9.04.2017

Pullman factory before the restoration/rehab


I am a fan of Pullman, which is on the far South Side of Chicago. Everyone should go there, as I've said before.

I also said that I would take the factory tour, and I did. There will only be a few more tours before they close it for restoration. First of all, the tour guide (who's lived there for almost 50 years) did a great job explaining not only elements of the building and the company, but the area's history and the more subtle issues that have arisen, such as the possibility of Section-8 housing, which means dollars for the developer (and alderman?) but headaches for the residents. Right now the neighborhood has a great, relaxing vibe that makes it a jewel within the city limits, and the people who live there want to keep it that way.

What I saw of the factory will not be the same next year, not just because of the restoration but because I reckon they're going to do a lot of publicity to get visitors down there. The place deserves it, but in the meantime, if you want to see the pre-hyped version, go there now.

pullman factory entrance
Entrance to the factory site on 111th street.
I was also lucky to see huge remnants of Acme Steel, which will eventually be moved to a more permanent historic preservation site (I forgot what they said--I'll update if I find out).

pullman factory-acme steel
Pullman building in back, Acme realia in front.

acme steel-pullman
 from Acme Steel
acme-steel-pullman-administration
Rebuilt administration building in background.

Though these Acme items might stay.

pullman interior with acme items


steel art pullman
Steel industry art.
Unfortunately and tragically, a literally insane homeless man who was off his meds set fire to the Pullman factory because he said voices told him to. So the current tower and building are essentially reconstructed, and will continue down that path. So it's not really a restoration but a creation that visitors will see in the future. 

clock tower pullman
Rebuilt after the evil arson.
Here's a melted bell that the insane arsonist left behind.

pullman-melted-clock

But some original brick and a tiny part of the original factory remain.

pullman-factory-interior

original pullman factory

I'm guessing future visitors post-rehab won't be able to wonder in such a space anymore.

pullman-bricks

pullman roof

pullman windows

original pullman interior

As I was walking along a former carriage path that used to wind its way beside a lake...

pullman factory nature

I thought, "I'm coming back." 


pullman factory chicago

While the factory is being revitalized, I could just hang out at the Pullman cafe.

pullman cafe

8.24.2017

Go to Pullman

A while ago, I was on the Metra train going to and from University Park, and I passed by the Pullman stop. It looked historical and interesting, not like the West Pullman shootings we often hear about in the news. Ever since then, I was curious about the area, and I finally got a chance to go there recently. What I discovered was a quaint neighborhood of restored row houses (retaining the requisite Pullman colors)...

Pullman rowhouse
Pullman house


trees...

Pullman home and trees


and friendly people who said "hello." I don't think I've been anywhere in the city where people voluntarily greet strangers, and it shows how much pride they have in their neighborhood. It's more a location than a major tourist attraction, though I plan on going on the factory tour before they close it down for restoration (they're going to move the visitors center to the factory's tower, which is also being restored). I have a hunch that when they make major changes, there will be a lot more visitors. The day I went, there were only a few of us, and we were from the city. So I think I've seen the area pre-rush because it's become part of the national park system, and I reckon they're going to do a lot of publicity to get more people down there. I was lucky to see it "unspoiled" and pretty much empty, which allowed me to enjoy it a lot more (instead of having to compete with crowds to get a glimpse of the historic houses and surrounding nature).

There's an art installation at the Market Hall, whose remains are sort of sad but hopeful.

art market hall pullman

There are also grander homes thrown in, such as this place, similar (or the same?) to where I think the former police chief lives...

large pullman house

and this house, which is one of the larger ones in the hood. 

large Pullman house

Towards the center of the area is the worn (but undergoing restoration) Hotel Florence, where the Rich and Important stayed way back in the day.

Hotel Florence Pullman


But nothing is happening at the Annex (where workers and some visitors stayed); it sits unused northeast of the hotel.

Hotel Florence Annex Pullman


There is so much to appreciate there. It's not fireworks and spectacle, but it's really incredible to see such a historical area be preserved and celebrated. It's easy to get there, too: just west of the expressway or on the Metra Electric line. Hopefully the upcoming hype won't affect its charm.

8.13.2017

I want to use "can not" instead of "cannot"

I was proofreading something (because, according to my elevator speech that I should have, "I solve language problems"), and saw that the writer used "can not" instead of "cannot." I wanted to see what language pros say about it, because it seems to me that "can not" is acceptable, which Oxford and Grammar Girl (who's made a total success out of language nerdiness) say as well. 

Writer's Relief goes so far as to say "cannot" should be used, and I find a comment by Gideon Roos interesting: "It follows the grammar tendency set up with do not and should not etc."


Commenter James Gentry mentions a post by Languagehat (whose quote I kept in my blog's "masthead" even though he removed me from his blogroll) about it, in which he says, "The only context in which can not, two words, occurs is as an emphatic alternative: 'You can do it, or you can not do it'.” 


I seem to remember "back in the day" (whenever that was, and if it really should be considered that, which is worth another blog post) that the conventional construction was "can not." I think "cannot" slipped into acceptance to the point where it's a given. 


Even though I'm inclined to use "can not" and probably have, to Languagehat's and other people's dismay, the final word on the subject seems to be from the Associated Press, which issues language proclamations and rules all the time. When I did a search for "cannot" several articles came up. But when I did a search for "can not"...nada. 


So I'll go with the AP, since that's closest to my language world's order. And again, I'm proofing and editing and writing stuff all the time, so I should know better. And don't worry--I ended up correcting that "can not" to be "cannot," so all is well.

7.17.2017

Enjoy this "tastiness"

As a lot of people already know, especially people who've lived in Japan, Japanese English can be odd. It's almost like they're using weird phrases as in inside joke, to see if people can tell that the words are dorky or don't make sense for the context. At this point, if Japanese companies want to have sensical English (or English that makes sense), they could easily find a lot of native speakers to help out with such a task. But maybe they're just having fun (like my use of the non-word "sensical"). Or maybe they're making an earnest effort to communicate an idea that would make sense in Japanese. Anyway, there are a lot of examples, and entire websites are devoted to such oddities, such as Engrish.com

So here's something I found in Mitsuwa, which has an excellent selection of Japanese drinks. They're not cheap, but they're good and entertaining. Like the tagline of ハニップC. I only bought it because it had a plum at the bottom *and* weird English, thus was worth the higher price. Basically, I've never seen anything like it in the US, and I like novelties.

Hanippu-C Japanese drink

The label says "Hanippu C" (transliteration of the name), and below the picture of the fruit it says "plum and apple." But then the weird English appears: 
Please enjoy this "tastiness."
So let's deconstruct this for a moment. It's not totally weird English because it makes sense, sort of. American companies wouldn't use the word "tastiness" to describe a drink, but rather "flavor," and they'd use animated adjectives to modify "flavor" to entice the consumer to purchase the delicious drink. Or they'd just simply say the drink is "tasty."

But this Japanese company, プラム (Plum), not only uses "tastiness," but puts quotation marks around it. Why? Are they implying that the suggestion is "tastiness" but the reality is different? Are they using the quotation marks to admit to falling short of flavor expectations? Is it a textual version of a wink and a nod?

Also what's not typical English is the request "Please enjoy..." as if they're trying to be polite yet firm. It would be harsher, of course, to simply say "Enjoy this tastiness," especially in apologetic, self-effacing Japanese culture. Realistically, products don't usually have any kind of request, but boldly proclaim how great they are and how they'll make you feel, which should convince you to buy them. But in this case, the sentence is literal but awkward, because of the combination of words, ending with the quotes. Overall, it comes off as stilted and sarcastic, which was most likely not the company's intention.

Below the English sentence it says "Please enjoy the blended flavor of plum and honey." On the bottom it says "contains honey" on the left and "refreshing drinking water" on the right, though I'm wondering why they say "water" when it tastes like juice. Next to that it says "less than 10% fruit juice." Okay, so it's not technically juice, but it hardly tastes like mere flavored water.

Thus the mysteries are numerous, but it doesn't deter me from purchasing other weirdly-worded products, whose "tastiness" I'm willing to explore. So I might have something else to post on such a topic in the future.

6.29.2017

Nerdy site

The typical/average person would probably put me in the "nerdy/weird" category because I'm interested in ideas, language, thinking, reading, writing, observing, and basically doing things that aren't on a predictable track. But I was very surprised when a computer science student who's way smarter than I was at that age, or any age, asked me what a "differential equation" is. He said he had some downtime, and figured since I work on the same floor as extremely smart professors and grad students in an engineering department that I, too, understand science. I admitted my ignorance and he had no problem with that, but it made me curious just what it is.

What I found was an excellent site created by probably one of the smartest people in our generation, who hasn't merely jumped on the computer or data bandwagon, but was one of the early birds to that whole dominating phenomenon (or reality, since they're running the world at this point). 

The site is called My Physics Lab, and I assume anyone who studies that discipline knows it, because the computer student already knew about it when I told him that I found a decent explanation of differential equation there.

The creator of the site is Erik Neumann, who "was fortunate to get involved in the Macintosh software industry early on." He then describes an impressive resume of working in all kinds of computer stuff (my purposely non-technical word). Then, he "relearned calculus by doing all the problems in [his] old college text book and took further math classes at the University of Washington." He created the "website as a way to practice what [he] was learning," and he continues "to work on physics simulations, with several new ones in development." 

HUH? I'm still trying to figure out how to do basic things, like caulking a bathtub or avoiding bread. Meanwhile, Erik is creating *physics simulations* for the fun of it. Actually, you should check them out on the homepage...when you click on them they move/animate (for people like me, who just like sparkles and baubles). Or if you want the "explanations," you can look at the scientific/technical information. There's so much to describe, I took some screenshots because it's so incredible that this guy has done all this, in addition to his super-cerebral career/work, in addition to whatever else is going on in his life.

billiards animation
Billiards animation screenshot

billiards explanation
Billiards explanation and other nerdy info
I'm so simple-minded that it didn't occur to me to try to create a gif to represent his creations, and I'm so tired from reading science that I don't even want to try at this point.

Anyway, way to go, Erik, and remember us commoners on the prairie out here.

6.25.2017

I just learned about "meta"

I'm late to the party, but I just found out what "meta" means. I was at a writing group, and the other people kept saying "That's so meta," or described something as "meta." I had to ask them what they meant because I only knew "meta" as a prefix or adjective, or within the context of computer stuff, such as "metadata" or "meta tag," or "metaphysics," etc. 

They said, almost in chorus, that meta is "self-referential." I had to ask them again because it sounded so abstract, and was surprised that people would use such a concept in casual conversation. "It means 'self-referential'," they repeated with annoyance, as if it's no big deal that such a word exists, or they couldn't believe I didn't know the word.

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the concept because people throw the word around without being precise or perhaps correct (like when a business "disrupts" an industry but not really, strictly speaking, which I'll discuss in a future post). 

In a "meta" discussion on Reddit, someone quoted an article with a prediction that's come true 30 years later, which I also found quoted in a decade-plus-old column in the New York Times
In an article in The New Republic of Sept. 5, 1988, titled "Meta Musings," David Justice, then editor for pronunciation and etymology at Merriam-Webster, was quoted as saying, "Meta is currently the fashionable prefix." The writer, Noam Cohen, added: "He predicts that, like retro -- whose use solely as a prefix is so, well, retro -- meta could become independent from other words, as in, 'Wow, this sentence is so meta.' If so, you heard it from me first."
I used to often watch old Hollywood movies on TV, and I noticed that a number of them took place in Hollywood. The most obvious is Singin' in the Rain. So now that I've learned what "meta" means, I know I have one word to describe them, a better shorthand than saying, "So many old Hollywood movies were stories about Hollywood and the movie business." Now I can just say those movies are "meta."

My prediction is that the word will no longer just mean "self-referential" but become something else that initially relates to the original meaning (or what purists now see as "evolved" because the word has already changed), or eventually mean something more diluted, such as what's become of "awesome," or something totally unrelated, like what's happened to "nice."

6.13.2017

Madrelingua or lingua madre? (Italian translation)

As I referenced in my last post, I found a linguistic blog, or what the the Corriere della Sera newspaper calls "forum," about the Italian language. I discovered it while I was trying to find out what the difference between "madrelingua" and "lingua madre" was. Here's my attempt at translating the explanation:
Madrelingua or lingua madre?
Last February 21, International Mother Language Day was celebrated throughout the world. It was established by Unesco in 1999 to commemorate a revolt that occurred in 1952 in Bangladesh, where many Bangladeshi students were killed in the capital, Dhaka, while protesting for their right to speak their native language, Bengali. 
Many newspapers confused madrelingua and lingua madre, using them as if they were synonyms, though they have two completely different meanings. Madrelingua is "a language that is learned first (Devoto Oli), "a language learned or spoken from parents or ancestors" (Treccani), "language of the native country, learned from birth" (Garzanti); not to be confused with lingua madre "parent of a language family" (Devoto-Oli), "what others are derived from, considered related to them" (Treccani), "a language that developed from another language" (Garzanti). Now here's a question: what is the madrelingua of those journalists?
All the best [many ways to translate this word] 
Ivana Palomba