Thanks to a tipoff from Louise, I found out that the Target down the street opened ahead of schedule yesterday morning. It's really weird to be in a space that cavernous and gleaming a short walk from home, but it gave me the opportunity to buy a whole bunch of $3.99 picture frames to put this on the wall in our dining room:
A month or so ago I had some IPS folks over for dinner, and as everyone was getting close to leaving, I asked if they would "help me with an art project." As I recall, a wary "Uh, okay..." was the consensus answer to my vague request. But I just asked everyone to draw an outline of the United States in freehand on copy paper.
This idea is not totally original -- I saw a post on Strange Maps a year or two ago about someone who had asked elementary schoolers to draw the United States, with interesting results. But despite its minimal originality, I think it makes a good piece for the dining room (and cheap, too, since labor was free!). The U.S. is a shape everyone is familiar with, but it's complicated enough that it's pretty hard to get it all that accurate. This allows the idiosyncracies of each person's past experience, spatial memory, and drawing style to produce pictures that are all clearly familiar and linked to each other, but also very different.
If you want to check out the squiggly details, you can click on the image for a larger version. Thanks to (starting with the bottom row, from left to right) Zachary, Sarah, Heather, John, Emily, Louise, me, Maura, and Lauren for helping out. (And to Adam, even though his United States did not make the cut.) John messed with Mexico, I went wild with Michigan (and got the "thumb" backwards), Lauren stuck with basic identifying features, Sarah was the only one who included the Mississippi delta, and I'm not sure what's going with Zach's...