It was a week of much frustration, which has been a recurring theme. In Canadian defence politics, the defence committee focused on the wrong stuff, trying to score points against the government, rather than figuring out what should be done to address the sexual misconduct/abuse of power crisis. In Ontario politics, last night, the provincial government completely revised the vaccination rules (hey, anyone over 18!) without discussing it. It also did not prioritize those most at risk--those workers in the warehouses and elsewhere--not sure what is being done for them. It was a week of grading.
We finally got word from the firm that is taking care of the bankruptcy of the folks who arranged our canceled safari last summer, and they just provided us with contact info for the places our deposit got distributed. Should it be any surprise that the least accessible is the airline--South African Airline? The hotels/parks are going to return our money, but the airline? Not so much. Not very responsive. But we had written off that money, so if we get any of it back, we will be happy. We do plan on making that trip happen when we can, but who knows when that will be given that the distribution of the vaccines has been very uneven internationally.
On the bright side, Stéfanie von Hlatky and Irina Goldenberg, the leaders of the CDSN's Personnel Theme, held one of their annual workshops in conjunction with the Swedish Centre for Studies of Armed Forces and Society and the European Research Group on Military and Society. The latter is a relatively new partner of the CDSN. The focus was on the Total Defence Force--how the militaries of the world work with reserves, with private military companies, and with defence civilians. I learned a lot and live tweeted it. They aim to produce an edited volume (or two?) and other publications. It was very much what we had in mind when we started to build the CDSN--an interdisciplinary, multinational focused research effort aimed to provide policy-relevant findings to the Canadian government and others.
Grading is nearly complete--just a few more Phd proposals to read. The focus of next week will then turn to finishing off my part in a co-authored project and planning the next wave of CDSN/CSIDS events--the Summer Institute in August, 9/11 anniversary events in September, and the Year Ahead in December. On the last will be in person. While the September events could be in person, I'd rather not put a lot of effort into planning an in-person event and then have to change or figure out a hybrid. The online events are less expensive and require less of our participants--they don't have to spend a day to travel here and a day to travel home--so we may be mixing those in long after we are no longer in quarantine.
Tomorrow is Mother's Day. My mother turned 89 recently and had a health scare. I am lucky in that I have two sisters who have been willing and able to travel to be with her on a regular basis. My mother was pretty much locked away until we got her second shot, and now we can return to going to restaurants and maybe soon to theaters. I haven't been able to visit since January of 2019, and I have no idea when I will be able to do so--the problem is not so much getting into the US but getting home. We have zoomed twice a week with her with the next generation joining us in varied numbers on the Sunday zooms. Pretty sure the zooming will continue post-pandemic. I owe my mother so much, including inspiring my interest in international relations. She was always super supportive of me and my family even when/especially when my father was not. She has been a terrific mother-in-law.
Speaking of mother-in-laws, my wife's mother has not had an easy year either. While she is much more of an introvert, this year was a bit much for her. And her luddite tendencies have meant no zooms for her.
And yes, Mrs. Spew is a hell of mother as well. She has worried a lot about our amazing daughter, who has navigated the quarantine better than I could have imagined. But mothers worry. My daughter's ability to handle the multitasking heavy workload comes from her mother's training during the early years of private school in Montreal. We are, of course, lucky in that we have not had to parent a kid at home through this crisis. I feel for all of the moms out there who have had to home school their kids, worry about their kids going to poorly prepared schools with confusing, conflicting, and confounding covid policies, and all the rest. This year has reminded us that taking care of the young and the old (notice I mentioned sisters above) is very much gendered. Women have paid a higher price the past year, just as people of color have. Inequalities always bite but bite harder in hard times.
The least I can do this weekend is bake and cook my wife's favorite dishes. The former will involve heaps of chocolate. I haven't figured out the latter yet.
Which is more of a recurring theme than anything else. Be well, get vaccinated, and get ready for ... this?