The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Chicago dodged a weather bullet today

Yesterday, the majority of weather models forecast a major winter storm over Chicago that was going to snarl traffic, ground airplanes, and make life a living hell for several friends of mine. One of the models had a slightly different prediction, however. Looks like the minority opinion was right:

The northbound storm driving Chicago’s Christmas Eve 2014 rainfall is going to have a hard time producing the kind of cooling which would support big snow accumulations. It’s been clear from the range of forecasts covering aspects of the storms development and movement that this system’s ability to generate snow may well be limited by the warm environment in which it springs to life. While bursts of wet snowflakes may well wind up in Wed afternoon and evening’s precipitation mix, it’s hard to see how snowfall of an intensity to do more than just dust the warm ground or produce minor transitory accumulations, expecting more of this storm will be a tough sell.

Because the system part of an environment awash in mild air, Wednesday’s Christmas Eve storm is in a position in which it must generate its own cold air through storm dynamics (i.e. the ascension and resultant cooling of air brought on by the storm’s intensification). Such cooling may well happen to Chicago’s east from sections of Indiana near Valparaiso north into Michigan City, Benton Harbor, Muskegon, etc–regions likely to sit beneath the storm’s strongest dynamics and, therefore, the area most likely to experience the kind of cooling which may take rain over to snow long enough to produce more than the dusting to 2″ accumulations predicted by our team to occur in the greater Chicago area.

In other words, Chicago will be wet and cold, but not snowy. Life goes on.

Of course, none of this would affect me today, because I'm back here for the holiday:

Today it's misty and damp on the peninsula, so I might not hit my Fitbit goal today. But I'm still warmer than I'd be back home.

Oddly-sized photos

You may have noticed that the photos I've posted lately have unusual aspect ratios and sizes. This is because I have been lazy.

Usually, I upload photos from my camera or phone to my laptop, process them with Adobe Lightroom, and crop them to a pleasing 2:3 aspect ratio. Lately, though, I've just shot them through Google Hangouts from my phone. I have little understanding of Google's choices but they seem to be around the byte count and not around the dimensions.

Here, for example, is a shot of O'Hare Terminal 3 from this morning:

Google did that one at 1236 x 695, at 249 kB. The original is much larger (4 MB), but the same aspect ratio.

I may re-edit the photos later, after landing.

Update: here's the same photo after going through Lightroom:

Apollo in the news

I missed this a couple days ago. The Sun-Times stopped by during an Apollo Chorus rehearsal just after Thanksgiving and published a feature on us on the 13th:

Well, Chicago’s Apollo Chorus is that type of choir. The members can sing old classics, modern classics and even new standards, and have performed with everyone from Josh Groban to Jackie Evancho. And since December is the holiday season, the chorus — Chicago’s oldest, having been founded in 1872, just after the Chicago Fire — is in full swing.

Led by music director and conductor Stephen Alltop, also a professor at Northwestern University, the chorus’ 120 members perform Handel’s seminary holiday piece in a unique way — without written music.

“It has a very similar flow to an opera, and we try to emphasis dramatic elements of the piece,” says Alltop, when asked how to keep the piece “fresh” after over a century of performances. “To make the best possible connection to the audience, the chorus performs a majority of ‘Messiah’ by heart. And that’s pretty unusual in that it takes a lot of training and preparation to be able to do that. You can get more eye contact, and there’s something that in a way goes beyond what we can describe about how wonderful that is.”

Our sold-out performance on Saturday went very well. We made a few mistakes—the kind only the chorus and Stephen knew about—and we got tremendous recognition from the audience. Plus, with the Messiah, everyone really does go out humming the tunes.

Here's video the Sun-Times took of our rehearsal:

Sullivan on Colbert

Andrew Sullivan, the most frequent guest during the entire run of the Colbert Report, has kind things to say:

This was an unprecedentedly sustained act of character improvisation. I wasn’t crazy to doubt he would pull it off. I just didn’t realize how deeply brilliant and able he is. No one interviewed a politician as freshly as he did, or took down a pretentious author with more finesse. His writers were and are the best on television – deeply read, darkly funny. His professionalism was staggering. Nothing was ever phoned in – night after night. I saw him meticulously prepare performances, tweaking props, finessing green screens, hitting every note (he re-taped his final song before we left the studio that night), and almost never flubbing a line – while making sure to compliment you if you got yours right.

I also have to say Colbert remains a Catholic role model for me – a deeply humane and kind man, a generous soul, someone so totally at peace with this modern cacophony, and yet also committed to a way of life that could not be more opposed to it. For so many who regard our faith as a cramped anachronism, he was a real beacon of what a modern Catholic can be: open, funny, decent, humble. He helped keep my faith alive in a dark decade. And made me laugh at the same time. Of whom else on television could I say such a thing?

Monday afternoon, rainy

My vacation officially began at 12:20 this afternoon when I turned in my laptop and badge to West Monroe. I have exactly one day of vacation more than required to burn down PTO until the end of the year, plus I have some final Christmas shopping to do, so I have returned to my old remote office for a moment:

In reality, I'm not going to do nothing on my vacation. Someday I'll have two weeks off with pay and no responsibilities, but starting a job as CTO isn't like starting other jobs. I'm already working with my staff and CEO to start 2015 at full throttle. At least with the holidays, and going out to see the nephews, and a 2½-day week leading up to New Year's Eve, I can warm up behind the pace car before gunning it on the 5th.

I'm still formulating my 2015 resolutions. That said, the forecast out by the P's this week lets me state one goal out loud: 25,000 Fitbit steps Wednesday or Thursday. And a ton of food.

Feeling gloomy?

If you live in Chicago, your gloominess may have something to do with the cloudiest December in 39 years:

The full month [of December 1975] managed just 19% of its possible sun that year–the same lackluster sunshine allotment on the books in 2014 as we move the final days of December. Failure to boost that pitifully limited tally between now and the month’s close at midnight this coming Wednesday, would put the Chicago area in line for a possible new record.

There have been cloudier months. Our veteran Chicago climate guru and official National Weather Service observer Frank Wachowski at Midway Airport since the 1950s, reports Nov 1985 managed just 16% of its possible sun making it this area’s cloudiest month since sunshine records began here in 1893.

We're now in our 13th day without sun. Thirteen days, no sun. And then next week, this:

Big changes again loom. Temps appear poised to tank with arctic air’s reappearance later this coming week extending into the closing days of 2014 in the week which follows. Signaling the change is warming in the arctic. Huge pools of “warmer” than normal air are predicted to assemble through the atmosphere over Alaska and Greenland in the coming 6 to 10 days creating atmospheric “blocking” there. You can see them in the orange-hued areas on this hemispheric forecast generated by the National Weather Service’s GFS global forecast model. That the global models of other national meteorological organizations are producing strikingly similar forecasts reinforces confidence in the forecast of change.

At least, if it's that cold, it will probably be sunny.

The big announcement

I've gotten an offer I couldn't refuse.

Starting January 5th, I'll be the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International.

Holden has a deep technology strategy for 2015 and beyond. As the guy who (with 10th Magnitude) developed a good hunk of their existing technology, they had me as their first choice for this new role. I'm beyond excited to be working with them again.

It's kind of weird to be leaving West Monroe Partners after such a short tenure. Really, I can't think of better circumstances for my departure, though. I've learned a ton working for them; I'm conveniently between projects, so no one will be left hanging; and I've built close relationships here that will last years. Plus, I'm probably bringing a small WMP team on for a specific project in January, so everyone wins.

I'll have a lot more to say about my new gig once things take off after the new year. Keep watching this space.

Laziness, or just being busy?

Major announcement coming this afternoon. While prepping for that, however, I have cued up more things to read and one to watch:

And I found this classic Margo Guryan tune from 1968 that I can't get out of my head: