Cal State Fullerton Fullerton News

Fullerton’s Soco West Parking Structure opens in downtown

The new Soco West Parking Structure next to downtown Fullerton’s Transportation Center opened this week. According to the city’s website, the grand opening was Wednesday, June 20 but it was open to the public Tuesday, June 19.

The architecture is modern and impressive (it reminds me of Cal State Fullerton’s new Eastside Parking Structure) and the  814 new parking spots are a welcome addition to make downtown one of Orange County’s happenin’ spots.

It is great that Fullerton now has even more free public parking- now spending an afternoon or late night in downtown is a viable option. The structure is at Harbor Blvd and Santa Fe Ave. (The city is also trying to cater to commuters, as the Fullerton train station is a quick link to Los Angeles).

The north-east stairs and elevator

The new parking structure also holds one of the best inventions ever: A book vending machine.

It is the Fullerton Public Library’s first book vending machine, called the FPL Station. A patron inputs his or her library card and picks a book among the best-sellers stocked in the machine. It’s like buying chips but better. At first I was disappointed that the books are random (just whatever is next in the queue), but it is growing on me because now readers are forced to take whatever they see, potentially expanding their reading habits.

It is believed to be the first book vending machine of its kind in Orange County, the OC Register reports.

Readers of the world unite!

And now, my Downtown Fullerton adventures!

My friend Josh and I strolled around downtown last night, looking for a new restaurant to try. We decided on Les Amis, a Lebanese restaurant with a Mediterranean feel- and we picked a winner! I got lamb schwerma ($8.95 for large)- yes, I got the idea from Tony Stark in The Avengers– which is similar to a gyro sandwich. The pita wrap had lamb, tomatoes, lettuce and a great sauce (bitter but in a good way- it probably has a name but I have no idea). Josh got the special, a stew with beef, peas, rice and a salad.

Les Amis Lebanese food

Painting the Placentia Library for summer

My dad and I painted the front doors to the Placentia Library, where I work at, for the library’s summer reading program! My dad is an amateur (and really good!) artist and I helped, and it took about seven hours on Friday.

The summer reading program, taking the slogan “Dream Big: Read” with a night-time and dreams theme, begins tomorrow and lasts until August 18. The library has story-time programs for kids, movie showings for adults, and children, teen and adult reading programs.

We used tempera paint, which is commonly used for window painting. We painted a white layer on each of the seven panels, and then added blue layers on the left panels and orange on the right panel. Each of the panel has a border paint as well (dark blue for the left panels, yellow for the middle panels and red for the right panel). We used rollers (pictured below) for the large strokes, and finer brushes for the smaller strokes (like lettering).

Mixing the orange paint onto the roller
Me painting

This is the first time I have painted -or done anything involving art- in a while, and I’m glad I did! I think I’ll draw some more this summer. Since I’ve been reading a lot of comic books (currently Marvel’s Deadpool and Cable), I’m inspired to draw some superheroes and X-Men characters.

My dad did all the lettering because that is the hardest thing to do in window painting (because you have to have precise strokes), but I did a lot of the stars, shading, backgrounds and faded edges. As you can see (left), I’m painting the stars in red. The adult program has a classic Hollywood theme (and the library is decorated like1940s  Holllywood with the end of the bookshelves having celebrity names and film motifs), so we drew a red carpet and red stars along with a yellow background for a simplistic yet classy look.

My dad painting

This is probably my favorite panel (my dad painted it all except I shaded the moon orange):

Books comic books

My Summer (Book!) Road Trip

Reading is my raison de être.

So, after a hectic semester in college, I am celebrating my freedom with a three-part summer goal: Read, read and read.

I can think of no better way of spending three months than by lounging around reading a good sci-fi or two. I just finished Carte Blanche, Jeffery Deaver’s sleek new take on James Bond. Luckily, I have a perfect part-time job at a library to top up my books when I’m runnin’ dry.

I’m thinking of my book summer as a road trip. Where will these books take me? I’ll find out!

So here’s my road trip itinerary:
(As with any good road trip, I might find a pleasant detour along the way.)

1) Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler- I’m a huge fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Handler’s alter ego Lemony Snicket. This one’s about teen love. I started it yesterday and am loving the novel’s humor.

2) X-Men Messiah Complex– After mutants are nearly wiped out, a new mutant is born, giving the X-Men hope.

3) X-Men Second Coming– Will the new mutant bring hope to mutant-kind?

4) Insurgent by Veronica Roth- Great young adult dystopian series where teens choose a faction that they are bound to follow their entire life based on their personality

5) Marvel’s Civil War and Spider Man: Peter Parker and The Amazing Spider Man Civil War tie-ins- Iron Man and Captain America, two of Earth’s mightiest heroes, have become enemies.

6) A gazillion other comic books! (Marvel of course)

6) Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson- You had me at ‘cyberpunk’.

7) The Alchemist by Paul Coelho- Don’t know much about it but it’s supposed to be good.

8) V for Vendetta and Watchmen by Alan Moore- The film versions of these graphic novels are good

9) Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson- A cyberpunk about hackers.

10) Spy novels- I’ll start with Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, then go to Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne novels, then add a few Tom Clancy novels for good measure.

11) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglass Adams- There are two ingredients to make a good book: Wittiness and science fiction. This doesn’t have either.

I am open to suggestions too, any good books I should check out?!


“Divergent,” the next great Young Adult dystopian novel

The young adults genre has really caught on in recent years- and I’m glad its bringing in the next generation of teens to read

“I am not Abnegation. I am not Dauntless. I am Divergent. And I can’t be controlled.”

Definitely my favorite line from Divergent, by Veronica Roth, a young adult dystopian about a society split into factions based on personality. The quote captures Tris’ edgy personality.

Divergent has been hailed as the next great young adult dystopian novel, so I was naturally attracted to it. I would have read it earlier, but I had been on my library’s waiting list for it for a month.

The novel follows Tris, a 16-year-old in a post-apocalyptic Chicago where society is split into five factions based on personality traits (daring, smart, selfless, peaceful and honest).

Each 16-year-old selects his or her faction, each of which specializes in a division of labor to help the society’s welfare (protection or government, for example). The decision stays with them for their entire life- and they must leave their family behind.

There’s a great coming-of-age tale and first love in the novel (and thankfully no love triangle). Overall, it is strikingly similar to The Hunger Games. Tris at times seems exactly like Katniss (rebellious, strong-willed), so fans of The Hunger Games will not feel out of place.

The novel does an incredible job of showing the importance of family. Both Tris’ parents are dynamic characters who change throughout the story, something that many novels gloss over.

I plan on starting Insurgent, book two in the trilogy, within the next few weeks.I will end with another great quote from the novel, this by Four, a Dauntless imitation leader:

“I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t that different.” -Four

Insurgent just came out May 1, so at least I’m mostly up-to-date :)
Books Culture

Books are here to Stay: Why You Should Read

My university library

Call me biased; I work at a public library. But I think that books and reading continue to have great value in our society and our lives.

I am a voracious reader, I must say. I can read a short novel in little over a day when I get around to it. And I am not the only person around me who spends time reading. Look around, and people can be seen reading everywhere: at Starbucks or the library, while on the bus, or scattered around college campuses.

In my experience, there are many people reading now, and if anything, that number seems to be increasing. Yes, Borders is gone. But Amazon’s Kindle and other e-Readers’ sales have skyrocketed (I am not one of those people against e-Readers), as have many traditional books.

Websites that let users rate and look for books, such as Goodreads, have become very popular. A simple search on The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins on the site contains nearly 300,000 ratings and reviews. That so many readers not only read the book, but went to a website to rate and comment on the book, is testament to the power of novels.

Here is a list of some reasons why reading (newspaper, books, etc.), while not only fun, is beneficial to a life in the modern world:

1.) You can keep up with world events. This sounds obvious for newspapers- because it is obvious. Without The New York Times or the Associated Press, et. al it would be extraordinarily harder for other news media (radio, television) to gather information. Newspapers can lay out systematically all the events happening around the world and around the street. Online newspapers are great, but newspapers are not going to last financially online-only. Besides, I seem to recall a study that said that news-consumers retain information better by reading rather than watching news.

2.) You can improve your vocabulary. I was reading something by Henry David Thoreau and was confused by a word he used: Epaulet. What? I looked it up and it is an ornamental shoulder strap used in military uniforms. Also, many non-fiction books such as a science encyclopedia will open you up to many scientific jargon that is surprisingly useful. For example, I read a physics book that discussed a tesseract. A few days later, that same object was featured in the new Captain America movie and I had a better understanding of it than the average viewer. Might as well improve your vocabulary!

3.) You can be transported into a new world. Not only does this apply to science-fiction and fantasy novels, but also: mystery/thriller, historical fiction, and poetry. There is a reason Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Winnie the Pooh and The Odyssey have become popular. It is because the journey to a new, mysterious world captivates the audience, who uses their imagination to create their own perceptions of a variety of rich characters. The writers of these novels, both modern and ancient, are true masters at seeing the world and recreating it in written form.

Read the Psalms in the Bible for many hopeful poems about God

4.) You can gain a better understanding of the world and human nature. That is, you can witness different moral and philosophical dilemmas and triumphs humans face. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger is about the power of love that transcends space and time. Other novels can show the dark side of human nature, that can really bring out some thought-provoking situations.

5.) You can talk about the great literary classics and actually know what you are talking about. That is why I am currently reading Foyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. You can read the Sherlock Holmes stories and see how the new Robert Downey Jr. movie (while good) is does not display all of Holmes’ and Watson’s personality traits. You can read John Steinbeck to look back on what California used to look like. You can read a Shakespeare play and drop all those annoying quotes like everyone else.

6.) You can get a glimpse into how other people think. Read Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day to get a journal-style soliloquy by an English butler about why he, a perfect butler, must do all he can for his employer to keep up the English dignity for the world. Or you can read a book about someone from another country that you do not know much about, like Africa or Asia.

7.) You can relax. Get lost in a good book. Just read for 30 minutes a day and get away from the television and its reality-TV allures.  Your work matters little when you are visualizing a Special Operations behind-enemy-lines mission by Tom Clancy.

8.) You can find cool quotes. A great writer can be a great artist. And a poet even more so. You can find humorous quotes or quotes that display something about the human condition. Here is an example:

“How can a great and wise civilization have destroyed itself so completely?”
“Perhaps,” said Apollo, “by being materially great and materially wise, and nothing else.”

The above quote comes from A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller where two characters, years after a nuclear war destroyed the earth, are talking about it.

I could go on with others, such as reading can make you smarter, etc. but I hope that I made my point. Reading has many benefits and in no way is outdated in the 21st-century world. In fact, it is more relevant than every.

Consider: The modern world contains things that, void of books, would be almost useless.
For example, here’s a few at random:

1.) Ballistic missiles: without manuals and training, the makers could not manufacture them. And without the mathematical formulas and scientific laws being employed the missiles would not work and would never have been invented.

2.) Star Wars: George Lucas, its creator, was influenced by a variety of sources, among them a book about mythology by Joseph Campbell, who came up with an idea of the monomyth, that most myths have a certain underlying structure of the hero’s journey. Lucas incorporated this with the story of Luke Skywalker.

3.) Many other classic movies: Here is a list of books that later became movies: The Godfather; Star Wars (apparently the first Star Wars novel was published in 1976, six months before the movie premiere, so Star Wars gets on this list twice); The Lord of the Rings; The English Patient; the Bond movies; Gone with the Wind; and the Wizard of Oz. The list goes on even more than I thought, however. Who knew that The Shawshank Redemption and Schindler’s List were books first?

My point is that books continue to hold value. A great novel can display the greatest power humans have: Being able to create something out of our minds. And people young and old have realized that. From Plato recording his mentor Socrates’s philosophy to medieval monks copying minute details of The Bible to John Locke penning his famous treatise on human rights, the written word has steered the world mightily.

But will it continue to do so? Yes, I would say so. Just look at Goodreads, the book website that lets users rate books that I mentioned earlier. It averages thousands of daily visits. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden has 30,000 ratings from users. That is pretty good, considering the book’s original 1854 publishing ran at 2,000 copies (according to the Manhattan Rare Book Company).

That a book still manages to thrive after so long, and so many debates, is a great reminder of the power of books. Cheers to many more years, and many more debates.