It's spring break. At last. Time to clean up my study and get back down to work; time to go through the 250 emails in my in box and figure out how to clear them all before I return to school. Time to remind myself why I do this for a living: as I have said before on this blog, "It's the vacations, stupid." It won't work as a campaign slogan, but it does work as a life plan.
Yesterday was also the day to make the annual pilgrimage to our accountant: he's a former IRS special agent, which gives me loads of confidence in whatever strategy he suggests to keep as much money as possible out of the hands of the government. He manages to project limitless optimism and good cheer, a feature that I am sure helped him be successful at the IRS too. I can imagine those he investigated being utterly captivated by his personality and leading him around the house to show where they stowed the large paper bags of money they never reported. He also believes in positive reinforcement: he congratulated me on how much money I made this year in speaking, writing and consulting fees (this prevents the federal government from declaring my unreimbursed research and writing expenses a "hobby," a truly fine irony given how crucial this virtually unpaid work is to my professional advancement); and he noted with pleasure how much of my total income I managed to tuck away in various tax-deferred accounts. One of the reasons I am glad that Mike Huckabee is apparently not going to be President is that if he closed the IRS as he had promised to do, then I would have no reason to visit this lovely gentleman to be told what a clever person I am for not having used the equity in our house as an ATM as so many Americans have done. And I would miss the traditional self-indulgent stop at Trader Joe's N and I make afterwards to reward ourselves for being such thrifty and, as our guy also pointed out, well-organized, people.
For all the younger faculty out there: save, save, save. The ability to retire from your full-time job at a reasonable age and live your life precisely as you wish to is something you need to think about decades in advance.
Because it is spring, it is also time for a little blogroll updating. I have taken a few people down who never seem to post anymore, but added the following history blogs:
Edge of the American West Do not be dismayed by recent chaos, which caused a single post on a Civil War battle to be reposted several times. This is a group blog, coordinated by Eric Rauchway and Ari Kelman: you can read about them here. I am also long overdue in adding Rob MacDougall's blog, Old is the New New, which is really well-written and interesting.