Thursday, November 22, 2018

Giving Thanks, 2018

An annual Semi-Spew tradition is to give thanks, enumerating and appreciating all those people, institutions, events and whatever for which I am so very grateful.  I whine a lot, but I know that I am very lucky to have such great friends, family, acquaintances, students, etc.   While I appreciate it all the time, on this day (and on the Canadian day as well), I stop and look around and give thanks.

I started a little early this year as there was a meme going around twitter:

You can hit that tweet to follow the thread.  I kind of bounced around.  Here, I will try to put my thanks to into chronological order so that I forget fewer people.
  • I am very thankful that my daughter's adventure going out to California and settling there (at least for now) has worked out so well.  The only casualty was my ankle just before we started on our journey.  But the ride was fun as we got to see a hunk of the US including Winslow, Arizona and the Grand Canyon.  She moved from Intern Spew to Graduate Spew and Executive Assistant Spew.  She is meeting famous and not so famous actors during her work, learning the biz, and enjoying the hell out of LA.  I am so very thankful that she is thriving, largely on her own, and in a place that allows us to go to HarryPotterLand (the smaller version).
  • There were lots of interesting events and meetings in Ottawa from last winter through to last week, so I will reiterate how thankful I am that the randomizer career engine that is the academic job market washed me up on the shores of Ottawa (yeah, I mix my metaphors--it is my blog and I can do what I want).  Ottawa has been so very good to me.  I keep saying because it keeps being true that being in a national capital is great for a curious International Relations scholar.  I meet interesting people, I get to go to embassies to connect before I go do research, the IR community is very terrific, and the folks in and near government continue to talk to me even after I write critical stuff.
  • Speaking of travel, I am grateful to Canada's grant agency, SSHRC, as well as the Paterson Chair funds, for making my research and conference travel possible.  I learned a great deal in Seoul and Santiago, ate great food, had very productive interviews, and even got to ski the Andes.

  • I am so very grateful that I can continue to play ultimate well into my 50's.  I recovered from my sprained ankle and had a good summer of ultimate interrupted not by injury but by the research travel.  I am now playing in a winter grandmasters league (indoors, of course), and having a great time, still laying out after all these years.
  • My father died this year, which was, of course, very sad.  But it brought the family together--both before and after.  We are closer now, especially my siblings, than anytime I can remember, so I am grateful that we got through all of it as well as we did.  Plus we were and continue to be entertained with all the stuff my father saved over the years (everything!).  I have been lucky that I have lost so few people in my life.  My father managed not just to live to nearly 91, but had multiple chances to say goodbye.  I am thankful that he had the chance to go out on his terms.  And that is obsessive hoarding led to all kinds of interesting discoveries.
  • I am thankful I had the chance to go to another NATO side party--an experts forum next to the big summit.  The Canadian Ambassador to NATO, Kerry Buck, made that happen for me, and then Stefanie Von Hlatky got to be my NATO wingperson again (and I was hers).  Thanks to both of them!
    I am just above the moderator's notes
  • Most of the rest of the summer and fall were dedicated to the CDSN application.  Building a network and seeking funding is a whole lot of work, which, yes, led to some griping.  But it was actually a pleasure because I got to work with such great people at Carleton, all over Canada, and beyond.  Seeking funding has meant doing a heap of networking, and I have met very interesting people, and I have relied heavily on great people to keep pushing this thing forward.  The co-directors--Andrea Charron, JC Boucher, David Bercuson, Phil Lagasse, once again SVH, Irina Goldenberg, Al Okros, Anessa Kimball, Alex Moens, Srdjan Vucetic, Stephane Roussel--provided great ideas and did a heap of writing and revising.  The various partners and participants had to yet again go through the SSHRC website maze.  Jeff Rice, Alvine Nintai, Kyla Reid,  and Kate Swan were so very helpful at Carleton, and I greatly appreciate the support of my Director, my Dean, and the VP for research.  I am also very grateful for the folks in the Canadian Armed Forces who are so willing to engage us as we work on this network.
  • I am very grateful to the faculty and students at NPSIA.  While I have had moments and even years of professional happiness elsewhere, I have been most supported and recognized here at NPSIA.  My colleagues have supported my efforts, including our Defence brownbags, and our students keep pushing me to think about my assumptions.  When a friend asked about dream jobs, I had a hard time coming up with ones that didn't involve beaches or skiing as I am very happy these days.  
  • As I hinted at the top, I am very thankful for heaps of folks on twitter and other social media.  I suffered from a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out) throughout much of my life. While twitter, facebook and the rest have flaws (subverting democracy, facilitating repression, etc), they have been mighty good to me.  I have met interesting people, connected with old friends, developed connections that have been useful for my research and teaching.  I belong to a Slack that is full of national security snark and insight and support. Podcasts have gotten me through short and line drives, including one,  Binge-Mode, that is causing me to look back and seeing stuff in the Harry Potter books and movies that I didn't see before.
  • Finally, I am grateful that my friends have managed this year of strife and crisis intact. Exemplar below:

    Saw Grant, an old TTU friend, in an aiport
    as he was getting trained for his A-stan
    deployment as a reservist.  Glad he made
    it back ok at the end of the year.
    I hope you and yours have much to be thankful for and that your Thanksgiving is full of stuffing, pie, sweet potatoes, and pie.

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