Curse of increasing 3-D movies

A new pandemic is sweeping our nation, and the most frightening part of this disease is that no one seems to realize it exists. People spend their weekends engaging in pastimes that riddle their bodies with the virus, and no one has stopped to wonder why. Soon enough, the entire nation will be infected, and no one will be left to save us. The new plague that is sweeping the planet is the disease known as 3-D movies. Recently, the U.S. has been inundated with films designed to be 3-D, which is meant to make the audience feel more immersed and like they are actually in the action. Instead, after a two and a half hour long movie in the next dimension, one is known to feel the same symptoms he would after blacking out at a frat party: confusion, wobbliness and a dull throbbing behind the eyes. The heart of the matter is that films are made in 3-D to sell a movie ticket at twice the normal price. The audience is forced to sit there wearing drunk goggles while a bouncy ball rolls toward them because the producer thought it was a cool effect. Hearing about how great 3-D movies are reminds me of an episode of the TV show Futurama where the cast goes to watch an “interactive” film. Like a “choose your adventure” novel, the audience in the show is allowed to pick what they wanted the actors to do. But the machines just wind up breaking, and the cast is forced to sit and watch a man file paperwork for the movie’s duration. The technology just doesn’t exist yet to make a movie that is actually three dimensional. People want more and more for their buck, so producers continue to give it to them. A few years ago the big craze was Imax theaters; a few years from now, we could see the start of holographic movie images. That is not to say the technology can’t exist. It just isn’t worth the cost right now to see a slightly more rounded film just because someone thought it was a neat effect. Maybe in a few years, when science gives a way to see images walking in the aisles of the theaters, maybe then 3-D movies will be worth it. But not now. The idea of seeing a 3-D movie seems like watching a crazed animal do funny tricks at the local zoo. It sounds like a fun experience at first, but you still don’t want to reach out and touch...

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Dancers promote cultural awareness with performance on campus
Oct19

Dancers promote cultural awareness with performance on campus

The Killeen-based Ballet Folklorico Tenjo performed a number of cultural dances and songs Tuesday in the Shelton Theater in celebration of Hispanic heritage month, which runs Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The non-profit group’s self-described mission is to “promote cultural awareness through music and dance.” The organization is led by director and dance instructor Sonija Hauger, education director Estella Gomez, parents’ president Amy Herrera, and public relations director Marisa Cano. “I grew fond of Ballet Folklorico for the very first time when I was just a young girl,” Cano, a junior psychology major, said. “I went to the University of Pan America in Edinburg with my school during a field trip and saw a performance. I loved the show.  It was then I decided I wanted to learn everything about Ballet Folklorico and especially how to dance it.” Cano met the other directors when they were all members of another dance group. After speaking with each other, they decided they wanted to form a group that would focus only on traditional Mexican Folklorico dancing. The group came together in January 2010 soon after that initial meeting. The organization quickly began performing at local events and soon grew to its  current size of more than 25 members. While still small, the group grew quickly in those first months and hopes to add newer members over time. As public relations director, Cano books the shows and fundraisers for the group, and she was contacted to perform at the university by sociology Professor Dr. Jose Martinez. “Every year I like to organize some event in recognition of Hispanic heritage month,” Martinez said. “Marisa mentioned the group in one of my classes, so I started working with her to get the group to perform at UMHB.” The performance lasted for about an hour and included both songs and dances from Mexican culture. Folklorico dancing is a style that emphasizes various dances from many regions of Mexico, allowing the audience to see a broad range of movements and culture. “I feel very passionate about Mexican folklorico dancing because not only is it in rich in my culture, but it helps preserve the traditions and beauty of each region in Mexico,” Cano said. Martinez said more than 100 students attended the event and that he thought the program was well received. “It was good to see so many students involved in something so positive like this,” he said. “There was some really good singing by some really talented performers, and the dancing was great.” Martinez said he was not sure what the university would do to celebrate Hispanic heritage month next year, but that it...

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Planetarium uses technology for new shows
Oct05

Planetarium uses technology for new shows

The Mayborn Planetarium at Central Texas College off of Hwy. 190 in Killeen has been open for  six years, but the management is still adding new shows and programs all the time to make the technology more appealing to the community. “The shows we run are based on full-dome technology,” planetarium director Fred Chavez said. “This requires five computers, each with its own computer, to overlap the images on screen and create the immersive display the audience sees.” He went on to say that, while the shows are meant to be fun, they are also mainly educationally based. One show the planetarium has recently begun offering is “Tales of the Maya Skies,” a program that discusses many of the myths and traditions of the ancient Mayans. “Before you get your hopes up, no, the show does not discuss the supposed end of the world,” Chavez said, laughing. “Instead, it really delves into the lore behind the Mayan creation story and their unique numbering system, as a few examples.” A newer addition to the planetarium’s show list is called Space Park 360, a program designed to simulate theme park rides on various planets. “This one is really cool because one minute you can be riding a roller-coaster on Mars, and the next you are on a drop zone on the moon,” Chavez said.  “The entire show is done full-dome, so it really feels like you are on these rides. And, while you are having fun, you are also learning about the solar system.” Dr. Darrell Watson, dean of the college of sciences at UMHB and adviser for the Sigma Pi chemistry club, visited the planetarium several years ago with a group of students, and he said everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “We plan to visit again this year,” he said. “I think that a planetarium open to the public is a great idea and a terrific asset to our community. I just wish it was on our campus.” Educational shows are just a small part of what the planetarium offers, however. The last weekend of August, CTC hosted its first-ever GeekFest at the planetarium. The festival was meant to celebrate all things “geek,” and saw a large community turn out. “After the successes we had with the event, I was specifically told that I had to do GeekFest again, so we are hoping to make it a yearly event,” Chavez said. Another type of show the planetarium frequently offers is the laser-light show. Last year, a laser-light rock show was done with music by Pink Floyd, and the staff is looking for suggestions for new artists to design shows around....

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Gamers abandon textbooks, classrooms for controllers, Halo: Reach
Sep28

Gamers abandon textbooks, classrooms for controllers, Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach was released in the U.S. at 12 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, and the Xbox Live networks were swamped with gamers within hours, all of them eagerly trying out the newest game from one of the world’s top-selling series. Bungie – the game’s developing company – reports that one week after the game’s release, a tally was done of the total number of hours spent online since the game’s online component was activated. The final number? Over 5,901 years had been collectively spent on the game. The Halo craze is once again sweeping the gaming nation, and it is infecting more people each day. Senior youth ministry major Clayton Acker went to a midnight sale of the game in Georgetown with a group of students from the youth group he assists with. “There were three of us from our group that went out to the sale, and we just hung out with the other kids that went,” Acker said. “There were probably 250 people at the GameStop in Georgetown for the sale.” Acker said he picked up the game at the midnight sale so he could spend some time playing it online with the youths he works with. “Halo is a fun series because it is what the kids like, and it’s tailored to a different type of crowd,” he said. “I actually skipped my morning class Tuesday so that I could spend time playing the game with them.” Freshman Christian studies and psychology major Robbie Storch attended the midnight sale at Belton’s Gamestop to purchase the game. “There was a pizza party with sodas and a DJ playing music,” Storch said. “I like the Reach game because its multiplayer offers a more level playing field than other video games.” Bungie reports that 13 hours after the game’s release, more unique users had played the game online at some point than had played Halo 3 the entire week prior to the release. In fact, Bungie didn’t find the same number of players on Halo 3 until they had tallied 45 days of logs. “I’ve given up a day before to play Halo 3 when it came out, too,” Acker said. “After we got the game at the midnight sale, we all went back to our church and just sat around all day playing the game.” Because video games are coming out with more coherent storylines and better looking graphics, various reports state that they are becoming more immersive. Video games are even taking the forefront in the news in rare instances. Yahoo News commonly runs updates on current video game trends, and is now even running videos with...

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Beyond the books, prospects abroad

A wealth of opportunities is available to students in the form of various study abroad programs that happen year round. Plans are currently in the works to offer more in the near future. “The university is pushing the study abroad program for all students in all departments,” said Dr. Jim King, study abroad coordinator. “This year the business department is offering four study abroad opportunities, which is the most we’ve offered in one year before” Ecuador, Canada and China are the destinations for the undergraduate trips, and the sign-up deadlines are still in the future for all three. Between programs directly sponsored by UMHB and those by the college’s partners in cooperatives, there are 20 to 25 different study abroad trip available for students. “One of our larger programs is the London studies program,” King said. “Students take the entire spring semester and travel to the city to take courses and see the sights. It is unbelievable that students can spend a semester there for the price they offer.” The cost of the London studies program is $14,500, which includes tuition, rooming allowance,  small food stipend, tickets to class-related events and a transportation card for use in the city. One of the few things not included is the cost of round-trip airfare, which could cost around $800. “There are seven courses available for students to take in the London program right now, and the cost doesn’t go up if students take five courses rather than four,” said Dr. David Holcomb, the London studies director. “However, there is so much to do in London that some students take four courses just to have more free time. “While we are there, we also try to keep the students’ weekends relatively free so they can explore as they want,” Holcomb said. “They can usually go to the main continent whenever they want, and travel prices are pretty cheap.” The deadline to apply for the London program was Sept. 15, so this year’s trip is already booked, but Holcomb said he begins looking for students to apply early in the spring, so it’s soon going to be time to begin preparations for the 2012 trip. Another study abroad program that may interest students of a Christian college is the Israel trip Dr. Stephen Wyrick heads up every year. “We leave for the Holy Land on Dec. 27 and spend 15 days in Israel, returning just before the start of spring semester,” Wyrick said. This year’s cost is $4,819, which includes tuition, but you do not have to take the course for credit.” Students are not the only people to participate in the Israel...

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