My tour to the Food (W)hole #2/Naughty grocery store pictures

Whole Foods Ann Arbor, with typical shopperI had to run a few errands and/or wanted to stall on starting commenting on student essays, so on my way home, I swung by the new Whole Foods in Ann Arbor– or, as the web site says, Cranbrook, which is really the name of a shopping center on the other side of Ann Arbor. It’s a good location for the chain because it’s close to lots of upscale west AA neighborhoods, and it’s also reasonably close to Saline and Dexter. But since we live completely on the other side of town, this visit to the Food (W)Hole was more or less just a field trip.

So, what’s the new store like? Why, it’s like a grocery store–or, to be more specific, it’s another location for one of the “world’s leading natural and organic grocer and we’re passionate about healthy food and a healthy planet,” a place that is “lucky to have a whole bunch of smart, passionate people doing incredible things in areas like organics, supporting local growers, green practices, fair trade, micro-lending and all kinds of food related stuff.” Pretentious? Sure. Am I a loyal customer? You bet.

The new store is pretty much the same as my regular Food (W)Hole: the usual large seafood selection and grass-fed or otherwise organic meat selections, supplements and herbal things, a coffee bar area, etc. Besides the layout (the space is much more narrow and long), I noticed at least four differences with this new store:

  • An even larger prepared/take away food section, and one that features a special gelato and ice cream counter. This strikes me as kind of funny because this strip mall also features an Old Country Buffet. So now you can fatten up either for cheap or for not cheap.
  • A sushi counter, where you can get fresh (and not packaged earlier that day) sushi. I suspect Will will require a visit.
  • A wine/beer/cheese tasting bar. I’m not quite sure about this arrangement (I didn’t ask and I wasn’t around long enough to find out), but it appeared to me that you could buy a glass of wine or a beer on tap and from our own Arbor Brewing Company (made in Ypsilanti), and then perhaps continue your shopping. This is what this video says about a store that opened in Rochester Hills, MI with a similar wine bar arrangement.
  • A rule against taking photographs: at the store’s entrance and next to the “no smoking” and “no roller blades” signs was “no photography.” Now, perhaps this is a policy at all Whole Foods, as this photo and the discussion about it suggests. One of the reasons discussed here says this is so other stores can’t steal design ideas, but it seems pretty easy to get around this. I mean, just go in and look around.

    In any event, I was feeling naughty, so while sitting at the coffee bar at the front of the store, I took this picture of the store behind me with the little camera on my laptop:

    Whole Foods Ann Arbor, "against the rules" inside pic

    Remarkably revealing, isn’t it?

The only down-side of the store for me was the wifi access in there was very spotty, but I suspect that’s something they will work out later.

By the way, I took the picture at the top of this entry after I left. How about my timing in capturing the transportation used by a typical Food (W)Hole customer?

Oh, and while I’m at it, I came across this pretty cool set of grocery store pictures when poking around on Flikr for this post.

A bailout I do understand

I don’t want to dwell too much on the $700 billion bailout/buy-in/rescue package to save the markets and the economies of the world, mainly because there are plenty of other places to read all about it. But I will say this:

  • I think this is an excellent example of poor explanation, communication, and/or rhetoric. I consider myself to be a reasonably smart guy who keeps up with the news, though I will freely admit that money and economics are not exactly my strong suit. But as far as I can tell, no one has really explained just what the hell this money is for, why this is necessary, why it would work, and why spending $700 billion (or so– as best I can tell from what I’ve heard, this number is essentially made up) on banks would be a better way to help the economy than spending $700 billion on nearly anything else. But I am planning on listening to This American Life this weekend because they are going to do a show that attempts to actually do what the politicians should be doing: explaining this to constituents.
  • What we’re seeing here, IMO, is what happens after we forced through the Patriot Act without debating/thinking about it, and after the White House flat-out lied to get us into Iraq, the most disastrous war in our history, and after Paulson, Bush, etc. are now saying “the sky is falling” when just a few months ago they were saying everything was hunky-dory. Every American toddler knows the story of Chicken Little and the boy who cried wolf; why the current administration doesn’t understand that is a mystery to me.
  • The only bailout I have understood lately is Charles Bernstein’s proposed poetry bailout. Bernstein writes:

    As we know, lax composition practices since the advent of modernism led to irresponsible poets and irresponsible readers. Simply put, too many poets composed works they could not justify. We are seeing the impact on poetry, with a massive loss of confidence on the part of readers. What began as a subprime poetry problem on essentially unregulated poetry websites has spread to other, more stable, literary magazines and presses and contributed to excess poetry inventories that have pushed down the value of responsible poems.

    Though I think going all the way back to 1904 to clear out the glut of poems might be a few years too far.

Do you need another reason to be scared of McCain?

Are you sure? Okay, check out this from Paul Kurgman; I’ll quote him quoting from an essay that McCain wrote for Contingencies Magazine, which is published for/by the American Academy of Actuaries (yeah, my subscription ran out):

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

Yes, because deregulation has worked out so well for the banking industry. And btw, this article where McCain says this just came out– this isn’t something he said a year or two ago.

A slight addendum:

I came across this via Mark Maynard’s blog:

Technorati doing some of my homework (sort of)

Via Collin’s blog, I came across the latest in blog stats: Technorati’s annual “State of the Blogosphere” for 2008. I will have to spend some more time over the next week trying to figure out what these people are saying, but I guess I have two thoughts for now. First, is this bit from my skimming of the report:

The majority of bloggers we surveyed currently have advertising on their blogs. Among those with advertising, the mean annual investment in their blog is $1,800, but it’s paying off. The mean annual revenue is $6,000 with $75K+ in revenue for those with 100,000 or more unique visitors per month. Note: median investment and revenue (which is listed below) is significantly lower. They are also earning CPMs.

Seriously? $75K a year?

The median revenue numbers are indeed significantly lower– if I understand the chart/stats correctly, the “revenue” is more like $200 annually. But even that seems to me to be kind of high, especially relative to the blogs/bloggers I’m surveying for my study.

In any event, this is still potentially useful data for my project since my much smaller survey takes a slightly different tact and also because of the case studies coming out of my study. Of course, I still have to write this all up one of these days….

Judge says MySpace suspension okay

I found this via Sarah Robbins Facebook news feed: “Judge: School can suspend students over fake MySpace profile.” Basically, a couple of knuckle-head middle school kids created a really offensive (and really fake) MySpace profile of their principal. Somehow, the principal found out and suspended the kids. The parents (where they were before all this, I’m not sure) found out and filed a first amendment case, and the judge ruled in favor of the school district.

This kind of reminds me a bit of a local story I posted on my previous academic only blog in May 2007, where an area (Saline) superintendent Beverley Geltner held a “safety” session about Facebook/MySpace after a group of students formed a group called “new superintendent = bitch.” But I think the two differences are that in this new case, the kids created an entire fake profile/identity for the principal. Plus it was a lot more offensive. And plus the school has a code of conduct that makes it clear that it’s way against the rules to make false accusations about staff members. It’s one thing to say that so-and-so is a bitch; it’s another thing to say that so-and-so is a pedophile.

In any event, I’m sure this will come up in English 516, but I wonder if students in winter 2009 will have the same kind of “reservations” about MySpace and/or Facebook that some of my students have had in the recent past.

Wanted: Assistant Professor, Computers and Writing, EMU

Or, as I was going to title this post, “jobs away!”

Since we now have an honest-to-goodness number for this position and are placing ads, I feel like I can officially announce that we’re searching for an assistant professor in computers and writing. Here’s what the ad will look like:

Assistant Professor, Computers and Writing

Tenure-track position in composition and rhetoric with an emphasis in computers and writing beginning in Fall 2009. We are seeking a colleague who values teaching, research, and service, and who is interested in joining a dynamic department which includes an active group of composition and rhetoric faculty in a nationally recognized writing program. Expertise in some combination of the following: new media writing, web 2.0 writing technologies, online and computer-mediated pedagogy, technical writing, digital rhetorics, and visual rhetorics. Candidates must complete PhD by Fall 2009. Submit a letter of interest, a CV, and a statement of teaching philosophy by November 1, 2008, attention Dr. Steven D. Krause, Department of English Language and Literature, 612 Pray-Harrold Hall, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.

I think this is going to be a fun search for us and a good gig for whoever we end up hiring. As I said in the email post I sent to a couple of the usual mailing lists, EMU is a great place to work. We’re a large, friendly, and diverse department, and I have fantastic writing program colleagues. This is not the kind of position where you would be one of two or three comp/rhet folks to do everything.

And geographically, I think we’re hard to beat: easy driving distance to Detroit and all of its “big city” pleasures, and practically walking distance (well, I exaggerate a bit) to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and all of the various things that one can enjoy in a quintessential “college town.” This might be a kind of shallow example, but when contemplating a move to another institution in recent years, my wife and I have asked each other “yes, but is there a Whole Foods nearby?” Well, a second Food (W)hole opens in Ann Arbor next week.

But in all seriousness: this is a good gig. And I speak from experience at having a previous academic job that was, um, not.

Anyway, that’s probably all I’ll be posting here about this until we hire someone. If you’re interested in learning more and/or you’ve got some grad students who might want to know more, send me an email at skrause at emich dot edu

Viral blogging, Palin, dinosaurs, and who knows what else

Here’s a guy I want to interview/get a hold of for my Blogs as Writerly Spaces project: a blogger named Bob who maintains a blog called TUBOB. Perhaps you’ve heard some kind of rumor about Sarah Palin thinking that dinosaurs were “Satan’s Lizards?” That, as this post at Community College English nicely summarizes, was flat-out made up here by Bob Salsbury in a post called “Fake Governor Sarah Palin Quotes.”

From there, it morphed into a series of comments and posts on all kinds of “real” news sites (see the CCE link for some examples). It ended up in a CNN story on false Internet rumors about Palin:

And, as Bob notes on his blog, Matt Damon mentions the rumors about dinosaurs that circulated about Palin in this otherwise spot-on critique of her VP-ness (wait for 1:22 into the video):

So, I’m interested in this on at least two levels. First, as someone researching blogs and the way(s) in which “situation” works with driving traffic to blogs, motivating bloggers to write, shaping content and audiences, etc., etc., this seems to me to be another great example, something along the lines (bigger, really) than what I experienced with my blogging on the EMU strike. I can read some of what Bob has to say on his blog about the experience, and perhaps that will be enough for my book purposes, but it still might be interesting to interview him as a case study.

Second, the way this thing spread is kind of interesting because it isn’t quite the same thing as the “Obama is a Muslim” thing. Obama has said over and over and over and OVER that he is a Christian and more or less has been his whole life. He has answered those questions repeatedly. And, besides that, so what if he did have Muslim heritage or he was a practicing Muslim? I know this isn’t the political reality, but being something other than a Christian shouldn’t mean anything.

On the other hand, Palin has identified herself and has been identified with Evangelical Christianity of the type that reads the Bible literally, doesn’t believe in evolution, and that uses creationism to explain the dinosaurs. Further, as far as I know, she hasn’t answered Matt Damon’s or Maureen Dowd’s question about dinosaurs. I mean really; what does she think? Does she believe the creationism museum version of dinosaurs? Does she believe in evolution at all? Obama has been asked and answered questions about all kinds of rumors about him; but to ask Palin these questions is disrespect.

In any event, it’s an interesting viral blogging example and one I’ll keep an eye on, probably. Thanks for posting that, CCE.

What’s happened to McCain (again)?

Finally, there’s a little bit of “strike back” against the lies of the John McCain campaign and the utter confusion and flip-flops of the candidate himself. Take a look at this new ad from Obama:

Thanks to Mark Maynard for posting this; and thanks also for posting this little snippet of video that was on Huffington Post where Karl “the meaning of evil” Rove even said that McCain et al are going too far.

I’d like to see something even a more aggressive, personally. I think it would be completely fair game for Obama to go on, look straight into the camera, and say something like “John McCain and his campaign are flat-out lying and they owe me and the American people an apology for sinking to these low and desperate tactics.” Or something like that.

And something needs to be made of this too: there was a story on NPR this morning with the misleading headline, “McCain: ‘I Know Americans Are Hurting Now.” Be sure to take a listen. The stock market dropped 500 points yesterday and a slew of economists and experts have been parading through radio and TV shows saying that this is the worst financial crisis since the great depression. And yet, as this story clearly reports, McCain was muddled at best. At the same time they were running an ad about the failed economy, McCain was at a rally in Florida where he said (more or less) “I still think the U.S. economy fundamentals remain strong.” An hour or so later, he gave a different speech at a different rally where McCain repeats the phrase “our economy is at risk” over and over. Un-freakin-believable.