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Best of the Quad Cities Fall 2009 Winners PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 15:00

When we decided to break up our 2009 Best of the Quad Cities into two sections, the change had several benefits. For one, it allowed us to include more categories while making it easier for people to participate by cutting down on the number of categories on each ballot. And it allowed us to write articles about more winners.

This second half of balloting covers Arts, Culture, & Entertainment; Night Life; Shopping & Services; and People. (Food & Dining; Civics & Government; Media; and Recreation were covered in our April 1, 2009, issue. Those results can be found here.)

Over the course of two issues, our readers have voted on the best of the Quad Cities in roughly 120 categories, and we've written articles about almost 30 winners. In two rounds of voting, we had nearly 750 valid ballots. (This time, we required participants to provide reasonable responses in 20 categories.)

We also decided, with our summer balloting, to release the results online first, and readers have used the comments section over the past few weeks to debate the inclusion of certain categories (gay bar), the scope of certain categories (actor/actress), and the winners (band). That feedback is valuable in crafting future ballots, but we hope it also it encourages future participation. If you don't like some of the results this time around, make sure you and your friends vote the next time.

 
A Textbook Case: Why Digital College Materials Haven’t Taken Off PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Written by Megan Stephenson   
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 08:13

At the beginning the school year, in a chemistry class at St. Ambrose University, Professor Margaret Legg offered students the option to buy a less-expensive e-book instead of the usual physical textbook. No one opted for the digital version.

Kelsey Berg, a sophomore majoring in biology, said she had already bought the hardcover edition. Had the e-book been offered before she bought it, Berg said she still wouldn't have purchased it. "I don't like reading on a computer. It's hard to concentrate," she said, adding that it wasn't worth the cost, either, because one can't sell an e-book back.

Many college students are embracing digital and open-source textbooks, which are accessed through computers and digital readers such as Amazon's Kindle. For some, it provides a more convenient way to carry multiple textbooks. Beyond being easier on students' backs, e-books are also better for the environment, because no natural resources are used in the production or transportation of a physical book.

But the major selling point is a lower cost compared to new textbooks. Textbooks cost an average of $900 per semester, according to the federal Government Accountability Office. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has been advocating for reducing the prices of textbooks, which they say have risen faster than the rate of inflation in the past several years.

Although e-books are often 50 percent less expensive than unused print editions of textbooks, the cost evaluation isn't quite so clear-cut. In many cases, there's little or no cost savings to students in the long run.

And some people, like Berg, resist e-books for other reasons.

 
The Blue Cat’s “Blue Bastard” on 15 Years in the Beer Business PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 12:19

Brewmaster/Blue Bastard Dan Cleaveland

The Blue Cat Brew Pub opened 15 years ago this year, and given its institutional status in the Quad Cities, it's hard to believe that starting out, its proprietors knew next to nothing about how to brew beer or run a brewpub.

As co-owner and brewmaster Dan Cleaveland tells it, his sister Martha wanted to open a bar/restaurant, and after she learned about the brewpub model, she saw a business opportunity: There were no brewpubs in the Quad Cities.

Dan had never brewed beer. "She thought I'd make a good brewer," he said last week. Why? "I was a scientist, I guess."

 
When Summer Kisses Fall: Enjoying the Harvest from Field and Vine PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Written by Nancy Rosetti   
Thursday, 10 September 2009 08:03

To borrow a phrase from the New York Culinary Institute: "Forgive us if we celebrate the end of summer." Sure, the bounty from the farm shines in the warmer weather; asparagus, berries, and delicate greens abound. But late summer brings its own windfall. This is really when the summer yield reaches its peak.

In the Quad Cities, there is a farmers' market nearly every day of the week, and you will find grocery stores bringing more seasonal, locally grown food into their produce sections. Taking advantage of the abundance of the harvest is a must. The following are seasonal food and beverage suggestions -- starting with the wine.

 
Apples and Oranges: Comparing the Costs, Benefits, and Convenience of Organic and Local Produce PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Written by Emily Heninger   
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 07:34

Organic food is often praised as better-tasting and more nutritious than its conventional equivalent, and it's grown with fewer chemicals. But because it typically travels long distances to get to consumers, it has a significant environmental cost.

One alternative is locally grown food, which is of course readily available at the nine farmers' markets in the Quad Cities area.

But you'll likely have difficulty finding locally grown produce at a nearby grocery store. Some stores carry locally produced fruits and vegetables, but the labeling is often nonexistent or unclear, leaving customers uncertain whether they're buying an apple from within a few miles or from across the country.

 
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