Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
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Tuesday 2 September 2014

My new Android phone has a built in-GPS and a fairly large Google Maps cache. I'm sure this is true of other phones, but not of my old Windows phone, so until this past trip I couldn't do this:

And then, a few seconds later, I could do this:

I love this phone.

Tuesday 2 September 2014 15:48:34 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Cool links#
Saturday 30 August 2014

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates spent seven weeks this summer at an immersion French course at Middlebury College:

I was there to improve my French. My study consisted of four hours of class work and four hours of homework. I was forbidden from reading, writing, speaking, or hearing English. I watched films in French, tried to read a story in Le Monde each day, listened to RFI and a lot of Barbara and Karim Oullet. At every meal I spoke French, and over the course of the seven weeks I felt myself gradually losing touch with the broader world. This was not a wholly unpleasant feeling. In the moments I had to speak English (calling my wife, interacting with folks in town or at the book store), my mouth felt alien and my ear slightly off.

he majority of people I interacted with spoke better, wrote better, read better, and heard better than me. There was no escape from my ineptitude. At every waking hour, someone said something to me that I did not understand. At every waking hour, I mangled some poor Frenchman’s lovely language. For the entire summer, I lived by two words: “Désolé, encore.”

From this he examines scholastic opportunity and achievement, how different ethnic groups approach intellectuals in their midst, and class conflict in general, as only Coates can. It's a good read.

Saturday 30 August 2014 10:26:01 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Geography | US | World#
Friday 29 August 2014

Jim Angel, the Illinois State Climatologist, wrote yesterday that Chicago-area precipitation seems to have shifted around 1965:

First of all, northeast Illinois (Cook and several surrounding counties – see map below) has experienced a shift in precipitation over the last 120 years. This plot shows the amounts for each year as green dots, and an 11-year running average showing longer periods of dry conditions (brown) and wet conditions (green). There is a pretty remarkable shift from a drier climate between 1895 and 1965 with lots of brown, towards a wetter climate from 1966 to present where green dominates.

If you compare the average annual precipitation between the two periods, you get 836 mm for the earlier period and 935 mm for the later period. That is a 99 mm increase, or about 12 percent.

Of course, we have still experienced drought conditions in this later wet period, as noted in 2005 and 2012. However, the wetter years far outnumber the dry years since 1965. BTW, this pattern is not unique. I have seen this across the state.

So, with slightly warmer weather, milder winters, and more precipitation, it looks like Illinois might suffer less from climate change than other parts of the country. However, those conditions have led to increasing insect populations and more-frequent large precipitation events, with non-trivial costs.

At least we're not in South Florida, which not only faces complete inundation from rising sea levels, but also a climate-denying Congressional delegation.

Friday 29 August 2014 07:22:20 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | US | Weather#
Thursday 7 August 2014

He thinks we should all use GMT instead:

[W]ithin a given time zone, the point of a common time is not to force everyone to do everything at the same time. It's to allow us to communicate unambiguously with each other about when we are doing things.

If the whole world used a single GMT-based time, schedules would still vary. In general most people would sleep when it's dark out and work when it's light out. So at 23:00, most of London would be at home or in bed and most of Los Angeles would be at the office. But of course London's bartenders would probably be at work while some shift workers in LA would be grabbing a nap. The difference from today is that if you were putting together a London-LA conference call at 21:00 there'd be only one possible interpretation of the proposal. A flight that leaves New York at 14:00 and lands in Paris at 20:00 is a six-hour flight, with no need to keep track of time zones. If your appointment is in El Paso at 11:30 you don't need to remember that it's in a different time zone than the rest of Texas.

Sigh.

It's even easier to get people to use International System measurements than to get them to understand the arbitrariness of the clock, but let's unpack just one thing Yglesias seems to have missed: the date.

Imagine you actually can get people in Los Angeles to use UTC. Working hours are 16:00 to 24:00. School starts at 15:45 (instead of ending then). In the summer, the sun rises at 12:30 and sets at 02:00.

Wait, what? The sun sets at 2am? So...you come home on a different day? That makes no sense to most people.

Yes, in a world where people are unwilling to give up their 128-ounce gallons and 36-inch yards in favor of 1000-milliliter liters and 100-centimeter meters, a world where ice freezing at 32 and boiling at 212 makes more sense than freezing at 0 and boiling at 100, a world where Paul Ryan is thought to be a serious person, we're not moving away from the day changing while most people are asleep.

And don't even get me started on the difference between GMT and UTC.

Thursday 7 August 2014 09:35:35 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | US | World | Travel | Astronomy#
Tuesday 5 August 2014

One hundred years ago today, just a few kilometers from where I'm now sitting, Cleveland installed the first electric traffic signal at corner of Euclid and East 105th:

Various competing claims exist as to who was responsible for the world's first traffic signal. A device installed in London in 1868 featured two semaphore arms that extended horizontally to signal "stop" and at a 45-degree angle to signal "caution." In 1912, a Salt Lake City, Utah, police officer named Lester Wire mounted a handmade wooden box with colored red and green lights on a pole, with the wires attached to overhead trolley and light wires. Most prominently, the inventor Garrett Morgan has been given credit for having invented the traffic signal based on his T-shaped design, patented in 1923 and later reportedly sold to General Electric.

Despite Morgan's greater visibility, the system installed in Cleveland on August 5, 1914, is widely regarded as the first electric traffic signal. Based on a design by James Hoge, who received U.S. patent 1,251,666 for his "Municipal Traffic Control System" in 1918, it consisted of four pairs of red and green lights that served as stop-go indicators, each mounted on a corner post. Wired to a manually operated switch inside a control booth, the system was configured so that conflicting signals were impossible. According to an article in The Motorist, published by the Cleveland Automobile Club in August 1914: "This system is, perhaps, destined to revolutionize the handling of traffic in congested city streets and should be seriously considered by traffic committees for general adoption."

Only 100 years later, the traffic lights have minds of their own.

Tuesday 5 August 2014 08:42:31 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Geography | Travel#
Monday 4 August 2014

From my hotel room right now I can see the A-concourse at Cleveland Hopkins Airport about 500 m away. Between here and there is a parking lot and the terminal access road. The setup isn't fundamentally different from the location of the O'Hare Hilton, except a few trees and traffic levels. Oh, and the walkway.

The O'Hare hotel connects directly to all three terminals via underground walkway as well as surface paths through or around the parking structure. In other words, a traveler can walk from his plane to the O'Hare Hilton directly, without taking his life into his hands.

Not so here. Look (click for full size):

If you walk along the terminal access road, you run out of sidewalk by the first curve. Somehow there's a path through the parking structure, but again, once you get to the edge of the parking lot southeast of the structure, you're climbing through sod and ground cover to get to the hotel's ring road.

Still, I did it last night, and from my gate to the hotel took 17 minutes. Last time, when I waited for the hotel shuttle bus, it took twice as long. Fortunately it didn't rain either time, but if it had rained, waiting for the shuttle bus would have been damper.

Now I've got to catch the rental car shuttle, which picks up back at the terminal, so I'll have to pick my way across the parking lot and parking structure until I find a way though to the pick-up spot. Because no one wanted to build a sidewalk to bridge the one-block chasm between the hotel and the airport.

Related: NPR reported this morning that our food intake hasn't changed in 10 years; we're all getting fat because we don't walk enough.

Monday 4 August 2014 08:15:07 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Kitchen Sink | Travel#
Thursday 31 July 2014

As a big Jane Jacobs fan, I'm very happy to learn that the FBI's ugly headquarters in Washington may be demolished soon:

This week came the news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is leaving its home in Washington, D.C. While plans to keep the bureau downtown were always a longshot, a short list of candidates released by the GSA confirms that the FBI will build a new consolidated headquarters in either Maryland or Virginia. Washingtonian spotted the release and wasted no time in celebrating the FBI's departure—despite the fact that the move will send as many as 4,800 jobs to the suburbs.

That's how much D.C. residents hate the J. Edgar Hoover Building. And really, that doesn't come close to painting how passionately people hate this building.

Yeah, because it's a really ugly building.

The Atlantic's Kriston Capps, who wrote the linked article, worries that its replacement will be bland, and therefore maybe we don't want to tear it down? No. Tear it down. And worry about the replacement building during its design phase.

The Brutalist period was so called for a reason.

Thursday 31 July 2014 18:42:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | US#
Tuesday 29 July 2014

Client deliverables and tonight's Cubs game have compressed my day a little. Here's what I haven't had time to read:

Now back to the deliverable...

Tuesday 29 July 2014 12:00:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink | US | Weather#
Tuesday 22 July 2014

Downloading to my Kindle right now:

...and a few articles I found last week that just made it onto my Kindle tonight.

Oh, and I almost forgot: today is the 80th anniversary of John Dillinger's death just six blocks from where I now live.

Tuesday 22 July 2014 18:22:54 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink | Parker | US#
Tuesday 15 July 2014

For once I'm not ranting about politics. No, check out these spite houses:

About a century ago, a Bay Area man named Charles Froling was just learning that he wouldn't be able to build his dream house. An inheritance had gifted him a sizable chunk of land, but municipal elders in the City of Alameda had decided to appropriate most of it to extend a street. So Froling sadly rolled up his blueprints and murmured, "Ah well, that's life."

No, of course he didn't do that. Having a constitution made from equal parts righteous indignation and pickle juice, the frustrated property owner took what little land he had left and erected a stilted, utterly ridiculous abode. The house measured 54 feet long but only 10 feet wide, as if a tornado had blown away two-thirds of the original structure.

They have art. I can't tell if the houses depicted are cozy or horrifying, though.

Tuesday 15 July 2014 16:47:13 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink#
Thursday 26 June 2014

This map surprised me:

Max Fisher explains:

It's no secret that European colonialism was a vast, and often devastating, project that over several centuries put nearly the entire world under control of one European power or another. But just how vast can be difficult to fully appreciate.

Here, to give you a small sense of European colonialism's massive scale, is a map showing every country put under partial or total European control during the colonial era, which ran roughly from the 1500s to the 1960s. Only five countries, in orange, were spared:

There are only four countries that escaped European colonialism completely. Japan and Korea successfully staved off European domination, in part due to their strength and diplomacy, their isolationist policies, and perhaps their distance. Thailand was spared when the British and French Empires decided to let it remained independent as a buffer between British-controlled Burma and French Indochina. Japan, however, colonized both Korea and Thailand itself during its early-20th-century imperial period.

It's hard to understand why most of the world hates Europeans (and by extension North Americans).

Thursday 26 June 2014 09:57:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | World#
Tuesday 24 June 2014

Maryland dentist Edward Gramson got taken for a ride by British Airways:

When a North Bethesda, Maryland, dentist planned a trip to Portugal for a conference last September, he decided he'd quickly swing by Granada, Spain, to see the famed Alhambra and other historical sites.

But carrier British Airways had other ideas, and instead sent Edward Gamson and his partner to Grenada — with an E — in the Caribbean, by way of London, no less.

Gamson, who said he clearly told the British Airways agent over the phone Granada, Spain, didn't notice the mistake because his e-tickets did not contain the airport code or the duration of the trip. It was only 20 minutes after departure from a stopover in London that he looked at the in-flight map and asked the flight attendant, "Why are we headed west to go to Spain?"

I'm scratching my head over this one. I travel a lot, through Heathrow sometimes, on BA other times, and I'm just not sure how so many things could go wrong no matter how many letters are different. What about the flight schedule? Departure briefing from the pilot? Passport control? Size of the bloody plane? (You don't take an A320 to the Caribbean and you don't take a 747 to a regional Spanish airport.) This guy had at least 350,000 frequent-flier miles; how did he not notice any of these things?

Gramson has sued BA pro se for $34,000, which he estimates to be the losses from hotel and travel reservations. I can't wait to hear the disposiiton.

Tuesday 24 June 2014 13:03:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | London | Travel#
Tuesday 10 June 2014

Via the Atlantic, how far could the Proclaimers actually walk?

[W]hile "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" does a great job of laying out the folk-rockers' intentions to complete the full thou', it is lousy about providing the specifics of their journey. What direction are they walking, for instance – south toward London, or north to the frigid, rocky shores of the far Highlands? Then there's the problem that if they walked 500 x 2 miles in a straight line from any point in the U.K., they'd hit water. Would they stop and reconsider their travel plans (buy a jet-ski, perhaps)? Or would they keep on walking straight into the briny waves, plodding along the ocean floor to some remote island where their seagull poo-splattered lover is waiting?

It's a catchy song, but it leaves so many questions! Fortunately, there's a guy hard on the case to unravel its mysteries. Kenneth Field is a 40-something cartographic product engineer in Southern California who's made a fun map showing all the places the band could walk to in a 360 degree field if they began in Leith, the birthplace of twin-brother singers Craig and Charlie Reid.

And apparently, if you like that, there's a subreddit of map porn. I'll be back...

Tuesday 10 June 2014 14:20:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink#
Saturday 7 June 2014

Thursday at lunchtime I caught some bridge maintenance in downtown Chicago:

Saturday 7 June 2014 09:51:03 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography#
Thursday 5 June 2014

What's the ugliest thing you can do to a downtown city? Cut down all the buildings and put up a parking lot:

This seems kind of obvious, doesn't it? But then again, about 800 years ago someone cut down the last tree on Easter Island, so it's hard to underestimate the ability of people to make good decisions about land use.

Thursday 5 June 2014 13:14:04 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | US#
Thursday 8 May 2014

I may come back to these again:

Publishing the Inner Drive Extensible Architecture™ to NuGet is still coming up...just not this weekend.

Thursday 8 May 2014 12:52:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | World | Blogs | Business#
Wednesday 7 May 2014

I almost forgot, even though Illinois Climatologist Jim Angel blogged it earlier today. The new NCA is here. Highlights—with a distinctly Illinois-centered view—via Angel:

  • In the next few decades, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops, though those benefits will be progressively offset by extreme weather events. Though adaptation options can reduce some of the detrimental effects, in the long term, the combined stresses associated with climate change are expected to decrease agricultural productivity.
  • Increased heat wave intensity and frequency, increased humidity, degraded air quality, and reduced water quality will increase public health risks.
  • Climate change will exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes, including changes in the range and distribution of certain fish species, increased invasive species and harmful blooms of algae, and declining beach health. Ice cover declines will lengthen the commercial navigation season [this winter was the exception to the rule - Jim].

If you don't mind using 170 megabytes of bandwidth, you can download the whole thing (or just the parts you want).

Wednesday 7 May 2014 14:41:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | US | World | Weather#
Sunday 23 March 2014

I debated this question with someone at a dinner a couple weeks ago. She suggested higher megapixel numbers told you more about the ego of the camera buyer than about the quality of the images.

I said it depends on how you're using the photos, but generally, more data yields more useful photos.

Here's an illustration, using a vaguely-recognizable landmark that I happened to pass earlier this weekend, and just happened to have photographed with three different cameras.

Sunday 23 March 2014 22:49:16 GMT (UTC+00:00)  |  | Geography | London | Photography#
Saturday 1 March 2014

Parker, 14 weeksI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 7½-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in September 2011, more than 1,300 posts back, so it's time for a refresh.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than 13 years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago (the greatest city in North America), and sometimes London, San Francisco, and the rest of the world.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until early 2011 when I finally got the first digital camera I've ever had whose photos were as good as film. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.

I also write a lot of software, and will occasionally post about technology as well. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got more than 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Saturday 1 March 2014 14:27:44 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Biking | Cubs | Geography | Kitchen Sink | London | Parker | Daily | Photography | Politics | US | World | Religion | Software | Blogs | Business | Cloud | Travel | Weather | Windows Azure | Work | Writing#
Saturday 15 February 2014

The Great Lakes have more ice cover than at any point in the last 20 years. Here's the view on the flight in last Monday morning:

If you don't mind a 150 MB download, NASA took a photo of the Great Lakes (and, incidentially, me) at almost that exact moment. The ice today (also 150 MB) looks about the same.

Saturday 15 February 2014 17:45:54 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | Weather#

I got gas today, which isn't that interesting in itself, except that it's only the third time I've gotten gas in the past four months. Like the last time, I decided to fill up in case it got cold (a full tank is better for your car in winter), so really I've only gotten about 2½ tanks of gas since the beginning of November.

It's perfectly valid to wonder why I even own a car. I didn't for most of the time I lived in New York. Still, today I had about a half-dozen errands to run, and having a car made a huge difference, especially to Parker. If I only used Zipcar, for example, I wouldn't be able to bring him around either.

Still, this is why I like living in a big city.

Saturday 15 February 2014 16:39:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography#
Saturday 8 February 2014

When I last visited St. Martin five years ago, I struggled a bit to get through the heavily-defended border between the French and Dutch sides. I am happy to report that the two countries have made significant improvements to the border since then. For starters, they've put up a brand-new sign:

Unfortunately, it appears that an aggressor nation has taken over part of the French side:

All right, I'm wasting time writing a blog post when I could do it with something else. If only this Internet connection were faster, I could be offline a lot faster.

Saturday 8 February 2014 10:49:42 AST (UTC-04:00)  |  | Geography | Photography | Travel#
Friday 7 February 2014

This is why I love Sint Maarten:

Friday 7 February 2014 17:53:24 AST (UTC-04:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Travel#
Thursday 6 February 2014

It turned out that I had an actual task today. Two, in fact. Both were pure stupidity on my part. And both completely scotched my goal of doing nothing worthwhile for four days.

First, I had promised something to my team at work before I left, but didn't realize until I checked email this morning that, well, the task was not completed. (Notice the subtle use of passive voice there.) So I had that task, which took half an hour.

Second, mentioned forgetting a few vital items in my luggage, so I had to buy them. And I paid a stupidity tax. The cost of one hat, two pairs of shorts, one pair of sandals (which I didn't already own and therefore had planned to buy here anyway), and one bottle of sunscreen was two hundred bloody dollars. In other words, I paid a 100% tax on bad packing.

So to compensate for having to do things today, after accomplishing both tasks I put on my new shorts, sunscreen, and sandals, then walked the 800 meters from my hotel to the opposite side of Maho Beach and watched planes land for three hours. I need to point out that along the way, I walked through the Caribbean Sea. My new shorts got seawater on them. I think this is exactly what they're for. Especially since the seawater was about the same temperature as the air (27°C), and unlike walking through Lake Michigan on any day except that one day in the beginning of September when everything lines up perfectly, it felt really good. (My feet are, in fact, still wet.)

I also met a few good people, had a few good drinks, and learned that the best airplane landing of the week occurs tomorrow around lunchtime when KLM flight 785 lands. It's a 747-400, the largest plane that flies here. If I have to stand out in the rain, I'm going to see this thing land.

Of course, this means I now have a plan. Even though I came to this island with the explicit goal of not accomplishing or planning anything, except maybe reading a book or two, I just can't help myself. The Dude is onto something...I just can't get there yet...

My plan is:

  • Tomorrow: sleep late, eat something, walk across Maho Beach, take photos of the 747 landing, walk back to my hotel, change my shoes, walk somewhere else (possibly Marigot or Phillipsburg), have some drinks.
  • Saturday: sleep late, walk somewhere (maybe even take a bus and then walk), read something, walk somewhere else, read some more, have some drinks.
  • Sunday: sleep late, shove things into my suitcase, walk somewhere, retrieve my suitcase, go to New York, have some drinks.

Understand that "have some drinks" is an ongoing activity. And the happy accident is that the room I got for cheap through Bookings.com includes free drinks.

Someday, and that day may never come, I will do nothing for an entire week. Meanwhile, this is the least I can do right now. Baby steps.

Thursday 6 February 2014 17:12:37 AST (UTC-04:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Kitchen Sink | Travel#
Sunday 2 February 2014

Via the IANA Time Zone Database mailing list, through Randy Olson, comes this map showing the difference between local solar time and what wall clocks show throughout the world:

At the time I’m writing, near the winter solstice, Madrid’s sunset is around 17:55, more than an hour later than the sunset in, for example, Naples, which is at a similar latitude. The same difference holds at the summer solstice and around the year. Just because it applies to most places I’ve been, a time like that in Naples feels more natural to me, and probably to most non-Spanish people. But is it?

Looking for other regions of the world having the same peculiarity of Spain, I edited a world map from Wikipedia to show the difference between solar and standard time. It turns out, there are many places where the sun rises and sets late in the day, like in Spain, but not a lot where it is very early (highlighted in red and green in the map, respectively). Most of Russia is heavily red, but mostly in zones with very scarce population; the exception is St. Petersburg, with a discrepancy of two hours, but the effect on time is mitigated by the high latitude. The most extreme example of Spain-like time is western China: the difference reaches three hours against solar time. For example, today the sun rises there at 10:15 and sets at 19:45, and solar noon is at 15:01.

If you live in the green areas of the map, the sun tends to rise and set earlier than in the red zones. Not coincidentally, the places that set time policy tend to be neutral: London, Washington, Sydney, Beijing, Ottawa...they're all nearly dead-center in their respective zones. The notable exception is Moscow, where time policy goes back and forth and may even change once more this year.

Finally, a commenter on the Reddit MapPorn post where this also appeared points out: "Fun fact: The small Afghan-Chinese border is the largest jump in timezone in the world. (3 and a half hour difference on each side) You'd get jet lag crossing that border."

Sunday 2 February 2014 10:05:58 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Astronomy#
Friday 17 January 2014

In two and a half weeks, I'll be on a beach doing nothing of value to anyone but myself. Meanwhile, here are all the things I won't have time to read until someday in the future:

Now my long day continues...

Friday 17 January 2014 14:11:27 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | US | Weather#
Tuesday 14 January 2014

A century ago, engineers cut the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi Basin. It might be time to close the canal:

Over the last decade or so, a huge range of interests — from environmental groups to fishermen to shipping experts to politicians — have raised the alarm over just how much this artificial connection has created an opening for invasive species such as the Asian carp to make their way through North America’s waterways. And the costs associated with the damage caused by these species have been high enough to prompt serious consideration of closing off the link between the Mississippi and the Great Lakes.

How high? First, consider the figure $18 billion. That’s the estimate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released last week to re-insert a physical separation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi system.

The proposal would dam the Chicago and Calumet Rivers' connections to the Canal, requiring changes to the Deep Tunnel reservoir system and the flood-control systems in the Western suburbs. Meanwhile, Asian carp have gotten within a few kilometers of Lake Michigan. Twenty of those fish in the lake is all it would take to create a permanent population all the way to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Reversing the Chicago River made a lot of sense in 1900, and probably saved thousands of lives from cholera and other diseases. Times change, though. We have new threats today.

Tuesday 14 January 2014 14:11:17 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography#
Tuesday 31 December 2013

WFM Lincoln Park Store Team Leader Rich Howley responded to my complaint right away:

We are really sorry for the inconvenience in our garage this afternoon, we realized immediately that we were over-whelmed and brought in additional security, they unfortunately had not yet arrived.

They are doing exactly what you had suggested.

I walked the entire area around the store, and what exacerbated the situation was traffic on North Ave was bumper to bumper in both directions, and this gridlocked traffic trying to get from Kingsbury/Sheffield Sts onto North, which in turn backed up the traffic directly in front of the store, in clogged up people trying to get out of the lot.

We are terribly sorry that you got hung up in our garage.

My response after the jump.

Tuesday 31 December 2013 15:47:39 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink#

I go to Whole Foods Market twice a week or more, almost always the Lincoln Park, Chicago store. Even when they have lots of customers, they have plenty of space and plenty of parking, so I didn't worry about ducking out of my house this afternoon to pick up lunch and dog food.

Here's the result. Don't let the international units confuse you; that's an hour and 13 minutes to go about 4 miles:

Here's the situation when I arrived, which looked remarkably like the situation when I left:

Click through for a view of the store from above and for my note to Customer Service explaining how their incompetence wasted my afternoon.

Tuesday 31 December 2013 15:11:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink#
Friday 27 December 2013

Nephew #1 arrived yesterday evening while I sat a mile away talking with the manager of San Benito House and, apparently, challenging people to a Scrabble game later today. Nephew #1 is a much lighter sleeper than the rest of us, which causes him frustration, and when he gets frustrated he sets out to determine how much noise is required to make everyone exactly as light a sleeper as he.

Fortunately, I'm on Chicago time, so getting up at 5am PST (7am CST) does not bother me. And it gives me some time to read the articles that crossed my inbox overnight:

It's still an hour before dawn here, so I'm rocking out the nearly-empty Peet's, about to resume some client work. I promise another photo of the ocean before I return home tomorrow.

Friday 27 December 2013 06:15:59 PST (UTC-08:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink | US | World#
Sunday 15 December 2013

This weekend's cover story in New York Times Magazine looks in detail at Google's grand plan to map everything:

Street View cars have already mapped six million miles. Depending on your perspective, that’s either a quite a lot (equivalent to 12 trips to the moon and back) or not much at all (only one-tenth of the world’s estimated 60 million miles of road). Either way, Google’s huge investment in the camera-equipped cars — not to mention trikes, boats, snowmobiles and, yes, rafts — has yielded the most detailed street atlas on earth.

Early last year, Google’s United States market share for where-type queries topped 70 percent, and Google started to get serious about recouping the fortune it has been sinking into making its map, putting a tollbooth in front of its application programming interface. Henceforth, heavy users would be charged for the privilege.

Today, Google’s map includes the streets of every nation on earth, and Street View has so far collected imagery in a quarter of those countries. The total number of regular users: A billion people, or about half of the Internet-connected population worldwide. Google Maps underlies a million different websites, making its map A.P.I. among the most-used such interfaces on the Internet. At this point Google Maps is essentially what Tim O’Reilly predicted the map would become: part of the information infrastructure, a resource more complete and in many respects more accurate than what governments have. It’s better than MapQuest’s map, better than Microsoft’s, better than Apple’s.

The article also looks at Open Street Map, the Wikipedia of GIS, and wonders whether Google's proprietary database will ultimately win.

Sunday 15 December 2013 09:07:59 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Business | Cool links#
Wednesday 11 December 2013

The Atlantic Cities blog sounds the alarm about London's bike share program:

While the system recorded 726,893 journeys in November 2012, last month there were only 514,146. To cap these poor user figures, today Transport for London announced that the scheme's major sponsor, Barclays Bank, will pull out of its sponsorship deal in 2015. Given the bad publicity the system has received recently, it may be hard to find a replacement sponsor without some major changes.

None of this would matter much if London’s scheme was entirely self-sustaining. But while Paris's bike-share scheme actually makes money for the city, London's 4,000 bikes cost local taxpayers an average of £1,400 per bike per year. As the Daily Mail points out, this would be enough to buy each of the scheme's 38,000 registered users a £290 bike. Barclays has thus found its sponsorship deal a mixed publicity blessing – though the bank itself may be part of the problem. The £50 million it promised was never going to be enough, and the amount it has actually handed over so far suggests their ultimate contribution could be at little as half that.

So, Toronto and London are having problems; Chicago and Paris are booming. This is turning into a fascinating natural experiment.

Wednesday 11 December 2013 12:50:17 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Biking | Chicago | Geography | London#
Tuesday 3 December 2013

Oh, so this is the world's greatest airport. All right, I can go to aviation heaven now, and shop on the way.

Don't get me wrong: less than 10 minutes after I checked in, I was through security and immigration. Kind of like at O'Hare the day I left, it turns out, but Incheon extends that efficiency to everyone, not just those of us who have gotten our Pre-Check clearances.

And I do appreciate the "best shopping chance" advertised on the train, in the check-in area, on the escalators, and in the loo. Yes, because who doesn't like buying luxury goods while waiting for a flight?

And I'm totally down with thinking DFW and O'Hare are not the best airports in the world. In fact, I'll go so far as to put DFW in a category that includes Atlanta, JFK, Newark, and Dulles. If you've flown to any of those five airports you know what I'm talking about.

Maybe I'm just tired and feeling negative about things. Maybe I should remember that I'm about to go a third the way around the world in half a day, taking a trip that 50 years ago required stops in Alaska and Japan and took three days.

So, I've got about 15 hours before I land in Dallas, and with a little help from some frisky yeast I expect to sleep for at least 5 of them. I've got this month's Atlantic, the Economist's "World in 2014" survey (both on paper), and a full Kindle* that includes Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries and today's entire New York Times. Plus I'm still about 8 episodes behind on This American Life.

I'm still processing Seoul. I have a couple of conclusions, which I'll hazard here even though they make me look uncultured. First, after trying a lot of it, I don't like Korean food. I don't know why. I like Japanese food; I like a lot of Chinese food; Thai; Indian—Indian!—and lots of others. Bulgolgi is OK, and so is galbi, I guess. But I just didn't fall in love with Korean street food. And they have crap sushi, I'm sorry to report.

Second, there's something exciting and new about young East Asian cities like Seoul. I can feel the determination, the drive, the shabu shabu. But it's not my thing. I mean, London is my favorite place to be in the world, and I really loved Tokyo, so it's not like I'm all about rocking a hammock for a week or anything. But Seoul doesn't know how to chill. Even their relaxation is intense, like it's work. It's not a good fit.

It's not you, Seoul; it's me.

Like I said, I'm still processing. I may not come to any considered conclusions for a while. Just the same, I feel no need ever to come back to Seoul.

* I have an Asus tablet running Android, not a proper Kindle, but Amazon decided that they're about the content and not the device and made a pretty good Android reader.

Tuesday 3 December 2013 16:20:10 KST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Travel#
Monday 2 December 2013

Now that I've slept on it, I see it's possible I was a wee cranky yesterday. After a good night's sleep, for instance, I realize I don't hate my Windows phone (but it does annoy me frequently).

But also upon waking up I read Andrew Sullivan's reflections on visiting London he published a few hours ago. He wrote:

Beneath the packed busy streets, there’s a quiet, low-level order that can become so familiar you lose sight of it. On the tube, for example, despite being crammed in like a container of skinny McDonald’s fries, people actually wait for passengers to get off the train before getting on (with some helpful corralling from conductors). On the escalators, people reliably stand on the right, while the left lane is for striders. Parks are ubiquitous, and convey a constant sense of the English countryside in the densest of urban neighborhoods. Buildings, from domestic architecture (I was constantly struck by simple Georgian beauty or Edwardian elegance) to commercial buildings (some of the new structures are breathtakingly good), are not obviously disposable or purely utilitarian. The exceptions are those constructed when post-war austerity met architectural isms – but mercifully those are slowly being demolished. The resulting affect is a constant struggle for a livable city, as well as a workable one. Maybe that is what has made London perhaps the premier global city. The whole world can find a home here and increasingly does, from the newest Polish immigrant and Brazilian dreamer to the Russian oligarch and the American banker.

Perhaps London has honed these habits so relentlessly because it has no serious British competitor. London is it. So people have made the best of it – over twenty centuries of communal living. The level of politeness you see had to be learned through the centuries, as the least disagreeable way of getting along in such close crammed quarters, and passed along to successive generations. It simply makes life easier en masse, even if it can be inconvenient in anyone case for the individual.

Seoul, with only about 20 years in its present form, has a long, long way to go. Chicago (100 years) and New York (200 years) are still young and brash to Europeans, but mature and settled to most middle-class Asians.

I also had a chance to talk with a few expatriates last night, including Mike and Tyler, who own Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon. Mike moved here 6 years ago from St. John's, Newfoundland; Tyler came over in 2002 from Whitehorse, Y.T. After making some obligatory jokes about coming to Seoul for the weather, we talked a bit about living and working in Seoul.

I'm still thinking about a lot of what they told me, but essentially they confirmed that Seoul is still all business, and hasn't really found its center. (Me: "It feels a lot like Cleveland." Tyler: "Yeah, I can totally see that.") They also pointed out that the first week of December doesn't really show the city at its best, and that I should return in March or October when it's not too hot or too cold.

So, still processing. I've got a 12-hour flight to Dallas this evening on which to ponder it. Before then, I'll have some more photos from Sunday, and I'll have explored Incheon International Airport to find out why it's called the best airport in the world.

The "headwaters" of Cheonggyecheon, the stream covered by a highway for 40 years before being rebuilt in 2005.

Tuesday 3 December 2013 07:06:48 KST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Geography | Travel#

I have an HTC Windows 8X phone. I work for a Microsoft Partner, so this seemed like a good idea at the time. After nearly a year, I can report that I am tired of this phone and want to go back to Android.

The one thing my phone does well is manage two Microsoft Exchange accounts. And it does Skydrive all right too. Those are Microsoft products, so Windows should handle them.

I find the touch-screen waaay too sensitive. It can't determine what letter I want more than half the time, and its auto-correct suggestions hardly ever make sense.

Bing, however, sucks ass, compared with Google. And there's no way to change the hyper-sensitive search button on the phone, which fires up Bing every time my thumb goes near the search icon. Sometimes when I'm trying to take a photo, or do something else that involves the phone not switching applications.

Bing Maps is even worse. I won't spend too much time on a rant when I could just show you.

Let me preface this by saying Seoul's WiFi situation is amazing. I have free WiFi nearly everywhere I go. Which is how I was able to run the following comparison.

Exhibit A, where the Bing Maps application thought I was this afternoon:

(Click for full-size image.)

Exhibit B, where Google Maps thought I was at the same moment:

Google wins.

Note that the Bing Maps application on my phone failed to produce a usable map; Bing Maps itself has the data. Here's what the Bing Maps website shows inside a browser window:

Attention, Microsoft: Having a nicely detailed map on my laptop does not help me when I'm in the middle of Gangnam. That's really exactly the moment that I want a good map.

Oh, and to add insult, Google Maps doesn't really work that well on the IE11 mobile browser. As in, it won't search unless you really make sure you touch exactly the right pixel on the screen.

My next phone? I'm going back to Android.

Monday 2 December 2013 15:15:29 KST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Geography | Software#

(I promise, no more "Seoul" puns. Promise. Really. Swear.)

Yesterday I started my shpatziring at the Seoul Museum of History. Now, if you know about my love maps, you can imagine what happened when I walked into this room:

That is a 1:1500 scale model of the city. Every. Freaking. Building. With an electronic system that put a spotlight and a little CCTV camera on whatever point of interest you wanted to see.

(Aside: Would it have killed them to do the electronic interface in multiple languages? Sheesh. Every other public interface I've seen has English, Japanese, and Chinese translations. But not the super high-tech electronic touch-screen that controlled the lights on this model.)

After spending about half an hour poring over the model, I went through the rest of the museum's main collection. (Fortunately most of the descriptions were in English, and it turns out I could have picked up a translation earpiece that works off bar codes next to the exhibits.) I believe I now understand one of the chief reasons I haven't really connected to Seoul.

Throughout the museum, I got two big themes: first, until the 1970s, southern Korea was poorer than northern Korea. Second, Koreans hate their own history. I'll have more on the second part later today or tomorrow, other than to say it informs their architecture and urban planning hugely.

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to 15th August 1948. Had Korea reunified three years after V-J Day as the Allies originally planned, sparing the North the some of the worst economic and social mismanagement the world has ever seen, it's possible Seoul would be a sleepy capital city like Ottawa, with Pyongyang as the principal economic hub. Instead, North Korea invaded the South in 1950, and after this bloody civil war, millions of people poured into the city from all over the peninsula. Seoul went from 1.5 million people in 1949 to 10 million people in 1990. (Since 1990, its population has hovered around 11 million, which I'll get back to.)

The only major city in the U.S. to grow that fast in that period was Las Vegas, which had just 24,000 people in 1950 and 478,000 in 1990. And you know what? I don't connect with Las Vegas much, either.

See, Seoul had to build enough infrastructure and housing for its 8½ million new residents in just a couple of decades. Unfortunately for Seoul's architecture, those decades included the modernist-brutalist 1960s and 1970s, when evil fascist inhuman controversial figures like Le Corbusier stalked the halls of urban planning commissions. And Seoul had no Jane Jacobs.

You can see, if you look closely at that model, or if you even scope the Google Earth images of the city, what happened next. The history museum documents how the city government razed entire neighborhoods of traditional houses (like these) and replaced them with cheap high-rises. The Gangam district across the river popped up out of a swamp in 10 years' time.

Result: A sprawling city comprising almost entirely brutalist buildings from the 1970s and 1980s, with the occasional 21st-century structure thrown in. In fairness, it's not all bad; the Jonggak Tower, for example, is kind of cool:

Jonggak Tower, Seoul

Chicago also had a period of rapid growth, followed by massive urban renewal: from 1830 to 1870, Chicago's population grew two orders of magnitude, from 4,500 to 490,000. Then in 1871 most of the city burned to the ground, clearing all the shanties and wooden structures out. When we rebuilt, we did it with a pretty logical plan. And when we expanded six fold in six decades (1870 to 1930), we did so with essentially no geographic barriers in three directions and during a period in architecture when things were unavoidably human-scale. (Don't forget, though: Chicago built the first steel-framed skyscraper in 1884, and also built its share of ghastly, vertical Corbusian slums in the 1950s.)

In sum, Seoul's architecture makes me want to stay in my hotel room.* The city feels, it pains me to say, a little soulless.

There's a little glimmer of hope: the city's stability since the 1990s. Thanks to family planning programs and social pressure, the Korean population is more stable than it was before then, and Seoul's infrastructure has had time to catch up with its needs. People still prefer to live in cheap high-rises, but with a couple more decades of stability, the city might start sanding off its brutalist edges.

Look at Chicago again as an example. After a century of wild growth, Chicago's population stabilized around 3 million, declining a little in the 1980s but picking up again since 2000. Instead of building as fast as we can, we've spent about 60 years revising: tear down the crap we hate, preserve the stuff we like. Chicago has a large contingent of people like me, who will spend a lot to live in neighborhoods with hundred-year-old trees flanking hundred-year-old three-flats, and whose ideas about affordable housing don't amount to "round them up and stuff them in."

Seoul isn't there yet. They might never be; it's entirely possible that ten million Koreans really do like Corbusian modernism, and I'm postulating a difference of quality rather than a difference of taste.

There's a lot of great stuff in Seoul. It's a ridiculously easy place to live, it seems, as it's the most convenient and efficient city I've ever seen. (Sorry, Tokyo.) It's just not a place I'd want to live.

- 30 -

* A room, by the way, that overlooks the Seosemon Overpass, a structure similar to the part of Western Avenue that flies over Belmont in Chicago. The history museum specifically called out this 1968 structure as a model for the rest of Seoul. They liked the model so much they built dozens of raised highways right atop other highways, buildings, railroads, and even rivers, and then started removing them in the 1990s when the soul-crushing lack of walking spaces finally got to them. And so little do urban planners here think about history that only 50 years after covering up Cheonggye Stream, they rebuilt it from scratch because they couldn't find it again. Here's Cheonggyecheon today:

Monday 2 December 2013 09:37:07 KST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Geography | World | Travel#
Sunday 1 December 2013

Saturday's tour of Panmunjeom was surreal enough. But even before we got to the Joint Security Area, we stopped at Peace Land:

The clash of civilisations was never better dramatised than at Peace Land, in Imjingak, on the 38th Parallel. Here, the starving people of the world's nastiest dictatorship can look across the border at capitalism quite literally putting on a funfair. For the Southerners, of course, the North Koreans are the principal attraction.

Right alongside the Pirate Ship, the Wriggly Worm and all the other fantasy rides run the perfectly real electrified fences and watchtowers of the border. The organisers of the theme park provide special viewing platforms and free telescopes for visitors. A key attraction is a bombed-out steam locomotive, still standing on its original tracks in front of a blown-up railway bridge across the River Imjin marking the frontier.

In fact, this bombed-out locomotive:

And that blown-up railway bridge:

See that barbed wire? Understand, that's not part of the theme park. Those are a real, live, deadly anti-personnel defenses that the theme park incorporated into its exhibits.

This theme park, to say the least, confused me. So I asked our tour guide why they have a fun fair within sniper distance of North Korea. She said that when relations with North Korea improved in the 1990s and early 2000s, people would meet their North Korean families nearby, so they'd bring their children to Imjingak for a few days. So, in the midst of this reminder that the Korean War has never really ended, they built a bunch of rides the kids can enjoy.

This is one more piece of data in figuring out Seoul. Yesterday I got a lot more, which I'll lay out in a few minutes.

Monday 2 December 2013 07:17:12 KST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Geography | World | Travel#
Saturday 30 November 2013

Yesterday I spent four minutes in North Korea. Proof:

That's inside the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) conference building, within the Joint Security Area near the village of Panmunjom. The line of microphones on the desk follows the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) dividing North and South Korea. To my left is South Korea; to my right is North Korea.

You have to take an organized tour to get to the JSA. Because, let's review: (a) it's an active war zone; (b) it's a diplomatic base with heavy military presence; and (c) you don't want to get kidnapped by the DPRK. (The tour I took cost $78 and included a delicious bulgogi lunch at a roadhouse outside Puja.)

Here's the first up-close-and-personal view of North Korea you get:

The blue building to the left is the MAC Conference Center from the photo above. The blue building to the right is another ROK-administered structure. Running between them, on the ground, you can see a raised concrete curb about 10cm tall. That is the MDL—the border with North Korea. Assuming you could get past the armed U.S. Army guys I decided not to photograph, and get past the ROK officer in the center, and the two beefy MPs on either side, you could make that border in just a few steps from where I was standing. Then you'd have a really difficult time getting back over it, and a harder time, whether or not they let you back in South Korea, staying out of jail on one side or the other.

It's surreal. The border is an abstract concept but two enormous armies make connect the abstraction to reality. A bunch of tourists, half of them Japanese, took an ordinary tour bus to a United Nations military base a few hundred meters from a hostile country, got a slide show about axe murders and not gesturing to or speaking with North Koreans, then got on a U.N. bus and drove—slowly—past mine fields, tank defenses, and rice paddies. (About 700 people live just outside the JSA, within the DMZ.)

Here's another chilling place, the Bridge of No Return:

Yeah, don't cross that bridge. You won't come back. Seriously.

Today I'm heading over to the Korean History Museum and possibly the War Memorial. I've been thinking a lot about Seoul and my reactions to the city. At first approximation, modern Seoul is defined by a war that hasn't ended.

Sunday 1 December 2013 08:21:26 KST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Geography | World | Travel#
Thursday 28 November 2013

Yesterday, on the Siberia side of the Bering Sea:

Our flight path yesterday followed the terminator as the earth turned. The sun stayed right on the tip of the left wing for about 90 minutes before we jogged slightly west over Kamchatka.

Friday 29 November 2013 04:47:01 KST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Photography | Travel#
Wednesday 27 November 2013

At this writing I'm just west of the Alexander Archipelago, with 7,093 km left from Dallas to Seoul. We started out at 10,999 km, so this is serious progress.

It turns out, this is the longest flight I've ever been on. I didn't realize that when I booked it; I thought Shanghai to O'Hare was longer. Well, it's farther: PVG-ORD is 11,355 km; DFW-ICN is "only" 11,005 km. But because I'm flying west, this flight will be nearly two hours longer than the one from Shanghai.

Fortunately for me (if not for the airline), the flight has a lot of empty seats. I'm in 33A and I have 33B for my stuff. The person in 32A has reclined all the way back so her seat is almost touching my nose, forcing me to put my laptop on the 33B tray table and type at a 45° angle.

Well, I've had nearly three hours of that, and I'm done. Time to pull out my backlog of This American Life episodes and close my eyes.

All right. It's 7am in Seoul. We land in nine hours...

Wednesday 27 November 2013 12:52:00 AKST (UTC-09:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Travel#
Tuesday 26 November 2013

Oh, you betcha:

On a year-over-year basis, average connection speeds grew by 25 percent. South Korea had an average speed of 14 Mbps while Japan came in second with 10.8 Mbps and the U.S. came in the eighth spot with 7.4 Mbps.

Year-over-year, global average peak connection speeds once again demonstrated significant improvement, rising 35 percent. Hong Kong came in first with peak speed of 57.5 Mbps while South Korea came in at 49.3 Mbps. The United States came in 13th at 31.5 Mbps.

Yes, South Korea has the fastest connectivity in the world. This I gotta see.

Plus, you know, clients.

Tuesday 26 November 2013 14:44:29 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Business | Cloud#
Wednesday 20 November 2013

After some thought and reflection, I realize I've spent more time in some parts of North America than I remembered the other day:

As before, red are places I've been to but not stayed overnight; amber indicates at least one overnight; blue shows multiple visits; and green means I've lived, worked, or spent more than 30 aggregate days there.

The mapping applet is here.

Wednesday 20 November 2013 10:21:03 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Travel#
Monday 18 November 2013

Geography is fun. It explains how Canadian airline WestJet can manage their newest trans-Atlantic flight which gets to Dublin in a little more than 4 hours using a 737-700:

Dublin itself might not be that strange, but this isn’t coming from a big city. No, it’s actually going to be a flight from St John’s, way out in Newfoundland. The metro area, if you can call it that, has almost 200,000 people. That’s good enough to be the 20th largest metro area in Canada. Yeah… 20th.

For WestJet, there is very little at stake here. The flight is surprisingly short to those of us who don’t pay much attention to Canadian geography. Remember how I said that WestJet already flies from St John’s to Orlando? Dublin is less than 25 miles further from St John’s. Via Great Circle Mapper

You always think of Transatlantic flying requiring long flights, but St John’s is so far out there that the eastbound flight is scheduled gate-to-gate at a mere 4h15m. It’s shorter than Vancouver to Toronto. Heck, it’s shorter than Phoenix to Philly. So this will be easy for the airline’s 136-seat 737-700 to operate.

It leaves St John’s at 1115p and arrives Dublin at 7a. It turns around quickly, departing at 820a, getting back to St John’s at 955a. WestJet likely would just leave that airplane overnight in St John’s otherwise, so the amount of extra aircraft time being used here is minimal.

The 3,300 km flight is just a little farther than L.A. to Atlanta (3,150 km) and a little closer than Washington to Las Vegas (3,350 km), and those city pairs are easily served by 737s today.

Monday 18 November 2013 15:34:47 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography#
Friday 15 November 2013

This little app is fun. Red are places I've been to but not stayed overnight; amber indicates at least one overnight; blue shows multiple visits; and green means I've lived, worked, or spent more than 30 aggregate days there:

Clearly I need to visit the Maritimes and Territories. Oh, and Alaska and Hawaii.

Friday 15 November 2013 10:12:04 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Travel#
Tuesday 12 November 2013

Colin Woodward, writing in this quarter's Tufts alumni journal, summarizes his book about the regional views of violence in the U.S—dividing us up into 11 "nations" with cohesive cultural and social histories:

Beyond a vague awareness that supporters of violent retaliation and easy access to guns are concentrated in the states of the former Confederacy and, to a lesser extent, the western interior, most people cannot tell you much about regional differences on such matters. Our conventional way of defining regions—dividing the country along state boundaries into a Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest—masks the cultural lines along which attitudes toward violence fall. These lines don’t respect state boundaries. To understand violence or practically any other divisive issue, you need to understand historical settlement patterns and the lasting cultural fissures they established.

The original North American colonies were settled by people from distinct regions of the British Isles—and from France, the Netherlands, and Spain—each with its own religious, political, and ethnographic traits. For generations, these Euro-American cultures developed in isolation from one another, consolidating their cherished religious and political principles and fundamental values, and expanding across the eastern half of the continent in nearly exclusive settlement bands. Throughout the colonial period and the Early Republic, they saw themselves as competitors—for land, capital, and other settlers—and even as enemies, taking opposing sides in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.

There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way.

I'm usually suspicious of neat geographical distinctions, but it looks like I'll be putting this on my to-be-read stack (which is now larger than it was two years ago).

Tuesday 12 November 2013 12:05:01 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | US#

The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has ruled that One World Trade Center is taller than Willis Tower:

The decision by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat hinged on whether the tower's mast was a spire, which counts in height measurements, or an antenna, which doesn't.

The decision will end Willis Tower's reign of 40 years as the nation's tallest building.

The announcement culminated weeks of speculation about the ruling, which drew widespread attention because it would finally settle the issue of whether Chicago or New York could claim bragging rights to having the nation’s and the Western Hemisphere’s tallest building, as well as whether One World Trade Center would achieve the symbolic height of 541 m.

Willis Tower, completed in 1974 and once the world’s tallest building, is 442 m tall. Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the current holder of the title, is 828 m tall.

The decision means One World Trade Center is the 3rd tallest building in the world, and drops Willis Tower to 10th place overall.

Boo.

Tuesday 12 November 2013 10:50:36 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | World#
Tuesday 5 November 2013

The flights, between Newark, N.J., and Singapore, is the longest in the world:

The two all-business-class flights, which operate between Singapore and Newark, New Jersey, take around 19 hours and cover 15,300 km. But late last month, Singapore airlines announced that it would be cancelling the services, along with another between Singapore and Los Angeles that is almost as long.

The title for the world's longest flight...will now shift to Qantas, which operates a 13,800 km service between Sydney and Dallas.

Hey, wait a minute: Qantas is a oneworld carrier. How many frequent-flier miles does that cost again? Here it is: 37,500 for coach, 62,500 for business, and 72,500 for first. Each way.

I'll keep saving them.

Tuesday 5 November 2013 14:56:49 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography#
Monday 4 November 2013

Completely swamped today by a production error on an application I hardly ever work on. The problem was around something I'd written, but not caused by anything I wrote; still, it fell to me to fix the problem, which caused me to fall behind in everything else.

I have a bunch of Chrome tabs open with things I probably can't get to today:

That is all for now.

Monday 4 November 2013 17:13:16 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink | US#
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On this page....
Super-nerdy new-phone moment
Learning French in Middlebury
Not my grandfather's climate
Matthew Yglesias trolls the IANA Time Zone list
Special Cleveland anniversary I got to celebrate
Anti-walking architecture
Good riddance to a Brutalist nightmare
Tuesday afternoon link round-up
Stuff I didn't read because I was at a client site
How not to be neighborly
Something you know intellectually but need a map to fully understand
Another reason to take Eurostar
I would walk 804 kilometers...
Randolph Street Bridge
Parking craters
Lunchtime reads
National Climate Assessment released
Are more megapixels inherently good?
About this blog (v 4.2)
Chicago avec la glace
Urban life
Two nations, one tiny island
It hung in the sky much the way bricks don't
Taking a break from nothing
How far off from sun time are you?
Too-busy-to-write link roundup
Closing off the lake again
Whole Foods responds
How I lost an hour of my life because of incompetence
While my nephew gently sleeps
Google's mapping strategy
Problems with Boris Bikes?
That was the trip that was
More reflections on Seoul as a living city
Bing Maps on Windows 8 #fail
Getting in touch with the Seoul of things
Riverview Park, DMZ Edition
I hate organized tours, unless there's no other way
View from the window
Seemed shorter on paper...
Am I bringing my laptop to Korea?
Where I've been (corrected)
New route to Europe
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Red state, blue state, pale blue state, yellow state...
Chicago shoved down the rankings again
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Parker's 9th birthday 286d 00h 21m
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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All content Copyright ©2014 David Braverman.
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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.
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