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November 04, 2008 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-11-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Choosing road over resume BykTait Morris

ver the past summer, I had
the fortunate experience of
taking a seven week road
trip in a cherry red 1979 Mercedes-
Benz station wagon that runs on
vegetable oil.
It's possible, although it does
involve driving slowly, and some-
times aimlessly, through towns
across the United States.
In each city, we asked Chinese
restaurants for hand outs of cooking
oil, and when we got a yes, went into
the standard routine. We pulled out
the greasy oil gear, pumped out the
tank, re-packed the car, drove to
find a suitable place to filter, took
our shirts off, got filthy and put the
finished product in a gas tank bur-
ied under our packs and food.
At about 23 miles per gallon
(diminishing to nearly single digits
in the Rocky Mountains due to the
Mercedes's 77 horsepower), a full
25-gallon tank covered about 575
miles of our 2,180-mile trek to Seat-
tle from Petoskey, Mich.
Those seven dirty summer weeks

aren't going to help me land a job,
but I learned more riding around
with three and sometimes four
other shirtless guys in a constantly
cramped and smelly station wagon
that I ever could have with an
My parents instilled in me a
great appreciation of both nature
and experiential learning. See-
ing, climbing and hiking the great
American West fulfilled the first.
I realized our scale and surround-
ings: the natural things around us
are amazing, and we (and our petty
problems) pale in comparison. We
saw deserts, snow, mountains, and
rock: beauty right in our country.
We had ups (hiking mountains
in Colorado) and downs (having
to drive on diesel for a few hours
on a late Wisconsin night), but we
learned how to adapt.
My newfound outlook on life
involves worrying less, allowingsit-
uations to take their natural course
and being constantly aware of my
surroundings. On at least 10 occa-

sions, It
car was g
violent b
the sidec
but to hi
port and
But it nev
be equall
few wroi
times ov
did we h

was fully certain that the deadline (and one was for a drive-in
oing to break down with a movie). We lived carefree. With the
ang, leaving us stranded on car's top speed at around 60 mph,
of the road, with no option we had no other choice but to take
tchhike to the closest air- our time.
buy a plane ticket home. My friends and I embraced
our youth. Gawkers at our car
told us they were jealous, wished
they would have taken our trip.
Lessons We basked in the interest strang-
ers showed in our adventure. The
earned in a thrifty lifestyle I adopted gave me
,79 M~ercedes the confidence to emphatically pro-
nounce: this is who I am and this is
doweed b what I do.
w e Y The owner of the car had traded
egetable oil his functional Volkswagen Jetta for
the Benz and spent $1,500 of a lim-
ited budget in order to convert the
car. Environmental reform needs to
actually happen with our genera-
ver happened. tion. We will be inheriting the prob-
er worries turned out to lematic planet. Our commitment to
ly insignificant. We took a learning by doing made the trip a
ng turns, a few hour-long wild success.
but we arrived. Only three It was fine that we didn't know
ver our seven week trip when we were going to find more
ave to be somewhere on a food, where we would sleep on any

given night, or where to get oil.
These things excited us. We solved
these questions with clear rationale
and rolled pastthem; we lived in the
We took it all in. Opened our
sense to America and tuned in. In
return we met an array of people
and heard their stories. Our Ann
Arbor perspectives were constantly
challenged and I nowhave agreater
knowledge and appreciation for our
country. We smiled at the shining
sun, washed in rivers and lakes,
cooked with the same oil we put
in the car, listened to truck drivers
and stuck our heads out the window
- all to the tempo of Creedence
Clearwater Revival and beautiful
Colorado afternoons.
It's true, what I did last summer
can't be summed up in concise bul-
let points on my resume, but that's
part of the reason why it was worth
-Patrick Tait Morris is a junior
in the Ford School of Public Policy



The likelihood of an indoor smoking ban in Mich.

who've never purchase their a very social context," she said,
own pack, aren't really smokers - lighting the cigarette in her hand
they're social smokers, and Ann and taking the first long drag. "It's
Arbor is full of them. terrible."
But other students, like LSA Any student at the Univer-
sophomore Jessie Lipkowitz, are sity must understand the health
anything but social smokers. risks of smoking. They grew up
"I have one when I wake up in in a decade when anti-smoking
the morning, have one in the after- efforts brought posters showing
noon, it'spart of my daily routine," grotesquely destroyed lungs and
she said, sitting outside the UGLi celebrities who poo-pooed smok-
with a fresh Parliament Full deli- ing with lines like "kissing a smok-
cately placed between her fingers. er is like licking an ashtray."
Lipkowitz, 19, picked up her "I know smoking is inextricably
first pack five years ago, and has linked to heart disease, lung can-
been smoking ever since. "In the cer, emphysema. That is all true,"
beginning I started smoking on Engineering sophomore Matt

Zielinski said. "But I still choose
to smoke. "It's just like drink-
ing alcohol is linked to depres-
sion, liver problems. People still
choose to drink alcohol. It's a self-
destructive behavior. (Smoking) is
something I choose to do because
of what I get out of it."
Students say it's the sense of
community - cigarettes as con-
versation starters - or the chance
to slow down - cigarettes as mini-
rewards throughout a hectic day -
that keep them puffing away.
"It definitely releases stress,
too," Zielinski said. "It's a very
intense, high-paced atmosphere

and smoking a cigarette just calms
you down."
Lipkowitz and Zielinski, who
both come from states that have
already enacted smoking bans,
believe that the decision to permit
smoking should be left up to indi-
vidual businesses.
"A private business should be
able to decide whether or not it
wants to allow smoking within
its establishment," Zielinski said.
"It's unconstitutional."
But regardless of whether the
ban passes, Zielinski and Lipkow-
itz don't believe it will affect them
much, they are used to not being

able to smoke indoors.
Even if the state of Michigan
passes a flat out ban, outlawing
smoking in every establishment
across the state, the smoking com-
munity would likely keep puffing
away, just out in the cold. As the
cigarette's ubiquitous presence on
campus shows, the desire to smoke
runs deeper than government
"I've made it a part of my life-
style," Lipkowitz said, flicking the
last glowing embers of her ciga-
rette to the ground. "I think walk-
ing around with a cigarette makes
me feel more, well, me."



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