Expert gives tips for coping with the seasonal blues
| Return to Top
|As the days grow shorter and the trees begin to loose their color, even the hardiest soul can find the fall and winter depressing.
"The lack of sunshine and warmth often makes these months very emotionally trying for some people," said Dawn LaFrance, assistant director of counseling and psychological services at Colgate University. "The thought of the upcoming holidays and seasonal constraints don't help matters either - they can make things quite stressful."
LaFrance offered some suggestions for overcoming what she called the "autumn blues":
Be serious about leisure. One of the easiest ways to beat the "blahs," said LaFrance, is to simply embrace the season. "Find a sport or outdoor activity that makes you look forward to cold - like hiking or walking," she explained. "Getting your heart pumping can really affect your mood."
See the light. It's easy to make excuses not to go outside when the weather forecast calls for cooler temperatures or maybe even snow, said LaFrance. Resist the temptation to hunker down indoors, she advised. "Natural sun does wonders for depression, so get out of the office or the house as much as possible during the daylight hours," she said. "Even just meeting friends for lunch or sitting near a window can help if you're feeling down."
Get by with a little help from friends. "Don't underestimate the power of social support and just being around people," LaFrance said. "When you're feeling sad, call up a loved one and schedule a time to get some coffee and talk. That's what they're there for - to lean on."
Bag some rays. Recent studies have shown that exposure to bright light can sometimes be effective in combating depression. Try sitting in front of a light box or a bright light therapy device for a half hour or 45 minutes first thing in the morning, LaFrance suggested. For specific product recommendations, consult a physician or psychologist.
Talk to a professional. For many people, the autumn blues are a symptom of a larger problem - like depression. "Don't be afraid or embarrassed to make an appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist if you don't start to feel better," said LaFrance. "Sometimes regular counseling sessions or medication are the best options, and only a professional can make that call."
Tiny treasures: Filmmakers to strut their stuff at DC Shorts Film Fest
| Return to Top
|At 30 seconds, Judd Fischer's film could be considered the haiku of shorts films.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given its length, he is reluctant to provide too many details of Summer 2003 for fear of discouraging people from seeing it.
Set to be screened next month at the third annual DC Shorts Film Festival, Summer 2003 "came about because during that summer, I spent a week at my parents' beach house," says the 33-year-old District resident.
"The film deals with what I was thinking about then in contrast to what was going on in the world. It represents both what was going on in my mind and what was going on around me and contains contrasting emotions and feelings."
He has shown the movie to many people, and "they have come away from it with different ideas," Fischer says. He hopes for similar divergent reactions in future audiences, and is thus disinclined to say too much about the film, which might cause people to prejudge it.
The power of the press, however, does squeeze from the reluctant filmmaker that it indirectly deals with war.
A freelance film editor, Fischer traces his love for filmmaking to a course he took as a senior at Colgate University in 1996.
"We had to produce a film during the course," he recalls. "I fell in love with it, especially the editing. I found myself in the editing room enjoying myself, and even when I wasn't there, I was thinking about it."
He relished it so much that he decided to try to make a living at it. Fischer had interned for a summer for Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). He enjoyed the city "but knew that politics wasn't for me."
Ironically, when he came to the area in 1996, he became an intern (and later an assistant editor) for a video production company, whose client was doing ads for Sen. Bob Dole, the Republican candidate for president.
Compared with Fischer's film, Nina Seavey's A Short History of Sweet Potato Pie, which also will be screened at the festival, is marathon-like at 17 minutes.
The 49-year-old Takoma Park resident č whose credits include the Discovery Channel special The Battle of the Alamo; The Story of Polio in America, which was broadcast on PBS in 1998 and won an Emmy Award; and The Open Road: America Looks at Aging, which was shown on PBS in 2005 č has been making films for more than 20 years.
Having tired of making "big, earnest films," Seavey, a member of Kehila Chadasha Congregation in Beallsville, says she was looking for a "quixotic" subject, which she found in Sweet Potato Pie.
The film, which deals with three women č one Jewish and two African American č is about "inspiration that comes from food," says Seavey.
"It is about sweet potato pie, which is connected to the African American community, but it is the Jewish woman in the film who is inspired by the pie," she says.
The DC Shorts Film Festival will take place Sept. 14-17, with most screenings at Landmark's E Street Cinema. Two films will be shown at the Canadian Embassy. For further information and tickets, go to www.dcshorts.com; for tickets to individual shows, go to www.moviefone.com or Landmark's E Street Cinema box office.
Colleges return to life
| Return to Top
|The unpacking and introductions are done. The nervous goodbyes to parents are over.
Campus life has returned.
Utica College freshman Joe Hillman, 18, of Middletown had help from his parents and younger sister as he moved in Sunday.
It took two vehicles to carry everything he needed to campus, he said. His parents drove one vehicle, and he has a truck that he'll be leaving on campus.
A history major, Hillman also is involved with the ROTC and will play baseball for the college.
"It's a new adventure," he said.
The adventure is being played out over and over again in the colleges of the Mohawk Valley, where more than 15,000 students will attend six colleges. Most begin classes this week; Herkimer County Community College starts after Labor Day.
The largest freshman class in Utica College history moved in Sunday. A convocation will take place at 11 a.m. today. Classes start Tuesday.
The Class of 2010 has 500 students, 390 of whom live on campus, Director of Residence Life Emily Balcom said. They are among UC's student total of 2,085.
Sixty student-athletes and 40 fraternity and sorority members volunteered to help freshmen move in beginning at 9 a.m. and upperclassmen starting at noon, she said. Faculty members also were on hand to greet the students.
"It creates a real aura of excitement," Balcom said.
The thousands of students in this area- and the hundreds of people whose job it is to teach or support them- mean good news for local businesses, the economy and quality of life.
HCCC helps many of Herkimer's businesses, such as restaurants, Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce Director John Scarano said. Landlords also profit by renting apartments, he said.
He said he couldn't make an estimate of the economic impact.
"It definitely helps the economy tremendously," he said.
The college continues to grow each year and bring in more student-athletes from farther away, including from overseas, Scarano said.
"It's good for the community," he said. "It's good for the whole Valley, really."
Pizza restaurants are always one of the first places college students turn to when it comes time to eat.
Evening business increases at Tony's Pizzeria on College Street in Clinton when Hamilton College students are in town, owner Laurie Miller said.
"We get an influx in the beginning, when students are dropped off by their parents," Miller said.
Business also is strong during the college's weekends for alumni and parents, she said.
It might take Utica College freshman Ben Wolak, 17, of Rochester, a little while to find the nearest pizza place to his college. He isn't familiar with the Utica area at all, he said.
But he has had the fortune of becoming familiar with some of his fellow students already. He met his roommate and some others during July's orientation, he said.
After spending almost three hours moving in Sunday, Wolak is looking forward to everything about college, he said.
"I'm just glad to be out of my house," he said.
Freshman Taina Roman, 17, of the Bronx, also is excited about living on her own in the dorms, she said. She also is looking forward to making new friends.
Roman worries that she will miss her family and the things her family does to help her, she said.
"The little things," she said. "The little comfort zones your family gives you."
LOCAL COLLEGES PREPARE FOR YEAR
Class of 2010 students arrived last week. Today is the first day of classes along with an open house at the Colgate Libraries and university chorus auditions, among other events.
Enrollment: 2,782 students have registered for the fall term. There are 745 in the class of 2010.
The college this week welcomes 505 members of the Class of 2010 as well as 1,345 returning upper-class students.
Two Hamilton graduates will serve as named professors this fall: Michael Klosson '71, a career State Department official, will be the Sol M. Linowitz Visiting Professor of International Affairs. Ambassador Edward S. Walker Jr. '62 will serve as the Christian A. Johnson Distinguished Professor in Global Political Theory.
Day and evening classes begin Wednesday, Sept. 6.
The "Generals Cash Card" is a new digital photo ID card being issued to all students, faculty and staff this semester, which will be used for access to campus facilities and events, and for cashless payments with the Herkimer Cash Card Account at the campus bookstore, food service locations, stadium concessions and off-campus businesses.
The college has already conducted its orientation at the Utica and Rome campuses. Classes start today.
Enrollment: College officials had hoped to enroll about 3,700 full-time students, and more than 3,400 have been enrolled. It's expected the target will be hit. The part-time enrollment is 1,100.
Move-in day at SUNYIT was Sunday. Classes begin today. About 2,500 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate degree programs, with 130 freshmen in the incoming class. The college marks the 40th anniversary of its founding this year.
New academic offerings include a master of science degree and advanced certificates in nursing education and gerontological nurse practitioner.
Utica College has welcomed its largest freshman class ever: about 500 students. Total enrollment is 2,085. Move-in day was Sunday and convocation, which marks the official beginning of the academic year, is at 11 a.m. today. Classes start Tuesday.
A Golden Age; There's no brash in Biddle, just consistent winning
| Return to Top
|At Colgate University he is known as the man of mystery, a seemingly self-absorbed character who can be seen walking around campus with his head down, sitting at his desk with his head in his hands or lying on a couch crammed into his tiny office staring at the ceiling.
"You walk by sometimes and wonder just what the heck he is doing in there," Kevin Bolis said, "but he's not sleeping. He's thinking. He thinks about who he is going to get on and what will be the appropriate time to get on them and make them respond the right way."
In an age in which most college football coaches are a blend of Norman Vincent Peale, George Patton and Dr. Phil, with a splash of Billy Fucillo thrown in for good measure, Dick Biddle is . . . well, none of the above.
"You see him walking around with his head down," said Bolis, who played center for Biddle in the late 1990s and has been coaching the offensive line at his alma mater for the last two years. "He's very humble, but every once in a while he'll provide you with a "Hey, what's up?' I came in the other week and made the announcement to the rest of the staff that Coach Biddle actually said hi to me, and I played here for four years and have been working here for two."
Bolis laughs, then hints that the quirky personality plays a role in Biddle's genius.
"He doesn't talk a lot," Bolis said, "but if you ever hear him talk to a group, he is very articulate, just very soft-spoken. You know, speak softly but carry a big stick. And the big stick is his success."
The success speaks volumes. Biddle inherited a team that went 0- 11 in 1995, the worst record since Colgate began playing football in 1890. His first season, in 1996, the team started 0-4, then won six of its last seven and played for the Patriot League championship.
Since then, the Raiders have never won fewer than seven games. They have won five Patriot League titles and been invited to five NCAA Division I-AA tournaments. They set a school record with 15 victories in 2003, when they advanced to the national title game. They're favored to win the league this season.
It is the golden age of Colgate football, and it has been fashioned in near anonymity by Biddle, who would rather strap the pads onto his 58-year-old body and try to play linebacker again than talk about his coaching prowess, which has produced an 84-35 record and .706 winning percentage, three league coach-of-the-year awards and one national coach-of-the-year honor.
"I like to compete, but I'm not in it for people to pat me on the back," Biddle said. "I don't like the attention. I'm just a quiet person. That's just the way I am."
Quiet should not be confused with serene, though. Not in this case, anyway. At his core, Biddle is one tough bird, a hard-nosed throwback to a different era. His formula for success is as straightforward as his demeanor: Hire good coaches and let them coach, attract good players and let them play and make sure they are tougher physically and mentally than their opponents.
The formula was honed on the fields of Parkersburg, W.Va., where Biddle grew up playing football and wrestling, and at Duke, where he was an All-America linebacker who likely would have played in the NFL had his knees held up. It was reinforced during coaching stints as an assistant at Colgate, Virginia Tech, Minnesota, Navy and Colgate again.
"I always thought if I was ever going to be a head coach I'd hire coaches and not micromanage," Biddle said. "And the other thing was I wanted to find players who would play hard, who were physical, who were passionate about the game. And finally, I let them know that if something goes wrong they're not going to be blamed. I've got to take it personally. I think the kids will play hard for you if you do that."
For a long while it appeared unlikely that Biddle would ever get a chance to test his theory. He was coaching running backs on Ed Sweeney's staff in 1995 when the Raiders went winless, and when Sweeney resigned, most concluded that his staff would be shown the door. That's the way it usually happens.
A notable exception was Mark Murphy, the Colgate athletic director at the time and one of the greatest players in school history. Murphy, who played in two Super Bowls as a safety for the Washington Redskins, decided Biddle was the right man to replace Sweeney.
Fred Dunlap, Murphy's coach at Colgate and one of the most respected football men in the community, agreed.
"I'm sure at the time a lot of eyebrows were raised among the alumni," said Murphy, who is now the AD at Northwestern. "But I think you could see his leadership qualities and the respect the players had for him. He had a real understanding of how Colgate worked and had been there when Colgate was successful. He had been mentored by Fred, and I still have a lot of respect for Fred."
Dunlap, once Biddle's boss, even decided to come out of retirement and help his former assistant undertake the challenge. So did another former head coach, Mike Foley, who is now the offensive line coach at Connecticut.
"I think that says volumes about the respect they had for Dick," Murphy said.
For four games, Biddle said, he tried to be a nice guy, the kind of coach who would put an arm around a player and invite him into the office for a father-son chat. The Raiders went 0-4, and Biddle decided that Jack Bruen, the popular Raiders basketball coach who died from pancreatic cancer in 1997 at age 48, was right when he advised Biddle to "be yourself."
"I just said, hey, I'm going to do it the way I think it needs to be done," Biddle said. "We're going to hit in practice. We're going to do things I believe in. We're going to be physical, and we're going to play hard."
Biddle implemented the plan immediately. He inserted freshman quarterback Ryan Vena into the starting lineup, ignoring the resentment felt by some of the veterans. He promoted some freshman offensive linemen, too. And unlike most teams, which shy away from contact during practice once the season starts in order to avoid injuries, the Raiders hit . . . and hit . . . and hit every day.
The next week they defeated Brown 44-27 to end the skid, and they and their crusty coach have never looked back.
Their goals every year are simple: Establish the run on offense, stop the run on defense and everything else will fall into place. In order to accomplish those goals, they have to be the toughest team on the field physically and mentally.
"The thing is they buy into it," Biddle said. "People ask me what we're going to do on offense this year, and we have a pretty good tailback. We're going to run him right, left and up the middle."
The players buy into the old-fashioned approach for several reasons:
They know about Biddle's All-America credentials as a player.
"He's hard-nosed, but he is also a player's coach," all-league quarterback Mike Saraceno said. "He was one of the best linebackers in college football, so you have no choice but to respect him."
If Biddle senses a player is failing to display that toughness, the man who says little may stop practice, point to the parking lot where the players' cars are parked and invite that player to pack up and leave.
"I can remember when I was here as a player I was scared to death of him," Bolis said. "I didn't know how to approach him. We have kind of a love-hate relationship. We had our differences here and there, but ultimately I knew what he expected of me."
"He was a knucklehead," is how Biddle remembers it.
They buy into it because Biddle is brutally honest but never brutal.
"He gets on guys on the field but never attacks their character or them personally," Bolis said. "He attacks their style of play but never them."
And they buy into it because Biddle is their advocate.
"You'll never hear him talk about his success because he doesn't want to put himself in the spotlight," Bolis said. "What he does is when we win, the players did great, when we lose, he and the coaches did a poor job of preparing the players. The players respond well to that."
Just as they respond well to Biddle's stoic personality and Spartan practice philosophy, two key parts of his coaching style.
"The approach is always the same," senior all-league safety Geoff Bean said. "We hit every day. That's just how we play football, and it carries over into the fourth quarter in game-time situations. It's all about being physical, being physical, being physical. That's what he stresses."
"We have a great indoor facility over there that we use for winter conditioning." Bolis said, nodding toward the athletic complex across the street from his office. "We always show that on tours, but I always make sure I'm very honest about it. If there is thunder and lightning and we have to go in there, we will. But if it's minus-20 and snowing or it's freezing rain . . . one day last year was the coldest I have ever been in my entire life, but we're outside. They'll plow off the turf before we go inside. . . .
"He preaches toughness, and the physical toughness turns into mental toughness."
Biddle does it with few words, but he makes sure his players get the message. A case in point occurred last season when the Raiders were embarrassed 50-34 at home by Lehigh.
"Before we even started to stretch the following Monday we did 50 up-downs," said Bolis, describing a torturous exercise in which players run in place with knees high and at the sound of a whistle belly-flop to the ground, scramble to their feet as quickly as possible and resume running in place until the next whistle repeats the sequence.
"It is the most tiring thing any player can do. The guys are just gassed as they go to their individual drills. Every day that week right after we stretched we did the up-downs.
"The next week we played at Lafayette, and we're out on the field before the game and he calls the players together and says, "Never again will that happen, what happened to us last week. Get'em going. Give me one up-down.' Right there on the game field during pregame warmups he had everybody do an up-down. All the coaches kind of looked at each other and we're like, "Oh yeah, here we go."'
And go they did, defeating the Leopards 18-15 en route to another league title and another berth in the NCAA Tournament.
It is where they expect to be again this season. Leading the way will be a soft-spoken man who can usually be found walking around campus with his head down or sitting at his desk with his head in his hands or lying on a couch in his office staring at the ceiling.
He's not sleeping, though. He's thinking.
The Biddle file
Name: Richard Lee Biddle
College: Duke, 1971, BA in history
High school: Parkersburg, W.Va.
Wife: The former Sheila Godfrey of Hamilton
Children: Jason (33), Brendon (25)
Record at Colgate: 84-35 (.706)
Awards: NCAA Division I-AA coach of the year in 2003, Patriot League coach of the year in 1996, 2003 and 2005.
Did you know? Biddle was interviewed for the Duke job in 2003, but the school hired Ted Roof, who is 5-22. "Yeah, I was disappointed," he said. "But it didn't work out and we were going to the national playoffs so, I mean ... my only thing with that is I think I was worthy of the job. At that time we had won 60 or 70 times. I mean, they haven't had a winning season since the Ice Age."
Pet peeve: "I think our players the last four years have won 39 games," Biddle said, "and I bet if you did a study I bet you couldn't find 10 teams in Division I and I-AA that have won 39 games in the last four years. But do you ever hear about that? No. That's quite an accomplishment. I think it should be out there. I don't think you can minimize it. We won our league three out of the last four years, too. I think that's quite an accomplishment for these players. I'm just promoting them."
Fraternity sets up fund
| Return to Top
Post-Standard - Madison County Bureau, The
|The Hamilton chapter of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity has established an educational and leadership fund for fraternity members attending Colgate University . The New York Zeta Fund, established in June using proceeds of the chapter house sale to the college, has about $180,000.
The fund will be used to finance educational programs to benefit students and the campus community, including undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, charity funding and leadership conferences. For more information, visit www.phideltatheta.org .
Under a housing policy started in 2004, Colgate required all its Greek-letter organizations to sell their chapter houses to the college to retain recognition as a legitimate campus organization. The fraternity's leadership agreed to the sale, but a small group of Phi Delta Theta members sued the college to rescind the agreement. They lost in court.
Colgate University Helps Parents Let Go
| Return to Top
|WRVO spoke with Mark Thompson, director of counseling and pscyhological services, about how the university is helping parents cope with their children's first year of college in this four-minute segment that ran during morning rush hour. To listen to the clip, click here: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wrvo/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=959980.
Some imagine escapee is a hero
| Return to Top
Columbus Dispatch, The
|Joy Cox knows about the signs that say John W. Parsons is innocent until proven guilty.
She knows there are Internet sites supporting him, and that his escape from jail has made him a sort of legend in some minds.
All that only adds to the pain she has felt in the month since Parsons fled the Ross County jail, where he was being held in the slaying of her son, Chillicothe Police Officer Larry Cox.
But pain can be endured.
"Weíre not going to let them tear us down," she said. "We donít want to bow down to that kind of behavior."
Parsons escaped July 29, using a rope made of bed sheets and toilet paper. His escape has held the attention of local and national media for weeks. Americaís Most Wanted plans to air a show about it Sept. 9.
People have marched in his support downtown and blogged online to proclaim his innocence.
Chillicothe residents continue to debate Parsonsí guilt and speculate about where he might be.
"Itís a small town. Things like this donít happen a lot here," said Lynn Haynes, who was shopping downtown Friday.
So many rumors are flying that Parsonsí escape has begun to sound like a folk tale, she said. "Nobody knows what happened."
Eileen Wilson, of Chillicothe, said she has heard Parsons compared to Dr. Richard Kimble, the lead character in The Fugitive, who was wrongly accused of murdering his wife and escaped to find the real killer.
Wilsonís daughter, Heidi Leasure, said the nature of the escape may fuel some of the rumors.
"But heís not a hero," she said.
Some experts say peopleís tendency to romanticize unusual or daring escapes is fueled by the amount of crime showcased in the media, while others say itís a case of loyalty.
People close to Parsons are probably in the middle of what they would consider a moral dilemma, said Kevin Carlsmith, assistant professor of psychology at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y.
"They feel they have a duty to their son and their friend, but they also have a duty to the state and to police," he said.
So if some people in the community, particularly friends or relatives of Parsons, believe he is innocent, they might consider it noble to want to help him, he said.
Some people become fascinated with criminal getaways because theyíve seen them in movies or read about them in detective novels, said Jacqueline Helfgott, who heads the Criminal Justice Department at Seattle University in Washington.
"They have sort of a distorted sense of the reality of the situation," she said. "People forget that because most people, if theyíre lucky, wonít have firsthand experience with that kind of crime. It canít mean the same thing to them."
Parsons was awaiting trial on aggravated-murder charges in the April 2005 fatal shooting. Cox was off-duty and walking home from his parentsí house when he joined the pursuit of a suspected gas-station robber. The man being chased shot and killed Cox; police say the man was Parsons.
Last weekend, there was a rally in support of law enforcement, to boost the spirits of the investigators who have been searching for Parsons nearly a month. Sheriff Ron Nichols has said he ignores the shows of support for Parsons and remains focused on the investigation.
A task force is conducting a nationwide search for Parsons. A $40,000 reward has been posted for information leading to his capture.
"We just want him to come to trial and prove it, one way or another," Joy Cox said.
"We donít have anything against these people personally," she said. "Families stick together. We stick together."
Anyone with information about Parsons is urged to call authorities at 740-772-9696, 740-773-TIPS (8477) or 1-888-400-TIPS (8477).
Pupils to star in celestial play
| Return to Top
Post-Standard - Madison County Bureau, The
|Hamilton pupils will take another crack at combining astronomy and the arts.
Music teacher Susan Schoonmaker last week received one of 17 statewide School Arts Partnership grants. The $9,000 matching grant will fund a year of coursework and help produce a play. The combination will allow fourth-graders to use drama, music and visual arts to learn about the solar system.
The project's title, "The Dialogue of the Geocentric and the Heliocentric Universe," refers to the once-major debate about whether the Earth or the sun was the center of the universe. Pupils will work with music, theater and visual artists to create a theater performance about the debate, which they will perform in June, Schoonmaker said.
"The proposal was designed to work with what teachers have to do during the course of the year in school and enhance the quality of learning," she said.
Part of the grant will be used for Schoonmaker's high school theater class, which will work with the fourth-graders on the final performance.
The elementary school will partner with Colgate University's Picker Art Gallery. The gallery's education coordinator, Melissa Davies, said she will work with pupils in November to help them understand visual images and give them tools to help create stories, build sets and learn more about art and astronomy. She will tap into campus faculty and resources for the program.
"It's designed to help them get the most they possibly can from an image," she said. "This is the perfect age for this work."
The grant is funded through the state Council on the Arts and administered by the Syracuse-based Partners for Arts Education. Grant recipients were selected from 44 applicants across the state.
Other Central New York grant recipients included McGraw Elementary School in Cortland County, which got $5,000 for a reading and writing program using Greek and Roman mythology, astronomy and drama.
Last year, Partners for Arts Education funded "Galileo's Universe" for Hamilton's math 12/pre-calculus class through the ArtStart program, which serves nine Upstate counties, said Connie Walters, a coordinator for the partnership.