Monthly Archives: October 2009

Faculty and Staff Recommendation



Becky Brothers

English Faculty


Fair and Tender Ladies


Lee Smith


“This novel opens our eyes to the empty little towns and Wal-mart-paralyzed hamlets across Appalachia. Smith dives deep into mountain folk past and brings the old ways up to air. We see where all our precious heritage has slipped away to. I love this book because it shows just how advanced these disrespected communities are. And I love it because it serves as a cautionary tale we would all do well to heed.”


Monday Motivator: Enjoy Nature

Studies have shown that regular contact with nature increases a sense of well-being as well as reduces stress. But in the midst of a busy work and family life, days can go by without any real time enjoying the natural world. So this week, make an effort to enjoy the outside. Fall is a perfect time, since the weather is not too hot or cold and the trees are changing colors.

  • Go for a walk after work or during your lunch break.
  • Go watch a football game (in person). For the past five Saturdays, I’ve watched nine-year-olds play flag football at one of the parks. It was fun to get out in the fresh air.
  • Plant bulbs for next spring’s garden.
  • Go to Radnor or Warner parks to enjoy the leaves turning, or take a bike ride on the Natchez Trace.
  • And if you really can’t get out and about, then put some plants in your home and office.   

Faculty and Staff Recommendations


Sally Robertson



You are Here: Exposing the Vital Link Between What We Do and What That does to Our Planet


Thomas M. Kostigen


“ Because, it goes around the world and tells what is happening in some key cities and how we are all connected by the six degree principle.   The first city Jerusalem, where the 3 major religions started, is being affected by the changing climate which is destroying our past.   It is a very well written and eye opening book for anyone at all concerned about our planet Earth.”

Narrowing Choices When It Comes to Sources

The Monday Motivator yesterday talked about narrowing down choices in life as a way of increasing happiness. But the same is also true when conducting research. When I was in high school, I could occasionally get away with telling my teacher that I couldn’t find enough sources. Now, if a student used that excuse, he or she would be laughed out of the room. For example, a search on “depression” in Academic Search Premier brings up 87,917 hits. Pretty overwhelming, isn’t it?  So how do you narrow down your sources so that you can get what you need.  There are some quick and easy tips that will help:

  • Know your databases.  If you are doing a literature or philosophy search, you might decide to start with JSTOR or Literature Research Center. WilsonWeb has a business database. By starting with the most likely database for your topic, you can narrow down your search. If it’s too narrow, you can go and search one of the larger, multidisciplinary databases.
  • Limit your search options. Remember that 87,917 hits in AcademicSearch Premier? Well, if you choose the following search options:
    • Full Text
    • Scholarly Journals
    • Limit the date to those articles after 2004

Then suddenly you’re down to 16,760. Still a lot. So let’s go to our next step.

  • Narrow down your search terms. Let’s say that your study on depression only involves the elderly. Now you’re down to 823.
    • But perhaps you can go another step. You’re only interested in depression and older men. Now we’re down to 58.
    • And the final step: Take a look at the summaries and abstracts. See if the information is what you need. Only then do you have to read the entire article.

Remember it’s not the number of sources that count. It’s the quality!

Monday Motivator: Limit Your Choices.

You might think that the title this week is a typo. We all like  having choices. No one wants to be told what to wear, what career to pursue, what church to go to, or even what television show to watch. But research shows that after a certain amount, people’s happiness actually decreases when faced with a myriad of choices.


  • It is simply overwhelming to face the sheer number of choices available. You might expect to have to do some research on cars or careers. But now it seems that every decision requires sorting through choice after choice.
  • The sheer number of choices can paralyze some people and keep them from ever making a decision at all.
  • Folks often have raised expectations about what they’ll get or how they’ll feel once they make a choice.
  • Folks often feel a sense of regret after making a choice, that perhaps they didn’t make the right one.

So in the world of too many choices, how do we wisely limit ours?

  • Decide on the front end how important a choice is and then budget your time accordingly. Buying a house merits taking months to research and consider all your options. Buying a cell phone not so much.
  • As much as overachievers will hate this, some choices are fine if they are simply good enough. If all I need a washing machine to do is clean my clothes, then do I really need to research all the capabilities of all the models to find the perfect one?
  • Don’t expect perfection, no matter how many choices you have.
  • Once you’ve made your choice, stop the investigation! Let it go.
  • And though this may seem to contradict the previous bullet, keep in mind that very few choices in life have to be permanent. You can always choose a new path, whether it’s a new career or a new cell phone.

Faculty and Staff Recommendations: Week 5


Michael Kiggins

English Faculty


Maus I and II


Art Spiegelman


“This landmark work is a gripping account of the Shoah (or, the Holocaust) as narrated primarily from the perspective of the son of two survivors. This graphic novel is drawn in simple but stark black-and-white style, and it portrays people of different ethnicities or nationalities as different animals (e.g., Jews are drawn as mice, Nazis as cats, Poles as pigs, etc.). This work blurs the boundaries of biography, autobiography, fiction and meta-fiction, and it should be read by anyone who is interested in learning more about the long-term effects of the Shoah on both survivors and their children.”

Monday Motivator: Develop Resilience.

According to Wikipedia, resilience is the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and  catastrophe.

We’ve all known resilient people, those who have undergone traumatic events or illnesses and yet have remained positive and optimistic, still working towards goals. We’ve also all known people who are not, the folks, for whom every bump in the road, is a catastrophe, who are carrying hurts from a decade ago as if it were yesterday.

Obviously, resilience is a trait that makes people happier and more productive. Therefore, it is a trait worth developing in ourselves, our children, and our students. So what are the characteristics of the resilient?

  • They know how to manage stress.
  • They don’t quit too easily.
  • But they don’t stay committed to an unaccomplishable goal.
  • They ask for help.
  • They break down big goals into smaller ones.
  • They celebrate little victories along the way.
  • They see things realistically.
  • They see the humor in life.
  • They have self control.
  • They are happy.

In general, all of these characteristics can be developed in ourselves and in others. And resilience is a skill worth developing since we can’t control all what happens to us, only our response to such events.