My team works in the downtown office 3 days a week. Given Cassie's daycare pickup deadline and the Metra schedule, I leave at almost exactly the same time every day: 5:20pm. That makes the rapidly-lengthening days in late winter very noticeable.
Yesterday, for example, was the first day since November 2nd that my normal departure time was before sunset. And in just a couple of weeks—March 7th, most likely—I'll pick Cassie up from daycare before sunset.
It really makes a difference.
I took a short (5.5 km) walk and ended with a Czech open-faced egg sandwich:
For the record, I didn't stop in the Sex Machines Museum, tempting as that sounded. Stopping ever few meters to take photos didn't help my time. Neither did the perfect weather.
I did stroll around the Czech Senate grounds, which felt a lot different than our Capitol Hill:
It almost felt as if our Senate sits in a building designed to dominate the city around it, while Czechia's sits in a walled garden. There's some profound political theory in there, I'm sure.
The roofing project continues apace, taking advantage of an exceptionally lovely bit of weather this week. So, yay us, new roof and all. But I'm trying to work at home today—my last WFH day until June 8th, in fact—and the roofers have devised new ways to make it suck.
First came the generator. I don't know whatever reason they needed to put a large generator outside my office window, but there it sat for about 90 minutes. Closing my window helped the noise but not the temperature (remember, they relocated my air conditioners to put roof under them), and a generator makes a lot of noise that can go right through a wall.
The generator finally stopped around 10:30. Finally! I opened the window again and got back to it, until just a few minutes ago when I detected they had started spreading tar right outside my window. Fortunately, this appears to be the final stage of the actual roof replacement, so I expect my home office will be perfectly serviceable again in time for me to work downtown tomorrow and Thursday.
I'm also getting a headache from the VOCs in the tar.
This may be a good time to take Cassie for her lunchtime walk.
The 17- and 13-year cicadas will both emerge next year, together for the first time since 1803. But this year, possibly as early as this weekend, a relatively small number of Magicicada septendecim may come out ahead of schedule:
Love them or hate them, Chicagoans might not have to wait another year to see the blood-red eyes of these polarizing creatures with orange wings. It often happens that a few hundred stragglers get confused and emerge a few years before or after they are supposed to.
Scientists are expecting an early emergence of brood XIII cicadas, which come out every 17 years, and of brood XIX cicadas, which come out every 13 years. The former can be found in northern Illinois, including the Chicago area, as well as in some parts of Iowa and northeastern Indiana. The latter can be found in various southern states, including south portions of Illinois.
“The (stragglers) are numerous enough to be noticeable but they also don’t really survive very long because the periodical cicadas sing during the daytime when birds and other predators are quite active, and they’re relatively obvious insects,” said Phil Nixon, retired entomologist from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
[C]icadas usually come out after a day or two of high temperatures in the low 80s and low temperatures around the 70s, followed by rain that softens the soil. They emerge after soil temperatures exceed 64 degrees.
The Brood XIII emergence due a year from now in the Chicago area is expected to be the largest emergence of cicadas anywhere, with numbers approaching a million insects per hectare.
Cassie got about 4 hours of walks yesterday, plus about 9 additional hours of outdoor time. I got sunburned. So I didn't have any time to post, but I did have time to get side-eye from this girl:
That's Butters, a beagle whose every look is side-eye. It's quite a talent.
"If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live."—Lin Yutang
Sorry, the weather is just too nice to spend time inside writing blog posts. Regular posting resumes tomorrow...or Monday, if tomorrow is like this, too.
We seem to get a lot of pneumonia fronts lately. Here's yesterday's:
The temperature at IDTWHQ was 23.5°C at 17:35, 22.6°C at 17:45, 20.9°C at 18:00, and down it went, to 15.9°C by 19:00. (For the Philistines, that's a 14°F drop in 90 minutes.) At about that time, smoke from fires in Alberta combined with rapid condensation aloft (i.e., clouds from the cold front) to give us one hell of a filter for the sun:
I used a daylight color temperature (5700K) for that shot so you can see the color I saw.
Here's the NOAA Global Systems Laboratory map from that moment:
Strangely, the air-quality index at WHQ—right now, a super-healthy 15—suggests not a lot of the smoke is getting to the surface. It still seems a bit hazy though. And we're likely to have another beautiful sunset tonight.
I woke up to this at the butt crack of dawn today:
My bedroom is directly under those men. My home office is just behind them. As I write this I'm watching a guy go back and forth in front of that dormer with a large tool. Oh, and there's the power saw...
It's otherwise a beautiful day, so on that point both Cassie and I are happy I'm working from home and will be able to go for a nice walk after my 11:30 meeting. But I really would have preferred they start my roof tomorrow when I'll be in the Loop.
We finally have a real May-appropriate day in Chicago, with a breezy 26°C under clear skies (but 23°C closer to the Lake, where I live). Over to my right, my work computer—a 2017-era Lenovo laptop I desperately want to fling onto the railroad tracks—has had some struggles with the UI redesign I just completed, giving me a dose of frustration but also time to line up some lunchtime reading:
Finally, today marks the 30th anniversary of Aimee Mann releasing one of my favorite albums, her solo debut Whatever. She perfectly summed up the early-'90s ennui that followed the insanity of the '80s as we Gen-Xers came of age. It still sounds as fresh to me today as it did then.
Ah, Spring in Chicago, when the wind shifts ever so slightly to make you wish you'd layered better:
WGN's Tom Skilling explains what happened:
Temps down more than 16°C from Sunday’s levels Monday, largely the product of winds off the 9°C lake waters—warming returns over coming week with temps surging from 21°C Tuesday to 25°C Wednesday, 27°C Thursday and 26°C Friday but expect easterly lake breezes to cool immediate lakeshore areas each day this week. Weather dries and mixed sun appears Tuesday with lots of sun Wednesday, but wet weather returns with gulf moisture late week and this weekend.
The southbound pneumonia front which induced Sunday afternoon and evening’s sharp pullback ignited explosive t-storm development mainly south of Chicago late Sunday into Sunday night. These storm’s lightning displays and hail production were impressive with some stunning rainfalls—like the 92 mm which fell at Grant Park in Kankakee County and the 82 mm in Will county’s Wilmington. Other impressive totals include 81 mm at Mendota, 71 mm at Carbon Hill and 62 mm at Channahon. But, while those rains were impressive, only 4 mm were reported at O’Hare and 3 mm at Midway Sunday into Monday.
It's unusual for me to go from A/C to heat in one day, but again, this is Chicago in May.