Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Graduation 2014: I did it!

Graduation Ceremony 2014

Commencement (Photo credit: William Colburn)

Looking back at these last two years, I’ve overcome some obstacles, but I do have a lot to be proud of. Though it was the sum of hard work rather than a story in itself, I did apply for and earn the technical communication scholarship all 2 out of 2 years that I’ve been here. I had a great internship experience. I’ve maintained multiple part-time jobs while earning high honors as a full-time student. What’s more, catching up after losing 3 weeks of school due to an injury that required surgery while planning a wedding pushed me to grow in time management. Despite the challenges, I set a goal to earn a second BS in 2 years and I did it!

Outside of classes, there were some experiences that I’m glad I added this time around. When I was studying chemical engineering, I was very busy and focused. I wanted to graduate in 4 years and move on to the next thing. This time, studying technical communication, I was still focused, but I wanted to get the most out of my classes and work on people and leadership skills. I might have been able to get a second BS in less than 2 years because nearly all my core requirements counted, but then I would have lived a much less balanced life and I probably would have been set back when the unexpected happened. (I was not expecting to be getting surgery the same day as job fair during my last semester.) I’m really glad I decided to challenge myself to learn more people and leadership skills as a Resident Assistant. I’m an introvert, but I was able to use extrovert skills when required.

I’ve come a long way in 2 years. I thought I had a good start in visual and verbal communication, but my work has gotten much more professional. I got interested in web design and was able to explore that interest in Visual Communication (TC 151), Web Design (TC 351), and my Senior Thesis (TC 422) project. Studying technical communication challenged me in different ways than chemical engineering did. I got a strong foundation in math and science studying chemical engineering and I learned more ways to express these ideas in technical communication. I’m happy to have degrees in both of my passions.


I got engaged!

Our Engagement Rings

I wasn’t planning on posting much about my personal life, but this is big news. My fiancé is smart, funny, and cute. He’s also a good cook and really sweet. I worked with him on [a previous version] of the Shattered FX website, and we put together a placeholder for a potential business website using a ThemeShaper theme before I got really busy this semester. We’ve started a wedding website of our own that we’re not sharing until the date gets finalized. 🙂

A Day in the Life of a Technical Communication Student

Editor’s note: Samantha Miranda is an enthusiastic new member of TechWhirl’s Special Writers Unit. For many professionals in our field, the life of a technical communication student is a distant memory or perhaps even a total guess. Samantha’s chronicle of a typical day reminds us how much—and how little—has changed for university students, and how much we can learn from a novice.

technical communication student jugglerToday is a fairly busy day for me. I need to be in class and to work on assignments, I have a little bit of time devoted to work as well, and I plan to spend a little bit of time socializing in order to stay sane.

8-9:30 AM, Roll Out of Bed and Get Going

I’m more productive when I get enough sleep, so I usually get up early when I have more work to do. I eat a granola bar on my way to the library (breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but sometimes you have to work it in on the run). This morning, I have to print out an assignment written about what Media Studies chapter I’m interested in exploring then presenting and why.

9:30-10:45 AM, Media Studies

Successfully turned in the assignment. Though I chose books, I look forward to learning more about other forms of media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, video games, and more. Most people chose different chapters, but a few people ended up in groups of two. In today’s lecture and discussion, we analyzed some advertisements and touched on the social scientific and cultural approaches to media research.

11 AM-12 PM, Lunch/Homework/Reading

On good days, like today, I can spend more time on lunch than homework or reading.

12:30-1:45 PM, Professional Writing Workshop

Class today focused on a discussion of usability before we broke off into our small groups to work on our sections of a classroom technology manual–the big project for the first half of the semester.

1:45-3:30 PM, Directed Teaching

Once I complete this class, I’ll have enough credits for my education minor. The class itself involves a lot of reading and reflective essays, and I have to observe and then work up to teaching in a classroom for two hours per day for three weeks. My mentor teacher is finishing up a unit on energy and the kids were excited about preparing for tomorrow’s heat transfer lab: making ice cream.

4-5 PM, Work

I work part time at the Writing Center. Since there weren’t very many students coming in for writing tutoring (it’s still the beginning of the semester), I could work on my own homework and get started on some grading.

5-6:15 PM, Web Design

The assignment I submitted today was a group assignment to analyze a poster for the use of line, shape, texture, value, and color; and then to redesign it. Today’s lecture topic was typography. During class, I received next week’s assignment; I need to work in a group to design a poster on typography.

6:30-7:30 PM, Homework/Reading

I had to cram a lot into this timeslot since I still need to practice Spanish, continue reading chapter on usability (14 pages), and get started on the next section for Web Design on design principles (12 pages). But first, I had to discuss typography poster with my group.

8-10 PM, Dinner and Trivia

I’m lucky to see some of my close friends once a week, so competing at a weekly trivia contest is a good excuse to see some of them. Plus, most of the time my team comes in first or second!

10-11 PM, Winding Down

I managed to make more blocks of time available to work on homework tomorrow, so I’ll just finish a few things and start getting ready for bed.

Other than the all-important technical communication content, one of the things I’m learning in college is time management: I need to do the important things before they become urgent, and find the right balance between work and life. According to my friends and colleagues who have recently completed internships or graduated and become professionals, time management is an important skill for all technical communicators.

Originally published on January 30, 2013, at Tech Writer Today Magazine (

Blogger Code of Ethics

Yesterday, on’s Facebook page, Morten Rand-Hendriksen did a live Q&A session about WordPress. He already answered one of my questions on his blog, so I explored his blog further and was pleased to find ethical guidelines for bloggers. The short version of the Blogger Code of Ethics is re-posted below.

Short Version

1. It is your right to voice your opinion. Freedom of Speech, Information, Publication and Expression are basic elements of a democracy. As a Content Creator it is your obligation to use and protect these rights at all times.

2. Be critical of everything, even your self. As a Content Creator you are part of the creation of free knowledge creation and discussion. It is your obligation to shed critical light on what goes on in society as well as how Content Creators, including your self, are presenting these events.

3. Use your power to protect. As a Content Creator you can shine a light on injustices and neglect perpetrated on individuals and groups. Use this power wisely.

4. Tell the truth at all times. With great power comes great responsibility. Words and images are powerful weapons that should be used with the utmost care. When publishing content, present the facts as they are, even if you disagree with them.

5. Present your opinion as your opinion. Your opinion and interpretation of events is important and should be shared but must never be confused with hard facts or data. When voicing your own or someone else’s opinion or interpretation, always state it as such. Never present opinion, interpretation or conjecture as fact.

6. State your allegiances to stay independent. To preserve your own trustworthiness and integrity as a Content Creator, always state any relation, financial, personal, political or otherwise, to the subject or topic you are presenting. Bias, even if it is only perceived as such, immediately discredits your account unless you warn of it first. In simple terms; if you have a political affiliation that colours your judgment, say so; if you are employed by or received money from the subject you are covering, say so; if you were given gifts or preferential treatment in return for a positive review or commentary, say so. By stating these facts of allegiance your opinions gain informational value that would otherwise be lost in suspicion of bias.

7. Reveal your sources unless doing so can harm your sources. Always reveal your sources to ensure transparency unless doing so may put the source in harms way. In ensuring transparency you lend credibility to your own content as well as provide others to further pursue the facts of the matter.

8. Be critical of your sources and seek independent verification. Even if you are ethical and unbiased there is no guarantee your sources are. Before presenting information as fact, always check your source’s credibility and seek independent verification of these facts. If none can be found, state so clearly.

9. Always give credit where credit is due. Give proper attribution when using, quoting or basing your content on the work of others. In other words present quotes as quotes, link to original articles, give photo and illustration credit to the original creator etc.

10. Always preserve the intended meaning of a given statement. When quoting or paraphrasing a statement always ensure that the intended meaning is communicated. Never edit or change a statement in such a way that the intended meaning is changed.

11. Give your opponent a chance to respond. The very foundation of an open discussion is to give either side an opportunity to voice their opinion. Always provide an opportunity for your opponent to present the case of the opposing side.

12. Admit and correct your mistakes immediately. When an inaccuracy or error in your content is discovered by you or someone else, correct it immediately and announce that you have done so to ensure that those who base their opinions and other content creation on the incorrect information have a chance to make corrections as well. It is your duty to uphold the truth and present fact even if that means admitting you were wrong.

I wish I had found this code before class discussions at the beginning of the semester. To see the original post that includes the longer version, go to the Design Is Philosophy Code of Ethics page. What code of ethics do write and live by?

Christmas Wish List

Gift Ideas for New Teachers

  1. Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job 
  2. The Wonder of Words, An Introduction to Language
  3. The Ten Students You’ll Meet in Your Classroom: Classroom Management Tips for Middle and High School Teachers 
  4. Fred Jones Tools for Teaching: Discipline, Instruction, Motivation 
  5. Stand and Deliver: How to Become a Masterful Communicator and Public Speaker
  6. Teaching for Joy and Justice: Re-Imagining the Language Arts Classroom 
  7. The Job-Hunter’s Survival Guide: How to Find a Rewarding Job Even When “There Are No Jobs” 
  8. New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Competency- Elementary & Secondary (03/04) Flashcard Study System: NMTA Test Practice Questions & Exam Review for the New Mexico Teacher Assessments 
  9. The Everything New Teacher Book: A Survival Guide for the First Year and Beyond (Everything Series) 
  10. The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide: Ready-To-Use Strategies, Tools & Activities for Meeting the Challenges of Each School Day (Jossey-Bass Survival Guides) 

Click on the link to see the item on Amazon.

What do vegetarians eat?

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables (Photo credit: nutrilover)

… Food. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 15 years and I’m so used to eating vegetarian food that I’ve had trouble coming up with a good answer on the spot. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian (I don’t eat meat but I do consume dairy and eggs) so other vegetarians may have either a stricter or less strict list of things they eat. I eat grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, milk, eggs, cheese…

A meal with meat taken out isn’t usually a complete meal anymore, but there are several alternatives. I’ll try most things, but just because it doesn’t contain meat doesn’t mean I’ll like it, and I hate olives. (Olives are not food to me.) So here’s a series of lists of some of my favorite things to eat.


  • two eggs with pepper, hash browns with ketchup, wheat toast with jelly
  • banana or other piece of fruit if I’m in a hurry
  • oat & honey, peanut butter, or dark chocolate & cherry granola bar
  • toasted English muffin with butter and jam
  • oatmeal with fruit & nut trail mix mixed in
  • pancakes topped with fruit
  • waffles topped with honey


  • apple with peanut butter
  • chips and guacamole
  • crackers and cheese
  • chocolate and pretzels
  • hummus with pita bread
  • baby carrots with Italian dressing
  • peanut butter & chocolate or blueberry smoothie


  • penne pasta with creamy pesto, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes
  • avocado salad
  • pesto tortellini
  • cheese ravioli
  • generic spaghetti rings
  • peanut butter & jelly sandwich
  • sandwich made with homemade bread, avocado, cucumber, cheddar, raspberry chipotle sauce, and mayo


  • pineapple & green chile pizza
  • pesto pizza topped with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine nuts
  • caprese panini
  • macaroni and cheese with mexicorn mixed in
  • veggie tacos (soy protein or wheat gluten, etc. in place of ground beef)
  • cucumber sushi, avocado sushi, and green chile sushi (sushi refers to the rice, not raw fish)
  • cheese enchiladas with an egg on top and whole beans on the side (refried beans are sometimes cooked with lard)


  • warm chocolate pudding with raspberries
  • peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips
  • chocolate cake with rainbow chip frosting
  • Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
  • apple crumble
  • apple turnover (make sure pastry is not made with lard)
  • apple pie (make sure pastry is not made with lard)

As for drinks, I like water, herbal tea, lemonade, and watered down fruit juices (except for orange juice, which I love to drink fresh-squeezed with lots of pulp) so they last longer and have less sugar per glass. I don’t like the taste of coffee but I do like coffee ice cream and I avoid caffeine after noon. My favorite sodas are lemon/lime and root beer.

People become vegetarians for a variety of reasons. Some choose it for health reasons. Some people just don’t like the taste of meat. Some people become vegetarians because their partner is a vegetarian and it makes meal planning easier. Some people are vegetarians because meat is too expensive. I’m a vegetarian because I’d rather not take the life of an animal unnecessarily.