Lime Hollow Offers Outdoor Winter Adventure

Lime Hollow Offers Outdoor Winter Adventure

*This article originally appeared in a November 2014 issue of The Dragon Chronicle 

November is upon us—and with it pass the last few weeks of semi-warmth before everything becomes coated with a layer of snow for the winter.

For some, freezing temperatures can discourage outdoor activity. However, for those who are up to the challenge, a variety of winter adventure options are available near and around the Cortland campus.

The Cortland area boasts a wealth of hiking options available in any season. Most prominent among them is the Lime Hollow Nature Center, located near West Campus, which has proven immensely popular among students for many years.

Lime Hollow encompasses nearly 430 acres of rolling hills, forests, fields, and streams, and contains numerous ponds along with a peat bog and a huge diversity of plant and animal species. It offers over 12 miles of free, open-to-the-public trails, along with public nature programs and an environmental education center.

Bird-watching walks are offered in the spring and summer months, as well as a “Maplin’ Sugar” day, a fishing festival, and a “Music in the Woods” celebration.

Cortland students enjoy Lime Hollow’s features in all four seasons—running, snowshoeing, hiking, and cross-country skiing are all popular.   When weather permits, snowshoes and skis are available to rent for use on Lime Hollow’s 2.5 mile ski trail.

Lime Hollow is also a perfect spot for more informal activities, such as a casual stroll, sledding or a spontaneous snowball fight. The nature preserve also contains a “Trail for All,” which is handicap-accessible.

The preserve is hosting a “Trail Work Day” on October 26th where community members gather to perform trail maintenance and upkeep, a service project aiming to build not only a better trail system but also a sense of community and well being within a natural environment.

A guided nature tour is also being offered on November 15th beginning at 10a.m., in addition to a wreath-making class on December 6th. More information on these events can be found on Lime Hollow’s website.

Outdoor fun can also be found within driving distance outside of the city of Cortland.

Though not ideal for winter weather, Buttermilk and Taughannock waterfalls in the Ithaca make great summer hiking destinations.

Highland Forest, located in the Syracuse area, also proves popular for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.

For those willing to put on a hat and a pair of gloves, outdoor activities are readily available in the Cortland area, even in winter months.

Yik Yak Sweeps Cortland

“Yik Yak” Sweeps Cortland

*This article originally appeared in a September 2014 issue of The Dragon Chronicle

Walking through campus this past week, you may have noticed fellow students scrolling through a new mint-green application on their smartphones.

Yik Yak, a social media platform available on iPhone and Android devices, functions as an “internet billboard,” of sorts, claiming to provide users with a “live feed of what people are saying around you.” Labeled by some in the internet community as “the most dangerous app in the world,” Yik Yak users are completely anonymous, as the content appearing on a user’s screen is organized solely upon geographic location as opposed to the traditional name-based systems of other platforms.

A user can post a message of up to 200 characters that other “Yackers” within a 1-10 mile radius can respond to and comment on. In addition, users can “up vote” or “down vote” another user’s posts based on humor, insightfulness, and mutual agreement on specific social conventions.

Posts tend to be relatable to the campus community as a whole. A “Yak” appearing on the Cortland feed last week told users of a “cop posted up by the stadium field,” warning them to “look out.” Other posts appearing on the site deal with popular topics around campus, such as Cortland’s new email system, dining services, and specific classes and professors.

In addition to local posts created by Cortland students for Cortland students, users can view the Yaks of other campuses such as Harvard and Stanford, as well as fictional ones such as Hogwarts from the popular Harry Potter book series.

But what is it about this app—as opposed to the hundreds of others available to college students—that makes some so wary and apprehensive? Could the anonymity of Yak provide a threat to the well-being of the entire campus community?

Despite prohibitions against bullying and a zero-tolerance policy against posting phone numbers, Yak really doesn’t do much to filter what any particular user might say. Though individual posts can be reported and repeated violations can get a user banned, the college-geared community Yak creates tends to be overtly sexual in nature and often can be hateful, judgmental, and simply inaccurate.

Yak is, quite simply, unapologetically and completely shaped by its users.

Jokes, oftentimes hurtful in nature, are spread across this “bulletin board” for the entire campus to see, and occasionally boundaries are violated. A user, protected by his or her anonymity, can post any idea, label, or comment about another person and, regardless of the statement’s accuracy, it will appear before the entire campus to see.

Cyber bullying is an issue that continues to expand in relevance as we diversify the social media platforms we use. Aside from its potentially harmful effects on the social aspects of a community, Yak also presents other, potentially serious problems: last week, a high school in Massachusetts was evacuated twice due to bomb threats made anonymously over Yak.

At its best, Yak is a way for the community to engage, connect, and vibe together. At its worst, it’s a shallow series of lies, judgments, and consent violations that paint a negative portrait of our school and the community we’ve created.

Social Media applications such as Yak can be enjoyed, but they must be enjoyed responsibly. Let’s be sure that the Cortland we embody is one we’re proud of.

Game of Thrones: SN5ep2 Review

The season’s second episode featured dragons, an election and in vintage GOT fashion, a beheading.

If you’re like me and managed to resist the temptation to binge-watch the four Game of Thrones episodes that leaked onto the Internet last week, HBO rewarded you with a solid, if not spectacular, hour of TV’s most must-see show.

Building past last week’s bore of an episode, this week’s “The House of Black and White,” while not kingdom-shattering in any sense, quietly expanded the show’s various plotlines and introduced us to the exotic city of Dorne, featuring scenes filmed on-site in the medieval Islamic palaces in Spain that inspired the fictional city’s design.

Many viewers predict this season will be one defined by converging storylines, and already we’ve seen Tyrion in Essos, Stannis in the North, and Shireen Baratheon teaching the wildling Gilly to read.

We got the season’s first glimpse of my personal favorite character, Arya Stark, as she tries her luck with the Faceless Men, meandering around hungry and homeless on a new continent, reduced to killing pigeons with her sword just as she did in the show’s first season.

The show’s most impelling character, Jon Snow, zestful and intriguing as always, turns down a chance to rid himself of the bastard status that has haunted him all his life and instead is rewarded for his efforts of the past two seasons by being elected as the new commander of the Night’s Watch, effectively assuring him to be the first to come into contact with the White Walkers whenever the show’s writing staff decides to pursue that plotline.

Additionally, Jamie and his fresh new haircut interrupt fan-favorite and newly-knighted sell-sword Bronn for the kidnapping of, you guessed it, the product of Jamie’s incestuous relationship with his sister. All jokes aside, it’s nice to see Jamie acting fatherly for once, especially after watching Joffrey choke to death at his own wedding.

Lastly, it wouldn’t be Game of Thrones without philosophical wanderings followed by a beheading. Varys and Tyrion muse on the nature of power and the inherent instability of keeping it while Daenerys proclaims her theory that freedom and justice cannot coexist, affirming her status as the most conflicted iron-fisted ruler since Machiavelli himself made it cool.

On the whole, The House of Black and White probably didn’t feature enough deaths to warrant five stars. The tension within season 5 is building, however; we seem poised for an outstanding mid-season tempo change from a show notorious for throwing its viewers for a spin.

Three out of five stars, one for each of the times we’re forced to watch Arya recant her infamous prayer: “Cersei, Walder Frey, The Mountain, Meryn Trant…”