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Today's word on journalism

May 12, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Spring finally here -- and none too soon

Editor's note: This was written before graduation day.

By Jennifer Easton

May 6, 2009 | Break out the flip-flops and tanning lotions. Spring is finally here.

It's been a long time since we've been able to enjoy the consistent sunshine and calm weather here in Cache Valley, but is this Spring Fever going around campus having a positive or negative effect on students?

Monica Moffitt and Lindsay Pett of Murray, Utah, are freshman at USU and have noticed a change as of late that they believe has a good deal to do with the change in the weather.

"Last week, Monica and I were so excited about the warm weather that we put on our sweatbands and ran down to Aggie Blue Bikes and rented bikes for a day," a laughing Pett recalled Thursday afternoon while laying out on her blanket and studying outside of the Lundstrom Center for upcoming finals.

Moffitt and Pett have never before used Aggie Blue Bikes nor have they ever had an interest in bringing bikes up to school. "It was really random, but we just feel like being outside so much more lately," Pett commented. Both girls agreed that the drastic change in the weather was the reasoning behind their spontaneous 24 hours.

"I'm pretty sure we biked about eight miles on Tuesday alone, we were gone for about four hours just riding around Logan," Moffitt added. The two rode the bikes to their Supplemental Instruction classes, the grocery store and to all their classes on Wednesday.

With finals coming up, both Moffitt and Pett also said that the brightened weather has enhanced their ability to study and focus on taking their finals, as though the things they study are easier to retain.

However, not all students feel the same way. Malerie McDougal of South Jordan, Utah, is one who feels very differently from Moffitt and Pett.

McDougal feels that the weather changes have made it much more difficult to be motivated enough to study for all her finals. "I just want to go outside and play, I can't focus on a textbook to save my life right now," McDougal admitted while cooped up in the Library on a Thursday afternoon.

Studies nation-wide have reported that spending time outside being active has been linked to better grades, better behavior and better health. Along with having a clearer mind, spending time outdoors has also been linked to people becoming more open to change, influenced by the natural change from winter to spring itself.

Courtney Hales of Murray, Utah, feels that the drastic change in weather has set her more at ease not only in her educational goals, but in her romantic life as well.

Hales and her boyfriend, Lloyd Winkelman, began dating steadily three weeks prior to them both starting school, Winkelman at BYU and Hales at USU. The long-distance relationship has had its ups and downs according to Hales.

"Things between Lloyd and I seemed to get bumpy any time we discussed our future during the winter time," Hales reported, "I just feel so much more relaxed about it all now."

Hales said that the spring just makes her brighten up and think clearer. She also says she feels more open to making big commitments and a lot calmer about big decisions.

"Lloyd and I are able to communicate better and it's like we just get closer everyday to taking the next big step," Hales said, "He even came up to help me clean my apartment and stuff while I studied for finals this week-I never thought he would do something like that before!"

Because people have clearer mind-sets during the spring time, like Hales said, communication between couples becomes enhanced and couples are more likely to be willing to entertain ideas of becoming more committed and even in many cases agree to marriage.

While many would blame the random changes in relationships on individual's plans for the summer as the reason for getting engaged or progressing relationships forward, it seems reasonable to assume that the change in weather has had some responsibility in that too.

Although the spring may be causing some slight delays in study habits right before finals week, it seems that its positive effects on students seem to far outweigh the possible negativities. So go ahead, take a break from studying and enjoy the sunshine. You may just benefit from that Spring Fever!


Copyright 1997-2009 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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