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Closing in on one-hundred essays

This [1] is number ninety-five or so in my series of essays of the day [3]. It is hard to believe that I’m nearly at one-hundred essays. I guess that there is some value to sustained effort. Of course, it’s not all that clear why one hundred is such a milestone [4]. Sure, it’s the smallest positive three-digit base-ten number, but does that make it all that special? I guess I should embrace social norms.

What does it mean to reach one-hundred essays? Megan Goering tells me that Neil Gaiman says that you need to get about one million words out of your system before you are a competent writer. If I average one-thousand words per essay [5], I still have nine hundred more essays to write [11]. Alternately, if you believe the adage that It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become good at something, and we assume it takes me about an hour per essay, then I still have nine thousand, nine hundred hours to go [12,14].

Wow! It feels like this essay is going down hill [15] fast. Okay, let’s embrace the achievement of one-hundred essays (or get ready to embrace the achievement of one-hundred essays, since I’m not there yet). But how? I know! Let’s turn things around a bit. How about if you, my readers [16], send me a short comment on your favorite essay and why it’s your favorite, and I’ll compile them together? Those comments might also help guide those folks who have just discovered these essays and want to figure out where to start [17].

Here are some examples.

DR says "My favorite is dad jokes because it helps others understand what I have to put up with each day.

JR says My favorite is the one on the Web because the only time you write half-decently is when you are ranting about something. Well, maybe not in the case of your essay on best-practices, but most of the time.

SR says My favorite is essay 100 because I got others to write it for me.

WR says My favorite is the one on the bookstore because it’s amusing to watch you try to make an economic argument.

MR says If you are an administrator at Grinnell College, you really shouldn’t read any of these essays because I’d really like Sam to keep his job.

CJ says My favorite is the essay on changes at Grinnell because it’s long enough to help me fall asleep at night. I don’t think I’ve made it through the whole essay yet.

ES says My favorite is the one on sleep because it contains the fewest grammatical errors.

MR and HR say Papa says that everyone should read If you ask a prof a question because the original essay [18] reflects curiosity, empathy and an appreciation for the human condition. The fact that Sam has continued to reflect on and question what he wrote years ago comes as no surprise and simply reinforces my perspective.

AS says I recommend that others read all of the profiles of Grinnellians you should know (or know about) because it introduced me to some really cool people.

?? says I am fond of the essay on microaggressions because it reminds me that computer science is the red-headed stepchild [19] of the liberal arts.

AK says As a curmudgeon, I appreciated the essay on the same subject. I only wish that Rebelsky would have picked some aspect of campus he wanted to improve, and used the phrase Fixing that is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

?? says You should read Sam’s incredibly misguided essay about changes at Grinnnell, in which he completely misses how corporate Grinnell has become.

RK says You should note that Sam deleted his essay on Posse once he learned the whole story. I think that’s a sign that you really don’t need to read anything else he writes.

AV says The S&B should publish the Friday PSA because it says things that students should hear.

TB says I’m amused by the first "nibbled to death by ducks" essay because it’s clear that Sam doesn’t realize that his experience is typical of both Grinnell students and Grinnell faculty.

?? says I’m no longer reading these essays because Sam didn’t bother to invent a quote from me [21].

RS says My favorite is the essay on thinking the best of others because that’s where I first make an appearance as John Silber.

The other RS says: I’m not particularly fond of any of Rebelsky’s essays, since I care deeply about good writing, or even competent writing. However, if I had to pick one, it’s probably the one about the bookstore because it’s clear he cared enough about it to write slightly less muddled text than normal. [22]

JLND [23] says I’m fond of the essay on MathLAN because it will help inform the design of my own department. I look forward to seeing another essay on the CS commons.

SR also says "I also like this essay because it gave me the opportunities to reflect on what I’d written so far, because I got to make snarky comments [24], because I think it’s one of my funnier essays [25], because it has more endnotes than normal, and because this entry makes it recursive.

In case you’ve lost your train of thought [26], I’m asking you, my wonderful readers, to send me a short note in which you reflect on a favorite essay. Those above are examples. How should yours be different? I’d much prefer that you wrote more than one sentence. But even one sentence (including how you’d like me to refer to you) would be great. I’ve used random initials to identify the writers. You can ask me to use your name, your initials, the word anonymous, two question marks, or anything else reasonably appropriate.

There’s only a few days left until essay one hundred. Get your comments in now [27], or you’ll have to wait until another hundred essays have passed [28].

[1] My editor told me not to use this as a pronoun, so I should probably say This essay [2].

[2] Why didn’t I just say This essay to start with? I wanted an excuse to insert an endnote as early as possible to amuse one of my readers.

[3] Is that the right plural for essay of the day? Could be be essays of the days? Or maybe essay of the days? Perhaps I should cheat and use EotDs, or is that EotD’s?

[4] Perhaps centistone would be better.

[5] It feels like I write about one thousand words per essay, but I’m too lazy to do the statistics right now [6].

[6] In an early draft, this one was about 940 words. But then I added that sentence, so it became 950. And, hey, that sentence made it 960 words or so. With that sentence, we are now at 970 total words. Aren’t ten-word sentences an awesome idea for padding essays? [7]

[7] The preceding statistics were computed with an early version of the essay. It has since grown to approximately fourteen-hundred words [8].

[8] The next time I edited, it had grown to nearly sixteen-hundred words [9].

[9] I believe the released version of this essay was about seventeen-hundred words [10].

[10] I’ve clearly spent too much time on this essay.

[11] Yes, I realize that I’ve written things before I started the essay of the day project.. But it feels right to limit my counting to what I write in these essays.

[12] That’s probably not fair, since I’ve written (and thought about writing, and even thought about teaching writing) for most of my life. I also do write a lot, although mostly memos, email messages, and the ilk.

[13] There is no endnote number 13.

[14] Let’s see … 9,900 hours is about 1237.5 eight-hour days, about 247.5 five-day work weeks, or almost five years of full-time work. I don’t think I have that many sabbaticals remaining, even under Grinnell’s new and more generous sabbatical policy.

[15] Or is that downhill?

[16] Yes, I assume that I still have readers. I do tend to get at least two Facebook likes for each essay, so I have at least two.

[17] Or even just whether there is anything worth reading.

[18] I’m not sure that the original If you ask a prof a question is really an essay. But I guess I should allow my readers to classify things as they wish.

[19] I love when comments on microaggressions are themselves microaggressions [20].

[20] And ??: I do really appreciate your readership and your comments on my essays when we chat.

[21] That’s my attempt to say I’m sorry if I didn’t use you as one of the examples. Please do take the time to send me a comment.

[22] The other RS also says It’s sad that Rebelsky is not competent enough of a writer to be able to be able to reproduce my tone effectively.

[23] I’m pretty sure I got the letters in the right order. JNLD looks wrong. But then so does DJLN

[24] Hmmm … were those examples too snarky? Probably. But I’m not sure if I’m being snarky to my readers or snarky to myself, so I think I’ll leave them as is.

[25] Yes, I know that we established long ago that my sense of humor bears almost no resemblance to a normal sense of humor.

[26] Or, more precisely, in case I managed to derail your train of thought.

[27] What? You think I should be responsible for the reflections in the one hundredth essay? Nah. I reflect on my writing at the end of each month, and often multiple times in between. I’m reserving this one for you.

[28] And, as we saw last summer, there’s no guarantee that I’ll keep up my pace [29].

[29] However, I have a list of about one-hundred-more essay topics, and that doesn’t include all of the Grinnellians I plan to write about.

Version 1.0 of 2016-10-23