Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If I were having coffee with you this weekend, I’d once again rave about the weather we’re having. I was especially lucky to have sunshine and pleasant fall temperatures this past weekend when I had a lot of outdoor activities.

On Friday a friend and I went back to the Chicago Botanical Garden’s super Night of 1,000 Jack o’Lanterns. Themes this year included plants that had animals in their name, classic Halloween characters, spooky stories, and .

 

On Saturday I went to Open House Chicago, a weekend when over 250 sites open their doors to the public. Many are free for the weekend or are usually closed to the public, like Big Monster Toys, a whimsical office space for a toy company or The Wing, a co-workspace for women.

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Big Monster Toys

On Sunday I explored some more Open House Chicago sites, before I went to volunteer for the event. I signed up to work at Northwestern University’s Alice Millar Chapel, which has amazing abstract stained glass windows.

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Alice Millar Chapel

In addition to these amazing windows, which some said reminded them of Chagall’s work, the chapel has an organ with 5000 pipes. Anyone can hear the organ on Sundays at the 11 am non-denominational service. The chapel itself is open every day from 9 am to 10 pm. Check it out at 1870 Sheridan Road in Evanston, IL .

I’ll post more throughout the week of all my explorations.

As for classic films, I rewatched the 1996 Alfie starring Michael Caine. I wasn’t sure I’d like it but even though we’re in a very different era, Alfie intrigued me.

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Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If I were having coffee with you this weekend, I would tell you that I’ve gotten confirmed to work for the next operation of the U.S. Census.  I have get to do another background check, but that won’t be a problem.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Downton Abbey film when I saw it with my mother last week. it was entertaining and a film you can see with people of all generations without cringing at language or subject matter. There was a trailer for a new film on the life of Harriet Tubman, which looks promising. It looks like they’ve added steroids to history, but Harriet could be good.

I am disappointed that I haven’t found any time to write. I’ve missed polishing my stories and would like to start a new play. This week, I vow to correct that.

Finally, my former employer from my teaching job in China has agreed to reimburse me for the costs incurred when I had to return to China to get my belongings after they decided not to have me return. I learned that a male colleague in essentially the same situation was reimbursed. It took a while for me to come up with the needed receipts. Now the problem is that they’ve sent me a W2 form, an I-9 and other new hire documents. I mentioned that I’m not being hired and that signing these forms is dishonest. I wasn’t sure what they were doing and still am not. Then a new girl in HR replied that they weren’t responsible for withholding taxes. What?! Withholding on a reimbursement? I’m not getting wages, I’m getting reimbursed for airfare, hotel, etc. Those expenses aren’t taxed. These people should know this. Clark University continues to vex me.

I returned to volunteering in the Makerspace at my hometown library. It was loads of fun. It’s interesting to see how each space differs. In the 7 weeks I’d been gone two of their full timers have left. One got a new job and the other a promotion. They’ll leave a hole in the team even though the others are good.

No word from the two jobs I’d interviewed for. One wanted their new employee to start today. I’m guessing they have offered the job to someone else.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If I were having coffee with you this weekend, I would tell you that the weather here is perfect. Sunshine, not to hot and the leaves are turning. People have started to put out their Halloween and harvest decorations with adds to the color.

I was amazed by the film The Biggest Little Farm. The lush orchards and greenery and the tension in man vs. nature kept me riveted. I don’t know whether any corners were cut in the filming to make it more dramatic or successful, but I loved what I saw.

I tried acupuncture for the first time and would do so again.

I’m entertaining the idea of a short trip, but I don’t know where. I’ve got a lot of airline miles and I’m feeling the urge to explore. I miss the side trips I could make when I lived in Asia. I’m not sure whether to try a new place or to revisit a familiar one. Japan, China, Estonia, Ireland, Laos, Portugal. They’re all under consideration.

Saturday I attended a neat presentation on the Whistle Stop Canteens, which started during WWII. In North Platte, NE and other towns, women and girls would serve soldiers and sailors whose trains stopped at the station with cupcakes, donuts, fruit, magazines, sandwiches, coffee and more. These men who were off to fight had no idea whether they’d return to their hometowns and were grateful for the hospitality and a taste of home. It was an important way to support the troops.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If I were having coffee with you this weekend, I would tell you that I had a great weekend working. Well, sort of great. I did hear this horrible information about how cold heartedly my coworker whose mother died has been treated. Yet, because I worked with good teammates the time flew by and everyone pulled together that made things fun.

I had a good birthday with dinner at my aunt and uncle’s new condo that overlooks a small lake. They moved from the home they’ve lived in probably since the 70s, but the stairs were too much for my aunt. We had a great night with lots of laughs.

I started reading a mystery called The Beautiful Blue Death. Set in Victorian London, it reminds me a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories.

I started a gofundme campaign to help defray the costs of my doctor’s visit given that my employer’s error got me kicked off my insurance.

Next Monday is my last day at this library. I’d go back if there was a new Director. This woman is pernicious and inefficient. It’s hard to believe she was ever hired or that she’s kept her job.

I began watching Buster Keaton in Saphead, a sweet comedy with less slapstick than I expected.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If I were having coffee with you this weekend, I would tell you that I finished reading the book, rather I finish listening to the book, Getting to Yes by Robert Fisher. Is not a new book but this book about negotiation is still is relevant.

Rather than teaching people how to beat the party they’re trying to negotiate with and just teaching you to be a Better horse trader Getting to Yes offers more positive solutions.

On Saturday I had lunch with four former colleagues it’s been our tradition to meet once in the winter and once in summer however since one of our group job to full-time we never got together in winter. So we have a lot to catch up on. My colleague with the new job has changed from advertising to healthcare. Her title is Engagement Coach for local hospital System. She coaches nurses and doctors on their communication skills by evaluating talk and how the patient reports how well the Conversation went. Then she coaches to health care givers on how to improve.  It’s cool that the hospitals are systematically working to improve communication.

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Manet. Still life

After lunch, I went to the Art Institute of Chicago for its final weekend for an exhibit on Manet’s paintings. Usually I take a lot of my own photos, but with one arm I didn’t bother. I did get the audio tour and that was worth every penny. The only downside was it was extremely crowded so I didn’t see every piece. 

I’d tell you that I enjoyed the Japanese movie I am Waiting, a noir gem.

I’d tell you it’s getting cooler and a few trees’ leaves have begun to turn. I’m still not ready for fall.

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I’d tell you that it’s been hard continuing to work at the library with one arm. They aren’t legally bound to make accommodations for people so the choice is either do all the same tasks go home and recover. I have been juggling answering the phone while using a computer with one hand. The patrons are quite sympathetic and patient. The higher ups don’t give it much thought and actually see my injury as their inconvenience. 

On Wednesday a nearby library hosted a training session on customer service. To evaluate how you’re doing, however a lot of what we learned I’ve learned other positions. Also half day program tried to pack a full day into a morning. So the last hour was quite rushed. Given that they charge $316 per person, I love to start my own business in this field. 

I’m continuing with my census work and am grateful for my wonderful team. I got a couple blocks done yesterday myself enjoyed exploring neighborhoods I never gave a second glance.

Two more people have decided to quit the library. That’s now 16 for the year from a staff of 43.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee I tell you that it’s been rather tough figuring out how to manage in a sling. Needless to say getting dressed, cooking, bathing, writing, working, and even reading a book is a whole new ballgame.

I did go to work on Friday and was able to catch up with email and do a few tasks. There was a second news report in the local paper about the state of the library. We also learned that the director has consulted a lawyer to help her deny people Freedom of Information Act request for documents. Other libraries have provided these documents on the same day as they were requested. The library where I work doesn’t want anyone to read these documents. 

I had a good long talk with my mentor who profusely apologized because she felt guilty that she knew this library with the toxic work environment but she also knew I wanted a job so she refrained from telling me how bad it was. Again and again she suggested I get out of here as soon as possible. I do still think there’s hope and I’m not ready to quit yet. Since I’m just part-time I don’t see the full abuse that others have seen. I do pray things improve.

Thursday I had a meeting with some of my census team members. I’m really happy about the people were working with me. They’re interesting and dedicated. There’s a ton of addresses to verify and good people are on this job which can be challenging in many different ways.

And Friday since I can’t type quickly rather than discuss The Age of Innocence via email with my friend Bill, we arrange to Skype. I worked with Bill in Korea and for the last few years we selected a novel read it via email. Skype with a great way to go because the back-and-forth was immediate. I think we both learned new ways to look at Edith Wharton’s novel.

Today is Labor Day and we’ve gotten one of those beautiful late-summer days. It’s not too hot; the sun is shining and the sky the brilliant blue. Mainly, the day has been filled with work by choice. This morning I met one of my listers for the census and we tried to troubleshoot his computer problem. Unfortunately, I had no solutions and the IT department was closed. Then I tried to make progress on a huge block that I have to canvass. I thought it only consisted of a senior living development, but when I finish that complex, I realized it includes the entire street to the east of that complex plus for at least two cul-de-sacs. It could take another two days to do this since I can only work a couple hours at a time due to this broken wrist.

I’ve been boning up on negotiation skills. Right now I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Getting to Yes. Although the books a bit old, the approach still seems relevant. And there’s lots of specific examples to guide you through the process. I like how the authors suggest methods that aren’t confrontational but rather ways to work together without resentment and bad feelings. I hope to be ready to go to discuss salary with my current job get up there salary. Wish me luck.

On my way to the massive block I stopped for gas. Somehow I locked the keys in the car along with my eyeglasses and phone. I wound up having to walk home about an mile and a half, call my father who’s in Utah, find out the code to open the door, call my neighbor, get a ride back to the gas station, unlock the car and proceed to canvass. I didn’t want to court more bad luck so after canvassing, I had lunch with a friend and canceled any other errands for the day.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be an easier day.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that there’s been a lot of drama at work. Last week two community listening sessions were held to hear what our patrons wanted in a renovation of the smaller library in our district. The sessions were well attended but people didn’t want to talk about the building. They came to find out why 33% of the staff has left in less than a year. They miss the small town, high quality service they got when most of the library staff knew them. Stay tuned for more details on that.

The weather’s been perfect, rain in the early mornings or at night, temperatures in the 80s and blue skies. It’s a perfect August so far.

I’m really enjoying my census job, which allows me to meet lots of new people. Right now we’re training the listers so I’m tapping into my teaching skills.

There’s a big misunderstanding with the full time job offer I’ve gotten. First I was offered a job, but didn’t get to see the salary. Finally I asked for an offer letter and was told I’d make $9,000 dollars less than a young employee who just has a high school diploma and far fewer years of work experience. I said no to that. Then they discovered that they’d been paying me $2/ hour less than they should have. I’ll get this money soon. Then I was given a small improvement on the first offer, but they still are paying less than the woman with the high school diploma. They seriously don’t understand what an affront that is, not just to me but to all of us with a college degree.

I saw a Japanese noir film called Rusty Knife that was packed with action. I’ll post a review soon. I’ve started listening to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, a master by Alan Bradley. The narrator is super charming, on the verge of almost being too charming, but it’s a fun listen so far.