Flashback Post: Reflections on the BTSU at BGSU

March 15, 2009

I was poking around some web search stuff, and happened across this piece I’d written back in 2003. I found it rather interesting, as I know that my own writing style has changed a bit, though I imagine one would see PLENTY of familiarity between my writing then, vs. now. Given I haven’t posted to this blog for awhile (primarily just been posting my comic reviews to Comic Reviews by Walt), I thought I’d post this today.

Reflections on the Bowen-Thompson Student Union at BGSU, from its opening at the start of Spring Semester 2002 thru the end of Spring Semester 2003.

When I first started at BG, the Union (to me) had an atmosphere of some sort of OLD established all-ages bar ‘n grille. I personally, throughout my entire first semester only set foot in the union a handful of times; only one of those with the purpose of eating.

When the New Union (BTSU) opened, the newness of it that first semester probably gave it an “inflated” atmosphere/traffic rate, as everyone would want to try it out at least once; to say nothing of the fact that so many campus organizations insisted on holding stuff in the union, “forcing” students to flock to it.

Last year, my senior year, the newness had worn off, at least in the initial phase. It was there from the start for the new/incoming students, and those of us who remembered the time when there was NO student union had gotten used to having a union again.

Perhaps my own experience(s) are unique, perhaps not, but I speak here for myself, of my own observations.

My class schedule was such that nearly all of my classes were tues/thurs, ranging from 9:30am til 9pm. As most of these classes were spread out among Eppler, Education, Business, and Olscamp (even had one in Hanna), I was very nearly on the opposite end of campus from my residence hall/room. As such, the Union became my “headquarters”–the place that I’d return to between classes, be it to relax, eat, do homework, buy supplies/books, use the internet, or whatever else needed doing. Though I’d griped initially about the union as a whole, and hated that everything seemed to force students to spend time in it, it came to be a relaxing, comfortable place for me.

In the morning, it seemed like a lot of people would meet in the Falcon’s Nest area to get breakfast, or perhaps coffee at the Carnation Cafe.

Around lunchtime (11:30-2:30), the union was jam-packed. One could almost tell the time just based on how crowded the union was–if a lot of classes just let out, it was almost like a wave of people sweeping into the union for food and other necessities.

The “commons” area outside the falcon’s nest generally was filled–if you wanted to sit alone, you’d have to find some other place to go; and unless you’d gotten there early to “hold” a table, you’d have to either find someone you know to sit with, or wander til you saw someone getting up (and hope they were actually leaving).

Partway through fall semester, I started doing lunch regularly with one of my best friends. Given how croweded the “commons” was, we noticed that there were usually “open” tables/seating in the section blocked off as the Carnation Cafe, and began taking our meals over there to sit and eat.

As the year progressed, even the Cafe came to be almost-always filled, with people hanging out solo, having meals, meeting friends, teachers, bosses, etc. We wound up by midway through spring semester having a small group of “regulars”–three of us forming a “core”, but each of us often inviting/bringing others to have meals at our lunchtime, and in general, we often claimed as much as 1/4 of the cafe’s seating with our group.

Since I doubt that our group was completely unique on the surface, I imagine there were plenty of other groups of people who met regularly in the union, for actual meetings, meals, and simply as a place to go and kill time between classes without having to go back to the residence halls or off-campus.

In the evenings, Wendy’s and Zza’s were open fairly late, and would sometimes be the ONLY places open on campus to go to, especially for hot food, so they attracted what appeared to be a steady stream of people throughout the evening/night hours.

Morning, afternoon, or evening, it seemed that part of the attraction of the union (for on-campus students, particularly) was that it operated just as any other dining facility on campus–you could use your meal plan. I personally never went anywhere without my keys, my PED, a pen, and my Student ID (walked off with no wallet or phone a number of times, though!). Knowing I carried the student ID/meal card, I knew that whether i simply got thirsty, or got hungry, i could stop in at the union for something, almost regardless of the hour.

Between classes when I would find a space in the union to just sit and read/study, it was also convenient knowing i could leave my stuff, and go get something to eat or drink, without worrying about cash.


My initial gripe with the union was that with its “grand opening” other dining facilities on campus seemed to alter hours and menus in an attempt to drive students to the union. The same went for last year, though by then I was used to it and “accepted it” (not without griping, though). Places like The Galley closed at 2 on fridays, to re-open 6pm sundays; the ‘dial had limited hours for each meal that SEEMED to change all the time, though i don’t think they actually did.

But overall, for weekends, particularly later in the spring semester, one would HAVE to go to the union if they wanted to eat a decent meal. For “holidays” and “breaks”, and the day or two leading up to/coming back from said events, the union was the only place that would have any real food available…specifically, that one could use a meal plan for (opposed to cash for pizza, jimmy john’s, and other call-and-deliver food places).

For all intents and purposes, if you didn’t have cash, and wanted something to eat, your best bet was to go to the union. Due to all this, the union seemed a sort of “default” location, one that most people would go to, to eat, meet, and socialize…which I suppose was the original intent/purpose of HAVING a student union…having it be a central place on campus, as much for on campus students as for off-campus/commuter students. “Everythign” was at the union, and all sorts of food/drink available at the union, since any food to be had at the union could come off the meal plan, it became little different than merely going to the ‘dial or the Galley; except that there were far more people always around, more chance to randomly bump into someone, and you had the bookstore, peregrine shop (bursarable), along with Stampers (“post office”), etc.


Everything I Ever

February 20, 2009

I took today off work.  It’s the first day since the first Friday in December that I’ve taken ANY day off work. We’ve had Christmas/day-after off, and New Year’s Day (Jan 1st) off, but as far as me taking my own day off, this is the first in months.  Yet I also will be taking a day off in two weeks–two weeks from today, specifically–to go see Watchmen thursday night and not have to get up 2 hours later for work. And then probably another 2-month clump of time before I take another day for Wolverine. After that, probably take a couple days for a comic convention, and save my final couple days for other random pre-planned mental-health days.

I went to The Dive last night. The term “bittersweet” comes to mind, but would be rather inaccurate. There was nothing particularly “sweet” about it. Nor, then, was there anything all that bitter, either.  It just….WAS.  I walked in alone; surprised a few people (as I’d really not told anyone I’d be there). Started to sit alone, but then grabbed myself and walked down front to sit with a friend I’d trained on running the powerpoint stuff (and promptly freaked out thinking something had gone wrong and was offering to help before realizing it was an intended effect, and reigning my urge-to-help back in).

Afterwards, went out to the lobby to read for awhle–biding time until I could get my car outta the pay-lot for free (if we can wait til after 11pm, apparently they figure we’ve “paid” for our parking with our time–and/or that what few cars are left won’t bring in enough toll to justify even one person on duty to collect said toll).

I was present for something I’ll not repeat here, but it left me fairly rattled.

Then got to talk to a friend I hadn’t seen in ages, for awhile.


And yet, it’s not “my” Dive anymore.I may visit, but it is no longer my place, it is no longer a place I have any belonging. The only thing I have left there are ties that ought to endure outside Thursday evenings in that room–and whatever nostalgia or greetings from people I do only see on Thursday evenings in that room.

All the same, one doesn’t spend nearly four years with something as a major part of their life and not feel its loss when it IS lost–or even voluntarily given up. I walked away–I chose to–and yet, part of said decision was my time, my age, my season of life.

But what now? I walked away from a place/time/body that will at least for a very long time register as one of the most significant periods of my life for the experiences, education, growth, and relational interactions.

In a couple hours, I will pack a sleeping bag, clothes for the weekend, and this computer.  I’ll drive to a friend’s house, he’ll add his stuff to my van, and we’ll proceed to Michigan, for a weekend with another friend.

And then next week, I’ll be back to work and such per usual.

…and I am fine…

Saturday Bullet-points

February 14, 2009
  • My day started off around 5:45 this morning. I woke slightly, tried to readjust a pillow, and knocked this computer off the stand it’s been on, so got up to make sure I hadn’t destroyed it. Use the restroom, and realized it was later than I’d’ve gotten up if I was working today.
  • Popped in a Highlander video (yeah, VHS), expecting to watch a quick 10-minute blooper reel, but it was the “Highlander: Behind the Scenes” special, so that was about 45 minutes. A bit of reading, some putzing around, and now I’m definitely up for the day–at least until/unless I take a nap later.
  • Getting ready to get around for the day. Figure head up toward my parents’; get an oil change; get stuff to make some “mexican cornbread,” and hopefully spend much of the afternoon working on a new/addition-to photobook.  Re-sharing the old one with Eric last night has definitely re-inspired me as to the worthwhile-ness of the project; though I doubt it’ll be completed for another couple weeks.
  • I have High School Musical 3 songs stuck in my head. Thursdy night was curious as to when HSM3 would be out on DVD; decided to look it up. Turns out it’s due out this upcoming Tuesday–which is rather cool. Unfortunately, nothing yet that I see regarding any kind of 3-pack. And so I have NO real intention of purchasing this. If there were a $10 single-case trilogy pack (or given the new-ness, even $20) I MIGHT consider it. But I will NOT pay $20 for just one or two of the HSM films.
  • My review of Tales of the TMNT #55 was noticed last week by Dan Berger, the TMNT webmaster over at ninjaturtles.com. And the writer of Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade linked to my review of #3 as well.
  • Work is definitely getting to me–too often, I find myself thinking in terms of “efficiency.” Whether it’s throwing food into the microwave and THEN putting the rest of the groceries away (so the food can heat as I’m productively putting stuff away, then can eat quickly and get on with evening plans) or scanning/processing/uploading cover images to cX hoping they can be approved lightning-quick while I get the rest of my cover images scanned/processed and uploaded to my webspace for CRBW, or just whatever.
  • I’ve been thinking about switching some webhosting stuff around, and seeing if I can simply point waltkneeland.com to my reviews site, and let that be my primary site. Unfortunately, to do so would require editing 100+ reviews so I don’t lose the cover images associated with each. Assuming I decide to do that, it’ll probably be another month or two, and begin with playing with uploading to wordpress, and seeing how the files are stored and such. Ideally a consistent path with just the image name itself changing–that would make it relatively simple, provided I can mass-upload.
  • ‘Nuff rambling…I”m out.

Weekend randomness so far

January 24, 2009

It’s amazing how one can waver between a couple choices, and follow both choices out quite a distance from that “catalyst point” very quickly before making a decision. And how other stuff can come into play as a result of that decision that you’d not intended to have be a part of things.

I do not like “doing business” on the phone–I don’t like setting up cable/electric/water/other utilities service, I don’t like having to deal with the credit card company or my bank on the phone…shoot, I don’t even like ordering a pizza on the phone, and would be perfectly happy to go from talk of a pizza to having a bowl of cereal if it meant not having to call the pizza place myself.  (Dealing with stuff in-person or online or via text-messaging, however, I’m perfectly fine.)  That said, so far the few times that I have had to deal with my bank on the phone (usually involving lost/expired ATM cards or arranging for a debit card), they’ve been just about the best for me to deal with, not putting me through a bunch of hoops and automated systems ‘n crap like that. (a couple menus to filter me to the live person who’ll be most helpful upon picking up the line, but that’s ’bout it).

I’ve realized that the Aliens franchise is one of my favorites, particularly when it comes to the books and comics. To me, the concept actually works best in the books and comics….the movies are almost too “limited” in what can be done/shown and the level of story that can be told.

I’ve been watching The Office in the mornings this past week, before going to work myself.  Due to how cold it’s been, anything I’d usually take with me for breakfast-on-the-go would be cold by the time I finish scraping off the windows and get movin’ and such. So I’ve been getting up about a half hour earlier, which allows me time to eat a quick breakfast BEFORE leaving. And since my roommate’s gone before me, I can put the tv on (without worrying about waking anyone). Since there’s not time to watch a full 1-hour show (42ish minutes after commercials have been zipped through) I need something shorter…and The Office is the perfect length, being a 1/2-hour show (about 22 minutes when commercials have been factored out). Plus, I work in an office, so the show is QUITE fitting.

I’m at my parents’ house right now…the cat has finally decided the food I put down for her is “good enough.”  I refilled one of her waterbowls, and she sat and meowed til I refilled her OTHER bowl, which she was happy to drink out of. While I was on the phone with the bank (see above), she came into the room and started yowling at the top o’ her lungs at me.  I pick her up, she wants down. I don’t pick her up, she meows and yowls and cries.  She has also prompted me to say stuff I usually would not expect to hear myself saying. Like after picking her up and her paws feeling damp, stating “your paws had better NOT be wet from walking through pee.”

…and with two phone calls with about 6 minutes, I have plans for next weekend, and the weekend of February 20th.

It’d be nice to be able to put in for a Monday off work…but given what they have me doing lately, I doubt they’d let me off for a Monday. Perhaps a Friday, though. Will have to wait ‘n see.

transfer of power

January 20, 2009

…and yet, I am thankful to live in a country in which a transfer of power is peaceful.

Today, as I go to work, Bush is still president.

Sometime before I come home, power will transfer.

When I come home, Obama will be president.


January 17, 2009

I am seeing a lot of hypocrisy lately, especially as we head into the extreme twilight of the current President’s administration, racing toward the inaugaration of a new president.

Had McCain won, would we see him guest-starring in The Amazing Spider-Man? Would he be showing up in Youngblood? Would people be talking about how “they” (powers-that-be) should make Inaugaration Day a holiday?

I think that people are looking for “change,” simply for the sake of change. And if the color of a man’s skin does not make a difference…then why is it such a big deal? Isn’t that just VALIDATING the idea that skin-color matters?

And what of faith issues?

I’ll be interested to see what develops in the next few months, particularly relating to the issues of faith, abortion, stem-cell research, and education. And we’ll see how much hypocrisy shows forth.

And I challenge anyone to point out where in the US constitution it guarantees anyone a freedom FROM religion (as opposed to a freedom OF religion).

spring broke? or breaking?

January 12, 2009

I hate shoe-shopping. I’m the kinda guy who will on rare occasions acquire a new pair of shoes. I wear ’em and they hurt my heels and the soles of my feet and I can’t wait to get ’em off for the night. But eventually, they’re broken in and come to be comfortable, and after while I hardly think about ’em. Until the rainy or snowy or whatever–wet–day when I feel that all too familiar squishing as I step and the water soaks my socks and I realize that my shoe(s) now let water in. When it’s time to find new shoes, I find that there are plenty of shoes that ALMOST fit–but usually they’re not quite a good fit. I wear a 10 1/2 wide. Sometimes the store actually has 10 1/2 instead of 9, 9 1/2, 10, 11, 11 1/2 and so on. Far more rare is the 10 1/2 W.

…and there are a lot of other thought points that I really can’t see putting here for all the world to see.

’nuff said.