In about 10 minutes, time will once again stop for just a moment as clocks go from 23:59:59 UTC to 23:59:60 before slipping to midnight:
In a bulletin released this summer, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, or IERS, said it would be necessary to introduce a "leap second" at the end of December. Timekeepers use this added second much as leap years are used — to bring the world's atomic clocks in sync with the Earth's own distinctive rhythm, which in this case is determined by its rotation.
According to a study published earlier this month in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, Earth's rotation has slowed about 1.8 milliseconds per day — which means the solar day itself has lengthened, little by little. The researchers based this assessment on records dating back to 760 B.C., long before the implementation of the precise atomic clocks.
The Los Angeles Times broke down the findings: "If humanity had been measuring time with an atomic clock that started running back in 700 BC, today that clock would read 7 p.m. when the sun is directly overhead rather than noon."
2016 was already a leap year in the Gregorian calendar, will be one second longer still. So if you've felt like 2016 was the longest year ever...you're technically correct.
I spent an hour and a half this morning dealing with an engine failure light on my car. Since I just got it back from having a repair done yesterday, the warning light ("Engine malfunction! Get to a dealer!") did not make me happy.
It turned out, the repair had completed a job started on a sensor wire previously by...rodents. And apparently, I'm not alone:
NBC 5 Responds found consumers nationwide who say they’ve experienced rodent-damages wires in several carmaker brands. It’s a problem so widespread, carmaker Honda now sells a tape aimed at deterring rodents from nibbling on wires. The tape, which mechanics can wrap over existing wires, is infused with capsaicin, the ingredient in spicy peppers. Honda calls the issue “an age-old” problem, and the tape a good solution for customers who live in areas where rodents like to nest in vehicles.
My car's manufacturer doesn't use soy-based insulation like Toyota does. Instead, they use peanut oil lubricants, which are just as yummy to area vermin.
Since I discovered the damage right after the shop last touched the engine, they fixed the broken wire for free.
Even though there are about 58 hours left in the year, I still have work to do. Meanwhile, a few things to read have crossed my RSS feeds:
OK, back to work.
From the Intertubes:
I'll also have some blog entries in January. December seems to have been pretty light.
I didn't spend a lot of time blogging this weekend. Once I have a chance to go through the photos I took in London, I'll post some. (Probably Thursday.)
Yesterday's flight to London took only 6 hours, 37 minutes from wheels-up to landing. That is, in fact, the fastest I've ever gotten from O'Hare to Heathrow, by 8 minutes. I am impressed.
High above the North Atlantic, our hero reads the articles he downloaded before take-off:
- Releasing to Production the day before a holdiay weekend? No. Just, no. OMFG no.
- American Airlines just won a lawsuit started by US Airways that opens up competition in airfare consolidation—maybe. Bear with it, because this one article explains a lot of what's wrong with competition in any endeavor today. (I'll find a link to the Economist print article I just read on this topic when I land.)
- The Washington Post helpfully provides 94 questions we Democrats are asking as we slouch towards a Trump presidency. Thanks, guys.
- In the spirit of Christmas, Citylab remembers when Manhattan had the El. (How is this about Christmas, you ask? No El.) It's interesting to me that only now, more than 60 years later, is New York replacing the east-side transit options with the Second Avenue Subway.
- Also from Citylab, an interview with Costas Spirou and Dennis R. Judd about their new book Building the City of Spectacle, how Mayor Richord M. Daley remade the city. (Note to self: buy their book.)
- Finally, the Deeply Trivial blog compiles a couple of videos every Star Wars fan should watch. I know for a fact that the author was born well past the Ewok Divide, and yet seems to have a good bead on the Star Wars universe. Perhaps there is hope for the galaxy.
Today's flight is remarkably fast. We caught the jet stream off the Labrador coast, and with about an hour to go, we're hurtling 1,074 km/h off the west coast of Ireland. This could end up the fastest trans-Atlantic flight I've ever been on, in fact. Details later.
N.B.: Most of the entries on this blog since 2011, and a good number of them going back to 1998, have location bugs that show approximately where I was when I wrote the entry. Click the globe icon directly below and it will call up Google Maps.
If I write an entry at my house, I use a street intersection a few hundred meters away for an approximate location. In a city of three (or, in 1998, seven) million, I feel that's enough privacy. Otherwise, I try to be accurate, even going so far as to whip out my mobile phone to get a GPS fix in flight, as I've just done. Why, you ask? Because it's cool, I reply.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Lake View neighborhood of Chicago has some epic binge drinking:
The data looked at the 500 largest cities in the country, split into more than 28,000 smaller areas. Large swaths of Lake View ranked in the top 1 percent for binge drinking nationally in 2014, the most recent year data were available.
The CDC estimates that in some parts of Lake View, more than a third of residents are engaged in binge drinking, which is defined as more than five drinks at a time for men and four drinks for women.
The CDC’s new local data fits in with what researchers have previously found about drinking at the state level. In 2014, 20 percent of Illinois adults reported binge drinking, compared to 16 percent nationally.
If you've ever seen Wrigleyville after a Cubs game, none of this would surprise you.
OK, traveling tomorrow, reports as circumstances warrant.
Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley died 20 December 1976:
Daley was 74 years old, in his 21st year as Mayor of Chicago. He’d been having chest pains over the weekend, and had made an appointment with his doctor. That’s where he was now.
The doctor had examined Daley. You have to be admitted to the hospital immediately, he’d told Daley. The mayor had phoned one of his sons. Then, while the doctor was busy making hospital arrangements, the mayor had collapsed.
At 3:50 p.m., the mayor was dead.
So, apparently, 40 years ago right at this moment.
Then we got Michael "Snow Melts" Bilandic for a couple of years, then Jane Byrne, then Harold Washington, then Eugene Sawyer, then...Richard M. Daley.