A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

APA Style....Ugh!

The way to stay young and fit, physically and mentally, is by exercising. Exercising your muscles and exercising your brain. Walking your little black dog all over town, swimming, doing the Strive circuit at the Y. Reading, writing, listening to punk and rap, jazz and mbalax and zouk. Changing your job every two weeks so you're constantly having to learn new things.

Every time I change my job, I have to learn new and different procedures. I learn them, usually become proficient at them, but I don't have to like them. Take style manuals, for example. I was weaned on Turabian in high school, laboriously typing out term papers on erasable onionskin using a Smith Corona manual typewriter. College trained in MLA (Modern Language Association) style with that same typewriter and a bottle of White-out. Grad school, MLA style again. An angry ex threw the typewriter down the stairs, or I'd still have it.

For cataloging Judaica, I use a hybrid style my bookseller employer, Dan Wyman, developed. I don't mind it because I was right there with him the whole time, testing out the modifications to it. At Channing Bete and when writing for the newspaper and certain online sites, it's AP (Associated Press) style. Yuck! Picky little differences like one space after a period instead of two. E-mail instead of email. Web site, not website. Nothing that's to my taste.

Now that I'm starting to teach online classes at Kaplan University, I've got to learn APA (American Psychological Association) style. This one I really, really can't stand. What the hell is wrong with MLA style, the doyenne of them all, and why can't everyone just agree on it? Harvard-style in-text citations make sense, I'll grant them that. Nearly everything else about it irritates me. Like putting the date directly after the name in a bibliographical reference. Who thought that up?

What galls me the most is that I'll have to dock my students for misusing it. When I don't even see the point of it myself. Oh, well.

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