Go to Milwaukee

When people think about Milwaukee, they probably don't think of it as a pleasant vacation destination. The last time I was there was to see Rush at Summerfest, and before that, I think I went there on a day trip when I was a kid. I had no idea what a great place it is, and it really feels like a nice getaway from Chicago, which is a lot more crowded, dirty, and full of hassles that Milwaukee doesn't seem to have.

The customer service also seems superior to Chicago. I don't know if that's because people are nicer up there, if they're better trained, or what, but wherever I went, people were friendly and pleasant. I'm not saying Chicago is full of rude people, but customer service didn't seem like an effort for the people I encountered in Milwaukee.

There are many reasons why Milwaukee seems like a fantastic city. First of all, the lakefront is clean and beautiful, and it seems like the city (or state) put a lot of money into developing it. Chicago's lakefront is also great, but Milwaukee's lakefront offers a natural experience within a manageable urban environment. It's like a scaled-down version of Chicago's Lake Michigan, but with more space and opportunities to walk around in freedom.

Milwaukee lakefront museum
Milwaukee lakefront

The downtown architecture was another surprising feature. I didn't know that they preserved their older architecture. Before going there, I thought the downtown area would have rundown buildings and seem like it was de-developing. But the city seems to want to maintain its history, and luckily, I was there for Historic Milwaukee's first walking tour of the season.

Mackie building
Mackie Building

Mitchell building
Mitchell Building

Plankinton building
The Plankinton was a hotel in the 1900s. 
Wells building
Wells Building
Images of the Milwaukee Art Museum are all over because of the famous "wings," which can also be seen from the Third Ward area (which is near Summerfest). In addition to the eclectic art collections, there's a really nice cafe and various areas to look at the lake from inside.
Milwaukee art museum

And luckily, we saw them installing public art along the street that stretches west from the museum (because the lake is east, just like in Chicago). This is the first piece that they unveiled.
Milwaukee public art

We didn't have time to go to the Third Ward, which has become a dynamic area converted from old warehouses; that's for the next trip (because I'll definitely be going back), in addition to brewery tours and other historical areas. But we did go to the Pabst Mansion, which was incredibly luxurious, and ate delicious food around the city. They really know how to do meat, cheese, and baked goods up there.

Basically, if you're assuming Milwaukee is a throw-away place that can be easily overlooked, reconsider that assumption, because it really has a lot to offer. I was pleasantly surprised, and I think others who haven't made that trip will be too.


Adjunct professor or adjunct instructor?

Or adjunct faculty? A lot of people are caught up in titles. One title that gets thrown around the business world is "adjunct professor." A while ago, I did some work for a very talented person who has great advice about things (I want to be vague to not risk offending anyone). They were really an expert in their field. At one point, I had to help write a bio, and part of it said "adjunct professor" at a major university. I questioned someone else to see if that was truly the title, and since they didn't want to offend the expert, they didn't ask. So we went with that, since that's what they labeled themselves (excuse my misuse of pronouns, but I don't want to define the person as male or female).

Fine, if they wanted to call themselves that, it's their business, and their life to live. I'm more into accuracy than sounding impressive (though I have told people that I've written news for a top CBS Radio station, and they were impressed, which made me feel briefly important). I didn't really think about the "adjunct" label until I was looking at another successful businessperson's LinkedIn profile, where they called themselves an "adjunct professor." I did a search online including the person's name, "adjunct professor" title, and school. And guess what? I couldn't find it. I couldn't even find a syllabus or class listing, even though they're considered as prominent in the digital "space" (I use that term because it's a buzzword and I want to be pretentious). And at the school's website, they call such people overall "adjunct faculty" and label some individuals "adjunct instructor." No "professor" in that list!

I did some brief additional research on the term, which took like 5 minutes, and that's only because I texted a real academic who's a true professor at a prestigious university and is busy (I'm not naming them either because they didn't know that I was asking them for this blog post), and they didn't respond within seconds. Otherwise, without the wait time, the pure "research" time took possibly 30 seconds. I asked the person, who kindly took a few minutes out of their day at an academic conference at another prestigious university, what they thought of the "adjunct professor" label. They said (texted) that it's a real title, and to my follow-up question about people using the title who aren't academics but just teach at a university, Real Professor (RP) said they "don't attach much to the difference."

I was surprised, but then again, the RP isn't snobby and doesn't seem to feel like they're superior to anyone, whether they're educated or not. Even though they've achieved the impossible by securing a tenure-track position (purposeful fragment). It's like becoming a successful actor!

I would've done more "research" on this topic because I work in a robust department at a major research university, where professors, adjuncts, and students have impressive degrees or are participating in serious, world-changing projects. But the semester is over, so I didn't see any professors to ask. Even a super-smart, accomplished, PhD-plus 先輩 is out of town participating in some important worldwide conference or something as an internationally recognized expert, so I couldn't ask them either. Also, I didn't want to email them (I'm using the weird pronoun again) with such an insignificant question. To me, it's important, but people like that have way bigger fish to fry.

So is it wrong or inaccurate to use "professor" after adjunct? People in academia don't throw that label around (in my opinion), as evidenced by this adjunct's sad essay about the harsh lifestyle. They call themselves (no name or gender was given, thus weird pronoun again) "instructor" and use the word "adjuncts." That's what people at schools or in academia tend to do. But businesspeople tend to want to dress it up to impress clients or whatever.

There's also an interesting discussion about such terms at Metafilter, where I never post but often lurk to not feel alone in my queries.


No hyphen in "up-" or "downregulate"

One of my jobs is reading lots of scientific papers, and I often have to look online to clarify spelling or accurate meanings of words (because I'm not a scientist), or to simply verify correct style.

A couple of words that often pop up (and their variants) are "upregulate" and "downregulate." Researchers often use a hyphen, and even Blogger is pointing out the errors, creating red squiggly lines below the words.

But according to Andrea Devlin, a professional science editor who was also schooled in science and seems super-serious and proficient in scientific writing, the hyphen should not be used: "Many scientists use up regulate or up-regulate; however, the correct form is upregulate. The same applies to downregulate, overexpress and underexpress, all of which should be written as a single word without a hyphen / dash or space."

I just saw those words today, with a hyphen, and I quickly corrected them. In the past, I'd have to look online to figure out the correct spelling. I think I'm pretty automatic at this point, but I still have to tackle other word-oriented issues.


It's still an introverted world

Dear world: you are still introverted, and I still have to learn to live in it.

A few years ago, I posted my feelings of struggle of being an extrovert in an introverted world, and since then, I still have a very hard time finding articles about extroverts who are suffering in such a reality. There are many articles, books, videos, etc. about introverts. What about people like me? It's still hard, and I've even come out of the closet as an extrovert, because I'd been pretending too long and felt like I'd explode.

Basically, I'm pretty much back where I started. When I started this blog, I was translating various languages, writing, and editing. Since I'm married to an introvert and met a lot of other people who are introverted (yes, they are out there, and I force them to admit it because I can spot the signs), I tried very hard to be the same way. I kept trying to convince myself that my isolating work situation could be tolerated, and I'd be able to survive. But I kept feeling crazy and frustrated. Yet I continued doing that kind of work for years and really thought there was something wrong with me because I felt blank and cut off.

Then I started teaching again (I'd quit for 5 years due to a horrendous experience), and I felt normal. I felt good. Not only did I have wonderful students (adult ESL), but my coworkers were friendly and loved to talk, too. It was like my gray, isolationist written word-oriented world got a major dose of color, and I was able to plug in to some active current that remains obscured in the introverted world.

But I continued to be in denial about my need to talk and express myself, and my enjoyment of interacting with outgoing people. The problem is that I love translating, writing, editing, and reading, but I am not the silent, anti-social type. I'm not energized by spending hours in front of a computer. I need to get up and find an interesting person to blab with before returning to the silent world of ideas. It's been a struggle, but I've accepted my limitations and am now telling people what I need. I even told a few people at a very introverted job I have (i.e., people around me are introverted and the work is silently solitary), and one of them took pity on me and occasionally has spirited conversations with me. Such charity is very important to people like me who must act a certain way to survive and thrive.

And research supports what I'm saying. Pretty much the only article I found online about the suffering of extroverts in an introverted world was The Cost of Faking Your Personality at Work, which quoted an academic who said "it seems like extroverts suffer when they pretend to be introverts at work, and more so than introverts who pretend to be extroverts. When naturally talkative and social people had to be quiet and solitary for long periods of time at their desks, they reported less job satisfaction and more stress than the extroverts whose jobs allowed them to act like themselves."

Thank you Sanna Balsari-Palsule, who discovered that, and thank you Melissa Dahl, who wrote the article! You are providing a service to us non-introverted nerds/geeks who do not fit with their introverted cohorts! There are other people like me who love to think, write, etc., but need a situation like late 19th-century Paris when artists would get together in cafes and hang out and laugh and talk and argue and drink and have a rowdy time!

Because of the introverted structure of society, such people are behind their computers (like me right now), posting to social media on their handhelds or whatever, avoiding human interaction, because technology has created walls that are only scalable via the digital divide!

I would like to mention a fellow extrovert who has admitted to the world that she, too, struggles with mandatory introverted work: I found Katie Lubarsky's blog post after an extensive search. She says "Basically, I prefer being around people. I like working in groups, interacting with others, and sharing thoughts and ideas. It energizes me, inspires me, and keeps me focused." She's a student (or was one when she wrote the post) who is "an extrovert who is trying to write a thesis. Which, by its very nature, is an activity that tends to isolate one from other humans. It’s a solitary pursuit- just me, myself, and my computer, day in and day out." She also says "I find my suppressed extroversion manifesting in all sorts of counterproductive ways" and admits "Even writing this blog, which I promise you is not exactly what I should be spending my time on right now, is an attempt to communicate with the outside world."

Bingo! That was why I started this blog. I love language and didn't have people to talk about it with and didn't have coworkers to chat with (a major drawback of doing solitary freelance work), so I reached out to the world to express myself and have at least a vague feeling that people were "listening" (based on the thousands of hits I used to get from all over the world). What I discovered was that I love blogging to the point that I ended up blogging for other people, including ghost-writing, and even started a secret blog (which I shut down and have relocated to another host to create yet another secret blog).

What sparked this most recent post about the subject (about which I'll probably post again) was that today I was "playing" tennis (quotes for actually just hitting a ball badly) with an extrovert (who had an extroverted career) and an introvert (who probably suffered in a semi-extroverted career). We extroverts kept talking and stopped hitting the ball, which annoyed the introvert. I honestly couldn't tell if the introvert was disgusted by the true personality I was revealing, or if he was just throwing some mild comments out there, but it made me feel self-conscious, causing me to reconsider my behavior. Perhaps that should be a case in which I suppress my true personality to survive yet another introverted situation. Thus this blog post. Because I love expressing myself, I had to write something, since the tennis excursion was the only extroverted opportunity I've literally had all day.

I'm not saying I'm going to quit my introverted work (more hours are spent silently writing and editing than teaching), but I will continue to find outlets to express myself to counteract the IPS (Introverted Power Structure). What will inevitably happen, as occurred today, will be that I will encounter people who are either introverts drained by people like me, or people high up on the hierarchy of personality who find it disgusting that I'm rising above my station to actually talk...because people who are low on the hierarchy don't have the right to talk unless spoken to (and even then, words have to be limited).

Hopefully, other extroverts will share their feelings online (unless they're too busy talking to live humans), so that the introverts who are constantly complaining will understand the power they have, and the rules they've set.


Temporary autonomous zone

I was at a very unconventional party recently (which happens every year), and I was talking to someone who's been going there for a while. She's now become part of the creation, providing visual effects to the increasingly elaborate production. We briefly talked above the dominating eclectic mix of DJ-d music, and I said that it's a place where people can relax and be goofy and have fun. She called it a "temporary autonomous zone."

I looked online to see if anyone else has used such an expression, and found it most prominently featured as a book. But I'm pretty sure she wasn't aware of that. What she meant was that the party and other such events are spaces where people can be themselves and express themselves as they want.

It's pretty plain that as we get older and have more responsibilities, or even want to stay well-employed, we don't encounter any autonomous zones outside of our own living spaces. Also, people's definitions of such a space differ. For instance, my idea of being free is just totally being myself, no matter where I am. Other people want a certain public place to participate in such freedom with others (such as Burning Man, where the concept has been expressed via Zone Trips that were created by the Cacophony Society). Maybe that's how she came up with the phrase, since she's been to Burning Man and its satellite events.

I suspect that the TAZ concept will become more mainstream because I've noticed that mainstream culture tends to take on concepts and phrases that originate on the periphery of society and in alternative subcultures. There are so many examples of such linguistic evolution that I'm sure someone wrote a book on it.

I did a quick search and already found a major media outlet use the term recently (though it's so overloaded it crashed my computer while I was writing this).

After rebooting my computer and trying to tame the source, I've decided to quote the section here because the LA Weekly site is still loading all its plug-ins and whatnot, and if I try to scroll through the article it slows down the whole loading experience (and eventually freezes), which you might encounter as well; in other words, I want you to avoid the annoying reading experience that I'm still having while writing this post. "What began as a combination art installation and chill-out area has grown into a sort of festival within the festival — a temporary autonomous zone..."

Wow, what a frustrating way to confirm the use of the phrase. Thus sidenote: websites should quit overloading their content with lots of auxiliary/spy-type junk!