Monthly Archives: December 2011

Holidays: New Year’s Eve Trivia

It’s almost time: Bring in 2012
with New Year’s trivia … and cats

It’s the end of another year, and it’s time to celebrate! As one of the year’s most festive holidays, New Year’s is an age-old tradition which gathers friends, family, neighbors and even perfect strangers to ring in new beginnings.

It’s a time where resolutions fly with the confetti and memories of the year are shared, in both its trials and successes, with hopes to start anew.

The holiday has its origin among the ancient Babylonians, who are said to have started the tradition of resolutions — returning all possessions which had been borrowed throughout the year — some 4,000 years ago. Continue reading

Bobcat Faces: Caitlin Buck

With a hop and a skip, Buck coasts to Ireland for study abroad in dance

Buck's photo along the Cliffs of Moher was entered into the Academic Programs International Spring 2011 Photo Contest. Click for more contest photos.

By Catherine Harper

According to an Irish proverb, “The longest road out is the shortest road home.” For Texas State alumna Caitlin Buck, a drive to discover the ancient dance and culture of Ireland led to an adventure of self-discovery through study abroad.

After graduating in December 2011 with a degree in early childhood through sixth-grade education, Buck has taken the center stage in educating young minds. However, with a will to pursue her hobby in dance through study abroad, Buck found a new perspective on the world and, more so, herself.

After growing up in New Braunfels, Buck attended Texas State eager to learn. Pursuing her major in education, Buck solidified her career goals with experience gained from student teaching.

While staying focused on her career, Buck found an avenue of self-expression  at the Inishfree School of Irish Dance in San Antonio. Although Buck’s newfound passion stayed on the sidelines, she felt an urge to experience Ireland first-hand.

“I had been wanting to go to Ireland for an Irish Dance camp at the University of Limerick for a couple of years, but I kept getting injured,” Buck says. “The injuries ruled out dance camp,  but I still wanted to go to Ireland.”

With a push from family to follow her dream, Buck finally took her chance in the summer of her senior year. With help from Texas State’s Study Abroad website, Buck found an affiliated program with Academic Programs International — an all-inclusive study abroad program for students around the world — and was on her way.

Buck’s journey led her to the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland, where she took courses in Irish music and dance, Gaelic and archaeology. According to Buck, her courses offered a broader scope to her experience with a submersion in the culture.

“The courses I took were just for fun. They had nothing to do with my major,” Buck says. “The reason I studied abroad was for the experience. There is absolutely no way to better experience another country than living there for a few months.

Buck says she transformed by traversing with the spectacles and culture of Ireland. Traveling to the Aran Islands and Cork, Buck was able to enter a photo of the Cliffs of Moher into the API Study Abroad Spring 2011 Photo Contest, for which she received an honorable mention.

Buck says the perspective shift gained from the Ireland adventure — with self-confidence and inspiration to boot — was the apex of her experience.

“My entire perspective on how people can interact has changed. Studying abroad was an amazing learning experience,” Buck says.

“I was on a confidence high after I came back from Ireland. Since then it has diminished, but I’d say independence and confidence have been two things I have gained since my trip,” Buck adds.

With her degree in hand, Buck says her sights are still on the horizon of her career and future.

“I am planning on moving to Colorado; I’ll apply for a teaching job and go from there,” Buck says. “If I could be a teacher in Ireland, I would, but knowing how to speak Gaelic is a requirement and — if my language course in summer school taught me anything — I’ll never speak Gaelic.”

Faculty: Oleg Komogortsev

Computer science professor explores, explains possibilities
in eye-tracking technology

By Mary Kincy

An eye

Texas State's Dr. Oleg Komogortsev researches ways the gaze of the human eye, like the one above, can be tracked to navigate a computer.

In 2003, Dr. Oleg Komogortsev — then a graduate student at Kent State University — wanted very much to play the beta version of what would become one of the world’s most popular online role-playing games, World of Warcraft.

Access to the game was highly restricted, however, with invitations to the beta test site selling online for as much as $17,000. So Komogortsev put his computer science background and his interest in eye-tracking technology to work, sending an e-mail to the game’s developers in which he pledged to explore the possibility of applying eye-tracking to online role play. Continue reading

Holidays: Best Wishes for Bobcats

From Old Main to you, Bobcats share
their holiday wishes with the world

Menorah with candles lit for third night of Hanukkah

Lauren Hermes L. To the new generation of Bobcats, I hope you make as many lasting and cherished memories and friends as I did in the wonderful world of San Marvelous! Happy holidays!

Breanna M. I hope everyone enjoys quality time with their loved ones. When you’re in college, you realize how important they truly are. So soak it up, Bobcats. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

Susie D. Enjoy family time, good food and no more finals! Remember hard work pays off! Way to go Bobcats! Continue reading

Holidays: Bobcat Cookie Recipes

Satisfy your holiday sweet tooth
with favorites from fellow Bobcats

cookies on cooling rack

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies

Nothing makes a holiday homecoming feel cozier than fresh-baked cookies. Whether you’re welcoming a recent graduate back from San Marcos or hosting multiple generations of Bobcats for a family feast, these recipes are sure to elicit one steadfast response: EAT ‘EM UP, CATS!

Continue reading

Holidays: Winter Solstice 2011

It’s the shortest day of the year:
Be glad you’re done with finals

Thursday, Dec. 22, is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter. Technically, the solstice occurs at the exact moment when the Earth’s tilt is furthest from the sun, but since you may be scrambling to complete other holiday tasks, it’ll feel short on time the whole day.

Throughout history, cultures have taken note of this day and marked it with a range of ceremonies, rituals and celebrations. Here’s a sampling:

Brumalia: An ancient Roman festival honoring Bacchus, featuring mirth and merriment. The name is derived from the Latin word bruma, meaning “shortest day” or “winter solstice.”

The Extreme of Winter: A festival marked by a number of East Asian cultures, based on the the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos.

Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun): An Incan religious ceremony in honor of the sun god Inti. It also marked the winter solstice and a new year in the Andes.

Lá an Dreoilín (Wren Day): Crowds of people, called wrenboys, take to the roads in various parts of Ireland, dressed in motley clothing, wearing masks or straw suits and accompanied by musicians, supposedly in remembrance of a festival celebrated by the Druids.

Midwinter: In research stations throughout Antarctica, Midwinter is widely celebrated as a way to mark the fact that the people who winter-over just went through half their turn of duty.

Shab-e Chelleh: An Iranian holiday celebrated on the eve of the first day of winter in the Persian calendar, which always falls on the solstice.

Sanghamitta: A celebration to honor of the Buddhist nun who brought a branch of the Bodhi tree to Sri Lanka, where it has flourished for more than 2,000 years.

Soyalangwul: A ritual of the Zuni and Hopi Indians to the ceremonially bring the sun back from its long winter slumber.

Holidays: Trivia Quiz

Think you know winter holidays?
Try this holiday trivia quiz.

yellow and blue dreidelsIt’s the holiday season. As you prep for family time galore, take a moment to test your knowledge of these American winter celebrations. Hanukkah starts today and lasts for eight nights, ending at sundown Dec. 28. Christmas is coming up on Dec. 25. And Kwanzaa will be celebrated Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

1. Hanukkah commemorates which event?
a. the miraculously long-burning olive oil observed during the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE
b. the founding of the State of Israel in 1948
c. the parting of the Dead Sea by Moses
d. the marriage of Esther to King Ahasueras

2. Christmas commemorates which event?
a. the invention of egg nog
b. the birth of Jesus
c. the birth of Santa Claus
d. a great brainstorming session at Hallmark

3. Kwanzaa commemorates which event?
a. the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863
b. the birth of Nelson Mandela in 1918
c. the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1929
d. It doesn’t commemorate a specific event. It is a celebration of African-American heritage and culture. Continue reading