How Fruitcakes Could Save Christmas

OPINION

By Matt Benoit

Ah, the holiday season. Candy canes and Christmas wreaths abound, the smell of gingerbread and egg nog lingers in the air, the soothing sounds of Christmas carols echo through the cold winter wind, and people everywhere put aside differences to wish each other well in a warm and gentle spirit.

Yeah, right. Of course you didn’t buy that—it’s too much like a Hallmark card version of the holidays. The real holidays look more like Martha Stewart on crack cocaine (“White Christmas,” anyone?)

People invade malls like Vikings with credit cards to pillage expensive gifts, neighbors put giant inflatable figures in their yards and string up enough lights to make their homes vaguely resemble Indian casinos, and family members we really don’t want to see show up (sometimes “unannounced,” because, oh boy, it’s a “surprise”!).

And last but not least, there are fruitcakes.

The Microsoft Encarta dictionary on my computer actually gives the definition of fruitcake as “cake with dried fruit in it,” containing, among other things, sultanas, which are—also according to the Encarta dictionary—the female relatives of a sultan. Either that, or they’re dried grapes. I’m not entirely sure.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, though, gives the official definition of the fruitcake as “a brick-like holiday gift which nobody ever eats that is traditionally rewrapped and sent to relatives you don’t like very much.”

It is unknown how the fruitcake got its start (heavy drinking is our guess), but the first fruitcake was thought to have been given as a “gag” gift, which is to say that the recipients of the gift started gagging after attempting to eat it. Today, not much has changed, as being given a fruitcake is about as meaningful as Tiger Woods’ wedding vows.

But that may soon change thanks to the federal government. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it would create a new batch of 50 million fruitcakes in order to help stimulate the sagging U.S. economy and replace the current fleet of aging desserts.

The last batch of 22 million fruitcakes was created in 1984 at the behest of President Ronald Reagan, and almost all of them continue to circulate the globe each year thanks to the United States Postal Service and package couriers like UPS and FedEx.

The hope is that the new project will help rejuvenate the economy and lessen unemployment by creating an estimated 25,000 jobs associated with the production and shipping of the fruit-filled cakes.

“Look, we do realize that nobody eats these pieces of crap,” said FDA spokesperson Givmea Bite, “but c’mon—these are getting a little hard even by traditional Fruitcake Hardness Standards (FHS).”

Bite demonstrated the need for replacement cakes by showing Congress a video in which one of the 1984 fruitcake models was dropped off a 27-story building and onto the roof of Tiger Woods’ Cadillac Escalade. The cake, dropped by Woods’ wife, ripped straight through the vehicle’s roof and floorboard, leaving a three-foot deep crater in the pavement where it landed beneath the vehicle. The cake was projected to be traveling at 258 mph at the moment of impact.

President Obama agreed with the plan, saying in a press conference at the White House that the current fruitcakes have become “unreasonably hard” and adding that it would be “unpleasant to think of the destruction they might cause if they were to fall into the wrong hands.”

Obama’s remark immediately brought back memories to many of the infamous “fruitcake bomber,” Eim Eaten Al Yurfood, who was tackled by passengers on a United Airlines flight in Dec. of 2001 when they noticed him trying to light the fuse on a fruitcake he had carried on-board the aircraft.

Obama ended his speech on an inspirational note, saying, “There is hope for the fruitcake, there is hope for the economy, and there is hope for America. God bless you and happy holidays.”

That type of uplifting message reminds me of that classic 1947 film, “The Fruitcake That Ruined Christmas,” starring Jimmy Stewart. It contains, of course, the famous line perhaps best capturing the essence of the fruitcake, which is: “Every time a bell rings, Tiger Woods will probably have to make a child support payment.”

Anyway, in closing, I have to admit something—I’ve never actually received a fruitcake as a gift, apparently because nobody hates me that much (although I did receive a combination personal groomer/nose hair trimmer one year).

But I have the strange feeling that, this Christmas, I just might get one. Also, Tiger Woods is definitely going to be on the naughty list.


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New winter classes and clubs you’ll wanna check out…maybe

OPINION

By Matt Benoit

Well, it’s almost the end of the quarter, and that can only mean one thing: free beer on campus! No, wait, that’s not it. Actually, it means finals, but it also means signing up for your next quarter’s-worth of classes (which hopefully will not be the same ones you took this quarter).

So, in the interest of serving you, the student, I thought I’d share some of the new and interesting classes and clubs coming to Whatcom for winter quarter. Let’s take a look:

Classes:

Navigation 100, with your instructors, Northwest Airlines pilots Timothy Cheney and Richard Cole. Learn how to overshoot your destinations by at least 150 miles!

Intro to Quail Hunting, with former vice president Dick Cheney. Bullet-proof vest recommended.

The Art of Bathroom Stall Graffiti (ART666)—Learn how to scribble racist, sexist, or just plain weird-ass crap onto the partitions of the college’s bathroom stalls in an aesthetically-pleasing manner.

Tone-deaf Choir (MUS126)—Do you notice people laughing, cringing, or putting in ear plugs any time you burst into song? Have you ever considered that you might be tone-deaf, and, as a result, a really crappy singer? Well, now’s your chance to find out. Open auditions will be held for students who can’t hold a note.

“2012—why we’re all gonna die!” (HIST149)—Learn about the prophecies of the end of days coming in 2012, and find out what to do when the world starts to crumble like a fractured saltine cracker, and we’re all totally screwed (except for John Cusack). Who needs that degree if you won’t be around to use it?

Penultimate Frisbee (PE146)-Not quite as good as Ultimate Frisbee, but pretty close.

Personal Finance 100 (BUS100) with your instructors, AIG’s board of directors and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Learn how to lose billions of dollars, and then just ask the government for more!

Ponzi Scheming 101 (BUS247), with guest lecturer Bernard Madoff. Prerequisite: Greed 100.

“Hiking the Appalachian Trail” (PE147), with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Features a field trip to Argentina.

Public Speaking 162 (CMST162), with instructors Kayne West and U.S. Representative Joe Wilson. Learn how to interrupt and sabotage the speeches and conversations of everyone from presidents to pop stars!

Texting Messaging 101 (CMST101)—Lern how to txt mess. in class w/o prof’s knowledge! OMG, ROTFL! UR MY BFF!

Northwest Winter Weather Systems (WET365), with Bernie Dougan. Learn about the winter weather systems of the great Northwest. Poncho required.

The Art of Losing (SUK202), with the Detroit Lions. Learn the advanced techniques needed to prevent your team from winning much of anything and ensuring the absence of postseason appearances. Prerequisites: Allowing the other team to score (SUK101), Who needs possession? (SUK100).

Community Ed Classes:

Transitioning into Retirement, with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.

Special seminar: “the art of debating”—Learn how to yell and scream about universal healthcare and the secret communist plots of Barack Obama, just like our nation’s top protestors! Obama-Hitler mustache posters WILL be available!

“Oh my God! What is that?”-How to control your reaction to seeing that big yellow orb in the sky, better known as the sun, during Northwest winters.

New clubs:

Sleep Deprivation Club-Meets at 2:30 a.m. every Monday. Bring a case of Red Bull and some NoDoz.  The club’s advisor, Sandy Mann, will shine a flashlight in your eyes once every hour to make sure you’re still awake.

Laziness Club—attendance, participation not required. Will meet when they “get around to it.”

“Twilight” Club—Turn into a young vampire and make really bad movies.

Student Failure Workshops:

“Ignoring the alarm clock and other new ways to ditch class”—“Hey man, this class is boring…why show up?”

“Homework? What homework?”—Learn how to treat the homework schedule less like a requirement and more like a suggestion.

“Where did all my money go?”-How to blow your budget on things like liquor, gambling, members of the opposite sex, and products sold on late-night infomercials.

“How to get on your instructor’s bad side”—Learn the fine techniques required to really push your luck with your professor, including mimicry and verbal abuse in the classroom, as well as sending several hundred e-mails to their in-box every day.

Procrastination Seminar—class has been postponed.


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Getting Tactical

Administration of Justice Club gains law enforcement knowledge through recent hands-on experience

By Peter Tran

Guest Writer

ALECJLP Members

On November 29, the Administration of Justice Club (Formally recognized as the American Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Leadership Program) took knowledge learned from the classroom and applied it in a practical aspect at the Tacoma Tactical indoor CQB (Close Quarters Battle) facility in Tacoma, Washington.

The club expressed an interest in learning procedures for law enforcement, and such information was presented and practiced, including room-clearing, verbal orders, command presence, and other various important concepts involving legal affairs and officer safety. The training scenarios that the facility set up for the grateful Criminal Justice students exposed them immediately to the critical reasoning required in law enforcement.

Tacoma Tactical is a facility that provides an indoor CQB setting for airsoft play and training purposes. A lot of law enforcement agencies have taken the advantage of utilizing such a fully-furnished training facility, and there’s not a whole lot more that you could do to the place to make it more realistic. It’s as realistic as it gets, and includes being able to “boot in,” or knock down, doors.

The students responded extremely well, considering how complicated the scenarios were. It’s difficult to do a simple task when it is complicated by having to juggle legalities, proper procedure, and adjusting to any given situation (that wasn’t covered during your training)—of which mental processing and decision-making regarding whether or not to take action is expected to be completed within mere fractions of a second.

The reality of law enforcement is that officers are forced to make split-second decisions, and those decisions will be questioned 20 years down the road; when one makes a decision in law enforcement, they need to be able to explain every aspect of their reasoning—criminals do not.

This practical exercise that lasted six hours was a method of reinforcing what a student learned in the classroom, as they will better remember their experiences compared to what they attempted to memorize out of a textbook. The amount of knowledge that people were able to take from this experience expresses how successful this exercise was.

It is something that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives; they’ll remember going in thinking that they had adequate knowledge and training for the job, but towards the end of the day they will have been given a reality check—there’s a lot more to learn that a classroom simply cannot offer.

-Editor’s note: Peter Tran is Chief of the American Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Leadership Program at Whatcom.


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Trivia Bee

By Jorge Cantu

Horizon Reporter

It is now the end of the quarter and with it comes finals, projects, and many other things due in class. However, the Communications Club and their advisor, Guy Smith, have been hard at work for most of the quarter to put on their big event, the annual trivia bee.

“There will be a much bigger turnout this year versus last year,” Smith said. “We are very excited, and I cannot tell you how many prizes we have.”

The trivia bee is built off of profits, meaning the money used to put on the event has come strictly from fundraising. Anyone can enter, and it consists of three-person teams. It costs $30 for a team to enter.

The club has four teams that were created to handle the different aspects of the event. The four teams consists of: a charity team, which is in charge of the food drive, an advertising team to make signs, a trivia team to come up with all of the questions, and a sponsorship team to get donations from the community.

“We just have so many prizes this year, some of them include DVDs, dinners, CDs, gas cards, ski lift tickets, etc,” Smith said. “I have boxes and boxes of free stuff that has been donated from various places around the community.”

Hana Kaneshige, who is part of the club, was sitting at a large table with all of the sign-up information for the trivia bee.

“Anyone is welcome to join to Communications Club,” she said. “It is a very good experience.”

Also, anyone can join the trivia bee. It consists of three-person teams, of whom students are welcome to join up with anybody to participate.

“The questions aren’t as difficult as last year either,” Kaneshige added.  “We worked on making them questions for the public, not just trivia fanatics.”

Since the event is run purely on profits, some leftover profits are used to help send students to communication conferences. Some of the places students have been sent to include Hawaii, Idaho, and Rochester New York, among others.

The trivia bee also ties into the food drive. If you donate one canned good item when you come, your admission fee for the event is $2 instead of the normal admission fee of $4.

“It is a way to get students to contribute more to the food drive,” Smith said.

With such an involvement from the community and the Communication club, it seems the event will be a big improvement over last year’s turnout. It will be held in the Syre Auditorium on December 9 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Communications Club holds its meetings on Thursdays at 2:45p.m. in Heiner 104.



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