Long post again, over 3,200 words, with 26 fotos, about a somewhat different topic from the main narrative. The fotos show the renovation of an old manufacturing facility in the Ironbound into dignified loft apartments, nearing completion last August. The ribbon-cutting was during late October's Open Doors 2009 arts whirl. Andrew Wu, one of the principals in creating The Button Factory Lofts, invited me to see how his group has taken a bit of Newark's past and recycled it into a bit of Newark's future. Development like this, which honors our history and shows how new uses respectful of the past can add character that new construction would not have, is precisely the kind of thing Newark and other old cities need.
I am now officially a "senior citizen", eligible for discounts in all kinds of places. I've had a discount for NJTransit buses for a while now, but not, I think, for the train. Now I can get a discount card for the train too.
The designers have taken great care to vary key features to appeal to different tastes. Altho most units have some features in common, such as exposed beams, wood columns, and ductwork, for a modern take on condo living, the kitchens and bathrooms seem all to be a little different.
I have an awful lot of reading to do about Medicare, which is apparently preposterously complicated. It is also extremely unfair, as I mentioned a couple of days ago. The rich get Medicare, and do not pay proportionately more for it than do the poor and middle class. Why isn't Medicare means-tested? Medicare also, apparently, does not cover everything, probably because in order to cover the rich and upper middle class, benefits for the poor and lower middle class had to be cut. And if I read one thing right, I have to decide upon a Medicare plan by December 31st. Everyone has to decide by the same date? So if you're born January 1st, you have a whole year, but if you're born on December 31st, you have to decide the same day? Craziness.
Most of these pix appear in the order I took them as I wandered thru the building, so I'm not going to try to rearrange most for thematic unity, tho the fotos about access and safety features are grouped together.
I started my New Year's Resolutions for my 66th year — which starts 11 days before the regular New Year's Day — and encountered one of my worst problems. I am so bad at prioritizing that I might with little exaggeration admit that I just can't prioritize. Almost everything I want to do seems equally important to me. I can put a few things way down a list, but not nearly enuf. With WordPerfect, I can create a To Do List (my Resolutions document is just a years'-overview To Do List), with a column for Priority/Importance, where 100 is highest, then use WordPerfect to sort on that column, so the finished list appears in order of importance. But I have trouble assigning anything less than 100 to many of the items on the list.
What I need to do is think about which item may have to precede which other, such that I cannot accomplish the second until I have done the first. But there aren't many such items. Most are entirely separate matters that seem to me to demand equal attention.
I don't know why the ceiling of this unit is different from the others, finished rather than with exposed beams. But it does have exposed sprinkler pipes.
People who can't prioritize subvert their long-term effectiveness, and fritter away their time doing things that people who can prioritize would dismiss as a bad use of this particular time, better done after X, Y, or Z. We non-prioritizers feel that if we're always doing something, we will gradually chip away at the mass, so are doing useful work no matter which task we work on at any given time. We see our Master To Do List, "Life's Work", as a gigantic block of stone that we chip away at from various angles, and when our life is done, the shape of that block, or the broken-off chips (problems) that we can credit ourselves with removing from society, family, or community, show our life's worth.
For instance, when I was young, I thought I wanted to work in government, and eventually run for President. But I also knew that I was homosexual, and the Nation was not going to elect a homosexual President. So I joined the homosexual-rights movement to try to change attitudes toward homosexuality, and made minor contributions in the NYC area and a major contribution in the area of gay self-esteem in putting forth the term "Gay Pride" as it is now used. I have been irritated that I am not given credit for that, in, for instance, Wikipedia. You see, I made enemies in The Movement for not toeing the line on various issues (such as giving lesbians everything they wanted, even if that should involve serious adverse consequences to gay men), and those enemies do not want the world to know of my contributions.
Workers were finishing up this tiled common courtyard the day I was there.
But my December 12th Google Alert directed me to an acknowledgment of my "claim" to having coined the term "Gay Pride", in a hardcopy book that is also now online at Google Books, Iberia and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History, edited by John Michael Francis. That makes it a little harder for those enemies to assign the credit for "Gay Pride" to someone else, which they haven't yet dared to try, much tho they might like to, since I'm still alive to set the record, um, straight.
That same Google Alert also showed a link to a passage where I am quoted in the bestseller Conduct Unbecoming by (the late) Randy Shilts, which is also now on Google Books.
At present, the only building in this view is the Prudential Center. In the future, there are supposed to be office towers and a hotel around a new Triangle Park. If you see an interference pattern in this foto (or some others), it is the effect of a screen (to keep out insects) built into the window.
My poor enemies. They hoped that all mention of me would be lost to history as old books crumble in libraries, and then Google has to come along and digitize them, whereupon millions of people all over the planet can see them anew. Now, in order to suppress all record of my having made contributions to the Movement, not only will they have to purge gay archives, including some in public universities, but they will also have to persuade Google to redact my name out of Google Books. I imagine it is far easier to edit me out of Wikipedia than out of Google Books.
This floor is different from the others. Perhaps the hardwood boards had not been laid down yet.
I didn't know about Google Alerts until someone complained about being mentioned in this blog, which she indicated she learned about via "Google Alerts". I assured her that I would never mention her again. Many people mentioned here seem to appreciate it, and in fact yesterday I received an express "thank you" from Bernard L. Rawls, the Senior Pastor of New Day Ministries, for having mentioned his church December 13th. His email answered a question I had implied, in saying that their website is being redesigned, which is why I couldn't get to it, and I asked him to send me the URL when that website is back up. But this other person didn't want to be mentioned here, so won't be again.
There is an elevator, and you can see fire-detection devices and/or alarms in the hallway.
In any case, I looked up "Google Alerts" and found out that it is a service from Google that sends email when it comes across a mention of the name or phrase you want to be alerted about. The mention in the Iberia book, which I hadn't known about, came to my attention thru Google Alerts. Google Alerts has also found some other things by or about me that I had forgotten.
There's also a stairwell, with metal steps.
For instance, on the 18th, Google alerted me to a letter to the editor that The New York Times published (with a drawing as illustration, which is not included in the online version but which showed the U.S. Capitol with the dome elongated upwards, to represent increasing the size of the House of Representatives) on December 31, 1990. That was actually the second letter of mine on that topic that the Times published, the other having been a few years earlier.
This unit has a fire exit, marked by the red doors.
In any case, a Google Alert arrives pretty often, whenever Google runs across something with my name in it (which name is shared by some other people that are occasionally included in these alerts). My updates to this blog are found, as are some much older items. So being told by that one woman that she doesn't want to see in Google Alerts that she was mentioned in this blog, actually ended up doing me some good.
Access for guests and deliveries is controlled by intercom.
Another Google service I didn't know about was brought to my attention by artist Rebecca Jampol of City Without Walls when I spoke with her at the "Theater Town" exhibit at NJIT, which exhibited one of her works. When I mentioned that I have no idea how many people see this blog (in which I had mentioned cWOW or something we were talking about), she said that there are services that can track that information, and I remembered one she mentioned, "Google Analytics".
I saw this water heater in one unit and dare to assume that each condo has its own water heater, adjustable by the owner.
So I recently signed up for that for this blog, put the requisite HTML text into the template, and began tracking visits. The number of visitors is not huge, but even more than how many visitors this blog gets, I find interesting where those visitors come from. The summary report shows a world map, and this blog gets visits from a whole bunch of countries, probably just people looking for a particular Newark topic, so who visit once, find what they wanted to see, and who may not return for other Newark topics they are not interested in. But it's nice to see the diffusion.
I am gradually writing a book about my spelling-reform proposal, and when it is finished will probably try to offer it in electronic form via Amazon.com, whether I can find a hardcopy publisher or not. My brother Alan, who has had a number of books published in hardcopy, encouraged me to check Amazon for what's involved, and I have bookmarked the site I found, to review when I'm done writing. He also urged me not just to think about writing a book but actually to DO IT! (Picture the long-ago FedEx commercial in which an old guy pours thick, mostly boiled-away coffee from a coffeemaker carafe and says, sloooowly, "Any day now. Any day. [pause] Any day.")
Writing a book is a big task, and I asked my brother if he works from a formal outline, because creating outlines is something else I have trouble doing. He said no, but organizing materials is the toughest part of creating a book. As a w.p. temp I used to work with was fond of saying, "I hear that!" My mother, who worked as a legal and executive secretary, told me of a principle from filing. If something might logically go in more than one place, rather than agonize over which one you should put it in, just make a copy for each place. So that's how I am likely to handle the organization issue. Discuss something at length once, and then do cross-references in other places where the same point is also important.
In any case, I have done a lot of work on tables or appendixes for the book, with long lists of basic words as respelled, homonyms respelled to show where useful distinctions are and are not lost, or even made clearer, etc. I was concerned about losing those materials to a hard-disk crash or a disaster, like a fire that burns my house to the ground, so I put those most crucial materials into online storage. People who have an office to go to could stash copies on CD's in that offsite location, but I am retired. The only offsite storage I have available is online, and I have still to put up less crucial materials for my book that I could recover from, albeit with difficulty, if they were lost. But why lose anything if you can back it up online?
In this and some other pictures, the floors are dull, showing their natural appearance before application of a stain or sealant.
The other issue I'm aware of in a book-length presentation is maintaining a consistent style and tone. You don't want material written at one time to be so different in approach and use of language from material written at other times as to be jarring. But I've been writing for a very long time, so probably already have a reasonably consistent style. Whether it is a style that will keep people reading thru an entire book's length remains to be seen. (Actually, my advocacy style is a little more pointed than my expository style. Reconciling the different types of material in different parts of the book is the only challenge I see as regards tone.)
Within and near the Button Factory, you are keenly aware of why Newark is called "Brick City".
In any case, a birthday or New Year's Day is a good time to step back from the daily grind and short-term demands to think about things like "legacy" or "life's work". For most people, their children are their legacy, proof that they were here. Childless people, like me, don't have that. It would be nice to accomplish something for others that goes on after I don't. I've done some things that are recorded in permanent places, like a few books (in addition to the two I mention above, and even more of which may be put online by Google over time), and life for gay men is indeed better in many regards because of work by my generation (tho worse in others, something the Movement won't talk about).
Modern air-conditioning units contrast with historic brick on the roof.
I would, however, really like to persuade people around the world that the present spelling of English causes enormous problems, and get them to issue a worldwide recall, accept my redesign, and start fresh, with spelling that everybody can use because it doesn't require you to memorize thousands of arbitrary forms. All you have to do is sound out what you want to say and write those sounds in the single way almost all of them can be written in my system, et voilà! Everybody knows what you mean to say.
Even Hamilton Street, which the Button Factory fronts on, is brick-paved.
Naturally, there is opposition to change. Defenders of traditional spelling will oppose even the most modest reform, such as removing the W from "answer" or "wrestle" and the initial-K from "knack" and "knock", or changing the G in "aspergill" to J. I never cease to be amazed that the most indefensible spellings are defended by traditionalists.
The very large brick building beyond the tracks is the Central Graphic Arts Building. I don't know if it is currently in use or is available for, and amenable to, conversion to residential lofts, artists studios, a temporary new site for the Newark Museum, or what. And of course the two tallest buildings in Newark, whose tops are seen above the Graphic Arts Building, are also brick.
I do not aspire to change their minds, just drive a steamroller over them to save the world from their madness, end functional illiteracy in English-speaking countries, allow quick detection of dyslexia (at present we can't know if people cannot perceive things right or cannot remember arbitrary spellings; but when spelling is absolutely consistent, dyslexia jumps out), and empower billions of people to learn the world's most useful language without needless years wasted on trying to remember absurd inconsistencies, like "neck" and "nick" but "knack", "knock", and "knuckle"; "cancer" but "answer"; and "gills" with a G-sound but "aspergill" with a J-sound.
Even much of the Prudential Center is brick. In this foto, you can see a concrete structure that used to be a railroad bridge, I think, that some people have suggested be used for a pedestrian bridge from Penn Station, one of the platforms for which is in the foreground, to Triangle Park and thence PruCenter. The street to its left is a continuation of Hamilton Street, which is interrupted by the railroad tracks and McCarter Highway.
It amazes me that Americans who have not one iota of British ancestry, but are Dutch, Chinese, Spanish, German, Japanese, Brazilian, Pakistani, Cherokee, and dozens of other ethnicities have been suckered into putting up with insane spelling because of the ethnic pride of an ethnicity they do not share.
The Button Factory is 2½ blocks from the Raymond Plaza East entrance to Newark Penn Station, with its Amtrak, NJTransit, and PATH trains for people who work in Manhattan; and street passageways under the elevated tracks allow people who work in Downtown Newark to walk there without impediment. Indeed, in bad weather, the enclosed skyways allow you to walk from Raymond Plaza East all the way to Mulberry Street safe from rain, snow, cold, and heat. By the way, the horns of trains are quite loud on New Jersey Railroad Avenue, which runs between the Button Factory and the tracks, but the windows in the Button Factory cut the sound down remarkably well.
Chinese in Communist China and Taiwan, Iranians in Iran, Russians in Russia, etc., have no such patience with spelling idiocy, and would be very happy to ditch traditional English spelling in favor of something sensible and consistent. Electronic publishing would enable me to reach people overseas much more readily than would hardcopy publishing. So perhaps pressure for change has to come from people outside the present English-speaking countries whose only interest in English is its usefulness, not its convoluted history. They don't care why some words are spelled laughter, calf, cough, gnat, through/though/bough, night, and sigh, while others are spelled after, staff, coffee, natty, blue/mow/how, site, and my. They just want the nonsense to stop.
"Gay Pride" (rather than shame, "The Love that Dare[d] Not Speak Its Name" in those days) made a significant change in the lives of scores of millions of people around the world. Phoneticizing English would make a huge impact on the lives of billions.