Sunday, August 26, 2012

Writing Charlie's Words: a Research Article

Writing research articles can be a hoot. Really. No--really

There are several routes to publication for researchers. Sometimes I have an idea and wade through the basic research protocols and write... then, I submit the article to one publication and wait several months for a response. If it's a "no" (a.k.a., a rejection), I send the piece on to another publication. If it's a "yes," I wait to hear about revisions. 

For Charlie's Words, the editor Dr. Tom Hebert invited me to write. He wanted an article for a special edition of Gifted Child Today that focused on my research with athletes and their writing. For several years I'd been working with Burke Mountain Academy's ski coaches and racers helping them institute various writing protocols. I had the idea of doing a case study of one of the athletes and his use of journals. I wrote a proposal and pitched it to Tom. His "I love it" had me off to UMaine's IRB (Internal Review Board). 

For this board of colleagues, I wrote a research proposal that addressed the project's rationale. The proposal also included a Study Plan; a summary of the project's Personnel; statements about Subject Recruitment, Confidentiality, and potential Risks and Benefits; and Informed Consent forms for all subjects who will participate in the study. Pretty much all IRB proposals come back needing to be revised (well, at least the ones I've written). Charlie's was no different. The 15-page document landed in my inbox with suggestions and demands, so... 

I revised.  

Once the proposal was accepted, I began collecting data (e.g., interviewing, reading articles, mining our own understandings of a topic). Usually, researchers have favorite methodological approaches to analyzing data. So, we  identify a methodology and get on with it. (I'm a qualitative researcher and often use a grounded theory approach. I'm quite partial to narrative analysis. I like stories.) 

Once the data collection nears completion, I start analyzing. For this article, I interviewed Charlie, his coaches, his teachers; I also analyzed his writing from a trip to Chile and asked him do some writing. From my time with Charlie and his Burke mentors as well as my time analyzing the data, a story began emerging... from that story an article takes shape.

Obviously, most writers revise their writing during the composition process--these days I figure that revision process means 10-50 drafts of words, sentences, paragraphs, sections.... Really, who knows, but revising in the composing stage is a fascinating dance. Once a full draft is completed, I send it on to my personal editor and a trusted reader/editor. Then, these two good souls suggest revisions and make corrections (I'm notoriously dumb at using "like" and "as" for example and often tend to overwrite in first draft). Usually, I take their advice and...

I revise. 

Once that draft is complete, I return it to my editor and reader for another opinion. They always have second thoughts and those help me work toward fine-tuning the piece. 

Now the draft moves on to the journal editor and blind peer reviewers. At about 3 months--right at the Christmas holidays--I received my draft article back with a list of suggestions that needed to be addressed before mid-January. This feedback feels like a slap upside the head. Now, I have six different people making suggestions and corrections... and in the case of this article I had one reviewer saying that the article is bullshit and who do I think I am? After that... 

I revise. 

Charlie's Words got accepted in March and then moved on to the copy editor and production person. These folks often help you see how stupid you are when it comes to the proper use of citations from the 700th edition of APA. After that...

I revise. 

About 16 months after the process began, Charlie's Words was an article. (Click on the page below and you'll be taken to my website... scroll to the bottom of that page to find Charlie's Words. Click on "fullscreen" next to Scribd to read the entire article.)

Click on this page to be taken to complete article. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Parker Ridge Trail, Tumbledown Mountain, Weld

We had a great hike today up the Parker Ridge Trail on Tumbledown Mountain. The best moment had to have been when Bailey found a large pool at the top and turned it into his own Summit Pool. To see all of the photos, just click on this sentence.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Happy

Photo by Alex

Photo by Alex 

The day after... one pooped pup

I think the high altitude rock climbing took its toll on Bailey. He slept in and after breakfast he assumed the Berner relaxation position on the kitchen floor, paw shielding his eyes from the bright kitchen lights. Whether he knows it or not, we're off to run later on this afternoon! Below is his picture from Facebook and a few initial comments from my pals....

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hiking the Presidential Range

From the online weather forecast of Mount Washington, I knew today would be a perfect day to hike around the family mountain. So, I packed up the Subaru--neglecting Bailey's water bowl--and headed off to New Hampshire.

I call it our family mountain because in the 1880s my great-great grandfather Henry Burt started a newspaper on the top called Among the Clouds. His son took over the newspaper. Then, years later, his son, my grandfather F. Allen Burt, wrote the mountain's history up until the 1960s in a book titled The Story of Mount Washington. That family connection brought about the naming of a ravine after my grands: Burt Ravine.

My brothers and I worked on the mountain's Cog Railway in the 1960s and 1970s. I don't think they named much of anything after us... though, in our own ways, we left a mark. (Picture 30+ teenagers and twenty-somethings in a large dormitory at the bottom of the mountain with minimal if any supervision. Yup--exactly.)

Along the way I stopped in Gorham, NH to buy a water bowl for Bailey. I went into a "thrift shop" to look for a cheap bowl. The guy I followed in wore a pistol strapped to his hip--he was not a policeman. The man behind the counter wore a gun, too. In fact, the place had a lot of gun equipment.

Wouldn't you know, the only bowl I found was white china with hand-painted flowers. A steal at $3. I  stood next to the two holstered men and purchased my pretty bowl. The guy must have felt bad for me because he said, "Just a buck--we're having a sale." I probably should have bought a shooting target or a beer mug.

A few minutes later we drove up the 8-mile Mount Washington Auto Road and parked at the top. After a quick tour of the summit, we trekked across a small portion of the Presidentials.

The first mile is tricky, steep rock. Bailey weathered it well. Near the top of Tuckerman's Ravine, Bailey TUCKERMAN Kent and I had lunch and welcomed a few hikers with wagging tails and the old nose through-the-crotch greeting that is Bailey's trademark (I'm convinced he's just trying to get his gentle leader off).

The hike back up to the top of the mountain was uneventful. I'm sure there won't be a warmer day on the summit for the rest of the year. We both enjoyed traversing the mountain, chatting with the hikers along the trail, and in a small way, reconnecting with family.  
Lake of the Clouds

Hiking Whitecap

On Saturday, August 18, we hiked White Cap... up and down in less than 2 hours... a new record for me. And I only fell 3 times! Man, I'm getting old. Bailey learned a good lesson--as often happens, on the descent he went ballistic and started sprinting through the thick woods off trail near the top.  Soon, I heard a loud cry from him--it didn't stop--and there he sat next to the trail with his hind leg in an odd position. I felt him over for a broken bone or dislocation--all seemed right and no whimpering. Then checked for thorns or sticks or torn pads. Nothing. He probably tweaked something-- or got jabbed, the knucklehead. Anyway, after checking himself out a bit, he headed off down trail as if nothing mattered... again, I say, the knucklehead.   

Friday, August 17, 2012

See you later, God-Dog-Dad!

Bailey's God-Dog-Dad headed home to Sweden last night. Bailey will miss Alex's belly rubs and songs. Now, Alex is off to music school in Stockholm where he'll immerse in songwriting, guitar, singing, and performance. He also promised his neighborhood fans a new YouTube video after he runs a 10k on Saturday!

Here's to one of the good guys of our planet... Alexander Szeps.

Niagara Falls, New York, August 2012 
Bailey and Alex, Belly Rub Heaven, August 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Soccer Team Notebook published!

Click on cover to see ordering information. 

–from the Introduction of Writing on the Bus:

A dozen years into this new century and just about every athlete I know is writing.

Some keep blogs and others maintain Facebook sites––it’s mind-boggling how many use Twitter. Professional athletes work with sport psychologists, fine-tuning their mental approaches to training and games through talk, imagery, meditation, and writing. If you played basketball at Duke University for Coach Gail Goestenkors, 2006 US Basketball National Coach of the Year, you kept a journal. If you played college soccer for Mike Keller at the University of Southern Maine or Amy Edwards at Gonzaga University, you kept a Team Notebook. Olympians and world-class athletes in all sports keep training logs and exchange reflective email with advisors, coaches, and training partners.

As you’ll read later in the book, tennis champion Serena Williams pulled out her journal book for the press at Wimbledon in 2007, and for those baseball fans who followed the phenomenal Red Sox teams of the mid-2000’s, they witnessed all-star pitcher Curt Schilling on the bench between innings… writing.

In England, 16-year-old soccer players who become apprentices to professional teams are required to keep a journal about training sessions, games, diet….  And if your goal is to make the US Ski Team and are fortunate enough to land a spot at the renowned Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont … there’s a good chance that writing will be a part of your training. What’s this all about, you ask? It’s about learning.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Michael Phelps' Journal

Great timing for my current projects.... You can read the whole article and listen to Phelps by clicking on this sentence.

UMaine Today article

My research is being featured in this fall's UMaine Today Magazine in a four-page spread.  

Road Trip without Bailey

Bailey's GodDad and I took a 1400-mile, 4-day road trip this week around Lake Ontario. Holy flying cows... what were we thinking? Highlights... Niagara Falls and Lake Placid... and the upbeat college town, Burlington, VT. Bailey's happy to have us back and to have his belly rubs on demand. He would not have enjoyed this trip... lots and lots of car time.
Alex at Niagara Falls
Rich contemplating life in Lake Placid.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bailey gives his GodDog Dad a lesson

Bailey surprised Alex, his GodDog Dad, by leaping up on the paddle board the other day. Bailey's gotten quite adept at the paddle board after practicing with Jan and Simon as well as with Ryan, Tyler, and Victoria.