Tag Archives: Brian Johnston

Pollock passes with flying colors

Brian Johnston

Editor in Chief

   The first-year evaluation meeting of Dr. Kevin Pollock took place at the SC4 Board of Trustees meeting Thursday April 15, where Dr. Pollock was met with a glowing assessment.

   Dr. Kevin A. Pollock first came to SC4 as President in April 2009, after a nine-year term as Vice President of Student Services at West Shore Community College in Scottville, Michigan. Now beginning his second year of service at SC4, the board first needed to evaluate his performance for the first year.

   “I would not want a job where I had seven bosses,” said board chair Jon Adair. “And I think Kevin does a good job at understanding the connection of all seven bosses.”

   Adair continued, “I think that over the year, Kevin has dove into it, not only in title but in person.”

   The board adopted a grading system based on several categories, including Strategic Leadership and Internal Relationships. The board found Pollock satisfactory in all fronts, stating that Dr. Pollock has been, “a pleasure” to work with.

   “I think he’s been collegial,” said Nicolas DeGrazia, “and has worked extremely well with folks within in the organization.”

   “In the first year, he’s done more than I’ve expected out of a president. I’m very happy,” said Dianna Maxwell. “I think that he’s viewed by the community as a key resource.”

   Very few, if any, complaints were raised about Pollock’s performance in the past year. DeGrazia perhaps offered the strongest criticism: “Work on your golf game.”

   Dr. Pollock was given the option to have his evaluation held privately, but opted to have it held publically. “I’d like to keep it open,” said Pollock.

President King

Brian Johnston

SC4’s 2010-2011 Student Government leaders: President Chuck King, left, and Vice President Rachel Kobylas. Photo by Twana Pinskey
SC4’s 2010-2011 Student Government leaders: President Chuck King, left, and Vice President Rachel Kobylas. Photo by Twana Pinskey

Editor in Chief

In elections held April 7 and 8, SC4 students voted in President Charles “Chuck” King, Vice President Rachel Olivia Kobylas, and Secretary Kaitlin Graw to the Student Government.

King is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and associate degrees in fire science and broadcasting. Kobylas is working toward associate degrees in broadcasting, journalism and criminal justice. Graw is working toward a liberal arts degree with a minor in transcription.

“I decided it was time to step up,” said sophomore King, 50, of Port Huron. King is also the current Vice President of the Student Government.

“After talking to Rachel and seeing that she was interested, we decided that we would make a good team and we’d be able to get some things done,” King said.

Kobylas, 25, of Saint Clair Township, said of her decision to run as a write-in candidate for Vice President, “I thought about it for a while and finally came to the conclusion that I could continue to be a positive difference-making force.”

Secretary Kaitlin Graw, 19, of Port Huron said the secretary position was in line with her transcription minor.

Of his plans for the next year, King says the Student Government “still has some work to do on the constitution.” King also wishes to streamline the election process.

Kobylas said she would like to enable clubs to work together more often than they have in the past, citing the fall semester’s “Zombie Walk” event,  organized by three SC4 clubs, as a perfect example.

The Treasurer position remains vacant, although this hasn’t dampened King’s spirits. King cites current president Dan Wiley’s tenure as a perfect example. Wiley began the semester without a Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer. The positions were filled at a later time.

Carrie Bearss, Student Government adviser and Enrollment Services & Student Activities Coordinator, said she’s “really looking forward to next year.”

According to Bearss, the trio will be working throughout the summer to ensure a smooth start for the 2010-2011 school year.

‘Titanic’ disaster

Brian Johnston

Editor in Chief

   Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

   Sam Worthington plays a half-human, half-something-else. There’s a war going on between the humans and the non-humans, and it’s up to Sam to save the day.

   Is that “Avatar” or is it “Terminator: Salvation?” Neither. It’s “Clash of the Titans.”

   In the latest adaptation of the Greek epic, Sam Worthington plays Perseus, half-human son of Zeus.  After his adopted family become casualties of the war between the gods and mortals, Perseus winds up a prisoner of the Argos.

   While in Argo, Perseus witnesses Hades (Ralph Fiennes) offer an ultimatum to King Cepheus (Vincent Regan): Kill his daughter Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) within 10 days, or the Kraken will be unleashed on Argo.

   So far, this sounds like the Ray Harryhausen film from 1981. Suddenly it takes a sharp turn, and stays off track for the rest of the film.

   For starters, it must be in Worthington’s contract to make callbacks to his other movies. While witnessing a Pegasus prancing around, Io (Gemma Arterton) comments that no one has ever ridden one before. In “Avatar,” Sam Worthington rides some dragon-beast that nobody has ever ridden.

   Later, Perseus says of his Demigod status, “I don’t know what I am,” a line straight from “Terminator Salvation.”

   This is to say nothing of the 3D effects. Originally shot in 2D, the film was converted to 3D in post-production. And it shows. The film doesn’t have the “jump-off-the-screen” quality of “My Bloody Valentine 3D,” nor does it have the depth and scenery that “Avatar” have.

   Any time there’s an action scene, the camera shakes as if the Director of Photography is afraid the actors will turn on him. This is an attempt to make the action more frantic, but 3D doesn’t work if you can’t see what’s going on.

   This movie would have been a “pass” or a “rent” if were in 2D. The added 3D ticket cost makes something to avoid.

   Sam Worthington seems to be making a living by playing half-humans. This movie feels half-baked.

Health care reform is a mixed bag

Brian Johnston

Editor in Chief

This past Sunday, Congress passed the Health Care Reform Bill. All that’s needed is Barack Obama’s signature. And people are either far too happy or far too upset about it.

For starters, there are the accusations of “socialism” coming from the conservatives. They see it as just another step toward America becoming the Cold War-era Soviet Union.

According to them, we’ll have to wait in line for bread and other essentials, because regulating insurance providers is a slippery slope toward a complete government takeover of all labor and industry.

This rationale falls apart because regulations aren’t the same thing as takeovers. In a perfect world, we’d need no regulations because businesses would always do the right thing. We don’t live in that world.

Liberals are far too happy about Health Care reform passing. According to them, any conservative opposition must be due to conservatives being in the back pocket of the insurance agency.

It’s true that the new Health Care Reform Bill will make health insurance more affordable for lower-income citizens. It’ll also make it harder for citizens to be turned away because of pre-existing conditions.

It doesn’t provide the public option that so many believe it does. It also mandates that all US citizens must have some form of health coverage once the bill takes effect.

The message from the Democratic Party seems to be something along the lines of, “we’re so angry with the insurance industry, we’re forcing you to give them your money.” That’ll show them a thing or two.

Of course, elections don’t just take place every four years. November 2 has a General Election. All 435 Representative seats and 36 Senate seats will be up for grabs.

Do you like Health Care reform? Do you hate it? Don’t just grumble about it around the water cooler.  Don’t just throw your politics online. Vote.

SC4 puts cigarettes out

Brian Johnston

Editor in Chief

   Smokers at SC4 will soon face new rules which move the designated smoking areas even further away from where they’re used to smoking.

   In a policy adopted on Feb. 18, the Board of Trustees “recognizes the health dangers created by smoking and hereby prohibits smoking in all College Buildings and vehicles.”

   The policy bans smoking on campus within 20 feet of any entrance or exit, and “areas of the campus where non-smokers cannot avoid exposure to smoke.”

   Smoking would also be prohibited where it might come into buildings through “entrances, windows, ventilation systems or by any other means.”

   SC4 President Dr. Kevin Pollock said that SC4 is also adding “the correct signage and smoking receptacles” to make students aware of the new policy, “in the hopes of promoting better health.”

   In addition to second-hand smoke, the Board of Trustees also addressed the litter situation on campus, with the growing number of cigarette butts being a key issue.

   Dr. Pollock said students could help simply by making sure that cigarette butts were extinguished in proper receptacles.

   “Rather than a total smoking ban, this is providing an opportunity for our students and staff to make campus a little cleaner and healthier,” said Pollock.

Where there’s smoke, there’s litter

Brian Johnston

Editor in Chief

   As an editor for the Gazette, I spend a lot of time on campus. On a given weekday, I probably spend more of my waking time here than at my actual residence.

   It can be said I consider SC4 my “home away from home.” As such, I have a lot of pride in this institution. There’s only one problem: the litter has to stop.

   On a given day, our parking lot is a menagerie of fast food wrappers, empty sports drink bottles, coffee cups and other detritus.

   And then there are the cigarette butts. They’ve swarmed onto our campus like carcinogenic locusts, laying claim to the asphalt. In some buildings, it seems to be a game to see how many discarded cigarettes people can fit between the bricks.

   In the course of polling students to seek out news leads, a majority mentioned the litter situation.  This was often followed by the vague assertion, “somebody should do something.”

   SC4’s administration is doing something. In a recent Board of Trustees meeting, the board voted to change the designated smoking areas on campus. From now on, smoking areas are at least 20 feet away from entrances and exits, in order to mitigate non-smokers having to walk through second-hand smoke.

   And here’s the part where smokers should take note: if students continue smoking wherever they please, and the cigarette butt issue continues, SC4 will “move toward being a smoke-free campus,” according to President Pollock.

   In simpler language, if you keep throwing your cigarettes all over the place, you won’t be able to smoke here at all.

   Most of the time, nobody seems to like it very much when a college administration sets up new rules. We complain, throw around words like “draconian,” and generally resist the change.

   I can’t do that in this case. The administration has my full support in this endeavor, and I’ll personally do whatever I can to help.

   Waste baskets and ash trays are neither rare nor difficult to use. As the Gazette’s photo editor Twana Pinskey put it, “your mother isn’t here to clean up after you.”

Tats-Who?

Brian Johnston

Editor in Chief

   After taking on comic book giant Marvel twice, then going toe-to-toe with rival game publisher SNK three times, Capcom is now duking it out with Japanese animation studio Tatsunoko in “Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars.”

   “Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom,” like its predecessors, is an arcade-style fighter. Exclusive to the Wii, it allows players to select two characters, throwing them in a tag-team battle similar to “King of Fighters,” with polygonal characters similar to “Street Fighter IV.”

   Thirteen of the characters come from game juggernaut Capcom, featuring old favorites such as Ryu and Chun-Li from “Street Fighter,” and new surprises such as Frank West from “Dead Rising.”

   The Tatsunoko side of things contains characters most Western fans won’t be familiar with, from titles such as “Science Ninja Team Gashaman” and “Karas.”

   The end result is an incredibly fun but challenging game, which will appeal to old-school arcade fans and new gamers. It also seems geared to a more “hardcore” audience, something the Wii direly needs.

   Simplified from the “Street Fighter” experience, Capcom has gone with only four buttons: three attack strengths and one “partner” button.

   The “partner” button will allow your secondary character to assist or trade places with your primary character, as well as being functional in multi-hit combos.

   While the simpler control scheme might seem to imply a simpler game, it’s anything but. While not as technical as “BlazBlue” or “Guilty Gear,” “Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom” employs a series of combos, cancels, baroque combos, mega crashes and enough other elements to keep fighting game stalwarts on their toes.

   Another welcome addition is online play, a Wii feature often neglected by developers. Players can set up matches against friends or complete strangers.

   Regrettably, the online play is perhaps the weakest part of the game. The lag compensation doesn’t seem to be so hot, there’s no voice chat, and finding “friends” online involves swapping “friend codes.”

   Another nagging flaw is how offense-heavy the game feels at times. Defensive players beware: constant blocking is a road to ruin in this game.

   Flaws aside, “Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars” is a welcome addition to the Wii library, and certainly a refreshing change from endless mini-game collections.

   You might now know who Tatsunoko is, but that won’t make the gam

Brain Trust

Brian Johnston

Editor in Chief

   Zombies swarmed through Port Huron in October 2009. This semester, somebody is here to deal with the problem.

   The Zombie Defense Council, founded by SC4 students Cody Tyler Kimball and Victor Uhlman, is the new club on campus. Advised by adjunct instructor Robert Kroll, the club’s goal is to protect SC4 from shambling undead hordes.

   “Vic [Uhlman] was the one who actually pushed me to do this,” said Kimball, who acts as “Prime Minister” of the club. “He wanted a reason to continue going here next year.”

   Adviser Robert Kroll said he became the club’s adviser because, “if we’re going to survive a zombie apocalypse, we’re going to need a place of education. If there’s one place of education I wish to save, it’s SC4.”

   The group has currently been granted “probationary” status as a new club, meaning they will attend all-club meetings along with the Student Government, Drama Club, and the Global Awareness Club.

   According to the club’s charter, it has ties to several SC4 classes, including Intro to Anthropology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Human Resources Management and Hazardous Materials.

   Planned activities include a screening of George Romero’s classic “Night of the Living Dead,” a “Zombies versus Humans” paintball or airsoft outing, and zombie board game meetings.

   Further down the road, the group is considering making a zombie movie or a zombie Christmas album, as well as charity events.

   Those interested in joining the meeting should email sc4zdc@gmail.com.

   “We all share a common interest in promoting the welfare of humanity,” said Kimball.

   “Which could involve Ghostbusting,” added Kroll.

   Kimball added ghosts, zombies, and the living dead in general are all “sort of friends,” and the group would actively protect SC4’s campus from all non-living threats.

   “As long as they don’t sparkle,” said Kroll.

Welcome Back Qatar

As SC4 students were beginning the semester, a few faces were absent from campus.
A five-person team consisting of SC4 President Dr. Kevin Pollock, SC4 professor Robert Tansky, retired SC4 professor Thomas Mooney, SC4 Trustee Nicholas DeGrazia and Board of Trustees Chair John Adair.
According to a press release by Shawn Starkey, Executive Director of Public Relations, Marketing, and Legislative Affairs for SC4, the group met with His Excellence Abdullla Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, five-time president of OPEC and current minister of education in Qatar; His Excellence Abdullah Khalid Al-Attiya, governor of Qatar Central Bank; Abdulrahman Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, secretary general of the Gulf Corporation Council; Mohamed Abdulla Al-Attiyia, petroleum engineer; and Sultan K. Elsewidi, retired sports industry executive.
The trip was to discuss collaboration between SC4 and a new community college being built in the capital city Doha, Qatar, having students from Qatar study English at SC4, and possible student and faculty exchanges.
“They’re trying to choose one to maybe three or four selective community colleges in the United States to work with,” said Pollock. “We’re pretty excited about opportunities for educational and cultural exchanges.”
“[Qatar has] picked out the top schools in the world to educate their young people,” said Tansky. “They also realize how important international trade is.”
Both Tansky and Pollock said the Qatari people understood the value of education. During the trip, a student excused himself to get something “special.” He returned with an Economy book from Tansky’s class, taught in the 70’s.
The deal between Qatari officials is not set in stone, however. SC4 has submitted a proposal, which will be gone over by members of the new Qatari community college.
“It all depends on what they’ll let us do with the next steps,” said Pollock.
Nonetheless, Pollock and Tansky found the trip “worthwhile,” and remain optimistic for what this could mean at SC4 when it comes to cultural and educational exchange.
“The better understanding we have of outside of our own little area, the better we’re going to be,” Pollock said.

A Cool Place to Be

In the beginning, there was Pastime Hobbies. And according to its regulars, it was good. While other stores came and went, Pastime Hobbies served gamers in Port Huron for over 20 years.
Jeff Kenny worked at Pastime for his father Gary in charge of games. In 2009, Jeff branched off from Pastime Hobbies and founded Cool City Games. And the gamers of Port Huron followed.
“I am the Moses of gaming, and these are my people,” joked Kenny.
Located just north of the local comic shop and pizza place, Cool City Games has become the newest home to the gaming scene. Walk through the front door and you’ll be greeted by miniatures, cards, books and board games.
Come in through the back door, and you’ll see where the magic happens. Space marines battle aliens on hostile planets. Jedi clash with Sith lords for control of the empire. Planeswalkers attack each other with spells and creatures.
The game room is the cultural hub of Cool City. Board games, a poker set and boxes of cards line the back wall. Patrons sit at tables, pitting their skills against one another. A sign hangs over the wall reading, “Beware of Steve,” referring to Kenny’s brother.
The game room was one of the most important factors, according to Kenny. “I could still use more space.”
The split from Pastime Hobbies was, “something my father and I had been discussing for several years,” according to Kenny. “It came sooner than I thought it would.”
“An opportunity presented itself for me to buy a portion of that business,” said Kenny. With his father’s blessing, Kenny opened the doors to Cool City Games March 4, 2009.
According to employee Mike Beaver, the first item sold by the store was a miniature for the tabletop war-game “Warhammer.” “Warhammer” would also be the first game played at the store.
Cool City regular John Bright prefers the new space. “[In Pastime Hobbies] you were off in a separate room,” said Bright. “You didn’t feel so much part of the store, whereas here you’re almost integrated.”
“I think it’s great,” said Christine Carr, Bright’s girlfriend and business partner. “No offense to Gary, but I like this place better.”
“Pastime was a hobby store with a game room,” said Bright.
“And this is a gaming store,” added Carr.
Ask anyone why they keep coming back to Cool City, and the answer is the same: the sense of community.
“For 15 years I’ve built up a very, very loyal base of customers that continue to support me,” said Kenny.
“Jeff wants a very ‘Cheers’ environment, plain and simple,” said Bright. “He’s created a very club-like atmosphere.”
In addition to being regulars at Cool City games, Bright and his girlfriend also run “Magic: The Gathering” tournaments and has a business within the store buying and selling cards.
“We’re not in it for pure profit; we’re here to basically provide a hobby for ourselves and everybody else,” said Bright.
While not officially an employee, Bright has become another helpful face, ready to assist players with any questions they might have.
“It usually has a pretty good atmosphere,” said SC4 librarian Brennan Murphy. “A lot of different people come in to play different games. It’s a good place to go if you want to pick up a game.”
Even the younger crowd has embraced Cool City games.
“It’s great,” said Port Huron High School student Justin Martin. “Everybody is friendly. People come in, and they always want to help out. And it’s great that they’re not mad because we’re the younger crowd. They actually kind of encourage the younger crowd.”
“They’re everyday people,” said fellow student Kyle Gratz.
Financially, Cool City’s first year has been a good one.
“I would attribute it to the niche that I’m catering to, and the fact that there really isn’t any other competition,” said Kenny.
According to Kenny, business picks up whenever a new subset of “Magic: The Gathering” is released. “Going through the books, it just glares out at you whenever those weekends are.”
While business has been good, it hasn’t been perfect. Kenny noted a trend toward “down-spending” thanks to the local economy. Regulars who might have supposed multiple hobbies are now only nurturing one or two.
The new business also had its share of surprises, including a “disappointing” holiday season. “I was used to Pastime Hobbies’ holiday season, where we sold trains and all those ‘big ticket’ items,” said Kenny.
Holiday season aside, Kenny says he has no complaints. “It’s been great with foot traffic from the college.”
Cool City Games has kept afloat financially, but Kenny and others said money is a secondary goal of the store.
“I’ve got exactly what I bargained for,” said Kenny. “Probably about 75 percent of my customers have become pretty good friends. It’s a nice position to be in.”