Saturday, January 2, 2021

Quarantine, Week 42: A New Year, Old Problems

Happy New Year!
 I'd love to start the new year with optimism and happiness, so I made a Dutch Baby breakfast.  But then I decided to blog about the new year and was reminded of politicians in Canada violating travel bans ("personal responsibility" apparently only applies to the peons), stories of failed vax rollouts, and hearing from friends who have families who have gotten sick and even some who have lost relatives.  With the spikes, the disease is getting much closer to everyone I know and exacting quite a price.  

And then there is the continued effort to de-legitimize a very decisive Biden win. After all, Joe got way more votes than Trump and got pretty much the exact same electoral college win that Trump did four years ago.   Of course, it really is about the bad faith parade.  I guess I can take some glee about the Congress overriding Trump's veto, but it had to be on the defense bill and not on something that overturned the worst Trump policies.  The good news is that they put into that bill some anti-corruption stuff so the US reduces its allure as a money laundering destination.  Woot!  

We finally got some real snow last night (ok, only a few inches), so I might finally be able to try out my new cross country skis today.  I haven't x-country skied in about ... forty years, so we shall see how it goes.  But the sun is super bright, the snow is so very white, that I must finally exit my house and enjoy the outdoors.  I'd go to the Gatineu park, the best place for outdoor exercise near Ottawa, but I am sure it will be swarmed.  Today, I will just see if I can handle the equipment in a local park.  

 The drinking and the baking continues.  We rang in the New Year with butterbeer and chocolate chip cookie dough pots.  The latter was one of the discoveries of 2020--super easy to make and very delightful--imagine a gushy warm chocolate chip cookie in a small dish.  And this morning, I baked a Dutch baby, which came out nicely: 

 I have already kept one set of NY resolutions: not working and not feeling guilt on NYE and New Year's Day.  I will try to get some stuff done this weekend--grading and letter of rec writing as those have strict deadlines.  I did manage to tape a few lectures for the winter course, so I am not far behind.  I still need to tweak the course website.  The big tasks ahead are cleaning up the grant application that is due in two weeks and writing a chapter for an edited volume.  And, yes, that means that I am still behind on finishing my case studies for the Dave, Phil, and Steve book.  But since they are not nagging me, I am guessing they are not done with their pieces.  We will finish the book this summer, but the distraction sauce of pandemic + elections has definitely pushed things down the road a bit.  Good thing civilian oversight of the armed forces is still a thing.

Indeed, the best news of the week were the Defense appointments.  Biden has placed some sharp civilians around the new SecDef (if Congress waives the requirement for the SecDef not to be a recently retired officer): Kath Hicks, Colin Kahl, and Kelly Magsamen.  I have interacted in twitter with Kath over the years.  My friends know Kelly and respect her quite a lot.  Colin is a political scientist with whom I have crossed paths (he had the IAF after me, so I think that is when we first met) over the years.  I couldn't get the civilian for the top spot, but we did get a very smart and experienced crew surrounded the retired general.  So, woot for that.  

I did have one New Year's resolution that I tweeted about--that I will give our cat more attention this year.  Bob is old, and I remembered how I regretted not spending more time with my dogs before they passed.  The first one died unexpectedly from pancreatitis while I was at a college.  Being away most summers and then that year or two at college meant I really did not spend much time with her.  My second dog died while I was at a conference--it just wasn't worth prolonging his pain a few more days so that I could return.  He was the coolest of dogs, the most strategic of dogs.  He did live to 18 or 19 (he was a rescue so we have no idea what age he was when we got him), and he did provide him with a playmate.  So, I am sure we did right by him, but he was terrific, crossing the country with us about three or four times (SD->VT, VT->TX, TX->VA and then VA-QC).  Our third and last dog also lived a long time--about seventeen years.  And I was with her at the end and spent the last few months of her life carrying her up and downstairs, and she was not small.  So, we had plenty of time together.  Anyhow, I have watched Bob age this past year, so I am mostly hoping that he outlives the pandemic, so that we can be with him at the end.  He has stopped doing the things that made our relationship difficult--waking us up early (banging on the bedroom door), scratching or biting me moments after he seemed so happy to be petted, etc.  I never hated him, but I certainly feared him.  Oh and he always knocked over glasses of water we had lying around.  All that is now in the past as he is too old for these shenanigans.

Other resolutions?  Hmmm.  I hope to bake a bit less while keeping up the exercising.  I haven't gained weight, but I could have lost more weight.  But I do find myself tempted by recipes I see these days, so we shall see if I keep that up.  I resolve to travel less ... oh my.  I plan to ignore Trump after Jan 20th.  Ok, those were easy ones.  The other thing I have resolved to do in 2021 is to return to the habit of zooming frequently with friends.  Being connected has been key to getting through this.  I slowed down my zooming this fall as I had a bunch of conferences and meetings.  But I realized that friend hangout zoom is not exhausting like work zoom is.  So, I will return to hanging out with whoever is willing to put up with me.

As always, stay at home, be safe, and be well!



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