Saturday, April 18, 2020

Quarantine, Week 5: Some Successes, Much Frustration

Time still passes strangely during this quarantine--the weeks feel both long and short.  I am trying to follow the advice of the Monty Python folks:

So, the big victory of the week was finding flour.  Ok, not the biggest victory, but it is strange how that one missing ingredient weighed on me.  So, today, I could make waffles! Woot!  Of course, the bounty of flour made me realize that I am running out of vegetable oil, so that will be a concern for another day.  And, yes, I must keep up my exercise game if I want to bake.

Work-wise, the CDSN faced a personnel crisis--my project coordinator, Jeff Rice, got a tenure track job at Macewan University, so I had to find a replacement.  This week, we had interviews via skype, and I am most happy that we found an excellent person to take the spot.  She officially starts in July, but is already jumping into our deliberations and planning.  And we are planning.  We will be holding an event in about a week--an online brainstorming conference to discuss potential policies for the Canadian defence/security sector as they adapt to the new COVID-19 realities.  There is much enthusiasm for this effort, which might mean it is a good idea.  Or it might mean folks are bored and need a distraction.  Either way, it is the least we can do--to bring whatever insights we can to address this national and international crisis.

There was another bit of work.  I am part of an edited volume project that applies political science to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The plan had been for some of the folks to present at the Midwest Political Science Association meeting that was to take place this week.  I (almost) never go to the Midwest so I was not going to participate.  But a zoom set of panels?  Sure.  So, I spent Thursday and Friday watching others present their stuff, and then I presented Friday morning on applying civil-military concepts to the big question: who guards the super-guardians?  I will post a blog version of the presentation later today.

It was a very zoom-ful week, as the weekly teleconference with my mother and siblings got bigger with the addition of my cousins, the weekly zoom with the next generation included marking my mother's 88th birthday (I chose not to include the video--most Saidemans can't sing), the aforementioned MCU politics panels, and a beer with a few friends last night.

On the downside, we had to go to Canadian Tire to get my winter tires changed and an oil change, and they found a heap of things that needed to be fixed.  We couldn't get through to our regular mechanic (until after my car was repaired) so we had to go with the more expensive, less trusted option.  The good news is that we were able to connect with our usual guy who will take care of Kathy's care next week, saving us a heap of money and anxiety.  On the bright side, Mrs Spew and I had to go out together to pick up the car so we could compare our bankrobber bandanna styles!

Of course, all of this is in a very frustrating context: that there is much pressure to open things up even though the basic requirements are far from being met--testing and heaps of it, that the President of the United States is ramping up his incitement of violence against state governments controlled by Democrats, that the US is cutting funding of the World Health Organization at a time where the WHO needs the money the most, and so on. 

I did get one of my online purchases this week, which presents the basic message for all of us to be patient with the social distancing and all that:

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