My friend and mentor Johnny Lee once overheard a person say seven times in the same sentence that they were going to the Fishbowl. Seven times! They were obviously excited to show off their campus lingo because one simply does not mention something seven times in a sentence if they are not excited. I’m an English major. I know the rules. What was truly astounding about the statement was that the person was actually excited about going to the Fishbowl, and that is not something to be excited about.

Adam Burns

Supposedly, the Fishbowl is a place of huge glass windows that give it its fish bowl appearance which also houses a seemingly endless array of computers. A visit to the site, however, will reveal that the glass windows, sadly, are only on one side of the lab. This makes it more of a fish tank than a fish bowl. The visit will also reveal that the computers do indeed end. Trying to get an open computer at the Fishbowl can be very complicated in that it’s all based on luck.

Most students don’t understand the importance of luck and think that it takes a special skill to secure a computer. Therefore, they use a surefire technique to make sure that they get the first available computer.

Some students chose to stake out a specific computer. It may mean pitching a tent, phoning out for supplies or marking their territory like a dog, but once they are waiting for that computer, they are not leaving. If President Bush called and requested their services in the interest of national security, they would certainly accept — but only if the work could be done online and could wait until they got the computer they were waiting for. These people are typically very angry. I’m not sure why this is, but I have a very strong feeling that it has something to do with people like me that usurp the computers they are waiting for.

I’m one that likes to randomly wander throughout the Fishbowl, knowing divine intervention or stealing one from someone who is waiting is my best shot at getting a computer. There have been many times when I swooped in and swiped a computer from someone who was waiting for it. In my defense, I did not realize they were waiting because they had been pretending to read a book for the past hour, which apparently makes them look less conspicuous for the crime they feel they are committing: waiting for a computer to open up.

The drawback to roving around the Fishbowl is that you all too often see that familiar blue login screen from across the way and zoom to it, kicking over several backpacks and people waiting for the printer in the process — only to see it adorned with an out-of-order sign. Sometimes, the sign is not yet up, so several idiots try desperately to login, only to have the computer deny them each time. This occurs much to the delight of those seated at computers nearby, who bear a look of “I have a computer and you don’t.” Their condescension does not help matters when you rise from the chair, already defeated, and see a lucky student back across the way secure the computer you had been waiting for. Roaming around the Fishbowl is also a great strategy because it gives me ample chance to glare at each and every one of the people who are playing games and talking on the Instant Messenger. I want nothing more than to scream at someone to stop playing Texas Hold ‘Em so that I can get on the computer they are using and start playing online euchre.

The crucial issue with the congestion of the Fishbowl is printing. When I learned that the new printer I purchased held approximately a thimble’s worth of ink, I knew that I was going to have to use my ITCS-allotted 400 pages to print. I’ve headed out to the Fishbowl ten minutes before class with the intention of printing the assignment and turning it in. This, of course, never works. Not only do I have to go through the trouble of locating a computer, I have to make sure that I’m printing to the Angell Hall printer and not to the magical Zilch printer, which apparently holds less than a thimble of ink and cannot be used except in emergencies. I’ve probably spent a length of time equal to half my junior year waiting for papers that were never coming because I sent them to the Zilch printer. The other half was spent trying to get another computer, since people always took over mine as I waited for hours by the printer.

With all the problems that ensue, it may be obvious that we should all frequent the Union or the UGLI or wherever the cool kids go for their computing needs. But it’s obvious to me that we should keep heading to Angell Hall, just so we can say Fishbowl.


Adam will be spending his Valentine’s Day trying to fix a paper jam on printer four at the Fishbowl. Thank him for his efforts at burnsaj@umich.edu.

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