“Murder victim’s fiance left with lease” – story on Consumerist

15 04 2008

The Consumerist picked up a recent Madison story about the Zimmerman death.

It was reported in a lot of news outlets that Brittany Zimmerman’s fiancé, Jordan Gonnering, was going to be forced by his property management company to keep the apartment that he and his fiancée shared. That part of the story unraveled Friday, but by Monday afternoon, Wisconsin Management Company had cleared the whole bit up, maybe after doing the wrong thing, and have put out a press release (pdf).

My comment @ Consumerist:

The back story here makes me believe [Jordan] is in the right. I’m a UW student, and Zimmerman was murdered almost two weeks ago now. He would have moved out right away for CSI and such. But I suspect he would NEVER go back there. I wouldn’t. The right thing for the property management company to do is say, “We’re really sorry. You can have out of your lease now and rent one of our empty apartments. Your lease for next year is off, too.”

As a student and BS graduate, I can attest that there are a lot of crooked “property management” companies downtown who will fleece people by charging high rents and keeping security deposits. This company actually probably owns fewer than the average downtown properties relative to others. We only recently (and finally) had a Student Tenant group start up, and they were the ones threatening what would have been the first renter’s boycott in 30 years (according to our district’s Alderman). What we need is for the university to offer legal help to tenants with real problems. I believe Minnesota does so, especially after one really bad house fire.

We have one house fire death, several student rapes/assaults and two very recent, possibly related stabbing deaths in the last two years. I think we not only deserve better housing but a better crime task force… but that’s a WHOLE different story.

Zimmerman was found on April 2 stabbed to death in her apartment, and the case has been typical, as of late. It’s to the point where I’m surprised when the police find a perpetrator of a major crime, as happened with an abduction/rape on campus last year.

There’s a lot to this case that we don’t know so far, but what is known has caused enough of a ruckus. The police suspect someone described as looking “homeless”, and a lot of homeless folks in Madison are up-in-arms over the increased scrutiny and profiling that has occurred as a result. I think that, to some degree, it had to happen, since the person is likely on the move. Still, such things often lead to police overstepping their boundaries.

A man named Joel Marino was found nearly dead in an alley behind his house earlier in the winter less than a mile away. Because the investigations are in two districts, there are two separate investigations. According to some recent reports, the police are sharing tips with each other because the cases are starting to overlap. Still, there’s no official word yet as to whether they actually believe the murders are linked.

Another murder happened in nearby Fitchburg over the summer. The woman, Kelly Nolan, was young and was last seen downtown. That murder went entirely unsolved, and I’m starting to be sickened by the number of high profile crimes that police can’t seem to figure out.

Now, I understand that we don’t live in Murderapolis (God bless Minnesota), Baltimore, D.C. or Milwaukee. The number (and rate per capita) of murders, rapes, etc., is a very positive one in light of what it could be, but these crimes are happening in campus neighborhoods where we should feel reasonably safe. I don’t expect  or care for the “safety” of the suburbs, but come one, let’s keep our own safe.

I’m riled now, but I’ll have to rant more later. I need to sleep.





What’s in a Name? University of Wisconsin’s rich history

5 03 2008

I was sitting in my intro microbiology lecture, taught by professor Stephen Barclay, and a thought struck me. This man lecturing before me, though somewhat rambling and dry at times, had a real passion for the history of science, particularly at our university, UW-Madison. Every important scientist in the field of microbiology, it seems, came from, started at or had a hand in research at UW.

Of course, that statement isn’t entirely true, but Barclay’s boasts speak to a rich history of research and scientific breakthroughs that make the UW one of the top public universities research-wise. What makes it all even more fascinating is that the departments of these breakthrough scientists are housed in a college of the university called the “College of Agriculture and Life Sciences” (CALS). If some administrators had their way, the school would just scratch the agriculture part and be on it’s way.

But there is no denying that CALS would not have such funding for biofuels, stem cell research and the like had it not led the way in prior agricultural research followed by groundbreaking genetics, biochemistry and microbiology findings. In my next few posts, I intend (for my own knowledge as well as that of any readers that may show) to give some overview into the significance of names seen on and around campus including Temin, Babcock, Steenbock, Elvehjem and more.

As I was listening to Barclay speak, I remembered back to how many science professors I’ve had who have proclaimed the greatness of some of the world’s most amazing scientists. Their stories are fascinating, and you begin to realize that the history of our scientific discoveries is nearly as fascinating as the discoveries themselves. Past, present and future are all importantly linked.

We’ve discovered the secret of life.  – Francis Crick





CL WI

12 01 2008

Bits and Pieces – 23 [maybe Madison?]

Date: 2008-01-11, 8:23PM CST
Seeking moderately to exceedingly attractive man aged 23-40. No beards. No mustaches. Please, no crooked teeth either. Sideburns are acceptable as long as they aren’t too long. You preferably brush your teeth twice a day. You do not leave items such as cheese or cilantro to rot for several weeks before detecting a rancid odor that pervades your kitchen. No snoring. No balding. I am a voracious reader, so I am not interested in any man who does not enjoy literature, and by literature I do not mean the kind of books one finds on the bestseller shelves at Borders. By good literature, and you will at least be able to agree or disagree with me having read it yourself, I mean great works such as Anna Karenina, Ulysses, or Remembrance of Things Past. I also enjoy discussing other kinds of literature, such as history/science/philosophy, but please do not be one of those men who sit for hours pouring out like a spout all his philosophical meanderings just to impress everyone. It makes no difference to me whether you filter your water, but you must use recycling. I am more interested in those who know/study an additional language to their native tongue. Someone who values/creates art in some capacity is also preferable—you must at least have some appreciation for aesthetics. Although you may not be certain of his existence, I have no interest in anyone who actually believes in God.

I have no children. No diseases. I cook exotic dishes. I seldom smoke. My favorite writer is Nabokov. I do not care for John Steinbeck. I am attractive—I am neither fat nor ugly. I often wear skirts, knee-high skirts. I do not like camping unless it only lasts for a weekend. I love sleeping on trains. I love to see scattered orange peels on the ground. I love big cities. And I love receiving presents. Thank you.





Society, socializing, sociability and community

25 03 2007

A band I like, Wookiefoot, sings a song that has lyrics I really like: “Come unity come unity, come unity, come.” The idea is that we need to make ourselves part of our community, whether that’s local or global.

This point was illustrated to me recently when I went down to the park to toss the frisbee around with some friends. My sister and her friend came, then we had another buddy show up by car and one more a half hour later by bike. The day was the first beautiful Wisconsin day we’ve had in a long time, and the park began filling up: three girls kicking a soccer ball here, two games of hoops there, even a guy plowing through the ice on the lake with his kayak (crazy). There were probably seven other groups playing frisbee, ranging in size from two to six people per group.

Since the ability to throw a frisbee halfway decent is about all it takes to play ultimate, we decided to try forming a game. As we went from group to group, one after another said they weren’t interested in playing. We got two groups of two and absorbed one other from a group of six while two more groups had good reasons for deferring. Overall it was a poor-sized game relative to the number of people in the park who could actually toss a disc.

I wonder if this is another sign that our generation is unwilling to socialize. I’ve read theories by some who suppose that the loss of community is the death of every society. I notice everywhere that neighbors are usually unwilling to socialize unless forced. True block parties rarely happen (unless you call the drunkfest that is the Mifflin Street block party a genuine block party.) Our sociable neighbors back at my parents’ house are leaving and being replaced by people who keep to themselves. Even the neighbors upstairs in my apartment rarely make the effort to talk. Granted, I haven’t often initiated contact with them, but still, chance meetings should be conducive to more than a simple grunted “Hi.”

To add to that, my generations’ sense of social responsibility seems to be low. Volunteerism and activism seem to be things of the past. I still see people volunteer, but it seems that all too often it’s for class credit or resume padding. Todd Gitlin made me aware of the bigger form of activism that goes on. We spend money to show our support for causes rather than activating to make changes. Think of the red “AIDS ipod”, $5 of which goes to AIDS research, or fair trade coffee or any number of other spending choices. While I don’t mean to bash this kind of spending (because it is worth the consciousness), I feel that promoting capitalism for the sake of helping others doesn’t quite make sense. Why not take a role in the community and working with people directly? Work at a food shelter once a week, do some kind of counseling or perform another selfless act.

Am I completely off base? Are college students becoming more active in relieving the world’s problems? Are university students becoming more caring instead of less caring?





College students narcissists? No way…

27 02 2007

A researcher at San Diego State recently released a study on the self-centered attitudes of college students. Some interesting excerpts from the CNN.com story:

“As an example, Twenge cited a song commonly sung to the tune of ‘Frere Jacques’ in preschool: ‘I am special, I am special. Look at me.'”

Who knew?

“‘Current technology fuels the increase in narcissism,’ Twenge said. ‘By its very name, MySpace encourages attention-seeking, as does YouTube.'”

Agreed! Consider Facebook, the second most popular social networking site behind MySpace. People get truly competetive about how many friends they have and what their pictures say about themselves.

“Kari Dalane, a University of Vermont sophomore, says most of her contemporaries are politically active and not overly self-centered.
‘People are worried about themselves — but in the sense of where are they’re going to find a place in the world,’ she said. ‘People want to look their best, have a good time, but it doesn’t mean they’re not concerned about the rest of the world.'”

I both agree and disagree with this statement. People do care about their place in the world and how they can help the world, yet there are outstanding deficits in political activism and social responsibility among college students. As an example, my fraternity, of which I am now an alumnus, constantly talks about volunteerism and community service as an important aspect of what they do, yet they’re becoming increasingly focused on character and resume building for their future careers instead of on the problems that plague society or on political awareness. The one great exception that I see is Humorology which, though it has an intensely competitive face, really raises a lot of money for Camp Heartland and the Chris Farley Foundation.

As an aside to this whole deal, Todd Gitlin writes often about how our generation (am I Gen Y?) is not activist in the manner that the Vietnam protesters were activists. (In my mind, I imagine all of the University of Wisconsin’s relics of a protest era: 60’s-designed building made like fortresses, the Mifflin Street Block party and fences over some campus windows. But I digress.) Instead, we are affecting the world through our purchasing power. We buy fair trade coffee when it’s offered alongside free trade coffee, we choose to buy the red “AIDS relief” ipod instead of the others or we click a button to donate money during the holiday season while making our Amazon purchases. Some may pish-posh the idea of making a difference a few dollars at a time. I did at first, but yesterday, I saw a sign on the wall of the Espresso Royale Cafe on State Street showing pictures of all the children who have been helped directly by money from consumers. That really stuck me. If I ever find the specific article by Gitlin, I’ll put it up!





go go go go sleep

28 12 2005

I should sleep but won’t just yet.

Break has turned out to be interesting so far. Seeing the family is
great, and I love it. We’ve been really lazy, watching lots of funny
stuff. So far: Madagascar, Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, TONS of
Arrested Development, my new Muppet Show DVDs and more I’m sure. I had
an hour long pillow fight with my sister which drained us both and
essentially ended in a draw. Boy, that brought back memories… except
now it doesn’t end in tears. She fights back and actually can get me
down and covering my head pretty often. That was fun and nothing was
broken. Sweet!

I talked to our family dentist today about shadowing him, and he said
yes, so now I have to get at least 30 hours of shadowing done over
break. It will be both cool and break-consuming. Mer. On the same
topic, I’m going to be meeting sometime over break with a UofM
professor/general practitioner. He’s friends with the neighbor, and so
our nice, very cool neighbor will be setting up some kind of meeting
when I call him. I’m a bit nervous about that.

Grades are not yet in… nope, just checked again. So far, my grades
indicate a semester 4.0, but that’s not including psych and biochem.
EEK… biochem will likely be my first college __. I say __ because it
could be anywhere froma B to an F. That really scares me. Really.

Mad props to the friends in physics who made us the best section in
class and to Erin 1 for getting 19th in the class. Woo hoo. I still
need to find out how Erin 2 and Tommy did… and the gang from 103…
and the other random people I know in that class. I hope all did well.

I have a poetry and quotation fixation lately, and Shel Silverstein has
been filling that void. My away messages and other parts of my life
have been filled with his stuff lately. My favorite poem:

The saddest thing I ever did see
was a woodpecker peckin’ at a plastic tree.

There probably is a better favorite of mine, but that one always comes to mind first.

Ok. Sleep now.





DMB set List

30 11 2005

The DMB set list:

Tuesday Nov 29 2005

University of Wisconsin, Madison – Kohl Center

Pantala Naga Pampa

Rapunzel

Dream Girl

Don’t Burn The Pig

Stand Up

Crash

Hunger For The Great Light

What Would You Say

American Baby Intro

Bartender

One Sweet World

Where Are You Going

Louisiana Bayou

Linus And Lucy

Steady As We Go

[Intro]

Dancing Nancies

Too Much

_______________

Christmas Song

Old Dirt Hill

Everyday


I have come to several conclusions tonight:

1. I need to begin wearing a helmet again. I’m lucky to have survived
my latest bike wreck with only a scuffed elbow and bruised thigh. Since
I flew over the handlebars, I probably would have (should have?) hit my
head.

2. Kristen rocks hard. She’s a great friend, and her generosity and kindness are uncommon on this campus. Thanks!

3. If I will it, Dave Matthews will play it. Case in point: Christmas Song. I’m sorry it doesn’t work for you, too, Kristen.

4. Podcasts aren’t only for iPods! WOO!

Oh Reuters. Your odd news links from google… RAWK! (First time I’ve used that “word”… ever.)

Longer needles needed for fatter buttocks

Tue Nov 29, 2005 8:09 AM ET172CHICAGO (Reuters) – Fatter rear ends are causing many drug
injections to miss their mark, requiring longer needles to reach
buttock muscle, researchers said on Monday.

Standard-sized
needles failed to reach the buttock muscle in 23 out of 25 women whose
rears were examined after what was supposed to be an intramuscular
injection of a drug.

Two-thirds of the 50 patients in the sdy
did not receive the full dosage of the drug, which instead lodged in
the fat tissue of their buttocks, researchers from The Adelaide and
Meath Hospital in Dublin said in a presentation to the annual meeting
of the Radiological Society of North America.

Besides patients
receiving less than the correct drug dosage, medications that remain
lodged in fat can cause infection or irritation, researchers Victoria
Chan said.

“There is no question that obesity is the underlying
cause. We have identified a new problem related, in part, to the
increasing amount of fat in patients’ buttocks,” Chan said.

“The amount of fat tissue overlying the muscles exceeds the length of the needles commonly used for these injections,” she said.

The 25 men and 25 women studied at the Irish hospital ranged in age from 21 to 87.

The
buttocks are a good place for intramuscular injections because there
are relatively few major blood vessels, nerves and bones that can be
damaged by a needle. Plentiful smaller blood vessels found in muscle
carry the drug to the rest of the body, while fat tissue contains
relatively few blood vessels.

Obesity affects more than 300
million people worldwide and is based on a measure of height versus
weight that produces a body mass index above 30. An estimated 65
percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.