Excellent Video on US-China Trade War

Serpentza offers some great insight in clear terms on the US-China trade war. I agree with his thoughts.

I do think it was a mistake to put so many factories in one country. We should diversify.

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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 we were having coffee, I’d tell you that you should go see West Side Story at the Lyric Opera. It’s a terrific musical and there are discount codes to get tickets for a good price.

I made dinner for Mother’s Day for my parents and two brothers’ families. I’m most proud of my key lime pie and the angel food cake that I decorated with Trader Joe’s small chocolate mousse tea cakes in the shape of flowers. Those were great and don’t think you must add them to a cake. On their own they’re addictive.

On Friday, my nephew broke his arm quite badly. He was in gym class and decided to jump over a volleyball, but instead he fell on the ball and went sailing. He was in surgery for 4 hours. By Saturday, he was smiling though very tired.

I finished reading Henri Duchemin and His Shadows by Emmanuel Bove, a French writer whom I discovered by using Literature-Map.com. Try Literature-Map and let me know if you find any new favorite writers.

I’m getting more active about applying for jobs. I look and look, but in ESL there aren’t many possibilities. In EFL (i.e. teaching English as a Foreign Language) the main employers are China and the Middle East. I’m done with China. Or I do hope I am. I spent many years there and liked my students, but China is cracking down on religious expression in a way I can’t overlook. (See this article as well.) Also, the PRC’s government needs to negotiate in good faith with its foreign trading partners. For decades they’ve gotten such sweet deals and they’ve stolen IP left and right. None of the computers I worked on at school or in a hotel had purchased Microsoft software. It was all pirated. That’s one example. I don’t want to help a country that’s not going to protect religious freedom. That same reason makes the Middle East a problem. I am trying to find work as an Instructional Designer here in the US. So far finding nearby opportunities and convincing an employer that I have the needed skills is difficult via a form on the internet. In conversation, I can make the case.

I’ve loved my library work, but the field is on a downward trend of just offering part time work.

 

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 about the water color program I went to at the library on Tuesday. We followed the teacher step by step to create a small water color painting of two spring blossoming trees. We learned about a couple techniques of water colors and painted to Mozart. The teacher was super well organized and down to earth. Sometimes her classes are free style but this wasn’t but that was fine with me. She planned and paced the course so well and everyone left with a decent spring painting with matted with the color paper of their choice.

On Tuesday I went to a brunch to honor volunteers at my local library. The event was catered and there was something for everyone. I got to meet other volunteers whom I rarely see and met a few library staff members for the first time. Lots of good conversation and at the end we were given a small box of fine chocolates and a $20 gift certificate for a local restaurant.

On Friday I went to a conference for library staff. It was a fairly small affair with an array of small presentations. I saw some on Readers’ Advisory, i.e. how to interview patrons and figure out what sort of books they’d enjoy and some on makerspaces. The makerspace presentations were actually best for libraries that don’t have makerspaces. The information was very basic. One highlight was a session on motivation by the director of the LaCrosse Public Library. She knows how to give a speech as she was upbeat and had great body language. She structured her speech well and had ideas you could immediately put into practice if you were a manager at a library.

Yesterday I attended my nephew’s confirmation. His church is rather small, but the level of community engagement was high. I liked that people knew each other and were truly connected. There were 5 young people confirmed and one was also baptized. They prepared for years and the pastor and youth pastor seemed to know each person well.

How was your week?

 

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 comment on the curious weather we had on Saturday. We got snow, considerable snow, Saturday afternoon and evening. It kept coming down and that night it was sticking. I guess we had over 3 inches–and it’s almost May. I wasn’t so put out since it didn’t make driving worse for me. I stayed in, turned on the fire and enjoyed Trading Spaces.

I’d mention that I attended a playwriters’ group at the Skokie Public Library. We gather to read out 10 pages of each others’ work. It’s good to hear a play read out loud and the group is very convivial and helpful.

I’d recommend the book How to Get Rich in Rising Asia, for its unique structure and point of view. Also, I think it really captures life in Southeast Asia.

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I’d tell you that Friday I returned to yoga at my library. I hadn’t been in months. I usually work at noon on Fridays and it’s just a bit tight to get from my library to work. I probably make more of the time issue than I need to. Another excuse is the winter weather. I felt great after going and realize I need to make this happen.

Then I went down to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the exhibit of Hokusai’s famous wave and other prime ukiyo-e (i.e. woodblock) prints. This exhibit focuses on how each print can differ though it’s made from the same block. Sometimes later printmakers added features; sometimes the coloring differed; sometimes sunlight faded a print. I was surprised that the great wave print was smaller than I imagined, but when you think about it the printing press equipment was probably a factor. Also these prints were made so that middle class people could afford them. Thus they’re probably the right size for a home.

I’d mention that I’m enjoying watching Flambards, one of my first favorite British TV imports. Set in as George V is taking the throne in 1910, Flambards focuses on a teenage orphan Christina who’s sent to live with her grouchy, tempestuous uncle and her sparring cousins. Trust me it’s a delight.

This week I want to market my play Dora McDonald: On Trial and start a new writing project.

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 ask you about your Easter and how you’re liking the spring weather. I’d then tell you how happy I was to discover a new tradition, Polish Easter Basket Blessings, which I saw on Saturday. The Poles’ baskets contain symbolic items (explained here). The ceremony was short and a lot of people turned out in their finery.

I’d share that I had a nice Easter despite not getting to church early enough for a seat in the sanctuary. Later I had brunch with my brother and his family. Since the weather was warm and I needed to burn off some calories, I went on a walk at a park not to far that’s got a small lake.

On Wednesday I was amazed by the technology at the Amazon Fulfillment Center. If you’ve got one near you, you can go on a free tour.

Thursday afternoon I attended a fashion show at Talbots to see the spring offerings. They had wine, sparkling water, and some sweets on hand. If I hadn’t given up sweets for Holy Week I sure would have indulged. I satisfied myself with a glass of sparkling wine. The show was well done and though they offered a discount, there was not pressure to buy. Nonetheless I did splurge on a blue and purple dress for Easter. I needed something colorful.

I’ve been watching the DVD of an old (1979) British drama Flambards. I remember seeing it in the ’80s and loving it. While the production quality is low compared to what we see to today, the drama is every bit as engaging. Someone should remake it.

Masterpiece: Les Misérables

It’s no secret that Les Misérables is one of my favorite stories of all time. I’ve read the book and seen the musical, the film with Liam Neeson, the film with Jean Gabin and the one with Harry Barr. I’ve loved them all.

I lost track of time and missed the premier of Masterpiece’s newest Les Mis, but fortunately, I taped it and am now ready for episode 2.

Beginning with Thénardier (Adeel Akhtar) robbing the pockets of soldiers killed at Waterloo. As luck would have it, Pontmercy, a solider, wakes up and mistakes Thénardier for a savior. Then in the prison where Jean Val Jean (Dominic West) toils away while being abused, beaten and tricked by the guards and Inspector Javert (David Oyelowo), a 19th century French Pharisee. Early on we also see Pontmercy’s wealthy father-in-law who’s taken custody of his grandson when the boy’s mother died. Vehemently opposed to Pontmercy’s politics, the grandfather forbids Pontmercy to see his own son, Marius, a cutie pie in velvet and frilly collars.

Fantine’s story of meeting Felix, Cossette’s father, this production starts earlier in the book than the musical. We get to see the slimy, philandering Felix who loves and leaves poor, naive Fantine. Interwoven with Fantine’s story, we see Jean Valjean get freed from jail and encounter hostility and injustice till he’s welcome by the saintly Bishop Digne.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the story. It’s a lush production. I always have an odd feeling about computer graphics. I can tell it’s not real (or faux real). I sense something lacking in the vast settings that must be computer graphics.

The story spans decades and contains several plot lines. Victor Hugo dedicated each section of the book according to a main character. The screenwriter has woven several sections together and the chronology’s changed. Some things seem to be simultaneous here, when they weren’t in the book. For example, at the end of episode 1, Fantine’s holding her daughter Cossette, who looks like she is at least a year old. Yet Felix just abandoned her a few hours before. I thought Fantine got pregnant after Felix left her. Also, Jean Valjean has just left the Bishop’s. It seems the timing is off between Fantine, whose story doesn’t need much time to progress to the next stage, and Jean Valjean, who took many years to get to the next point when he’ll meet Fantine.

Even though there are some differences between other productions and these do bother me, the annoyance is small and Les Misérables is a story that can’t be ruined. (Knock on wood.) So far this series is off to a good start.