Friday, January 4, 2008

Looking ahead to 2008

I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions since they seem to carry with them the history of failure, but I do like reflecting on the previous year and thinking about the year ahead and I happen to have some goals for 2008.

I will continue to hope that the U.S. leaves Iraq, although I am pessimistic that this will happen while Bush is in office. I am most excited about electing a democratic president in 2008. I look forward to teaching next semester and I hope that at least one of my students finds an internship in a science-related field. I do not expect to move in 2008, which would be a welcome change from recent years when I moved at least once a year. I am eager to plant window boxes and sidewalk planters on our piece of Big City concrete and seed bomb the weed lots with the goal of growing some of my own food (basil and squash are my primary goals) and some attractive greenery to soften the harshness of the cityscape. I would like to be able to travel this year to see friends and family that I don't visit often, but I anticipate a lot of travel this summer for research and we'll have to see how much more travel we can afford.

Academic goals:
1) I am hopeful that I will receive at least one of the grants/fellowships I applied for in 2007, and of course I'll be applying for more since that is a process that apparently I'll be doing for the rest of my working life.
2) I would like to get something published or at least in the final manuscript stage before 2008 is out. If my review paper doesn't fly, perhaps a project with Chip will.
3) In 2008 I will figure out where I'll be doing my field work and collect preliminary data and do a pilot study of some sort. This is so much easier said than done because many, many pieces still need to fall into place.
4) This is also partly personal, but I would like to join a campus energy use and recycling committee. I would deeply like to work to change wasteful practices in my workplace. Why wait?

Personal goals:
1) I would really like to start giving birthday gifts to the kids in my life. Previously I (or Jon) have been covered under the gift umbrella of our parents but watching some kids open gifts this Christmas made me really want to give them birthday gifts as well. Girls get so much pink, gender-stereotyped stuff that I want to break that trend. I think it is also a good way to show that I'm thinking about them even if I only see them a few times a year (if that). Between Jon's family and my cousins, there are nine children to give gifts to. This is a significant commitment but I think we can do it. Some of them will be getting subscriptions to Ranger Rick, my favorite childhood magazine. Others will get gifts from the Big Natural History Museum gift shop or Acorn Naturalists. I discovered Acorn Naturalists while I was working at Mid-Atlantic Field Station. Imagine how thrilled I was to find that someone had collected all of my favorite geeky toys and books and put them in one catalog! Each year they send out a beautiful 200 page catalog that I drool over. Today I went through and started marking birthday and Christmas gifts for 2008. It has great resources for teachers, too.
2) Each month I would like to donate at least $10 to a worthwhile cause. We can decide how much to give based on our expenses that month. It might be a donation to a non-profit or a campaign contribution (especially since 2008 is so important). I always think of so many great organizations that I would like to support financially but in reality I have only given to a few. In 2008 I would like to think each month about a cause to support.
3) Each time I donate money or give a gift, I would like to put an equal amount of money into my IRA. I was convinced to open an IRA during Senior Disorientation at SFC. I have a Roth IRA with Pax World Mutual Funds because they do not invest in tobacco or weapons and make and effort to invest in socially and environmentally responsible companies. I didn't put any money into my IRA in 2007 so I think it's time to start doing that again.
4) Volunteer my time to elect a democratic president in 2008. I believe this is the single most important thing activists can put their energy towards with respect to environmental policy, climate change, science education, renewable energy, health care reform, domestic poverty, foreign relations, world peace, and a host of other things I'm not thinking about at the moment. I think Bush set the U.S. back 8 years in all of those things and even more than 8 years in our credibility to the rest of the world so there's a lot of ground for the next president to make up. 8 is enough- I can't fathom 12.

Overall, I'm very pleased with how my personal life is going right now. I'm distressed about the state of the world and many issues beyond my most immediate bubble, but I am hopeful that many of these circumstances can be improved through grassroots activism and political change.

May all of my readers be the change they wish to see in the world in 2008
(and then mass-produce it).

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