Writer’s Workshop: Big Fish, Small Pond

Source: Pixabay

The prompt for this is “You won an award at some point in your life, what was it for?”

I’ve addressed this topic for MKPMWFWW once before, but in reading over my entry for that, I forgot the biggest one, or at least it should have been.

After spending two years barely keeping my head above water at Nortwestern, I took a battery of aptitude tests that indicated that my academic interests were in Business Administration. Since Northwestern had no bachelor’s program in Business Administration (it closed the year before I started), I would have to go elsewhere, “elsewhere” being Loyola University Chicago. This was where I had always imagined I would be going, anyway, given my family’s extensive history with the school.

Reading the course catalog after I had been admitted, I saw that there were seven undergraduate majors in the School of Business: Economics, Accounting, CPA Accounting (a more rigorous degree that prepared the graduate to take the CPA exam), Marketing, Finance, Personnel Management and Production & Operations Management. After reading the description of each, I decided that this last one would be the direction I would take. When I had my initial conversation with the Dean to inform him of my choice, his reaction was “are you sure?” When I assured him I was, he said, “well, okay….”

Production & Operations Management, if you’ve never heard of it (and I doubt you have), was still geared to manufacturing. The courses I took to get the degree included a course that could best be described as Industrial Engineering (an Industrial Engineer friend from Northwestern took a course that used the same textbook as I did), where we designed things like a dry cleaning establishment and a turkey abattoir; a course in Industrial Relations, where we learned the ins and outs of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 as it applied to union shops and negotiating contracts; a course in Cost Accounting; and a course in Statistical Quality Control, which was actually a lot of fun (I was a statistics whiz kid) and about which I remember nothing. I learned that there were only three other people majoring in the topic, and that most of the classes were offered at night so that actual working people could take the classes.

Anyway, shortly after I graduated, I received an invitation to an awards banquet for the School of Business. I had no idea why, so I asked one of my contacts (i.e. my stepfather, who was Director of Admissions) if he could find out why I had been invited. He called me back and told me that I had earned the Production Management Key, awarded to the top graduate in the major.

Understand, I had only attended Loyola for two years, and the determination of who was the best was decided only on their work there. Had they somehow found a way to factor in my earlier academic work, I doubt I would have gotten an invitation, let alone the award. Anyway, it was kind of a rush getting the thing, which I took home and stuck in a drawer, where I lost track of it. It kind of looked like the Phi Beta Kappa key…

Loyola doesn’t even offer a degree in Production & Operations Management anymore, and hasn’t for some time. Now you know why.

I Won An Award!


Sandi, at What Oft Was Thought, gave me a Liebster award for Christmas! (Okay, I don’t know if it was for Christmas, but anyway…) Thank you, Sandi! I will cherish it always!

Here are the instructions:

  1. Acknowledge and accept the Liebster Award by leaving a comment on the blog where you were nominated.
  2. Copy the Liebster logo and paste it onto your own blog.
  3. Inform your nominees by leaving a comment on their respective blogs.
  4. In your blog post about the Liebster Award:
    • Link back to the blogger who nominated you.
    • Answer the 11 questions put to you by the person who nominated you.
    • List 11 random facts about yourself.
    • Nominate, and link to, three–11 other blogs which you enjoy and which have fewer than 3,000 followers.
    • List 11 questions for your nominees.

Here are Sandi’s questions to me, and my answers:

  1. What is your ideal vacation? This is a hard one to answer, largely because, since going on disability, life is like a vacation, albeit one where I’m worried about money all the time… Seriously, I traveled on business for years, so going somewhere really doesn’t appeal to me. Although, I always wanted to sit in a sidewalk café in Paris, drinking espresso and smoking Gaulioses, except I quit smoking years ago (I don’t think they let you smoke in the cafés anymore, anyway) and I would have to order un café déca (decaffeinated espresso) to keep my blood pressure down.
  2. What was your first job? I delivered the Chicago Daily News for Lewis News Agency in Rogers Park. The guy who ran the agency was Chuck Sucks. At least, that was what we saw written all over the neighborhood. And yes, we knew it was him. Talk about your weird coincidences: my sister-in-law and I got talking one night, and it turns out she worked for Chuck at the same time. I remembered her; she was a real pain… I say that affectionately, because she is a nice person, my brother loves her and they have two beautiful children, including my only niece.
  3. What motivates you to post on your blog? I post every day and have since July. Keeping the streak alive motivates me. It’s the motivation technique Jerry Seinfeld uses.
  4. Name a book that you recently finished reading. Just this past week, I read K. M. Weiland’s Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration: Learn to Nurture a Lifestyle of Creativity. It is a very good book, worth having in your library, and, at $3.99, cheap at twice the price.
  5. What is your opinion of reality T.V. shows? The networks love them because they’re a lot cheaper than having to pay for scripted television shows. It won’t be long before we are subjected to a show that’s nothing more than a man sitting on the toilet reading the newspaper for an hour. It’ll probably win an Emmy and be turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks, with Jennifer Aniston playing his wife (who bangs on the door and asks him if everything’s okay every twenty minutes). In short, I don’t waste my time.
  6. How do you feel when a snowstorm hits your area and everything is cancelled for the day? It was culture shock moving from Chicago, where we regularly had heavy snow, high wind, and record cold temperatures and went to work anyway, to Atlanta, where the mere hint of winter weather closes the schools, empties the grocery store shelves of break and milk, and sends the local TV stations into full emergency mode. To be fair, it snows so little here that most local governments don’t spend too much money on snow removal equipment, and the hilly terrain makes snow removal an adventure, but we’ve started seeing more snow that stays around longer than a day or two, so they might want to rethink their strategy. Anyway, when we hear bad weather is coming, we stock up on plenty of comfort food and sit around watching the panic on television. Mary knits, I write, and the cats sleep. Life is good.
  7. Last night, my daughter was telling me about a friend who was applying for dual citizenship in another country. If you could obtain dual citizen in another country, which country would you choose, and why? I spent a week in The Netherlands (I still call it Holland) and thought it would be a cool place to live. I also spend a week in Scotland, and that’s another possibility. So, one of those two.
  8. What is your pet peeve with WordPress? Actually, compared with Blogger, I’m happy with WordPress. Blogger doesn’t do pingbacks, and the editor spends too much time saving your work. I would like WordPress to have more HTML tags available on the editor, make it asier to create nested lists (like the one above), and support HTML5 better (particularly when dealing with videos). It’s a safe bet that I’ll end up moving to a self-hosted site in the near future (i.e. buy a domain, get a hosting package, and install the WordPress software myself), but that’s down the road.
  9. Recently, I saw a study claiming that people who read fiction tend to be more empathetic. This study has generated controversy in my household. What is your opinion about this “finding”? They need to examine the other possibility, that being empathetic causes people to love reading fiction. In either case, you’re comparing apples and truck parts. You can measure the amount of fiction someone reads fairly easily, but measuring a person’s empathy level is another whole kettle of worms. It’s like the statement, “cat owners are better lovers.” One doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the other.
  10. Did you believe in Santa Claus when you were a child? Of course. I also believed in the Easter Bunny.
  11. How do you prefer to learn about world news — through the internet? through the television? through a newspaper or magazine? Definitely through the Internet. Reading the newspaper with one hand is a challenge, and practically impossible with cats. We no longer have cable TV, and even when we did we rarely watched the news channels, and I’m convinced the networks are only carrying world news because it’s a tradition. The advantage to reading world news on the Internet is that you can read local news reports: if something’s going on in Japan, you can read Japanese news sources.

Now, eleven random factoids about me:

  1. I’ve worn my hair in a ponytail since 1992. It’s so curly that it’s the only way I can control it.
  2. I use a cane when I’m away from home. Mine is a replica of the one Hugh Laurie used during the middle seasons of House MD. I saw it, and told Mary that, if I ever needed a cane, I wanted one like that. Little did I know…
  3. I’ve had a mustache since I was nineteen. Yep, forty years.
  4. I have an uncle who worked for WLS TV in Chicago. Anytime one of their cameramen caught me on camera, it was a safe bet it would be on the news at 10. Then there was this
  5. I’ve been interested in weather and weather forecasting since seeing PJ Hoff on TV when I was a kid.
  6. I learned to use a slide rule in junior year of high school because calculators were nowhere as near ubiquitous as they are now and they cost a small fortune.
  7. I worked for one of the first US companies to make panko breadcrumbs.
  8. Mary and I have had many cats over the years, including a Siamese, three half-Siamese, a polydactyl named Thumbs, and two Devon Rexes. We got a rescued Devon from a breeder, and when the cat died the breeder gave us a kitten, Milton. Milton is not what you’d call the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  9. I didn’t get a driver’s license until I was 28. I was informed by the short-tempered football coach I had for driver’s ed in high school that I had a depth perception problem and probably should forget about ever driving. Showed him, didn’t I?
  10. I came in second in the Mu Alpha Theta math contest when I was in eighth grade, and got a huge trophy. The next year I met the guy that came in first; he sat either in front of or in back of me at the same high school. Nice guy. We had a good laugh about it.
  11. I first saw Mary in a training class at Marshall Field’s when I was a junior at Loyola. The next time I saw her was in the halls at Loyola. The third time, I was getting coffee in the cafeteria at Loyola, and she came up to me and asked, “Don’t you work at Marshall Field’s?” We’ve been together ever since.

All right, well…. Now comes time for me to nominate eleven of you. I would really hate to leave anyone out, so tell you what: If you’re a blogger and have fewer than 3000 followers, you’re nominated. Congratulations! Grab the badge and have a ball answering these questions.

  1. What browser do you use, and why?
  2. If you had to live somewhere else, where would you move?
  3. Do you have any pets? What are they (species, breed, etc.)?
  4. If you’re a writer, what genre do you write? What would you like to write?
  5. What sports do you enjoy, and what team(s) or athlete(s) do you like?
  6. What’s your second-favorite comfort food?
  7. What do you think of this recent controversy over the movie The Interview?
  8. What’s your favorite holiday, and why?
  9. Do you have any crazy relatives? What makes them crazy? (By crazy, I don’t mean mentally unstable.)
  10. What’s your favorite software app?
  11. What would be your dream job?

Again, Sandi, thank you!

The Thursday Ten: “Blog of the Year”? Me?

Hunter Emkay of Hunter’s Writings has nominated me for the “Blog of the Year” Award!

And here it is!
And here it is!

I am humbled (I mean, this blog’s only been around a year and this will be the 140th post) but nonetheless happy that I’ve received this honor, and now that I actually understand how these awards work, here are the rules:


Blog of the Year Award Rules

The “Blog of the Year” award is a little different from some other awards, because you accumulate stars.

Here are the ‘rules’ for this award:

  1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
  2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  3. Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/ and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
  4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.
  5. You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience
  6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…


Yes – that’s right – there are stars to collect!

Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once – this award is different!

When you begin you will receive the ‘1 star’ award – and every time you are given the award by another blog – you can add another star!

There are a total of 6 stars to collect.

Which means that you can check out your favourite blogs, and even if they have already been given the award by someone else, then you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum 6 stars!

For more information check the FAQ on The Thought Palette.


Okay, with that out of the way…

The link back to Hunter’s page is above. As for blogs that I would recommend for this honor, it would be safe to say that I’ve learned so much from every blog and blogger, and there are just so many blogs far more worthy of this award. I’m going to pick ten; after all, it IS Thursday, and I haven’t done anywhere near a post every Thursday. Here then are my ten


  • If there was a Hall of Fame as far as this award were concerned, Jenny Hansen’s Blog would certainly be in it. She’s that good: funny, informative, and has built a wonderful community.
  • If I were to name one person who is most responsible for my setting up this blog and keeping it going, it would have to be the Goddess of Social Media, Kristen Lamb. Kristen has written two books, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer, both of which I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed. She’s also responsible for the #MyWANA hashtag on Twitter, which she explains here.
  • One of my most faithful readers is Louise Behiel. She is a fine writer who has written two novels, a novella, and contributed a story to an anthology. She is also a counseling psychologist who writes informative blog posts about matters such as bipolar disorder, family dynamics, addiction, etc. I’ve found them to be a lot of help to me because her articles explain a lot of what’s happened in my life.
  • Then there’s Tammy, who operates the blog Laughing At Everyday Life, who always shares funny stuff that she’s found all over the Internet, silly jokes, and stories about her crazy life. In light of the horror of last Friday, where so many good people lost their lives, I think you would agree that we can use all the humor that we can get our hands on.
  • Jennifer Eaton calls her blog “A Reference of Writing Rants for Writers or ‘Learn from My Mistakes’.” which is aimed at “helping all writers be the best they can be.” And I appreciate the help.
  • One of the first blogging initiatives that I participated in was the Blogging From A to Z Challenge, where I met Judy from Raising the Curtain. She blogs on her life, or as she says, “a look at life at the crossroads in preparation of the second act…because life does not come with signage.” I enjoy it; it’s like hearing from a friend from the other side of the world, mostly because she is on the other side of the world.
  • I get updates from a lot of blogs, meaning that I occasionally miss the posts that I really could learn a lot from, which is why I’m also nominating Gene Lempp and Yesenia Vargas, who are fine bloggers who do a weekly roundup of the best writing posts around the Internet. Gene is fom northern Illinois, as I was, and Yesenia lives in the Atlanta area, so I have something in common with them.
  • Stan Mitchell, from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is an action fiction writer with two books, Sold Out and Little Man and the Dixon County War, available wherever you get your e-books. He’s a former Marine (I’ve always heard that there was no such thing), and writes an excellent blog where he discusses military issues, offers help and encouragement, and talks about football.
  • One of the best initiatives I’ve seen is A Round of Words in Eighty Days, better known as ROW80. The person behind ROW80 is Kait Nolan, who also writes a great blog that is always worth reading.

There are just so many “thank you”s to give to so many great and encouraging bloggers out there. Everyone who has come by, everyone who has offered support or written something that has been helpful to me, deserves the honor. I simply chose the top ten, mostly because I’d be here all night otherwise…