The Law of Diminishing Returns

Essay 2 is now in the hands of Professor Stacy.  This assignment was a hair pulling experience.  Nonetheless, I learned a lot of things that I did not know.  As for the persuasive stand point, it was very difficult to grasp an arguement that would no way change the outcome of history.  It is what it is.  Perhaps that is where my weakness lies. 

My revisions to the essay were to strengthen my thesis statement.  It wasn’t a clearly defined point and rather muddled.  Lots of grammar corrections and citations needed to be added and double checked and the flow of the paper refined.  I looked at that paper everyday, to the point that I couldn’t see the forest from the trees.  As my daughter commented, “There is a law of diminished returns. At some point you have to declare DONE and just be happy with it.”  This paper may not be the shining piece that I struggled to produce but it was done with hard honest work.  After all we are in this class to learn. 

While I await the fate of Essay 2, work on my Ala Carte piece is in the process.  Looming on the horizon is Essay 3…

Ahh…Rest and Relaxation, NOT!

Wonderful spring break, time to put the books away and relax.  Get back in touch with the world around you; take a vacation to a sunny spot; or use the time to do some spring cleaning.  Not on my agenda. 

 I did go and visit my daughter and grandkids for a few days.  There I enjoyed the time spent with those precious little ones and tried not to be an inconvenience to my daughter.  All the while thinking about the school work still on my desk. I did have good intentions and brought some of it with me for the long weekend.  The grandkids were my distractions (and such cute ones to boot!).

On the flight home I planned my week out, making my list of tasks that needed to be completed this week.  By the time my flight landed Monday night, I had worked myself into a crazed mad woman!  How was I going to accomplish all that needed to be done in just under a week!?!  I was so stressed out over it all that I had trouble sleeping and had to get up early for work. 

Not only did I need to still do more major revising of my essay and send it through Safe Assign for a quick check, I have two tests to study for and still have my Ala Carte project to complete!  It is times like this that I wish I could have just a few more hours in the day.  Which brings us to the time change and having to adjust to losing that hour!  Okay, some of you might not notice the small change and I really do like more daylight in the evening, but my body sure can feel that small one hour change! 

My husband always tells me that I will get it done because I always do.  But one of these days I just might not get it all done and that scares the bejesus out of me!  I am not one who takes failure or less than perfect lightly.  Typical of a Type A personality. 

So here I am, Sunday afternoon and my essay is just about done.  It still needs one last coat of polish and a humble prayer.  My Philosophy book is open and note cards are being made.  The algebra is sitting here awaiting my attention. Nothing like a deadline to keep the blood flowing or should I say the brain!

I think I lost a few brain cells…

This semester has turned out to be totally different from what I imagined it at the beginning.  Working fulltime, taking 3 classes, plus trying to get ready to run the Triple Crown and Mini Marathon has taken every minute of my time.  I thought that my Algebra class would have been the big time eater and I was really worried about Philosophy, but Writing II has got them all beat!  I rewrote my essay 3 times at least!  I’d start and not like it and start over again.  This one is not what I had hoped it would be.  Maybe I am trying too hard?  Maybe I researched too much?  Maybe I picked the wrong topic to write about?  Problem is there is no time left to do any changing of topics (and I truly thought that I could write a great piece).  My problem, I don’t know how to argue! I struggle with formulating a point that is one I want to make!  In my work I am usually writing things that are technical in nature, no opinions needed.  Straight forward stuff.  And it is plain to see in my essay that I need work in the area of persuasion.  I have one peer review in and it wasn’t a shining one, but a constructive one nonetheless.  So its roll up the sleeves time and lock myself in a room somewhere and have a heart to heart with this essay. 

I know I am not alone in this stressed out worried and crazy time we are having.  Many of the posts I am reading shows we are all wanting to deliver a good essay and are struggling with the format.  We have to remember that we are “learning” to write.  If we already knew how to write, why would we take this class? 

To all my stressed out classmates, this too shall pass, I hope…

Assembly Required

With just 10 days until our first draft of essay 2 is due, its time to start the writing process.  I have bits and pieces scattered all over my desk!  Reference material stacked up and 2 more books to go through!  No wonder Professor Stacy commented about working ahead!  I have two other classes that are as equally time consuming so this week is not going to be an easy one.  Time to draw up a plan of action!

The first step is always the hardest.  Putting a puzzle together is always confusing at the beginning. Taking the pieces out of the box and arrange them so you can see what you have. For my essay, this will be making a list of the ideas I will use to argue a point.  Second, you have to arrange the different pieces into groups, like edge pieces and pieces of the same color.  For the essay, that will be grouping events to substantiate the different points I want to use for my arguement.  Then the assembly starts, the framework first and then fill in the middle. 

Time to get started!

In Deep Thought

The week is flying by and there is still so much to do.  Research is still going forward and I hope to add a few more sources to my list.  A draft of my Works Cited is on the way and my thesis statement is forming, but I tend to shy away from nailing it down.  Just haven’t found the right way I want to run with my topic.  There is so much I have learned and my stance on what the Indian Removal Act of 1830 is forming.  Now to find just the right angle…. 

I decided to take a bit of a break from the research and massive reading to focus in on my Ala Carte project.  Before we know it, the 12th week will be upon us.  It’s funny how quickly the semester is going by!  I have decided to do the Jefferson Story Project.  Perhaps I can make a difference in another older persons life by telling my story.  My son has agreed to help with the interviewing process and to do the recording.  This ought to be a fun thing for us to do together and he might just learn by listening to my story.

Until the next blog entry, happy writing!

Pulling The Research Together

Research is a lesson in itself.  Learning the quirks of the various databases, shelf diving at the library (as my son calls it) , and working with the wonderful lady at the reference desk.  A shout out to Nancy Mollett at the Downtown LRC, she has been a patient and guiding soul! 

My topic is on the Indian Removal Act of 1830.  You won’t find many books relating souly to the subject.  The Indian Removal Act was only a part of a very big picture.  My research materials are coming mainly in the form of scholarly journals.  Though I am still doing research and have another list of books to review before I start to formulate my thesis and persuasive stance.

So here is what I have thus far:

No Idle Past: Uses of History in The 1830 Indian Removal Debates by Jason Meyers – This article focuses on how the debaters of the Bill twisted events presented to congress in favor of or against the bill, each side having their own agenda.  This article looks at the individuals who presented their case and what their interests were in the bill.  It also takes a look at the standing points for the Whigs and the Democrats and the hsitory of previous Acts dealing with trade and land purchase with the various tribes in the east.

An Administrative Trail of Tears: Indian Removal by Ethan Davis – This article deals with the administrative system that facilitated the removal of the Choctaws, one of the five tribes that were part of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Judical review was non-existent and the control of the removal was left to external law, being statues passed by Congress and treaties between the United States and the tribes concerned. The article creates a picture of the many relationships the various adminstrations and the tragic outcome.

Abuse of Power: Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1830 by Alfred A Cave –  This article gives the nitty-gritty on President Andrew Jackson and his blatant abuse of power where the Indians were concerned.  It depicts his personal reasons why he would violate congressional legislation which authorized removal of the tribes.  The article review s the various discrepencies in the laws and the administrations actions.  It looks at how the Act itself neither authorized nor forced relocation of the five tribes and the Jackson’s  administration abuse of presidental power.

Removal of the Indians (October 1830) by Jeremiah Evarts and Caleb Cushing – This article is actually written my an opposer of the Indian Removal Act.  Jeremiah Evarts was a lawyer and philanthropist who devoted much of his life to religious efforts.  In his article he reviews the congressional debates and the ethical view point on what the Act would infringe.  Caleb Cushing also contributed the demographics of the various tribes and the actual indian census.  He also provides his view points in regard to the debates and the ramifications of the Act passing.

Philanthropy Betrayed: Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Origins of Federal Indian Removal Policy by Christian B. Keller  – This article takes into account the origins of the Federal Removal Act and the position of Thomas Jefferson regarding the removal policy.  The article delves into Jefferson’s position of “civilizing” the tribes and bringing them into the white mans world.  Though Jefferson was well before the Indian Removal Act of 1830, his position regarding the removal played an important role in the development of opinion and the basis for the act itself. It also sheds light on the true position Jefferson held in regards to the removal of the tribes.

There you have it, five solid resources to begin with.  As for the stance I will take, that is yet to be decided.  Right now I only have one opinion and it isn’t a very nice one regarding Andrew Jackson.   I don’t think it would be a proper stance for the thesis!  In all, I am learning about our history and that is always a good thing. 

Onward fellow writers!

The Quest for Knowledge: My Lessons in Research

Essay 2 is beginning to take form.  I selected my next topic “The Indian Removal Act of 1830” with hopes of abundant information to fashion my persuasive topic.  This has proven to be a bit more trying than I expected!  And so, my adventure into learning about the subject so that I can write something intelligent begins. 

We must use at least 5 secondary resources for our information.  Hmm…  that shouldn’t be too hard.  WRONG!  Whatever happened to good old books and nice little librarians that sat there and assisted? A thing of the past.  Now I have to sit in front of a computer and try to sift through all the numerous databases that hold the information. I have to use just the right words or I get a load of titles that has little if anything to do with the subject I am searching.   Last semester in my Writing I class we were introduced to Ebsco, ProQuest, Google Scholar, and the numerous databases that we have to choose from through the school.  Enough to turn me into a babbling 52-year-old! 

I am an old horse, raised in the day were reports were written in the library at school (encyclopedias were not allowed out of the school unless you came from a well to do family who could afford the steep price for a home set). The selection of books were limited and it would entail my Mother dragging 6 kids to the library for me to acquire the materials needed.  Those were my days.  When you actually held a book with lots of pages and pictures too!  Old dogs can learn new tricks, but we run into the wall every now and then and have to start over again. Now I must do database diving instead of walking down the rows of books with the wonderful smell of old paper.

Today, I decided that I would go to the library in hopes of finding that friendly Librarian.  I had several options (so I thought).  I could go to the Public Library Branch closest to my home, venture to the Library at the Downtown Campus or try my luck at locating the main library and finding a parking space that I can manuever into without doing damage to any vehicle (parallel parking is not for me).   I chose option one in an effort to save some time.  I work full-time and still have to find time to care for my animals, get my exercise in and take care of a house, and sleep.  after my mid-morning run and a quick shower, I hopped in the car and drove the 10 minutes to the local branch.  There I was directed to the reference desk where a nice little old lady sat perched behind the desk just waiting for someone to help.  I became giddy with the thoughts of my youth and the help I was going to get!  Boy, was I wrong!  She was polite as I told her my needs and what I was using the material for, she turn and typed the information into, you guessed it, a database!  She found one book and it really wasn’t what I was looking for.  It actually was a book for a 6th grader!  No scholarly journals or reference books, just a 1/4″ book that had more to do with the simple facts and nothing nitty-gritty.  How can I form a persuasive topic on this!?  I politely said” thank you” walked around for a minute, returned the book to the shelf and high tailed it out of there.  Next stop the campus library.

You would think the library would be open on a Saturday, they are but only until 1 pm and I missed it by and hour.  So back to the drawing board and database diving.  I have found several articles on the subject but long for some good old books to hold in my hands and read.  My quest still continues…