Telecom John

Without fail, even if your standing on our deck, waving your hand in the air, standing on a box, wearing an tin foil hat, if you’re using your cell phone, your call will be dropped.  It is one of the most frustrating parts of my day.  As I look at one of the country’s largest cities I can’t call Kira to say hello.  And this isn’t a passing thing.  This isn’t a bad day, or a fight with a neighbor that passes as the seasons do and soon I forget and move on.  It’s every time I make a phone call, or find a voice mail waiting for me with no indication of a call.  I’m enraged.

So I get online to think about how I can figure this out.  I look at AT&T’s website and it just ends in terror.  Below is their coverage map.  It’s wrong.  I’m confused.

But then I look closer and I find it is indeed NOT wrong.  My  mistake.  They’ve created a map, of the United States, colored with blue and orange and with roads and cities and you can even find your own street if you wanted to.  And it might be covered in a color.  There is even a key at the bottom, telling you what colors mean.  And then there’s a small ‘learn more’ link that really should be clicked on.

And so as of today I’m selling cell service to anyone who would like it for just $1 a month.  I offer the best coverage and speeds in the nation, better than anyone else AND I’ll even offer an unlimited package for just $2 a month.  See MY map for coverage. Welcome to the new Telecom-John!

Sepsis

As I travel, it’s often difficult to open a computer to write, and a
writing in a journal seems to trap stories into a non-digital form and
personalize them so to make sharing them a bit more awkward than
desired, so often I compose on my phone. With a Qwerty keyboard and
email feasibility, most often it proves to be quite efficient.
However, due to aspects of my life which don’t get the kind of
meditation and karma they perhaps should, every so often an email
leaves my phone and never reaches home, lost forever in the digital
post office. Perhaps someday I’ll get all the letters I’ve lost.
Most recently the ether stole from me a four page composition slated
for this space, much of which I’ve tried to recreate. Yet, as we are
all aware, such thoughts, sentence structures, and word choices cannot
be replicated and for this I feel as if someone has stole my journal,
stripped from me my story only to discard it themselves. So, I warn
you reader, be careful of how you write, books can be swiped but data
can be lost. Back up your precious words, secure you thoughts, be
weary of the treachery within the vacuum. But loss is never total, so
in that respect, here’s my second go at it.

——-

Sepsis:

Trash blew all over the street, all over the streets. It made it
difficult to distinguish between each block. Typically a tall tree,
brightly colored house, or shop front could be used in a neighborhood
as a navigational landmark. Yet here the red-grey of the buildings
served as a camouflage, limiting the landscape to psudo-duo-tone,
black from solidified sludge, liquid garbage, and grey from the fresh
layer of newspaper, food-wrapper, and dull sky. In that respect, I
knew where not to step as I got off the subway. The next morning, the
sky was big and blue, the streets were still full of garbage, but at
least you could feel good about it as the sun licked over the sooty
rooftops.
Philadelphia held for me the perspective of Chicago, New York, and
Washington D.C. suburbs were suppose to, as far as I thought I was
suppose to know. Perhaps it was because my home-stay was living in a
harder neighborhood that the individuals I’d stayed with in the other
cities, or perhaps it really was the amalgamation of evils. Who
knows, though I imagine it to be the former.
The following morning was my first day of school, and as it turns out
my last day because I was just visiting and would be leaving soon
after, but we’ll over look that fact and imagine that my impression’s
roots reach deeper. The school was a five story monument. A massive
cube, clearly built in the early 1900’s. While in good shape, the
exterior said something regarding the upkeep of the interior. In
general most schools have similar physical ailments serving as an
ineffectual teaching tool and not a detrimental one. Our room, a
center of math, was kindly decorated with posters of mathematical
titles such as “Math of Africa,” “World Figures,” and “Math.” The
last one my personal favorite, a simplistic tribute to math, probably
a vain attempt to convince some of the students that the concept
actually exists and isn’t just another government conspiracy. Along
the front wall were several white boards as well as one along the side
wall. The other side wall held a cork board, which in turn held some
of the posters. The back wall secured eight neatly spaced windows,
each covered with a roller-paper window shade, fragile and antique,
but effective and in good shape. The window shades seemed to serve as
a regal connection to the past, to an era of astuteness and academic
vigor. Fortunately I spent a great deal time enjoying the windows and
their dressings because the wall they stood in was the anthesis of
their civility. Peeling paint was the crown moulding as cracked and
shattered plaster the base board. A large waste pipe moved vertically
from floor to ceiling and was covered in a rat nest of insulation in
turn covered with graffiti and gum. A industrial steel flange
connected it to the floor and a large ragged gap allowed it to exit
upward into oblivion. Ceiling tiles surrounding it where various
shades of yellow. The desks, independent of their chairs, where in
reasonable shape and, due to strict enforcement, where in neat two by
two blocks about the room. Portions of the room, if focused on, could
reminded anyone of a modern university classroom, with order,
cleanliness, modernity, efficiency. While other portions could be
representative of a condemned factory. No light without darkness,
right?

These aren’t the real problems of social education, however. As with
all things it wasn’t until I began to listen and talk with students
that the issues began to show themselves. In these classes the
students were, in general, participatory. They understood authority,
acknowledge work, and made decisions to avoid it the best they could –
it’s high school. Each had their own personal life which contributed
significantly to their excuses and were no different from the affluent
excuses of college students.

The potency of the problem struck me while talking with some of the
instructors while at school, became quite evident while sitting down
for a beer with a couple teachers later that day, and culminated with
a short talk with one of the students while at a subway stop. In each
case it was evident that failures occurred within the system. Blame
couldn’t be attributed to family life, or street problems. Teachers
simply did not exist, those that existed did not teach, and those who
taught were pressured by administration to curb their enthusiasm.
Students were eager to share. They were enthusiastic, as any 16 year
old is, to discuss the important things in life, to fall in love, to
hate authority, to sleep forever. The sad sickening failure is when
the school doesn’t have a spanish teacher or three math teachers. The
failure is students who get credit for taking a spanish class in which
a monitor, most likely an underworked administrator, takes roll and
then for the remainder of the hour has students go to sleep or listen
to music to pass the time. The failure is the social indoctrination
that educators are only those who have a formal declaration of study
with honors from some self justified institution of corporatocracy.
The failure is placement organizations serving as the last line of
educational defense rejecting enthusiastic applicants in order to
maintain a sense of privilege for those involved; yes you,
TeachForAmeria, you corporate whore of social sickness. Why is this
problem systemic? Where is the root? Is it a conspiracy to fill deep
pockets of private school deans and provide a sense of social control
for donors and board members? That seems a bit to much crazy for my
coffee, but clearly there is a disconnect of social responsibility.
Even within a successful classroom that battle for social inequity
begins with the encouragement of successful students to change schools
instead of asking students to stay local and provide peer
encouragement and support to make up for the failure of the
instructors. ….And so, for now, I will leave it for a bit… but be
weary of my wrath, oh ye who fail me and mine.

Locallity & Feedback Loops

It’s been important to me for many years to explore your world as you
live in it. However, recently I listened to a lecture where the
individual professed that the solution only comes when a society
understands the problems via a feedback loop and the great American
downfall is the absence of feedback loops within our society,
automatically removed for our comfort and efficiency… which is
nice. However, he spoke, we are now at a point where our comfort and
efficiencies in society have lead to the efficient destruction of the
true environment and still we can’t create a solution because still we
have no clue what the problem is. We need some feedback.

While it will take quite some time for society (me) to create a
society (me at home) which responds in a significantly more sensitive
manner (me less comfortable). So I have, intentionally and
inadvertently created my own exportation and temporary interaction of
the societal feedback loop. In this respect I created a short list in
my head which I, for my own records and fear of my waning memory, will
write here in no particular order and various value.

Local public school (1-12)
Local garbage dump & recycling center
Sewage treatment plant
Rehabilitation center & halfway house
Soup kitchen
Affluent and poor neighborhoods
Place of higher education
Central transportation hub (train or bus)
Police station
Farmer’s Market
Empty feral lot

perhaps someday I will add more to this. – enjoy

Where’s your Education?

In front of you. Over your head. At your feet. The tips of your fingers, the buzz in your ears, the fatigue in your muscles, the images behind your eyelids after you pass into your deepest sleep. Your education is intimate, while it is socially ignited and brought to light via personal interaction, it is nothing more than individual acceptance and application – pure unencumbered selfishness.

“LET ME SEE!” we scream when we’re 7. “What happened?” we ask when we’re 15. “I stopped listening,” when we’re 22. Why? Why are we stifled when we’re young, told that it’s inappropriate to want to participate when it’s not “our turn” to learn. Making a second attempt in life, later we begin to “break out of our shell” and start our social education, but again crushed by the unimaginable weight of social denial, the first harsh reflection of our own self preserving attitude back toward us, halting our lust to learn. So then we come to the age of apathy and consequential ineptitude, save actions of apathy and positions of ineptitude. We begin to acknowledge our indifference to understanding our world, we fall into a world of mime, continually acting out our world behind a glass wall, protected from change, weather, God… safe not asking questions, safe from thinking, safe from listening to our world about and around us. And those of us who are perpetually on the fence of academia learn to fall into the safe arms of cynicism. We create our own world of indifference, except it’s atmosphere is filled with available knowledge, it’s inhabitants are lustful individuals who seek the meekest form of knowledge, but always they look over their shoulder and deep into the fruit, fearful of rot. I’ve ended up in a world where I can’t accept any formal education as it seems tainted. The reality of cheaters, lairs, finaglers, and free-loaders has long since past through my understanding and is now the model by which my world is magnified. For that I despair. For that I strive to re-evaluate my understanding of Education. For that I close my eyes, turn my palms up, and eat anything you put into my hands.

There is a manner in which our education can be a gift to society, a means to better the world in which we live, still striking out to benefit from our actions and decision. So then what is it we give? How can selfishness be a means by which society benefits? I don’t know. Is it a form of encouragement? Goal setting? Pride and arrogance? Preying upon our human desire to be competitively superior individuals. So then we only thrive because we are inherently social, however we drive ourselves into social demise because we are inherently selfish. Damn – so where does that put us?**

**Free-form, unedited, ineloquent, … just thoughts all at once, provoked by conversations from the weekend.

—otherwise— Writing to avoid writing. – interesting. The allure of the ocean, passion, friends? Growing up as the ideal causes loss? – essay on reasons for avoidance – She, her, how? – blatant subject change to resume avoidance. – Lost. Again. Really?

Consume Beer, That’s What I Do… But How Much?


Beer, Consumption, and Me.

After a wonderful Monday evening of eating Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies, Swiss Rolls, and Nabisco Golden Oreos and a watching three full movies, essentially doing nothing more than sitting in a chair for 5 hours eating garbage, I decided to evaluate consumption and my participation in the great American tradition.

So I’m sitting and I’ve written a very brief list of things I consume on a regular basis, then I asked myself some simple questions and tried to produce some equally simple answers. All this in an attempt to evaluate the how/why/etc. of my seemingly limited, but very real and exorbitant consumption.

The List:

Foods: Bread, Rice, Canned Food, Veggies, Fruits, Cheese, Soy Milk, Juice, …
Soaps: Cleaners, Toothpaste, detergents, …
Paper: Books, Notes, Art, Photos, Letters, Mailings, …
Bags: Grocer, Garbage (Plastic.Paper), …
Electricity:
Containers: Beer Bottles, Milk Cartons, Juice Bottles, Jelly/Dressing Containers, Steel Cans, …
Water: Drinking, Cleaning, Yard, Cooler, …
Wood: Building, Furnituer, Skateboards, …
Petrol: Gasoline, Motor Oil, …
Fabric: Clothes, Bags, Furniture, …
Metal: Pipes, Tools, Nails, Pots & Pans, This Pen, Electronics, …

This list is infinite. As you can see a list like this would be impossible to complete, however it’s a good start in thinking about consumption and the degree to which we consume and perhaps steering life into a spiral toward simplicity and Winnie the Pooh. Everything that I am surrounded by is being ‘consumed.’ The table I sit at uses and removed a resource from the earth, the pen in my hand, the coffee, the filter, the glass, the electricity, the tile, the ink on the cover of the metal spiral paper filled plastic wrapped notebook full of notes in graphite from my plastic mechanical pencil sold in a package of ink covered paper and plastic shrink wrap on a metal hanger attached to a plastic display set on top of carpeting glued to the concrete floor of the building built of bricks and mortar and metal from aluminum scaffolding transported by a Dodge truck on rubber tires fueled by diesel from a rubber hose out of a steel tank buried in the ground from where the coal and zinc and aluminum and iron and elements for our world came… if I sat long enough I could kill myself without even ending my sentence.
Further, by consuming any one resource I prevent someone else from consuming that particular unit and force them to search out and consume an alternative (whether identical or a substitute) increasing the overall level of consumption regionally, nationally, globally. Good, Bad, it just is… and that’s what I’m trying to explore. Further, I’d like to take the stance that there is such a thing as ‘over consumption.’ Consuming more than is necessary – not more than is needed, but necessary. In many cases I believe it is possible to maintain one’s ‘needs’ at a certain level while making efficient decisions on behavior which minimizes your consumption. Such decisions obviously incorporate the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) but also may include the application of basic economic ideas if R.R.R is just too liberal for you. So I posed these questions to the empty space approximately one half meeter above my head, right there in the vacancy and just far enough away so that if I turn and look up at it I can focus on the details.

I pose this method and these questions.

Identify. What do I consume (Macro: What did I buy today? Micro: What did I use today?)
Value. How much is what I consume worth?
Prioritize. What consumption is most important?
Budget. How much consumption can I afford?
Allocate. Where will I limit myself? Where do I delineate between superfluous and necessary?
Observe. In making changes, did I achieve the desired degree of consumption?

While this process may yield very simplistic results or a highly complex and never ending matrix of tables and understanding, I’ve got to offer a start, a beginning – with no beginning there can be no end – so let’s start thinking about consumption and then moving toward limiting it, or at least seeking insight, asking more questions, and exploring our current understanding, taking a second to look straight up and dissect that never ending sentence into bits. Into a size which is able to be consumed it’s self – for thoughts are infinitely renewable, individual, and valuable only when consumed.

Be provoked and explore life lived… Or… Drink More Beer, but bring your own mug next time.

A Letter to the Union…

If you’re buying a car, but don’t have the money, you don’t buy the car and get all the upgrades regardless. You look for a different way to meet your transportation needs, perhaps a vehicle with less frills, better gas mileage, or one you can afford. We are experiencing this car buying problem with the student union, the funds required to continue to operate are not available and changes must be made. There was a spring ballot item polling the student population regarding a campus wide student fee for the union, so that it could continue to offer services, and perhaps upgrade them. There was also a push to enroll on-campus students into a meal plan, this too was rebuffed. Clearly, the student population was not interested in paying more for services offered in the union. Why then do we have a fee? Further, why are we assessing that fee to non-voting, non-represented, and primarily non-entrepreneurial organizations?

Perhaps we should first talk about purpose. What is the purpose of this fee? Resolutely nebulous, the fee seems to be an attempt to undercut a democratic system, to secretively find an easy fix to a financial problem, to pass the problem on, essentially to fail but not until tomorrow. The answers that I’ve read to why these fees should be assessed range from a want to improve to a want to rectify a failed borrowing scheme. Perhaps we should simply aim to balance the budget. In any case, honest to corrupt, it is clear that there is a need to address The Union’s financial problems by reducing programs and services, assessing fees, or both. Unfortunately, I believe you need to do more than simply give it attention. We need to find a way in which you can provide services and programs for students while still maintaining your budget and if that is not feasible, you unfortunately need to reduce the number of services and programs you offer. With a substantial, sustainable, and highly visible reduction in services and programs, students would be more willing to move forward with a purposeful campus wide, above board, productive and necessary fee and secretive and manipulative fee structures could be avoided.

Understanding what a purposeful fee looks like, next we must engage ourselves to find the purpose of the student union. Easily enough, the student union has a mission statement. It reads:

“The Arizona Student Unions through its associated facilities, programs and services balances the diverse educational, recreational, cultural and social needs of the University of Arizona community and its visitors.…” (The remainder can be found in Appendix A)

This is both noble and necessary. However, I believe that our union is moving away from the balance it strives to achieve and is reaching past the needs of the University of Arizona community and into extravagance. Wonderfully, the union offers a highly comprehensive book store, a large variety of dinning, a bank, travel service, saloon, grocery, post office, music store, testing center, movie theatre, arcade, computer lab, studies, lounges, conference rooms and the grandiose ball room, student government offices, and of course the offices of the student union, CSIL and Career Services, and perhaps more. We boast one of the largest unions in the United States, we house the bell to the USS Arizona as well as a memorial room. There is wireless internet, though patchy, through out the entire union, and parts of The Union stay open through the early morning. The union is large, the union is impressive, but the union is indeed in a financially failing state and much of what the union offers, much of what is mentioned here, does little to balance needs, it merely provides a luxurious variety, a variety which is expendable compared to affordable education, according to the spring student vote, and expendable in comparison to balance according to the union’s mission statement.

Further, the union mimics services found in the campus and local community and thus such redundancies should be differed to alternatives elsewhere in the community until the union is financially sound. The Student Unions should not be looking for ways to fulfill their quest to become a sweeping goliath of services, widespread and ineffective, but rather take advice from a past UA president and “focus the excellence,” providing students a modest yet quality means to meet their needs, nothing more.

The Student Union’s purpose is to meet the needs of the community and visitors, a feat that I feel can be accomplished without a number of, apparently debilitating, redundant, and fiscally negligent, offered programs and services.

What then is the purpose of campus organizations?

Many campus organizations have mission statements, however they are diverse and vary in quality, but they tend to share a similar drive. Campus organizations, as I am aware, are a means for students, faculty, and staff to come together to enhance their academic experience. To learn from one another, to provide forums to discuss relevant topics, to create safe environments for peer education, to allow for social interaction within the academic setting, to give networking opportunities, and to practice skills that either meets us within our discipline or allow for exploration outside our disciplines.

Clubs have a number of purposes, and one almost globally inapplicable primary purpose would be that of fundraising. I know of no club on campus that was formed for the exclusive purpose of earning money. Further, clubs register with the IRS as Not For Profit Organizations, they make a federal claim that their purpose is to not raise capitol for the purpose of personal profit. Therefore I believe that to expect any organization to pay a fee, no matter how negligible, in order to receive recognition by the University in order to create an accessible, diverse, and prosperous campus community, a fee to be paid in order to allow access to campus resources, is wholly ignorant, ill-mannered, and irresponsible. Perhaps I should share some experiences so that you have an unambiguous image to reflect upon.

There are two very different and very unique clubs on campus, both of which, as far as I am aware, have no alternate. The Arizona Surfers and The Associated Student Enthusiasts of Wei Qi, the Game GO, and Connect Four. Despite the difficulty reading through names, the clubs purposes are all quite simple. The Arizona Surfers provides students the opportunity to come together and interact with other surfers and connects more than 250 individuals on campus with each other. The second provides students the opportunity to interact with individuals on campus to participate in the Chinese game Wei Qi, or GO, among other titles, and connects no more than 20 individuals. Despite differences in club purpose and size, these organizations are fundamentally the same in that neither organization would have ever sought association through the school had there been a barrier to recognition, a fee preventing access to university services, a fee preventing scholarship, philanthropy, culture, diversity, and interaction. Regardless of personal opinion as to the relevance of these clubs to the academic mission of the school, neither of these organizations raise profits, neither of these organizations have a large fundraising team, and neither organization is wondering what to do with their funds or their time – they have goals and objectives and, like all organizations on campus, their purpose is to utilize their resources to achieve those goals and objectives.

If we are to move forward in life, it’s important to weigh all things, to assess damage that we might provoke, and to think about opportunity cost. In this instance we need to acknowledge the level of operation the union needs to operate at, the degree of fiscal responsibility that needs to be utilized by policy makers, and the cost and benefit to campus organizations, and to student life in general, with the implementation and structuring of such an attempt to provide services. We need to ask the question, is this necessary? To contemplate a world with a little less in exchange for a little more, perhaps then we’d reach a reasonable pace of development and a more acceptable style of financial management. Most importantly we need to provide services that students want. If students are unwilling to pay for these services, departments are unwilling, and the state is unwilling – well, I guess we can’t get that brand new Porsche like you wanted, instead let’s look into buying a bike from Target and see where that gets us.

Finally, I like Mr. Adams statement found on the webpage:

“The entire Union staff is committed to offering all of our guests quality products, friendly service, and a comfortable environment. Your constructive comments and suggestions will receive our attention.”

I hope my comments receive more than attention, I hope they receive deep contemplation and the student union fee receive yet another thorough review. Thank you for your time – I believe we can resolve both the club fee issue and deeper rooted union fiscal management problem. Please continue to keep the campus community involved in your decisions and we’ll continue to do our best to support and respect the process.

Sincerely,

John Patrick Mizell


Appendix A: The Union Mission

The Arizona Student Unions through its associated facilities, programs and services balances the diverse educational, recreational, cultural and social needs of the University of Arizona community and its visitors. The Unions embody the University’s mission in six areas:

1. We nourish the mind, body and spirit of the University community by creating environments where people are supported through quality programs, dining, retail and support services.

2. We empower students to participate in self-directed activities and governance by providing employment and volunteer experiences with a progression of leadership and management opportunities.

3. We embrace the University community by creating programs and services that celebrate and respect individual differences.

4. We promote interaction among members of the University community by providing common facilities and collaborative programs throughout campus.

5. We provide state-of-the-art information & communication resources which enhance effectiveness of services and programs to internal and external customers.

6. We explore possibilities for making academics and leisure activities cooperative factors in a student-centered university. We provide resources that successfully facilitate the practical application of academic concepts and we make available to everyone cultural, recreational and social opportunities.

The Role of the College Union

Adopted by the Association of College Unions International’s general membership in 1996, this statement is based on the “1956 Role of the College Union statement.”

“The union is the community center of the college, serving students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests. By whatever form or name, a college union is an organization offering a variety of programs, activities, services, and facilities that, when taken together, represent a well-considered plan for the community life of the college.”

The union is an integral part of the educational mission of the college.

1. As the center of the college community life, the union complements the academic experience through an extensive variety of cultural, social, and recreational programs. These programs provide the opportunity to balance course work and free time as cooperative factors in education.

2. The union is a student-centered organization that values participatory decision making.

3. Through volunteerism, its boards, committees, and student employment, the union offers first hand experience in citizenship and educates students in leadership, social responsibility, and values.

4. In all its processes, the union encourages self-directed activity, giving maximum opportunity for self-realization and for growth in individual, social competency and group effectiveness. The union’s goal is the development of persons as well as intellects. Traditionally considered the “hearthstone” or “living room” of the campus, today’s unions are gathering places of the college. The unions provide services and conveniences that members of the college community need in their daily lives and creates an environment for getting to know and understand others through formal and informal associations. The unions serve as unifying forces that honors each individual and values diversity. The unions foster a sense of community that cultivates enduring loyalty to the college.