The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Marylebone and vicinity

When visiting a familiar place, it helps to sit on the plane next to someone who lives there. The local person, recognizing that you've already done the tourist stuff, can recommend places that you might not see otherwise. I had this good fortune yesterday.

This afternoon I traipsed around Marylebone, which is just north of Hyde Park. My seat-mate recommended two places specifically, so I went to them. First, Daunt Books, on Marylebone High Street:

I love bookstores; I miss real bookstores; I could spend a day in this one:

After wishing for half an hour that I could buy half a tonne of books, I went around the corner to La Fromagerie. Next time I'm in London, I'm going to eat everything in the store. Even the little cold cheese room made me swoon. Instead of getting a 10-kilo variety pack, I settled for a simple, £2 medallion of unpasteurized goat cheese. Words are insufficient to describe it, other than to say, it was yum.

Then I hopped on the Tube to this famous location:

Yes, that's Abbey Road, and those are a bunch of tourists blocking traffic. In the 30 minutes I hung out there, no fewer than 10 groups posed on the zebra crossing. (I confess, I took photos for two of them.)

Now, off to find food and ale. Relatively early bed tonight: tomorrow the Chunnel.


I've just boarded a flight to London, but it was a lot closer to a miss than I've had in years. Fortunately, the cab to the Blue Line (after trying to flag one down for 10 minutes), the El, and even the friendly TSA pat-down in the "Discrete Room" weren't enough to stop me from boarding this plane. I will, however, take a few moments to calm down before settling in.

Now is the month of Maying?

The high temperatures at O'Hare the last three days have been 21°C, 18°C, and 21°C, all of them very close to the normal temperatures for mid-May. Right now it's 21°C, and forecasters expect record temperatures today and tomorrow (with a brief interlude tomorrow afternoon as temperatures plummet 11°C for a few hours).

The record high for March 14th is 25°C, set in 1995, during Chicago's longest string of 21°C-plus temperatures in history (5 days, from March 12 to 16). With a forecast (record!) high of 27°C tomorrow (beating the record of 23°C, also set in 1995), it's more like June than March.

Not to beat the drum or anything, but warm springs usually lead to really hot summers. Expect whinging from The Daily Parker in about two months.

Obviously I wasn't clear enough

Yesterday, probably when I got on the bus going home, I lost my Starbucks card and a credit card. I have another card on the same account, but with a different number, that I keep out of my wallet in case something like this happens. As soon as I discovered the missing credit card, I called the issuer's customer service line, can see where this is going, right?

Yes, they closed the card I still had and left the lost one open. I discovered this a few minutes ago. Fortunately, the person I talked to just now understood what I was saying, saw what had happened, and is now sending both replacement cards overnight. (The haste is required because I'm going to the UK this weekend, and I need at least one credit card overseas.)

So, points to the issuer for correcting a mistake expeditiously. That just about evens out my frustration this morning trying to get coffee.

Oh, and about that trip to the Land of Uk: it's a pretty quick weekend, courtesy of ridiculously low fares from American Airlines earlier this year. I also scored a ticket on the Eurostar Saturday for £49.50 outbound, which was too good to pass up. I'm so looking forward to the weekend. I just hope I have at least one credit card to use...

Separation of Church and State in the UK

The United Kingdom has no Constitutional prohibition against established religion; in fact, the head of state is also the head of the church. But the UK has a much deeper secular grain than we have, to the extent that many people in the country get quite exercised about even public prayer. The Washington Post explains the latest row:

Local lawmaker Clive Bone, an atheist, was backed by four of his peers in challenging the long-standing tradition of opening public meetings with blessings by Christian clergy. After losing two council votes on the prayer ban, Bone took the town to court — winning a ruling last month that appeared to set a legal precedent by saying government had no authority to compel citizens to hear prayer.

Bone, a transplanted Londoner and retired management consultant who has given up his seat on the council, said: “This isn’t about freedom of religion. I will defend their right to pray in their churches to my dying breath. Just don’t make us listen to it anymore. It is a backwards tradition that alienates people in this country.”

Most people I know in the UK say religion is entirely private, and would likely be offended at having to listen to prayers at minor public meanings. It's yet another example of how really out of step the rest of the Western world are with us.

World population at 7 billion

Back in October, the United Nations declared that the world population had hit 7 billion. The U.S. Census Bureau, however, believes differently. Here are the World and U.S. population clocks from a moment ago:

So, as far as the Census is concerned, we'll hit 7 billion tonight sometime.

That the Census didn't update its estimates to match the U.N.'s suggests they're confident of their more conservative model.

Daylight saving time

I've never felt great about the Daylight Saving Time switch happening in the beginning of March, but here it is. Oddly, I have no trouble changing eleven or twelve time zones, but the one-hour change in the spring (but not the fall) always messes me up.

Anyway, if you live in the U.S. or Canada (excluding Arizona and Saskatchewan), it's probably an hour later than you think it is.