NewsTastic TuesDays

newstastictuesdays

Tuesdays seem like a good day to read the news, and I’m going to bring it right to you!

As a journalist, I thought it would be snazzy to share some of the many articles I read, skim, share and write. 

Please take a few moments away from the good ole’ FB/IG scroll of memes, gifs and malarkey and read some true journalistic content! Enjoy a selection of news I liked in categories of World, National, Northeast Wisconsin, WI Agriculture, Journalism and something by me!

World: See Stunning Moon Photos from China’s Lunar Lander (National Geographic) http://bit.ly/207bC0u

I love outer space! It’s awesome to see new shots of the Moon and with the help of China’s moon program.

P.S. Read The Martian by Andy Weir

National: Learn how the Iowa caucuses work in 60 seconds (Des Moines Register/USA TODAY NETWORK) http://usat.ly/1SrucS6

Iowans caucused yesterday. Cruz and Hillz/Bernie came out on top in their respective parties. Iowa may not have a lot of votes in the electoral college, but they caucus first and in an interesting way. Here’s a great video describing just how they work.

Northeast Wisconsin: Out-of-state Avery supporters join protest (Herald Times Reporter) http://gbpg.net/1P4EbbK

If you haven’t heard, Steven Avery is hotttt news. Manitowoc is in my backyard, and it got interesting a few days ago during a peaceful protest at the county courthouse pushing for Avery and Brendan Dassey’s release. People from out of state showed up, and people in Manitowoc have mixed reviews.

Wisconsin Agriculture: Valders couple named Outstanding Young Farmers (Agri-View) http://bit.ly/1UHGZNy

The Mark and Angie Ulness family received the 63rd-annual award for their work to update their milking system, installing a milk pasteurizer, building a two million-gallon clay-lined manure pit and a runoff capture system.

Journalism: Nashoba Tech board ignores public’s right to know (The Lowell Sun) http://bit.ly/1nLpLVd

A female reporter in Mass. was basically the object of blatant sexism during a public meeting. My frustration at what happened to this reporter, who was doing her job, makes me wonder if female journalists will ever be taken seriously. Kudos to the reporter, Melissa Hanson.

Written By Me: Memory Cafe provides community, interaction for those with dementia (Door County Advocate) http://gbpg.net/1PThLxP

I had the amazing opportunity to go to a Memory Cafe in Sturgeon Bay, where people with different forms of dementia and memory loss gather with their caregivers for a fun, social event.

~Do you have any news stories that you bookmarked, saved to Pocket or flagged on Facebook that you would like to share? I’d love to see what you’re reading.

 

Cold Temps = Warm Stuff

It’s cold. Negative temps and negative wind chills add up to a legitimately frozen nose. And fingers. And toes.

My Papa wouldn’t be caught dead out of doors working with the cows without a few essentials. I’ve realized I’ve become my father in the things I need, and I have a cushy desk job.

Long johns and Leggings

For as long as I’ve been alive, my Dad has insisted that long johns were a necessity under jeans on bitter days like today. I’ve come to see that light and have been caught slinking my pants over a pair of leggings these last few days.

Hot Breakfast

I know that my old man has a hot breakfast, be it eggs or a hamburger, after he’s done with morning chores on nasty winter days. I have been eating different forms of oatmeal, against my better judgement, as of late to prepare me for a day like this.

Flannel over T-Shirts

This may not sound like a big revelation, but wearing a long sleeve flannel over a t-shirt or blouse, in my case, is a full proof way of keeping those arms goosebump free. I say flannel rather than a sweatshirt, because the material is both functional and stylish.

Bag Balm

Go to Fleet Farm, find the farm aisle and look for a little green can of Bag Balm. It’s made to use on cow udders when they get dry or swollen, but humans can use it too! Rub a dub some of that salve on your hands and beat dry skin like a cow. It also smells lightly of peppermint.

What are your favorite cold weather necessities? Even if you aren’t a farmer, I still want to know how you stay warm.

Until then, I honestly can’t think of anything better or more interesting to write. Hope all of you Wisconsinites are staying warm! The rest of you not suffering this bitter January, well, good for you.

Alyssa B.

“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.”
Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

The Apps of a Journalist

I don’t know about any of you other journalists out there, but I’m very selective of which apps I download on my phone. It also seems I have very limited space for an excessive amount of apps due to all of the photos and videos I’m taking for work and at home.

While looking through the Journalist’s Toolbox on the Society of Professional Journalists website, I noticed a link to Mashable’s top 100 iPhone apps. Out of curiosity, I looked it over. I was blown away at all of the apps I saw on the list that I’ve used and subsequently loved or deleted.

My limited number of apps are primarily used for work, and I wonder what other apps journalists cannot live without. Please let me know if you use these or use others in your work!

Apps of Me

My phone screen on Dec. 29. Don’t judge the notifications.

Here are my top 10 apps that will never be deleted. Listed from least used to most frequently used.

10. Sunrise

I like this calendar app for appointments. I don’t always use it, but it links to Facebook and Google+ making RSVPs a breeze. I have yet to use the desktop version, because I’m a die hard physical planner user, especially for work interviews. However, it is easy to use when planning on the spot.

9. iMovie

Once you figure out how to use it on your phone, you are unstoppable when it comes to making interesting and informative news videos. Working at a newspaper, I’m not producing videos every day, but it’s a great tool when I need it. Here is the last video I made: Tug Flip at Bay Ship

8. Periscope

Oh my, Periscope, I do love you. I have found that the ‘Scope is excellent for broadcasting interesting weather encounters I have in my work. Being that Door County is located on a peninsula, there is always something cool going on with the weather. I’ve broadcasted heavy obnoxious rains, fluttering snow falls and even dense fog. It’s mostly for fun, but I’ve found it also helpful in sharing video at important meetings or events. AND it links to Twitter. (Follow me on Periscope @alyssabloechl)

7. Google Drive

The G-Drive could be considered one of my besties. I use this bad boy every day at work for rough story drafts, forming question lists and more. I also use it to help me organize my life with charts, power points and never ending folders.

6. Instagram

Of course Insta is on my list, with its capability to share to Facebook and Twitter, we can reach a lot of different readers easily. Photos have such a large power, and at the Advocate we share responsibility in posting “behind the scenes” shots, news worthy moments and story prequels. This app is a must for all journalists and newsrooms. (Follow at dcadvocate)

5. Google Maps

What a gem. This baby gets me around the vastness of Door County. No explanation needed.

4. Facebook Pages Manager

I use this daily to help monitor the newspaper’s Facebook timeline. This is also a shared responsibility between reporters and editors in my newsroom. My only suggestion to users is to turn off notifications, otherwise you will be constantly checking the app. I like to check it when I feel like it, while also being able to easily monitor it for swear words in the comments (they are not tolerated on our page). It also makes for easy link and photo sharing.

3. Google Photos

I dropped Dropbox when Google Photos became amazing earlier this year. Unlimited storage, search capabilities of all nouns and an assistant that makes animations, videos and photo stories for you. Just find a WiFi connection to upload from your phone.

2. Twitter

I’m a big fan of Twitter. It allows for easy news updates, hashtag searches, multiple photo uploads and more. Not sure on the future of Twitter, but it’s a vivacious tool when reporting breaking news. Twitter chats are also the best. #muckedup on Tuesdays is all about journalism, check it out!

1. CloudMagic

This is my email app. After doing research on integrative mobile email apps last year, I chose this one. There are loads of capabilities to it, but I love that I can switch between my work email and personal email quickly. Easy deleting and drafting makes my emailing epic.

If you are a journalist, farmer, writer, creative, business person or any professional phone user, please give me input on my choices and offer up suggestions to what apps you love to use for work!

Thanks for reading,

Alyssa B.

 

 

How To: Farm, write and open presents

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The Bloechl Homestead Farm 2015 tree I put up the day before Thanksgiving.

The holiday season is busy for everyone, I know. However, I represent a unique sect of holiday workers. I would like to take a few lines to describe how the season of cookies, Santa, Baby Jesus and family works for farmers and journalists.

Farmers do not get holidays off. Cows need to be fed, milked and cleaned up after. Those girls get more attention than extended family members do on ever Thanksgiving, Fourth of July and Christmas.

Before Christmas, there is a conversation about when the farming will determine the gift opening and holiday meal times. We decide to either open gifts before the big day or at like 4 a.m. the morning of.

I think I was 9 or 10 when Santa came during Christmas Eve mass, and my brother and I came home to a note from the big man about how he needed to go to Jamaica for an emergency and he needed to stop at our house first, which was supposed to explain his early arrival. Needless to say we noticed Dad’s absence at church and that Santa’s handwriting was a lot like Mom’s.

My parents worked very hard to give us a holiday like everyone else’s, and those late nights and early mornings eating cookies and sharing presents gave me some of the best memories of my life.

When I moved to Green Bay and began my professional writing career, Christmas significantly changed. My boyfriend and I now go to his family’s celebration on Christmas Eve and travel over to the farm really late the same day. It’s truly awesome, because we have been able to spend time with both of our clans each year. It is really important for us to see both our parents and childhood pets on this important day.

However, we don’t get to his parent’s place until I’m 110 percent sure the next paper is ready to be published. Stories are usually required to be in much earlier, and the stress is quite confusing with the holiday decor on the walls.

Luckily, the news staff works together to patrol the Internet whilst throwing snowballs and devouring turkey to make sure we haven’t missed a breaking news story. We also try and post our stories to social media in between sips of nog. I’m also part of a smaller paper, which doesn’t publish daily, so I cannot speak for the reporters who are working Christmas to put the pages together.

I’d love to hear from other farmers and journalists about how they juggle the holidays. Do you have any fun stories about balancing work and family this time of year?

Keep on keepin’ on everyone!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

Alyssa B.

Books I’ve Recently Read, Not on My TBR

The title of this should more accurately describe my reading habits. It should be “Books I’ve Recently Listened To.” I have a long work commute, so I take the wonderful liberty of chopping down my “To Be Read” list by using my free library card to get wicked cool audio books.

For reals, sometimes I wander off my ever-growing TBR and take books off of the shelf recommended by the awesome librarians.

Credit: Goodreads

Credit: Goodreads

  1. American Dervish: Ayad Akhtar
  • I just finished listening to American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar, and it was something totally unexpected. It’s about a young Pakistani American, his family, his friends and his Muslim religious roots. I confess I knew very little about Pakistan, Muslims and the Koran, but this book takes you into a world surrounded by it. The book is fictional, but the emotions and family life described by Akhtar made me thinking about getting in the car when I didn’t need to drive anywhere. It also made me really look at how my family is important to me, and how I would do anything for them.
Credit: Goodreads

Credit: Goodreads

2. The Wold is Bigger Now: An American Journalist’s Release from Captivity in North Korea… A Remarkable Story of Faith, Family and Foregiveness: Euna Lee, Lisa Dickey

  • This was a book I listened to at the end of September. I had not read a book about a journalist until this point, and I think I might have picked the most intense one in the genre. Euna Lee got into the darkest parts of her time in North Korea while juxtaposing her Christian roots and faith in God while she was waiting for rescue. I didn’t know much about this very true story until I listened to this book, and I’m glad she wrote it to share her story. She did what any journalist would do. The story is about strength, love of family, resilience, faith and the goodness in others, even one’s enemy. Read it.
Credit: Goodreads

Credit: Goodreads

3. Saint Anything: Sarah Dessen

  • HOLY COW! This book made me salivate. I read it because it was on the shelf, but it was also necessary because I had recently read another Sarah Dessen and I wanted more. The story was awesome, and was definitely a different look at how families deal with one of their own making a mistake. I would have never thought about the guilt that comes with scenarios like the one Dessen describes. Also, I constantly wanted french fries and pizza because of this book. Find out why and read this one too.
Credit: Goodreads

Credit: Goodreads

4. The Look of Love: Sarah Jio

Seriously, I love reading in all it’s forms, and I thank the genius who thought of audio books. They make long commutes so much more exciting and interesting.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Thanks friends,

Alyssa B.

Working journalist in China

Hi all,

There is so much going on in my little world of writing in Door County Wisconsin, but I recently had the opportunity to make that world grow. I traveled to China with a group of lovely individuals to expand and improve relations with the county’s Sister City, Jingdezhen.

So much happened. We met the vice mayor, we toured a hospital, we made our own pots and explored the outlying area of the city. I won’t waste up the space on this blog because I journaled for work throughout the entire trip!

Don’t get me wrong, there were many things that nearly prevented me from going. Exhibit A: My journalist visa. It’s a very long and detailed process when applying for a visa, but journalist visas take the cake. China also has foreign reporter rules I needed to brush up on. While there, however, the process of getting my work done was just about the same as in America.

The people in China are amazing. Many know English, so if you are alone and lost in the middle of Beijing, someone will help you with a smile. Also, if you are tall and foreign, expect random people to ask to take a photo with you. It happened to me three times at the Great Wall alone. I went with it and that made it fun.

If you do see yourself going to China, make sure to purchase a voltage step-down converter. I did, and I had cell and tablet power with no problems all week. Do not use a hair straightener with it, I thought I fried it on day two. I got lucky.

There is so much to talk about, but I’ll let myself tell you the story in my article for the Advocate! If you want to see photos and learn some interesting details about overseas travel, take a look and thank you for reading!

Alyssa’s China Journal for the Door County Advocate

I also wrote a few formal article that appeared in print and online. If you want to learn more about how Door County and Jingdezhen are sharing ideas, resources and culture, please feel free to follow the links.

Before Take Off!

Governmental Relations

Taoxichuan and the Number 1 People’s Hospital 

China Mission Accomplished

This place was so colorful and full of life, that I could have stayed and wandered forever. It was my favorite place in Beijing. (Photo by Alyssa Bloechl)

This place was so colorful and full of life, that I could have stayed and wandered forever. It was my favorite place in Beijing. (Photo by Alyssa Bloechl)

Thanks so much for following this adventure with me! I can’t believe I got to travel and write about something very important to these two communities. Thanks to my editor, president and publisher, the Sister City Ad Hoc committee and everyone in between for helping make it happen.

I cannot wait to see what happens next!

-Alyssa B.

Music and Alzheimer’s

Hi everyone! Today is a good day.

I just stumbled upon what looks like will be an amazing movie, called “Alive Inside.”

It follows the nonprofit organization, Music and Memory, which brings music to patients with Alzheimer’s. Music has been proven to awaken the minds and bodies of those with memory loss, which brings them out of their increasingly internalized lives.

Wisconsin nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been utilizing Music and Memory, and I actually had the wonderful opportunity to write a story about it when I worked with the Kewaunee County Star-News.

When I chronicled the program at an Algoma, WI assisted living home, the story reached beyond the city and into my personal life. My parents subscribe to my publications (aren’t they lovely souls?) and my Mom took the article to someone at my Grandmother’s assisted living home.

My lovely and wonderful Grandma Bev is living her life with the early stages of dementia, and my Mom is very involved in helping her though this new stage. Grandma Bev is a music lover. She has two children who became musicians, in some form, and has incorporated music into her past and present life. Bev tends to break out in song at random moments, pretty much whenever she is feeling a beat.

Point of this narration is that after my Mom took the story to her Mom’s caregivers, they began implementing the Music and Memory program into their activities. The center also used a portion of the annual Dementia Walk to fund it.

When I learned about all of this, I couldn’t have been more proud of my Mom and what we did together to create change in the life of someone we both look up to.

Thanks for reading my little self promotion.

-Alyssa B.

Here is the link to the story I wrote: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/local/kewaunee-county/2014/09/05/music-reignites-memories/15074703/

And here is the trailer for Alive Inside: 

Happy New Year and let’s hope for more cows!

Many things happened since June, I’m embarrassed to see that I have not kept up on the blogging.

I’m still reporting on all that I can get my hands on over here in NE Wisconsin, and I am always hungry for the newest agricultural piece I can find.

Eli and I spent a wonderful Christmas with both our families. Our parents have snow, we don’t. Same state and no snow over by Lake Michigan. It is the worst, but our Christmas were white.

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After eating a lot of wonderful food and playing with giant spoons, we tore up the front yard with a 4-wheeler and sled. It was amazing.

As sad as it was to leave the families, we spent a special New Year’s Eve playing The Hobbit: Monopoly, enjoying local brews and watching Harry Potter back in GB.

Who would need any resolutions when you are already winning with a night like that?

I have a few, which revolve around a good friend’s upcoming wedding, some races I plan to run, books I plan to read and things I hope to write.

I wish you luck with your goals!

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Upvote for cute cow tax?

Homestead Update

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As hard as it is to express my love for my homestead farm with the big red barn, three silos and an orange brick house, it is even harder to be displaced from it. My feet are in that soil, my breath catches on that cool morning air, my shoulders are kissed by the Noon sun.

Those tractors are still like extra limbs, with their pops, jolts and life within. The crickets from outside my childhood bedroom have resided in my ears. I still hear them, singing me to sleep with a late night car passing by acting as the harmony to their notes.

My life is based working with the large black and white docile creatures very few get to behold. A new birth on the farm is a treasure, one I have not witnessed for too long.

The three people I have loved for 23 years are there, watching each other grow in the heat of the sun, tan lines prominant and hair brittle with wind.

The connection as a farmer’s daughter is tight and everlasting. No matter where I go or who I am with, the big red barn with three silos and an orange brick house will always be in my soul.

I can’t thank my relatives and my mother and father for raising me and my brother here at this haven enough. It is my paradise.

(Thanks mom, for the photos.)

Alyssa B.