MC engineering club advances study, skills

DSCN1377Trebuchets, rockets and golf ball launchers. They all toss things high in the air and the Midland College engineering club aims to see how far, said Alberto Lozano, MC student.

The Midland College engineering club was formed five years ago to help technically minded students an outlet for their design expressions, said Sonia Ford, mathematics assistant and club adviser.

The club started as an informal gathering of students with a common interest in engineering. The club evolved into monthly or bi-monthly meetings, study groups and projects for MC events.

The project for See MC and Science Extravaganza is a trebuchet, Ford said. Past projects have included golf ball launchers and water-powered bottle rockets.

“As club sponsor I help with organization of the meetings at the beginning of the semester and events such as Club Fair, Science Extravaganza, etc.,” Ford said.

“However, the club is what the students make it, and I encourage them to take more of a leadership role after the first one or two meetings of the semester,” Ford added.

The club invites local engineers in from the community to give talks about their experience as an engineer, Ford said. The age and experience of the speakers range from just graduated to having been in the field for years.

MC student Jeremy Salazar, is majoring in mechanical engineering and plans to continue his education at Texas Tech “to take advantage of their great program,” after receiving his associate degree this semester at MC.

“I joined the engineering club to get better tied in with the students who were on the same page as me—or at least in the same chapter—and just take advantage of the study groups, and chance to network with current and aspiring engineers,” he said. “This (club) has worked out great and has helped me to stay on task and encouraged.”

The trebuchet for the MC events is a student-run project, Ford said.

“This semester, a group within the club has taken a leadership role in the design and building of the trebuchet for Science Extravaganza and have done a wonderful job,” Ford said.

“I am excited to see their hard work in action (at Science Extravaganza),” Ford added.

“I am glad to say this is my first trebuchet I ever helped build, and I was glad to work with such focused and motivated people who were also on the project,” Salazar said.

Lozano is also majoring in mechanical engineering, and will be transferring to Texas Tech, he said. A group tour to Texas Tech was a past engineering club activity.

“This is the first time I’m building a trebuchet,” he said. “I am really excited about transferring, although I will miss MC.”

Teamwork is a huge part of engineering club, Lozano said.

“I just have to say that they are a great team and every one gave great efforts in the project,” he said.

“Everyone was very cooperative and it was a great experience to work with all of the members. I hope everyone is successful in their endeavors,” Lozano added.

The date rape drug

Kit Kat, bedtime scoop, liquid x and mind erasers. Does anyone happen to know what all these names are?

How about if a more commonly known name is used? Does the date rape drug ring any bells? That’s right, all these names are slang for roofies.  Many different types of roofies travel in and out of local bars, restaurants and even hotels. Three most common types of roofies are rohypnol, GHB and ketamine. Each has a different effect, and they aren’t something to be taken lightly.

This may not seem like important information to some, but date rape drugs are under the radar and knowledge is needed. Date rape drugs are used to make you dizzy and weak and even cause you to black out and forget.

This isn’t something that should be brushed off or ignored.  This is a serious matter that has affected many people’s lives, and although some may think it will never happen to them it’s quite possible. Anyone is a potential victim.

A date rape drug is a drug that is used for sexual harassment or abuse.  It is used to weaken the motor skills of  humans being so that they may be taken advantage of.

These drugs are very powerful and dangerous and almost undetectable according to MC student Mary Ruth. This drug is offered as a pill; it also comes in liquid and powder form, making it easy for predators to distribute it through things such as a drink. It has no color, smell or taste.

For example, Royhpnol, takes nearly 30 minutes to take effect, and it can last several hours according to Midland forensic specialist Gary Smith.  This specific type may cause victims to act as if they are drunk, leaving them with an intoxicating experience. Victims may also experience difficulty standing and talking. Nausea, dizziness and even confusion can take place as well.

GHB has similar effects but can affect victims in half the time as royhpnol. GHB can cause shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, motor skill impairment and could make the victim pass out.

Ketamine is one of the scarier roofies. According to Smith, it is one that can cause you to be unaware of what is happening and causes all motor skills to shut down, leaving victims immobile.  According to Smith, it can leave victims with an out-of-body experience and in a “dream” state.  Ketamine can cause loss of speech, loss of coordination and nausea.

One main thing all of these drugs have in common is they can all cause death.

According to Smith, there are potential ways to prevent this from happening. Be aware of the situation and people around. Know that not everyone is a friend. Don’t accept drinks from strangers or for that matter even a friend, don’ share drinks, and  keep drinks with you at all times.

Don’t drink from open containers at a party like a huge punch bowl, and if you left a drink unattended, pour it out. Don’t be a victim and inform others of these dangers. There are crazy people in the world and being a victim can happen to anyone—remember that.IMG_0254


Help labs enrich courses

Integrating labs with courses at Midland College allows students to focus on what they do not understand rather than on the material that they do understand, according to Lynda Webb, dean of adult and developmental education at Midland College.

MC offers a Math Lab and a Language Hub which incorporates both the writing and reading labs. MC also has computers that can be moved around campus to serve as mobile labs to supplement the permanent ones.

The labs that MC offers serve different needs. They help remedial and returning students who are having trouble with their classes, as well as testing and other applications, according to Webb.

Other colleges have had good results from incorporating labs as part of their class requirements.

“Amarillo College had a 78 percent success rate if students put in seven hours at a lab,” Webb said.

If MC did not have the labs, there would not be another place for students to get help since MC does not have a large active tutoring program, Webb said.

What is now the MC Language Hub was two separate entities before, the writing lab and the reading lab. Both labs were located in the LRC building, and the labs were merged together in the spring of 2010.

Sara Peterson, the Language Hub coordinator; she said the opening of the new Language Hub was a Marti Gras party. The Language Hub is multifaceted, Peterson said.

The Language Hub serves as the lab for remedial reading and writing as well as a place students can go to study for any subject they need help with. For developmental classes, students are required to complete a number of hours set by their instructors as part of their class grade.

The Language Hub is also used for GED and overflow TSI testing; people from outlying counties will also come to take the Nelson Denny Sheriffs entrance exam, which is the reading comprehension test.

“(People) have come from as far as Fort Stockton and Seminole to take the entrance exam,” Peterson said.

The Language Hub normally has two to fivetutorsto sit in the lab to help students with their work.

“All of the adult tutors have master’s degrees in the field of English and the student tutors are all good at English,” Peterson said.

The Language Hub is located in room 182 of the TC Annex and is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.Wednesday from and closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The MC Math lab has been around since the late 1990s. It was originally located in the Technical building room 130. The Math Lab originally was a separate lab course. Students were assigned homework using computer program called IOS.

MC math professor Michael Dixon has been at working at MC since 1999. He said that the problems of the IOS program caused difficulty for students as they were not taught the same as what they were learning in class.

The Math Lab program was restructured to be a support lab for students needing help with their homework. The lab also started hiring students as peer tutors to help other students.

“The current model is more reflective of what the students want to help them with their work,” Dixon said.

In 2010, the Math Lab moved to its current location in the MHAB. Alma Brannan has been the MC Math Lab coordinator since 2010. Brannan said the Math Lab serves everything from basic math and more advanced subject matter.

“Around 1000 students are signed up for Math Lab a semester,” Brannan said.

Only students in introductory or intermediate algebra are required to be in Math Lab for credit. Students enrolled must earn 13 credit hours to pass, but all students can come and get help.The Math Lab also acts as a testing center for some of the math courses.

The Math Lab normally has three peer tutors and one instructor on the floor to help students with their work.

Brannan said the only discipline the lab is set up to help in is mathematics, but there are students who have study groups for chemistry and physics, and there are tutors who can help with those areas, but the primary focus is math.

The Math Lab is located in room 124 in the MHAB. It is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.Monday-Thursday, and 8 a.m. to noon onFriday and Saturday and Closed Sunday.helplab

History presentations intrigue


The problem with history is that there is too much information, but at the same time there is too little information, according MC history professor William Morris at the second annual West Texas History Symposium.

The symposium series was started last year by the Henry family. They endowed Morris as the Henry Chair of history to organize the symposium and publish a journal for the papers that are presented.

“The word history comes from the Greek word historia, which means to inquire,” Morris said.

Morris said that history is revision. He used the example of a picture from a textbook that he uses. Between two editions of the book, the caption on one of the pictures had been changed to the opposite of what it was before. The caption changed because someone had found new evidence on about the photo.

Morris delivered the first presentation on the ranking U.S. presidents.

Morris then talked about how to compare the presidents. His said he looks who the presidents’ advisers were and what significant things their administrations accomplished.

A poll that Morris took in the history department at MC ranks the top three presidents as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin, D. Roosevelt. Morris said the reason they were the top three is because they are all remembered for dealing with crises.

The second presentation was by Sara Peterson and Katanna Zachary of the MC English department. Their topic was the Warren Commission report and the Kennedy assassination.

They presented new evidence on the assassination that was not taken into account by the Warren Commission.

The new evidence included personal testimonies by people associated with the events surrounding Kennedy’s assassination. Some of the witnesses had not been able or willing to talk about what they saw until recently.

Among the testimonies was one by James C. Jenkins, who was present when the autopsy on Kennedy was performed. He was in charge of recording the information from the autopsy. He said that some of the documents were altered after he had filled them out and the information had been changed.

The presenters said that they referenced 150 books on the topic of the Kennedy assassination.

They also invited interested people to sign an online petition to un-seal the documents from the Warren Commission investigation before the release date of 2039.

The third presentation was by MC government professor Terry Gilmore and MC director of alumni relations and development director J. Don Wallace. Their topic was a pictorial history of architecture in Midland with a focus on works of Frank Welch.

“There is a lot of remodeling and building going on in Midland, and that is not a good thing,” Gilmore said.

They had taken pictures and made a sideshow of the houses Welch built while he was in Midland. Along with their research of the houses, they were able to interview Welch and talk with him about his time in Midland.

They used photos to illustrate the designs that Welch houses are known for, such as hidden front doors and carports, which Wallace said Welch used because they were cheap.

The fourth presentation was by MC history professor Damon Kennedy over the story of Samuel Burk Burnett and the 6666 Ranch.

The presentation followed the Burnett family and their move west during the 1800s. The Burnett family bought land and settled in Texas and started ranching cattle.

To fatten the cattle before selling them, Burnett worked out a deal to lease land from the Indian reservation next to his land for grazing.

Kennedy said around 1900, Burnett knew that the deal with the Indians was going to end, so he obtained more land in the Texas Panhandle.
After that, oil was discovered on the property, which has since become the business of the ranch instead of cattle.

Over 120 people attended this year, up from the 30 people who attended last year. Morris said, that a bigger room will be needed next year.

Award winners express excitement for teaching

The Midland College Teaching Excellence Award for 2014 was given to David Edens, psychology and sociology assistant professor, and Stan Middleton, respiratory care clinical director.

The honor is awarded annually, and it marks their overall excellence and teaching contributions to MC. It is the college’s most prestigious award for faculty and their overall contributions, according to the MC website.

“(The award) is a recognition by my peers at MC,” Edens said.

Edens originally came to Midland to take a job at High Sky Children’s Ranch, he said.

He applied for a teaching position as an adjunct at MC and worked as an adjunct for 19 years.

He took the full-time instructor position 10 years ago, after serving as a full-time employeer at the Permian Basin Community Center for MHMR.

“Sociology is everything in life,” he said. “I like interacting with the kids, being able to see the light bulb come on every once and a while.”
Teaching was a natural extension of his interests, Edens said. He taught at Tarleton State University before coming to Midland.

“It’s neat to see the next generation of students come into my classroom,” he said.

“I’m seeing children of past students and working with past students at MC now. I’ve gotten to see the impact of teaching in the last couple years.”

Edens is the faculty adviser of the MC Amtgard club.

Middleton is equally grateful for the award. “I pretty much keep to myself over here; I am not really aggressive in promotions or public speaking,” Middleton said.

“I was very surprised and it makes me want to do better.”

Hired as clinical director in 1995, Middleton has been at MC for 19 years, he said.

He runs the clinical section of respiratory care at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

“My goal is to be a hands-off instructor, Middleton said. “You have to understand, I have to take individuals who have no medical background at all, and at the end of one year, they need to be competent in ICU. The only way to do that is to let them do things themselves. It took me a long time to figure this out— to learn that they can do it.”

The academic world is different than when Middleton was hired, he said. The needs of the students are now the focus, and it’s understood that academic prowess doesn’t always translate to real life skills.

“Technology has a place in the classroom, and videos, slideshows with music and question-and-answer sessions with an online polling website make classes more diverse than sitting in class for hours,” Middleton said.teawinners

Dancers bring Harlem to Midland

10152827_707824562599619_1052854071_nThe Dance Theatre of Harlem got the feeling as they grooved to James Brown, Johann Sebastian Bach, Aretha Franklin and Alexander Glazounov in the Al G. Langford Chaparral Center.

According to the event program, DTH is a leading dance institution of global acclaim that uses the art form of classical ballet to change people’s lives. Arthur Mitchell and the late Karel Shook founded DTH in 1969. Mitchell wanted to bring new opportunity to the lives of young people in Harlem, where he grew up. The company has inspired people in New York, across the country and around the world.

According to the event program for 44 years, DTH remains committed to the excellence. The company is dedicated to reaching new audiences with a powerful message of self-reliance, artistic relevance and individual responsibility, all hallmarks of an organization that has played a key role in the national cultural dialogue.

DTH performed four scenes: “New Bach,” “When Love,” “Pas De Dix” and “Return” in March at Midland College.

Loree Williams Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church youth director, brought her youth group out to see the performance. Williams said the youth expressed that they liked the dance group and would like to attend if DTH comes back to Midland.

“I enjoyed the fact that the youth had a chance to see the cultural aspect of that type of dance,” Williams said.  “The performance was magnificent. The caliber of each dance was so precise and on-point and very captivating.”

MC  professor Michael Hubbard said he appreciated the way the dancers mixed genres. “What I like about it was how they combined classical ballet with hip hop and soul, I was glad I stayed to the end,” he said.

Hair can be hot style or hot mess

People have their own style of doing things, but it never hurts to learn some hair dos and don’ts. Creative hair styles can be cool, but there is a thin line between hair show style and a hot mess.

There is nothing wrong with wearing fake hair as long as it’s not obvious it is not yours. When you have tracks sticking out where anybody can see it’s not natural, that’s a don’t and tacky. Hair glue over your forehead is a huge don’t. Why would people want to walk around with dark black glue on there face?

Loud, bright colors are not for everyone, especially when it’s looks like a bag of Skittles. That’s when persons should know they are overdoing it. Highlights are definitely in style, but knowing how to wear them is the main key. Hairstyles that look natural are always a good choice.

Natural hair, wigs and tracks sometimes get so bad that they become nappy or matted. When that time comes, it’s time for maintenance or an update to keep that hairdo looking presentable.

If your natural hair becomes nappy, apply a relaxer or straighten it. When your wig and tracks are out of whack, it’s time to react with a replacement wig or new tracks. There is no reason to be walking around looking out of place.

Braids are becoming more and more popular, from box braids to micro braids. Using hair to spell out words or wearing rainbow braids, that is taking it to the extreme.

Hair Show styles are extremely creative and are meant to stay on the runway, not for wearing to work or the store. Some creative hair styles can be worn for special occasions, but only by the risk takers in the world.

Injury-plagued Rangers start season slowly

Spring training has wrapped up for Major League Baseball. This spring and past winter trade season has seen lots of moves throughout the MLB. The biggest moves came from the New York Yankees, who acquired the premiere pitcher of the Japanese League, Masahiro Tanaka, for $155 million. Despite the price tag, he is projected to be the fourth pitcher in the Bomber’s rotation.

Along with the high-priced pitcher’s announced home in New York comes news that The Captain is retiring at the end of 2014.

Derek Jeter has decided to call it a career just a year after Mariano Rivera. He will be hanging up his spikes after playing his entire 20-year career at Yankee Stadium.

The other big moves in the Big Apple brought last year’s World Series rivals, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, to the team to help shore up the outfield and the departure of Robinson Cano.

Cano took his talents west this offseason and signed a 10 year deal with the Seattle Mariners for $240 million. Also coming to the Yankees is hard-hitting catcher, Brian McCann.

Other notable moves this offseason saw long time Atlanta pitcher, Tim Hudson, move to San Francisco and Curtis Granderson take his talents across town from the Yankees to the Mets.

Out here in Ranger country, the team has made several huge moves this offseason, but has been plagued by injuries throughout spring training. Toward the beginning of the off season came the biggest aquisition for the Rangers.

In a move that left both teams fan bases confused, but mostly happy, Texas secured a trade with Detroit that traded Ian Kinsler, arguably the face of the franchise, for Prince Fielder.

Another welcome addition to the team is center-fielder Shin-Soo Choo. The addition of Choo and Fielder will lessen the sting of losing right-fielder Nelson Cruz, who moved to Baltimore.

All of these moves combined have also made Elvis Andrus the longest tenured player on the roster. He has been with the team since 2009.
These moves could possibly be a moot point as the Rangers have been hindered with injuries all spring. Second baseman Jurickson Profar is out with a torn shoulder muscle and catcher Giovanni Soto is out while recovering from knee surgery. Along with these two is Engel Beltre who has a broken tibia.

The injuries, unfortunately, are not limited to the batting order. The pitching staff has had it’s issues as well. Derek Holland is out while he recovers from knee surgery and Matt Harrison is still not 100 percent after his injuries from last season.

More recently, ace pitcher Yu Darvish was also scratched from his Opening Day start because of stiffness in his neck.

These injuries have left the team scrambling to find players to fill in the gaps while the starters heal. One gap that is partially filled is the spot at second base. The team picked up Donnie Murphy from the Chicago Cubs on waiver.

The start of the season hasn’t been as bad as the expectation was for the Rangers after the injuries started piling up.

After losing a high scoring game to open the season, the team has gotten back on track and managed to stay competitive with the rest of the division. At the time of this writing, the Rangers are 4 – 3.

Local ethnic choices expand

In Midland, there aren’t a lot of ethnic restaurants, and fast-food chains like Taco Bell just don’t cut it. Mexican restaurants and Chinese buffets attempt to cover the need for ethnic food, but after a while, they all taste the same.

Luckily, there is a hidden jewel of a restaurant in San Miguel Plaza called Café Unique, serving real Venezuelan food.

Café Unique is certainly unique in the haze of pizza and grease fare many students are served. From the outside, it looks bland, similar to the rest of San Miguel Plaza’s sand-colored buildings.

It is a tiny restaurant my dad would describe as a hole in the wall. Only six tables and bright red walls welcome customers to a little piece of Venezuela.

A counter which serves as the hostess stand has a board with a takeout menu written on it in neon colors. Customers who are waiting can sit on a little red bench or a big white couch.

It was a 15-minute wait to be seated, but with such a small venue that was to be expected. There were only two employees working as wait staff and this was at noon.

The menu was a piece of paper with the entrees, desserts, drinks and appetizers printed on both sides. It was odd that it wasn’t laminated, but small restaurants have a reputation for great food despite less than perfect presentation.

My friend and I had to wait about 10 minutes to order our drinks, and the menu does not have all of the drink options listed. Our waitress was sweet but busy. She apologized for taking so long. Another waiter came by and got our food order before we had our drinks brought over.
About 12 minutes after our food was ordered, it was served to us and smelled spicy and warm.

My plate had a pile of shredded beef, a mountain of rice, black beans and four sweet fried plantains. Plantains are part of the banana family and look like long green bananas, used as a vegetable and inedible if raw.

The beef was tough and so salty it was hard to taste anything else. The mound of white rice was not spiced but tasted fine plain.
The plantains were cooked excellently—a little sweet for my taste, but I’m not much of a banana person. The black beans were basic but quite good. Our sodas were served in cans, and we were offered glasses with ice, but we turned them down.

If you pay with a card, the servers have an iPad with a card reader insert. They hand it to you to add on a tip and sign with your finger. I thought it was cool that they did that. Our server offered us receipts which were printed at the register at the hostess stand.

Overall, I thought I would have really liked the basic fare it the restaurant staff hadn’t over-seasoned the meat. I would suggest not going at noon if you are in a hurry.


Stick of Awesome

Remember that South Park game that came out for the Nintendo 64 and Playstation about 15 years ago? Remember how terrible it was? Stick of Truth is definitely not that game.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the masterminds behind the brilliantly offensive television series, learned their lesson the first time around and went above and beyond with Obsidian Entertainment to create a game worthy of the South Park name.

South Park: The Stick of Truth puts the player in control of the new kid in town who is just trying to fit in and make a few friends. The game play style is taken straight from classic turn-based role playing games such as Final Fantasy and Dragon’s Quest. Old-school RPG purists will be pleasantly surprised with the variety of customization options for characters and the usefulness of the supporting cast.

Surprisingly, nothing seems forced or repetitive throughout the 13-hour campaign even though nearly every major event and character in the continuity of the South Park world is mentioned or makes a cameo. The only exception during play was the lack of a certain drug-addicted towel. Otherwise, nearly every character is referenced in some way, from Mecha-Streisand to the Woodland Critters from that hilariously demented Christmas episode from a few years ago.

While the game is short, especially when compared to other modern role-playing games, it is long enough to satisfy fans of the television show and funny enough to bring in new fans as long as they don’t mind the toilet humor that South Park is famous for.

The biggest selling point of the game is that it plays exactly like an episode of South Park. The animation style is exactly like the show, the characters are all fully voiced, the soundtrack is straight from the show, and it uses the same opening and closing credits as the show. Simply put, if you walked in on someone playing the game, you’d think South Park had released another movie.

Overall, fans of South Park will absolutely love this game. After all, it is the game that should have been made 15 years ago instead of the shoddy first-person shooter that was made. The animation style, which should never “improve” since it is exactly like the show, lends itself to future downloadable content. It will hopefully extend the current single-player campaign if it doesn’t add entirely new campaigns to the neighborhood.

If you don’t like South Park, you will not like this game. It is just as offensive as the show, the language is beyond foul, and Trey and Matt went all out trying to make fun of as many people and groups of people as they possibly could. The game even pokes fun at itself several times. The only difference in the show and the game is that the game is not censored one bit. Every four-letter word is heard, every pixel of nudity is seen, every foul bodily function is highlighted. The Stick of Truth, simply put, is exactly what South Park fans have been waiting for in a game.

Normally, when reviewing something, we give it a rating based on our own feelings. For fans of South Park, the game is a solid work of art. For people who don’t like South Park, it is probably the worst game ever made.

For those few people out there who don’t know what South Park is, it really depends on what sort of games you like and how easily offended you are. Classic RPG fans with an iron constitution should certainly give the game a try. It’s a great game, but tread with caution.