Beyond Valentine’s Day

By Lexi Foldenaur

February 14 is quickly approaching, maybe too fast for some. Some people may say that Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark gimmick, but others take it more seriously as a chance to remind their special someone how much they care. Although roses, candy, and flowers can make a beautiful evening, it is hard to maintain a loving relationship with those things alone. At Whatcom Community College, students had different opinions about dating, and what Valentine’s Day meant to them.

“I think it’s cool,” said Whatcom student Indigo Griffith. “Just a day to love people.”

Whatcom student, Jason Simon said he didn’t think that Valentine’s Day was all that meaningful. When it comes to letting someone know you care, Simon prefers to send “random happy texts.”

When it comes to showing someone your affection day-to-day, students and faculty have different views on what makes a relationship work. Friends Amber Curran and Hannah Birdsong agreed that one of the most sentimental things someone can do to show their feelings for you is to just be spontaneous. Even just a hug, or random compliments, the students agreed, can be a ticket to someone’s heart.

Alaysha Germaine, a student at Whatcom, talked about a funny forwarded e-mail she recently received, about good attributions people should have in their daily lives. The message of the e-mail was that if you are able to recognize when someone else is busy and that you can not get the attention you crave from them at that moment, “you are either the family pet or one-half of a good relationship.”

“It’s cheesy,” Germaine said, “but it’s kind of true.” Germaine said that one of the ways she makes her relationship work with her long-term boyfriend is to realize when her wants can potentially get in the way of her partner’s needs.

Falling in love is a quintessential part of life, but things are not always perfect, and most will need guidance to help them maintain a healthy relationship. Margaret Vlahos, a counselor at Whatcom, helps students who come to her for guidance. Vlahos is one of two counselors at Whatcom who specialize in short-term counseling. Students come to her for different reasons, ranging from financial woes to dealing with a painful breakup.

“It’s really about keeping your life balanced,” said Vlahos about maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. “You don’t make the other person the total focus.”

In her stress management class at Whatcom, Vlahos encourages her students to maintain their own life, and not make the relationship the center of their world. Problems occur when people start to isolate themselves, cut ties with friendships, and focus solely on their romantic relationship. After everything is said and done, the person will be left feeling more devastated and alone if the relationship turns sour.

Melanie Zabel, a general psychology instructor at Whatcom, recalled one of the best pieces of advice she received from her father. He told her to choose the people in her life wisely, and make a conscious decision before investing emotions into them.

“One of the things I regret is taking relationships in high school too seriously,” Zabel said. Having parents that met and fell in love at a young age led her to the notion that “that was the way it was supposed to be,” Zabel said. After a long-term relationship with a high school sweetheart ended, Zabel said that she was prepared to focus fully on herself for a while—which included receiving her PhD—and perhaps even raising a child on her own. It was not until her early 30’s that the man who became Zabel’s husband came into her life. By that point, she was fully focused on pursuing her personal life goals independently.

“You have to find a relationship that fits into your own priorities,” Zabel said, “and give respect to those priorities.”

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Japanime Club has movies, fun

By Henry Wesson

As a late celebration of New Year’s, the Japanime Club partied it up in the Syre Student Center at Whatcom Community College on January 22. The club members enjoyed their meeting by watching various Japanese cartoons called Japanime, eating sushi, and celebrating Japanese culture.

You may be wondering why there is a club just for Japanime. Although Japanime is widely thought to be a form of entertainment, members of this club see it as something more.  They consider it more as an art form then simply a kind of cartoon. They feel the artistic aspect usually goes unnoticed and even taken for granted.

“Something that many viewers don’t know is that the storylines of many Japanime movies and shows are actually references to events and beliefs that have happened throughout history,” said club president Brian Rowe. “Many of the films we watch have to do with Japanese culture and history but much of symbolism can be interpreted in an even deeper way and can be applied to world events like wars and revolutions that have taken place all over the world.”

A typical club meeting is much like a gathering of a literature or film club. The club members watch various Japanime movies and, while viewing them, analyze the content for deeper meanings. Many symbolic and metaphorical messages can be found in the storyline of many Japanime films.

At the New Year’s celebration, the Japanime Club watched two films, an episode from an undead thriller/action series called “Zombie Loan” and a medieval sword fighting movie called “Claymore.” While the New Year’s party was more of a celebration than a typical meeting, not much analysis took place. But otherwise, the members try to keep things productive.

One club member, who said he was a huge fan of Japanese animation and culture, described watching a Katsuhrio Otomo film called “Akira.”  “At first glance it seems like your typical post-apocalyptic action story,” he said, “but after we reviewed some of the key scenes we noticed it was actually a symbolic attack on Japanese industrialism that was hindering their economy at the time of the film’s production, 1988.” He added that the movie also has a commentary that described the human identity as never constant but constantly changing throughout their life and that in a matter of time a person could be a completely different person than he or she is now.

As well as providing a learning environment, the club also is a place for its members to relax and make friends. Many of the members are drawn to it purely by its social aspect. Brian Rowe said that both the learning and entertaining atmosphere of the club are important qualities.

“Not many people are fans of Japanime so this club gives us a place to hang out with people who have similar interests,” said Shaina Anderson, a Whatcom student, who sat with her boyfriend and classmate Edward Carter. “We both like Japanime and so does the rest of club. That’s why we can really enjoy ourselves here.”

The club is always happy to admit new members and they meet from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Fridays in room 104 of the Syre Student Center.

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Lending a helping paw

By Carol Hogan

Do you know Ozzie Cooper—a stand-out at Whatcom Community College? Maybe you’ve passed him in a crowded hallway walking with his best friend, Margaret Cooper, from class to class. Maybe you’ve noticed him during class, lying quietly under the desk, his long, wavy, gold hair complimented by a bright blue jacket with the words “Brigadoon” embroidered on the side.

He looks friendly, with what could be a sly smile as he winds his way single-mindedly through the hallway close by Cooper’s side. When he and Cooper approach the heavy double doors leading outside, like any gentleman with good manners, he reaches out and pushes the handicap button for her with his paw.

Did you say paw?

Yes. Because Ozzie is a 3-year-old golden retriever service dog who lives with Cooper, 24, and escorts her to school each day on the bus, napping under her desk while she’s in class. Sometimes he snores.

Cooper’s search for the perfect dog to match her needs wasn’t easy, and finding Ozzie took time.

“It takes about four years just to get a dog,” she said of the process that begins with an application packet requiring, among other things, reference letters and a doctor’s recommendation. Next a first visit is scheduled where the trainer introduces applicant and canine in an attempt to match the applicant’s needs with the dog’s ability.

“Each dog requires two years of nurturing and training before they can be placed with their human…you train with them and they don’t graduate until they’re two years old,” Cooper said of Ozzie, who graduated last year from Brigadoon Youth and Service Dog Programs, in Bellingham, while Cooper is still working on her transfer degree, in quantum physics, from Whatcom.

But their training together is never ending. “It’s always a process to keep learning and growing with each other,” she said. “It’s a good, slow process.”

The Brigadoon Web site says “it’s all about the right personality and the bond between…” applicant and dog.

“They [the trainers] see your needs, and then you go with the dogs out to train,” said Cooper, who needs Ozzie for her chronic pain caused by a neurovascular disorder. Ozzie guards her sensitive right side and when people get too close, such as in a crowded Whatcom hallway, she can ask him to hold his stance, either with quiet commands or by leash signals, allowing him to take the brunt of people bumping into her.

Sometimes she drops things because her hand “locks up.” Never fear, so far Ozzie has been able to pick up everything she’s dropped, including pencils, papers and boxes.

“He brings my shoes,” she said.

Before Ozzie, it was much harder for her. Often, just petting him can relieve the pain. “I can pat him and just relax,” she said.

The kind of dog she requires must have the ability to keep pace with her and Ozzie is very good at leading. If Cooper changes pace, he must be willing to do exactly what she needs, without force.

“He’s pretty loving, so he’s willing, but it’s more of what he can do and how we work together,” she said. Ozzie has a stubborn streak and, at the end of a long day working day, can be peevish.

When she first got him, Ozzie would run away when she tried to board the bus. Mastering the handicap button on Whatcom’s doors took a lot of tries.

“If it didn’t work, he’d stop trying,” she said. “I would have to go around the building, going to each door and making him open it to figure it out. Now he’s on to it totally.”

Her biggest obstacles are people-related. Dog lovers are naturally inclined to reach out and pet him, but that’s a real no-no since he’s not allowed to be petted while working.

“It’s more of a problem for others because they want to touch him and they think it’s sad that they can’t touch him all the time,” Cooper said. But practically speaking, he could trip her if he reaches for a person across from her. Others giving him dog treats is another problem, because it might lead him to take food off plates in a restaurant, which could get her kicked out.

Ozzie has special needs, too. He’s a cat lover, so Cooper got him a cat of his own. “I had to get him one because he likes cats so much he kept running after them,” she said. Now he has his own cat and they sleep in the same bed.

Cooper’s passion is learning, and while she couldn’t become the doctor she hoped to because of her disabilities, she has completed one of her goals—to get her phlebotomy certificate. “It was a good testament to what I could do,” she said.

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Unearthing a gem at Whatcom

By Kelly Sullivan

A glass case of skulls sits menacingly off to the side in room LDC 215A, staring students down as they scribble notes during their tri-weekly anthropology lecture from teacher Al Reid. It may ease ones’ thoughts to know they are not real, but casts collected by the anthropology department over the years to show students some of humanity’s ancestors, including a replica of Lucy, everyone’s favorite Australopithecus afarensis.

Reid has taught anthropology at Whatcom since the fall of 1999, and has run his own company since 1991. His company surveys sites, mainly in Whatcom County, to assess whether there are historic or prehistoric materials that are threatened by potential construction.

Reid never envisioned himself as a teacher in his younger years, but his deep interest and passion in cultural studies and geography eventually led him to his position here at Whatcom.

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“I did archeology for a while and was accumulating knowledge, and started thinking that I should put that knowledge to use,” said Reid.

“It is really obvious how passionate he is about anthropology and archeology, and that passion really transfers over in class” said Katie Dec, 20. She is a student in Reid’s Anthropology 100 class.

Reid’s interest in anthropology came about while taking classes at Tacoma Community College. He had been taking some GURs (General University Requirements), and found an interest had been sparked in anthropology, the study of different cultures, he explained. An instructor of his had graduated from Western with a degree in anthropology and suggested Reid “give it a try.”

What has resulted from this is a long career in the research of cultures and archeological sites in the Pacific Northwest. One story in particular sticks out to Reid. In 1987, after graduating Western with a master’s, he found work on a site on the Hoko River as the field supervisor. His team found a beautiful wooden harpoon point with carving etched onto its surface. It was later determined, by the layer of earth in which it was found, as one of the oldest five wood-carved art artifacts discovered in the United States. It was a “very exciting find,” Reid said.

During this time he found work in surveying areas in Washington that contained lithic materials, or stone tools that “tell us something about their history.” It helps regional and local anthropologists re-create the histories and cultures of the Pacific Northwest.

After Western, Reid became a Mt. Baker Ranger District archeologist for six seasons and then eventually found work surveying areas in the North Cascades, and in 1988 helped survey Ross Lake. The task was to drain the lake, and during this time his team helped uncover 100 sites that ranged from 10,000 years old to the present.

Reid’s company is a manifestation of his time working as a surveyor in the Pacific Northwest. Alfred Reid Archeological Consulting is hired by companies planning to develop and build on land around Whatcom County. His company surveys them, before the structures are built, to make sure there are no historical or prehistoric sites where companies are trying to build, and to assess what kind of damage the new architecture will do to the land.

His company has located over 150 locations in the Birch Bay area, prehistoric and historic. Reid said that prehistoric sites are areas that contain materials made before there were written records in that area. For Whatcom County this was around the 1840s.

His work has taken him outdoors frequently over the past few decades. He has come away from it with a deep love of camping and canoeing. He admits unfortunately, he has found himself lacking the time to do these things in the last few years between working at the school and his second job.

Reid is one of nine siblings. He said he was an “Army brat” before he was 12, when his father left the Army. His family moved around quite frequently before settling down in Washington.

“We arrived in Tacoma between appearances of the Beatles on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ so I saw them in Laramie and Tacoma. They broke up my senior year of high school, but my sophomore and junior years were defined by them,” said Reid as a tidbit he remembers from that time.

He has more of an anthropological strategy when it comes to examining music on a daily level. Every quarter, Reid asks Chris Roberts to come in and explain the beginning of music in prehistoric cultures. For example, rocks and stones and sticks to create percussion. “The human voice was probably involved as well,” he added.

He is constantly reading anthropological and archeological texts, and doesn’t dedicate too much time to music or movies. He has seen two films in a “movie house” in the last 12 years; “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and “Saving Private Ryan”, Reid said. He did enjoy reading the novel of “Hitchhiker’s Guide.”

Reid uses some of his free time for speaking engagements around Whatcom County, including in elementary schools.

“I tell the kids my trowel is my time machine,” he said.

Reid also is spreading sustainability awareness through the community by what he has learned from his study of Pacific Northwest Cultures.

“When you fish you put your net halfway across the river, so you don’t take all of the fish. When you go take cedar bark you ask the tree and thank it afterward,” Reid said.

One thing is clear: Reid has a deep passion and respect for cultures here in the Pacific Northwest. His extensive knowledge of anthropology and geography is undeniable.

“I think he’s wonderful,” said student Beverly Snow, 63. “I really do.”

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A match made in…prison?

By Matt Benoit

With Valentine’s Day drawing near, I’ve been thinking (as I often tend to do): How come Cupid never ages? If he’s been shooting people with arrows of love for hundreds of years, why does he still look like a Cabbage Patch Kid who’s good at archery? Shouldn’t he look more like a combination of John Belushi’s character from Animal House, Keith Richards, and Yoda by now?

Well anyway, I’m still single, and in light of this fact, I’ve been considering more and more those online matchmaking services you see advertised on television. You know, the ones like, created by that old, gray-haired dude who’s probably had 15 failed marriages?

The ads depict these happy couples who were matched up based on a number of non-shallow, “true compatibility” traits like being able to remember to put the toilet seat down, having all your teeth, and not forgetting things like anniversaries and/or your partner’s birthday.

I was seriously considering paying money to join one of these online matchmaking sites when an idea hit me harder than Chris Brown in a fit of rage: What if I could, like the old, gray-haired dude who’s probably had 15 failed marriages, create my own match-making service to help many other people achieve their own perfect, romantic happiness?

Well, in thinking about what section of the population is in need of such a service, it occurred to me that the ever-growing U.S. prison population could benefit from this. And that’s why I’m happy to introduce, where “for every cell mate, there’s a soul mate.”

We’re much deeper than just looks, as our 15-point compatibility system will match you up based upon traits such as the length of your sentence, prior arrest records, and the number of hours you’ll spend picking up trash by the side of the road. So, whether you give Brad Pitt a run for his money or were once stood up by the Elephant Man, we’re confident can help you find the inmate of your dreams.

Here’s just one happy testimonial:

JONESY “YEAH, I DID IT, OKAY?” JOHNSON: Being a convicted felon serving 75 years without the possibility of parole, I really didn’t believe there’d be someone out there—or should I say, in here—for me. But thanks to, I can forget this confinement being a “solitary” one! Okay O.J., you ready for your daily shanking?

O.J. Simpson: Oh no…

Well, if that doesn’t speak to true happiness, then I don’t know what does. truly cares about helping you find the right “partner-in-crime,” as it were, which is why we’re happy to give you the first month of our services absolutely free when you subscribe by Valentine’s Day!

And, if you don’t find someone right for you after six months, we’ll stop looking because—not only are you in prison, but you’ve got to be some kind of sick, perverted, and disgusting-looking individual to have not found anybody willing to date you after all this time.

So, whether you’re currently in prison or on your way there, remember this Valentine’s Day. It will hopefully make you prison couples out there happy, and make me filthy rich.

And if this isn’t a smashing success, I don’t know what I’ll do. I guess there’s always that idea for a “Squirrels Gone Wild” DVD collection.

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The official student newspaper of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington