Tag Archives: Minneapolis

U of M Money Well Spent: “Complaints against Teague date back to 2012 University of Minnesota and Virginia Commonwealth paid $300,000 to settle earlier claims of gender discrimination. “

Norwood Teague

Norwood Teague

Complaints against Teague date back to 2012 University of Minnesota and Virginia Commonwealth paid $300,000 to settle earlier claims of gender discrimination.

And this is where all my hard-borrowed tuition goes…

Book Review: The Right-Hook of The Big Smoke

The Big Smoke, Cover.

The Big Smoke, Cover.

Right-Hook of The Big Smoke

In the collection of poetry, The Big Smoke, Adrian Matejka sets up an all-American underdog in that of historical boxing legend Jack Johnson. With skillful form and rich language, Matejka highlights a determination to keep his protagonist fighting for his life, to keep the heavy weight champion going, and to show the effects his character has on those near him. Matejka uses mechanical allegories and aggressive metaphors to describe a man as being similar to a well-oiled machine or animal. Whether for violence in the ring, or violence in domestic life, his gears are always spinning. The power within The Big Smoke stems from questions that it asks the reader. These questions of race, of segregation, of violence, and of gender, bring to mind an oppressive time in our not-so-distance past. The inquiries come in the densely compact prose and terse lines. This fictional history of collected poems graphically details the trials and tribulations of Jack Johnson, while it asks the reader provocative questions of racism, violence, and gender in American culture. The poems also ponder the worth of a man, in relation to his identity and appearance, while showcasing the consequence of action upon a person’s character. Adrian draws from the historical fiction based on the real-life boxer Jack Johnson. Johnson’s persona and attitude come out with Matejka’s voice. Pulling no punches, The Big Smoke reads as a how-to in boxing wins, and gives fresh perspective on the vantage point of another human, a person rooted in American history, from a completely different culture, and an antiquated time.

The Big Smoke focuses on topics of racism, the All-American rise to the top, physicality of a man, sexuality, and a violence driven sport. Themes put forward throughout his collection carry over from the distant past to shed light on topics still relevant today. Racism appears to be a key emphasis with Matejka’s African American protagonist, Jack Johnson. The Big Smoke starts out by detailing a man who is not afraid to fight to prove his worth, whether he is black or white. Jack appears as an everyman’s man. He is a deeply forthcoming and challenged individual who sets out in the world with odds against him—because of the color of his skin. He knows he must use his physical strength to get what he wants. Not only is Jack aware of his predicament, he faces it head on in physical bouts. Constant reference to fighters drawing the “colored line” shows the intense oppression that existed in American history, and in Jack’s professional life. Not only was Jack subject to being denied the opportunity to fight for his living, he was antagonized by those in the crowd while he fought. Matejka makes art of describing fight scenes of high pomp and lavish fashion. A man’s dream of success and fortune is seen through the eyes of Johnson, though the inverse is also shown. With violence, racism, and sexuality comes the idea of a dangerous living. Matejka maps out a precarious world. Jack Johnson is at times his best friend and his own worst enemy. Ego from being a champion overtakes his senses and draws him closer to his demise. When Jack has everything, the cars, the money, the champagne, the women, the sex, and the victories—even with the negative aspects of the racial strife, he still wants more. His insatiable drive within American culture is a play on the society’s lust for possession and power, and what a person will go through to get it.

The detailed setting of The Big Smoke adds unique framing the feel of the poems. Though the setting of The Big Smoke appears to exist in the south, or on the west coast, it may better reflect America as a whole. Valuable aspects throughout this collection of poetry are the greatness in details given. At times these details come off-handedly, in relation to motor vehicles, hotel rooms, intimate settings, and hot midday boxing matches where men are beaten to pulps—as detailed props of the locale. Matejka uses sharp imagery to show intense struggle and pain. In many of his poems he describes a man being torn apart physically with language so elegant and so commonplace that the reader will hardly bat an eye, only to realize the power of the line thereafter. A good author can create amazing works with the simplest words. Matejka does this masterfully, yet not without throwing hints of French, Latin, and early Modern English language into the mix. When foreign lines come up in The Big Smoke, the reader may be somewhat confused at the placement or idea of such phrases. However, these spirts and fragments show the intelligence of the main character. It sheds light on his mentality. Jack Johnson can relate to these classics—Shakespeare and the unfamiliar, he is well read black man in a southern American setting. This detail is telling. It allows for the reader to have empathy, to see eye to eye with the struggle. Jack Johnson this successful individual is only being oppressed by the color of his skin. He has been placed in the unfortunate setting of racial tension. Though it seems an odd pairing, Jack Johnson and Southern United States, it alludes to America’s melting pot makeup. We are all characters in the fight of life trying to get ahead, trying to prevail on those around us, to make it. The American South is a hotbed of controversy, steeped in oppression. The setting and language keeps the reader engaged while on edge, and this defines Matejkas talent for creating fiction of a real-life hero.

Voice, aggression, cocky confidence, self-assured prize fighter, forget the race, swagger, these are the authors tools for creating a violent machine of a man, a man on the verge of becoming a veritable monster, and a master of his sport. Matejka challenges the reader with such pointed topics by using straightforward words and dialogue. Jack Johnson as the subject is not a timid creature, but iron-fisted boxer with his assertions. He is explosive. His dead-pan humor is either that to be laughed at, or completely serious and not at all. He is not an individual to tango with. If he wants something, a woman, a hit, a win in a fight, he takes it without asking. The way he eggs his opponents on is textbook bully. His nature is captured by referencing animals and machines. Matejka has created a working Goliath of a man in his beginnings, in his prime, and in his relative demise. Jack Johnson may tell the other fighter how to take a punch, or how to go down, tell his love interest that he will choke her, or buy her jewelry, but he is foretelling of his action, and this creates the intrigue. He has thoughtful meaning about him. While some aspects of his personality may be hidden in brief breaks for correspondence between Jack and his companions, the lack of information given provides a natural tension to ensure the reader’s locked into the story. Matejka’s words work as tools to produce a dangerous man partial to violence. Jack is an interesting example of a product of his own environment. He gets violence and he gives it back. He is the champion of boxing, yet he is the champion of a violent and barbaric sport. And those bold attributes carry over into both aspects of his life, sport and personal. Jack Johnson’s larger than life persona is Matejka’s Goliath in print.

Matejka gives you the visual, the historical background. In the opening of The Big Smoke while he discusses Shakespeare and Bear fights. The world his poems create is one of old—yet still relevant. He sets up Jack as an animal, a monster, yet with an empathetic quality of which the reader can relate to. His barbaric nature is countered always with luxury, or education, or elegance in style of the day. To quote Shakespeare is to know of Shakespeare. To ride in fancy car, buy expensive jewelry, and pop fine champagne in bathtubs, is to understand luxury. Jack’s life is setup up so that the reader can be carried into the success and failure. This gives feeling of closeness of relation to the reader. Jack’s voice is seen through with Matejka’s language. Matejka cleverly uses colloquialisms and low-demotic dialogue to push the reader into a caste system and to show where the fighter came from. This place in society is painted perfectly. Human nature is reflected within the subject’s needs. Jack needs money, he needs women, and later in the book he needs a high society lifestyle. Matejka’s voice, given to Jack, is one of many facets, a history of the man. The way that Matejka creates the quality of each character draws the reader into the collection emotionally.

Historical America, and its oppression, is shown within Matejka’s collection of poems. The question of historical oppression comes to the fore especially in the boxing ring. When Johnson is to fight someone outside of his race the intensity within the poem is turned up, this intensity creates excitement of the material. Aspects of life become more vivid. Reflecting on Jack’s fight, Matejka will focus on minute aspects such as sweat, or the sun, or the insides of a person being pulverized. Even the colors within the poems appear brighter. The glint of Johnson’s gold teeth and the biting language come out, at times tragically so. Adrian’s tone and tenor create a landscape in his poetry that is easy for a reader to agree with, even if the topic itself is difficult, melancholy, or traumatizing. The historical presence throughout brings the collection closer to home, and offers insight to our country in earlier historical times. Matejka’s ability to imagine and relate appear on each page.

The readability of The Big Smoke comes from the theme and the text itself. This by no means suggests that the topics and themes of this collection of poetry are not without significance. The topics within are American made. The All-American rise is at hand. Jack Johnson starts out by declaring his mother is a slave. He comes from this environment. His inspiration is getting ahead, essentially following the American Dream. He rises by fighting for necessity and eventually gaining a reputation as a fighter. The fame and fortune which comes is desirable to the reader. Having a constant underdog lends to the framework of a story immensely. Even while Jack is at the top his internal struggle, with women, with race, with caste systems, create problems for him, by his problems he is easily relatable. This theme would also be less readable had it not come with clever language. Matejka avoids being lumped into a category of poets who use big words to please the pretentious, though he does at times throw in flashy demotic. He also avoids objective history, because what is that? The way he manipulates tenor reflects in the language of Jack Johnson. Jack is clearly beyond the ordinary man, he is powerful, almost super-human, and intelligent. Matejka proves this by alluding to his literary repertoire. He also makes this visible through powerful dialogue, dialogue between Jack and the women in his life, and italicized words which are either assumed direct quotes or mere quick thinking. The Big Smoke allows the reader a mix of close imagery and insightful thought through the use of risqué topics and lean prose.

The Big Smoke presents diverse language on a diverse and difficult topic, racism in America, violence between humans, and the ever pressing framework of a hierarchy. These elements are presented with Matejka’s artful prose. The storytelling and smart verse keeps the reader entrenched and imagining. Realism in imagery and description make a fictional story seem as the real thing. The idea of Jack Johnson as an American underdog, starting with nothing and rising to the top, is one rooted in the American Dream, no matter race. Jack Johnson as a character embodies the trials and tribulations set forth by an oppressive and judgmental society. He goes on to prove that he is the man in charge, though he is the person who ruins himself in the end. This espouses that Jack Johnson was in control, no one controlled him—but he himself. Throughout Matejka’s collection of poetry Jack Johnson is a force to be reckoned with. The Big Smoke is an inspiring and gritty book of poems rooted in the clashes of American history and culture, which speak to the essence of the American Dream.

Work Cited
Matejka, Adrian. The Big Smoke. New York: Penguin Group, 2013. Print.

Crime Alerts at the University of Minnesota: Enabling Crime?

At times I wonder why the University of Minnesota even tells us anything at all about crimes. Is it a scare-tactic to be vague with details, not giving crucial information to the general public/student body, while allowing those to speculate, while criminals run at large? Is it to show they (campus police and administration) are on it… they have an idea of what is going on—control, perhaps? How useful are these “crime alert” emails? What purpose do they serve?

Recently, because of issues with defining distinct aspects of an individual’s appearance, make-up, within crime reports: assumed generalizations, problematic language, suggested stereotypes, and the political correctness of the University etc., the student body no longer has access to pertinent and informative accounts/descriptions of suspects who commit crimes on victims at gunpoint, near or around campus.

Not only is the act of ambiguity within these emails confusing, it, perhaps, enables more crime. Perchance, if a criminal were under the impression that said criminal’s description were forbidden from being released to the general public/student body, then why would that criminal be apprehensive about committing the same crime again? It appears to me that if there are no repercussions to committing a crime, why would a criminal not do it again? Sharing the identity, description, appearance of a suspect is imperative to creating a safe community, and particularly a safe and informed campus.

To be straightforward, if a person commits a crime, the gender, sex, attire, and physical appearance witnessed, of that person, comes into play as that person’s identity. That unique identity, make-up, appearance, description, and those characteristics of a person, do not have the right to be protected or withheld from the general public by the administration, specifically for the safety of the law abiding citizen. If I walk outside, my identity is visible—I am visibly unique as an individual, as most. A victim should have the right to be able to use and share that information to help identify a suspect, while informing others of this information.

These aimless emails, “crime alerts”, do nothing to create community awareness, they only act as vague warnings to those who venture out into society, while shielding actual criminals. Perhaps “crime alerts” should say: be afraid, stay inside, and fear the unknown. Have people not seen No Country for Old Men? In the film protagonists are searching for a suspect, an amateur sheriff suggest they radio a description of the suspect, the wise sheriff counters by suggesting, “Well, what are we searching at… looking for a man who has recently drunk milk?” The wise sheriff does this as he takes a sip from a glass of milk. At least give some form of description, or these emails serve no purpose whatsoever.

One thing I have learned at the University of Minnesota is that if you want to write something, anything, have a purpose for writing, declare an idea/concept, and make an attempt to prove that idea/concept. My idea/concept is that these alerts/reports are essentially useless, unless they give detailed descriptions of the perpetrator.

Moreover, the student body receives emails of this type evermore frequently (especially in the warm months), with little to no detail of the culprit. I say, let someone else write these emails, someone with more imagination, if you want to keep them vague. Perhaps have a sketch artist come in, draw a cartoon, I don’t know. I say, give me the opportunity to write the email. Every email would be the same, non-descriptive and useless, and go something like this: A human being robbed another human being. I thought you should know. Try to be safe out there.

Here is an example, unedited, of the emails the University of Minnesota student body receives when a crime occurs:

Crime Alert: Twin Cities Campus
“On Wednesday, April 15 at approximately 12:25 a.m., a robbery occurred off campus near the intersection of 27th Avenue SE and Talmage Avenue SE. The incident occurred in close proximity to the Como Student Community Cooperative. One of the two victims is a University of Minnesota student. The second victim is not affiliated with the University.

The victims were talking outside one of their vehicles when two suspects approached, threatened them with a gun, and demanded their valuables. The suspects took the victims’ wallet, cell phone and purse. The cell phone was later recovered after the suspects threw it into a nearby yard. Neither victim was injured.

The suspects fled to a car waiting on Talmage Avenue with a third suspect in the driver’s seat and the vehicle drove away westbound on Como Avenue. Detailed suspect descriptions are not available at this time.

Minneapolis Police are investigating this off-campus crime. Anyone with information is asked to call the Minneapolis Police Tip Line at 612-692-8477 and reference case number MP-15-132388.”

Showing Up is More Important

Photo by Kait Ripley (amateur photographer)

Photo by Kait Ripley (amateur photographer)

When I get an assignment back with excellent marks on it, I want to cry. I feel I don’t deserve it. Though, I feel at this point in my college career I only expect to get good grades. I have always tried my best, as hard as I can, yet I feel it is not good enough, and when I receive good marks I find it unbelievable. One time I turned in something and got a D- on it. I thanked the teacher in office hours for being objective, and I deserved it—still I aced the class. When I put out shit and still turn it in as my best, I get better marks than expected, better marks than in High School (which I should have failed out of). It is as if the rule books were thrown out for something more important than just a piece of paper. I am graded, I feel, on the art of just showing up.

For the past couple of weeks, months, years I have learned something, and throughout my college career this lesson has followed me. This lesson has been that showing up is more important than being a complete genius and acing the class via a test, or a project, or great work, or ass-kissery. It means more to the class as a whole, and to every single teacher, that you are in each class every day, no matter what. There are a million and five excuses a person could use, or employ: I could say anything—I am a doctor, you are sick; my dog died, my grandma died, my dad died (which did happen); my car broke down, my cat pissed on my homework, my bike got ran over; the bus was late; I am deathly ill, but why waste everyone’s time? Why waste your time? I know better, most people should, you know better.

When one person misses class the whole class misses that one person. Not like, “oh, sad, I miss that person,” but like, “fuck that person is not here, I am aware of their void.” The class loses that interaction, the missing hand raised, the unasked tangential question, the discussion that never happened. The previous list comes from easy excuses, lazy decisions to miss that one moment, it all matters in the long run. For example, you wouldn’t ask the bartender for a beer, pay for it—tip, and then not drink your refreshing beverage, would you? So, why would you register for classes, apply financial aid, deal with advising—pay for it all, and then not go?

If you really want to get an A at any point in your life, career, schooling, just show up (my GPA is 3.627, I am not boasting, I just show up). There are a million people with a million excuses, don’t be one of them, be the other guy. Be unique. Everyone can think of a lame ass excuse, it’s second nature—humans make mistakes, but don’t. Since I quit my shit-job washing dishes, where I was verbally abused, and came to University (in hopes of acquiring dental insurance, exclusively), I made it a point that each and every teacher would see my bright smile, and remember that bright smile when grading. The many times that my peers missed class, that smile would become brighter, more emblazoned in their minds; my teachers would be forced to reckon with it. My grade would inevitably go up, no matter what. They think: Oh, yeah, I remember Terry; big bright smile, ridiculous questions, yeah, I do… I thank my classmates for skipping (really, I do), being cool, or lazy. It really helps me out. And if your professor says they don’t grade on attendance, they are fucking lying.

From my first day of college until now, I can count the seldom days I have missed class and work, and on all of these days someone had a funeral, or a sick loved one to attend to. I won’t miss a day because I don’t want a day to miss me. You want to get ahead, be the person that is always in the same spot asking the same fucking stupid questions, the one that everyone looks at with a sideways glance, disdain, be that person, be brave. Be the person that no one can understand, because when it comes down to the end of the semester someone—the teacher, will most likely remember you for that, your name, your smile, your attentiveness to detail, your question that sparked a conversation, everything, and they will know that. Be part of the community you are in, the academic community, and your grade will work itself out. True story.

Language is Subjective; The Sound of Middle English (The Canterbury Tales)

Facebook to Charge Money for Photo Removal

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A friend of mine told me of his issues with removing photos from Facebook. Apparently there is a pilot program/agency being implemented to the social media site. The program/agency consists of an entity charging money to remove your unwanted photos from Facebook. Perhaps I am introducing The Facebook Photo Removal Services. Here is his story.

Events:

I didn’t like the pictures I found on Facebook. It was sort of embarrassing, and it could affect me and the position I hold at work. I needed to take them down. I am a dishwasher at a restaurant in an old area of town, I usually get no respect. My manager tells me I don’t know how to use proper English, and that I am not allowed to speak Spanish in the kitchen. Most of my coworkers are foreign. This is a tragedy because most of those in the kitchen are unlicensed employees. I think of these images of me online, people click them, like them, comment on them, share them, and I am judged. I am not fluent in Spanish. So we say nothing.

The other day while scrolling, I found a picture of me holding some knives on Facebook. I was in a kitchen, I was red-eyed drunk, and I was looking rude. I tried to take them down, a new notice came up. I was unfamiliar with this notice. It said Facebook owns the rights to all of my pictures, -all content rather, from whenever I started my life on Facebook, and the only way to get my photos back, or down, or offline, would be to buy them from Facebook the corporation directly. This is true. I guess Facebook had changed since I first created my account.

You see, if I had more money (a better job), I could afford to buy these pictures, my pictures. I could save my life. I could get a better job. I would have a brighter future. These photos are ruining me. I had no control over what the photos looked like and how they portrayed me. I mean, my selfies, they were art. They really showed the who I was, and am. This tragedy is catching up to me. My Facebook friends have become my adversaries. These photos are powerful. I find it hard to handle because I could not present myself how I wanted other people to see me. In real life (IRL), I may be complex and flawed, but here was my chance to be simple and easy, desired. I am a drunk. I am a loser. I am single. And above all I am unsuccessful. I don’t want those photos out there, online, for millions to peruse. They may see the real me.

I think about this now. The price tag on these pictures, which I voluntarily post on social media are going to cost me more than two paychecks. I don’t have enough money to take them down. I wish I had thought about what I was posting on Facebook. I really do. Now the debt collectors call, now my manager questions. The waitress brings my credit cards back with a look fake empathy: it was declined she says… I fake astonishment: Really?! I cannot take these photos down, photos of me failing, stuck in my head. I wish I had not done this… No one thinks, I don’t think. Why?!

Today I took out a Payday loan to afford this Facebook service. You know, the convenient and fair lenders who reside in the non-sketchy part of town? -Something like that. These are nice when you have no money and need to remove certain pictures from your Facebook page. I really wish I had thought about what I was posting on Facebook. I wish they would have told me that there would be a price to pay for these images one day. I now, not including my students loans ($80,000.00 +), am about $5,000.00 + in side-debt. Side-debt is debt you accrue through regular everyday activity, it was necessary. Stuff like antidepressants, beer, whisky, Facebook Photo Removal Services, and condoms. I needed this money, absolutely. I also needed these photos removed, it was a drunken night like last week.

I think of money as the most important thing to me, aside from my image. I hurt my hands washing dishes; they are cut and bleed and blister and turn red. My image is in jeopardy. People will see these photos and they will think things of me. The other day my manager called, she is a pink heavyset drunk with greasy hair, always tied back taut, she yells a lot. Once she saw me naked. I think she yells a lot because she gets yelled at a lot, and told she is nothing. She does nothing about this. I think she is in a violent relationship, they both smile a lot. Next time I work I am to come directly to her office to discuss some “new discoveries” that my boss had found recently. I was not expecting the call. It was rather late at night. I go in tomorrow morning around 10:00am.

The friendly and helpful people at Facebook Photo Removal Services took my money and now I wait. Of course I have to wait. These things take time. There is a process to Facebook photo removal, naturally. My check has to clear, they have to take money from my bank account, and then some of their staff will select the picture and remove it. They work one at a time. It is a process thing. I understand. Though, I can upload a whole photo album to Facebook in less than three minutes, this removal process has taken three weeks. The results were average.

Payday Loans have been calling more too. I am the not good kind of popular. I have deferred on my student loan payments, once again, and still the photos are not removed. Also, since this time more people have posted questionable photos of me online, on Facebook and other social media. I receive emails telling me of these updates. The money, the clicks, the notifications, and the conversation with my boss, they are all real things. I walked into her office and she told me my check would be a week later than expected, maybe, and that I did not get the promotion I had asked for, though I will have the opportunity to train someone new for the job I so wanted. I am given this opportunity. Thanks… If only this conversation was about the photos.

After the photo scare, the discussion with my manager, and thinking it over in her office, I had to ask her something. I asked her for a raise. She looked at me confused. She could lose it at any moment, I mean this quiet rage. She kept her cool and said my name. She told me it is not feasible. She also told me I knew where the door was. I walked out of her office. I said it was silly under my breath, she said what?! I walked out and put my sweat-stained uniform on; what was white had turned yellow. We only got one shirt.

What I would say to someone posting online is: this is your life. Everything you post is part of you, forever. It is your virtual footprint. You will pay for it as any action. I have applied for numerous jobs, they see my photos, new photos of the same event, and I am told this each time: Thank you for applying to this position. We have decided to go a different route. Please try again in the future. Best wishes. If only I could contact Google and get them to block-out my name. No images would show up. I have setup a plan with Facebook Photo Removal Services now, I pay monthly, where they take photos down (for a price), to protect my person. My future is at stake here. The importance of this entity is beyond quantifying.

I realize now that I am plugged in. I love my job. I am concerned about photos, people taking pictures, and uploading them. The reason is is because of the cost. The monthly payments surpass my student loan payments, which I don’t make anymore. –Hey! Uncle Sam is trillions of dollars in debt, what’s my debt compared to that. Whole countries function in debt, though they don’t work shit jobs, wasting their time, killing their bodies, while paying corporations to not do things to them, perhaps. I think I should collect taxes too. This extortion is reality though. And what I realized while secretly speaking to my co-worker in broken Spanish the other day, while eating some prime rib ends, was that I shouldn’t complain. We all steal things. Facebook steals reality, and charges you to take it down. I steal meat and words with my peers. Emilio said he crossed the border to come here to work this job to pay for his family in Mexico. He loved it. I agreed. So, I picked up a new phrase, picture that, I couldn’t complain. I smiled as sweet fat sluiced down my face. This kitchen was warm. I told him: I think we can be Facebook friends now.

What I learned in College (Fall Semester 2014)

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Day One of Winter Break, I look back and think on this past semester. Fall 2014 was nothing short of interesting, trying, and above all, eye opening/mind expanding (whatever cliché). There was copious reading and unfollowed syllabi. One comes into contact with fliers on the walls of buildings; peers, scholars, and professors. A person can see groups talking in the mall in the sun one moment, and then weeks later, few huddled bipedals running bundled for warmth on sidewalks, and into halls. Minneapolis is as diverse in weather as it is in people.

The classes were four in number, and somewhat different; each offering a unique perspective on relevant, and mostly interesting topics- though Hamlet is still ubiquitous and rampant at the U of M campus (I am not sure if this is good or bad). I took part in a Science Fiction course which focused on social critique, a Film course which focused on gender, a non-linear Deutsch course which focused on focusing on the syllabus, tentatively, and acting, and talking, and projects which come with that, and of course tangents. I found solace in reading, in its entirety, Moby-Dick. This American Literature 1 course was enduring, yet all the same rewarding. And again, this entire experience did not come without the most important part, the people one connects with.

University is great for connecting with people. I came into contact with real-life actors, monomaniacal professors obsessed with Melville, and their TAs who wear low-cut shirts and gave smiles over discussions of hangovers. I met a professor named Craig who was the most loving, and caring woman; more open and honest than the average person outside of their homes. Moreover, I had a professor who gave me 65 percent on a paper, a fucking D, the first since high school, and it was deservedly. Examples of people I connected with, there were a million: AV a boy who carried his works in a backgammon case, Theresa who was a non-traditional student and would tell you that fact numerous times, but was as youthful as anyone my age, K, B, and D and everyone in German (H,H,…) anyone I forgot; all of these people were special and amazing and scholars in their own right. We took something from one another; student from teacher, teacher from student; student from student, etc.

These people appreciated like wine; ever getting better, and more seasoned. I can see vividly the situation where a human being is that, a human being. At 8 am in the morning we are all the same; we crawl from the warm womb of our beds to look into the mirror and judge ourselves, as we hope others won’t. We all have to get outside today, things to do. Whenever a project, assignment, quiz, or test came up, as a thorough student, I realized that the person on the other end was actually a person indeed. Writing in small letters would make it more difficult to grade, same as showing late would fuck up the flow of the lecture. I learned that that person had shit days, and had good days too. I was shown that no one is perfect, or always on time, or always smiling every second of the day. College enlightens humanity by showing examples of humanity. My experience was more personal than a letter grade.

What college has done for me so far is opened my eyes to new and unknown concepts. Even if I am reading and writing on subjects which have been read and written on a millions times over, I am doing something unknown and new. No moment is exactly the same as the moment before, even with all of the same parts involved. These parts are the people. I met people of interest, people from different and varying backgrounds; those people who took the challenge of academia as I did. We became parts of this semester, of this time, of this progressive movement called education, this system of grades and titles, and hellos and handshakes.

I think back to sitting in Walter Library every Monday at around noon talking to a friend. I would eat Cheerios out of a repurposed Talenti jar. We would discuss language, relationships, and the week ahead. We met once a week, it almost reminded me of seeing a therapist, this real-life person, with real-life opinions, sharing an honest and open real-life discussion over the things, any, which came to mind. There was no agenda, there never has been. That’s life. We walk guided by invisible strings. I sat and munched Cheerios and smiled and tried to focus on the person directly in front of me. Even the ceiling and walls offered a story. I would say, see you next week, and without text, without call, without social media, no convolution, it was so, like clockwork.

Now, looking back, I see a tinge more clearly of everyday life. The mind is a camera which captures and records. After each semester at the University I take something away, and I have left a bit heavy-hearted, and less and more of myself. I wonder: would I see these people again? Would I ever sit in the same spot with the same group with the same ideas with the same professor, words, ideology, and mindset? No. I do not think so. But now I can look back and take with me what I’ve gained. What I have gained is experienced learned. What I have learned is that we must all learn from those around us, and teach others as if they are learning too.

Minnesota bars and restaurants to manually disable cellphone reception in order to counteract the lack of general interest in society

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Monday, September 15th. In a surprise move the MBARA has decided to run a test trial of a new, clandestine program that will limit, and otherwise completely restrict cellphone reception in all Minneapolis bars and restaurants. Starting this week, and throughout the upcoming weekend, locals with “important phone calls” to make, “email checks ” to have, and “status updates” posts, will be completely out of range within their favorite establishments.

The MBARA (Minnesota Bar and Restaurant Association, similar to MMBA) has decided, like their sister sect, to limit the use of cellphone service in local businesses; while limiting the freedoms of American citizens by outdated law, akin to Sunday Sales Restrictions. This trail comes on the heels of public outcry over lack of attention in those dining rooms of your proxy. “People just don’t seem to care about those around them anymore.” says an unreliable stranger. Recently, establishments have cited a lack of conversation at the table due to excessive “selfies”, “updates”, and in general “scrolling”, of social media hotbeds by patrons in attendance.

This decision to act by law has been in the process for some time; initially, when pay phones inhibited restaurant goers of meaningful conversation, duels, and wagon races, back in the 1700’s. The lack of conversation, viz-a-viz, has been a growing epidemic of recent, brought on by smartphones, tablets, and the vanity crisis facing the human race, specifically Americans.

The MBARA is staunch in their stance against people’s freedoms when it comes to being shut-off in a social setting, and liquor sales. With this law they have one objective, that being: all people within a restaurant- or otherwise social, setting, should engage with those in their presence, or have no option to do such activity at all. “Human contact and communication is of the utmost importance; it conveys ideas, histories, and cultures.” says Barb Toto. The increase in personal smart devices has rendered a society of able bodied individuals irrelevant in the age of technology, undermining its tact and thought process at the most basic level.

Minnesota Legislators have agreed with restricting citizen’s rights in the past, with Sunday Sales Restrictions in Minnesota, proper. Now is the time again. If this test trial goes well, prepare to shut-off and be in a “dead zone”, everywhere, whenever you enter your favorite bar and restaurant, it is high time we all brush up on our in-person social skills. The MBARA wants people conversing and laughing aloud in bars and restaurants, not just on social media, and that should be the law.

A Safer Campus Commute? I think not…

          Day one on campus; nothing has changed in respect to commuting.  Well, if there was any change at all it was in the increased number of dangerous pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists on campus.  As the U stated last year there would be changes on and around campus, still I see inattentive pedestrians, still I see people biking where they are not supposed to, and still I see people in cars, buses, and semis intimidating other commuters.  Little has changed since the idea contest for making traveling around campus safer, and the only thing it takes to notice this event is your eyeballs. 

          Let me explain: some people at campus have been in rodeos before; trying to bike, attempting to walk, and potentially driving safely around campus.  Others just got on their way this morning, and have amassed little concern with the rules of the road.  The latter have never been to their first rodeo. 

          First rodeo situation:  if you haven’t biked on or around campus in the midst of thousands of excited students on the first day of fall semester, it would be your first rodeo.  Watch out, be mindful, and know your role.  Put your stupid smartphone away and make it from point A to point B.  -Safely.   

          Upon biking to the university this morning for class, I took extra precaution, mentally preparing myself as I do regularly, as I suggested in my concept for a safer campus commute, as the U has so generously used in their emails/slogans:  be aware of your surroundings.  I’ll take the credit, but I won’t win the award, or be cited, (an award that was presumably never given out- how shrewd).   

          Arriving on campus, past the new Target, and the face-lifted Dinkytown, how economic- (oh) progressive, I found a vast amount of amateur bicyclists mingling in packs, not following the paths, wearing helmets on handlebars- abrasive, while generally having small regard for their surroundings.  I took note of a driver maneuvering a car while texting, and an aimless young athletic male (BRO) biking, weaving his way through the bike lane and into the street while on his phone, fedora affixed atop his blond hair streaming back, held down by a bandana. 

          I have no positive words for the kind of idiocy I have seen on campus when it comes to getting around.  I predict a record number of transit related accidents, injuries, and worse (other euphemisms here), this year, 2014.  This is not because people genuinely like putting themselves in danger, or under buses so to speak, but because the life within their phone is evidently more important than the life in front of their bodies. 

          I am not being pessimistic, I am being honest.  Whoever won the contest to make the campus safer deserves a gold star, because they persuaded it/sort of didn’t win it, and slyly.  I applaud you.  I would have done the same but I am more of an outsider when it comes to making friends high up; I won’t do the photo shoot if I don’t like the cameraman (metaphor). 

           The U is no safer now for commuters than it was a year ago.  As a matter of thought, it is most likely more dangerous because people feel that it is safer.  Telling individuals this and that without actually having them observe the act does not prove a point.  Take a seat in the grass and watch.  In time one will see this conundrum acted out over and over again.  The situation is somewhat entertaining, if you aren’t involved with it.

          When I sat taking in the sun between classes, near Coffman Union, I noticed one obvious sign of the times; something that’s been there, but seemed more prevalent today, people were engaged more with their electronics than anything else, they were living in a virtual world which exists in their hands.  They seldom took in the views before them, they noticed little in their path.  On such a beautiful day it was sad and dangerous, heads down; stuck in a box- dangerously isolated.   

          If the campus wants change they must cite people for walking brazenly down the center of the bike lanes, while texting, or not- just being ignorant.  They must position public safety attendants at problem areas, to direct students, until they can finally read signage and adhere to the brightly painted traffic instructions.  They, the university, must do their best to capture the attention of those on the go. 

          When I left this morning, I was nervous for the first day of school, as are most.  That exhilarating feeling of taking in knowledge, and expanding my experience with education had me trepid, something I live for.  Yet when I came to campus I was more shaken because of my safety and the safety of others, the safety directly related to the lack of attention and ignorance/apathy people put into their movements.  A safe campus requires thoughtfulness, and a conscious mindset.  If I am worried about selfies and notifications I am not worried about crosswalks and lines on the ground; appropriate signals, on my inevitable journey to and fro. 

Which is more important? 

Also see:  Woman fatally struck by Green Line train was Mpls. attorney

How To: Drone Selfie

          As it has never before been done, I took the liberty (with the help of my step-father, and my girlfriend) to do the almost impossible… take a drone selfie.  Now you might think, aren’t drones solely for destroying innocent civilians in foreign lands, striking fear into the enemy, and making warfare as easy as a video game?  Perhaps.  However, I think the general public can one up the ubiquitous and ever powerful presence of government drone usage by creating a need of their own, the need for Drone Selfies.  

          Drones Selfies will be the new hot topic in America, and around the globe.  Trust me…  

          All you need now is an un-weaponized drone, someone with the capabilities of maneuvering said drone, and a GoPro 3 strapped to that drone, duh.  

          Stick it there US Defense, Drone Selfies are in, bombing enemies is OUT!  #fact #boom  Let’s face it, the only bombing these drones will be doing is photo bombing.