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12 Tips for Winter Driving

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Greetings and welcome to a new semester at Parkland College. The Parkland College Department of Public Safety is here to provide a safe and secure campus environment conducive to learning. Every week throughout the year we’ll be releasing a new public safety message. These messages will cover a variety of topics from crime prevention to disaster awareness, all focused on providing applicable information that you can use to stay safe and have a successful experience here at Parkland.

Our first message this week:  Winter driving, and how to do it safely.

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It may not really feel like it today, but we’re in the middle of winter, which means driving on the roadway can be more dangerous if you’ve not taken the necessary precautions. How can you keep safe on the road? Here are our top 12 tips:

12. Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights—even the hood and roof—before driving.

11. Leave plenty of room for stopping.

10. Pay attention; don’t try to outdrive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.

9. Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.

8. Bridge decks freeze first. Due to the difference in the exposure to air, the surface condition can be worse on a bridge than on the approaching road.

7. Exit ramps are an even greater challenge during the winter, since they may have received less anti-icing material than the main line. Be aware of this when exiting the highway.

6. Don’t use the “cruise control” option when driving in wintry conditions. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the slightest touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

5. Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle’s traction. Driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle may help you get going quicker, but it won’t help you stop any quicker. Many 4x4s are heavier than passenger vehicles and actually may take longer to stopWinter Driving

4. Look further ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by cars and trucks will alert you quicker to problems and give you a split-second of extra time to react safely.

3. Remember that trucks are heavier than cars. Trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.

2. Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows! Stay back at least 200 feet and don’t pass on the right.

1. Most importantly…Please, remember to SLOW DOWN! Also, seat belts should be worn at all times; it’s the law.

 

Night in the Middle of Day

***Accommodations in southern Illinois are a hot commodity right now, filling up fast to see the August solar eclipse described below! Securing your reservations now at the Ondessonk Camp might be a good idea (It’s first come, first served), so we’re giving this blog post a very early send-out.***

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There are many experiences in nature that make you go “wow!” Maybe it is your first view of the Grand Canyon, or the ocean, or even a rainbow. But what is it about an eclipse of the Sun that draws so many people? Why do some “eclipse chasers” travel thousands of miles to see an event that can, at most, last seven and a half minutes?

If you are curious, you will get your chance this August, with very little travel required. On Monday, August 21 at 11:53 a.m., the Moon will begin to cover the Sun. The Moon will be completely in front of our Sun at 1:20 p.m., and “totality” will only last two minutes and forty seconds.

However, to see this total solar eclipse, you must travel southward. You need to be in the Moon’s shadow, which begins in Oregon and travels through the Midwest, on to South Carolina. This is the first coast-to-coast eclipse in our country since 1918! It is estimated that over 12 million people will either be in the eclipse’s path (including Kansas City and St. Louis) or will travel to the path.

Eclipse Explained
But what’s going on in August? Why is this happening? The Moon takes 29.5 days to orbit our Earth, which is our basis for our month, or “moonth.” During New Moon, the Moon is in the same area of the sky as our Sun, hence we only see the dark, unlit side of the Moon. The Moon’s orbit, however, is tilted five degrees to the Earth’s orbit.

To put this in perspective, if you hold out your fist at arm’s length and close one eye, one fist is about ten degrees. So a “half-fist” doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough that the Moon usually appears to pass above or below the Sun each month. This is why we don’t have solar eclipses at every New Moon and lunar eclipses at ever Full Moon. The Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun but it is also 400 times closer to us. Thus the Sun and the Moon appear to be the same size in our sky.

During times that the Moon does cut across the face of the Sun, the shadow of the Moon crosses the Earth, and those in the path will experience this grand event. There will be an eclipse this coming February 26 but you have to be in far southern South America or South Central Africa to see it. Which bring us to August 21.

How to View the Eclipse
If you want to see the eclipse, you must take precautions, as the Sun exhibits a blinding light. If you stay in Champaign County, 93 percent of the Sun will be covered by the Moon. While this is significant, 7 percent of the Sun will still blind you. There are several safe ways to observe the eclipse. The easiest is to locate some mylar eclipse glasses. The Staerkel Planetarium has these glasses for sale at $1 per pair. You are also safe if you have a #14 welder’s glass.

If you own a telescope, you can point the telescope at the Sun by using the telescope’s shadow. When the telescope is roughly aligned with the Sun, the shadow of the tube will look like a circle on the ground. Do NOT look through the telescope, but put a white index card roughly 6-8 inches behind the eyepiece and project an image of the Sun. Be wary of solar filters that thread into the telescope’s eyepiece! Here you are filtering the Sun at the point where the Sun’s brilliance is being focused. If the filter cracks, your eyesight is at severe risk. Appropriate solar filters attenuate the Sun’s glare before it enters the telescope.

There is also the age-old method of a pinhole camera. Hold two pieces of cardboard roughly 2-3 feet apart and put a pinhole in the sheet nearest the Sun. You should see an image of the Sun on the second sheet. Better yet, use a peg board!

Seeing the Total Eclipse: An Observing Opportunity
If you want to see the total eclipse and not a partial, you will have to head south. But where do you go? The maximum duration of this eclipse occurs near Carbondale. Good luck finding lodging in Carbondale! Any that might be available will be sold at an, shall we say, “inflated” rate. The University of Illinois Astronomy Department will set up shop in Goreville, south of Marion, Illinois.

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium is partnering with the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society and Twin City Amateur Astronomers (from Bloomington-Normal) to offer a weekend of observing from Camp Ondessonk (https://ondessonk.com), a Catholic youth camp located southeast of Marion and just south of Ozark, Illinois. The camp can provide rustic lodging and all meals for $115 per person. CUAS and TCAA will provide educational workshops on Sunday, the day before the eclipse, plus a dark-sky star party on Sunday night (weather permitting). Meals will be served in the camp dining hall. Tent camping is also allowed. If you would like to join us on our eclipse trek, you need to register by August 1. Point your web browser to https://ondessonk.com/event/2017-great-american-eclipse-event/ for more information. The planetarium will not be accepting registrations and there will be no event at the planetarium on the day of the eclipse.

Let’s hope for clear weather! IF we miss this event, the next “Great American Eclipse” will be on April 8, 2024!

The planetarium will be including information about the eclipse during our Friday night “Prairie Skies” star show. For more information on this event and how to observe it, go to the Staerkel Planetarium’s website and click on the image of the solar eclipse.

[Dave Leake is director of the William M. Staerkel Planetarium.]

Image from NASA.gov, with credit: Steve Albers, Boulder, CO; Dennis DiCicco, Sky and Telescope; Gary Emerson, E. E. Barnard Observatory

Seville Spain Street Performers

Enjoy some Seville, Spain, street music today, compliments of Scott Barnes, one of our study abroad students in Spain. Sign up for study abroad and you can experience these wonderful performances in person!

Contact Jody Littleton at jlittleton@parkland.edu or 217/351-2532 today.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/oM4m0c8p1GI

Know Where to Go for Flamenco in Seville, Spain!

This blog is from Christopher Scott Barnes.  He is studying this semester in Seville, Spain.  We offer study abroad here and many other places!  If you are interested in Study Abroad, contact jlittleton@parkland.edu.

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When gypsies arrived in Spain in the 15th century, they brought with them a style of song and dance that later developed into what is considered today as contemporary flamenco. flamenco-sign

The tradition became popular in Spain throughout the 20th century, as the “gitanos” began performing for tourists here in Seville and other cities.

In multiple locations, visitors can still see the famous “tabloas,” in which performers display a spectrum of intense emotion through song and dance. One of the best spots in the city for flamenco is at the Museo del Baile Flamenco, which is where I was lucky enough to enjoy a proper show for the first time.flamenco-4

Accompanied by ICS professor Judy Cotter, a small group of students and I sat front row for an intimate performance. Afterwards, I was able to meet the star of the show, Victor Bravo, who is also the dance director of the museum. When I asked him if he could provide me with a quote about the show that evening, he replied by telling me that flamenco cannot be summed up in a few words or a couple of sentences.flamenco2

The art has a rich history and has played a significant role in Spanish society for many years. The Jewish and Arabian influence that makes up the culture of southern Spain can easily be felt in the singing, which is accompanied by Spanish guitar. The flow of it all is directed by the movement of the dancers who keep time by stomping their feet, clapping their hands and rattling castanets. The rhythm of the show varies as each performer takes their turn in the spotlight.  The volume goes from a hush to a crescendo as the performers show individual style as well as collective coordination.

It all adds up to an authentic, theater-like event and an evening that is worth the time and money. I highly recommend that future students experience flamenco while they are in Seville. I also recommend having dinner at Bar Estrella just around the corner from the museum. Que rico!

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Morocco: Gateway to Another World

Scott Barnes, a Parkland student, is living in Seville, Spain for a semester study abroad. As part of his study abroad experience he visited Morocco. I am looking forward to what he has to say!

Remember YOU can study abroad too.  We have lots of different experiences. Check out our study abroad options at http://www.parkland.edu/international/studyabroad

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When I first arrived in Europe, I knew very little about the history of the various countries in it and had very little knowledge about the many cultures that exist here. Other than the secondhand information I received via the media throughout the years, I didn’t have much of an idea about libarnes-blog-2016fe abroad.

The differences are what I noticed first and foremost, and those differences are what most students struggle with, initially. Changing mealtimes and sleep habits as well adjusting to the foreign way in which people greet each other and conduct themselves requires some time to understand and get comfortable with.

Despite the differences, there is a lot that Americans and Europeans have in common. Those similarities were brought to light after I took a trip to Morocco.

I hadn’t realized how much the way in which I live echoes the European way of life until I spent some time in the Rif Mountains. The social norms that westerners share exist to a lesser degree in northern Africa. For example, it is uncommon to see men and women together in a public setting and much of the daily routine is centered around practicing religion.

barnes-blog-3Although my visit to Morocco was very short, it had a significant impact on me. Rather than providing a detailed, firsthand account of the various activities that the International College of Seville planned out for our trip, I prefer to share with you what I found to be truly rewarding about the experience. It is wonderful to have pictures of riding camels and eating in authentic Moroccan restaurants, but what is more valuable is the perspective that is gained from visiting different countries and meeting new people. The stimulation that comes from trying to understand a different way of life or to see the perspective of things through another cultural lens has been life-changing for me.

The name of the game in the touristic areas of Morocco is buy and sell, and merchants love to engage in the act of negotiation. There are no set prices and the bargain to be had is largely determined by the ability of the buyer to be resolute. The confidence of knowing a low price has been paid may be confirmed by the statement, “you haggle like a Berber!” The country is a great place to purchase gifts for friends and family back home and that seems to be the objective for most of the tourists who visit. The products offered vary from handmade gifts and food to just about anything they think people might want to buy.barnes-blog-5

To my surprise, many Moroccan people know English and speak it very well. It is necessary when dealing with foreigners, and their linguistic capability is impressive. Many of them learn English at a very young age and likely have been speaking more than one language since they were children. In fact, it is normal for Moroccan people to speak three or four different languages; English, French and their own dialect of Arabic are the most common. I found that after the exchange of money was complete, the sellers were more open to conversation. A lot about their culture was conveyed in those brief interactions, and it was easy to feel their affection and see the kindness in their eyes.

barnes-blog-4Superficially, consumerism is obviously a part of their way of life, and tourism certainly supports the economy, but there is much more to the culture and history of Arabian people. There are stories behind the faces in the shops of the medina, or “Old Town,” district of Tetouan, or within the painted blue walls of Chefchaouen. There is a way of greeting people, of falling in love, of raising children, and of experiencing life that is unique to the culture.

I have found that tasting the different flavors, seeing the sights, hearing the sounds, and smelling the scents of various cultures is enlightening. The best way to learn about other countries is to visit them. Sharing face to face conversations is rewarding, even if the interaction is minimal.

barnes-blog-2Moving beyond being a tourist and finding commonality with people of another race is what is truly beneficial about traveling. Also, to tell the story of the person who sold you the gift makes the act of giving it more enjoyable. I may have left with a pair of high quality, handmade Moroccan leather sandals, but the real present is my new found view of the world and my life.

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of studying abroad is the easy access to other worlds and the subsequent comprehensive understanding of culture that results from those adventures.