An Inside Account of Sleep Paralysis


Picture it: you’re in bed at night, when suddenly, your body wakes up.  However what’s different this time is that you’re unable to move, with the exception of your eyes.  You can’t talk, unable to call for help.  You might see a figure approach you, a faceless man in black.  He has claws like Edward Scissorhands and he’s moving closer.  Your heart is racing, and you’re not sure what’s going on.

This is sleep paralysis.

Southern Miss Nursing student Blake Meranto describes his first experience with sleep paralysis, which started when he began high school.  He said he was unaware of what this affliction was, or that it even happened to other people, until he started college.  Now a university student, his sleep paralysis has faded into a distant memory rather than a regular occurrence, but the memories are still frightening.

Meranto says that he can usually tell when he’s going to dive into sleep paralysis when the lamp light in his room begins to dim, so then he knows to convulse his body as to not go into sleep paralysis.  He describes this as a “tell” that lets him know what’s about to happen. In learning this, he hasn’t experienced a true sleep paralysis in quite a while.

So why do people such as Blake experience sleep paralysis?  The American Sleep Association reports that during REM sleep, your muscles are relaxed, but when this is disturbed, sleep paralysis takes place.  It is also commonly linked to mental health problems, which may be a genetic case – if someone in your family experiences sleep paralysis, your chances for experiencing it are higher.  If you’re not doing well mentally, these chances also go up.  Sleep paralysis is also linked to sleep deprivation, which can be a single incidence or can continue, based on whether or not sleeping patterns improve.

Meranto reports that when he was having mental health troubles in high school, that’s when his sleep paralysis began.  Now that he is doing better, he hasn’t experienced it in a while.

Sleep paralysis can last from a few seconds to several minutes.  Some people see shadows or creatures, and others don’t.  Sleep paralysis heightens the body’s response to anxiety, because it is terrifying not to be able to move, which may explain why people see these creatures.

Those with sleep paralysis often report that they feel like something is sitting on their chest, and they are unable to breathe or move.  This is also common.  This is how Blake Meranto feels, which he describes as utterly terrifying..

The best thing to do when experiencing sleep paralysis is to talk to your doctor.  You may have to go into a sleep study, but in dealing with sleep paralysis, this may be best.

What Meranto faces is a common occurrence, but it is still is a terrifying experience nonetheless.  You never get used to it, he says, but you sometimes learn “tells” of when it’s going to happen, which can limit these experiences.


Soft, Calming Songs for a Stressful Week

If you did not know, I am a student in university.  As you can imagine, this gets quite stressful, especially with finals week coming up next week. If you find yourself feeling extra anxious, as I am, fear not! I have compiled a list (conveniently assorted on Spotify), for feelings of calmness and serenity during these trying times.


Top Songs

My personal favorites included are:

  1. Wanna Know – Idealism
    My favorite instrumental band covered The Arctic Monkeys hit “Do I Wanna Know?” and put their own spin on it.  It’s completely wonderful and is best listened to while it’s raining.
  2. Bloom – The Paper Kites
    This is a acoustic masterpiece that will get stuck in your head.  Best listened to while drinking coffee, pondering life and love.
  3. Sleep Apnea – Beach Fossils
    This song makes me a bit sad but I love the calming instrumentals as well as the soothing vocals.  10/10 would recommend falling asleep to this song.
  4. 6/10 – Dodie
    Dodie Clark is a YouTuber, where she posts original songs as well as covers.  6/10 is a song about feeling not good enough, and it leaves the listener with a sense of melancholy.
  5. Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone
    I used to listen to this song a lot in middle school, and I still love it to this day.  Big Jet Plane is timeless, best listened to while contemplating life.

If you’re preparing for final exams, I hope these songs help you study! Let me know if you have any suggestions to add to the list!


– Marissa

Fake News: A Final Reflection

Fake news is:

I’ve always advocated for fact-checking as well as not trusting every single thing read on the Internet.  Mainly because people post satirical articles without knowing that they’re satire and then run with it, but in today’s new age of media, now than ever I urge you to check where your information came from if you suspect it’s outrageous.

Being as someone who wants to have a career in the media and news in particular, I’m not weary of everyday news.  If your local reporter tells you about something, I’d trust him/her.  However, if you come across some off-the-wall website saying that Pope Francis is dead, or something that sounds like a conspiracy theory, I’d again, check your sources.

That’s what I will leave you with: some advice and a little summary of my experience in my media writing course.

I liked this class.  It wasn’t stressful and it made me think about media criticism and how a lot of it is just ill-informed.  I also got to learn about broadcasting, which is something I didn’t know anything about.  I think that broadcasting would be the most fun career in media, but it also sounds the most hectic.  I changed my major during the course of this class and I’d like to say that decision was influenced by learning about media careers and what I don’t want to do.  All in all, I gained a newfound respect for people in all positions in the media and I enjoyed the time I spent in Media Writing.  However, I still strongly advocate for the usage of the Oxford comma, no matter what the AP Stylebook says.


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Social Media as a Communication Tool

Social media is an incredibly useful tool for brands, but not just for marketing purposes.  Twitter can be used for customer support, which is commonly seen when people send complaints to brands and the brand responds with help.

Specifically, this is seen time and time again with airlines.  American Airlines solved this customer’s problem solely through Twitter.  This is quite convenient and increases customer loyalty.

Good for the brand, good for the business and good for the customer.

Aside from being generally helpful for customers, brands communicating through social media can be fun for both the customer and the business.  Colourpop (a makeup brand) uses their Twitter to interact with customers, consistently asking them for their opinion on product names, colors, and what they should come out with next!

Having a brand outreach on social media is what sets companies apart and keeps the customer involved as an active participant.  It makes the customer feel appreciated and helps them decide if they want to do business with them again. It’s also a fun way to communicate all-around and should be utilized more.


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Creating and Maintaining a Professional Brand

In the age of digital media, it is incredibly important to have a professional appearance across all social media platforms.  Time and time again, countless people have lost his/her job due to their online presence.

I personally have no problem with this.  Personal media presence is a vital aspect of who a person is.  It’s their brand: it’s representative of both personal values and the degree of professionalism that can be brought to a job.

Personal brand can be used for good.   Especially in media jobs, having a high following and compelling tweets can be what sets candidates apart. Being exceptionally skilled at social media can be put on a resumé and it can even lead to a career running social media outlets.

The problem is finding and creating your own personal brand and maintaining it.  Personally, I think my personal social media accounts are very reflective of myself as a person.  They reflect my values as well as things that I am passionate about.

Creating your brand is all about who you are as a person.

To curate your own personal Brand, you need to first find out what you’re good at and what makes you stand out as a person.  Showcase that.  Show off your skills and keep learning to improve those you are not as good at.  Become well-rounded to make yourself more appealing to a client/company.

Utilize your social media platforms as a professional, yet reflective version of yourself!  Creating a logo is also a good start.  That way it can be placed all around your social media pages as well as on your resumé to be cohesive.  If you’re not great at graphic design, commission a student designer or watch YouTube videos on how to create a basic logo.

Become an expert on yourself and what you can bring to the table.  Perfect your elevator pitch (15 seconds worth of information on who you are, what you’re doing, and what you want to do).  This is highly important in networking events as you want to make yourself memorable and appealing.

Creating a personal brand doesn’t happen overnight.  Your personal brand will be constantly evolving as your skillsets and experiences grow, but starting now can make the world of a difference.

Broadcast Versus Print

Generally, when I am interested in something, I want to know the full story.  I’m not the type of person who can be satisfied with only reading headlines or only knowing 15-second soundbites worth of information.

I understand broadcast journalism is beneficial and more acclimated to appeal to audiences with just the facts and what needs to be told.  Nothing more, nothing less.  However, I don’t want that.

I want the full story.  I want to know everything.  That’s not available with broadcast journalism.  Broadcasting is directed towards a need-to-know basis of information.  Print journalism is the opposite.  Print media has always been my favorite type of way to get information.  This is why I really love investigative journalism as well.  I love people who are dedicated to telling the full-on story, no matter how long it takes.

Although print media can be bad for the environment through means of a wide use of paper, there are alternatives such as being available online.  Many newspapers such as the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are converging to online media as well.  The necessary information is still available, just in a different format.

Although broadcast journalism is more entertaining and I wildly respect broadcast journalists, I will continue to be a dedicated supporter of print media..

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Freelance Journalists in War Conflict Zones

The true passion in journalism lies in the effort to do whatever it takes and go wherever needed to tell a story.  Journalism can be an incredibly dangerous career, especially when in war conflict zones.  More often than not, freelance journalists are the ones who are traveling to places like Syria in order to get the story in hopes of turning a profit and telling a story that so desperately needs to be told.

There are many problems with reporting in conflict zones, and these are increased when freelancers decide to risk their lives and travel by themselves to war sites.  For instance,  even before arriving, many represented journalists receive training.   More often than not, freelancers forgo training because it is too expensive.  This puts the journalists highly at risk. Nearly half of the 72 journalists covering Syria who were murdered were freelancers.

Other problems associated with freelancing in conflict zones are that they receive little pay due to outsourcing and finding insurance is incredibly tricky.   These journalists have no cultural understanding of the climate of which they are in and this is highly dangerous.

Ultimately, there needs to be a push for better protections and training for freelancers in conflict zones.  This should not be taken lightly.

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Alpha Tau Omega Hosts Annual Crawfish Boil Philanthropy Event

Alpha Tau Omega here at The University of Southern Mississippi is hosting their 32nd annual crawfish boil philanthropy event benefitting Fisher House. Fisher House provides housing and transportation to military families who are receiving major medical treatment. Fisher House provides housing and transportation to military families who are receiving major medical treatment.

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The event will be held on April 29th.  Tickets can currently be bought online at a pre-sale price of $20. Physical tickets can also be purchased from any Alpha Tau Omega member.  Sponsorship packages and donations are also accepted and appreciated.

More information can be found here.

#OscarsSoWhite – Improvement?

With the protest movement of last years Oscars, it is no secret that people are unsatisified with the selection process of nominations for the Academy Awards.  The selection board is compromised of 94% white members, with 77% of the members being male.  This is a very undiverse group of people who select movies that they themselves are interested in, regardless or not if they have actually viewed the movie.

This year in perhaps a PR attempt to be more inclusive, more people of color were nominated but the overall winners consisted of young, white actors.

For instance, Casey Affleck took home Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea and Emma Stone was awarded Best Actress for La La Land.

However, in light of that, Viola Davis took away the show with her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress for the movie Fences.  My favorite quote of the night was from that speech, when she said  “We are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life“.

Furthermore, Moonlight was awarded Best Picture. Perhaps referring to last year’s protest, Director Barry Jenkins stated “All you people out there who feel like there’s no mirror for you, that your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you”.

(image source: Twitter)

Super Bowl Commercials: Ranked

As a lover of all things advertising related, the Super Bowl is something I look forward to each year.  I strongly believe all commercials should aim to be Super Bowl level quality but until then, here are my top favorites:


A seemingly simple idea, the Skittles commercials is incredibly hilarious.  This was minimalistic, hilarious and creative, which are all things I admire. I love the unexpected burglar and I love how with each passing person their MMMM’s get more deeper.  Skittles never fails to disappoint.



Although not appropriate for all audiences (the clean version is above), this commercial will not go unappreciated.  The line “Also, John Malkovich” makes me laugh.  This is honestly a bold commercial, but I think Squarespace pulls it off effortlessly.



An homage to the movie “Easy Rider”, this commercial is nostalgic and the casting reminds me of people from my hometown.  I also really love this song, so it’s a win-win for me.


First of all, I love NSYNC.  Second, I love the quotation of lyrics.  All-around amazing commercial.  10/10.



Yes, another Bai commercial made the list.  I had never heard of Bai until this Super Bowl, but you can bet I will be trying their products in the future solely based off of their commercials.  I especially love this commercial because the person starring in this reminds me of Tom Haverford from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”.  This was a hilarious commercial and it also inspires me as a media student to make creative content.


This one really resonates with me.  I love how the girls are both beautiful and dangerous, and I love how this is incredibly different from Wix’s usual content.  Their commercials are typically boring, but informative, and this one tells a story which I feel is the best way to advertise a product. Entertainment goes a long way in this industry, and Wix takes the cake with this commercial.


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The Inaugural Address

“We are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.” – Donald Trump, 2017 Inaugural Address.

The main theme of Donald Trump’s speech is his belief that American politicians work in their own self-interests and do not aim to help the American people. This is a very rock ‘n’ roll belief of “fight the system”, but Donald Trump is “the system” and he is someone who benefits greatly from the system.

Trump also says, “January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.  Everyone is listening to you now.”

He’s correct about this – everyone is listening.  With the availability of media access, everyone is very much politically aware compared to the past.  People have more control now, specifically in the form of gathering and protesting.  On January 20th 2017, more than 2 million people gathered to participate in the Women’s March from multiple locations.

Donald Trump has united the people in this new era of politics, and he has made the American people stronger together.


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MCJ 101 Media Journals

Print Is Not Dead

My favorite book, or my most-read book, is Stephen Chobotsy’s Perks of Being a Wallflower.  I read it during the winter months when things get colder and when I’m not doing well. I read it sometimes when I am doing well, just for perspective.  I have read it more than I have read any other book, and for a person who hates watching re-runs and hearing the same story over and over, I feel this says a lot.  I have given this book to my closest friends to read, and although this does not help the author, I feel this is the same thing as a public library system – people aren’t possibly more likely to buy physical copies now-a-days, but the process of book lending will never cease to exist.  I have never seen someone around my age walking around with a Kindle or Nook or even reading a book on their phone.  There’s something different about having a physical copy of a book in your hands.  You can highlight things that stick out to you, you can make comments in the margins, and you can make reading the book a really profound experience.  Print literature will never be dead because people can’t have these experiences on an ebook.  You can see where tears have landed on the page from when words have deemed an emotional response.  You can see how worn and well-loved the book is, which is a standard of selecting a book, in my opinion.  Reading is a really emotional experience, especially for the young adult demographic who are trying to understand life and find relatable stories through literature.  Once when I was in high school, my sophomore English teacher required us all to purchase a copy of John Green’s Looking for Alaska to read and we had to mark pages, searching for symbolism and highlighting important lines or things that spoke to us.  Reading like that is really special and I don’t thing you can do that through an e-book and have the same experience.  On the same note, people can also have a signed copy of a book or even get multiple editions of the same book to collect, which is an unique experience only physical book lovers can experience.  Print’s not dead; people are always going to have a special connection to a book, like I have with Perks of Being a Wallflower.  And this is why I will always advocate for a physical book over an electronic one.

Representation in the Media Industry

In Aziz Ansari’s Netflix original, Masters of None, there is an episode dedicated to investigating the subtle racism in the television/movie industry.  Aziz Ansari is an Indian man who is on the pursuit of becoming an actor.  He goes on many casting calls and finds that casting directors are  less likely to hire a non-white person for no legitimate reason.  He speaks about how they always want him to speak in a stereotypical Indian accent, although that is not what his normal voice sounds like.  He refused to do it, and another man who was willing to do the accent was hired instead.  He then went on another casting call where they told him that they had too many people of color on the show already, and did not want to hire him because of that.  I think shows like these are doing a lot of help to shine the light on these problems, and I think a lot of people are more vocal nowadays about institutionalized racism in the media, which I view as a good thing.  Shows like Orange Is The New Black, Parks and Recreation, and The Office, that have a diverse case do very well to break down these barriers and they generally get a more positive response from audiences.  I think that the media needs to shine light on a more diverse group of people instead of focusing on the same white actors that they have been praising for years and years.  It’s better for the business and it’s better for the people all-around.

You Are What You Read

In Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl, there is a paragraph about how all our personalities come from the people we admire, television, music, and movies.  All we are is a collection of personality traits we’ve borrowed from other people. It says, “It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.” I definitely agree with this, although I think it’s a bit more complicated than that.  We see people who we think have a cool style, or we get inspired by things and so we try and incorporate that into our lives.  I don’t think that’s copying anyone, I just think that we’re all trying to figure out who we are and so we’re trying out things to see what we like and what we don’t like.  It’s all very much trial-and-error.  I think people get inspired by what they see on movies, tv, or the media in general and they try to be like that, too.   However, the trouble with this is in body image, obviously, because people try and obtain unrealistic goals.  However, I personally don’t think it’s such a bad thing that models are photoshopped to death.  I think that the whole body positivity campaign is a good thing to combat this, but I don’t think it’s needed.  I think it’s up to parents to teach their kids that people in magazines aren’t real and that people don’t actually look like that.  As long as you can differentiate from the glamour world displayed in magazines and the real world, you’ll be fine.

Trial By Media? 

The case of whether Amanda Knox killed her roommate, Meredith, has grabbed media attention since the vey beginning.  The Netflix documentary about this crime, Amanda Knox, brings into question if the media influences court decisions.  Indirectly, I believe it did in this specific case.  There is a certain pressure the media puts on investigators to release new information as fast as possible.  However, as a credible forensic scientist, that obviously shouldn’t affect the quality of the investigation.  Realistically it does and did in this investigation.  There was a shokingly poor investigation – it was rushed, investigators went into the crime scene without any type of protective suit, gloves were not change frequently, and the crime scene was very much unsterile.  Amanda’s private writings were released into the media, and collectively everyone judged her character by that and did not like what they saw, so they wanted her to be sentenced to prison.  I really do think if the case had not gained national attention, Amanda would not have been sent to prison to begin with, because there would not have been pressure on the judge, the investigators would have taken their time, and it would not have been such an emotional case.  I think that the media ultimately isn’t the problem, but investigators need to learn how to balance their work and how it is affected by the media to lessen it.

The Change in Advertisements

Typically, advertisers have always used the same sort of standard in creating commercials. They would tell what the product is, what it does, and why people should buy it.  There was no real storyline to it.  Commercials were simple but maybe not as effective.  Today they have drawn away from that and led more to a story-telling way of doing things.  For example, in a Budweiser Super Bowl commercial, they showed a person playing with his dog, and how they had this amazing bond together.  The owner went out for a drink and told the dog he would be home.  Then you could hear police sirens, leading the viewer to believe that the owner died in some sort of drunk driving incident.  However, the owner came home and the dog was happy.  The commercial ended with a “drive responsibly” PSA tagline.  Budwiser was only mentioned at the end of the PSA with their logo, but the commercial was centered around the dangers that alcohol can bring to people.  That was a wildly successful commercial, and I think that sort of set off the explosion in trying to tell a story in commercials.  It’s my personal favorite way of commercials being made, and I can see why people like it.  People want to be entertained, and that’s precisely what they’re doing.  It’s smart, innovative, and enjoyable.

Native Advertising 

I like to think of myself as a somewhat smart person.  I can usually pick up on native advertising, especially within Buzzfeed articles where it is done quite a lot.  There’s a trend of the same company’s products being used, and at the end it even says “this article was sponsored by Clorox” or whichever company is being advertised.  What I have started to recently notice is native advertising within Television shows.  On Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, a show mimicking Saturday Night Live, the producer was informed of the need to integrate product placement in the show.  Fey says no, that doing that is annoying and she does not want any part of it.  Within the same episode, they mock product placement by talking about Welch’s fruit drinks (or another product; I don’t really remember) but this continues for the remainder of the season.  The whole thing is done in a jokingly manner, but it still is interesting to see how advertising plays a role into Television shows.  Likewise, in Netflix’s Fuller House, there is a more obvious promotion for projects and items.  Lori Laughlin was in a Hallmark movie, and on Fuller House, one of the characters says “Lori Laughlin’s Hallmark movie will be on Saturday, December 24 PST”.  This is acceptable to do, because Lori Laughlin is on Fuller House, and so it is done as a joke, but there is so much native advertisement in Fuller House. They mention companies by name, such as Uber, Elizabeth and James, and others.  It’s really interesting to see where native advertising will take us.

Politics and The Media

I think in this day and age, people need to take everything they read with a grain of salt and put it into perspective.  This is especially true with political articles from unrepeatable sources.  I know people who genuinely believe The Onion is a reputable source and they share it on Facebook like they’re preaching God’s word and they stand by everything said in the article.  The Onion is obviously a satirical website, but some people read it and they go by it and then they vote using information they’ve read on that website.  Similarly, people who only watch Fox News or NBC or any other singular news outlet are more likely to be swayed to vote for a particular candidate.  I think the solution to this is to watch news from different sources.  People need to read more broadly and see things from other people’s perspectives.  The problem isn’t the media per say.  They’re owned by huge corporations and obviously are biased because of this.  The problem is that people are so stuck to one single way of thinking because of the news that they read/watch and refuse to hear any other opinions. With something so important as politics, I think it’s vital that people try and be as well-informed as possible, along with getting their information from a wide variety of sources.

How Rock and Roll Changed the World

It always baffles me how people blame music for problems in the world.  Rock and Roll was blamed for teenagers acting out and being rebellious.  Rap is blamed for a multitude of problems.  Pop music isn’t taken seriously because of the demographic of listeners being teenage girls.  Focusing on Rock and Roll, the music has a history of people putting blame on it for being too influential.  Truth be told, it has been influential.  Joan Jett was tired of seeing no female rock and roll artists, so she herself became the first one with her formation of The Runaways and they influenced girls all over the world to take a stand and do whatever they want to do, regardless of if it’s a male-dominated field or not. David Bowie influenced people all over the world to do whatever they want, regardless of gender normalities.  Rock and Roll has told people that they can do and be whoever they want. I’m thankful every day for Rock and Roll music. It hasn’t caused problems; it’s fixed them.

iTunes, Spotify, and The Internet Today

I never bought music on iTunes unless someone gave me an iTunes card for Christmas.  I would always much rather get a physical CD or vinyl as opposed to digital music.  I also never really liked Pandora, because you could never go back and listen to only the songs you had favorited.  This all changed when I discovered Spotify.  I love Spotify.  I don’t pay for premium, but I don’t mind the commercials.  Spotify is my favorite because you can put together playlists, follow your friends, and search for artists and specific songs to listen to.  Best of all, you can do this without paying a price.  iTunes let you search for things, but if you tried to listen on the iTunes store it would only play for about ten seconds.  I just don’t think paying for digital music is a good idea.  I change a lot, as does my music taste.  What happens if I no longer listen to Christina Aguilera yet I still have her  songs on iTunes that I paid for?  I can’t give the album to my friends for them to enjoy like I can with a physical CD.  I’ve effectively wasted all of my money.  With Spotify, I can listen to whoever I want to without committing to listening to them for the rest of my life. It’s a win-win situation and is why I will always choose Spotify over any other steaming service.

Magazines and The Future of Print Media

I’m not really a magazine type of girl, but my mom is.  She buys a lot of Woman’s World magazines when she goes into Walmart and she hoards them in a little shoe box in our house.  I’ve always preferred books to magazines, but this year I actually spent money on two.  I had been reading a blog called The Messy Heads that’s all about finding yourself and being the best version of yourself possible.  The people who run it are around my age and so I really identify with them and the topics they discuss..  In addition to running their blog, they also have Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube accounts that are all very creatively cultivated.  My favorite thing that they have put out is their bi-annual magazine of the same name, The Messy Heads.  They are fifteen dollars a piece and I recently bought their two latest (and only) additions.  They’re a relatively new company, started in November of last year, but they have quite a large following.  Their twitter account has 6,000 followers, while their editor-in-chief and primary writer for both the blog and magazine has 10,000. I think a reason why it is so successful is because they integrate media from their followers.  Readers can submit digital art, poems, articles, or other writings to be featured in the blog or magazine.  It’s really nice to see that come together and be so cohesive with the theme of the blog and I think that’s why I like it so much.  It’s an amazing thing that they’re doing and I think companies should pay attention to them because they’re doing everything right.  They’re authentic, original, and inspiring.