NIGHTLIFE 1: Celebrating Russian Christmas in Aldridge Place. There is nothing quite like the Russian-themed parties given by Rob Moshein and Bob Atchison at their Russian-themed house on Laurel Lane. The food for their Orthodox Christmas hit is so good, people arrive conspicuously early to gobble it up. Then there’s wine. As a certified expert, Moshein attracts some of the most sophisticated noses in town, so the kitchen crowds with enthusiasts sipping small pours of potent potables. Meanwhile, Atchison holds court in the living room, decorated ceiling to floor with Czarist art and furniture. Almost everyone from their Aldridge Place community drops by, including arts backers Mary Ellen and Roger Borgelt and their longtime neighbor, Mack Jacobs, who told me all about the engineering program at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, as well as fishing, hiking and selling kitchen knives. (Score 10 for conversation.)

NIGHTLIFE 2: Triple Cone of Silence Dinner in Bouldin Creek. What can one say about a dinner party where all the talk is strictly off the record? Actually, almost all Wren Cottage Feasts receive the same free pass, but Triple Cone of Silence gang went Quadruple at the home of Robert Faires and Barbara Chisholm this week. And for good reason: Every part of the evening was enlightening. And Chisholm’s beef bourguignon, among other dishes, was outstanding. I guess I am allowed to say who else attends these all-too-rare dinners besides Kip and I: Jamie Smith Cantara and Albert Cantara as well as Steven Tomlinson and Eugene Sepulveda. We four couples have known each other for ages and our interests intertwine across numerous subject matters. We cherish this tradition almost more than any other on our social scene. (And see: I revealed nothing.)

FITNESS: Testing the new B-cycle rental system. From Pam LeBlanc’s story in the Statesman: "By the time I finish a daylong test ride of Austin’s new bike-share system, I’ve chased a swarm of Segways around the Capitol, slogged up hills, coasted down them and fielded questions from more than a dozen curious onlookers. I’m a seasoned commuter who rides a bike to work most days, but riding a B-cycle feels different. The sturdy, bright red bikes with big metal baskets attract attention. Riding one takes some getting used to — they’re heavy, weighing in at 40 pounds, and feel a little wobbly at first. Most folks settle in after pedaling a block or two, though. I walked two blocks from my office to the nearest B-cycle station on Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road, where I swiped a credit card and checked out a bike from a docking station." http://shar.es/9eqtO (Pam’s the one to trust.)

SPORTS: Charlie Strong arrives at UT. From Brian Davis’ story in the Statesman: "Louisville’s Charlie Strong has waited and waited, all the while thinking someday the right opportunity would come along in which his coaching acumen would be viewed above all else. The color of his skin would be an afterthought, he hoped. His time has arrived at Texas. In one of the most significant moments ever for the University of Texas, school officials announced Sunday that Strong would become the new head football coach, making him the first minority head coach of any men’s sport in school history. "This is a historic day for the University of Texas and a historic hire for our football team," UT President Bill Powers said in a statement. "Charlie Strong is one of the best coaches in the country."" http://shar.es/9esuB(Excellent background story.)

TEXAS: Disagreement between pro-life groups spills into 2014 elections. From Becca Aaronson’s story in the Texas Tribune: "A rift between Texas "pro-life" groups from the 2013 legislative session on how to regulate end-of-life care is continuing into the 2014 election cycle. One group’s political scorecard has created a minefield in some Republican primary races, leading to heavy criticism from Roman Catholic bishops in Texas. Texas Right to Life’s 2013 scorecard, which grades lawmakers based on their support and opposition to legislation related to anti-abortion and end-of-life issues, holds great sway in many Republican primaries. But the Texas Catholic Conference, which lobbies on behalf of the 15 Roman Catholic bishops of Texas and their dioceses, says the group has, in order to exert political power, misrepresented politicians committed to both anti-abortion causes and the rights of the terminally ill. The source of its criticism is the scorecard’s penalties for lawmakers regarding legislation that would have amended the state’s Advance Directives Act." http://trib.it/1gybKBx(Worth watching closely.)