The Firing Squad (Oct. 10, 2003)

How do you turn this thing on?

The Firing Squad is perplexed as to why some of its professors bother to request so-called “Smart” classrooms when they are painfully inept at using the equipment. After several minutes of confusion and restarting Windows, the prof will inevitably turn to students for assistance with even the simplest tasks.

By the way, if you have a doctorate and you can’t manipulate PowerPoint, you need more help than The Firing Squad can give. And if you can’t operate a VCR, The Firing Squad weeps for you — and for its education. Perhaps Northwestern should consider halting its construction of Smart classrooms until it has trained its anti-Smart instructors how to use them.

— Colleen Crone

Lawn Care for Idiots

Grass, green and living, needs water in order to be pretty. The Firing Squad is no biology major, but it understands this much and therefore has no beef with sprinklers, in theory. The problem arises, however, with the manner in which sprinklers are used on campus — namely, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekdays, and more often on the sidewalk than on the grass itself.

Concrete needs no water, yet somehow The Firing Squad finds itself frequently trampling through soggy grass to avoid being sprayed whilst on the sidewalk. At first, 70-degree October days seemed lovely, but now The Firing Squad says just bring on the damn snow already.

— Jessica Mayle

No one’s a sch-winner without a big rack

Riding around campus used to decrease the time it took to get to class, but these days The Firing Squad spends less time actually riding than it does looking for a nice rack — for its bike.

Each day dozens of bikes sit in front of Kresge Centennial Hall, unlocked, unattended and practically screaming “Steal me!” Innovative methods for securing bikes have emerged, including locking them to lampposts, chain-link fences and suspending them from trees. The bike racks that once sat at the entrance of Fisk Hall are M.I.A., and those at Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center and The Rock are usually full. There’s a new rack at Crowe Hall — but it’s still wrapped in plastic.

The university must take action to correct this problem — at least until The Firing Squad can afford the Segway Human Transporter. Oh, wait. Never mind.

— Eric Martin

Willie’s food court: too Chicktastic?

ALThough it appreciates the effort Willie’s Food Court puts into its vegetarian options, The Firing Squad — a solid omnivore — would be delighted to have an occasional meat choice beyond chicken on the bone.

Apparently, somebody — possibly that guy in the lab coat — disagrees: Every day during dinner break, The Firing Squad must stare at heaps of quarter-rotisserie chickens sunbathing under warming lamps. Can you buy these things at Sam’s Club? Even when ham or turkey is offered, it merely supplements the roasted birds instead of replacing them.

The Firing Squad knows change can be scary, but it still has a suggestion for the powerful few who plan out Willie’s menu: How about a boneless chicken breast every now and then?

— Kimra McPherson

Return to sender

The Firing Squad sends the following public service announcement to several readers who have written letters to the editor this week: “Come in, Weinberg junior Jane Doe. Please return to planet Earth. The lack of oxygen must be getting to your head.”

I know The Firing Squad shouldn’t gripe, as in previous weeks we’ve scrounged and begged for letters. But a few readers — and they probably don’t know who they are — have submitted some of the most ungrounded, thoughtless crap these pages have seen in recent memory.

Perhaps The Firing Squad shouldn’t complain; at least they’re making the columnists look good.

— Adam Williams