Monday, October 27, 2008

Continuing Education Sans the Institution

I must agree with Mark Twain: "Don't let schooling interfere with your education." In my case, it's not so much my current school so much as my lack of schooling. I'm not entirely sure what I plan to do about graduate school at this stage of my life, but I do know I want to learn all I can about electracy. With the consent of Dr. Ulmer, I've chosen to "take" his courses on my own free time without concern for the technicalities of acceptance and admission into a graduate school.

For my first order of business, I intend to read and review Dr. Ulmer's sites and blog. Reading what he has done will prove to be enriching, educating, inspiring, and above all telling of the projects I'll be updated and/ or undertaking. Secondly, I need to locate the books -- a few are actually in the on campus libraries. Luckily, I enjoy the benefit of the UF libraries as a UF employee, so it would appear that I have the luxury of reading these books for free. As I have a... "discrepancy" with the county library, I'll have to wait to clear that up before utilizing it for the remaining books I can't find on campus. Suffice it to say I need to stop forgetting to drop off that book to the book mobile. Next, I'll take notes from the books much like I did in Ulmer's classes. Finally, I'll revisit my projects from Internet Literature and Hypermedia to either update what I currently have or build from scratch.

As it stands, I have much to read and so much more to learn. And with that, I realize my auto-time has already been set back an hour. Didn't WP get the memo that we won't get our hour back until November 9th?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blog Neglect

Regrettably, I am 100% guilty of blog neglect. It would seem I work in phases of writing activity. Perhaps I could blame an increase in my work load between mid-August and late-September, but I'm merely grasping for a scapegoat when I should only blame myself.

While directing a professor to the chair of the English department to find technical writing students to edit papers, I decided to check in on Dr. Ulmer, my favorite English professor. Okay, let's be honest -- my all-around favorite professor. I discovered that he's created a blog, of course in typical fashion as well. I've been inspired to sit down, review his course syllabi, start revamping my MyStory, and taking on new projects. I certainly could use the direction, and Dr. Ulmer is a pioneer on the subject matter. After all, he did coin the term "electracy." I consider myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to take his classes.

I've been inspired to sit and write a bit more after reviewing a couple pages of his blog, so hopefully I will manage to be more productive with my writing in the coming days and weeks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gardening Minus the Green Thumb

I inherited a tree that once belonged to a prominent professor here in my department. A month before I started working here, he died of cancer. His tree had taken up residence in the main office and began wilting. One day a professor alerted us to this issue, and I learned the tree was essentially homeless. So, I warned everyone that I would not be held accountable for the tree's imminent death if I was to assume care of it. I began watering it in irregular intervals only to realize it was perking back up. Delighted with my progress, I made the false assumption that I had shaken my plant-killing past and bought some herb plants to supplement my pantry staples. The words "bad idea" do not begin to describe the situation in the least. Needless to say, this particular tree must be low maintenance and/ or tough to kill because it has survived my tenure here in the department.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed it was growing new foliage -- and the previous foliage had been forced forward as the tree was placed against the wall. I decided it could use a little room to stretch out, so I dragged it into my desk area. Its new leaves are stretching in the opposite direction, and I'm very pleased to say it livens up my work space a bit more. At least this one tree survives my non-green thumb.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


It would seem my theme is incompatible with widgets. However, I've not found another theme that appeals to my aesthetic and professional needs. It would seem I need widgets in order to add any extra buttons to my sidebar. Now really this just means I need to spend some time reading what coding needs to be added, implement it into my current theme, and I should have no more issues. What this does not take into account is my extreme ability to procrastinate on even the most mundane of tasks. So what's a procrastination queen to do? Until I take the time to apply myself, I suppose we'll be staring at the donation button in entry format, won't we?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Inspired Yet Unmotivated

I feel very inspired to write, yet at the same time I have little to no motivation. I suppose perhaps it’s an issue with formulating my thoughts, expressing what’s going through my mind. I find myself typing away about the day-to-day concerns, repeatedly pressing the “backspace” key, then continuing the cycle. It seems so incredibly trite and trivial once I actually type it out, and then I push the keyboard away feeling bewildered and ambitionless. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a writer’s block — unless we’re discussing the articles I have looming above my head. I have the materials I’d like to write about, but I’m having difficulties wording it the way I’d like it to read. For example, do you remember in English class when they’d force you to read literature and find the symbolism in the text? I don’t want people drawing the wrong “symbols” from my work — and how did those teachers know that’s what the author really meant when s/he wrote it?! Perhaps we’re reading far too much into the words printed before us and taking less time to enjoy what the author has bestowed upon us.

I also find myself wanting to share images at times when my digicam usb cord is sitting somewhere inconvenient — say, my desk at home while I’m at work. For example, I captured an image of a hawk or falcon while on my way to work one morning, and I was just so awe-struck by the whole incident. The last time I had such an opportunity, my digicam was merely a wish rather than reality. It the simple beauty in life that inspires me, as corny as that may sound.

Maybe soon I’ll break from this obnoxious phase of unactivity. For now, I suppose I’ll continue to entertain thoughts of a prosperous writing career.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dramatic Intentions

Why does it seem that so many human beings practically thrive on drama? From an early age through our last breath, people find one thing or another to gossip about, obsess over, and generally get involved in the latest dramatic issue. I’ve personally chosen to avoid such instances, although I generally don’t escape from drama. Some how, drama finds me even if I think I’ve chosen the best hiding spot. I then find myself either running or facing the drama — the so-called “fight or flight” response, you could say. I don’t much care for it at all. For the moment, however, I’ve chosen to muse about how drama seems to effect us no matter what our age or circumstances might be.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I've spent the past two days scouting magazines and journals for submission guidelines. I must say the process is just as overwhelm as I had assumed it would be. However, I've currently found sixteen promising leads during my search thus far. Amazing!

Unfortunately this has eaten into my time, so I've not gotten much accomplished on my next article/ blog entry for FFOM. I should be sure to do that first tomorrow as I at least need an outline to feel better. Then I can continue my hunt. I should aim for a rough draft by Friday morning so I can get some peer review and submit my entry to the board. I may be setting myself up for disappointment with that time frame, but we shall see.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I absolutely have to start work on a few articles for the fall newsletter, my next article/ blog entry for FFOM, writing here more often, and compiling a list of publications to send queries and/ or submissions. The first two tasks are relatively simple -- I have the topics, access to the information to write about send topics, and the (self-imposed) deadlines for the topics. The third task involves a bit more thought and a lot more spontaneity. The fourth task absolutely terrifies me. Have you any idea how many publications exist in this world? For every niche, there is an outlet. For cat lovers, you have Cat Fancy. For parents of babies, you have BabyTalk. For those domestic goddesses out there, you have Better Homes & Gardens. These are only examples of my point. In general, one is expected to have clips geared towards the publication's overall theme and essentially choose topics pertaining to that genre. The difficulty I have is choosing one genre. I do not feel that I can be boxed into one genre.

For starters, I have never fit into a particular category. I find it degrading to be labeled as something because we are all individual people with differing tastes, beliefs, opinions, values, ideals, dreams, and motivations. For example, my blogs have mostly pertained to the "slice-of-life" genre, yet I've written and edited for a materials science and engineering newsletter and written for a midwifery advocate group. Each of these relates to me as a whole in that they make up parts of who I am. I can't just stop doing one thing or another to fit into some category that will dictate my writing for the future. Perhaps if I was one of the professors in my department, I might have to choose a specialty to write about. However, I'm not a professor specializing in ceramics or polymers, therefore I do feel the need to limit myself.

That being the case, I have several interests that I feel I'd love to write about -- which explains why I've got to compile a list of publications first. Then I suppose I'll need to narrow down my options based upon the overall feel of the publication and the copyrights. I simply cannot allow someone to own my writings forever. One time rights? Certainly. Non-exclusive rights? You bet. Exclusive, permanent rights? Not a chance. Once I've narrowed it down, I have the even greater task of writing letters. However, I also face the issue of my clips not pertaining to their genre. I suppose I'll have to cross my fingers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Taste of the Audience

So I've been getting a taste of being on the opposite end of the angry mob -- you know, the side where you're running for your life from people chasing you will torches and pitchforks? This situation made me realize something very deep and personal -- the reasons why I've taken the stand I have. I choose my sides based on my values and beliefs. I want my children to grow up in a world where they are safe, respected, and given the rights they deserve. I'd like to think my writing and efforts can at least fix some of the atrocities I see everyday. But then you always have the people who don't always agree with every thing you say -- or worse, you say something that comes out completely wrong in front of the wrong people. Of course in writing, everything seems cold and insensitive because it's merely black text on a white background. Unless you change the color schemes and/ or add emoticons, the connotations and context of your words may be misconstrued to varying extents. This situation has completely pushed me back down a few notches today.

For a while now, I've been feeling rather pleased with myself for getting my writing career started. I've published four blog entries with the Florida Friends of Midwives to date, and I served as a writer and associate editor for my department's newsletter. I have my fifth blog entry to the outline stage, and I'm working on a second newsletter for the department. I might even have an article (or maybe more) published in the FFOM newsletter. I've been feeling so good about my writing that I've taken the time to start searching for publications to send either queries or submissions. Now today, I'm questioning why I've decided to be a little "freedom fighter." I've heard it can be a thankless job. In fact, I don't write for the FFOM for payment -- I write for the satisfaction of knowing that my writing is going to a cause I feel personally invested in. I write because it's really all I can do for this cause. I don't have the extra money to lobby for change. I don't have the means to traverse the nation in hopes that I'll affect change in the system. I do have my Bachelors degree. I do have my thoughts. I do have my fingers, keyboard, and an internet connection. I'm doing my part for what I feel is the right cause. Of course, I also believe that working mothers are getting unfair treatment. I believe children deserve safer toys, safer vaccines, and safer environments. I believe animals deserve love, care, and respect. I believe fathers deserve to play an important role in their childrens lives. I believe children benefit from having their fathers in their lives. I believe in family. I believe in love. I believe in freedom. I believe that certain things mean certain things to certain people. I believe we all have varying opinions that make us unique individuals. I don't believe we'll ever achieve world peace, but we should at least strive to be as respectful and caring as possible.

If my opinions make me unpopular, so be it. I'm not trying to win a popularity contest -- I'm trying to do what I believe is right. The right way isn't always the popular way, to paraphase a wise saying.

As an aside, I haven't been keeping up with cross-posting my WP blog to my Blogger blog. Sorry about that.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Venturing Forth Into Controversy

Although I previously stated I wouldn't delve into a controversial topic, I've decided that I'd like to donate my authorship to advocate for pregnant women, mothers, children, families, and animals. I feel strongly about these topics, and I couldn't imagine not writing about them even during my early career. While the slice-of-life genre does yield a readership, it doesn't yield a sense of accomplishment in so much as affecting changes in the world to create a more harmonious environment for others.

Fiery Valentine's Terror

Thursday night around 9PM, I sat on the couch in front of my laptop while the kids played and Brian talked business with people. I heard a faint beeping outside, smelled smoke, then heard a loud pop. My first thought -- some idiot kids were setting off fireworks. I peeked out of my living room blinds and saw the reflection of a roaring fire coming from my next-door neighbor’s bedroom patio door. I froze in fear and denial before turning my head to confirm the raging horror transpiring next-door. I could see it was spreading fast. I shouted to Brian, “get the kids, there’s a fire, we have to leave now!” as I scooped my precious baby daughter off the floor and herding my son down from his chair. I grabbed the cordless phone, ran out of the apartment with my children and husband, and called 911. I frantically pleaded with the 911 dispatcher to get help as soon as possible while my son and I cried hysterically. My daughter quietly looked on, and my husband tried to chase the pets out before grabbing our fire extinguisher. The 911 dispatch yelled at me to calm down – she claimed I was upsetting my children. I certainly hope she never experiences such a horrifying situation in her life because she would learn that you cannot possibly remain calm when all you’ve ever worked for is about to go up in flames. Brian and some other neighbors ran around to the back of the building to try and stop the fire before the Gainesville Fire Rescue arrived. From my view, I could see the fire spreading faster and faster. I panicked, I begged for the 911 dispatcher to get the GFR out there quickly before the fire spread to my apartment. A man named Alton tried to get my cats and puppy out the apartment – he got the puppy, but he couldn’t find the cats before a Gainesville police officer arrived and told everyone to stay out of the building. I would estimate it took about 5 minutes for the GFR to arrive on scene. Smoke billowed above the apartment building, embers spewing from the fiery roof. Some wonderful neighbors got me and the kids wrapped up into blankets and jackets while letting Brian and I call family and friends for assistance.

We went inside a neighbor’s apartment to wait for the fire rescuers to extinguish the fire. Brian realized that he had inhaled far too much smoke while trying to help put out the fire – he had a severe asthma attack. A neighbor escorted him to an ambulance for treatment where our puppy was also receiving treatment for smoke inhalation. I called my friend Karen to get her help. The wonderful people who let us into their apartment offered comfort in the form of clothing for my daughter – who was in nothing but a diaper as she had been awaiting bath time – as well as snacks for my son and blankets for all of us. I found out that Brian needed medical assistance at the hospital and retrieved the puppy. Of course, the EMTs neglected to tell me which hospital they were taking him to. Once Karen arrived, we took the kids to find out where Brian went and to follow him. We were stopped by a reporter and the front office staff. American Red Cross collected all the residents of the building – who, by the way, were NOT mostly students as some incorrect sources might have you believe – to fill out paperwork and receive assistance and lodging. Rob’s idea of clearing the tension was farting loudly in front of everyone. I heard someone say, “at least he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.” Once I finished getting the paperwork done with Laura Mager of the Red Cross, Karen brought us to the Shands at UF emergency room. As usual, the ER was packed, the staff was rude sans for one shining gem named Jay, and Brian was absolutely frustrated at his situation. Apparently, he had two people attempt to start IV fluids – a fire fighter and an EMT. The first try Brian’s veins were blown, the second was not much better. He discharged himself against medical advice for two reasons: one, he felt he was needed with his family; two, he couldn’t tolerate the inconsiderate staff any longer. Of course, Shands at UF’s ER deserves their own special topic for a later date.

Karen drove us to the Days Inn on SW 13th Street, where we almost couldn’t stay because the American Red Cross didn’t ask for pet rooms. Luckily the manager allowed us to bring Bebop Jr. with us. We called more relatives and my boss before sleeping for a few hours. The Days Inn needed the rooms back by 11AM, so Karen returned the next morning to help us get some necessities and get settled in our apartment complex’s front office. We waited for word on where we would go and if we could get our belongings. I count my blessings that the Gainesville Fire Rescue prevented the fire from spreading to our apartment because everything inside was perfectly fine asides from some smoke soot and a little water on the kitchen floor. We found our cats alive and well, thankfully. The front office staff got us into another apartment Friday afternoon while Gator Moving came to move our belongings at no charge to us. Because no two bedroom/ two bathroom apartments were available, we got a wonderful three bedroom/ two and a half bathroom townhouse at the same rent price. Although I’m not pleased about having stairs with my increasingly mobile baby girl, I know we’ll be able to manage this transition. It’s been quite hectic moving at a time like this, but I’m infinitely grateful for my caring family, friends, co-workers, superiors, and apartment complex. We’ve received rides from the property manager himself, gotten food and clothing, and have been comforted in such a terrible time.

By the end of the day on Friday, we learned what caused the fire. Early investigations found that someone had dropped rose petals and lit candles. Whoever did so left our next-door neighboring apartment. They had two cats, who more than likely knocked over a candle – or more. The poor cats didn’t survive. All of this stress could have been avoided if a little commonsense had been exercised. Sadly, my neighbors learned their lesson by losing everything and their two cats. I hear some people may want to sue them, but I know I could not possibly be involved in such a pursuit. While I have been inconvenienced and will be losing pay, I have my family and belongings. They lost everything. As for myself, I’m certain I’m suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I never wish to witness such a disaster again. The image of the burning apartment will forever ingrain itself into my mind.