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More musings I’ll fail to finish

Topics/tags: Meta-musings, rambly

Early this month, I restarted my sketchbook of forthcoming musing. In doing so, I not only pruned any musing that was not yet categorized, I also eliminated some musings that I realized it would no longer make sense to write about or that I realized were low enough of a priority that I’d probably never get to writing a full musing about them. But I hate to throw things away [1], so I thought I would at least commemorate some of those topics by writing a paragraph or so about them. Might give readers a broader sense of the kinds of things I sometimes think about.

Beloit College. A few months ago, Beloit College announced some significant budget cuts. I was surprised not to see broader coverage in the higher-education press. There was a short mention in Chronicle. But these seem like big and scary changes. Why wasn’t there broader coverage, particularly given that Beloit was dropping their famous mindset list?

Since it’s been three months, it seems a bit late. If I’d written something more, I’d probably write about the broader issue of enrollments at peer institutions, or at least Midwest liberal arts colleges. Beloit is clearly having trouble. A few days ago, there was an announcement about significant issues at DePauw. Simpson has been cutting faculty and even whole departments. I’ve even heard rumors about enrollment issues at Luther and Oberlin. It’s really scary.

Beloit’s mindset list. When I added Beloit to my list, I also added the mindset list. I see that it’s now been taken over by Marist. When I added the topic, I thought I’d speak to the general value of the list, and perhaps even suggest that Grinnell adopt it. It seems pointless to write more.

Developing a work strategy. Here are the notes I had:

One of my fellow Fellows at the Obermann center asked the rest of us about the approaches we take to ensure that we make progress on our work. That seems like a good incentive for me to sit down and figure things out. I’ve been blogging daily [mostly] for the past two years as a I way to get myself used to writing regularly and to think through some broader topics of interest. I use a task list manager and try to put relatively small tasks on that list. [Okay, I’ve used a wide variety of task list managers. For awhile, I used Trello boards. These days, I find that Todoist does the best job for me.] Have enough of a variety of tasks so that if I get stuck on one, I can switch to another.

But my time at Obermann is wrapping up and it’s clear that my work strategy was not a success.

Saints Rest. Saw it and planned to muse about it. But it’s been about two months now. It seemed interesting to consider a movie that is set in my home town and is, in some sense, an homage to Grinnell the town and Grinnell the College. It was great to see Jon Richardson. There were some parts that felt wrong, such as people walking on Main street as they go home to a house on Broad street from Saints Rest. And that’s it for my notes.

PCard Privacy. Okay, this is one I actually wrote. I’m really frustrated by the lack of clear policies on the use of building entrance data. I’m frustrated enough that I wrote a 2000-word musing. But I decided not to post the musing [2], so I’m eliminating it from the list.

Paper Rebel. Paper Rebel is a new line of greeting cards from American Greetings. I Loved the name. I considered writing something when they released them to the public. But I didn’t. It seems less relevant now.

Fun things that I can’t attend: The Leonardo Convening. When I saw the announcement, I thought to myself This is cool. I’m on leave. I should have time to attend. But I didn’t. And don’t. I missed a lot of conferences I wanted to attend this fall. ICFP [3] was in driving distance. So was SHOT [4]. There were enough conferences that I wanted to attend and couldn’t that I thought about making it a series.

The Google Thing. This musing was to about what happens when something sits in the sketchbook for too long. Here are my notes from 17 July 2018.

I recently wrote about some musings that I would never write. Along the way, I noted that I had a note that said Application for Google thingy? and I had no memory of what it meant. But I use Git to store my musings, so I could go back and look when I’d added the line. I added it on October 15, 2016, along with a bunch of other musings. So it kind of makes sense that I’ve forgotten. I forget things I was planning a month ago, let alone nearly two years ago. I could look back at my email from then for a clue. I can think of two options: I’d been on a Google education advisory committee, and I was considering whether to volunteer for more work. I also regularly think about asking Google for support for our local code club.

That’s it for the notes. It probably would have made a good short musing on one of those days that I needed to muse quickly. But I have enough of those. I also appreciate that it’s evidence that I do need to cull the musings once in a while.

Requirements for our Web site (a note for the Web governance committee). Here’s one that I seem to have added to the list, written, and then forgotten to remove. However, I see that I had drafted an introduction earlier and forgotten about that, too. Here’s that introduction, which I wrote on 3 July 2018.

As you may recall, I spend way too much of my time frustrated by the damage that Communications did to our Web site about five years ago. (add story) This year, the College finally re-formed the Web governance committee. Of course, they didn’t meet much and when they did meet, they scheduled meetings at times that the Faculty reps couldn’t make. But they are still trying to make progress. Recently, someone asked me what I’d like to see in terms of campus Web resources. This musing represents my attempt to think through that question in more depth.

That reminds me: There was a followup discussion about the MathLAN Web servers which I should muse about.

Grammarly vs. MS Word. I have no memory of what this one was supposed to be about. I assume it’s about my experience of trying to open and edit Word documents in Grammarly. Given that I can’t remember, I can delete the topic.

Syntactic sugar. Another vague memory. I recall encountering a situation in which I was talking about the value of syntactic sugar. Or maybe it was that I was upset about the amount of syntactic sugar necessary for something. Or perhaps I wanted to explain the term. In any case, it no longer seems to be a priority.

The five types of professors. Every few days, I find an article (often in Chronicle or Inside Higher Ed, but also elsewhere) that makes me want to write about the subject matter. This one is available at Enough time has passed that I don’t think I’ll ever end up writing about this particular article.

We’ve been Ologized. If I recall correctly, I added this topic to my list after a particularly positive session with the folks from Ologie, our marketing firm. However, it’s clear that I was also a bit suspicious of marketing, since I’d also added the supposedly humorous note Let’s hope that we’re not eulogized. At this point, it’s not worth a full musing.

I cut more than those listed above. Some that I’ve cut may become relevant again, but need to wait until I feel inspired. For example, I had a series entitled Things I should write for 282 [5]. I won’t be teaching that course for awhile, so I’d rather wait until it’s a high priority. I also cut notes on the inbox zero project since that’s on hiatus [6]. I’m comfortable knowing that, if I need to recall any of the topics I cut, all of them live on in the old notebook [7].

Postscript: When I started this musing almost a month ago [8], I came up with a variety of alliterations to use in the title. Here are the ones I recorded: never notate, can’t complete, shan’t scribe, won’t write, and fail to finish. I settled on the last. I also thought about describing it from your perspective, but I couldn’t come up with a good alliteration for you’ll never read.

[1] Anyone who has seen my office, lab, home, or computer knows that.

[2] It’s in the repo.

[3] International Conference on Functional Programming.

[4] Society for the History of Technology.

[5] 282 is Thinking in C and Unix or, as I refer to it at times, Don’t Embarrass Me; Don’t Embarrass Yourself.

[6] There was a period I was regularly keeping track of how badly I was doing at the project. I’ve stopped that now. Time was supposed to be more available during my leave but I feel like I have too little, particularly as I near the end.

[7] I did say that I never throw anything away.

[8] Yup, enough time passed that this was almost a missing musing.

Version 1.0 released 2018-11-25.

Version 1.0.1 of 2018-11-26.