Monday, December 07, 2020

Last week's laughs

It's been a rather wild week over here, but I'm happy to announce that I have officially finished with my first semester of graduate school (my group turned in our final project today). I've also been busy working on our annual Christmas poem as well as finalizing my book manuscript. And homeschooling the kids. 

I can hardly even think of what we did this week—though I do know that we read a lot, talked a lot, laughed a lot—so I won't try to make up for it entirely, but I will leave you with this story...

Andrew was telling me about this theory he saw on Twitter that text messages between partners had become increasingly random over the course of the pandemic. Being in such close and constant proximity, there has been no need for conversation to happen over text message, so instead there are only random snippets—messages like "Oh, I saw a huge mangy fox yesterday," followed by a picture of a Turkey-shaped challah, followed by an amended word count, followed by "Text your dad!"

We decided, reviewing our text messages, that this theory was probably correct.

Re-reading this conversation made us laugh:

Andrew: Are you downstairs or upstairs?
Me: Up. Why?
Andrew: I just heard a bell faintly tinkle and thought you might be down there all alone. But you're up *there* all alone.

(This was soon after the cat was spayed and was living in the basement by herself while the girls slept upstairs on couches, so sometimes I would go downstairs to "visit" with our poor kitty).

We did have one real back-and-forth conversation that made us laugh until we were crying. My final project for this class was a group paper. There were six members in our group and our paper was supposed to be in MLA format, which was unfortunate because MLA isn't really set up to accommodate multiple authors. Obviously everyone's names have to go on there, but how. Alphabetically, probably? Then do we put all our names in the header? That makes the header rather long...

I decide to text Andrew about it.

"MLA format is not set up for group projects," I wrote, sending along a screenshot of how obnoxiously long our names look together at the top of the page. "I can't find anything about it. So I'm just trying to do the most logical thing. Should the header be: Enloe et al.? Or should I list everyone? Like, I can find examples of papers with co-authors, but not six authors, so I'm not quite sure what to do. I'm leaning toward et al., just because it takes so much room to list everyone."

"There's probably a cutoff. Chicago says go up to 3. If there are 4, do 3 et al."

"So, do three and then et al..."

"If that's what MLA says."

"MLA doesn't say anything about multiple authors."

"This is where Zotero could be helpful, even though you're not actually using it. Add a citation with 5 authors or whatever, have it generate an inline citation for it. I think you can do that from Zotero itself. Then it'll do it the right way and you can copy the pattern."

"Well, that's different from what our own citation would be, isn't it? They do et al. if there is more than three, I think."

"If you tell Zotero to use MLA 8?"

"What do you mean? I can't use Zotero for this."

"Zotero is just a database of entries."

"Yes..."

"It formats the entires according to whatever style you tell it. Chicago, MLA, APA, whatever. So if you make an entry with 20 authors and then tell it to generate an MLA bibliography, it'll do the correct cutoff for et al."

"Okay, sure. But would that be the same thing that we would do for our own header?"

"Like, don't input everything. Just one that you have a question about, to see what they do."

"I can't use Zotero for this. I don't have a question about references."

"The et al.? That's not a reference question?"

"I have a question about our VERY OWN HEADER for our VERY OWN PAPER? With our VERY OWN NAMES?"

"OH"

"Yeah"

"¯\_(ツ)_/¯"

"Online, people mostly say to just...make something good up because MLA is not set up for group work. So I'm asking you with my brain: what way would look better? All of them or an et al? Or simply "Group #"?

"Everyone's last names. So the professor doesn't have to remember who's in the group. Guaranteed he doesn't know."

In the end I got some good advice out of him, but it took us so painfully long to get to that point. Why didn't I just go downstairs and talk to him? I don't know. And why we found it so hilarious that we had tears rolling down our cheeks re-reading this conversation...I also don't know. But after a long and tiring week, it felt good to have a good laugh.

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