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 say I had a good Independence Day with just the right amount of celebration, not so much that there’s a frenzy. I marched in the local parade, met the trustees, had a relaxing afternoon before enjoying hamburgers, potato salad, the Capitol 4th Concert and some local fireworks.

 

I’ve started reading Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder for a Who-Dunnit book club at the library, which I’ll start to lead with a partner. I’m on for the July meeting next week. I’m on page 42 and the story’s fine, but not gripping. I’ve also started reading Sarah Blake’s The Guest Book for my neighborhood’s new book club. I’ve accepted the role of facilitator. I’m farther along in The Guest Book. I don’t enjoy how it hops between generations. It’s a gimmicky structure and somewhat hard to follow.

I’m enjoying my computer programming class through the University of the People, but the class is time consuming. I do feel I’m learning Python, but I also realize that it would take a couple years of study before one can get paid to use this skill. I’m more in need of something I can learn in six months and get employed doing.

Last night I had a Skype interview to teach in China in Weifang. While I did move on to the next stage, I’m not excited about the job. It seems like another school that’s mainly for-profit. They’re not sure how many students they’ll have. They do have a curriculum, so that’s better than Clark University, my former employer, but who knows how good it is. The Dean is busy and I didn’t speak with him, but he is bilingual and has a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in accounting. He also has a degree in education.

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When I think of the human rights abuses in China–the camps for Uighyrs, the demolition and spying on religious groups, the lack of free speech–I really can’t justify working there again. Who knows what will happen with Hong Kong. The Chinese won’t let them go and won’t let them have their separate system forever. It’s not a country where a teacher can give lessons that allow students to consider the ethics of their president or government. So despite the lure of a full time job with benefits, I’m inclined to say no.

I do wish I had more time to write. I’m excited about a new play idea, but with the computer class and the easy, but time consuming class on online learning, there’s little time to research and write.

How’s your week been?

 

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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 have brought my umbrella because we’ve got storms at least part of everyday. It’s just part so that’s fine by me. I’ve realized that June is a rainy season here.

I’ve agreed to lead two book clubs. One’s reading Sarah Blake’s The Guest Book and the other is reading a mystery, Inspector Singh Investigates . . . . Both meet in July and I’m busy preparing. I can’t say The Guest Book has grabbed me yet. The mystery book is part of a series and I’ve had to order it.

My two classes with University of the People (http://uofthepeople.edu ) are going well so far. I’m really enjoying the computer class which is on learning Python. So far it’s rather simple so I’m not lost. Besides there are so many books and online tutorials that when I need extra help it’s at my fingertips. The other class is on college survival and I don’t need to know how to budget time so my paper’s are submitted by a deadline or any such academic skills.

I absolutely loved watching Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russell. What an amazing entertainer! What a witty film! If you want a burst of joy, get it.

I did watch the Democrat Debates, which were really not debates, but showcases, which is fine. Short interviews with each would have been more civilized. This was a free-for-all with a poor format. There’s no way I can sit through 9 more of these spectacles. I wish the BBC could moderate.

I attended to wonderful library events last week. First was a class on picnic side dishes given by a witty chef, who offered lots of useful tips on shopping and preparation. Her citrus vinaigrettes were terrific. Out of the 4 dishes demonstrated, I’d make 3. The second was a summer cocktail event. The local mixologist created three light, refreshing drinks. Again, I liked 3 out of 4. I’ll share these recipes soon, so check back.

 

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 begin by saying that it’s been rainier than usual here, but I don’t mind much. It’s also been rather cool and as I’m not one for sunbathing, it’s fine. You don’t need bulky layers to go out and about so I’m happy.

Saturday I went on a walking tour with a friend around Chicago’s Streeterville. Streeterville has an interesting origin. In the 1880s riverboat pilot Captain George Streeter ran aground in Lake Michigan. He left the boat there and soon the sandbar grew and grew. He declared this land a separate country called the District of Michigan. Squatters and ne’er-do-wells moved in, much to the displeasure of the elites. Legal battles lasted up until 1908.

ChicagoAmericanFurnitureMart210-p1939

Our tour through the Driehaus Museum not only introduced us to the colorful Cap’n Streeter and his wife Ma, but took us around much of this district that in the 19th century was desolate and now is home to a thriving commercial and residential area. We saw significant buildings, some huge like the American Furniture Mart that I never noticed before. We also learned of some hidden gems that are open to the public and make wonderful quite spots to view the lake or skyline. Sorry, I’m not printing those addresses.

We were so lucky in terms of the rain on Saturday. It poured before and after our tour, but nothing during it. Also we lucked into street parking in a very popular shopping area.

Yesterday my brothers and their families that are in the area came for a Fathers’ Day barbecue, which was fun.

I started and gave up on the book Southern Lady Code. It was too snarky for me. The author seemed to need a Copernican Revelation. I expected some warm-hearted jabs at Southern culture like Jeanne Robertson is so good at, but the author seemed embarrassed of her Southern past and clueless about how her demands of her husband and family were quite selfish. She just seemed clueless and after a few chapters, I figured enough is enough. There are plenty of good books on my reading list.

For today’s book club, we read and discussed Antigone. It’s a solid play that illustrates Aristotle’s principles of tragedy well, but despite its strengths, I wasn’t as enthralled as some. The state and family life have changed so much that I didn’t think it was relevant. Others loved it and said it’s one of their favorites of all time. Different strokes.

I watched a very challenging, very long (3 hours 25 minutes) Russian film called Andrei Rublev. If you’re up for a challenge, go for it. I’d say the story’s more confusing than The Human Condition, another marathon film, but there’s some beautiful parts and it did make me think differently about filmmaking. I’ll be watching shorter, more fluffy films for the next couple of weeks.

 

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.

1280px-Flickr_-_…trialsanderrors_-_Hokusai,_Under_the_great_wave_off_Kanagawa,_ca._1832

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.

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 was having coffee with you I’d tell you, that I’m watching (or came from just watching) Notre Dame in flames. It’s shocking to see such a beautiful, iconic building destroyed. I’m watching France 24, the English French news channel now.

I’d then change the subject to my weekend. Saturday a friend came down from Milwaukee and we went on walking tour of the Pilsen neighborhood, which is known for its colorful murals. First we started with lunch at Rabanitos Restaurant and Taqueria, fitting as the neighborhood is primarily Hispanic. After lunch we had time to explore the National Museum of Mexican Art. (Some on Trip Advisor rightly point out that most of the collection and the exhibits are by Mexican-American artists.) We loved the vibrant art that ranged from Pre-Colombian to today with most of the pieces by contemporary artists.

The walking tour itself was terrific. I wish it were longer so we could have seen more. I’m already planning to take friends back to Pilsen. I know they’ll love it. I highly recommend tourists see Pilsen in addition to the downtown sights.

I’d mention that I went to my Great Books Discussion this morning. We read a passage from Tocqueville. For background I listened to In Our Times, the BBC liberal arts radio show’s Tocqueville episode. If you like the arts, science or history, I highly recommend In Our Times. They gather great experts and tackle fascinating areas of world literature, culture, philosophy and science. The radio program taught me that Tocqueville was an aristocrat and was interested in visiting America to get a sense of the society’s aristocracy, i.e. he wanted to find out how to preserve his class’ standing. His English wasn’t terrific so misunderstood some of what he was told. Nonetheless his insights are interesting, but should be taken with a grain of salt, as is the case with most such works.

I’m reading Andrew Klavan’s memoir The Great Good Thing, about his spiritual story of growing up as a secular Jew and eventually converting to Christianity. Klavan is an exceptional writer and I’ll pick up one of his suspense/crime novels soon.

I’ve got to mail off my taxes. I should have mailed them on Friday, not knowing how long the lines are today. I did go this morning, but just didn’t have the time to wait.

How was your week? Share highlights or links to your blog post below.

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 I finished revising my play. Now I’ve got to market it more. I did send an email to a theater in Chicago where I have submitted the summary and other requested information last July. They say they need 6 months to consider whether they want to read the whole thing and I just wanted to cordially remind them in a that it’s been over 6 months. I also want to send this revised version to the theater that already asked for the full play. This version has fewer characters which makes a play more cost effective.

I volunteered as an Election Judge for last Tuesday’s Consolidated Election, i.e. the election for local jobs like village trustee. We had to help with the Monday evening set up, finish the set up on Tuesday at 5 a.m., manage the polling place and shut down. I was up at 3:45 a.m. and got home after 9. The team was great, very cooperative and friendly so that during our many lulls we could chat easily. We only had 53 voters all day (from 6 a.to 7 p.m.). There were just 19 early voters in our precinct of 703 registered voters. What a pity.

That long, long Tuesday threw my week off. Wednesday I slept late and had little energy. Still it’s a bit of extra money and it’s rewarding to help. The county has a hard time finding people to work the election.

One of my co-election judges works at a big garden center. I was interested to learn that they sell a special soil for marijuana. In Illinois, they’re considering legalizing pot, but now it’s just legal for medical usage. So it’s funny that this garden store, which caters to consumers sells this special soil.

My aunt had knee replacement surgery on Monday and I did visit her on Wednesday just before she was released. She was heading home, which is tough with the stairs at her house. A lot of people go to a rehab center for a few weeks. She’ll have in home therapy and nursing. I hope the therapy comes daily.

I’ve started watching the film Blow Up, but the main character’s so blasé and jaded that it’s hard to stay interested.

How was your week? Share highlights or links to your blog post below.