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February 2012
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April 2012

7 entries from March 2012

A secret guaranteed to improve every relationship in your life

Occasionally, I run into people who will ask me if I know of "one thing" that will improve their marriage? Isn't there "one thing" we can do that will save our marriage. I almost always tell them no.

Then I proceed to tell them that there is many things that they can do that will improve their relationship. I also tell them there is one thing that often really helps a relationship improve no matter where it is in terms of health.

If you do this one thing, consistently it will work. It's guaranteed to work if you stick with it and do it long enough.

If you want your relationship to improve you need to find positive things to focus on with your partner. You must speak words of affirmation to your spouse regularly.

An ancient writer wrote that the tongue has the power of life and death.

I believe that you literally speak meaning into people. If you focus on your spouses shortcomings, those shortcomings will increase. If you focus on your spouses strengths they will increase. The more thankful you are to your spouse for the things they are doing or trying to do (even if they are not done to your exacting standards) the more they will try to do.

Be genuine in your praise but work hard to find many things that you can praise your spouse for. Don't talk about just what they are or were but what they can become. Share with them why you fell in love with them. Do this regularly. When they do something that is positive, praise it.

Tell them thank you.

It seems crazy, right? But does it? Think about your own life. Are you more motivated by criticism or by praise? Are you more likely to think positively of someone who finds reasons to praise you or someone who is constantly being negative with you. We all make mistakes. We all have shortcomings. Almost everyone is desperately insecure and in need of affirmation.

When you become that source of genuine affirmation you will improve the relationship guaranteed.

Five reasons you might like an e-reader

When e-readers first came out, I immediately thought that they would probably be good for some people, but I just like books too much to get into them. I was adamant that I would probably not make the switch.
Then Kindle released apps for computers and phones. A friend of mine downloaded the app and began telling me what he was reading on it. Mostly free books. I followed suit. Then about a year ago I received an iPad.
Then a book that I really wanted to read was offered for free in the Kindle store. So of course, I bought it. I realized recently that I really like the e-book format. For many reasons. I offer you a few below.

  1. It's easier to handle. I can carry my iPad that holds many books and it is far lighter than actually carrying all of those books.
  2. I read faster on a Kindle. I don't know why this is, but it is definitely true. I simply read faster on the Kindle than I do in a traditional book.
  3. It's easier to navigate between highlights and bookmarks. In a traditional book that I am using for school or for conversations, I highlight and write notes. The difficulty comes in finding a way to manage those bookmarks and highlights. It usually involves flipping through the book hoping to find the right spot. With a Kindle, I can just read the parts I have highlighted. Again, it's faster and more convenient.
  4. Less storage. I love books. I mean, I really love books. My poor wife has put up with stacks of them around our house for years. With an E-reader I can limit the amount of space I'm taking up by storing the books on one small device. This is a great advantage for me, as I imagine it would be for anyone with small children in the house.
  5. Many books are cheaper on the Kindle. Not always but many of the books I buy are cheaper than if I had bought the paper bound copy. This savings adds up. For one textbook this year, I saved almost $100.00. That's a nice chunk of change in my pocket for a book I'm only reading because I have to read. I do not actually own an e-reader device. I own the app for my iPad. I do not know how owning the actual device might change my cost index.

Those are five simple reasons why I like an e-reader. How about you? What are your thoughts regarding e-books vs. traditional formats?

Self-plagiarism. We've finally gone over the edge

I was going to write about e-readers today. Then I opened my school email and received back from my professor a paper that I had recently submitted. There was a friendly reminder from my professor to avoid plagiarism. Sound awful doesn't it? What did I do?

Did I copy someone else's work and pass it off as my own? Did I quote someone and fail to cite them? Did quote someone wrong? Nope.

What I did was I used one sentence in two separate papers. Now, please understand I'm not railing against my professor. He is just fulfilling his job requirements. He's enforcing a bad rule.

I have often said that I think Academia has lost touch with reality. The stereotype of an Academic is a stereotype because there are too many rules, and regulations that make no sense. They create confusion and cause people who live in "the real world" to scratch their heads and wonder what in the world just happened.

Think about what I just told you. Writing the same sentence twice in two separate papers could be plagiarism. Well, let's look at the definition of plagiarism.

According to my school's own webpage:


Plagiarism is when an author represents someone else's intellectual property as his or her own work (Emphasis mine).  Authors are most commonly at risk of plagiarizing when they fail to adequately cite the original source material from which they took words and ideas. Plagiarism can occur in many forms and can range from a lack of citations to incorrect paraphrasing or actual direct copy and pasting of a source's phrasing into another author's own paper.

According to


the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work, as by not crediting the author:

Then how does one self-plagiarize? Well, evidently you can’t but according to this writer, it violates the “spirit of scholarly research."

Say what?

Now, what is interesting is that I am guessing that almost all academics don't actually follow this rule when they are presenting their ideas. They're presenting those ideas over and over again in many different venues.

And I want them to keep doing that. Ideas are not concrete. They change shape over time. They never leave an interaction the same way they came to it. They evolve. We need them to do that. One paper submitted to me will elicit different responses than the same paper submitted to you. Learning is not an assembly line production, no matter how much we may try to make it be one. It is a living breathing interaction.

The problem is that this rule is saying that ideas cannot change. Moreover, they are attempting to pretend that courses and classes are not alike. That too much of time spent in school is looking at the same material over and over again. How else could a student offer a paper in two classes and the paper be of value to both classes if we take this "infraction" away? What's interesting to me, is that in my case it wasn't even one paper for two classes. It was one sentence for two assignments on the same topic!

Who is being stolen from? Who is being protected by this rule? Academia's own self sense of importance is being protected and that's about it, in my opinion. Thankfully, I am not alone. This writer agrees with me.

Here's a long quote from the piece:

But—practically speaking—the opportunity to reuse a paper might arise only once or twice in a student's career, thanks to the diversity of our course assignments and disciplines. A paper assignment that a student gets in my English class on 20th-century literature won't be anything like her assignment in Renaissance literature—much less from psychology or sociology. Because the content of courses differs so much, the opportunity to use the same paper will happen only rarely.

But when it does, why not allow a student to take advantage of the opportunity? Suppose a student writes a final research paper for an introductory psychology course in the fall semester of her freshman year, and receives helpful suggestions on it from the professor. That same student then takes an English-composition course with me in the spring, and I assign an open-topic research paper to finish the semester.

Why should I not encourage the student to revise her psychology paper, according to both the guidance she received from her previous professor and the new writing principles she has learned in my course? She couldn't merely turn in her old paper; it would have to fulfill the requirements of my assignment. The student would not only get the opportunity to return to a set of ideas she thought she had finished, but the assignment would also reinforce the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge and the curriculum.

No doubt, she might end up doing less work than a student who wrote a paper from scratch in my composition course. But does that really matter?

To borrow a phrase from the late eighties, we need to "stop the madness!!! (uncited)"

So of course, the question is what will I do. Obviously, I want to graduate my program. I've contacted three different people from my school expressing my frustration with this rule. I have written an email to the in house "expert" on plagiarism and cheating. I am waiting to hear back from him. I have written the official APA guidelines page and they have responded that they are unclear about this application of the rule. I will look up the rule in own APA guide manual when I get home tonight.

All of that to say I don't see much I can do except start conversations like this one. Some day, I'll have my degree. Things change because ideas get shared. I hope that my daughter's can go through school without having to deal with this type of absurdity.

Points to Ponder (100 words or less)

Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. (66)

~Steve Jobs

Book Review: Succeeding when your're supposed to fail: The 6 enduring principles of high achievement

I bought this book on a lark. I am glad that I did.

Rom Brafman points out that for as nearly as long as can be remembered in mental health services that what happened to you dictated what you did. By and large, he states, "The prevailing notion in the field used to be that few could realistically overcome their circumstances" (Bram, 2011 p. 12).

They can't help it, they were born into a really bad situation. Their parents were (fill in the blank). Look at the hand they were dealt, no wonder they do what they do.

Then one day it all changed. Brafman points out that it was by accident that the field discovered that there were people who overcame their circumstances. They didn't allow the pathology of others to drag them down. They didn't allow being born into bad circumstances hold them back. They didn't allow being captured by an enemy to break them or keep them from achieving amazing things. He calls these people tunnelers, which is a science term.

The field discovered people who succeeded when they should have failed. When many would have written them a pass for failing. When many would have been willing to chalk up that failure to circumstances outside of their control. Brafman states that when the masses of people who have succeeded when they should have failed are studied six characteristics emerge.

They are:

  1. The limelight effect—Tunnelers have a high sense of inner locus of control. This means that they believe they control their destiny.
  2. Meaning making—Tunnelers find meaning in what is before them and what they are doing.
  3. Unwavering commitmentTunnelers believe in themselves and their calling. They will stick with a task as long as necessary.
  4. Temperament and success—Tunnelers believe in developing an "even tempered disposition" They're unwavering commitment means that a loss or set back or a series of them will not cause them to lose faith.
  5. Humor counteracting adversity—Tunnelers enjoy laughing and humor. It helps them deal with the different opportunities that life tends to send their way.
  6. The importance of a Satellite—Tunnelers have someone in their life (sometimes only for a necessary season) who invests in them and acts as a satellite.

This book is a great read. If you are one of the people who society seems to think "should fail" read this book. It may encourage you. If you believe that people are a simply a product of their what life has dealt them, read this book. It will challenge you.

Life is hard, of that there is no doubt. But we do not have to be slaves to our circumstances.