Sunday, October 23, 2011

Junket Sleuth - Tracking the Government So You Don't Have Too

Here is an interesting website I found today thanks to AnnArbor.com.  It's called Junket Sleuth and it tracks government travel spending.  Check it out: http://junketsleuth.com/

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Creative Writing in College Is A Joke

Creative writing, at a university, is a joke.  It is taught by those who majored in creative writing who cannont actually write creatively.  It is taught by those who decided that they should take the higher road and teach the subject - for the better of future creative writing students.

Oh dear God...

They have won awards no one has ever heard of, created by other creative writing professors who feel the need to circle-jerk one another.

The awards are used to compartmentalize collegiate, or "literature" writers, from the mainstream popular, or "money-making" writers.  The awards are used to flaunt to the mainstream, "To bad you can't have any of these awards."  Because the "New Age Experimental Feminism in Post-Modern Sci-Fi/Fantasy Award" sounds almost - if not more prestigious than a Pulitzer Price or even the Oprah stamp of reading approval.

We all know millionaire mainstream writers really want to add that kind of award to their fancy mantles.

I would take the Oprah seal any day, please.

Eastern Michigan University recently had its first Bath House reading event.  A series of historically great writers no one out side a university staff lounge would care to know, read, or even interact with.  This event, quiet frankly as riveting as being a riveter, had great writers from nowhere else but Eastern Michigan University's own faculty.  Eastern Michigan has to pedestalize their own faculty.

I guess they couldn't ring up Stephen King?  Was John Grisham busy tweeting?

As a student I demand a reading of Stephen King by Stephen King.  Why can we not study one of the most successful writers, not only of our time, but also in American History.

Is there a fear that he may undermine the very foundations of creative writing at a university level?  So what if he does?  Reading forget-me authors of pieces that claim experimentalism when in reality are just bad attempts at being different.

College creative writing classes do offer one beneficial thing - a safe workshop environment.  Sitting in class you have the chance to present your work and receive beneficial feedback on things that are good and things that are not so good.

This is something you would have a difficult time doing if you were writing without that kind of college support.

If you are considering creative writing do it for the feedback and nothing more, please, for the love of god, do not became a creative writing professor.

Below is Stephen King's take on creative writing:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zombie Awareness Week Kicks off Monday

The story can be read here on the Eastern Echo website, or in the Thursday, October 20th, 2011 issue.

If you hear the tired moans for brains across campus next week, do not be alarmed.  The shuffling of the recently reanimated dead is part of Zombie Awareness Week, a week long event put on by Outbreak: Eastern.
                 
The week long awareness event offers games, haunted houses and an obstacle course; all with the zombie touch.
                 
Monday starts off with “The Dead Walk!”  It starts at 3 p.m. at the Ann Street parking lot with make-up prep beginning at 2 p.m. for those that need to look a little more George A. Romero-esque.  The walk crosses campus to the Tower Inn CafĂ© for the enjoyment of “The Walking Dead” Season 1 TV series.  The event is free. 
                
Monday’s zombies will also be handing out flyers to raise awareness to the upcoming week’s events.
               
The Zombie Squad of Southeastern Michigan is helping with the walk to keep the event organized and keep the zombies on the correct path through campus.
                 
Tuesday offers “Undead Game Night” in collaboration with Coupe de Gras, a student gaming organization, turning up video and table-top games of the zombie flavor.  The event will be held in the Student Government breakout room located on the third floor of the Student Center building.
               
Bring you games for this free event, which lasts from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.  
                 
The cost of each event is on the cheap side of things, staying under $4 for the entire week.
               
“The week starts out for everyone and the people who want to keep doing it, it’s just a couple more dollars each day,” said Dustin Miller, an Eastern Michigan University senior and President of Outbreak: Eastern.
                 
Wednesday is the “Zombstacle Course.”  It is an obstacle course for the dead. Instead of racing against an opponent over obstacles, you will be chased by zombies instead.  The Bowen Filed House will be turned into the Zombstacle Course, opening at 7 p.m.  The event ends at 10 p.m.
               
“The Zombstacle course should be the best event, personally,” said Garry Mundy, an Eastern Michigan University Senior and board member of Outbreak: Eastern.
                 
The cost of entrance is $2 or one non-perishable food item.  Food and money donations are going to the Food Gathers of Ann Arbor, though Outbreak: Eastern and Food Gathers of Ann Arbor are not performing a direct collaboration for the event.   
                 
Thursday night is set for “Southern Discomfort,” a haunted house on the first floor of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house at 411 Ballard St.  Tau Kappa Epsilon approached Outbreak: Eastern about doing a haunted house this year.
                 
“We are basically filling it with actors and blood-gory awesomeness,” said Miller.  It should be a combination of House of a 1,000 Corpses, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Deliverance.  Doors open at 7 p.m. and the cost is $3. 
                 
Friday night is “Dead Gallery,” which has been a haunted house in the past, but this year will be a haunted show in the Sponberg Theatre, starting at 7 p.m.  There will be crowd participation as the Players at EMU put on the freak show.  
                 
$4 gets you in the doors.  They will not be accepting $20 or $50 at Dead gallery because of its low cost as they may not be able to make change for people.
                 
“Somebody showed up last year with a $100 bill and we actually had to turn them away,” said Miller.
                 
Saturday is the kill shot for the week long Zombie Awareness event.  This is the first time that “Outbreak” is being advertised to the public.  All five floors of the Rec/IM building are being taken over by zombies.  And where there are zombies there is always those trying to survive them.
                
Participation is open to whoever shows up.  Those that do attend need to dress up as either a zombie or a survivor.  Zombies can come as is, while survivors need to pack a Nerf gun.  Both need to bring eye protection.   The event is free with the briefing starting at 7 p.m. and the hunting at 8 p.m.
                 
Like any awareness week, Outbreak: Eastern will be selling Zombie Awareness Week ribbons for a suggested $.75 donation. 
               
“If people wear them, its advertisement,” said Miller. 
                
 Visit Outbreakeasetern.org for the latest on the event.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2011 Mazda 2 - 500 miles

This is a great little econobox of a machine.  Great acceleration and handling - with all considering.  Only complaint...non-illuminated door-lock buttons (more annoying than you think).

And, of course it's cute.  It has 3.0-liter motor for a 1.5-liter engine.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Where’s the Message?

I’m confused.

The message of the Occupy Wall Street protesters is indiscernible.

The message is messages; cries for “Fiscal Responsibility,” and calling for the end of “Corporate corruption in Washington;” too much for too little time.

The Occupy Wall Street campaign is a hell-bent grassroots effort for socioeconomic and political change.

The motives are good, but what change (changes?) the protesters want is questionable. The Occupy Wall Street protesters are just as disillusioned and disorganized as the institutions they are protesting against.

Their message is just as discombobulated as the media coverage they are receiving.  The New York Times is apparently just as confused as the protest they are covering.

While covering the protesters march onto the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, the New York
Times flipped more than the GOP candidates discussing Medicare on how they felt about the protesters – all in the span 20 minutes.

At 6:59 p.m. the New York Times ran the headline “Protestors Arrested on Brooklyn Bridge.”

Twenty minutes later at 7:19 p.m. the headline was changed to read “Hundreds arrested on Brooklyn Bridge.”

Where the shift in blame from the police to the protesters is prevalent is in the lead change that occurs when the headline is changed.

The first lead read: “After allowing them onto the bridge, the police cut off and arrested dozens of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.”

The second and changed lead read: “In a tense showdown over the East River, police arrested hundreds of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators after they marched onto the bridge’s Brooklyn bound roadway.”

Do dozens change to hundreds and allowed change to marched in the span of 20 minutes?

The protesters voice is lost because of such flip-flopped media coverage from many sources. In the late 1960s the media displayed the civil war and anti-war protestors as a youthful, self-disenfranchised group of extreme leftists and drug induced hippies, tainting the message, power, and legitimacy of the protests and protesters themselves.

Media coverage of what is happening on Wall Street displays the protestors as a youthful, self-disenfranchised group of extreme leftists and drug induced hippies, tainting the message, power, and legitimacy of the protests; even if their makeup is from all walks of the socioeconomic life style.

The protesters message may not be a cry for a change in everything, but if their one voice cannot be conveyed through the media outlets that are reporting on them, then their voices will never be heard.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

EMU United Way Kick-Off Campaign

This is in today's (Monday, October 3, 2011) Eastern Echo and can be read here.

Eastern Michigan University and United Way are holding the EMU United Way Kick-Off Campaign scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Tuesday in the Student Center Ballroom and runs until Nov. 18.

"Eastern Michigan University has a great tradition of supporting this community and United Way is a part of that tradition” Kevin Kucera said, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and this year’s Eastern Michigan University United Way Kick-Off chairperson.

The kick-off is to gather Eastern Michigan faculty who volunteer to help the United Way collect pledges and facilitate information for the campaign.  The event also allows Eastern Michigan University faculty an opportunity to learn about the campaign, and hear about the people that have been helped.

The money is raised for nonprofit health and human service organizations throughout Washtenaw County.  There are six focus areas the campaign helps; early childhood care and education, school-aged youth, hunger relief, homelessness and housing, senior assistance, and safety net health.

"United Way has partnered with other funders to support 40 nonprofit organizations that help people,” Kucera said.

Eastern Michigan University’s goal is $105,000, up from $100,000 last year. The county goal for this year is $5,750,000

United Way is advertising through Heritage Papers, annarbor.com, and on Cumulus Radio Stations to raise awareness for the campaign.

The theme for this year’s kick-off event is superheros; to help recognize how someone can be a hero in someone else’s life.