Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Library Research Adventure

Well, the weather is still very nice. Today as I write the temperature is the high 70s, and yesterday was lovely, too. And so I went on a library research adventure. I wanted good weather for this adventure because I was going on a bus on which I had never traveled and to the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota, a place I had not been for several years.

But first why?  I am now doing volunteer research for a Twin Cities based organization, Mano a Mano. Click here to learn more about the marvelous work this organization is doing in Bolivia. I have done many other types of volunteering for this organization, but now that I'm retired I've accepted the role of research volunteer. I've completed a draft of paper about updated statistics regarding maternal and infant/child health mortality in Bolivia. The rest of the research questions I have before me are related to agriculture in Bolivia. Mano a Mano has recently begun a new agricultural development effort.

So I'm researching in areas outside of my primary professional area and it's great fun to be learning about something new. On the other hand, I grew up on a farm so agriculture is not a new field for me.  One area is saline soils and I have learned that halophytes are the type of plants. My work is not to educate Bolivian farmers -- oh heavens no! In the US Mano a Mano has three staff; all the rest of the effort is done by volunteers. These efforts are to better inform the North American volunteers and provide background information that may be helpful for fund-raising.

I can use the databases through the University from which I retired and that's great for journal articles -- although right now there is a major agriculture database that is totally dead because of the federal government shutdown. My University, however, does not have an emphasis in agriculture, whereas the University of Minnesota does. I can search that University library catalog but don't have any rights for checking out books. So I decided to go spend the day in the library and see what I could find.

From my old neighborhood I could take a bus to the campus. Due to my "advanced age" I can ride the bus during non-rush hour times for 75 cents. I knew I couldn't park a car for that. So I drove to the old neighborhood and then had a breakfast in a restaurant there -- one I've not been to very much since moving from that neighborhood.

I was so glad I had taken the bus for another reason -- road construction. I would have been more than frustrated by the time I got there if I had driven the car. The bus driver knew all the detours.

I ended up getting off the bus at a stop too early, but it was a lovely day for walking. And had I gotten off at the right stop I would have missed the cows.

This campus has a large green area, almost a park. It's really a beautiful campus.

 I had forgotten to bring along a bottle of water so my first stop was a shop in the Student Center.

More and more landscapers are moving to using native plants. Here is a nice display of native grasses.

Water in hand I walked across the street to the library.

It now has a beautiful outdoor plaza.

I found the books I needed and spent about three hours with my nose in them.

On the way out I saw this view out a window.

 Then it was time to find the bus back to the old neighborhood and the place where I had left my car. Standing by the bus stop seemed like the logical place. I watched the circulator buses from the University come and go, and then suddenly there was the city bus pulling around and going down the street. One of the circulator bus drivers told me that the city bus stopped down the street. So I walked there and found a bus stop across the street, but since this bus comes only every 30 minutes I had a while to wait. I also thought I might just be waiting on the wrong side of the street, but if that happened I would just continue to Rosedale Mall and walk around a bit and then try the bus back to the old neighborhood.

Some others started to gather where I was waiting which gave me hope the bus would be arriving there. Then suddenly I saw the southbound bus across the street. I was waiting on the wrong side! I ran for the bus, the bus pulled out, I kept waving and running, and the driver stopped for me.

Back in the old neighborhood I stopped at Panera and cashed in my free coffee bonus. Then headed home.

A very good day.

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