Thursday, November 29, 2007

Weekend In Washington

Andrew and I are going to Washington this weekend. It will be our first time back in Washington since the early summer of 2006, shortly after our graduations.

Neither of us misses the place, especially me. I hated Washington.

It will only be a 48-hour trip for us. We are going to D.C. in order to visit one of Andrew’s former roommates, who remained in Washington after law school. We will fly out early tomorrow evening and return late Sunday night.

We plan to visit a few museums, mostly. We definitely plan to visit the Holocaust Museum and the Air and Space Museum.

There are also three temporary art exhibitions in Washington that we may try to visit. One is an Edward Hopper exhibition at The National Gallery Of Art. The second is a J.M.W. Turner exhibition at The National Gallery. The third is at The Smithsonian Museum Of American Art: an exhibition about Spain and its ties with the United States during the Revolutionary Period. The latter exhibition includes seven Goya paintings, privately owned, that are very rarely loaned, as well as numerous other paintings, all portraits, by Gilbert Stuart, Joseph-Siffred Duplessis, the great Anton Raphael Mengs (a painter almost totally unknown in the United States) and others.

I am not especially keen to view another round of Turner paintings, since we spent half a day in September wading through the world’s largest collection of Turner paintings at Tate Britain. I do not understand Turner, and I do not respond to his works.

Andrew is not a big fan of Turner, either, but the Washington exhibition includes about 80 Turner paintings we have never seen, including an entire series of Turner’s marine paintings portraying naval events from The Napoleonic Wars. Many of these are privately owned, or seldom on view at their home museums, and Andrew and I may never have another chance to see these masterworks again—and certainly never have another chance to see them all at one time in one location.

A friend of Andrew’s who was an art history major told us that the exhibition is a must-see, an unforgettable experience. She GUARANTEED that we will love the marine paintings if nothing else.

We may have to hold her to her word.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Case Of Academic Plagiarism

A university student on the West Coast lifted, verbatim, twelve paragraphs from Andrew’s blog and inserted them into a seminar paper. The paragraphs lifted from Andrew’s blog involved a history book Andrew had discussed.

The professor teaching the course sent Andrew an email message this morning, asking Andrew whether Andrew had written the paragraphs himself, which of course Andrew had. Apparently the student who borrowed Andrew’s text and thoughts—a senior majoring in history at a VERY distinguished university, and an honors student—had claimed, once he was caught, that Andrew had stolen the text from HIM. The student told the professor that he had written a large portion of his seminar paper last summer, and that Andrew had somehow obtained a copy of it and posted portions of it on his blog.

After an exchange of email messages, the professor asked Andrew whether he might telephone Andrew. Andrew consented to talk to the professor. The professor phoned Andrew at his office, and asked Andrew whether he would be willing, if it proved necessary, to sign an affidavit concerning the authorship of the blog entry in question. Andrew said he would sign an affidavit if it became necessary.

The professor said that an affidavit would probably not be needed, because if the student continued to insist that he was the author of the words, the professor would “kick the matter upstairs” and allow an academic committee to rule on the issue—and that the student would have a hard time explaining why he had adopted Andrew’s unique writing style for the twelve lifted paragraphs in his seminar paper, and those twelve paragraphs alone.

The professor told Andrew that, in cases like this, students generally revise their story after a couple of days. They figure out that it is better to confess to their professor than to have the matter referred to an academic committee for appropriate findings and action.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Loot

Desk Clock (my parents)
Book (my mother)
Book (my father)
Necktie (Shelby)
Necktie (Jason)
A Gift Certificate To Ruby Tuesday (my half-siblings)
Wooden Postal Sorting Box (my aunt and uncle from Dallas)
Letter Opener (my aunt and uncle from Norman)
Mouse And Mouse Pad (my aunt and uncle from Enid)
Pen And Pencil Set (my aunt and uncle from El Reno)
2008 Wall Calendar Sampler (my aunt and uncle from Oklahoma City)
Magazine Subscription (my cousin in Saint Louis)
Framed Print (Andrew’s parents)
Book (Alec)
Book (Lizbeth)
Key Chain (Tim)
Book (Alex)
Tennis Racket (Andrew)
Pen And Pencil Set (my office)

Not a bad haul, I’d say.

I think I noticed a couple of themes. First, it appears that people want Andrew and me to put something up on the walls of our apartment! Second, it appears that people think that our computer desk could benefit from a few accessories!

I had a lovely birthday celebration.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Our Weekend

Our weekend was a lot of fun.

Friday night after work, Andrew and I drove to MSP to collect his brother from Denver and we delivered him, along with ourselves, to Andrew’s parents’ house. We arrived just as Andrew’s nephew was being put to bed, and it was good to see him for a couple of minutes. His mother said that he had greatly missed us all week!

We had pot roast for dinner Friday night. It was a late dinner, because Andrew’s mother had held dinner until we arrived. The pot roast hit the spot. We also ate mashed potatoes, homemade stewed tomatoes, green beans and corn. For dessert, we had blueberry pie.

After dinner, we just sat around for what remained of the evening. Everyone seemed to be of a mind to turn in early, and everyone did.

It’s starting to get cold here, and I am not into cold weather. Unlike Andrew, I was not born into it, and cold weather sometimes bothers me.

It was cold Friday night—I noticed it at the airport during our walk from the parking area to the terminal—and it was really cold Saturday morning. It will get much, much colder later in the winter, but the cold on Saturday morning really hit me hard.

I got up with Andrew in order to take the dog to the park, but we had only walked two blocks when I started shivering and my teeth started chattering. Andrew sent me home.

I was glad to go back.

When I returned to the house, I did not go back to bed. Instead, I made coffee and hot oatmeal and waited for Andrew and the dog to return. When they returned, Andrew and I gave the dog his cereal and we ate the hot oatmeal and waited for his nephew to wake up.

Andrew’s nephew didn’t wake up at his normal time, however. He slept until a few minutes past 7:00 a.m., by which point others were starting to get up, too.

Everyone congregated in the kitchen to eat cereal and fruit, and then everyone went to get ready for the day.

When everyone reassembled in the kitchen, Andrew made breakfast. He made omelets with ham and cream and different cheeses, and cubed fried potatoes with onion and green pepper. Andrew makes a stunning breakfast, and his omelets and breakfast potatoes were stunning. We ate our breakfast with raisin bread, which Andrew’s mother had made on Friday. Andrew’s nephew ate some omelet, too, and he loved it.

We just hung around the house Saturday morning until it was time to go to the game. Andrew’s mother made us eat homemade chicken noodle soup at 11:30 a.m., and at noon we were off.

The game did not start until 2:30 p.m., but we had to allow plenty of time to fight traffic and to contend with parking bollixes.

Minnesota lost, as expected, but the Golden Gophers gave Wisconsin a great game. This was probably the best Minnesota game of the entire season, and we were lucky to have selected this game as the only one this season to attend. Minnesota tends to play well at home against Wisconsin, which is why we chose this game, and that pattern held true to form this year.

Minnesota had a halftime lead, 13-10, and the game was tied, 20-20, going into the fourth quarter. The final quarter was an offensive free-for-all: five touchdowns, in all, were scored in the final fifteen minutes. Only two of those touchdowns were scored by Minnesota, alas, so Wisconsin won, 41-34. Nevertheless, the outcome of the game was in doubt until the final minute, so we certainly got our money’s worth—as well as a much better game than we had expected.

Andrew’s brothers, especially, were happy to attend the Wisconsin game, because the annual Minnesota/Wisconsin match-up is a century-long rivalry game, and they were pleased that they could make this game a part of their Thanksgiving week.

Owing to traffic, we did not get back to Andrew’s parents’ house until 7:45 p.m. For the second night in a row, we walked in the door only a few minutes before it was bedtime for Andrew’s nephew—and, for the second night in a row, we had a late dinner.

We had a good dinner Saturday night: stuffed pork chops, escalloped cheddar potatoes, lima beans, carrots and homemade applesauce. For dessert, we ate apple-cranberry cookies.

After dinner, we watched the remainder of the Oklahoma/Texas Tech game. It was very sad.

The game was already on when we arrived home, and Texas Tech had a 13-7 lead at the time. However, the Oklahoma quarterback (whose statistics are the best in the country) had suffered a concussion just a few minutes into the game, and the back-up Oklahoma quarterback had to step in. The back-up quarterback had a hard time getting untracked. It was a painful night, as things developed, because a very good Texas Tech team took advantage of the Oklahoma starting quarterback’s absence and built a 34-10 lead early in the third quarter.

Then, even without their starting quarterback, the Sooners came storming back. The Sooners scored the final 24 points of the game, but the officials took away seven of those points, ruling a touchdown catch incomplete (although the replay, from all angles, showed that the pass had in fact been caught). The result: a final score of Texas Tech 34, Oklahoma 27.

The game should have gone into overtime. Further, the momentum had shifted in favor of the Sooners, who would have been favored in the overtime. The Sooners were victims of a very bad call (as the ABC play-by-play crew pointedly noted).

Oklahoma can still win the championship of the Big Twelve South if it defeats Oklahoma State next Saturday. Further, Oklahoma can also assure itself of a B.C.S. bowl bid if it wins the Big Twelve championship game in early December. However, a national title is now very, very unlikely—it can only happen if several other teams suffer major upsets in their final games of the regular season.

Oklahoma’s loss was not the only bad news for us on Saturday on the college football front. While we were at the Metrodome, Iowa lost, at home, to Western Michigan, a 3-7 team from the MAC conference! Andrew’s father was completely disgusted. This embarrassing loss will cost Iowa a post-season bowl game. The Kirk Ferentz magic in Iowa City is clearly over. Ferentz needs to move on to the pros, and move on now, before things turn totally sour—for him and for the fan base—in Iowa City. Ferentz’s magical three-year run from 2002 to 2004 is more and more looking like a fluke.

Today, after church, we all attended a function at Andrew’s mother’s relatives.

Andrew and I, along with his brothers and his older brother’s family, left early—we left in the middle of the afternoon. The fact that Andrew’s nephew needed to go home and take his nap provided us with a fail-safe excuse for departing indecently early.

Andrew and his brothers dropped Andrew’s sister-in-law and Andrew’s nephew and me at their parents’ house, after which Andrew and his brothers left for an hour to visit their grandmother at the care facility. While Andrew’s nephew took his nap, Andrew’s sister-in-law and I napped, too.

When Andrew and his brothers returned from the care facility, they grabbed me and we all went out to play basketball. We played for ninety minutes or so, and then we swam for half an hour.

On our way back to Andrew’s parents’ house, we all stopped at our apartment because Andrew’s brothers wanted to see it again (I don’t know why they wanted to see it again—it looks exactly the same as the last time they inspected it, which was over the Christmas holidays last year).

We returned to Andrew’s parents’ house for a late, very light dinner. Sunday night’s dinner was baked whitefish, one of Andrew’s mother’s specialties, accompanied by an elaborate garden salad. We had pineapple sherbet for dessert.

After dinner, I talked on the phone to my Dad and my brother at length. We had to dissect the Oklahoma game, still a very sore point for all of us.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I turn 24 tomorrow.

Even though I work tomorrow, my birthday should be fun.

Andrew’s brothers will be driving downtown late tomorrow morning for the sole purpose of visiting my office and seeing where I work. Andrew’s brothers are like that: loyal, protective, devoted—and insatiably curious, but always well-meaning, and always good company. No one at work will mind when Andrew’s brothers stop by for a few minutes. In fact, everyone at the office will be delighted to meet them, because everyone knows who they are.

After their inspection of my working premises is complete (and after they have given their seal of approval), Andrew’s brothers are going to take me to lunch for my birthday. Andrew will join us.

Tomorrow night, we will have my birthday dinner. That should be lots of fun.

Andrew’s mother has a couple of presents stored for Andrew’s nephew to open tomorrow night. She said that the appearance of birthday gifts and birthday cake will make him think that it is HIS birthday again, and that he will be disappointed if he does not have some presents to open, too.

I think I’ll let him help me open my presents, too, as well as let him help me blow out the candles. He’ll like that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Birthdays Approaching!

Andrew and I have been devoting our energies to work this week. We have deliberately stayed away from Andrew’s parents’ house all week so that Andrew’s parents may enjoy a visit with Andrew’s older brother and his family with no interference from us.

Both Andrew and I worked late Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and last night we joined Andrew’s mother and sister-in-law in Saint Paul for a performance of Rossini’s “L’Italiana In Algeri”.

Tonight, after work, Andrew and I will pick up Andrew’s middle brother at the airport and take him to Andrew’s parents’ house, where he will remain until the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Andrew and I will stay at his parents’ house this weekend, but on Monday we will go back to our apartment.

Tomorrow afternoon, Andrew, his father, his brothers and I will attend the Minnesota/Wisconsin game at the Metrodome. If Minnesota manages to pull out a win, we shall probably all expire from cardiac arrest.

On Sunday after church, we will all go to a function at Andrew’s mother’s relatives.

I have to work all next week. Because I have so little vacation time (which I am saving for Christmas, so that Andrew and I may spend a few days in Oklahoma with my family), I even have to work on Wednesday and Friday, the day before and the day after Thanksgiving. Very few persons will be in my office on those days. It may be lonely, but I will be able to get lots of work done.

Because of this, Andrew is going to work all next week, too. He and I will be able to go to work together, and have lunch together, and come home together, and this will make the week go faster. Next week, unlike this week, Andrew and I will also go over to his parents’ house for dinner every night. This will give us more time to spend with his brothers, and we will not have to worry about preparing our own dinner every night.

Furthermore, we have two birthdays to celebrate next week—and two birthday dinners.

Monday is my birthday, and on Monday night we will celebrate my birthday over at Andrew’s parents’ house. We will have a special birthday dinner that evening.

Andrew’s mother has been viciously harassing me for days, insisting that I tell her what I want for dinner on my birthday night! Just to get her off my back, I told her last night that I wanted steak and potatoes for my birthday. But this was not enough for her! At hearing that news, she simply switched gears and began viciously harassing me about choosing my cake!

I settled for chocolate, just to put an end to such an unpleasant series of provocations!

Andrew’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day this year, and we will celebrate his birthday the night before, on Wednesday night. Since we will all have lots of food the following day, Andrew told his mother to make something very simple and very light and very quick for his Wednesday night birthday dinner: Maryland blue crab. Andrew chose a carrot cake for his birthday cake.

In the matter of birthday gifts, it appears that, for both Andrew and me, books will be the order of the day. Andrew’s father has been serving as gift coordinator so as to make suggestions for everyone and so as to assure that everyone avoids duplications.

I guess that Jaguar I always wanted will have to wait for another year!

A Most Pleasant Surprise!

When Andrew and I returned home tonight from “L’Italiana In Algeri”, our inboxes were full of messages: from my Dad, from my brother, from Andrew’s Dad, from Andrew’s brothers, from friends.

The messages were all the same: Oregon was falling to Arizona!

Before tonight, I did not even know that Oregon had a Thursday night game this week. Andrew and I have been too busy at work to pay attention to such things.

Since Andrew and I do not have a television, we followed the remainder of the game on and


This means that the Sooners will move up, again, in the B.C.S. standings.

The Sooners’ fate is now in their own hands. The Sooners will definitely be in the national title game if they win out. The Sooners no longer have to count on any other teams to lose.

Now, take care of business, Sooners! If you do, the national title—the second this decade—will come back to Oklahoma!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Veterans Day Weekend

Andrew and I are looking forward to the three-day weekend.

Tonight, after work, Andrew and I will head straight to MSP to pick up Andrew’s middle brother, who is coming home for the long weekend. We will collect him and return to Andrew’s parents’ house, where we will all have a late dinner. Andrew’s father is scheduled to arrive at MSP this afternoon, and he should be home, settling in, by late afternoon.

Tomorrow, in the late morning, we will all go to the airport to collect Andrew’s older brother and his family, who will remain in Minneapolis for the next two weeks, through Thanksgiving weekend. We’ll take them home and have a wonderful Saturday, watching football games and playing with Andrew’s nephew and eating some of the food Andrew’s mother has prepared.

On Sunday, we will celebrate, on a delayed basis, Andrew’s nephew’s second birthday. We plan to give him a birthday celebration. This will be the first birthday for him for which he is old enough to have a celebration, and it should be lots of fun. I can already see him excitedly running around his grandmother’s kitchen with his new toys. I can’t wait.

On Monday, Andrew’s brothers and I will play basketball and go swimming. Otherwise, we will just hang around the house until evening, when Andrew and I will take his middle brother back to MSP for his flight home. He will not be gone long, because he is coming back on Friday evening.

After that, Andrew and I will go back to our apartment for the rest of the week. This will allow Andrew’s parents to have exclusive access to their grandson for four days.

We have four Minnesota Opera tickets to Rossini’s “L’Italiana In Algeri” for next Thursday night, and we are not sure who is going to make use of them. Between Andrew’s parents, and Andrew’s sister-in-law, and Andrew and me, someone will want to make use of the tickets. I suspect that Andrew’s father will opt to stay home that night, and spend the evening with his oldest son and grandson.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Great Football Day

Andrew and I worked on cleaning his mother’s kitchen today and tonight so that we could watch college football games while we worked.

This worked out exceptionally well, because today and tonight featured the best games of the season thus far. We were in a state of elation most of the day. Even Andrew’s mother joined us in our excitement.

The dog would bark whenever we would shout and whoop, and then he would jump up on us. He thought we wanted to stop working and play with him. So we did.

Iowa 28
Northwestern 17

When we departed for the airport early this afternoon, Iowa was playing poorly and trailing 14-0. Andrew’s father was disgusted. When we returned from the airport, the score was 14-14. Northwestern scored a field goal to take a 17-14 lead, but Iowa scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win. Andrew’s father will be pleased, but he is probably over France about now and won’t learn that Iowa won the game until his plane lands in Zurich. He will be pleased.

Iowa State 31
Kansas State 20

Iowa State finally won a game, and Andrew’s brother in Denver finally has something to celebrate. We were all talking to him on the phone and sending IM’s back and forth throughout the game. The excitement emanating from Denver was palpable.

Oklahoma 42
Texas A & M 14

The Sooners continue to contend for a spot in the National Championship Game. They defeated a very good A & M team today and looked like the best team in the country (which I think they are).

Kansas 76
Nebraska 39

Everyone from Oklahoma instinctively hates the Huskers. It is an innate statewide trait. It is always a great day whenever Nebraska gets embarrassed. And 76 points? OUCH! There will be a new coach in Lincoln soon.

Florida State 27
Boston College 17

Normally I could care less about the Seminoles and the Eagles. However, today Oklahoma needed Boston College to lose in order for Oklahoma to move up in the BCS standings. Boston College lost, and Oklahoma will now move ahead of the Eagles in the BCS standings.

Texas 38
Oklahoma State 35

The Cowboys had a 35-14 lead going into the fourth quarter, and it looked like the game was over. And the Cowboys relaxed. And lost on a last-second field goal. The Texas comeback was probably a fluke. Nevertheless, the Cowboys demonstrated that they are back as a force to reckon with, ready for the big-time.

Illinois 44
Minnesota 17

Well. . .

Did anyone really think the Golden Gophers were going to win in the first place?

Besides, I bet the halftime show was good . . .if anyone stayed to watch it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

An Oklahoma Christmas

Andrew and I talked to my parents tonight, and we finalized our Christmas plans and booked our flights.

Early on the afternoon of Saturday, December 22, Andrew and I will fly to Oklahoma City, where my parents will meet us mid-afternoon and drive us back to my hometown. We will remain in Oklahoma through Thursday, December 27. Late that afternoon, my parents will drive us back to Oklahoma City and deposit us at the airport for our flight home. Andrew and I should be back in Minneapolis that night no later than 9:00 p.m.

Andrew and I are dividing our Christmas and New Year holidays between our families. We decided that five days with my family would be enough, especially since my parents will also be hosting my mother’s sister and husband, too, over the holidays. My aunt and uncle will be driving up from Dallas on Sunday, the 23rd, and remaining in Oklahoma until Saturday, the 29th.

My parents’ house will accommodate—just—this number of people.

My parents own a four-level split-level house. The top level has three bedrooms and a bath. The next level has a living room, dining room and kitchen. The next level has another bedroom, a family room and a bath. The bottom level is a finished basement, used for storage, garden tools, computer and office equipment, and laundry equipment.

During the holidays, my aunt and uncle will stay in the guest room off the family room, and Andrew and I will stay in the basement. The basement is perfectly comfortable, and Andrew and I will be perfectly content there.

My aunt and uncle have never met Andrew, so this will be their first opportunity to get to know him. I know they will like him.

My mother adores Andrew—she is captivated by him; she was totally disarmed, if not swept off her feet, the first time she met him—and my sister likes Andrew very much, mostly because Andrew is so good-looking that my sister, a 17-year-old girl, can’t take her eyes off him.

My brother, on the other hand, is uncomfortable around Andrew. My brother is a 16-year-old high-school jock, and he finds it difficult to understand that a masculine and athletic and exceedingly handsome man like Andrew, seemingly heterosexual, is not interested in girls. My brother is polite to Andrew, but they have been unable to develop any kind of close bond. Perhaps that will come with the passage of time.

My father and Andrew do not really get along, and they never have. After a few early friction-filled encounters, they have learned to observe, scrupulously, a respectful, arm’s-length cordiality.

My father is an instinctive trial lawyer, and he made the mistake of taking on Andrew very early in our friendship—and my father quickly found out that he had bit off more than he could chew.

Figuratively speaking, my father scratched Andrew--and Andrew scratched back, much to my father’s surprise. Andrew got the best of my father in that encounter, and in the half-dozen ones that quickly followed. After that, Andrew and my father somehow arrived at a truce, which they have managed to maintain for well over a year.

My father DID realize, from his first encounter with Andrew, that Andrew was going to make a superb lawyer—and my father DOES like the idea of having more lawyers in the family. However, my father can be quite difficult when he wants to be, and sometimes he tends to get carried away, as my mother often reminds him.

I am not sure what Andrew and I will do while we are in Oklahoma. There is nothing much to do in my hometown, and we may find ourselves more or less housebound for five days. We may find ourselves playing lots of canasta, and watching lots of ESPN.

It should be interesting.