A glass case of emotion: Master’s project COMPLETED

Hi, everyone! I finally finished my master’s project! Cue R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” song. It totally happened. Or I’ve past out from exhaustion and started hallucinating this post. Either way, I am in a really good place right now.

Essentially, I created a website for my master’s project on student housing growth in Tuscaloosa. It’s quite the complicated issue, as it involves legislation, occupancy rates, student population growth, parking issues, property ordinances, legislation, the historic district and much much more. My goal has been to explain this complicated issue, and I’ve spent months conducting interviews, research and tweaking the final product. I defend my project in front of a jury of my peers – I mean professors and students in the journalism department, on Tuesday. TUESDAY. That’s less than three days away. I’m nervous, and so excited.

Special thanks to all of my friends, coworkers, family and classmates who have basically carried me this far.


Snow White

Snow White

Here is a photograph I took of my dear friend, Lacey Young, on a bridge at an outside museum in Cape Cod. Perhaps it will inspire me to write a short story or a mystery novel.

Mozambique Diary: The House of Spiders

Last week, I had the occasion to interview Edward O. Wilson, world-renowned biologist, founder of sociobiology, a two-time Pulitzer prize winner and lots of other awards. More importantly, however, he’s a University of Alabama alum from Birmingham and a true Southern gentleman. During our conversation, he told me and my fellow Crimson White colleague, Austin Frederick, of his slight arachnophobia and the childhood incident that spurned it. In my experience, some of the most successful people are also the most charming, and Dr. Wilson certainly proved this. Read his guest blog post on “The Smaller Majority” to learn more about Dr. Wilson and his recent exploits at the House of Spiders in Mozambique.

The Smaller Majority

A guest post by Edward O. Wilson

The skeletal remains of the Hippo House, once a busy restaurant and observation point.  Orb weaver (Nephilengys cruentata) from the Hippo House. The skeletal remains of the Hippo House, once a busy restaurant and observation point.

Each spider in the Hippo House was sheltered in a tubular retreat, a behavior typical of all species in the genus Nephilengys. Each spider in the Hippo House was sheltered in a silken, tubular retreat, a behavior typical of species in the genus Nephilengys.

At the end of a long rutted road in the park sits a conspicuous artifact in the midst of wilderness. Built in 1970, the Hippo House was the vantage point, the antigo miradouro, from which well-heeled tourists, cool drinks in hand, watched wildlife herds as they grazed over the vast floodplain grassland below. Today the herds are back, but the house is a seldom-visited ruin. During the Mozambique civil war, almost all the buildings of Gorongosa National Park were torn down or blown away, leaving behind a few remnants scarred by bullets. The house had been reduced to a shell of its original self.


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The panic bubble


                                                      Cartoon by Allie Brosh   

Last summer, I was struck with the fine idea of applying for admittance into the University of Alabama’s Community Journalism graduate program. The program involves a practical, skills-based approach. Students take a depth-reporting class, as well as a web metrics class, where they learn about blogging, Google Analytics, social media and other online tools. Another class centers on website building and the use of journalistic equipment like cameras, recorders, microphones, etc. In addition to reviewing highly applicable skills, each student chooses a community issue on which to report. This issue becomes a large-scale master’s project, conveyed through the creation of an original website and a written semi-thesis of sorts. 

My fellow classmates and I could likely be classified as having “A-type” personalities. Being that ours is a one-year professional program, we knew from the start that we would be busy bees. Most of us have part-time graduate assistantships, and we all carry a full-time graduate student schedule. We also write for various publications or have additional part-time or full-time work. Essentially, when I volunteered to cram a two-year master’s program into one year, I knew I wouldn’t be leaving my laptop idle for quite some time. Looking back, I don’t regret my decision at all. I love my classmates, my project and the writing I’ve done since coming to Tuscaloosa.

But I may need a few words of inspiration or some cheers from you guys, because I’m on the last leg of the semester, so to speak. In the next three days, I will need to finish A LOT of work. Think of the biggest amount of work you’ve ever had. Now double it. I have slightly more than that. Even worse, I am playing catch-up as a result of three days worth of debilitating laryngitis. Strangely, I’m in great spirits. It will all be over soon, for better or for worse. So I’ll be keeping a lookout for inspirational quotes, upbeat music or feel-good stories in the next few days and will let my fellow workaholics know what I come up with.   

Heart-wrenchers: Favorite novels and authors

Okay, guys. Confession time. I’m a journalist, but I received my undergraduate degree in English literature. Egads! Alright, the cat’s out of the bag now, so I can tell you freely and without reservations that I have several favorite books. And since this is my blog, I’m going to cast reporting to the wind for a moment and write a post about literature! So, there.


Kingsolver addresses a myriad of social issues, involving race, gender, class and even international politics, in this 1960s-era novel. A missionary family, consisting of a fanatical patriarch, a work-worn mother and four lively daughters, travel from Southern Georgia to the Belgian Congo to bring its inhabitants the Word of God. Each in turn learns the danger blindly following social mores, as well as the value of using religion for peace rather than hatred.


In this graphic novel, Spiegelman tells of his father’s experiences as a Jewish citizen living in Nazi Germany. Caveat: The Nazis are depicted as cats, and Jews as mice. The book is engaging, entertaining, heartfelt, action-packed and riveting. The portrayal of characters through animals does not distance readers emotionally – quite the opposite actually. A heartbreaking sense of humanity exudes from the cats and mice in the book, and their predator-prey relationship reveals more about the human condition than base animalism.


Shelley stemmed from a highly educated background. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, authored the 18th-century feminist book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Despite living in an era where many women could not legally own property, her parents upheld radical philosophies for the time period. Having obtained an unbridled education, an impressive feat in itself, she started writing the novel at the age of 18. Shelley, her future husband and philosopher Percy ShelleyJohn Polidori (sometimes credited as the instigator of the vampire genre) and Lord Byron entered into a friendly-spirited competition to see who could write the best story. Perhaps to her surprise, Shelley emerged victorious from the competition with Frankenstein.

‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’

As I discussed in a previous post, I’ll be leaving Tuscaloosa to begin a full-time internship at The Anniston Star newspaper before I graduate at the end of the summer. Though I’m headed that way with some of my closest friends – who happen to be great reporters, I can’t help but be a little sad to leave my work at The Crimson White newspaper. I’ve met some of the funniest and most talented editors, writers and photographers during my time with the CW. They work around the clock, pushing articles through when they drop at the last minute, miraculously getting stories to print every publishing day. From lethal heroin addiction to allegations of widespread sexual abuse, my editors encouraged me to follow through with both the easy and the difficult stories. They taught me that there’s always room for improvement and innovation. I look at them and see where the journalism industry is headed, and it’s in great hands. Creative as ever, here is the CW staff’s going away party invitation via YouTube. Follow the link to see some of today’s greatest talent.