Monday, August 31, 2015

Packed and Ready to Go

Tomorrow afternoon I take off on another trip.  I fly to Newark and then take an overnight flight to Madrid, Spain.  I arrive in Madrid on Wednesday at 10 AM where the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a high temperature of 88F.  After a couple days in Madrid I travel to three cities in northern Spain where the long-term forecast predicts high temperatures in the upper sixties and low seventies.

One of the reasons that I decided to travel to Europe again this year is that my "Premier Silver" status on United Airlines entitles me to complimentary upgrades.  I was hoping to perhaps fly across the Atlantic in first class.  Unfortunately, I discovered that the upgrades do not apply to flights to Europe.  Oh well, it's still a good year to go to Spain with the dollar stronger against the euro.

My bags are all packed (I'm just taking carry-ons on this trip).  Today I will finish off the last items on my check list.

My next post will be from Spain!

¡Viva España!

Friday, August 28, 2015

"But... but...Isn't Mexico Dangerous?"

One of the very first blog posts which I wrote nearly two years ago was entitled "Is It Safe to Travel to Mexico?".  I wrote that even though the "drug wars" were a tragic problem for Mexico, the probability that a tourist would be the victim of violence was next to nil.

Yesterday, Barbara, the author of one of my favorite blogs, "Babsblog", wrote a post with some interesting statistics.  At the risk of sounding like a copycat, I will repost some of that information here. 

In 2013, according to the Mexican Tourist Board, there were 29.1 million tourists who visited Mexico.  Out of that total there were eleven deaths of U.S. citizens, and only two of those were homicides.  Math is not my strong point, but I calculate that the probability of being murdered while visiting Mexico comes out to around .0000001%  Seems to me that I am safer down there then I am right here in Ohio.

Another statistic, this one from the U.S. Commerce Department, is that in the past year tourism from the United States to Mexico increased by 24%.  Perhaps people are getting over the media-fed paranoia about the "dangers of Mexico".  Perhaps more people are hearing from friends who have had safe and enjoyable vacations south of the border. (In the past years I have taken seven friends with me to Mexico.  They all had a wonderful time, felt perfectly safe, and want to return.)  Or perhaps, as we read constant reports of senseless murders in our own country, we are realizing that the United States is not a haven of safety.  

In the last couple years, I am getting fewer comments from people who are concerned for my safety when I say that I am going to Mexico.  (Of course I don't have much contact with the Trump crowd who thinks that the Mexican people are a bunch of criminals and rapists.)  But if anyone should make a negative comment, thanks to Barbara, I have another statistic to throw at them.   

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Tale of Two Cities

A week from today I will be traveling to Spain.  Although I will be spending most of my two weeks in some historic smaller cities that I have not yet seen, I will spend several days at the beginning and end of my trip in the capital city of Madrid.  In November I will return to Mexico City, the largest city in the Spanish speaking world.  I have come to know both cities rather well, but I have made more trips and spent more time in Mexico City... after all it is closer and more economical to travel there.

So, which city do I prefer?  And (although I have no intentions of pulling up roots from Ohio), where would I rather live?

Mexico City


First of all there is the difference in size.  Mexico City is humungous with a metropolitan population of well over twenty million people. It is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere, and the seventh largest city in the world.  Madrid, on the other hand, has a metropolitan population of around 6.4 million.  It is this difference that defines many of the pros and cons between the two cities.  Obviously, managing a city the size of Mexico City and dealing with the problems of urban life are a gargantuan task.  The criticisms that I make about Mexico City, do not mean that I do not love it, but are a reflection of its monstrous size.
SAFETY - Although Mexico City may seem more intimidating, I have never felt unsafe in either city. Many people, mostly people who have never been there, think that Mexico City is a dangerous place.  In fact, for a visitor, it is probably no more dangerous than any other big city.  Obviously, as in any metropolis, there are areas where one should not venture, (although I have explored some mildly dicey neighborhoods during the daytime with no problems).  I do take common sense precautions especially in crowded areas.  I don't carry a lot of money on me, and usually don't carry my credit cards if I am not going to use them.  In places such as the "metro" (subway), my wallet goes immediately into my front pocket.
Madrid is considered a very safe city.  There is very little violent crime, although it does have a reputation for having a lot of pickpockets. Fortunately (knock on wood), I have never had a problem.  I take the same precautions that I take in Mexico City.  The people of Madrid are famous as "gatos" (cats) who love to go out to the restaurants, bars, and clubs until the wee hours of the morning.  Comparing the two cities, I might give a slight edge to Madrid in this category, only because the downtown streets are so lively and seem so safe late at night.
TRAFFIC AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION - Madrid wins hands down in this respect, and this is the one aspect that I most dislike about Mexico City. 
Traffic in Mexico City is utter chaos, and it can easily take a couple hours to travel by car across the city.  There have been numerous times in the car with my friend Alejandro that I wanted to jump out of my skin.  There is no way that I would drive there!  Madrid certainly has plenty of traffic, but it seems to flow more smoothly and the drivers are less crazy.  Also, Madrid (at least the areas that a visitor would want to see) is more compact and more easily seen on foot.
Both cities have excellent public transportation systems.  However, because of Mexico City's sheer size, its subway and busses are often crammed like sardine cans.  I have never felt claustrophobic on Madrid's subway or worried that I would be able to push through the crowd to get off at my stop.

CULTURE - Both cities are the cultural centers of their respective countries, and are cultural hubs for the entire Spanish-speaking world.  In both you will find great museums, theaters, concert halls, and historical sites.
In this category I would have to give the edge to Mexico City.  Madrid is famed for its art museums... most notably El Prado... but Mexico City is said to have more museums than any other city in the world.  In my opinion, what gives Mexico City the edge is the vibrant fusion of Spanish and indigenous cultures. In the heart of the city you can see a massive, baroque cathedral, and next to it the archaeological remains of the Aztec temple.

FOOD - I like Spanish food... especially the "tapas"... but I LOVE Mexican food, and in Mexico City you can sample all the regional variations of Mexican culinary arts.  If you should tire of Mexican food there is an abundance of restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world.   Mexico City wins without a doubt!

PRICES -  I find Madrid to be less expensive than its rival Barcelona, and I am sure that with the decline of the euro the prices will be more reasonable.  But Mexico has always been a bargain for travelers... and with the current rate of exchange it is an even bigger bargain.  Sure, Mexico City is more expensive than most smaller cities in the country, and of course you can pay a princely sum at the ultra-ritzy hotels and restaurants.  But I doubt if there are many major world capitals that you can visit as economically as Mexico City.

WEATHER -  In spite of its tropical location, Mexico City's altitude moderates the temperatures.  It is never extremely hot.  In the winter it may get a tad chilly at night, but mid-day temperatures of around 70 degrees are much more attractive than the snow and cold of Ohio.  Winter is the dry season, and summer is the rainy season.  It used to be that in the summer the days would be sunny, and in the late afternoon there would be a rain shower.  However, in recent years it seems that Mexico City is getting above average rainfall.  The last time that I was there in the summer, I saw more clouds than sun, and there were several torrential downpours.

Madrid is extremely hot (and dry) in the summer.  In the winter it can be cold and occasionally even snow a bit.  I find that September is usually a very good time to travel to Spain.  The weather is still summery but not as uncomfortably hot as in July or August.

Mexico City wins in the weather category.

POLLUTION AND CLEANLINESS -  Mexico City used to be considered the most polluted city in the world.  It has improved its air quality in recent years, but pollution is still a problem... especially during the dry season.  I'm sure that Madrid has pollution, but it is not nearly as obvious.  In fact, the skies of Madrid seem to have a very beautiful, transparent quality. 

One thing I don't like about Madrid is the amount of graffiti on the neighborhood buildings. But the Spanish capital is generally cleaner than Mexico City (well, except perhaps on weekend mornings, when it is obvious that the Madrid "gatos" have been out partying all night). Let's face it... it's hard to keep clean a city of over 20 million people.  Mexico City makes a valiant effort.  City workers are constantly sweeping with their brooms made of twigs, and shopkeepers are washing down their sidewalks in the morning.  But even in more upscale neighborhoods, the trash bins in the parks are frequently overflowing with refuse.

Madrid wins this one.

ATTRACTIVENESS - Madrid has never been considered one of the beauty spots of Europe when compared to cities such as Paris.  Nevertheless I find central Madrid to be very attractive. (The outlying districts with rows of boring apartment blocks are a different story.)  I love to wander the narrow streets of old Madrid.  The city has more parks than any other city in Europe.  Much of the architecture is stunning.

In Mexico City... there are huge swathes that are downright ugly, and could serve as the setting for a tale of a post-apocalyptic world gone haywire.  Many buildings, even those that are of recent construction, look dilapidated and sorely in need of maintenance.  And yet in this huge metropolis there is so much that is beautiful.  The heart of the city is filled with more colonial churches and palaces than anywhere else in the Americas.  Many of the old buildings are crumbling, but a good deal of the historic center has also been spiffed up.  There are neighborhoods such as Coyoacán and San Angel that are delightfully picturesque and seem light years from the big city.  There are districts such as Condesa that have a European vibe.  The city's main boulevard, el Paseo de la Reforma, is lined with ultra-modern architecture. 

It's a hard decision to make, but I will call Madrid the winner in this category.  However, it's not really a fair decision because I am not familiar with that city's less desirable neighborhoods.  And if you were able to create a city comprised of all the lovely sections of the Mexican capital, I suspect that it would be larger than Madrid.

I could write more, but I have rambled on far too long.  So which city do I prefer?  I love them both for different reasons.  Mexico City is chaotic... that is perhaps a part of its appeal.  But after a while it can also be an exhausting city.  So if I had to choose between the two as a place to live, I guess I would go with Madrid.          

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Train in Spain

(image from the web)

Unlike Mexico, where passenger train service is practically non-existent*, Spain has an efficient and comfortable railway network.  For the tourist, travel by train is an excellent way to get from one city to another, and RENFE (the Spanish National Railway) is constantly adding more high-speed routes served by their wonderful AVE trains.  I can remember when the only AVE route was from Madrid to Seville.  Then they built high-speed tracks from Madrid to Barcelona.  Now you can take the AVE from Madrid to Valencia, Malaga, Toledo and Segovia.  There are also several routes out of Barcelona including a high-speed train to Paris. 
Train fares, particularly on the AVE, are a bit pricey, especially for those who are used to the inexpensive fares on Mexico's first class busses.  However, RENFE offers discounted internet rates on its website.  The problem is that their website is notorious for not being "user-friendly".  In the past I have managed to book tickets without too much frustration.  But if you look at the Spain travel forums on TripAdvisor, you will constantly read complaints from people who were unable to make reservations.
A couple years ago I found a website for a travel agency based in the United States which specializes in travel in Spain.  Train tickets are sold on-line, and, as far as I can tell, the prices are the same as RENFE's special internet fares.  If you book during business hours, they send you the tickets via e-mail almost immediately, and you can print them off.  I used the company for a trip to Spain that I took last year, and I have once again purchased train tickets for my trip coming up next month.  On-line tickets are not available far in advance, and it wasn't until earlier this week that I was able reserve my last segment of travel. 
I now have all my train tickets...
Madrid to Burgos... Burgos to León... León to Valladolid... Valladolid to Madrid.
In a little over a week I will be posting from Spain!!!
(* As far as I know there are only two passenger train routes still in existence in Mexico.  There is the train from Los Mochis to Chihuahua which passes through the impressive Copper Canyon.  There is also a special tourist train called the Tequila Express which goes from Guadalajara to one of the tequila producing towns.  In 2012 ambitious plans were announced to build a high-speed train in the Yucatán to connect the resorts of the Caribbean coast with the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá and the city of Mérida.  I have not heard any news of construction beginning on that project.)   

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Getting Ready for Christmas

Yes, I know it's August, and, no, I'm not putting up outdoor Christmas lights while the weather is nice, or even doing early gift shopping.  It's that time of year when I start on my home-made Christmas cards.  Those of you who have read my blog for a while may recall that each year I do a painting which I use for my cards.  Usually the picture is based on a photo from one of my trips during the past year.  For example, last year I painted a street scene from the French village of Giverny (with some snow added to make it look more "Christmassy".)

I then scan the painting to the computer and print off the cards.

This week I selected the picture for this year's card, and I have begun the painting.  What is this year's subject?  It's a secret until I send them out after Thanksgiving, so you will have to wait a few months to see.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Also Gone Forever

After writing my previous post on the murals that I painted in my junior high classroom, I started to think about another mural that decorated my room when I later taught at the high school.

I found a photo of a much younger me (with hair!) posing next to the mural.  However I can not claim any credit at all for this piece of art.  One year, back in the 80s, my colleague Jane had her Spanish IV class in my room.  That year there was a special exhibit on the Mayas at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Jane and I took our Spanish III and IV classes on a field trip to see the exhibit.  Jane was then inspired to add a bit of Mayan décor to the classroom.  Using a transparency and an overhead projector, her students traced the outline of an Mayan sculpture onto the back wall, and painted it in the colors that the Mayas used in their artwork.  It came out beautifully, and greatly enhanced the appearance of the room.

Jane never had another class in my room, but for the rest of my teaching career, I had this lovely work of art to look at while I taught.  After I retired, the high school building, like the junior high, was torn down, and a new school was built.  So, unfortunately, this mural is also gone forever.

When I was looking for a photo of the mural, I came across this picture of me, later in my career, seated at my desk.  Ha! Ha!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gone with the Wrecker's Ball

When I first started teaching, way back in 1974, I taught at one of the two junior high schools in the district.  There was a long stretch of white wall along one side of my classroom, and a few years into my teaching career I began painting murals on that wall.  (I didn't ask the principal for permission, but fortunately I didn't get in trouble.  When the principal saw what I was doing he liked the idea.)  In the morning before classes and in the afternoon after school, I would spend some time painting.  The murals depicted the history of Mexico.

The paintings were never finished.  In 1983, due to declining enrollment, the school was closed.  I moved on to the other junior high and eventually to the high school.  The school district foolishly did not maintain the building.  Water pipes burst during the winter, and the interior of the former school was a shambles.  Finally, twenty six years later, the building was demolished.  Remarkably, someone on the crew took a photographic record of each room in the school prior to the demolition.  The photographer took numerous pictures of my paintings.  All of the photos were posted on an alumni website.

I assumed that, after all those years of neglect, my murals were peeling and covered with mold.  Imagine my astonishment when I saw that they were still intact and that the colors were just as vivid as ever.  I think that my artwork has matured since those days, and to my eyes those paintings now look dreadfully amateurish.  Still, I'm a bit sad when I think that they are gone forever.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

University Campus... Outdoor Art Museum

There are not many universities in the world which can boast a campus which is also a World Heritage Site, but in 2007 UNESCO bestowed that honor upon the University of Mexico.

The university is officially known as the National Autonomous University of Mexico... UNAM for short.  With an enrollment of over 300,000 students, it is the largest university in Latin America.  It is also generally considered the leading university in the Spanish speaking world.  In its modern form, as a non-religious, public institution, it was founded in 1910, but it can trace its heritage back to the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico which was established in 1551.

The university was originally housed in numerous buildings in the colonial "Centro Histórico" of Mexico City.  In the early 1950s construction was begun on a new "Ciudad Universitaria" 
(University City) upon a barren area covered with ancient lava flows on the south side of the capital.  The new campus was opened in 1954.  Some of Mexico's leading muralists were commissioned to decorate many of the buildings... hence UNAM's status today as a World Heritage Site.

The most photographed building on the campus is the university library.  The building is covered on all four sides with mosaic murals designed by Juan O'Gorman.  The murals depict Pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern Mexico.


The Rectory (Administration Building) boasts a three-dimensional mural painted by David Siqueiros entitled "The People to the University, the University to the People".

One of the university auditoriums has a mural by José Chávez Morado entitled "The Conquest of Energy".

The artist Francisco Eppens drew on motifs from Aztec mythology to create a mural of glazed tiles on the façade of School of Medicine.

The university stadium gained fame as the venue for the 1968 Summer Olympics.  The structure was designed  to resemble a volcanic crater, although others likened it to a Mexican "sombrero".  Diego Rivera did a three-dimensional mural made of natural colored stones.  He planned to decorate the entire structure with similar works, but he died before he could continue the project.

Anyone with an interest in the Mexican muralists should include a visit to the university campus.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Frida Kahlo and the "Blue House"

(image taken from the web)

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist and the wife of the mural painter Diego Rivera.  During her life she was overshadowed by her famous husband, but posthumously she is just as celebrated as Diego, and is an icon of feminism. 
Frida lived a life that would make any soap opera pale in comparison.  She was born in 1907, the daughter of a German father and a Mexican mother. She was able to overcome a childhood case of polio.  However, in 1925, when she was only eighteen, she was riding a Mexico City bus that collided with a trolley car.  She suffered extensive injuries, and, as a consequence, for the rest of her life she had health problems and endured physical pain.  While she was bedridden after the accident she took up painting to pass the time.  Diego Rivera, whom she had met previously, told her that she had talent and encouraged her to continue her artistic pursuits.
In 1929 Diego and Frida married.  Their marriage was tempestuous.  In 1939 they divorced, but they remarried the following year.  They both had frequent extramarital affairs.  It was Diego's affair with Frida's sister that led to their divorce.  Frida's affairs with both men and women included a brief relationship with the exiled Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky.
Frida painted around 140 paintings.  Many of them are self portraits that often depict her physical and psychological suffering.  During her lifetime she had two gallery exhibitions of her artwork... one in New York City and another in Paris.  Her work was well received (the Louvre bought one of her paintings), but, in the Mexican art world dominated by men, she remained a minor figure.  She was better known as the wife of Diego Rivera.  It was decades after her death that interest in Frida as an artist exploded.  In 2006, one of her paintings sold for 5.6 million dollars at auction... a record for a piece of Latin American art.  Today she is just as famous as her husband... and judging from the number of tourist items for sale that are emblazoned with her image, I would dare say that she is perhaps more famous.
In 1954 at the age of 47, Frida tragically died.
"La Casa Azul" (The Blue House) was the Kahlo family home where Frida was born and died.  Much of her married life with Diego was also spent here.  Today it is one of the most visited museums in Mexico City.  It is located in Coyoacán, a neighborhood on the south side of the city.
"Frida and Diego lived in this house. 1929-1954"

This sign incorrectly implies that they spent their entire married life in the Blue House.
Diego also owned a house (with a separate apartment for Frida) in the nearby neighborhood of San Angel.
Today it is also a museum.

I visited "La Casa Azul" in 2011.  I was lucky and did not have to wait to enter.  On subsequent visits to Coyoacán I have seen long lines of visitors on the street waiting for admission.
Tourists who are expecting to see a large collection of Frida's paintings may be disappointed.  There are several rooms that display a few minor works of hers, some personal mementos and some artwork by Rivera and other Mexican painters. Most of the museum shows the home as it was at the time of Frida's death.
    The lovely garden contains many pieces from their collection of Pre-Hispanic sculpture.

Frida preferred a traditional Mexican kitchen to one filled with modern appliances.

The dining room

Frida's studio

Two years before her death, Frida's lower right leg had to be amputated due to gangrene.  She used this wheelchair when painting.
Frida's bed where she died in 1954.

Her cremated ashes are in the Pre-Hispanic urn on the dressing table.

Her death certificate lists the cause of death as a pulmonary embolism.  In her last years she was using morphine heavily to deal with the pain.  Some believe that she died of an accidental or intentional morphine overdose.  Since no autopsy was performed, we will never know for sure.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Electrifying Music

I have written numerous times on this blog about our world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra.  In the summer the orchestra plays at the Blossom Music Center, an outdoor pavilion in the woodlands of the Cuyahoga Valley.  This year, in addition to its Blossom schedule, they have added a series of three Friday evening concerts, called "Summers at Severance".  These are performed at the orchestra's Cleveland home, Severance Hall, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful and acoustically perfect concert halls in the country.  Before and after the concerts, drinks and food are served on the terrace of Severance Hall. 


Yesterday my dear friend and former teaching colleague, Carol, called me.  She had two tickets for last night's concert and asked me if I wanted to come along.  Of course I said "Yes!".

The guest conductor was Polish-born Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.  The distinguished conductor and composer is 90 years old, and is the world's oldest living musician still leading major orchestras.  When he came on stage, he appeared quite frail, and I feared that he would not make it to the podium.  However, once he began to direct the orchestra, there was no lack of vigor and enthusiasm.

The principal work on the program was one of my favorite symphonies... the Fifth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich.  (This is the same work that Skrowaczewski conducted when he made his American debut with the Cleveland Orchestra in 1958.)

The symphony was written in 1937 when Shostakovich had fallen out of favor with the Communist Party because of his avant garde music.  The infamous Purges of the Stalinist regime had begun, and the composer found himself in a perilous position.  With the more traditional Fifth Symphony, Shostakovich regained the favor of the Party.  The thunderous final movement was hailed by the Soviet government as an affirmation of the optimism of Stalinist Russia.  In fact, many music commentators believe that Shostakovich's music remained slyly defiant.  The sorrowful third movement is thought to be a lament for a former patron who had perished in the Purges.  Even the triumphant finale has been interpreted by some as tongue-in-cheek sarcasm... "Look how happy we are under Stalin!"

Whatever the composer's intentions might have been, there is no argument that the Fifth Symphony is a masterpiece, and it remains today one of Shostakovich's most frequently performed works.  The music is a roller coaster ride of emotions.  The performance last night was brilliant, and the conductor received a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience.

I wish that I could share with you last night's electrifying performance, but here is a video from YouTube of the final movement performed by another renowned orchestra, the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

Fourth Movement of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Always a Teacher

Yesterday afternoon I had to go to the emergency room.  (Fortunately it turned out to be nothing serious.)  However I was given a prescription to fill at the pharmacy.  The nurse gave me the first pill in the ER at 5:30 PM.  Since the pills are to be taken every 12 hours, I had to set my alarm for 5:30 AM... a bit earlier than when I usually awaken.

The alarm went off, and I got up and took my pill.  I then brushed my teeth, took a shower, shaved and dressed.  There was no time for breakfast, because it's a half hour drive to my school, and I like to be there well before 7 AM so that there is no line-up at the copying machine.  That's all I remember.

The alarm went off.  "Wait a minute, didn't I already get up to take my pill?"  No, it had all been a dream.  Still, I counted out the pills to make sure that I had not taken this morning's dose.

Even though it has been eleven years since I retired, every so often I have dreams that I am still in the classroom.  There is always a sense of relief when I realize that it was just a dream.  I guess once a teacher, always a teacher!

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Last Tuesday, Alejandro's last day in Ohio, we got in the car and took a drive twenty miles from home to the college town of Oberlin, Ohio.

Oberlin College was founded in 1833 by two Presbyterian ministers.  It is a highly regarded school, and a very historic institution.  In 1835 it was the first college in the United States to admit black students, and in 1837 became the first coeducational college in the country.  Its Conservatory of Music, founded in 1865, is the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the United States. 

We strolled around the campus.  The architecture of the older buildings is very interesting.  Many have red tiled roofs and Romanesque arches that reminded me a bit of medieval buildings in Spain.  (The style however is inspired by Tuscan Renaissance architecture.)

The highlight of our excursion was a visit to the college's Allen Memorial Museum of Art, which was established in 1917.  I had never been there before.  I had heard that it had an excellent reputation, but I was still quite surprised to find such a fine little gem of a museum in a small Ohio town.  It is considered one of the finest college museums in the country, and is ranked alongside the museums of Yale and Harvard.  Admission is free.

The entry hall has a beautifully decorated ceiling.

Located around the entry hall are artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome, and a collection of classical Asian art.

One gallery is devoted to medieval and Renaissance art.

The next gallery contains works from the 16th and 17th century.

On the other side of the museum is a gallery of late 19th century and early 20th century art.  Many famed artists such as Monet, Cezanne, Matisse, Modigliani, and Picasso are represented here.

While researching Oberlin to write this entry, I discovered that the Allen Museum also operates a nearby house that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  It is open to the public twice a month.  Guess I will have to make another trip to Oberlin one of these days!