Why Poetry Is Hard To Read

Literary Notation Seven: Inspired by Blaine Greteman, professor in 16th/17th century literature & the modern social network. 

Poetry isn’t meant to convey an idea, or a message. Putting something in meter or rhyme inherently obscures the basic forms of communication–clarity. Why do texts confuse us? What satisfaction do we get from figuring them out? And at what point does it go too far? You see, Russian Formalists began talking about this precise thing. We interpret works based on our expectations of those works. This is prejudice. But a certain amount of a prejudice is necessary to understand the world. We share these prejudices. If you gave me a full cup, and I looked at this “cup”, and had to figure it out each time, one of us would end up with a face full of misunderstanding.

Poetry disrupts our expectations. Throws in these little surprises, and this constant revisiting and refiguring is good. We like this ultimacy of our decisions. When you watch a movie you know you like over and over again, but hoping there was something you missed the first or seventh time around, just to feel that feeling of surprise again–this is reading Poetry. It makes you aware of the prejudice that you bring to every situation. We simply do not fall into a text. We meet the author halfway–a shared horizon between “What the hell are you saying?” and “Oh, i see what you did there.” We can never know this thing called ‘authorial intent,’ but we can escape from our prejudices (if only for that moment in reading) and reflect on what it means to understand, expect, or read.


Thinc Ahead & Press On!

Look, we’re all busy changing the world here. We barely have time to breathe, much less study, relax, unwind, call home, and plan the next business pitch presentation in-between classes. A lot has happened in the past two weeks, so let’s recap and re-excite ourselves for life! ~

Ribbon Cutting!
Ribbon Cutting!

Thinc, The Innovation & Collaboration Lab, celebrated its Grand Opening Event two weeks ago in absolute style. Free food? Check. Friends? Yah! Fun? Absolutely! I wanted to get some quality time with the place before blogging about it. -cough- Dropbox photograph issues. -cough- But attending the event showcased the space as a place that could have held double the amount of people that came. [And a lot of people turned out!] So use that space! 

the jazz music
jazz music

Fellow Okoboji Entrepreneurs secretly turned into JPEC Ambassadors when I wasn’t looking. They all walked in for the after-party Nighttime Alumni & Student JPEC Networking Event. It was a whole reliving best moments and eating new, exciting food! The pictures are to follow, so feel jealous that you missed out. Next time the Business School starts berating your classes with flyers. Go to the event & put yourself out there! [If only for the chocolate covered strawberries and bacon wrapped dates~]

The next week Midterms haunted my every waking moment. I’m not going to bore you with the list; but I am taking 17SH hours now that my course with the awesome Professor Jerry Croft ended. The cooler thing was the next weekend.

I FINALLY got to show my friends Kansas City Ren Faire. It was a weekend before two midterms, where I really should have studied for the week and written all my assignments beforehand. Hah! I got it done on time and just as well. Let’s not talk about school work. Let’s talk about the awesome Jousting tournament, where I always end up on the side of the “not quite evil, but definitely not for justice” man. There were Turkey Legs and Scotch Eggs and a giant whole-baked apple dumpling, from street vendors that literally operated out of recreations of 12th Century wooden structures. Magic potion perfumes and hand worked leather shops took Master Card and Lady Visa, for those whose purse strings were pulled to tight for cash.

Then back to school for University and Business development. All my classes overlap and underscore what we’re doing for Tinderbox Studios. Wondering what that is? Well maybe I’ll write an Origin Story for us and put a link in here. For now, check out the Tinderbox page to read the synopsis! Y- and I have been super busy preparing for the Innovation Expo! Venture Showcase next Wednesday, Oct. 23rd! If you can score some free time be sure to register for it and come see our super cool presentation board.

Y’s been leading up the brand design and website illustrations. I’ve been heading up the more web development and long-term planning aspects. We’re tag teaming the booth showcase presentation. By this time next Tuesday look for a completed corporate website, awesome market stats & graphs, and business cards for Iowa City’s Creative Week 2013! It’s going to be a super packed week. The theme is Press On! Hit the ground running and go~ So if you don’t see enough of us, we’re working; if you see too much of us, we’re net-working.


For now, we’ll be working out at the BELL. Having meetings at Thinc. Intermittently napping between classes. Making time to go the gym and work on my Thesis. Did I forget to mention that? Oops…Stay warm game-changers! Winter is coming…

Professor Spotlight: Rich McCarty – Managing the Growth Business

“Let’s negotiate a deal where you tell me what we should do to get you out of class early.”

The class paused for a second, before a man raised his hand. “We should get out at 10:15 if 15 people raise their hands.”

“Very good! Very good,” the professor spoke, “So….what can we do to make the deal better?”

I wish I could say every class at the University of Iowa is like this. But no. It’s just Professor Rich McCarty energizing our classroom with power talk and hints of always getting out just a couple minutes early. But today was Chapter Six: Negotiating A Better Deal. He was testing us. He was tricking us into learning the material by practicing it! On him. The student behind me speaks up. Rich walks over to him directly and pauses in front of him, eyes forward, almost anticipating a better argument.

“Well, sir. It is Thirsty Thursdays,” the student begins.

“That’s just about reason enough!” We all laugh.

“Haha, yes, but what if we could get out 5 minutes earlier, say 10:10, if someone corrected you? Assuming, of course, you would need to be corrected….” the student continues, but Rich, always eager to push ahead exclaimed,

“Well sure! That sounds good. So, 10:10 if I get corrected and we have 15 hands raised.” Two new students walk into the classroom.

It’s not uncommon for students to meander in a minute or two behind schedule. Rich doesn’t mind. The majority of the class is usually early, with that time spent talking about our days and what makes our entrepreneurial brains tick. So for the latecomers, we haven’t even started lecture yet. It’s about 9:35am now. He turns to them.

“So you missed our conversation!” He begins, “It’s 10:15 if I get corrected and we get 15 hands raised.”

“No!” A student in the back shouts. “We agreed it was 10:10 if you got corrected.” The typical college student “Oooo” swells amongst the crowd.

His eyes look bright and he smiles. I don’t know if he meant to do that, or if he honestly forget. But he snaps his fingers, “Well you got me there.”

We begin lecture finally. More students peter into the classroom. We’re a couple of slides in. Another guy raises his hand. “Number 3! What’s up?” Rich asks.

“So, if we get out early, how far behind will we be?”

There’s a silent daze in the room. College student. Worried about being behind? No. It’s….Thursday.

Rich assures him, “The other class got out just as early. We’re not missing anything.” I think for a minute.

“That makes four. What’s your question?” 

I clear my throat.

“We said we had to get 15 hands raised. But, we never explicitly stated that the hands had to be raised for questions…so, what if, we all raised our hands at once? Would that count as fifteen?”

He blinks and room begins an excited, yet baffled murmur. Hands begin to slowly shoot up across the room, as he laughs.

“Now, you see what she did there?. . . ” He goes into the detail and paying attention that goes into making good negotiations between two business parties. We go through the lecture at the traditional pace, so we could have time for the video.

“Well, I don’t really need to teach you guys. I mean, look; you’re already such excellent negotiators!”

But the video link is broken and it’s only 9:56am. He shrugs it off and says, “Have a great Thirsty Thursday!”

This actually happened. I’m not making it up. I’m not trying to get this professor nominated for any awards. I’m not even saying, “Hey. Take this course if you get the chance.” Then again, I’m kinda saying all of these things. Classes should be fun and knowledge-based and encouraging. We can learn and laugh and loiter together. It’s okay to lecture your students with stories and diagrams. Expect them to sit through videos and read chapters and highlight notes. We are paying for a university level course on becoming leaders.

Rich says we can make $5million in our first five years. Now, he’s got a house in Vegas. He was CFO for quite a while. He seems like a bit of a know-how with finances and gambling. I want to make sure that he’s betting on the right crowd. And so far, TTH Class @ 9:30 hasn’t proven him wrong yet.

Remember: September 11th Today Essay

It’s strange how these things happen. 

I wrote this genuinely as a reaction to September 11th. It just happened to also be for my scholarship to the University of Iowa. Written in December 2009, I was 17 years old and half-way  through the final year of  my adolescent 4-year educational career. I am now 21 years old and quarter-way through the final year of my four-year secondary 4-year educational career. People say “I haven’t changed,” but that doesn’t keep me from feeling completely different. So I’ve left this piece unedited and unabridged. This is how I wrote 4 years ago. Let me show how I have grown. 


911: Growing Up to Grown Up

In one classroom, students sat focusing on their spelling test while in another a girl celebrated her eighth birthday. In my own classroom, I will never forget the color-by-numbers work of art I was creating. Our elementary school vice-principal fretfully peered through the door. Ushering our teacher aside, he whispered tensely. A low hush fell over the classroom as our teacher hurried toward the television receiver. Her trembling body stilled us into silence as she stumbled to dial channel three. Our minds buzzed with anxious anticipation; she had never acted this way before. As her strong character became numb and fragile, we waited for an answer to our unasked question: “What was wrong?” None of us were prepared for the images that pierced through our grave silence: the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

My child-like mind could not understand. We were all but children on nine-eleven, but after seeing the reactions of our principals, our teachers, our parents, and our country, by nine-twelve, we were all grown-up. The attack on the New York City World Trade Center left both Americans and Non-Americans shocked. It posed a perturbing question: if America can be attacked, who is really safe?

I could not comprehend the idea of attacking another nation with such viciousness. The concept was utterly foreign to me. My childish naivety led me to believe that there was only peace. I was completely shocked. Going home, a sinking feeling in the pit of my heart grew. I was not overcome by sadness, but by fear. I feared for my well-being. Would my family be attacked next? Bewildered, I looked towards my parents, seeking security from the horrific images repeating in my head.  The empty disbelief on their faces from the attack offered me no solace. My parents’ eyes held the same questions I did. How could this happen? How could this happen to my America—my world—the fortress of strength, hope, and freedom that opened its doors to countless numbers of immigrants? Watching the news for the first time, I became painfully aware of all the threats faced around the globe. I was awakened to a world of suffering, poverty, and morbidity. This new, terrible world was behind a door I had not known was there. With the destruction of the World Trade Center, I was thrust through this door involuntarily into a real world where my childhood naivety did not belong. With this naivety stripped of me, I began thinking like an adult for the first time. Our country—our world—was not impenetrable.

The next day, I saw my one and a half year-old sister playing on the floor. The day before, I could have easily joined in her carefree fun, but now, she was the only one blissfully unaware. To her sheltered mind, September 11th, 2001 had been any other day on the calendar. To me, a different memory replaced that date. Not since World War II, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, had the United States faced such psychological trauma. This attacked affected all nationalities, but American citizens were the most deeply wounded.

Prior to September 11th, 2001, American life was placid. Americans were the young children of a mothering nation. Sheltered from the world’s suffering, Americans were unaware of life’s ever-present dangers. Because of her perceived protection, her children became complacent about their freedom. Americans, continuously coddled, believed that America was invincible to outsides threats. America’s children believed they were behind an impenetrable wall. I was this child of America. Blissfully unaware of any threats, I saw America as a safe haven. I did not know of government or politics. The first image I saw of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers was of their untimely destruction. Being a child, I was traumatized by the horrific images of people jumping out off the towers for a better chance at survival and those crushed not by the initial impact, but by the falling debris as they ran from the building.

If one had visited the site of the World Trade Center on the day it had been destroyed, one would have found cement, iron, and bricks tumbling askew to the ground amid the chaos of disaster. Yet, only six months later, a construction site replaced the war-torn area.  How might I have guessed that a similarly threatening event would enter my personal life just as I was about to enter high school?  After spending eight years cultivating relationships, academic status, and emotional well-being, I would be uprooted to a completely different environment. Ripped and torn away from my friends and the people I loved, I would be moved from Alabama to the State of Missouri. At that time, it felt more like the State of Misery. Just like the war-torn site in Manhattan was rebuilt, I rebuilt my own life and just six months later, my life was thriving. I established new friendships, joined clubs and even founded History Club. I flourished in my accelerated academic courses. My academic excellences led to my acceptance into the Summer Cambridge College Programme at the University of Cambridge, England. I thrived as a member of the second-ranked debate squad in the nation. I rose to become lead drum major performing with my high school band at the Sugar Bowl Competition-2008 in New Orleans.  All of this would not have been possible if I had not learned perseverance in the face of strife—post nine-eleven.

Sitting in the front row of my classroom on September 11th, 2001, I felt the impact of this date on America and the world. This changed me. This changed the world. And now as I continue to mature, I truly feel the time will come when I will make changes of my own. I am seeking answers for myself. I refuse to take things at face value. I go beyond learning; I seek understanding.

OEI: Day 4 and 5

The Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute was incredible. Our company–Crane Computing–set goals and met them. We didn’t do well grade-wise. The Balanced Scorecard was much better for us, but was much lower than our universe. It couldn’t be helped. By scaling back options and not increasing sales staff, we killed ourselves in Quarter 5. We couldn’t recoup the loss for Q6. However, we will learn from our mistakes.

  • Keep the pace steady at sixty. Gradually build up from there.
  • It takes involvement at every level. Don’t let other people’s priorities distract you from yours. It’s a team effort. That’s what makes it succeed.
  • There can be two leaders. But in the end, one must be the listener and not the director.

Being an entrepreneur is always starting from the ground up, at zero to sixty million in a heart beat. OEI was overall an incredible experience. Look for some lecture notes & series updates in the future. I hope the advice I got can help ignite more passion or purpose to people around the world.

It isn’t something everyone can do. Just like Crane Computing worked well together but whose numbers didn’t stand up competitively, Start-Ups have to realize you don’t have to be competitive to compete in the market.

Continue making your own dreams come true. Together. We can change the world.

Recount: OEI Venture Capital Fair

07 Aug 2013
3:08 PM

Team 1, aka: Crane Computing, sits staring at their respective electronic devices. We’re anxiously awaiting mock investors, who have real VC deals on the side. They want a company to do super well. We need to win our own competition. It’s a play the game moment and all sides are trying to win it. We’ve discussed. We’ve prepared. We feel confident about our presentation; but- we live in the moment. Waiting. Wondering. When.

Mike Vasquez started in a corporate firm called AT&T and gave it all up to pursue his own grand venture scheme as an entrepreneur. With no guarantee of success, he secured a “modest now but tons back then” investment of $15,000 from the Des Moines government through John Papajohn. He had 2 minutes in the lobby with John Papajohn once he got his business plan together. Two minutes. On a Saturday at 9am. The next Monday, he got a call and investment. They’ve been working together ever since.

Our team was the first in 8 years to not have a CEO. VP of Manufacturing answered how lucky we were to have a dynamic representation for a team. Our HR VP  said how everyone was unique. Finance talked about our great team work and skills. I smiled. We’re well rounded. and I wanted to take Mike’s advice. We are in it to win it. We gave numbers, valuations, and statistics. You only get so far on projections.

We need to get that far.

OEI Day Two

The days are so long. I feel like last night dragged into the morning, waking at a 6:20 am just to Iron a shirt/skirt for 20 min. I can officially get into business professional in 20 minutes + make up #nobigdeal. Regardless: I’m really beginning to enjoy settling into this business routine. I love intensity and environments that force me to constantly talk. Once I start, I can’t stop. I just keep, keep keep moving.

This being said— I probably need to relax a bit more. I’m constantly over turning ideas on how to make a website even better. Today: We started a business simulation finishing Quarter 1. &i presented Tinderbox Studio’s Secret Project at the PITCH & GROW EVENT! located in Spencer, IA. It was incredible to see their co-working facility all the way in the Northwestern Corner of Iowa. People from U Iowa, Iowa State, UNI, and other big Midwestern Entrepreneurial backers were there. It was dynamic, entertaining, and complete with hipster coffee shop and free catering!

Speaking of food, I’m going to be eating a lot of Fruit. Breakfast + Lunch literally were fruit such as berries and grapes, plus an apple and a 1/3. Peanut butter served as a protein for lunch. #glutenfree #nodairy but it’ s my own choice. And they have been MORE than so accommodating. There is a whole shelf with gluten free cereal and Lara bars. They have real whole fruit and plenty of vegetable options at others’ houses. I can thrive in a community that genuinely cares about my health. It also worries me that I may secretly have a malabsorption issue. Nevertheless, Okoboji has been great so far! 

Let’s keep this up into Quarters 2 – 6 and Team One will dominate our Universe! 

Training for Japan, Day One

Today is my forth day walking in heels the length of my hand. Or somewhere between 3 to 4 1/2 inches. Why? You ask, as you see me hobble over cobblestones and brazenly trekking through spring-time pollen-filled grasses. I am preparing for something that needs high stamina, high endurance, and the flexibility to walk on any surface.

I am training to go to Japan.

In two weeks, my lovely friend and business partner Yuuki M. has invited me to stay with her and her grandparents at the end of May. I am literally falling over myself with excitement. It’s incredible to be so close to the end of the year for finals, on the brink of starting a business, and having made lovely connection(s) this weekend in Boston. . . I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED FOR THE SUMMER. (I should write that Niche article on bagels and my father before Japan.)

Japan is mountainous and urban. After walking in Boston over the weekend, Yuuki never complained. She was fine walking the 4+ miles a day in heels or tennis shoes braving the chilly coastal weather in my suit jacket. She loaned me her warm coat. She doesn’t even wear sunglasses. I trudged along like the slow fat puppy from 101 Dalmatians, Rolly. And that is all I wanted to do by Sunday morning. Roll on the dirty Subway station floor and take a nap. But non! She kept me vigilant until we could catch a taxicab so she could make her flight back to Japan.

Wherein I had to walk to Terminal A to buy my ticket and Terminal C to wait at the gate. Ah, Boston….

American cities were not meant for walking. Or at least the Midwest ones, and in two weeks thats all I’m going to do. My current workout is frequenting the gym at 4 days/week  completing a cycle/walking between 45-60mins. With the weather, it will be easier to complete the 2+ miles I should be walking a day to maintain the stamina necessary for Japan.

My good friend, Tom, went to Japan last May for two weeks. He wrote an article about their overall healthy lifestyle choices. It IS possible to live that lifestyle in America, but you can’t depend on the people you see around you for guidance. They’re unworthy Americans. Japanese fitness levels and portion sizes are invert of Americans. AKA Fitness levels UP and Portion Sizes DOWN.

So I reread his article and am coming up with my own “にほんのダイエット!”*

  1. Walk/Cycle between 1.7 – 6km a day.
  2. Eat three small meals a day of a variety of fruits, veggies, rice, and protein.
  3. Do not eat sweets, dairy, or other people’s free food that does not fit into my lifestyle.

Free food is hard food to ignore. I have a feeling I am going to be watching a lot of new tele on the treadmill. Still– All of this is worth it to be ready to face Japan head-on! I want to be tired from jet-lag, not my former rolly-polly self….

*Japanese Diet! for all you non-otakunese out there.