Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Thursday 30 October 2014

For the record, I hate Hartsfield-Jackson airport. More specifically, I hate the people who are responsible for signage here.

Mostly, they forget to put up the last sign in a sequence, both inside and outside the airport. Say there's a turn, followed by a straight path, then a Y-shaped fork, then another straight path to the destination. At ATL, they'll have a sign telling you which way to make the first turn, a sign along the straight path, and then...nothing.

I know now what lies along every fork at the airport.

In other news, the diligence effort for next week looks extremely likely to take off. But yesterday at this time, I'd have said I was 95% certain of going to L.A. next week. So, you know, consulting.

Thursday 30 October 2014 08:39:00 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Geography | Travel | Work#
Wednesday 29 October 2014

I did another technical diligence today. Obviously I can't comment on what company we looked at, why we looked at it, or even precisely where it is (though I can say I'm in Atlanta right now). I can say that this guy observed the whole process:

Also, I may have another diligence effort next week that is too cool to jinx by writing about. I'll find out in a couple of hours if it's going forward. Stay tuned.

Wednesday 29 October 2014 17:32:23 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Travel | Work#
Tuesday 28 October 2014

American Airlines announced today the details of how it will absorb US Airways' Dividend Miles program into their A'Advantage program. Cranky Flyer calls it a smart hybrid:

American announced the details of the 2015 AAdvantage frequent flier program today, and I was given a sneak peek yesterday. The details of the new program are a big deal because it’s the first one that combines the old US Airways Dividend Miles and American AAdvantage programs. As expected all along, AAdvantage is the surviving program. While there are many things that will probably be addressed in future years, it’s the changes to the upgrade program that really caught my eye.

Earning and redeeming miles won’t change at this point, though I was told the usual “we’re always monitoring the market” line that means there could be future changes. The big changes here are around the elite program since US Airways and American had fairly different philosophies. Here’s a fairly useless chart I created to explain what’s happening.

The biggest actual change involves elite upgrades, and that is worth talking about.

US Airways today has a system like United’s and Delta’s. Elites all get unlimited domestic upgrades. That means the highest tier elites generally have good luck while the entry level elites struggle. This program will continue on US Airways until the airline joins American’s reservation system in late 2015. After that, we’ll see a hybrid approach.

The biggest non-change will be the passing of US Airway's 75,000-mile tier, which sucks for travelers like me. It's quite possible I'll hit about that level next year. On US Airways, that would bring new benefits. On American, nothing changes until you fly 100,000 miles. Since even with my appetite for aviation I'm still almost at my personal limit of traveling right now, I really don't want to fly enough to get to Executive Platinum.

In fact, I'm about to add another 1,200 miles to my account with a one-day trip to Atlanta, leaving...now.

Tuesday 28 October 2014 17:40:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Travel#

The New Republic yesterday declared the British men's suit to be the island's greatest invention:

We have to thank the members of the Romantic movement for the sober colors of suits. It was their love of the Gothic that put us in grey and black but the suit stuck. It said something and it meant something to men around the world; it said and meant so much that they would discard their local dress, the costumes of millennia, their culture and their link to their ancestors, to dress up like English insurance brokers. There is not a corner of the world where the suit is not the default clobber of power, authority, knowledge, judgement, trust and, most importantly, continuity. The curtained changing rooms of Savile Row welcome the naked knees of the most despotic and murderous, immoral and venal dictators and kleptocrats, who are turned out looking benignly conservative, their sins carefully and expertly hidden, like the little hangman’s loops under their lapels.

Every man imagines that he will turn his suit like a double agent, that it can be twisted to his will with irony or comedy, that the man can undermine its origins. Every chap thinks he’s a match for his suit and, every year, clever and witty designers offer a twist, a take, a rejig; but for over 200 years, the suit has remained impervious, maintained its bland menace, kept its implacable secrets uncreased. You think you wear the suit: the suit wears you. It is woven magic, necromancy, the black art that hides in plain sight. No one knows or can say what the spell of the suit is, or how it works, but still it exudes its inoffensive writ.

Sure, but hey, I look good in a suit.

Tuesday 28 October 2014 17:20:04 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Monday 27 October 2014

John Judis explains:

In 2014, about 46 percent of Hispanics are eligible to vote. The rest are not citizens or are under 18. By contrast, voter eligibility among whites is in the high seventy percent and among African Americans is in the low seventy percent range. The other factor is turnout. In 2012, only about 39 percent of eligible Hispanics voted compared to a little over sixty percent of Anglos and African-Americans. So in the 2012 election, and most likely in the 2014 election, in spite of Battleground’s considerable efforts, Anglo voters, who are likely to favor Republican candidates, will outnumber minority voters.

In 2020, a presidential election year, the numbers should look different. Minorities’ population edge should have increased, and eligibility among Hispanic voters, which has been growing, should be around 50 percent. I have tallied four scenarios for 2020. They show the conditions that would finally lead to a Democratic victory in 2020.

Finally, success in increasing Hispanic support for Democrats will depend on what Republicans in Texas and nationally do. In Texas, Republican governors have steered clear of the harsh rhetoric about “illegal aliens” that proliferates among many other Republicans. Abbott boasts a Latina wife. As a result, Texas Republican candidates for state office have gotten about 40 percent of the Hispanic vote, which has virtually assured their victory. This year, the Hispanic Bush, George P. Bush, is currently running for Land Commissioner, and if he becomes a leader of party, could keep many Hispanics voting for Republicans in state races.

That's not much consolation for Wendy Davis, who will probably not get elected governor next week. But maybe, in a few more years, she might.

Monday 27 October 2014 13:28:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

The final score from my FitBit challenge over the weekend was: friend, 33,800; me, 37,800. Yesterday I gave Parker 3 hours of walks and also walked home from dinner instead of taking public transit or a Divvy, which got me almost to 23,800 steps (and 17.7 km) for the day.

There was a cost. My feet hurt, Parker was lethargic this morning, and I ate too much. And this week it's not likely I'll get 10,000 steps in every day this week because I've got an all-day meeting Wednesday. Which is probably a good thing, according to my feet and my dog.

Monday 27 October 2014 11:51:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Sunday 26 October 2014

A couple weeks ago I updated SourceTree and discovered I could no longer connect to my Bitbucket repositories through SSL. This is because of the Poodle defect in SSL 3.0. (I'll skip the explanation.) The failure looked like this:

In any event, the only Atlassian forum entry on the subject gave me only partial guidance.

The problem, which took me some time to uncover, turned out to be that I had Mercurial 2.7 lurking on my machine. Uninstalling it and SourceTree, then installing Mercurial 3.0 and re-installing SourceTree, fixed the bug.

This has been a public service blog post.

Sunday 26 October 2014 16:45:47 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software#

Following a friend's example, I got a FitBit this week. The same friend has challenged me for the weekend, getting 15,300 steps to my 14,000 yesterday, and going hiking this afternoon. Ah, but I have a dog, you see. And the weather is perfect. So far today I've walked 15,400 steps (11.6 km), almost all of it with Parker, and we're about to go out for another walk.

Here's walk #1, this morning, in Lincoln Park:

And walk #2, at lunchtime, down the Lakefront Path:

I got my 15,000-step badge on Friday, my first full day with the thing. Today I'm aiming for 20,000. My friend is too. This will be close, I'm guessing...

Sunday 26 October 2014 15:36:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Saturday 25 October 2014

The Nag's Head, Angel:

Coincidentally, this pub has the same name as my go-to pub when I lived in Hoboken, N.J., 15 years ago.

Saturday 25 October 2014 12:11:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Best Bars | London | Photography#
Friday 24 October 2014

I'm a little busy today, preparing for three different projects even though I can only actually do 1.5 of them. So as is common on days like this, I have a list of things I don't have time to read:

I really would have liked another week in London...

Friday 24 October 2014 12:59:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Kitchen Sink | US#
Thursday 23 October 2014

Cranky Flier, a nerd after my own heart, sees so much missed potential with the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, an airplane that makes its last commercial passenger flight this weekend:

This week marks the final commercial flight of the last of the Douglas widebody aircraft. When KLM flight 672 from Montreal touches down in Amsterdam at 635a on Sunday, the era of the trijet in airline service will officially end. I’ll miss the MD-11, but today I’m going to focus on the negative. The MD-11 was a symbol of failure for McDonnell Douglas, and there are lessons to be learned.

Sure, McDonnell Douglas had its chances. In the early 1970s, the company began floating the idea of a DC-10 Twin with, obviously, only 2 engines. Boeing’s 767 wouldn’t fly for another decade. And though Airbus was about to fly the A300 for the first time, it would be years before anyone would take that manufacturer seriously. McDonnell Douglas punted, and the idea never went anywhere.

Instead, the company lumbered along by tweaking its existing products. By 1986, the writing was on the wall for the DC-10. Airbus officially named its updated version of the A300 the A330. It had been developing that for a decade. Meanwhile, Boeing’s 767 was picking up steam and the company was working on ways to expand its size and reach while still retaining only two engines. A couple years later, those efforts would become the 777. What did McDonnell Douglas do? Just before the end of the year, it opted to just stretch the DC-10 into the MD-11.

As far as I know, I last flew on a DC-10/MD-11 in August 1997, from Newark to LAX. I wish I'd known at the time, because the very first time I flew at all was in a DC-10. But Cranky is right: the plane never kept up with Airbus and Boeing models, and deserves to be retired.

Thursday 23 October 2014 11:41:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#

The total lunar eclipse two weeks ago required getting up early in the morning and trying to find the moon through trees and Chicago street lights. Late this afternoon, Chicago (and most of North America to the west) will get a much better show from the moon as it partially obscures the sun.

Starting around 16:35 CDT this afternoon, the moon will creep in front of the sun, reaching maximum eclipse right at sunset (17:59 CDT).

Of course, this being Chicago, and despite the crystal-clear blue skies above the city right now, the forecast for this afternoon calls for increasing clouds and showers. Because we won't actually see the eclipse, that just means it will get dark and gloomy an hour before sunset.

And look at that sunset time. That's right, last night was the first sunset since March 8th to occur before 6pm.

Ah, well. If you live west of Chicago, you'll get a good show from the moon this afternoon, with less gloom and more astronomical coolness. Enjoy.

Thursday 23 October 2014 08:33:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Astronomy#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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