Saturday, January 31, 2009

no waves

nathan nass used to be in the writing center. then he moved to korea. now he lives in honolulu, hawai'i, where he is studying ethnomusicology. today in cedar rapids it was an unseasonably warm january day - almost 40-degrees, but i still wish i was in honolulu. cedar rapids does not have waves.

anyway, nathan nass sent me a poem:

"blue heaven honolulu eyesore"

exploded boxspring
kapiolani & date
diamond head's shoulders

late night plate lunch
gina's bbq don't kill the
cockroach it can't fly

Friday, January 30, 2009

Coe College Satellite

Taylor here, writing to you from the Writing Center Satellite. It’s pretty lonely to tell you the truth. I have only my homework to keep me company. However, such solitude brings great thoughts. How many stellar black and white photos are in this room? Fifteen. How many blue chairs? Six. How many people will come visit me for some indepth conferencing? Probably not many. Yet I have hope, my friends!

We need to get the word out about this place. I’m a cool chica. I don’t bite. I smell pretty good. I like to converse and I like to think I’m pretty decent at it. And all of the other Satellite controllers are equally as splendid. Come visit us! Come play!

Otherwise, I will become one wily cat.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

some old retreat photos, just because

not skimping

This was quite a succinct meeting. I am not just skimping on the minutes.

Bob says: Go to see Jared Diamond. If there aren't enough people left working in the WC during the presentation, it's okay to close it down for the duration. Next Tuesday, 7:20pm. Tickets are $5 for students.

Dinner was "Peruvian chicken." The secret ingredients were cinnamon and squirt.

We are advised not to totally ostracize the Speaking Center people. Ie: be nice. And does everyone know about the weird moisturizing hand wax heating thing they have in there? It's an experience.

On Feb. 4th at 6pm one of the committees (social activities?) is hosting a WC dinner. On the menu is homemade lasagna. Ezra says, "I hope they can cook." I bet they can.

We split into committee groups and discussed plans for the semester. If you missed the meeting, find the rest of your group to catch up.

Finally, something loud and apparently hilarious happened involving Justin Lord, Andrew Klingler, and a bowl full of spaghetti.

Over and out.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

CWC alum studying in Haifa, published in the Gazette.

Angriest voices lead the crowds, but to where?

by Nick Barnes

The Cedar Rapids Gazette, 18 January 2008

Haifa, Israel –

It’s New Years Eve and low clouds came rolling in off the Mediterranean this morning. The holiday season has been especially cheerless. In this part of the world, but it has nothing to do with the weather. As I walk to class, the outlines of the buildings are barely perceptible and, unfortunately for the pro-Israeli Defense Forces demonstration that was to take place in the courtyard, just a few people have showed up.

Visibility is the essential ingredient to any good demonstration – otherwise the flags, banners and clever sayings hastily scratched on posters all come to naught. Instead, they are just angry voices in the mist, chanting muffled slogans and diatribes. I run into two friends who had hoped to see some genuine public upheaval. They told me that there weren’t enough people for anything exciting to happen. Sometimes I guess I don’t mind a little inclement weather around the holidays.

A friend gave me a Palestinian scarf for Christmas and today, the students are handing out Israeli flags to anyone that would take them. I have stopped seeking out conversations on the war because I just seem to be repeating the same disappointing dialogue. I have had to stop counting the number of times I hear the phrases, from either side, “I hate them,” or “they don’t make any sense” and “I don’t care what happens to them.”

Otherwise, life seems to continue on much as normal: classes attended, bars packed and movie theaters full. Maybe it’s that they have gotten used to war in this part of the world. Surely if I had gone to Ben Gurion University in the Beer Sheva, life would be very different for me with the prospect daily rocket fire. Israelis are rightly angered by this but none of even my more dovish friends have ever once mentioned their misgivings about the numerous missiles killing innocent Palestinians. Collateral damage, I guess. Similarly, you hear very little outspoken condemnation of Hamas’ behavior in the Arab street.

I like to think of it like our weather on the top of this mountain: The clouds have arrived and since no one can see very well, those with the loudest, angriest voices are the ones driving the crowd in a direction that is not going to lead them out of the fog anytime soon. The really depressing thing is that many here believe there will never be peace.

So, according to an editorialist here, Israel is “teaching them a lesson, again: and the government says that the will destroy the Hamas infrastructure and make them think twice before bombing the South. I’m not convinced. This is clearly what Hamas wanted, and the longer this conflict goes on, the more popular Hamas-type sentiments will become. Some say Israel is re-establishing its deterrence against a terrorist organization, but this grossly misinterprets how Hamas came to power and its role in Gaza. For a starving, unemployed, overpopulated Gaza Strip, killing and violence will not moderate the population or leadership and almost always calls for a similar response. What do they have to lose?

So the once-cautiously integrated communities here at the University of Haifa are now polarized after powerful nationalist emotions have sprung forth. Racialization, already well-embodied within society, has become a stronger force, as both sides seem to be saying you are either one of us or one of them. Many wear the Palestinian scarf or an Israeli flag.

But I refuse to pick sides. I wonder what would happen if I put on the Palestinian scarf my friend gave me while waving one of the Israeli flags. Is this a contradiction? Can there be no middle ground?

Looking out my window, the clouds appear to be settling in for the last night of the year. I hope the new year brings a break in the weather so that maybe, some day, the sun will come out.

Nick Barnes, 27, of Cedar Rapids, is a student at the University of Haifa in Haifa, Israel, on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, studying in the Peace and Conflict Studies program until June. he is a 2004 Coe College and 2000 Cedar Rapids Washington High School Graduate.

Visit Nick in Haifa, a journal of Nick's year as a Rotary Scholar.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Minutes 1/19

Kicking off the new year one minute early. We met in a different Lower Gage room and the effect was that our chairs were arranged like a giant airplane hangar.

Highlights from the meeting:

-Several sheets were circulated: the WC staff directory, the committee and job assignments, and the spring shift schedule. If you have any further changes, e-mail or talk to Amber.

-My coffee/milk glass separated weirdly. Leta tried to use her barista skillz to correct the problem, since I didn’t want to use my finger as a makeshift swizzle stick. Despite her skilled efforts, the drink separated further.

-Full-staff (re)introductions. I wrote down “Ellen Burns is cute as a button” and “Becca pooped worrisome rocks when she was five.” Don’t remember the details of these notes, though, sadly.

-Welcoming back folks from abroad – anyone want to post on the blog?

-There was much job shuffling.

Some notes for the week:

-This Friday from 3-4:00 there will be a WC Open House which coincides with the Grand Opening of the Speaking Center. Everyone is encouraged to attend, and Vegas people are required to be there to present their conference posters. Everyone gets free pop and a single cookie each.

-We all solemnly pledged to, sooner or later, help clean up the Moodle database. Course names and numbers, professors’ names correctly spelled, and, as always, more thorough conference descriptions. What we’re looking for: accuracy of information and details – be thorough, precise, and helpful.

-No Topics Tuesday or Wednesday. Next week Topics meets in the library.

That’s it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Power outage in WC, rest of campus

The following is a minute-by-minute account of the 5 minute-long power outage which affected most of campus this Thursday's eve:

at 1842 hours (or thereabouts) : all lights, computers, monitors, printers, scanners, hot water heater, coffee maker, and fish tank aerator turn off. Silence reigns. Perhaps for the first time since these offices became the CWC.

1843 hours: Dr. Bob enters the main room, carrying a flashlight. His only words: "I see the emergency lights came on in this room." Indeed they had.

1844 hours: Andrew Klingler decides to play the hero and investigate the rest of the building to see what other lights are off. Hanna Werner and I watch him leave. Dr. Bob leaves in the opposite direction to do a similar survey. Werner and I are completely alone.

1845 hours: I call Security. They already knew about it. Steve Singleton arrives to give us moral support.

1846 hours: Werner and I debate which horror movie this is most like.

1847 hours: Power returns. Dr. Bob returns a few moments later. Coincidence? Or extraordinary brilliance?

Dr. Bob: "I'm just gratified to know that I was able, in the dark, to find my flashlight."
Klingler: "28 Days Later--lot of power outages in that movie too."
Kyn: "...."

- Johanna

Dr. Bob's Chili Feed

The WC’s doors opened Tuesday night for a staff-only chili feed, made even more delicious because of the sub-zero temperatures and snowdrifts battled by staff members on their way to free food. Between sips of lemonade, red cheeked consultants compared Christmas breaks and bemoaned the start of classes. Topics overheard: bowling matinees (particularly the “greasy ball” phenomenon), the allure of small town Iowa (with delightful turns of phrase such as “balls to the wall” and “mello like jell-o”), and Julia Childs’ career in espionage.

Both meat and vegetarian chili had been prepared by the indefatigable Dr. Bob, as well as an array of fruits, carrot sticks, chocolates, and cookies. The cornbread quickly disappeared, and the regular bread barely made it to the table before it was divided amongst us, leaving a flurry of crumbs in our wake.

The biggest development over break is the addition of a door near the kitchen area. This door leads into the Speaking Center. Observant consultants noted the presence of a spiffy Mac. I think this is a bit like adding new fish to an already-populated tank. Hopefully a tank that meets a better fate than the WC’s. If only we could put the speaking center consultants in a clear container in the middle of the WC while we acclimate to their presence. I wonder if we can make them clean our dishes. Most importantly, are they exempt from Dr. Bob’s no-nuclear-weapons policy?

- Johanna