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Ten months of daily musings

It’s the last day of the month. That means that it’s time to step back and reflect on what I learned from daily (or near-daily) musings. If you had asked me what I wrote, I would have said, I wrote many parts of the letter to the incoming chair; I reflected a lot on graduation; I wrote about staffing; and, um, that’s it. It’s interesting to step back and see what I actually wrote about. I had forgotten writing rants about academic honesty, the restrooms in Noyce [1], and the Ologie survey [2]. I had forgotten writing about cuts, closes, and balances [3]. I had forgotten that I had written a few follow-up musings after the department inclusion discussion.

I had at least two days this month in which I was too tired after doing my regular work of the day to post anything and a few more in which I just wrote something short. I made up for that with at least an equal number of days [4] in which I posted a second musing [5]. If I count correctly, there were thirty-eight musings this month.

Midway through this month, one of my children asked Dad, why are you still writing essays? Wouldn’t you be better off spending the time exercising? That’s a good question. I’m not sure that most of these musings are as useful or as pointed as the ones I wrote a year ago. Facebook was pretty good about reminding me of those: I’d written about week 14, the last day of class, exit interviews, self governance, and a variety of similar topics. I was tempted to write about each again this year. I was also tempted to write about seeing those essays pass by a year later.

So, are these still worthwhile? I’ve been spending a lot of time on the letter to the incoming chair. I think that’s useful as a way to cap off my time as chair. I’m not sure that I would have gotten it done if I hadn’t planned to write a section every night. However, I also found that those sections took a long time to write [6]. But having the enforced you have to post something also meant that I didn’t keep going back and fine tuning.

I also think the graduation musings will be fun to read in a year or a decade.

Is everything else I write as useful to me? Some things are still nice as a way of getting anger or frustration out. Some are good for helping me think through or document issues. I wouldn’t have thought as carefully about cuts, closes, and balances if I hadn’t decided to write about it. Does that make it worth the time? I’m not sure. Does what I write make a difference to others? I’m not sure. I do hear from a variety of people that they appreciate reading the musings. But I’m sure they would appreciate a better written and more focused weekly musing at least as much as they appreciate a daily musing.

On the other hand, it’s nice to know that I accomplish something every day and to have a record that I accomplished something. There have certainly been months in which the musings were necessary for me to avoid burnout. It’s also fun to read or think about things and say I should write about that; it probably helps me read more closely and think more broadly.

So, dear son, I think I’m going to continue to write for at least another month. I’ll to add exercise to my routine, too.

Did anything else happen this month? The musing on campus rumors spurred a long Facebook discussion, mostly because I added notes about the new Admissions Center and the changes to the green space around Mac field. In rewriting the speech for Duke TIP, I found that I’m not writing as creatively as I was a year ago. That’s somewhat troubling. But I don’t think it’s the musings; I think it’s my general workload and stress level. The letter to the incoming chair led way too many people to remind me that I’m a control freak and need to learn better boundaries [7]. And, as I said earlier, knowing that I had to post a section of the letter each day helped me write. I should try a similar approach for some other piece of writing.

Sorry, dear reader, I don’t have a lot insightful to say this month. We’ll see where things stand in another month.

[1] More precisely, on how the students treat the restrooms in Noyce.

[2] Whenever I write the Ologie survey, by brain says theology survey. Are those different?

[3] Arguably, that’s part of writing about staffing.

[4] Including today!

[5] I know that not everyone liked the letter to the incoming chair, so I tried to include extra musings on days in which I was writing those.

[6] It’s a long letter.

Version 1.0 of 2017-05-31.