Sunday, September 9, 2007
HAYWARD -- When Luis Reynoso left the high-tech industry to pursue a second career in teaching, he never thought he would consider filing a lawsuit against his own district and be forced to resign.
Reynoso, a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Harder Elementary School, has been battling the district since last August, when school officials took 36 computers from his classroom. Printers, Webcams and a digital camera also went missing.
"I'm very surprised it's gone this far," said Reynoso, 47, of Hayward. "All I want to do is teach, (and) we have to go through these shenanigans."
Reynoso, who said many of those computers were purchased out-of- pocket, has since filed a tort claim against the district alleging larceny, seeking compensation for $25,000. A tort claim is a preliminary step before a person is able to file a lawsuit; he has yet to hear back from the district regarding the claim.
School officials remain mum on the situation, citing personnel issues.
Last August, the district's technology department removed out-of- date computers from classrooms as part of a 3-month-old program called the School Wide Excess Equipment Pickup, which is when they came across Reynoso's setup.
"His issue was a public safety issue," said Patrick Simon, the director and chief technology officer for the district. "He had a lot of electrical wires and a lot of cable wires strung out throughout his classroom, where he made an attempt to turn his classroom into a computer lab."
Reynoso, however, disagrees. He said that if there had been any kind of issue regarding cables, someone could have approached him directly or unplugged the computers. He said he had received no warning.
"I felt violated and betrayed," said Reynoso. "At first I could not believe it. Even now I still can't believe it. The people that were supposed to work together as a team. I was hurt after pouring (in) so much of my own resources and my own time."
Hayward fire Marshal John Berg said the Fire Department conducts annual inspections at Harder and that according to records there were no violations at the school.
Reynoso said that in April his battle with the district took a turn for the worse when the principal notified him that he would not be re-elected to continue teaching at Harder the following year. Reynoso was a probationary teacher who was expected to gain tenure this year. The principal said Reynoso was not a good fit for the district. Reynoso began his teaching career in 2002, in Hayward Unified.
Rather than having it go on record that he was not re-elected, Reynoso said his union advised him to resign, so he did.
Kathy Crummey, Hayward Education Association president, refused to comment on the matter.
As a teacher, Reynoso would receive at least one performance evaluation each year. Evaluations from December 2004 to May 2006 show Reynoso ranked as an effective teacher in all categories.
In November 2006, shortly after he had met informally with the district regarding his computers, Reynoso said he received an unsatisfactory evaluation for the first time, with what he called inaccurate comments about his performance. The district refused to elaborate further for this story.
Gabriel Morales, a third- and fourth-grade teacher at Harder, said that if a teacher is having difficulties, evaluations usually drop gradually, not drastically.
"We can't afford to lose teachers like Mr. Reynoso," Morales said. "He's very hard to replace, and you'll never find a way to replace him quickly."
Online version can be found here.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Thirty-six computers were taken from his classroom, many of which were purchased and maintained by Reynoso. He filed a claim against the district in February 2007 to get his money back for the computers, as well as other items such as a digital camera, camcorder tripod and PC video camera that were also missing. By April, Reynoso said the principal told him that he would not be returning to Harder Elementary School the following year. He said his union advised him to resign, so he did.
“I’m very surprised it’s gone this far,” said Reynoso, a fifth and sixth grade elementary school teacher at Harder Elementary School. “All I want to do is teach (and) we have to go through these shenanigans.”
His saga began last August, a few days after summer school had ended. Reynoso went into his classroom to find desks overturned and his computers, many of which were bought with his own money, gone.
“It’s almost like somebody just vandalized the place,” said Reynoso. “At first I didn’t know who it was. After a custodian told me who it was, (I) spent a couple of days trying to find out who in the district did it. There was no note, no manifest.”
A custodian had seen members of the district in the classroom, a day before the computers were taken.
“They came in and said they couldn’t have this and that (the computers). It was a fire hazard,” said the custodian, who asked not to be named.
“It looked like a ghost town,” said the custodian. There were 12 computers stored in the closet that were also taken, he said.
“I felt violated and betrayed,” said Reynoso. “At first I could not believe it. Even now I still can’t believe it. The people that were supposed to work together as a team…I was hurt, after pouring so much of my own resources and my own time.”
Reasons ranging from computer viruses to fire hazard were given when Reynoso met with the district’s technology department, but he didn’t feel that they were justified since he had this classroom set up all year without any problems.
“His issue was a public safety issue,” said Patrick Simon, the director and chief technology officer for the district. “I was the person that executed the order to have his computers removed. He had a lot of electrical wires and a lot of cable wires, strung out throughout his classroom where he made an attempt to turn his classroom into a computer lab.
“We’re still waiting to this day to see what receipts did he have, to say that this is his property.”
Reynoso bought parts from Fry’s and Craigslist and spent his lunch hours maintaining the computers, some of which were donated. He admits that the computers were archaic, but as long as they were able to run a browser, he felt it didn’t matter, he said.
District representatives declined to further comment on the situation due to the impending lawsuit.
The associate superintendent of educational services, Christine Quinn, stated that the fire marshal was going to shut down Reynoso’s classroom, in an article that was printed in the Oakland Tribune on August 31, 2006,
John Berg, the fire marshal at the Hayward Fire Department, said that they do annual inspections for the school. According to its records there were no violations at Harder Elementary. The last inspection was done January 31, 2006. The state fire marshal’s office also did not have any records of violations.
“We don’t have any violations to that nature that were documented by our office and whenever we do an inspection, we document it,” said Berg. “There would have been an additional document in there, or some correspondence (with the school) and nothing shows that.”
As a teacher, Reynoso would receive at least one evaluation for performance each year. The evaluations would rank a teacher as effective, requires improvement or unsatisfactory. In February and May of 2006, Reynoso was effective in all categories. In evaluations as far back as December 2004 and in November 2005, he was ranked effective in all categories. He received comments stating that “Mr. Reynoso has implemented consistent discipline procedures in his classroom. He has built a positive rapport with his students. Students from his class have been cooperative and follow directions.” But it changed dramatically after his computers were taken.
In November 2006, shortly after he had met informally with the district regarding his computers, he received an unsatisfactory evaluation for the first time with negative comments.
The comments included, “Mr. Reynoso utilized limited strategies to gain, regain and maintain student attention and behavioral expectations.”
District representatives and the school principal have declined to comment on personnel issues.
Other comments on the evaluation stated that there was not enough student work posted on the walls and that there were no instructional aides.
On a recent visit, Reynoso’s classroom walls had a significant amount of student work posted compared to other sixth grade classroom walls which were relatively bare, with little student work.
“It (the student work) surpasses what the other classes have at his level,” said Gabriel Morales, a third and fourth grade teacher that has been at Harder for six years. “For sixth grade I would say he’s got more than what you would find in a sixth grade classroom. In fact, I think he had more stuff at the beginning of the year…so definitely around that time (of the evaluation) he would have had a lot more stuff.”
Morales said that if a teacher is having difficulties, evaluations usually drop gradually, not drastically.
“It’s not something that goes from a 5 star rating to a 1 star,” said Morales. “It doesn’t happen. There is something wrong with that picture when someone drops that much that fast.
“He brings a lot of things to the classroom that these kids need. We can’t afford to lose teachers like Mr. Reynoso. He’s very hard to replace and you’ll never find a way to replace him quickly.”
Reynoso says that there are times that he can’t believe that the lawsuit is even going on.
“I don’t want this to be so much of me. This was something that the kids were using. Parents are fuming, because they also participated with their money,” said Reynoso.
At the beginning of the year, parents contributed $40 each for web site subscriptions.
“When they took the computers away, not only did they take the program away, but the remaining part of the contract, they exhausted it, they never bothered to give the parents the money back either.”
The online programs that Reynoso had subscribed to were spread throughout the year, so the subscriptions would have lasted into the following school year.
Reyna Villalpando, whose son Luis is in Reynoso’s class, was confused and disappointed that the district took the computers. She said that her son learned so much the first year with Reynoso’s computer programs, that she went and bought her son a computer as well.
“They did a really bad thing for the kids. You can’t believe how much he improved,” said Villalpando. “He used to want to go home and do his homework on the computer and he’d be there for at least two hours.”
Without the computers this past school year, Villalpando saw the difference.
“I’m not saying he’s a bad boy, he’s my son, but he went down a lot,” said Villalpando. “He hasn’t been up like he was before.”
Reynoso used the Montessori approach where each student is looked at individually and the lesson plan would be catered toward their level.
“I have 29 kids. There are 29 different levels,” said Reynoso. “When we do our math lessons each child will go ahead and work on different strands of math at the sixth grade level.”
Reynoso needed computers for his lesson and spent three years trying to gather enough computers for his students. He had tried to invite members of the district to observe his lessons with the computers, but he never received a response.
“Kids will get their lesson and go out to the computer and as they do their independent practice, their results keep coming in. They see their product on the screen as the data starts to come in, the kids will start to group each other by the data. We’ll grab the kids that aren’t doing too well or the kids who are doing really well. It allowed the kids the jump. If there was anything that was beautiful about it, it’s that if someone wanted to move ahead, they could and that’s gone,” said Reynoso.
Students who had Reynoso as a teacher the year before felt the difference as well.
“Last year was better than this year because we had more computers,” said Jose Castellanos, 12, a student in Reynoso’s class. “He showed us different parts of the computer. We learned more with the computers.”
Reynoso, 47, began his second career as a teacher after spending 16 years in the high tech industry. He began teaching in 2002 at Eden Gardens Elementary School and was switched to Harder Elementary after two years.
Despite all the trouble that he’s going through, Reynoso says that he will continue to teach.
“It’s actually kind of sick. I could be bitter about it,” said Reynoso. “I could just quit this year but I thought, ‘You know what, this is not for me. But then I thought you know what, this is just a bump in the road, there’s no way that all schools are like this, there’s no way. If I have to start one myself I’ll change it.’”
Published on June 7, 2007. This story can be found here.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Given the fact that California has an obscene amount of cars and the Bay Area is lacking in space, that doesn’t excuse the fact people are rear ending each other because they are too busy looking at the flat tire on the side of the road.
Almost 80 percent of car accidents occur due to distracted drivers. Whether they’re spacing out or under the influence, the bottom line is that there are a lot of irresponsible drivers. The term “accident” is misleading as there is always someone at fault. Accidents due to the car malfunctioning or the bad weather are relatively low. I noticed that in California, even when there’s heavy rain, there are people who are still driving like the roads are dry.
The simple rules of the road seem to go ignored. Slow traffic belongs in the right lane, yet plenty of people like to stay in the fast lane and are completely oblivious to the fact that they are being passed on the right.
Tunnel vision is a huge problem with drivers, especially those that commute long distances everyday and find it easier to just stay in one lane and either hit the gas or the brake. Whatever happened to just coasting? Slamming the brakes because you’re tail gating is dangerous and causes more traffic behind you.
The average person’s commute time in California is 10 percent higher than the nation’s average. People are spending more time in stop-and-go traffic that leads to frustration, road rage and increased stress levels.
Rubberneckers certainly don’t help traffic jams when they decide to slow to a crawl to see what is happening off the side of the road. Generally, if there is a problem off the side of the road, you don’t want to blaze past them at 100 mph, but you certainly don’t need to be gawking and staring if you don’t have plans to pull over and help.
Effective July 2008, driving while using a hand-held cell phone will be banned in the state of California. It is the most common form of distraction for drivers, so it doesn’t make sense why people don’t use hands-free kits now.
People claim that they can multitask, but if walking and chewing gum can be a challenge, then it would be wise to find an alternative to driving and chatting on the phone. Invest in a hands-free kit or headset.
Instead of placing all of the blame on bad drivers, I can sympathize when it comes to the bizarre and often poor construction of the road. I don’t understand when lanes end without warning, especially when you’re not in the right-most lane.
Seven lanes merging into three doesn’t help matters either. The idea that cars should be letting every other car merge in seems to be lost on Bay Area drivers. The one car that you decide to cut off or not let in won’t really help you get to your destination any faster.
Merge lanes that are no longer than a car length is not a merge lane. I don’t think anyone expects every car to be able to accelerate from zero to 60 in two seconds so that they don’t get rear ended.
Despite all of Caltrans’ shortcomings, it wouldn’t hurt to be more attentive and to be extra careful when you’re behind the steering wheel. If you don’t think you’re a bad driver, then everyone else around you probably is. Not only do you need to be on alert to avoid hitting someone else, you need that extra attention to dodge other cars on the road.
Sophia is a communications major that frequently has to dodge cars on the way to class.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Originally published March 15, 2007
Developers from all over the world flock to one central location each year to take part in the Game Developer's Conference, an event where developers of computer games and similar specialties can network and promote business opportunities.
This year's conference was held Wednesday in San Francisco.
"The career pavilion area was structured so that I could essentially speed-date with companies for information about job openings and their companies," said Greg Raab, a conference associate volunteer who is a senior at DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Wash.
The GDC began in a living room in San Jose and has moved between San Jose, Long Beach and Santa Clara over the years. This year it was held at the Moscone Center West in the SOMA district of San Francisco.
The event is open to developers of computer, console, mobile, arcade, online games and location-based entertainment.
Last year, the GDC attracted more than 12,500 attendees who drive the $13.5-billion industry. The conference allows members of the industry to attend more than 300 lectures, panels and tutorials.
"GDC is an opportunity for both new and old game developers to connect with game publishers," said Ludon Lee, who manages studio operations at D2C Games.
The large turnout, however, isn't always ideal.
"This year was too big; too sprawled out and the intimate feel was gone," said Daniel Boutros, founder of Gametao.
The seventh annual Game Developers Choice Awards, which is about peer recognition and rewarding innovation, was held Wednesday. Gears of War took the Best Game award among a list of games such as Okami, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wii Sports and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox and many others received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his career-long accomplishments as a game designer.
Video Games Live, a unique form of entertainment that combines video games, live orchestra and vocals, ended the week-long conference. The event was created by Jack Wall and Tommy Tallarico, and featured music from some of the biggest video games in the last 20 years. Video Games Live was held at the Nob Hill Masonic Center and performed by Video Games Live orchestra and choir.
"This is how rich people play their video games," said Tallarico jokingly during a Frogger competition on stage while the orchestra played the music.
Koji Kondo, the highly-regarded composer for the Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda franchises made an appearance and performed a Super Mario Brothers medley on the piano for the audience.
Video Games Live has scheduled tour dates across the United States and has announced international dates.
The GDC is expected to return next year to San Francisco.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Even if you’re not a communications student, keeping up with current events should be just as important as keeping up with the latest celebrity gossip. You should at the very least be able to recognize names on a ballot when you go and vote. It’s not until politicians make the headlines because of a scandal that people start to take notice.
I can’t explain why when given the choice to read about Britney Spears’ hair and the Kyoto Accord, some of us will choose not to read about the treaty. Sadly, I’m guilty of this too and it makes me feel bad because I know I’m probably wasting my time and energy by reading information that will have no value to me (except that when I talk to my hairdresser we’ll have something to discuss).
I honestly was never really interested in politics growing up. Council meetings, long speeches, boredom and old people were the words and images that came into my head when I thought about politics. I could use the excuse that Canadian politics weren’t as interesting as U.S. politics, since my dad watches the U.S news coverage as if it were a reality TV show.
For some reason, once I started college in the United States, I started to pay more attention to the news. The more I read, the more irritated I got. The news I was reading was obviously biased. I didn’t know which radio stations or newspapers to pay attention to, and I only watched CNN, which I was told was the Clinton’s News Network. I’m not sure how many other students feel the same way, but when you spend most of your waking hours running around doing your daily routine, sitting down to read a newspaper with your morning cup of coffee just doesn’t seem to fit into your schedule. I don’t even eat breakfast.
Since I spend a lot of time online, anyway, I eventually started getting into the habit of browsing forums online. At first it was hobby related, but I found myself wandering into debate forums where people would talk about current issues regarding the United States. This was my entry to the wonderful world of politics. Ignoring the rude and incoherent comments, I started reading some fascinating ideas about religion, politics, education, women’s rights and other controversial topics that I’ve never really thought about discussing with anyone. These topics were considered “off limits” as an unspoken rule among my friends, and I’m not quite sure why.
With the ability to conceal your identity online, people would write what they wanted to write, and eventually I started to read more—and even had the nerve to participate once in a while—and began to read and write blogs.
Reading a news report about the latest political agenda might be dry and dull, but reading active debates or even taking part in them allows you to really explore the details and people will point you to information that you would have never come across yourself. Of course opinion is always included, but to me it’s incredibly enriching to hear more than just one. Taking a class that is discussion oriented is another way to actively take part.
It wasn’t until I started taking classes at Cal State East Bay that I realized how much freedom the First Amendment gives to the press and to the public. Not every country has the same rights and access that we have in the United States. Wouldn’t it make sense to take advantage?
No one can really make politics more interesting if you’re not willing to approach it with an open and curious mind. But as a member of this society it’s your right to receive as much information as possible and learn as much as you can. Even though we may feel that certain events don’t seem to affect us directly, it’s important to at least know and understand what’s going on so that when it comes time to vote, you can cast that vote in confidence and be an informed participant of democracy. If you don’t pay attention to what’s happening, how do you expect to make an informed decision come 2008?
Sophia is a communications major who is appalled at how low the voter turnout is during elections and suggests that people start taking notes on candidates now.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
It’s not easy deciding what you want to be when you grow up. Some people never decide, and some people just never grow up. Not everyone is going to be an astronaut, doctor, lawyer or teacher. These were the only jobs that really came into mind when I was in high school. Business was too much sales, politics was too boring, science was too much work, and law was boring and a lot of work.
It’s no wonder that by the time I reached college, I had no idea what I wanted to do because those were the only “valid” options that were presented to me. Anything else meant that I would not get a job or it wouldn’t be practical. Another option was to stay in school as long as possible so you never have to face the fact that you need to get out into the real world.
I lost interest in school early on, and I was eager to get out. I didn’t know what I’d do if I was out. With the many things that had changed my life around when I first started college, I found myself in a sales related position that required a business degree which I didn’t have. Even so, I managed to excel at my work and learn a lot of things I never cared to learn.
I never knew that the corner window cubicle was the most sought after piece of real estate, and when you’re senior enough to land it, everyone else hates you.
People aren’t kidding when they’re using football terms and other phrases such as “low hanging fruit” in meetings and expect you to know exactly what they’re talking about. Golf is the one thing everyone has in common, which is why some business schools are teaching students how to play.
Loitering by the water cooler or the mailroom grants you access to the company’s darkest secrets. Just like in class, people arrive late to meetings and are surprised when they are given a dirty look. The longer your job title is, the less qualified you are at your job.
Even if you’re working in the software industry, selling software products, there will be people who still refuse to use software applications to do their work. I also noticed that professionalism was really hard to find.
You will meet difficult people throughout your life. Even though you may hate group projects in class now, at least in the workplace, your teammates have the pressure of getting fired. That doesn’t stop them from being a backstabber and pretending that everything is great.
I learned so much working for corporate America. The most important thing I took away was that you need to network. As much as I hate to admit it, because I was always against relying on others to get what I want, it’s much easier if you network. Your chances are much higher, especially when two thirds of the workforce is based on referrals. If you get really lucky you may get noticed and find what you’re looking for and be recognized for your talent. Sadly, the real world doesn’t operate on luck all the time so I’m trying to enjoy school life as much as possible before I jump back into it.
Sophia is a communications major who wished politics stayed out of the non-political workplace.
Saturday, March 3, 2007
The diversity on campus is one of Cal State East Bay’s best features. Not only do we see a wide range of individuals from the Bay Area, but we also have a lot of International students that live on campus as well.
Ever wonder what it must be like to be in a different country to study in your second language? Students who study abroad learn and experience many things that can’t be taught in a classroom.
If you’ve always had an interest in perhaps studying abroad, or have been curious about the experience, why not ask a fellow CSUEB student on campus about it?
CSUEB has set up an American Language Speaking Partners Program to have International students meet native English speakers to help them with their English. I found out about this program because I was taking a foreign language class and that’s where they try to recruit volunteers. The idea is that you help them with their English, and they in turn can help you practice the language that you are taking.
There was a time when I was an International student, too, but because I’m Chinese and grew up in Canada, students and teachers were confused when I spoke English fluently because they assumed I came from China. Teachers also find it odd that I also speak Mandarin and Cantonese as well as I do, growing up in a country where speaking English and French were as important as graduating high school. Languages have always been fascinating to me, not only because I like being able to understand people from different countries, but because I learn about the history and the culture of that language.
During my International orientation, I noticed that most students were very shy and that they kept to their group of friends or would hang around other groups that spoke the same language. I approached and befriended a group of students from Kosovo who were sitting in a corner. They told me afterward that they immediately knew I wasn’t from China and I definitely wasn’t an American, because they have never had either approach them just to be friendly.
I was a bit confused as to why they would say that. I understand shy people find it difficult to approach new people. There are a lot of people on campus who are outgoing, but why aren’t they approaching different students? I know that if I were in a different country, I would be very grateful if people made an effort to approach me just to say hello.
When I first started here as a student, I wasn’t aware of any language programs, but it would have been nice to see students take an active role in helping foreign students get acclimated.
The Speaking Partners Program is coordinated by Jessie Wu, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-885-2358 for questions or applications. Applicants are then paired up with an International student based on language interest. Once you received an email with your partner’s contact information, it’s up to you and your partner to meet each other once a week to get some conversation practice.
I didn’t really sign up so much to get help in a language, but I figured this was an easy way to meet new students who I might not normally bump into. They all live on campus at Pioneer Heights or the International House, but how often would a Bay Area resident wander over there to make new friends?
Even though you are signing up to help out a fellow student with their English, I find it just as rewarding to make a new friend and learn about their culture and their points of view. As diverse as the Bay Area is, people tend to cling to their own cliques and friends. It doesn’t hurt to branch out once in a while and meet someone new and different.
Sophia is a communications major whose next step is to learn more Spanish and start taking Japanese.
It is 5:17 a.m., it’s dark and you’ve already smacked your alarm clock a few times. Dragging your sleep-deprived self out of bed you get ready for work. On your way to work you juggle the two most important things in your life—Starbucks and your cell phone.
At the end of the work day, you’re off to school with more Starbucks, cell phone in one hand and your books in your bag. After realizing that these items weigh you down as you make the long trek from the parking lot to your classroom, you’re better off leaving them in your car.
The life of a student is hard, especially if you’re one of the many students at Cal State East Bay who also hold a job or multiple jobs. Each day can be a mind-numbing and grueling experience. By the end of the day, the thought of opening your textbook to do the assigned reading makes you wish graduation was tomorrow.
But as each day passes, graduation does come closer. I spent four years holding down a full-time job and trying to go to school at the same time. I didn’t have the kind of job where I could do my math homework, but if I had the ability to sleep with my eyes open, I would have.
I admire the students who go through each quarter, tirelessly trying to make it to class and showing up for work. It can be challenging enough to have a demanding job or a full schedule at school, but many students manage to be a full-time employee and a full-time student while still maintaining decent grades, and that’s simply amazing.
Students who work approach school differently I find, mostly because they’re paying for it themselves. They are eager to finish so that they can advance in the working world. But there seem to be two types of working students: The kind who knows what they want and are dedicated to getting it, and the type who are here to finish what they’ve started to get it over with.
I know that if I hadn’t worked for several years in a job that I really couldn’t stand that was going down a career path that I didn’t want to go, I wouldn’t be here at school with a declared major.
My first quarter as a full-time student was the hardest. There were days where I asked myself if I really wanted a degree anyway. I realized at the five-week midway point that you feel like you’re almost there, but that is also when the tests and papers start to bundle up together. The last push to the end is almost there, it’s just that end of March seems so far away.
I know that when it comes to my last quarter, I will be proud of myself for sticking through it. For students who worked hard to get their degrees, it doesn’t matter if it took four years or 10; it should be one of your greatest achievements because you know you’ve really earned it.
Sophia is a communications major who a year ago wasn’t sure what studying journalism entailed.
Whether you embrace or despise the idea of Valentines’ Day (or “Singles’ Awareness Day”), it’s hard to miss the massive amounts of over-priced chocolate, candies, teddy bears, hearts and flowers that are shoved in your face when you go to a store. Right after the Christmas season, before you even have a chance to take down your tree, retailers are already bringing out the next holiday fluff.
It doesn’t matter if you’re attached or single—either way Valentine’s Day can be a stressful event. It’s a day where society likes to point out the fact that you’re alone. Or it’s a day where you have to somehow prove to your significant other that you really care about them, or you’ll be sleeping on the couch (or making them sleep on the couch).
What ever happened to the happy exchange of Valentine’s Day cards to all of your friends, just to say “Be my Valentine.” In grade school, at least for me, most students gave out Valentine’s Day cards to everyone, but there were always the select few who only gave it out to their friends, therefore messing up the class distribution of cards.
There was always the poor boy or girl who people ignored, and they were left with hardly any cards. I probably didn’t think twice about it back then, but now that I look back, I realize how mean children can be (not that I think adults are any nicer, but at least when you’re older it’s much easier to ignore people). Teachers tried to promote Valentine’s Day as a day to write something nice about each other, and for most people, it was very exciting to come to school and pass out the cards.
As people got older and the card exchange was no longer cute, it turned into a boyfriend/girlfriend only type of holiday. I’m not sure why people feel the need to celebrate Valentine’s Day, as though any other day of the year is not as important as this one.
It’s a little depressing that Valentine’s Day is about as commercialized as it can get, when the history of Valentine’s Day dates back to the fifth century where Pope Gelasius officially declared Feb. 14 Saint Valentine’s Day. I’m pretty sure back then that no one was fighting to buy the last roses from the local florist.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated differently throughout the world. In countries like Japan, women are the ones who are out buying the candies and chocolates for men. I don’t think it’s fair for this holiday to be one-sided. I’m all about equal opportunity, so this year it’s my turn to plan something for Valentine’s Day. I made an agreement with my significant other that no roses will be bought on this day (let alone any other day) and there will be no purchases of cute pink or red stuffed items from Hallmark.
So why can’t Valentine’s Day simply be a day to show a special friend or family member that you care? It doesn’t have to be about the chocolates, love notes or flowers. It is always nice to let someone know that you’re thinking of them. It doesn’t have to include a romantic candlelight dinner, but letting someone know that you care with a simple note, hand-made card or a telephone call (text message if you’re really lazy) will go a long way.
Sophia is a communications major who really isn't promoting simple plans for Valentine's Day just because it's her turn to make them...
As Sony and Microsoft fight for the top spot in next generation consoles, what is more interesting is that the Nintendo Wii has been attracting a lot of attention from people who normally don’t play video games: women.
In the ‘80s the original Nintendo with Super Mario Brothers was the game that everyone and their grandmother played. As time went on, these classics faded and today the industry is bombarded with sports games, first-person shooters and anything else that involves animated violence.
Video games have primarily been targeted toward a male audience; especially the 25-35 age group because they grew up playing video games. Now that they’re out of school and working, they’re also buying a lot more games.
What some developers have begun to figure out is that there is a growing population of female gamers. Video games is a $13.5 billion industry in the United States alone and in 2006, five out of the top 10 PC games sold were expansions for “The Sims 2.”
The first game “The Sims” was the best-selling PC game of all time with 60 percent of its fan base being female. “The Sims” is similar to a “digital dollhouse” set in suburbia where you control the lives of your Sim by having them eat, work, play as well as develop relationships. There are no goals in “The Sims;” these types of games are described as sandbox games where you’re open to do whatever you like.
Nintendo recently has focused on their handhelds, which still draw in a huge audience; but a majority of Nintendo fans are usually kids and anyone else who grew up with Nintendo.
Nintendo’s latest handheld, called the Nintendo DS, has also attracted a wide variety of players. With brain games like “Brain Age” and “Big Brain Academy,” people of all ages have been playing puzzle games like Sudoku and other math-related problems in the form of a video game.
I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. I got a hand-me-down Atari back when computer monitors only had two colors. I was instantly hooked. With my brother, we played video games all throughout my childhood years.
Most people seem surprised that I play video games, and even more surprised that I plan on going into the video game industry. It’s an industry where only 10 percent of the workforce is female. There are stereotypes regarding the type of person that plays video games. Everyone always thinks it’s the dorky guy, but no one would think that someone like my sister, who is a dancer, also enjoys video games.
There is this other half of the population that people don’t necessarily associate gaming with. Why is it that this form of entertainment is mostly catered toward the males? I do like the occasional shooter, “Gears of War” is one of the few that I’ve played and enjoyed, but there are very few female heroes when it comes to video games. Lara Croft would be one, but we all know what her best features are. People like to relate to what they’re playing, which could be why “The Sims” is really popular among females.
The adventure genre was popular in the late ‘80s early ‘90s where the player points and clicks with their mouse to collect items and solve puzzles. This is unfortunately a dying genre, but it’s a genre that females tend to enjoy and a genre that Roberta Williams, one of the most influential female gamers of her time, made popular with her King’s Quest series.
There are game developers now that are slowly realizing that the “casual” player, who enjoys games like Bejeweled and Tetris, include both genders and that it is a market that could potentially grow.
The new Nintendo Wii has been a hit with gamers and non-gamers alike. Instead of relying on hand-eye coordination with a few buttons on a controller, it involves full arm movement that is easy for anyone to grasp. It wouldn’t surprise me if the female gaming population begins to grow with this step that Nintendo has taken. The next few years should be exciting in terms of how the gaming industry will go. Maybe the growing female gamer population will help change the stereotypes, and everyone can enjoy video games without the strange looks and with more options that don’t always have to involve sports and violence.
Sophia is a communications major who also enjoys reviewing video games on the side.
There is a lot of misconception surrounding the issue of global warming, or the more politically correct term these days, “climate change.” I had been taught to be resourceful for as far back as I can remember. I will always remember the three R’s that were ingrained in my head: reduce, reuse and recycle.
These are just good habits to have, it saves you money in the long run and in a small way, you’re helping the fight against pollution on a global scale. It shouldn’t matter how big your contribution is, anything is something.
I can’t remember the first time it was brought up, but I kept hearing people talk about this documentary called “An Inconvenient Truth” that stars Al Gore. Political documentaries are not exactly my cup of tea, but I had placed it on my Netflix queue just to see what the fuss was about. Coincidentally, one of my professors on the first day of class was also showing the documentary for anyone who was interested. My DVD came the next day.
After watching the documentary, it was disappointing (but not surprising) to see that the United States contributes the most pollution of any country. The amount of pollution we do produce is illogical, regardless of size.
California has already taken initiative, as we have one of the toughest auto-emission laws in the nation and soon the world. The latest regulations under the Clean Air Act will apply to vehicles beginning in 2009. It is forcing car manufacturers to come up with technology that will cut emissions from cars and light trucks by 25 percent and from sport utility vehicles by 18 percent. Of course the auto industry filed a lawsuit against California in December 2004, three months after the California Air Resources Board issued regulations that would reduce global warming gases by nearly 30 percent by 2016. The trial is still pending.
Everyone knows that Californians drive big cars and are on the road too much.
I’m not going to harp on those who drive—I drive, too. “An Inconvenient Truth” not only talks about the problems that we’re facing but gives you an idea of what is happening to other parts of the world. Polar bears are drowning, glaciers are melting, new diseases are spreading; so it’s hard not to pause and think about what we can do as individuals to help.
You don’t have to give up your car and walk to school, but instead you can find carpool options, or if it’s local you can walk or bike. Always try to use both sides of paper. Save a pile of scrap paper, it will come in handy. Switch to energy efficient bulbs. Just by adjusting your thermostat down two degrees during the winter and up two degrees during the summer can help. Don’t let your car idle for more than a minute, it is actually more efficient in terms of fuel to restart your car. The documentary isn’t the most exciting thing you could watch on television, but everyone who is a contributor to pollution should watch it and learn from it. At the end it gives some very realistic goals and ways you can help, so it’s not just depressing news, there’s a lot of hope that comes with it.
Even if you don’t believe that global warming is a serious issue, at least think about how pollution will affect our lives if we don’t do anything to stop it. Breathing is something we take for granted; if we didn’t have air, it wouldn’t matter what kind of car we drive.
I’m sure that a majority of the student population is educated enough to understand the effects of global warming and are already trying to make some changes. It’s those that do not think it’s an issue or that it’s a myth—they are the ones that are delaying our progress. I’m not just talking about the every-day American that doesn’t seem to care, but the politicians that have the power to make changes. Both need to be convinced or at least made aware that this is a concern for everyone who wants to survive.
I’ve had people tell me that Al Gore is only doing this to further his personal agenda. Could his crusade be something more personal, such as building a better world for his children to live in? What is on the agenda of the automakers and members of the oil industry that dismiss the idea of global warming? Or what is on the agenda for politicians that ignore the issue and have a substantial financial interest in the oil industry?
For those of you who haven’t seen “An Inconvenient Truth,” the Hayward Environmental Awareness Team and Associated Students Inc. are sponsoring the movie at Cal State East Bay with a panel discussion Tuesday. The panel consists of professors who are experts on global warming, conservation and environmental law. The film will be shown at 4:30 p.m. in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Business and Technology Center presentation room, VBT 124.
Do yourself a favor and learn more about the issue of global warming. Let’s leave behind a legacy and a clean Earth for future generations to enjoy.
Sophia is a concerned transplanted Canadian who is studying communications.
Originally published January 18, 2007.
That time of year has arrived again, budget proposal time. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new proposal includes a tuition fee increase for the California State University system that could jump as much as 10 percent. The fact that we pay absurd amount of money for books, another 10 percent increase in tuition is not welcome. Students should be wondering where all this money is going.
I’ve been to schools where they dump a ridiculous amount of money to build a giant sportsplex that looks like it could be the next science and technology museum. I’m all for putting money into sports and arts, but does the building really need to take up half the campus and look like a state monument? I’m hoping that California State University East Bay doesn’t follow a similar path.
One of my biggest complaints (besides the food situation at the student Union), is that we don’t have enough classes. Not only are we seeing incredibly long waiting lists, we’re practically sitting on top of each other in classrooms where I’m positive we’re breaking some kind of fire code.
I’m not sure if it was a glitch in the system, but I saw a waiting list at 31 people for a class. You’d think that once the list hits about 15 or so, people might give up. Is it a really popular class? Is it an easy teacher? Or is it because the class is rarely offered?
The main issue is that due to budget cuts, the school had to cut teachers, therefore cutting back on classes. With Schwarzenegger’s proposal, the money should be put back into our education by hiring new teachers or bringing the current part-time teachers on full-time.
There are many great part-time teachers who don’t have the opportunity to teach as many classes as they should. It is very difficult to find a teacher that can motivate, inspire and educate. When one comes along, the school should do everything in its power to keep them.
It would be nice to have more options when it comes to selecting our schedules. There shouldn’t be that elusive course that is only offered once a year or once every other year. Most people want to graduate in a set amount of time, and not be screwed come graduation with a course that’s not being offered until next quarter.
There is a severe shortage of evening classes as well. Many students work full time during the day, and need to find late afternoon or evening classes to attend. When there just isn’t a selection of courses, students are forced to just take anything that fits into their time schedule instead of taking the classes that they want to take. It’s bad enough to pay for classes you don’t necessarily want to take but you take it anyways because you could use it to satisfy Area F. If there is a tuition increase, then there better be an increase in quantity and quality of our choices.
I hope that if we do need to suck up the tuition increase, we will see some positive changes. I’d hate to see a multi-million dollar complex go up that looks like the Sydney Opera House and have it be empty and unused. Or even worse, we will see no changes at all.
Sophia is a junior communications major.
All comments, feedback are welcome. Depending on the activity, I may post follow up articles here.
A brief history about me and the Pioneer: I saw an email go out saying they needed an editorial writer so I emailed back and here I am. My column the "Soapbox" means more than just a regular soapbox. My nickname also happens to be soaps or soapy, short for soapymoose which came about in 5th grade. To this day, I still use soapy as an alias for many of the sites that I visit. So that's a little history about how I got here and how I came up with the name. I'm sure that knowing this little bit of info will allow you sleep better at night now ;)
I do have a personal blog set up under this profile, another way to access it is to go to http://soapymoose.blogspot.com