Thursday Things

1. Remember that one time like two weeks ago when Apple was all, “You get a U2 album! And YOU get a U2 album! AND YOU get a U2 album!!”?

I can’t find my U2 album 😦

When I go on the iTunes store, it tells me I’ve purchased the album, but is nowhere to be seen either on my iPhone or my iTunes on my computer. Am I doing something wrong? Does Bono secretly hate me?

I don’t care all that much about the U2 album, mind you. I just feel like I’m being excluded (possibly as a result of my own ignorance) and that makes me feel sad.

2. I have, since high school, been basically incapable of eating without distraction (which, yes, is probably an unhealthy habit, focus on your food, yadda yadda). In high school, I’d often bring my homework to the table and do it during dinner (I wish I were kidding. Also, what were my parents thinking?? How did I get away with this?), and college was more of the same story. Now that I don’t have homework, I’ve found other ways to entertain myself–the Today show, Runner’s World, my email–but as of late, I’ve found a new favorite distraction: So You Think You Can Dance Netherlands.

YOU GUYS. This show is SO GOOD. I don’t really watch TV, especially in my new apartment since the TV is no longer conveniently located to the kitchen (I haven’t had breakfast with a side of NBC 5 for six weeks 😦 ), but YouTube exists, and I am all about YouTubing SYTYCD Nederland.

Truth be told, I’m burnt out on the U.S. version of SYTYCD. I know it’s stupid that I’m still hanging onto this, but ever since they changed the stage like six seasons ago I’ve felt that the quality of the entire show plummeted. The newer stage is too cavernous and removed from the audience, and I think that makes everything look cold and disconnected. Not a fan. SYTYCD Netherlands, however, has a MUCH better set design and MUCH better choreography. Behold:


Plus it’s been a great way to try to work on expanding my Dutch vocabulary beyond “Wil je een koekje?” which translates to “Would you like a cookie?” A pretty useless sentence…and the only one I know. Not that I’ve picked up much of anything yet, but one can dream!

3. When I spent a semester in Chicago during college, the organizers of the program provided us with a full week of orientation that, among other things, included a “Chicago 101,” if you will: how to stay safe, how to ride the CTA, how to navigate around Chicago, etc. One of these orientation sessions involved sitting us all down with paper maps of the city of Chicago and having the program leaders give us coordinates, which we then, based on our newfound knowledge of Chicago math/geography, would use to find the intersection they wanted. Since this was one of my first introductions to the city of Chicago, I have a tendency to forget that not everyone had this kind of orientation. Last week, for example, I blew my roommates’ minds when I revealed to them that eight Chicago blocks equal one mile. I learned this tidbit of information during orientation, but since most people don’t get a Chicago 101, they had no idea. So, in the spirit of education, let me share my wealth of wisdom with you:

– Eight city blocks make up a mile in the city of Chicago, but it is important to note that a visual block may not be a complete city block. An example: map

This map shows a section of Lincoln Park bordered by Fullerton on the north, Dickens on the south, Sheffield on the west, and Halsted on the east. Officially, this section is two blocks wide by three blocks long, and if you were to walk from Fullerton and Sheffield to Fullerton and Halsted and then take Halsted down to Dickens, that would visually be clear, since you would only come across five intersections.


However, if you were walking from Dickens and Sheffield to Dickens and Halsted, in that stretch alone you would encounter four intersections (Dickens and Bissell, Dickens and Fremont, Dickens and Dayton, and finally Dickens and Halsted). Looking at addresses would make it clear that you hadn’t traveled a full city block between Sheffield (1000 West) and Bissell (950 West), but if you’re going just by intersections, that’s not entirely obvious.


Regardless, eight full blocks = one full mile.

– Chicago is organized on a grid which makes navigation a breeze…but only if you’re familiar with the grid. In Chicago, 0/0 on our grid is at State and Madison. Every single address in the city of Chicago reflects the building’s location both in terms of direction and distance in relation to State and Madison:

Any address with a “North” is north of Madison. Any address with a “South” is south of Madison. Any address with an “East” is east of State Street (and almost certainly south of Lincoln Park, as State ends at North Ave. due to the curve of the lake). Any address with a “West” is west of State Street. (Not super clear on your cardinal directions? Lake Michigan is always to your east, no matter where you are in Chicago. If you can figure that out, you should be able to deduce other directions from that.)

As I mentioned, there are eight Chicago blocks to one mile. In terms of addresses, blocks are represented by 100s: the 100 block is one block away from 0/0, the 200 block is two blocks away from 0/0, the 2600 block is 26 blocks away from 0/0, etc. Using your direction knowledge combined with your distance knowledge, you can figure out how many miles you are from State and Madison. If, for example, you are at 3600 North and 1000 West, you are 36 blocks (or 4.5 miles, since 36/8=4.5) north and 10 blocks (or 1.25 miles, since 10/8=1.25) miles west of State and Madison. You are also at Wrigley Field 😉

Now, realistically, are you really going to need to know all that often exactly how far away you are from State and Madison? Probably not. BUT having that basic knowledge can come in handy when navigating your way around the city in general especially if you’re at a bachelorette party and your cabbie isn’t entirely clear on how to get to 2051 W. Division, especially when there’s a street fest going on, even though knowing how to get there is kind of his job especially if you know major roads (A few handy ones to keep in your pocket–Division: 1200 North. North: 1600 North. Belmont: 3200 North. Addison: 3600 North. Foster: 5200 North. Halsted: 800 West. Ashland: 1600 West. Damen: 2000 West. Western: 2400 West.)

Bonus fun fact: on the South Side, most streets that run east/west don’t have names: they have numbers. This number is a direct reflection of how far south you are of Madison (46th Street, for example, is 46 blocks south of Madison, and addresses between 46th and 47th Streets will all be 46xx S. insert-street-name-here.) (4600 North, for those of you interested, is Wilson.)

– Every single El stop will tell you where you are in terms of distance and direction from State and Madison if you look at the sign. For example:


Here, we can see that at the Logan Square Blue Line stop, we are at 3200 W (32 blocks west of State Street) and 2600 N (26 blocks north of Madison). Behold! Orientation!

– Addresses ending in odd numbers are on the south side of a street that runs east/west, the east side of a street that runs north/south, or the northeast side of one of those rotten diagonal streets that ruin everything. Addresses ending in even numbers are on the north side of a street that runs east/west, the west side of a street that runs north/south, or the southwest side of one of those rotten diagonal streets that ruin everything. “0” is an even number.


Do you know how your city is organized? I may or may not have spent a fair amount of time when I visited Washington, D.C. trying to figure out its grid, until my cousin helpfully informed me that the Capitol is 0/0 in D.C.
Am I the only one with a U2-free iTunes?

22 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. so first off, I almost spit out my coffee reading this because the U2 thing is so freaking ironic. my close friend and i were hanging out saturday night and she was like i have no idea why a u2 album appeared in my purchased itunes folders, she was worried she bought it while drunk or something. so ironic that you paid for one and it never came. crazy world. i agree also, the dances from the usa sytycd stopped impressing me as much, this is amazing. i of course watched the whole thing and fell in love. ps have you seen this?? can i have her skill

    • No! No confusion! I’m trying to simplify things! Haha. I do think the lake makes it pretty easy to navigate around here, since it’s such a big landmark and all. Plus it keeps there from being much of an east side of town, so you only have three sides of town to figure out 😛

  2. I had no idea that Chicago had any sort of grid system! Here in NYC it’s really straightforward with the numbered streets & avenues. And 20 blocks = 1 mile. Thanks for the information!

    I’m still dying to get the new iPhone but it’s sold out everywhere and I didn’t pre-order because I wasn’t sure about the color. Grrr I want one!

    • 20 BLOCKS to a mile! Good heavens! That makes a mile sound soooooooo long. Though I imagine it also means your blocks are much smaller than ours!

      For what it’s worth, we pre-ordered the new iPhones I think the week before the came out, and mine still hasn’t arrived. It’s not even scheduled to get here until October. Not that it’s a *huge* deal, because my current iPhone works just fine, but I am definitely excited to get my new one!

  3. Hahahahaha, nice shout-out to the clueless cabbie. How many times did we tell him what intersection it was at??

    I need to print this out and carry it around with me because I just CANNOT remember all of those things. Although, now that you spell it out it’s making a bit more sense.

    And I have ZERO idea if the U2 album showed up on my phone because I NEVER use iTunes. I hate it so much. I always use Pandora or just listen to audiobooks via the cloud service. Or make Jason figure out where something is.

    • Seriously, though. Damen and Division, buddy. We’re talking about two major streets, here. It should not be that hard!

      I actually barely ever use iTunes either (mostly just to check for my missing U2 album these days 😛 ). Songza forever and ever, amen. Sooo much better than the music I own! Haha.

  4. I don’t think I received the U2 goods, either. =(

    I think the grid system is one of the coolest urban planning successes ever. Completely agree with you on the benefits of a Chicago 101-type of class! Was public transit included in that overview? If not, it would be great for folks to get a “CTA/Divvy 101” class, too!

    Incidentally – did you know that there are some exceptions to the 8 blocks = 1 mile ratio in Chicago? From Madison to Roosevelt is one mile, then another mile to Cermak, and another mile to 31st Street. So from Madison to Roosevelt, despite being 31 blocks, is actually only three miles. (Part of the reason I know this is because I used to live at 31st Street!)

    • UGH YES. Except I didn’t know it until I was reading the Wikipedia page on Chicago roads earlier today (after my post went up) and I was all, “Noooooo! But my expertise!” Haha. I was actually looking into it because I realized I forgot to mention how some of the north/south streets are named based on their distance from Indiana, but I’ll have to save that for another time 🙂

      We did get really great CTA overview during orientation, plus they gave us all passes and made us figure things out, which helped, too. But man, I don’t know how on earth people who just move here do it! Having an orientation class made things MUCH easier.

    • OH MY GOSH. You fixed it!! I turned that off MONTHS ago, because I was annoyed that my phone kept playing music I didn’t want to hear (since I have a tonnnnn of music on my iTunes from like when I started college, and I’m really not interested in listening to the vast majority of it anymore). But I just turned it on and voila! U2! Major high fives to you 😀

  5. Pingback: Chicago Marathon Training Week 16 | accidental intentions

  6. I do not have the U2 album but I am also a staunch hater of all things Apple. Yes, I am a dying breed. So I don’t have Itunes.

    This info on Chicago blocks was really great! I knew a little about it but now I know some more! I’m pretty good with figuring out where things are but I think my smartphone is ruining me. Let me tell a story about this. Since Matt and I both work fairly far from our place we don’t like to have to both drive back there on a Friday night if we are driving to Iowa so we like to meet in Rockford. Well the first time we did this we met at Walmart and since I was confused about how to get back to Hwy 20 (I had taken like 5 miles were of not main roads to get to Walmart and figured there was a shorter way). So I just told my phone to navigate to Cascade, Iowa. Well it was stupid and directed me to go the long way into Wisconsin and then to Iowa. I just followed along blindly and as I was taking the onramp for Wisconsin, Matt yells “What are you doing?” Oops. I’ll just call it the scenic route.

    • A hater of all things Apple?! The horror!! Haha. Since I have now found my U2 album, I shall enjoy it on your behalf 😛

      I actually worry about people’s abilities to think/navigate for themselves with the advent of GPS. It’s kind of like calculators, I think — I have no need to be able to do mental math with a calculator pretty much always very easily available, and therefore I *can’t* really do mental math, at least not easily. I think GPS presents the same sort of issue. Think for yourselves, friends! You have a brain for a reason! Haha.

      • Oh yes I agree. My mental math skills are not up to par with my old self.
        I agree it is important to have at least some sense of direction! I think this is kind of the same thing with having people’s numbers memorized. I have the cell phones and home phones of family and some friends committed to memory so I could always call them in a pinch of my phone dies. But I don’t know any of my new friend’s numbers because I have never had to learn them.

  7. That reminds me that I need to check on my U2 album.

    I’ve lived in Chicago over 30 years and only knew about the south/north/east/west dividing lines. Thanks for the rest of the info.

    Oh, and those cabbies! I have it when I have to give them directions when that is their job.

    • It’s so frustrating! I actually had a friend who came to town once and had to give the cabbie directions from Millennium Station to my apartment, because he had no idea how to get there. Fortunately she had been to my apartment before, because she’s from out of town and obviously doesn’t know the ins and outs of how to get to various Chicago neighborhoods, but I thought that was so dumb! At the very LEAST you’d think he could look it up on a GPS. The out-of-town passenger shouldn’t have to give directions to someone else’s apartment!

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