Thursday, 21 June 2007

Of Hope, Hopelessness, and Despair. In no particular order.

Hopelessness. So there I was, walking round Washington after a National Institutes of Health grants panel, with one of the other people from the committee... and what do we talk about? Science? No. Existentialism? No. The state of world politics? No. The state of our pension planning? Yes. Hopeless.

Hope. It may be leaking (but not for much longer - come September, we're going to re-line the pond and change a couple of things about it)... but that hasn't stopped the natural (no human intervention) arrival of tiny baby fish. I counted four so far. Of course, counting fish is a sad reflection of how I like to spend a few quiet minutes.

Despair. A week to prepare, a week out there (Washington), and two weeks in which not much happened at the journal. It just happened to be the two weeks with the highest submission rates this year. So at last reckoning, I've got around 35 manuscripts to send out to review, and around 15 to make editorial decisions on. It's not like I did nothing in those two weeks. I did deal with the journal correspondence, and I did allocate the submissions to the associate editors (or myself), and I did write personally to a few of the more tardy reviewers (who all responded). It's not even like I was on holiday or anything.

That pension, and the time in which to enjoy it, is looking more and more attractive each day.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Taking a break

Sunday... I decided to take it off, and do NO work. The third Sunday this year I've done that (there were a couple of Saturdays also). Yes, I'm counting... sad, really. So today was a fairly atypical day. Drove two hours with the kids across from where we are in York (East) to Kendall (West). Why? To train for 90 minutes with what/who are arguably (or rather, you can't argue with it) the two best Karate instructors in the UK (Andy Sherry, 8th Dan and head of the Karate Union of Great Britain, and Frank Brennan, 6th Dan). Was exhausted, but it was worth it. The kids thought so too (and before you think that I dragged them, it was the other way around - Sam wanted to go, then Jamie, and finally, almost reluctantly, me - but I'm so glad I went). Then drove two hours back. Worked a bit in the garden, loaded up Jamie's new iPod Shuffle with everything he could possibly want to listen to (most of which I wouldn't), and am now off to a BBQ and then to Bobo Lobo, a Latino bar in York where all the Argentinians meet up. Will I dance? Most likely I'll have fallen asleep at a smoky table long before anyone pulls me onto the dance floor. Believe me, I do a better Karate Kata than I do Salsa, and my Karate isn't that great!

So... no work. It's quite nice to remind myself what that's like. The fact that I have to mark 9 undergraduate students' final year projects this week, and also read and then comment on 5 grant proposals (for an NIH meeting in Washington the week after next) is something I'll worry about tomorrow. But today, I'm acting like there's no tomorrow...

UPDATE So I salsa'd... or rather Silvia salsa'd and I tried to control what might otherwise have looked like random muscular spasms... but I did learn something really important: it's all in the hips, and if I could only salsa some more, I might be able to move my hips better when practicing my Karate... Sadly, though, the evening was bereft of Argentinians, as word had got round that DJ Toro (I guess that translates as The Bull) was in hospital. Not sure who put him there, though...