The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Foggy Hallowe'en

A week after moving, I'm averaging 30 minutes more sleep and my Body Battery score is back to normal levels after two weeks of waking up like a zombie. I might even have all the boxes unpacked by this time next year.

Meanwhile, me shifting a couple tonnes of matter a few hundred meters did not affect the world's spin by any measurable amount:

Finally, the Tribune reviewed a new New York-style pizzeria in East Lakeview that...doesn't sound like it sells the greasy slices I used to get on Lexington after midnight. But I'll try it.

Unpacking continues

It's a quiet day at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters 6.0 as I bang away at the 60 or so boxes of books in the library. Only 10 or so of those boxes need to go all the way to my office loft on the 4th floor, so I should make do with only a few dozen Ibuprofens this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Cassie has found a sunbeam on the front deck, just as she did yesterday:

And as a bonus, here's our walk to doggie day care on Friday morning:

Our fall colors just keep going this year. The maples have reached their peak, even as the ashes and oaks are finishing up.

Lunch reading

I'm starting to adapt my habits and patterns to the new place. I haven't figured out where to put everything yet, especially in my kitchen, but I'll live with the first draft for a few weeks before moving things around.

I'm also back at work in my new office loft, which is measurably quieter than the previous location—except when the Metra comes by, but that just takes a couple of seconds.

I actually have the mental space to resume my normal diet of reading. If only I had the time. Nevertheless:

Finally, does anyone want to go to New York with me to see a play about Robert Moses starring Ralph Fiennes? Apparently tickets are only $2,000 a pop...

Why Empirical closed

I reported Saturday that Empirical Brewery, one of my favorite hang-outs just 400 meters from my new house, closed unexpectedly on Sunday. Block Club Chicago's Alex Hernandez found out why:

Empirical Brewery was booted from its building and abruptly shut down over the weekend following a months-long legal battle in which the landlord said the company did not pay its rent for several months this year, according to court records.

Hayes Properties, which owns the Foster Avenue building, served Empirical owner Bill Hurley with a five-day notice in May for the brewery to pay just over $16,496 in unpaid rent, or else the lease would be terminated, court documents show.

The landlord then moved to evict Empirical in June, court records show. In that filing, attorneys said the brewery owners owed back rent from Jan. 1 through May 19.

Cook County Judge Theresa M. Smith Conyers granted the eviction request in August, giving Empirical until Sept. 6 to move out of the Foster Avenue building.

The landlord went back to court Sept. 8, saying the brewery was still operating in the space. The landlord asked the court to enforce the eviction, and order Empirical to pay back rent, rent for every month they continued to occupy the building and attorneys fees. In all, Empirical owed about $30,600, court records show.

I'm sorry it went down like that. I hope the employees find new work quickly. And this does increase the likelihood that another brewery will move in. One can hope, anyway.

Final packing weekend plus amazing weather and some bad news

I have only two rooms left to pack before my move on Monday: the master bedroom (which will take me about 30 minutes and the movers about the same), and the kitchen (which will take me most of today). I also had to reserve some time later this afternoon to grab a pint with a friend at Empirical Brewery, because (a) the weather could not look better and (b) they close permanently tomorrow night.

Let's move on from the demise of the second brewery three blocks from my new house in the period between me buying the house and moving it, because clearly I angered the Beer Gods and have yet to figure out how to make amends. Instead, what about this weather? And the leaves?

Family portrait takers, tour guides and social media influencers are running out of time to photograph the final days of the best season of fall colors in northern Illinois in years, experts say.

The Chicago area may have the best colors of the entire state, as other parts continue to struggle with dry conditions.

“The weather’s setting up really well and we’ve had some rains recently,” Johnson said. “The best color is going to come when you have bright, sunny days and cool nights and we’re getting a good amount of that now.”

Recently, Illinois has had consecutive years of subpar fall colors tied to a 2012 drought that ravaged the Midwest and continues to wreak havoc on trees.

Unfortunately, the long-range forecast looks a bit gloomier:

Regardless of when the snow starts stacking up, Chicagoans should gear up for a good number of storms this year, according to the annual winter outlook released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While there’s no strong indication of what sort of temperatures Chicago will see this winter, the report does predict the city will see a wetter-than-average season.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean more snow, it could be more rain, more of that yucky mixed precipitation and snow,” Borchardt said. “But usually in these kinds of patterns we typically see more storms than normal.”

Even if the city gets a lot of storms this year, it would take a truly hefty amount of snow to break Chicago’s all-time snowiest winter record. The current champion is the winter of 1978-79, when 2,278 mm fell. For comparison, last winter it snowed 833 mm.

But before that happens, we have a reprieve. Here's the St Boniface Cemetery a couple of hours ago:

Monday afternoon links

Busy day today, but I finished a major task at work just now. As I'm waiting for the CI system to finish compiling and pushing out a test build, I'm going to read these:

Finally, we got our first official (trace) snow of the season this morning, even as forecasters predict temperatures over 21°C this weekend. While I'm packing. All day.

Building a grocery oligopoly

Bloomberg reports that Kroger and Albertsons, two of the biggest grocery chains in the US, have started merger talks. This would create an enormous entity about the size of Wal-Mart. In Chicago, it would result in the merger of Jewel (Albertsons) and Mariano's (Kroger), just a few years after the dissolution of Dominick's, leaving us with just three major chains including Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market.

Crain's elaborates:

An agreement could be reached as soon as this week, [unnamed sources] said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. No final decisions have been made and talks could still be delayed or falter, according to the people.

A potential tie-up would give the combined entity increased purchasing power, a sprawling shopper-loyalty program and greater heft in technology investments as online grocery sales increase. The resulting giant would be of comparable size in groceries to Walmart Inc., the US market leader.

But any deal would face tough scrutiny from US antitrust authorities, said Jennifer Bartashus, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. The US Federal Trade Commission is already subjecting mergers to close examination, and a Kroger-Albertsons deal would join two large players that directly compete in much of the country.

“This is the type of transaction that really looks good on paper, but the actual practicality of achieving regulatory approval by the FTC could be difficult,” Bartashus said. “If you think about the store bases of the two respective entities, there is a lot of overlap in very competitive markets.”

I really hope the FTC shuts this thing down. While bigger and fewer grocery stores might make some business sense in less-dense areas, here in Chicago we like having more, smaller stores—and more choice.

Long train running...to nowhere

Equipment problems caused an Amtrak train to break down on a trip from Detroit to Chicago, turning a 6½-hour trip into a 19-hour adventure:

Passengers traveling Amtrak's Wolverine train No. 351 from Michigan to Chicago expected a trip totaling about 6 1/2 hours on Oct. 7. Instead, they endured delays that turned it into a 19-hour ride that left them without power, heat, lights and access to working bathrooms. Some riders, fed up with being stranded, ignored the rules to stay on the disabled train and opened emergency doors to flee and find other ways to reach their destination.

By the time the train made an unscheduled stop in East Chicago, Ind., late Friday night, "you couldn't go to the bathroom, it was overflowing. So this is when everybody really was like, 'I'm escaping,' " said Sheri Laufer, who often takes the Wolverine as she commutes between her home in suburban Detroit and Chicago. Laufer, a business analyst for Crain Communications—the parent of Crain's Chicago Business—said she wanted to know why Amtrak didn't send buses to rescue passengers.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the rail agency tried. "We work with a variety of bus vendors; we contacted them all and they all said they had no buses available,” he said.

Maybe if we started properly funding our trains as the public service they are, instead of starving Amtrak the way we starve most of our government functions (see, e.g., the IRS), we might actually have a country worthy of its history.

Packing day

As far as I know, I'm moving in 2½ weeks, though the exact timing of both real-estate closings remain unknown. Last time I moved it took me about 38 hours to pack and 15 to unpack. This time I expect it to go faster, in part because I'm not spending as much time going "oh, I love this book!"

I'm taking a quick break and catching up on some reading:

Finally, a new survey says Chicagoans swear a lot less than most Americans, with people from Columbus, Ohio, swearing the most. Fuck that shit.

Complete pile-up in my "to be read" stack

I've had a busy day. I finally solved the token-authentication problem I've been working on all week for my day job (only to discover another flavor of it after deploying to Azure), while dealing with a plumber ($1600 repair!), an HVAC inspector ($170 inspection!) and my buyer's mortgage appraiser (not my problem!). That left some reading to do tonight:

Finally, despite the crashing temperatures outside my window right now (down 5.5°C in the past 2 hours), Illinois had a pretty dry and mild start to autumn.