Saturday, August 8, 2020

Quarantine, Week 21: Pride and Anger

I think the real story of this week for me is frustrated nostalgia.  FB memories is reminding me of years past where this week was spent at Disney/San Diego, at a beach in Delaware, at a lake in NY, and on a cruise with all of my family--parents, siblings, kids.  This year?  No vacation.  The occasional trips to random small towns stopped as Mrs. Spew has been battling non-covid bronchitis.  She is doing better, but we are not plopping in the car in search of modest sights and sounds.

Of course, lots of people have it much worse, so my complaints are also modest.  Things are mostly ok to good.  I was super pleased and proud with the latest Battle Rhythm podcast as we had our long-suffering (actually, she seems not to suffer much) research assistant, Alvine Nintai, serve as guest host while BR co-founder and co-host, the legendary SvH, actually has a vacation.  Alvine did great and it meant more to her than I would have expected.  She's moving on in September to finish her dissertation and start a job.  So, the next challenge is to find another student to fill the spot.

The biggest shock of the week was going to the mall--I was getting my eyes checked, and, yes, paying a lot of money for new glasses.  The shock was how busy the place was.  Everyone was wearing masks, although more than a few people seemed to think that noses were above it all.  This mall always seemed to be marginal--never that crowded, never that busy.  Except for the awful parking lot.  Now?  I guess people are bored.  Not sure back to school sales are driving things since, well, who's going back to school.

My anger this week has a couple of different focal points.  Trump?  Of course.  The destruction of the postal service, which appropriately enough serves his constituents more than not, is now one of the stories.  To game the election, more arson is required apparently.  I am also angry at Canadian folks because they too prioritized bars over schools.  My friends are pulling their hair out over the fucked up priorities from Ontario to California to NY.  I'd like to be of assistance, but not sure what I can do to help them.  I am also angry that Lebanon is governed so poorly that they allowed a small nuke equivalent of explosive material to sit on a dock for, what, six years?  The country was facing a difficult crisis before, in a moment, it lost its primary port and much of its grain supply.  This, alas, is America's future if Trump can win the election as he has already gutted so much of governance.  Anyhow, lots of anger on this.

So, I will conclude with some more pride.  I am spending the weekend revising the CDSN's annual report.  Technically, we should have produced it in April since our first year ended in March, but we were kind of busy with other things.  The report demonstrates, I think, that we have turned a grant idea into a viable and vibrant network, providing much value for our partners and for Canada.  I have been so lucky to work with such great people at Carleton, around Canada, and beyond.  While COVID has caused us to postpone the Summer Institute and hampered us in other ways, we have reacted pretty well, with new initiatives aimed at helping PhD students, at providing quick advice to government, and assisting profs as they prep for online classes.  I always am cognizant that I am asking people to give of the time to help move this thing forward, and they are not getting paychecks for it (well, except for my staff).  So, I am quite grateful as I ask again for a bit of time and expertise.

One fun part of doing the annual report was getting from Melissa the numbers regarding media appearances of the Directors.  I was surprised by the results as Phil Lagass√© had twice as much as the next person.  I asked twitter who they thought would be first among Phil, SvH, and myself, and they were not so surprised:

Anyhow, I hope y'all are getting a chance to do something besides hang out at home.  Please vacation safely and at a distance!


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