The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Reading a METAR

Here's an interesting meteorological aviation record (METAR) code, describing unusual events in Chicago for this late in the year:

KORD 060151Z 02020G25KT 1/2SM R14R/4000V5500FT SN FG BKN006 OVC012 01/M01 A2971 RMK AO2 PK WND 02027/0118 SLP066 SNINCR 1/1 P0012 T00061011 $

Hmmm....what does all that mean?

KORD: That's Chicago O'Hare International, the offical weather station for my home city.

060151Z: The record is from the 6th at 1:51 Zulu, or 8:51 pm CDT. Twenty minutes ago.

02020G25KT: The winds are from the north (20°) at 20 knots gusting to 25 knots. This is officially known as "inside-out umbrella speed." More locally, at least in my world, it's known as "Parker-would-you-@&%(*!-hurry-up" speed.

1/2 SM: Visibility is half a mile. (R14R/4000V5500FT means on runway 14R visibility is variable betwen 4000 ft and 5500 ft.)

SN FG: There is snow and fog.

OVC012: There is an overcast cloud layer at 1200 ft above the ground, roughly around the 70th floor of the Hancock Center.

01/M01: The temperature is a balmy 1°C with a dewpoint of -1°C, just the right temperature for really heavy and wet snow. And fog.

A2971: The barometric pressure (altimeter reading) is 29.71 inches, indicating a low pressure zone.

RMK: Remarks follow. Oh, do they.

PK WND 02027/0118: There was a peak, 1-minute wind of 27 knots at 01:18 Zulu, 8:18 pm CDT.

SLP066: Sea-level pressure was 1006 hPa. Because Chicago is less than 200 m above sea level, though, this isn't the most helpful measurement. Nor is it the most interesting remark; no, that's:

SNINCR 1/1: Snow is increasing rapidly at the rate of 1 inch per hour. Yummy.

P0012: A total of 0.12 inches of precipitation fell in the last hour. Snow, though. In April.

T00061011: More precisely than reported in the "official" METAR, the temperature was 0.6°C and the dewpoint was -1.1°C.

$: The weather instruments need maintenance, no doubt because they're dumbfounded that there's a blizzard on April 6th.

So now you have a thorough explication of the current METAR code describing for pilots the weather that (a) they shouldn't really fly through and (b) I just walked my dog in. In April.

My friend in Kyiv, which was 15°C and sunny today, actually sent me a message to laugh at me. Kyiv. The capital of Ukraine. Which actually has spring weather in April.

I'm going to go cry now, and thank the Baseball Powers that Be for scheduling the Cubs opener tomorrow in Houston.

Landing practice

I got a lucky break yesterday: low winds, clear skies, cool weather, decent landing practice. Not an exciting flight (see the .kml), just up to Waukegan, and one go-around caused by coming in too high and fast, but otherwise a good use of time.

People wonder why I'd go up just to practice landing. Simply put, all landings are mandatory, and one prefers to do them well. The more practice I get landing the less I have to think about during the most difficult (and, again, mandatory) part of a flight, which makes it more enjoyable.

I've booked another plane for mid-month. April usually has better weather than January, so I might even get to fly, and if so, I'll actually go somewhere.

Even bad news helps about buses

I've come out in favor of the CTA Bus Tracker because it provides very helpful information when you need it. Like recently, as I watched the #22 pass my winter office while getting my coat on, I checked the next bus time. Fourteen minutes. Phooey. What about the #36, which passes a block away? "Arriving." Yep, I can see it passing a block away. Next one in 16 minutes. Phooey.

The problem is, it's a 15-minute walk.

So while the CTA Bus Tracker saved me waiting in the cold for longer than it would take to walk home, the CTA itself spaced the buses so far apart that any advantage from having the information was lost by having to walk home after all.

And yes, the next #22 passed me right on time as I walked past my home stop.


Elected office as a criminal enterprise...that's the Chicago way!

U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald announced a new, 16-count indictment (pdf) of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich today, with a new twist:

The RICO conspiracy count alleges that Blagojevich personally, the Office of the Governor of Illinois and Friends of Blagojevich were associated and, together, constituted the "Blagojevich Enterprise," whose primary purpose was to exercise and preserve power over Illinois government for the financial and political benefit of Blagojevich....

As part of the racketeering conspiracy, Blagojevich allegedly permitted [defendants Christopher] Kelly and [Tony] Rezko to exercise substantial influence over certain gubernatorial activities, as well as state boards and commissions, knowing that they would use this influence to enrich themselves and their associates. In return, Kelly and Rezko allegedly benefitted Blagojevich by generating millions of dollars in campaign contributions and providing financial benefits directly to Blagojevich and his family.

Look, I know Chicago tolerates a certain, baseline level of corruption, but it's usually like calling your alderman to get a pothole fixed in exchange for, you know, a couple-two-tree votes in April. But this? Yeah, even Chicagoans recoil at the brazenness. Let's all just hope Fitzgerald doesn't pull a Spitzer...

Not something you see every day

Yes, it's nerdy, but when this happened over the weekend I had to snap a photo:

It might even have been more interesting if I'd just sat there and waited for half an hour or so (27 minutes, actually), but even I have a nerd threshhold.

By the way, because I live in the middle of Chicago, it might surprise readers to know that I bought the car new in January 2002. In 2008, actually, I drove less than 5,000 km. Really, public transportation rocks.

End of the longest-running series

CBS has pulled the plug on Guiding Light, which they first broadast (over radio) in January 1937:

The radio show, which had its debut on January 25, 1937, was broadcast from Chicago until 1946, when production moved to Los Angeles and later New York. It was introduced as a 15-minute CBS TV show on June 30, 1952, with actors doubling up on both TV and radio until the end of the series' radio run four years later. It expanded to 30 minutes in 1968, a year after it began being broadcast in color.

... Cast members over the years included Christopher Walken, Billy Dee Williams, Hayden Panettiere, Joseph Campanella Sandy Dennis, Cicely Tyson, James Lipton, Ruby Dee, Barnard Hughes, JoBeth Williams, Chris Sarandon, Ruth Warrick, James Earl Jones, Sherry Stringfield, Christina Pickles, Melina Kanakaredes, Anna Marie Horsford, Ed Begley Sr. and Patti D'Arbanville.

I'm not a fan, and I don't think I've seen the show since that time I had chicken pox in the mid-19—er, a while ago. But the show is a piece of history. And, on September 18th, it will become completely historic.

Beginning of Quarter Round-up

All of these are true, and all of these are appropriate for April Fool's day:

  • Punzun Ltd., my software firm, proudly announced record earnings yesterday, earning a net profit of $0 on $0 of gross revenue and ($0) expenses (all figures in millions). It's the best quarter we've ever had, 11% better than our last record in 4th quarter 2004.
  • Mark Morford, on GM's "recovery:" "Behold this weird new Camaro. It is, in sum, exactly the wrong car at exactly the wrong time with exactly the wrong attitude attached to exactly the wrong hopeless hope for a return to a rather crude automotive golden era that never really existed in the first place."
  • The Justice Department is halting its prosecution against former U.S. Senator Stevens (R-AK), figuring he's suffered enough. This, you remember, comes after the conviction. Yes, it's April Fool's day, but no, this isn't a prank.
  • Congress is set to repeal the ban on travel to Cuba. The loudest opposition came from U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), who said the measure would prop up the Castro regime, though one expects not for any longer than the Castro brothers' walkers would, given they're both in their 80s.

Finally, the creaking, old Weather Now demo project is getting an injection of mojo. I'll have more when I release it for real, but meanwhile you can check out the Beta version. (It's actually a ground-up re-write, even though it looks the same. Really. It's cool.)