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Another month (or two) of (approximately bi-) daily musings

Topics/tags: End-of-month musings

It’s the end of the month. At the end of the month, I like to reflect back on what I wrote and learned about writing over the past month. Since I did not write an end-of-month musing last month, this musing represents reflections on two months of daily musings.

I see from my notes that in the first of those months, I mused about upgrading my operating system. I did so because I needed my OS to support the new two-factor authentication we are using on our email server. In doing so, I had to remove and reset my email account. I thought it was bad when my email client said it had 270,000 messages to download. Two days later, it had 400,000 messages to download. After five hours in my office, it had downloaded about a third of those. In addition, each night I received a wonderful error message that stopped the download: The operation couldn’t be completed. (MCMailErrorDomain error 1030.) I kept asking myself, Will it ever finish? But finish, it did. Toward the end of the second month, I upgraded to Catalina. That’s been an interesting experience. I expect to muse on that next month.

For the first time in a while, I took down a musing. I had written what I thought was a light-hearted commentary on a significant issue. But the musing called out an individual problem, and a valued colleague thought that was inappropriate.

More broadly, I’ve been trying to reflect on how to more clearly target issues rather than individuals. I know that some people take offense at what I write. Particularly given the state of staff morale, I think it’s imperative that I be more careful in what I write in public [1].

I hear that a few of my musings were posted to Everyday Class Notes. I’m not in that group. I asked once, a few years ago. However, even though I’m an honorary member of two classes and have taken multiple courses at Grinnell, I was not allowed to join. I may ask again at some point. However, I think it’s best that I’m not on the group right now. Perhaps after I move to SFS.

My musing on the poor attendance at an excellent convocation spurred a lot of discussion on Facebook. I’m not sure that we achieved any consensus. Nonetheless, it’s good to see that others felt similarly and that others would likely support my innovation fund proposal to explore how we would make Scholars’ Convocation a weekly event.

This was the time of year in which I had the opportunity to muse about spring registration at Grinnell. At least one colleague told me that many people look forward to that musing. I’ll admit that I’m not quite sure why. It feels a bit dry to me. John Garrison has too many students in his class. That’s not a surprise. They need five more sections of 100-level studio art. That’s even less of a surprise. What makes this genre of musing worth reading? In taking a different perspective on this area, I also mused about courses I’d like to take, potential cut, close, and balance issues in CS, and an unexpected ccb issue [2]. I may muse about the state of registration after the ccb process ends.

Speaking of the registration musings, I realized that I was writing enough of those musings that they deserved their own category. It took a bit of time to rearrange things to set up the new category. I do need to re-architect the system at some point. However, it’s going to take a bit of work, given that I have close to 1,000 posted musings as well as a hundred or two additional partially written musings. I’d like to say that I should have paid more attention to the design early on. However, it’s not clear that I would have understood how the musings and rants would evolve.

That’s a bit about topics and structure. What about my writing? I’ve certainly reached a point at which I’m comfortable taking regular breaks from musing. Usually, I take breaks because I find myself occupied with other tasks. But at least once in this period, I just didn’t have the mental energy to muse for a bit more than a week. In contrast, there were a few days in which I found it more productive to post two musings each day. Including this musing and the other musing that I plan to post today, I will have posted 34 musings over two months. I suppose I should call them bi-daily musings rather than daily musings.

I’ve noticed that I either have or have developed a habit of asking questions in a paragraph by themselves.

Is that a problem?

I don’t think so. When writing, I find it useful to set the question off from the other text as a way to emphasize it. Maybe it’s just how I approach the world, or what my inner voice [3] says gives me the right rhythm to what I write. I wonder how my readers feel. Maybe I should take Ralph Savarese’s Craft of Creative Nonfiction next semester just to reflect on issues like that. However, while I would value Ralph’s critiques, I’m not sure how I would feel being in a class full of students less than half my age, most of whom write significantly better than I do.

On other writing notes, I find that I continue to war with Grammarly on the appropriate punctuation for not only … but also structures. I like a comma before the but also section. However, I know that like is not a reason to include a piece of punctuation. I expect that the comma only belongs there when there’s a complete clause after the but also. I need to work on getting that punctuation right.

Grammarly tells me that I use the term really too much. It’s right; I really do. I’m working on it.

I also learned one new term: fisking. I wish that it were also a verb, to fisk, or a role, a fisker. But language is malleable [4]. Perhaps if I start using these new terms, others will, too. In any case, I also realized that the way I grade CSC 151 exams represents a type of fisking. After all, I regularly insert comments between student work.

It wouldn’t be an end-of-month musing unless I included some form of data. I did mention the number of musings I had posted over the past two months. At that rate, it will take about four more months to reach the milestone [5] of one-thousand musings. Perhaps I need to take fewer days off and double-muse more often.

In contrast, the sketchbook I keep of prospective musings continues to get larger and larger. Right now, I have forty listed in the short musings section and twenty-six in the longer musings section. Those are up sixteen and five, respectively, up from where I was two months ago. In thirty days, I plan to set aside the current sketchbook and open a new one. How many of the sixty-six topics for musings will carry over? That’s something to reflect upon at the end of next month.

What are my plans for the next month of musing? I’ve already suggested that I should increase my average musing frequency to something a bit closer to daily. I’ve noted that I should be more careful about how I write about others at my institution [6]. I’d like to cut down on the number of outstanding topics. After all, what’s the point of a sketchbook if I don’t use the sketches [7]?

I owe myself and Council another musing about the anniversary of Tutorial and the open curriculum [8]. I should reflect on the state of post-pre-registration. I’ve promised an alum a short note about my work-for-pay while an undergraduate [9]. Other than that, my topics are relatively open [10].

[1] It’s also important that I am more careful about what I write in private. But I can raise issues in private that I should not raise in public.

[2] I wonder if anyone else uses ccb as an abbreviation for cut, close, and balance.

[3] muse?

[4] At least English is malleable.

[5] I seem unable to write milestone without thinking millstone.

[6] I’ve already tried to do so. I’m not sure that I’ve been successful.

[7] Come to think of it, most of the ideas in artists’ sketchbooks don’t end up in the final product.

[8] More precisely, I owe council a proposal about that anniversary. It will just end up as a musing, too.

[9] Have I not written that already?

[10] Or in the sketchbook.

Version 1.0 of 2019-11-30.