From the Desk of The God Emperor
This article is part of the PPSA Online Magazine
December 24, 1994
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the apartment, not a creature was stirring -- unless you count my flipping through television channels. No tree, no lights, not even a mouse (I killed the last mouse a year ago when we were having that big Hanta Virus scare.) My Christmas decorations, this Christmas Eve, consisted of a fake log smoking in my little fireplace and colored balloons jammed between the railings of my wrought-iron spiral staircase.
This year I decided to spend the Christmas Holidays home alone, in Los Alamos. I needed to take a break, after running around in Washington, D.C. for the last 3/4 of a month. I wanted to relax and not have the typical stress that comes with traveling across the country to be at my parent's for Christmas. I even bought last minute gifts from J. Crew, and they were delivered on time. So, being all caught up with things, I'm curled up in front of the TV just waiting to hear the hoof-steps of reindeer and the jingle of bells. As I channel-surf, stopping on a choir singing carols and then flipping over to Ren & Stimpy, I have a chance to contemplate life, PPSA and the future. The future for me personally, thinking about where I'll be living next Christmas, and what kind of a job I'll have to take. And, the future in general. What's in store for this country, the planet and mankind. I might take the opportunity to ramble on about some of these thoughts elsewhere in this issue. For now, I have to change channels. Ren & Stimpy is over, and I guess I'll settle for Beavis & Butthead for a bit.
Last year this was my Christmas tree!
Geez! This is sad. I mean that in the pitiful sense. Here it is Christmas Eve, and despite my trying to get in the holiday spirit I end up spending the night with America's most annoying and ignorant pair of teenagers. (No, I'm not referring to Nick and Zach -- even if I were the Grinch, I wouldn't make that kind of a comparison. The only thing they have in common with Beavis & Butthead is being teenagers.)
Another reason it's hard to get into the Christmas spirit is that there's no snow here. It was a rare event to have Christmas without snow when I was a boy, growing up in Northern Michigan. Many a Christmas began with Dad plowing the driveway. This was no mean feat. It involved a great deal of preperation; getting both Dad and the tractor running. Then he would disapear for an hour or two. Running up and down our steep and long driveway. However, I hear that there's no snow at my parent's house this year either.
I'm not sad. In fact, it's nice to know that I have some time off. No commitments. I will have stress again soon -- since I have to resume work and job hunting on January 2nd. I do have a free TWA ticket that I haven't had a chance to use. I have another couple weeks before it expires. Maybe I can think of someplace nice to visit for a couple days later in the month. I don't think that another couple days of vacation can hurt.
December 31, 1994
I'm back. It's New Year's Eve now. I am watching the Miami game right now and trying to finish up this and a few other articles. If I have the energy, I'll try and do my laundry today too. Might as well wrap up some loose ends before it's 1995. Well, it would be nice to start the New Year with clean underwear. 'Nuf said...
Miami won 27 to 17 over KC. That should make Raman happy. You should check out an article he wrote a couple years ago on why Why Miami Can't Win a Superbowl Anymore. He may change his mind if Miami holds out against San Diego next week.
Tonight isn't a good night for laundry. I think that certain old European cultures take it as a sign of bad luck. Whereas, having a very large pile of dirty laundry on the first day of the New Year is a great sign of luck and prosperity. At least that's what I heard.
Let me stoke up another log in the fireplace and contemplate the year that we've been through since the last issue of PPSA Magazine. Let's see. To begin with, I think the Sterno logs burn better than the Duraflame logs. I guess I didn't know that a year ago. I also know that I didn't have a new job a year ago -- but then, I don't know if I'm any closer now. In the past year I've taken more of a proactive role in searching for a job though. I thought, at first, that my boss was going to hire me. He basically promised he would, and then changed his mind. This forced me to really look at my options, and I came to realize that there were no jobs; at least no traditional jobs in physics.
I don't think that I ever wanted a "traditional physics career". I wouldn't mind teaching high school, but don't see myself as a professor. I would like to take this degree that I earned and tie it together with something productive and creative. After being made an introvert after 10 years of college, I want to be more outgoing. I sent out a lot of resumes to companies this past summer, and pretty much got FOADs from all of them. It's so hard to convey that I don't want to be pigeon-holed as a "typical" physicist. I don't mind getting involved in management. In fact, a friend of mine talked me into looking for a job on Capitol Hill. While I was in Washington for the fall ANS meeting in November, I did some networking and dropped off resumes with Congress. Then, while I was dropping off a resume at the Herritage Foundation job bank, I was put in touch with The Leadership Institute. The next two days I took a course that LI put on, "The Capitol Hill Staff Training School".
I returned to Los Alamos for Thanksgiving. Again, I spent it alone. I ended up catching the flu on the way back, so I didn't mind having some time to myself. I was invited back to Washington to attend The Leadership Institute's " Legislative Project Management School", an intensive 3-day course on how to deal with Congress, how to form coalitions and much more about the whole legislative process. While I was there I also attended the Conservative Leadership Conference. I got a chance to meet G. Gordon Liddy, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, and many other conservative leaders at the conference. It was a lot of fun. I met some people with whom I disagreed on issues, but everyone was nice. The following week I got to demonstrate some equipment for the lab, and gathered information for a strategic planning workshop that I attended when I got back to Los Alamos. I think it would be great to get involved in policy formation at a national level. I'm not ready to run for Congress myself, although friends joke about it, but I want to explore the possibility of working as a staff member for a Congressional committee.
Some other events of the past year were noteworthy as well. Especially my baby sister Kathy's wedding in September. It was a beautiful wedding and Raman and I took quite a few rolls of film. Check out the article I wrote on this and the photos.
Most of the year was boring. I did make some new friends and got to do some traveling. I turned 31 and started to exercise and make major dietery changes. I thought I would feel different, turning 31 and becoming a full-fledged member of the "thirty-something" club. I don't think I have more gray hairs than before, in fact I have lost weight. I have dropped more than one pants size in the past 3 months, and I feel good. In fact, I am kind of excited about gettin a new job and moving to a city. If that's in the cards. I was excited about being in D.C. and would like to try the hustle and bustle (whatever that means exactly) of living in a big city. I hope to find something out soon.
Raman looks close to graduating. He's working on more thesis data over the holidays. Ray is looking for a job too. He's been holding out in Chicago at Fermilab, and interviewing some. Chuck Luckey is missing again. Can't seem to track him down. Dave and Emily Linington had a baby! A bunch of us met up for the APS meeting in the Spring in Crystal City, Va. In May I flew out to U of M for a meeting that Glenn Knoll put on. I spent a few nights at Raman's old apartment and we went to the Arts Festival that was being held in East Lansing. In October, Raman moved to a single apartment in Haslett, and Carl moved in with Vanessa in Ann Arbor. I have lots of other things to ramble on about, but prime-time is about to start and I have to mix a drink. I'll save my energy for writing those other articles tomorrow.
A few of us gather at the Peanut Barrel in East Lansing, May 1994.
Happy New Year
May the New Year bring the best for you and your loved ones!
John D. Johnson
Last Updated 04/14/95.© 1996 PPSA