Gibbs Free Energy

The night train ride home is cool tonight, a contrast to the complicated thermodynamic properties I’ve been chasing for a few days. Activation coefficients, viscosities, chemical potentials…the latter,  I learned today, is related to Gibbs free energy.  My energy feels not free, but from extra teaching,  committee meetings, and workshops. But all that is about to pass: in just a few minutes, I and several  other million viewers, may not have much energy, but we will have Gibbs!

Tonight is the first episode of the eleventh season of the widely successful show NCIS. It comes complete with a cast and crew that’s had all of us fans dialing in on Tuesday nights “no matter what.” We fold laundry, write letters, iron and/or  pay bills during daytime reruns. At my house one finds several boxes of seasons beckoning, commercial –free, after a hard day. How well I remember my skepticism when son #1 introduced most of the family to this show. Could anything good come out of television these days, I wondered. But soon nearly all eyes were locked on the squad room, and we wanted more.

The dog sprouted a new nickname: Probie.  NCIS gym bags and caps began to arrive home , brought back as souvenirs. Neighbors confessed that they, too, were fans, and over time, we began to feel, well, Gibbs had to be real, didn’t he?  It helped one sleep better at night knowing he and the team had our backs.

I know deep down the show will end in an hour, and back we will all go to a very real and troubled world. On the much smaller side, there are still baskets of laundry to fold and a thousand odd jobs stacked up. But for the next hour I’ll tune in like everyone else and enjoy. Maybe someone will even bring me a cup of tea as we “grab our gear” for one of the little joys of these fall evenings and winter nights. Will you be there?


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