Category Archives: Trends

Defining “Harry Pottering”

har•ry pottering [hay-ree pot-ter-eeng]

–verb

  1. to wait in an unnaturally long line for an unnaturally long period of time to see a film based on the adventures of Harry Potter, a storyline aimed at an 8-14 year-old demographic
  2. to lose sight of reality and all things logical

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people subject themselves to extreme pre-movie boredome and suffering. I don’t care what movie it is, I doubt the film is worth buying tickets online, getting to the movie theater three and a half hours early at midnight, and–more than likely–either sitting in the worst section of the theater or having to separate yourself from your party to even find a seat. I believe “madness” is synonymous with the act of “Harry Pottering.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I’ve read the first few books, and I thought they were great. The series seems to be very well written, and the books have managed to spark an interest in reading again. However, the movie adaptations of the books are just that. There have been many complaints that the movies do the books no justice; important parts are left out, characters seem out-of-wack, little bits that weren’t in the books are added here and there. So why go berserk? I’ll never wrap my head around how worked up people get for adolescent wizards.

In other news, I’ll be at the 12:01 a.m. showing of the latest Harry Potter installment at AMC Barton Creek theater with two of my friends. I’m only human.

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Barton Springs is Austin’s Summer Swimming Hub

I wrote this article for St. Edward’s University’s student-run paper,
the
Hilltop Views.

Summer is upon us, and with it come the soaring Texas temperatures. To escape the heat in the next few months, many Austin locals will venture off to everyone’s favorite summer spot—Barton Springs.

Barton Springs, a set of four natural water springs located on the grounds of Zilker Park, is the result of the cool waters flowing through the Edwards Aquifer.  The spring’s chilly waters and natural ambiance has made it a year-round swimming destination for Austin locals.

Infamous for its nippy waters, Barton Springs attracts crowds of people looking for an escape from the sweltering summer heat.


Dr. Shirley, professor of Religious Studies, says he has always enjoyed Barton Springs, “[The spring] has a lot more character than the pool at the gym, plus you get some sun.”

Shirley says, however, Barton Springs is not your conventional swimming hole. “It really isn’t so much for swimming laps as for the ambiance. There used to be a rock—that I think was called the ‘Philosopher’s Rock’—where some of the local educational elite used to sit and chat.  There’s also a statue just outside of the pool area, near the parking lot, commemorating some of the more famous local intelligentsia.”

Kate Rosati, administrative coordinator of the Center of Ethics and Leadership, likes to visit the springs with friends on warm summer days. “My girlfriends and I will lie out on our towels on the hill, heat up until we can’t take it anymore and then jump in.”

However, Rosati says the only thing better than taking a dive into the cool waters is getting back out, “The best part is getting out of the freezing cold water and realizing that the sweltering heat suddenly just feels warm and cozy.”

Dr. Jodi Egerton, assistant professor of English Writing and Rhetoric, shares Rosati’s enthusiasm for taking to Barton Springs for a quick dip on a hot day. “On a perfect dreamy day, we like to sit on the far side on the big grassy hill. Bring along some books, a towel to lie on, lots of sunscreen and a hat. Lie around reading until you’re just so hot you can’t stand it, and then go cool off in the water for a while.”

Egerton’s says her husband, former Humanities adjunct instructor Owen Egerton, loves Barton Springs.  “[Owen] loves to go early in the morning and swim at the break of dawn. He goes every year on his birthday to swim if we’re in town. He’s originally from Wales, and he learned to swim in icy Welsh lakes, so he has absolutely no issues with the cold [water].”

Barton Springs Pool, a man-made swimming pool, is located on the grounds of Zilker Park. The pool sits within the Barton Creek channel and is filled by water from Main Barton Spring.  The pool’s temperature, which remains between about 68°F and 72°F, allows for year-round swimming.

Shirley admits that he enjoys being around the pool more than he enjoys being in the pool. “I have fun wandering the area outside the actual pool area:  the play area, with all the kids’ equipment, and on the other side of the springs.”  He says he also enjoys exploring all of the interesting concrete and stone structures surround the pool.

No matter your reasons for going—be it to escape the heat, read a book, or explore new things—hitting up Barton Springs will be the coolest thing you do all summer.

Barton Springs Pool Fees

Weekdays Weekends Summer Pass (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
Senior $1 $1 $60.00
Adult $3.00 $3.00 $180.00
Junior (12-17) $2.00 $2.00 $120.00
Child (11- under) $1.00 $1.00 $60.00
Family of 4 n/a n/a $350.00 (additional family members are required to purchase the individual pass for their age group
Parking fee at Zilker n/a $3.00 (March through September)

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SEU Implements Changes to Psychology Major

I wrote this article for St. Edward’s University‘s student-run paper,
the
Hilltop Views.

In the fall, Psychology students at St. Edward’s University will notice considerable changes to their major, a result of the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences enacting an overhaul on the Psychology curriculum.

Dr. Russ Frohardt, associate professor of Psychology, said that the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences and the Psychology department is always looking for ways to improve the major. The department has brought in the likes of Dr. Jesse Purdy, a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Southwestern University, to help recommend progressive changes to St. Edward’s Psychology major.

“Earlier in the year, we completed an external review of the department, by Dr. Purdy. One of his suggestions for improving student participation in quality research, increasing the scholarly productivity of the existing psychology faculty, giving students more choice in the emphasis of their experiential requirements and integrating the culminating general education experience of our students back to the major, was to have a year-long ‘senior sequence’ that allowed students to focus their experience on research or a more traditional internship in the greater community.”

In a proposal that began circulating last year detailing prospective curriculum changes to the Psychology major, three major changes were outlined. The first shift was implementing a Capstone course that focused on topics in psychology. The second change was removing the Community Service (PSYC 2120) course in the Psychology major, as the course no longer served the intended purpose of exposing first-year students to the applications of psychology in the field. Lastly, the proposal suggested the addition of a one-hour lab experience (now called PSYC 4442) to Behavioral Neuroscience (PSYC 4442) to accommodate over two weeks of class time devoted to laboratory exercises.

The psychology-themed Capstone course will maintain the same course description and learning outcomes that are currently outlined for the existing Capstone; however, the course will allow students the opportunity to focus on literature within their major to accomplish these learning outcomes. The pilot course for the psychology-themed Capstone course occurred over the course of the current spring semester. Dr. Marianne Hopper, dean of General Education and University Programs, and Dr. Cory Lock, the coordinator of Capstone, indicated that such approaches to Capstone courses are welcomed, especially since this particular addition will most likely result in the hiring of an additional four full-time faculty members to those currently teaching in Capstone.

Dr. Frohardt says he believes that this particular change will allow students in the major to pursue many aspects of a major-specific topic that they are passionate about from several perspectives.

“For example, one of my current Capstone students is writing about whether or not treatment for mentally ill patients who are incarcerated should be mandated by the government. She addressed the arguments of each side, the values that they adhere to and the feasibility of mandating treatment. Now imagine that she had worked with a forensic psychologist in the prison system or at the Austin State Hospital and was able to add those experiences to the research she did, the interviews she conducted and the civic engagement event that she hosted on campus to raise awareness about mental illness. To me, that is a complete treatment of the topic.”

Students will be required to complete this Capstone course with a newly proposed Research and Field Experience course, available next fall. According to the course description in the proposal, the Research and Field Experience (PSYC 4359) course will be an educationally directed course in experiential learning under the supervision of psychology faculty and professionals in the field. The course will offer Psychology majors opportunities to acquire skills and to test in a field setting theories and principles learned in the classroom. Internship students will volunteer at a psychology-related site in the community and address theoretical issues in an applied setting. Students who will be working directly with the faculty member on a research project will conduct an in-depth study in one of the major areas in psychology and the integration of that knowledge with other areas in psychology. The four sections offered in the course cover fields such as health psychology and biofeedback, developmental psychology and behavioral neuroscience.

Another course added to the Psychology curriculum is Behavioral Neuroscience (PSYC 4442). This course will provide an introduction to the neurosciences, where students will examine the function and anatomy of the central nervous system and how it mediates perceptions, emotions, thoughts, memories and other behaviors. Behavioral Neuroscience will include a one-hour anatomical and behavioral laboratory experience.

As excitement continues over the new changes to the major, Dr. Frohardt looks to the future, “We have a great department with competent and hard-working students and professors. I think these changes will make a great department even better.”

Here’s how this change will affect current psychology majors:

If you have not yet taken Independent Research or Internship*, you will

  • Take Research and Field Experience, and
  • Take any other psychology course, or you may repeat Research and Field Experience

If you have already taken either Independent Research or Internship*, you will

  • Take Research and Field Experience, which will replace the course you have not yet taken

* Please note that the stand-alone Psychology internship course (PSYC 4350) will be offered for summer 2009 for those who have already secured an internship placement site.

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Women! Heed These Rules!

Lisa Daily, syndicated relationship columnist and author of Stop Getting Dumped, has essentially drawn women a map of the male brain, complete with annotations and explanations, in her article “Ten Traits Men Look for in a Girlfriend.”

Ladies, this sort of information is the stuff you find at the end of the rainbow–gold.

Ten Traits Men Look for in a Girlfriend…

1. She has a life of her own — and it’s pretty good to boot. Ladies, this means that you take care of yourself, pay attention to your personal style and find time to hang with your fabulous friends and family.

2. She never makes the first move. If the woman is always the one calling, she will never know if he is really interested in her or if it’s just convenient for him. She may find herself questioning the relationship every step of the way. Men simply aren’t programmed to think like that and therefore are better suited to the chase.

3. She is sexy without being trampy. In the beginning of courtship, a woman should refrain from making any comments that are overtly sexual. She also flirts by using nonsexual touch like placing her hand on his forearm or even the knee but only briefly.

4. She waits to have sex. Daily says that many women don’t even realize just how much sex changes the dynamics of a relationship. Wait at least one month into the relationship before having sex with your new man.

5. She does little things to show she cares. The bottom line is that you should want to do the little things that let him know you care and you are paying attention to his individual needs. And he should do the same for you.

6. She should be her boyfriend’s best wingman — err, wing woman. Help him to look good in front of the boss, advises Daily. Laugh at his jokes and help him shine when it is important. Of course, again, he should do the same for you.

7. She never turns on the pressure. This one is important. Men have a distinct aversion to any sort of pressure, says Daily. Therefore, women should avoid calling and/or emailing him many times during the day or dropping hints about the future. In fact, keep the dreaded M-word (marriage) out of your vocabulary all together.

8. She does not take any crap — from anyone. A good woman never accepts bad behavior. Guys respect women with whom they can’t get away with anything. If he knows there’s a penalty — like getting thrown to the curb — for a serious violation like cheating, he’ll respect you more, and he will be far less likely to do it.

9. A good woman always chooses a good man. That means that you should look for someone who is honest and dependable. He has to treat you right. If he says he is going to be somewhere, he is there. Chivalry is not dead, by the way. “Good manners are a deeper window into what kind of man he truly is,” Daily says.

10. She knows that love is the biggest part of the mating equation. Just how does a good woman know that she has found that crazy-for-you, toe-curling relationship? Daily says that some women have an “a-ha” moment, while love simply sneaks up on the rest.

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An Open Letter to You “Free Spirited” Men

Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating, and religion.” -Scott Adams

Well put, Scott.

For almost a year now I’ve been in the single’s realm, an odd place to be if you haven’t exactly been on that horse for awhile.  Besides feeling like a 54-year-old divorcee trying to find a fitting suitor, I am also having to grapple with the fact that I am a certain “type” of gal (I put that in quotes because I hate admitting that I fall into a categorical “type”).  Among some of the “scarier” aspects of my “type” is my attraction to commitment–can you hear the guys reading this running?

When girls like me say they want a guy to be committed, for some reason, when this is processed in the male brain, it sounds something like, “I would like to own your soul and take away your freedom.”  Oddly enough–surprise–this isn’t at all what I want.  In fact, it’s really a turn off to me when a guy doesn’t have his set of buddies that he has a night out with or some sort of extracurricular hobby or something-or-another to keep him busy.  Yes, guys, independence is attractive.

On the other side of the coin, I, too, want independence.  If I had to forfeit my time with my friends or time left for myself, I’d be really, really unhappy.  The best part of a relationship is being able to share your life with someone else, not become the life of something else.

So, when girls like me want to know boundaries–“Are we or aren’t we in some sort of relationship? Are we casually dating?”–we’re just seeing where the lines are so that we don’t cross them.  Girls like me aren’t setting a trap for you “free spirits” (as I heard it called today), we’re just trying to get our barrings because–surprise again–we like you.  We want to get to know you.  We want you to get to know us.

If not for dating, how else would we know what we ultimately want?  Guys, if you treat dating like a taboo, girls will lose interest quickly.  Don’t be so presumptuous as to think we want to take over your life.  Personally, I want a guy to kick it with, have fun with, get to know, and just enjoy being young with.

Guys, we girls are just as clueless as you.  You have to tell us what you want, and we’ll do the same.  It is what it is.

Don’t brood. Get on with living and loving. You don’t have forever.

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St. Edward’s Renovations Go Green

I wrote this article originally for the Hilltop Views.

St. Edward’s University has made concerted steps towards a more energy-efficient campus over the past few years, and the renovations
on Doyle Hall have been especially environmentally conscious.

Doyle Hall is being renovated and expanded in order to accommodate more classrooms, as well as offices for faculty and staff.  The
university site says that renovations of existing buildings, such as Doyle Hall, allow the university to repurpose an existing building and
prevents existing building materials from going into a landfill.  Most of the building’s shell and interior walls will be reused, including
existing clay tile walls, concrete structure and roof, light fixtures and floor finishes.

In order to preserve St. Edward’s heritage, the university has secured notable architects to help renovate older campus buildings, as opposed to simply tearing them down.  Not only does this move maintain the campus’ traditional aesthetic, but keeping older buildings like Doyle Hall and opting for renovations helps the university go green.

St. Edward’s Physical Plant Project Manager Saleem Jehangir says that the most important green step taken in the renovation of Doyle was reusing building materials and simply demolishing the building and starting from scratch.  “Although the reuse of Doyle was extremely challenging from a design standpoint, given the low ceilings and beam depths, the quantity of energy and materials saved was substantial.”

Samara Spence of the Benz Resource Group, which is working with St. Edward’s on the renovations, says the architects and contractors took several steps to improve the sustainability of Doyle Hall.  These steps included focusing on four key parts: the sustainability of the site, materials and resources, indoor air quality, and energy performance improvements.

To keep the site sustainable, existing Cedar and Oak trees were left untouched.  In addition, the addition to Doyle Hall was designed as a
dense two story structure to minimize impervious cover and compliment the existing architectural character.

St. Edward’s made a resolute effort to reuse as much of the existing building materials as possible.  The university’s Web site says that
renovating outdated buildings helps reduce costs and cut down on waste in the landfill.  “St. Edward’s is helping reduce negative impacts on the environment by implementing sustainable design principles. Whenever possible, the university reuses existing materials, such as
carpets, to minimize waste.”

In terms of increasing the quality of the air indoors, all paint used in the project is low VOC (volatile organic compound), which is meant
to reduce air-born toxins in the building.  Also, sealants and construction adhesives are low VOC.

One of the most important aspects of the renovations of Doyle Hall regarded energy efficiency.  New double-paned windows with low-e
coated class are being installed in the building. The new roof with be a white TPO roof, which is a reflective material that minimizes the
heat gain on the roof surface.  Also, new roof insulation will be installed.

Other additions meant to improvement energy performance include sun shade systems to control direct sun exposure into the building,
occupancy sensing lights that will turn off when nobody is in the room, energy efficient fluorescent lighting, and a more energy efficient HVAC (heating, ventilation and cooling) system.

Jehangir adds that the lighting in Doyle Hall will feature low wattage fixtures.  “Maximum lighting power consumption is one watt per square foot.”

He also mentions that construction waste recycling has been instituted and many recyclable or re-processed materials have been specified, such as the cementitious cladding and aluminum windows.

The building isn’t the only aspect of Doyle Hall that is getting an environmentally friendly facelift.  St. Edward’s is enhancing the  landscaping, adding more trees, plants, fountains and shaded seating around campus.  At Doyle Hall, the university’s plans are to include
colorful native plants like Monterrey oaks and mountain laurels to shroud the nearby parking lot and road.

The hall was named after Mrs. Mary Doyle, who left most of her 498-acre South Austin farm to the Catholic Church to establish an
“educational institution.”  Three years after the passing of Mrs. Doyle, Father Sorin founded what was then called St. Edward’s Academy.
Doyle Hall opened its doors to its residents in 1960.  The residential hall has since served as a male-only hall, a female-only hall, and a coeducational hall.

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Lady Bird Lake the Social Hub for Austin Runners

I originally wrote this article for the Hilltop Views.

If you like to walk, jog or run, you are in luck. Austin provides some of the best trails the nation has to offer. Longtime Austinites, new residents, and visitors have come to love the scenic, natural areas that have been dedicated for trail use in Austin. There are always new regional running trails being created for easy access.

In fact, Austin has—at last count—accumulated over 50 miles of trails used by runners. The natural greenbelt trails are all well-surfaced and accessible.

However, the Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) trail loop remains the running social hub for Austinites.

running

“It’s a place I can go and enjoy the outdoors while I exercise. There are a lot of trails I can take, depending on what mood I’m in,” says St. Edward’s University Junior Kayanne Armer.

The original 10.1 mile Lady Bird Lake loop, which runs from east to west from MoPac to the Longhorn Dam, is a perfect escape from the Austin ado for everyone, from serious athletes to casual joggers.

The trail—which is mostly flat, rather wide and very popular—offers a variety of trails that fit different runners’ needs. The trails along Lady Bird Lake offer pictorial trails for those wanting a scenic run, or primitive trails in wooded areas for runners wanting a challenge.

St. Edward’s University Junior Jillian Tito is encouraged by the scenery out near Lady Bird Lake. “I like running out there because it’s really beautiful, and you’re easily motivated because of all the Austinites out there.”

After moving from bitterly cold Boston, Mass. to sunny Austin in the summer of 2007, Tito became an avid runner after discovering it made her feel good about herself.

“[Lady Bird Lake] has many different trails, so I can if I feel like running five miles one day, I can. Or 2 miles another [day], I can run that. It has beautiful scenery that just makes you feel good to be outside, and there are lots of people running, walking, swimming; it’s very encouraging.”

An added bonus is that the trails around Lady Bird Lake are pet and bike friendly. Austinites are encouraged to take a run with their four-legged friends, or hop on a bike to cruise the trails.

Previously known as Town Lake, the area was renamed in honor of Lady Bird Johnson on Aug. 6, 2007. Lady Bird was an instrumental figure in getting this area transformed from a drab flood zone to a recreational focal point for the city. Thus, it seems a fitting acknowledgement.

Austin also provides several organizations for varying levels of runners to help facilitate health and fitness. The Austin Runners Club is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that has members of all ages and abilities. According to the organization’s site, The Austin Runners Club promotes and encourages running, walking, wheelchair racing, and related activities and educates the public to their benefits.  The club also maintains competitive and non-competitive activities for its membership and for the general public.

When asked if she had any tips for beginning runners, Tito replied, “I would say to go at your own pace. Don’t try to compare yourself to other runners around you, set a goal and give it your all. It’ll only get easier.”

No matter what your pace is or what your personal goals are, running has proven itself to be one of the easiest, most convenient forms of exercise. Whether you want to run the Statesman Capitol 10K, or you just want to shed a few pounds, the trails along Lady Bird Lake can lead you down the path of health and happiness.

For a list of Lady Bird Lake trail maps, click here.

To learn more about The Austin Runners Club, click here.

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