“Last Cicada Singing”

REVIEW
by Jorge Cantu

Last Cicada SingingThe Guqin is one of the most unique instruments I have ever encountered. It is formerly known as the Qin, and has been involved with famous Chinese philosophers such as Confucius. With a range of about four octaves, this ancient instrument is known to have 91 different harmonics, as indicated by the white dots on the side of the instrument. Being unique, and having a history, this instrument has made its way into the hands of one of Whatcom’s very own; musical instructor Christopher Roberts. He has just released a solo CD with the use of the qin, called the Last Cicada Singing.
Christopher Roberts describes on the inside panel how the Chinese used to take their qin into the mountains, and would develop string techniques to mimic the movements of birds, insects, streams, etc.
Mimicing nature; that is what this CD is all about. You pick up on the relaxing, soothing feel of the CD as soon as the first song starts. You can tell automatically Chris Roberts is taking it back old school, to nature. It feels as though the CD was meant to be listened to while lying down, or sitting out at night looking at the sky.
There really is no song structure, so do not expect to be snapping your fingers along to the beat. The feeling conveyed is rather, the feeling of nature. Roberts uses sliding tones on the instrument, as well as harmonics. It is filled with wondrous tones, all of them very soft, as the qin is a very quiet instrument anyway.
“Last Cicada Singing” doesn’t really differentiate between the sounds of the songs, more so it sounds to me like an ongoing song. It definitely feels like something I have never heard before. I would recommend to anybody, that before listening, look up the qin instrument, and study a little about what the Chinese were trying to convey with this instrument.
The qin is a very peculiar instrument, being the most revered instrument in Chinese history, and dating back about 5,000 years. It was so revered, that they even had qin “societies”, in which large gatherings of qin players would take place a few times a month.
Christopher Roberts has embraced the qin and it’s history, and created new pieces for solo qin, that in my opinion seem very hard to follow, but I feel as though that wasn’t what he was getting at. Rather he was getting at nature and in a way the feel for the Northwest and all of its beauty.


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The Bargain Hunter’s Used Car Guide

OPINION

by Matt Benoit

Today, the Bargain Hunter, a “certified” (by which we mean he once spent time in a mental hospital) expert on both bargains and hunting, is here to help you find the used car of your dreams, and hopefully not your nightmares, by pointing you in the right direction. He will, not, however, loan you any cash.

So, it’s time for you to find a used car. The easiest way to go about finding a used car involves finding what are called “classified” ads, which are usually where desperate people go to sell things they don’t want anymore, including their own loved ones:

“In-laws—2 for 1 special! They said they were only staying two weeks, but they’re STILL here! $500 OBO, but willing to throw in Menudo album.”

Classified ads can be found in newspapers, but also on-line at Web sites such as Craigslist. On a side note, I have no idea who the hell Craig is, or what his list looks like.

Anyway, once you have found a car that you are interested in and it does not convey from its photograph that it was a stunt vehicle in Mad Max or is an otherwise heavily-oxidized death cage, it is time to meet the car and owner in-person.

You must now make an appointment to meet, hopefully in broad daylight. Consider bringing along someone who looks like Steven Seagal for “moral” support—just in case.

As a discerning consumer, it is always important to ask the owner questions about the vehicle. These should include at least some of the following:

1)     Does it run?

2)     Is the door supposed to fall off like that?

3)     Has this thing ever been in any high-speed chases?

4)     What are all these stains in the trunk?

5)     Can I paint over the “Pimpmobile” logo? 

Once you are satisfied with your responses, and the person who is answering them does not freak out and try to run away (you can always send Steven Seagal after them if they do), it is time to suggest taking the car for a “test drive.”

This is where you will get to “feel out” your potential wheels—none of which will hopefully shoot off the vehicle when you make that first right-hand turn into traffic—by driving the car around with the owner sitting shotgun.

It has been my experience that you should accelerate the vehicle to at least 100 mph to get an idea of its maneuvering capabilities, as well as properly testing the brakes by slamming on them as hard as possible.

If anything, these exercises should help you determine whether you really want to purchase the car, and may even help you persuade the owner to knock off a few bucks (especially if Steven Seagal, who is sitting in the backseat, has him or her in a head lock).

After this, if you are still confident about the vehicle, you may cut a deal and make your purchase. And even though the Bargain Hunter will not help you with gas money, he would love to know how your used car is treating you.

So drop him an e-mail sometime. By the way, that vomit green AMC Gremlin you have really matches your personality.


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This is only a test….

EXAMINING THE PLACE FOR EXAMS, WHATCOM’S TESTING CENTER

by Matt Benoit

Horizon Editor

Behind the wooden double-doors of Laidlaw 133 lies a room absent of most sound, filled with desks and numbered chairs that are usually at least half-full with students making up faculty exams, doing GED testing, or taking math and English placement exams. This room is Whatcom’s Testing Center.

Named after Norma Stevens, former program manager for drop-in advising and testing services, the testing center has given out over 10,000 tests in the last four academic quarters.

Lisa Anderson, testing center coordinator, said that Stevens, who retired from Whatcom a few years ago, worked to improve the standards and environment for testing at the college, and helped secure the funding and space for the current testing center.

“Our previous space was small and inefficient to meet the growing needs of our students,” said Anderson in an e-mail.

Students needing to make up exams from faculty must make advanced arrangements with their instructor and arrive with enough time to complete the test. GED Testing is available by appointment and requires a mandatory enrollment session prior to testing, along with a one-time $75 fee.

Individual and ESLA placement testing is available on a drop-in basis, while math and standard English placement testing requires a group testing appointment and a one-time fee of $20. Group tests are normally held in a different location, and Anderson said two to three placement test sessions a day are common during finals weeks in order to accommodate new students for the next quarter of classes.

 Individual placement testing is not offered during finals week, as Anderson explained that the center dedicates all its time and space to faculty finals, facilitating anywhere from 300 to 500 tests during that week. 

Community proctored exams for non-students are also available on a limited basis.

With all this testing, does cheating ever occur? Anderson said that although she believes the testing center does a great job at preventing it, it can be hard to determine the difference between a student’s honest mistake and an attempt to smuggle in unauthorized materials for a test.

“We try to give the student the benefit of the doubt when these materials are discovered during check-in,” she said. “What happens in the check-in room stays in the check-in room, unless the attempt is really flagrant.”

Repeated attempts at taking in banned materials are documented for faculty, Anderson said, adding that only a few students tend to get something past. She usually documents at least seven situations a quarter, but said that how the students cheat will remain “a trade secret.”

Still, Anderson said cheating is something that makes the staff of the Learning Center feel very badly. “We work here because we like students and want to play a part in helping them succeed,” she said, adding that students’ reactions to being caught range from tears to anger.

“I think many students would typically not cheat but have found themselves unprepared for a variety of reasons and then make a bad choice,” Anderson said. “We strive very hard to not personalize the situation, stay supportive, non-judgmental, and professional.”    

 

 

Testing Center Hours for Fall Quarter (through Dec. 10)

Mondays: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tuesdays: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Wednesdays: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Thursdays: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fridays: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.          

A photo I.D. is required for all testing, and any fees must be paid in full prior to testing with a receipt of payment required to be shown.


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CAMPUS BRIEFS

International Education Week

A series of events will be held on campus from Nov. 16 through Nov. 20 to celebrate International Education Week, a “joint initiative between the U.S. Dept. of State and the U.S. Dept. of Education to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange. 

In addition to presentations and discussions from several Whatcom faculty on topics ranging from the Berlin Wall to Chinggis Khan, as well as Fulbright and study abroad opportunities for faculty, there will also be a study abroad fair in the Syre foyer during the week.

The Spanish club will also host a free salsa dance class on Nov. 16 from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Syre Auditorium. No experience is required to participate 

Event supports veterans

The college will be closed in observance of Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11, but on Nov. 12, “Listener: Talk Music,” will present music and poetry in the Syre Auditorium at 7 p.m. The event is free, but $3 minimum donations, which will benefit local veteran’s services, are suggested.

Nov. 17 College Fair

Representatives from 15 Washington universities and colleges will invade the Syre Student Center on Nov. 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for a once-a-year college fair. There will be a prize drawing, as well as information on university application processes and how to snag scholarships.

Nov. 18 Transfer Fair

A college transfer fair will be held on Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Heiner Center foyer. Eleven different colleges, including Western Washington University, the University of Washington, and Washington State University, will have representatives present to give transfer info and answer questions from students.

New Financial Aid Director

Jack Wollens has been introduced as the new Director for Financial Aid at Whatcom after spending the last three years as financial aid director of Bellingham Technical College. He also worked in financial aid at Loma Linda University in California, and has a business management degree from Andrews University in Michigan.

Fun in Seattle!

The International Friendship Club will be taking a day trip to Seattle on Nov. 21. The trip, open to all Whatcom students, will give them the chance to visit landmarks like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, as well as do some holiday shopping.

Cost is $5 per student, which covers transportation (a chartered bus) and parking. Those attending should meet at the flagpole in from of Laidlaw Center at 9 a.m. on Nov. 21. The bus should return to Whatcom around 8 p.m. Those interested in the trip can sign up in the International Office in Syre 201.

Phi Theta Kappa

The induction ceremony for new members of Whatcom’s Phi Theta Kappa is Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. in Heiner 209. Paul Schroeder will be the guest speaker.

Roberts releases new CD

Whatcom music professor Dr. Christopher Roberts’ latest CD, “Last Cicada Singing,” is now available for purchase in Whatcom’s bookstore. There is also a copy of the CD in Heiner Library available for checkout. The album is a series of solo compositions for the qin, a zither-like Chinese classical instrument Roberts studied while living in Taiwan. The album sells for $8.95.

Avoid failure with success workshops

Two more hour-long student success workshops will be held in LDC203 from 1 to 2 p.m. on each remaining Monday in November. Topics covered will include test-taking strategies (Nov. 16) and stress management (Nov. 30). Those with questions should contact Entry and Advising at (360) 383-30 

Career Center Open House

There will be an hour-long “open house” for the Career Center’s new office on Thursday, Nov. 12 between 12 and 1 p.m. in LDC 116 (Entry and Advising) to allow those interested to explore the new office and see what the Career Center has to offer. Treats will be provided.

 The Career Center features computerized career exploration, job searches, career assessments, resume writing, interview tips, and a resource library. For more information, contact the Entry and Advising office at (360) 383-3080.

“Don’t Trash Transit” rally

A rally in support of maintaining the WTA’s current level of transit service will take place on the Bellingham Public Library grounds across from the courthouse between 7:30 and 10 a.m. on Nov. 19. WTA’s board of directors will be in the council chambers of the courthouse that morning to consider a draft budget for 2010.

The rally, sponsored by the Amalgamated Transit Union, is to voice opposition against a proposed 14 percent reduction in county bus service starting next year.

Upcoming performances 

The musical group “Bottom Line Duo” will perform with bass and cello on Nov. 18 at 11:30 a.m. in Heiner Auditorium.

“Elephant Engine High Dive Revival,” a spoken word performance party featuring Buddy Wakefield, Derrick Brown, and numerous other performers, will take place on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m., also in Heiner Auditorium.


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COUNCIL NOTES

New Arts Club Proposed

Derek VanderGriend showed up at this week’s council meeting to propose the new club, Whatcom Art Awareness Community, with an art teacher as an advisor. They meet Wednesdays from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to discuss upcoming show events, as well as show and critique each other’s art. There are currently 15 members. Funding would come from selling student pieces, or having donation jars at local art shows. Any other funding would come from the committee board.

New Sports Chairs

Chris Scrimsher proposed getting 30 new chairs especially designed for WCC, to be used mainly for sports events. Designs may still be suggested, but he did bring an example design in a dark blue with the WCC Orca logo on the back. “Many colleges have these chairs,” Scrimsher said, “and Whatcom is a step behind in bringing them on the field for a more professional look.”

Table Tennis Club

A new table tennis club was proposed. A group of 20 students already play and attend meetings on Friday’s from 2 to 4 p.m. Anyone can join, and tournaments will be held. The $2 entry fees for tournaments  will be used to purchase equipment such as balls and paddles.

Graffiti Still a Recurring Problem

Carl Adams, of Whatcom’s facilities, came to the council meeting with a request.  “Please tell your peers to not write on the walls and help spread the word,” he said.  Adams said newly painted stalls are already being marked up again by graffiti, and would like this all to stop because of the high number of resources it is taking to paint over the graffiti.


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