Saturday, January 30, 2021

Quarantine, Week 46: Stumbing Out of the Abyss

 While news of strains and variants are causing much stress, and there are stories in the US and Canada of a bungled vax rollout, there seems to be more good news than not.  The Canadian controversy is how to count the number of vaccines the country is getting from Pfizer--whether we can count each vial has having 5 shots or 6.  This is a good problem to have.  Canada is not at the top of the list of countries vaccinating their public, but it is also not as far behind as the Economist suggests.  The good thing is that most cities are not handing over their vax programs to douchebros.  The bad news is that my mother resides in the one that did.  I am heartened by seeing my friends' parents and grandparents getting the shots as well as those who in the health care business or nearby.  The latest lockdowns, as weak as they have been, are making a difference.  Biden and the CDC are making the decisions that should have been made a year ago--requiring masks on planes, for instance.  There is another vaccine that may help.  With so much death, it is hard to focus on the good news, but that is the way to get through this long winter.

 A key way to get through this winter is to mock the conspiracy theorists:

In the pre-Qanon days, I got through most long Canadian winters is by traveling.  I didn't think that the end of January was peak Steve on the road, but facebook's memories has reminded me that over the past decade, I spent the last week of January in places like Netherlands/Belgium for the NATO book, my first trip to Japan, work/ski trips to Calgary/Banff, etc.  I surely traveled far more the past ten years than in the rest of my career, so the past 46 weeks of no travel has been quite a shock to my system.  I have always liked changes of pace--like teaching one batch of students for 12 or so weeks and then getting a break and then a new one.  Travel had that same impact of shaking things up, keeping me from falling into a rut, having stuff to look forward to, having stuff to remember.  Instead, now, I pass my time by treadmilling while binge-watching, by cooking and baking, by staring at screens of all kinds.  When I land in most places, I drop my stuff off at the hotel and then just walk around the city, to see the sites, to find good pastries, and catch the flavor of a different place.  These days, "travel" means going to the blood bank to give blood or to a trail nearby for some snowshoeing.  

I know that I have been most lucky, that I have found projects that take me to great places.  My next project is unlikely to lead to as much fun travel unless .... I go with a joke I have been making to myself--that the current project skips all the I countries.  Which means the next book should do just that--check out the civ-mil dynamics of Ireland, Italy, Israel, India, and Indonesia.  Yeah, I would skip Iran and Iraq for the obvious reasons, and Iceland has no military.  

Speaking of work, having gotten past the big grant application, I have found time to think and write. Some of it was forced by the inevitable ebb and flow of work.  The Dave/Phil/Steve project hit a stumbling block as we got rejected from a top journal, but good feedback that will force us to think more clearly.  Our strategy worked as expected although not quite what we hoped.  We had a good zoom meeting to figure it out, and the next parts are in the ballparks of Dave and Phil, so I moved onto other stuff to do.  I owe different people chapters for their edited volumes, so that is my next thing.

Well, that and more CDSN stuff.  We rolled out our Post-Doc competition this week, and I got acceptances back from the people who were nominated to be our Capstone Scholars.  That event will be on March 22nd, bringing together the best presentations on Canadian defence and security of 2020.  We are now working on the end of the year reporting (our fiscal year ends at the end of March) and on our Summer Institute--which was postponed due to the pandemic.  We will try again, planning for an online version, which will be tricky since the goal was to have the participants share their perspectives with each other and build a cohort.  We will figure a way to make it work.  

While facebook remains pretty evil, it does remind me of some of the best pictures I have ever taken, so here's one to remind me of ski trips past and future.


Rob Chasen said...

I enjoyed this blog entry (as I do most of them). But I have to ask: are you legally required to spell "defence" that way? I find it distracting, like when Madonna speaks with a British accent.

Steve Saideman said...

I confuse myself, but when I talk about Canada, it's defence. When i talk about US, it is defense. It gets more confusing when I write about Japan...