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Planning ahead

Too much of my life seems to be part of a Robert Burns poem [1,2,4].

But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Yeah, that’s it. My plans, best-laid and otherwise, certainly gang aft agley [6,8].

I knew this was going to be a hard semester. Last spring, I said to myself. I’ll make it doable by making sure that all of the materials for my classes are prepared in advance [9]. And I tried to get things prepared over the summer. But other work kept coming up. And coming up. And coming up. So here we are in the third week of the semester. And I still need to write all of the stuff for CSC 151 [10] as well as get lots of other things done for my other classes [11].

What does that mean? Concretely, it means that almost every night, I’m writing a few pages of text and a few pages of problems. I’m also trying to come up with appropriate examples and problems, which is harder than putting them down once I’ve come up with them. Less concretely, it means that I don’t have time for all the things I thought I would do each night. In particular, while I thought I’d be able to keep up with grading, that’s seeming less and less likely. I’m also not able to fully implement all of my new ideas for the semester, such as shared flash cards for CSC 151. I keep crossing my fingers that I’ll find ways to get caught up over the weekend. But, well, my first goal is to get at least a week ahead, and preferably two, on the readings and labs. We’ll see if I make it this weekend.

At least I’m not chair. There are still administrative tasks for me to deal with [12], but there are many fewer.

I may complain about this extra work. But at least it’s work I knew about at the start of the summer. I feel much worse for the support staff who, for example, have suddenly found that they have to convert everything to Qualtrics [15,16].

[1] Burns, Robert (1785). To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough, November, 1785. Text from

[2] I quote that poem enough, at least to myself, that I’m surprised that it does not seem to have appeared in a prior musing [3].

[3] Ah! I see. It’s in one of the musings that I started but never finished. Maybe that’s an indication that I should finish it.

[4] Thanks to that book by John Steinbeck [5] for bringing that part of the poem to my attention. And, just in case you’re wondering, it’s clear that anything I’m whining about is much less serious than what Steinbeck’s protagonists suffer.

[5] That’s a book I should reread.

[6] I know that I’m supposed to italicize non-English words, such as words from Latin and French. But what about Scottish [7]? This sequence is foreign enough to modern readers that I think it’s okay to use italics.

[7] Scots?

[8] Did you think I was going to translate gang aft agley? The phrase seems pretty straightforward to me.

[9] Just like Jerod.

[10] Sarah, Titus, the students, and I talked a lot about CSC 151, but didn’t get the materials done. It’s my responsibility.

[11] CSC 321 and CSC 322 went from three-day-per-week classes to two-day-per-week classes. I also dropped one of the major textbooks for CSC 321 and added a new one to CSC 322. That’s a lot of shuffling.

[12] I might even go so far as to say There are still too many [14] administrative tasks for me to handle.

[14] Italic here for emphasis, not because it’s not English.

[15] As far as I can tell, they have to convert forms to Qualtrics without the resources of a local Qualtrics expert.

[16] At some point, I’ll probably muse [17] about Qualtrics, too. At least we have a master agreement that supersedes their normal terms of service.

[17] Or some other four-letter word [18].

[18] I have no idea what you were thinking of, but mine is rant.

Version 1.0 of 2017-09-07.