Friday, December 02, 2016

A Bath and Bolo

A bath.  As a new mum I was going to give my firstborn a bath before church one Sunday.  I had his bathtub set up and was filling it with water when I felt the water coming out the bottom of the tub.  Uh huh--I forgot to put in the plug.  I gave up on the bath plan.


  1. New parents are often sleep deprived.  This decreases their mental acuity and (for some)mental stability.  Writers should not intentionally deprive themselves of sleep, or their performance may suffer.  Plus they may drool on their keyboards.
  2. Writers must remember to put the parenthetical reference at the end of all borrowed material.  If they don't, there's no clear stop (plug) to the citation.  The cited material will spill into theirs, and readers will not know for sure whose ideas are whose.

And Bolo. Long ago I took care of my landlord's horses, one of whom was named Bolo. The barn had a gated opening at both ends.  If I wanted to make sure Bolo stayed put in the hall of the barn, I needed to be sure both gates were closed.


  1. If writers set the opening and closing boundaries of borrowed material, there's no question where the borrowed material is, just like there would be no question where Bolo was if he was between the two gates.
  2. If writers start borrowed material with a signal phrase such as "According to Andreas Ekeland," and end with a parenthetical reference, the gates are closed.  Left off, the borrowed material can run into the essay writer's material.

Now, let's note something.  Sometimes that blending of borrowed material with the writer's material is detected because, sadly, the writer's  sentences are not that super and suddenly the writing becomes much better because it's borrowed--without proper boundaries (or quotation marks).

On a happier but true note, writers should set the boundaries clearly so their good ideas are not mistakenly attributed to the author of borrowed material that comes right after those ideas without a proper opening boundary.  (This happened in a lit class a few years ago when a gifted student of mine shared his own good idea, and I thought it was from the next source he cited.)


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