Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Page 1 of 9 in the Geography category Next Page
Friday 9 October 2015

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, Calif., confirmed the phenomenon yesterday:

“The ocean has warmed up a little bit more. ... It’s certainly still a strong event,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center. Halpert said this El Niño still isn’t quite as strong as the current record holder, the El Niño that developed in 1997, but it’s “still respectable. Probably the second strongest we’ve seen at this time of year.”

“We certainly favor a wetter-than-average winter,” Halpert said. Though he cautioned that “when you’re dealing with climate predictions, you can never get a guarantee,” he added, “this could be one of the types of winters like in 1997-98.”

That winter was dramatic for California. Heavy rains came to Orange County in December 1997, dropping an astonishing 7 inches of rain in some parts of the region, flooding mobile home parks in Huntington Beach and forcing crews to use inflatable boats to make rescues, while mudslides destroyed hillside homes.

El Niño rains started in Los Angeles County in January 1998, and were the worst across the region in February. Downtown L.A. got about a year’s worth of rain in February alone.

California needs rain, sure; but they need rain over a long period of time so that they can capture it in reservoirs without it blowing away infrastructure.

Despite the likelihood of massive rainfalls this winter, California is still experiencing record drought. The "record," unfortunately, only goes back a few centuries, so we really don't know what "normal" is over several millennia. Regardless, this winter will not be normal by any measure, if the world's climatologists are correct.

Friday 9 October 2015 10:28:37 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Weather#
Tuesday 6 October 2015

These crossed my various news feeds today:

I've now got to really understand the implications of the EU ruling. More when I do.

Tuesday 6 October 2015 10:55:13 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Business | Security#
Tuesday 29 September 2015

Local-news organization DNAinfo asked people to draw their neighborhood boundaries a while back. They now have results:

After getting thousands of drawings from DNAinfo readers, we wanted to show where there was broad agreement (and disagreement) about where each begins and ends.

On first glance, both Boystown and Wrigleyville residents make clear where they think their neighborhoods are.

The core of Wrigleyville — appropriately around Wrigley Field — is between Grace, Racine, Sheffield and Newport, readers say.

Boystown's core is Halsted, Addison, Broadway and Belmont.

But look at both maps and you'll see how people in both neighborhoods are staking claim to the other's territory. A large number of readers think Boystown goes right up to Wrigley Field and several Wrigleyville residents think their neighborhood goes right up to Halsted.

I love stuff like this.

Tuesday 29 September 2015 14:03:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography#
Thursday 24 September 2015

First, Bruce Schneier warns about living in a Code Yellow world:

The psychological term for this is hypervigilance. Hypervigilance in the face of imagined danger causes stress and anxiety. This, in turn, alters how your hippocampus functions, and causes an excess of cortisol in your body. Now cortisol is great in small and infrequent doses, and helps you run away from tigers. But it destroys your brain and body if you marinate in it for extended periods of time.

Most of us...are complete amateurs at knowing the difference between something benign and something that's actually dangerous. Combine this with the rarity of attacks, and you end up with an overwhelming number of false alarms. This is the ultimate problem with programs like "see something, say something." They waste an enormous amount of time and money.

You also need to see these satellite photos.

And I need to do more work.

Thursday 24 September 2015 15:42:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Security#
Thursday 10 September 2015

I lost my Kindle on the flight to London last week, and only just got its replacement yesterday afternoon. Good thing, too, because I'm loading it up with articles I can't read until later:

And now I have to draft a statement of work...

Thursday 10 September 2015 10:22:12 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Kitchen Sink | Politics | US#
Thursday 3 September 2015

I happened to notice just now that the plane I'm on passed within a few hundred meters of 50°N and 50°W, just over the Grand Banks east of Newfoundland. That I was able to notice this goes in the category of things called "I love living in the future," as it involved a mobile phone with GPS and enough memory to store a kilometer-resolution map of the entire hemisphere in its Google Maps app cache.

Within five years we'll have ubiquitous Internet worldwide, and this will seem as quaint as one of Darwin's diary entires from the Galapagos, of course.

I would also like to shout out to American Airlines, who upgraded me on an international segment without me asking—or even realizing it was a possibility. Now, I understand the business reason: they had oversold coach with empty seats in business class. But the gate agent at O'Hare called me personally, on my mobile phone, after I boarded, to give me the upgrade. Why they chose me isn't as much a mystery as I'd like it to be (fare class, elite status), but still, it's not like my loyalty to American or oneworld is flagging. Maybe this kind of treatment is why?

Thursday 3 September 2015 14:49:46 NDT (UTC-02:30)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Travel#
Tuesday 18 August 2015

The point of the Illinois State Fair is food. Despite most people in the state living in urban or suburban areas, most of the state's area is agricultural. So when one goes to the fair, one eats. A lot.

That said, a remarkable proportion of food choices at the fair are fried meats. Even in the "ethnic village" section, where ostensibly they have about 20 different cuisines represented, things aren't quite...ethnic:

At least this year the Romanian kiosk wasn't covered in vampires. But still...not sure what's Romanian about elephant ears and polenta.

Also, we observed a skunk slink under a wall into the Greek kiosk after it closed. I sure hope he left before they opened the next morning.

Tuesday 18 August 2015 17:27:26 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink | Travel#
Friday 14 August 2015

Via IFLS, the Independent reported yesterday that the Prime Meridian is not at 0°W:

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world descend on the Royal Observatory in Greenwich to pose for a photograph astride the Prime Meridian, the famous line which divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the earth.

There is just one problem: according to modern GPS systems, the line actually lies more than 100 metres to the east, cutting across a nondescript footpath in Greenwich Park near a litter bin. Now scientists have explained why – and it all comes down to advances in technology.

According to a newly published paper on the discrepancy, which has existed for many years, tourists who visit the observatory at Greenwich often discover that they “must walk east approximately 102 meters before their satellite navigation receivers indicate zero longitude”.

I've visited the Royal Greenwich Observatory a couple of times, first in 2001. This sign was inaccurate then, but most people didn't realize it:

If you look at that photo's metadata, you can see the GPS location that I added using the mapping feature of Adobe Lightroom. According to Google Maps, the monument is actually at 0°0'5"W.

But the Prime Meridian was always primarily a reference point for time, not space, and therefore is exactly in the right place. As a commenter on the IFLS post pointed out:

The article uses the term "wrong" when in actuality Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is still based on the Prime Meridian, though with the network of atomic clocks it isn't used much anymore, however the marker itself is very much in the right place. It is just when you use the coordinates on a GPS you end up at a different location. This is because GPS doesn't use the Prime Meridian as a starting point. GPS uses multiple locations all across the globe as anchor points in which to triangulate a location from called the geodetic system. The system does not rely on fixed straight lines as we see on a map but rather contours to the physical and gravitational shape of the Earth. So in essence just as the gig line (navy term) of my shirt doesn't lie straight and flat across by oversized 50 year old belly neither does the imaginary geodetic lines. These imaginary lines if drawn on a map would deviate east and west and would appear wavy. In the end, it is not about being wrong (as the article implies) but rather why do the two systems not match up.

(See? Sometimes comments on the Internet are reasoned and mostly correct.)

And this is science, too. As the Royal Observatory's public astronomer Dr Marek Kukula told the Independent, “We’re forever telling this story, making the point that as we refine our measurements and get better technology of course these things change, because we want to have the best possible data."

As a bonus, here's a photo from my most recent visit, in 2009. Look at all the tourists lining up on the 5-seconds-west line:

Friday 14 August 2015 16:27:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | London | Travel | Astronomy#
Tuesday 11 August 2015

New Zealand is voting over the next year to replace its national flag:

It’s not everyday that a nation chooses a new flag by its own volition, with the support of the voters, without any drastic regime changes. New Zealand is doing exactly that. With the Flag Consideration Project, the Kiwis are trying on a new look.

In an open letter to the peoples of New Zealand, the panel for the Flag Consideration Project introduced 40 finalist designs for an all-new flag. Voters will decide what happens next in two referendums: one in November–December, and another in March 2016.

Here are a couple of the finalists:

Tuesday 11 August 2015 12:07:03 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | World#
Friday 24 July 2015

So far Chicago has had a milder-than-normal summer, with only a couple of over-32°C days and a lot of rain. Given our greenhouse gas emissions, that will change:

The NASA climate projections offer a detailed view of future temperature and precipitation patterns around the world at a 15.5 mile (25 kilometer) resolution, covering the time period from 1950 to 2100. The 11-terabyte dataset provided daily records and estimates of maximum and minimum temperatures and precipitation over the entire globe. It integrates actual measurements from around the world with data from climate simulations created by the international Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, or CMIP, which is a standard experimental protocol for studying the output of coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models.

The result? Pretty warm:

I won't be around to experience an average annual temperature around 30°C. Unfortunately, given the effects of climate change on our food and water supplies, not many others might be either.

Friday 24 July 2015 12:20:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | US | World | Weather#
Thursday 23 July 2015

Jeff Skilling at the Chicago Tribune updates us on the equatorial Pacific:

The current El Nino comes together against a backdrop of warming oceans and oceans which are growing more acidic as they observe mass quantities of CO2 produced through the burning of fossil fuels and the release of CO2 into the atmosphere this produces. More on the rate at which the planet’s oceans are warming here. It’s estimated that the warming which has taken place in the world’s oceans since 1990 is the equivalent of having exploded 5 Hiroshima strength nuclear bombs in the our planet’s oceans every second over the 25 year period. The warming oceans may be impacting the strength of the current El Niño. For more, click here.

What can we expect in the next few months? Most likely, increased precipitation in California, heavier than normal precipitation this fall and winter in the South, and a milder winter here in the midwest. However, with the ridiculously resilient ridge over the western U.S. and Canada, this year's El Niño could be completely different. Can't wait to find out.

Thursday 23 July 2015 16:51:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Weather#
Thursday 9 July 2015

The Atlantic's CityLab blog has a host:

Train stations in America span all the styles of architecture this nation has to offer. There’s the the gorgeous Italianate train station in Jackson, Michigan. The Amtrak station in Raton, New Mexico, is a beautiful example of Mission Revival. Even the humble lil’ train station in Mineola, Texas, has got some flair. Whatever you might think about Orlando’s train station, it no doubt looks historic.

The stations I want to talk about are not those train stations. These are not the Art Deco transit hubs that look like vintage monuments to the future, or the Spanish Colonial stations that summon visions of desperados waiting for a train. These are the other train stations—the ones that make you wish you’d left the house a little later so you’d have to spend that much less time waiting at the station.

Warning: truly depressing train station photos follow. And depression, according to a new meta-analysis, damages your brain. So after looking at these photos, go for a walk, and then write your member of Congress to restore funding to Amtrak.

Thursday 9 July 2015 13:13:56 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | US | Travel#
Friday 12 June 2015

One step in the Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters move this weekend was to get my Internet connection turned on at my new place. Unfortunately this meant moving the modem from the old place, so I will have only a little bit of Internet this weekend, if any. I still have a bunch of photos to post.

Meanwhile, I wanted to post some context. Here is the map of where Google thought my phone was last week; it's remarkably accurate:

Here's the same data constrained to Wednesday through Friday:

I have a few thoughts about Google Location Services, but none that I'm going to share as I'm trying to leave the office right now to get to Ribfest. And to pick up my dog, who's with his new pack.

All of this comes after getting a major project moved from "nice to have" to "must have by Monday." Because why wouldn't I want to create a major policy document over the weekend I'm moving when I'll have almost no Internet connectivity?

Friday 12 June 2015 17:21:59 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Travel | Work#
Thursday 11 June 2015

Part of the reason one stays in an Agriturismo is to go hiking. This is a state highway (scala provincale) near the closest village:

Despite being as far north (46°27') as Quebec City and Portland, Ore., Dosso del Liro is surprisingly warm and dry, the perfect environment for these guys, which we saw all over:

These guys (common Italian wall lizards) are about 8 cm nose to tail, and very fast. We didn't even try to catch them. But they're also hard to photograph; I got lucky and moved very slowly for this shot.

Thursday 11 June 2015 10:28:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Photography | Travel#
Tuesday 2 June 2015

I'm in a remote area with slow Internet for the next couple of days. You will see photos, and descriptions, and probably Yelp reviews coming up...but for today and probably a lot of tomorrow, less so. (Click on the globe icon below for some insight.)

It turned out, visiting Venice for only one day worked exactly right. More on that, too, as time warrants.

Tuesday 2 June 2015 23:55:17 CEST (UTC+02:00)  |  | Geography | Travel#
Sunday 31 May 2015

The Southampton Arms remains my favorite pub in London, but The Blackbird comes in a close second:

I wound up having breakfast and dinner there yesterday, followed up with drinks at a suburban-feeling club down the block. (Maybe not suburban; more like bridge-and-tunnel.)

Now I'm at Gatwick waiting for my next flight to phase II of this trip: Venice. So far the flight is only delayed 40 minutes. And I may have figured out the Lightroom problem, or at least found a workaround. More on all of this later tonight or tomorrow.

Sunday 31 May 2015 17:55:20 BST (UTC+01:00)  |  | Geography | London | Travel#
Thursday 28 May 2015

You know, it sucks to be Greece right now, and Germany is really screwing itself by not negotiating with them. But as an American tourist about to visit the continent, this is a nice thing to see (particularly after the bump earlier in the month):

This doesn't completely suck, either (I'm stopping in London on the way):

Thursday 28 May 2015 15:55:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | London | World | Travel#
Wednesday 27 May 2015

Via reader EB, a Chicago Magazine article from 1980 wonders where the gentrification really is (because it was 20 years in the future):

Thus it was that Yuppies began regentrifying poverty areas along the lakefront, such as Lincoln Park, Old Town, New Town, Lakeview, and Uptown. As population expert Pierre de Vise has noted, these singles are able to establish beachheads in “the buffer zones separating the Gold Coast from the slum” because the singles are less concerned with poor schools and street crime than middle-class families. The families, which had been fleeing to the suburbs since about 1950, continued to flee—would you send your child to a Chicago public school? Between 1970 and 1975 alone, the number of white households in Chicago with children dropped from 488,000 to 447,000, a loss of 41,000 households and the biggest drop in any category of the Census Bureau’s housing survey. Nevertheless, the arrival of the Yuppies was the first spontaneous evidence of new urban life in 30 years, and so the “urban renaissance” was hastily proclaimed.

But the word “renaissance” usually implies a cultural rebirth pervading all of society. The renaissance in Chicago has, in fact, been limited to a few oases. Of the 30,000 new housing units constructed in Chicago between 1970 and 1975, nearly half are concentrated in just 28 of the city’s 840 census tracts; as you might have guessed, all 28 of those tracts are on or near the lakefront.

Despite the frantic real-estate activity along the lakefront today, a 1975 study by Pierre de Vise turned up entire neighborhoods—mostly in black ghettos or blue-collar areas—where there hadn’t been a single conventional house sale all year; virtually all of the conventional mortgage sales, de Vise found, were restricted to the North and Northwest sides, the Far Southwest Side, and lakefront houses and condominiums.

Only, the hated Yuppies moving into those communities actually did reduce crime and improve schools, but also drove out minorities and the poor. Chicago today would be unrecognizable to people from 1980. In fact, people in my own family who moved away from Chicago in the 1970s cannot comprehend $500,000 condos at Wells and Division, nor walking alone through Oz Park after dark. And they certainly would never send a child to Lincoln Park High School.

We've got a long way to go to have a truly sustainable city, but we're on the right track (despite pensions). I'm glad to be living here now.

Wednesday 27 May 2015 09:39:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | US#
Thursday 21 May 2015

I'm not sure this produced a significantly different photo, but I've done another quick HDR image with Lightroom. First, the basic shot, posted the day after my visit to the Joint Security Area on the North-South Korean border:

Here's the first HDR attempt posted a week later:

And here's one with Lightroom 6:

The second HDRI used different source images, but only from a few seconds later. Are they significantly different? Maybe insignificantly? I must ponder...

Thursday 21 May 2015 13:57:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Photography#

WBEZ's Curious City has the story:

Every town that folded into Chicago, from Lake View to Hyde Park, had its own system for naming and numbering streets. Some towns counted out addresses starting from the Chicago River, while others started from Lake Michigan. Some placed even numbers on the north side of the street, others put them on the south. Some even let developers choose their own street names or numbers if there wasn’t a lot of local opposition.

Edward Paul Brennan was a delivery boy for his father’s grocery store, and later a bill collector for the music company Lyon & Healy. He was so frustrated with the chaos of Chicago’s address system that in 1901 he came up with his own. But it would take him years to get it implemented.

Beginning in the 1890s he started a scrapbook, collecting newspaper articles about problems with city navigation or delays due to address confusion. Articles had headlines like “Streets in a Tangle. Visitors Lost.” One report tells about a doctor who couldn’t find a patient during a house call emergency.

Today, Chicago addresses increase by 100 per block, 800 per mile. (Miles are significant because of the way land is surveyed in Illinois.) It's an easily-understood system that makes it hard to get lost in the city.

Thursday 21 May 2015 10:02:04 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography#
Tuesday 19 May 2015

Via Citylab, the clearest explanation yet for why subways have delays, courtesy NYMTA:

Tuesday 19 May 2015 13:20:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Travel#
Monday 11 May 2015

It's just past 9am on Monday and already I'm reduced to this kind of blog post. Tomorrow I may have some more time to read these things:

  • Cranky Flier analyzes Malaysia Airlines' struggles.
  • Microsoft is building subsea fibre cables between the U.S. and Europe and Asia.
  • TPM explains exactly what Jade Helm 15 really is.
  • Missed Microsoft Ignite this year? Here's the Channel 9 page.
  • We're starting to set up JetBrains TeamCity to handle our continuous integration needs. Explain, however, why the user manual is all video? Guys. Seriously. I haven't got time for this.
  • So now that Illinois actually has to pay the pensions we promised to pay, what now? (Hello, 9% income tax?)

Four-hour design review session is imminent. I may post later today...or I may lock myself in my office and stare at the wall.

Monday 11 May 2015 09:17:21 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Geography | US | Business | Cloud | Windows Azure#
Wednesday 6 May 2015

The USGS has put all of their topographic maps online. All of them. Back to 1880.


Wednesday 6 May 2015 15:45:15 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Cool links#
Sunday 3 May 2015

If you want this view:

...let me know. The apartment will be available July 1st. I'll post the listing once it's up.

Sunday 3 May 2015 10:45:58 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography#
Friday 1 May 2015

Citylab has a must-read on Spiro Agnew and the legitimization of right-wing suburban fears that led to the current policing crisis in America:

Initially, Governor Agnew offered a rather moderate response to the riot. But he soon took the lead of a conservative backlash that blamed radical agitators (that should sound familiar) and liberalism for nurturing black misbehavior. Agnew's pivot to the right came as the riot subsided, on April 11, when he met the state's mainstream black leaders and accused them of harboring a "perverted concept of race loyalty" that "inflamed" militants. Baltimore's fires were not "lit from an overwhelming sense of frustration and despair," he said, but were instead "kindled at the suggestion and with the instruction of the advocates of violence," like Stokely Carmichael.

Agnew, who served as executive of Baltimore County before his election as governor, became the consummate new right suburbanite. Indeed, he was the nation's first high-profile suburban politician, according to Levy. Agnew was Nixon's attack dog, holding up the ideals of Nixon's silent majority over the loud minorities in the streets and promoting a conservative manliness in the face of what he saw as an effeminate liberalism that indulged black and student protesters. And for many suburban voters, he provided a more sober alternative to the rabid George Wallace.

There's a straight line from the civil unrest in 1967 and 1968 to the anger we're seeing today. People have been saying for years that increased policing and incarceration is not helping anyone. And here we are, less than 50 years from the last time we failed to deal with the problems faced by cities, facing the same problems again.

Friday 1 May 2015 13:17:34 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | US#
Monday 27 April 2015

To read:

Back to cleaning up after a production bug this weekend.

Monday 27 April 2015 13:45:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Geography | Kitchen Sink | US | World#
Thursday 23 April 2015

Wow, I have a lot of things on my Kindle. And I'm adding more:

Back to debugging...

Photo: Chicago at night. Note the yellow-orange sodium vapor lamps.

Thursday 23 April 2015 15:08:54 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | US#
Wednesday 22 April 2015

Now that Chicago's bike share has hundreds of stations, its efficiencies are becoming clearer:

But what about convenience? Recently Divvy held its second annual data visualization challenge, and one of the winners, by Shaun Jacobsen at Transitized, compares the speed of Divvy with the speed of the CTA. And Divvy wins by a nose.

Jacobsen’s “Who’s Faster” project starts with a look at the 1,000 top “station pairs"—i.e. the places that people most often go from point A to point B using Divvy. Then, those are compared to the same route on the CTA at noon on a Monday.

And a couple patterns emerge. One is that the bulk of station-to-station trips are faster, centering on five minutes’ savings. It might not sound like much, but it adds up; Jacobsen calculates 32,023 hours saved over 571,634 trips. The other is that the most heavily-used station pairs tend to save more time than less frequently-used ones, as if people are starting to figure out how it works.

Cool stuff.

Wednesday 22 April 2015 15:29:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Biking | Chicago | Geography | US#
Monday 20 April 2015

After almost two years, the trail opens June 6th:

Built on a long-defunct railroad line, the trail runs through Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park.  Work on the $95 million project began in fall 2013.  Take a look at the path under construction.

When the trail opens, four of the access points will be through ground-level parks: Walsh Park, 1722 N. Ashland Ave.; Churchill Park, 1825 N. Damen Ave.; Julia de Burgos Park, 1805 N. Albany Ave.; and Park 567, 1805 N. Milwaukee Ave.

When completed, the 606 it will include six parks, an event plaza, an observatory, art installations, educational programming and other amenities, Emanuel said in a news release.

Parker and I will take a hike on it as soon as practical—possibly June 7th.

Monday 20 April 2015 13:18:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Biking | Chicago | Geography#
Friday 17 April 2015

...and also preparing for a fundraiser at which I'm performing tomorrow:

And did I mention Apollo After Hours?

Thursday 16 April 2015 20:31:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | Photography | Software | Blogs | Weather | Windows Azure | Work#
Monday 13 April 2015

The Trib expects noise complaints to take off:

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected within the next four months to release a preliminary report based on thousands of computer-generated flight simulations involving what will become O'Hare's fifth east-west runway and a subsequent runway that the city plans to open in 2020.

All this work, however, might not bring relief after a record year for O'Hare jet noise complaints. The simulations are aimed in part at finding the best way to squeeze in hundreds more daily flights at the airport.

Suburbs expected to hear more jet noise as the result of the 7,500-foot runway opening this fall include Bensenville, Franklin Park, Wood Dale, Bloomingdale and Addison, FAA and city aviation officials say.

So, people in Bensenville—which lies along the southern edge of O'Hare and is notable for its immense rail classification yard—are unhappy with their noisy neighbor. Keep in mind, the runway plans have been around for over 10 years. And jet noise today is far lower than before.

Monday 13 April 2015 15:17:28 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Geography | US#
Thursday 9 April 2015

My to-do list today only has 14 items on it, of which 6 are checked off already. The actual time it will take to accomplish the remaining eight items varies between 20 minutes (laundry, tonight, essentially a fire-and-forget activity) and four hours (Staging release of the Holden Adaptive Platform).

So, once again, I'm going to shove a bunch of articles to my Kindle:

Now to do the next few things on my list...and watch the thunderstorm outside my office window.

Thursday 9 April 2015 11:52:21 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Geography | Kitchen Sink | Photography | World | San Francisco#
Friday 3 April 2015

Guess the city by its transit stops.

Friday 3 April 2015 12:27:50 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography#
Thursday 2 April 2015

I didn't post this yesterday for obvious reasons.

I've just executed a lease on a new place about 5 km northwest of where I live now. I'm extra-special-happy that I won't have to move a whole damn server rack, but not especially happy that I'm renting the new place because I can't yet sell my current place. At least, not for an amount that would make me extra-special-happy.

The new apartment is twice the size and has probably double the electricity bill of my current place. It also has lots of east and west light, a huge kitchen, and a separate room to house the IDTWHQ.

Parker also got to see the place and he approved, particularly because it's only one flight up instead of three, and he's pushing nine years old. (Fortunately he didn't mark it as his own; that would have been a problem.)

Possession is slated for June 15th. Updates as conditions warrant. And if anyone is interested in a cute 1-bedroom vintage walkup in Lincoln Park, email.

Thursday 2 April 2015 16:28:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | Kitchen Sink#
Tuesday 24 March 2015

With meetings and a new developer on the team occupying almost all my time today, I've put these things aside for the half-hour I have at 6:30 to read them:

Now to jot down some policies on our new Microsoft Surface setups...

Tuesday 24 March 2015 16:32:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | US | Cool links | Windows Azure#
Sunday 22 March 2015

The French abbey Mont-Saint-Michel was completely cut off from land yesterday as once-in-a-century tides flowed into the English Channel:

Tens of thousands of curious visitors have crowded historic Mont Saint-Michel and other beauty spots along the French coastline with the promise of a ‘tide of the century’, but it may not have lived up to everyone's expectations.

Anticipating a wall of water that could equal the height of a four-storey building, tourists and locals staked out positions around the picturesque landmark last night and again today, including the partially-washed out causeway as the tide retreated.

They travelled to France’s northern coast for the first giant tide of the millennium, with experts predicting that it could reach as high as 14 m - 5½ m above normal - thanks to the effects from yesterday’s spectacular solar eclipse.

And once the tide flowed out, people had the rare opportunity to walk across the salt flat to the Mont. The tides were so high that UK authorities closed the Thames barrier for the 175th time in its 30-year history.

According to the Daily Mail, "the last 'tide of the century' occurred on March 10, 1997 and the next will take place in March 2033."

Sunday 22 March 2015 08:24:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Astronomy#
Friday 20 March 2015

Things I will read or explore more this weekend:

Must run.

Friday 20 March 2015 16:04:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | US | World | Cool links#
Tuesday 17 March 2015

Very cool simulation:

A new data visualization from a coder named Will Gallia shows commuters working their way through a day in the life of London’s Tube as exactly that: busy little pixels of commuting energy.

There are a few fun takeaways from this living, breathing transit map. Things get really, really busy, for instance, at around 8:40 in the morning, and again at around 6:10 at night. But there are also areas of consistent low activity: The Hainault Loop in the far right corner, for instance, attracts few riders even at the craziest of commute times. All transit lines are not created equal.

This is catnip to me.

Tuesday 17 March 2015 13:36:04 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | London#
Monday 16 March 2015

Anthropogenic climate change may have permanently destabilized both the West and East Antarctic Ice Sheets, meaning the planet could experience 3.3 to 4.3 meter sea-level rises in the next few centuries. And even better, gravity will push more towards North America than towards anyplace else:

In the event of a collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, scientists have determined that the United States will receive moresea level rise than almost any other part of the world. (Granted, so will other countries in North America, like Canada and Mexico, which have considerably less global warming responsibility.)

In this case, West Antarctica is so large that it pulls the global ocean toward it, which slopes upward toward the ice sheet and the Antarctic continent in general. But if West Antarctica were to lose a substantial part of its ice, then the gravitational pull would relax, and sea level would actually decrease near the ice sheet even as it spreads and increases across the global ocean.

But not evenly. Instead, areas farther from West Antarctica would get more sea level rise, and North America and the United States might get more than any other inhabited place on Earth. “The water that had been held close to West Antarctica spreads out across the ocean,” explains Penn State glaciologist Richard Alley, “and we’re far enough away that we weren’t in the ‘pile’ that was held close to West Antarctica when the ice sheet was there and its gravity attracted the water to make the pile, but we get our share of the water from that pile when it spreads out.”

So possibly, a couple centuries from now, there will be an enormous dam protecting the Long Island Sound from the Atlantic, and Florida will be an artificial island somewhere near Miami. Good work, humans.

Monday 16 March 2015 15:53:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | World | Weather#
Friday 13 March 2015

Yesterday NPR's Fresh Air interviewed Lee Jackson, author of Dirty Old London. Apparently my second-favorite city in the world came late to the sanitation party:

[B]y the 1890s, there were approximately 300,000 horses and 1,000 tons of dung a day in London. What the Victorians did, Lee says, was employ boys ages 12 to 14 to dodge between the traffic and try to scoop up the excrement as soon as it hit the streets.

This is the thing that's often forgotten: that London at the start of the 19th century, it was basically filled with these cesspools. There'd be brick chambers ... they'd be maybe 6 feet deep, about 4 [feet] wide and every house would have them. They'd be ideally in the back garden away from the house, but equally in central London and more crowded areas it was more common to have a cesspool in the basement. ... And above the cesspool would be where your household privy would be. And that was basically your sanitary facilities, for want of a better term.

He goes on from there.

Chicago, one should remember, also had disgusting streets, and nowhere to put sewers. Our solution? In the 1850s, we raised the city about 1.2 meters above the surrounding terrain. Note that it still took London 50 years to develop that level of sanitation.

Now London is one of the cleanest cities in the world. Still, people from outside the city—particularly from the north of England—refer to it as "the Big Stink." Cultural memories last for a long time.

Friday 13 March 2015 09:38:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | London#
Monday 9 March 2015

People who have read The Daily Parker know I have strong feelings about Le Corbusier, the French architect who nearly destroyed central Paris and who designed the vertical slums that packed in impoverished Americans like cattle. So I found it interesting when I received this email:

I saw that you were interested in Le Corbusier when I stumbled upon your page - www.thedailyparker.com/PermaLink,guid,a36518c4-5f44-4e64-813a-2a9c08ef9c9d.aspx By happenstance, I’ve been working on something that you might find compelling.

For the past two years, Artsy has developed a beautifully designed informational page for Le Corbusier. It includes beautiful images of his work, exclusive articles, and up to date information about his exhibitions. Artsy offers a new way to explore art around the world. I’d like to suggest adding a link to Artsy's Le Corbusier page as I believe it will give your audience a fresh perspective on art.

Oh? Well, I come to bury Corbi, not to praise him. My response:

Thanks for reaching out, and for sending the link. I’d like to post your message (with identifying information removed).

The thing is, though, I really despise Le Corbusier. His architecture was almost anti-human both at a macro and a micro level. He advocated destroying some of the most livable and inviting urban areas in the world—Greenwich Village, the 5th Arrondissement of Paris—in favor of concrete slabs surrounded by dead zones that no sane person would ever want to inhabit. Where he succeeded in this vision, the results have been disastrous. Here in Chicago, for example, the Corbusier-inspired Robert Taylor Homes and Cabrini-Green housing developments became vertical slums within a year of opening, and no amount of evidence that this was happening could convince Le Corbusier to change his approach.

Without Jane Jacobs to shut down his soul-destroying efforts in New York, he and Robert Moses would have destroyed the city. Here in Chicago we’re only now clawing back the damage his ideas did to our environment.

As intellectual exercises his buildings are interesting. As structures that people live and work in, they’re harmful.

So, OK, link posted, with both perspectives as presented. But as I've said before, I look forward to the day when people generally hold Le Corbusier in the same esteem they hold Pachelbel and Kinkade.

Monday 9 March 2015 16:34:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | US | World#
Monday 2 March 2015

CitiLabs' Feargus O'Sullivan thinks London should stop looking to New York for guidance and concentrate on a city closer to home:

[L]et me outline the difficulties the U.K. capital faces. London's property prices are spiraling, products of a housing drought that's turning decent apartments affordable on a working class wage into urban legends. The city's inequality chasm is widening inch-by-inch, and once economically diverse neighborhoods risk becoming monocultures. This has helped to deaden and marginalize aspects of the city's cultural life that made London vibrant in the first place—a lesser point than displacement, no doubt, but a problem nonetheless. Meanwhile, the city's regenerative energies are ignoring the small print of daily livability and being channeled into ridiculously flashy grand projects that see the city as a mere display cabinet in which to cluster expensive, largely functionless infrastructural tchotchkes.

Does this all sound familiar, New Yorkers?

What makes [London mayor Boris] Johnson's NY-LON obsession more frustrating is that London actually has a far more relevant role model closer to home. It's a place that has strong historical connection with London, a city whose architecture and cultural life London long strove to emulate. Obviously, I'm talking about Paris.

It's worth a (quick) read.

Monday 2 March 2015 13:05:27 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | London | World#
Thursday 26 February 2015

CityLab's Eric Jaffe takes a good look:

Let's acknowledge, right from the start, that there's a lot to like about Chicago's long-awaited, much-anticipated Central Loop BRT project, which is scheduled to break ground in March. The basic skeleton is an accomplishment in its own right: nearly two miles of exclusive rapid bus lanes through one of the most traffic-choked cities in the United States. The Central Loop BRT will serve six bus routes, protect new bike lanes, connect to city rail service, and reduce travel times for about half all people moving through the corridor on wheels. Half.

Officially, CTA says the Ashland plans are proceeding at pace. The agency is considering public feedback gathered during community meetings in 2013 and working through the "higher-than-anticipated number of comments," as part of the standard procedure for a federal environmental analysis. Meantime, CTA continues to pursue funding for the project's next design. Spokesman Steele says it's "too soon to tell" what a timeline for the corridor will be.

BRT solves the problem of getting people around quickly without building new rail lines. Chicago's geography makes BRT development a lot easier than it would be in other cities as well. It would be cool if, a year from now, I'm whizzing to the Loop in 20 minutes by bus, instead of my current 40.

Thursday 26 February 2015 12:18:01 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | US | Travel#
Sunday 8 February 2015

After a nearly two days with above-freezing temperatures, our sidewalks have become passable and our faces have stopped falling off from the cold. Consequently I've spent a good deal of time today walking places. Consequently, though it's just 3pm, I've gotten better Fitbit numbers (15,000 steps, 11 km) than on any day since January 3rd (16,800 steps, 12.1 km).

From January 3rd you have to go all the way back to November 30th (23,500 steps, 18 km) to find better results. I'm not going to do that today; but I am going to walk Parker more than he's been walked in a couple of weeks, and try to hit 18,000 steps or so.

I also discovered that Google knows everywhere I've been since I got my Android phone. (If you have an Android phone, go to https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/b/0 to see your history.) That's creepy. And so interesting. For a while I've been outlining an app that would aggregate all of this kind of information and form a searchable tick-tock record going back as far as I have data. That might be cool—or it might be scary. Haven't decided yet.

Sunday 8 February 2015 15:07:24 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Cool links#
Thursday 5 February 2015

With a little more than five days until my next international flight, I'm stocking up my Kindle:

UAT release this afternoon. Back to the galley.

Thursday 5 February 2015 11:48:42 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Cubs | Geography | Software#
Friday 16 January 2015

I'm taking a quick trip to New York this weekend so The Daily Parker may be a little quiet. Here's what I'll be reading about on the flights:

One more bug to fix before I can do a test deployment...

Friday 16 January 2015 09:35:54 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | US | World | Business#
Tuesday 6 January 2015

Therefore, another link round-up:

There are a couple of other articles on my Kindle too, I just haven't got time to link them.

Tuesday 6 January 2015 13:07:34 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | London | US | World | Weather#
Sunday 4 January 2015

Writing in today's Times, Richard Florida explains the long-term costs of red state/blue state differences:

The idea that the red states can enjoy the benefits provided by the blue states without helping to pay for them (and while poaching their industries with the promise of low taxes and regulations) is as irresponsible and destructive of our national future as it is hypocritical.

But that is exactly the mantra of the growing ranks of red state politicos. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a likely 2016 G.O.P. presidential candidate, has taken to bragging that his state’s low-frills development strategy provides a model for the nation as a whole. But fracking and sprawling your way to growth aren’t a sustainable national economic strategy.

The allure of cheap growth has handed the red states a distinct political advantage. ... As long as the highly gerrymandered red states can keep on delivering the economic goods to their voters, concerted federal action on transportation, infrastructure, sustainability, education, a rational immigration policy and a strengthened social safety net will remain out of reach. These are investments that the future prosperity of the nation, in red states and blue states alike, requires.

The article has a chart showing the relationship between affordable housing and the 2012 election. It turns out, San Francisco and New York are the bluest and most expensive cities, while Tulsa, Okla. and Knoxville, Tenn. are the cheap, red cities. Chicago shows up well: more than 2/3 of housing is affordable to the local middle class, and we went pretty strongly for our man Barack.

Sunday 4 January 2015 11:05:20 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | US | San Francisco#
On this page....
Massive El Niño confirmed
On the reading stack
Where is your neighborhood?
Two must-see posts
The less-interesting bits of the State Fair
The Prime Meridian isn't where you think
Flags of our Kiwis
Getting warmer
Strong El Niño forming this year
Railway stations of sad pandas
Hiking in Dosso del Liro
In the hills
The Blackbird
Things you want to see the day before going to Europe
The beginnings of Chicago's urban renaissance
More HDR fun with Lightroom
How did Chicago get its street number system?
Watch on an El platform
How's your week going?
USGS TopoView
Apartment available
History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme
In the queue
Reading pile
Divvy is faster than the El, usually
Bloomingdale Trail opening June 6th
Things I didn't read while pulling apart an Include block
New runway set to open at O'Hare this fall
You know, I don't really like these entries
Fun online quiz
Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters is moving
I have a break at 6:30, at least
Marée du siècle
Quick hits
A day in the life of the Tube
Time to sell that beachfront property in Ft. Lauderdale
The Big Stink
The art of Le Corbusier
I see London, I see France
Chicago Bus Rapid Transit analyzed
Snow finally melting; Fitbit numbers recovering
More stuff to read on the plane
End-of-week link round-up
Too busy to write something interesting
Red-state costs of living
The Daily Parker +3620d 21h 48m
Whiskey Fest 17d 11h 55m
My next birthday 327d 01h 19m
Parker's 10th birthday 246d 15h 25m
Aviation (380) Baseball (114) Best Bars (10) Biking (46) Chicago (1040) Cubs (199) Duke (134) Geography (386) Higher Ground (5) Jokes (284) Kitchen Sink (743) London (86) Parker (207) Daily (204) Photography (171) Politics (312) US (1185) World (297) Raleigh (21) Readings (8) Religion (69) San Francisco (96) Software (235) Blogs (95) Business (263) Cloud (96) Cool links (157) Security (113) Travel (302) Weather (783) Astronomy (108) Windows Azure (65) Work (112) Writing (15)
<October 2015>
Full archive
David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
All content Copyright ©2015 David Braverman.
Creative Commons License
The Daily Parker by David Braverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License, excluding photographs, which may not be republished unless otherwise noted.
Admin Login
Sign In
Blog Stats
Total Posts: 4992
This Year: 378
This Month: 14
This Week: 2
Comments: 0