I haven't written in a bit because I've been a bit busy getting my *ss kicked by calculus, but I thought I'd take a moment to share the photo at left. Spontaneous art deserves an explanation, methinks.
This is an impromptu map of the Hyde Park neighborhood I made when two friends came over and wanted to know where I was in relation to various other important locations. This is what I came up with, using common household objects and one of my guests' shoes.
The muffin tins represent Washington Park, which is the western limit of the Hyde Park neighborhood. West of the park things go downhill pretty fast - bombed-out inner city, essentially. The Pyrex baking dish to the southeast is Jackson Park, which is on the lake. The Museum of Science and Industry is located at the park's north end, and housed in one of the few remaining buildings from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (the World's Colombian Exposition, about which Erik Larson's excellent historical novel The Devil in the White City is written). The shoe represents the University of Chicago's "Midway Plaisance," which was the midway at the World's Fair. Now it's just open green space. The University occupies space on both the north and south sides of the midway, but the majority of it is on the north side, and is represnted by the ceramic-tile trivet (the square thing in the middle of the photo).
Now, the empty salt and pepper shakers were originally supposed to represent my apartment (the left one) and the Metra stop (the right one), but upon reflection I realized that I'm not that close to the university ( I would be if you removed the four northeastern-most tiles of the trivet, though). Otherwise, the leftmost shaker could actually represent my church (which deserves a blog entry of its own) and the rightmost shaker my apartment, provided you can mentally move the rightmost shaker up (north) about an inch.
Now, the only thing that's missing is a scale. I don't know precise measurements, but I do know that from my apartment to the center of the university is a one-mile walk (not as the crow flies, but as the student walks). So although I say neighborhood, not everything is just down the street. That's true of shopping, but not of the university. And now - thanks to cookware and a good friend's shoe - you know!