Go to Milwaukee

I went to Milwaukee on Friday to see Rush at Summerfest, and I highly recommend taking a trip there.

Even though I live a couple hours away (a direct shot south, actually), I had no idea how nice that city is. We walked around the historic Third Ward, which is full of rehabbed warehouses and factories. There are art galleries and good restaurants and interesting views there, since it's on the river and near the lake. It is also really clean. When we went to Summerfest, we walked along the lake and saw the art museum from a distance and downtown, which isn't packed with a lot of skyscrapers.

I really think Milwaukee is overlooked and a lot of people don't know how nice it is because it used to be gritty, and I actually expected it to be run down and provincial. But I was impressed with the general design, even the public signs, which were very tastefully done.

Since Milwaukee is in the midwest, it doesn't seem snobby and the people seem friendly, but there's also a sophistication there that is accessible for anyone to enjoy. I am definitely going back for a day trip and hope other people do the same thing because we should celebrate beautiful, manageable cities in the US.

I know Milwaukee has problem areas, but it doesn't depress the whole city. I am definitely guilty for assuming it was going to be just another failed midwest town (like Waukegan in Illinois). But it's definitely worth the trip.


Translation problem

Here's my translation crisis: I have to finish French and Japanese translations, but I also have to be at work in the middle of the night for the next week. Which means decreased sleep time and language time. Which means my language abilities might decline.

And today, after waking up in the middle of the night and working all day, I am doing something crazy and driving to Milwaukee for a concert. Which means decreased sleep time.

So it doesn't mean that my non-English language abilities are becoming non-existent, but they're challenged. If language were a commodity, I'd take up a collection :D


What's the difference between a nerd and geek?

Sometimes at work I stop and think, "This is so nerdy" and share that observation with some coworkers who also do nerdy work, and agree that radio can be quite nerdy because we have to deal with audio and obscure information (especially in talk radio). When I used the word "nerd" with a couple of engineers (one who has pens in his pocket sans pocket protector), they got all annoyed and said, "We're geeks, not nerds." Which made me wonder what the difference is between a geek and a nerd.

They said a geek is someone who is intense about a subject, but other definitions I've read say the same thing. And the other day, a couple of nerdy types told me that a geek is a practical nerd, but a nerd is intellectual: ie, a nerd might know the layout of a starship, but a geek would know how to build one.

I like that definition, but I prefer the sound of the word "nerd" better, so that's what I use. What's funny is when I'm discussing Japanese or ideas or language or audio with someone who's also into such stuff, and I'll stop and say, "This is so nerdy," and then they'll give me an example of something else they're doing that's nerdy as well.

I found a test which I took, and I'm mostly nerdy, with some dorkiness and geekiness mixed in. I think at this point, my work life is definitely nerdy, and my non-work life is mostly that as well. Which means I'm quite different than what I used to be.


A British email

I got an email from a guy who created My Language Notebook, which is a free program "to keep and organise your notes when you are learning a language." I haven't been able to use it yet because I have a Mac, but it looks like a nifty app.

When I saw the word "organise" in the description, I knew the creator was British because he used "s" instead of "z" (we Americans write "organize"). So I asked him, and he said he is from England, so I was right about that, and I thought that was the end of my questions.

But then he said he'd been to the U.S. where he "had a top time", and signed his email "Have a top one". So I just had to ask where such a use of "top" came from, because I'd never heard it before. This is his explanation:

Top is more of a Manchester word originally, but it was adopted by a lot of people in about 1990 at the height of the 'Madchester' movement. Most of my mates have been saying it ever since.

"My mates"--another British term. Which means his email exemplifies British English, which is interesting to me :D


Japanese with Mexican

I just did something quite nerdy: after my Japanese class, I went to a Mexican restaurant with a couple of very smart fellow students, and one of them said we should speak Japanese. So for most of our time there, we did that, until I realized that one of them wasn't paying attention to my badly spoken reflections. So we switched to English towards the end. But it was really nifty to be Japanese-speaking Americans in a Mexican restaurant. At least we got some practice, since I don't get many chances to speak.


Writing that seems hard

I've been watching Inspector Lewis, and it's such good quality (in addition to other Mystery shows), I can't help but wonder: how the heck do they write this stuff? They probably structure the episodes like plays (in acts), but beyond that, how do they create at that level?

Unfortunately, many people don't care about such refined quality, so these types of shows aren't plentiful and we have to sift through the junk to find gems. But I still wouldn't mind learning how to write like that, or at least spend the time trying to develop such a skill. Or have the patience to work on it.


Could the stereotypes be true?

Here's a revealing blog post by a successful Asian guy: The abused has become the Abuser. Here's an excerpt (the English is in its natural state, ie, I didn't want to correct it):

Enough of being the Know-It-All, Straight A student and basically carried the full weight of the team by doing all the work.

I have become the typical white Americans who abused their poor asian classmates that eager to show off their better than average number crunching ability to solve difficult problems.

It’s actually pretty easy and I’m amazed why I didn’t pick this role sooner. It’d have saved me so much time.

So this morning, I came to a group meeting, not ready, half asleep, and have no idea whatsoever for whatever we had to do.

Of course, then my one Asian classmate who obviously has studied diligently in the past week, has come and prepared all the answers and I happily accepted his explanation.

That's just a part of the story. I wonder if anyone else read this and thought about the stereotypes in it.


The type of show I wouldn't mind doing

This was on a while ago, but I only saw one episode, and I'm catching the rest of it now: Do You Speak American. It's a documentary about American English, where Robert MacNeil (who I'd describe as a "gentleman journalist" because he's been able to live a civilized media life) travels around the country and talks to people about American dialects and accents. It's the kind of show I wouldn't mind being involved with, but I'm quite far away from those types of media gigs (though I enjoy mine).


I should've seen this

Last week, when part one of The Murder Room was on, I didn't pay attention because I was doing other stuff. But tonight I got a chance to look at part two more carefully, and now I wish I'd seen the whole thing. Because I didn't know what was going on, I couldn't keep watching it, and I wish I had.

I think it's because I've never seen the PD James series, but have seen most of the other shows from Mystery, but since the quality of the programs is often consistently good, then I should've given it a chance.


Too many books

I went to the Printers Row Book Fair today, which unfortunately was initially rained out, and by the time it cleared up, many of the exhibitors had taken off. But as I walked around, I saw a ton of books, but far fewer people were buying them. Which is usually the case, and that's my point.

I talked to a guy from an indie press who was cleaning off the rain from his table, and there seemed to be a number of interesting titles there, but there were too many to all sell decently, and he told me that they just throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. One place was even giving away books. But the bottom line is that there were too many there and there are too many everywhere, and the buyers are scarce.

One guy who really took the time to talk to me and answer my numerous questions was David Gecic from Puddin'head Press. He was friendly and told me what it's like to have an independent press (he publishes mostly poetry). He's been at it for like 20 years, and he's managed to break even and do even better, while connecting with cool people around the city. At least he's accomplishing something.


Coming this summer

I've been working on compiling some bloggers' and emerging writers' stuff to create an anthology...so stay tuned (and I've changed my homepage as well). This is probably one of the most enjoyable projects I've worked on, and I can't wait to see how it will develop.


An overused phrase

It seems that commercial copy (advertising, marketing, etc) seems to often include the phrase "We work hard to ensure..." I think at this point, it's overused. People should think of other ways to communicate with potential clients and customers. When I see that phrase, it doesn't convince me that they're really working hard, it just shows that they're using a canned phrase because their writing hasn't loosened up and they don't know how to communicate with humans in a non-targeting way (the comma splice in this sentence was intentional, btw).