I got back in a while ago from watching my nieces for part of the weekend. As I told my sister, I couldn't have asked for more: the girls were (mostly) relaxed and entertaining. There was the added benefit of not one game of Go Fish! being forthcoming from Grace, which was mostly a relief, as it was her hours-long obsession the last time I babysat. My sister and her husband had taken Saturday night to go out to a quiet and finer dinner than they can with the girls in tow, in celebration of their wedding anniversary. I was glad to be able to help give them the time together, although they spent part of it being towed home after getting stuck in the snowstorm that hit the Wisconsin/Illinois area. My ride back to Milwaukee on the bus went through its share of that mess, too, and I ended up walking the 14 blocks from the bus stop at the train station back to my apartment building without seeing any of the right buses for getting down Wisconsin Avenue (the last 11 blocks) and back to my place. It was just wet and slushy here, but a welcome change to take a brisk walk carrying something for that long a distance: I don't really get any kind of regular work-out now, other than walking all over campus, and so this was something I rather ended up enjoying....
Thursday night had featured a bottle of wine with Julie and the standard, hours-long, wide-ranging conversation. We actually talked quite a bit more about music than I think we ever had before, which was interesting, and she insisted on reading my last semester's student evaluations as a particularly silly form of entertainment. A number of students made the types of suggestions that I had anticipated, knowing pretty well where the weaknesses in my course were, and Jules and I talked over how I could improve the course in those directions, and how I was trying to do so with this semester's sections. The few students who engaged in your typical, cutting revenge-comments were seized upon with especially glee by Psychological Julie, who noted certain common tendencies in their criticisms. I had to roll my eyes at a few of these, too, in seeing how much they seemed to expect me to hand to them, and remembering how few students actually ever bothered to come in during my office hours or to make appointments to address their homework, how they could improve, the specifics of my expectations, etc.. Food for thought, but better with wine.
I never did write up any account of our last large "family" dinner party, from Saturday the 10th. aorlov, our Russian immigrant classmate and now professor, gave us an incredibly learned dissertation as we sat around the table – me, Mike and Donna, our hosts Dan and Amy, Anthony Briggman, and Michel and Sue – on Fyodor Dostoevsky's effect on the formation of the Russian imagination. I really wish I could reproduce the thing, and I actually begged him to do so on his LiveJournal, but such are not the uses to which he puts it. Now, a mere two weeks later, and I'm not even sure if I can relate or recall the thesis with any accuracy, but I think it had something to do with him establishing a kind of corrupted eschatological view of reality in the Russian mind, in what he argued was an almost irrevocable way. I should write and ask him for a synopsis. Then we were bizarrely baptized by Dan reaching back for a Coca-Cola from the counter behind his chair, mistaking a Coke reference Barnes just made as a request for such, and knocking the side of the can against the corner of his chair's back, which promptly cracked the can on its side and causing the contents to explode. I was immediately blinded as the Coke flew into my face across the table and Dan – thinking that the top of the can had exploded, which would be more conventional – proceeded to so wrestle with the can that the cracked side continued to shower in all directions. An unintended miracle of the multiplication sort occurred, allowing the can to spew for perhaps half a minute, at pressure, what appeared to be several liters of cola. Everyone was soaked. The walls were covered. The windows. The chairs. The floor. The lamp. The ceiling. The children and babies were all woken by the adults shrieking, and the clean-up took all of us about 15 minutes.
Dan rightly observed, "I'm never going to be allowed to forget this, am I?" and thus I include this notice in my utterly inadequate account of recent Good Times, which have been Very Good Indeed.