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TRACK & FIELD: Aztecs break records and nationally qualify

TRACK & FIELD: Aztecs break records and nationally qualify


As Pima Community College presses on, Aztecs made five more national qualifying marks between the men’s and women’s teams at the Aztec Indoor Invitational.

PCC hosted the tournament at West Campus.

Records were also broken during the Arizona Indoor Invitational, hosted by Glendale Community College.


Feb. 3-4: Aztec Indoor Invitational


At the second meet of the season, sophomore Hannah Bartz took first place and qualified for nationals when she broke a PCC record in the 60-meter dash with her 7.8 second time.

Bartz wasn’t done yet.

She set another qualifying time and broke a PCC record again with her time of 25.09 seconds in the 200-meter dash.

“It was a real surprise because I haven’t gotten a lot of block work,” Bartz said. “I’m really more of a long-jumper.”



Men’s competition had freshmen Victor Bustamante and Collin Dylia, and sophomores Alex Palacios, and David Fernandez making up the distance medley team.

The team set a national qualifying mark with a time of 10 minutes, 36.79 seconds.

Dylia set a national qualifier in the 1,000-meter race with his time of 2 minutes, 40.11 seconds.

Sophomore Treyshon Malone qualified in long jump and placed first at 23 feet, 2.5 inches.

Freshman Cam Duffy placed first with his 23 feet, 3.5 inches jump mark.

Sophomore Sam Shoultz earned first place in the high jump at 6 feet, 10.75 inches. Shoultz improved last meet’s mark by 2 inches.


Feb. 11: Arizona Indoor



PCC’s 60-meter dash record was broken at Glendale Community College’s Arizona Indoor Invitational on Feb. 11.

Photo courtesy of Ben Carbajal Sophomore Amber McCroskey sets a PCC record for the 60-meter dash.

Sophomore Amber McCroskey’s time was 7.79 seconds and earned a national qualifier.

McCroskey’s time beat Bartz’s previous record of 7.8 seconds, by 0.01 seconds.

Freshman Tyra Yanez set her personal record in the 60-meter race with a time of 7.91 seconds, missing the national qualifying time of 7.85 seconds by 0.06 seconds.



In the men’s competition, sophomores Alen Leyva and Alex Palacios, and freshmen Isaiah Martin and Emmanuel Doe’s 4×400 relay team set a season record and earned a national qualifier with a time of 3 minutes, 19.88 seconds.

Taking first in the 60-meter hurdles, freshman Cornelius Payne Jr. finished with a time of 8.54 seconds, missing the national qualifying mark by 0.11 seconds.


Feb.17: NAU Tune-up, Flagstaff, begins at noon

PCC student carves path to possibilities

PCC student carves path to possibilities


PCC student Luis Ateca values the people and opportunities he has found in Tucson. Photo: Brittany Mattox/Aztec Press

The smell of roasted coffee beans infuses the air of a local Starbucks, on a gorgeous Tucson morning. Behind an HP laptop, sits one Pima Community College student who’s unlike the rest.

Luis Ateca, 28, may seem like an ordinary student, but his journey to PCC has been different from most of his classmates. At the age of 8, Ateca left his homeland of Ciudad Juárez to move to the United States.

“As a kid, I wasn’t an idiot,” he says. “I knew there was a big difference between the kids in the U.S. and me.”

After spending much of his childhood in Juárez, comparing his home to the United States seemed almost unfair.

“They had beautiful homes, better schools, the city looked way cleaner,” he says. “Basically their living situation was far more ideal than mine.”

He moved to El Paso, Texas, in 1996 and escaped the most violent era Juarez had ever seen. From 2008 to 2012, his hometown was overthrown by violent cartels, with almost 4,000 reported homicides taking place in 2010 alone.

Later, he and his family moved to Tucson where he spent the remainder of his youth. While his childhood may seem extreme in comparison to students born in the U.S., he insists that it was very similar.

“Before all the violence started, we would just do what kids do,” he says. “We played outside, we played Super Nintendo, we watched movies.”

Once he became a citizen of the U.S., he says he was able to live the life he’d always wanted. Now he spends his days doing schoolwork to obtain his degree in business administration.

Amy Cramer, who teaches microeconomics at West Campus, is one of his favorite instructors.

“She’s fantastic,” he says. “She’s always there to help the students whenever someone has a question about the material. She’s up there as far as top-notch teachers go at Pima.”

Though he has been at Pima since graduating from high school in 2006, he believes he’ll finish his studies soon. “It’s taking me forever,” he says.

Once he obtains his associate degree, he intends to transfer to the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.

After graduating, he hopes to get a job working for a large company like Walt Disney or World Wrestling Entertainment. “I’m a big wrestling fan,” he says.

When he isn’t watching WWE on television or attending local wrestling events, he takes in all Tucson has to offer.

“I’m a foodie,” he says. “So I like to go out and try different restaurants and different cuisines here in Tucson.”

One of his favorite entertainment venues in Tucson is the Loft Cinema.

“I’m a huge cinephile,” he says. “I love watching movies.”

He dubs “Pulp Fiction” as his favorite movie of all time. “That’s the one movie that made me realize that I’ve been watching movies the wrong way,” he says.

Having viewed his fair share of flicks, he decided to take on an acting gig in a few of his friend’s films. His first role was in “The Lost Dog,” whose title discloses the majority of its plot. His most recent project, “Gordon Moss,” is expected to be finished soon.

“They are short films for the most part,” he says. “In one of them, I am the main protagonist. The other one, I was just a supporting character.”

The films have helped him to secure his own Internet Movie Database page, but he doesn’t plan on acting ever again. “I realized I’m an awful actor,” he says.

In the future, he hopes to take on more directing responsibilities in place of acting. “I see myself being behind the camera,” he says.

While he doesn’t consider himself an artistic type, he has attempted several creative ventures throughout his lifetime.

“I used to write songs back in my early years,” he says. “I haven’t done that as much as I used to.”

His now disbanded rap group, Spicy Deluxe, did earn him a reputation in high school. But now he focuses on different aspects of his creative side. “I’m pretty good at coming up with characters and movie concepts,” he says. He hopes one day to profit from his ideas.

Ateca prides himself on cultivating meaningful friendships, but says growing older has put many of his bonds into perspective.

“As the years pass, you start to see some people aren’t going to stick around,” he says. “But your true friends will be there for you through the years.”

Not wanting to lose touch with his roots, Ateca keeps in touch with many of his childhood friends. He also visits family in Juarez a few times each year, now that the city is being revived.

Priding himself on his generosity, he offers advice to those seeking lasting friendships. “Never expect anything in return,” he says. “Give, but don’t expect to receive.”

Ateca’s friends say they always have a reason to smile when he is around. His closest friend, Gianni Febbraro, says there’s never a dull moment when his pal is at his side.

“You’ll never find a classier gent than Luis Ateca,” Febbraro says.

Ateca says he is exited to meet new people throughout the rest of his academic journey, but is more than grateful for the friends in his life.

“I am good with what I have, and those people are the ones that I should care about right now,” he says. “Not try to impress the rest of the crowd.”

TRACK & FIELD: Aztecs break records, set four qualifiers

TRACK & FIELD: Aztecs break records, set four qualifiers


Jan. 27-28: Paradise Valley Indoor Invitational

With their first meet out of the way, Pima Community College’s track and field returned from the Paradise Valley Indoor Invitational with two new records and six nations qualifying marks.


The women’s competition resulted in two new Pima records when freshman Rhiannon Bearup took third place in the 60-meter hurdles preliminary race with a 9.05 second time. Bearup’s time also set her qualifier.

Bearup, along with freshman Tyra Yanez and sophomores Melissa Cotsoas and Amber McCroskey, took third with another record of 4 minutes and 1.5 seconds in the 4×400 relay.

On breaking two records in her first meet of the season, Bearup said, “It was cool. It was a good feeling. [It] made me excited for the rest of the season.”

Bearup ran track all four years of high school and ran hurdles for one year.

This is her second year hurdling.

Sophomore Hannah Bartz took second in long jump, setting another national qualifier, with a mark of 18 feet and 8.5 inches.

Bartz also finished first in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7:88.


From the men’s team, sophomore Sam Shoultz took first in high jump, setting another national qualifier with a mark of 6 feet and 8.75 inches.

In the triple jump, freshman Cam Duffy took first place with a mark of 44 feet and 7.5 inches.

Duffy also competed in the long jump and took third place. He qualified with a mark of 23 feet and 1.25 inches.

Freshman Tony Chavez qualified in pole vault with a vault of 14 feet and 9 inches. earning fourth place.

Sophomore David Fernandez took first place in the 3,000-meter race with a time of 9 minutes and 14.53 seconds.

PCC will host the Aztec Indoor Invitational on Friday, Feb. 3 and Sat. Feb. 4 at PCC’s West Campus.

Events will begin at 10 a.m. on both days.


Feb. 3-4: Aztec Indoor Invitational, West Campus, begins 1 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday

Feb. 11: GCC/ACC Invitational, Glendale, 10 a.m.

Minimalists gives minimalism a bad name

Minimalists gives minimalism a bad name


Aztec Press illustration by Katelyn Roberts

With New Year’s resolutions devised, put into place and maybe even already abandoned, January and February produce all kinds of hip lifestyle buzzwords.

As a vegan, I already chant the antioxidant-rich language of organic superfoods and probiotics. Recently, however, the “minimalism” trend caught my attention.

Minimalists live efficient lives, and sometimes strive for self-sustainability. Utilitarian forms include tiny homes, living out of a backpack and carefully choosing what to consume.


I didn’t grow up as a minimalist. My parents raised me and my two siblings in a five-bedroom suburban home on a perfect cul-de-sac.

My toys included a storage tub filled with Barbies, Bratz and Diva Starz. I had princess pink curtains and a stained glass rose window, and I definitely knew how to trash a room during one of my wild play sessions.

My mom hosted huge parties, always bought decorations from Mexico for the back patio and saved every single craft project, homework assignment and school photo.

My dad preferred quality over quantity with his trips to the dollar store but if we didn’t clean our rooms, he threw everything away.

After the divorce, my mom’s new small home was cluttered and full of kids’ memories. My dad’s apartment was sparse and clean, and we ate the same thing every night.

This is important, I promise.


Minimalism has weaved in and out of my life, but always seemed like an unachievable, laughable, only-at-Ikea concept.

Still, the lifestyle appealed to me because I dislike mindless consumerism, product fetishism and society’s need to constantly buy new things.

Saving money and the world are just two perks.

I started by donating a lawn-and-leaf bag of clothes, shoes and bags, and a box of utensils and dishes, to my nearest Goodwill.

I resolved to make all of my own clothes in 2017.


For more inspiration, I watched a documentary on Netflix that has received lots of hype.

“Minimalism” follows two reformed rich men who travel across the U.S. preaching their minimal lifestyles.

The film makes Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus look like assholes. One longboards and the other reads his struggles as a wealthy man like slam poetry. There are no strict rules for minimalism and everyone’s interpretation is different, but I disliked the message of these two men who are triggering changes in so many people.

To me, minimalism just makes sense. I’ve had things and clothes and knick-knacks, and now I’m sick of the clutter.

But a lot of people haven’t had enough things to be sick of. Unlike these two six-figure-earning gents, most people can’t afford one nice $300 jacket instead of the five $20 jackets they recommend.


The minimalists addressed this on their website, after receiving some heat for preaching an idea that seems difficult to attain. Great, I thought. They aren’t so bad after all.

I was wrong.

The minimalists say poor people can benefit even more from minimalism.

“If we have less money, then we must be more intentional with how we spend it,” they write.

This mindset bothers me.

It’s the same mindset that doesn’t tip servers, the same mindset that tells those living below the poverty line not to enjoy a simple comfort like a beer or a snack.

Yes, it saves money to skip a latte or an IPA, but for many, that’s the only affordable pleasure.

I agree the world benefits when people feel released from pressure to own a car, home, television and the latest iPhone and video game consoles.

However, you can’t change the world by bragging in a blog about your lifestyle choices.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when followers tout the benefits of minimalism from a privileged perspective.


Self-righteous minimalists give minimalism a bad name. My position is to take what you can from it.

I’ll continue living with fewer possessions and riding my bike to work, but I don’t plan on preaching my lifestyle to those less fortunate.

As I take my first steps into a more minimal life, I know I got my sentimentality and my need to save childhood memorabilia from my mom. Therefore, I allow myself unlimited picture frames for photographs and a drawer that stores (23 years worth of) birthday cards.

Minimalism can be for everyone, and it would lead to a healthier society. Let’s just be reasonable in our efforts.

Katelyn Roberts is trying to live a sustainable and efficient life in her 400-square-foot home in Barrio Viejo. Most of her belongings are for sale at Goodwill and Speedway Outlet.


College class a good fit for 11-year-old

College class a good fit for 11-year-old

Brooklynn Bruno, 11, attends a Monday-Wednesday Japanese class at Downtown Campus. (Katelyn Roberts/Aztec Press)


Most 11-year-olds are just starting middle school. A few are thinking about college, and even fewer are actually in college. Brooklynn Bluto is one of those select few.

Bluto is currently enrolled in Japanese 101 at Pima Community College Downtown Campus. The sixth grader also attends Sahuarita Middle School.

“I chose Japanese because when I am older I plan to go to college at Tokyo University,” Bluto said.

She wanted to take a college course because other options weren’t viable.

“Online classes were not very effective, and my school only offers Spanish classes,” she said. “Originally, I spent a lot of my own money on stuff that did not even work.”

One failed online effort was attempting to learn a Japanese writing system called Hiragana. “It took forever, because the websites were super misleading,” Bluto said.

Chris Sandy, Bluto’s stepfather, originally had doubts about Bluto attending college.

“Concerns I had with Brooklynn taking a college course were mostly related to ensuring she did not get overwhelmed or tired of learning,” he said.

Bluto formalized her request.

“When Brooklynn came to my wife and I saying she wanted to take Japanese, she did it via email,” Sandy said. “The proposal included a permission slip, course information, cost and her plea.”

Initially the parents said no because they were concerned Bluto would have too much work.

After reading the proposal, they changed their minds. They also saw she truly wanted to learn Japanese.

“We knew Brooklynn was ready because of her dedication to teach herself Japanese in her free time and her dedication to her violin,” Sandy said.

“We were confident that it was our responsibility to encourage her learning and monitor her stress rather than tell her no,” he added.

In addition, Bluto’s parents realized she wasn’t living up to her full potential with middle school classes. “Brooklynn is typically very bored in public school at Sahuarita Middle,” Sandy said.

Sandy drives Bluto to Downtown Campus on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and waits outside the classroom until she is done.

Before she enrolled, Bluto worried her age might create a barrier between her and other students in the class. But after experiencing college first-hand, Bluto said she had no problem fitting in.

“I do not think age holds me back in any way,” she said. “Sometimes I do not understand some words, but context makes it pretty easy.”

Instructor Bridget Wilde also had initial doubts.

“I was very worried, both for her ability to keep up and for my ability to teach her without affecting the class experience for my older students,” she said. “Japanese is extremely difficult to learn as a second language.”

Bluto was always confident in her ability.

“I thought I could comprehend the level of a college course because of how I was taught by my dad,” she said. “He spoke to me like an adult, teaching me a wide vocabulary and how to use context to understand.”

Bluto’s parents saw they had nothing to worry about as long as she kept up her love for learning.

Wilde also realized Bluto is not your average 11-year-old.

“Of course I cannot discuss her grade but I have found her very bright and thoughtful, and willing to ask questions,” Wilde said. “I am fortunate as a rule that my class is always full of students who genuinely wish to learn, and I think Ms. Bluto embodies that spirit wonderfully.”

After learning Japanese, Bluto plans to take more classes through PCC.

“I am probably going to take a course in math, and then a class in computer coding,” she said.

She also has plans for her academic future.

“If everything goes well, I am going to take high school credit classes during middle school to graduate early,” she said.

She’s considering a major in computer science when she attends Tokyo University.

When Bluto isn’t at school, she fills her free time with many different activities.

“We have been enrolling her in anything she asks, like violin lessons or the Tucson Junior Symphony,” Sandy said.

Bluto has taken such a liking to violin that “she has a rash on her neck because she loves playing it so much,” he said.

She also enjoys “beating the other students at chess,” Bluto said.

Bluto’s parents are enjoying her success.

“She’s been carrying on like a well-conditioned mental athlete” Sandy said.


Police chief calls previous firing ‘a test of character’

Police chief calls previous firing ‘a test of character’


Newly hired Pima Community College Police Chief Christopher Albers visits West Campus. (Katelyn Roberts/Aztec Press)

 Pima Community College Chief of Police Christopher Albers was fired while serving as chief of police at Georgia Perimeter College, and later filed a whistleblower lawsuit.

“I was fired for upholding the law,” he said.

His current supervisor, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Bill Ward, confirmed PCC was aware of the incident before deciding to extend a job offer to Albers last summer.

Albers said the Georgia situation began in October 2008 when a student reported a stolen laptop. He described the following chain of events:

Campus police retrieved a video showing a female student taking the laptop from a classroom. The female student reportedly sold the laptop to another student for $400.

The victim agreed not to press charges if the female student made restitution.

After agreeing to pay restitution, the female student said it was the victim’s fault he lost his computer and she reneged on the agreement. The victim pressed charges and the female student was arrested.

The arrestee’s mother complained to the director of human resources and threatened to use an Atlanta radio station to bring attention to the incident.

Albers received a conference call from the human resources director, in-house counsel and a college dean. He said he was told to drop the charges, to un-arrest the female student “and to personally go down and get her out of jail.”

He refused and was eventually fired.

Albers later filed a whistleblower’s lawsuit against the Georgia Board of Regents.

After five years in the court system, the two parties settled for a significant sum. However, Albers said the settlement only covered his lost wages once attorney fees and taxes were deducted.

Albers said college administrators sometimes prevent campus law enforcement agencies from fulfilling duties that might cast a bad light on the college.

“Colleges want to maximize enrollment, and when a college has a crime problem, that affects their enrollment,” Albers said.

His termination created lots of pain for him and his family, Albers said, but he doesn’t regret his actions.

“I would still do the same thing knowing that I would suffer for it,” he said. “There is no merit in doing the right thing when things are going smoothly. The real test of character is doing the right thing when it hurts.”

Albers does not like to discuss that chapter in his life. “When something bad happens, moving past painful events is important,” he said. “But if it helps or inspires someone to share those painful experiences, that is a good thing.”

Albers served as a senior police officer at Georgia Piedmont Technical College until he became vested in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Georgia.

He will not be able to wear a badge or make an arrest in Arizona until he becomes certified by the state Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, despite being a police officer for more than 20 years in California and Georgia.

AZPOST certification requires passing a two-part written test and proficiency tests in firearms, tactical driving and physical aptitude. He planned on taking the written test in early December.

Albers, who is right-handed, broke his left arm when he tripped over a box while moving into his home. He passed the firearms test despite wearing a cast. “Little is required of the left hand, except to steady the right,” he noted.

Albers had to delay the driving and physical aptitude tests because they place stress on the left hand, but planned on taking the tests later this month.

His first few months at PCC have been wonderful, Albers said, with everyone being supportive, kind and encouraging.

“I like getting to meet people and to hear their stories,” he said. “Stories are so important to building a sense of community, which is what I seek to do here at Pima.”

Albers is arranging a campus security assessment in January or February from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. Three campus police chiefs from similar institutions will visit and make recommendations for improvements.

Albers said he will install more cameras at West Campus if the budget allows.

Downtown Campus has cameras but lacks signage. Albers has approval to post additional signs to warn potential wrongdoers that cameras are rolling.

“Cameras serve primarily as a deterrent, but can be utilized for evidence in the event of a crime,” he said.

The chance of having an active shooter on campus is remote but very real, he said.

“Everyone on Pima College’s campuses should know how to properly respond,” he said. “It is far better to have the tools to respond and never need them than to need them and not know what to do.”

All police department patrol personnel undergo mandatory annual active shooter training, he said. It includes both classroom instruction and practical exercises.

Active shooter training for faculty and students is not currently mandatory, but Albers hopes that will change.

Voluntary training is available and 773 individuals have participated since June 3, 2010, he said.

Albers has final say in all department hires and always asks potential employees this question: “What is more important, doing things right or doing the right thing?”

He defines doing things right as “staying within the lines, adhering strictly to policy and procedure.”

Doing things right is not as important as doing the right thing, he said.

“Just because a guideline says to do something or a prevalent practice dictates a certain action, does not mean it is the right thing to do,” he said.

Albers believes all PCC police officers should use their discretion to determine the right course of action.

“At the end of the day, they can be certain that they did the right thing and have the confidence that their actions can make a real difference in someone’s life,” he said.


‘Peace Officer Physical Aptitude Test’ requirements

The AZPOST “Peace Officer Physical Aptitude Test” manual requires the participant to:

  • Run a 99-yard obstacle course that includes navigating several sharp turns, jumping a number of curb-height obstacles and vaulting a 34-inch obstacle.
  • Lift and drag a 165-pound, lifelike dummy 32 feet.
  • Run five yards to a six-foot chain-link fence, climb over the fence and continue running another 25 yards.
  • Run five yards to a six-foot solid fence, climb over the fence and continue running another 25 yards.
  • Run 500 yards.

The time for each event is weighted and scored. A combined minimum score of 384 points is required to pass.


I.T. GIRL: Please burst my bubble

I.T. GIRL: Please burst my bubble


Despite the ease of access to virtually anything anywhere all of the time, technology still seems to stifle our growth as a coexisting community.

Filter bubbles are the reason you see posts from your closest friends, you laugh at most of the memes in your feed and you always see oddly accurate sponsored suggestions.

Social networks like Facebook collect information on the posts you like and share, your search history and the friends with whom you interact. The collected data plays a role in what you see on your newsfeed.

This results in an echo chamber called a filter bubble. Everyone’s bubble is different, but it isn’t directly created by you. It’s created by the website’s algorithm, which makes selective guesses about what you’d like to see next time you log into Facebook.

After a few clicks and an extensive search history, you become separated from opposing viewpoints.

Filter bubbles are the reason you don’t know too many folks outside your political spectrum.

They’re the reason a Trump win surprised many of us. They’re the reason the left sees the right as a bunch of racist hillbillies and the right views the left as a bunch of LGBT Satan-worshippers.

We just don’t understand each other. For something that was supposed to enhance communication, Facebook has done quite a good job of sheltering its users.

Brilliant coding goes into these algorithms and they’re quite handy, especially for businesses needing to know specific details about their clients. (Hey, I didn’t say it wasn’t also creepy.)

Krishna Kaliannan created in response to being completely baffled by the presidential election results.

The site’s tagline is “be more accepting of others.” Its purpose is to send news articles your way that you’d normally not read or even see.

Harvard Business School student Henry Tsai created Hi From The Other Side, which connects users with people who would normally not be friends. Its tagline is “Meet someone who supported another candidate.”

It’s a little more complex, a little more specific and a lot more committal. Its sole purpose: understanding each other’s ideologies.

If you’re interested but not ready to meet a stranger from the other side of the ideology spectrum, you can just subscribe to Hi From The Other Side’s newsletters. That allows you to live vicariously through previous matches.

Pima Community College and University of Arizona student David Bresnick, a junior majoring in computer science, is familiar with filter bubbles.

“I knew the election would be everywhere all the time, so I turned it off before it was literally everywhere,” he said. “I put on ‘Trump’ and ‘Clinton’ filters for Google Chrome, so no ads or anything popped up too much.”

Nostalgia: How sweet it was

Nostalgia: How sweet it was



While on Facebook the other day, I received a notification from my friend Mike. His profile picture appeared to the left of his witty comment and I clicked on the thumbnail to get a closer look.

That had been his picture for awhile now, and I could tell it was a childhood portrait. When I clicked to see the full-sized image, a brief thought of how cute he was crossed my mind, but I was quickly overtaken by a deep sadness.

I looked into the child in the photograph’s eyes and compared them to Mike’s eyes now. I started crying.

Mike is not the type of person to make me cry.

I’ve felt this way looking at my own childhood photo albums but I wondered why a friend’s baby picture, especially one as insignificant as an old coworker’s, could also make me sad.

I dug deeper. Why does childhood nostalgia make us sad?

When you’re a kid, you’re not intentionally painting memories to make yourself sad later in life, and that’s the joy of being a child: being able to take every sweet, careless moment for granted.

Well, those fond memories get bundled up and shoved into a treasure chest in your mind.

They later come out to strike you with a bittersweet, wistful sadness.

I asked some Tucson friends what sort of scents, objects, sounds or memories brought them back. Some of their replies included:

  • Joop Cologne
  • Maltese puppies
  • The hour before the sun sets in October
  • The smell of citrus blossoms
  • Cedar wood
  • A-Ha’s “Take on Me”
  • The sound of snow crunching
  • Legos
  • Root beer floats
  • Reading books during the early hours before the sun rises
  • Strawberry Shortcake dolls
  • Scented pencils
  • Grandma’s makeup
  • The elementary school library
  • Darkroom fixer
  • Dove soap
  • Freshly-mowed grass
  • Little League
  • Doug
  • Bath and Body Works Cucumber Melon
  • Smoking pipes
  • Antibacterial soap
  • John Denver’s “Rhymes and Reasons”
  • Orange and purple Halloween lights
  • A skateboard’s wheels rolling over cracks in the sidewalk
  • The New York City subway

Anything can take you back, particularly picturesque objects like fireflies or a sunset.

For me, it’s my mom’s sundresses and the smell of fresh dill.

The duo reminds me of my mom hanging out in the backyard with us, gardening, or calling us inside to try on the matching dresses she sewed us.

I find myself yearning for a past that feels comfortable and normal.

For many of us, being a kid was lonely, even frightening. Why would those with tough childhoods want to go back?

You’ve heard it before: “Things were better back then.”

I always figured people referenced the past as “the good old days” because it had less technology and simpler pleasures. Or, they were blurring out the hardship and remembering the good stuff, as we all do.

In my research, I found many online forums about the topic. A number of people admitted to even having addictions to nostalgia.

Nostalgia is, after all, a concentration of all the good memories we’ve collected. That sounds like a drug to me.

But that is between you and your therapist.

Apparently, if these folks, myself included, were around during the 17th through 19th centuries and fell into a stupor of memories, we’d be diagnosed with a psychopathological disorder.

The Swiss physician Johannes Hofer created the word “nostalgia” in 1688 by combining the Greek word “nostos,” meaning “homecoming,” with “algo,” meaning pain.

It seemed to be most common in soldiers missing their home and children missing their mothers.

In “The Future of Nostalgia” by Svetlana Boym, the first people stricken with the disease were those displaced during the 17th century like “freedom-loving students from the Republic of Berne studying in Basel, domestic help working in France and Germany and Swiss soldiers fighting abroad.”

Boym described nostalgia as a disease of an afflicted imagination.

The melodrama of deeming nostalgia an illness sounds crazy itself, and should be filed away with other ridiculous ailments of the past like “women’s hysteria.”

According to “Dying of the Past,” Michael S. Roth’s study on nostalgia in the 19th century, nostalgia as an illness was considered so serious that some soldiers even faked it.

But there is a helpful lesson in this research.

For me, nostalgia is my biggest kryptonite. As soon as I sense the feeling coming, it cripples me into a somber daydream.

While my sister will patiently listen to me dwell on the past and even interject with her own memories, we eventually cry it out, snap out of it and continue to live our lives.

Just as baby Mike grew up and was replaced by 40-something Croc-wearing Mike, many moments we hold onto from the past will change, age or decay.

And that’s life.

It’s OK to be afraid to face something from the past. It’s OK to miss something from the past.

Luckily, this is the 21st century and we won’t be electrocuted, tortured, shamed or covered in leeches for it.

But too much of it won’t get you anywhere. Living in the past is easy. Facing the unknown is not.

Childhood nostalgia is my fear of the unknown, my apprehension to take steps into my unwritten future, my search for comfort.

After all, we find comfort in the familiar.

I.T. GIRL: Beat it, creep!

I.T. GIRL: Beat it, creep!



To say a personal safety device is necessary is an understatement.

Self-defense products should be given to us at birth and, no, I’m not talking about the rape whistle your camp counselor gave you in junior high.

U.S. women ages 18-24 have an elevated risk of sexual assault and are three to four times more likely to be sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

Pima Community College reported seven cases of stalking in 2014 and six cases in 2015. In October, police evacuated West Campus after a man tried to drag a woman to his car.

Self-defense tools are the new norm. Available options include stun guns, pepper spray, mace, quick-release knives, tasers and even handguns.

Kitschy devices like rope-wrapped steel balls and a cat-shaped keychain with dangerously pointy ears (think cute brass knuckles) are on the rise.

Self defense is not only necessary for women. With the exception of sexual violence, men are more likely to be victims of violent crimes, according to biannual National Crime Victimization surveys.

Fortunately, violent crimes have declined since the ‘70s. But it’s about time they came to a halt.

That’s what got Sam Manson, CEO and co-founder of ROBOCOPP, thinking.

When his little sister was leaving for college, he wanted something to keep her safe but she was not interested in carrying pepper spray or confronting anyone, said Jill Turner, PR director of the San Francisco-based company.

Manson realized something as simple as an alarm could do the trick.

ROBOCOPP produces a personal safety device that sounds an alarm, either 120 or 130 decibel, and is the size of a USB flash drive. The tool is called a Sound Grenade, comes in various colors and costs $16-$20.

In a five-year study conducted by Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice, researchers found that alarm systems are most effective in decreasing crime.

Lethal weapons aren’t the solution, Turner contends.

“Guns are a huge hazard,” she said. “More often than not, people end up hurting themselves with it.”

The International Institute of Criminology says 68 percent of criminals will flee a crime scene if an alarm is sounded.

Students feel empowered just by toting the mini-alarm system, Turner said.

“If carrying something that weighs practically nothing increased your chances of escaping an attack by even 1 percent, then it would be worth it,” she said. “What’s amazing is that it increases your chances significantly more than that.”

Uses include deterring crime, repelling animals, signaling for help and scaring away home intruders.

Personal alarms that fit on a keychain aren’t insanely novel. However, ROBOCOPP’s newest invention does make more advanced technology accessible.

The company recently released a $100 product called the ROBORanger that is still being funded via KickStarter. It utilizes GPS and SMS, and is not connected to a smartphone.

“It’s literally the first time in history that this technology has been possible,” Turner said.

The ROBORanger is unique because it’s not reliant on a smartphone battery, and it doesn’t involve a data plan.

“A GPS-enabled device sends an initial SOS alert via text message to our 24/7 911 monitoring company,” Turner said. “Once they receive confirmation that it’s not a false alarm, they dispatch 911.”

In spite of its GPS abilities, the device does not constantly monitor locations. GPS only kicks in when the user pulls the pin.

“We hear from students regularly that they feel empowered carrying this device with them,” Turner said.

All you have to do is sound your alarm. No stabbing, spraying or aiming necessary.

For more information, visit

To contribute to the ROBORanger fund, visit

Solar panels begin producing power

Solar panels begin producing power


Tucson’s inexhaustible sunlight is producing power at three Pima Community College campuses.

Solar panel installation finished in January at the Community, Downtown and West campuses, along with the Maintenance and Security facility.

Power is produced through rented panels installed by SolarCity. The college then purchases the energy from SolarCity.

PCC signed a 25-year-contract with SolarCity and Solon last year. SolarCity finances Solon, another local solar power provider.

The dual-purpose panels utilize the climate’s renewable sunlight while creating shaded parking spots for vehicles.

Trees removed during the first phase of Pima’s switch to solar will be replaced by June 30, 2017 with help from Solon and Solar City.

The companies are working with the college to identify the best locations for the new trees.

Finances motivated Pima’s entry into solar power, according to Bill Ward, vice chancellor of facilities and college police.

The college is not reaping tax incentive benefits because it rents the equipment, but expects to generate savings over time.

“Over time” is the operative phrase.

Solar power incentives focus on money saved rather than significantly lower energy bills. Electricity prices rose 2.5 percent each year from 2000 to 2006, and are following a steady upward trend.

Because rates continue to rise, Ward said monthly savings will increase. The college has estimated savings between $6-8 million over the contract’s lifetime.

“At the time of installation, the cost of power is expected to be just slightly below grid-tied power,” he said via email. “Estimating cost without solar and comparing it to actual cost with solar is very difficult.”

Savings will be applied to “overall budget cost reduction,” he added. “The college can plan for the best way to utilize the reduced energy costs.”

Ward explained there are four different rates depending on time of year and amount of power consumed, along with charges and taxes, both flat and percentages.

“You can see why our utility database needs to be updated to really compare the solar savings,” he said.

Ward said Pima’s cost comparison will be released in the next few months.

Despite the lack of solid figures, Ward said the college is pleased with its solar experiment. “Solon and SolarCity are performing to our expectations, which are very high,” he said.

Saving money isn’t the only reason Pima made the decision to go solar.

“Energy efficiency is always a consideration when the college is reviewing, purchasing or maintaining equipment and systems,” Ward said.

Pima is switching to LED lighting and working with Tucson Electric Power on energy-saving incentives. Even urinals are undergoing water use evaluation.

Electrical use had decreased 12 percent, natural gas use is down 24 percent and water use is 14 percent lower this year compared to the previous two years, Ward said.

The college created a new energy resource manager position last year, and hired David Davis in March 2015 at an annual salary of $72,617.

He’s is a certified energy manager who focused on instrumentation and monitoring in his previous position at SunEdison, a solar company similar to SolarCity.

“Davis has a wealth of knowledge and has worked both in the solar services industry and for an electric utility company, and is very familiar with this technology,” Ward said.

Davis would like to see more solar units installed. “I’m definitely a supporter of solar technology,” he said.

I.T. GIRL: Widespread surveillance spawns encryption apps

I.T. GIRL: Widespread surveillance spawns encryption apps


Sending an email to another country, associating with someone on the TSA No-Fly List or simply contacting someone by mistake can trigger an algorithm of commands that scan your browsing history, location data, text messages, contacts and online purchases.

Mining dating, whether by a business or the government, isn’t unusual. However, most Americans were unaware of widespread surveillance until former NSA subcontractor Edward Snowden released classified information on global surveillance programs.

The revelations have lead to increased use of encryption-enabled chat apps. Encryption is the ability to secure data by encoding text, data or photos. It takes a password to view encrypted messages.

What was once a tool for government officials, spies and criminals is now accessible to everyone.

WhatsApp made encrypted messaging available to more than a billion users in 2013. “Secret Conversations” further normalizes encrypted chat thanks to WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook. Google’s messaging service Allo and calling service Duo began offering encryption capabilities in May.

I’ve grown increasingly passionate on this topic after watching “Citizenfour,” a documentary about Snowden. Others aren’t as paranoid as me.

Pima Community College freshman Eldon Fielding doesn’t use a password on his phone, saying he has nothing to hide. Nevertheless, he values his privacy.

Daniel McClelland, a student at both Pima and the University of Arizona, is on the fence about data mining.

“If my browsing preferences, general information and nothing incredibly personal are being used, I don’t mind,” McClelland said. “But if it’s something I’ve come up with or made, that’s a breach of my intellectual property.”

McClelland isn’t worried about his own information.

“If I do have something to hide, I have a VPN for that,” he said.


Celestial Rites serves eclectic clientele

Celestial Rites serves eclectic clientele



Michael and Jennifer Kraych both offer spiritual advice at their Fourth Avenue shop, Celestial Rites. Photos by Katelyn Roberts.

When I walked into Celestial Rites and took a seat on a couch in the shop’s cozy backroom, one of the owners told me not to be nervous.

He could tell I was nervous? Of course he could. Michael Kraych reads energy for a living.

With his partner Jennifer Kraych, Michael has owned Celestial Rites for five years. The shop started on Seventh Street and Hoff Avenue, but the Kraychs outgrew that space and moved to a storefront on Fourth Avenue.

“It was great for starting out, but it was only 600 square feet,” Michael said of their first shop.

Michael has been a palm reader for three years. He sought a form of divination and began palmistry after having his palm read.

Jennifer, on the other hand, has performed tarot readings for 19 years. Her sister gave her a tarot deck when she was 17.

She also became a Wiccan at age 17, but the shop focuses on more than the Wiccan faith. Books on Satanism, Nortic magick, Celtic magick, black magick, Voodoo and herbal remedies line the shelves.


Delicate stones and crystals hang on the branches of a tree display. A collection of small cauldrons and figures are thoughtfully placed throughout the store, along with an assorted supply of incense, oils, powders, tinctures and card decks.

Two crystal balls are set up underneath the glass counter top.
“I tried to use a crystal ball once,” Michael said. “It just gave me a headache.”

The shop owners also make and sell dream pillows, puppets, herbal blends and magickal herbal candles.

Celestial Rites is for “everyone with an open mind,” the owners insist. They cater to most religions but agree there isn’t much Christian influence.

When it comes to acceptance in the community, the couple hasn’t received negativity beyond a Bible verse written in chalk on their front door.

The verse was Leviticus 19:26: “You shall not eat any meat with the blood still in it; neither shall you use enchantments, nor practice sorcery.”

“There are extremists everywhere,” Jennifer said.


A deck of tarot cards is framed in the back room reserved for readings.


Beneath the glass counter top, crystals are for sale.

Jennifer comes from a background helping mentally disabled hospital patients at University Medical Center, and has a passion for helping people.

The Kraychs agree more Tucsonians are open to the idea of the metaphysical. In fact, Wicca is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States.

“It seems like a lot of people are drawn to the goddesses we have on display, like a relation to Mother Earth and environmentalism,” Michael said.

The rising normality of feminism also has a lot to do with the increasing love for goddesses, Jennifer added. But even more so, she said a rise in spirituality has drawn more people into Pagan culture.

The shop will host a henna artist for the street festival and a psychic who can communicate with animals and the dead later this fall.


Celestial Rites sells leather-bound journals and a myriad of figures from many different religions.

With Halloween nearing, the Kraychs expect the usual customers looking for capes and kitschy costumes.

“It’s all Hollywood,” Michael said, referring to customers who expect to cast a spell or dress the part.

Rather than “Happy Halloween,” the Kraychs might offer a “Blessed Samhein” greeting.

Samhein, pronounced saw-wen, is the witch’s new year in the Wiccan faith.

“It’s the thinning of the veil, or when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest,” Michael said.

The Kraychs will celebrate together and have a private ceremony after Halloween.

Jennifer plans on dressing as Hecate, the queen or goddess of the witches.

“I’m not green,” she said. “I don’t have warts on my nose.”




Celestial Rites
543 N. Fourth Ave.
Monday-Friday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday: Noon-7 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-5 p.m.

Out with the Old Pueblo; In with the New Pueblo: Tangible Technology comes to Tucson

Out with the Old Pueblo; In with the New Pueblo: Tangible Technology comes to Tucson


Turn on your device. Connect to Wi-Fi. Plug into power. Agree to terms and conditions. Wait.

It’s simplicity and ease in five steps. All you have to remember is your password.

Whether it’s a quick software update or an app that helps you fight evil unicorns from entering your nightmares, almost all of our interactions with electronics exist behind a screen.

We tap on it, use multi-touch gestures, move a cursor, click, scroll, drag a stylus and swipe right (but usually left).

And that gets the job done. It gets some of the most important code in the world done. It does the math. It makes the app. It designs the logo. It clicks the link. It shows you how many likes you have.

But what about physical and discernible technology? What about tangible technology? Something you can create on your computer and see the results of not behind a screen, but in the palm of your hand.

For Ivan Davis, that something is 3D printing, and it’s alive and thriving.

David has 25 years of software development under his belt and operated a lot of specialty machinery throughout his career. After carpal tunnel surgery, however, he didn’t want to go back to typing for a living. So, he thought about opening a 3D print shop.

3D printing technology has been around since the ‘80s, but it’s only become accessible within the last five to 10 years. Maybe your high school shop had one. Now your techy neighbors and co-workers do.

ivan_3itgirl2ivan_1The most common type of printing is called fused deposition modeling. FDM 3D printers are like laser-jet printers for photos and documents, except a third dimension is added by stacking layers as well.

Filament is melted by a hot tip. The user’s computer-drafted model is created layer by layer.

“I tried to do a lot of research,” he said. “Tucson has 100 embroidery shops, but not much 3D printing, and I can’t really sit around a desk writing code for 80 hours a week anymore.”

“I managed to use the rest of my savings from my corporate days,” he said.

Soon after, New Pueblo Tech was born.

David plans to keep the store focused on 3D printing services, sales, support and creative DIY technology. New Pueblo Tech will sell various gadgets, including wearable technology.

Cyclist jackets that light up when you signal, 3D-printed gun parts, fishing lures and smart watches are all for sale in the shop’s Adventure Tech section.

“I’d like people to be able to work on their own stuff too,” Davis said, referring to his three 3D printers, dye-cutter, stifling machine, hologram lab, and laser engraver and laminator lined up on tables in his studio.

David just sold his first printer to the University of Arizona’s 3D print lab.

“I wish I could keep 15 printers in my inventory, but I’m not Walmart.”

David is also making DIY kits for customers to make the tech life a little more accessible.

“I want to use everything I have to make stuff for people,” he said.

In Suite 153 of the former Firestone building located in the Warehouse Arts District at 439 N. Sixth Ave., the shop is preparing to open its doors. The first week of October will mark the opening of Tucson’s first 3D print shop.

Davis rented out a unit inside of the building, which hosts galleries, studios, shops and even a gym and is already planning collaborations with his neighboring renters for Tucson’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

“I’m really glad I found this space,” Davis said.

For more information, visit, or contact Davis at


Ivan Davis displays his latest 3D-printed toys, photographs and even bottles with working screw-on lids on top of his desk in his studio. (Katelyn Roberts/Aztec Press)


SPEAKERS' SERIES: Instructor talks will reveal insider tips of their trades

SPEAKERS’ SERIES: Instructor talks will reveal insider tips of their trades


Trying to convince a professional photojournalist, psychology instructor and automotive guru to reveal tips of their trades might feel like a hopeless endeavor.

Pima Community College’s free 2016 Fall Speakers’ Series will make those worlds available to guests during three talks.

Each presentation will begin at 6 p.m. in the PCC District Office Community Board Room, located in Building C at 4905 E. Broadway Blvd. Light refreshments will be available.

The series opens Oct. 4 with a presentation by Cynthia Lancaster, lead faculty for the journalism department. She will discuss “Ten Ways to Improve Your Photography” from her photojournalism textbook.

Lancaster teaches photojournalism and other journalism subjects at West Campus, and has been the faculty adviser for the Aztec Press student newspaper since 2007. She received an Outstanding Faculty of the Year award in 2013.

She spent more than three decades working as a reporter, editor and photojournalist in Arizona and Texas.

Her freelance photography has been featured in travel section cover stories in publications such as the Los Angeles Times and Dallas Morning News.

Lancaster wrote her e-textbook while on sabbatical in Fall 2015, because she couldn’t find any decent photojournalism books for her classes.

“I’ve taught photojournalism for more than 10 years, and I compiled my material into a textbook,” Lancaster said.

Lancaster’s talk will focus on photojournalism as opposed to art photography. Topics will include learning to see visually and telling stories through photography.

She’ll also share technical and creative tips for all skill levels.

“It should appeal to all levels from beginning to advanced photographers,” she said.

The series continues Nov. 1 with psychology instructor Olga Carranza presenting a talk on “Staying Present and Purposeful in a Dynamic Classroom.”

Carranza earned her Ph.D. in psychology and will present new research on teaching students with different learning styles.

The series concludes Dec. 6 with Pima automotive technology instructor Skylar Webb’s “Truths and Myths of Auto Repair.”

Webb will provide tips on finding a solid repair shop and avoiding overpriced car costs. He’ll also offer his perspective on the automotive industry.

For more information about the Speakers’ Series, call 206-4500.

Best Bets

Best Bets

Fall in love with these September events

Compiled by Katelyn Roberts

With the anticipation of crisper air and lower temperatures, September offers a selection of cultural festivals and special events sure to please everyone from beer connoisseurs to theater buffs.


Arizona Underground Film Festival
Sept. 16-24


Image courtesy of AZUFF

Arizona Underground Film Festival will screen international and local independent movies for its ninth straight year at The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress.

A pass for every movie is $45. Admission for an individual screening costs $8.

Founder and festival director David Pike says he’s particularly excited about a documentary on UFO abductee Travis Walton. After the documentary screens on Sept. 17 at 1 p.m., Walton will conduct a question-and-answer session and a book signing.



Tucson Beer Cup
Sept. 17

Ten local breweries will compete for Best Flagship Beer at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Competition begins at 6 p.m. among 1055, 1912, Barrio, Borderlands, Catalina, Dragoon, Iron Johns, Nimbus, Pueblo Vida and Sentinel Peak.

Participants must be age 21 and up. General admission tickets costing $25 provide tastes of every beer and tasty snacks. If you spring for $50 VIP tickets, you’ll get more beer and can enjoy an expanded VIP buffet.

Tickets are $15 for selfless and sober designated drivers.

Details:, 622-8848


Tucson Greek Festival
Sept. 22-25

The Tucson Greek Festival will celebrate its 40th anniversary with dance performances, live music, special guests and, heaps of Greek food and beverages for sale. The festival takes place at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 1145 E. Fort Lowell Road.

Admission is $3. Admission and raffle tickets can be purchased online.

Details:, 888-0505


Through Sept. 25

Playgoers have an opportunity to take a visual journey through border culture as Borderlands Theater hosts Richard Montoya’s “Nogales” at the Temple of Music and Art Cabaret Theatre, 330 S. Scott Ave.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Weekday tickets cost $12 for general admission and $7 for students, while weekend tickets are $26 for general admission and $14 for students. Senior discounts are also available. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 882-7406.

Details:, 882-7406


Mount Lemmon Oktoberfest
Sept. 17-Oct. 9

Beginning on Sept. 17, and continuing every weekend through Oct. 9, Mount Lemmon Ski Valley will host “Tucson’s most authentic Oktoberfest.” Expect traditional German eats, live German music and, of course, German beer!

Admission is free, with food and beverages available for purchase. Ski lift rides will also be available.

Keep your pet at home unless it’s a service animal.