Ignoring for the moment the rumor that most of us professors are real people with families and lives outside the Academy, let's imagine a Thanksgiving dinner in which we give thanks for things that are relevant only to our professional existence. Let's also dispense with the boring thanks to our graduate advisors, our students, NSF program directors, the guys who deliver the liquid nitrogen to the lab, and so on. What does this leave? A lot:
I am thankful for the night custodian who leaves the lights on in my corridor so that I don't have to walk through a dark building when I work late at night in my office.
I am thankful for the baristas at my four favorite cafes near campus, especially when they already start preparing my favorite caffeinated beverages as soon as they see me.
I am thankful in a personal, selfish, self-hating way for global warming. As a scientist and citizen who cares about the environment, I am aghast at global warming and our government's criminal rejection of even modest attempts to curb CO2-emissions, not to mention the attempt to silence climate scientists, distort climate data, and confuse non-scientists. But at this time of year, I find I am not a good enough person to strongly disapprove of the mild weather. I am struggling with this issue on a personal level, but may defer direct confrontation with my hypocrisy until my New Years resolutions.
I am thankful for my new Macintosh computer, which is fast and aesthetically pleasing.
I am thankful that no mice have died in my office recently.
I am thankful that I still have more than a week to write my NSF proposal.
I am thankful for the second law of thermodynamics.
9 years ago