Tuesday, May 31, 2016

No Soliciting in the Park

In a few weeks, I will be setting up a stall for the community yard sale at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown. I've got a lot of stuff to get rid of before moving to Baltimore. Part of reserving a stall included signing a paper stating that I had read the Park Rules.

Rule #12 caught my eye. It reads: "Soliciting or loitering is prohibited." Doesn't one go to a park to loiter? Isn't that the main purpose of a park? Why bother having a park if people can't go there just to hang out? After scoffing at the loitering rule, my brain got working on the "soliciting" part.

No soliciting in the park. That can't be right. What do they mean by "soliciting?" I'm always passing by people handing out religious pamphlets at the entrance to City Park. That's solicitation, isn't it? And these are city-owned parks. Public spaces. Doesn't restricting solicitation in a public place violate the First Amendment? I mean, solicitation isn't like a political demonstration (what if it's handing out political fliers, though?), but it's still speech.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

How to Write a Basic Undergraduate Research Paper

My husband has recently started his undergraduate career and asked me for some tips on writing an essay. What started as a basic how-to list became the 7-page, 4,000+-word monster you see below.

My husband and I both went to the same high school, which was a fairly decent school, but none of our teachers ever gave us clear instructions on how to write essays. There were some basic mumblings about outlines, topic sentences and thesis statements, but we always felt as though we were just flailing about until we found something the teacher didn't say needed to be changed, without ever knowing what we did right or wrong.

This lack of clear instruction continued for me in college until I developed a system for getting A's on my papers every time. It took me until the second semester of my junior year to develop this, and until my final semester to perfect it, so it didn't do me much good overall. I share it in the hope that it will help current and future undergrads who received a similar education.