” adds Mandy. REACHING WOMEN They reach those women in many ways—through in-person events, coaching sessions, and online. As technology changes, so does their business. “When we first started Big Blue Couch four years ago, there were not a lot of options for technology,” says Raychel. “Facebook live didn’t exist in 2014. So we recorded our videos, uploaded them to Vimeo, sent them to a private site, then put a link in a members only area on our website, and then we created a Facebook group to try and create a community. It was a lot of steps! “Facebook live really opened up a whole new world for us to use technology without spending money we didn’t have. Facebook live is free so we embraced it and figured out how to use that tool with our groups we already had. It was amazing technology for us, and it was so new at the time that nobody else was really doing it. We had to do a lot of trial and error, but it definitely changed our business format of how we reached people.” Now, the girls on the Big Blue Couch reach people around the world. They have clients from around North Dakota, as well as from far away places such as California, Georgia, New York, and Pennsylvania. Their social media pages and online bookstore reach people worldwide. “We did a Black Friday sale last Thanksgiving and we shipped products to Hawaii and New Zealand during the same week. We literally had products flying over two oceans,” says Mandy with a smile. Those products are unique to Big Blue Couch. Mandy and Raychel write all the material they use. “We always wanted to be writers!” says Mandy. “Our clients needed materials, and I remember not being able to find the right books to help them. We realized that was because we hadn’t written those books yet,” says Raychel. “Our clients needed materials immediately, and going through a publisher takes years. So we decided to self-publish. It was a way to use technology to keep up with demand.” BUILDING COMMUNITY Technology has allowed them to reach women who before wouldn’t have had access to programs like theirs. They find women from rural areas are searching for a community like what they find at the Big Blue Couch. “Sometimes it’s not necessarily what we’re teaching material-wise, but we help them find that sense of community they’ve been searching for,” says Raychel. “It’s hard to have a problem in a small town because everyone knows your business. Our online groups have become a safe place for women who don’t have anyone else. I don’t think we saw that as part of it when we started.“ They explain the secret to reaching those women and to building that sense of community lies in the use of the one-to-many model. It allows them to share one message with a group of people instead of just one client at a time. “The one-to-many model really isn’t taught in traditional coaching and counseling. The focus is on the one-to-one model, but that leads to a lot of burn out and discouragement a lot quicker. You feel like you’re not making the impact you want to. When you start adding technology you can reach 10 people in an hour instead of one. That’s something we tell beginning coaches too. You absolutely have to do one-on-one right away, but think of technology and what you can do from the beginning to start building that one-to-many.” “We’ve done group programs from the get-go,” adds Mandy. NOBODY’S PERFECT Mandy and Raychel are happy to share their secrets with other business women. In fact, they offer a 30-day online bootcamp for business women called Virtually Savvy. In Virtually Savvy, Mandy and Raychel provide hands-on training and encouragement. The whole program is done online; there are no in-person sessions. “We only let 10 women in, and every day we give them a challenge; we ask them to post a video to the group page. We critique and coach them so they get better each time,” explains Mandy. “Really what we see is women getting more comfortable with their videos and their confidence growing in all parts of their lives.” “Teaching that confidence and teaching women to be authentic and to be okay with who they are is huge,” Raychel adds. Mandy and Raychel radiate confidence in their videos; they say the secret is throwing perfectionism out the window. They admit they don’t own any fancy camera equipment—all their videos are recorded on iPhones and iPads. They strive to be real. It’s not uncommon to catch them doing a Facebook live in pajamas and no makeup. “If we’re teaching confidence, then we need to be able to go on camera not looking like we just walked out of a magazine,” says Raychel. “And sometimes, our ideas just don’t work,” adds Mandy. “We’re not afraid to make mistakes and then quickly delete them!” “You have to be okay with failing if you’re going to try new things. We’ve gotten really good at failure,” Raychel says. “But we’ve succeeded because we’ve learned from those failures,” Mandy explains. “And we’ve learned what not to do, which sometimes when it comes to a business, learning what doesn’t work is just as valuable as learning what does work,” says Raychel. FOREVER FRIENDS What does work is Mandy and Raychel working together. It’s a dream that has been decades in the making. It all started at Crystal Springs Bible camp in 1994. “It was the summer before sixth grade,” recalls Raychel. “We became friends when we were put in the same cabin. We didn’t know each other before that. There were two other girls in our cabin, and they became our good friends too,” Mandy remembers. “We called ourselves the ‘Forever Friends’ and sang together at camp. In my brain, we were going to grow up to be very famous singers together.” “That wasn’t my dream,” laughs Raychel, shaking her head. The “Forever Friends” would spend one glorious week together at Bible camp every year and then go their separate ways. They worked hard to stay in touch year-round. “My mom recently found three shoeboxes of my old letters and photos, some from camp friends like Raychel, others from old boyfriends,” says Mandy. “The best love story I found in the boxes is the story of my friendship with Raychel. One of us was always going through something. We were coaching each other through life before we even knew what coaching was. We’ve been Big Blue Couching it since our camp days!” In 1994 there were no podcasts, Facebook lives, or Facetime sessions to help the friends stay in touch. They relied on handwritten letters and cassette tapes. “We really loved writing ‘roundabout’ letters to each other,” recalls Mandy. “A roundabout letter is a letter that one person starts, then sends to the next person who adds a paragraph or two before sending it onto the next person. The letters go around the group, much like our text messages do today. And every year at the end of camp we would record our voices on a cassette tape so we could hear each other’s voices all year long. We refused to let each other go through life without each other. “Those cassettes were like the precursor to today’s podcasts. I’m sad that the tapes don’t work anymore; some eroded and just don’t work, and some got recorded over by Britney Spears songs,” Mandy says, giving Raychel a dirty look like only a best friend can. TECHNICALLY A DREAM The chemistry between these long-time best friends is infectious. They finish each other’s sentences, laugh at inside jokes, and share the same excitement when asked about Big Blue Couch Coaching. “While Raychel didn’t share my dream of becoming famous singers, she did share the dream of doing something together someday. As we all grew up and got married, we drifted apart. But Raychel and I stayed close, even though we lived on different sides of the state.” Now they admit this is their dream, the one they first started planning in that cabin more than 20 years ago. They know embracing technology, and changing with it, has helped them make that dream a reality. “We’ve never been afraid to use technology,” says Raychel. Not even when the newest technology was a cassette tape recorder, a microphone, and a blank tape. Click here to see more photos of the girls on the Big Blue Couch by Photos by Jacy.
Look What She Did: Amanda El-Dweek
As a little girl, Amanda El-Dweek dreamed of being a cartoonist. Now, as an adult, she is living that dream. Amanda has a syndicated online comic strip on gocomics.com. “I provide seven comic strips for them every week. It is intense, but it’s really fun, so I can’t complain.” Amanda’s comic strip, “Amanda the Great,” is based on her life in Watford City, North Dakota. “It includes my husband, me, my parents; even my grandpa, friends and co-workers have made appearances in my comic strip. I always keep a notebook with me so I can remember funny things that happen. I feature North Dakota in my script. Sometimes I get comments when I use a North Dakota word like ‘uffda’ in a strip. People don’t know what that means outside of our state, I guess! I think that makes it unique, and it also gives me a chance to teach people from other parts of the country a little about North Dakota.” Getting her comic strip syndicated wasn’t easy. Amanda had to submit her work and be open to criticism. “I first submitted when I was in high school and that was a total disaster, but I learned from it. I took several years off and in 2016 submitted again. This time an editor contacted me with some suggestions. I made the changes and submitted again. That time they offered me a contract. I’ve been submitting my work ever since.” Click here to check out “Amanda the Great.” By the way, GoComics is the same company that syndiates “Calvin and Hobbes.”
Click, Post, Share: Help Solve a Crime
by Jody Kerzman | Photography: Photos by Jacy Not all social media pages are created equally. There are some that serve a purpose—perhaps it is to inform people of an upcoming meeting or a volunteer opportunity. And then there are those pages that we find ourselves anxiously awaiting a post. The Bismarck Police Department’s Facebook page is one of those pages. Officer Lynn Wanner is the brains behind the department’s Facebook page. “Deputy Chief Draovitch approached me in February 2014 and said, ‘I think we need to get on this Facebook thing.’ He was right. Most people don’t pick up a newspaper when they wake up in the morning. They check their phone and their Facebook. It’s an easy way to interact and we knew we had to embrace it as a department.” Lynn is a crime analyst for the department, but in mid-April 2014, she also became the social media manager. Her work began long before the department launched its Facebook page. “We had to do a lot of research as far as policy and procedures to make sure we were in compliance with our accreditation standards. We were extremely cautious about everything,” recalls Lynn. “It took awhile for the page to catch on. I remember I was super excited when we had 1,000 likes on our page. I told my co-workers they had to give me a donut party for every thousand likes we got. We are now at more than 22,000 likes, and I think I’ve only had one donut party.” Speaking of donuts, it’s not unusual for donuts to be mentioned on the department’s Facebook page. Lynn especially likes including Chief Dan Donlin on the donut jokes she shares. “I can go into the Chief’s office and have him pretend to eat a donut for a Facebook post, and he will do it, no questions asked,” says Lynn. “He’s very community oriented, and I think that’s important.” “Social media allows us as a department and me as the chief, to really connect with the public. It is a great platform for positive PR,” says Chief Dan Donlin. “We are police officers, but we are also human beings. We show that on social media.” “My goal from day one has been to show the human side of law enforcement. Some people don’t like it when I try to be funny, but I think I am hilarious,” Lynn says with a laugh. “But seriously, I think the funny stuff—the donut jokes—get people looking at our page and interacting. Then, when we have important information to get out, they’re already following us. Plus, I don’t think people want to read bad stuff all the time. You need some happy, light-hearted stuff too.” SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS In the four years since launching the Bismarck Police Department’s Facebook page, Lynn has witnessed the power of social media. Runaways have been located, shoplifters arrested, and cases that may have otherwise gone unsolved have been closed. “We have a 40 percent success rate identifying suspects when we share surveillance photos on our page. That’s 40 percent of cases that might not have been solved if we didn’t have social media,” explains Lynn. “People like to help, and there are cases where we have posted a photo to our page and the suspect has been identified within minutes.” Chief Donlin says Facebook allows the department to share up-to-date, accurate information, especially during an ongoing situation. “It’s where people get their information in this day and age, but unfortunately, much of the information on Facebook is not correct,” he explains. “We’ve been able to establish our page as a trusted source, and we can correct that misinformation before it gets out of control.” EXPANDING BPD’S SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE Lynn has attended numerous social media trainings across the country and has expanded the department’s social media presence beyond Facebook. The department is now on Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest. Lynn says each platform serves a specific purpose and each reaches a different group of followers. “Twitter is a good way for us to reach the media and college age people,” explains Lynn. “Pinterest is a great way to organize our information that people want. We have boards for Police Youth Bureau information, parent tool kits, drug information, and more. We use Instagram to reach the high school and middle school kids. The content is different on all our pages, but it works for the audience we have on each page.” In 2016 the Bismarck Police Department was nominated for a social media award for excellence in a small agency by ConnectedCOPS, an organization that helps law enforcement use social media effectively. The award is given to a law enforcement agency of 150 sworn officers or fewer that has demonstrated overall excellence in the use of social media and has shown leadership, creativity, and innovation in its use of social media. The Bismarck Police Department finished in the top three in the world. While Lynn is proud of that accomplishment, it’s also been motivation to make the department’s social media presence even stronger. Be sure to follow the Bismarck Police Department on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. To see more photos of Lynn by Photos by Jacy, click here.