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One hour

The idea for this musing came to me this morning as I was reflecting on my day. Suppose I have one spare hour today. What work should I do in that hour? Here are some options.

  • I could bid on papers to review for a conference. What does that mean? The conference has a few hundred papers. They’ve found that the best approach for reviewing is to let reviewers skim the abstracts and identify the papers they want to review and the papers that they don’t want to review. Then they put the information together and try to assign papers appropriately. If you don’t bid, you get randomly assigned papers, mostly the ones that no one else wants to review. There have been times I’ve intentionally gone into that category; I’ve reviewed for two decades and can probably say something sensible about most papers. But it would be nice to have some say in the matter.
  • I could finish grading the first assignment for CSC 321 [1]. I’ve graded about half of them. I’ve spent a bit more than a class period going over some of the misconceptions on the assignment [2].
  • I could start grading the latest reading journals from CSC 321 [3]. I’ve skimmed them and gone over highlights and lowlights. But there’s evidence that students do a better job on journals across the semester if I respond carefully to their first few journals.
  • I could start grading assignment 1 in CSC 151. It was due a few days and students would probably appreciate replies. But that’s a five- or six-hour task; I’m not sure it’s worth spending an hour on it.
  • I could write the letter to the trustees about our gift policy. I’m pretty sure that needs to be in soon.
  • I could write an extra musing. I have some things to say about the potato bar we were offered at lunch today [5]. Or I could reflect on the first night of the Posse Plus retreat [6].
  • I could try to get my primary laptop up and running [8].
  • I could catch up a bit on email; I’m about a day behind [9].
  • I could write one of the six or so outstanding recommendation letters I have due early next week [10].
  • I could plan my spring break college visit trip with Youngest Son.

But I made that plan at about 6 a.m. this morning, a little after I got up. What did my day look like after that? Let’s see … After getting up, I went to the fitness center to exercise, came home, showered, got breakfast, packed and left for work. I arrived on campus about 7:40, photocopied quizzes, and finished preparing CSC 151. I taught from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. I had office hours from 10:00 to 11:00; they were full. I met with my CSC 321/322 mentor from 11:00 to 11:30. I met with the Scheme squad from 11:30 to 12:00. I attended the Faculty Friday on assessment [11] from 12:00 to 1:00. I prepared my afternoon classes from 1:00 to 2:00. I taught from 2:00 to 4:00. I drove to Iowa City for the Posse Plus retreat. I connected my computer to the Internet in case I wanted to read email or do some work. I went to the retreat. I got back to my room at 10:30 p.m.

When did I think I’d have a free hour? Oh, I know. I thought that the Posse Plus retreat would end at 9:00 p.m. or so. I forgot quite how intense it is. The person next to me at the end of the retreat and I both agreed that it was past our bedtime by the time we were done. But I said, I still have to write my musing. And so I am. But I don’t think I really have an extra hour to spend. I need to be up at 7:00 a.m. or so to shower and get ready for a full day.

But if I had had that hour, what would I have done? The bidding and the trustee letter were the highest priority items. I think tonight is the last time I can bid. And the trustee letter has to be in soon. Next comes the CSC 321 grading so that students have feedback before their next assignment is due. But I also need to catch up on email, which also means that I need to get my laptop working.

Can I sneak in some time tomorrow? We shall see. Between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., it looks like they have one 70-minute unscheduled block. But maybe I can use parts of meal time or other breaks.

And there’s always Sunday [12]. First priority Sunday is Youngest Son’s spring break trip.

[1] Okay, that might take a bit more than an hour. But I’ll pretend.

[2] I haven’t always had time to grade the first assignment in CSC 321. My mentor’s comment (paraphrased): That was intense. It’s going to be a much harder class. But that’s good. It’s a 300-level class.

[3] Reading journals are an idea that I stole from Jerod and Janet [4]. Basically, in addition to reading whatever material I assign, students must reflect on a series of questions and turn them in the night before class. I then read through them as a way of structuring the next class.

[4] In fact, I stole from Janet not only the concept, but also many of the questions I use in CSC 321 and CSC 322.

[5] No, it’s not about that particular potato bar. It’s about the general concept of potato bars.

[6] One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the issue that we tend to see the same faces at diversity things. I know that some of those faces haven’t been to Posse Plus before [7], but I wonder if we’d be more successful at transforming campus culture if students invited faculty and students who aren’t as clearly allies.

[7] And I haven’t been for about a decade

[8] After a month at the shop, it’s finally back. Amazingly, transferring files back didn’t seem to work correctly. So now I get to debug things.

[9] I’m trying to figure out how many hours per day I need to spend keeping up with my email. Current estimates are over two hours. I certainly spent two hours last night trying to catch up with a day’s worth of mail, and I failed. I now have the rest of yesterday and all of today to catch up on. But I didn’t realize that this morning. My optimistic morning mood suggested that I’d find time throughout the day to go through some.

[10] That’s six or so different people. They range from a person who needs one letters to someone who needs over a dozen. A letter takes about an hour to write. Each separate version takes another five to ten minutes to customize and send out. Whee!

[11] And inspiration for the potato bar musing.

[12] We finish at noon. I need to run some errands. I’d say my eta home is 3:00 p.m. I probably need to do some math about what is really possible, but that will just be depressing.

Version 1.0.1 of 2018-01-26.