Thursday, April 29, 2010

29 APR 10: Café de Mojo

Boy, did I feel old Wednesday evening. WTVM showed a report on the new "Internet Café" at Spencer High School. I still get confused by those places being called "media centers" instead of libraries....

The library at Spencer High is called the "Cool Wave Café" these days - and it has much more than books. Perhaps the biggest surprise was seeing staff members brewing coffee for students. Friends in my old high school had trouble even getting a cup of coffee from the cafeteria line -- because that unhealthy drink was for teachers only.

The Cool Wave Café staff not only serves coffee to Spencer students, but cups of Hawaiian Punch. The first time a sophomore spills that cup next to a bookshelf, everything is bound to change.

But wait, there's more! The Cool Wave Café has replaced some of the typical library desks and wooden chairs with futuristic-looking round tables and backless stools. Either a librarian media specialist went to Ikea in Atlanta with a big gift card, or these furnishings were donated by a failed downtown nightclub.

Toni Webb was shown as one of the "media specialists" at Spencer High School. Aw, c'mon - you can't have that sort of vague-sounding 1990s title at an Internet café. How about a book-ista?

But anyway: Toni Webb says the Cool Wave Café approach has made the Spencer High School media center a much busier place. Not only are there drinks, but laptops where students can learn computer skills such as Dreamweaver and "Fireworks." Take that, Phenix City Central - Spencer likes Fireworks, and doesn't save them for football season.

Spencer students apparently can also check out iPods from the Cool Wave Café. At my Wednesday night poker tournament, I sat next to a man who appeared to have a glowing iPod strapped to his arm. But for some reason, it didn't work right - and I confirmed to him the screen didn't show his heartbeat.

Toni Webb says monthly checkouts from the Spencer High School, uh, café have jumped 14-fold. She thinks that's partly due to the addition of newer books, replacing copies from the 1950s. Wait a minute - something's out of place here. Where's the Kindle corner?

This sounds like a creative way to get high school students interested in computer programming and reading. But I spotted a couple of problems with this approach. For one thing, older books still can have value - I mean, besides selling them on eBay.

When the Columbus Public Library moved from Wynnton Hill to Macon Road five years ago, I mourned the fact that many helpful old reference books disappeared in the transition. College libraries don't tend to discard them - at least not until Google scans them for its big book project.

And I was surprised to find Spencer High School students could buy Snickers bars and Skittles bags at the Cool Wave Café. Isn't the federal government trying to eliminate the availability of junk food in public schools? Shouldn't an Internet café be specializing in apples?

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION on Columbus State Uuiversity's leadership closed Wednesday. Seven out of 11 voters say the President and Provost should resign, after the Faculty Senate's "no confidence" vote last week. If you're wondering about the scientific accuracy of that poll.... well, we don't have much confidence in that, either.

Imagine if every boss in Columbus had to face this sort of thing. How many managers could survive a no-confidence vote, if their employees.... oh wait. The bosses would rule they've lost confidence in their workers, and the unemployment rate would jump.

I'm admittedly trusting the news media to be right, with these other Wednesday notes....

+ A blog reader directed us to a recent Bloomberg interview with Synovus Chief Executive Officer Richard Anthony. The reader suggested Barclays PLC might be interested in taking over Synovus. But Anthony says his company aspires to take over failing small banks in Georgia and Florida -- putting a little more meat on his mid-sized fish in the food chain.

+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue visited Harris County, and indicated he'll sign a bill requiring pickup truck drivers to wear seat belts. Just because the truck is "Ram tough" doesn't mean young adults have to act tougher.

+ WRBL showed a protest outside the LaGrange Daily News by a "Patriots" group. Members are upset with the newspaper printing a "White Tea Party" cartoon which included a Ku Klux Klan hood. I guess I'd better stop repeating my joke about an environmental split in the movement - you know, the Green Tea Party.

+ Dee Armstrong officially joined the WLTZ news team, launching a new feature report called "Fixing It." Given the way she left WTVM, this new job may be how she's fixing her savings account -- not to mention her account balances with discrimination attorneys.

+ Columbus whipped Woodward Academy in high school baseball 13-2, as various reports revealed Coach Bobby Howard will retire after this season. As I recall, Howard stepped away from Columbus baseball once before - so striking out on his own this time would be only strike two.

+ Columbus High senior Amanda Massengale signed a letter of intent to play two college sports. She'll not only run cross-country for St. Andrews College of North Carolina - she'll also be on the college equestrian team. It's comforting to know Massengale can run for help, if her horse ever falls in a ravine.

+ Instant Message to Paul Olson: Are you really sure you want to enter the crowded Columbus mayor's race? Right now, all the local candidates for State House and Senate have no opposition -- and you'd probably annoy them every bit as much.

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