Ned Gallagher in Havana.

Ned Gallagher:
What I’m Up To


End of Winter (Hopefully) 2023



The New Normal

This winter I have had to adjust to the reality that I lost my father in the first week of 2023. While those closest to me were aware of this, it is not something I have talked about widely in my day-to-day existence. I did, however, post something on Facebook, which I will share here:

My dad, Ed Gallagher, left us on January 4, just a few weeks shy of his 93rd birthday. His transition was peaceful and pain free, at home, surrounded by his family. My heart is broken, but I am grateful we had so much time together in this world. And it was a blessing to have shared lengthy conversations with Dad in his final days. He reckoned he had “lived a great life.” As the son of immigrants from County Donegal, Ireland, the arc of his life was in many ways the ideal of the American Dream. And he genuinely cared about things like equality and justice. I could never possibly repay my Dad for everything he did for me and the rest of our family. He was and always will be the most important man in my life. Dad, I am so proud to be your son. I will love you forever.

I think about Dad many times every day. There are particular events, like the State of the Union address or Australian Open tennis, when I find myself looking forward to hearing his take, and it suddenly hits home how much I miss him. Support from family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors has been wonderful in easing my sense of loss a bit.

While no other news from this winter can compare to that development, here are a few quick highlights of what has been going on in my world:

  • After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the school resumed its annual DC field trip for students in the government program. In addition to meeting with a handful of U.S. Senators and Representatives, as well as others in and around government service, we had a lovely alumni event at the Army and Navy Club, wherein our kids got to spend time with Washington-area grads from all walks of life. This edition was as good a trip as we have had in the many years I have been involved with it.
  • I bought an upright digital piano at the end of last year. Now I have to spend some time working my way past the hunt-and-peck approach to getting music out of it. I am happy that it is MIDI-capable, which means I can connect easily to Garage Band and other programs on the Mac or iPad to get truly creative.
  • I have been active with online coursework since the start of the year: Tuesday nights studying Chinese history at Stanford, Wednesday nights studying the American Tradition at the University of Chicago, and Thursdays tackling the Middle Ages (also U of C). That’s a lot of time in class (each of which runs either two hours or three and a quarter) as well as a lot of reading, but keeping busy has been good for me the past two months and I have been enjoying (most of) what we have been exploring.



What I’m Reading

Working On Now:

  • Fintan O’Toole, We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland
  • Steve Berry, The Last Kingdom
  • Simon Cambers and Simon Graf, The Roger Federer Effect: Rivals, Friends, Fans and How the Maestro Changed Their Lives
  • Christopher R. Beha, The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else

Recently Finished:

  • Steve Martin, Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions
  • Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

On Deck:

  • Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
  • Pauline Maier, Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787–1788

For Courses I’m Taking This Winter:

  • Jonathan Spence, The Search For Modern China
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays
  • The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walden
  • Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
  • The Letters of Abelard and Heloise
  • Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs
  • Rumi, Swallowing the Sun
  • The Poetry of Petrarch
  • Victor Nabokov, Lolita
  • De Lorris and de Meun, The Romance of the Rose
  • Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies and Other Writings

For Courses I’m Teaching This Winter:

  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  • André Gide, The Immoralist
  • Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  • Michael Lewis, The Fifth Risk



What I’m Watching


  • The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth, season 8 (Showtime)
  • Shrinking (Apple TV+)
  • Star Trek: Picard, season 3 (Paramount+)
  • The Last of Us (HBO Max)
  • The Bad Batch, season 2 (Disney+)
  • For All Mankind, seasons 1 & 2 (Apple TV+)
  • Doom Patrol, season 1 (HBO Max)
  • I Hate Suzie, season 2 (HBO Max)
  • Hello Tomorrow (Apple TV+)
  • Stonehouse (BritBox)

Recently Finished—Television:

  • Toast of London, seasons 1–3 (BritBox)
  • McCartney 3, 2, 1 (Hulu)
  • Blood and Treasure, seasons 1 & 2 (Paramount+)
  • The Recruit (Netflix)
  • National Treasure: Edge of History (Disney+)
  • Break Point (Netflix)
  • Jack Ryan, season 3 (Amazon Prime)
  • Baptiste, season 2 (PBS)

On Deck—Television:

  • The Mandalorian, season 3 (Disney+)
  • Lucky Hank (AMC+)

Recently Finished—Films:

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (d. Robert Wise, 1951)
  • You People (d. Kenya Barris, 2023)
  • The Blue Kite (d. Tian Zhuangzhuang, 1993)
  • Sharper (d. Benjamin Caron, 2023)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (d. Peyton Reed, 2023)
  • What About Bob? (d. Frank Oz, 1991)
  • Triangle of Sadness (d. Ruben Östlund, 2022)
  • A Man Called Otto (d. Marc Forster, 2022)
  • White Noise (d. Noah Baumbach, 2022)
  • Guillermo del Toro’s Pinnochio (d. Guillermo del Toro & Mark Gustafson, 2022)
  • Pelosi in the House (d. Alexandra Pelosi, 2022)
  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (d. Rian Johnson, 2022)
  • The Northman (d. Robert Eggers, 2022)
  • The Whale (d. Darren Aronofsky, 2022)
  • The Menu (d. Mark Mylod, 2022)
  • Avatar: The Way of Water (d. James Cameron, 2022)
  • Empire of Light (d. Sam Mendes, 2022)



What I’m Listening To


  • Sting, Ten Summoner’s Tales [Expanded Edition]
  • Eric Lu, Chopin: 24 Préludes
  • Brandi Carlile, The Eye


  • Continuing The Conversation

Audiobooks/Radio Dramas:

  • John Meachum, And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle
  • Quentin Tarantino, Cinema Speculation



What I’ve Been Attending

  • online seminar: “The Mao Era in Chinese History,” University of Colorado, National Consortium for Teaching About Asia, January & February
  • St. John’s College Teachers Institute seminar on Herodotus, Inquiries, online, February



Where I’m Traveling

Recent Trips:

  • three-day field trip to Washington, DC, with the school’s government classes, January



What I’m Learning

  • playing the piano



What I’m Looking Forward To

  • firing up my new (hand-me-down, actually) grill on my back patio once the weather gets warm
  • tennis season


Thanks to Derek Sivers for his concept of the /now page.
Revised: 28 February 2023