Archive for the ‘Busman’s holiday’ Category


A few years back at Christmastime in Chicago, I wandered cold and sleepy into a store across from Wrigley Field. I’d been away from home too long, I needed comfort and I hadn’t found a Dr Pepper in days.

Inadvertently, a linguistic theory was born.

Yankees are known (yes, you are) for mistakenly using “y’all” to address an individual person. It’s like they don’t know what “all” means. There seem to be enough Southerners in the film/TV industry that you don’t see it make its way onto screens too often, but in person, yeah, you hear it. There’s nothing quite as jarring as being addressed in the plural, as though you have suddenly sprouted a second head. “Y’all” is a second-person plural pronoun, like “vous” in French, which makes Southern English more specific and more flexible than whatever they speak up there. And on this cold December day, I figured out why they do that: They are making the mistake of believing their own ears.

I walk into the store, a sea of Cubs apparel that also appears to have a convenience-store type array of food and drink. Tired and grumpy (I get grumpy when it’s under 20 degrees outside), I decide not to go hunting around the store looking for my fix, but go straight up to the counter and ask the clerk (the only person in sight): “Do y’all have Dr Pepper?”

What I was doing, of course, was politely and pre-emptively absolving the poor clerk of personal responsibility, as a good Southerner would automatically do. Thus, the plural. The full version of my question probably would have been, “Do your employers stock Dr Pepper, you poor thing? I know they don’t.”

But of course what he witnessed was a tiny, grumpy person walking up to him and addressing him, personally, as a “y’all.” Light dawns! No wonder that, if he ever chooses to attempt to use the term in speech (I’m sure only to describe how charming Texans are), he will undoubtedly and based on incontrovertible personal experience use it right out of the box incorrectly and make some poor person think they have two heads. Like the Titanic’s poor Capt. Smith, “Everything he knows is wrong.”

So, my dear Northern brethren, we politely and pre-emptively absolve you for saying it wrong. Y’all are all forgiven. (We’ll save the discussion of the emphatic “all” and collective “all y’all” for another day.)


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Here in the land of Aggie news, we are aware of what we call “the maroon bubble.” That is, some news is really familiar to those of us living/working around campus, but we realize not all Aggies may actually hear about it if they live outside the bubble.

So here are three Aggies whom, if you haven’t heard their stories already, I think you would enjoy being on a first-name basis with.

Col. Tom C. ‘Ike’ Morris ’33

ike salute

Jane Weeden photo via Texas A&M Association of Former Students

Ike is the oldest living Aggie we know of. He is also completely awesome. He served on the student committee that set the standards for Aggie Rings (i.e. why they have been identical since 1933 and you must prove senior classification in good standing, etc., to order one). He’s a recipient of the French Legion of Honor for his WWII service, which included D-Day plus 1 on Omaha Beach and the Battle of the Bulge. You know what he did last year? He set up an Aggie Ring Scholarship. So now every year, there’s a student who has their Aggie Ring paid for by him. He lives in San Antonio, he turned 107 in August 2017, and you can find him on Facebook. He remembers Reveille I; he waited tables in Duncan with Gen. Earl Rudder; and he once hitched a ride with E. King Gill (story). Here he is at the 2013 San Antonio A&M Club Muster being presented with the new Aggie Ring he’d ordered (his second replacement):

Von Miller ’11

von dance

Troy Taormina photo/USA Today. Von visits a 2016 A&M basketball game.

Von plays for the Denver Broncos now, and was the MVP of the 2016 Super Bowl. More importantly to most of us, he’s a terrific Aggie and a super neat person. He tends to end interviews with “Thanks and gig ’em,” he uses his fame and success to support causes like Von’s Vision (free eye exams and glasses for Denver kids) and Hurricane Harvey relief, and he’s charming and hilarious. Do yourself a true favor and read his funny story from the Players’ Tribune, “Nerd.” Please also enjoy his Madden NFL 17 commercial. At A&M, he majored in poultry science and became so interested in the topic he continues to raise chickens (video). He was on “Dancing With The Stars,” but I honestly prefer the fantastic photo of him, above, at an A&M basketball game; he is not mocking the dance team, but dancing *with* them, perfectly. Here he is being inducted last Friday into A&M’s Sports Hall of fame:

Roy May ’15

roy may

Roy (right) from his days in the Old Guard; image is from his yell leader campaign video: https://vimeo.com/59971923

Roy is a former yell leader, but not a typical one: As a junior and senior yell leader, he was also a veteran in his 30s. He chose to come to A&M and be a part of the Corps of Cadets after 12 years of service in the Army that included being among the elite who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Roy was sent to the Pentagon on 9/11 for rescue and recovery efforts. He’s still serving in the Army today; he and his family have stayed in College Station, where his most recent venture has been developing his business, Good Bull BBQ, from a food-truck operation to a new bricks-and-mortar location on Southgate that just celebrated its first full week of feeding Aggies. Here he is last year helping illustrate how yell leaders’ styles have changed over the decades (I’m always asked why he’s barefoot in part of the video. The answer is related to how physical the motions of today’s yell leaders are; he was wearing slip-on shoes that were “not ideal on that surface,” so he kicked them off!)

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Don’t wait – your vote in the Texas primary can count much more than in November. Texas can affect presidential races, most Texas statewide races are settled in primaries and a lot fewer people vote.

The Brazos County polls close at 8 p.m. Friday for early voting in this presidential primary. Let’s do this!

  • Any day this week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Grab your driver’s license (or other government ID from this list)
  • Bring a sample ballot “cheatsheet” if you want — printable here
  • And head to any one of these five locations: http://brazosvotes.org/when

If you wait till election day, March 1, you’ll actually have 26 locations to choose from in Brazos County — you can vote at any of them, but you have to do it that day, and the polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

(Click here to check whether you’re registered to vote: http://brazosvotes.org/register/ami)

You’ll be voting on an electronic machine that will automatically know what precincts you’re in and will let you skip a race if you’re not sure who you want to vote for in it.

Everybody gets to vote on the presidential candidates and the statewide races such as Railroad Commissioner, Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and State Board of Education (some nonpartisan info on these candidates is here).

Each party will also ask for your opinion on several issues (referendum/proposition) that may help decide the state parties’ platforms. These items have no weight in law.

Contested local races (see below for how to find your district/precinct):

  • On the Republican ballot, there are contested races in U.S. Congressional District 17, State House Districts 12 and 14, county commissioners in Precincts 1 and 3, and for Brazos County sheriff. Go here and scroll down to read recent Eagle news stories on some of these races: http://www.theeagle.com/news/elections/
  • On the Democratic ballot, there is only one contested local race, and it’s to determine who will be the party’s chairperson for Precinct 17. I couldn’t find any more information about this race other than the names.

(Voting in the Democratic or Republican primary doesn’t mean you have to vote for that party in November, but it does mean you’ll have to stick with that party if there is a runoff election in this current primary.)

Finding your district and precinct:




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The Class of ’94 gift to the University stands just outside the Association building, so clearly this is fate. Of course technically I fought this gift idea when I was on Class of ’94 Council 🙂 What, we needed more statues? I wanted us to make a large donation to A&M’s libraries. But you already knew I was a nerd.

Big change in my life — after 19 years of being a designer, reporter and editor at the Statesman, later this month I will jump geekstatically into my new job: communications specialist for the Association of Former Students at Texas A&M University.

This is really, truly dream job time.

The Association, one of the largest alumni groups in the world, works to help not just “Old Ags” like me but also current students and to help strengthen the university. I’ll be writing articles for the Texas Aggie magazine, helping with social media, publications, emails and other communications with Aggies, plus some fundraising and events that we hold or help with, like the Ring Day ceremony happening today or our football tailgates — did you know every former student has a standing invitation to the Association tailgate parties? Just c’mon by the building and get you some barbecue.

Call me — all 370,000 of you

In December 2013, Texas A&M had 370,579 living former students around the world, and thousands more have graduated since then. All of you guys: You need anything, you call me. I’m not kidding. I’m your girl. The phone number at my new desk is 979-458-2566, or email me at sue94@aggienetwork.com. Non-Aggies, if you want to visit A&M or learn about it, take a campus tour, just ask a question, I’m your girl, too.

Helping start A&M journalism board

My Statesman family… I’ll miss them and I’ll miss newspapering incredibly. But I’ll get to keep my hand in: Texas A&M’s director of Journalism Studies, Dale Rice, has asked me to help develop and launch a board of former journalism students and current working journalists to support the new journalism major in Liberal Arts. Can’t even express how honored I am by this.

Twitter: I’m keeping @aggiejournalist

Because of my volunteer work with A&M’s journalism program, my personal Twitter handle since 2007 has been @aggiejournalist, and I’ll be keeping that, but it’s amnesty time for anybody who wants to jump off my follower list: I won’t be tweeting my political reporting any more and I will be sharpening my focus on A&M news, specifically geared to the kind of stuff I personally want to know about at A&M — campus changes, some sports, a lot of good bull, major university news and gratuitous glamour photos of Reveille. I’ll keep tweeting journalism industry news and social media/new media developments and best practices. And music and Muppet noises.

Holy wow.

In a whole range of ways, I can’t believe this is happening. I started at the Statesman something like six days after I graduated from A&M, and I am as thrilled to be going to Aggieland now as I was when I was a little fishie. Wish me luck!


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Psychology researcher and author Shawn Achor gave this quite funny TED talk in 2011, with five quick, science-based ways to increase happiness daily that he explains further in the video and in a blog post:


Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to most of those research papers and others. Achor talks about why those first two methods work here:

If I put my hand in front of my face and look at it, area 17 in my visual cortex lights up. Now if I close my eyes and think about my hand in front of my face, that same part of my brain actually lights up, area 17 in my visual cortex. Which means my brain actually can’t tell the difference between visualization and experience.

That last bit’s funny, but it might be a stretch; at least some research indicates that Brodmann area 17, the primary visual cortex, responds similarly but not as strongly to an imagined image as to the image itself.

Changes in MRI signal intensity in different parts of the cortex, from Le Bihan, Turner, et al, 1993.

Changes in MRI signal intensity in (top line) visual cortex and (bottom line) non-striate cortex; Le Bihan, Turner, et al., 1993.

Achor says that if he writes for five minutes about some small good occurrence that happened to him that day, “I’m actually doubling the amount of positive experience that I have.” Maybe so; I know that when retelling one of my hi-larious college stories for the 18th time, really what I enjoy is briefly re-living the feelings of fun/embarrassment/panic/legal consequences. And subjects who did written “gratitude exercises” in the 2003 project Achor cites became measurably happier.

So I’m thinking I’ll try the impatient-person version — writing down three good things, things you’re glad about or grateful for, every day — and from time to time if I’m not too shy I may tweet my #3glad things, with a link back here (http://bit.ly/3glad).

Yeah, it sounds like happy fluffy fuzzy bunny foo-foo, but here’s why I think it can work: Newspaper columnists. Once you start to write a newspaper column, the most important thing in your life becomes coming up with three things a week that are interesting enough to fill 13-18 inches of newsprint. These are not so thick on the ground, and your brain rapidly adapts to help you. Everything you see and hear, it starts to consider, “Could I get a column out of that?”

All day, your noggin is considering the fastest ways to get through a task, plotting where you’ll need to go in the grocery store, fretting over a problem even while you’re asleep, and if it knows you have to write down three good things every day, maybe it’ll begin watching for good things all day. And I can see how having that program running in the background might affect your mindset, which is, after all, your interface with the world.

Achor says that only 10% of a person’s long-term happiness can be predicted by looking at their circumstances and 90% can be predicted by how their brain “processes the world.” The research he cites breaks that down as 10% circumstances, 50% genetics (your inherited internal “set point” or average happiness level) and “as much as” 40% “intentional activities,” defined as “the wide variety of things that people do and think in their daily lives.” The potential to affect 40% of your happiness makeup ain’t hay. Cheers!

Mmmm, science:

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At least I hope the directions are clear! I thought I would share with y’all a website I made to help fellow journalists post resumes on the web, but of course it works for anybody. 

Go to sueowenresume.wordpress.com and I’ll walk you through the steps of setting up a WordPress site like this one — with a static, unchanging front page that is your greeting to the world, and inside pages to showcase your work and a blog, if you choose to blog.

For $18 you can customize the URL  to yourname.com or whatever, and I offer tips to set up Gmail with your new domain (like my sue@sues-news.com address).

build free resume site

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The ideas and links on Matthew Waite‘s syllabus for his JOUR 491 news apps class are too good to lose, so I’m saving them here (abbreviated):

Jan. 14, 2014 Introduction to news applications. Homework:
— Read: A fundamental way newspaper sites need to change by Adrian Holovaty
–Read: A dao of web design by John Allsopp
–Read: Code, the newsroom and self doubt by Noah Veltman
–Reaction Paper: In 500 words, give me your take on this. Look at the news you read. Could it be structured? What could you do with that structure? What do your answers say about you? Or where they come from? What medium they’re rooted in? And do you think you can do this? Due before next class.

Jan. 16, 2014 How the internet works — and how it’s different. Homework:
–Watch: Don’t Fear The Internet parts 1-3
–Read: 20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web 1, 4-5, 7, 16

Jan. 21, 2014 How to make things on the internet, Part 1: Text editors, IDE’s and you. Homework:
Read: A Beginner’s Guide to HTML and CSS 1 – 2
Do: Codecademy: Web Fundamentals 1 – 6

Jan. 23, 2014 How to make things on the internet, Part 2: File structures and version control. Homework:
— Read: A Beginner’s Guide to HTML and CSS 3 – 7
— Do: Codecademy: Web Fundamentals 7 – 12
— Do: Commit your resume from #12 to your Github repository.

Jan. 28, 2014 How to make things on the internet, Part 3: How to Google. Homework:
— Do: Dash Project 1

Jan. 30, 2014 Guest speaker: Dan Sinker, Mozilla Foundation. Homework: Build a personal website. You have until Feb. 4. Requirements: It must be three pages — index, resume and surprise me with something. The design must be consistent across all three pages — i.e. same navigation, fonts, colors, etc. Host it on Github

Feb. 4, 2014 An introduction to data journalism. Homework:
— Read: Want to build a data journalism team? You’ll need these three people
— Read: The Data Journalism Handbook, Introduction
— Read: The Canvas for CAR

Feb. 6, 2014 Guest speaker: Matt Wynn, Omaha World Herald

Feb. 11, 2014 An introduction to analysis: Spreadsheets, data and the basics. Homework:
— Do: JS for Cats

Feb. 13, 2014 More hands on with spreadsheets. Homework:
— Do: Codecademy: JavaScript 1-4
— Do: Try jQuery 1-6

Feb. 18, 2014 Your first news app, part 1. Using Tabletop.js, make a single page news app. Data TBA.
Feb. 20, 2014 Your first news app, part 2. Finish single page news app. Commit to Github.
Feb. 25, 2014 The ethics of news apps. Homework:
— Read: Handling Data About Race and Ethnicity
— Read: Public Info Doesn’t Always Want To Be Free

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