The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Only forgot one important item

I carefully checked my bag yesterday morning before leaving my house. I almost forgot a power adapter, which one needs to charge one's phone, watch, and tablet. Unfortunately, the power adapter I brought converts EU outlets to UK. Fortunately, Munich is one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, and I can simply buy a Type E/F adapter at an electronics store about 500 meters from my hotel.

It also helps that the German word for adapter is Adapter.

There's a bit of rain at the moment, so I'm collecting myself in my room (which was available when I arrived at 8am!) before heading out to buy ein Adapter.

I should have photos and more interesting things to say this evening. Of course, as it's 2am in Chicago and my body is very put out by me waking up from a 3-hour sleep just before midnight, I foresee an early night.

Just have to pack

The weather forecast for Munich doesn't look horrible, but doesn't look all that great either, at least until Saturday. So I'll probably do more indoorsy things Thursday and Friday, though I have tentatively decided to visit Dachau on Thursday, rain or not. You know, to start my trip in such a way that nothing else could possibly be worse.

Meanwhile, I've added these to yesterday's crop of stories to read at the airport:

Finally, don't skip your dog's walks. They're very important to her health.

Reading list for this week

As I'm trying to decide which books to take with me to Germany, my regular news sources have also given me a few things to put in my reading list:

Finally, the North Atlantic has near-record jet streams again this week, approaching 360 km/h, and shaving 45 minutes off the DC–London route. I would love that to happen Wednesday.

Fun international work meeting

I learned this morning that I have a meeting at 6am Wednesday, because the participants will be in four time zones across four continents. Since I'm traveling to Munich later that day, I'll just comfort myself by remembering it's 1pm Central Europe time.

I'm already queuing up some things to read on the flights. I'll probably finish all of these later today, though:

  • Jennifer Rubin highlights four ways in which the XPOTUS has demonstrated his electoral weakness in the past few weeks.
  • Republican pollster Frank Luntz agrees, warning the MAGA Republican extremists to stop screwing around lest the party suffer an historic ass-kicking in November. (For my part, I don't think they will stop, and the ass-kicking is long overdue.)
  • Sean Wilentz warns that the Supreme Court abdicating its responsibility to evaluate the XPOTUS in light of the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause will lead to worse problems later on.
  • James Fallows chastises the Times in particular for creating the controversy about President Biden's age they claimed simply to report on.
  • Ian Bogost moans about the ever-deepening problems of carrying baggage onto planes. (I will be checking my bag through to Munich, for what it's worth, but I may carry it on for the return flight to avoid customs delays changing planes at Charlotte.)

Finally, John Scalzi erupts at the 2023 Hugo Awards administrators for outright fraud and unforgivable cowardice following a report on Chinese political interference in the awards selection process last summer.

El Niño plays with the excess energy

We talk about anthropogenic climate change in human-centric terms: the planet is getting warmer very quickly relative to the historical baseline of 1800 CE. But heat just means energy. A plane flying from Taipei to Los Angeles got some kinetic energy from the warmer Pacific waters this week:

China Airlines Flight 5116 rocketed to a speed of 1,329 km/h as it bolted eastward across the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, potentially breaking informal records for passenger travel. The commercial flight, which departed from Taipei, landed more than an hour early in Los Angeles, propelled by exceptionally strong tailwinds.

A roaring Pacific jet stream, supercharged by the El Niño climate pattern and moving at more than 400 km/h, gave the flight a boost.

China Airlines 5116 flew its route of 11,593 km in just 10 hours 18 minutes, which rounds to an average speed of 1,126 km/h! That’s including takeoff, landing and all the slower points in the journey. (Working against the jet stream, an average westbound flight from Los Angeles to Taipei is usually scheduled for 14 hours 40 minutes.)

That wasn't the only record: Washington DC hit 27°C on Friday, the warmest temperature ever observed there in January.

Unfortunately the same hemispheric weather system making planes go fast and giving the East Coast June-like weather has kept most of the central US in thick fog:

Since Tuesday, record amounts of fog have blanketed the Lower 48 states, lowering visibility, disrupting flights, causing vehicle accidents and even delaying schools.

On Thursday morning, dense fog advisories affected nearly a third of the United States population (more than 100 million people) and parts of 27 states. These advisories covered the entirety of Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee and portions of many other states from Texas to New York.

Advection fog is the cause. Unlike radiation fog, which typically forms overnight when skies are clear and winds are calm in the spring and fall, advection fog develops when warm, moist air is transported over a layer of cold air near the ground.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings set records for the number of dense fog advisories nationally, according to Daryl Herzmann, a systems analyst who manages a weather hazard database at Iowa State University. Each day surpassed the record set the day before. The fog advisory database dates back to January 2005.

I can confirm it is still foggy in Chicago:

Update: This is all quite a change from 10 years ago today, when the polar vortex visited Chicago with -31°C wind chills.

You don't need sunscreen in Chicago in January

A weather pattern has set up shop near Chicago that threatens to occlude the sun for the next week, in exchange for temperatures approaching 15°C the first weekend of February. We've already had 43 days with above-normal temperatures this winter, and just 12 below normal during the cold snap from January 13th through the 22nd. By February 2nd, 84% of our days will have had above-normal temperatures since December 1st.

Thank you, El Niño. Though I'm not sure the gloominess is a fair exchange for it.

Elsewhere:

Finally, Minnesota-based wildlife photographer Benjamin Olson discovered that a mouse had moved into his car. So naturally, he set up a photo trap. And naturally, it's totes adorbs.

Too short and too cold

I'm watching my plane arriving from Chicago to get all of us going back there on it, a little remorseful that I couldn't spend more time in Seattle. I last visited in 2013 to watch the Cubs hold their own against the Mariners for 9 whole innings, only to lose with no outs in the bottom of the 10th. On that June day Seattle had sunny 30°C weather. This morning we had sunny weather, I'll give it that:

But warm? No. In the 38 hours of my trip it only got above -6°C once I got to the airport to go home.

I'll be back this spring. I'll even stay longer than two days.

Meanwhile, Cassio got to play a Casio. I hope she's doing her finger exercises:

I look forward to a recital when I get home in a few hours.

That was a very long trip

My five-and-a-half-hour-delayed flight got to Seattle in the usual amount of time, but the door-to-door duration—my house to my friend's house—set a new record for domestic travel: 15 hours and 20 minutes. That's the longest travel duration for any flying trip since I had a long connection going from Chicago to London two years ago and longer than any domestic trip I can recall.

But at the end of the voyage, Hazel was very glad to see me:

My friend has an all-day meeting that neither of us is particularly happy about, but I have her car and a comfortable seat at a quiet coffee shop in the Belltown area of downtown Seattle:

I said hi to this guy, too:

I haven't yet figured out what to do with the next couple of hours. I've never seen the top of this thing, though:

There's a non-zero chance I might do a Brews & Choos review after lunch, too. Stay tuned.

Enjoying the lounge a lot more than expected

Welp. My 10:00 flight has become a 3:00 flight:

But at least when I get on board the plane, I'll have a good seat:

Obviously if they had predicted the delay more accurately, I'd have slept longer, left later, and probably not dropped Cassie off with my friends until this morning. She seems to be settling in just fine, though:

Hooray for air travel in January. My guess is that if the original crew had flown on to Seattle, they'd have timed out. So they probably moved my plane's crew to a shorter flight, and the next available crew that won't time out can't get to O'Hare until 2pm or so. These things happen when a winter storm hits Chicago.

In fact, if memory serves, it happened 13 years ago yesterday. Maybe I need to reconsider flying mid-January?