Celebrating Food

We sit down to an accidentally international dinner of borscht, buckwheat, guacamole, naan and sardines.

“We are celebrating,” Klara says.

“What are we celebrating?” I ask.

“We are celebrating food,” she explains.

Last Weeks of the Semester

It really is a great feeling to have absolutely nothing that I need to do on a Saturday afternoon. Klara and I spent the morning on campus, admiring squirrels and gueese, gathering pine cones, exploring the artwork we have all over the grounds, and visiting the huge toy giraffe at the university bookstore. And now I’m considering having a nap.

The only thing that is not entirely welcome about the end of the semester is that my Latin American course will be over. This was absolutely the best course of my entire teaching life. Curiously, it was also the least prepared of my courses. I decided to teach it pretty late, it’s not my area (I’m strictly Spain), there was no time to prepare, etc. I don’t usually spend a lot of time on prep because that’s what graduate school was for. But still I do a bit of preparation for every day of class.

With this course, however, I had spent exactly one day developing the syllabus, choosing the readings, and creating the tests. After that, I was done. And it turned out to be the best course ever. Of course, I obviously know the material extremely well and don’t need to look up dates, names or events before class.

I think I learned an important lesson with this experience.

Fluid Table

At the breakfast table, N got up to go fetch something from the cutlery drawer.

“You may be excused from the table, Papa,” Klara announced royally.

Neither N nor I are from a social class where you have to be excused from the table, so we found this hilarious. We are both from a social class where people move around, get up, sit down, go fetch things constantly while at the table. Our eating experience is a lot more fluid, and I mean it in a nice way only.

The Donbass Update

Reader el asks:

May I ask you about the situation in Donbass? Is Russia still preventing Ukrainian army from taking back the territories? Does Ukraine want them back? I suppose a few Russia-supported Ukranian criminals-terrorists in Donbass won’t be a problem for Ukrainian army? What about the people still left there?

Have stopped reading about the issue for a long time and decided to ask you for an update since you follow it closely.

Yes, I follow. Although at times it’s next to intolerable.

Things are bad over there. The war is going on. There is about 25-35 shellings a day that the Ukrainian army receives. New supplies are coming from Russia constantly. The delivery of Russian supplies has intensified recently, which seems to indicate that the Russians are preparing for a new major attack. It looks like they are looking for two things before they start a new offensive: a spike in oil prices and an indication that the US won’t mind a whole lot.

The people are in a horrible state. The occupation authorities torture, rape and maim at will, just for fun. Recently, for instance, a little girl was gang-raped by a bunch of the military officials of the occupation force. She died of the injuries sustained during the rape. When her mother complained, they cut her head off and threw her on a garbage heap.

This happens all the time in Donbass. The only way that the Ukrainian army could retake the Donbass is at an enormous human cost. These are densely populated areas, and stepping up the hostilities would be brutal on the civilians.

Of course, after the Donbass is returned back to Ukraine, it will be a major headache to integrate back to normal life the population that has spent years in the complete lawlessness of a frontline area.

The Russians will withdraw when the oil prices drop under $30 per barrel. Or if Trump offers them some grand bargain, something really big.

So yeah, it’s not good.