Winter Wonderland

Texas A&M Texarkana’s Office of Student Life, Campus Activity Board, and various campus organizations held their annual Eagle Wonderland event at the University Center’s Eagle Hall this past Saturday, December 2nd, 2017.

The event was free and open to the public from 12-3 PM, and attendance exceeded 300. Eagle Hall was filled with Christmas decorations, music, and cheer as kids and families enjoyed all the activities available for children of all ages. Pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus were available as well as a ‘Letters to the North Pole’ station where anyone could write to Santa and later receive a letter back.

Three of the main attractions included a ‘Stuff-a-Critter’ stations, face painting, and balloon animals (made on request). In exchange for a ticket handed out at the door, children were able to receive a panda, polar bear, penguin, or  regular teddy bear to stuff with stuffing and dress in a custom ‘Eagle Wonderland 2017’ shirt.

Other stations included making ‘Reindeer Food,’ crafting jingle-bell necklaces, a hot cocoa station, and ornament-making. The Texarkana Animal League also attended with multiple dogs up for adoption and available for petting.

Volunteers from various campus organizations wore reindeer antlers and elf hats, playing their role as ‘Santa’s Helpers’.

With this year’s success of the event, ‘Eagle Wonderland’ is expected to continue its way into Eagle Hall for years to come.

“Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence”

On Nov. 9, 2017, NASA space engineer B. Gentry Lee visited our campus. A luncheon was served of McAlister’s tea, sandwiches, and soup. Mr. Lee ate and spoke with students. Towards the end of the luncheon, he spoke briefly and answered questions.

Later that night during his PLACE lecture, Mr. Lee spoke about the development of the universe and extinctions throughout history. He also mentioned Carl Sagan (which ironically would have been his birthday that day), calling him one of the great science writers of the 20th century.

The next topic he discussed was life on other planets and how some people believe they were abducted by aliens. He noted how there is not one piece of evidence that aliens visit us regularly. He stated “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” which is what he believes we should be taught. “Anytime someone makes an outrageous claim, you should ask them, “What is your evidence?” Ironically, he was invited to an alien abduction convention and he was unsurprisingly met with boos. After hearing stories of people who had been abducted, he responded by asking why that, of all the people who have been abducted over and over, none of them brought back a single piece of evidence.

Despite his disbelief in aliens visiting Earth, he does believe that there is a possibility there is life on another planet. He visited our school because he liked our theme this year and encourages people to question what they know.

Christmas lights and delights

People all over the world show their Christmas spirit with festive light displays.  Thomas Edison started the tradition of Christmas light displays in 1880. Edison was so proud of his light bulb invention, he strung them together and hung them proudly from his Menlo Park laboratory compound.

Photos courtesy of edisonawards.com

Christmas in the South may not always be snowy and white, but Southerners are just as proud to celebrate the season with lights and all things magical.  See the list below for information on displays and festivities, in and around the area, to enjoy this holiday season.

Photo of Federal Post Office, Downtown Texarkana. Courtesy of Arkansas.com

Texarkana, Texas – The owners of the home at 4904 Lesley Lane, bring joy to the community with their animated light display.  The display is set to music which can be played from the comfort of your vehicle.

Texarkana, Texas – The residents of the culdesac on Spotswood in Pleasant Grove, located beside Williams Memorial Methodist Church, spell out “We Wish You A Very Merry Christmas,” in lit signs.  In fact, the tradition is so important to the residents, they even leave behind their signs, if they sell their home, so that the tradition may continue.

Texarkana, Texas – First Assembly of God Church, located at 3401 W. 7th Street will host their annual drive-thru, live Nativity Scene.  There will be over 100 people in costume, bringing the story of Jesus’ birth to life!  When you enter the parking lot, you will be able to tune in to a specialized radio broadcast and be greeted with hot chocolate and candy canes.  There will be live animals; sheep, cows, mules, goats, camels, and more.  This event is open to the public and FREE for everyone.  The event will take place on Friday, December 8, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. And again on Saturday, December 9, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.  See video link below to see a recap of the 2014 Live Nativity.  Video provided by Matt Cornelius, YouTube.com.

– Ashdown, Arkansas – The K.C.S. Railroad’s Holiday Express will make its stop in Ashdown, on December 6, beginning at 4:00 p.m.  The train will be stopped at Main St. and Hwy 71.  The Holiday Express is a six-car train, carrying Santa and his Elves.  The train has a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, a smiling tank car named Rudy, reindeer and a miniature village, a gingerbread boxcar, the elves’ workshop, a reindeer stable, and a little red caboose.

Photo courtesy of TexarkanaFYI

Shreveport/Bossier Lousiana Boardwalk – A blizzard is forecast to occur every night at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., as well as 12:30 p.m. on weekends.  While at the Boardwalk, please be sure to visit Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop.  In Santa’s Wonderland, kids get free digital pics with Santa and can make the Bass Pro craft of the week for free.  This place is magical for children old and young.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Boardwalk

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Boardwalk

Tyler, Texas – Santa Land is a 24-acre drive-thru Christmas Park with over two million lights, Christmas music, a 250-foot long tunnel of lights with 12-foot Toy Soldiers, themed areas, a gift shop, and snack bar.    Santa Land is located at 11455 I-20 West Tyler, Texas.  Information and pricing listed below.

Photo courtesy of SantaLand Facebook Page

Video courtesy of YouTube.com

Marshall, Texas – Enjoy the Wonderland of Lights Festival in downtown Marshall, Texas this season.  The festival includes an outdoor ice skating rink, rides on the Holly Trolly, Wonderland Express and the vintage 1948 Herschel carousel. Visit the brand new Santa’s Village for cookies, train building, and pictures. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride on one of three carriages through Historic Downtown Marshall, then listen to live music at Telegraph Park downtown performed by local musicians, area churches and school choirs. Visit https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/wonderlandoflights/items/?full-items=yes for prices on the various attractions.  And don’t forget to pay a visit to Central Perk Coffee House and warm up with a cup of gourmet coffee or hot chocolate.

Photo courtesy of Marshalltexas.net

Photo courtesy of Marshalltexas.net

The Harrison County Courthouse in downtown Marshall on Wednesday, December 21, 2011. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

The Louisiana/Texas Holiday Trail of Lights – The Holiday Trail of Lights includes multiple cities in both Louisiana and Texas.  You can visit one leg of the trail or all of them.  All cities on the trail are connected by I-20 and I-49.  The two legs of the trail, nearest to Texarkana, are Jefferson, Texas and Shreveport/Bossier, Louisiana.  Check out the video below for more details on the Holiday Trail of Lights.

Paying a visit to any of the Christmas displays listed above is sure to brighten your Christmas.  Be sure to check Facebook Events for more on local holiday events.  Have a safe and Merry Christmas from the staff at Eagle Eye Media.

Texarkana Rocks

Have you seen painted rocks hidden around town? This growing trend started just to brighten people’s day.  I have stumbled across a few rocks myself, and I do enjoy seeing them. However, I leave the rocks where I find them for the stones to brighten up someone else’s day.  It is a light-hearted and harmless trend that is ever-growing. In fact, Texarkana even has a Facebook group called “Texarkana Rocks- Texas Official Group” where they gather to show off their rocks as well as discuss possible hiding places and reasons behind. The Facebook group although closed to the public is still is to join. By joining the group, I gained access to the hot hiding spots for painted rocks located in Spring Lake Park and Three Chicks.

   If you treat the painted rocks as a game, then the game is straightforward. First, you find a quilted rock that has passed through 20 different hands with everyone adding their personal touch, and then you paint it. Next thing you do is hide the rock someone for someone else to find. The person who finds it can either keep it, rehide it, or leave it be.  Now Texarkana Rocks Facebook group encourages people who paint the rocks to put the web link on the back of the rocks so others can find the group.  This is their way of trying to get strangers unaware of the trend to seek out the group and post pictures of the rocks they find. Mainly because that is part of their game and people get encouraged to paint and hide more rocks when they see their rocks being found. This trend across the ArkLaTex is allowing people to spread their creativity and encourages them to be part of a community. Some people even use the rocks as a way to send a message whether that message is a cause or just to uplift spirits. There are funny rocks, pretty rocks, and even location rocks.

This is one of the Quilt Rocks that is circulating around Texarkana. Photo Taken by Tonya Walker

   One trend that encourages everyone to play the game are the quilted rocks. Now the quilted rocks start out rather dull as they are painted a solid color with horizontal and vertical lines drawn on it. The person to paint the rock essentially only paints one square before hiding the wrong. The next person comes along finds the rock, paints an additional square and then hides it. The same goes for everyone that follows, so by the time all the squares are colored. The idea of painted rocks is brilliant because it invites everyone to join in on the fun to spread smiles across the ArkLaTex. It has become a treasure hunt where people are taking their kids to popular painted rock destination so they can even enjoy the fun. People enjoy finding the rocks just as much as the creators enjoy painting and hiding them. Both parties feel good by the end of the interactions.  

   Painted rocks are meant to brighten people’s day. They are harmless, lighthearted and meant to be fun. I invite everyone who reads this to join the Texarkana Rocks- Texas Official Group on Facebook.

Some of the rocks that can be found around town. Photo taken by Jen Phillips

Red River Innovation Lab for the Humanities

In college, one of the most rewarding accomplishments as a student is acquiring the ability to conduct and exhibit our own works. Doing so means that we are in some way progressing intellectually and broadening both our skill sets and minds by practicing what we learn.  Admittedly, though, it’s hard to do this alone. Guidance, even the slightest thereof, can help individuals in dramatic ways. For this reason, Texas A&M – Texarkana is proud to present a new way for students, faculty, and staff members to collaborate, innovate, and communicate ideas and research agenda’s that will contribute to a better understanding of the humanities The Red River Innovation Lab for the Humanities!

The innovation lab intends on taking a student lead approach to education and scholarship by utilizing not only services and teachings of value to students, but also allowing them to produce their own research and experiments. The lab wants to offer Texas A&M – Texarkana school members a place of encouragement in which they can gather resources cooperatively and produce research-based developments that aid in the progression of their own understandings of the humanities. From the beginning, we want to emphasize student involvement and construct the lab in a way that benefits the wants and needs of student academics.

The Red River Innovation Lab, though not officially open, will be located in room 120 in the STEM building. We’ve just begun receiving our equipment to get up and running! Prior to our grand opening, Director Drew Morton will be hosting our first meeting on November 28th, from 12:15 to 1 pm, in the lab. The meeting is of a participatory nature meant as an opportunity for you to disclose what sort of projects and materials you’re interested in the innovation lab to offer. Dr. Morton will also provide further insight regarding what we will be able to provide for you! It’s an opportunity for voices to be heard. Finally, you get to tell everyone what you want to learn and gain experience in within the field of humanities. Some examples of possible discussion topics may be podcasts, broadcasting, PLACE work, and whatever else you bring to the table. A link to the Innovation Lab’s Facebook page is included below where you can let us know if you are interested in attending. If you plan on joining us, please RSVP by November 26! There will be a light lunch and refreshments offered, so feel free to come by and check out your school’s new research facilities! We hope to see you there.

https://www.facebook.com/RRILH/

‘Remediation’ is Everywhere

November 16th, 2017 – Squeezed between two Mass Communication courses Dr. Morton was teaching, he found the time to hold a PLACE Lecture in UC 210 – the subject, Bolter & Grusin’s Remediation, a subject dear to his heart (or as close as he can get with a subject so often covered in his courses) and one that I, a Mass Communication Major myself, find fun food for thought when it counts.

While the lecture got described as a 40 minute crash course, the topic of Remediation thankfully is one that’s simple to understand but difficult to master. Remediation, in the case of Bolter & Grusin meaning representing one medium in another, is something we don’t spot enough in everyday life for how prevalent the concept is – it’s essentially the ‘borrowing’ of ideas from one medium (Film, TV, Video Games) to enhance or otherwise detail another – consider Film and TV in the 90’s, two very distinct mediums that aren’t so different in modern terms.

The paradox of Remediation, however, is that often media need to borrow from each other to feel real – they must be less like themselves to be themselves. Think long enough about your favorite property and you might find that you can make a stronger argument for it being a medium other than one it actually is.

Dr. Morton was by the day’s end more than a bit exhausted but he did want to comment that if the lecture (or what’s being described by me after the fact) was of interest to anyone they should consider stopping by the Red River Innovation Lab in the Science and Technology Building on campus, Room 120. As of now, they’re shooting for a full launch of the lab before the beginning of Spring but there’ll be events to get a game plan going in the coming weeks.

‘Ethics in Science’

November 14th, 2017 – After an hour of frank discussion, the low lighting in UC 217 did well to capture the mood of the audience as Dr. Walter Casey’s PowerPoint ended on a slide with the phrase ‘I AM BECOME DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS’. They, myself included, had just reached the end of an open lecture on Ethics in Science as part of the Science and Technology theme of this year’s PLACE lectures/events. Where the ethics of the subject lay, none could say.

The two main elements of the lecture – Ethics and Science – got covered in sequence. Ethics, the enforcement of a moral standard or system, are something we know a lot about, even if we don’t think of them as such. You can think of them – broadly – as actions taken because they serve a greater purpose – they are what’s ‘right’. This isn’t to say that this line of logic is wrong – only that Ethics and the morals they stand for are muddy at times. Is a bribe, for example, always unethical to accept?

It’s even muddier in the realm of Science. More specifically, Engineering. Consider whether or not a building code is enforced, or safety rules are met at a chemical plant. Do you think it’s unethical not to keep things up to code? There are those that don’t – catastrophe after catastrophe can me attributed to a lack of ethical standard. Just look into the Bhopal Disaster, for example.

Dr. Casey argues we’re guilty of this in our own lives, too, even if we’re not given great and obvious responsibilities like the upkeep of a chemical plant. We worship technology as a people and give it far more power than we realize. Ethics can quickly turn into a matter of security and we are not safe. As Dr. Casey says, “Read your End User License Agreement.”