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Roads are source of concern

November 23, 2010 Comments off

By Brittney Bennett, Staff Writer

According to the University of Georgia's Department of Health and Behavior, a 2009 report of motor fatalities stated that the majority of car crashes occur between the months of August and January, especially during holidays and school breaks. Photo by Ashton Jones

The 2009 Georgia Motor Fatality Report as presented by the University of Georgia’s Department of Health and Behavior concluded that the months of August until January are when the majority of Georgia’s fatal car crashes occurred, especially at the commencement of schools, major holidays and school breaks. Almost half of these accidents occurred on rural highways, similar to the main routes leaving Young Harris College.

As winter break inches closer, the need for increased defensive driving is imperative. Of course, this is implied for drivers everywhere, but especially for drivers who have to make the trek out of the basin that is the Enchanted Valley.

For any driver leaving campus there are three main routes according to the 2010 Rand McNally road map and Google Maps. To get through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the outlying parts of Georgia and bordering states a student can take one of three highways.

Highway 515, also known as Zell Miller Parkway, runs west from Young Harris to Pickens county and interchanges to I-575. Another route is US-129, also known as Blood Mountain, which spans 582 miles towards Knoxville. The highway then winds its way through 25 miles of the steepest portions of the Blue Ridge mountains, continuing to Chiefland, FL. The third route, which is Georgia State route 17 alternate, or banner route of GA-17, also winds south through the Blue Ridge mountains.

Luckily for the drivers traveling westbound on highway 515, the route is a fairly new, still well-maintained and offers beautiful scenery rather than ominous hairpin turns and limited sight distance that mountain by-ways are usually known for.

For drivers who need to travel southeast from campus, the mountain bypasses are often chosen to cut travel time; unfortunately with these roads, blind spots and narrow horseshoe turns up and down hill can often cause anxiety.

For residents and frequent travelers of US-129, the road is often referred to as Blood Mountain bypass, since the road narrowly winds its way up and through Blood Mountain, the tallest peak in the Georgian portion of the Appalachian Trail. Though the origin of the name is disputed between a bloody tribal war involving the Cherokee and Creek American Native Indians or for the lush crimson lichens and rhododendrons that grow atop the peak, the mountain road continues to uphold its repertoire with numerous annual car-crash-related fatalities.

The Georgia state route 17 alternate intersects with highway 515 just east of campus and continues southeast through Helen into Cleveland. Though the grade of the mountain-way’s steepness is around a six to seven percent compared to Blood Mountain’s 10 percent, there are numerous sling-shot curves and tight, winding areas that have often left motorists to side swipe guard rails, run-off embankments and often times collide with oncoming vehicles, as White County and surrounding counties’ road data show.

The Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles suggests preparing vehicles for the season’s change. One should check the engine oil, tire pressure and to allow the car’s motor to adequately warm up before heading out on the road. Next, incorporate the traffic flow of the area and anticipate weather factors in your drive time. When driving down the mountain, maintain a constant-slower speed, as notified by road signs. If driving in icy conditions, where loss of control is eminent, remember to take your foot of the gas, do not slam on brakes, but rather, try to maintain stern grip of the wheel in strait direction to help regain control. Make sure to keep a mobile device charged and out of the way to avoid distraction in case of emergencies, have a small first aid kit and even road flares if traveling in desolate extreme weather conditions.

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“Integrate” is great source of inspiration

November 8, 2010 1 comment

By Brittney Bennett, Staff Writer

Arriving 10 minutes early to the opening of the Campus Gate Art Gallery’s new exhibition “Integrate,” I was nervous about being vis-à-vis with the artists and their work. Though greeted initially, I was left to meander at my own pace, trying to take in each piece to grasp what each artist was trying to convey.

I started with Darius Hill’s collection of mixed media pieces, which focused on his racial identification as an African American male. There were digital pictures of young men sporting the once fashionable “afro,” along with print images of hair picks, among other painted figures and shapes. As I continued around his portion of the exhibit, I kept noticing the hair picks and how he, in the first set of paintings, had the traditional rigid lines of an ordinary hair pick; but as he added new pieces to the collection, the hair picks now had multiple colors and resembled humanistic figures.

Once the majority of the visitors had arrived, Hill gave the opening speech and told of how his inspiration evolved into the individual pieces. However, I felt he was far too ambiguous with his inept ramblings, which never truly answered the question of what his art meant to him as an artist and his reason for such creations.

I did enjoy his artwork, especially when titles such as “The Jim Crow” series force those who are viewing the work to try and empathize what the artist was feeling while creating the art. I was merely disappointed in his anticlimactic opening. I was expecting nothing less of exuberance and passion for what he was expressing; but alas, he was reserved and soft-spoken.

On the other hand, his wife, Bethanne Hill, seemed to enrapture listeners with her body language and overall passion while speaking of her half of the exhibit.

I enjoyed her portion of the exhibit just as well; especially how she incorporated modern painting technique with an Aboriginal influence in the sense of coloration and dramatic outlines of the figures. Seeing the decorative and tribal designs of the CDs made me want to play the folk music recorded on them, in order to get the full experience of what had inspired her to make such interesting works of art.

Overall the “Integrate” exhibition by Darius and Bethanne Hill is truly remarkable, especially with all of the rural and social themes scattered throughout. The impending chill of November makes this a great stop for contemplation and inspiration.

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Technology leads to lack of personal relationships

October 12, 2010 Comments off

Photo by Jacob Stone

Brittney Bennett, Staff Writer

Walk into any crowded place on any given day and take a look around. Chances are, you will see a majority of those people consumed by some form of technology; and, most of those people, in their technical oblivion are too busy to focus on their surroundings.

To me, the excess of technology in our everyday lives has led modern interpersonal communication to be severely lacking. Instead of enjoying the company of those around us, and being genuinely interested in what they have to say, we are too busy texting, reading e-mails or some other frivolous fidgeting with gadgets. Even our everyday interactions with one another have deteriorated because of compulsive multi-tasking and pseudo-ADD behavior that technology has brought upon us.

Seriously, think about the last time you were on your way to work or class. Most likely, you passed more than one person you knew—did you even make eye contact with them? If they happened to ask you how you were doing, you probably mumbled a quick “okay, what about you,” and were well out of earshot by the time they answered. But, no one ever seems to do anything about this seemingly apathetic attitude we have for one another. And, I too am guilty of this, it is almost second nature; but lately, this topic of real interpersonal connection has made me more aware of my actions.

Another example of how everyday over-use of technology really pisses me off is when you are in the middle of what you think is a genuine conversation with someone, then you realize half-way through that the conversation is purely one-sided. This is due to the fact that they are more interested in whatever text message they have just received. It is completely rude; seriously, are you in such a need to stay connected with your phone that you cannot take five minutes to talk face-to-face with a comrade?

Not only has the increase of smart-phones, multitasking cellular devices and the like, disrupted the ability for face-to-face communication, but also the mass use of social networking sites as a form of “communication.” Now, social networking is fine as a way to stay in contact with distant friends and relatives and keep track of business contacts, or what have you. But, it seems as more and more people become “connected” by these websites, the connections to the real-world and ability to function naturally within society start to decay.

Even for just one day, I would love to walk out among my peers and see face-to-face communication everywhere—no cell phones, laptops or any other technology in sight. But, alas, this is the age of technology and I believe that dream has far-passed its expiration.

The gang is back in town

October 11, 2010 Comments off

Image courtesy of Fox Flash.

Brittney Bennett, Staff Writer

Finally, after a year-long hiatus, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s season five was released on DVD, just two days before the new season six premier on Fox network’s FX. The season five release comes as a three disc set which includes all twelve episodes and some truly outrageous special features.

Season five opens with The Gang Exploit the Mortgage Crisis, whereby the laughs are endless as the Frank tries to teach Mac and Dennis the finer points of buying houses on the cheap and trying to flip them to make a quick buck. Unfortunately, Frank runs into some legal woes and is forced to forgo the rights to his newly bought homes. As the season progresses Mac and Dennis try to get Charlie back into the dating game when they find out that the waitress Charlie has been stalking gets engaged. After the fallout with the online dating scene, the gang plans an impromptu road trip to the Grand Canyon that turns out to be doomed from the get-go.

The brazen satire continues with Sweet Dee’s attempt to get rich by renting her womb to “loaded, infertile yuppies,” but just as her plan comes to fruition, Charlie and Frank come crashing in.

The humor, politically raucous antics and indifference to one another is evident in The Great Recession episode, when Mac and Dennis enter Paddy’s to find Frank swaying gently to and fro from a noose, while Charlie and Sweet Dee look on disapprovingly. After Frank’s botched suicide attempt, he spirals out of control into a haze of narcotics, booze and apathy, leading the rest of the gang to come to his aid by forming their own twisted version of Intervention.

After the craziness of the first eleven episodes and the outrageous, unrated blooper reel and cast commentary, season five closes when Paddy’s Pub is allowed to re-enter Flipadelphia, a flip cup tournament among the bars of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, despite many attempts to re-ignite the rivalry with the local bar that the Paddy’s team poisoned ten years prior,  the gang is forced to rethink who their true rivals are. And in turn, they battle with the local fraternity that “punked” Dennis and Frank.

For those of you who just can’t get enough of the Gang, don’t forget to tune in Thursdays to FX at 10 p.m. for the all new season six episodes, or you can check out www.fx.com for even more It’s Always Sunny clips.

What If you saw this film?

October 1, 2010 Comments off

By Brittney Bennett, Staff Writer

"What if…" examines the possible impact that every decision could have on our daily lives.

After leaving the Blairsville Cinema on the night I saw the movie “What If…,” my mind was full of philosophical, spiritual and personal questions. For instance, what if you chose to catch a bus headed out of town in order to begin a new chapter in your life, but fifteen years later you are confronted with the choice again—would you make the same choice a second time?

Knowing what you know now, would you still take the bus, or would you stay where you are with the knowledge you have, or would you wish, hope, pray and beg that you are dreaming.

The circumstance would be quite odd, but it is a profound question to ask ourselves about the menial choices we take every day, which can have a huge impact on our futures.

This limited-release, Dallas Jenkins-Christian entertainment film is set in modern day and portrays a man named Ben Walker- played by the 90’s Hercules television star Kevin Sorbo. Walker’s life receives divine intervention in the form of a guardian angel in a mechanic’s suit (John Ratzenberger.) Ratzenberger then offers him a crash course into all that he left behind.

Though the premise of the movie feels like a mesh between Columbia’s 2006 hit dramedy, “Click” and Liberty Film’s 1946 drama, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “What If…” adds in its own spiritual twist. Walker is forced from his six-figure salary, money-can-buy-happiness life, into what would have been his life—had he decided to stay in his hometown with his true love, living his “true calling,” as a minister. But as the adage goes, God works in mysterious ways.

Walker remembers everything from his past fifteen years of existence, but none of what the “Minister Walker” remembers. It is through this journey of living with the family and life that could have been and rediscovering a long-hidden aspect of himself that Walker’s vision of true happiness is made clear.

Of course, with any film comes the catch—Walker has learned his lesson and seen what he has been missing and neglecting after years of decadence—and so he prays to God to stay in the “new” life” he was presented; but in the movie, God’s message of a life spent on idol fixation will ultimately lead to a life unfulfilled. It is only after his complete submission to his God, that he is offered a true second chance at a life of happiness.

For the average movie-goer, this film may be on the bottom of your “to see” list. However, I must stress those little choices can make all the difference.

Even though “What If…” was not filled with extra-sensory overload, it was filled with a deeper message and meaning which was ultimately more fulfilling than other blockbusters, which is why I give this movie a B+.

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Students experience learning beyond the classroom

September 26, 2010 Comments off

By Brittney Bennett, Staff Writer

Since the beginning of the school year, various students have noticed that one or more of their courses includes a Service Learning Component, or SLC, which means students will be working in real-life settings with their professors and different community programs to ensure a practical, full understanding and use of the respective subject.

This program is one of Young Harris College’s endeavors to further the Liberal Arts experience and to promote the growth of the well-rounded student.  It is part of the experiential learning movement called academic service learning.

The idea behind having certain classes paired with an SLC is to ensure students’ engagement and ability to make practical real-world use of the curriculum learned.

Students are not the only ones who benefit from the SLC. Professors who incorporate the program are able to help students develop deeper critical thinking skills, provide the basis for furthering personal social responsibility and offer a view of how different studies are interrelated.

“Along with SLC’s complimenting its respective curriculum, the program helps to meet a specified need within the surrounding community,” said the Director of Academic Service Learning and Bonner Leaders program Rob Campbell. “For instance, the general chemistry course with Dr. Song will be working with the Hiawassee River Watershed Coalition, which will allow students to test and analyze the water quality of the nearby Corn Creek.”

For the fall semester, YHC offered five SLC incorporated courses which included: Going to Extremes (Ruth Looper, English), Interpersonal Communication (Jennifer Hallett, Communication studies), General Chemistry I (Amanda Song, Chemistry), Introduction to Sociology (Jennifer Pemberton, Sociology), and Dying & Death (Joy Goldsmith, Communication studies).

The proposed SLC incorporated classes for spring 2011 are Spanish Conversation (Diana Santiago, Spanish), Yoga III ( Ki Curtis, Physical Education), and Theory and Practice of Service Learning (Rob Campbell). Other courses for spring are still being considered.

For those students who are not currently enrolled in a class paired with an SLC, Campbell is  outlining several co-curricular service learning trips.

In October, Campbell, Niki Fjeldal, director of orientation and first year experience, and Tim Moore, director of religious life, have planned a trip to Charleston, S.C., to do community service in the impoverished areas of the city, broadening students’ perspectives on poverty.

The location correlates with YHC’s ‘Ship of Thought’ program for incoming freshman, where students read Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard.

This locale not only incorporates the ‘Ship of Thought’ but, allows those involved to gain a better sense of the effect of a poor economy.

Also, learning and working in real-life settings helps implement positive ideas of social responsibilities. Other trips and co-curricular SLC activities are pending and will be instated as the academic year progresses.

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