The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Anniversary of "my god that's cold!"

Forecasters predict Chicago will get down to its coldest temperature so far this winter, -19°C, overnight:

What arrives Thursday night and Friday morning on gusty northwest winds is but a lobe of cold air off that vast wintry reservoir of air. If there's one piece of good news which accompanies the cold blast, it's that the chill is to hit hard for a day and a half then back off, giving way to a more moderate brand of cold air this weekend. But, while its stay here is to be comparatively brief, the near -18°C low temperature predicted at O'Hare is to be accompanied by 24-32 km/h sustained winds likely to generate dangerous wind chills under 20-below---and potentially as low as 30-below in a few of colder locations north and northwest of the city.

But on this day in 1985 we experienced -33°C, the coldest temperature recorded in Chicago. If I recall correctly that was one of only two days in my four years of high school when they closed the school for weather—because they couldn't start the buses.

At least the snowstorm pounding the central U.S. will miss us.

Lisbon in sunlight

As promised, I've uploaded a couple of photos from my last trip to Lisbon to contrast with the most recent. Usually in January Lisbon has beautiful weather; my trip last week coincided not only with crappy weather back home but also with crappy (but warmer) weather there.

In January 2001, the view from Castelo de São Jorge looked like this:

And my January 2001 obligatory Parque Eduardo VII photo came out substantially better than my most recent attempt. Here's the older one:

The worst part of living in Chicago

This time of year Chicago residents can easily forget the planet orbits an actual star that gives off actual heat and light. This month hasn't helped a bit:

If you're susceptible to SAD---Season Affective Disorder---a form of depression brought on by winter's short days and lack of sunlight, the past 9 days (since Tuesday, January 11) have no doubt been especially rough. The period has logged only 10 percent of its possible sunshine, we're told by veteran National Weather Service observer Frank Wachowski---a total of just 7.9 hours.

Under the best circumstances, a typical January is not one of Chicago's sunnier months. But this month's abysmal 10 percent tally falls far short January's average of 43 percent of its possible sun. That means Chicago area residents have seen less than a quarter of January's typical sunshine.

But good news! We'll have a couple of sunny days later this week. Yes, once that cold front passes and that pile of cold, dry air pushes on through, we'll have plenty of sun—and -16°C temperatures.


Update, 13:56 CT: Look! Up in the sky! It''s...the sun!

President Johnson makes a phone call

Via Sullivan (of course), a phone conversation between LBJ and his tailor, bringing class and decorum from Texas to the Oval Office. The animator explains:

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson needed pants, so he called the Haggar clothing company and asked for some. The call was recorded (like all White House calls at the time), and has since become the stuff of legend. Johnson’s anatomically specific directions to Mr. Haggar are some of the most intimate words we’ve ever heard from the mouth of a President.

We at Put This On took the historic original audio and gave it to animator Tawd Dorenfeld, who created this majestic fantasia of bungholiana.

Put This On: LBJ Buys Pants from Put This On on Vimeo.

Empty spaces...don't show up in HTML

I meant to post this yesterday. Sullivan rounds up an entertaining collection of posts about post-punctuation spacing in the era of computerized typesetting:

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It's one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men's shirt buttons on the right and women's on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period.

The Daily Parker has adhered to the one-space rule since the beginning of time. In fact, even when I used a mechanical typewriter as a kid, I never got into the habit of adding supernumerary spaces after punctuation. I feel for those poor lost souls who do.

Obligatory Parque Eduardo VII photo

Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon's equivalent of Central Park, sits on a slope with a clear view down Avenida da Liberdade to the Tejo. Visitors to Lisbon are required to take at least one photo from the top of the park looking down, like this:

(Notice the fog and overcast, which hasn't changed except in density since I arrived. When I get back to Chicago I'll post a photo from 2000 that shows what this view looks like on a good day.)

As I stood there taking photos, I began to notice roosters crowing. One doesn't often hear roosters crowing in Chicago unless one visits the Lincoln Park Zoo, so one got curious and wandered over to the noise. Here's one of the principal offenders:

At the northwest corner of the park there is an enclosure with chickens, roosters, turkeys, ducks, geese, and peacocks. I have no explanation for this. It's not a zoo, and there seems to be some kind of construction work covering the north end of the area. Any ideas?

Still foggy; still walking

Yesterday I walked around east of Avenida da Liberdade; today I went west of it, into Bairro Alto. Lisbon has a mix of old and new that I think comes from lack of investment rather than any particular plan (as in the UK). The Bairro Alto neighborhood has an especially rough time of it:

It looks really cool, though. Same area, reverse shot:

By "Alto" they do mean "Upper." Parts of the neighborhood are linked by funiculars, like the Acensor da Bica:

The neighborhood also has Lisbon's best little restaurants. I ate here last night, Baralto, a tiny place with 26 chairs and one server that had delicious fresh bread and a tasty Madeira beef dish:

Finally, one that didn't make it onto the blog yesterday. The Castelo de São Jorge overlooks the city, and if the fog had lifted I'd have much better photos. (When I get back to Chicago I'll post one from 2001.) Still, I think this shot worked fine:

The civil weather forecast calls for sunny skies tomorrow, but the aviation forecast says more fog until about 16:00. As I'll be en route to London then I may not get some of the photos I had hoped to get here. Ah well. Maybe I'll come back in another 10 years.

Elementary travel arithmetic

Here's a brain-teaser: take one part Heathrow, one part Iberia Airlines, and a sixty-five minute connection at Madrid Barajas. I'll give you a moment to work your sums.

If you got "no, really, a 2-hour connection," you're correct!

Instead of walking at a normal pace between two gates (that, it turns out, are 600 m apart) inside one terminal to make a fairly routine domestic connection, I walked at a normal pace off my flight from Heathrow right to the nearest Iberia service desk. We all shrugged. "Es Londres, es normal" we had to agree. Up to the lounge[1] I go, to check my email and write a blog entry.

Ah, but, this is no ordinary Western European capital airport. This is Madríd. The lounge has delicious Spanish wines, fresh olives, tasty sausages and cheeses, and no freaking WiFi. The conversation at check-in went something like this:

— ¿Como se puede conectar por el WiFi?

— Ah, desculpe, no tenemos el WiFi; es de pago.

— ¿Verdad? ¿De pago? No free WiFi?

— Sí, ¿es curioso, no?

— Sí, es curioso. Gracias.

So, here I sit, snacking on olives, brie, toast, sausages, a fruity Ribera del Duero number ("Condado de Haza Crianza, 2007: La Recomendación del Sumiller"), and probably in a moment those dates I see over there, composing a blog entry in flipping Notepad.

But let me review, just to keep things in perspective. Yesterday morning I woke up to a healthy snowfall in Chicago and tonight I'm going to bed in Lisbon, having spent the better part of the day in London. The total cost of this trip will come in somewhere around one month of housing (just housing, not groceries or electricity or anything else). And unlike the situation that existed even in my lifetime, getting a visa to anywhere in Western Europe requires presenting my passport to the bored guy at the arrival gate and getting a stamp.

Late update, in Lisbon: It seems the free Internet we take for granted in the U.S. and Northern Europe does not extend to Southern Europe. My hotel has free WiFi—in the bar and lobby. In the room it costs €22 per day.

[1] As a happy consequence of (or sorry consolation prize for) flying all those miles last year, I get access to all oneworld business-class lounges worldwide. I would like to note again, just because it really annoys me at the moment, that a principal benefit of every other business-class lounge that I've ever visited is free bloody WiFi. Dear Spain: ¿WTF?