Plagiarism

 By Ed Baranosky                                     

I plagiarized one of the first stories I ever wrote. I was a sophomore in high school. The war was on and the factories were running three shifts a day. Bowling leagues were organized as a form of relaxation for their employees.

After school I worked as a pinsetter at the Kingsway Bowling alleys in Fairfield. I would get to the
alleys at 6:30 p.m. and work until midnight weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays I worked from 1 p.m. until midnight.

In English-language class we were given an assignment to write an essay on a book we read. With all my other  homework in math, science, history, geography and my limited time to do all these things I thought I could get away with a bit of deception.

War stories were printed in the centerfold of comic books of the time. The story I stole was about
the war in the North African desert. I copied it word for word and turned it in.

The teacher must have picked up the difference between the work I had been turning in and this story. The first person he called on was me.

The year was 1943 and those events had just happened. He asked where I got the book. I was not a great thinker on my feet. I was trapped like a rat. I spilled my guts. My classmates, being typical teenagers, took every opportunity to remind me of my embarrassment for the rest of the school year.

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Youthful Exuberance

By John-Paul Marciano 

“I know the perfect spot” Scott promised.

I drove up to Topsham, Maine with a couple friends of mine, Geoff and Phil, to visit another friend, Scott, who moved there a few months prior.  We left later than I would have liked and traffic didn’t cooperate so we didn’t arrive until after midnight.  We were all pretty tired so after exchanging pleasantries, Scott showed us where we could lay out our sleeping bags and we all turned in for the night.

The next morning Scott and I got up early and made breakfast for everyone.  We talked over breakfast about how we wanted to spend the week.  By the time the breakfast dishes were cleared we had a loose schedule laid out.  The highlight on the schedule was watching the sun come up over the Atlantic Ocean.

It was at this point of the conversation when Scott made his declaration.  “There’s a beach about 45 minutes from here,” Scott continued.  “It’ll be great.  You’ll love it.”

We all thought it was a great idea. So after checking the weather report for clear skies, the four of us decided Saturday morning would be perfect to go to Scott’s perfect place.  We agreed to leave at 4:30 a.m. to give ourselves plenty of time to get situated in time for the main event.

During the week Scott mentioned to some people he knew we were going to watch the sunrise.  By the time Saturday rolled around the four of us grew to seven of us.  Promptly at 4:30 a.m. we piled into two cars and made our way to Scott’s perfect place.  We got to the beach an hour later and, since the beach was deserted, we parked as close as we could.

Since Scott was the only one familiar with the place, the rest of us just looked around and shivered.  Did I forget to mention it was winter?  It was five below zero with a 10-mile-an-hour breeze coming off the ocean.  It was perfect weather for January in Maine.

“Where’s this perfect spot you were telling us about?” I asked Scott.

“Over there,” Scott said pointing to what looked like a wooded hill.  “It’s on the other side of that hill.  We should get moving.”

It took us about 20 quiet minutes over frozen sand to reach the hill and another 20 quiet minutes to climb to the crest and claim our perfect spot.  We toughed it out for another 45 minutes before the sun finally came up.  Despite the cold it was a sight to behold.  By the time the sun rose completely above the horizon we had forgotten we were cold and decided not to leave right away.

From our perch we saw two seals approaching the hill.  They spent some time diving into the water for what I presumed to be fish.  They hung around for a while and eventually left.  Not long after, a mama whale and her calf popped out of the water about 1,000 yards south of where we were sitting.  They gave us a show but they too eventually left.

When we finally decided to leave, we felt exhilarated.  As we made our way down the hill, we talked excitedly about what we saw.  I think it was Geoff who made it to the bottom of the hill first.

“Hey, guys.  I think we stayed too long,” Geoff announced.

“How do you figure?” someone asked.

“The tide is coming in and the water is ankle deep.”

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A Bit of Spring Spice

  By Ed Baranosky

The first time I met Natalie Rowland was at a board meeting in our corporate offices in New York. My name is Frank Barnes I’m an executive producer of ads for a major television network. Ms. Rowland is the advertising VP of a national cosmetic company. At our meetings in New York I found her to be intelligent, articulate and a stunningly beautiful black woman.

A strategy meeting was set up at their Durham, North Carolina office to go over the details of a seven-figure contract for a TV commercial to kick-off the spring introduction of a new cosmetic product created specifically for women of color.

I flew into Raleigh picked up my rental car and drove to the Ramada Hotel where I was going to stay.

I checked in, went to my room, unpacked my suit and draped it on a hanger. I hadn’t eaten since I left New York and it was already 6 p.m. I decided to go to the hotel dining room for dinner.

I was sliding my keycard into the door-lock when I heard the phone ringing in my room. It was Ms. Rowland asking if I could come to her condominium. She had a few details she would like to go over before our meeting tomorrow. I said “yes.” She then gave me directions to her residence.

The condominium was not far from the hotel where I was staying. I drove to the address, picked up my briefcase and rang the bell. When the door opened she greeted me with a pleasant smile.”

She was wearing red silk pajamas with pants that flared out at the bottom. As she led me into the living room. I could not help but notice how the silk followed every movement of her body. In the living room she said “I’m going to have a glass of Sangria before we get down to business. Would you like something,” I said “perhaps I’ll have one after we’re through, thank you.”

She poured her drink, took a sip put the glass on a table and came to where I was standing and said “I’ve been waiting to do this since I first met you.” She put her arms around my neck pressed her body against mine and kissed me. I could taste the Sangria on her slightly- parted lips.

I was taken completely by surprise.  It took a several moments for my brain to process the feelings that were going through my body.

I put my hands high up on her waist and pushed her away. The softness of her breasts on the back of my hands did not make it any easier.  As we parted I stammered “I’m sorry I can’t do this. I love my wife and children.”

I picked up my briefcase and said “I’ll see you in the morning at your office.” As I was leaving I could hear her crying softly.

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Do I Know You?

By John-Paul Marciano

Walking into the student lounge, I quickly scan the room for familiar faces.  There he is sitting in a stuffed chair with his feet up on an ottoman.  An unfiltered Camel cigarette is billowing smoke from an ashtray on his left.  And there’s the familiar cup of black coffee still steaming.  Every now and then, without moving his head, he raises his eye level to scan the room.  One quick scan and he returns his focus to the novel he’s been reading.

It’s a typical Friday afternoon.  Classes are done for the week so he uses the time to relax and unwind.  He likes that seat because he’s left-handed and it’s the only stuffed chair in the room with a table on the left.  As I walk past I look in the ashtray.   It must have been a low stress week.  There are only three butts and the one still going.  What a knucklehead!

I walk over to the deli and buy myself a diet iced green tea and the South Bend Tribune.  I walk back into the lounge.  The chair next to him appears unoccupied.

“Anybody sitting in this chair?” I ask.

“You,” he replies without looking up.

I ease myself into the chair and balance my drink on the right arm.  I pull out a pen and flip to the crossword puzzle.  We sit in silence for a while, him reading his novel, me doing the crossword puzzle.  I notice him dog-ear the page he was reading.  He takes out his pack of cigarettes and a lighter and lights up another smoke.

Without looking up from my crossword puzzle I say, “You know those are going to kill you, don’t you?”

“And this concerns you, why?” he asks.  He takes a long drag off his cigarette but still doesn’t lift his eyes from the novel.

I chuckle to myself and reply, “Just pointing out the obvious.” I go back to working my crossword puzzle.

“Thanks,” he said.

“No problem.”

After a few minutes I feel a pair of eyes staring at me.  I look up and to my left but don’t say anything.

“You look familiar,” he said to me.  “Do I know you?”

“I don’t think so,” I said.

I gather my things and get up to leave.  There’s nothing I can tell him.  He wouldn’t listen even if I did.

“Enjoy your weekend,” I told him.

“Thanks.  You do the same,” he said as I walked away.

I couldn’t work up the nerve to tell him I’m just an older version of the face he sees when he looks in the mirror every morning.

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Advice to a Young Physicist

By Robert Cordery 

So, you want to be a theoretical physicist? While this advice may not seem totally original, hear me out.  Focus on the three Rs.

Physics combines mathematical theory and experimental measurement to understand how the world works.  Success in physics requires particular capabilities in reading, writing, and arithmetic. An investment in developing expertise in all three skills will pay dividends with a flourishing career.

No matter how much you read, there will always be more fascinating papers you should have read. There are more than 250 physics papers published every day. You need triage just to monitor the most relevant knowledge for your current research topics. Identify the publications that best match your needs. You must become a kind of speed reader. Skim relevant papers to extract their key ideas and integrate them with your knowledge. Rigorously analyze the arguments and results in a few of the most critical papers.  Your analysis may go as far as reproducing calculations and computer simulations. After you understand the question a paper is addressing, think about how you would approach the problem.

You need a peer network. Develop a list of physicists you follow. Build relationships with them at conferences and during university visits. The number of single author papers is declining, while collaborations are skyrocketing.  Actively seek out collaborators.

Every few years, change your research focus. You will avoid becoming stale. As you mature as a scientist, you will find creative opportunities in the fertile ground between the well-trodden paths.

Take a writing class. Train in writing grant proposals. Remember the reader. Even for a specialist audience, very few have spent a comparable effort studying the topic of your paper.  Pay special attention to the comments of editors and peer referees. They may be a majority of the people who read your work attentively.

Writing requires practice. Imitate the best features of the papers you enjoy. Write topic summaries and develop the logic of physics arguments for yourself. The effort of writing decrease, but only with practice will your quality improve. Your ability in mathematics and physics does not extend to writing.  You will have to work at it, starting now.

Over the last three millennia mankind has advanced the twin frontiers of mathematics and of our understanding of the universe in lock-step. Eugene Wigner called it “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.” The partnership between mathematics and physics is not ending.

You can never know all the mathematics that could help you gain a deeper understanding of the universe. Pay extra attention to mathematics of symmetry. The beauty of physics is intimately tied to the symmetries and broken symmetries of the universe. The deep connections between algebra and geometry always sheds light on the nature of physics.

The days of doing mathematical physics on paper are regretfully ending. Systems that are not addressable by simple equations are routinely addressed with computer simulations. Computer languages and styles will evolve. The way of formulating problems for computer solution will improve.  But the ability to express an aspect of the world with an algorithm running on a computer will always be in demand.

After you have learned to read, write, and calculate, after you have built your network, remember this one last thing: follow the experiments.

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Princess

By Juliana Lavitola

 

Middle age approached as my dream prince

Appeared and asked if I would be his princess.

Happy was I to answer, “Yes.”

 

As we married and settled into our dream home

Our minds became one–sharing ideas and turning

Our home into our castle.

Love and joy was felt as decades sped by.

 

Then one day, darkness came over our castle,

And took my prince away.

I no longer felt like a princess.

 

Our castle became quiet.

His touch was gone, as well as,

His embrace, his kiss, his voice.

Everything was quiet.

 

Family gatherings brought joyful voices.

Quiet crept back in when they dispersed.

 

As spring ran into summer solstice

Followed by winter solstice,

The castle remained quiet.

 

Mid-winter, I awakened with a start

Thinking the sun woke me; only to see it remained dark.

I dressed and went quickly to the idle treadmill.

The workout added to my feeling of renewal.

Days passed and as I rejoined social group events,

I found energy without tears.

 

I felt my prince was no longer beside me.

He now took up residence in my heart

Guiding and pushing me forward.

Thanks to my living prince,

I feel like a princess again.

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Inhumanity of Mankind

by Karin Cheney

I know what it feels like to be bullied and abused.  Those memories are always with me.  So when I witness someone or something being harmed or mistreated my first instinct is to protect and comfort them.

Too often, instead of celebrating and appreciating the marvelous diversity of life among us it’s met with hatred, violence and cruelty.  Some people are harassed, abused, ignored, rejected or dismissed because they are mentally ill, poor, homeless, sick, addicts or simply different.

Sometimes they are abused and hated out of ignorant fear or prejudice.  But always, the damage it causes to people and populations that are already fragile, fearful and compromised is heartbreaking.  And it’s always something I will fight against.

But this problem doesn’t end with just humans.  It’s inflicted on other living things as well. The harm we humans inflict on each other, our planet, and other living things is both devastating and heart breaking. The vast amounts of trash, pollution, excess and waste we produce, especially of plastics and dangerous materials, are being dumped into our oceans, land, atmosphere and outer space at alarming rates and are compromising the safety and future of our world and every living thing surrounding and within it.

The inhumanities of mankind on mankind itself and of all other life here on Earth is heart-breaking. Sometimes I think it’s just too easy for some of us to turn a blind eye to these atrocities and continue on in our own secure pleasant lives, thinking that our individual actions are not enough to change anything.

We think the problems are too big for us to make a significant difference or change in the situation or we think that someone else is better equipped to help or there are organizations out there to fix and solve the issues.

But the truth is that each and everyone one of us can make a difference even in the smallest way.   Many hands make easy work, but many hands are made up of individual hands, and together they can do many things to bring positive changes before it’s too late.

So the next time you’re faced with the opportunity to stand up and make a positive difference in the world or another living being’s life, stand up and be the positive change you want to see in the world.

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