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 today, I’d tell you that I regret overloading my schedule. I now have two part time jobs and I’m trying to give as much time to the new second one in case something goes awry with job #1. The director at job #1 has fired several dedicated employees and forced a few out by making them miserable. Also, I’m having fun with my second job for the U.S. Census so I rather like the work and people involved.

On Friday night at almost midnight my mother had to go to the hospital as she had a painful tightness in her chest. When you’re in your 80s (or probably even in your 50s), that is scary. Luckily, her stress test had normal results and there’s no heart problem. What a relief! I will mention that on Saturday I had been assigned to work for the Census. I had all the training materials in my car so I had to go to our workplace. My supervisor was very understanding and got someone over to take over the training.

I watched Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Funeral this week. It’s got lots of bawdy humor so it’s a guilty pleasure, but I did laugh out loud and needed to this week.

My father bought a new car. He’s been mulling that over for two years. His old car was faithful, but just not performing well lately. Well, the car he’s gotten is very sleek and high tech. The problem is we don’t know how to get all the features to work. Often the voice activated features respond with unintended results. For example, when dad asked the car to turn on the radio, it turned on the heat.

My University of the People courses are winding down. Next week is finals week. The required College Success Course has been a waste of time. I’ve written that I don’t think they should assume all students need an 8 week course on note-taking and how to cite. I had to write a 500 word response on what I learned and what skills I’ll apply this week, one of several essays that are hard to write because none of the content is new. I had to be honest and said that I hadn’t learned anything new so we’ll see what sort of grade that gets me. It galls me to waste time. I could have used that time to job hunt or do my own writing. Time is more precious than money right now for me.

My computer class is fun and challenging. I’ve definitely learned in this course, but I miss having a teacher’s response to a question. There’s no live sessions and the teacher seems to sign on just once or twice a week so when you’re puzzling over what to do and want to ask, “Why does this work, but that doesn’t?” you’re not getting an answer. That can happen with a live teacher in a classroom, when the teacher isn’t a good teacher. Nonetheless it’s always frustrating.

I’d write a bit more, but I’ve got to get to my computer homework. Anyone good with Python? I wouldn’t mind a tutor.

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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 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.

gulag

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?

 

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 have brought my umbrella because it’s continuing to rain a lot, but I’m still fine with it.

I’d say that I’ve just started two classes with University of the People (http://uofthepeople.edu ) towards an associate certificate in Computer Science. One’s on learning Python and the other’s a general College Success class, which I think I don’t need as I’ve completed three college degrees already and one was online, but oh well. Today I’ve slated my Python homework and I hope it goes well. I do like that University of the People is founded and led by educators with sterling credentials from top schools like NYU or Columbia. Also, it’s a tuition free school so while you pay for taking a final, the costs are minimal. I hope this experience is fruitful.

bank-dick-1

W.C. Fields in The Bank Dick

I enjoyed the W.C. Fields film The Bank Dick, which could not be made today, but it was both silly and smart. It’s nice comic relief.

My sister came in town from Utah with her husband. Usually, her visits are brief and this one was, but she made a point of spending time with my parents rather than running around the city to see many different friends. I know they were delighted to spend time with her.

I went to another jewelry making class at the library. We made steampunk necklaces out of small Altoid tins that were torched, sanded and painted. The teacher had a wide array of gears, clock hands, old books, beads, inks and paints to add to the tins. It was fun to experiment.

We had another loss at the library. This one was pretty shocking. The manager of the branch library was fired. The director has been hounding her for every little infraction and had taken away her duties such as purchasing and programming so the writing was on the wall. It seems quite unfair and now all the full timers fear for their jobs. I think 12 people have left since December and I’ve learned that in the fall before I came more were let go. It’s just so unnecessary because the people I’m aware of were dedicated, skilled workers. Many are highly experienced and at a stage of their work life when its hard to find comparable positions.  Patrons have asked about the staff changes and we’re forbidden to give much information. It’s hard to tap dance when someone asks for so and so about a program they were planning or ongoing request. Of course, people want to know what happened and we can’t tell them anything. It’s silly because people will figure it out.

Did she quit? So suddenly I just saw her Monday.

No.

Is she sick?

No.

What happened?

We can’t say.

One of the “problems” it’s believed is that the branch gets higher reviews for customer service than the main library.

I’m delighting in the Hillsdale College online Aristotle’s Ethics course. I’m a bit behind, but just loved Unit 4 about Character. The professor is so clear and approachable, while being an expert. I highly recommend this free course.

Operation Varsity Blue

Unless you’ve given up television for Lent, you’ve no doubt heard about the elite parents who allegedly conspired to get their kids into elite universities. Some schools are Ivy League, but not all were. They used a man who ran college prep center to game the college entrance tests and create fraudulent athletic histories to

This story and the one on people who allegedly got international students visas through the fraud of having imposters take the TOEFL English proficiency test. Neither story really surprises me, but nonetheless when corruption is revealed as fact, and your worst fears are exposed, I feel disgust.

When I taught in South Korea, an English professor gave his friend the questions for our school’s entrance exam. After this came to light, both men were arrested and jailed. The Ministry of Education (MOE) had contacted the university president had been told that there was cheating at our school, the president said that was impossible and didn’t help much with the investigation. Because the claim was proved, the president felt guilty for not believing the MOE and he resigned. I didn’t think the president should have resigned, but I was impressed with his sense of honor. I doubt that will happen with this case.

The stars involved are getting a lot of negative attention, which is part of the price for their crime, yet there are other millionaires who did worse. As many as 750 parents and coaches are part of this.

I hope most see the evidence and realize the right thing to do is to plead guilty and hope for mercy. It’s hard to say what a fit punishment should be, but we aspire to compete on a level playing field and these folks sought out an easier route.

It’s a shame. Some kids aren’t suited for a competitive college. If these kids needed to cheat to get in, how would they be able to stay in without cheating? College itself is stressful, so the stress of applying is no excuse to cheat. There is no excuse to cheat. There are other schools that would take these kids based on their own efforts and achievements. There’s no reason to Photoshop an applicant’s face on to the body of an athlete. How low would you go? Did the students see these fraudulent documents upload on their application? To what extent were the kids in on this?

The truth will out and it has. I hope colleges clean house now.

Operation Varsity Blue also reminded me of the discovery of rampant cheating that was reported with the English proficiency test where I worked in China. A couple of us reported the students and the agency they used to get higher scores. One girl took the TOEFL test in July and got an average of 45 (an 80 was needed). She paid a service $3000 in August and got a 98. No one’s English improves that much in a few weeks.

I reported this to the testing company and to my school, but while we were told an investigation was conducted. None of the four students suffered any consequences. We had recordings of students talking to the shady company that procured the high test scores and sent them to various agencies and newspapers. No one was interested. I submitted the information again this morning. I hope this fraudulent service is shut down.

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 the song’s from Guys & Dolls, which I saw yesterday at Northwestern University are playing in my head. “Luck be a Lady” and “A Bushel & a Peck” alternate in my head this morning.

Today was my Great Books Club meeting. We discussed Othello, a play I consider as not one of my favorites by Shakespeare. Yet meeting with a dozen smart folks to talk about Othello made me like the story more.

I did a good amount of editing last week of my own play. I hope to finish another draft by Thursday this week.

I went to the Lyric Opera’s Elektra, but didn’t like it as much as I hoped.

A friend sent me a copy of the anthology which includes a short story he wrote. I get so excited when someone I know accomplishes a literary goal.

I’ve finished two lessons from Hillsdale College’s free online course: Congress: How it Works and Why It Doesn’t.  It’s amazing. The professors are good communicators and researchers. They examine the US Congress as well as the UK Parliament and other legislatures. I’ve learned a lot including how the Parliament building’s structured with both sides facing each other support debate (better*) than all the other legislative buildings which are design more like theaters. Hence we get a lot of grandstanding and playing to the camera. Also, I learned that in the early days, the representatives and senators didn’t have offices. Their desk in their respective chamber was their office, which promoted further deliberation and community amongst peers. If you want to better understand US government, take a look at this free class.

*in my opinion