04 July, 2018


First, where are we now?  Since I haven't written about my life (or much of anything) for several months, I feel I should probably do some catching up.

First, I have Parkinson's Disease.  Have had it, for at least several years.  It's now gotten to the point that my performance as a professor (teaching, research, administration) has suffered.  It has gotten to the point that I'm probably going to go on sick leave in the fall semester., and retire as disabled in January 2019.

It's damn frustrating.  For the most part (not always) I can get my body to do what I want it to do.  But standing in front of four classes a week is too much.  Besides, I have to spend more of my time and effort on the act of maintaining my focus.  Doing it on demand, day after day, every day, is beyond me.  I get tired.  I also can't handle the two hours a day (or more) driving between my home in Pittsburgh and my office in Slippery Rock.  Not every day.

My father died of Parkinson's, so I have some idea of what my future might look like.  In the meantime I live, I exercise, I read and I write.  I get to give my wife the attention she deserves (although the focus issue still comes up--I have to write myself more notes, I have to be more scheduled and less spontaneous).

Actually, for the immediate future it's not all that bad.  I'm as intelligent as ever (my IQ has actually gone up a few points, as a result of getting my depression under control). I can learn.  I can contribute.  If I can arrange the money (still in progress) I can visit some of the places I normally couldn't go when the full-time professorship got in the way.  Maybe I can give a guest lecture or three.  Maybe I can see what's going on with others' projects.  Maybe I can get some people to take a critical eye to mine.

In some ways, it feels like grad school--but without the arbitrary assignments and the anxiety about grades.

I know, I know--I may not be in denial, but I'm clearly putting the best possible spin on events. It's a conceit--but I'd like to think it's a healthy one.

So what am I doing today?  Among other things, reading a book entitled Torture for a short book review.  With a title like that, written by a former UN Special Rapporteur, it's bound to be a laugh a minute for the whole family.  But it should also be valuable.  You see, most of us Strategic Studies types don't read these horror stories because we like what we learn, but because it might help us to do something to improve the situation.  It's much like an oncologist reading the latest research on cancer, or a political psychologist who examines a case study on president Trump (and yes, that parallel was intentional).

But enough of this.  Back to the book...

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