Writers at Grinnell (and other events at Grinnell)
Topics/tags: Grinnell, short, autobiographical
This evening, I attended the inaugural reading of this year’s Writers at Grinnell season. The poet Danez Smith read from their works  and answered questions . Writers at Grinnell, or Writers@Grinnell, as it’s often written, is one of the more valuable traditions at Grinnell; it exposes Grinnell students to a variety of writers and it exposes those same writers to Grinnell .
After I sat down, I saw two of my students  in the row in front of me. We had the following dialogue:
Student: Sam , what are you teaching this semester?
Me: Nothing, I’m on sabbatical
Student: Then why are you here?
I was a bit stunned by the question. My short answer was,
Me: Because I have time.
What I was thinking was,
Because sabbatical gives me the time to attend the events I want to attend; I’m not bogged down with class prep, grading, answering student email, or dealing with paperwork . That means I can go to events like this without feeling like I’m letting something else slide.
Upon further reflection, the intended question may have been
Why are you in Grinnell?, as in
Why are you doing your sabbatical in Grinnell? Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that until now. The easy answer is that Michelle couldn’t leave town and I don’t particularly enjoy leaving my wife for long stretches of time.
I’m actually quite happy to be in Grinnell, in part because I have the opportunity to do some of the things that I don’t have time to do in many semesters: attend talks, go to concerts, watch athletic events, and more. I am able to do some of those things each year , but I look forward to being able to do much more. I expect I’ll be able to make all of the events in the Rosenfield Tyranny of Data Symposium 
This Thursday is going to be a challenge. There’s a talk on Restorative Practices from 11:00-12:30. There’s the first of our Data Seminar Series, with the new Sidney Meyer Professor, at 12:00. I’m not sure how I can do both. I’m also not sure how Michelle will feel about going to see volleyball on Friday night. Oh well, I’ll take each event as it comes.
Thanks to Dean and Barb and Rachel and everyone else whose hard work brings all of these wonderful events to campus!
Postscript: I’m planning to attend most of this year’s Writers@Grinnell series because it fits into my vision of weekly Convocation. There are currently about five Convocations each semester. If we add five Writers@Grinnell events each semester, that leaves us with four or so additional events to plan. We could easily fill those with Grinnell faculty and staff: Vince Eckhart on the pronunciation of
niche, Dean Harris on the relationship of medieval forestry law to faculty events in the husk, Bill Ferguson on Monopoly and other games, and so many more [11,12].
Postscript: One of my early-career colleagues said something about my Convocation rant. I noted that I was surprised to hear that they read my musings. They said something like
Lots of people read your musings. I think that there was an implication that I should be cautious. Should I worry that ECF  treat my musings as an opportunity to jest at my foibles and self-centered writing? I hope not; let’s pretend that they treat them as an opportunity to learn more about the College.
Postscript: When I left for the reading, I was trying to figure out what I would muse about tonight, particularly since I expected to have limited time to muse. While I have a few short musings in the queue, including one on lamejun and another one on color blindness , most are autobiographical and I feel like I’ve been writing too many autobiographical musings recently. I planned to return to a previously-set-aside rant about our new computing policies. Fortunately, the conversation at the reading provided ample fodder for this musing, so I can give the Dean’s office a bit more time to deal with the issue. I suppose this musing is also a bit autobiographical, too. I guess that’s just how musing goes.
Postscript: One of my favorite (approximate ) quotations from the Q&A session:
Writing poetry is easy; it’s the editing that’s hard.
Postscript: I suppose I should have also identified this musing as rambly. However, at this point, it seems that most of my musings are rambly. At least I managed to leave most of the rambling to the postscript.
 And revealed the impacts of aging by having to look up some parts of one of their most powerful poems.
 After giving a list of questions that they would not answer.
 Why is the image used to start the video a picture of an unidentified white male, a stack of books, and a dusty old typewriter? I have no idea. Maybe Dean or Ralph will explain.
 I identify students who have taken a class with me or done research with me as
 Yes, I encourage my students to address me by first name.
 I don’t mind doing any of those things. However, they don’t generally leave me with a lot of free time.
 For example, I think I managed to attend four showings of Salt Marsh Suite last spring. It wasn’t enough.
 I don’t see a separate page for the symposium, so I’ve used the Rosenfield events page. I assume that the link will point to something less relevant in the future. For posterity’s sake, I’ve added an appendix giving the details.
 Those were attempts at humor. I expect that few folks, other than me, will understand the humor. But that’s how things go with Dad jokes.
 I’ve seen both Vince and Bill  give excellent talks on their scholarship at the annual Faculty Scholarship event. Anne is clearly a great speaker. I’ve also seen many of our younger faculty give wonderful talks that could easily be expanded to a Convocation.
 And Leslie and Shonda and Tyler.
 Early-career faculty (and staff).
 I was tested today. I am incontrovertibly red-green color-blind.
 Potentially imagined, since my hearing is going.
Appendix: Schedule of the Tyranny of Data Symposium
Monday, 9 September 2019
7:30 p.m. Digital Deceit
Dipayan Ghosh, Co-Director of Platform Accountability Project; Shorenstein Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School
Tuesday, 10 September 2019
4 p.m. China’s Social Credit System: Orwell or Not?
John Pomfret, Washington Post Global Opinions contributor and former Post Beijing bureau chief
7:30 p.m. Technology, Anti-Trafficking and Carceral-Surveillance Assemblages
Jennifer Musto, Assistant Professor. Women’s and Gender Studies Dept. at Wellesley College
Wednesday, 11 September 2019
7:30 p.m. How to Disappear Completely: The Efficacy and Evolution of Facial Recognition Technology
Lilly Ryan, Software Security Analyst
Thursday, 12 September 2019
11 a.m. Scholars’ Convocation: Why Census Data Matters for Democracy
Ari Berman, Senior Reporter, Mother Jones
4 p.m. The Death of Intangibles: How Sports are Measuring the Previously Unmeasurable
Sean Forman ‘94, President, Sports Reference, LLC
Appendix: Alt Text
As you might expect, I’ve added
alt text for the image that I included. Here’s what I wrote.
A person who presents as a right-handed white male sits in a wooden chair with a pen in hand and a notebook on lap. In the foreground sits an out-of-focus dusty old mechanical typewriter. On a stand are five books: A used copy of George Sanders’ Congratulations, by the way, Stuart Dybek’s I Sailed with Magellan, Robert Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives, a beat-up copy of The Scribner Anthology of Short Fiction, and a red hardback tome whose name I cannot decipher. Next to the books is a black cap with the Honor-G symbol. At the center of the image is a white circle with a small black triangle, representing aplaybutton.
Can anyone tell what the other book is?
Version 1.0 of 2019-09-03.