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Archive for February, 2007

QOTD: One needs something to believe in…

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

“One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have whole-hearted enthusiasm. One needs to feel that one’s life has meaning, that one is needed in this world.”
— Hannah Senesh

StaterOnline add-ons

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

I just noticed some additions to the right sidebar on StaterOnline. Ryan and crew have been busy trying to add content and features.

Not sure when they added this (a simple call could answer it, but I’m feeling lazy)… But down the side they now have a Featured Photos, Featured Video and Search Kent function. I’d probably throw up the latest post in each of the blogs there, to promote them, and call it a day for now. They really need to advertise those blogs online. One link in the sidebar isn’t going to cut it, especially as you try to grow the audience.

I like the ideas, if not the presentation.

My only gripe is… The featured photos have no cutlines or credits. I clicked on one of them to see if I could get some context and instead it just brought up the static .jpg as its own page. Sad, because I was really curious why a posed group picture would be one of the featured photos. Who are those people? Granted, we had issues with the college publisher slide show feature all along — how weird is it that it will put your cutlines and credit so they block half your photo?! — so maybe this is a kink being worked out. Instead of linking me to the photo url, put me through to the story so I can read about what’s going on in the photo.

I do like that they seemed to have dropped the college publisher video function (which was not working well for us) in favor of YouTube. In addition to expanding the audience beyond Stater readers (and potentially bringing in other non-readers to the site), it is also a platform students are very familiar with. It also opens up the possibility they could respond directly to the videos, and who knows maybe even add their own video responses?

And finally, what’s up with the “Intramural Sports” section being above everything else on the front page including News? I’m thinking it’s a glitch. But maybe they’re trying something new?

Students download music illegaly, what else is new?

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

A few years back, when I wrote my “The price of downloading” story, I learned very quickly that most students were pretty much unwilling to pay to download music.

In attempting to find one single student who actually ponied up the money for music, I talked to more than 100 students who said they didn’t — the majority went so far as to say they wouldn’t.

So yesterday, when I was asked to essentially repeat some of the reporting I did on that story on a new crop of students at a different university, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found mostly the same, only this time, kids weren’t so willing to give their name for publication. But they were still quick to admit, “Yeah, I do it. Doesn’t everybody?”

And, it only took me until the fourth student, to find someone who paid. One out of four is significantly better odds than one out of 100 as I found in the past. Granted, both situations were highly unscientific and can’t really be generalized to the entire student population. But having been a student, living with students and hanging out with students for the past four years let me tell you, the only news in the RIAA’s announcement about increased complaints to universities yesterday was the list of schools.

And guess what? West Lafayette’s pride, Purdue University, was second on the list. And my alma mater, Kent State, was 17th.

What’s interesting is the very different responses the universities gave.

Purdue seemed almost flippant. “We are a leading technology school with thousands and thousands of curious and talented technology students,” their spokesman said.

Kent State seemed apologetic. Their response was, “This is one of the biggest thorns in our side.”

It’s worth mentioning, if only because of the OU/KSU semi-rivalry (the j-schools and Halloween celebrations being the items of rivalry that come to mind), that Ohio University ranked number one in the nation for schools with complaints filed against students. What was it all the Dems were saying during the midterm campaign last year? “Ohio is number one in too many of the wrong things.” Well, hehe, this is one title Ohio University can totally have.

A fugitive’s path, a moving experience

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I just saw this information posted at the Beacon:

What: “A Fugitive’s Path: Escape on the Underground Railroad.”
When: Fridays and Saturdays through March 10, also March 30 and 31.
Where: Hale Farm & Village, 2686 Oak Hill Road, Bath Township.
Who should attend: Ages 13 and up.
Cost: $15
Information and reservations: Call 330-666-3711 or visit www.wrhs.org/halefarm.

I had the opportunity to experience this program when I was a senior in high school. Quite honestly, it is one of those experiences you never, ever forget. And it is something I almost think should be required of anyone studying American history, especially the period of slavery.

You start your evening in the visitors building reading wall after wall of wanted posters advertising for missing or runaway slaves as well as billboards for slave auctions with lots of adjectives such as “likely” and “sturdy.”

After becoming thoroughly enthralled (as I was) or disgusted (I was that, too) by the posters, you are literally corralled with the others at the program and made to go to auction. I can’t speak for everyone’s experience, but myself, it was humiliating and gross. We had to hold this freezing chain and march through muddy, unpaved paths holding it while the slave driver yelled at us like a drill sergeant. And that’s only the beginning.

You will then, after being sold (and made to stand on the platform and move around, side to side, jumping jacks, etc.), you will be taken to a small house where a not-so-nice slave driver will tell you he’s got another job lined up and wants to get the owner back. So he’s letting you go. But don’t look back because once the owner finds out, he’ll be after you.

You are told not to run, but walk quietly and cautiously, and don’t look back, no matter what you hear.

But then, you hear the guns and the dogs and you’re not even halfway across the field to the village where you’ll meet other runaways who will help guide you. And you run, because, it’s human instict to run from dogs and guns. And you know it’s pretend, but something in you tells you, well what if it’s not? And you hear one person, a girl, scream and the shots stop for a moment. And you glance back but can’t see anything in the pitch black. And you run even harder. And, if you haven’t already, you forget that it’s pretend.

So begins your journey.

It is a moving experience. I took away from the evening an entirely new understanding and appreciation of what people, not just the slaves but the abolitionists as well, went through to attain freedom.

I once wrote the experience out almost minute by minute as a dramatic narrative for my honors newswriting course. I would LOVE to see the Beacon or someone take a video camera or even an audio recorder and do a soundslides and get this experience in multimedia so everyone else who isn’t in the Akron area could experience it. Wow, even just imagining how moving that could be makes me wish they would.

Until they do, if you’re in the Northeast Ohio area, you definitely need to attend this annual event.

QOTD: We must not, in trying to make a big difference, ignore the small differences…

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
— Marian Wright Edelman

QOTD: Life consists not in holding good cards…

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

“Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.”
— Josh Billings

go ahead and laugh, I did

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Recent snow falls and a lack of decent or any parking in this city have given me ample opportunities to practice parallel parking.

Background: The first time I took my driving test, I failed. How did that happen, you ask, since it’s the ONLY test I ever failed? Well, in the time it takes to say “Bob Saget” I had backed into a cone and knocked it over. Game over. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. (In my defense, I had to make a last minute switch to my grandparents Buick LeSabre for the test instead of the Pontiac Grand Am I had been practicing in. It was a full foot and a half longer, and I wasn’t good at judging for that.) Since then, I have had a very strong aversion to parallel parking. In fact, in Findlay, all summer I walked an extra block home each day to avoid on-street parking.

Unfortunately, my assigned parking lot at the J&C is always full. As in probably 50 percent of the time, which seems like always. Unfortunately, there are only about 20 spots. There are apparently more people than that parking there.

There is another parking lot a few blocks away or on-street parking for 2-hour intervals in the general area. The latter is what I have mostly opted for, and considering I am usually leaving within two hours for an assignment, it hasn’t been a big issue yet. However, the very first day during my brief orientation, I was specifically warned about parking on street. Apparently, the police are merciless and the fines add up quick. So I’m paranoid. As soon as I park my car, I set an alarm on my phone for 1 hour and 50 minutes later, lest I forget and get ticketed or towed.

Aside from the fines, the bad part about parking on the road is that I can’t just pull into a nice pre-measured spot. Nope, I have to gauge whether my taurus (not the smallest of cars) can a) actually fit in the allotted space and b) whether I can actually maneuver into it.

Today, I parallel parked between cars twice. Go ahead and applaud. I definitely did. I still pretty much go for it and hold my breath. (Incidentally, that was how I passed my driving test the second time around. When I pulled out of the maneuverability course, the instructor literally told me, “OK, you can breathe now.” And for the record, I may have failed my test the first time, but I scored a perfect 100 percent for the entire test my second go-round.)

The funny thing, however, is not my parking inexperience or annoyance. (Though, I will say both Lafayette and West Lafayette have real issues with parking availability. The entire cities. It’s really annoying. It’s like college all over again, only the fines don’t get attached to my bursar’s account.) The funny thing about today was how I lost my shoe.

Because of recent snows, there are huge mounds of snow piled along every road. These mounds are probably two or three feet tall and dirty from all the plows and car exhaust. Well, I was running late to one of my appointments. I decided it would take too long to walk all the way around the snow when the door I needed to enter was literally right in front of my car. The catch was, I had to go over the mound of snow between me and the door. So I did.

The first step was fine, very little sinking at all. The second step, OK, I sunk a little, but it was doable. The third step, mere inches from my destination was the killer. My leg slipped all the way down and up to my thigh. My now snow-covered leg was not my problem, however. My problem was what wasn’t on my right leg: my shoe. Yes, when I yanked my foot out of the pile, my shoe was stuck. Not only that, but the commotion of trying to get out of the snow had caused an avalanche of other snow to fall in the hole. My shoe was buried. And I was standing on the side of the road, now late for my appointment, with a leg covered in snow and no shoe on my now-freezing foot. So, I’m pretty sure I looked like a crazy person to any passers-by who happened to catch a glimpse of me using my hands — sans gloves — digging in the snow like a dog.

I did find my shoe. It was not only covered in snow, it was filled with snow. I banged out as much as I could. Put it on my foot and walked into my interview acting like nothing ever happened. What else could I do?

That is yet another item to add to my list of reasons why I hate parallel parking.