On the former, I have been trying to decipher the tags all around my area for a while, as well as the fashion. I mean, I'm pretty clueless about such things, but I know how to hit the books. I discovered that the Crips and Bloods are essentially nonexistent in Chicago. In my immediate area it's mostly the "Almighty Black P Stone Nation" and the "Gangster Disciples" (red and blue, respectively.) Even the Vice Lords and Latin Kings, Chicago's most notorious gangs, really aren't represented as well on this side of the city. I find some of the symbolism used by gangs to be really curious. The GDs, for example, use a star of david and a three-pronged pitchfork symbol (both fairly common) The ABPS use a pyramid with an eye. A really fascinating local site I found: http://www.chicagogangs.org/
And, on a completely different angle, aside from my parakeet watching I've been happily observing the butterflies. There are so many of them! Yesterday I was in a park area with the dogs, when a huge yellow and black butterfly landed about two feet away from London. His ears perked straight up as he studied it. It fluttered absently as it tended to the little purple weed flower it had landed on.
And have I mentioned the genius that is the Bugzooka? It sucks up any bug in your house that you'd prefer wasn't, and allows you to release it outdoors without harming it. It also doesn't use batteries or chemicals. I removed a bee from my apartment with it yesterday, and both the bee and I were happy it got to go on its merry way.