A day in the life of SamR - 20 December 2016
I know that I indicated that I was going to focus on more serious essays, rather than just personal essay. However, today was a day that really called for me to write about. So, I’m writing this personal essay as a
bonus essay .
Today was one of those days in which I regularly asked myself
Why did I get out of bed? How did it start? Well, after showering and getting dressed, I went downstairs to get my computer ready to go to work. That usually just involves ejecting the external disks that I keep attached for backups and work. However, ejecting the backup disk led to the wonderful spinning beach ball of death in the Finder. I tried rebooting the machine. It sat in the spinning dial state for much longer than it normally does. Now I’m worried. However, I eventually got the disks ejected. Then I cut my finger putting the computer in my bag. I also managed to break one of the zippers on my computer bag. Some time today, I’ll need to see if I can fix it .
Three strikes before leaving the house. That should have been a sign. But I moved forward, anyway. Getting the computer set and dealing with my cut meant that I left the house later than I planned, which delayed Michelle and Daniel.
I finally arrived at my office. I made one of those decisions I don’t quite regret, but that I’m not quite sure is the right decision: I decided that my office was too chaotic, and that I needed to spend some time cleaning up . Of course, instead of cleaning, I spend a lot of time organizing, which mostly involved moving books around so that similar kinds of books were in similar areas. Someone not familiar with my office would be unlikely to notice a difference, except that I did finally clean off my table after I was done shifting books . Oh, I also grabbed a bunch of file folders and labels in preparation for whenever I decide to actually sort through papers.
Somewhere through cleaning, I managed to cut a knuckle and to rip my pants. I also discovered that middle son never picked up the outtakes containers that he’d left at home and I’d brought to my lab. And, in deciding whether or not to bring home the leftover almond butter and jam from my demos, I discovered that they were out of date.
But, hey, none of those were extreme issues. As long as I didn’t have to interact with many people, ripped pants aren’t that bad . I cut my hands accidentally all the time. And it’s nice to feel some forward progress in the lab. Middle son can pay for the containers. I’ll buy new almond butter (or sun nut butter) for the next demo.
What next? Oh, somewhere deep in the corner of my office, I found Russell’s thesis . I think he loaned it to me when I was teaching Tutorial, and my office ate it. The last time I found it, I asked him what to do with it. He said to give it to Susan Schoen, and she’d find a way to get it to him. So I walked it over to her office and also planned a trip to the library.
I was, however, surprised to find that the trip from Noyce to Nollen was more difficult than I’d expected. They have roped off  a large portion of the space between Noyce and ARH/Carnegie, all the way from 8th to the graduation stage, and about as far East as the stage. That means that the diagonal sidewalks are all cut off. So I got to trudge through the snow. I was also sad to see that they’d cut down the huge tree behind the graduation stage. I saw Vince Eckhart, and he said that when a student asked about that tree, he was told
it’s rotten and needs to come down. However, both Vince and I thought that the base that we saw was perfectly healthy.
After returning to Noyce from my errands, I happened upon Jim Swartz, former Dean of the College and current member of the HSSC planning committee. I asked about the tree. He couldn’t remember why it had to come down. One of our amazing ASA’s  said
It looks like West street . Jim and I then had an interesting conversation about HSSC and Noyce planning. I always appreciate Jim’s thoughtful approach. I should probably write a profile of him when I next write profiles.
What next? Back to the office. Unfortunately, but this time, my knees and ankles were hurting. That’s one of those consequences of age . Nonetheless, I continued my Sisyphean task . I got rid of at least two shelves worth of books: Most of my old data structures books went to the free book pile in the CS Commons. Most of my old Perl books went to the CS library. I had hoped to use the data structures books for a paper about how people write about lists (e.g., do they abstract away from linked lists, or do they use the Java
lists are indexed atrocity, or ….?), but I should probably use up-to-date versions for that task. I still program in mediocre Perl every once in a while. But I don’t think I’ve picked up a Perl book in five years. So those were good candidates to get rid of. I also got rid of about a dozen other assorted books. That’s some progress.
I do note that there’s not yet room on my shelves at work for all of my books. I guess that means I need to get rid of more. It probably also means that I really need to follow Michelle’s book policy: For each new book I get, I need to get rid of at least one other book .
You may recall that at the beginning of the day, I grabbed a bunch of file folders in the hopes of organizing the random papers around my office . I got no filing done. Oh well, with another three or four days like today, my office might even be habitable, and my lab might be slightly improved. We’ll see. I probably won’t have time again until the new year.
I did manage to find the picture frame that Michelle wanted, but I forgot to bring it home. I hope to remember it tomorrow.
What else? The rest of the day was pretty much normal. I went home. I cooked dinner. We ate together. I cleaned up from dinner. I wrote this essay. I planned to write the primary essay . I had a short conversation with my instructional designer about the online course and quickly reviewed the end-of-course comments.
Why did I write this essay? Well, I started the essay in the middle of the day so that I could complain about things: My computer, my computer bag, cutting myself, cutting myself again, the broken door lock on the CS Learning Center , the destruction of our campus in preparation for the HSSC , my aches and pains, and so on and so forth. But I did make some progress on my office and lab . I did find the frame for Michelle. I found a book I was looking for. I had dinner with my family. It looks like I’ll be able to finish the essays at a reasonable hour. So, all in all, it was still a pretty good day.
 Of course, I’m writing it first, rather than second, so the term
bonus applies more to its release.
 If I can find them.
 Okay, it’s my work table. I haven’t used my desk in about six months.
 Amazingly, the table accumulated more material again throughout the day. I think I’m doomed.
 My wife and kids may beg to differ.
 More precisely, surrounded with caution tape.
Amazing ASA redundant? I think ASA stands for
Amazing Support Assistant.
 For those who don’t live in Grinnell, the city decided to take down all of the trees on West street between about sixth and 11th as part of the repaving (and, I think, re-water-maining) of West.
 Or, in my case, weight.
 Dear middle son: You are a prospective Classics major. You should know what a Sisyphean task is.
 I don’t think the ones I got rid of today count, and I don’t think I’m supposed to set aside books to get rid of when I get new books. I probably shouldn’t go to Half-Price books when I’m in Des Moines tomorrow.
 Note that
around my office currently means
shoved into a bunch of boxes.
 I expect that by the time you read this essay, I will have written the primary essay.
 I think I forgot that one.
 That’s a joke for those of you who have taken CSC 151.
 You won’t be able to tell, but I can.
Version 1.0.1 of 2016-12-20.