Dec 10 2012

Campus Art Review

Published by under Comm 300

Just outside the Morningside library sits a half-moon shaped concrete slab covered in paint. Visible from the street this out of place rest area is a well-known campus fixture simply known as the “Spoonholder.” Given to the college in 1908, as a gift from the class of 1903, painting the Spoonholder has become a Morningside tradition. Whether used as a congratulatory billboard to graduating seniors or as a welcoming sign for incoming freshman, the Spoonholder bench regularly changes its colors like the leaves of fall.

It has contained protest slogans, general information, humorous caricatures, as well as an occasional butt or two. As tradition has it, designs on the cement pew are to remain untouched for a minimum of forty-eight hours. Ask around to see if any current Mustang’s know the rule.

Likewise a rare known fact about the Spoonholder’s length is that there were thirteen members in its dedicating class. Thus, it’s designed to seat thirteen students comfortably. Found on Morningside College’s Historic District, the Spoonholder is one of several things on campus found on the National Register of Historic Places.

Another well-known fixture on campus is the Obelisk III, by Dubuque, Iowa artist, Tom Gibbs. Located within a stone throw of the Spoonholder, the Obelisk’s plaque donated in memory of Jon Langley is maintained by Psi Chi members who likewise provided the inspiration for the piece.

Senior Emily Domayer described the Obelisk as, “quite tall; it towers over me and is at least two and a half or three feet taller than I.”

Noting the obscure shape of the artwork Domayer depicted it as, “a gnome wearing a dunce hat, holding several square objects in his hands. In the middle of the statue, there are letter shaped holes that have been cut out. One looks like a “K” and the other could be an “O”.”

As for my reactions, I see both differently than most. The Spoonholder to me is not only a campus billboard but also a Morningside icon. Each year hundreds of students are introduced to this bench, though none seem to ever sit on it. If you were to count the number of students who have painted/signed the Spoonholder vice the number who have actually used it to rest on the number disparity would be amazing. Do I find it beautiful? No, I think it should have been placed somewhere more useful, where students could actually use it. It’s out of place where it sits and hopefully someday will be moved to a more appropriate position on campus.

As for the Obelisk, ironically enough I see it as the devil. Earlier for a World Religions class our professor used it to represent the devil as part of our Hajj assignment. As we encircled it, we threw Ping-Pong balls at it as a representation of throwing stones at the devil. This was a pivotal part of the Hajj ceremony and I enjoyed hurling the “stones” at it. However, the association of the Obelisk is forever tied to that class in my mind.

As students you should now a little something about the campus you stroll each day. You are here to learn, not only about yourself but also about the world around you. In the famous words of Day-Day, in the movie Friday, “expand your horizons.”


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Nov 30 2012


Published by under Comm 300

For my second text review I chose Hiroshima by John Hersey. The story is a series of recollection from six prominent characters that survived the bombing at Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. Each one details the horror and havoc that ensued just prior to and following the devastating ushering in of the atomic era. Questions about faith, rumors about radiation sickness and its effects on “atomic-bomb people,” their unprecedented diseases, and getting back to normal are all addressed. The horrors of the moment, death all around, and the subsequent loss of normality all leap from the pages of this piece.

Author John Hersey offers a vivid and intriguing tale about Hiroshima. His firsthand knowledge (as a war correspondent for magazines such as Time and Life) as well as his relationship to Asian culture – born in Tientsin, China – makes him a reliable and trustworthy source for readers.  Hersey was one of the first western journalists to cover Hiroshima after the atomic bomb explosion due to a commission by the famed New Yorker. His decision to detail the experiences of six survivors: two doctors, a minister, the widow, a priest, and young female factory worker lend serious credibility to this work.

The purpose of this novel, in my opinion, is to show Hiroshima from the inside. As students we are taught why America dropped the atomic bomb. Our history books illustrate the cause not the effect. Japan was the enemy. The atomic bomb was our only solution. There is no remorse, no pain, nor death in our version. As we examine history, there are no victims after the atomic bomb. The war is ended and we as Americans are victorious and free from guilt. By showing the lives that were affected and the devastation caused by this decision, Hersey honors those forgot in Western history books.

As mentioned prior, the book details the lives of six survivors. It follows them from the moments just before the chaos and trails them as they cope with survival. Though the book isn’t written as many typical interview style pieces are. The author captures the emotion and psyche of each individual. Hersey in my mind is emotionally involved. He builds a relationship with each character and attempts to convey their feelings to the audience.

First and foremost l don’t read for leisure. Like many, I feel my time is better spent elsewhere. However, Hiroshima is a quick read that could be tackled in one sitting. With only 116 pages cover to cover, the book jumps right in and avoids the typical lengthy introduction and character background information. By choosing this method, the bombing takes center stage rather than the characters. This helps readers go in-depth without having to swim through useless fluff and undesired nonsense. The book is real and compelling. If you have a few hours to kill, or have ever thought about the other side of the coin so to speak, Hiroshima is a great way to do it.

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Nov 29 2012

Slice of Life

Published by under Comm 300

It’s Friday night and you’re four hours away. It isn’t the distance that matters, you’re right here in town. The sun just set over Sioux City’s historic Fourth Street, so the bar-lights at Buffalo Alice and Chesterfield’s have just started buzzing. It won’t be until around nine they’ll be completely drunk. It’s everything you’ve always wanted, but like an idiot you’re scared not really knowing what to do. Doc’s taught you everything you need to know already, several times over. It’s up to you. You feel that one last big breath, turn on the microphone and begin to feel the glow.

It’s four hours until the highlight of the night begins, but it’s also your DJ shift on Fusion 93. Reminiscent of the famous Last Dragon ending, you feel like Leroy Green himself.  The drowning hands of the evil Sho’nuff, the Shogun of Harlem, lift your head. He arrogantly asks you one last time, “WHO’S THE ONE AND ONLY MASTER?” Then in your best robotic Taimak voice calmly reply, “I AM.”

First airing in April of 1978 KMSC was a revival of Morningside’s student broadcast station that aired between 1923-1928. Currently Dr. Mark Heistad is the executive producer, as well as, the faculty advisor for the student run station. According to Morningside’s Mass Comm website KMSC was, “built and maintained by a Morningside physics student who went on to found the first commercial station in Sioux City.”

With listener emails coming in from as far away as Germany, the station has certainly come along way from its so-called “bailing wire and bubble gum” roots. Several former and current students enjoy sharing their tales of stepping into the dreaded booth for the first time:

Former station manager and on-air personality Ryan Tellinghuisen recalls, “I did a love/relationship show called the Love Glove. Listeners could submit questions for the show online and even find the show on Facebook and like it. I had a blast every time we went on.”

Current station manager Nick Brinks (who aired a Nascar segment each week) reminded potential listeners that, “ NASCAR may be over, but the show goes on! Back to classic rock and country.”

Likewise KCAU’s own Hollie Hojek, in an article she posted this past August, summed up KMSC’s importance. In it Hojek began, “The students…are about to get the opportunity of a lifetime.” Her article was in reference to student coverage of the President’s visit to Morningside’s campus.

Similarly former KMSC staff member Shelby Powell says, “KMSC was a valuable experience because it taught me how to work under pressure and function in a team setting. I was able to work toward overcoming my fear of speaking publicly and become much more comfortable working with software and mass communication related technology”

Not all students enjoyed their KMSC experience however. Michelle Kuester recalls, “I worked summer staff once and I wanted to shoot myself everyday. You sit by yourself for two hours…It’s not a mystery why there’s no sharp objects in there like scissors.”

Kuester also noted that, “…half the time the equipment doesn’t work. An on-air personality sounds like the most outgoing and friendly person, but it really is a lonely job,” when reminiscing about her time in the booth.

Regardless, every student involved with the radio station has benefited in some way or another. By offering “hands-on” experience, students are better equipped to handle the day-to-day operations of a radio station and gain valuable experience in the process. Moreover, since on-air personalities are only students, if they screw up they get a pass they wouldn’t otherwise receive in the real world.

As far as benefits go, working for the college station offers several. A recent USA Today article lists seven ways working for a college radio station can change your life. These included developing your verbal communication skills as well as teaching an appreciation for community issues. Thus, by covering everything from Mustang sports to Presidential elections KMSC is an experience for any student.

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Nov 21 2012


Published by under Comm 300

Denison is like every other small town in Iowa. The difference is that author Dale Maharidge spent a year there and wrote their story. The plot of this story is to peek into the lives of some of Denison’s most noticeable people.

There is the night man, who tootles along in his wheelchair. The old man still remains one of the few blacks in the community and recalls times prior to the Hispanic influx.  More notably, the story follows Mayor Ken Livingston and Dick Knowles, his adversary. Their battles over Streetscape funds and the future of Uptown are insightful.

Meanwhile There is La Maestra, Georgia Hollrah and her ESL class. There is Crawford County Sheriff Tom Hogan and his recollection of the eleven rail-car bodies found years ago. The arrival of the Hispanic community, the pros and cons of Wal-Mart, and the key figure meetings at Cronk’s café  are all here. It is the dream of the golf course and the nightmare of businesses lost. Yet more interesting then the aforementioned, it is Denison’s underground story.

It is the notorious Al Capone and prohibition. It is the ghost of Leslie Shaw and his dealings with Teddy Roosevelt and William Bryan. There is the maximum $100 fine for being naked as Maharidge recalls the story of two workers who knock at the door of one prominent local man. As his wife answered the door the conversation begins on page 137:

“Uh, Mrs.______, you don’t have any clothes on! “

It’s okay. C’mon in.”

This is the small town story of Denison, Iowa. Author Dale Maharidge comes to understand that Iowa towns have a peeking order, “It was a ‘clean’ town, and residents didn’t mind telling visitors they were better than Denison, a ‘dirty’ town where animals were killed and Latinos lived…” (P.100) Shopping in Omaha, Farmland, The Des Moines Register bias, and Book Em’ Danos all have a contribution to Denison’s future and its community standing.

The book is divided into self-explanatory chapters. Obviously Uptown is about Uptown Denison. La Maestra tells of the teacher is anther example. For this book, I find it works nicely and presents the reader an impartial look at the town.

“It’s a small town. People aren’t friendly?”According to the night man, “ A lot less friendly than you would think.”(P.134)

Meanwhile the “… Latinos saw as a golden chance at a new beginning.” (P.88)

As far as emotional involvement from Maharidge, there is none. The West Coast girl is a Latina high school student from Pomona who shares her thoughts on the areas white and Latino crowds. Even as the lonely widow attempts to seduce ‘the writer’ he slips away with only her story. No kiss and tell here.

All in all, Denison, Iowa by Dale Maharidge is an easy read with some fun tidbits about the town. I found Donna Reed’s classmates thoughts about the late star intriguing. If you ever get a chance drive through the old Wal-Mart parking lot (across from the new Wal-Mart Supercenter) and ask a resident if it was worth it. I’m sure you’ll get some sort of answer.  If you’re from small town Iowa, where’s your town in the pecking order?

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Nov 16 2012

Deep Pockets

Published by under Comm 300

With only one month left in this semester I finally got paid. For those who don’t understand I am a veteran and receive benefits from the Post 9/11 GI Bill towards college.  One of the perks of this is trying to balance my student life and my real life. The latter of the two includes bills. Sure everyone loves green bills. If you can flow them from your wallet like water while spending that’s a plus. Unfortunately for me, this isn’t a problem. Yet, I finally got paid three months into the semester.

A friend stopped today after his girlfriend dumped him. They had been dating almost a year. She called him over to clean out her gutters then dumped him afterwards. Don’t feel bad, he’s a Boston Mass-hole as he calls it and chances are he probably deserved it. The point of the story is in his drunken stupor he claimed, “I don’t care, I got a truck, a motorcycle, house, and a car.” Sounds like a nice problem to have. Instead, I have bills. 

The highlight of my day was paying the water bill. The only good thing is that my significant other manages the money. She’s good at it. Our fridge is stocked. That can’t be cheap. Gas to and from Morningside cost well over $100 a week. Thank God I only come three times a week.

I did laundry tonight. During that time I noticed we’re running low on detergent. Guess I’ll add that to the list. We should have just picked it up with the toilet paper yesterday.  Winter is also coming soon. In Holstein the city mandates that we keep the sidewalks free and clear of snow all season. Should I buy a snow blower? I live on a corner, and that’s going to suck. But I do own two shovels. Here’s hoping for another light winter.

Don’t get me wrong it is easy to live in Iowa financially. Let’s face it though, nobody likes bills, myself included. We have electric bills, Netflix, and the heating bill. With that in mind, perhaps moving into a three-story home with a basement wasn’t such a good idea after all.  At least it’s not California prices. There’s the Dish Network bill bundled in with our Wi-Fi and unlimited long distance landline. Cell phone bills, printer ink and miscellaneous knick-knacks every now and then add up. Who could forget car insurance, gold for X-box live, and dog food?

 A rock hit my windshield today. One thing every Iowan experiences is a rock to the windshield. The highways are full of tractors and whatever other clever names they have for their tractors. I ‘ve learned what a Combine is over the years. Another version mirrors an erector set on stilts. A lowered sports car could drive under it, though it’s something I can’t condone. Today however, it was the John Deere bumblebee that got me.  Another $200 down the drain. I’d pay good money for any shop that gives the tenth one free.

Let’s hope my safe driving holds up. Nothing like looking up and seeing a camera mounted everywhere in Sioux City.  One Siouxland resident accidently paid his late. With frustration and anger he moaned, “That costs an extra $35….*&!@.. A$$*#!+.” I wonder if Sioux City residents will ever stand up to that? With only 285 violent crimes annually, the latest crime statistics are impressive compared with the rest of the nation. Last year author Laura Byrne found that, “Approximately 23 of every 1,000 Americans were victims of violent crime in 2011, compared to 19 in 2010. Overall, nearly 6 million Americans were victimized last year.”

In the 2011 Annual Report, Police Chief Douglas Young says, “The City of Sioux City can continue to be proud of the fact that again, the crime rate is well below the national average.”  I’ll try not to smile for the cameras.

Bills. Bills. Bills. I’m quite sure I could list off a few more, but let’s not try to dig to deeply shall we. Vehicle registrations and property taxes are for another day. Don’t forget to thank whoever bought your turkey this Thanksgiving too. Me, I’ll bring the cranberry sauce.

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Nov 13 2012

Sweet Dreams

Published by under Comm 300

Why is it that your bed never seems more comfortable then when you have to leave it? By far one of the most annoying and disheartening sounds in the world is the constant “beep” of an alarm clock. My pillow is at times my best friend. It is a sight for sore eyes after a long hard day.  Everyone loves sleeping in. That is unless you’re a meth junkie who enjoys watching the Sun rise and fall as your life goes down the drain. Yet I expect for most of us, this isn’t a problem. Thus the sight of a pillow is often accompanied by a sigh of relief.

Thanksgiving break will soon be upon us. Thank God. It’s a chance for students to reconnect with friends and family members they’ve left behind. Moreover it’s a chance to catch up and reacquaint oneself with their beloved pillow and cozy bed. Although I’ve never had the pleasure of sleeping on a dorm bed at Morningside, so perhaps I’m speaking out of turn.

Whether you sleep in full pajama suits, boxers-briefs and a tee, or fly commando style under the sheets, nothing feels as good as a soft pillow and a warm bed. Why professors feel the need to schedule required classes at 8am, I’ll never know. I’d like to think they’d miss their pillows too. However, for some making lives miserable is their M.O. so maybe not.

Though it may sound strange too, I sometimes set my alarm on a free day just so I can turn it off. Why? I have no idea. I suppose it’s an attempt to sense that comfy feeling I usually lose. That state of nirvana I feel just prior to sitting up and setting my feet on the cold hardwood floor.

Author Michael Breus claims that, “…sleep deprivation, for whatever reason, significantly affects your health, performance, safety, and pocketbook.”

I doubt you could argue with that. Likewise a Journal of American College Health study showed, “that students’ poor sleep quality is linked to increased tension, irritability, depression, confusion, and generally lower life satisfaction.”

So there you have it. Get some sleep and all your problems will be solved. Though the aforementioned statement may not exactly be true, it sure sounds like a good solution.

The question asked for this assignment was, “What makes you happy?”

I don’t know. Maybe I’d better sleep on it.

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Nov 09 2012

Forever Young

Published by under Comm 300

There were times when your parents through parties and you couldn’t come. At certain times you could stay, but not to late, it’d be bedtime for you soon. The phrase “adult time” caught on and you knew your fate was sealed. But what if you had no parental supervision and it seemed no one cared. What is you were being picked on and teased about being fat? Were you?

Chris Payne recalls his high school years saying, “People made fun of me because of my teeth.  I beat a lot of people up when I was mad.”

Even today as he smiles the first thing you notice is the absence of his front two. He was overweight as a child but didn’t get bullied. They knew better. Unfortunately for other kids, they’re not a bulky and strong as Chris was. One only has to view a scene from Dennis the Menace to realize all children are not created equal.

“If I only knew back then, what I know now. “ Admittedly everyone has said this at least once in his or her life. But what if you were only twelve. What if life, as you now know it, hadn’t even begun yet?

Everyone has wished to go back and do it differently at some point in time. Would you have gotten better grades? Perhaps, been nicer to certain people. More importantly would you still get picked on, laughed at and bullied? One day Lakota Pickels will perhaps look back and wish he had done it differently. Fortunately that day isn’t coming anytime soon.

I first met Lakota at a Halloween party this year in Holstein. He caught my eye, not because of his stature (at 5’4 – 149lbs. he’s about average for his age) but rather because I had never seen a twelve year-old chase mandarin Jell-O shots with a Budweiser before. He was big for his age, so I’m not sure if the alcohol had hit him yet. Then again, he said it wasn’t his first time and that him and his friends had snuck his dad’s beer before. Not being from Iowa and recalling other Iowans’ story, he seemed a bit young even for this area, but I had seen and heard worse before. The sight of a two-year old black child passed out after a huge bong hit still angers me.

So being older, and hopefully wiser, I wanted to intervene and offer guidance. His apparent self-destructive behavior was alarming to me, though no one else (including his parents) seemed to mind. Though in all fairness, I don’t think anyone was wise to his sneaky tactics of intoxication. Rather they thought he was just having a good time being silly.

We departed to an upstairs balcony to get acquainted.  Jeff, another party-goer, followed us upstairs. He needed to tell his Budweiser label story again. It was good the first time, but he was drunk now so we sent him back down for more beer. He returned shortly and the three of us starting discussing the pros and cons of beer. The conversation quickly changed to Lakota and he listened as Jeff (a fellow Iowan) compared his story of drinking at such a young age. By now, I was freezing. I didn’t start drinking till after high school so I headed inside. More importantly Lakota and I agreed to speak again for the purpose of this assignment.  Below is a brief transcript of that Q&A session:

KG:  So let’s get the easy ones out of the way. Where are you from? What do you like to do? Favorite color maybe?

L:  Jefferson, IA and I like video games – DUH! Football’s okay, I’m fat though so I always have to play lineman. Hot pink’s my favorite color.

KG: You like Holstein? Wait – hot pink?!

L: No. All my friends are in Ida Grove now. We move a lot and yeah hot pink. It calms me.

KG: Calms you?

L: Yeah. I have ADHD. I take Adderall and Clonidine to sleep at night for bed.  

KG: What makes you think you’re fat? You seem pretty average to me?

L:  Because I love cheeseballs and ranch. They’re my favorite. Plus kids always make fun of my boobs. I’ve been made fun of my whole life. I have a learning disability and I’m fat, but everyone says I just don’t try hard enough.

KG: What kind of grades do you get?

L:  A’s & B’s. I want to be a heart surgeon when I grow up so I can make enough money to take care of my parents. We don’t have TV. I haven’t watched anything in a year. I’d like to buy them cable – no wait Dish network so my dad can watch Nascar. He loves it.

Plus I flipped a golf cart last summer and got blacked out. When I got to the hospital I liked the doctor. He said heart surgeons make a lot of money!

KG: Heart surgeon eh? Sounds cool. What about your little sister? Aren’t you going to share any of that wealth with her?

L: No. I’ll give her a $50 loan though.

KG: Let’s get back to the kids making fun of you. You’re a big guy. Bigger than most seventh graders why don’t you just beat them up?  

L: I don’t like to fight and I don’t want to get into trouble.

KG: Won’t any of the older kids stick up for you?

L: The only older kids I know are the ones who pick on me. I’ve learned not to cry though because my face gets all red and they call me “little red.” Plus my dad will laugh at me.

KG: That sucks. Trust me though it does get better.

L: I sure hope so.


We talked for a while longer. Afterwards I beat him down in Mortal Kombat five times and he left with a smile. While reading this keep in mind how you felt about life at his age. What advice would you offer Lakota, if any at all?

He is the product of a low-income family and often wears the same clothes out of necessity not desire. His parents encourage him to hang out at my house as often as he can. Lakota says, “They think you guys are a good influence on me.”

His parents are nice people. They try to be polite as best they can. Traci got paid in pizza once to watch Lakota and his sister. The mother works at Pizza Hut. I’m not sure if the father works when he can or when he wants to. He spends a lot of time on his racecar in the garage and the landlord says they’re behind in rent. Who knows where the parents had gone all day and night. I felt sorry Traci. She’s motherly and cares for her kids so many of the neighborhood kids seem to latch on to her quickly. The parents had left the back door open for Lakota and his sister all day. Traci even recalled the girl saying, “I’m hungry for Mac & Cheese” after devouring six Kool-Aids, chips and a meal. She had seen Traci’s stash and enjoyed her home cooking and wanted more. I don’t have children or a problem saying no or goodbye. So I’m fairly certain they knew not to be there when I got home. The empty Mac & Cheese pan was still drying in the sink rack.

“Don’t give him a drink,” is all she would comment at the party. He’s not my child and it wasn’t a special moment between a father and son so he was on his own.

Nowadays, he goes to the resource room everyday for help with his schoolwork and his parents obviously have no desire to improve their situation anytime soon. Would you have picked on him too? Keep in mind a few days ago he and two buddies popped a classmates bike tires. They broke the chain and took it on several “ghost rides.” His parents saw him do it and grounded him for two-weeks. A few hours later he was at my back door just saying “hi.” Wonder if Lakota’s parents will pay some of the damage?


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Nov 06 2012

My Fellow Americans…

Published by under Comm 300

It’s Tuesday, November 6, 2012. I’m sprawled out across the couch in our upstairs study, pondering for a moment about what I’ll write about this time. Downstairs I hear the faint sound of another Little House on the Prairie rerun. God I hate that show. Why my girlfriend watches it religiously, I’ll never know.

My feet are resting comfortably under a homemade BEARS blanket, so all’s well relatively speaking. The topic of conversation for this piece is Election Day and what it means to me.  So in the true spirit of democracy I’ll stand on these three platforms and simply rant.

First and foremost, today means that finally I can take down the Romney and King signs that litter my front lawn. I don’t support either candidate and truly believe we live in a Plutocracy. I don’t care who wins or loses today. My soon to be father-in-law is a baby boomer however, the last generation of Americans to associate themselves by party affiliations.

He’s a staunch Republican who blames Obama for everything and fills every conversation with politics and Democrat failures. He doesn’t care to realize that times have changed. People no longer see themselves as Democrats or Republicans. The latest Gallup poll shows that 38% of Americans claim to be Independents.  Yet every Tuesday for the past three months he and his cronies congregate downstairs at the Family Table to talk politics.

A few weeks ago I was building a dog run and was glad to have his help. Unfortunately, while working, he noticed the Obama/Vilsack signs across the street and knew what he had to do.

“Figures they’d support Crispy Ball-Sac!” (I guess he knows my neighbors.)

Yet it’s Election Day. So joyfully I’ll wander out to the corner and take down his signs without any rebuking.

Speaking of Congressmen, hopefully after Election Day Steve King can respond to my emails and calls about why the VA has dropped the ball this semester.  I understand that he’s busy running a campaign, but hopefully tomorrow he or a staff member can reply. The “Post 9/11 GI Bill” Facebook page has several comments from other veterans whose state officials helped rectify their situations. Some in Congress are even demanding investigations. So who knows maybe I’ll hear something tomorrow.


Finally, Election Day to me means being able to use social media again without reading about politics and proclamations about what it is to be American. I don’t want to vote and never have. Feel free to judge, but there are no Reagan’s or Roosevelt’s running. My generation’s choices include names like Bush, Gore, and McCain.

So all in all what exactly does Election Day mean to me? That thankfully in a few hours, it’s over.

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Oct 31 2012

I’m up. He see me. I’m down!

Published by under Comm 300

It was another boring evening in Diwaniyah. It was to dark to play chess and the porn computer was only at its third destination of the night.  Chances were by the time it reached my tent the battery would be dead. Chubby was on fire-watch. Not that I cared. I was tired of her anyway, though I’m sure any of the guys would have gladly traded the computer for her.

Most of them were watching a bootleg DVD someone had bought at the Bazaar. It was the newest Hulk. Supposedly it hadn’t even hit theaters in the U.S. yet. So even though the quality sucked, it was still better than watching Drumline over again.

What only seemed like seconds passed, after I sat down, before a familiar and scary sound whizzed overhead. At first I couldn’t believe.  The war had been over for weeks. But then I remembered that Uday and Qusay had only been dead a few hours. So the town folk were angry and I’m sure the raids of that day hadn’t help matters. Like everyone else, I turned to see where it came from. Horror set in when I looked behind and saw dozens of tracers streaking through the night air.

“Everybody up!” “Flacks and Kevlar’s on!” is all I remember yelling.

As the bullets poured in, I watched as everyone frantically suited up and scrambled for their gear. It was at that very moment too I realized – I had fucked up.

A week prior, one of my Marines had lost his helmet and I had given him one of theirs. My unit was still stationed in Babylon. Yet I had been attached to Task Force Scorpion and moved with a smaller squad to Diwaniyah.  The perks of which included a Pajero and free access to the highways as needed. I didn’t know the Marines at Diwaniyah. They weren’t my friends. Let their NCO’s deal with some boot that lost his helmet. They were careless and sloppy and one of my guys needed it.

But at that very moment, their young, sloppy PFC was standing there in front of me – without his helmet. He was scared shitless and with good reason. I couldn’t let him die it would be on my conscious.

“FUCK!!!” was my only thought.  As I handed him mine.

He looked silly with his little head flopping around inside it, but I didn’t have time to giggle. I gathered everyone in the immediate area into an open-ended container. They were Supply Marines, which meant that even though they were active duty they had no idea about fire-teams or how to use them. Luckily I had a few of my guys with me. I quickly grouped them into squads with one of my own as their leader and sent them into position.

I led my team out last trying to save every precious second of my life that I could.  I felt like a 14-point buck running through the cornfields during hunting season. I was a running bulls-eye that could be killed with one good shot and it was my fault.

My real unit was safe back in Babylon. It was an allied base now for crying out loud. I could have taken that helmet just before leaving, but I didn’t because I didn’t want “Fish” to get in trouble. How the Iraqis had gotten tracer rounds to gauge their targets, I have no idea. The best part was they were mostly pink ones. Great – killed in action by a pink tracer round. Karma’s a bitch.

The roar of the LAV’s coming to life was a comforting sound. Unfortunately, the whizzing hum and burning flash of the tracers, each getting closer and closer wasn’t. I positioned my team and hit the ground. It seemed like a lifetime until the fireworks ceased and the night air returned to darkness. Thank god the Iraqis never learned to shoot straight. I’m not a badass. I’m just lucky.

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Oct 10 2012

Overindulgence 101

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What happens when you mix two teaspoons of freedom, an ounce of desire to standout, and a pound of invincibility? Unfortunately, more often than not you get a college student in the hospital.  Whether binge drinking, attempting an ill-advised prank, or one of the dozens of other foolish things done by students, the common denominator is self-destruction.

Claire DeRoin first met “Soccer Mom” at a party. Mom was on the floor passed out and had no comment after. Dan Corey is leaving KTIV for greener pastures hopefully. Not wanting to start off on the wrong foot, Corey also declined to share the details of a binge.

Everyone does it. Search any social media site and browse the albums of a friend. There are Youtube videos galore on binges and those who go overboard. Tune into any media today and you’ll see the stereotype of what a college student is supposed to do. Here’s one from Youtube:

College is the place where everyone is figuring himself or herself out.  Some do it in different ways, and sometimes those ways are self-destructive.  Blogger Tomochka asked a classmate about her recently acquired smoking habit to which she replied, “Oh, I do not know. Just wanted to see how it is, to smoke.”

Going to college can be a stressful time so it’s hardly surprising that many students fall victim to self-destructive behavior. Chances are that you or your dorm mates know someone who has engaged in some sort of negative behavior, especially after midterms or finals where stress levels are at their peaks.

Dr. James Golden, addiction medicine physician at the Betty Ford Center says, “The young adult brain continues to develop until approximately age 25. Younger adults have a need to engage in activities with a perceived risk, yet they simultaneously have a decreased ability to control impulses when compared to adults over 25.”

Yet while it can be said, “kids will be kids” when does the fault of poor behavior choices fall into their laps? According to the federal Centers for Disease Control in 2010, “one in four young adults binge drink, i.e., drink four or more alcoholic beverages in the span of a few hours.”

Author Lynn O’shaughnessy lists two trends she believes contribute to self-destructive behavior among students: “First students go off to college having had unprecedented luxuries growing up…Transitioning to a largely unsupervised residence hall just kick starts their desire to live a life like they have seen on MTV and in the popular media.”

The second reason she believes is, “Colleges, in their quest to recruit students, provide accommodations and amenities that are more like cruise ships.”

Like it or not, college-admission officials are fighting back. According to New York City based Kaplan Test Prep the number of colleges using Facebook and other social-networking sites (to learn about applicants) has quadrupled over the past year. In the 2011 survey twelve percent of admissions officers reported discovering underage-drinking photos, vulgarities, and “illegal activities.”

Though not listed in the aforementioned report, the latest craze among students according to Dennis Romero is “butt chugging.”

Romero says, “It hit the headlines late last month after University of Tennessee frat boy Alexander Broughton was hospitalized following and alleged backdoor drinking sesh.”

Tune into any media outlet and you’ll see the stereotype of what a college student is supposed to do. Below is a brief sampling. Remind you of anyone you know?


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