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Meet the Columnist

Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

    To carry her weekly column in your newspaper, or to republish an article, please contact her. It's that easy. 

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An Awesome Conference...

An Awesome Conference

I have recently returned from a trip to Indiana University for the annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. The three days there were such a swirl of experiences that I feel a bit like the monitor of my computer, which was green when I sat down to write. The computer monitor was easy to fix once I found the right button, but my own button is a bit harder to

In most college towns there is a wide diversity of intellectual experiences and Indiana University is certainly typical in that respect. We crammed a whole lot of activity into a very short time.

It started out typically enough with welcomes and introductions. "Yes, you can teach old dogs new tricks, with enough treats," said the NSNC President. And that pretty much spelled it out -- old dogs learning new tricks or at least having the opportunity to do so.

One of the things we liked best about the location was the fact that Ernie Pyle had been a student there. You may not be familiar with Pyle as he is disappearing from public awareness. He was one of the most famous of correspondents during World War II, covering it from the perspective of the average GI Joe, a phrase he invented. It is not the period he wrote in that is important, but the brilliance with which he wrote that is so admired. The Ernie Pyle Hall of Journalism was right next to the hotel. It gave me goose bumps every time I walked by.

But there was more, much more. The famous Kinsey Institute, which does research in human sexuality, gender and reproduction, is at Indiana University. Who knew? You can bet that when it was time for the Kinsey speaker's presentation, the room was packed. It turned out to be quite tasteful and the presenter was both
amusing and informing. But there were no pictures. Those were over at the Institute's Art Museum, which I didn't visit but heard was quite enlightening.

That evening we visited the Oliver Winery, which lead me to call it "sex and booze" day. It wasn't as bad as it sounds -- no, really. There were orchards of grapes, and giant fermentation tanks, and barrels where the wine aged. Of course, we have similar establishments here in Tennessee, but they are fermenting whiskey, not wine.

And if all this isn't enough, there was the visit to the Buddhist Cultural Center. It seems the brother of the Dalai Lama taught at Indiana University, and when he retired, he decided to establish a center to educate the West in the understanding of Tibetan and Buddhist culture. The decor was highly elaborate and the traditional food was strange to my taste buds.

We found the Director, believed to be the reincarnation of a holy person, to be quite interesting. He even let me snap his picture in his traditional red robe. He explained Buddhism as the study of self-awareness and the path to enlightenment. But, columnists were less interested in self-awareness than in the fact that the Dalai Lama likes Tootsie Rolls, which shows that we apparently have a long way to go.

All this was wrapped up by a day at a marvelous place called the West Baden Springs Hotel, which dates back to 1902 and has been visited by celebrities and presidents. It has been refurbished in the style of the Gilded Age Period, and is a wonder to see. It boasts an unsupported dome roof over a large atrium that causes everyone who visits to stop and look up in awe. We had a historic tour and learned about times past during which it served as a Jesuit Monastery, among other things. It fell into ruins before being purchased by the present owner and restored into a glamorous luxury resort that attracts the rich and famous -- as well as columnists looking for a story.

There was much more, of course, live music by the best pianist in Bloomington, a harp player stolen from the National Harp Festival going on at the university, and distinguished professors and writers, who told us that inspiration is contagious. And so it is... I wouldn't mind going back to be inspired some more.

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss

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