Six months ago, at North Avenue Beach in Chicago:
2 February 2011, Canon 20D at ISO-100, 1/250 at f/11, 27mm, near here.
I should have posted this photo a couple of days ago, when Chicago baked in near-40°C heat. Today's forecast calls for a mostly-pleasant 27°C under sunny skies.
Go back and relive those few days last February when it gets hot again.
Yesterday, when I talked about American's new pricing tool, it didn't produce any results for me. Today, it seems to be working.
Chicago to San Francisco, August 20-24, costs 26,000 miles using the dynamic tool but 32,500 miles using the regular tool. Searching September 3-7 got me to 25,000 miles through a regular award and 24,000 miles dynamically.
So, no really huge savings (at least with my pathetic sample size), and you have to use both tools simultaneously to see the deals. Also, their regular tool allows you to look at an entire month of prices at once.
I hope the tool improves. It's a great idea, but it's not really ready for the world yet.
This is cool. American Airlines now offers frequent-flyer trips to U.S. elite members (those who fly more than 40,000 km per year) at demand-based costs. This means, instead of costing a flat 25,000 miles per round-trip, elite members will be able to book trips for less if the flights have lower demand—or more, if there's more demand:
Dynamic Air awards are an enhancement to our existing flight award offerings, providing AAdvantage® elite status members with a range of flight redemption options below the AAnytime® award level. The amount of miles required for a Dynamic Air award is based on published fares, so award levels will vary as fares vary. MileSAAver® and AAnytime® awards are still available at AA.com.
I poked around. The Dynamic Air awards go through a different Web application than their main reservations system, so it's hard to compare directly. And there are some annoyances. Well, one big annoyance: there doesn't seem to be any flights.
For Chicago to San Francisco the weekend of September 3rd, flying out Saturday and back on Tuesday, there were no flights with dynamic pricing. Nor for the next weekend. Nor the next. Chicago to Raleigh? Nope. Des Moines? Nope. LaGuardia? Uh-uh.
What about short-notice flights? LaGuardia, the weekend after next? Nada.
Using the main reservations system, which displays a grid of dates and award types, showed ordinary 25,000-mile awards for most of the options above—even for Chicago to LaGuardia leaving today.
I'll play with this new system a bit more, but at the moment it looks like it's in late Beta. Pity, it sounds like a really cool idea.
Lonely Planet has a lighthearted wish list based on tons of passenger surveys:
Article I: The right to remove shoes
Passengers shall be allowed to remove shoes from their feet, but only if the aforementioned feet don’t stink or present health risks to other passengers. The right of the passenger to go to the lavatory without shoes shall not be infringed, as it is really your own business should you want to stand in the urine of others.
Article II: Freedom from unreasonable aromatic assault
No passenger shall, in the time of flight, be subjected to unreasonable aromas, be it from powerful perfume, foods redolent of onion, or other fragrance wholly unnecessary whilst on an airplane.
They go on to list another 12, plus show the data used to derive them.
This evening I found myself getting off the El here :
A friend, you see—an old, old friend—brought her son and his friend to Chicago this week, and they got tickets to what passes for baseball south of Madison St. Fortunately, the Yankees were in town, and even with Jeter sitting tonight out, the Sox were darned.
The home team got both their runs from this fourth-inning homer by Alexei Ramirez:
The Yankees still beat them 3-2.
The Cubs won tonight, lifting themselves back above .400 (ouch), while the Sox' back-to-back losses have them three games out of .500. As we all sweltered in the 28°C heat (and 22°C dewpoint), we wished it were October, until we realized that no one will be playing baseball in Chicago in October. The Yankees, though, they probably will still have a few games left.
 Yes, Wikipedia really has an entry on each El stop in Chicago.
The Tribune today has this graph showing the extreme precipitation we've had this year: