Word Nerd Wednesdays

by Kristi R. Johnson


Oh my dear word nerds…my absolute love and adoration for this scene from The Simpsons cannot adequately be expressed in blog form only.

I think I have used enough images and quotes from The Simpsons for regular readers to get that I love this show. And that love only grows when it manages to throw out words like perspicacity – a word I otherwise would have never even known existed. Maybe.

Although probably the best thing about this scene is not necessarily Lisa’s freak out or the use of a seriously underutilized word, but Homer’s follow-up response of “Well it’s always in the last place you look.” Oh, Homer.

Perspicacity is the ability to perceive or understand difficult things. Lisa Simpson is certainly perspicacious, as we should all strive to be. And thanks to Mental Floss, below are some other words that seem close to perspicacity in appearance, but are actually quite different.

Parsimonious – extremely frugal or thrifty.

Pertinacious – stubbornly persistent.

Pugnacious – eager to engage in a fight.

Pusillanimous – lacking courage.

These four words, along with ‘perspicacity,’ appeared in one of a series of quizzes that regularly appears on the site titled “Pick the Correct Word for Each Definition.” Five words that are similar in sound or appearance are given, and you have 60 seconds to match each one with its correct definition. Believe me, it’s harder than it sounds. And once you miss on one word, you cannot go back and try to find its correct match. Full disclosure: I have managed to get 100% only once, and it wasn’t even on the quiz that featured our word of honor.

You can test your own perspicacity on a few of these quizzes here, and feel free to let us know how you did.

In the Moment Monday:The Final Push Begins Now


In this week’s post we remember the time of the school year, as the clock ticks closer to the end of the semester, the end is near.

by Jason Martinez

This week’s video reminds us to never quit when we are so close to the finish line, figuratively, and literally in some cases. There isn’t always physical pain involved in pushing to the end, but when we don’t know where the end is, that’s the challenge. In school, we have a calendar date that notes the end of our responsibilities to show up to a specific set of classes, but that doesn’t abdicate our responsibilities to keep learning.

But, what happens when you don’t have an actual calendar date that tells you when it is okay to relax and not push yourself so much? How do you temper that level of effort so that you don’t burn out? I wish that I knew that answer because it would’ve saved me some struggles during my undergrad years.

The video’s message is not telling you to push yourself to the limits of burnout by going against your instincts of when you should stop. On the contrary, it asks you to become more aware of what your instincts are communicating to you. Become aware if you are being told to stop because you are tired and possibly becoming lazy. Or maybe you are warning yourself that there is hard work still to be done, work that asks so much more of you than ever before, and therefore you might be afraid of what could happen during that time.

This is the time to learn about yourself and your intellectual and physical boundaries. Find out how well you function on less than the recommended eight hours of sleep. See what could happen if you have to sleep less in order to produce more. But always listen to your instincts, for they will always lead you to where you should be.

The most productive student would use this time remaining to begin planning a schedule of school, work, sleep, social life, and so on. Ask your professors questions before the last day of classes leading into finals. Plan your meals, your rest, and your recharge. But at the heart of this period is your responsibility to be ready to work hard and push yourself towards success, always remembering to take care of your needs, but never using your needs as an excuse to become lazy and procrastinate.

You can do this. Watch the video and remind yourself how far you have come. It’s too late to quit. The only option is to give it all that you have, to negotiate with yourself to push those last few feet towards the finish line.

Word Nerd Wednesdays

by Kristi R. Johnson

https://frinkiac.com/meme/S07E06/501717.jpg?b64lines=“Remember class, the worse you do on this standardized
test the more funding the school gets. So don’t knock
yourselves out.” – Edna Krabappel, The Simpsons


Today’s WNW will seem pretty basic to many, mostly because it is, but that does not mean it is not important.

First off, we all must acknowledge that finals are coming…much like winter (see what I did there?). Yes, it is that scary time of the semester when everyone suddenly becomes incredibly diligent about attending class and taking notes, because in a few weeks it will all seem to come down to one exam. Or maybe you have a final paper or final project that is worth most of your semester grade. Or if you have absolutely no luck at all, you have both for the same class.

Whatever the case may be, if you do not follow the instructions laid out on the test/writing assignment/project guidelines, it may not matter much how accurate the information is that you are presenting. Many students that visit the writing center come in with assignments asking them to explain, or compare, or contrast, or argue, or persuade. If you are asked to compare two ideas or theories, and all you end up doing is explain them, you may not get the grade you are hoping for, even if you explain really well. So here are some basic definitions for the most common assignment directions.

Explain – to make something easy to understand by describing it in more detail. This is often confused with…

Examine – to inspect, observe, investigate, or to learn more about. Maybe even find problems as well as what works well. Instead of only making it easier to understand, you are almost picking it apart in an effort to look deeper. Another good word for this is ‘analyze.’

Compare – to make note of how something is similar to something else, usually in an effort to decide which one is better. Usually includes contrast.

Contrast – to actively look for differences between two things. Much like compare, this is often in an effort to decide which is better. In my experience, even when an instructor asks students to compare, they are looking for both compare and contrast, especially as it is often in the contrast that two things become separated from each other.

Argue – to give reasons for or against something by providing evidence and support, usually in an effort to persuade. It is not enough to say that one thing is better than another; you also must give reasons why. *Note: I always found it incredibly effective to consider, even briefly, the opposite side of your argument. Presenting the opposite argument and then showing why it is incorrect is a device that can serve you well if done correctly.

Persuade – to move to action by argument. It is almost the second step after arguing. You present your case, and then cause someone to do something, or even believe something. Another good word for this is ‘convince.’

Explicate – to analyze and develop in detail. This one is usually used more when dealing with poetry. Much like examine, you are picking it apart and making it easier to understand.

I hope this is helpful to some of you when dealing with final exams, or any assignment. The important thing is to read directions carefully, ask questions when you can, and of course prioritize your time so that you can be sure to finish well.

Word Nerd Wednesdays

by Kristi R. Johnson

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” – Stephen King

Fellow word nerds, beware the thesaurus. More often than not, the word you thought of the first time is the one you are going to want to use when writing. When I turn to the thesaurus, it is usually because I want to avoid using a certain word too many times in a short amount of space. But even then, I must proceed with extreme caution.

This is really all I have for you today, as it is the day before my absolute favorite holiday of the year, so I wanted to take the time to simply say Happy Thanksgiving to all of my dear word nerds out there.

So, Happy Thanksgiving, don’t eat too much, and remember, not everyone out there loves words as much as we do. And when the eyes of your family members begin to glaze over during your rant about how ridiculous it is that the only thing that makes us pronounce ‘polish’ differently from ‘Polish’ is whether or not the ‘p’ is capitalized, it might be time to rein it in. In the words of the great Steve Martin, “Some people have a way with words, and other people…oh, uh, not have way.”

I’m Thankful for the Mistakes – Thanksgiving 2016 Meditation

In this week’s post, consider the message of the video and ask how mistakes play a role in your life narrative. *Warning: Grown-up language in the embedded video.


by Jason Martinez

Just as the title reads – I am thankful for the mistakes that I have made in 2016.

It was during my lowest moments in a new job in a new city that I was decided to make another risky move. And although technically the new job was only a temporary placement, I quit and made moves to come back to the MFD WC as a Writing Consultant. And making that decision to be in a state of discomfort and adjustment for the next few months was the best decision that I could have made. Even if that decision was made in a moment of perceived desperation. As a result, some would see my decision as a mistake.

I saw opportunity.

When I first moved to Austin in March 2016, I made mistakes. I should have stayed with the MFD WC and commute as I am doing now. Doing so would have saved me quite a bit of money that I had saved for the transition after the move. But, while keeping the status quo of that situation would have saved me some money, I would not have experienced the discomfort of a new job that was not right for me. I would not have been forced to search deep inside to find a sense of purpose. However, that sense of purpose was right in front of me the whole time and I just needed the nudge in the right direction to find it.

In order to transform and find my sense of meaning, I had to struggle. I had to make mistakes, or at least think that I had made some mistakes, in order to be thankful for the recovery of my purpose.

During the aforementioned new job, I began to see myself as a failure. And I saw myself as a failure, not because of the decisions made to get there, rather because of an internal indicator of success. At the new job I did not see success at the end of every day. I saw x-number of entries completed daily in the system, but those figures meant nothing for me. My self perception as a failure was because I knew my strengths and purpose in life, which is to help people. In those moments at the new job I was unable to see that purpose through the haze of doubt and anxiety. Ultimately it was because  of that suffering that I made realizations for my future.

We are often programmed not to be thankful for that which sets us back or makes us doubt ourselves. But, when looking at my accomplishments and my failures, I have learned more about myself than ever before. During self audit, I focus more on my failures than my successes, not because I am a glutton for punishment, but because it makes me uncomfortable. And through that discomfort I can face aspects of myself that can be re-written to fit my current narrative. I find great pleasure and reward in helping people to communicate better through writing, and as a result, I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of every day after working with students.

Without making some mistakes, and without feeling lost, my sense of purpose would have remained elusive until I was ready to see it.

I am thankful for my mistakes.

Are you thankful?

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