A brief update as we turn the calendar

Friends, colleagues, and happenstance Googlers,

I warned you this may happen.

Indeed, life as a doctoral student quickly overtook side projects like this blog. There’s a reason the home page describes me as “an on-again off-again blogger.”

My first semester at Alabama went well. Papers were written, books were read… statistics were even largely understood. I enjoyed my first experience in a large-lecture setting, teaching a 220-or-so student Intro to Mass Com course. I hope to one day write about the social media and technological implementations into the curriculum. The student experience seemed to be quite positive. The most common complaint on my evaluations was that the class met at 8 a.m. Allow me to second.

The 2012 presidential election provided a wealth of research opportunities. As conferences and (cross your fingers) publications arise, you can check here for summaries that aren’t near as tedious as the full papers.

Otherwise, the blog is likely to remain quiet during this time. As always, you can follow me on Twitter, where I do still find time to comment on all manner of thing, 140 characters at a time. I do enjoy writing for those of you who enjoy reading. Hopefully, we will reconvene soon.

Voting shouldn’t feel like this

Go vote. It’s a right and a privilege, and as I found out this year, there are a heckuva lot of people involved in making elections work.

For the first time in my life, I voted absentee. Barely. In early October, I requested my ballot from my home county circuit clerk’s office, only to see the weeks pass without a ballot arriving. When communication with the office failed, I sought the aid of my secretary of state’s election division to remind the folks in my county to do their job.

It was a mess of phone calls, record keeping, and legal actions. I was thankful for the good I saw in public servants – I must have gotten aid from five or six different people in the S.O.S.’s office, many of whom called me. Yet, the well-documented incompetence of one county’s election infrastructure seemed too much to overcome in time to exercise my right to vote.

This was going to a blog post about voter disenfranchisement, a system that failed its displaced constituency. Fortunately, the cogs and gears fell into place, and the system came through for me without a moment to spare.

So it seems my ballot will be among those counted this year. And it should feel better than ever before. This time, it took real time and effort – to make the calls, to fill out the paperwork, to find the notary, to beat the deadline. This time, my vote came with hardship. This time, I valued the notion of our representative democracy and what it meant to have a voice.

It should feel better than ever before. But it didn’t.

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A new season begins

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.
– Ecclesiastes 3:1

The past few months have been good for the blog. Summer provided a good bit of free time and some fun topics to write about. It also provided some much needed time with those closest to me. I was talking to a fellow friend displaced by higher education a few nights ago. We agreed – you never truly appreciate family and friends until you have left them. So I am thankful I received a season at home.

Now, it’s time to turn the page.

At the beginning of the month, I moved to Tuscaloosa, Ala. Next week, I begin my work as a Doctoral Assistant in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. Daunting as it may be, I am looking forward to immersion in the Ph.D. process. I like the future it promises; the possibilities now only imagined. With prayer I take this step, mindful that “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

But that has very little to do with the blog.

I am writing you to let you know I will not be writing you. At least as frequently. Or, at least not in as much depth. I hope to still share the occasional thought on more prominent events. That or bore you with stories about my research.

Best wishes for your next season. May we meet again soon.

The last of the baseball card collectors

It was early Sunday morning. I grabbed some raisin bread and a banana and sat down in front of the television. Nothing prepares me for church like listening to people bicker about politics. But instead of meeting the press, I stumbled upon a piece on CBS that sent me down memory lane to old warehouses and hotel conference rooms, digging through dingy cardboard boxes, looking for loot to add to the oversized green plastic box I stored my treasures in until I grew old enough to realize how silly it looked to carry with me.

Some were colorful and metallic, others clean and crisp. Some were cut with the precision of a laser, others embossed, others glossed. There were the Diamond Kings and the diamonds in the rough, but it took mining the entire field to find all of the gems. And if you were lucky, you’d find the one that came with a stick of chewing gum.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Diary of a Fantasy Baseball Geek

The rest of the world was watching masses of humanity crash into each other again and again in an attempt to advance an oblong ball. The crowds cheered as the players fell, like spectators at the Roman Coliseum.

Not I.

On Sunday, I watched a purer game – one of sandlot dreams and the fabric of Americana. The pastime from a simpler time. The one where guys spit and grab their crotch all the time.

Ah, baseball.

In the waning weeks of September, most of the pennant races have been decided. Bright-eyed prospects are fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing with the big league club while cagey veterans are resting up for the promise of October magic.

But for a small group, these final few weeks of September are paramount. They are the final challenge of a six-month test of strategy, skill, and sheer determination of will.

We are fantasy baseball geeks, and these are our playoffs.

Continue reading “Diary of a Fantasy Baseball Geek”