Updates from April, 2018 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • melissa.trevizo 10:11 am on April 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    A reminder from the police department 

    If you see something, say something. Safety and security is a shared responsibility. Immediately report any suspicious activity to San Jacinto College Police Department.

    To report emergencies from campus phones: 5555

    From cell phones: 281.476.9128

    Hearing impaired phone number for text messages: 713.469.1071

    Non-emergency phone number: 281.476.1820

    There are police officers and telecommunicators available to help our college community seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

  • wpadmin 11:29 am on April 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    April in the library: Hard Books! 

    Submitted by Richard McKay ~

    Hard books, like hard liquor, should be approached with respect and caution, and resorted to in medicinal doses.  This being a place of higher learning, such fauna will naturally find their way on to our shelves, despite the vigilance of the library staff.

     Anyone doing time in a grade school during the 1960s may remember hearing of the awful fire at Our Lady of the Angels School, in Chicago. Three weeks before Christmas in 1958 a child firebug tossed a pack of burning matches into a janitor’s pail in the school basement, thinking that a fire would add days of vacation to the coming holiday recess.  This isn’t the place to mention the ensuing catastrophe in any but the sketchiest detail, except to note that it’s a hard story.  And so To Sleep With the Angels: The Story of a Fire (LD 7501 C434 C68) is a hard read, but worth your while.  It’s told with compassion, and filled with survivors’ accounts, as well as commentary from fire-fighting professionals involved in the rescue.  The authors also discuss the psychological effect of the incident on the first responders.  Post-traumatic stress disorder was neither understood nor studied to any depth at the time, and distressed cops and firemen were expected to cowboy up.  Of course, stress symptoms will show themselves without regard for the expectations of police and fire department supervisors.  In fact, this was a significant outcome, and largely discounted at the time, making a hard story harder.

    I asked south campus librarian Larry Gainor if he could find any hard books lurking on our shelves.  I don’t know whether to be glad or not that he had no problem finding some.

    “At least the Voynich Manuscript has fun pictures to go with its unintelligible text,” I said to no one in particular, snapping shut our copy of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (PR 6019 O9 F5).  This was Larry’s first choice, and a Jim-dandy start.  I blew a cloud of dust off its top edge that I’m surprised didn’t bounce when it landed on my desk.  You might guess that our patrons don’t like hard books, and Finnegan is widely conceded to be one of the hardest works of literature, bar none.  The text is great fun, though.  “Chuffy was a nangel then and his soard fleshed light like likening.  Fools top! Singty, sangty, meekly loose, defend nous from prowlabouts. Make a shine on the curst.  Emen.”  And so forth, for 628 pages.  For readers who like their nonsense to at least have a moral affixed to it, one of the values of this writing is that it invites the reader into hyperawareness of the rhythms and cadences of normal prose; so, welcome, Finnegan.  The Wikipedia article says that there’s a plot buried in there somewhere.  Download this to your Kindle if you get picked to colonize Mars.

    The Dismal Science, bless its heart, has made its share of contributions to the hard books genre, and Larry’s found one: French economist Thomas Piketty’s 2014 study of wealth distribution, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (HB 501 P43613).  Even the critics that accused Dr. Piketty of cherry-picking his data admit the work’s importance.  I gave up reading translations from the French for Lent, so I opened the book on the day after Easter with a sense of abandon that dissipated quickly after I read a few sentences.  I can’t say that my experience with Capital is very different from my experience with Finnegans Wake, except that the opacities in Finnegan are more fun to read.

    Larry also found Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (HV 6459 W57), described by the Time reviewer, aptly and with notable restraint, as an album of peacetime atrocities.  Your complacency about the prevalence of humane values will not survive the first pages.  One of the collection’s editors, Leon F. Litwack, rightly observes “The men and women who tortured, dismembered, and murdered in this fashion understood perfectly well what they were doing and thought of themselves as perfectly normal human beings.”  File this with another hard read we looked at a few months ago, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (D810 W7 L69).  Both relate stunning cruelties enacted by ordinary persons.

    I’m no fan of books that try to explain hard subjects with simple language and examples.  My thinking is that if the idea were that easy in the first place, why would you have to explain it?  Also, if your audience were already capable of understanding it, would they need a book to tell them what they, in theory at least, already know?  Now I’m ready to introduce Larry’s next selection, Stephen Hawking’s 1988 head-scratcher A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang To Black Holes (QB 981 H377).  Some two thousand ‘zon reviewers are daffy over it.  Let’s find out why.  Five-star person djlistener shares that “the concepts, proofs and theries (thus) are beyond my ability to comprehend.”  Thanks for your frank admission, dj.  And just go ahead and throw those review stars around like Mardi Gras beads anyway, ‘kay?  Five-star person Richard S. adds “I will admit that his dissertations on Quantum Mechanics left me a little dizzy at times…”  And Richard liked it.  You know who else liked it?  Carl Sagan.  He wrote the introduction.  His explanation of Dr. Hawking’s explanations doesn’t say a lot, though, so stick your thumb anywhere it will fit in Finnegans Wake and substitute that for the intro.  Whatever your eye lands on will at least have whatever advantage charming nonsense and a sprightly cadence can impart.

    Treat yourself to a wicked extravagance this evening if you remember filling out office forms on an IBM Selectric; see the attached photo.  The ‘do on the guy in the background fixes its date to no later than the mid ‘80s, when office PCs on campus were restricted to the admins of department chairs and administrators, and handed out with stern reluctance when they were handed out at all.  The desktop computers that are now so common that we no longer notice them were, at the time, as rare and marvelous as the pooka or the hoop snake.

    Ye gods; so soon late.  Till next month, keep a low profile and choose your hard books thoughtfully.

    Kindest spring regards,


    • Rhonda Tompkins 2:23 pm on April 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      This was an unexpected read amidst all of the other content in my inbox today. Thanks for this, Richard.

    • Rosemary Morales 2:27 pm on April 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks a bunch, Rich! While your article in the April Watercooler was very entertaining, and painted pictures in my brain of you and Larry coursing about the library gather hard books, I can’t say I have read any of them. I do prefer biographies and autobiographies, though. I will forward the article to my hubby. He just bought a nice Kindle and has started downloading books. I do think he may favor one or two you mention. Until next month, Rich! You and Larry get out of the library and get some of this warm sun before it gets to frying outside. Then, you can sojourn in the cool of the library aisles foraging for more hard books.

  • andrea.vasquez 2:50 pm on April 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Space Center Houston,   

    Science faculty tour JSC and Space Center Houston 

    Members of the San Jacinto College South Campus science faculty went on a behind the scenes professional development tour of Johnson Space Center and Space Center Houston. The tour included access to Rocket Park, Historic Mission Control and the Space Center Houston Educational Resource Center. Thank you to all who attended, especially to Dr. Sheema Nassir for coordinating the visit, and to tour host, Norman Chaffee, one of the first engineers at the NASA Space Shuttle Program.

    • Mary Wisgirda 11:10 am on April 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      This was a great experience all around! It was amazing to find that our tour guide Sara was a San Jac South student. This is just the beginning of a closer relationship with NASA and finding ways to get our students involved in the adventure of space exploration.

  • andrea.vasquez 2:21 pm on April 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Brand Ambassador Graduates Spring 2018 

    The San Jacinto College marketing, public relations and government affairs department graduated the second cohort of Brand Ambassadors. Congratulations to everyone who completed the training. If you are interested in signing up for the fall Brand Ambassador training session, please contact Janet Cowey at janet.cowey@sjcd.edu.

  • amanda.fenwick 3:19 pm on April 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    April Board of Trustees Meeting Highlights 

    At the April Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees recognized and celebrated the accomplishments of the women’s basketball team and the the financial aid department. The women’s basketball team advanced to its second-consecutive National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament, had the most wins in a single season in school history, had four student-athletes earn post-season honors, Head Coach Kayla Weaver was named the District L coach of the year, and the team received the NJCAA Alberta Lee Cox Sportsmanship Award.

    San Jacinto College women's basketball team


    In addition, the Board of Trustees recognized the financial aid team for earning the Monument Award. The team was presented with the challenge of helping to reduce the cohort default rate, which is used by the US Department of Education to measure the effectiveness of managing the federal student loan program. The San Jacinto College financial aid employees led to a decrease in the student loan cohort default rate from 17.3% to 9.1% (almost half!) by providing direct and personal communication to students when they leave the College; through extra loan advising in addition to the federally required counseling; and financial literacy presentations in classrooms and financial literacy workshops each semester.


    Congratulations to both the San Jacinto College women’s basketball team and the financial aid team on your well deserved recognitions!

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