Platforms and Tracks

In some countries trains are designated by “platform”. But, as you can see, in Chicago several different trains can leave from the same “platform” and directions to trains are given by “track” number. In this short video (0:32), you can hear an announcement of an arriving train that says in part, ” “arriving track number one please stay behind the yellow line ’til the train comes to a complete stop… Indiana, the South Shore… now arriving track four…”

In the underground “pedway” that has been gradually expanding under the city, directions are marked to various “tracks”:

Underground-the ramp to track 1

Underground tunnel to track 1

Underground- Access to tracks

At Millenneum Station, Tracks 8 and 9 are accessible from the same platform.  The area between tracks 9 and 10 (Sign: “This Platform Closed”) is referred to as a “platform” even though it isn’t elevated. Tracks 10 and 11 are also accessed from the same platform; here a train is waiting on Track 11.

Millineum Station at Randolph-Track 8 and 9

Millenneum Station at Randolph-this platform closed

Millenneum Station at Randolph-Track 10 and 11

At the Van Buren Street Station, again two tracks are accessible from the same platform. The first picture is Platform 2 taken from Platform 1, with Tracks 1 and 2 in between. The second photo looks towards the Loop. From left to right, Platform 1, Track 1, Track 2, Platform 2, Track 3. The third photo is looking outbound. From left to right you can see Track 3, Platform 2, Track 2, Track 1, and Platform 1.
Van Buren Street Station-Platform 2
Van Buren Street Station-four tracks two platforms northbound

Van Buren Street Station-four tracks and two platforms

Finally, a remote station with only inbound and outbound commuter tracks, and freight tracks on the side. The first picture is looking inbound, the second is of the same two platforms and two commuter tracks looking outbound.

Hegewisch inbound-track one and two1

Hegewisch oubound-Track one and two

Easy dictionary

So many dictionaries and so many acronyms.   There’s SOED, there’s the  W3NI…you could get dizzy trying to follow a linguablog. So how do you sort out dictionary pedigrees? Which one is authoritative?

The SOED is not just a dictionary, it’s the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, a dictionary of historical meanings. The OED CD-ROM is £169.57+ VAT, the SOED CD-ROM is £51.06 + VAT. It’s also online for a subscription of £205 a year.  The OED is the Bible of the linguistics world.

W3NI is Webster’s Third New International dictionary.  It weighs 12.5 pounds, is 4 inches thick, and costs $81.27 on Amazon.According to Wikipedia:

This dictionary is preferred as a backup source by two influential style guides in the United States, although each one directs writers to go first to other, shorter dictionaries. The Chicago Manual of Style, followed by many book publishers and magazines in the United States, recommends Webster’s Third, along with Merriam–Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for “general matters of spelling”, and the style book “normally opts for” the first spelling listed (with the Collegiate taking precedence over Webster’s Third because it “represents the latest research”). The Associated Press Stylebook, used by most newspapers in the United States, refers readers to W3 “if there is no listing in either this book or Webster’s New World“.

search bar1The latest edition of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is free online. Now we’re getting somewhere. Not only that, you can get free downloads for Firefox that add it to your search box  (very nice) and to your mouse’s right click  (oopsie, not compatible with version 3.o).  (Yes, they have IE too.) Now you won’t have to make a button and add it to your sidebar so you always have the link.

Then there’s always OneLook , that searches 1024 dictionaries, many of them old enough to have expired copyrights. Also,, a usage dictionary and thesaurus.

(Thanks, Noetica.)

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“She’s not a mandated reporter.”

Yesterday I took public transportation downtown and had to change buses.  As I was waiting for a bus, I heard a woman behind me chewing out one of her children. Then I heard a resounding slap.

This is not the safest neighborhood in the world–when I walk in the building where I work, two blocks from there, there are three security guards who are off-duty Chicago police. So I hesitated a nanosecond before I turned around and gave the group a long stare. When I was sure they had seen me, I turned back.

The mother immediately started a running commentary about me. Good heavens, was she on drugs that early in the morning? Was I in danger? I turned back, looked her in the eye, and said, “Do you know what a Mandated Reporter is?” There was a moment of silence. Quietly, “Look it up.” I turned back, hoping she wasn’t armed.  More silence and then the running commentary resumed with someone behind my back. “…She can’t be a mandated reporter…she can’t work for DCFS…” (Department of Children and Family Services–they can take your children away.)

Close.  She didn’t know what that was , but she knew what I was talking about.  A mandated reporter is someone who is required by law to report any abuse they see. If they don’t, they can lose their job, and more. I only know of two people who have ever reported abuse. One situation resulted in counseling for the mother who had also been abused as a child. The other had such a negative result on the person who reported it she said she would never do it again.

Am I a mandated reporter? I don’t know. I have been before in other positions I’ve had, but I don’t know for sure about this one. What did I see? Nothing. Who did I see? I don’t know. Where was my cellphone? At home.

The mother’s running commentary now turned to the fact that I hadn’t seen anything. I kept my back to the group. One of the children complained that another child had him them. Don’t hit, said the mother. (YES!)

What else could I do? Tell the children about the 1-800 hotline? I don’t know if it’s even still in existence. I know the grant that funds my job and is at this very moment being slashed by the state legislature also funds the hotlines and shelters.

Now the mother was lecturing the child for continuing to sit down when the bus was coming. I looked up and there was a bus still a block away. There was more. The mother continued to harangue the child, mostly using the word “attitude”, but she hadn’t paid the fare for one of the children. After driving a few blocks the bus driver finally said, “If you don’t pay his fare, he’ll have to get off.” A guy in a crossing guard uniform paid the child’s fare. “Say thank you” demanded the mother. There was a muffled “thank you”. “No,” the mother demanded, “Go up there and say thank you.”  Did the mother not think she was the one responsible for the child’s fare?

When the child turned around to go back to his seat I saw a face that was blank, devoid of all feeling, withdrawn. Then I remembered what someone who had been abused as a child had told me–the physical abuse hadn’t hurt as much as constantly being told they were worthless.

Then I looked down at the jacket I was wearing and remembered I had been wearing it one day when I had visited an American woman in Amman.  Someone was trying to set us up as my roommate–Jordanians can’t imagine living alone.  She was leaving her husband because he beat her, she had told me. On that day, the husband arrived when I was in the bathroom.  As soon as he saw me, he left. After he left, she told me why she had asked me to come.  She had told her husband I was from the embassy.  Now she would have no further problem with being abused by him.

What a distressful, distasteful morning.  What is going on that I keep getting pushed into this protector role?

Chance Rehearsal at the Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center has to be my favorite sacred space. Sure, Chicago has churches, some of them are even historic, but it is the ritual, not the space that makes a church spiritual. When you walk into the Cultural Center, there is a sort of hush, as if you’re walking to a library, which is exactly what this building used to be. The books are long gone, but the building was saved from the wreckers ball, and now the public wanders in and out, enjoying the wall mosaics, the marble staircases, and the Tiffany stained glass dome.

I never get tired of walking through this building. Today there is a five piece string group rehearsing and the Tiffany dome can be enjoyed with a proper soundtrack. (This one is 1:47 long; if you really like the building and want to see more of it, here is a slightly longer one (4:46) that shows the rooms to the side and back as well.)

Window cat

If the purpose of blogging is to post pictures of your cats, what are people without cats supposed to do? It’s as if this cat sensed my dilemma and sat in the window just so I could take a picture.

window cat
window cat serene
If you get close enough you can see the eyes aren’t the same color.
window cat two color eyes
And there is a friend.
window cat with friend

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AT&T Red Light Blues

I’ve got those broadband internet AT&T red light blues.dsl blues2

July 2
I request telephone service changed to my new address. After 40 minutes on hold, someone takes the information and promises service in the new place by 8 p.m. The phone in the old place goes dead within hours.

July 3

I take everything to the new address and plug it in, but there is no internet. When I call AT&T, I find out I am calling from the same phone number as my landlord downstairs.

July 4
A cheerful young man climbs the telephone pole in the back alley. I call my phone number on my cell phone and my phone rings, but still no internet. For that, I will have to call during office hours.

July 5


July 6

Once again I call AT&T. Even though the phone has been disconnected at the old address, the internet is still connected there (!!??#@*!) They tell me I have to order internet changes separate from telephone changes. It will take one day to disconnect the internet and another day to connect it at the new address.

July 7

Oopsie, the internet still isn’t disconnected from the old address.  Um, call back tomorrow?

Bottom line–I will spend 6 7 8 10 days looking at this:
dsl blues screenshot
I wonder if I should have just gone with Comcast.


July 8

Orders says it has to to to provisioning.  Provisioning says it has to go to maintenance for an order.  Maintenance says it will be back on in 30-45 minute, or should call tech support.  Tech support says there is an order for the 10th, so I should talk to maintenance again, but somehow i get connected to status.  Status says I can talk to sales.  Sales says I can use dialup in the meantime, and she can get me the  number, but her phone starts to fade out and goes dead.  Maybe she needs a company that knows something about phones.


Here’s a thought.  For every day I have no service, they have to make an adjustment on my bill.  Can I pit one department of the phone company against another? Time to call billing and make sure they know I have no service and will need an adjustment on my bill–and that the date I’ m supposed to have the problem resolved keeps getting pushed ahead.

UPDATE:Yes, my internet is still down, thank you for asking…
dark modem1

Here’s a shout out to all my very special new friends at AT&T:
The lady at Retention Team whose name I didn’t write down, Selena, Ray Dawn (or was that the one person I talked to at Net10 who got that problem straightened out with one phone call), Ken, Houston who climbed my telephone pole, Pete, Philip, Shonda at provisioning (?), Val with DSL maintenance in St. Louis, Fabian at tech support, Cynthia in status, Stephanie at sales.

another UPDATE:

Day 10.
A very special hello to Meagan, Ron, and Rosa, my newest very special BFFs at AT&T.


Also: Sheila, my absolutely very very very BFF from AT&T. I have just found out that with a modem I don’t need a router.  Now why didn’t anyone from AT&T ever tell me that before?

UPDATE: My internet is back up. I also managed to replace a couple of outlets while it was daylight, and although it took longer than I thought it would, I now have microwave and refrigerator.

I will probably be able to blog in another day or two, but I’m thinking about whether I want to.

Breakfast without a fridge

Zait and zaatar is a favorite Jordanian breakfast. To make it you need pita bread, olive oil, and zaatar, and some sort of oven. Zaatar is a mixture of thyme (also called “zaatar”), sesame seeds, and sumack, a dark red powder with a salty, vaguely lemony taste.

In Jordan if you want nice fresh pita bread for just pennies, all you have to do is walk down the hill and get it. In Chicago that neighborhood is a good forty minutes away. Usually I keep a supply in the freezer, but the fridge here is waiting for a three-pronged outlet before it can get connected. So I will have my zaater with wheat bread, loaded with preservatives, from the little store over on our local main street.
zaater and zaitzaater closeupzaater toast

Oh, the lemons. Another thing that doesn’t require refrigeration. You can cut one in half and squeeze it over your tuna sandwich instead of mixing it with all that cholesterol-laden mayo.

In Jordan they use the same word “leeMOON” الليمون for both lemon and lime.

Posted in Jordanian Food. Comments Off

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