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August 22, 2010

visiting the rainforest

We finally made it to the Seattle area to visit Paul and Joe.

The weather (lows in the 50s - 60s, highs in the 70s - 80s) was a nice reprieve for Terry from Joplin's summer highs of about 100 degrees. As for the skinny guy, I bought a Mexican-style pullover soon after we arrived. Paul and Jo had planned to take us on a tour of the penninsula, but since the forecast was for nearly constant rain, we toured Seattle for two and a half days, before driving to Shelton, where they live, and having dinner with Jo's mom, Beth. We saw Seattle's steep hills and interesting old archictecture, visited museums devoted to rock music, science fiction, and Asian Americans. We observed a lock in action, enabling boats of all sizes to travel between the (higher) Peuget Sound and a (lower) lake. Now were are really fired up to take a cruise through the Panama Canal. As part of the same outing, we observed salmon swimming up a man-made "ladder" through the canal, so they could spawn. Food was terrific, including an Ethiopian dinner and breakfast at Seattle's oldest restaurant. Terry is ready to buy a summer home in the area. It would be worth considering, if over time we see we could afford one.

- Norty

historical tour of Chicago

What fun -- getting paid to see lots of interesting sites that I missed when I lived in Chicago in the 1970s.

Colleague Gingy Laas and I capped a year-long TAH (Teaching American History) grant by taking two dozen K-12 teachers from southwest Missouri on a historical tour of Chicago. Our theme was "19th Century U.S. History." Chicago was, in many ways, the preeminent city of the century, though some of our tours stretched back to the 17th and 18th centuries and forward to the 20th. We visited Chicago History Museum, the DuSable African American Museum, the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago (plus a neighborhood tour), Hull House Museum and the Jane Addams Archives, the Chicago Portage Historical Site, the Frances Willard Home and Archives, Northwestern University, and the Pullman Factory and other labor history sites. Other highlights included dinner in Chinatown (the Potsticker) and a riverboat guided tour of Chicago's modern architecture. On our way to Chicago, we spent a day visiting Lincoln sites in Springfield, and we stopped in New Salem on the way back to Joplin to see the Living History Farm there. In addition to all this fun, I was able to spend free time with cousins Fruman, Marian, Ken, and Ruth, and with old friends Leslie and Joe (also our labor history guide). I wish Terry could have come, but the grant administrator has an understandable "no spouses" policy.

-- Norty

studying Chinese in Beloit

I typically received a quizzical look when I told someone I was going to study / had studied Chinese for four weeks in Beloit, Wisconsin.

Well, the Center for Language Studies at Beloit College has the only intensive Chinese language program in the U.S. with a four-week option. All others have only an eight-week options, which Beloit does, as well. Eight weeks was more time than I could spare. I could have saved enough on tuition to pay for airfare to China for a four-week program, but I would have had several days of jet lag at both ends of the trip and would have felt obligated to visit friends -- i.e., back to the "too much time" problem.

The Beloit program did what I had hoped. It jump started my studies, helping me reverse the downward slide in my Chinese ability. Since concluding the program in mid-July, I have studied about one hour a days, and I am meeting weekly with MSSU's Chinese professor, Sherman Hou. Progress is slow, but it is progress (no longer regress).

-- Norty