Yesterday was a relatively ordinary day for me, but also a truly amazing one.
I started the day at 7am by playing tennis on indoor courts with one of my teenage sons. After slipping into Carl’s Jr. to buy him (and me–don’t tell my wife!) a breakfast burger with a credit card, I dropped him off at school.
In the morning, I spent a half hour riding the exercise bike at the gym, dropped by my office for an hour to catch up on some email, and then went to the Asian market to pick up some ingredients for a Thai dinner I was cooking for some of my students in the evening.
I spent an hour at midday cutting up some chicken and making peanut sauce to marinate some sateys. While doing so, I listened to parts of two interesting NPR programs–a locally-produced show on teacher’s unions (mostly unfavorable) and then Talk of the Nation, which was focused on the recent wikileaks controversy. There were a variety of several interesting opinions made that I hadn’t thought of, and the program was for me (not being one who knows a lot about national security issues), truly an intellectual meal.
I then attended some research meetings on campus, including participating in a four-way conference call with colleagues on the East coast, taught my class on spreadsheet modelling and decision analysis to my graduate public policy students, and then spent a couple of hours consulting with students on some problems. I then rushed home, scrambled with my wife to finish the meal (sateys, salad, pad thai, masaman curry, brownies and ice cream), which we fed to about 30 people, including my family.
I finished off the day watching part of a Psych episode from the instant queue of Netflix on the Wii with some of my kids, checked out the performance of my fantasy basketball team (dismal!) on my computer, and read a chapter of a Tess Monaghan mystery before going to sleep.
A good day. But also an amazing day. When I was in college, many of the things mentioned above wouldn’t have been possible (no internet, limited analysis software, no Asian market or Carl’s Jr. in town, conference calls were something reserved for big business, and VCRs were a new thing–we we couldn’t have even imagined downloading TV episodes off the internet for instant viewing). I also scooted around town all day in my car, used a credit card, played the sport of kings (inside, in the winter, mind you) and read from a book (no Kindle for me yet)–all ordinary things that are still inaccessible to much of the world’s population today.
Most of us who enjoy the abundant fruits of letting human beings be free do not think often enough about how amazing the power of freedom really is. Ordinary people like me spend an hour thinking about things such as how the leaked diplomatic cables will affect our relations with China, Iran, and North Korea, while few people in those countries will even get to know anything about the leaks at all, especially those cables which reflect poorly on the despotic regimes under which they live.
The most amazing thing is that I find so much to complain about.