I really wanted to write a decently long blog this week but at this moment I am still scrambling to finish everything I can before heading out of town for a while. I am counting on next week’s postcard coming from Portland, Oregon, where I will be attending the annual Council of Graduate Schools Summer Deans’ Institute, always a conference highlight. I will be leading a session on interdisciplinary challenges, one of those chestnuts that just keep turning up at events like this. From there I will head further across the seas to Harbin, China, more than half way round the world from home. A bunch of Canadians are meeting with the Chinese to discuss the potential for joint degree collaborations. I really don’t like leaving St. John’s when the weather is so sultry and inviting but, well, somebody‘s gotta do it… and to a Canadian on the east coast both Oregon and China are exotic destinations. All I know about Portland I know from watching the hilarious satiric cable series, Portlandia, a perfectly executed homage to that city’s evident eccentricities. It’s like the anti-Seattle, which itself is an alt city. Portland looks so laid back I might have to be pushed on a plane to Beijing. That’s where I head to connect to Harbin, which is north and close to Russia. I don’t know much about it except that it boasts a spectacular ice sculpture festival in winter, as you would.