The end of January -- 01/31/04

We're at the end of January already. Where did the month go?

I know that the older I get, the faster time seems to fly by... but this is getting to be positively dizzying.

This rush may be partly work-related.... having the first few days seem as if they were really part of December (because of taking holiday/vacation time) and then being so busy during the first full week of the month and then going to Las Vegas for that technical conference for a week -- so there's more than half the month gone -- and then being so busy the first week back from Las Vegas (where I had anticipated taking MLK day as a day off and instead ended up working until eleven o'clock at night) -- and this past week has been busy as well, busy enough that I never found time to post an entry here.

And yet I'm not complaining that I'm harried and overworked or anything like that. Actually, except for the ever accelerating passage of time, I'm quite pleased with January. I've mentioned how Nancy moved a small round table into the kitchen and we had taken to eating there on nights when it is just the two of us having dinner together. We have continued to do so -- calling it our Bistro -- and have really enjoyed our meals together this month. We had always had a strong emphasis on family meals, even (or, perhaps, especially) when Gillian and Jeremy became teenagers -- but now that they are both college students and very involved with school and work and social activities, they are very rarely even home at that time of day and I don't think all four of us have eaten together since before my Las Vegas trip. But the result is that Nancy and I have been enjoying quiet evening meals together in our little bistro -- it feels almost as if we were having dinner in some nice little restaurant (uh, except that I have to prepare the meal) -- and I've been having a good time preparing and serving some tasty meals. Instead of putting serving dishes of food on the dining room table for family-style service, I've been able to arrange food on dishes in the kitchen, artistically arranged (presentation is important!) -- and I've not had to take anyone's taste into account except mine and Nancy's. So I've had the chance to experiment a bit (for example, one night this week I fixed thin boneless center-cut pork chops topped with a mixture of dark and golden raisins and dried cranberries seasoned with fennel seeds... very tasty) and we've been able to sit and talk and enjoy being together.

Some of Nancy's sisters are visiting Rhode Island this weekend (Nancy's birthday is Tuesday) and three of them (and a niece who is a high school senior) came by last night and we spent the evening sitting around, talking and laughing together. Tonight we will be going to Nancy's mother's for dinner and these three sisters and one more (plus a few assorted spouses and children) will be there and I expect it will be a happy family gathering.

The weather forecast says that tomorrow afternoon the high temperature may get above freezing for the first time in about four weeks. Just by a degree or two. (I've just double-checked; the forecast is calling for a high of 33°F.) Currently it is 23° (minus five Celsius) with bright sunshine (blindingly bright on all of Wednesday's snow) and blue skies, but they say there is a chance of light snow showers later today. I need to do a little bit of grocery shopping -- I've been sitting here at the computer drinking coffee and eating two chocolate chip cookies Nancy just finished baking -- hmmmm, still soft and warm -- but I should eat lunch first (never go grocery shopping when you are hungry).

This isn't a blog, but I'd like to pass on to you three things I read this morning...
  • To boldly go... Dennis Wingo has an article at SpaceRef.com suggesting that the U.S. could achieve the president's recently announced goals for missions to the moon and to Mars if we could switch from the NASA/government mindset to one more like Silicon Valley. To me it brings to mind Jerry Pournelle's frequent comments that Congress should simply set up large prizes to companies or organizations that achieve certain stipulated results -- if they fail, it doesn't cost us a dime and if they succeed, we get the benefits for far less money than would have disappeared into the NASA bureaucracy.
  • Into the cuckoo's nest The Guardian has published an extract from Lauren Slater's new book Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments Of The 20th Century -- In 1972, David Rosehan and eight friends presented themselves to a variety of psychiatric hospitals claiming to be hearing voices in an experiment to determine the quality of diagnosis and care. Three decades later, Slater replicated that experiment. Fascinating.
  • Nanny-In-Chief: Bush versus Freedom For those of you who may think that, because of my support for the war in Iraq and my disdain for the current crop of candidates struggling for the nomination of the disloyal opposition, I am somehow an uncritical follower of Bush, may I point you toward Andrew Sullivan's critique of the State of the Union address and harsh judgement of Bush's policies that never once involves such mindless idiotic babbling as "selected not elected" or mention of the word "oil".

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