Skip to main content

Another month of (almost) daily musings

Topics/tags: End-of-month musings, rambly

I’ve reached the end of another month of (almost) daily musings. Or, more precisely, we’ve reached the end of another month, since I do have some readers along for the ride. One of my habits in the project I call SamR’s Assorted Rants and Musings is to step back at the end of each month and reflect a bit about the experience of writing regularly, what I’ve written about, and, perhaps, what I’ve learned by writing. In some months, I also include some statistical data, such as how many musings I seem to have written in the past year or how many forthcoming topics remain in my sketchbook, as it were. And, once in a while, I set goals for the coming month [1].

What did I write about this past month? Here’s the list, taken from my automagically generated list of musings by number.

The Association in concert (Musing #765)
Dilly Dilly? (Musing #766)
Promoting Grinnell (Musing #767)
My second Obermann seminar (Musing #768)
Grumpy (Musing #769)
In line at a grocery store (Musing #770)
Clearing cruft (Musing #771)
A bug (or perhaps not) (Musing #772)
Dear Grinnell student (Musing #773)
Looking ahead to summer 2019 (Musing #774)
Iowa weather (Musing #775)
Hurdle rates (Musing #776)
Michael Perry (Musing #777)
CS department initials, acronyms, and abbreviations (Musing #778)
Marching band (Musing #779)
Writer’s block (Musing #780)
Unintended consequences (Musing #781)
Scraping course schedule data (Musing #782)
Clair Patterson ’43 (Musing #783)
Correct spelling matters (at least to me) (Musing #784)
Dreaming about musing (or vice versa) (Musing #785)
Corlis Benefideo (Musing #786)
An abbreviated history of Grinnell’s end-of-course evaluations (Musing #787)
Go Forth Grinnellian (Musing #788)
Fiddling with Linux applications on macOS (Musing #789)
Grinnell ephemera (Musing #790)
Designing a project for my digital humanities class (draft 0) (Musing #791)
An alternate project design for my digital humanities class (Musing #792)
Writer’s block (Musing #793)
A note to my Obermann colleagues in preparation for our upcoming seminar (Musing #794)

Hmmm … That’s thirty musings in a month. Arguably, I should have written twenty-nine [2]. So I’m doing a bit more than a daily musing. However, I have not necessarily spread them out evenly. There were some days, and maybe even some two-day sequences, in which I did not write or post musings. There were, therefore, a few days in which I wrote [3] and posted two musings. I guess that’s how things go.

What did I write about? It’s clear that I was having trouble writing, or at least writing technical material, because I mused on two separate occasions about my writer’s block. Fortunately, the second such musing seems to have helped. Yesterday, I wrote about three thousand useful words of technical material [4]. Unfortunately, today was less successful. I spent three hours on small tasks, such as responding to email messages and doing planning, two hours reading a colleague’s paper in preparation for the Obermann seminar, and one hour preparing my own material for that same seminar. That, along with the travel back and forth, left no daytime for writing. Will I write this evening? I’m not sure. And tomorrow, once again, is filled with meetings. I guess the answer should be Yes, I will try to write something this evening.

The Obermann seminar also inspired some writing, including two different versions of a project description for CSC 151 [5], a detailed rubric for one of those projects [6], and a note to my colleagues giving some background on the project [8,9]. I’ll write more about that seminar soon [10]. But I will include one comment here. I asked about the writing in the projects. One colleague said, Like everything you write, it’s warm and inviting. Clearly, they have not read my rants [11].

Speaking of rants, I did rant a bit. I rant almost every month. I’m a curmudgeon. I can’t avoid ranting. I ranted about end-of-course evaluations [12], I ranted about our new ad campaign [14]. I ranted about the way too many things that were making me grumpy. I even wrote a long followup rant that I decided not to post [15]. I ranted about hurdle rates. I ranted about my inability to use software. Wow. That’s more than I thought. It was clearly a bad month. But don’t worry, even though I’m in a better mood, I still have some accumulated rants.

Speaking of software, it seems that this was also a month for technical musings. In addition to my comment on Pandoc, I wrote about scraping data, dealing with the GitHub repository for these musings, and my experience as someone who likes both Unix and macOS. I’ll probably continue with some technical musings in the coming month, not least because a colleague suggested that I switch from MacPorts to Homebrew.

Beyond those topics, I managed to write a few more in my long-standing series of Grinnellians you should know (or know about), a few reviews, and a bunch of short musings. I’d like to write about a few more Grinnellians. However, some of those will require research time, and I’m not sure that I have research time. I may review a few more things that I read, listen to, or see.

What were my plans for this past month? I didn’t have any, other than that I would struggle less [16]. I managed that. What were my plans for the prior month? Let me see. I was going to reread Style and muse about it. Nope. I was going to continue my quest for inbox zero. Not only did I not manage to write about it [17], I failed to keep up on my work on managing my inbox [18]. I was going to write about my experiences at the Obermann Center. I did that. I was going to try to read an article or a book chapter each day. Nope. Way to go, Sam! More seriously, though, I’m doing what I can; I’ve had a lot of things interfere that not only consume my time, but also consume my mental energy.

What about my plans for the coming month? I’ve already said that I plan to write a bit about Grinnellians. I won’t be able to avoid ranting. Most of my writing energy needs to go toward my textbook, so I’m not going to set any other musing goals.

We’ll see where I am in a month.

Postscript: It wouldn’t be an end-of-month musing without some silly statistic. Unfortunately, it’s a bit harder to report on the number of musings I’ve written in the past year since I did not write an end-of-month musing in September, October, November, or December last year. Let’s see, what did I write last October? The last musing of that month was about advising [19]. That musing was #472. This musing is #796. I’ve written 324 musings in a year [20]. That’s not quite a musing a day, but close.

[1] No one ever expects me to meet those goals. Nonetheless, I find it useful to choose potential foci.

[2] There are thirty-one days in October, unless the delay of daylight savings time has changed the length of the month. I wrote my end-of-month musing for September on October 1. I’m writing this musing on October 31. That leaves twenty-nine.

[3] Or finished writing.

[4] I may muse about that writing soon. Or perhaps not. My backlog of musings keeps growing.

[5] As the list suggests, both of those ended up as musings.

[6] Ooh! Something else to muse about. [7]

[7] Or, as Grammarly seems to want me to write, Something else about which to muse.

[8] Yup, another piece of writing that ended up as a musing.

[9] Even after having written that two-page letter, I ended up giving more background.

[10] And another musing.

[11] I suppose one could call my rants warm and inviting. They are warm in that they have some heat from anger, but not an exceptional amount. They are inviting in that I invite others to share in that anger.

[12] That wasn’t quite a rant, but it was close.

[14] That’s another rant lite, as it were.

[15] If you feel like looking in the GitHub repo, you can probably find it there.

[16] I guess my writer’s block was worse than I remembered. At least this month, I did not have trouble musing.

[17] Well, I did take some notes.

[18] I did set up some filters, which is making it easier to read all the primary email. However, I’m still not good about filing.

[19] As I read the name, I thought it might be about preregistration since that’s almost upon us. However, it ended up being a log of what advising I’d done that week. And wow, it’s a lot. Even though I’m still spending time on advising-like issues while on leave, it’s much less than when last year, when I was in my office every day.

[20] I thought about writing I’ve mused 324 times in a year, but I muse more than I write.

Version 1.0 of 2018-10-31.