Do you percolate?

I have a confession.  I am not a procrastinator, well, not all the time.  I am a percolator.

In my writing classes, we spend the first couple of weeks of each semester thinking about who we are as writers, exploring all that we have to write about, and learning that we can tweak and mold our processes to work for us in college.  We explore how we write, when we write, and why we write.  We write then write some more.  We have deadlines and discuss what it is like to write our way to a deadline.  Deadlines are something writers approach in different ways with different levels of success…or not.

I make confessions.  I confess that I do not like to write.  Well, this is not entirely true.  Writing is like cooking for me.  I love to bake when I want to, meal plan when I want to, and cook when I want to.  I hate to bake when I have to, meal plan when I have to, and cook when I have to.  Do you see the difference?  I like food.  I like to cook.  I love to bake.  I hate deadlines.  I like to write when I want to.  I like to write well when I want to.  I like to craft my writing when I want to.   I hate deadlines.  If I think about it, I realize that this distaste for deadlines can be applied to just about every area of my life.  Deadlines create stress for me and not always the good kind of emotional stress.

Deadline stress should be avoided, but it is not likely that deadline stress can be avoided.  Sure, I could stop giving myself deadlines, but my job and business will always have deadlines.  And, I have to ask myself if I am looking at this in all the write, I mean right, ways.  Is stress bad for me?  Not according to Dr. Kelly McGonical.  Her book, The Upside of Stress, is on my summer reading list, so I will get back to you on this one.

If I do not have deadline stress, will I ever get anything done?  I have evidence that says no.  My home is much cleaner right before company arrives.  The girls and I have been spending our Sunday morning grading sessions, okay, coffee and gripe sessions, at a new health food market for the past month.  My Sunday-get-this-house-cleaned-up-quick deadline has fallen by the wayside.  No deadline means the kitchen island is not a mountain rather than flatland.  Hold on.  I need to add this mess to my to-do list.  Without a deadline stress, I have created a new stress. Sigh.

Can deadlines be good for us?  Do we set ourselves up for deadline stress?  Can deadline stress be harmful?  Yes. Yes. And, yes.  If I want my kitchen island to be clean, I will just have to put my deadline back in place and have the girls over on Sunday morning. I know this deadline motivates me and that is not a bad thing.  If I receive a custom order inquiry and notice the studio schedule is already full and say yes anyway, I have set myself up.  If there are far too many deadlines on the calendar and one overlaps another and most are job imposed, or family imposed, or imposed by some other outside source, then, yes I believe this stress can be harmful to me.  My response to imposition is most often negative.  And, my go to negative response to imposed deadlines is procrastination.

Procrastination is intentional.  When I procrastinate, I am making a choice.  I put things off, intentionally, until I absolutely have to do the task.  In fact, I spend a great deal of energy putting an imposed task off.  I think about it, but not about the process of doing it, or the goal, but about the fact that I don’t want to do it.  I negotiate with myself about the task, bargaining if you will, thinking about just how long it will take me to do this task so I can formulate a plan of when the last possible moment to start will be.  This is exhausting.  Why do I do this?

When I ask my students to raise their hands if they are procrastinators, the topography of the room changes as the air fills with finger tips.  I then ask if they are sure.  Hands begin to fall from the air when I ask if they think their procrastination is intentional.  We discuss this.  It is clear that they think that procrastination is something that happens to them rather than something they choose to do.  I give them a quiz:  Do you think about the task while you are not doing it?  Do you make other plans that make it hard to meet your deadline even though the deadline is on your mind?  Do you choose to focus on the task at the last moment on purpose?  If you answered no, then yes, then yes…you are procrastinating.   Right? But, maybe some of us are not.  Maybe we are something else.

If your quiz answers were yes, no, no, then you might be like me…a percolator.  Deadlines make me think about the tasks, the process of the tasks, the completing of the tasks.  I plan in my head, and often on brain dump lists, I stress and worry the task, and I complete the task in my head in a variety of ways over and over again.  This is busy work and uses up a good amount of brain energy.  I write in my head which I know sounds impressive, but truly it is not.  It’s simply a form of worry which is far too big a topic for this post.  We can work on worry later.

Students stair at me with blank expressions.  I then post a picture of a percolator on the screen in the front of the classroom and tell them this, dear students, is how your grandparents, or maybe great grand parents, made their coffee each morning.  It was a process, not a quick drip, and they stare in wonder of how slow coffee brewing used to be. A percolator crafts a well brewed cup of coffee as it cycles the water through the grounds, the process is more caring of the coffee and many percolator enthusiasts enjoy a richer brew.  It’s a process.  It takes care.  It takes time.  It is not easy.  It is not quick.  It is, often, better.

I compare the process to our thinking out a task until it is complete.  I tell my students if they think about the tasks more than the deadline, they are percolators, not procrastinators.  They begin to see both as motivators and choices.  Once they believe that this is a choice, they can begin to see the good, and the bad, in these choices.  Maybe they will consider, like me, that one choice is better for them than another, and can choose.

What’s good for you?  Percolating?  Procrastinating?


What Our Mothers Teach Us

Over and over again, I learn the things our mothers have taught us.  I sit here, today, at my mother’s kitchen table with a cup of tea in hand.  My mind has been drifting between the challenges that life is throwing me today and the challenges that lie ahead for our daughters and our sons.  Something big is in the air and I can’t help but think about the generations of women that have come before me and wonder if they sat at kitchen tables, thinking, sipping tea and watching, and participating, in the history of their present.  Did they feel it?  Was it in the air then?  And, then?  And, then, too?

During the first days of school, when we are all finding our footing and easing into our stride, students learn about me as we create classroom communities of learners, writers, and, hopefully, thinkers.  Often, I am asked about my political affiliation.  Affiliation.  It seems assumed that I must affiliate, fellowship, belong, agree with, partner with, union with…  That I must belong to one side or another without consideration of other sides or with consideration of only one side.  The one side.  Yikes.  There are more than two sides to every story and there is also my side.  I have a side and it matters.  Right?  I only reveal my independence and reassure students that I take my civil disobedience and allegiance to thinking very seriously.  I love to knit wool, but that does not mean I am a sheep.

During the first days of a newly elected presidency, I hope we are not just marching, but thinking about what happens after the march.  In pink Pussy Hats we scampered, gathered, and marched.  We were like brides marching toward our future and creating a world for our children to enjoy or endure or survive.  Like brides, we were sure of our choices, dressed for the role, and willing to take a risk.  The wedding is over, the needles have moved on to new projects, and now it is time to put the march into action, to recognize what is in the air, and finish the job our mothers bequeathed us.

Our mother’s bumper sticker proclaimed that we should question authority. Our bumper sticker promised we could have it all.  What will our daughter’s bumper sticker promise?

How to Write A Revision Plan


by Anoka Ramsey

The purpose of revision plans is to make your revision simpler and cleaner. Instead of just starting at the beginning of the essay and racing through to make changes, you need to decide which tasks are most important, and approach them in that order. Remember, “revision” is not merely “proofreading” or “correcting. Proofreading takes place separately, as the final act, after revision, just before submitting the essay. Revision, on the other hands, involves clarifying your ideas by moving things around, adding material, and cutting. Your job in a revision plan is to decide specifically what you need to add, cut or move. And you need to be specific about your tasks.

For example, if I ask you to list your top ten revision tasks, and you write the following:

1. Revise my thesis

2. Develop my solution

3. Add more examples

4. Correct my citations

5. Cut out some unneeded material

6. Fix grammar

This list is no good. Anyone could write out these tasks. They are not specific and do not refer to the specific essay. They are general statements. So, and this is critical, the revision plan needs to be specific. I need to see that you can see the choices you are making. Basically, with detail, I am able to see that you are making sound, controlled revision choices. Here is a good revision plan:

1. Revise my thesis. Right now, my thesis argues and issue, that not recycling is immoral. Since this is a proposal, I need to make the topic a problem to be solved rather than an issue to be argued. Here’s what I’m thinking: “In order to solve the problem of consumer waste, consumers should be given incentives to recycle . . .”.

2. My solution is clear, “Consumers need to be given incentives like tax breaks,” but the details need work. How can I make this solution happen? How can legislators be convinced? What kind of tax breaks am I talking about? How would the breaks be applied (no pun intended)?

3. I need to give more examples of how the problem has been solved in the past, and failed. I admit I need more focused research on the history of the problem.

4. My in-text citations seem to include years of publication, which aren’t needed, and I need to remove author’s last names from citation markers if I have the author’s names in the signal phrases, and then put the article titles in the citation markers instead. I also need to set off a couple of long quotes (of more than four lines).

5. I have a whole section after the problem that repeats a lot of the information in the intro. It defines the problem more as the conclusion of the essay, but I already defined the problem, so I think I can cut most of this material. I was just padding space to meet the page count requirement, but I’ll meet the requirements by adding in good, purposeful information to develop the solution by adding more details to my solution and giving more examples alternative solutions (see 2 and 3 above).

6. [There would be no “correct grammar” statement; that’s a given for everyone! And fixing grammar and spelling and punctuation should take place AFTER you revise]

This revision plan better shows me that the writer is taking general rhetorical principles and applying them to the specific assignment. This is the kind of revision plan I want you to write up, too. Be detailed; refer to the specifics of your essay a lot.

It’s Confusing Because It’s Simpler


Creating a Works Cited list using the eighth edition

MLA has turned to a style of documentation that is based on a general method that may be applied to every possible source, to many different types of writing. But since texts have become increasingly mobile, and the same document may be found in several different sources, following a set of fixed rules is no longer sufficient.

The current system is based on a few principles, rather than an extensive list of specific rules. While the handbook still gives examples of how to cite sources, it is organized according to the process of documentation, rather than by the sources themselves. This process teaches writers a flexible method that is universally applicable. Once you are familiar with the method, you can use it to document any type of source, for any type of paper, in any field.

Here is an overview of the process:

When deciding how to cite your source, start by consulting the list of core elements. These are the general pieces of information that MLA suggests including in each Works Cited entry. In your citation, the elements should be listed in the following order:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Other contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

Each element should be followed by the punctuation mark shown here. Earlier editions of the handbook included the place of publication, and required punctuation such as journal editions in parentheses, and colons after issue numbers. In the current version, punctuation is simpler (just commas and periods separate the elements), and information about the source is kept to the basics.


Begin the entry with the author’s last name, followed by a comma and the rest of the name, as presented in the work. End this element with a period.

Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. Knopf, 1994.

Title of source

The title of the source should follow the author’s name. Depending upon the type of source, it should be listed in italics or quotation marks.

A book should be in italics:

Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. MacMurray, 1999.

A website should be in italics:

Lundman, Susan. “How to Make Vegetarian Chili.” eHow,*

A periodical (journal, magazine, newspaper article) should be in quotation marks:

Bagchi, Alaknanda. “Conflicting Nationalisms: The Voice of the Subaltern in Mahasweta Devi’s Bashai Tudu.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, vol. 15, no. 1, 1996, pp. 41-50.

A song or piece of music on an album should be in quotation marks:

Beyoncé. “Pray You Catch Me.” Lemonade, Parkwood Entertainment, 2016,

*The eighth edition handbook recommends including URLs when citing online sources. For more information, see the “Optional Elements” section below.

Title of container

Unlike earlier versions, the eighth edition refers to containers, which are the larger wholes in which the source is located. For example, if you want to cite a poem that is listed in a collection of poems, the individual poem is the source, while the larger collection is the container. The title of the container is usually italicized and followed by a comma, since the information that follows next describes the container.

Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 306-07.

The container may also be a television series, which is made up of episodes.

“94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, performance by Amy Poehler, season 2, episode 21, Deedle-Dee Productions and Universal Media Studios, 2010.

The container may also be a website, which contains articles, postings, and other works.

Zinkievich, Craig. Interview by Gareth Von Kallenbach. Skewed & Reviewed, 27 Apr. 2009, Accessed 15 Mar. 2009.

In some cases, a container might be within a larger container. You might have read a book of short stories on Google Books, or watched a television series on Netflix. You might have found the electronic version of a journal on JSTOR. It is important to cite these containers within containers so that your readers can find the exact source that you used.

“94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, season 2, episode 21, NBC, 29 Apr. 2010. Netflix,

Langhamer, Claire. “Love and Courtship in Mid-Twentieth-Century England.” Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1, 2007, pp. 173-96. ProQuest, doi:10.1017/S0018246X06005966. Accessed 27 May 2009.

Other contributors

In addition to the author, there may be other contributors to the source who should be credited, such as editors, illustrators, translators, etc. If their contributions are relevant to your research, or necessary to identify the source, include their names in your documentation.

Note: In the eighth edition, terms like editor, illustrator, translator, etc., are no longer abbreviated.

Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated by Richard Howard, Vintage-Random House, 1988.

Woolf, Virginia. Jacob’s Room. Annotated and with an introduction by Vara Neverow, Harcourt, Inc., 2008.


If a source is listed as an edition or version of a work, include it in your citation.

The Bible. Authorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 1998.

Crowley, Sharon, and Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 3rd ed., Pearson, 2004.


If a source is part of a numbered sequence, such as a multi-volume book, or journal with both volume and issue numbers, those numbers must be listed in your citation.

Dolby, Nadine. “Research in Youth Culture and Policy: Current Conditions and Future Directions.” Social Work and Society: The International Online-Only Journal, vol. 6, no.2, 2008, Accessed 20 May 2009

“94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, performance by Amy Poehler, season 2, episode 21, Deedle-Dee Productions and Universal Media Studios, 2010.

Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Translated by H. E. Butler, vol. 2, Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980.


The publisher produces or distributes the source to the public. If there is more than one publisher, and they are all are relevant to your research, list them in your citation, separated by a forward slash (/).

Klee, Paul. Twittering Machine. 1922. Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Artchive, Accessed May 2006.

Women’s Health: Problems of the Digestive System. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2006.

Daniels, Greg and Michael Schur, creators. Parks and Recreation. Deedle-Dee Productions and Universal Media Studios, 2015.

Note: the publisher’s name need not be included in the following sources: periodicals, works published by their author or editor, a Web cite whose title is the same name as its publisher, a Web cite that makes works available but does not actually publish them (such as YouTube, WordPress, or JSTOR).

Publication date

The same source may have been published on more than one date, such as an online version of an original source. For example, a television series might have aired on a broadcast network on one date, but released on Netflix on a different date. When the source has more than one date, it is sufficient to use the date that is most relevant to your use of it. If you’re unsure about which date to use, go with the date of the source’s original publication.

In the following example, Mutant Enemy is the primary production company, and “Hush” was released in 1999. This is the way to create a general citation for a television episode.

“Hush.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, season 4, Mutant Enemy, 1999.

However, if you are discussing, for example, the historical context in which the episode originally aired, you should cite the full date. Because you are specifying the date of airing, you would then use WB Television Network (rather than Mutant Enemy), because it was the network (rather than the production company) that aired the episode on the date you’re citing.

“Hush.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, season 4, episode 10, WB Television Network, 14 Dec. 1999.


You should be as specific as possible in identifying a work’s location.

An essay in a book, or an article in journal should include page numbers.

Adiche, Chimamanda Ngozi. “On Monday of Last Week.” The Thing around Your Neck, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, pp. 74-94.

The location of an online work should include a URL.

Wheelis, Mark. “Investigating Disease Outbreaks Under a Protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.” Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 6, no. 6, 2000, pp. 595-600, Accessed 8 Feb. 2009.

A physical object that you experienced firsthand should identify the place of location.

Matisse, Henri. The Swimming Pool. 1952, Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Optional elements

The eighth edition is designed to be as streamlined as possible. The author should include any information that helps readers easily identify the source, without including unnecessary information that may be distracting. The following is a list of select optional elements that should be part of a documented source at the writer’s discretion.

Date of original publication:

If a source has been published on more than one date, the writer may want to include both dates if it will provide the reader with necessary or helpful information.

Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine. 1984. Perennial-Harper, 1993.

City of publication:

The seventh edition handbook required the city in which a publisher is located, but the eighth edition states that this is only necessary in particular instances, such as in a work published before 1900. Since pre-1900 works were usually associated with the city in which they were published, your documentation may substitute the city name for the publisher’s name.

Thoreau, Henry David. Excursions. Boston, 1863.

Date of access:

When you cite an online source, the MLA Handbook recommends including a date of access on which you accessed the material, since an online work may change or move at any time.

Bernstein, Mark. “10 Tips on Writing the Living Web.” A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 16 Aug. 2002, Accessed 4 May 2009.


As mentioned above, while the eighth edition recommends including URLs when you cite online sources, you should always check with your instructor or editor and include URLs at their discretion.


A DOI, or digital object identifier, is a series of digits and letters that leads to the location of an online source. Articles in journals are often assigned DOIs to ensure that the source is locatable, even if the URL changes. If your source is listed with a DOI, use that instead of a URL.

Alonso, Alvaro, and Julio A. Camargo. “Toxicity of Nitrite to Three Species of Freshwater Invertebrates.” Environmental Toxicology, vol. 21, no. 1, 3 Feb. 2006, pp. 90-94. Wiley Online Library, doi: 10.1002/tox.20155.

Creating in-text citations using the eighth edition

The in-text citation is a brief reference within your text that indicates the source you consulted. It should properly attribute any ideas, paraphrases, or direct quotations to your source, and should direct readers to the entry in the list of works cited. For the most part, an in-text citation is the author’s name and page number (or just the page number, if the author is named in the sentence) in parentheses:

Imperialism is “the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan center ruling a distant territory” (Said 9).


According to Edward W. Said, imperialism is defined by “the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan center ruling a distant territory” (9).
Work Cited
Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. Knopf, 1994.

When creating in-text citations for media that has a runtime, such as a movie or podcast, include the range of hours, minutes and seconds you plan to reference, like so (00:02:15-00:02:35).

Again, your goal is to attribute your source and provide your reader with a reference without interrupting your text. Your readers should be able to follow the flow of your argument without becoming distracted by extra information.

Final thoughts about the eighth edition

The current MLA guidelines teach you a widely applicable skill. Once you become familiar with the core elements that should be included in each entry in the Works Cited list, you will be able to create documentation for any type of source. While the handbook still includes helpful examples that you may use as guidelines, you will not need to consult it every time you need to figure out how to cite a source you’ve never used before. If you include the core elements, in the proper order, using consistent punctuation, you will be fully equipped to create a list of works cited on your own.

How to Cite the Purdue OWL in MLA

Entire Website

The Purdue OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, 2016.

Individual Resources

Contributors’ names and the last edited date can be found in the orange boxes at the top of every page on the OWL.

Contributors’ names. “Title of Resource.” The Purdue OWL, Purdue U Writing Lab, Last edited date.

Russell, Tony, et al. “MLA Formatting and Style Guide.” The Purdue OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, 2 Aug. 2016.

ELO – School Picnic


Today is the school picnic. There’s free food, music, dancing, a dunk tank and more.  Go get your free lunch and walk around exploring students groups, community businesses, and other opportunities to expand your life and mind.  Write a reflection about your experience and earn 5 ELOs for the grade book.  If you learn about Raku, share this information for a bonus…it must be clear that you learned about Raku from Ms. Clemens and her crew and didn’t merely look this technique up using a search.  Use this opportunity to learn something new and have a great time.  To take advantage of this opportunity, email your reflection to your instructor by Monday, September 26 – 9am.

Are you happy?


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