Good Part of the Day


Most of today was good, very good. I don’t have to teach on Thursdays, which has been delightful. I like getting a chance to catch my breath during the week.

Since my students have to visit a museum, I visited the Jinan Art Museum so I’d know about the works they may write about. The exhibits this time, weren’t stellar, or I should say there were fewer great paintings and many seemed like students’ work, but it was a nice way to spend the morning. I thought it was cool that one artist captured the Chinese astronauts with ink, a medium that I associate with older, more traditional paintings.

Child. Oil

Child. Oil

Astronaut. Chinese Ink

Astronaut. Chinese Ink

Landscape. Chinese Ink

Landscape. Chinese Ink 

I figured out how to get the buses home and along the way stopped for a quick lunch before meeting friends to check out a new café not too far from campus. We just had to walk over the big bridge that crosses the railroad tracks and we got to a very chic café, where a few students from our university work.

I was quite happy with my iced coffee drink (though I think they gave me the wrong one). In fact, all three of us got the wrong order the first time we were served, but they got things right in the end.


Then I had to go downtown to get some art paper for a project my first class will do tomorrow and to get a shirt I had my eye on that’s on sale. (But today’s the last day of the sale so I was lucky to have the time to get to town.) Riding the bus I got to learn more of the adventures of Denise in Au Bonheurs des Dames (a.k.a The Paradise) and Ethel in His Second Wife. I’m at a shocking part of the both stories!

The pace of the day was just right. I’d gotten prepared for tomorrow’s classes, at no point did I have to rush and I had time for fun and enrichment.

All went well . . . until it didn’t.

But then things went pear-shaped . . . .

Chicago History Museum, Service Safari

Today I went to the Chicago Historical Museum to do some research for a writing project I’ve started. It’s a historical

Chicago Historical Museum Research Center

  • What was my goal  and was it met? My goal was to get some primary sources on the 1870’s in Chicago to find out about how
  • What was good about the service? The librarian was very approachable and helpful. She showed interest in my search and checked on my progress and offered new ideas as I worked.
  • What detracted from the experience? I had no complaints.
  • With whom did you interact? I spoke with a friendly reference librarian and I suppose an intern who brought the items I needed. You have to show a membership card or give the librarian the entrance ticket ($10) when you arrive.
  • Were you confused at any time during the experience? I had to use a microfiche machine, which I hadn’t used since probably high school. The librarian gladly showed me how, but all the different knobs are hard to get straight right off the bat.
  • Describe the physical space. The reference desk is near the entrance. In the main room there were several long tables with slips for patrons to fill out to request items. Along one side of the room are books on shelves and the opposite wall has several computers and microfiche machines.  Beyond the tables is an area with lots of old maps on tables.

When I went, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the scope of their collection or what would help me. I want to also try the Chicago Public Library, if non-residents can, and the Newberry Library so I wasn’t sure that I’d be back so I didn’t purchase a membership. Now I think I’ll go back perhaps weekly and hope to take one of their walking tours. So I will get a membership.  Going to one of these special libraries is kind of cool, but also a little intimidating at first. You can’t bring in any bags, pens, food or drink. You’re not supposed to bring in cameras, but one woman was snapping photos of documents with a camera. That was pretty obvious since her camera clicked loudly. I guessed she must have had permission.

You can just bring in a pencil and/or a laptop computer.

They’re only open in the afternoon. I did find out quite a bit from their history magazine about servants in that era. I went perused several weeks of the Chicago Times, a now defunct paper on microfiche. Best of all I got to go through Mrs. George Pullman’s diaries and address books of the time.

At the Mitchell Museum


The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston, Illinois is a small museum focused on sharing Native American history and culture. Entry is just $5 with discounts for students and seniors. It’s a good little museum that I wrote about for an assignment. They have artifacts from tribes from coast to coast and currently have a temporary exhibit on storytelling.


Service Safaris

My homework this week was to do two “service safaris,” i.e. field trips in which we observe how the service of a business or organization is. I had thought of doing one on a special library, like the Chicago History Museum’s, but the CTA has started a new payment service and getting a card for that added a level of hassle that a holiday schedule couldn’t handle. So I wrote about a new grocery story in the Chicago area and a museum I’ve seen but never went into.


For my service safari I first chose to visit Mariano’s a new grocery store chain that’s replaced a Chicago icon, Dominicks. I’d been told that Mariano’s is an elegant place to shop with lower prices than Whole Foods.

My second safari was to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, a small museum that focuses on the history and culture of indigenous North Americans.


  • What was my goal of Mariano’s and was it met? My goal was to get some ingredients for a holiday party and to view this new curiosity. I did get my groceries, but I could have done so at other stores, I hoped for good service and that was delivered.
  • What was good about the service? When I entered the store, which is the size of a typical American city grocery store, I saw numerous employees dressed in white shirts with black ties and black pants. They looked “smart” and worked like busy bees stocking shelves while chatting with shoppers. I liked that the friendliness didn’t seem artificial.For example, one employee was adding organic blueberries to a display I was looking at, he naturally smiled and added how he really likes blueberries. It wasn’t hard sell or stilted the way exchanges at places like Bennigan’s usually were.Later I saw a man I took for a manager assisting a woman in a wheelchair who needed to get through an aisle.Like Whole Foods there were several places to get samples, and here often the staff as eager to chat. I got a sample of watermelon salad and was reading the recipe that was placed beside the little cups. The employee at this station quickly offered me a copy in anticipation of what I was thinking.When I got a cappuccino as I left I noticed that they also provide ice water with cucumbers or with lemon for their customers. What a nice touch!
  • What detracted from the experience? I had no complaints.
  • With whom did you interact? I spoke with a friendly employee stocking berries, an employee at a salad counter, one distributing fresh orange juice samples, a check out employee, who’s service was fine, but nothing special, and a barista when I got a cappuccino. I did have to wait a while for my coffee, but it was understandable because one person seemed to be on break and there was someone in front of me. My barista did clearly answer my question about obtaining a loyalty card.
  • Were you confused at any time during the experience? Finding the kiosk to input my loyalty card information was a little confusing. I’d suggest this be moved as when you come into the store it doesn’t face you, so shoppers will walk right by it. More stations or better signage can help.
  • Describe the physical space. The store is lit artistically rather than with the old fluorescent lighting. Thus atmosphere is created. The produce had a colorful, fresh vibe and the corner with flowers was kitty-corner from the entrance I used so it’s easily seen.  The floral department suggests a European style.The aisles are wide so there wasn’t much trouble moving the huge carts, which have spaces for two cup holders,  past other shoppers.The deli/bakery area looks very much like Whole Foods with central displays of food-to-go, baked goods, and cheeses. There seem to be twice as many employees as you’d find in Whole Foods.Outside the carts were stored under a metal “tent” that must protect them from the elements a bit.They had wine and spirits on shelves and a special glassed off wine cellar sort of room that seemed elitist. I figured the wine there would be too expensive for me.
  • Describe the customer service. As my previous comments state, I found Mariano’s hit the right note with friendly, yet not overbearing staff. Their wearing the white shirts and ties identified them and expressed professionalism. While I’m a big Trader Joe’s fan and like the Hawai’ian shirts, I didn’t find these uniforms made the staff seem snooty. To me it showed that the store owner wants to elevate grocery shopping a bit.

Mitchell’s Museum of the American Indian

  • What was the goal of this service and was it met? The mission of Mitchell’s Museum of the American Indian is to:introduce visitors from throughout the Chicago region to the cultures of American Indians. The Mitchell Museum’s mission is to promote and share a deeper understanding of Native American peoples through the collection, preservation, and interpretation of their traditional and contemporary art and material culture.I would say this small museum succeeds. I like museums, large and small, and see the place for smaller museums that don’t take a whole day to view. Like libraries in small towns, I don’t compare them to a big city’s library, but go in ready to experience some charm and a good collection. I come with an understanding that this institution doesn’t have lots of money.

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Travel Theme: Metal

Forest Park, Jinan

Forest Park, Jinan

Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

October, 2013 Jinan 016 - Copy

Ailsa of “Where’s My Backpack” invites bloggers to post photos showing metal this week.

If you’re in the mood to put the pedal to the metal and join in this week’s travel theme, here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Metal
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

A random selection of other takes on the theme:

Beyond the Brush

Cee’s Photography


Winds along the Current

Loads more: here.


Sepia Saturday

sepia sat 5 25

This week’s prompt inspired me to share some photos I took yesterday at a living museum or restored village called Zhujiayu in Shandong Province, China. They have a group of buildings that were where the youth were educated about peasants’ ways during the Cultural Revolution.



may 2014 135

Classroom with Maoist doctrine

Classroom with Maoist doctrine

may 2014 140

may 2014 141

Dorm Rooms

Dorm Rooms

A guitar? Really?

A guitar? Really?

Didn't know they had time for basketball

Didn’t know they had time for basketball