Being vegan: a public apology

BY CECILIA MCGUINNESS
Senior Layout Editor

On behalf of all Vegans everywhere, I apologize. I apologize for taking longer to order at non-vegan friendly restaurants; I apologize for making you uncomfortable because I chose not to consume animals or animal byproducts; and I especially regret that you view me and others who have made the same lifestyle choice as utterly offensive.

I can’t stress enough how absolutely annoying it must be for you to sit by while I order my veggie burger without mayo, or my salad without cheese. Why can’t I just eat like everyone else and deal with it? I know I could just consume hormone-infused beef with puss-filled, over-processed cheese, but I think I’d rather pass on that one, thank you.

With all of the vegetables I eat, aren’t I taking food away from animals? Not quite!The industry makes a lot more money growing vegetables to feed cattle for slaughter than they do to grow vegetables for those who cannot afford to eat anything else, so why bother! Growing vegetables for animals facing inevitable death is much more profitable than feeding those whose life is in the hands of industrialization.

Since we’re on the topic of mass production of livestock, why don’t we talk about global warming? What’s that you say? Animals are an important part of the environment? Well,  you would be right in many cases, however, the factory farming industry is detrimental to the environment. Not only does the methane produced by cattle attribute to 18 percent of greenhouse gasses according to a Cambridge University study conducted in 2009, but this mass production is the cause of nearly 90 percent of deforestation in the Amazon rain forest.

But I’m missing something, aren’t I? Meat is good right? We need it for our health and for protein and to grow big and strong! As it turns out, the average American is actually consuming 1.5 times the daily recommended value of protein, according to a John’s Hopkins University study. This over-consumption also contributes to heart disease, type two diabetes, obesity, and even cancer.

Most of these processed proteins people are consuming contain antibiotics. That’s a good thing though, isn’t it? Doctors give us antibiotics! In reality, these antibiotics found in our factory-farmed meats are actually very damaging to our health. Let’s say, after a big ole’ juicy steak, I come down with salmonella. The easy fix would be to go to the doctor, get an antibiotic, and be done with it. However, the bacteria presumably “treated” by these antibiotics have mutated so that the livestock can no longer fight off these common infections, according to a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and will spread with a vengeance to other cattle, and even through our consumption. I suggest thinking about that the next time you cut into your chicken dinner.

Please, continue to apply a stigma to us vegans. A lifestyle based on peace, love, and the well-being of animals can only equate to angry, dirty, preachy hippies who are only doing this for bragging rights. Sign me up!

Finally, my biggest apology is to those who have not gathered the proper education on the vegan lifestyle. I’m sorry that plant-based proteins are not easily accessible, and  I’m sorry that people who still eat meat cannot conceptualize that what they are consuming once had life, sentience, and the right to live.

Game of Thrones denied crown

BY SAMUEL GUGLIELMO
Contributor

“Game of Thrones” (GoT) has been one of those franchises that gamers have been hoping Telltale would get their hands on for a long time. Announced at the same time as “Tales From the Borderlands,” GoT is the game that many people hoped would be Telltale’s finest hour. Instead, it’s one of their biggest disappointments.

GoT follows the story of five different members of House Forrester. After having the bad luck of showing up to the Red Wedding, the lord of House Forrester is killed and the house is thrown into turmoil. Worse, the nearby House Whitehill is stepping up aggression on House Forrester in an effort to take their land and their ironwood trees. Alliances are made, people are stabbed, politics and trade happen, and a war begins.

While there are five playable characters, they all don’t really get a fair shake. By far the most interesting of the bunch is Asher Forrester: the exiled second-born son. Having become a sell-sword in Essos, Asher is called home and is asked to bring a group of sell-swords with him to assist. Watching him attempt to act serious when he knows his family needs him but still clashing with his old life style is an interesting dynamic. On the other end of the spectrum is Gared Tuttle, the squire to Lord Forrester. Gared is sent to The Wall after killing a man, where he is asked to find the mysterious North Grove that Lord Forrester spoke of before he died. He then promptly spends five episodes wandering around doing nothing before finding the poorly explained North Grove that seems to serve no purpose. Gared’s entire arc can basically be removed from the game with no consequences.

The other three characters are hit and miss. Ethan and Rodrick Forrester basically do the same thing: keep House Forrester running during the war. During the first three episodes this means a bunch of scenes that are very similar and involve either defying or playing nice with House Whitehill. The latter three episodes sees things becoming far more interesting, as they must actually make difficult decisions on who to trust, who to side with, and what to do with House Whitehill. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Mira Forrester, who resides in King’s Landing to earn political favors. The first three episodes sees her making tough choices on who to bribe and blackmail, while the latter three episodes put her in a similar situation to Gared: not doing anything plot relevant and stuck wandering around somewhere not interesting anymore.

Thrones’ plot has some other major issues as well. It feels like it takes forever to get anywhere, with many scenes and even entire episodes feeling like they’re just filler. Characters from the TV show have a few appearances, all voiced by their actors even, but it’s strange how they’re handled. Some of them may as well not be in the game, Jon Snow is only there to remind you this is GoT and doesn’t really have a point in the plot. Ramsay Snow plays such an important part in the first episode and yet anyone who watches the show knows nothing is going to happen to him.

GoT also suffers from being an ugly game, graphically, artistically, and technically. The game suffers from a weird blur effect. The idea is that it makes the backgrounds look like an oil painting, yet in practice it makes the whole game look like it’s underwater. Characters get blurry and wavy for no real reason, and anytime the camera moves it gets really distracting. Artistically, the game has Telltale’s signature art-style where everyone has big eyes and slightly over-exaggerated expressions, which doesn’t quite fit . Worse, though, is the characters taken from the TV show who have realistic faces and expressions. They look like they’ve been lifted from an entirely different game, especially when they’re near one of the original characters.

There’s also various technical issues, mostly related to the audio. The worst was when music or sound effects would just not play: a late game encounter with a polar bear felt significantly less dramatic when it played a roaring animation that wasn’t accompanied by any roars. Horseback chases and sword fights never carried the dramatic oomph they should have when there was no sound to accompany them. Characters would randomly have their sentences cut off, or music would skip or stop. It’s a shame that all of this drags the game down.

There’s nothing different here that you wouldn’t see in any other Telltale game. Gameplay mostly consists of making dialogue choices and responding to quick time events so you don’t get killed. Sometimes a puzzle or two gets thrown in, though never anything more difficult than matching up some basic symbols to a map. Sometimes I got to walk around and explore a little bit, which is good for world building but never really meant much else.

Quicktime events are common in GoT, considering how often fighting breaks out. It’s the same usual Telltale stuff: sometimes you need to hit a button, sometimes you need to push an analogue stick in a certain direction, and sometimes you need to highlight something and hit a trigger. In both the first and last episode I had problems with the game failing to register button presses, yet in the end all that happens when I failed the QTE was that my character died, I got a game over, and then I restarted right where I died. Makes me wonder what the point even is.

“Game of Thrones” fails in many aspects, and that’s a shame. It’s one of those IP’s that you just know Telltale could make something great from, but instead we get a game that feels like Telltale did the bare minimum to get it out the door. A few interesting storylines can’t save a plot that dawdles, can’t excuse the mess of technical issues, and can’t make up for the reused gameplay formula.

 

 

 

CCM fall sports get the ball rolling

BY BRETT FRIEDENSOHN
Sports Editor

The men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball teams at County College of Morris began their 2016 fall seasons Thursday, Sept. 1. Men’s soccer won 9-1 in its season opener against region competitor College of Saint Elizabeth. Women’s soccer began its season 2-0, and volleyball lost its season opener against Harrisburg Area Community College.

CCM athletic director Jack Sullivan expressed excitement in the beginning season.

“We’re excited about the possibilities,” Sullivan said. “Each season has a new beginning. We have a very, very competitive region that we’re in, so it’s not gonna be easy. But the talent is here. The hard work has been put in, and hopefully, we’ll have a nice fall season.”

Starting this season, CCM’s athletic department will replay the college’s games on televisions installed in the Health and Physical Education building in an effort to give its student athletes more exposure, according to Sullivan.

“It’s just another vehicle in the way times are going,” Sullivan said. “[Students] might not be able to come to the games for a 7:00 game for basketball, per se, or some volleyball, but we can always rebroadcast them … We want to be able to have our student athletes exposed even if it’s just in our own community.”

Women’s soccer won its first two games, the first 1-0 against Bucks County Community College, and the second 6-0 against Cumberland County College.

Head coach Roger Stevens said that in effort to have better players than in past seasons, his program focused heavily on recruiting within the last year, attending many local high school, county and club games.

“It’s kind of a transition year because in the past, the program has struggled for numbers, and quite frankly some of the players that we had out here didn’t really play high school,” Stevens said. “We just had to deal with it, and this year, the quality of the program’s coming up, both in terms of numbers and quality soccer players.”

Stevens said that he wanted his team to look for ways to improve in different areas of play.

“It’s just like, every day, we have to look for a chance to get better, so both sides of the ball, both attacking and defending,” Stevens said. “It’s not just a back four and a keeper that defend, like when we don’t have the ball, the philosophy is that everyone defends, and when we win the ball, everybody’s gotta be involved in the attack in one way, shape or another. So it’s just little things and getting better at that.”

Taylor Fehnet, exercise science major and second-year women’s soccer player said that she noticed improvements in her team from last season to this season.

“I think we have a better team this year,” Fehnet said. “More fitness, more talent, so I think we should be able to get there no problem … I think as a team, we get along better than last year, and I think with that bond, we work better on the field than we did last year.”

Dan Moylan, head coach of men’s soccer, said that his team excelled in distinct parts of the game.

“We have a very skilled team, and we have a good group of freshmen that are, I think, ready or should be right away,” Moylan said. “We have three excellent goalies in camp this year, which I’m really excited about, and for the midfield and forwards, I think they’ll do a good job of possessing the ball and creating goal opportunities and of course finalizing that opportunity by scoring goals, so we can do those three components pretty successfully.”

Camilo Ospoina, business major and player for men’s soccer, said that his team should work on defense.

“I’d say overall, we’re a pretty solid unit,” Ospina said. “I’d just say that our defense would need some work … They need to be more vocal. They just need to talk a little bit more. It’s one sophomore, one freshman, and they just need to get to know each other better.”

Volleyball acquired a new head coach last summer in Amy Berry, for whom Sullivan expressed value.

“[Berry is] doing a great job,” Sullivan said. “She’s very enthusiastic. I’m very excited about the future of the program.”

Erin Higgins, interior design major and first-year volleyball player said that her team benefited from its energy and cooperation.

“From my first practice, I’d say we’re starting out strong,” Higgins said after her team’s practice Wednesday, Aug. 31. “A lot of energy, a lot of motivation to kill the competitors. The girls are getting along great, which is key for a sport, definitely, and obviously a lot of extra practice and support.”

Higgins, a third-year student at CCM, played volleyball in high school and competed at the national level, but a back injury during her senior year that forced her to undergo multiple back surgeries made her unable to play volleyball until this season.

“After I graduated, I never really went back into the gym, and I was really missing it a lot,” Higgins said. “So I decided to come for one of my last semester to try to experience it again and get back into it.”

Higgins said that during her first practice for CCM, she worked to adjusting back to the court.

“There’s a lot of precision in volleyball, a lot of mental work that has to go into it, and you have to think fast,” Higgins said. “And now, I’m thinking fast. That mentality has me getting back into things.”

Women’s soccer began its region play Saturday, Sept. 10, and volleyball began its region play Thursday, Sept. 8.

 

Parking Pulse: Choosing the right lot

BY MARIA SERGHIOU
Contributor

The Morris County Solar 2 Program, which prompted solar panels being installed over the County College of Morris parking lots in 2012, is implementing phase two of the project in an attempt to further reduce the county’s energy costs. Solar panels will be installed at five public schools, the county library, the county Public Safety Training Academy, the county’s Office of Temporary Assistance and at the municipal complex in Chester, New Jersey.

“We have 10 solar projects on nine sites planned to be built this year and completed by Dec. 31,” said Larry Ragonese, County of Morris communications director. “There had been some financial setbacks in the first phase of the solar project, but phase two has been scrutinized in a very conservative manner. Only sure bets to generate positive revenue and save entities costs on their power needs have been included.”

According to the Request for Proposal issued by the Morris County Improvement Authority, “the county anticipates 27 percent reimbursement for site construction from the federal government through the Federal 1603 Program, which requires work to be completed by Dec. 31.”

The RFP noted that the Morris County Improvement Authority sold $33.1 million in bonds to help finance the Morris County Solar 2 Program. However, due to numerous factors, including a legal battle between renewable energy program’s developer and contractor, the Solar 2 Program is facing financial deficits.

Therefore, the county strategically chose locations for phase two that would generate enough solar power revenue to help pay off phase one debt and provide long-term energy cost savings for the locations that will host the solar panels.

According to CCM’s website, the solar panels installed on campus during phase one of the project were expected to “generate about 45 percent of the college’s yearly energy usage, which would power about 340 homes per year.”

In addition to saving energy and money, the solar panels over the CCM parking lots have provided a bonus to the students parking under them — protection from the weather.

“Parking under the solar panels in the bad weather is awesome because they keep the snow off my car,” said Professor Evren Gulistan, a CCM adjunct algebra professor. “I think it’s a great idea for saving electricity and cutting the costs on the electric bill.”

But the panels have not worked as well in the rainy weather.

“I get drenched when I park under the solar panels in the rain,” said Marvin Vibanco, a CCM liberal arts major. “The rain is like a waterfall over the edges of the panels. It falls directly onto me and my car as I try to get in and out, but they are great in the snow and also great for the environment and helping to reduce energy costs.”

Whether the panels are sheltering cars from the snow, power washing them during the rain or saving the county thousands of dollars on its electric bills, the Solar 2 Program is an investment that affects us all.

Millennials hold presidential power

BY JARED BURKE
Contributor

The Morris County Solar 2 Program, which prompted solar panels being installed over the County College of Morris parking lots in 2012, is implementing phase two of the project in an attempt to further reduce the county’s energy costs. Solar panels will be installed at five public schools, the county library, the county Public Safety Training Academy, the county’s Office of Temporary Assistance and at the municipal complex in Chester, New Jersey.

“We have 10 solar projects on nine sites planned to be built this year and completed by Dec. 31,” said Larry Ragonese, County of Morris communications director. “There had been some financial setbacks in the first phase of the solar project, but phase two has been scrutinized in a very conservative manner. Only sure bets to generate positive revenue and save entities costs on their power needs have been included.”

According to the Request for Proposal issued by the Morris County Improvement Authority, “the county anticipates 27 percent reimbursement for site construction from the federal government through the Federal 1603 Program, which requires work to be completed by Dec. 31.”

The RFP noted that the Morris County Improvement Authority sold $33.1 million in bonds to help finance the Morris County Solar 2 Program. However, due to numerous factors, including a legal battle between renewable energy program’s developer and contractor, the Solar 2 Program is facing financial deficits.

Therefore, the county strategically chose locations for phase two that would generate enough solar power revenue to help pay off phase one debt and provide long-term energy cost savings for the locations that will host the solar panels.

According to CCM’s website, the solar panels installed on campus during phase one of the project were expected to “generate about 45 percent of the college’s yearly energy usage, which would power about 340 homes per year.”

In addition to saving energy and money, the solar panels over the CCM parking lots have provided a bonus to the students parking under them — protection from the weather.

“Parking under the solar panels in the bad weather is awesome because they keep the snow off my car,” said Professor Evren Gulistan, a CCM adjunct algebra professor. “I think it’s a great idea for saving electricity and cutting the costs on the electric bill.”

But the panels have not worked as well in the rainy weather.

“I get drenched when I park under the solar panels in the rain,” said Marvin Vibanco, a CCM liberal arts major. “The rain is like a waterfall over the edges of the panels. It falls directly onto me and my car as I try to get in and out, but they are great in the snow and also great for the environment and helping to reduce energy costs.”

Whether the panels are sheltering cars from the snow, power washing them during the rain or saving the county thousands of dollars on its electric bills, the Solar 2 Program is an investment that affects us all.

Morris County solar panel project powers on after CCM installation

nixon-solar-panels

A close up of the solar panels. Photo by Lynn Nixon

BY LYNN NIXON
Contributor 

The Morris County Solar 2 Program, which prompted solar panels being installed over the County College of Morris parking lots in 2012, is implementing phase two of the project in an attempt to further reduce the county’s energy costs. Solar panels will be installed at five public schools, the county library, the county Public Safety Training Academy, the county’s Office of Temporary Assistance and at the municipal complex in Chester, New Jersey.

“We have 10 solar projects on nine sites planned to be built this year and completed by Dec. 31,” said Larry Ragonese, County of Morris communications director. “There had been some financial setbacks in the first phase of the solar project, but phase two has been scrutinized in a very conservative manner. Only sure bets to generate positive revenue and save entities costs on their power needs have been included.”

According to the Request for Proposal issued by the Morris County Improvement Authority, “the county anticipates 27 percent reimbursement for site construction from the federal government through the Federal 1603 Program, which requires work to be completed by Dec. 31.”

The RFP noted that the Morris County Improvement Authority sold $33.1 million in bonds to help finance the Morris County Solar 2 Program. However, due to numerous factors, including a legal battle between renewable energy program’s developer and contractor, the Solar 2 Program is facing financial deficits.

Therefore, the county strategically chose locations for phase two that would generate enough solar power revenue to help pay off phase one debt and provide long-term energy cost savings for the locations that will host the solar panels.

According to CCM’s website, the solar panels installed on campus during phase one of the project were expected to “generate about 45 percent of the college’s yearly energy usage, which would power about 340 homes per year.”

In addition to saving energy and money, the solar panels over the CCM parking lots have provided a bonus to the students parking under them — protection from the weather.

“Parking under the solar panels in the bad weather is awesome because they keep the snow off my car,” said Professor Evren Gulistan, a CCM adjunct algebra professor. “I think it’s a great idea for saving electricity and cutting the costs on the electric bill.”

But the panels have not worked as well in the rainy weather.

“I get drenched when I park under the solar panels in the rain,” said Marvin Vibanco, a CCM liberal arts major. “The rain is like a waterfall over the edges of the panels. It falls directly onto me and my car as I try to get in and out, but they are great in the snow and also great for the environment and helping to reduce energy costs.”

Whether the panels are sheltering cars from the snow, power washing them during the rain or saving the county thousands of dollars on its electric bills, the Solar 2 Program is an investment that affects us all.

Crisis centers provide voice in the dark

BY AMANDA ALLER
Managing Editor

A confluence of despair, desperation and sadness can be enough to drive anyone to a dangerous mental state and here at The County College of Morris and beyond there are services being offered around the clock for those who are in crisis.

Mental health continues to be a pressing issue for young and old people alike and at CCM the Counseling Services Office, located in Room 118 of the Student Community Center, provides support for students year round.

“In the event that a student is in crisis on campus… one of us would be the one to address that crisis,” said John Urgola, a counselor at the Counseling Services Office. “The objective is not to treat someone for a long period of time. If someone needs additional long-term care we have a lot of community resources available for them.”

The office can refer students to therapists for additional help outside of CCM, since the counseling available here is meant to be short term.

“Everything is confidential,” Urgola said. “We are bound by the ethics of our profession and the law to maintain confidentiality with the exception of a few rare instances. Primarily, those instances are if that person presents a risk to others or themselves.”

But for the times when the campus services are unavailable there are a slew of local and non-local numbers that offer assistance 24 hours a day across all seven days a week.

St. Clare’s Hospital in Dover has a Psychiatric Emergency Service

Assessment, crisis intervention, and referrals for people in crisis, available 24 hours a day at (973) 625-0280. Morristown Memorial Hospital offers Psychiatric Emergency Services at (973) 540-0100 as does Newton Medical Center at (973) 383-0100.

Nationally, for those who are at their breaking point there is The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1(800) 273-8255. While many of these support lines offer gateways to further help, all provide an ear to those who need it most.  

CCM graduate Laura Jacobson volunteered at a suicide prevention lifeline, giving her insight and advice in helping people who are struggling with mental illness.

“I think knowing that you helped somebody through some kind of crisis or even knowing that you’re the one person that they can talk to,” Jacobson said. “They don’t have family or friends, so they just need somebody to talk to when it comes to everyday things and it feels really good knowing that you’re just, there.”

According to Jacobsen, there was also frustration at not being able to help more.

“Knowing that you can’t truly help [is the worst part],”Jacobsen said. “You’re not allowed to give advice and we have to remain neutral because we’re a listening hotline and we’re not therapists. We don’t know if they’re telling the truth so we don’t want to give them advice without really knowing what’s going on. But we can be there to help them figure it out.”

Jacobson works in a call center at an undisclosed location, which usually has two people volunteering at a time to speak with callers.

The range of callers is vast, Jacobson said and she has fielded calls from people as young as 11 and as old a 70.  She’s talked to veterans and people with significant hearing loss.

“Typically for veterans we refer them to a separate hotline specifically for them where the listeners usually are veterans so they’re better suited for the callers needs.” Jacobson said. “We also have a texting hotline so I think people who are having hearing problems or are just shy usually do that.”

But adapting to the variety in patrons as well as handling the delicate situations takes tact and training. In order to become qualified to volunteer for the lifeline, there’s an initial application that needs to be sent in following extensive training that’s 50-70 hours a week and involves learning about different kinds of mental disorders, the effects that drugs have on the brain, and how to talk to someone who’s on drugs.

“And that’s not even getting to the suicide part yet.” Jacobson said. “Then we go through a weekend which is 16 hours, 8 o’clock to 5 o’clock on Saturday and Sunday. That involves learning how to talk somebody out of committing suicide and you get a license at the end.”

After all of that work, the payoff is sometimes dampened by the disrespect of a vocal minority.

“We get a lot of prank phone calls and that really upsets me because these are people who don’t get paid to do what they do and I think to take advantage of a really good thing like that is really messed up,” Jacobson said. “That’s taking time away from people who really need it.”

Ultimately, Jacobsen said the reward is worth it.

“It’s really nice to go home at the end of the day and feel like you saved someone’s life or you made someone smile, who desperately needed that. I had someone say to me ‘I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t picked up the phone.’” Jacobson said. “There’s no better cure for sadness or feeling like you’re unworthy than that. It’s an incredible feeling.”

The misconception about her work, Jacobson said, is people’s belief that to help someone who is suffering, you need to understand exactly how they’re feeling and what they’re going through. “We all understand what it’s like to feel lonely, to feel like nobody cares. We all understand what it’s like to feel like we don’t have any worth. We all understand what those feelings are like and that’s what we need to relate to. If you can understand how that felt to you, you can understand what that person is feeling.” Jacobson said. “Just convey to them that you get it.”

Through her time working for the suicide prevention hotline, Jacobson said she learned some solid advice when it comes to mental health.

“There’s always someone out there that cares. I care. Everybody that works there cares,” Jacobsen said. “There’s always help out there and people volunteering at the lifeline aren’t going to judge you for feeling a certain way.”