The California Factor — one HSU student’s Golden State identity

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By  Kelly Bessem

California contains a mecca of different people and experiences that shape the identity of those who live within it. Gregory Moskowitz, a 22 year old Humboldt State Business student, described how California has influenced who he is today.

“My California identity is really based on the Bay Area and the whole social justice movement,” Moskowitz said.

He noticed when someone from his diverse group of friends in San Rafael, California were treated differently and recognized that there was progress to be made. Now at HSU, he feels like he’s ended up where he’s supposed to be.

“This isn’t the standard business school or a place that you expect to do business,” he said. “Even if I’m out of place, anywhere I’d go I’d want to do business.”

Top business school or not, coming to Humboldt State took him out of his comfort zone and made him more decisive.

“Before I came to Humboldt I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing,” he said. “Being here and in college I really had to evaluate what I want to do.”

This was an important part of Moskowitz’s self-discovery since he’s largely had to shape his own California identity. Though he grew up in the Bay Area, his parents had moved there after living in New Jersey most of their lives. He often looked to his friends and their parents to form his opinions. The considerable amount of time he spent at day camps exploring a wide variety of the Bay Area had a particularly big influence on him and allowed him to make friends that became like family. He also commented on the influence of San Francisco music and culture.

“No matter what you like, there’s always something for you to do in the Bay Area,” he said.

The first thing that Moskowitz’s friend Lily Syfers, a 21-year-old HSU student, noted when asked about her perception of Greg’s California identity was his Bay-centered musical ties.

“Greg is analogous to Mac Dre, aside from some superficial things,” Syfers said.

Mac Dre is a renowned Bay-area rapper that is often heard emanating from Moskowitz’s record player, one of his more favored possessions. This exemplifies what Syfers described– Moskowitz’s generally laid-back, open-minded disposition.

“He really likes the fine side of life, and is often found listening to his record player and drinking rye whiskey,” Syfers said.

Moskowitz has recently been indulging in all that is whiskey– how it’s made,.the different tastes, and what constitutes a really good bottle. He doesn’t like to keep the “California Dream” of chilling and indulging to himself though.

“[Moskowitz’s] hospitality shows his self-respect and respect for others,” Syfers said. “He’s the type of person who will give you cookies that he made from scratch and pour you a glass whenever you stop by.”

Moskowitz’s perception of the chill, laid back California attitude contrasted much of what he experienced at home.

“Being from Jersey my parents were a lot more confrontational, blunt, and honest,” he said. “Californians are less confrontational and would rather not argue.”

Moskowitz’s parents were also very conservative in politics and traditional in their views. His parents grew up devoutly religious, his dad in a Jewish synagogue and his mother in a Catholic church. They drove across the country with all of their belongings Moskowitz’s dad was offered a job with Merrill Lynch banking. His parents embraced their new start and love the Bay Area, but retain their viewpoints. Many of their friends have opposing viewpoints but they typically choose not to discuss politics. Typically liberal issues such as legal marijuana are simply not things that they’d like to get involved with. Moskowitz has formed his own opinions on such issues.

“Good weed, nature, and some friends that were planning on attending Humboldt State influenced me to come here,” Moskowitz said.

In addition to all of those Humboldt perks, the relationships he’s had while up here have helped him to grow a lot as a person. Good and bad, they have helped him to take initiative and really put time and energy into achieving something.

“Not every part of your life is forever,” Moskowitz said. “But this is definitely a unique and beautiful part of my life even if it’s not where I’m going to end up.”

This resonates the general sense of impermanence that many Californian’s feel. Most residents have parents or grandparents that immigrated here, or even immigrated themselves. Like Moskowitz’s parents moving cross-country to the Bay area or Moskowitz himself seeking Arcata, the inclination to pursue new places as a way to realize life’s full potential seems very Californian.  

My grandparents all converged in Long Beach, CA because of the good weather, freedom, and  opportunity that they associated with California. Though all four of them originated in different places, none of them ever left California– they found what they were looking for within the state. There is intense pride for being a Californian, with the entire state more so than a locality being appreciated as home.

Like Moskowitz, many Humboldt State students haven’t totally figured out where they will end up. At least it can be known for sure that if none of us ever find a town, city, or heck– a pile of rocks to call home for good, we’ll always have California.

Yoga instructor builds body awareness

By Christine Harris
Flapjack staff

“Take a breath. Now let it out.”

The room is cool from the cold morning air and the air flows through the arena. Everyone’s conversations echo a bit from being in the Lumberjack Arena. Soft mellow music plays as you find your seat and lay out your mat. As you sit down on your mat you begin to allow your heartbeat to slow down a bit and settle into your spot.

Kristen Ince is an instructor for Humboldt’s Kinesiology department and teaches courses in yoga, stretch and relax, and a class she created herself called fitness fusion.  At 44, Ince has been teaching these types of courses since she was 15 years old, and she has now been teaching for almost 30 years. In a sense teaching is in her blood. When she was younger her parents, who are also teachers, had always told her she needed to become one,

“I always said no no no cause they’re my parents and I wanted to do something different,” she says. “So I didn’t really realize that I was going to be a teacher. It just kind of happened.”

Ince’s career path was shaped in three major ways. First, she was influenced by her parents because they were an active family that always exercised. The second area in which she was inspired was at her first job,

“It was called Body Shapers where there were lots of beautiful women that were strong and they encouraged me on in teaching,” Ince says. “So I learned a lot from them.”

The third area that has influenced her career is when she came to HSU. At the time she was taking a class with the head fitness coordinator who saw Ince’s experience through her movements.

“She’s the one that gave me the jobs here. It was just teaching one or two at first, and then finally she had to make a choice,” Ince says. “They were going to fire her, or she had to choose that I and the other girl who was working under her would get fired. So she decided to let go of her job and give it to me and this other girl. And so in her doing that, I mean I’m so appreciative of her, she lost her job she went on into retirement, but I just kept going from there. This has become really what I do and love.”

Teaching and being a mom is such a huge part of her life. Her student’s well being and happiness is so important to her and the flow of her class. She starts off every class asking her students how they are doing and how their other classes are going for them. Also, she asks her students what areas they would like to focus on that day. Ince loves all the classes she teaches and has a tough time deciding which she prefers.

“I would a lot of times say I love the stretch and relax class the best, but I really can’t say that,” she says. “The fitness fusion class I teach, the more active class, is one I kind of created and put together so in that way I love being active. Then yoga is my least favorite, but that is also not exactly true it compliments everything I do. I am qualified to teach it, but at the same time there is a lot deeper stuff to yoga ancient learning.”

Kayla Daniel, 21, is a junior and a communications major. She is Ince’s student assistant for her 9 a.m. stretch and relax class. Daniel has taken at least one class every semester since her freshman year, so she has taken a total of seven different classes with Ince. She has been able to take every class Ince offers and intends to continue to take more courses with her.

“Kristen is just relatable; it’s her personality,” Daniel says. “She has the whole 80’s aerobic teacher vibe and that’s what makes her classes so enjoyable. Also, she tries to shape all her classes for her students not just what she wants to do.”

Ince is not the type of teacher to just tell her students what to do. She actually does the movements and goes into details of what you should be feeling when doing the movements. So after a fitness fusion class not only would you be slightly out of breath, and so would she. If she sees that you may be struggling with a movement or a pose she will come right next to you and show you how to do it.

Ince’s favorite part about being a teacher is 100 percent her students, she says. She loves being able to reach and connect with so many different types of students and being able to share positive movements. Within each class they both have different positive movements, exercises, and stretches and each class have ways in which she can share positive ideas.

Nora McDevitt-Hickey, 20, is a kinesiology major and a junior here at HSU. She has taken a total of five classes with Kristen so far and loves her energy during class. Out of all the teachers that she has had Ince is the one teacher who interacts with her student on more than just a teaching level. McDevitt-Hickey feels that she truly cares about her students and their well-being.

“My favorite class that I’ve taken is the stretch and relax class,” says McDevitt-Hickey. “It’s really calming and the voice she used is like a mediation voice so it helps you to focus and be calm during class as well as after class.”

For students who are completely new to these types of classes and are unsure Ince wants you to feel comfortable while taking her classes. She says the most rewarding part of being a teacher is when she is able to help her new students feel that they are in the right place. Over the years she has had to learn to reach out differently to different types of students because she wants to make those connections and allow the student to feel comfortable in class.

Heather Werner, 20 is a liberal studies and elementary education major. This is her first class with Ince and she feels that she has already made an impact in her life,

“Every day she inspires me to be more aware of my body and to take better care of it,” Werner says. “From taking her class I now know and understand my body’s limits. Because she asks what we would like for that class and makes a conscious effort to learn everyone’s name she makes her classes unique.”

Ince is helping students to feel comfortable with their bodies.

“It just reaches people in different ways, and that is cool,” Ince says. “I had some students last semester say ‘You helped us build our confidence”, I’m like wait I’m just teaching exercise. To hear those words ‘build your confidence’, it’s touching people a little more deeply than just the exercise that is the most rewarding to me.”

Alison Newman: Combating opioid overdoses in Humboldt County

By Abby Martinez
Flapjack staff

Alison Newman is the senior health education specialist at Humboldt County Health Department who works hard to prevent people from dying from opioid overdoses.

Newman works to reduce the amount of overdoses throughout the county. Humboldt County is often three times higher in deaths relating to drugs than the over all California’s percentage, Newman noted. Recently, she’s been working to help promote the distribution of Narcan, an opioid antidote.

“It’s really important to work with in this area,” said Newman. “Like many rural areas we have difficulties with health care, they’re often far from doctors and ERs. So if we have Narcan, we save lives.”

Not too long ago Newman’s job in the community gained much attention after she was able to complete training with Arcata Police Department and surrounding community members on how to appropriately give Narcan to a person overdosing. A couple days after training a local librarian, a man overdosing in a library was revived after the librarian gave a dose of Narcan.

Newman relocated to Humboldt County in 2013 from Vermont, which is where she grew up.

At a young age Newman had expressed lots of interest in working to help others. Newman’s mother Susan Choke describes how much of an interest she had in helping.

“Alison has always been a big helper,” said Choke. “When she was little she would go around the park and picking up cigarette buds trying to keep the park clean.”

Newman’s need to help others continued to follow her later down the road. Her professional journey began in 2000 when she attended George Washington University in D.C. where she studied anthropology.

“ I love learning about people and cultures,” said Newman. “That’s why I chose anthropology.”

Newman’s love for learning about different cultures led her to do her internship work in Guatemala in a program called WINGS. The program aimed to bring attention to cervical cancer screening and early family planning. This influenced Newman into wanting to peruse a degree that focused more on public health.

“I found that anthropology wasn’t prismatic enough and the work was too theoretical,” said Newman. “I wanted to work helping people and trying to make a change so people have more options in their lives.”

Not only did Newman’s work abroad influence her to pursue a degree in public health. During her time in college Newman’s mother was in a big accident with a semi truck. Newman’s mother has since not been able to walk without the assistance of crutches and has suffered from health problems.

“Seeing how health can affect someone and everything in their life is very powerful,” said Newman.

In 2006, Newman decided to apply to graduate school for a masters in public health. She was then admitted into Oregon State University where she focused her Masters in International Health. During her time at Oregon State, she was able to take part in providing assistance with research promoting public health with the University of Gondar in Ethiopia. Towards the end of her masters, Newman decided to apply for a Fulbright Scholar position. Through Fulbright, she was able to travel to Sri Lanka where she helped the rural area with maternal health.

Although Newman was able to do many things her journey with public health was just starting. In 2010 Newman was able to begin working with the Department of Health in Vermont.

“She started working in Vermont,” said Choke. “She was working with the Hepatitis C testing program and also with HIV and STIs education and prevention.”

Through her work she found one of the many reasons Hepatitis C and HIV infections where common in her rural town in Vermont, it was intravenous drug use. During her time there she oversaw three of the syringe exchange programs where she learned many effective ways to help rural areas with IV drug users.

Given the nature of Humboldt County and the rise of the overdose deaths concerning drug use Newman saw the opportunity to then apply to this area in 2013.

“She has always loved the outdoors,” said Choke. “She saw the opportunity to work in Humboldt County and she took it.”

Grace Brosnahan works with Newman in the public health department.

“What [Newman] does is great,” said Brosnahan. “She works really hard for this community and agency. We’re in a better place ever since she’s been here. She cares about our county, people who usually come to our county don’t really care because their not going to stay here for long.”

Although Newman’s work has been significantly known through out the area and has been able to achieve many things to help our community, she said there is still much work to be done.

“We don’t have many access to jobs and other things to help people not take part in opioid use,” said Newman.

But Newman keeps an important goal in mind.

“ It’s important to keep everyone in our community as healthy as possible,” said Newman. “No matter what their life situation is.”

Compassionate bonds — new HSU chem prof goes above and beyond

By Bryan Donoghue
Flapjack staff

For many students at Humboldt State University, any chemistry class is on a list of the hardest courses a student can take. Humboldt State has taken on a new temporary chemistry professor whom students are dubbing “passionate,” “exuberant,” “enthusiastic,” and “caring.” Walking into his office, some may mistake him for a student. He’s listening to Selena Gomez, One Direction and country music. But it’s his demeanor, not his music preference, that makes Puminan Punthasee so approachable.

“I’m not afraid to approach Pete, which I sometimes am with other professors,” said 29-year-old student and Marine Corps veteran Kathryn Buzanski. “With Pete, I can email him, I can approach him, talk to him face-to-face, and have no worries.”

Punthasee’s approachability follows into his relationships with colleagues in the chemistry department. Joshua R. Smith, chair of the department of chemistry, recalls that the first time he met Punthasee. He found him to be funny and deeply empathetic. But it was his passion for teaching that struck Smith the most in the hiring process.

“He clearly had a passion for teaching, based on what he wrote in his application, and he clearly got that across during the interview as well,” Smith said.

This enthusiasm and commitment Punthasee brings to teaching chemistry blossomed long before Humboldt State. Dating back to his high school years, living in Thailand, Punthasee had to take science courses every semester in high school. Thailand’s education system requires six science courses in order to graduate.
“I wasn’t really a smart kid, I was slow, and couldn’t grab anything that the teacher taught us,” Punthasee explained. “My grades were okay but weren’t as high as I wanted them to be.”

Before graduating high school, Punthasee discovered his passion for learning, as he found a role model at his tutoring school.

“This chemistry teacher at my tutoring school made chemistry understandable,” Punthasee said. “And that was the starting point that made me realize that if I could understand chemistry, maybe there’s some other stuff that I can understand as well!”

Following high school, Punthasee graduated from the University of Thailand, and continued to expand his horizons by enrolling in University of Missouri’s Ph.D program for chemistry.

“I was in a Ph.D program at the University of Missouri, and I hated the program,” Punthasee said. “It’s the nature of the Ph.D program that makes you do a bunch of research, but I don’t like doing the research, so I found myself looking at the clock every five minutes.”

Although he isn’t passionate about research, Punthasee found his calling as a teacher. He’s won three awards for being a teaching assistant through his graduate program. He’s been awarded with the Number One T.A. Choice award twice, and has also accepted the Green Chalk award for being an excellent teaching assistant. “I bet you that no science teacher does things like I do, not in this state,” Punthasee said, “only two people follow my “Pete” style. Me and my role model in Thailand.”

Efforts to reach out to students outside of the classroom further solidifies their appreciation for Punthasee as well. As a professor, he will send three e-mails each day on average, all for varying, but positive reasons.

“Pete really likes to send out encouraging emails. I’ve gotten both general and personal encouragement emails. He’s really taking the time out to say specifically, ‘You’ve done this really well today’,” said archer and chemistry student Kate Panebianco.

Brooke Holdren, a 20-year-old science and art major at Humboldt State, also expressed how much the emails help her. “He sends the most emails out of any teacher I’ve ever had,” she said, “it’s really great and encouraging, sometimes a bit over the top, but that just shows how involved he is in comparison to the other teachers I’ve had.”

What makes Punthasee such a well-liked professor boils down to how relatable he is. He’s just like any regular college student, and he likes to keep things simple because simplicity is easier to understand.

“It’s just human nature,” he explains. “We don’t like complicated stuff, we like fun stuff.”

 Attributing his best quality to being a “tremendously freaking hard worker,” Punthasee said his talent lies in his ability to simplify and socialize. Buzanski explained this in a way that many of Punthasee’s students can empathize with: “He does want to be our friend, but more importantly, he wants to be our friend while we know he’s our teacher.”

Kit Lamb finds inspiration in life-changing fire

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Kit Lamb, Arcata guitarist

By Sean Bendon
Flapjack staff

When the guitarist for local drone-death-gaze band Paint Shadows talks about his music, he’s casual. He stands near his kitchen island, rolls a cigarette,  and discusses his middle school years in Santa Cruz. Kit Lamb’s first project just so happened to start with the childhood neighbor.

It’s clear that Lamb had been conscious about creating music and art for a long time, because he had so many stories and projects to talk about, but none are spoken of with any tone of ego or narcissism, but rather an almost “ just stoked it happened” refrain.

He goes through the usual line up of original influence and overall greats, discussing Megadeth and Iron Maiden’s impact on his childhood and eventually ties it into his personal music.

Currently Lamb is one of two guitar players in Paint Shadows, an Arcata based drone-death-gaze band that recently opened for Japanese touring band Kikagaku Moyo. His main focus lies within the group, which Lamb joined earlier this year. When asking him about his personal music, his reply came quickly.

“I kind of start to headbutt a lot of different stuff and then I have to step back,” says Lamb.

He’s been trying to expand his musical horizon for the last few months, diving into more house music and Japanese new wave.

After a conversation about Lamb’s music, bandmate Spencer Snow, the bassist in Paint Shadows, responded with his thoughts on Lamb’s writing.

“Kit is a humanoid, not a human. His art and music reflect two ideas,” Snow says.  

Lamb’s art has been another staple in the local scene, having pieces displayed at the Arcata Block Party in May and in September’s Monthly Art Showcase, just a few weeks ago. Working off influences within the DADA scene, he began by producing collage pieces, using old cutouts of ads or words in magazines and newspapers to create an avant-garde layout of his thoughts.

A friend of Lamb’s, Trent Franks, told me about some style choices and the way Lamb works through his art.

“He paints with spontaneous style. I don’t think he draws anything out beforehand,” Franks adds.  

Unfortunately, Lamb was the victim of a house fire and lost many of his art pieces, including old scraps from his collection of ads and also a great deal of musical equipment, with his interior studio burning with the house.

The fire took place June 3 in Eureka, around 3 a.m., after Kit returned from a night filled with friends and positive plans for the future.

“It was at the cusp of that first wave,” Lamb explained, discussing some artistic moves he had made just prior to the fire.

When the event came to a close, the conclusion was thousands of dollars worth of equipment lost, a handful of guys without a home, and no place to base Lamb or his art. Yet, before he could even begin to regroup, the community and the local scene were there to help.

Some friends of Lamb’s started a Go-Fund-Me account for the victims of the fire and others reached out to support in any way they could, offering places for Lamb and his roommates to stay, musical equipment for them to play, and the support to get past this tragic catastrophe. Soon enough he was back on track with his plans artistically.

“I just had to keep doing what I scheduled and focus on my stuff. I had so much momentum that I felt like I didn’t even lose a beat,” said Lamb.

He added that this momentum came from the support he was getting in the art and music scene around Arcata and Eureka.

Lamb was quick to bounce back from the fire, not wanting to let go of the connection he was feeling from all of his musical and artististic peers. After such a massive shock to his routine, he just wanted to stabilize everything and move past the lost equipment and art.

Now Lamb is fully functioning within the local scene again, performing routinely within the show circuit in Arcata and displaying work at local galleries. He has amassed a new load of equipment to make his music from and is pushing himself to step outside his boundaries, using the fire and its aftermath as an influence on his work.

Lamb says he is grateful for what those in the local scene have done to help support him and expressed much excitement about the current state of affairs in Arcata. He explained how “open-ended” everything is right now with the genre-free grouping of bands that are slowly rising into general awareness.

Continuing to move forward, Lamb’s art has brought together his work and influence within the community and has shown signs that he is leaving a positive impact. People are getting excited about the scene in Arcata and Lamb is an example of someone who has shown resilience throughout the aftermath of the fire and helped to push the local scene.

He managed to salvage not only equipment and art supplies, but also a strong support within that community that helped him soar to new levels with groups like Paint Shadows and personal projects under Lamb’s own name.

Walking out on the porch to finish his cigarette, Lamb reflects on how he felt the whole situation turned out. He simply stares for a moment, then smiles and says, “ It was cool.”