It’s a typical fall Saturday in the Midwest, and all I want to do is make soup and watch football. Fortunately, I was able to do just that this morning! I bought my mom football tickets for her birthday – Iowa (her alma mater) vs Illinois – so we spent the day cheering on the Hawks and then eating homemade tomato soup. Unfortunately I still have work to do…

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Happy birthday today to Ryan and Jason, two of my most favorite gentlemen friends from the last year!

These fine gentlemen once extracted me from a tree, and for that, they have my undying friendship. Thanks, guys. I hope this trip around the sun is memorable!

Last night I had a dream about a digital library of advertising jingles – except in my dream, I conceived of it as Flickr for advertising jingles. Anyone know of such a thing?

Also, tonight SB and I made dinner: roast chicken with organic fingerling potatoes and sweet onions, pan gravy with white wine, and a simple salad. The newly operational ice maker is chugging away, and on the stove I have a pot of this and that reducing into chicken stock for tomorrow’s soup.

Tomorrow I start my job, but for tonight, it’s lovely to be simple and domestic.

Starbucks

So last night I was talking to a few former barista coworker friends, and the subject of Starbucks came up – I believe in the context of discussing the neglectful management of our former place of employment. If you know me even moderately well, you know that I’ve maintained a long-standing ban on Starbucks. I worked at an independent coffeeshop for two years, and have many friends who work and/or manage independents. With Starbucks planning to open 250 more Chicagoland locations (to add to the 330 existing ones), you can understand my vehemence. By the numbers, independent coffee shops have lost 11% of the market in the last four years. For those of us who rely on our indie for income, variety, and good coffee, that’s alarming.

One of the most touted things about Starbucks (notably more touted than the quality of their drinks) is their treatment of employees, who are eligible for health insurance, stock options, and a 401K – as well as advancement possibilities simply not available in your average mom-and-pop shop. A Starbucks employee union exists, though it seems that it has a contentious relationship with Starbucks itself. Starbucks has also, in the last few years, agreed to sell Fair Trade coffees, though it sounds like that decision only happened under some protest.

Last night, my coffeestore friends slightly revised our ban. We’re OK with people working for Starbucks – like our former manager, who routinely works 40+ hour weeks for no vacation, no benefits, and no chance of ever having any real authority due to the ongoing mismanagement by the owners – we’re just not OK with people buying coffee there.

Space and Place

Last night Richard and I were talking about the need for a “third place” (to use the right buzz-word) for students in our program. PhD students have a doctoral study, research groups for collaborative work, and a regular “symposium” for pursuing alcoholism and research simultaneously. Masters students have no shared spaces, but they do have various student groups with regular meetings. What seems to be lacking is a time or space or place for collaboration, discussion, and sharing ideas across programs and disciplines – and outside the context of class, work, and the bars. The network of blogs has made some of this possible, but we both really feel that it needs to exist in a corporeal space.

Geographically co-located friends, would you participate in a weekly or monthly salon if we arranged it?