Lamont Weekly Report, December 21, 2007

I am sorry to begin this report, just before the Holidays, with such disappointing news but it seems that Federal research funding this fiscal year is going to take a big hit. The House had passed a Bill approving a 10 per cent increase for NSF, the Senate passed a bill for a 10.8 per cent increase to NSF - given this, there seemed some justification for optimism. It seems now that the most likely outcome will be a 2.5% increase for NSF. A quote from the American Association of Universities says it best:

In exchange for an arbitrary cap on domestic spending and thousands of earmarks, the Administration and Congress have sacrificed investments in research and education that would help assure our nation's long-term national and economic security.

So we will have to struggle through yet another year of tight spending limits, and hope that next year will bring more (some?) sanity to our Nation's leadership.

Having got those depressing thoughts out of the way and having expended excessive effort through the week talking about how to report it (effort that is) I will turn to happier things.

The most fun this week (second only to the Holiday party last night) has been playing with my new Macbook laptop - which was waiting for me in my office last Saturday morning when I stopped by on my home from Newark airport. Three of my kids have Macbooks (which have built in cameras and internet based video conferencing capability) - so they have taken great joy, through the week, when they see that I am online, popping up live on my screen to say hello. Very amusing for a while.

Our Holiday party last night was, as always, just great - I hope everyone had as much fun as I did. Especially since I managed to avoid giving a speech. I am a believer in the philosophy that there is a limit to how many words we can use in each day - and last night, after a day filled with meetings, I was simply at or above my quota.

Thanks are due to Bob Bookbinder and his team for their efforts to recover our email system Friday afternoon - while most folks were leaving early for the Holidays, or attending the last celebratory parties, Bookie and his folks were wrestling with the mail server - finally getting everything restored Saturday morning - thanks Bookie.

(Useful reminder - if you ever need to check on the status of some receovery from a major problem like this - go to our website, click on Campus Services, click on Computing at Lamont, then click on Latest System Status - and you will have it.)

This weekend I start my Christmas shopping - so if you see me on Sunday wandering around the Westchester Mall looking desparate, you will know why!

Have a very happy and safe Holiday,