My parents need a new computer

I had the longest arms so I had to hold the camera

My parents now have “the broadband” and are in need of a new computer. Their Dell desktop PC (that I customized for them when I lived in Chicago) is about 8 years old. It is now time for a new PC. Since I’m now a total Mac head, I am in need of some PC suggestions…my Macbook Pro is about 4 years old and I will never go back to a PC or MS Windows.

My parents have a budget of about $600 to $700 for a new computer. I’ve been looking at and, but haven’t been able to configure a desktop that meets their requirements without going over budget. The added cost of Windows 7 Professional and Microsoft Office – the useful edition – keeps putting me above $700.

Here are the basic requirements for the new computer:

  • Windows 7*
  • Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010
  • 4GB’s of ram
  • 19 in. LCD

Does anyone have any ideas for a reliable yet inexpensive computer setup that meets these requirements?

*I wonder if Windows 7 Home Premium is as useless as Dell and HP make it seem to be? Is Windows 7 Professional worth the added cost?

**Every post that mentions computers should really include a Commodore 64. Just saying:
commodore 64

Indian Hills Community College

I attended Indian Hills Community College (IHCC) in Ottumwa, Iowa from 1995 to 1997. During my time at IHCC I joined the jazz band, played my trombone for the pep band and signed up for my first email account with Hotmail. It was a phenomenally developmental period in my life. My IHCC academic advisor, Tom Stewart, is still a close mentor and friend. My love of higher education began at IHCC.

As a member of eduStyle, I frequently submit higher education websites for community review. When Indian Hills recently re-designed their website, I immediately submitted the new site design to eduStyle. I was unaware that my IHCC story was one of the featured stories on the homepage. I had submitted answers, over a year ago, to a questionnaire about my IHCC experiences. When the new site design was entered in on eduStyle, the site thumbnail showed a different homepage image. Brad J. Ward notified me via Twitter of my “celebrity” status.

The new design is definitely an improvement compared to the previous iteration:

Indian Hills new design

Continue reading Indian Hills Community College

Iowa: the home for immigrants

From Iowa, the home for immigrants by the Iowa Board of Immigration:

Native American populations in Iowa were conveniently “reduced” to make room for white settlers according to the text in this Iowa immigration advertisement from 1870.

The lowas, next to the Sioux, were once the most numerous and powerful of all the tribes between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. But before leaving the “Beautiful Land” to join their fortunes with other remnants of their race beyond the Missouri, they were reduced by wars, whiskey, and small-pox, to about 1,300 souls.

Whiskey: A gift from the white man
Small-pox: A tactical tool for genocide
Wars: This is what happens when other populations of Native Americans are bumping into your nation because of territorial moves/flight due to white settlement, murder, rape, etc.

Perhaps it is time to re-frame what happened to Native American populations in Iowa. “Leaving” just sounds a bit like a lie when you know what really happened.

When we consider that Iowa is the youngest sister of the seven—that the moccasin marks of the Indian are scarcely yet obliterated from her soil—we can justly claim that the above comparison reflects great credit upon her, and that she has achieved an enviable rank among the great agricultural and stock-producing States of the Union.

Wow. They didn’t have any issue with saying that Native American populations were literally being “obliterated.”

I guess it should be no surprise that my hometown actively celebrates Columbus Day… especially when you grow up in a whitewashed system that frames Native genocide as “leaving”.

If you ever wonder why present day Iowa is made up predominantly of white people, look no further than this:

The present English edition of this pamphlet is 35,000 copies. We also print in German 15,000 copies; Norwegian, 6,000 copies; Swedish, 4,000 copies, and Holland 5,000 copies.

The Iowa Board of Immigration targeted people in predominantly white parts of the world. Iowa’s whiteness is not an accident. It is an institutionalized (by the state) system of privilege for white people that is at the core of present-day Iowa. A discussion about present-day Iowa that is devoid of this context is a discussion that is devoid of awareness and reality.

Iowa, the home for immigrants

Iowa: whiteness romanticized

Driftless - Stories from Iowa
via Driftless: Stories from Iowa

Driftless: Stories from Iowa, is a MediaStorm project that features stories from rural Iowa from the point of view of photojournalist Danny Wilcox Frazier. Frazier, a white guy from Iowa City, Iowa, frames Iowa from a majority white, romanticized point of view.

I was raised in Southeast Iowa near Iowa City and have been to a lot of the towns that are featured in Frazier’s project. The project is split into distinct sections: Family Farm, Town Bar, Jumping Rock, Migrant Labor, Country Butcher, and Harry & Helen.

Kalona and Conesville are a couple of the towns that are featured in the project. I grew up in that part of Iowa – East of Kalona and West of Conesville. The film includes many of the things that most people associate with Iowa: farming, cows, hogs, cornfields, gravel roads, guns, tractors, and white people. Associating Iowa with white people is not a difficult thing to do as the latest U.S. Census numbers show that Iowa is 94% white. However, Iowa is not 100% white and I think that Frazier is barely aware of this fact.

Frazier’s interviews in the piece construct rural Iowans as being all white and that people of color, predominantly Latinos, are “newcomers” or semi-permanent residents. People from Mexico immigrated to Iowa as early as the 1800’s. Frazier’s subjects who are older than 50 are all white and are depicted as “true Iowans.”

Whiteness is romanticized. The video clip titled “Migrant Labor” and the transcript of the video provides ample fodder for critique:

Continue reading Iowa: whiteness romanticized

Iowa school district revises fluency list

Lori Phanachone is fluent in both spoken and written English. However, in March, Storm Lake High School in Iowa mandated that she take an English fluency exam because English was not the first language spoken in her home. “School officials told [Lori that] she [was] considered to be illiterate based on her refusal to satisfactorily complete the English Language Development Assessment.” The assumption by the school was that Phanachone, born in California, was not fluent in English because it is her second language. It’s an extremely racist assumption.

An honors student, Phanachone was suspended from school after refusing to take the test. According to Phanachone, “administrators… told her her college scholarships — $86,000 at Buena Vista University and more at Iowa State University, would disappear” if she didn’t take the test.

Continue reading Iowa school district revises fluency list

Iowa: Cooler than California

Iowa - Cooler than California since 2009
IOWA: Cooler than California since 2009

It is ironic to me that at the moment, the state of Iowa (my home state) provides access to marriage benefits for same sex couples while California does not. The state that I currently reside in, Oregon, does not provide access to the legal benefits of marriage (Civil Unions are not the same) to same sex couples. Iowa does. If Iowa can do it, than Oregon, California, and all the rest of the states in the U.S. can do it.

Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W.2d 862, (Ia. 2009)Barring same-sex couples from marriage, the court ruled, violates the equal protection provisions of the Iowa Constitution. Equal protection requires full marriage, rather than civil unions or some other substitute, for same-sex couples.

The Nadas

The Nadas

Listen to “Feels Like Home”

I’ve been listening to the Nadas for quite a while. At least 12 years of auditory enjoyment. I remember seeing them perform at the OP in Cedar Falls, Iowa while I was a student at the University of Northern Iowa. I’ve seen them perform at venues in Iowa, in Chicago, IL and at a friends wedding in Minnesota. I’ve watched these guys grow up while I myself was maturing. When the inevitable occurs and the Nadas retire/break-up, I’m going to be bummed out. They have been a musical constant in my eclectic musical collection. I wonder if they’ll ever make it out to Oregon for a gig?

Listen to “Blue Lights”

Listen to “Coming Home”

Continue reading The Nadas

Burlington, Iowa and LGBT Rights

Burlington Iowa

Gay, transgender ordinance headed to vote“.

This was the title of a recent headline story in the Burlington Hawkeye, the newspaper of Burlington, Iowa. Why I am reading the Hawkeye? Well, it just so happens that the majority of my family lives in or near Burlington. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. Burlington is the epicenter of my familial roots.

The basic gist of the article is that the Burlington Human Rights Commission wants to add language “to the city code that would list sexual orientation and gender identification as protected classes.” A city councilman, let’s just call him Jim “I’m not a homophobe if I say I’m not” Davidson, has argued against adding the protection language due to his discriminatory belief system:

Davidson said Wednesday that adding language to protect gays and transgender people would be an endorsement of “lifestyles that are unacceptable.”

“I’m not for anybody being discriminated against,” Davidson said. “But in the past decade, the agenda of homosexuals has been to make their lifestyle acceptable when it is an abhorrent lifestyle. There are a lot of people in this community that feel the same way as me.”

At a work session Monday, Davidson called homosexuality a choice. That being the case, he said, it should not to be treated the same as other protected classes.

“If I were a black person or a Jew or any other minority, I would be very upset to hear that homosexuality is considered the same as me, because it’s not. A person is black not because they choose to be black.”

Davidson is against anybody being discriminated against as long as they are not gay. His logic will make your head spin. Jim, if being gay is a choice, as you say it is (I believe that it is not a choice), wouldn’t that mean that religion should be removed from the list of protected classes? You know, religious beliefs being a choice and all… Oops. Probably didn’t get on the logic sit ‘n spin before you opened your mouth. You are probably correct about the fact that Burlington, like a lot of towns in the U.S., unfortunately, is populated with a lot of homophobic people.

Council member Matt Murray said he respectfully disagreed with Davidson’s position. He argued the council should not parse words, but take a stand against all forms of discrimination.

“What are you afraid of?” Murray asked the council. “No one should have to face discrimination here in Burlington.”

Exactly. Matt Murray for the win. And then, the mayor showcases how he completely doesn’t get it. Not even close…

Continue reading Burlington, Iowa and LGBT Rights

Blogger & Academic Advisor

Eric Stoller blogging the 2008 Iowa floods

Advisor Creates Blog About Flood

Damage from this summer’s flooding in Iowa extended all the way to Oregon State.

Eric Stoller, an academic advisor at OSU, is from Columbus Junction, Iowa; a town of about 2,000 people that was besieged by water in June when the Iowa and Cedar Rivers overran their banks.

“The only way I could do something to help was to put information up on my blog,” Stoller said.

The transplanted Iowan is quite tech savvy. In a previous job, he worked as a Web consultant and he also built the OSU Admissions department’s blog. He started his personal blog in 2004, mostly as a way to publish his academic work and social justice views. In June, Stoller began posting flood photos and links to Southeast Iowa flooding news stories.

The Sanctuary on Postville, Iowa

The Sanctuary - a new on-line community where human-rights, civil-rights, and progressive activists will be discussing issues of concern for all those interested in humane and practical immigration reform, migrant-rights, human-rights, and the greater struggle of all who those have left friends and family behind to start new lives in new lands

The Sanctuary has in-depth accounts and critical analysis of what happened in Postville, Iowa:

On Monday, May 12, 2008, at 10:00 a.m., in an operation involving some 900 agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed a raid of Agriprocessors Inc, the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and meat packing plant located in the town of Postville, Iowa.

Start with this post for a comprehensive examination of what went down in Postville:

The True Story Of Postville

Erik Camayd-Freixas, an interpreter, speaks about the proceedings against undocumented immigrants arrested at a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa:

Continue reading The Sanctuary on Postville, Iowa