Rhetoric Overwhelming

This is the logo for the Nazi party, which is what some people were drawing comparisons to the administration.  Courtesy of Google Imagesl.

This is the logo for the Nazi party, which is what some people were drawing comparisons to the administration. Courtesy of Google Imagesl.

As nearly all of us are aware by now, the Nazi Gestapo have invaded Southwestern and have begun a campaign of random room searches designed to search for illegal drugs. At least that was supposed to happen according to the flurry of statements presented by the student group protesting last week.

As it turns out, the school is not conducting random searches of dorm rooms and will not be executing students and professors for their religious, political or sexual preferences. Following last Friday’s forum on drug policy, the campus reaction has gone from a raging inferno to an eerie quiet. What happened? Wasn’t the Gestapo invading? Wasn’t Southwestern keeping a “black-list” of students? Apparently not.

While these claims were extremely unsettling and downright offensive to me and many other students and professors on campus, what is perhaps more offensive is the lack of any sort of remorse. A week later the protests are gone, but their comments remain.

Maybe this disregard for civility is indicative of a greater problem in society today. Civil communication includes responsibility, respect and restraint. In this past year a no-name South Carolina congressman made headlines for shouting “You lie!” in the middle of a speech given by the president.  Disgruntled Americans organized themselves into “tea-parties” and protested what they believed the Obama administration would be doing, such as creating death-panels for Grandma. Just like the campus Gestapo, I am yet to see any death-panels. The problem isn’t just a lack of understanding the facts (as demonstrated by the tea-parties and our valiant campus protests) but a complete lack of civility.

Uncivil communication in society motivated Christian Republican Mark DeMoss and his Jewish Democratic friend Lanny Davis to start “The Civility Project” (www.civilityproject.org). Both DeMoss and Davis were upset with the offensive rhetoric that was being thrown about from all corners of the political spectrum and longed for the return of civil debate and discussion. Their goals are simple: They want people to be civil in public discourse and behavior, to be respectful of others and to stand against incivility when it is seen. This has been sorely missing from society and our very own campus.

The “SS or SU?” Facebook event clearly displayed their rhetoric and had 74 confirmed guests and 68 replying that they would “maybe attend.”  The counter-group created to “encourage open dialogue and level-headed responses” only had 40 confirmed attend with 37 maybes.  That’s 142 to 77 – quite one sided. The group’s comments were offensive, their lack of apology is offensive too, but what scares me the most is how many students were so willing and even eager to side with them in the face of hurtful rhetoric.

When my grandfathers served in World War II, they didn’t fight for the right to smoke pot; They fought for the survival of both their lives and the lives of others. When the last World War II veteran dies, I hope that history will treat the sacrifices made by all veterans with more respect than our campus did.

Student wants less theory, more real world.

This is an example of a Turing Machine, a theoretical computer science construct.  Courtesy of Google Images.

This is an example of a Turing Machine, a theoretical computer science construct. Courtesy of Google Images.

Let’s face it–not everyone wants to be a researcher. Some students tremble with the anticipation of their future grant applications and research work. Other students literally gag on the thought. While it’s true that many students don’t know that they want to be researchers until they actually encounter the research process through their courses, that’s not always the case. Others, like myself, want to stay as far away from research as humanly possible. We know it, we’ve always known it, and we will always know it – we hate the idea of spending our lives conducting research.
I don’t have a beef with understanding the research process. Understanding the methods of researchers is perhaps the most important thing professionals can learn. A thorough knowledge of the research process allows you to filter out good research from bad research, gleaning discoveries from the text of published papers that become applicable to your profession. These informational tidbits help to make us more capable. How to write said paper that you’ll be reading? Not so much.
I want to be a child counselor. I’m going to sit in a brightly painted, colorfully lit room, asking children what they mean by their Play-Doh figures. I’m never going to write a paper on any discoveries I make. It’s just not in my cards. I’m not closing myself off from the “miracles that could be” if I entered into the field of research. I just don’t want to.
Research based courses are impossible to escape here. Every single science, from biology to psychology, have research based courses. We learn how to write scientifically over and over again. We learn the research process over and over again. Some people get really good at the whole “scientific research paper” thing, and some of us remain fairly terrible no matter how much awesome instruction we get.
Quite frankly, I don’t give a crap about being a researcher and I never will. I just want to counsel. My roommate, the biology major? She doesn’t want to do research either, but every single course she has encountered has emphasized the research writing process. She’ll never do it in real life. What happened to preparing us for real life? Do we really have to wait for graduate school for that?
We don’t have bad professors here. Quite contrarily,we have brilliant fantastic professors that are incredibly passionate about what they do. It is impressive that professors here seem to be equally passionate about their teaching and their research – one passion never seems to trump the other. I don’t think you can find that at every university. Beyond that, our professors are darn good at teaching. If I actually wanted to be a researcher one day, I would be so thoroughly prepared by my undergraduate studies that the professors at my graduate school would have their minds blown.
Too bad I don’t, and too bad every single class I take leads me down the road of research.
If I one day go crazy and decide to become a researcher, that decision should be made in graduate school. I agree with having a brief introduction to the research process during undergraduate studies to expose students to the process, but the majority of the research workload should be left to graduate studies when students are pursuing their masters and Ph.Ds. Teaching us how to read research articles and deepening our knowledge of the research process? I’m all for it. But please stop telling me that I’m going to be a researcher.

1 on 1: Trainer Glen Schwab

Trainer, Glen Schwab.  Courtesy of Southwestern.edu

Trainer, Glen Schwab. Courtesy of Southwestern.edu

Ever dream of turning your hobby into your lifelong career? Southwestern University Head Athletic Trainer Glen Schwab did just that. Now in his ninth year at Southwestern University, he plans to stay for the long run.

“I wanted to be an athlete when I was in high school,” Schwab said of his early years.

“I love football. I grew up in Illinois, and football was not as big in Illinois as it is in Texas. To be quite honest with you, I was that skinny little kid whose Mom said he could not play football,” he said laughing.

Not to be discouraged, he continued to pursue his passion – just in a safer way.


“I volunteered as a manager of the football team,” he explained. “And the coaches were like Glenn, you could do so much more for us, why don’t you go and become a trainer? We didn’t have a certified trainer. We didn’t have that back in the 80’s – no one had them. I thought it sounded interesting and said I’d do it.”


Being a trainer for the football team at his high school became a dedicated hobby, but he soon dropped it in pursuit of a college education.


“I wanted to be an architect. I went off to college thinking that’s what I wanted to do. I realized in my first year of college that I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk for the rest of my life. I wanted to be outside. I like to work with my hands, I like to interact with people. As soon as I realized that I needed to make a change, I transferred to East Illinois University where they had a degree plan in athletic training. That became my life.”


When asked about his favorite part about working at Southwestern University, he had an expansive list of positives for SU.


“I love working with the student body here,” Schwab said. “Here, we’re not just a have-fun athletic program. We’re competitive and we desire to win, but to have fun doing it still. Interacting with the students is the most rewarding part of my job. Secondly, I love this athletic department. The way Dr. Munt, the Athletic Director – the way she handles the way we do things, and the way the coaches interact with my staff. They’re very supportive of what we’re doing.”

“[The difference between Division 1 and Division 3] athletes is the whole focus on why they’re there,” Schwab continued.


“Division 1 has it in their mentality that they’re there as an athlete first and then secondly they’re going to school. And to be quite honest, most of them are very arrogant and very self-centered, and all they’re worried about is their future careers.”


“Division 3 athletes have a different focus,” Schwab added.


“They realize they’re here first as a student. Believe it or not, they still love the game they’re playing. It’s not uncommon at Division 1 that they really don’t love it any more. It’s become a job. And all they’re looking at is to make money off it in the future.”


Now that he and his wife have settled in Georgetown, neither of them plan on moving any time soon.


“I would love to stay at Southwestern forever. I would love to retire here. That’s my goal.”

Democratic Party!!!

Democratic Party

Today is move in day! I’ve already got everything unpacked and set up, so I’m ready to take a little a me time.

With this me time I suppose I will vent my thoughts regarding the past few days’ political scene. It’s been an eventful few days! Let’s outline them, shall we?

  • Obama called out the supreme court in his SOTU address
  • Obama argued for tax cuts and getting bank bail out money back…republicans did not applaud.
  • Once again, Obama mentioned “clean coal” as key to energy plan
  • Friday, Obama debated congressional republicans and won, hands down. On national television no less.

Calling out the Supreme Court during the SOTU address is certainly unprecedented. I can’t remember any SOTU where the president criticized the court in such a direct manner. It is important to note though that presidents regularly lament and argue against court rulings. What was so unusual was the setting, not the message itself.  All in all, I think a lot of people overreacted to Obama’s criticism.

Look at it this way– it’s the SOTU address. The practical objective for the president is to make clear his/her legislative goals. If Obama’s legislative goals include attempting to limit the impact of an irresponsible Court decision, I say more power to him. The SOTU was an ample opportunity for him to make the case for the future legislation, and there was no way to do that without criticizing the court’s decision. And yes, the court’s decision was irresponsible. It overturned 100 years of rulings and could lead the way to never-ending corporate/special interest impact in Washington. Obama definately did the right thing, and if it came down to it, he would be justified in doing it again 1000 times.

I can’t say I feel the same way about Obama’s views regarding “clean” coal. Coal is the worst air polluter of any energy source I can think of. Ever learn about how disgusting the London air was during the beginnings of the industrial revolution? I’m pretty sure coal had something to do with that. Coal has tried to improve its reputation through the repeatedly unfulfilled promise of clean, carbon free emissions technology. However, it simply doesn’t exist yet. And according to coal companies, it will take another decade (and billions of $$$) for the technology to actually work. Those are pretty big obstacles to climb, and that’s according to the coal industry.

There is no doubt in my mind that Obama has heard that argument and understands it. Furthermore, I think he would probably agree with it. After a lot of frustration and despair, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a political move in order to ease the fears of coal states like West Virginia. As someone who doesn’t want the government wasting money on a ficticous technology, I really hope I am right.

Republicans continue to bewilder me. They have been on a role recently, winning in Mass. and gaining momentum towards the November 2010 elections.  Last week however, they really made some horrible mistakes. Not applauding tax cuts for small businesses? Disapproving of getting bail out money back? Those are two attack ads in the making. Even more perplexing was there leadership’s decision to televise a Q & A session with Obama. Did they really think Obama was going to come unprepared and unable to retort to their slanted questions? If they did think that, they were definitely proven wrong. Obama schooled them every which way. Minority WHIP Eric Cantor was upset that Obama came off as “lecturing” but he was more likely upset over the fact that what took place on Friday was a national embarrassment for his party. It got so bad for republicans that FOX News actually stopped broadcasting the session 20 minutes before it ended! According to MSNBC reporter Luke Russert, one republican aide said (behind closed doors) that they should not have allowed cameras into the event. If you haven’t heard this Q & A session yet, I strongly suggest checking it out.

So all in all, a pretty good week for Obama and the Dems. No one can deny they needed a good week after repeated defeats. Hopefully more good weeks to come.

Tomorrow I will begin working with the DNC! If you wish to know more check out my other blog here, where I will be writing more about my personal, daily life.

Abidingly,

Tim

Lady Gaga Reigns

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is a 23-year-old artist. She was born in New York City and had an interest in music from a very early age. She started playing piano at the age of four and was slated for the prestigious Julliard by the age of 11 but instead accepted an early admission to the distinguished music program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Despite her already impressive credentials, she dropped out of school to pursue her dream and started to perform in the underground club scene, making a name for herself from her outrageously provocative costumes and burlesque performances.

Stefani was finally able to release a few songs through varied recording companies but her epidemically catchy single “Just Dance” was her breakout performance in 2009. Stefani, or better known as her glamorous stage name, Lady Gaga, had finally found some mainstream success although some people still shrugged her off as a one-hit wonder. However, Lady Gaga kept her momentum with later popular songs such as “Poker Face,” “Love Game,” “Paparazzi” and most recently, “Bad Romance” and has since proved that she is sensation that needs to be reckoned with.
Many critics see her music as nonsensical dribble with lyrics that include overly-excessive innuendos such as “bluffin’ with my muffin” and “disco stick.” They see her music as just another American pop phase that will soon fade away once people find someone more interesting.

Others think that her bizarre wardrobe is just a publicity stunt and that her personality is too weird and freaky. Lady Gaga is constantly surrounded by controversy as people are still extraordinarily curious despite being uncomfortable with her shockingly unfamiliar artistic expression. The most well-known controversy has been whether or not Lady Gaga is a hermaphrodite and other various aspects of her sexual history. Although she has somewhat avoided the question with obscure answers, she has been perfectly honest with her fans, letting them know that they should not be concerned about such minor details but rather focus on her creative products and ambiguity as an artist for all audiences.

Her devotion to her music can been seen by her award-winning albums and ingenuity as a musician who is willing to shock her audience with her seemingly natural ability to meld art with melodies.

Despite all the praise and scrutiny that Lady Gaga has encountered in the past year, she has declared herself as a music artist, first and foremost. In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, she was asked the question, “Just who is Lady Gaga?” She answered, “Well, I am a songwriter, [...] a performance artist, [...] a daughter [and] an Italian girl from New York.” She continued opening up by stating that all she really was was a girl “with a dream” with the ambition to match it. Lady Gaga sincerely added that one of the reasons why she makes music is that she wants to help her fans by “free[ing] them of their fears [of being different] and make them feel like they can create their own space in the world.”

On Sept. 13, 2009, I fell in love with Lady Gaga. She appeared on the stage of MTV’s Video Music Awards with her latest single “Paparazzi.” Looking like a beautifully deranged angel dressed in white, she belted out her song while dancing feverishly among a “Phantom of the Opera” inspired set. She then proceeded to play the piano with such talented grace as she placed her legs on top of the keys and rolled her eyes backwards. Grabbing the microphone, she started to approach the screaming fans, when all of a sudden, she started to bleed. Looking down, she wiped the blood onto her face and sang even louder. I watched in awe and gasped as I saw her performing with such raw and unadulterated passion. Her voice grew with a raspy and achingly beautiful vibrato and I literally felt the chills run across my skin. I crawled closer the screen until my face almost touched hers and knew that this woman had something in her that nobody would ever be able to take away.

Ever since then, I have utterly been obsessed with Lady Gaga and her ability to express herself without any limitations or regard to others. Her dedication, passion, talent (she is one of the few artists that can actually sing live acoustically and have the guts to do so), courage, artistic ability and love for music has made her completely deserving of the success she has encountered so far.
Critics may call her shallow, an attention-seeker or a freak. I, however, call her an inspiration to all those who may not exactly fit into the mold that society and others have set out. She is such a beautiful example to those holding onto an impossible dream surrounded by nay-sayers and non-believers. She may be a “freak,” but she is our “freak,” and really in the end, the “freaks” are the ones who shall inherit the earth.

Drug Policy Sparks Controversy

Drugs.  Courtesy of Google Images.

Drugs. Courtesy of Google Images.

Regardless of how you feel about the now infamous “drug scare” last week, there is no denying that the incident brought several important issues to light.
Let me begin by saying that, as one of the participants in the student protests against the change in policy, I am in agreement with members of the opposing “counter protest” on the issue of the inflammatory language which was used on the part of some (but certainly not most) of the protesters. To compare the Southwestern policy to Nazism was undoubtedly insensitive and arguably, inappropriate. I say “arguably” because the comparison was inappropriate as a matter of degree, not kind. Unjust power structures are unjust power structures; Nazi Germany represents history’s worst and most tragic example of this reality.
With that being said, the real issues of the situation are the breach of trust between the student body and the administration, as well as the issue of whether or not the power structure at Southwestern University is equally, if not more, inappropriate than the perceived “above average” drug use on campus.
Despite the hearsay and rumors, the student protest meetings were not composed of an irrational, hysterical, pitchfork-and-torch wielding mob, chanting “We want drugs! We want drugs!” The vast majority of the students who attended the impromptu meeting and sit-in were concerned with the administration’s silence in the face of such inflammatory rumors, as well as the rationale behind the change in policy. And without the collective action of the rallying students, the silence on the part of the administration would likely have continued.

Following Friday’s student body forum, the silence was ended and many of the rumors were dispelled. It remained clear, however, that the actions taken on the part of the administration were either directly, or partly derived from the results of a drug use survey administered in 2009. The survey, which was administered as part of a nationwide study, guaranteed anonymity but lacked other vital, ethical requirements (i.e., informing participants that the results would be made directly available to SU). Most students took time out of their busy schedules and participated honestly in the survey, believing that their results would help the cause of science and social research.

The real results, however, were a perceived betrayal by the administration and a serious breach in trust. The results of the survey apparently indicated that the rate of “drug” use at Southwestern was “above average” (although the types of drugs and the exact numbers remain unknown, as the administration has failed to make the results widely available to the student body).
As a result of these statistics, the administration chose to change its drug policy, threatening to arrest any students caught with a “usable amount” of drugs. Many students who participated in the survey felt that they were punished for their honesty and were concerned about the dubious ethical standards surrounding the conditions of informed consent, which requires rese

archers to disclose any information that might affect participants decision to take part, and implications of the study results.
Despite the reported “above average” drug use, Southwestern remains one of the best institutions of higher learning in Texas. The students are hardworking, intelligent, and passionate about the issues that surround them. It seems irrational that the administration would react so rashly to the results of the survey, despite the fact that those who live and work closely with the student body do not consider drugs to be a major problem. And whether or not the actions of the administration were unethical, they are likely to have a negative effect on the veracity and accuracy of any student surveys in years to come.

The incident also highlighted another issue between the student body and the administration. Many, like myself, saw the infamous email (and the permitted deluge of rumors that followed) as a fear mongering tactic intended to “scare the students straight.”
Whether or not this is true is debatable, but it is clear that the email highlighted a flaw in the power structure between Southwestern students and administration and left many questions. Why did the administration not choose to share the results of the survey with the student body and attempt to resolve the situation more democratically, before making a change in policy that could drastically affect the lives of many of Southwestern’s best and brightest students? How would arresting students for possession of minor amounts of marijuana (as the email stated, and as Williamson County Law Enforcement already does)  contribute to a positive learning atmosphere or “help [students] successfully graduate from Southwestern”?

And perhaps most importantly, why should the administration hold such a great amount of non-transparent power over the student body? Do we not comprise a significant part of the university, both economically and philosophically? Just because something is illegal, does that make it immoral?

For an idea on how to better run the university, we should look to Reed College as an example. Reed, which is one of the best liberal arts institutions in the United States (and is the only school in the country to have a nuclear reactor operated by undergraduates), features no codified rules for governing behavior. Rather, the student body operates off of an Honor Principle wherein the students and community decide which behaviors are acceptable and which are not.

Are we not adults? Isn’t the purpose of our institution to foster growth as individuals? Perhaps the administration should take this into consideration.

Why I Wanted Favre to Go to the Super Bowl


Brett Favre, when he played for the Packers.  Courtesy of Google Images.

Brett Favre, when he played for the Packers. Courtesy of Google Images.

Most of us don’t need any introduction to who Brett is but very few know the important details about his life, which make his performance on Sunday even more impressive than it was. So seeing that this is the case, I think I will put this all in perspective: Brett Favre was born in 1969. That’s right, the 1960s.


The Super Bowl was only two years old when he was born, the Beatles were still making music, mankind had just landed on the Moon, and Richard Nixon was President. Brett Favre entered the NFL in 1991 and soon after made an indelible impression on the league. Folks, do you know how long ago that was? Nineteen years to be exact. If you’re a college student, Brett is old enough to be your father!


Something about that notion disturbs me. The only old gray-haired man I want to see out on the football field is a referee.


Pretty soon Brett will be doing Viagra commercials and infomercials for diabetes and the AARP. And you know what, he will probably still be playing football, which is exactly what I do not want.


Sometimes you have to call it quits. That goes not only for Brett but also Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Madonna, and Paul McCartney. The bad thing, at least for his dignity, is that Brett Favre isn’t a quitter. It made him awesome during his reign, but now it just makes him look desperate. Expect Brett back for the 2010 season and his 20th in the NFL.


He should just get an honorary Super Bowl, somewhat like a lifetime achievement award. It’s pretty obvious he just wants one more ring so he can have two total – one on each finger so he can effectively beat up anybody who cuts him in the cafeteria line in the nursing home.


We all know that won’t happen though.


I, like many other people including every Green Bay Packer fan, wish he had beaten the Vikings, played the Colts in the Super Bowl, got himself a win, and just left the game gracefully.


But since none of this turned out like it should have, the only thing left for Brett is an intervention (besides getting wasted on Bourbon Street). We should get him in a room with his wife, a psychiatrist and possibly a reality TV show crew to coax him out of destroying his last remaining brain cells. He already holds every record for a quarterback, including the most retirements.


What more does he want? Now he is just going to go on making a fool of himself on national television, kind of like Andy Rooney.

Mr. Clark Goes to Washington

apartment 2nd floor

Well, Mr. Clark has gone to Washington! Honestly, I am too tired to write a whole lot right now. But the political scene has been buzzin’ the past few days, and I will definitely have some lengthy comments on everything.

In short, Obama has been on the trail lately, seemingly attempting to reshape the fortunes of the Democrat party. His State of the Union was provocative to say the least. Then to top it off, today he did a televised Q  & A session with the republican party!

To preview, you can bet I’ll have a few words to say about the economy, GOP obstructionism, “clean coal”, and the recent supreme court decision.

So stay tuned, there is a whole lot to come soon!

Tim Clark

Satan Gets Into PR

Pat meets Satan.  Courtesy of Georgia LoShiavo.

Pat meets Satan. Courtesy of Georgia LoShiavo.

In a statement released last Thursday, the devil denied any involvement in the recent earthquake in Haiti, as well as any prior involvement in the tumultuous, catastrophic history of the impoverished island nation. The statement was released in response to prominent televangelist Pat Roberston’s claims that Haiti’s problems have arisen as a result of an agreement between Satan and the Haitian people. On Tuesday’s show, Roberston stated, “[The Haitians] were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘Ok it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.’’

Hell spokesman, H. Longfellow Duffy, called the allegations “ludicrous” and stated that “any accusation of Satan’s involvement in a ‘pact’ with the Haitian people is unfounded and libelous.” Duffy continued to defend the Dark Lord by noting that at the time when such a pact is alleged to have occurred, the devil and his minions were “hard at work developing  groundbreaking and innovative forms of temptation, including internet porn, homosexuality and rock and roll” and would have “had no time for that sort of nonsense.” Robertson, who is notorious for making controversial statements about national tragedies, also accused Satan of preventing Haiti from taking part in the overwhelming affluence of the neighboring Dominican Republic, which is “prosperous, healthy, [and] full of resorts.”

Satan, who has described Robertson as “the worst possible combination of senility and moral reprehensibility,” has attempted to distance himself from Robertson’s remarks. When asked for a personal comment about the tragedy in both Haiti’s current situation and in the past, the Devil stated, “Even I am not evil enough to conjure up a plan as destructive and morally dubious as globalized free trade, although I do own stock in the Dole Banana company.” Sources close to Robertson noted that this is not the first time the prominent Evangelical has blamed Satan for problems, stating that Robertson has accused Lucifer of “everything from farting at the dinner table to planting a stack of ‘Girls Gone Wild’ DVDs beneath the bed.”

Find What You Can on the G-town Square

G-town squareI spent the better part of my four years at Southwestern pretending that I live just north of Austin.  That just north is a good forty-minute drive, though, when you’re looking for somewhere interesting to go.  So, now that I’m a Senior and have accumulated enough debt to stop world hunger, I figure I should take advantage of anything nearby that can entertain and feed me for mere Pirate Bucs a day….

The square that’s taken shape over the past couple of years has made large strides toward catering their business toward SU students.  With this in mind, I set out to find what is actually worth the few dollars I make in my (hopefully temporary) minimum wage job. Now, far be it from me to rob you from any experience you could have (try everything once), but here are a few of my favorites and least favorites for you college kids…

LOVE ‘EM!

Cianfrani’s:

I can always use a break from Starbucks, plus I love to feel like I support independent businesses.  Though, of course, don’t expect to have the convenience of Starbucks… Their caffeine is for early hours in the day not for the typical times we night owls crave it.

Favorite coffee: a hot Sugar Daddy

Monument Café:

I realize this makes me sound old.  I don’t care.  I’ll say it loud, I’ll say it proud.  I love Monument!  I love their biscuits.  I love their breakfast.  I love their sandwiches and salads.  Their meals are affordable and are always made with fresh, organic ingredients.

Favorite meal: Cobb Salad, with a biscuit on the side, of course.

Dia Thai Cuisine:

A great place to go if you’re looking for something other than a sandwich or TexMex. Great food, though the service can be rather slow.

Favorite dish: Chicken Pad Thai

Down the Alley Bistro

Amazing Panini!  Not the place to go if you’re in a hurry, but the owner always remembers your name and constantly offers to play host to SU’s student organizations.  (And if you take him up on it, he’ll open up at your convenience.)

Best Sandwich: The Tuscan Panini.  Ciabatta bread, spinach, turkey, and pesto mayo—it makes any time you wait worth it!

Dog Eared Books

A small-scale mix of Austin’s Book People and Half-Price Books.  Any books you bring into the store will get you a credit toward 25% of any purchase.  (Especially good for the out of date textbook the SU bookstore won’t buy back!)

Favorite Find: A ‘Life Magazine’ Photography book, signed by one of the photographers covered in the collection.

Mecca Salon

Great stylists, pricier than what you pay at a walk-in salon, but most of our parents are still paying for our haircuts.  So have your parents load up your Pirate card, cause they take ‘em!

Favorite Stylist: Ashley Freeman

Galaxy Cupcakes

In its new location on the square, Galaxy has extended its hours, and in an attempt to accommodate our crowd, they’ve added free wi-fi and a terrace to hang out on.  And, if you’re coming from off campus in the morning, they have delicious breakfast pastries.

Favorite treat: Key lime cupcake

Go… if Someone Else is Paying

Silver & Stone

Just short of a major disappointment, for me…  It caters to the older crowd looking to splurge on a “fancy” dinner in Georgetown, but serves fairly mediocre food.  (I will exclude drinks in this statement) If you want to splurge a bit, try Wildfire instead.  Its more reasonably priced,  (I know, who thought you’d say that about Wildfire) and the same, if not better, quality.

The Palace Theater

Not a bad place for the college student to make a few extra bucks selling tickets, but not the place for your Friday night entertainment.  Their current season boasts Sun City pleasers Driving Miss Daisy, Nunsense II and Annie.  Best to see a show on campus or trek to Austin.  Or hell, see a movie…

Hill Country Bookstore

A true book lover and perpetual impulsive buyer, I’ve walked into this store on more than one occasion hoping to find something to splurge on and have never once reached for my credit card…  They carry a lot of books by local authors, but their selection is very limited and what you might be looking for is far more expensive than you could find elsewhere.

Office Lounge (even though its not on the square)

Just in case you ever get desperate, know that this place actually smells like a 1960’s office lounge (ashtray) and that the first and last time I went there a guy named Bubba told me he was looking for a good time.   (I actually froze until my fight or flight instinct kicked in… Seriously, I fled.)

So, boys and girls, the same rules that apply to sketchy areas of Houston apply to the Georgetown Square.  Always travel in groups of three or more (this keeps you from getting stuck in mind numbingly dull conversations with the local townie) and always avoid it after dark (because everything’s closed).

More updates/reviews of Austin for the true night owls, next week…

To The Man Who Nervously Sat Next To Me At Chipotle:

It’s okay, you can sit here. I don’t bite. There are three stools on either side of me, so you can sit a little farther away if you want to. You don’t have to be nervous. I’m pretty sure I look relatively nonthreatening today. No, no, don’t apologize. There’s nothing to be sorry for. Other people are allowed to sit here, you know, it’s not just these seven bar stools for one person.

So don’t worry, shh, it’s okay. Sit down and eat your burrito. Yes, that’s right. Good boy.

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Love,

Me

Is the Final Frontier closer than we think?

I need to preface this entry to make something abundantly clear: I am not an Apple fan.  Microsoft stocks are what are paying for a majority of my college tuition so I have a slightly biased opinion about Microsoft’s biggest competitor.  Nonetheless I was quite interested in yesterday’s announcement of the iPad.  This announcement transcended my (somewhat unfair) bias against Apple.  Instead, I was drawn to the announcement as a fan of Star Trek.

Wait!  Don’t close your browser and run! (Hopefully it’s Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.)  Just because I said “Star Trek” does not mean I am going to devolve and start to explain how a warp engine works.  The technology featured in Star Trek is supposed to represent the late 23rd Century, but as the years go by, more and more technology seen in Star Trek is starting to become a reality.

For example, we already have communicators.  When Captain Kirk was down on a planet and he needed to call up to the Enterprise, he would flip out his communicator.  Modern cell phones are already capable of performing the tasks of a communicator, and even more!  We can send text messages, take pictures and send them to people or our computers,   and even track ourselves using GPS.  I also never saw Captain Kirk using his communicator to play Pac-Man or calculate a tip for his waiter when he would go out for dinner.  Even with all of these features our cell phones are thinner than anything Captain Kirk ever used.

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Star Trek's PADD

So why get excited over the iPad?  Star Trek predicted that too.  Limitations of the 1960s television kept the Star Trek version of the pad bulky and in the background.  It wasn’t until Star Trek: The Next Generation in the late 80s that the pad was shown in its modern form.  In this iteration it was very small, and capable of doing anything from recording audio to displaying video clips.  It was even called a PADD, or Personal Access Display Device.  They were not seen as a big deal because in the frame of Star Trek, it wasn’t a big technology leap.  Everyone had a PADD.

Here we are in the early 21st century and Steve Jobs is telling us about the iPad.  People are right to question the practicality of having one, but as I remember people questioned the iPhone too.  Now the iPhone is seen as benchmark piece of technology.  There have been questions about the iPad’s name in relation to feminine hygiene products, but as Monica Hesse wrote in The Washington Post, “This is not the first time that a widely anticipated product launch was met with ridicule. Nintendo’s Wii was referred to as “Wee” by disparaging gamers who could not get stoked about a console that sounded like a potty-training term.”  After selling millions of units, I suppose the Wii gets the last laugh on this one.

Will I camp out and be one of the very first iPad owners?  No.  Will I even buy one this year?  Probably not.  But after Apple rolls out the 2nd and 3rd generation models?  Maybe.

It remains to be seen if Apple can convince people that they need a piece of technology that fits between a computer and smart-phone, but if history is any indication I imagine they will.  Watch out Captain Kirk, the 21st century is catching up.