Monday, October 31, 2005

Ethics in Advertising

Tuesday marks the day we talk about ethics in strategic communication. This is always a fun topic. Conveniently, the textbook comes with a 6 DVD set of example ads. This makes the class a lot less boring. So when I go to preview the ads for Tuesday, imagine my surprise when every example ad features something good by the industry. There are public service announcements and the like.

I mean, come on, who portrays this industry as holy? If you cannot make fun of advertising, who can you make fun of? This left me in a quandary, so I began searching my own personal library for examples of ads that may leave women with a body image problem. Then I checked my adage daily e-mail and saw the headline Lust for Bust.

It seems that the marketers for Milwaukee's Best Light have put together an interactive game wherein the point is to stare at a woman' s breasts without getting caught. If she catches you, then her brother (allegedly your buddy) squishes you with a Beast Light can and you are "busted." Play for yourself.

Now I am the last person to make some sort of normative stance. In fact, I may be the worst person to complain about this since my research says that sex = arousing; arousing = memory; so use more sex. But it still amazes me to see these things in 2005.

I feel as if I live in some sort of opposite universe. I mean, seriously, people half died to see Janet Jackson's nipple during the Super Bowl, but the economic trail proves that when no one is looking, we're all playing some version of Lust for Bust. Porn drives the Internet, and many other industries, too. Don't believe me? Watch this documentary online.

So why do we pretend? It fascinates me. So I do research. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hearts Beat Quicker

These are good days in the Communication & Cognition laboratory. Stealing myself away from classroom duties, more progress was made toward having an active psychophysiology laboratory.

Along with a motivated undergraduate student, Monica Baker, and some e-mails from Indiana, we got skin conductance and heart rate (EKG or ECG) running in the lab. Since I do not have a lab manager, I have not gotten around to ordering key components, such as sensor collars and sensor gel. This left us to use Scotch tape to hold the sensors in place, so we really did look like mad scientists.

Despite these technology troubles, we were able to detect and record a usable signal. I will order electrode collars on Monday, and we should be able to do a real pre-test within 10 days or so.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

It's Only Creative If It Sells

This week's Ad Age outlines the current rift between Burger King and its franchisees over the King campaign. It seems the popular $340 million ads are doing what so many popular ads do: fail to sell.

Young people like the ads, and one of my students told me that the King is a fast-selling Halloween costume. But Whoppers are not moving so fast. Same store sales were up just 1.1% for third quarter, and many franchisees are predicting negative growth in the fourth quarter.

Advertising is an interesting business. You can get a hold on the collective conscious and still not persuade. Like the Taco Bell chihuahua of a few years back, the King made a dent on pop culture without moving product.

Perhaps most interesting is a parallel I see between political communication and burger ads. Teen-age males are Burger King's "base," or its most profitable demographic. Just as George W. Bush or John Kerry had to find a way to energize their bases without losing fringe voters, Burger King franchisees are worried that the "weird" King may alienate women, "who are increasingly embracing McDonald's." Once again the soccer mom proves to be a formidable demographic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Quit Reading This at Work

Don't you know that you're costing us millions of dollars? Read here.

Perhaps my favorite part of the article is that it calculates the time at which every person on the planet will have a Weblog. We have turned mass communication upside down.

After three days off, you'd think I'd have more to say, but, alas, I do not.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Same Time Next Year

When you're a kid, waiting until the afternoon to go to the swimming pool can last an eternity. As you grow older, time speeds up. By the time you hit 30, time travels at breakneck pace.

Yesterday watching Tennessee play at Alabama, I remembered the third weekend in October in 2004. On this same Sunday last year, I was traveling across the state of Kansas with fellow Indiana graduate students Johnny Sparks and James Angelini. We had attended the annual conference of the Society for Psychophysiological Research in Santa Fe, and my parents had driven up to meet us. We left the conference on Saturday and headed up through the Enchanted Circle of Taos, Angel Fire, and Eagle's Nest. We spent that night in Colorado Springs.

When we awoke at the foot of the Rocky Mountains the next morning, we set off toward Bloomington. It was a beautiful fall day, and the sun was shining. The Chiefs' game was on the radio, and the "home" team was on its way to a rout of the Atlanta Falcons. We arrived in Manhattan, Kan., before the sun set, and I had the opportunity to show Johnny and James my former stomping grounds.

If memory serves, I was a week away from my first job interview (at a place called Ohio State), and the world seemed full of possibilities. That day was both wonderful and tumultuous. I struggled mightily with the question of whether to pursue a career based upon the best job available or a career based upon living where I wanted to live.

I chose the former, and I still wonder about it. Johnny is in my shoes this fall, and it has been educational to watch him grapple with some of the same balancing acts. Many times I have written here extolling the virtues of the academic life. There are many; however, the often nomadic lifestyle leaves the job somewhere short of perfection.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

What We Missed in New Mexico This Week

It is difficult to tire of sunsets like these. Picacho Peak in Las Cruces, N.M.

Photo by Sam Bradley Version 2.0.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Movin' On Up

Check back here soon for photos of the new lab. I have moved most of the equipment, and the newest Communication & Cognition lab members will help me begin to set up the lab on Saturday!

At long last.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Crazy Days

Today was a blur. Give or take 10 minutes here or there, I was meeting with people from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It was great. So many students eager and curious. I really grow more impressed with this department (i.e., school) every day. We really have some great people here.

And, oh yeah, my lab has a new lock!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fun on the Myers-Briggs Highway

Many people take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator at some point in their lives. It is a 4-dimension personality index. As a cognitive scientist I am normally opposed to such personality measures. However, I must admit that descriptions for my type (ENTP) are pretty accurate. One said, your middle name is "keep your options open." Right on. So anyway, I have been bugging people I know about their types and reading online. I have had some really good laughs. If you have never taken the MBTI, you answer a bunch of questions by filling out little bubble sheets, like a Scantron. But it is proprietary, so it costs money to take.

So one online observation listed famous ENTPs. One was Alexander the Great. I must tell you that I laughed out loud at the thought of Alexander the Great sitting down and filling out a bubble sheet. It just seemed so ludicrous. Har! Who spends their time analyzing dead people. Anyway, ENTPs are likely to be science types and inventors, so it fits.

Then, this morning, two friends had e-mailed me back about MBTI. These are two friends who I would consider similar in personality. And in perhaps the most awesome obsessive-compulsive testament, they both made reference to their type being located in a filing cabinet. Har. You can't write comedy better than this. Two people after my own heart. Because, of course, my own MBTI is located in a FILING CABINET. At any rate, these two friends had similar types (of course), and one was even a direct match. You see, we nerds find each other.

At any rate, the final bit of humor was that Friend #2 (anonymous) said, "My type is ENTP, but some might say PSYCHO." Har. I loved it.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Hatin' on Trash

You surely know the expression "domestic goddess." I am not that. I am the opposite of that. Somehow the phrase "domestic devil" does not seem right. Perhaps "domestic sloth." Perhaps just "lazy bastard."

I hate chores. Hate really isn't strong enough of a word. I loathe them. Despise them. Abhor them. They make me hurt at the core of my being. In general, I hate doing the same thing twice -- anything. This is especially true of mundane things. Somehow routine and monotony are like icepicks to my brain. I spend a great deal of time figuring out how to mow the lawn in a new pattern each time. So, I have few chores assigned to me, since no one likes to listen to me complain about them. But one chore that I do have -- and actually complete more often than not -- is trash.

Now, trash is the worst of the chores. This owes to the fact that trash entails both monotony and, well, trash. Almost equal to my hatred for routine is my hatred for touching "icky" things. This includes most other human beings, any surface in a public restroom, and most of the rest of the world.

So imagine my joy in combining these two wonderful things. Weirdly, I enjoy recycling. So we recycle a lot. But with three kids, we somehow manage to make more trash than Sri Lanka each week. The kitchen trash can (the most yucky one) is ALWAYS full. I just changed it like yesterday, and then went to throw away a dirty diaper (another favorite), and here it was stuffed to the rim again.

So, my annoyance boiled over, and I just wanted to hate on trash publicly for a while. Trash, you are the devil, and I only wish that I could find some way to make you suffer.

CommCognition Top 25 Week 7

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Another mixed and mostly negative weekend. My three schools were 0-3, and the weekend was salvage only by Ohio State, which had made me so mad in their incompetence that I went out to mow the lawn. Today marks the chance for another 0-4 weekend, as the Chiefs play a Redskins team that also is searching for an identity and can either be very good or quite mediocre. It was a great weekend in college football, overall, and the sun has dominated central Ohio. So who's to complain?

1. Texas
2. USC
3. Virginia Tech (really, now, someone beat them)
4. Georgia
5. Alabama
6. Notre Dame
7. LSU
8. Auburn
9. Miami (Fla).
10. Texas Tech
11. Ohio State
12. Florida
13. Tennessee
14. UCLA
15. Penn State
16. Boston College
17. Florida State
18. Oregon
19. TCU
20. West Virginia
21. Wisconsin
22. Fresno State
23. UTEP
24. Iowa
25. Michigan State

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Being Good

I spend a lot of time these days talking about careers, which is a switch. My students are motivated and curious, and they want to know what it takes to get ahead. The irony, of course, is that the students who are motivated enough to come to my office to talk are exactly the ones likely to get ahead and not to need my help. I was talking to one particularly motivated student on Thursday when I made a comment along the lines of, "If you're good, that will be recognized, and promotions will be available."

He stopped me and asked what it meant to be good. I paused. I started to answer. I paused and thought about it some more. And then I realized that I don't really know. Sure, I always know it when I see it, but I cannot much talk about it. So I pieced together some kind of answer, and I have been thinking about it ever since.

What does it mean? Because I am a scientist, this drives me crazy. I hate to know and to not know. So I have been making mental lists. I have been doing principle components analysis in my head. But mostly, I have been thinking of the great people I know. And that alone has made this a worthwhile thought experiment.

The great people whom I have known always seem to have an extra gear. When they need it, they can do whatever they're doing with more intensity, more focus. Because of this, I suppose, we see many sports figures labeled as great. The scoreboard is obvious. You can watch an athlete impose their will upon others. I have seen it done, from the high school soccer field to Michael Jordan, to Derrick Thomas coming around the outside, to how many damned times I watched John Elway drive down the field in the fourth quarter and rip my heart out.

Sometimes I read about people, and I then understand the reasons why they are great. Often times it is a coach, as athletes (at least the male ones) are often incapable of complete sentences. One of my favorite people is current Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. I don't know the man, but I would go to war for him. In an interview, he talked about blitzing in obvious passing situations. You see, the blitz leaves you vulnerable. It almost always means single coverage on at least one receiver. Conventional wisdom suggests that you have to be careful blitzing against good passing teams. But it's aggressive. If you believe in yourself. If you believe in greatness, you have to blitz. Gunther does. "If you're going to throw, we're coming," he said. Seven words, but they mean so much more. I have since decided that this is my theory of life: "If you're going to throw, we're coming." It says it all. If there is any imposing of will to be done, we will be the ones doing it, thank you.

The other half of my personal philosophy was best put by former Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams. It's hard for me to recall the exact words of his Carolina drawl, but he said something to the extent of, "If you and I want the same thing, I'm usually going to get it because I will simply outwork your tail." And, yes, "tail" is the one word I am sure that Roy used. Luckily I inherited this kind of insane work ethic from my dad (via his dad, and so on). It's amazing how far you can get just by working hard. Hard work made me the editor of the NMSU student newspaper when I had no business getting that job (looking at my resume). Hard work got me a competitive national copy editing internship when I am a notorious poor speller and grammarian. Hard work got me promoted twice in my first 15 months working as a journalist. And hard work got me though the rigors of graduate school and landed this great job. And by hard work, I mean the kind of hard work that is fueled often times just by making sure that no one works harder.

I suppose that you can be a great poet without being competitive. But in most other pursuits, you just have to want it more. And my favorite people on this planet are usually those who do. They are the ones who form this cadre of long-term friends that persist beyond geographic location. They are the ones that I would pick first for my dodge ball team. And I'd just bet that they, too, get goosebumps when they listen to the stupid Gatorade commercial that says, "No matter what you play you better come with it, 'cause it's 90 feet to first no matter where home is."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Some Days You're the Bug

After a while, one must laugh at their own misfortune. Having moved into my new -- icy cold -- office, I looked up late yesterday to see an ominous spot on the ceiling. You know the kind. They mean only one thing: A leak. This morning, the spot had grown many times over, and my office had it easy. Three doors down, there was a 5 foot circle of wet carpet.

It seems the contractor forgot to actually tighten the fittings on the heating system. When the water rushed it, well it does what water does through a loose fitting. So now my office looks like Beirut, and all of the computer equipment has been shuttled back to the old office. Who knows when the contractor will be back. Obviously, they will have to check all of the fittings in the entire office suite. This will be a huge joy.

In similar news, 1 month and 2 days and counting and STILL no new lock on the lab door.

Other than the facilities, however, OSU is a great place to be.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Short Lived

Well, the last posting was a jinx, and it made the clouds immediately come out. Now I know why OSU's colors are scarlet and GREY!

Blue Skies

They always make a day better. It is a gorgeous Autumn day in C'Bus. It's hard to be in a bad mood when it's this pretty outside.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Professor Gig

I highly recommend it. What a job. This is my bad day, and I am still quite happy to be alive. The undergraduate class is from 3:30 p.m. to 5:18 p.m., and the grad class is from 5:30 p.m. to 8:18 p.m. A marathon. But they're both great classes. I am really impressed with the OSU students at both levels, and they keep me energized. The bad side is that I never can get to sleep on Tuesdays since I am so charged up. The first mid-term is a week from today, so I have 211 anxious souls. Hopefully, they have learned something!

The research is moving along, and I have a key to my new 62-degree office. Woo hoo. I will be staying late tomorrow to finish the move.

Oh, and the sun came out today. So joy abounds.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Research Soapbox

Open letter to the advertising industry:

Stop. Please. You're getting it wrong. Stop with the focus groups. Stop with the surveys. You have answered those questions. Ask me. I can help. So can my friends Rob Potter and Paul Bolls. Call us. We will put together some research that will blow your minds. And compared to what you are spending, it will seem cheap! Trust us. We're scientists.

In preparing to teach my undergraduate strategic communication class tomorrow, I was reviewing the textbook and came across the following sentence, "[Young & Rubicam] has invested over $70 million and conducted over 120 studies in building a comprehensive global database of consumer perceptions of brands."

Seventy mil! And you learned some good things. Not 70 million things but some good things. But are you going to learn any more things? See, the problem is that you leaned too heavily upon the thing that talks. You know, consciousness. The deal is that the thing that talks, well, it lies. It will tell you that it buys Tide instead of Gain because it works better. The thing that talks believes that. The thing that talks thinks that advertising does not affect it. But it does. And we can help get past that misguided thing that talks.

Brands are all about emotion. You know that. But you don't use the tools of an emotion theorist. You use the tools of a public opinion theorist. And they're just not the same. Come tour our labs. I offer a blanket invitation. I'm sure Paul and Rob would do the same. Let us introduce you to the psychophysiology lab and what it can show.

We all know the old adage that: we know we're wasting half of our advertising dollars but not which half. I will go one better. You're wasting a lot more than half of your research budget, and we can show which half. Just ask.

In the end, you'll find our answers. We are scientists, and we publish our findings. Rob is already doing great work about radio advertising clutter. Paul is now looking at health communication, and I'm working on brands. We'll get to it all, eventually. But it will be a lot quicker if you throw some grants our way. And if you're used to spending $70 million, we're going to seem bargain basement.

Ken Kaess, chairman of the board of American Association of Advertising Agencies, got it right when he talked about focusing on emotion in advertising in the Journal of Advertising Research (June 2004). But not everyone has the tools. We do. We're scientists. And we're ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work.


There should be a rule that it cannot be overcast for 3 straight days. There just should be.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Things We Don't Have in Ohio

This is one of them.

Update: This is a shot looking east at the Organ Mountains, which are about 12 miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

File photo by my dad.

On to the Next Thing

I am learning a lot about myself this Autumn. Realizing, actually. Although it seems that I was dying to finish graduate school, I am realizing that being a student fit my personality very well. There were always short-term goals with some semblance of a scoreboard. That suited my competitive nature nicely. Ever since my esteemed committee members signed on that dotted line, however, there has been a bit of a void.

I love my job. It could not be much better. I have good students, I like what I teach, research is going well, I have friends among my colleagues, and I will finally have real air conditioning soon. But what's the next thing? Where are those intermediate-term goals that keep my competitive nature in check? Now they are largely missing. Tenure is 6 years away, and I think it is a stupid goal anyway. If you are good at what you do -- and I work pretty hard to be that -- then tenure is simply akin to staying alive. How lame would it be for me to announce that my 6-year goal is to stay alive? Hella lame, that's what. Plus, looking forward 6 years is an eternity. Forever. In reverse, it is but an eyeblink. But looking forward it is not. I neither want to gameplan for an event 6 years away, nor do I really want to contemplate it since my first-born will then be 13, and that freaks me out on so many levels that I cannot list them here.

So my brain has been doing some jostling about as of late searching for the next things. It's who I am, so trying to deny it is like trying to deny gravity, and you know how that goes. So channeling it properly is the only key, and that's not as easy as it sounds.

In a related -- yet unrelated -- turn of events, it looks as if we are headed to New Mexico for Christmas. This will either makes things better or much worse. I don't quite have a prediction yet.

As a final observation, I am noticing that my easily influenced language patterns are being warped by reading so many Junie B. Jones books with Isabel, and this simply will not do. I have to fight saying "Plus also" way too often.

CommCognition Top 25 Week 6

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- This is turning out to be far more work than I thought it would be. A lesson learned. This week was a big improvement, as Kansas State held off in-state rival Kansas, and Indiana looked great against Illinois. In addition, several hated teams fell. Although remiss about the Bucks' loss, now some people will leave that poor old man alone. Regrets of the week must surround Dennis Franchione, whose two previous teams are in many top 25s, while his current team is choking.

1. Texas
2. USC
3. Virginia Tech (someone beat them, please)
4. Georgia
5. Florida State
6. Notre Dame
7. Alabama
8. LSU
9. Penn State
10. Auburn
11. Florida
12. Texas Tech
13. Miami (Fla).
14. Ohio State
15. Tennessee
16. UCLA
17. Louisville
18. Boston College
19. Michigan State
20. Colorado
21. California
22. Arizona State
23. Oregon
24. Minnesota
25. TCU

Saturday, October 08, 2005


This morning I was looking through old pictures digitally, and I found this picture of Isabel wearing the SAME overalls as the picture of Piper from two days ago. The two of them are cut from the same cloth. This was Isabel in 1999.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I Hate Keys

Well, they delivered all of the keys to the new offices. Except one. Mine. So there it sits in all of its 64 degree splendor, and yet I remain in exile. I moved some files over there today to make it feel like home. But I will have to wait until Monday ... or Tuesday ... or who knows when to get a key.

I could be optimistic, but it has been about a MONTH since I have been waiting for a new lock to be installed in my lab so that I could actually set it up. Believe it or not, however, I have stopped being bitter.

Now that I actually have students who want to work in the lab, however, it would be nice to have stuff in it!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My Soccer Player

She sure is cute, wouldn't you agree?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Newspaper Days

When you work in the newspaper business, life seems current. That is, you walk to the front of the building, open the rack, and there you are. Tomorrow, you'll be there, too. When I was working for the Las Cruces Sun-News, I tried to save my "clips" -- jargon for clipping out the articles that I wrote.

Inevitably, I would fall behind. Just as "today" never seems like the right day to clean my desk, "today" never seemed like the right day to cut out articles. The thing is, however, that the sense of currency afforded by the newspaper business is fleeting. It's not real. If you blink, you are no longer current. Those clips are gone. Lost to time.

For various reasons -- including my apparent masochistic taste for suffering -- I have spent a lot of time on Memory Lane these past few weeks. Tonight finally pushed me over the edge, and I dredged out my briefcase of clips. My entire career as a journalist fits in one over-stuffed briefcase. The problem is that the clips that are most dear to my heart are not in that briefcase. They are locked away somewhere on microfilm, because "today" just wasn't the right day to pull out the scissors.

Perhaps most annoying to me is that I don't have a copy of my favorite feature article, one I wrote on the Las Cruces High School girls soccer team. I have a copy of the cover but not the "jump," or the inside page that has most of the meat of the article. So I can start to read it, but I cannot finish it. And, frustratingly, the Sun-News is not catalogued in Lexis-Nexis.
Today I pulled out that 8 1/2 by 11 copy of the cover, and I noticed that it was 7 years ago this week. Perhaps my recent entrapment on Memory Lane has been fueled in part by the similar season. Join me, won't you...

Sunday, Oct. 11, 1998
Las Cruces Sun-News
Page B-1
Winning with style
LCHS girls dominate on the field
By Samuel Bradley
Sun-News Sports Editor
Cal Ripken Jr.'s streak came to an end in 1998. Alex Reyes and his Las Cruces girls soccer players are hoping their streak lives on.

While Ripken has been baseball's Ironman, the Bulldawgs have dominated -- owned, really -- District 3AAAA girls soccer. In fact George Bush was residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. the last time this team lost a district game, in October 1992.

The girls extended their streak Saturday to 69 district games with a 6-2 win over Mayfield.
Sustaining performance at such a level cannot be easy. Yes despite the work these girls put forth, they all describe their experience as fun.

A lot of fun.

"It's a different team," senior Kristina Kemmer said. "It is different than everybody in the district. We have a lot of team unity.

"We're really close knit. We like to hang out together. You can't be a team unless you get along."

Under the relentless pressure to perform, Reyes and his girls find a way to make their hard work fun.

"It's a good pressure," said senior Rudi Rae Muñoz, who has played on the varsity squad for three years. "It makes us want to play to our ability and beyond our ability."

"I can't think of anything more enjoyable than trying to accomplish the goals you've set for yourself," Reyes said.

Those goals include winning the state Class AAAA title, a feat no one on this team has man-

See Winning Page B-6

You see, the trouble is, Page B-6 never comes.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bra and Panties

Keep in mind that I am someone who conducts research that helps explain why we watch sex and violence on TV even though we say it is bad. So I am the last one to cast blame for watching such content.

That said, I believe I found a new low on TV yesterday. While channel surfing with my wife last night, I came across the "bra and panties" match on WWE wrestling's RAW. The crux of this involved 2 groups of young, silicone-enhanced women trying to get the shorts and shirts off each other, revealing only a bra and thong. Wow. USA Network. The team that won was the team that first reduced their opponents to only bra and thong. This was soft-core porn with the girls in many pseudo-sexual poses and feigning embarrassment as they were derobed.

In the end, science prevailed. We watched the whole thing.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Over Easy

There are days when life seem to turn on a dime. Today was one of those weird days. The high- and low-lights of the day:

  • chatted with colleague about great NMSU hoops teams of early 1990s
  • great meeting with an undergraduate interested in research
  • I get the new office I want ... it has real A/C
  • Like my on-hold lab, it needs a new lock
  • I spend hours looking for data lost in move
  • unexpected e-mail from New Mexico brightens my day ...
  • ... but said e-mail revisits homesickness
  • after 330 sunny days a year, you are forever changed
  • too much coffee leaves me twitching like some kind of smack addict
  • why in the $*%& is it 85 degrees in Ohio in October?
  • I find that about 20-30 hours of work (data) is lost in move
  • another motivated undergraduate interested in research
  • care package with new pants arrives from mom. It seems a Ph.D. does not preclude care packages from home. This is a good thing.
  • motivated undergrads? This is why I came to OSU

All-in-all, it turned out to be a great day. But man were there some weird turns along the way. Just another day on the high plains of the Doctoral Extensive landscape.

Kicked When You're Down

SOMPLACE WORSE THAN MUDVILLE -- Just to add to my 0-3 weekend, the Chiefs blow a 24-6 lead. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh. Have I not suffered enough?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

CommCognition Top 25 Week 5

MUDVILLE -- It is a difficult week in college football for me. Each of the three schools that have awarded me a degree found failure on the gridiron. In addition, the teams that I most hate won easily. Ohio State was idle, so there were few distractions. Highlights of the weekend include Alabama's return to glory, the great performance of Dublin's own Brady Quinn, the Vols and Tigers avoiding a Tuesday morning hangover, and somebody in the Big XII North winning a league game with conviction. On the downside, I will have nightmares about watching Tyrone Prothro's leg snap like a wishbone.

1. Texas
2. USC
3. Virginia Tech
4. Ohio State
5. Tennessee
6. Florida State
7. Notre Dame
8. Alabama
9. Georgia
10. LSU
11. California
12. Auburn
13. Arizona State
14. Florida
15. Texas Tech
16. Miami (Fla.)
17. Wisconsin
18. Louisville
19. Boston College
20. Michigan State
21. UCLA
22. Texas A&M
23. Penn State
24. Georgia Tech
25. Colorado

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Teachers Who Came Before

October has arrived, and teaching is occupying much of my time. I am really enjoying myself. I am impressed with the Ohio State students at both the graduate and undergraduate level. I have the chance to try new things, which keeps things interesting for me.

Mostly I have had a chance to reflect upon those who have shown me how to be a good teacher by example. In some small part, I try to embody the classroom styles of Sean McCleneghan, Don Martin, Claude Fouillade, Heuy McCoy, and Victor Johnston (current and retired faculty at NMSU). At the graduate level, I learned much from Annie Lang, Mike Gasser, Bob Meeds, Tom Grimes, and many other dedicated scholars.

Each instructor was different, but in each case, they engaged me in the class. They made me want to be there. For that I am thankful. And I hope that my students here at Ohio State have a better experience because of what I learned from these dedicated scholars. After so many years on the receiving end, it is nice to be able to give back.

Sometimes we are lucky, and we continue to hear from former students years later. Just this week, I heard from a student in my first-ever class at Kansas State. If every class had a student like Emily, I would never tire of teaching. As a disclaimer, she threatened me if I did not say something good about her in this Weblog. Har!