Friday, April 29, 2005

Frist Filibuster

Check out Princeton University's Filibuster of Senator Frist. You can watch it live here. It's already been going on for nearly 70 hours. I think it's great, not only because I think changing the senate rules for something I disagree with would be terrible, but I think it's great that students are taking an active, creative role in politics.

If more students and young people became more active in politics, the future of America would be better represented in government. It wouldn't just be rich, special interests (read large corporations) that really should have no say in government that had an influence.

My two cents for the morning.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Lunch Studio

Despite having a stuffy nose, and thus an inability to taste, I went with friends to The Lunch Studio today for, what else, lunch. I've been skeptical of The Lunch Studio since it took over two hours to get served Sunday brunch. It wasn't so much that it took 2 hours(that just happened to some friends and I at the French Laundry in Fenton, but I'll get over it), it's that the service is so idiosyncratic and prolonged that the experience, well, was not really worth a return visit.

Let me digress. They don't have a coffee pot. When you want a refill, the server, when she materializes from the ether, takes your cup, fills it from an unknown source, and returns it. One cup at a time. I don't think she even took one cup in each hand. I recall she did it one cup at a time. Thank goodness I wasn't fourth or fifth in line for a cup.

The food had a similar pattern. One person at a time, and sometimes it was one plate at a time. So your eggs could be cold, or eaten, before your bagel arrived. The food once it arrived was fairly good, but not nirvana.

But that was brunch. Today we had lunch, and the assurance from my friend the service was better for lunch. And it was. I had a grilled cheese with tomato and a cup of blended roasted pepper and corn soup. Both were good; I would recommend them. The service again was a bit odd. It was prompt (a plus), but we received our soup before our sandwiches. One friend, who was only having soup, had his with ours, so while two of us ate sandwiches, he could only watch (I was never good at sharing). Now most restaurants I've eaten at serve "soup and sandwich" together. It's obviously a service choice, but what I think is an odd one.

The food was good, the service fine (despite the oddities), and the company exquisite. I'm sure I'll return because I believe is supporting businesses in downtown Flint and it has a fairly good menu with healthy and vegetarian options (read -- not Coney).

If your around town and have some time, consider stopping in, but be prepared for quirky service.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Spring Showers?

It's still snowing.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Illegal Executions

As many of my friends know, I am adamantly against the death penalty. Despite research that shows the death penalty does not deter crime and costs more than incarcerating a prisoner for life, and despite the seemingly clear idea that killing someone does not fit into the "culture of life" (read Pope not Prez on this one), states still insist on murdering those who perpetrate heinous crimes (and one former governor mocked those condemned).

I'm still not sure how the state murdering someone does not violate the 8th Amendment, but maybe I'm slow. I know how Texas is trying to get around the "unusual" part of the amendment: kill as many as they can and then it won't be unusual (According to the BBC story Texas and Virginia account for 45% of executions in the US. I don't doubt it.). The cruel part, though, has come into question from a recent BBC report. It seems victims of state-sponsored murder may have been "aware" during their execution. It's a good thing guards use a paralyzing agent so victims can't move, scream, or provide any other clue to their suffering other than some apparent muscle thatches.

It seems that victims may not have gotten enough of the drug sodium thiopental, an anethetic that supposedly numbs them before they are given pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes them before they are given potassium chloride, which kills them. It seems the drugs were administered by untrained staff, and they do not know how much dosage to administer.

Okay, now explain to me how this isn't cruel?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What Would Hemingway Say?

Did you know Wisconsin is considering cat hunting? Yes, those cute little furry creatures who like to snuggle up to you while you're on the couch or trying to work at the computer. They're only following the model set by South Dakota and Minnesota. Oh, hunters would only be allowed to kill feral cats, or any domesticated cat that isn't under the control of its owner. Well, I know all of the cats in my neighborhood are always under the control of their owners when they're outside.

This is important because according to a state [Wisconson I assume] study, feral cats kills 47 million to 139 million song birds a year. With highly accurate and specific studies like these, I can see the immediate need.

I'm interested to think about how cunning a hunter must be to stalk another predator. Would we need to cat-bait with cans of tuna fish? Would we use decoys, like stuffed Tiggers or Hello Kitty? I can see it now. We can have Hello Kitty crying for help from the evil clutches of Scooby Doo! Surely some cat would come to her rescue.

I think Michigan should jump on the bandwagon before it's the last state in the Midwest to allow cat hunting. I can only imagine the tourist revenue that will be lost because we're behind the times. Come on Lansing, get with the program. Hunting Mourning Doves is so last year. Now it's cats!

[Update: Apparently the governor of Wisconsin killed the cat-hunting bill. Read more here.]

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Michigan State Women's Basketball

I was sorry to see the Michigan State women lose in the championship game (especially to a team from Texas). They had a great season.

I also didn't hear about any rioting in East Lansing. Hmmm. Interesting.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Go State!

Well it appears Michigan State showed its true colors again. Win or lose, State fans like to cause trouble. I'm not sure why they don't care if they are sprayed with pepper spray or gagged with tear gas. Somehow neither of those options appeals to me. Now, if a cop in full riot gear (this is worthy of analysis, too, but maybe in a different post) reads a message asking me to disperse after a sporting event or risk suffering bodily harm and arrest, I'm going to leave or go back into the bar.

Clearly having half the police force of southern Michigan in riot gear standing in the street lends itself to another potential Kent State, but losing a sports event isn't worth it. If you think it is, get a life. There are far more worthy things for college students to protest. (For example, the Michigan government going back on its promise to not cut higher ed. money if higher ed. doesn't raise tuition beyond the rate of inflation. Granholm looks to be doing it for the second year in a row. Now that is worth protesting.)

I wonder if MSU fans will riot after the MSU women play in the championship game. Then again, I wonder if most fans there even know the women are in the championship game.

Go State! You make us proud.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Eating in Adrian

On Friday I attended a conference in Adrian, and I had to eat breakfast before I arrived. I stopped at the first small restaurant I saw, the Main Stop Restaurant, because it had a sign that it was voted the best restaurant in Adrian. I later learned it won the best breakfast in Adrian four years in a row (1999-2002).

I sat at the counter, something I used to love to do, but seldom do now because I don’t typically eat out alone any more. The place is small, with fewer than a dozen tables and only 6-8 counter seats. It was busy, but not bustling when I arrived around 8. The staff were all middle-aged women or older, except for the young, female dishwasher. I was quickly served my coffee and water, and the server seemed surprised I knew exactly what I wanted. Eggs over hard (The surgeon general has determined that eating raw eggs can make you ill because they carry nasty and disgusting diseases like salmonella. Besides that, eating nearly raw egg yolks is disgusting in itself and just wrong.), home fries, and wheat toast. It’s my favorite breakfast when done well, and it’s a benchmark I use for new restaurants.

The breakfast came quickly was inconsistent. The eggs and toast were quite good (How do you mess up toast?), but the home fries, thinly sliced potatoes, were soft and relatively tasteless. The servers were friendly, and when I asked for more coffee and water, they brought it promptly. The problem was I had to ask. I don’t think a patron should have to ask for more coffee in a breakfast joint. Coffee should flow freely.

I was ultimately pleased with my experience, and I would return, but I think my small complaints could have been the reason the Main Stop hasn’t won best breakfast honors since 2002.

If you’re ever in Adrian and looking for breakfast that doesn't come wrapped in wax paper and the question, “Would you like fries with that,” I would recommend the Main Stop Restaurant. It’s located at 1003 N. Main Street. It may not be the “best” breakfast in town any more, but you won’t leave disappointed.

Friday, April 01, 2005

ECWCA Conference

I’m at the East Central Writing Center Association conference at Siena Heights University in Adrian Michigan. I’ve already seen two interesting presentations, and I’m in a third now (don’t tell the presenter).

The first was on research agendas for writing centers, presented by Kurt Kearcher from California University of Pennsylvania. He talked about his center’s project, Writing Center Artifact Research Project (WCARP) and how centers can develop their own research agendas to help professionalize the work done in the center.

The second was on an online writing center module developed at Michigan State U., presented by David Sheridan and Michael McLeod. It was interesting to see how MSU is pushing the envelope of what writing centers can do with technology, moving beyond a simple electronic, presentational resource or a place for online consultancy. The module hinted at rudimentary computer modules that have been condemned philosophically because they are simply glitzy version of worksheets, but the module is clearly far more sophisticated. And, far more importantly, it enables students to work through their own ideas, working on their own writing – it isn’t disconnected from the student’s own work.

Right now I’m in a session on blogging. There is some kind of irony here. The presenter has spent a lot of time explaining blogs, and now she is interested in our ideas and opinions to help her shape her research.

I better pay attention. More to come.