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 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.

The Great Good Thing

klavanAndrew Klavan’s memoir, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ is a great read. Klavan goes back to his youth growing up in the suburbs of Long Island with a mom who was atheist and a father who was culturally, but not religiously Jewish. He chronicles his rocky relationship with his father and his love of writing and reading stories. It’s easy to see that Klavan was a storyteller from his earliest days. What’s more it’s shown in the writing. The Great Good Thing is masterfully written. Now an accomplished novelist and screenwriter, Klavan knows how to make every word and every metaphor count. He’s a delight to read.

This memoir isn’t preachy or saccharine. Instead, Klavan shares how he slowly came to be baptizes after dealing with the demons and mistakes of his early life. He doesn’t portray himself as a saint. He isn’t proud of his rebellion at school. He doesn’t sugarcoat his struggles with depression or anger. He trenchantly describes how anti-semitism plagued him and for years was a barrier to Christianity for him.  Instead he gives us a smart, open look at one very intelligent guy’s slow turning to faith. While doing so he offers a road map to deeper understanding of theology and scripture.

Because Klavan’s writing so good, so intelligent, I’ve ordered one of his novels to read next. (By “next” I mean after I’ve finished the eight books I’ve already started.)

Shoplifters

Winner of the 2018 Palm d’Or at Cannes, Shoplifters was at the top of my to-watch list. It’s now out on DVD and I got it from the library after a short wait.

Set in Tokyo, Shoplifters takes us into the hovel where a motley crew makes up a family. Early on it’s quite foggy how this grandma, mother, father, teenage girl and boy related. They live hand to mouth off of the grandma’s small retirement allotment, the mother’s wages at a commercial laundry, and by shoplifting. The teenage girl works at a kind of sex shop, but it seems she can keep all her earnings.

The “dad” teaches the boy to shoplift and during one of their sprees, they discover a young girl of 4 or 5 who’s neglected and abused. They coax her to come home with them because they feel sorry for her. This quiet girl, whom they name Lin, comes to feel at home with this rag tag family, that doesn’t follow society’s rules.

They are a likable bunch even though they take advantage of each other quite a lot. They keep secrets from each other and

The way the film delves into poverty I was reminded of Kurosawa’s and Renoir’s The Lower Depths. You know that the characters’ behavior is the main reason they’re stuck in poverty. Since the Shoplifters features children, it pulls the heartstrings more than Kurosawa and Renoir’s films.

I found Shoplifters charming, but also depressing in parts. Yes, there were moments that highlighted everyone’s generosity and kindness. Their quirks were endearing. I thought the sex club that the teenager worked in to be disturbing, particularly the first scene there. Later we learn more about the grandmother’s role in the girl’s life and her plight of prostitution, though not entirely revealed to the grandmother is even more disturbing.

While I didn’t want an unrealistically happy ending what we got was too abrupt and I wanted to know more about what happened to the teenager.

All in all, despite good acting, I was disappointed by Shoplifters as the story’s rather bleak and it left too many bows untied.

This I Couldn’t Believe


I saw on Inside Lens, a Japanese TV documentary that in Japan people rent “friends” if their real friends aren’t attractive enough for Instagram and social media photos or they rent families if they’re lonely. (That video’s not on YouTube.) Here Conan O’Brien used such a service.


Renting friends or family has such a melancholy feeling, but this other Japanese trend bothers me more. You can pay someone to apologize for you.

Huh?

While the service is costly at $400-500 USD, I still think these customers are getting off easy.

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 was delighted that Victoria is back on Masterpiece Theater as of Sunday and that I’m just as delighted that I got the DVDs for the gritty police drama Spiral. I’ll write about both later in the week.

For my weekly classic film, I saw another Japanese one, The Living Magoroku. It wasn’t great, but there are plenty that are better. The pacing was slow and some actors were stiff.

I’d mention that I had a phone interview for another part time library job. This one pays better and should use more of the skills and knowledge I acquired in library school. Tomorrow I have a face to face interview. I’ve done some prep work already. The two jobs’ schedules go together well, except for one overlap.

I was happy to see snow falling on Saturday. We haven’t had any since November and if it’s going to be cold, I’d like to see some snow. It is winter after all. Plus since there’s less people working or going to school on a Saturday, it’s a great time for snow.

I had lunch with my cousin Janice and it was a wonderful time to catch up.

I discovered another YouTube gem in the vein of “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” It’s Kids Try where kids are given unfamiliar foods and they react to them. The creators picked just the right personalities for this series.

It’s been a rather quiet week, but with work it is harder to find time to write. I did get started on revising my play.

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 can’t believe New Years was last Tuesday. It seems like more time than that has passed.

I made a point of seeing another opulent church before the decorations would come down and went to Holy Trinity Polish Mission. Since I was downtown, I also stopped in the Art Institute of Chicago which has a Neapolitan Crèche. Though they acquired this exhibit with over 200 figures in 2013, I hadn’t seen it. I was blown away.

I’ve been working regularly and particularly enjoy helping in the Makerspace. So many patrons come in with creative ideas and leave with great gifts. They feed off each other. Friday was jam-packed as the regulars start their Christmas gifts now and finish by say March. Now I’ve got several ideas buzzing in my head.

I’m learning all about the history of candy by reading Sweet Tooth, a micro-history on sweets. I’ve learned that candy made from sugar was first developed by Saudi’s who used it as medicine. More on this book later.

So 2019 has started off well. It’s been warm here, well over freezing and I’m enjoying meeting new colleagues and learning new skills. It’s melancholy to put away Christmas decorations because I feel that now I have the time to savor them, whereas leading up to Christmas there’s so much frenzy that I don’t. I think I prefer the post Christmas days to early December.