Archive for January, 2011

Writing a dissertation is a marathon, not a sprint. For me, it is a marathon that also includes deviations off the path to experience some waterboarding, flaying and pillorying.

There is a special place in hell reserved for the people who devise the rules, regulations and procedures governing thesis projects and dissertations at state universities.

But enough about that. I have plenty of time to complain about the dissertation process over the next three months. Let’s talk about something fun — like words that I love.

This is a great word I’ve managed to use twice this week. I imagine plenty of stubble, patches, and a stick holding belongings tied in a kerchief — the whole nine yards.

Straight up to’ up. I also like “rickety.”

I use it when “horrible” just won’t do.

Succinct and illustrative.

It says so much more than “brown-noser” or “flatterer” could. I’ve only used this once this week, but there’s still time.

Hmmm … I see a theme emerging. Must be my general mental state. See first two sentences.

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So today is apparently a big day for American football fans. In my world, here is how I remember who is still a contender:

Game 1:

The team immortalized by Chris Farley and some other folks in a “Saturday Night Live” skit vs. The team formerly led by the is-he-retiring-is-he-not guy who supposedly texted photos of his naughty bits.

Bit players won.

Game 2:

The team that used to have great players like my sixth-grade teacher’s husband’s cousin (John Stallworth) but is now led by an alleged pervert/assaulter vs. The Jets (as opposed to the Sharks).

Eddie likes the Jets, but, as I am writing this, a flock of geese evidently flew into their engines and they are making an emergency landing.

I sort of cared about the playoffs when the Falcons were still in it. Now I don’t care at all. But I’m still excited about the Super Bowl.


Commercials, people!

And this year’s Super Bowl coincides with the fact that I am teaching Promotional Writing where I get to talk about advertising. So I’m very excited.

And there’s the food, of course. It’s like the holidays where you give yourself a pass. I’m giving myself a pass to make myself sick on nachos while watching some double-perv action.

Yay, nachos!

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The word for the day is “meh.”

It is one of my favorite words, as students who have taken my classes will attest. I use it as an utterance in class, but also as a simple comment in the margin near a part of the submission I find less than stellar.

“Meh” beautifully conveys emotion — or rather, lack of emotion. It is a verbal shrug, a noncommittal answer, an indication of indifference.

It is the word for the day because my esteemed colleague Jonathan Rabb told me that one of our mutual students tried to use it in the narrative of a paper for his class. And then, when Jonathan balked, that person tried to justify it by citing me.

No, no, no. It can be used in a quote (“Meh,” she said). It can be used as a reaction (see above image). It can’t really be used in a narrative. It is akin to other interjections such as “Argh!” or “Rats!” (or even old-school Shaggy‘s “Zoinks!”) and has to be treated as such. Yes, even though it is now included in some dictionaries. Read this article for more on the origin and status of the word. (Note: I would put quotation marks around the word as it is used in the dictionary’s example.)

Despite its limitations, I think it is a lovely word that says so much with so little. I would like to celebrate the word by wearing this:

So, it is fair to say that I don’t feel “meh” about “meh.”

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I love this résumé on Craig’s List and I don’t care if it is real or not, or how old it is (2008). Warning: It is quite profane.

Here’s my less profane (and therefore less funny) non-work version of my résumé:

Résumé of Dubious Achievements

OBJECTIVE: Finish my freakin’ dissertation already and get my life back!


  • Commented on my boss’ crazy hair. (I don’t remember doing this, but he swears I did.)
  • Used “meh” to describe students’ work. Repeatedly.
  • Gone ballistic over mistakes in printed materials (much to the joy of most of the people reading this blog).
  • Chosen to watch “Jersey Shore” instead of getting much-needed sleep.
  • Cleaned my kids’ faces with my own saliva. (Vile, I know, but there it is.)
  • Watched “Tommy Boy,” Napoleon Dynamite,” “Grease” and “Pulp Fiction” many, many times (too many times to count).
  • Watched “Transformers” and “Iron Man” while pretending it was because the boys wanted to watch. (We all know how I feel about Shia LaBeouf and Robert Downey Jr.)
  • Fed my children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.
  • Laughed at “iCarly.”
  • Planned an outfit around a necklace or pair of shoes.


  • Maintained this blog for more than a year.
  • Gotten out of bed on these recent frigid days.
  • Refrained from punching my mother-in-law.
  • Endured guest lectures that seemed interesting on paper, but were executed in the most boring, soul-sucking way possible.
  • Watched the George Clooney version of Batman. (Shudder.)
  • Pretended to be interested in Duke basketball.
  • Arranged a repair date for our recalled washer.
  • Created a brachiosaurus out of patterned paper. (Origami does not come naturally to me.)
  • Remembered to give Mona her heartworm pill this month.
  • Flossed regularly.


  • Making lasagna, gyoza, potato and leek soup, and pumpkin pie.
  • Getting the boys dressed in five minutes.
  • Beating my hair into submission in about that same amount of time.
  • Butchering complex concepts in Spanish (fourth-grade level = fine).
  • Going to the gym even though I hate its guts.
  • Refusing to balance my checkbook.
  • Planning our next vacation.
  • Dreaming about winning the lottery.
  • Not wearing plaid.
  • Microsoft Office and Quark.

References available upon request.

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I’m not an avid reader of the Financial Times but, thanks to 36-Hour Tina (and that’s starting to sound like some kind of creepy porn name), I am a fan of Lucy Kellaway.

She is a management columnist, and (yet?) is quite funny. She also is a kindred spirit. In her latest column, Kellaway discusses the branding of books as “reading containers” and cars as “sustainable mobility solutions.”

Oh my.

Tina is becoming quite the resource. She also provided this lovely bit of nonsense.

EUR claws its way back to 1.2900 on PBOC reserve diversification talk; trader preference still to fade rallies.


She said this is an example of “run speak,” which is the “commentary traders attach to prices of bonds, currencies, etc.”


I think I’ll stick to my kind of creative nonfiction.




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Information taken out of context can be quite interesting and illustrative. Also embarrassing.

My friend Tina (36-hour Tina) mentioned a movie I hadn’t yet seen (“Saving Grace”), so I visited Netflix to add it to my queue.

This is what I found:

Hmmm. A superhero story, a documentary about birds, and “Zombie Strippers.” What does that say about me?

Let me explain.

“Spider-Man, Vol. 1: Interactions”

Eddie selected this for the boys to keep them from destroying the house. Yes, we occasionally use the TV as a babysitter and anesthetic. Don’t call DFCS on me.

“The Life of Birds: Episode 1”

I picked this for Dominic because he has developed an overwhelming interest in birds. Gideon was having none of it, though, and tried so hard to distract his brother that Dominic finally gave up on the (very interesting) documentary. It’s too bad. We almost made it to the end.

“Zombie Strippers

Sigh. This is the one you really want to know about, don’t you? It was an Eddie choice after we had finished watching “Breakdown” (How is it possible that I had not seen this classic with Kurt Russell as the vengeful, driven husband and J.T. Walsh as the leader of the bad guys [as usual]?). I like ridiculous, campy movies very much, but I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for “Zombie Strippers.” And it was way past my bedtime. I gave up on it, much like I gave up on “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Perhaps we’ll return to the movie at some point. I’m not a particularly discerning viewer. After all, I sat through all of “Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie” and “Sherman’s March.” (Eddie still hasn’t forgiven me for that.)

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I always ask one question of students on the first day of class. This helps me get to know them a little better, and makes it easier to start class discussions.

Today’s question was this:

Around Jan. 1, most people resolve to start or stop doing something. What is one resolution you would never make?

Think of it as a non-resolution.

Here are 10 things I thought of today that I would never (willingly) give up:

  1. Cheese (my response in the Promotional Writing class)
  2. KISS (my response in the News Writing and Editing class)
  3. Bacon (a discussion topic in the above class)
  4. My MacBook Air that facilitates my Facebook and Twitter habits
  5. My iPhone (also an enabler)
  6. Watching Will Ferrell movies
  7. Reading David Sedaris’ work
  8. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Puffs
  9. Coffee
  10. Shrimp

And my family, of course. (I hear the collective “awww.”)

What are yours?

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I’ve been working very hard on my dissertation. I know that may come as a shock, but it’s true.

According to what I wrote in my proposal and IRB application, I am trying to determine what television news reporters in small markets perceive as influences on their daily newsgathering and decision-making processes. And, just to make it extra fun, I chose a qualitative research method: in-depth interviews.

It has been challenging to find participants, then schedule and conduct the interviews — all of which have been phone interviews. Many of these have happened after dinner, before the kids go to bed.

You can sense a disaster about to happen, can’t you?

Tonight, I had two interviews in a row. Eddie was supposed to keep the boys quiet.

For whatever unfathomable reason, he decided to stage some kind of freaky dance party in our living room instead — with predictably disastrous results.

Meanwhile, just a few steps away, I was in my office, trying to conduct an interview.

Hear the disaster here.

I can’t imagine what that poor reporter thinks.

(And don’t worry — both boys are just fine.)

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2010 in stats

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high-level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, this blog would have filled about four fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 150 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 217 posts. There were 418 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 173mb. That’s about one picture per day.

The busiest day of the year was March 4 with 316 views. The most popular post that day was Murder in the ‘ham.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, scadwrit220.blogspot.com, iconfactory.com, and brotherhoodofthieves.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for chiasmus, fuzzy wuzzy, anadiplosis, redneck, and eats shoots and lays.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Murder in the ‘ham March 2010


Redneck Games: Fun for the whole family July 2010
7 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,


Hypophora? I hardly know her! January 2010
1 comment


Cast September 2009


The author August 2009

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