took the streetcar into the office this afternoon (still taking it easy), just to say Hi to Sara and to look for a care package of books that Therese had told me was on the way. I got in just as Sara was heading out, to my disappointment, about an hour earlier than I thought, saying that she had to get home because of a crisis with an escaped python. Feeling that that sentence was worth the trip itself, I let her head off down the hall, with her faint witchy-wails of "Slytherin! Slyyyytherin!"
fading away behind her. But the conversational side of checking in at the department was rewarded in discovering Barbra moving into her office, after she had just finished the new faculty orientation session. So I helped carry in a few last boxes of books while I heard the tale of her move and of what was worthwhile in the orientation process. As I had discovered when she visited at the end of June
, her specialty in Ethics is one of the few ethical areas I'm particularly interested in and in which I did some doctoral work: Church-State questions, and specifically the issue of religious discourse in the public sphere. So I recognized a few of the books she was lining her office walls with, and was intrigued by many others, which threatened to distract as we spoke. But it's fun to see her settling in, too, and to see the department becoming its new 2011-12 self.
Tim came in a bit later, and we chatted for a few minutes about his and Minoo's vacation in upstate New York, staying in an historic cottage owned by his family along the St. Lawrence River. He went through great acrobatics to disconnect let me borrow his ethernet line, since my office is missing that right now, which turned out to be a waste since I couldn't get any signal through it and had to work with my laptop's wireless, instead. I went in just to talk to Sara for a few minutes, but ended up feeling good enough that I put in about seven hours of office work, much of which was dedicated to restoring my laptop to working order. The computer I got from the department was never quite willing to accept me as the new owner, and lots of simple functions kept getting interrupted with demands for the previous owner's password and permission. I had all that information, but between the interruptions, and the outright refusal of the computer to let me do some tasks, I had to back up all my material online (over the wi-fi connection, which took time), then wipe the hard drive entirely, re-install the system software, and then also reinstall things like Microsoft Office. Clunky, plodding work, most of it, but it was stuff that had to get done at some point, and needed a goodly chunk of time in order to barrel through it all. Feeling as good as I did, I made a go of it and felt far more productive than I had all week. I even got a little texting done with Kevin as he was having dinner at the Peninsula Chicago
, where one of his clients is putting him up in ridiculously posh accommodations. And when my computer was stuck for long stretches of minutes doing its thing, I read a fascinating essay on the history of the development of the Creole population in the New Orleans area.
Around sunset, I looked up and noticed the light playing off the library and the buildings of downtown New Orleans, three miles off in the distance. So I took a few shots of my new window view, overlooking the Peace Quad and the Monroe Library, sent one off to Mom since I knew she'd be curious, and went back to poking at the laptop. I'm happy to say that when I left, it was acting like a state-of-the-art computer, and not like a 1999 dial-up trying to download a feature film. Much