A different kind of ghost

Chicagoist recently posted a fun gallery of “ghost signs” – signs which once vibrantly advertised some local business or product which was never quite painted over. Sometimes they were just ignored, and others were buried by newer buildings. Some of those have been knocked down to make way for new developments and now you can see a lot more of these signs as you drive around town.

Sinister trees


My street is now full of gigantic piles of leaves. We don’t have a tree, but everyone else in our neighborhood does and all of the leaves seemed to have dropped at once. But it turns out that leaves don’t so much fall off as they are pushed.

If trees kept their leaves permanently they wouldn’t have to grow new ones, but leaves are not the brightest of bulbs (sorry!). Every so often, when the winter weather has a break and the days turn warm, Raven says leaves will start photosynthesizing. “They get some water up and they start operating and making food and then it freezes again.”

When the cold snap’s back on, the leaves will be caught with water in their veins, freeze and die. So instead of a food staff that’s resting, the tree is stuck with a food staff that’s dead. And when spring comes, the permanent help will be no help. The tree will die.

That’s why every fall, deciduous trees in many parts of North America get rid of their leaves and grow new ones in the spring. It’s safer that way.

Meanwhile, there’s still a little time to view the great local colors.

PSA – welcome new area code, goodbye 7 digit dialing

Hey Chicagoans. Let’s all welcome the new area code – 872. But that means that from now on, all numbers are 11 digits. ” Residents will no longer be able to dial seven digits to reach a local number inside their same area code,” says the Trib. Aw, man. Now I have to push some extra buttons.

Where did the links go?

Doesn’t look like I have many this week:

Top 10 disappointing technologies – some tech works out better than others. One of them is a viable competitor to Google. Will Wolfram Alpha fill that niche? Despite the Whedon-villain name, it doesn’t look like it.

Thinking of painting a mural in Chicago that might be politically critical? Not so fast… More.

I never know how long to grill anything on the Foreman, but I ran across a neat cheat sheet this week that will help.

Local cuisine

What makes our city’s cuisine so popular? Is it Wildfire? Tru? Charlie Trotters? No, it’s Italian beef, hot dogs, burgers, and gyros. Portillos is sounding good about now.

GreaseFreak’s pics via Pop Culture Junk Mail.

Bye, cars

Guess the eBay auction didn’t work.


Spindle for sale

If you’ve lived in the western suburbs of Chicago, or even just seen Wayne’s World, you know the spindle:


It’s now for sale. On eBay.

The cars on the “Spindle” starting at the top:

1. 1967 VW, red
2. 1976 BMW, silver License Plate reads “DAVE”
3. 1981 Ford Escort, blue
4. 1974 or 1973 Mercury Capri, green
5. 1978 Ford Mustang, white over blue
6. 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix, maroon or burgundy
7. 1980 or 1979 Ford LTD, light yellow
8. 1981 or 1979 Mercury, black

Staring bid: $50,000. Shipping and handling: $100,000. That’s a lot for “The sculpture is being sold subject to copyright claims asserted by the artist Dustin Shuler.” As beloved as this long-standing work of art is, I think I’ll pass. Auction closes 4/17/08. No takers so far. Via Chicagoist.

Magic in numbers

This is a great idea. A blog devoted to the Chicago Cubs Magic Number. As of right now, by the way, it’s 6. Can we do it? Well, it is the Cubs, after all, but at least they made the last month of baseball fun. And I’ll try to not notice that the Cubs record wouldn’t even get them second place in any other division.

Go, Cubs, go!

So you want to be Frank Lloyd Wright?

Or at least Louis Sullivan or Mies van der Rohe? Then be sure to get these postcard models and Build Your Own Chicago. Create your own bizarre version of our fair city where the Picasso sculpture is 3/4 as tall as the Sears Tower.

Da Bears, Da Mayor, and gridlock not included.

Behold the power of Google

Combine Google Maps with the police database Citizen ICAM and make the Chicago crime database, a site that lets you see where recent crimes were committed in Chicago, block by block. It’s neat and frightening at the same time.