Monthly Archives: February 2018

Citing Sources

I actually enjoy citing my sources! I like sharing where I’ve gotten my information from. Of course, when I’m blogging, I’m not worried about conforming to any particular standard and am content to just link back to my source’s page or add a link to a place like Amazon where you can snag a copy of the book I’m reading (no affiliate links from me, yet).

But, I’m in school again, and I swear I spend more time trying to cite my sources than I actually do writing my papers. And when you think about this, you should be as pissed about it as I am.

There are a couple ways that the majority of schools and publishers expect your sources to be cited. The two biggest ones that I know of are MLA and APA. They’re very similar, but also stupidly different. Oh well, everyone has their preference and I totally agree that all sources should be cited using the same format to make trudging through them simpler.

But, here’s the thing. Google Scholar is a search engine specifically for scholarly articles. That means that it’s going to look into every peer reviewed journal it has access to and pull out the articles it thinks are most relevant to my query. That’s awesome! It makes life super easy! But, then you go to the individual articles and you run into problem #1: access.

Most of these journals require paying a membership fee to view. And that’s cool. Many of them have a way to tap into the cookies on your computer and verify that you are a member of a university who pays for that membership and grant you access to the article. So problem #1 is easily solved if this magic works (luckily for me today, it did for all the articles I wanted to use!!)

Which then immediately leads into problem #2: citing these articles.

Remember, I told you that there are a lot of different citation options and that every professor and publisher has their favorite. But regardless of what format a person needs to use, this structure isn’t secret. So, here’s what I cannot understand: why it is so HARD to electronically cite sources. I mean, I’m literally reading an article online and I need the APA citation. I don’t get why there isn’t a drop down menu labeled “cite source” where you can pick “APA” or “MLA” or whatever other citation formats there are. Then, there should be a little pop-up window or whatever that has the citation you need in the format that you need.

The best that is available is to “export” the citation to your favorite desktop publisher or whatever. This makes no sense!

Regardless of the citation format (APA, MLA, etc), it all uses the exact same information: title, author, publication date, journal, book, etc, etc, etc. The difference is incidentals like what order you put this information in. What do you italicize. What get’s capitalized and what doesn’t. It really gets stupid very quickly. But, even assuming that it’s not stupid, this information can be very easily gathered from the meta-data of the article. Like, when publishing the article to the site, the title is going to be written very purposefully. So will the authors names and the publication date. After that, it’s just a matter of having a computer program place all the right bits into the right places and making sure the right stuff is italicized.

Even if for whatever reason it’s impossible for every journal’s website to easily provide the correct citation, I further don’t understand why websites like Citation Machine aren’t as useful as you’d think that they’d be. More often than not when I throw in a URL, I get an error message back. My test for this post (which actually is a page that I need to cite) came up with the usual amount of gibberish. The reason most likely is that the tool is going to the website I’ve provided, which it may or may not have access to (see: above) and is trying to create a citation based on whatever it’s finding on that site: ads, links to other articles, etc. It’s not just reading the article that I want it to read and cite.

There’s a manual entry mode, but it ironically has both way too many and not nearly enough boxes to fill with information. For example, the article I want to cite has like 8 authors. APA requires listing authors by last name, then first and middle initial (if applicable). Citation Machine wants me to place their last name in one box, first initial in another, middle initial in yet another…but with or without punctuation? I don’t even know. This segmentation makes it very difficult to just select, copy, and paste from the article. I’ll do as much deleting as typing that way and a whole lot of page flipping. I might as well copy and paste directly into my document and build the citation from scratch! They’re not hard, just tedious, which is why I honestly can’t believe that in the 20 years that I’ve been using the internet for research, including learning how to do citations, the technology hasn’t changed at all.

I also honestly can’t believe that there’s still, gosh, hundreds of citation styles to choose from with 3 main styles most frequently used. Do we really need that many? Are we really better off with that many?

And let’s be honest about why there are that many: when scientific study was first standardized, there were competing journals which, as part of their egocentric “we’re better than them” mentality, meant that each had their own format for submitting sources. Because heavens to Betsy, how awful would it be if an article published in a psychology journal has a citation in the format that’d be found in an inferior mathematics journal!

Again, I don’t have a problem with demanding a standard format! My problem is that we have so many standard formats that it’s insane!

UVA was never picky. I don’t know if it’s because I stuck to the history department mostly with slight ventures into the English, religion, and philosophy departments, but we were always told to use whichever format we preferred. MLA was the one most often suggested first, so it’s the format I always used. This includes when I wrote my history thesis.

Now at ODU, everything is APA, which is fine. To each their own.

Mostly I just wish that if a specific style is that important then the governing bodies that be should make a decision and pick one and only one for use by all students everywhere. It seems that APA is the structure most often used in journal publications (including the “annual review” put together by UVA’s Environmental Science department), then places like UVA should quit being so lenient about style and mandate APA, too. But as it is, I assume middle school hasn’t changed that much and there is a piece of the lesson plan whenever there is a research project, regardless of the class, that was all about the styles to use to cite sources and how they differ from each other. Yes, I remember getting tested on how APA differed from MLA. Apparently I thought that information was as useless back then as I do today for as well as it stuck.

Really, I just don’t see how we’re better off as a society when we have competing citation styles. And if we only had one, it’d make my first comment about having the citation easily accessed from the article page or book (imagine finding the proper citation on the title page of a book!) all the more easier. Wouldn’t making citation easier make it harder to accidentally plagiarize?


Turkey “BBQ” Sandwich

Hubby won me a turkey during our bowling league’s Fun Night before Thanksgiving. Since we go to our families homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas we had no desire to cook the turkey back in November or December. I cooked it today because I really needed the room in our freezer last week :-).

I knew that this turkey was going to last us a few days and I didn’t even bother planning any particular meals with it. If it gets eaten plain, that’s fine with me. Hubby went to Portsmouth earlier this afternoon to take a new heater core* for my car to his friend’s house and then was sidetracked by that friend and an errand for another friend, so he’s eating dinner out tonight. I’ll be surprised to see him before 10 pm.

So, knowing that he wouldn’t be home for turkey meal #1, I decided to play around. I love the combination of cranberry and turkey, so it was immediately obvious that I would take one of my 2 cans of whole berry cranberry sauce (at one point I had 3 because I kept forgetting I had it…) and mix it with some shredded turkey. I learned with my 1st can that I definitely prefer whole berry cranberry sauce when it’s cooked (I’d used it as a condiment and it was way too much berry).

I have cooked with whole berry cranberry sauce before, baking pork chops in a dish with the sauce “spread” over top. It was nice, but the sauce tended to disappear, though the berries remained. After tonight, I will be working on the technique so that those pork chops work better, because there is so much potential for perfection!

So, without further ado, let me show you what I made:


Believe it or not, these BBQ sandwiches are just shredded turkey cooked in a can of whole berry cranberry sauce and served on a biscuit. That’s it.

I have been having a horrible time with pre-made BBQ sauces recently. They’ve all been way too sweet for my liking or have some kind of weird after-taste. I grew up on cheap pre-made BBQ sauces, so I really wasn’t expecting my taste-buds to have changed. I guess I’ve had access to so much restaurant quality Carolina BBQ that a heavy dose of sweet ketchup based sauces no longer works for me. In any case, this cranberry sauce is perfect. It’s able to satisfy my sweet tooth while still having plenty of acidity to satisfy those taste-buds. My only regret is that it doesn’t have any “heat”, but I’ve been cooking for people who don’t like spice for so long that I don’t even have a spicy-component in my spice rack.

I think I will put some red pepper flakes on the grocery list. We had some at my parents house from some recipe my mom wanted to make and I found that if not too much is added to a mixture early in cooking  and there was going to be plenty of liquid and stirring going on, the heat from the pepper flakes spread across the whole of the dish and mellowed out to some extent. You got just enough heat to be interesting without setting your mouth on fire, even when you ate an actual flake. I miss that in my cooking.

*So, about my heater core. Two weeks ago, I was driving home from the bowling alley and I noticed that my windshield was foggy, despite my defroster blowing fine. But it was night and I didn’t think much of it. There was a weird smell, though.

Well, the next morning I was driving to work and my windshield would not clear. Period. I’d wipe it with my glove and it’d immediately fog back up. I could barely see in front of me. I had no idea what was going on. And it still smelled weird. But I remembered something about using AC to clear a window when it’s fogging on the inside so I switched it to full cold and still on defrost and after wiping the window again with my glove, it stayed clear and I could safely make my way to work.

At work, I asked my dad (who is a coworker) if he knew why a windshield wouldn’t defrost and kept fogging on the inside. He wanted to check whether my defroster was actually blowing on the windshield, so we went out to my car. My defroster was blowing great, but he watched it fog up when I switched it to heat again. He was confused until he put his hand on the windshield and realized that there was something coating it. Then, he got out of the car while it was running and we immediately saw that it was “smoking”. And, of course, there was the smell, which was sickeningly sweet. I think it was me who brought up antifreeze.

In case you didn’t know, antifreeze tastes and smells sweet. This is why it’s so dangerous to animals because they’ll lick it up because it tastes good and poison themselves. My dad was quickly able to put everything together and tell me that my heater core had gone bad and I was spraying antifreeze all over my windshield and, yeah, breathing it in. Yay.

I called Hubby up to break the news and his first reaction was “is your passenger floorboard wet?” It was not, thankfully, but he still told me that he’d pick me up from work with the tow truck that afternoon. When I got off work, I called him to see where he was (slow poke) and he hadn’t left home yet. Sigh. But, he had me check my antifreeze in the radiator (which I’d already planned to do) and when it wasn’t very low at all (I could have touched even with my short fingers), he said I could drive it to his friend’s house so long as I would keep my eye on the temperature gauge and pull over as soon as it got higher than normal, or if I suddenly got a flood on the passenger floorboard. He’d meet me there.

The drive to the friends house was really uneventful. I kept the heater all the way on cold, but not really blowing (it’s a 1997 Explorer, so there is no real “off”) and had no troubles at all.

Now, a heater core isn’t expensive and actually changing it isn’t really complicated. But it is an expensive repair when done at a real mechanic’s shop because it involves taking the dash apart to get to it and Hubby and his friend are fans of removing the front seats to have even more room to get to it. So, there’s a lot of labor involved, hence the expense.