The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The dread of a colorful radar picture

Ah, just look at it:

Rain, snow, wind, and general gloominess will trundle through Chicago over the next 36 hours or so, severely impacting Cassie's ability to get a full hour of walkies tomorrow. Poor doggie.

If only that were the worst thing I saw this morning:

  • The XPOTUS called for an end to the war in Gaza, but without regard to the hostages Hamas still holds, irritating just about everyone on the right and on the left.
  • Knight Specialty Insurance Company of California has provided the XPOTUS with the bond he needed to prevent the Manhattan District Attorney from seizing $175 million of his assets, which makes you wonder, what's in it for the insurer?
  • Related to that, Michelle Cottle analyzes the Republican Party's finances and concludes that the XPOTUS is destroying them.
  • These are the same Republicans, remember, who are threatening to block money needed to re-open the Port of Baltimore and replace the Key Bridge.
  • Massachusetts US District Judge Allison Burroughs has ruled that a case against the private air carrier who flew migrants to Martha's Vineyard may proceed, and the case against the politicians who paid for the flight could come back with an amended complaint.
  • Charles Marohn argues that cities using cash accounting, rather than accrual accounting, end up completely overwhelming future generations with debt they would never have taken on with an accurate view of their finances.
  • But of course, the prevalence of the city-killing suburban development pattern in the US has an upside of sorts: everywhere you go in the US feels like home.

And after all this, does it surprise me that Mother Jones took a moment to review a book called End Times?

Heading home soon

American Airlines says my flight home has a 45-minute delay at the moment (though of course that could get worse). So I just spent 35 minutes walking in a big circle around the southwest corner of downtown San Diego. I don't think I'd ever live here, but I do enjoy the weather.

Meanwhile, as if I don't have too many things on my to-be-read shelf already, the New York Times book editor has released a list of the 22 funniest novels since Catch-22. Maybe someday I'll get to a few of them?

Anyway, I should be home with Cassie in about 11 hours. If she understood English and had any concept of "future," she'd be excited too.

Walk to San Diego waterfront

Given the weather and the fact that I'd been stuck in the conference hotel all day, I slipped out for a 4-kilometer walk around downtown San Diego this afternoon. It was perfectly clear and 20°C, but somehow I persevered.

I was exercising so I didn't take a lot of photos. But I have never seen a cruise ship up close before, so despite the mouse on the front, this impressed me:

That's the Disney Wonder. I will never go on that ship any more than I will get to go on the USS Carl Vinson, which is behind it to the left, and frankly even more impressive.

Then there was this sign, which shows that Little Italy will, in fact, take your shit:

And now, I have to demonstrate the product we've been working on for four years to a lot of other developers.

O'Hare again

Just quickly passing through O'Hare on my way to a work conference for a couple days. I saw a couple of snow flurries on my way here this morning, which happens mid-March in Chicago. Despite the two minutes of discomfort, though, I left my winter coat in my car. Won't need it where I'm going.

At some point the record isn't that interesting

Leave it to the WGN Weather Blog to trumpet that we've set a new record for days over 15.6°C before March 15th (12). We've also tied the record for days over 240K (75)! In fact, I'm confident that 2024 will tie the all-time record for days over 240K (366), last set in 2020.

Closer to home (ah, ha ha), I still have two claim forms to fill out in the great National Association of Realtors settlement for anti-competitive commission payments, which has gotten the group to make a modest concession to avoid getting sued again:

The National Association of Realtors, a powerful organization that has set the guidelines for home sales for decades, has agreed to settle a series of lawsuits by paying $418 million in damages and by eliminating its rules on commissions. Legal counsel for N.A.R. approved the agreement early Friday morning, and The New York Times obtained a copy of the signed document.

Americans pay roughly $100 billion in real estate commissions annually, and real estate agents in the United States have some of the highest standard commissions in the world. In many other countries, commission rates hover between 1 and 3 percent. In the United States, most agents specify a commission of 5 or 6 percent, paid by the seller. If the buyer has an agent, the seller’s agent agrees to share a portion of the commission with that agent when listing the home on the market.

The lawsuits argued that N.A.R., and brokerages who required their agents to be members of N.A.R., had violated antitrust laws by mandating that the seller’s agent make an offer of payment to the buyer’s agent, and setting rules that led to an industrywide standard commission. Without that rate essentially guaranteed, agents will now most likely have to lower their commissions as they compete for business

The settlement will pay me a few hundred dollars, even though I could argue that during the settlement period I paid over $10,000 in excess commissions. It gets worse: in three deals, the same agency represented both sides, making it even harder to get a discount or shop around.

I think the best structure for a real-estate commission would start with a flat dollar amount and add bonuses for shortening the time on market. Something like, I'll pay you $10,000 plus 1% of anything above list from the sales proceeds if we sell at or above the listing price. I'll pay another $2,500 if we get a buyer within 7 days and the deal is closed within 42 days. But if we don't get a buyer within 28 days or we close for under 92.5% of the listing price, I'm only paying you $7,500.

The days of paying 6% for a sales agent to do one open house and shoot some photos are over.

Mentally exhausting day, high body battery?

My Garmin watch thinks I've had a relaxing day, with an average stress level of 21 (out of 100). My four-week average is 32, so this counts as a low-stress day in the Garmin universe.

At least, today was nothing like 13 March 2020, when the world ended. Hard to believe that was four years ago. So when I go to the polls on November 5th, and I ask myself, "Am I better off than 4 years ago?", I have a pretty easy answer.

I spent most of today either in meetings or having an interesting (i.e., not boring) production deployment, so I'm going to take the next 45 minutes or so to read everything I haven't had time to read yet:

All righty then. I'll wrap up here in a few minutes and head home, where I plan to pat Cassie a lot and read a book.

Nine degrees in 80 minutes

We really felt the cold front that bulldozed through Chicago yesterday:

I was driving home from rehearsal at the mid-point of the curve, and really felt the difference over just 15 minutes. Right before the temperature crashed we got the first of three sets of thunderstorms, too. The other two woke me up overnight.

The Illinois State Climatologist summarized our weirdly weak winter in a post today: "Overall, the preliminary statewide average winter temperature was 1.6°C, 2.8°C above the 1991–2020 normal and, if confirmed, would be the 3rd warmest winter on record in Illinois."

Even today's 6.1°C at O'Hare puts us just over the normal March 5th high temperature of 5.9°C. The forecast for the coming week calls for more of the same, seasonably cool temperatures that still exceed normal highs.

Again, weird.

Missed the record by that much

It turns out we actually missed the record for warmest winter in recorded history. Chicago averaged 1.67°C from December 1st to February 29th, making it the 5th-warmest winter after 1881-82 (1.72°C), 1879-80 (1.78°C), 1931-32 (2.0°C) and 1877-78 (2.89°C). So it was only the warmest winter in 92 years, not the whole 153 years of data.

We did, however, have the warmest February on record, with an average temperature of 4.17°C. And it was unusually sunny: we had 75% of possible sunshine, while normal is 47%. Plus, the forecast for this weekend calls for a May-like 21°C at IDTWHQ.

Meanwhile, Lake Tahoe, Nev., could get almost 3 meters of snow this weekend as a major blizzard bumps up against the Sierra Nevada, with a 233 km/h wind gust reported at Palisades Tahoe Ski Base yesterday. That does not sound fun.

The Ecuadorean baby really screws with North American weather sometimes.

Leapin' lizards

Stories for the last day of winter, this year on the quadrennial day when your Facebook Memories have the fewest entries and, apparently, you can't pay for gas in New Zealand:

Finally, Economist editor Steve Coll got access to hundreds of hours of Saddam Hussein's taped strategy meetings. He concluded that both the CIA and Hussein had no understanding at all about what the other was thinking.

Also, the temperature at IDTWHQ bottomed out at -5.3°C just after 7am and has kept climbing since then. The first day of spring should get it up into the high teens, with 20°C possible on Sunday. Weird, but quite enjoyable.