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Monday, December 29, 2014

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Plank Seafood and Provisions

Foodie Kris had the population-we™ (pop-we) Dinner Club walk the Ye Ole Plank at Plank Seafood and Provisions in the Old Market, located at 1205 Howard Street in Omaha, NE. Combining a seafood grill with a coastal inspired oyster bar. Creating an array of dishes: BBQ, Rockefeller, Po’ Boy, BLT, Albacore (type of tuna) sliders, as examples. During happy hour oysters are $1, with no minimum. When making reservations for large parties--make sure to inquire about the happy hour specials--as they do not always honor happy hours specials to groups as we found out. However, after a chat with the manager the happy hour drink menu was available to our dinner club.

Overboard Oyster Shot.
Plank combines new and old in their décor. As you walk through the door you are greeted by the hostess stand. To the left is a modern oyster bar, where a couple club members had oyster shots, which are shucked as well as created in front of your eyes. On the other side of the building is the dining area that features modern booths with recycled wood tables and chairs. Suspended from the ceiling is a frame of a boat, which adds to the character of the space.


The menu has many interesting choices for seafood and some non-seafood options. I debated and decided on the Anchor Steam Battered Fish and Chips. The batter was crispy but the cod was flaky, tender, and tasty. The chips (fries) had good flavor but I would have preferred them to be cooked a bit longer to give them a firmer texture. For appetizers, I was able to sample the Potato Crusted Calamari. Personally I thought the calamari was a little chewy but others disagreed with me. The smoked tomato basil sauce and garlic citrus aioli were nice compliments. It was also served with zucchini chips that people thought were tasty and fun.  

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives Plank Seafood and Provisions a 4.02 star average on a scale of 1-5.


Atmosphere/Decor – 4.27
Albacore Sliders.

Cleanliness – 4.09

Wait Staff – 4.36

Menu – 4

Food Presentation – 4.09

Food Portions – 3.82

Food Taste – 4.36

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 3.36

Noise Level – 3.82

Overall Experience – 4

For more information regarding directions, Plank's menu, visit their website at http://plankseafood.com/.

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you've been to Plank leave us a comment and tell us what you thought?

Want to do this yourself? To review how to start your own dinner club, visit our January post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends' tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry 5 Days of Scuba Ornaments

The most cherished Christmas items this holiday season hang from a limb, ornaments. For many nothing is more Christmassy than decorating a Christmas tree. The Brown's Christmas tree is always the focal point at our house during the holidays. These days Brian and I have a new type of ornament that hang from our Christmas tree thanks to a club we belong to. Each year, ornaments are center stage at Greater Omaha Scuba Club's (GOSCUBA) annual holiday party too. At the party, GOSCUBA conducts a present exchange. Those not familiar with a present exchange: participants bring a wrapped present, draw a number and in return get to pick a present at their turn. GOSCUBA's exchange is a bit different--ornaments are based around scuba diving.

Last year we ran 12 Days of Ornaments; instead this year we decided to share a snippet of scuba or sea-themed ornaments from the GOSCUBA ornament exchange.

Scuba ornament 5: Sea Turtle ornament, which is often mistaken for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. #ornaments


Scuba ornament 4: Sea Turtle scuba ornament No. 2. #ornaments


Scuba ornament 3: Mermaid scuba ornament. #ornaments


Scuba ornament 2: Pufferfish scuba ornament. #ornaments


Scuba ornament 1: Stingray scuba ornament. #ornaments



You too can participate in 5 Days of Ornaments. Are you an ornament lover or collector too? If so, comment below on what your favorite ornament is. Merry 5 Days of Scuba Ornaments to all of our population-we™readers!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Made-For-TV Top 10 Christmas Movies

It's that time of year, made-for-TV Christmas movie time! I truly don't know what my fa la la la la  fascination is with these shows? I mean in some of the made-for-TV-movies the story lines are so obvious and the acting is downright campy; no matter, the shows always seem to put a smile on my face.

You're wondering where to watch these holiday TV movies? Now through Christmas they're easy to happen upon; you can find the movies on a myriad of cable and satellite channels. I'd check your local listings for times. In some cases, you can even watch them on-demand at Internet streaming media outlets too. 

I know there's a cult following for these budget holiday shows. This time of year, my dearest friends and relatives constantly find ourselves always talking about our favorites. Anyone online can't help but notice the made-for-TV Christmas hype too. In this social media age hashtags are a flutter everywhere with made-for-TV holiday titles. 

population-we™ readers, join me as I rank my Top 10 favorite made-for-TV Christmas movies according to cable networks, on-demand media and genres below: 

Network: ABC Family
Genre: Action/Adventure
Plot Summary:  "Christmas Bounty" (2013) puts a twist into the typical love triangle scene. A former bounty hunter turned school teacher determined to keep her past a secret finds herself rushed back into the family business. At the same time she struggles with feelings for her new Manhattan man and former New Jersey bounty hunter boyfriend. A lot of action scenes in this movie.

Genre: Historical
Plot Summary: "Silent Night" (2012) is the true 1818 story behind the popular Christmas carol, Silent Night. In a small Austrian town, a young new assistant priest tries to bring the church closer to the common people but instead clashes with his superior. In the end, the young priest embraces the true significance of the Holy Night.

Network: ABC Family
Genre: Comedy
Plot Summary:  "Kristin's Christmas Past" (2013) is set around a time traveling 30-year-old who winds up in Christmas past offering advice to her younger self.

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Romance
Plot Summary:  "A Holiday Engagement" (2011) dumped by her fiancé she may or may not find true love when she hires an actor to pose as her fiancé for the holidays.

Network: Lifetime
Genre: Family
Plot Summary: "Moonlight & Mistletoe" (2008) finds a Boston toy executive returning home to help out her dad after a fall. She finds the all-year Christmas village, Santaville, outdated and near bankruptcy. Watch as the main character is whisked away in a love triangle between a shy woodworker and financial advisor. 

Network: Lifetime
Genre: Action Adventure
Plot Summary:  "Special Delivery" (2008) follows a bonded courier in the Pacific Rim who is tasked with delivering a 15-year-old teenager to her mom by Christmas. Based mostly in Hawaii, this babysitting detail turns into a Magnum PI episode with plot twists throughout.

Network: ABC Family
Genre: Comedy
Plot Summary:  "Christmas in Handcuffs" (2007) is the tale of a desperate woman who literally kidnaps & handcuffs a stranger and parades him as her boyfriend at her parent's house for Christmas.

Network: Lifetime
Genre: Family
Plot Summary:  "Christmas in Paradise" (2007) follows two families looking to escape bad holiday memories by vacationing over Christmas at a Caribbean resort. In the process, both families come together and learn some Puerto Rican culture as well as the magical Christmas story of the three kings.

On Demand: Netflix
Genre: Historical
Plot Summary: "Silent Night" (2002) is a fact-based World War II story set on 1944 Christmas Eve, which finds a German mom and son seeking refuge in a cabin on the war front. When she is invaded by three American and German soldiers; she successfully convinces the soldiers to put aside their differences for one evening and share a Christmas dinner.

Network: ABC Family
Genre: Romance
Plot Summary: "A Holiday for Love" (1996) unrolls as a business executive is sent to a small town to assess which of the workers in a local factory should get laid off but instead falls in love with a single mom.  

I guarantee, nothing makes the holiday stress melt away faster than watching made-for-TV holiday movies. So, merry made-for-TV Christmas movie watching!

(Editor's note: Do you have a favorite Christmas TV movie that didn't make this year's list? If so, leave a comment below or on Facebook.)

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Boys Town A Omaha Landmark Revisited

There are many important landmarks in my area that I have never visited. That is not the case with Boys Town. During the off season for softball from around ages 13 to 16, I attended a free pitching clinic held at Boys Town for youth in the Omaha, NE area regardless of whether or not you were on a team. I may have had inkling or more about the mission of Boys Town, but I was blind regarding much of the good works that took place at Boys Town despite my familiarity between the walls of the field house week after week where I practiced the windmill pitching form.

I may be sketchy on the exact chronology or my feelings at the time, but I will try to relay my impressions as best as possible about my becoming increasingly aware of the mission of Boys Town.

When I heard that my maternal grandfather wanted to take visiting family to Boys Town, I remember being surprised that he would pick this as a tourist attraction. Although I did not make the trip, I recently learned that Becky Bohan Brown had this opportunity with grandpa.

In my 10th grade year in high school, I needed to do a speech for religion on someone who I considered to be a modern day prophet. I noticed that we had a biography about Father Flanagan and probably picked him out of convenience. I do not remember any of what I read and little of what I said. I do recall expressing in my closing that I hoped there would be someone like Father Flanagan there for me if I ever were in need.

Turning channels and finding the 1938 movie “Boys Town” had the greatest impact in helping me realize just how big of impact Father Flanagan had on the world.

I believe the first time seeing the film on television was during my high school years because I remember standing before the bronze statue “He ain’t heavy, He’s my brother” with much appreciation from the newly gained context.

I recently liked Boys Town on Facebook and have checked out their web site. I feel their official pages are among some of the best that I have seen with a constant stream of positive news. Throwback Thursdays have new meaning with quotes from Father Flanagan and pictures from his era. Just recently, I read there about Father Flanagan working to help orphans living in sewers in war torn Japan after WWII. My heart was warmed as I went to a link where Boys Town youth expressions of gratitude. One youth related how the Thanksgiving at Boys Town would be like the traditional one with good food and the trimmings shared with others at Boys Town. Another youth gave thanks for the sobriety that she never thought possible prior to Boys Town. Each story is unique, but I know there are youth who have been nurtured through the years at Boys Town who have seen and experienced things prior to Boys Town that no one should experience in a lifetime. Boys Town has been the difference right when they needed it.

I think I was well into my thirties when I learned the real significance that Boys Town was to my maternal grandfather as I spoke with him about his experiences there. He had worked there briefly as a landscaper doing contact work and knew Father Flanagan personally. He told me that he was a wonderful man. Grandpa was the second youngest of nine children born to loving German and Dutch immigrants. I am not sure about the older children, but it was necessary for the younger children to start working around age 12. According to my great aunt, they could come home at night if they were close enough. My grandpa lived and worked on farms. He experienced the good and the bad of living conditions. At one farm, he worked on an empty stomach and soon left there. After returning to his sleeping quarters at another farm, he found another person in his bunk and moved on that night. Fortunately, there was a good family that he lived and worked with in Nebraska and even moved with them to Colorado.

I think that my Grandpa must have had quite a rapport with the youth as he told me that Father Flanagan wanted to hire him on a permanent basis. Seeking year around work, he changed careers and become a highly skilled welder. Through the years, my grandpa stressed the importance of having a trade. Father Flanagan strongly believed in teaching young men a trade. Although times have changed, there are still many good paying jobs for those skilled in a trade and others that are there for four year degrees. In 2014, 109 of the seniors who resided at Boys Town graduated. Looking at the break down of 48 students bound for community college, 15 students entering the work force, 3 bound for cosmetology school and 15 for the job corps suggests an emphasis on vocational training and also higher education.

Boys Town was founded in 1917, the same year that my grandpa was born. In 1921, Father Flanagan moved Boys Town to the outskirts of Omaha and welcomed boys from different backgrounds and creeds. The 160 acre farm would be away from what he considered to be the ills of congested city life. His philosophy that there is no such thing as a bad boy only a bad environment is the underpinnings of Boys Town. His belief that the cost to society would be more expensive down the road if youth were not given the needed environment lives on today at Boys Town.

In 1973, Monsignor Robert Hupp became the head of Boys Town. During his time, a shift from dormitory life to the Family Home Program was made. Girls also began living at Boys Town during his leadership.

Most likely due to my living in Omaha, NE, my Great Uncle Wayne Bohan informed me that he donated to Boys Town. He was originally from Adair County, Iowa and had been a large animal veterinarian and a mayor of a small town in Minnesota. This was one of the few in person exchanges with my great uncle, a man known for being outgoing, giving bear hugs and having a hearty laugh. As we conversed, I sensed that he felt good about supporting such a worthy cause. The fact that 90 percent of the money donated to this 501(c) 3 nonprofit goes to help youth shows that they are very efficient in their organization.

In 1977, Boys Town opened Boys Town National Research Hospital ® in Omaha, NE. This hospital is nationally respected in the field of speech and hearing and continues to expand its services.

The statistics of 2013 paint a picture of Boys Town making a difference across the county as more than 28,000 children and 7,000 families received direct youth care services. 82,000 children and 40,000 families received health care services.

There are more than a dozen Boys Town sites across the nation. Boys Town reach will continue to expand across the county with community initiatives identifying the areas of greatest need. This will result in facilities being opened in neighborhoods and local and diverse residents will be hired to staff these facilities.

Over the years, I have known adults who were once residents of Boys Town including one who had been voted Mayor. I have known dedicated Family Teaching Couples, adult mentors and teachers at the school at Boys Town. I have not set foot on Boys Town’s grounds since high school, but I have continued to feel its influence.

Boys Town Quotes:

“I know when the idea of a boys’ home grew in my mind, I never thought of anything remarkable about taking in all of the races and all of the creeds. To me, they are all God’s children. They are my brothers. They are children of God. I must protect them to the best of my ability.” - See more at: http://www.boystown.org/about/father-flanagan/father-flanagan-quotes#sthash.AI3aILZg.dpuf

“The poor, innocent, unfortunate little children belong to us, and it is our problem to give them every chance to develop into good men and good women.” - See more at: http://www.boystown.org/about/father-flanagan/father-flanagan-quotes#sthash.AI3aILZg.dpuf

Sources for Blog Post:

Official Boys Town Web Site and official Boys Town Facebook page

Graduation Summary for 2014 Document

Boys Town 2013 Annual Report


-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, December 1, 2014

I Heart Celebrity Causes Highlights Carrie Underwood's HSUS

As a society we like our celebrities and tend to support the causes they endorse with this status. Our celebrities are those that entertain and inspire us such as those that act in the movies, on television and the stage, our favorite musicians, athletes from our favorite teams or provide national pride representing at the Olympics, the authors of our favorite literary works and those that provide contributions in the world of art. Each month in this new population-we™ (pop-we) series, I Heart Celebrity Causes, a celebrity will be chosen and the cause that they promote will be looked at.

I Heart Celebrity Causes!
This month is the sixth installment of I Heart Celebrity Causes the focus is on Carrie Underwood and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Underwood was the Season Four winner of American Idol and that catapulted a music career that to date has seen her win six Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, 11 Academy of Country Music Awards and 16 Billboard Music Awards. She has had 14 songs reach number one on the country charts and has over 14 million in album sales worldwide.

HSUS is one of the charities which Underwood donates heavily to and she has also done several PSA spots for them. The organization is celebrating it's 60th year. In that time it has grown into the largest animal protection organization in the country. They advocate for laws that provide animal protection, campaign for reforms in industries that affect animals, investigate cases of animal cruelty and provide animal rescue and emergency response. The HSUS also cares for animals in clinics, emergency shelters, sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centers.

The organization operates several animal care centers around the country which help thousands of animals needing healing and care. The Cleveland Armory Black Beauty Ranch offers permanent haven for over 1,200 domestic and exotic animals. The South Florida Wildlife Center rescues and rehabilitates over 12,000 animals each year. In Barnstable, Mass., there is the Cape Wildlife Center, which provides emergency care and rehabilitation for wildlife. The Duchess Sanctuary in Oregon provides a refuge on 1,120 acres for horses that were abandoned, neglected or were homeless.

More information on state-by-state efforts can be found at the HSUS website. If you are interested in making an online donation you can give now at HSUS.

Most importantly, Bravo to pop-we I Heart Celebrity Causes--Carrie Underwood--for her HSUS efforts!

-population-we™ blog post by John Bohan
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, November 24, 2014

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Bonefish Grill

This month would be Scott's pic and for the first time in population-we™ (pop-we) Dinner Club history we revisited a previous restaurant. This would be the second time pop-we Dinner Club foodies dined at Bonefish Grill located in Regency Court in Omaha, Neb.

At Bonefish Grill I had the Angler’s Steak with peppercorn sauce. I ordered the steak medium, pink in the center. When I cut into the steak it was more red than pink; I think they cooked it medium-rare, as Rick who sat next to me ordered his steak that way. The steak was tender and juicy, with the peppercorn sauce it was delicious. The steak was served with a seasonal vegetable, which was a squash and a side that you choose, I chose the garlic mashed potatoes. I was very pleased with everything on the dish. Entrees are served with fresh bread and an olive oil sauce for dipping. Foodies in our group ordered a couple appetizers. Starting with Bang-Bang Shrimp, which is always a hit, shrimp tossed in a spicy cream sauce. I also sampled the Singapore Calamari, which comes with fried peppers and sweet/spicy Asian sauce. I am pretty picky when  it comes to Calamari but this was cooked perfectly, I would recommend.

After compiling the surveys from the other pop-we Dinner Club foodies the club scores Bonefish Grill a 4.18 star average on a scale of 1-5.

Atmosphere/Decor – 4.4
Angler's Steak at Bonefish Grill.


Cleanliness – 4.3

Wait Staff – 4

Menu – 4

Food Presentation – 4

Food Portions – 4.2

Food Taste – 4.6

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 3.9

Noise Level – 3.5

Overall Experience – 4.5

For more information regarding directions or menu items, visit the Bonefish Grill website.

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you've been to Bonefish Grill leave us a comment and tell us what you thought? Want to read about our dinner club's very first visit to Bonefish? If so, check out the 2012 pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Bonefish Grill post in it's entirety.

Want to do this yourself? To review How To Start Your Own Dinner Club, visit our January post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends' tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Q and A with Christine Heppermann with Everything from True Life Stories to Retelling Fairy Tales

Many chickens were rescued by the Chicken Rescue just outside downtown Minneapolis, Minn. This may be a bit of a spoiler or stating the obvious about the events in Christine Heppermann’s first book "City Chickens."  My lips are sealed regarding the outcome of any princesses, daughters of giants or millers or any of the other characters in Christine’s newly released poetry book, "Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty."

The poetry book uses themes from familiar fairy tales and nursery rhymes. It is a young adult book written for a teen audience. A few poems have mature content and an occasional PG-13 word. After reading the book and examining the messages about body image, beauty, and roles of women, I think that society needs to take a hard look in the mirror. Preferably, one very large enchanted mirror showing society as it is and society as it could be.

One of my favorite poems uses themes found in the children’s story the Three Little Pigs. I do not think I count any little pigs in this version, but there is a big, bad wolf at large. Christine made it her own. What a powerful message is infused between the stanzas!

The poems sink deep into the heart. As a gifted poet, the author gives voice to what I think may be the innermost feelings of many of the readers.

When it comes to writing poetry on almost any subject, you ought to have some fun. Christine did that! I think she would agree that at times the poems seemed to take on a life of their own.

In beginning the leg work of City Chickens, Christine set out as an objective journalist doing what a good journalist should do when writing powerful non-fiction, but fortunately she did not check her heart at the entrance to the rescue. I did not expect to find such a compelling story between the covers of the book. Not only did it open my eyes to the conditions of abused chickens, but it also made me see chickens in a whole new light as a potential fine feathered foul friend! The biographical detail of the couple who run the chicken rescue and the way she frames the story makes this a great read for children and adults. The arrangement of bright photographs both large and small and sometimes in somewhat collage is very inviting as they tell their own stories.

City Chickens had the distinction of making the Junior Library Guild selection list.

Poisoned Apples is already making very important lists including the best books of 2014 by Publisher’s Weekly.

Below is a Q and A with Christine: (I loved the insights and think you will too)

1. Q: What made you decide to write for children and young adults?

A: I don’t feel as if I ever made a conscious decision to write for children and young adults. As far back as I can remember, it’s what I’ve wanted to do. My all-time favorite books are novels I read when I was young, such as The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, The Long Secret by Louise Fitzhugh, and A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle. I read those books and many others over and over, sometimes until they fell to pieces. In college (at Trinity University) I majored in philosophy, mostly because I’m not a very practical person and am more comfortable with the abstract than the concrete. But even then I knew I wanted to somehow fashion a career around children’s literature. Lucky me, after my husband and I moved to Boston in 1990, I landed an internship at The Horn Book Magazine, the children’s literature review journal I went on to write for. Around that same time I found out about the children’s literature master’s program at Simmons College and enrolled. It was heaven! Two years of reading and writing about books for children and young adults. From there I reviewed for newspapers and magazines for many years. It wasn’t until I started in Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children and young adults in 2009 that I finally got brave enough to start—and, more importantly, finish—book-length manuscripts.


2. Q: You write poetry, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, for children, young adults and teens (the list may go on). What do you like about having diverse ways to express yourself and diverse audiences?

A: When I started at Hamline, I thought I only wanted to write nonfiction, partly because I love nonfiction and partly because I was intimidated by the challenge of making stuff up. My third semester I had an advisor, Jane Resh Thomas, who prodded me into working on a novel, which then became a poetry project. And I have to say, no matter if I’m writing fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose, my process is pretty much the same. I’m not a fast writer! I think hard about each sentence, each word, and whether I’m saying what I truly mean. Nonfiction writing should be graceful and vivid. If not, it’s an encyclopedia entry. Poetry should be clear and grounded in specific detail. If not, it won’t catch readers and hold them.


3. Q: In reading your book City Chickens, I felt that you really capture the spirit of the couple running the rescue. What process do you use for writing biographical books of living and historical people? Do you feel certain closeness to the people that you write about?

A: One of the gifts of researching and writing CITY CHICKENS was getting to know Mary Britton Clause and Bert Clause, the owners and operators of the Minneapolis animal shelter Chicken Run Rescue. Not only did they introduce me to a new way of thinking about chickens—as companion animals, not food—but they entrusted me with adopting two of their rescue birds. Kandinsky, a Polish-crested bantam hen, and Yeti, a Japanese silkie rooster, became part of our family, and I talk about them in my author’s note. (They’ve both since died of natural causes.) My other nonfiction books were work-for-hire projects with tight deadlines, so I did all my research via the library and online. Still, I ended up feeling a certain connection with each of my subjects. For instance, when I wrote about Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, I loved learning that he’s always been fascinated by maps, that he envisioned Twitter as a big interactive map connecting people around the world.


4. Q: I have been immersing myself in your recently released Poisoned Apples Poems for You My Pretty today. It made me think about how creativity is described at looking at something upside down. You seem to look to go further and go to the core and heart of the stories as well as provide twists. Can you talk some about the creative process?

A: What a great description of creativity! Mostly I approached the poems in Poisoned Apples by first picking out a character and wondering how she’d feel in a certain situation. Obviously for the poems inspired by personal memory, that wasn’t so hard! I knew how I felt, or at least I did my best to remember. But with the fairy tale characters, I let myself imagine beyond the scope of the original stories. In the poem “Ugly Stepsister,” for instance, I depict one of Cinderella’s stepsisters falling into depression after Cinderella is married and gone. In “Assassin,” I wondered whether the Wicked Queen’s jealousy and paranoia would end once she killed Snow White, or whether the mirror would parade more gorgeous girls before her and she’d have to get rid of every one of them in order to remain “the fairest.” Now that I think about it, a lot of the poems are about the mental and physical fatigue of trying to be beautiful and perfect and loved. Some of the characters, such as Goldilocks and the Gingerbread Girl, respond by running away. Others stay and take out their dark feelings on themselves: Snow White starts cutting; Rapunzel stops answering the calls from below and stays in bed. The girls in the contemporary poems act similarly. In our society, there’s so much pressure on young women to live up to almost impossible standards of beauty and behavior. Sometimes it seems like the easiest way out of that whole maze is to make yourself disappear.


5. Q: Many of the poems in Poisoned Apples talk about beauty and body image in a way that really makes me think about the messages that society sends to girls and women. Your words are strong and bold and not minced in places as far as I can tell. In other places, your meaning may be more understated. I don't think it is right to ask you what is meant by a certain poem or your work in general as that needs to read and experienced by the individual reader. However, I wonder if there is a message that you want to spell out plainly for those who care about girls and young women and their body image. Are there any thoughts that you care to share?

A: I guess the main message I want to get across to girls is that they matter. Their problems matter. Teenagers so often aren’t taken seriously by adults. I want to say, no, I don’t think you’re just going through a phase or “acting out” to get attention. I think you’re reacting to a world that doesn’t always give you the respect and acknowledgement you deserve.


6. Q: I feel that we went to a high school with a fine College Prep program and an excellent English program. Do you have any thoughts on how your high school experience started you on your journey of writing and life?

A: My junior-year humanities class, taught by Mrs. Havlick, is where I truly connected with poetry for the first time. Boy, did I connect! I worshipped Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, and Sylvia Plath, and I worshipped Mrs. Havlick for respecting our intelligence enough to introduce us to such dark, dazzling, complicated poets who never seemed to worry about whom they might offend. The class was like a secret refuge for me. I generally enjoyed school and got good grades, but I don’t remember ever feeling wildly, almost desperately enthusiastic about anything I learned outside humanities. “My Dinner with Andre,” which I saw for the first time in that class, is still one of my favorite movies. I love it because, like the poetry, it gave me permission to question things I’d always taken for granted. We grow up assuming life has certain rules. Well, what if the rules are arbitrary? I think that’s one of the questions at the heart of POISONED APPLES: do we have to put up with these arbitrary rules, or can we change them? Can we demand better?


7. Q: What other works that are currently in print or soon to be in print have the by line Christine Heppermann?

A: The first volume in an early chapter book series I’m co-writing with my friend Ron Koertge will be published by Greenwillow/HarperCollins this summer. It’s called BACKYARD WITCH: SADIE’S STORY and it’s about a nine-year-old girl who has a witch living in her old playhouse. Two more books in that series are set for publication, one in 2016 and one in 2017. Currently I’m working on a young adult novel-in-verse tentatively titled SPIRIT WEEK and narrated by a girl who goes to an all-girls Catholic high school. That one’s more than a little scary for me! It’s a questioning of a lot of the beliefs I was brought up with, but, as you can probably tell from my previous answers, I don’t think asking questions is a bad thing.

Give Christine access to interesting subject matter. Ask her a few inferential questions such as what might happen if…, how do you think the character felt when... or what could happen next…?

Wait for work, talent, and inspiration to intersect.

What happens may even surprise even Christine.

-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, November 10, 2014

I Heart Celebrity Causes Highlights Hugh Jackman's Global Poverty Project

As a society we like our celebrities and tend to support the causes they endorse with this status. Our celebrities are those that entertain and inspire us such as those that act in the movies, on television and the stage, our favorite musicians, athletes from our favorite teams or provide national pride representing at the Olympics, the authors of our favorite literary works and those that provide contributions in the world of art. Each month in this new population-we™ (pop-we) series, I Heart Celebrity Causes, a celebrity will be chosen and the cause that they promote will be looked at.
I Heart Celebrity Causes!

This month in the fifth installment of I Heart Celebrity Causes the focus is on Hugh Jackman and Global Poverty Project. Jackman is an award winning actor whose talents span a wide range of roles from Wolverine in X-Men to his Golden Globe winning performance as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. He also took his talents to Broadway where he won a Tony Award for the role of Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz.

The Global Poverty Project was founded by Hugh Evans and Simon Moss in 2008 with the goal to promote the movement of ending extreme poverty within a generation. They set 2030 as the target date. Their three primary campaigns to advance that message are 1.4 Billion Reasons, The End of Polio and Live Below the Line. Jackman first become involved with the Global Poverty Project in 2009 and became the public face for Live Below the Line in 2011.

Live Below the Line is a campaign that challenges people to live for five days on the extreme poverty line which is $1.25 per day. The purpose of the campaign is to change the way people think about poverty. The participants often advance the message by posting articles, blogs and videos about their experience during the challenge. To date, more than 50,000 people in 70 countries have participated and sparked conversations on extreme poverty. As a result, $10 million U.S. dollars have been raised for 90 charities around the world. More information about the Live Below the Line campaign can be found on their site.

The End of Polio is a campaign to work with partners to make the final push through funding and political actions to eradicate this disease forever. This campaign is a proud partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The Global Poverty Project supports the efforts through high level advocacy, public communications, grassroots advocacy and media engagement. Activities have included The End of Polio Concert, India vs Australia Cricket Series, Speaking Tours and the film production of several short films of which one featured Hugh Jackman. More information on The End of Polio campaign can be found on their site.

The 1.4 Billion Reasons campaign started in 2009 as a multimedia presentation that explains the issues that contribute to extreme poverty. The presentations were customized to 45 to 90 minute versions as they are presented in schools, universities, workplaces, faith groups, community groups and at conferences. The five main points addressed in each presentation were: what is extreme poverty?, Can we do anything about it?, What are the barriers to ending extreme poverty? Why should we care?, What can I do? This campaign was retired in 2014.

Most importantly, Bravo to pop-we I Heart Celebrity Causes--Hugh Jackman--for his Global Poverty Project!

-population-we™ blog post by John Bohan
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, November 3, 2014

Dog Blogger's Doggy Tale

I've always considered myself part of the family and that fact was reinforced after a recent occurrence in The Brown household. First, let me introduce myself my name is Pepper. I am what humans consider a mutt. In human years, I'm 15, and 105 in dog years.

Here's how the nights events unfolded. My human companions went out to dinner again without me. I would of course wait with baited breath to see whether they'd bring me a doggy bag. Hours went by and finally they were back home, and Y-E-S, with a doggy bag. Woof...Woof!

After putting my treats safely in the refrigerator my favorite word was uttered by Becky, W-A-L-K! And we're off on our walk. We would take our regular shorter route; since, it was chilly for Becky (who hates to be cold). Upon our return, it would be discovered that Brian had grabbed the wrong set of keys. Woof...Woof! I could stay out longer and play. Becky and Brian immediately started bantering back and forth but I was too busy watching a squirrel to hear what was exactly said. Squirrel! Next thing I know--we're in the backyard with a fire pit going. Woof...Woof!

Some time would pass and Becky would get up and leave. Through the gate entered her brother, John (and a fan of mine) his daughter Bridget. They had been called to unlock the door--but too everyone's surprise--their key didn't work. Words went back and forth between everybody; however, I was too busy being petted by Bridget to pay attention or care. Woof...Woof!

After a while; since, Brian's battery died on his cell phone; they frantically tried calling other family members on John's cell phone. John's cell phone would ring and a familiar voice could be heard. It was my grandma Jan saying (laughing): "Sure you can come pick up a spare key." Jan and Wayne were off on a trip celebrating their wedding anniversary in Branson, Mo. She would make a few phone calls on our behalf.

The calvary finally arrived--it was Brian's cousin, Chad. He would kid with Becky that he didn't have the right key, but it did in fact work. The fun night out was over. Woof!

A week would go by and Jan and Wayne were back from Branson, Mo. I was excited because they even had a present for me this time, a tiny purse. Everybody laughed; I was through the moon--I could be like Becky and Jan and carry a purse too! Woof...Woof! The most amazing thing would happen next. A couple days would go bye and I was presented with a house key. Woof...Woof cubed!

So, now when we go for walks--it is my responsibility to keep the key safe and unlock the door upon our return. I am truly a member of The Brown's family; since, I have a key to the house of my very own. I'm a good doggy indeed. Woof...Woof!

-population-we™ blog post by Pepper
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, October 27, 2014

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Boyd and Charlie's BBQ


This month was foodie Rick’s pick, which to no surprise he chose barbecue. Rick has a smoker and is a good barbecuer in his own right. He chose to go to Boyd and Charlie’s BBQ located in the heart of Old Town Elkhorn at 2706 Main Street. It's an old, red brick two-story building sitting on the corner.

Boyd and Charlie's Ribs.
Boyd and Charlie’s is a small restaurant in an old building with nice looking old wooden floors. When you walk in the door you are standing in the dinning room with a small host stand just inside the door to the right. The walls are covered with deer heads and big steer horns giving it a country western feel. The outer wall exposes the red brick that makes up the wall. Along the left wall there is a large wooden bar accompanied with a couple mirrors and televisions.

Tonight I was felt like a smoked dish, so I went with the burnt ends. I was surprised at how tender and juicy the burnt ends were, as well as having a nice smoky flavor making it a good dish. The dish came with three sides and bread. I picked the side salad, corn pie, and onion petals. The only negative was the portion size of the corn pie.  It is served in a little bowl, probably only a couple ounces. The casserole tasted good, maybe that is why I think the portion could be bigger.

After compiling the surveys from the other population-we™ (pop-we) Dinner Club foodies scores Boyd and Charlie’s a 3.5 star average on a scale of 1-5.

Atmosphere/Decor – 3.5

Cleanliness – 3.5

Wait Staff – 4

Menu – 4

Food Presentation – 3.5

Food Portions – 3.5

Food Taste – 4

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 4

Noise Level – 2

Overall Experience – 3.5

For more information regarding directions or menu items, visit Boyd and Charlie's website.

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you've been to Boyd and Charlie's leave us a comment and tell us what you thought?

Want to do this yourself? To review How To Start Your Own Dinner Club, visit our January post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends' tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Royals Finally Return to Playoffs in 2014

While not in the category of those woeful Cubs fans this Royals fan is very happy the Royals finally returned to the playoffs after 29 years. It was easy for me to remember the last time they were in the playoffs because it was the year I graduated high school. I had started following the Royals during their glory days of the late seventies.

The right combination of draft picks panning out, good trades and the stars aligning allowed the Royals to claim the wild card spot in spite of Yost. Not a fan of his. He tried to mismanage the bull pen in the wild card game and the Royals over came that. That fantastic 12 inning win likely bought him another couple years.

Now the Royals start their series with the Angels. Fingers crossed that Vargas can somehow return to his pre-All Star game self. He has been rapidly declining since the break and a 1-3 September with a 6.57 ERA does not look promising. Is it possible to hit the reboot in the post season?

That Wild Card win over the Athletics was magical and maybe it can spark the team on another hot streak. The Royals have had them this season as they basked in first place for awhile. That is the mindset they need to summon. Good luck to the Royals!

(Editor's note: Kansas City Royals fans follow population-we™ (pop-we) contributor John Bohan as he blogs about the Royals recent playoff victories and journey to the World Series at Baseball Me Love. This article originally appeared in an Oct. 2nd Baseball Me Love blog post.)

-population-we™ blog post by John Bohan
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, October 6, 2014

I Heart Celebrity Causes Highlights James Patterson's Operation Gratitude

As a society we like our celebrities and tend to support the causes they endorse with this status. Our celebrities are those that entertain and inspire us such as those that act in the movies, on television and the stage, our favorite musicians, athletes from our favorite teams or provide national pride representing at the Olympics, the authors of our favorite literary works and those that provide contributions in the world of art. Each month in this population-we™ (pop-we) series, I Heart Celebrity Causes, a celebrity will be chosen and the cause that they promote will be looked at.
I Heart Celebrity Causes!

This month in the fourth installment of I Heart Celebrity Causes the focus is on author James Patterson and Operation Gratitude. Patterson is the prolific author whose books include the Alex Cross series and Women's Murder Club series. One cause that Patterson has lent his efforts is Operation Gratitude.

Founded in March 2003 by Carolyn Blashek, Operation Gratitude is a way of saying THANKS to the troops by sending care packages containing snacks, entertainment items and personal letters. Blashek initially sent four care packages the first day and it has grown to sending over 150,000 care packages per year with the help of volunteers. The organization encourages letter writing campaigns for both current U.S. military and for the veterans of previous conflicts. The mission of the organization is to lift the spirits and meet some needs of active duty and veterans while providing volunteer opportunities to those who want to offer appreciation to our military.

Patterson and his publisher Little, Brown and Company teamed up with Operation Gratitude in addition to Books for Heroes, the Peerless Bookstore and Feed the Children in 2012 to distribute many of the author's titles to military personnel stationed in the U.S. and Afghanistan. More than 200,000 books were donated as the troops could choose from the titles: "I, Alex Cross", "Private", "Tick Tock," and others. The books were sent in 20,000 boxes from his printers in Indiana to Fort Benning, Georgia and the Van Nuys National Guard Armory in California and then shipped to the troops.

If you would be interested in writing letters to our troops and/or veterans you can check out the letter writing site. If you would be interested in making a donation to Operation Gratitude those can be made at the online donation center and tribute site.

Most importantly, Bravo to pop-we I Heart Celebrity Causes--James Patterson--for his efforts with Operation Gratitude!

-population-we™ blog post by John Bohan
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall Fishing Nets A Monster Fish

I’m hearing from a few reservoirs around the state that the fall pattern is starting to show itself. Slabs and blade baits are producing some fish once in a while, and it’ll only improve. Big Mac remains slow from what I’ve heard from numerous friends. A blade bait did produce a 63 pound flathead for my friends at Sherman Reservoir last week, though. What a blast that had to be!

The Big Flathead Fish.
Elwood is still a bit behind, it seems. We looked for fish on the graph for a little while, and tried some of our go-to spots, and the hardest part was trying to differentiate between all the bait on the screen and active fish. Almost everywhere we went, there was bait. A few places looked promising next to drop offs, so we anchored up and put some fresh shad down in 45 feet of water. It wasn’t long before we had a few bites, and my friend set the hook on one. Turned out to be a nice three pound channel cat. They were being real tentative and not committing to the bait at all. We lost several others as they were holding onto the shad long enough for you to feel it, but would then let go. We decided with a slow bite that we’d try something else.

My friend Grant and I loaded the boat and headed over to the Tri County Canal where I often fish. We tried some trolling and picked up another channel cat, and things slowed down again. Until….that one bite. The leadcore tightened up, then slack, then tight again. As Grant grabbed the rod, the fish finally realized he was hooked, and then the fight was on. I don’t know how long it took us to get him in, but I would wager a guess on about 15 minutes or so.

Grant just moved back here from Hawaii, so this was a pretty new experience for him, and entertaining for me. I told him what to expect as I was certain it was a big flathead. Not until the fish surfaced did he believe me, which made things more interesting. After helping Grant with some drag settings on the reel, I finally netted the fish, if that’s what you want to call it. The fish did not fit real well, and I was trying not to let him flip back in and snap the line. Grant grabbed one side of the net and we finally wrestled him into the boat. The monster fish (pictured above with Grant) went 45” long with a girth of 27.”

My scale turned out to be less than reliable, so using a few charts found on the internet puts the fish at about 44 pounds, which I feel comfortable with. The body was full and it was a very healthy fish, so who knows, it may have hit 45 or 46. After smiling for some pictures, we watched as it flipped water at us with its monstrous tail. The crankbait was not very deep in his mouth and just ahead of his gills, so it was a nice clean release. Of course we hope to see that fish again next year when it’ll be over 50 pounds.

Of course, the next day we headed back out and tried for more, only to strike out. We did lose a real nice sauger close to the boat, as well as a nice crappie. Managing a few channel cats and white bass on cranks was enough to keep it interesting on an otherwise slow day.

The temps look stable for the immediate future, which I believe will keep things slow to average on the water. Once we get that cold snap, look out. I still say chances are good that we’ll have an outstanding fall bite, but we need to have that cold snap for things to really go crazy. Enjoy the weather while you can--we all know what’s coming.

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Robinson
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, September 22, 2014

pop-we Reviews Dr. Carla Hannaford's Smart Moves Why Learning is Not All In Your Head

When it comes to readiness for reading, writing, and arithmetic, we need to remember recess, recreation and the arts. We must not forget to add plenty of rough and tumble play to prepare young minds for learning. Dr. Carla Hannaford, Ph.D., shares the science behind why physical movement, music, art, and play are so important for healthy development in her 2nd edition of "Smart Moves Why Learning is Not All In Your Head".

Hannaford relates how physical movement is important for our body’s sense of self in space or proprioception. I never thought about how knowing where we are in space is important to reading as we need to know such things as whether or head is level. Movement that strengthens our core as well as movements that help us balance is all important to our developing our sense of self in the environment. She emphasizes that so much learning is sensory and that schools often emphasize too much verbal education compared to hands on learning in the environment.

The development of the proprioception and the vestibular system are intimately connected according to Hannaford. It was actually my quest to learn more about vestibular stimulation that ultimately lead me to Smart Moves. I first read the word vestibular stimulation in a catalog describing a toy. It said that vestibular stimulation was important for reading readiness.

I posted a thread on a professional social networking website on the subject of vestibular stimulation and someone suggested this book. Finally, I was able to read in depth what vestibular stimulation is and why it is so important. When we consider that balance, locomotion, the ability to discriminate speech and language, and our vision being coordinated with our movement all rely on a well-functioning vestibular system, we can see how imperative it is for education according to Hannaford. She cites ways that the system can be damaged even before birth.

A common problem of inner-ear infections during the formative years is believed to damage the vestibular system. Poor vestibular development is related to learning and behavioral problems such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) it is also related to other learning problems such as dyslexia. As someone who has at least a dozen credit hours at the University in Special Education, I was interested in her explanation of ADD in terms that seemed new to me. She talks about how movement helps the children with consciousness and is very compassionate about how expecting these children to sit still prior to repair work being done to their systems is so unrealistic and ineffective.

Activities that stimulate the inner ear and require balance are among the activities that stimulate the vestibular system. Cross Lateral movements that cross the body’s midline such as slowly touching your right elbow to your left knee and alternating with your left elbow and your right knee are very important to brain development. Activities that improve balance or cross lateral movements can help repair damage done to the vestibular system.

I was very interested an anecdotal account in the book about a dyslexic student who did the cross-lateral elbow and knee exercise. All other methods had thus far failed until he did this exercise and improved his reading ability.

The book has diagrams and pictures of movements that stimulate the brain. When I searched for Smart Moves at a well-known online book distributor, it suggested Brain Gym®. After reading how Hannaford used this book and shared it internationally, I bought my own copy of his book with diagrams of movements with minimal descriptions. Smart Moves and Paul Dennison’s Brain Gym® do complement each other. Having taken a coursework in the many theories about teaching methods and education, I was interested to read the areas that Hannaford emphasizes as important in and out of the classroom. However, she does not just speak of fantasy children and the ideal education and untested hypotheses, but rather practices she has seen work in classrooms including her own.

She gives empirical data and scientific information to show why certain educational practices are better. I enjoyed her firsthand experience of gains gained after using her methods that defied what I thought possible given the age of the child and the amount of severe deficits of the child. It was her curiosity about the success that she witnessed using physical movement, art, and music that was the impetus for her to complete her doctorate in Biology. She has been a professor of Biology for twenty years.

Although Smart Moves is not Hannaford’s most recent work, I find it to be very relevant today. It is very rich in content. In addition to very detailed information on physical development and brain development, there are sections on the importance of art, music, play physical touch and emotions for learning. It also explains how knowing whether you are left or right eye dominant or left or right ear dominant can be important for learning strategies. It is an important resource for parents and teachers. It is also a valuable resource regarding autism and learning disabilities. The school environment that Hannaford proposes is a safe and low stress environment where teachers respect the opinions of children even when they disagree with their own. There is emphasis on hands on learning. The senses are fully engaged. There is time to play. As Hannaford points out, play is important to music, science, math, and writing. Opportunities for physical movement are abundant as this is so important for the intellect.

-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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