The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

A+ summer weather! Perfect score (in Fahrenheit)

Chicago just hit the magical 38.3°C (100°F) that we have avoided for over 11 years, and with the 25.6°C dewpoint it feels like 48.1°C (118.6°F):

Here at IDTWHQ it got 0.2°C warmer than yesterday but it seems to have peaked:

Our little weather station also has a similar dewpoint, giving us a heat index just a scoche lower at 44°C (111°F). It turns out, the Midwest has some really uncomfortable dewpoints right now because we raise crops nearby. Evapotranspiration from the thousands of hectares of soybean and feed corn crops near Chicago increases the moisture in the atmosphere to uncomfortable levels every August. The annual cicadas love it; I don't.

You may also notice that it didn't really cool off last night. Cassie and I went for our long walk of the day at 6:45am, right in the middle of that trough when it felt like swimming through the Persian Gulf (temperature 28.3°C dewpoint 25°C, heat index 33.3°C/92.0°F). Cassie spent the next hour next to the AC vent in the coolest room in the house while I took a shower.

Nevertheless, a cold front continues to ease in from the north, and should pass over Chicago between 7pm and 11pm, dropping the temperature down to 22°C by midnight and keeping it under 24°C tomorrow. At least, by the Lake. I plan to visit a couple of breweries in Lake County where it might get up to 27°C.

But I might open the windows Saturday as the blocking high behind the cold front moves over Chicago and gives us even cooler temperatures—and lower dewpoints. And let's not forget: autumn officially starts a week from tomorrow.

This by you is cooling off?

The National Weather Service reported earlier today that we did, in fact, have some historic weather:

Here at IDTWHQ, things have cooled off in the last hour...but not by much:

Fortunately the AQI is only 59, though ozone levels are going up with the heat. Unfortunately, the dewpoint to go with that 34.5°C (now down to 34.0°C!) is 26°C, giving us a heat index of 43.9°C (110.9°F to the philistines out there). Cassie got a 47-minute, 4.4-kilometer walk this morning and 12 minutes at lunch, but I doubt she'll get another 10 for the rest of the day. I'm not confident she'll get even that much time outside tomorrow.

Officially at O'Hare it hit 36.7°C (98.1°F) around 4pm with a heat index of 44.0°C (111.3°F), breaking the record for August 23rd and, in fact, for any day this late in the season. Lewis University in Romeo, Ill. (about 42 km from IDTWHQ and the headquarters of the National Weather Service in Chicago) reported a heat index of 51.1°C (123.9°F) a few minutes ago, which I can scarcely fathom.

But it's -35°C at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, so clearly global warming is a myth.

Incoming weather system

We get blizzards and heat waves in Chicago. Guess which one we get tomorrow? The forecast still calls for 36°C temperatures with heat indices around 42°C. But Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters is only 2.1 km from Lake Michigan. At Chicago's official weather station at O'Hare, which is 23.3 km from the Lake, it looks a bit grimmer: 37°C with a heat index of 43°C.

WGN's Tom Skilling and Bill Snyder admit that some of the models call for 38°C or 39°C, but they manually adjusted the forecast because the models don't all agree:

Temps at or above 100 in Chicago are rare. Since official records began in the city 153 years ago in 1871, there have only been 62 days with highs at or above 100 degrees. And at the Midway Airport site on the city’s South Side where weather observations have been archived since 1928, on only 92 occasions over that 95 year period has a reading of 100 degrees or higher occurred.

There’s a reason for the scarcity of such EXTREME HEAT. The fact is, nature finds ways to derail the development of such intense heat. That’s why as forecasters, we’re careful about predicting such readings and must ALWAYS MAKE IT CLEAR there are forces which have been around over the term of official weather observations which work to keep a 100-degree readings from happening. The best evidence currently available suggests a 99-degree high is a strong possibility Wednesday — a reading just one degree shy of a triple-digit reading and, if it occurs, a record breaker which would exceed the old August 23rd record Chicago high of 97 degrees. Thursday could see a 100-degree high, but the potential for a front to sag into the area and turn winds off the lake at some point in the afternoon isn’t completely off the table. ALSO, though not expected at the moment, the development of thunderstorms — even if close-by — can send a cooling outflow of air into the area aborting a 100-degree temperature.

What’s interesting is even if a cold front comes into the picture Thursday, the convergence of winds along that front can lead to heating which would be capable of sending Chicago-area highs to 100, which would tie the record for August 24 and become a windshift behind the front that would send temps falling.

(Note that WGN, unlike 95.6% of the world's population, still uses the obsolete Fahrenheit scale in its reports.)

In other words, 36°C is the low estimate for the heat we're about to get. If the temperature does get above 38°C, though, it will be the first time since July 2012 that we've experienced anything that hot here.

At least we have trees to shade our walks in my part of the city. Writer Tiffany Owens Reed lives in Waco, Texas, whose urban design she says better suits lizards than people:

Before the advent of air conditioners, hot weather was something that architects and city planners had to respond to with creativity. The weather was something to adapt to, to work with, to manage…not merely to escape. For example, in Bologna, architects responded to hot weather by building a network of covered walkways that allowed pedestrians to wander the city fully shaded except for the brief moments during which they crossed the street from one walkway to another. We can see a similar sentiment at play with the ornate covered passageways of Turin, Italy. In the U.S. when touring old cities like Charleston, South Carolina, we can see evidence of similar accommodations in the deep, wide porches circling old houses.

Seeing the city as a destination for humans to inhabit and explore, and as a conduit for experiencing nature would lead to different design priorities, similar to what we see with public splash pads, rivers cleaned up for public swimming, or railways turned into parks for lounging (as in the case of Manhattan’s Highline)

If the main assumption is that humans won’t be spending time outside, that discourages these kinds of weather-considerate features and what we get instead is what my husband and I have come to call “lizard architecture”: a homogenous style of design imported to cities by developers who lack regionally specific weather consciousness and that would probably be more conducive to designing for reptiles than for humans.

Lizard architecture might not be the most scientifically accurate name for this style of design, but it provides my husband and me much comic relief as we drive around, spotting massive, unshaded parking lots, exposed outdoor dining areas, and unshaded walkways…design features that make it extremely uncomfortable to be a human outside for extended periods of time. It’s the kind of design that indicates to me an overreliance on technology to solve our discomforts and an inability to imagine cities as spaces where folks might want to experience nature, even when it’s hot. More mindful, human-centric city designers would consider the possibility that humans actually want to be outside, not just as environments to move through as quickly and comfortably as possible.

Our heat wave should end Friday morning, with a cool front coming in from the north dropping temperatures as low as 16°C by Saturday night. Then we head into the last week of summer, with autumn officially beginning next Friday, when I plan once again to try walking a full 42.2 km.

Chuckles all afternoon

My home office sits at the top of my house as a loft over the floor below. I think it could not have a more effective design for trapping hot air. (Fortunately I can let a lot of that out through this blog.) This afternoon the temperature outside Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters didn't quite make 25°C, and it's back down to 23°C with a nice breeze coming through the window. Wednesday and Thursday, though, the forecast predicts 36°C with heat indices up to 43°C. Whee. (It gets a lot better Saturday.)

Meanwhile, in the more comfortable parts of the world:

  • Jamie Bouie reminds everyone what I've said repeatedly: Rudy Giuliani has always been an unhinged and reprehensible character. Thanks for finally noticing.
  • Speaking of authoritarians who hate the press, law professor Gregory Magarian digs into the Marion, Kansas, newspaper raid, which the Post says came about because the paper committed journalism on a corrupt police chief.
  • Rolling Stone helpfully catalogues malignant narcissist Elon Musk's biggest lies.
  • One of his lies, or at least one of his latest manifestations of abject incompetence at running a tech company, came earlier this week when he mused about ending the "block" feature on the app formerly known as Twitter, despite that move probably getting it kicked off the iPhone and Android platforms.
  • A judge sentenced an Ohio teenager to concurrent 15-to-life terms for killing her boyfriend and one of his friends by driving her car into a brick wall at 160 km/h.
  • American Airlines has sued Skiplagged, claiming the company tricks people into violating American's terms of service—and worse, doesn't actually save their customers any money.

Finally, a change to zoning laws in Auckland, N.Z., appears to have done what its proponents predicted: increasing housing and slowing rent increases. It's almost like single-family zoning was designed to keep those people out. Next thing, they'll start discover that zoning combined with redlining kept millions of credit-worthy people from ever building wealth for their families and led the US to an unsustainable pattern of urban development that will cost us trillions to fix. Crazy.

Plotzed pup & Ribfest ARR

Cassie got almost 4¼ hours of walkies yesterday, going to the Horner Park DFA, Ribfest, and elsewhere around the neighborhood. Then, just when she thought she could relax at home, I dragged her fuzzy butt into the bathtub. I did warn her, when she rolled in whatever that was at the dog park, that her day would end in a bath, but she didn't believe me.

The highlight for me, of course, was Ribfest. And I can now present my After Rib Report for 2023.

This year I got to try 9—count 'em, 9—samplers (total: 28 bones) from 8 rib vendors, a tremendous improvement on last year. Plus, the ribs were better all around. In the order that I tried them:

  • Aussom Aussie: tug-off-the-bone, smoky, meaty ribs, with a good sauce. Winner of 2nd Place in both the Critics Choice and Audience cagegories. 3 stars.
  • Mrs Murphy's Irish Bistro: This year's People's Choice winner for the 9th year running, which makes me think the fix is in. My ribs were over-boiled and kind of disintegrated, but they didn't have a lot of flavor. I like their sauce, though. 2½ stars.
  • Ogre Eats: The 3-bone sampler I got Friday might have been the most perfect ribs I had at any Ribfest. They came right off the grill onto my plate, with great caramelization and just the right smoke and tug. (Cassie did not like standing next to the smoker while we waited in line, though.) But then on Sunday they gave me 2 bones for the same price, which were really good but not nearly as epic as Friday's. I wish I could give them the 4 stars they earned on Friday but I can only give them 3 stars overall.

  • Big Joe's: The Critics Choice winner this year, beating Aussom Aussie by one point. They had super-meaty ribs with an amazing sauce. I want more! 4 stars.
  • Chicago BBQ: Good as always. Meaty, smoky ribs, a nice char, and two tasty sauces to choose. 3½ stars.
  • Armadillo's: Huge meaty bones with great flavor. Not greasy at all; nice sauce. And they gave me an extra bone! 3½ stars.
  • Blazin' Bronco: Excellent, smoky, meaty bones. 4 stars.
  • Robinson's: Another lagniappe! And huge, huge bones with unfortunately too much sauce. 3 stars.

A couple of things to note. First, every one of the vendors, except for Robinson's, is itinerant or a catering company. Once again, Ribfest failed to attract Chicago Q, Smoque, The Smoke Daddy, or any of the other ribberies here in Chicago that have amazing BBQ. It's a shame, because I would love to get a full slab from Blazin' Bronco or Big Joe's sometime.

Second, they all charged different prices for samplers, which I didn't factor into my ratings but probably should have. The $8 sampler from Mrs Murphy's was probably worth it, but the $14 sampler from one of the vendors I didn't try probably wasn't.

I'm glad Ribfest found its footing again, though. And the weather cooperated: temperatures kept in the mid-20s with not a drop of precipitation, though dewpoints hovered around 20°C making everything a bit sticky. Can't wait for next year!

Come sail away

We may stop at Ribfest one more time today, after we hike over to Horner Park to meet some friends. (This may also include a quick stop to cool off at Burning Bush.)

Yesterday, Cassie got a chance to nap during the day while I spent some time a few kilometers off shore in Lake Michigan:

Not a bad view, despite the Canadian wildfire smoke:

After I got home, Cassie and I went back over to Ribfest for three more samplers before ending the evening at Beygle again. But the poor girl really needed another nap, not least because we've gotten over 5 hours of walkies since Friday morning. If you've ever seen a 5-year-old two hours past bedtime, you have an idea. I had to take her to the far end of the patio after she decided she really wanted another dog's bully stick, even though she doesn't really like bully sticks.

And yet, just look at this punim:

We're heading out to the dog park in about 90 minutes. I'll let her nap until then.

Preliminary rib report

I am happy to share that this year's Ribfest improved on last year's so far. Cassie and I walked over there a bit before the dinner rush and got three samplers. Then on the walk home we discovered that Begyle Brewing has partially rescinded the no-dog policy they instituted in the pandemic: they now allow dogs on the patio, though they're still verboten inside (except to order).

I'll have a full After Action Report on Sunday or Monday. Today I'm aiming for three more samplers for dinner, and possibly sailing with friends on Lake Michigan this afternoon.

Happy Friday

I'm about to take Cassie on her noon peregrination, which will be shorter than usual as we're heading over to North Center Ribfest tonight in perfect weather. Last year's Ribfest disappointed me (but not Cassie). I hope this year's is better than last year's. (Hard to believe I took Parker to our first Ribfest over 15 years ago...)

Chicago street festivals are having trouble raising money, however. When a festival takes over a public street, they're not allowed to charge an entry fee, though they can ask for donations. I'll be sure to make my $10 donation this evening.

While I wipe the drool off my keyboard thinking about ribs, I'll be reading these:

  • The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch for Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial Counties in California, plus Catalina Island, as Hurricane Hilary drifts towards being the first tropical storm to hit SoCal since the 1930s.
  • US Senator Joe Manchin's (RD-WV) strategy of bollixing up the President's agenda seems to have backfired.
  • Credit-card issuer Discover swears up and down it didn't fire its CEO last week over regulatory matters. Nope, he's accused of compliance problems.
  • The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning may recommend that Chicago-area transit agencies merge their fare systems to encourage more people to take trains and buses. (I've been mulling a long post about the problems with transit in the US in general.)
  • What's with all the kids selling candy on the streets of New York (and Chicago)?
  • Getting a "technical brush-off" when asking your city to make a change to a roadway? Strong Towns has a strategy for you.

Finally, National Geographic describes the reconstruction of a murder victim in Sweden—from 700 years ago. Crime tip: Don't try to hide a dead body in a peat bog. Someone will find it eventually.

A bit toasty in the Pacific Northwest

Many cities in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho hit all-time record high temperatures yesterday, including 43.3°C in Dallesport, Wash., and 40.6°C in Boise, Idaho. Even Portland, on the ocean side of the Cascades and usually lovely this time of year, hit 39.4°C.

Chicago right now is a decent 27°C, with the moisture from this morning's storms adding a bit of bleck around the Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters. And the roofing contractor had to disconnect one of my A/C units this morning because they mismeasured the placement of a privacy screen, so I might have to sleep on the couch with Cassie tonight. The forecast says 15°C and north-northwest winds, so maybe it'll cool off enough to open windows upstairs. We'll see.

End of day reading list

The XPOTUS continuing to get indicted for trying to steal the 2020 election wasn't the only bit of authoritarian fuckery this week:

Finally, Michael Oher, the subject of the book and film The Blind Side, says the white family that he lived with not lied to him about adopting him, but also used their positions as his conservators to screw him out of compensation from the story of his own life. Which, if you remember, put the white folks up as the heroes. I wish I'd been more surprised and shocked, but no, it tracks.