Shockingly, I am in DC. Again.

[For my non-professorial readers, NSF (National Science Foundation) provides funding for basic science research across all disciplines. NSF panels meet to evaluate grant proposals. A lot of work is involved in reviewing other people’s proposals and serving on panels. A lot.]

This post was brought to you by the crappy overpriced hotel wireless. The cartoon was drawn on a clear back page of someone’s proposal printout.


I don’t really like winter. Actually, most of the time I really really hate it; I can’t wait for the spring, and I am grumpy and whiny on account of weather for months on end. If you meet me in real life, and the topic of weather comes up as it invariably does, I am one of those obnoxious people who will take this opportunity to tell you all about how her husband doesn’t mind the winter but she would prefer moving someplace warm instead, and then proceeds to tell you all about how much she really really does not like winter. Really.

This winter, the weather sucked quite fiercely. Yet, surprisingly, I didn’t particularly mind. Perhaps I am finally getting used to the weather. Perhaps I am both getting used to the weather and am generally more relaxed on account of finally having internalized the bliss that is a secure, well-paid job.

But what I think really helped is that, this winter, I planned to not travel anywhere for work December through April. I would have made an exception for federal funding agencies that give me money or I hope will someday give me money because, as a senior colleague says, all scientists wear fishnet stockings, but otherwise I have not been available to travel and it has been glorious.

Travel for work stresses me out during the best of times. There is a lot to do beforehand and then when I come back I am backlogged anyway. The logistics of travel when classes are in session is really difficult, if you care about your students, that is — I have colleagues who travel so much I have no idea how they cover their classes; whatever they do cannot be too convenient for the students. And then you add the bad winter weather to the mix, with flight delays and cancellations, and germy fellow passengers sneezing and coughing all over you…

Over the past decade, I have always had a lot of travel during winter, and I think the travel has added considerably to my baseline grumpiness. So this year I decided to hibernate, and I am very, very glad I did: I stayed here, doing my job, snuggling with family, and keeping warm. I have done a lot of work with students, and we will have several new manuscript submissions in the next couple of months; this year should be great in terms of group’s publications. Sometimes I think we should all stay put  more often, just do our work with students and postdocs, and avoid burning kerosene, sleeping in hotels, and generally exhausting both ourselves and our funds.