The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Somebody call lunch!

I've gotten two solid nights of sleep in a row, and I've got a clean desk for the first time in weeks. I hope that this becomes the norm, at least until November, when I'll have a packed musical schedule for six weeks as the Apollo Chorus rehearses or performs about 30 times. But that's seven months off.

That gives me plenty of time to listen to or read these:

And finally, in compiling geographic source data for Weather Now, I discovered that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) assigned an official designator the location where the Ingenuity helicopter landed on Mars: JZRO, for Jezero Crater.

Last post on clock changes (until November, probably)

Josh Barro and Saray Fay get to the heart of the time-change issue:

The first thing I want to note is something I’m amazed many participants in this debate don’t seem to know: We have tried this policy before. In January 1974, the US entered what was supposed to be a two-year “experiment” with permanent daylight saving time. Unfortunately, daylight saving time does not add daylight to the day, it only shifts the daylight into the afternoon from the morning. And once people realized that — that daylight saving time in January means doing everything in the dark in the morning — they hated it.

There are a number of large and mid-size metropolitan areas where the sun would not rise until around 9am for weeks on end in the winter.

On average, a person who tells a pollster they want permanent daylight saving time is really just saying they would like the sun to shine more. Well, so would I. But the government only controls the clocks, not the axial tilt of the earth. If you actually enact permanent daylight saving time, it will exit the realm of daydreaming about how the sun is nice and turn into actually forcing Americans to drag themselves and their children out of bed in the dark for much more of the winter. Once you have inflicted this upon them, they will think deeply about the issue. They’ll hate it (and possibly hate you) and they’ll demand a reversal, as I will remind you they sought and promptly received the last time we tried this.

Perhaps the best solution would be to harmonize clock changes with Europe, switching to Daylight Saving Time on the last Sunday in March, and returning to Standard Time on the last Sunday in October. But then it'll get dark earlier on Hallowe'en, so...think of the children!

Update: The House has decided to proceed with all deliberate speed on this issue, ensuring the bill a quiet death sometime this summer.

Small victories

I just finished upgrading an old, old, old Windows service to .NET 6 and a completely different back end. It took 6.4 hours, soup to nuts, and now the .NET 6 service is happily communicating with Azure and the old .NET Framework 4.6 service is off.

Meanwhile, the Post published a map (using a pretty lazy algorithm) describing county-by-county what sunrise times will look like in January 2024 if daylight saving time becomes permanent. I'd have actually used a curve tool but, hey, the jagged edges look much more "data-driven." (They used the center point of each county.)

Now it's 22:45 (daylight saving time), and I need to empty Cassie and go to bed. But I'm pretty jazzed by how I spent a rainy afternoon on PTO. It was definitely more rewarding than tramping out in the rain to a couple of breweries for the Brews & Choos project, which had been Plan A.

US lurches to ending seasonal clock changes

As if from nowhere, the US Senate yesterday unanimously voted to pass S.623 (the "Sunshine Protection Act of 2021"), which would end daylight saving time by making that the new standard time, effective 5 November 2023. This blew up the Time Zone Committee mailing list, mostly with the implementation problems around time zone abbreviations. One of the maintainers listed four separate options, in fact, including moving everyone to a new time zone (Chicago on EST? New York on AST?), or possibly just redefining what CST and EST mean. Canada has a law that essentially lets the US set standard time zones for Canada, so it gets even more complicated the farther down the rabbit hole you go.

Fun fact: most time zone software running on most computers requires 3-character time zone abbreviations to work correctly. That rules out changing CST to, simply, CT. One maintainer suggested P for Permanent; another suggested A for Always (CAT, EAT, MAT?).

You might think this is funny, but we TZDB maintainers have the power to make your brain hurt this way.

By the way, if you think year-round DST is a good idea within our current time zone boundaries, you may want to consider when the latest sunrise will happen in 2024 if the law passes, in ascending order of orneriness:

Location Sunrise Sunset
Eastport, Maine 8:06 17:00
Miami 8:10 18:50
Chicago 8:19 17:33
New York 8:20 17:41
Salt Lake City 8:52 17:13
Detroit 9:01 18:12
Menominee, Mich. 9:29 18:21

The easternmost point in the U.S., Eastport, will have darker mornings, but still perhaps tolerable. Menominee, which actually lies a little west of Chicago, would not be a fun place to live in January.

To review: There is a reason we change the clocks twice a year, which everyone forgets until it's dark at 8:30 am.

Moreover, wall-clock time is arbitrary. We can get up earlier or later if we choose to. Cassie, for instance, gets up at sunrise, and expects me to do the same, so I actually liked the change last weekend.

We also had a bunch of messages today about Iran, which has decreed that they will no longer change their clocks twice a year, with immediate effect. Now someone in Iran has to tell the authoritarian, anti-technology mullahs why it might take up to a year for their cell phones to reflect the change.

Did someone call lunch?

Eighty years ago today, the US imposed daylight saving time as a wartime energy-saving measure. It took until April 1966 for Congress to enact a permanent regime of changing the clock twice a year. But that's all ancient history.

More recent history:

Finally, Chicago brewery Hop Butcher to the World will delay opening up its new space in the old Half Acre property in North Center. The Brews & Choos Project will stop by as soon as it opens.

The real daylight saving

A friend on social media posted a graph of how quickly or slowly the amount of daylight changes per week. Unfortunately the graph was for London, and pretty ugly, so I decided to make one for Chicago that was a bit more spare:

Here in Week 6, we get 15 more minutes of daylight than we got last week. For most of March, we'll get 17 minutes more per week before things slow down a bit, then reverse. The weeks of both solstices have zero change.

The friend wondered in her post what it would look like in the southern hemisphere. So, voilà Sydney:

And just for giggles, I graphed Fairbanks, too:

Neat, huh?

(Incidentally, the links point to the Weather Now v5 Beta site. Even after the v5 launch sometime this spring, the Beta URL should stay functional.)

The numbers are better but the feelings aren't

Last night I went to the "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" taping at Harris Theater in Chicago, and afterwards my friend and I talked about how gloomy the weather and darkness of winter are. I pointed out to her that tomorrow, February 5th, the sun rises at 7:00 for the first time since November 15th, and we've got 55 minutes more daylight than we had at the solstice six weeks ago. In other words, yes, it still gets dark early and we get up most weekdays before dawn, but things have already improved since the darkest days of December. And we get another hour of daylight only three weeks from now, on February 27th.

Same with the weather. Temperatures in Chicago lag the seasons by about a month, which gives us our hottest days at the end of July and our coldest at the end of January. But despite all the snow on the ground and the likelihood of below-freezing temperatures until Tuesday, the worst part of winter really is behind us. February is, on average, noticeably warmer than January. March warmer still. Spring starts 23 days from now no matter what today's weather looks like.

And, of course, same with Covid-19. While we still have Covid jerks like former half-term Alaska governor Sarah "Rogue" Palin, along with masking recommendations that seem to change more frequently than people can follow (but, really, don't change much at all), the numbers have plummeted recently.

Things get better before you notice them getting better. Happy thought for Friday.

Monday, Monday

The snow has finally stopped for, we think, a couple of days, and the city has cleared most of the streets already. (Thank you, Mike Bilandic.) What else happened today?

Finally, Weber Grills apologized today for its really unfortunate timing last week, when it emailed thousands of customers a recipe for BBQ meat loaf—on the day singer Meat Loaf died.

Fed up with all that

Three items:

  1. James Fallows reminds us that the US Senate filibuster "is a perversion of the Constitution," that "enables the very paralysis the founders were desperate to avoid," among other things. (He also links to an essay by former US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) about how cynical the filibuster has become.)
  2. Jacob Rosenberg brings together workers' own stories about how they got fed up, illustrating how "the big quit" happened.
  3. Canadian political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon has had enough of the political disunion in the failing democracy to his south, and worries what that will mean to Canada.

On the hopeful side, though, we have the Webb Space Telescope gently nudging its mirrors into place at a rate of about 1 millimeter per day.