Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fareed Zakaria: Plagiarism 101

Credit: CNN
By now folks, I hope you are not under the impression that I have "lifted" or "used" another person's work when it comes to my written material. Who else has a sick, bordering on psychotic infatuation with Whales crackers, after all? (BTW: my suggestion for a limited time offering of Whales 'with bacon' to Stauffer's has still not received a response - I'll keep you posted)

That said, in light of the recent accusations of plagiarism leveled against CNN host, The Washington Post, and Time Magazine, Fareed Zakaria, I can say nothing more than I am simply stunned that this sort of thing happens at the highest level of journalism. Are you?

When news of Mr. Zakaria's alleged activity broke days ago, my first reaction was not only surprise to the idea that someone at the top of the journalist and multimedia world would actually stoop to the level of simply cheating, but shocked at the idea that a mere suspension was given. At least, thus far.

I have attended college (online) for the past three years. Every single paper...EVERY SINGLE PAPER...I submit is required to be constructed in precise APA format with a cover page. Moreover, EVERY SINGLE PAPER I submit is to have a statement of academic honesty affixed at the bottom of said cover page. It reads:
I have read and understand the plagiarism policy as outlined in the syllabus and the sections in the Student Bulletin relating to the IWU Honesty/Cheating Policy. By affixing this statement to the title page of my paper, I certify that I have not cheated or plagiarized in the process of completing this assignment.  If it is found that cheating and/or plagiarism did take place in the writing of this paper, I understand the possible consequences of the act/s, which could include expulsion from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Plagiarism is defined by Dictionary.com as "An act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author."

Should Mr. Zakaria be fired? Is a fine sufficient? As a writer, frankly, I'm appalled.

What are we to infer from all of this? Is it that in today's political environment there is nothing new worthy of reporting or commenting on, therefore, it is necessary to go back and recycle stories from 2009 as your own? Talk about lame.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

They Say, I Say

They Say, I Say
A guide to developing good content

They say, I say -- huh? Who says what, I say what? That's almost as confusing as the whole "who's on first" bit from Abbot & Costello!

This book title was a bit confusing to me at first, too. But after about two pages it made perfect sense. This is a book about the infamous "they" and all the things they say that always seem ambiguous, are usually anonymous, and typically as absurd as any arguments get.

You know...

THEY say it's likely going to rain...this week.
THEY say there's a good chance the Reds will win the pennant this season.
THEY say the economy is getting stronger.

What's the point?

Glad you asked. This book is based on making use of templates for arguing or creating dialogue in one's writing. Rather than expecting authors to just sit down and pull great topics from their mind (though I contend many can) accompanied with techniques for supporting the claim of your premise or thesis, this book gives numerous options for creating meaningful, engaging content while not relegating you to that of a writer only capable of creating ten or twenty new topics.

For example

The first exercise I encountered was this:
"If ever there was an idea custom-made for a Jay Leno monologue, this was it: (__________). Isn’t that like (__________)?

Whatever happened to (__________).

I happen to sympathize with (__________), perhaps (__________).

My response:

If ever there was an idea custom-made for a Jay Leno monologue, this was it: Congress can spend America out of its debt. Isn’t that like telling yourself "I make less than what I spend, and I owe more than what I'm worth, but by taking on more credit cards I'll eventually become debt free!"

Whatever happened to living within our means and not our egregious desires?

I happen to sympathize with politicians though, perhaps because I too might be tempted to promise everything to everybody if I were about to lose my job.

Think about it. How would you fill-in the blanks? Let me know.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

'Whales' from the dad side

I love my family. I love to write. I love to learn. But deep inside, I have a deep affection.

Some might call it an addiction while others might say it's a mere infatuation.

It rules my thoughts - typically late into the evening - and controls my actions in Walmart.

I get frustrated, irritated, and downright infuriated when they're sold out.

If I get home and there are none in the cabinet, well, let's just say you don't want to see that happen.

I'm talking about Whales. No, not Goldfish; not some other knockoff brand that may be out there.  Dads: you know what I mean...don't act like you don't!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Look out, LaSorda!

Day two of this crash course weight loss "diet" - things are going well. Of course I didn't think I was going to hear the response from my wife when I divulged my perfectly devised strategy to health.

Me: Okay, here it is. I have a bunch of protein powder leftover from my last go at running and physical fitness. Rather than depleting my body of calories (a.k.a. fasting) I'm going to do a protein milkshake for breakfast, another for lunch, and we'll eat a healthy portion-controlled dinner. No late night snacking. No added coffee. No snacks or sugar. I will do this for ONE week and I'm sure to lose weight.

Wife: Oh, so you're doing Slim Fast! That works for a lot of people.

Me: What? Slim Fast? It's not Slim Fast....no!

Wife: Hahahaha, yes it is.

Me: You're right. Now that I think about it, I remember those famous Tommy LaSorda commercials back in the 80's-90's.
"I had a delicious shake for breakfast, one for lunch, and then a sensible dinner."

Hey, if he lost weight, so can I!


Can't park....can't park....can't park as close as me!

I vow to not make this a political ranting blog...you have my word on that.

Recently, while visiting a newly constructed building, as I approached the fresh blacktop - stop noticeable by its distinct smell from nearly a mile away - I saw about a dozen or so signs erected in the front row of the parking lanes.

As I approached I noticed that several were blue, obviously painted as such for the handicapped. But what about these other spots that were painted orange?

  • Reserved for staff?
  • Expectant mothers like at Baby's-R-Us?
  • Visitor parking?
  • Employee of the month?
  • Senior citizens?
  • Vans with side or rear ramps?
Credit: Ben Douglas

Answer: none of the above! These spaces were reserved for "FUEL EFFICIENT PARKING." I guess that's different than fuel efficient cars, or fuel efficient mopeds? Somehow "PARKING" now gets its own spot, too?

Why does a fuel efficient vehicle get preferential treatment? Wouldn't it make more sense from an environmental standpoint to have the less efficient vehicles park closer to the building, thus reducing their distance and carbon emissions as they drive circles around the lot looking for the closest possible spot?

What is the real objective here? Is it to make me want to buy a fuel efficient something so I can park closer than you? Is it a university's way of wagging their finger in my face if I still choose to drive about town in a hooptie or, God forbid, an SUV? Did the university find a loophole in governmental funding and by claiming "GREEN" parking were able to access government money to fund this project?

I often wonder why fuel efficiency, compact and electric cars, today, are getting such privileged treatment. If this parking spot were painted the exact same, in the same location but the sign read "RESERVED: Muslim Parking Only," or "RESERVED: Christian Parking Only," or "RESERVED: Whites Only," could you image how fast the ACLU and NAACP (amongst others) would be protesting? I doubt the construction worker would even be able to install all of the signs before hearing the chants of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. And perhaps rightfully so - our country has made huge strides towards equality of human and civil rights. Some would argue we're close to equal while others would say we're nowhere near.

Still, what about equal car rights? Why does fuel efficient parking - I mean, cars - get special privileged treatment? This happens to be on a college campus. They're kids! They can walk a few extra feet! GEESH!!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's GO time

Here it is. Day one.

I am done with the sugary-filled late night snacking. I am writing off, for good (this time), the 'seconds' trip to the stove after dinner round one. I am forever changing my ways as an apathetic couch potato by replacing them with goals and aspirations of health and endurance.

I am officially entering the world of dieting.

My brilliant strategy in the past has been to simply not eat as much. I suppose years and years of training my stomach to rely on mass quantities of glutinous proportions on a daily basis has brought this concept to a screeching halt.

The last time I attempted to lose weight I reduced my daily caloric intake by significant proportions. Why? Simply because I had an appointment and physical screening seven days from submitting my application for a life insurance policy and I knew the forty(+) extra pounds I was carrying would put me in a higher rate class.

Result: I did ok on the exam, my weight was higher than expected, and I never completed the application process.
Failure. (p.s. I know that scale weighed at least four pounds higher than ours.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Dad Life (yeah, I live it)

Couldn't help but simply share this funny clip posted by pastor Tim Minks from his Facebook page.

Titled "Dad Life Rap".....yeah, I suppose I relate to some of this -- you know you do too!

Friday, August 3, 2012


I now have a new title in life. I am a stay-at-work-dad.

I love to work when I leave and I love to be dad when I'm home. So what exactly do I mean?

Let's look at a day in the life of our family's stay-at-home-mom:  

She takes care of the kids and house from rise to rest. Let me be more specific.

  • Up all night worrying about sleeping kids
  • Up all night taking care of said kids that should be resting but have to pee
  • Up all night trying to find something she can leave muted on t.v. to help her go back to sleep before other said resting kid loses Pooh Bear or wants a drink
  • Awakened around 6:30AM by at least on kid saying: "Drink please, mommy.......oatmeal too!"
  • Brew a pot of coffee
  • Segue from breakfast to the youngest child stating, "Need to go pee!"
  • Segue into oldest child, now awake and alert, demanding to do dishes in order to save money so he can buy some desperately needed game
  • Due to a lack of sleep, suddenly surprised to learn the clock on the oven is accurate and her sense of time is skewed - camp for oldest kid actually started 5 minutes ago, not in coming 55 minutes
  • Put animals in their place, strap on shoes, grab essentials and leave in 3 minutes
  • Hang out with youngest child before picking up oldest (on time this time)
  • Drive home to "eat" lunch, knowing in reality she'll be the chef, server and kitchen manager, and of course the last to eat (if at all)
  • Argue, again, why they will take a nap
  • Lay down and several minutes later wake to the doorbell
  • Lay back down and minutes later the phone rings
  • Lay back down and minutes later have a door-to-door salesman ring her doorbell: "Um, yes, I'm offering to remodel your home for $1,000..."

  • Decide to stay up and plan the afternoon, then realize there's an emergency outside, like the mulch bed is on fire!
  • Play fireman with her neighbor and go back inside
  • Turn coffee pot back on to reheat original pot
  • Realize the 2hr nap is over as she hears both children say, "Drink please, mommy!"
  • Wishes she could put on Curious George reruns all afternoon, followed by Dinosaur Train, followed by Word World, then turn on Netflix, but realizes she has to go to the store for ingredients for dinner
  • Plan a menu, feed the cat, water the dog, issue a spanking or two, resolve another argument, and reach for coffee cup. No creamer in the fridge
  • Come home from the grocery store and begin prepping dinner
  • Fix a boo-boo from outside
  • Fix a broken ( ____ ) that can't wait
  • Go to the bathroom for the first time that day
  • Re-reheat original pot of coffee (still haven't had her first cup)
  • Start dinner, clean remaining dishes and pick up clothes, shoes and toys throughout house
  • Husband comes home and takes off shoes
  • Actually leave the house by herself for a 1hr Zumba class, then find her spot has been hijacked
  • Come home to eat cold dinner she prepared 2hrs ago
  • Fight off kids for bites of her food because they are again hungry
  • Help husband help kids brush teeth
  • Help husband find PJ's that fit, then help husband dress kids
  • Help husband put kids to bed
  • Put kids back in bed for next hour while trying to talk to husband who is already "losing his mind"
  • Go to the bedroom and put clothes away she picked up 3hrs ago
  • Turn on t.v., turn off lamp, start to fall asleep
  • Wake to husband's snoring and bed bullying tactics
  • Move to the couch and wake up at least one child when the door closes
  • Repeat...
 Let's look at a day in the life of our family's stay-at-work-dad:
  • Gets up at 6:00AM and quietly get ready
  • Wake up at least one child, accidentally, while looking for keys or as first phone call rings throughout the house
  • Go to work and brew coffee
  • Spend 30 minutes checking online news and Facebook from previous night
  • Talk to adults
  • Go to nice lunch with a salesman
  • Relax in private office as needed throughout the day
  • Leave work at 4:00PM
  • Turn on Netflix when wife goes to Zumba (a.k.a. hang out with kids)
  • Eat dinner when timer goes off
  • Expel a huge sigh of relief when wife comes home from Zumba
  • Ask wife for help with brushing kids' teeth
  • Ask wife for help with finding PJ's that fit
  • Ask wife for help putting kids to bed
  • After kids go to bed tell wife EVERYTHING that happened that day; in detail
  • Go to bed and sleep through the night
  • Wake up surprised to have bed all to himself
  • Repeat...

Our stay-at-home-mommy is a rockstar. Let me rephrase that: ALL stay-at-home-moms are rockstars. Ron Burgundy once said, "Hey, leave the mothers out of this!" But they deserve respect and honor owed them.

I have trouble expressing myself verbally to her, and I feel I rarely give her the kudos, praise, love and real respect she both deserves and earns each and every day.

My life would be a mess without her.

I have managed our house for a entire day by myself and I wouldn't take that job if you paid me. I love our kids....but seriously!

I will remain, therefore, a part of the workforce and stay-at-work-dad, committed to my family and my sanity.

(dedicated to my wife, best friend, and partner Kylie)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I want to be an ( _________ )...

As life passes by and another day is spent in a job I really love - a job that not only pays the bills but affords me ample time to think, meditate, and potentially chart the coming course I so desperately seek to navigate - I find myself sitting and trying to devise an actual meaningful post. If for no other reason than my own amusement.

1. What do people want to discuss?

I don't want to discuss politics anymore. I am tired of beating the political horse of "Your guy said this, and even though my guy said that it's still okay because..." to death. In the end I'm going to go to the polls in November and vote.

However, it seems like these days people aren't interested in creating their own topics and drawing upon their personal experiences and thoughts.

People want to sit back and merely criticize original thought.
People want to observe and simply correct.
People want to inexplicably judge and cite others' flaws.

I know I'm guilty of this. I'm also tired of being as such.

2.  What do people want to do?

All of you reading this post right now, are you 'doing' what you want to do in life? I am working with a great non-profit in my city (SPPRAK) on a project and they have exposed me to Jon Acuff's book Quitter. As a result, I am falling passionately in love with this aspect of my life and wishing I had more time each day to devote to it.

The truth of the matter is: I do, I just spend much of my valuable time arguing with people on Facebook about something that will not affect my decision - or theirs - come November.


As I near the end of my college courses I am reminded of how I actually got started on this site and how I first learned I love to write. It was in a basic writing class.

I began the process of applying a simple script with no ending and being told to finish it up. I was assigned to read a story about electrical insulators and one man's crazy desire to collect them, then come up with a story idea of my own that would pass the facilitator's standards and score well against the grading rubric.

I soon found myself thinking a one page reflection each week was nothing when the expected weekly response would soon become a 4-5 page analysis of a single word from a language that no longer exists.

Given the time I spend on social networking sites devising ways to advertise my disdain for another person's opinion I have not once met - or shared a cup of coffee - with clever character inflections, I have quickly gleaned that this blog can offer me so much more.

I don't know truly how I will use this gift and if it will ever be for a full-time opportunity; or if it will even bring in a "real" paycheck. I do know that in the thirty minutes my wife and I allow each other to sit next to each other discussion-free and unfettered computer usage, I find myself lost and piling up ideas about which to expound.

Tozer Reflection

Is there a relationship between our attitude toward God and how he receives us when we come to Him?

This is another one of those perplexing questions: the answer seems easy enough from to answer, yet my abilities to relay what is in my mind seem not sufficient given the analysis I am asked to provide.

I believe Tozer addresses this* where he discusses how Christ walked the earth: as a means of expressing the Father’s love for those who seek Him.

As I see it...