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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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 say it was a quiet week with some interesting discoveries. I discovered a masterful filmmaker from Russia, Andrei Tarkovsky, who’s Ivan’s Childhood was challenging, but forceful and well worth watching if you’re up for some intensity. I’m also discovering Eudora Welty’s writing by reading The Age of Innocence. It’s the first novel I’ve read by her. I’m also using Creative Bug via my library to gain craft skills. So far I’ve viewed short videos on sewing, cleaning sewing machines, and embroidery. Creative Bug’s quality is top notch.

A few weeks ago I attended a class on photography for eCommerce. I used the light box at my town’s library to take some higher quality photos of a few things I’d like to sell. Lighting makes a huge difference. I’ve seen more views, but we’ll see if I make more from the better photos. It can’t hurt.

I sent out a query about my play to a local theater. My fingers are crossed that they ask to see the whole play.

My colleague’s funeral was Tuesday and it was a beautiful ceremony. The family had a lot of support from friends and family as the church was full and many had to stand in the back and along the sides. I pray that the support continues as the family’s grief will no doubt be long lasting. I was impressed by the eulogy the oldest daughter, who’s about 22 gave. While she did break down a few times, she gave an eloquent speech at a time when she’s coping with tragedy.

I learned a lot about D-Day due to the 75th Anniversary of this event. I knew a little about it, but my knowledge was greatly deepened to see the speeches and interviews that honored the brave.

 

 

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’ve got a cloud of sadness hanging over me since I learned on Friday that one of my colleagues committed suicide. She was a kind, positive person who loved her family. She was married with 3 children. She always wanted to do a good job and to learn more. She was 7 years younger than me and her youngest just graduated high school. Of course, no one’s life is rosy and people are complex so we rarely know the whole story. She was such a pleasant person to work with and will be greatly missed.

It’s hard to make sense of this all. She took her life by standing in front of an oncoming train, which is an unusual means for a woman. Men tend to use such final means whereas women usually use pills or medications in other forms. Tonight is the wake and tomorrow the funeral. She’s very much on my mind and I think all who knew her wish they knew she was in trouble. We just don’t know what people are dealing with.


On another note, I finished watching Flambards. Boy, was that a great series, that you can get on DVD (from your library system – one library in your group should have it if yours doesn’t). The characters seem real and are well developed. I wish someone would produce an updated series. I learned that there’s a fourth book in this series. Book 4 covers what happens after this series ended. I’m curious to see what happened.

My family celebrated my brother’s birthday and it was fun to see them all.

I found out that Writers’ Market 2019 is available on Hoopla, which my library provides. From it I’ve found a couple more theaters to submit my play to. I have to craft a compelling query letter. Fingers crossed.

I am back on the online learning bandwagon after a couple months of doing nothing. I’ve resumed a course on the graphics program Corel Draw, which we use at the library, and started a course on Instructional Design Essentials that my friend and former colleague Joe Pulichino does. It’s his second Lynda.com course.

 

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 going to a dinner Saturday and then a party Sunday for my niece who just graduated high school and nephew who will soon graduate 8th grade. Her older brothers and sister-in-law were able to come in to town for the festivities and it was great to catch up with them. The dinner was at Ruth Chris so it was extra special. The party was a barbecue despite a slight chill in the air. The dinner was just family so it gave me a chance to talk more, while the barbecue had a larger guest list including lots of friends and neighbors.

I’d tell you that Wednesday, when I had to go get my fingerprints done for the Census job was exasperating. The office was way off the beaten track and took me twice as long to get to. I’d missed the appointment time, but hoped I could get squeezed in. No such luck. The small office had a sign saying they were “off site” and I should call Priscilla. I dialed the number and Priscilla told me she wouldn’t be back for 4 hours. So I had to reschedule for tomorrow. I could not believe the location for this service. It’s inconveniently located far west. Near downtown makes so much more sense for just about everyone who’d apply.

I discovered the upcoming deadline (May 31st) for a writing contest from NBC called Writers on the Verge. I’m scrambling to enter. The first writing sample they want is a current TV show from a list they’ll consider. I am trying to find a spec script I wrote in 2018 and it’s vexing because I didn’t dream writing a script but it’s not easily found. It’s somewhere and I’ll have to search my Time Machine and box.com accounts.

I went to my playwrights’ group and was glad a member, who’s working on her play about Maria Montessori showed up. I really like this play and was happy to see it’s progress. I read my work last time so I didn’t bring pages this. We’re off for the summer so I hope by the time we meet again in spring, I’ll have something new.

I’m continuing to watch Flambards episodes. Now I’m on the last few episodes and I’d forgotten what happened after Christina got married. It’s such a good series. I have to say I like it more than Downton Abbey, though it isn’t as polished. Flambards has the right amount of conflict and there’s a lot of interesting points about the early days of aviation, which I’m enjoying.

 

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 going to a party for my niece’s birthday and nephew’s confirmation at my sister-in-law’s brother’s home where I got to see his newest additions to his menagerie/home. Marty now has a cavy named Bucky and a hyacinth macaw named Baby Blue. For years Marty has had an aviary in his basement. I never even heard of these species till yesterday.

Saturday I had lunch with my old friend Luzanne. It’s tough for us to find time that’s good to meet so I’m delighted that we succeeded. After lunch we took a free walking tour of Chicago’s Riverwalk given by the Chicago Architecture Center. Though rain cut the tour short, it was a fun experience. Afterwards I took Luzanne to Uniqlo, which she’d never been to before. She loved it. I’m cheered as I’m a big Uniqlo fan as they have quality basics for good prices. They have lots of sales, so if you see something great there, wait a week or two because it’s sure to be marked down.

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Another bird in Marty’s basement aviary

I was delighted by Doris Day’s Lucky Me and disappointed with the film Like Someone in Love. There’s no love in the film and if you watch I just bet 12 minutes from the end you’ll be urging the silly girl to go see a doctor and for the girl or old man to “Call the police!” which any sensible person would do. Ugh!!

I’ll watch more Flambards episodes to counteract the disappointing effect of Like Someone in Love. 

I’m reading a biography, geared for children, on E.B. White. I’m learning a lot from this charming book on the author of Charlotte’s Web. 

As I can’t go on forever with just a part time library job, I applied to the Census office for work a few months back. Now they’re hiring and I just had a phone interview and job offer for full time work. If it makes sense for you or someone you know, people can apply at 2020Census.gov/jobs. Pay is above average and varies according to locale.

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.