Friday, March 09, 2007

Signs of Spring!

Exciting news! Warm weather has (kind of) arrived. While we are still dealing with a lot of melting snow and many of your applications, we decided to take a brief break and walk around the campus to demonstrate that it is indeed true that Chicago has two seasons: winter and construction season, which in other places is called 'spring' and sometimes 'summer'.

Here we observe living things emerging from a pile of dead plant matter, as if by magic. As we all know from reading Aristotle, this is not magic. It is spontaneous generation in action.

This is botany pond, which we pointed out to you in a previous post. Now, with the snow melted, we discover that there is indeed a pond here, or at least a large block of ice (see next picture).

I bravely took my life into my own hands and ventured out over the depths of the pond to test the thickness of the ice! Since the pond is only about two feet deep, I suspect it simply froze all the way through during the winter. Applicants - please don't try this at home or here next winter, though I do have a funny story about taking a tour group through botany pond once and Jon has a funny story about testing the thickness of the ice when he shouldn't have.

More spontaneous generation in front of the Administration Building.

Here Jon points to an interesting piece of history: a stone from a building which was part of the old University of Chicago, which no one knows about and of which only one piece survives.

And here Jon points to his favorite bit of stone on the campus. Would you call this a capital or simply a molding? We can't decide. Anyway the 'decorative element of an unspecified type' is carved into the shape of a few ears of corn.

Carolus Linnaeus (= Carl von Linne). A famous former professor and loyal college alumnus, he is considered the father of engineering and is the namesake of our world famous engineering school. Actually that's not true, but he did come up with the binomial classification system for living things.

His statue was signed by the King of Sweden himself. (This is true!)

Jon and I walk down a path along the Midway Plaisance towards Rockefeller Chapel.

Yet one more thing you should not try either at home or while you are here. Jon, Libby and I decide to play ring-and-run (also called 'ding-dong-ditch' in some parts of the country) at President Robert Zimmer's house.

On the way back, we stopped at our famous Communist statue, which is in front of Pick Hall. As you should have heard on your campus tour (if you were able to visit) and as you can begin to see in the two pictures above, the statue casts a shadow in the form of a hammer and sickle for most of spring quarter, notably on May Day at noon. You should also note that May Day was started to commemorate the Haymarket Riotwhich took place in Chicago in the late 19th century. Incidentally if any of you are looking for a book on that subject, the early history of the labor movement in the US, or the history Chicago in the late 19th century, I would highly recommend James Green's Death in the Haymarket, which is an excellent history of the riot, the trial which followed it, and the broader history of Chicago in that era. Note that our link leads to the website for The Seminary Co-op, the official bookstore of the University of Chicago, and of the forces of goodness. Also note that the book is scheduled to come out in paperback in a few days. We hope to feature the Co-op in a future post, as it is the world's greatest bookstore.

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