Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Life's all about balance...the good with the bad, the light with the dark, the yin with the yang, Wilma with Fred, and Betty with Barney. I don't know if it's the "Yoga for Cyclists" dvd that I've started doing (I think it's a law that you have to do yoga when you live in the Bubble) or just the regular order of things, but this week has definitely made me more aware of the balance that life offers.

See, my week started off baaaadddd when my laptop crashed. Ack! I'm trying to make my living as a writer, for goodness sake, and my laptop is, well, my office, my tool belt (and tools), and my ticket to a paycheck now and then. The first glimmering of problems came when I had trouble shutting the computer down, and once I did and tried to turn it back on the next morning, all that glowed back at me was my desktop photo -- no icons, no cursor, absolutely nothing to help me navigate and create. Two times, I was able to get it to re-boot by unplugging and also removing the battery. The third time, however, wasn't charmed, and it was gone. Just a little blinking cursor on a black screen, and then a long "Sorry, Windows has shut down due to technical difficulties, and you will never again be able to feed yourself or pay your rent, blah, blah, blah" message. With a deadline for a Fresno Magazine article looming on Friday, well, this was a crisis.

Thankfully, I'd just recently written the name and number of a computer dude who was recommended by someone on my Boulder Media Women listserv (apparently, I sensed that my computer was about to crash...I knew we were close, but didn't realize I was that tuned in), and he came by to see what he could do the day after I called. Today, he gave me the verdict. I need to either let him replace the hard drive, or buy an entirely new machine. Aaaaaahhhhh! I've learned more about computers, hardware, and software in the last few days than I'd ever wanted to. So now I have to make a decision, and in the meantime, he was nice enough to let me borrow one of his computers so I can make my deadline Friday. If you're on the Front Range and ever need a computer dude, do contact him:

So, where's the balance, you ask? Well, yesterday while at the library to use the internet for a bit, I logged on and found the coolest e-mail message. It was from a senior editor at Shape magazine, and she was letting me know that she wants an article I pitched back in October. How cool is that?! It's a small front-of-the-book piece (front-of-the-book articles are those short, attention grabbing pieces at the front of most magazines) and it will be in the June issue. It's due Monday and most of the work is done, as I did a lot of it for the pitch -- woo-hoo! (Remember the Magazine Writer's Conference I attended back in September? I learned there that FOB pieces are a good way to break into national mags, and I also met with Janet Lee, a Shape editor, during my "speed dating with the editor" sessions, and she helped me refine my idea for the pitch.)

AND today I was invited to do some articles for The Daily Camera's annual "Success Stories" edition for the advertising department (stories about businesses). AND I chatted with Andy Lee, the communications director at USA Cycling in Colorado Springs, and we're working out a deal where I'll be doing some writing for them, as well.

So, some very good professional vibes there to balance out the bad computer ju-ju. (Honestly, how do you spell "ju-ju"?)

And, perhaps even better, I had a very good conversation with my dad this morning, and then another with my mom. We had to talk about some stuff that was pretty hard to talk about, and, frankly, I think we all did an amazing job. Very, very good ju-ju.

So, there's your balance. It's tipping much more heavily toward the good side at the moment....deep, deep sigh.

(But, no pics with this post, as currently ALL of my photos are being held hostage in my lifeless laptop...but not for long!!!)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Plagiarism Sucks -- Even for Lusty Meerkats

On one of my first rides after moving to Boulder, while stopped at some roadwork with other cyclists waiting for the flag-dude to wave us through, I struck up a conversation with a professional triathlete from Australia. She asked me what had brought me to Boulder, and I said I was freelance writing. Another cyclist had ridden up behind us, heard me say this, and volunteered that I may want to join Boulder Media Women. He gave me his card so I could get contact info for the group from him, and I joined.

It's a great group of women -- over 300! -- who all work in some form of media. Many are freelancer writers, and I've learned so much from being on the listserv, attending Friday coffee hours, Tuesday "Schmoozes" (happy hour!), and monthly potlucks.

Yesterday on the BMW listserv, someone posted a link to a Newsweek article about plagiarism. As a prof, I dealt with plagiarism quite a few times -- most often it involved students "lifting" passages right out of our textbook, but one student even lifted quotes directly out of a hand-out that I WROTE!!! -- and it was quite unnerving. I tried to be empathetic, realizing that many of our students hadn't ever written papers where they needed to use sources. Knowing this, I talked to them about plagiarism prior to their papers being due, and even gave them readings about how and when to cite properly. It still happened though, on a fairly regular basis. I'm sure that some of the students I caught remember me as "that evil professor-wench who filed a 'Plagiarism Report' on me," and sometimes I do look over my shoulder more often than normal when walking down dimly lit streets. But when I've explained to you exactly what plagiarism is, well, there's just no excuse for using someone else's exact words and failing to use quotation marks and a citation.

And as most of you probably realize, plagiarism doesn't just happen on school campuses -- it happens in real life, with much more serious consequences even when the context is hilarious. This Newsweek article was written by an author whose work was plagiarized. He wrote about meerkats...and a romance novelist used some of his work, word for word, without quoting or citing. Yes, information about meerkats in a crotch novel. Very, very bizarre and quite funny. I not only wonder about the plagiarizing author's competence, but about her editor' could you read this, and not be suspicious that she'd cut and pasted the information? Perhaps after 11 years of college teaching, I just have a heightened paranoia about cheating, but I'll let you be the judge...

Monday, February 4, 2008

I'm Freezing in Colorado, so this Seems Fitting

Final Conference Wrap-Up

Am finally getting around to posting some pics and follow-up to the USA Cycling's Enhancing Leadership in Women's Cycling Conference that I went to for Velo News last week. Took awhile because I flew out to Cali shortly after and only just got back. But enough is the link to the follow-up article on, and below it are some of the pics I took and a little explanation.
Though they look awfully tiny here, this is a shot of all the women who attended. It was an amazing group from all over the country.
Of course, given that we were at the US Olympic Training Center, the facilities were pretty impressive, so these are a few shots of some of the sights.

There was an amazing slate of speakers -- more detail about them is included in the article. I tried to get pics of all of them, but, wow, I'm a terrible photographer! Most of the speaker photos turned out horribly. This one of Jim Miller, though, is ok. He is the USA Cycling Director of Endurance Programs, and he coaches the women's national team. He talked to us about the history of the women's program, what it's like to coach women as opposed to men, and the establishment of the women's team's house over in Lucca, Italy that was opened last year. Very, very interesting.

The last presentation on Saturday was a panel of elite cyclists that included Alison Dunlap, retired pro mountain biker and former world champion, Sarah Uhl, retired pro road racer who raced with Cheerwine last year and is a great advocate for collegiate cycling, and Lindsey Bishop, an up-and-coming mountain bike racer -- keep your eyes peeled for her!
These are a few of the participants at the conference. In the foreground is Kathy Zawadzki, one of the speakers who spoke on the unique training needs of moms. Behind her are mother and daughter Lori and Cristin Walker from Houston. Cristin and her brother are both national champs in track events, and began riding track when their dad got tired of watching them at home while mom Lori went to the track to ride -- so Lori started taking them, and now has two national champs for kids! How cool is that?!! Behind and on the far right is Jane O'Driscoll. She is from Montana and is the women's coordinator of their state cycling association along with being a full-time physical therapist. And, darned fun to talk with over drinks!
This is how most of the participants looked the majority of the time.
USA Cycling organized a great dinner for us at a brewery downtown on Saturday night. This is Michelle, (who I carpooled with) and Susan, one of her roommates, just after giving their drink tickets to me....
Also at my table were Lynda Ransdell, a prof from Boise who co-organized the conference, Rebecca Rusch, an adventure racer who is the current 24 hour world champion, and Beth Leasure, a women's coach and team director.
A few of the participants posed for a pic in the lobby of the Athlete Center before we went to dinner on Saturday night.
And before we left on Sunday, I had to take a moment to take a podium shot with Beth and Susan. I mean, come many times am I going to get the opportunity to stand on the top spot under the Olympic rings?!!!
Hope you get a chance to check out the articles, as the conference was truly amazing. I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with a lot of the women who were there and to seeing where the conference goes next. Great stuff.