The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Coldest. Winter. Ever. (But only in Chicago.)

It's official: the meteorological winter (December 1 to March 31) that just ended was Chicago's coldest winter in history:

The impressive cold this past winter continued during March...with a monthly average temperature of only -0.2°C for the month. this ranks as the 19th coldest march on record in Chicago. however...of even more interest is the fact that with the abnormally cold March across the area...this made the average temperature for the December through March period in Chicago -5.6°C ...which is the coldest such period on record for Chicago dating back to 1872!

On the other hand, the same period was one of the warmest winters ever globally. Both things are likely related, but we won't know for a while until more data comes in.

Meanwhile, here's the forecast for opening day at Wrigley the day after tomorrow:

A chance of rain and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 8°C. Breezy, with a south wind 25 to 30 km/h becoming southwest 35 to 40 km/h in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 60 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

At least our seats are under the awning.

Opening day

The Cubs will start the season in Philadelphia this afternoon, so at the moment they have a perfect record. That will likely change within the next 36 hours, so we're not to jazzed about it in Chicago.

When they open at Wrigley Field on Friday, it may be cold and drizzly according to the National Weather Service forecast this morning, but at least they'll finally have good beer:

After 25 years, Goose Island finally has a home field advantage at Wrigley Field.

Chicago’s longest-tenured beer maker will be abundant at Clark and Addison this season for the first time, with both 312 Urban Wheat Ale and the newly released 312 Urban Pale Ale to be sold by vendors throughout the stadium, according to the Cubs.

Goose’s Green Line (a pale ale available only in Chicago and on draft), Matilda (a Belgian-style pale ale) and Sofie (a saison) will also be available at Wrigley in 2014.

The reintroduction of Goose Island and departure of Old Style will come about because InBev now owns Goose Island. InBev also owns Budweiser. So Goose Island isn't by any stretch a craft brewer anymore, but they still make better beers than MillerCoors.

Still, it pains me to quote the end of the Tribune article: "U.S. Cellular Field will again be dominated by MillerCoors products (Miller Lite, Coors Light, Blue Moon and Redd’s Apple Ale), but will again feature a solid and varied lineup of craft beers that includes Bell’s Oberon, Revolution Anti-Hero, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Lagunitas Daytime and Sierra Nevada Pale."

And there's Wrigley Field for you: Loser team, loser beers, sells out every home game. There is no god.

About this blog (v 4.2)

Parker, 14 weeksI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 7½-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in September 2011, more than 1,300 posts back, so it's time for a refresh.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than 13 years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago (the greatest city in North America), and sometimes London, San Francisco, and the rest of the world.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until early 2011 when I finally got the first digital camera I've ever had whose photos were as good as film. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.

I also write a lot of software, and will occasionally post about technology as well. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got more than 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

New seats

My cousin and I, who have season tickets to Wrigley Field, went to the park on Thursday to see what other seats were available. Last season we were in section 518:

After walking around a bit, we decided on a change of view, to Section 524:

The seats are nearly equivalent, just rotated 90° to the south, and without the foul ball catcher between us and the pitcher's mound.

We're not optimistic about the Cubs' chances this season, but we'll be there anyway. Opening day against the Phillies on April 5th.

A guy who passed on tickets

In just a few days, back in the real world, my cousin and I will troop over to Wrigley Field to see if we want to move our season seats. Tribune reporter Josh Noel will not be there:

I signed up seven or eight years ago, back in the carefree days of the Cubs hovering closer to the orbit of playoff contender than worst team in baseball. Sure, they hadn't won a championship in nearly 100 years, but (cue the Cubs fan delusion) I'd grown up blocks from Wrigley Field and seen countless games in what remained one of baseball's most pastoral settings. The team was a free-spending, major-market bunch, and eventually the corks would start popping. When they did, I would be there.

Fast forward to the present. The Cubs are lousy again. Two of the team's best young players regressed last season. The manager picked to lead the team to a new era of respectability was fired after two seasons. Ownership is jockeying to turn a classic Chicago neighborhood into a giant Hard Rock Cafe (though to be fair, Wrigleyville's Hard Rockification began before the Ricketts family showed up).

Wrigley Field attendance has dipped five seasons in a row; last year's 2.64 million was the lowest tally in 15 years. Such decline, in theory, helps explain how my place on the waiting list finally came up. The Cubs ticket saleswoman laughed ruefully when I expressed surprise at her call.

So how did one of the most coveted tickets in town fall out of favor? Taylor has a theory: "Wrigley is fun, but winning is even more fun.

We went through the same calculation, but we decided last year to do it anyway. And who knows? They might win 70 games this year. Or 80.

La Crèperie to reopen thanks to Duke of Perth owners

Colin Cameron, owner of Duke of Perth (my remote office) told me a couple weeks ago that this was in the works, but swore me to secrecy. Now that it's in Crain's, it's out there:

If you've been mourning the loss of La Creperie since it closed Aug. 22 when its owner retired, take heart: The iconic little French bistro at Clark and Diversey is scheduled to reopen, most likely in December.

Duke of Perth proprietors Colin Cameron, his cousin Jack Crombie and Jack's wife, Pam, have purchased the property from Germain Roignant, who opened the restaurant in 1972 with his late wife, Sara.

Mr. Roignant's son, Jeremy, and his wife, Yasmina Ksikes, who'd managed La Creperie for the past five years, intended to take the concept and name with them to Los Angeles. That changed with Jeremy's death from a heart attack on Aug. 1.

Mr. Roignant, now 75, says that when Mr. Crombie first asked him about becoming a partner in reopening the restaurant, he was hesitant because he'd been planning to retire to his home in Brittany, France. “But I hadn't been happy about the place closing after 41 years,” he says, “and when we hinted on our Facebook page that it might reopen, we got a very positive reaction from customers.”

Now a partner, Mr. Roignant says he'll probably work the dining room Wednesday through Sunday evenings and some afternoons. He won't be the only familiar face—he estimates that four dining room staffers are returning. Juan Aranda, who started as a dishwasher/prep cook/busboy in 1991 and was promoted to head cook two years later, will be back in the kitchen. This is a plus, since he knows all the recipes, which haven't been written down.

One of my favorite pubs buying one of my favorite restaurants? Perfect.

America held hostage, day 4

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones puts the shutdown in 10 sentences:

3. Democrats in the Senate have been begging the House to negotiate over the budget for the past six months, but Republicans have refused.

4. That's because Republicans wanted to wait until they had either a government shutdown or a debt ceiling breach as leverage, something they've been very clear about all along.

He sums up: "This whole dispute is about the Republican Party fighting to make sure the working poor don't have access to affordable health care."

In other bad news about numeric things, Monday was the official start of Anno Catuli 05, 68, 105. Someday...and that day may never come...it'll be AC 0, 0, 0. Someday.

Shocked to learn the latest Cubs news

Baseball in Chicago ended yesterday as both the Cubs and the other team lost to whomever they were playing. The Cubs ended the season 66-96; the South Siders, 63-99. Here's the miserable Cubs season in a single graph:

So I was shocked to find gambling in this establishment Dale Sveum got fired:

Sveum's dismissal comes 13 days after team president Theo Epstein declined to give Sveum, 49, a vote of confidence despite saying there were "no alarm bells to ring" regarding the manager. Epstein said Sveum's future was part of the annual process of evaluations throughout the organization and that the manager wasn’t to be judged on wins and losses.

However, it was apparent that Epstein and his staff were disappointed with other areas in which Sveum was to be evaluated, such as the development of young players, in-game decision-making, use of the 25-man roster, the ability to “create a culture of accountability, hard work and preparation, and the ability to develop a strong trust with his players.”

In his defense, three of the five teams in the division clinched playoff berths. So maybe it wasn't that the Cubs sucked ass this year. Maybe they just had a tough division.

Nah. They sucked ass. And Sveum's out on his.