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February 2009

February 25, 2009

UVM Students Protests Job Cuts

Students from the University of Vermont led demonstrations to protest the move by administrators to slash jobs, an effort to meet their budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Richard Cate, Vice President of Finance at the University, attempted to calm tensions, reassuring students that the University is not pleased to make cuts, but it's the sad reality of the situation. It's actually a pretty intense video.

[Ed. note: The video was shot and produced by multitalented Burlington Free Press photo/multimedia editor Ryan Mercer.]

Stimulating Burlington

Wondering what that stimulus package might buy for Burlington? According to the United States Conference of Mayors report on the stimulus, Burlington has submitted a mere $145 million worth of projects for consideration in the stimulus package.

Check out the list of proposed projects at The projects named range from the mundane (building bus shelters, renovating lights in city parking garages) to the spectacular (building a friggin' funicular to the waterfront).

I'm not an economics major, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that the city will actually get about 3% of that $145 million. Will that ugly median on Main St. up in the Davis Center area get transformed into something other than an eyesore? Will we be riding around on a new fleet of clean-burning CCTA buses in a few years? Will the Moran Plant be redeveloped into an ice rink/climbing center? I'm kind of rooting against that last one actually — I know the Moran Plant currently looks like it got a bomb dropped on it, but it makes for some damn cool photographs.

There's no doubt that conservative Burlingtonians (both of them) will decry all these projects as nothing but "pork," and they may have a point — but come on, riding a funicular down to the lake would be pretty cool.

February 23, 2009

Jon Stewart to Appear at UVM

Jon Stewart, the salty, satirical host of The Daily Show, will be performing at the Patrick Gym on March 28th at 8 pm. Tickets for UVM students will cost $25, and for non-UVM students, $40, when they go on sale to the general public on March 9th. My guess is UVM students get them earlier. Not fair!

In other news, a 19 year-old received his white jacket to UVM's Medical School. Ronald Masson, a California native, is believed to be the youngest student in the College of Medicine's history. He went to college directly after eighth-grade. Eighth grade! I was begging to be let out of lockers at that time, making awkward, possibly creepy gestures to older women. And Doogie Howser was already in college!  Once again, not fair.

Hey, at least the weather's nice!

February 20, 2009

Warning: Mild Grossness Ahead

In little over a week, I will begin a semester-long study abroad program in Salvador, Brazil. Salvador is Brazil's third largest city and has earned the nickname "Brazil's capital of happiness" for its street carnivals and beach-loving population. Forget the Elysian Fields, this sounds like my vision of paradise.

However, preparing for departure has been proving far from blissful. I currently have a small dose of the live yellow fever virus swimming in my system, as well as a week's worth of typhoid pills. My arm is still sore from a diphtheria vaccine. All these meds have left me with a case of nausea, alternating fevers and chills, and mild delirium. Although, it is hard to tell if the delirium is a recent development.

Aside from preparing myself against a spectrum of infections, I am also getting used to the idea of eating meat again after spending most of my college years on the tofu-bandwagon. But how could I not eat meat while living with a family who has kindly opened their home to me in a country that is the largest exporter of both beef and poultry by volume? At least, I have little fear of struggling to find local meat, as I try to insure that the meat I do consume was raised fairly. Be prepared for a Brazilian food review in the coming months! In the meantime, if you are like myself and intrigued by Brazilian culture, I have found a couple options to investigate that don't require air travel. Check out Souza's Brazilian Steakhouse, the Burlington Brazilian Jiu Jitsu School, or the annual Montreal Brazilian Film Fest. Just talking about all these Brazilian influences in our area is getting me excited to travel. Now I am just hoping I won't regret not receiving those rabies vaccines....

February 17, 2009

Burlington is the New Brooklyn

Tweedy1 I just wanted to take a moment to give props to the people over at Higher Ground for the fantastic lineup of shows they've booked for late March and April.

The big win is Jeff Tweedy of Wilco (pictured) playing a solo acoustic set on March 26. Considering all three Wilco shows I've seen have been at big outdoor amphitheaters with capacities in the thousands (including a show on a beautiful evening at the Shelburne Museum two summers ago), seeing Tweedy in such an intimate setting will be a treat. Better yet, Tweedy is known to play not just songs from the Wilco catalogue at his rare solo gigs, but also tunes by his numerous other bands (Uncle Tupelo, Loose Fur, etc.) plus unreleased songs and covers, so we're certain to get something special. One last bit of icing on the cake: Wilco's fantastically bespectacled keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen is opening the show with his other band, Pronto. No way this won't sell out, so don't procrastinate on getting tickets.

The following week, the Welsh indie pop/punk group Los Campesinos are playing the little room at HG. The week after that gives us two nights of awesome with the brilliant singer/violinist/whistler Andrew Bird playing Sunday night (guess he liked us from the last Higher Ground show he played in 2007), followed the next night by the punk cabaret act World/Inferno Friendship Society. Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock plays April 14, and finally O.C.-approved singer Alexi Murdoch closes out this great run of shows on April 19.

It's really cool to see such a nice chunk of indie rock shows lumped in with the more common Higher Ground fare of jam bands, rappers, and NPR-friendly acts. Here's hoping that this trend keeps up. And here's my public plea to the Higher Ground people: Bring M. Ward to town. Please.

And who knows--maybe we can turn Burlington's reputation as a haven for smelly hippie jam bands around...

February 12, 2009

Trayless Movement at SMC = Epic Fail

Remember when I blogged about how St. Michael's was joining Middlebury, Champlain, much of UVM, and other schools by ditching trays in the dining hall?  Well, never mind.

As announced at a recent Student Association meeting by Secretary of Student Life Gary Levante, and elaborated upon in this Defender/Echo article, the plan to ditch the trays in the Green Mountain Dining Room has been scrapped, and trays are back. Why? Because the cost it took to clean up after messes left behind on tables literally outweighed the amount of money saved by not having to put trays through the washer.

This is one of those things that makes me more than a bit embarrassed to be a St. Michael's student. What is the problem? Were my classmates never taught the most basic of table manners? Are they just savage eaters? Or are people here just so self-absorbed that they can't be bothered to pick up after themselves? If Middlebury and Champlain had no problem going trayless, there's no reason that it should be a problem here. I guess we just have a higher proportion of inconsiderate assholes.

There is good news though. Based on my own completely unscientific observation, it looks like most students here have made the personal decision to stay trayless, even though the option of trays is still present. So there's that. My vitriol is really directed at a relatively small slice of the student body. Though that small slice is still unfathomably lame in my mind. It's hard not to get discouraged about making any progress on the environmental front here when nonsense like this gets in the way.

Worst of all: My hope to take all those unused dining trays and start a tray-sledding club will remain but a pipe dream...

February 05, 2009

Taste Testing the Grilled Cheese Movement

11cheese600.1a On a recent Tuesday, I found myself in the basement of the UVM Davis Center thanking whatever higher power blessed me with a lactose tolerance. I was examining an enticing menu of creatively filled grilled cheese sandwiches made by the student-run, non-profit group FeelGood.

With local chapters across the nation, this group sells grilled cheese sandwiches from locally-donated ingredients and donates 100% of the profits to the Hunger Project.  "Ending global hunger, one grilled cheese at time," proclaims the FeelGood website. I was excited to do my small part to support this cause, but overwhelmed by the options.

There was the "Cheesus Loves Me," boasting cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. And the Shelburne Sandwich (a tribute to Shelburne Farms for donating over 60 pounds of cheese a year): a melty mixture of onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and of course, cheese. For those with a sweet tooth or with the ample appetite needed to follow a savory sandwich with a dessert sandwich, salvation came in the form of the "Cheese Louise." Apples, cheese, and the choice of cinnamon sugar or honey mustard were grilled between two slices of bread on this newest of the FeelGood sandwiches. The list went on, including the cleverly named "Catamelt," and sandwiches dedicated to supporter Jerry (as in friend of Ben) and Klinger's, which happily donates its breads. With nearly four years of operation behind them, UVM FeelGood president Margaret said club members have had the time to get creative.

I settled on the "Cheesus Loves Me" with added pesto (and a fortuitous bite of my dining companion's "Cheese Louise") and happily parted with my four dollars. It seemed a small price to pay to help end world hunger and my own simultaneously.

UVM FeelGood sells its grilled cheeses for lunch on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the tunnel entrance in the Davis Center. All the sandwiches named above can be spotted, concocted, and devoured there.

February 03, 2009

The Logger to Speak at Champlain College

AZ-rusty Rusty Dewees, famous for his "Logger" comedy routine, is bringing his skills and "backstage secrets" to Champlain College's Alumni Auditorium. While Dewees is perhaps Vermont's most beloved comedian, he is far more than the blue collar logger act he plays. Dewees is an entrepreneur, musician, actor, producer, and "master of duct tape." The 1984 graduate of Champlain College will be speaking for the BYOBIZ Guest Speakers program, "Speaking from Experience."

Check it out tonight at 7pm in the Alumni Auditorium.

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