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Tuesday 26 May 2015
Tuesday 26 May 2015 14:02:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Monday 25 May 2015

With the Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters move only 21 days from now, this was bound to happen:

Also in the next three weeks is a big vacation. So, you know, no stress...

Monday 25 May 2015 08:35:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Travel#
Friday 15 May 2015

I went to the NPR show's taping last night:

The show will be broadcast tomorrow. It's going to be hi-larious.

Friday 15 May 2015 15:18:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Politics#
Thursday 14 May 2015

Fortunately, I have a couple of long flights coming up in two weeks. Unfortunately, not all of this will be relevant then:

Tonight I'm taking a short break to go to the Wait! Wait! Don't tell me taping, which is conveniently located two blocks from my office. And tomorrow I might have some time to think.

Thursday 14 May 2015 16:19:47 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | US | World | Cool links | Weather#
Tuesday 12 May 2015

Via reader SHL, the Beatles' Abbey Road "You Never Give Me Your Money" sequence vocal tracks only:

Tuesday 12 May 2015 14:39:50 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Tuesday 5 May 2015

A couple days ago I sent Peet's Coffee a note:

I see that the Summer House Iced Tea blend is out of stock. Any idea when it will be back? It's the best blend I've found for iced tea.

They responded this morning:

Thank you for your interest in our tea line up, especially the Summer House Iced Tea. At the present moment we do not have specific information regarding the Summer House Iced Tea, but let me tell you why. Peet's has recently joined forces with Mighty Leaf to provide a more diverse and accessible tea experience for our customers. At this time, we are only adding Mighty Leaf Tea to Peet's, however our end goal in this merger is to have two separate brands: Mighty Leaf Tea and Peet's Coffee.

The cohabitation of our brands is still relatively new and we are actively and carefully examining the commonalities between us and the teas offered by both brands. We are not certain exactly which assortment is best for our brands which is why your questions and feedback are so valuable to us.

We will definitely keep our customers informed of further developments, including the status of the Summer House Iced Tea, as it is still a work in progress. The primary mode in which we inform our customers is though our electronic newsletter. If you do not already receive our emails and are interested, please provide your preferred email address and zip code and I will be happy to sign you up for our emailing list.

That's a great response but, unfortunately, not the outcome I wanted. I hope they'll bring the Summer House tea back. In the interim, any suggestions for good iced tea blends? I might go with Tazo Awake.

Tuesday 5 May 2015 11:14:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Sunday 3 May 2015

As I mentioned yesterday, we finally have a late-spring weekend in Chicago. It got up to 24°C officially at O'Hare yesterday; today's forecast high is 27°C.

Parker got a 3=hour, 12.5 km walk, while I managed 26,000 steps and 21.4 km of my own. And we just got back from another 5,000-step walk before he gets to do his second-favorite activity: a Ride in the Car!

Apollo's final concert of the season is this afternoon, too. I'm kind of sad not to see the chorus again until rehearsals resume mid-September. But there's a lot going on this summer, including moving IDTWHQ. Stay tuned.

Sunday 3 May 2015 09:15:12 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#
Friday 1 May 2015

Apparently cheese grease contaminates the cardboard:

Paper is particularly susceptible to food and beverage contamination, and it "ends up suffering the most from getting mixed with other materials," says [Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Research Specialist Darby] Hoover. The culprits: gooey cheese and oil stains. Even if you remove the crusty cheese and sauce the slices leave behind, grease will have already soaked into the cardboard, ruining it for recycling. In a single-stream system (where bottles, glass, paper, and more all co-mingle) residue from other items in the bin could also contaminate the cardboard. Food and oil can't be separated from paper in the pulping process, so once paper is soiled, it's a done deal.

Well, that's unfortunate. Probably too much to hope they start putting pizza in recyclable polymer boxes.

Friday 1 May 2015 12:55:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Thursday 30 April 2015

We've got a pair of fun concerts coming up. Friday we're at 4th Presbyterian in Chicago at 7:30pm, and Sunday we're at the Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church at 3pm.

(This is one of the reasons posts have been less frequent and pithy.)

Thursday 30 April 2015 14:47:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

Sir Terry and Neil Gaiman have a joint cameo in Episode 1 of BBC4's radio adaptation of the funniest book ever. I'm trying to sneak a listen to it in my office.

Hurry: it's only free until next Wednesday.

Thursday 30 April 2015 14:36:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
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#

Yesterday, owing to having a dog and not passing out from exhaustion after writing a blog entry, I blew out my Fitbit steps so far past my old personal record that I'm not sure I'll surpass it for a very long time.

Yesterday's total was 30,496 steps over 27.7 km. Apparently I drank enough water yesterday that I'm not a raging ball of sore muscles today. And so far today, I'm over 8,000 steps, with another few thousand pretty much guaranteed before dinner.

Monday 27 April 2015 13:26:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Sunday 26 April 2015

Today's gorgeous weather encouraged me to go outside. A lot. In fact, I hit a new record today: almost 27,000 steps and more than 24 kmso far. I still have to take Parker out at least twice tonight, though he's a little tired from the 5½ km he and I walked earlier today.

Next up on the agenda: lots of water, starting to prepare food. For some reason I'm really hungry...

Sunday 26 April 2015 17:17:45 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

After seeing Carousel yesterday, I'm going to take advantage of really gorgeous weather today. Parker will also benefit. Updates as the situation warrants.

Sunday 26 April 2015 09:26:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#
Thursday 23 April 2015

First, a not-so-smart car:

I'm not sure what amused me more, the disproportionate tow truck or that the Smart Car driver parked in a rush-hour tow zone long enough for Streets & Sanitation to remove him.

Then, for everyone who takes his dog to work, there's this food truck:

I didn't pick anything up for Parker yet. ($2.50 per biscuit? Did I read that right?) But if it comes back, maybe.

Thursday 23 April 2015 13:44:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker | Business#
Thursday 16 April 2015

I'm still trying to debug the performance of our principal application, which shouldn't be struggling the way it is.

I did, however, take two minutes out of my life to watch this:

Thursday 16 April 2015 16:42:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Software | Work#
Sunday 12 April 2015

I mean, yes:

Saturday 11 April 2015 21:27:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Friday 10 April 2015

Sometime Tuesday or Wednesday I hit 2 million steps since October 23rd.

Unfortunately, a combination of weather and talkative sales people on Wednesday prevented me from getting my 10,000 steps that day. Otherwise I've hit that goal 64 times this year, averaging 11,750 steps per day since January 1st—going up to 13,400 steps per day in the last 30. I've also lost 3.7 kg this year, stabilizing right around my target weight three weeks ago.

I realize this is old news, but I'm really jazzed how some simple changes in my life have made such a crucial difference. A fitness tracker costs around $100; most come with some kind of social gaming software (Fitbit lets you challenge your friends), which can give you even more incentive to get off the El a stop early or get up from your desk every half-hour.

Friday 10 April 2015 08:53:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
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#
Tuesday 7 April 2015

In the reading queue:

Did I mention that DUKE WON?!

Tuesday 7 April 2015 10:37:41 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Duke | Kitchen Sink | Software#
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 31 March 2015

...sort of. But that's not important right now. I'm just spiking some articles to read later:

OK, time for a vendor phone call...

Tuesday 31 March 2015 15:22:56 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | US | Religion | Business | Cool links#
Monday 30 March 2015

My catching-up on the Netflix version of Michael Dobbs' House of Cards has taken a brief hiatus as the friend in question has actual work and family obligations. I'm taking advantage of the pause to go back to the original BBC miniseries with Ian Richardson in the role of F.U.

You know what? It'ts better. It has a faster pace, more sharply-drawn characters, it's funnier, and it isn't sanctimonius—it's an actual satire. Francis Urquhart is evil, and doesn't care that we in the audience know it. Francis Underwood wants us to like him. That may be the difference between the UK and the US in a nutshell.

Still, in three hours of the BBC miniseries, I find myself laughing out loud at Urquhart's deviousness and at the lampooning of British political archetypes (that, granted, require some context about British politics post-Thatcher). The Netflix series just seems so...sanctimonious. Melodramatic. Long.

The British understand satire. Americans, not so much. Comparing the two versions of House of Cards side by side has been an education.

Sunday 29 March 2015 20:42:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | London | US | World#
Thursday 26 March 2015

One of my Canadian friends has a friend who made a shrimp cannon. No kidding:

Thursday 26 March 2015 15:29:29 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Cool links#
Sunday 22 March 2015

Retail genetic-research company 23 And Me analyzed the genetics of the blue dress phenomenon:

For one, there was no clear genetic association with seeing either a blue and black dress versus seeing white and gold one, according to Fah Sathirapongsasuti, PhD, a computational biologist here at 23andMe.

That doesn’t mean there is no association, it just means that we didn’t find one that met our threshold for a strong association. We did see a small effect size for a genetic variant in the gene ANO6. While this may or may not be significant, it’s interesting because ANO6 is in the anoctamins gene family, which includes the gene ANO2. The gene ANO2 is involved in light perception, so this might be something that warrants further study. But as we said, the association we saw did not show a big effect. Others who’ve looked at the possible genetic influence of how people perceive the color of the dress also did not find a strong genetic association, finding, for instance, that identical twins also reported seeing different colors.

According to 23andMe’s data at around 20 years of age, customers were split evenly between those who saw a white and gold dress versus those who saw blue and black. But as customers get older the proportion of those who see white and gold increased up until the age of 60 when more than three quarters of those surveyed said they see a white and gold striped dress instead of blue and black one. This effect is more dramatic in men where the proportion of men seeing white and gold increases by almost 15% around the age of 40.

Their more detailed conclusions—or lack of conclusions—are pretty interesting.

Also, for those keeping score at home, the dress is really blue no matter what you perceive.

Sunday 22 March 2015 09:38:40 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Cool links#
Saturday 21 March 2015

In the past week I've gotten almost 100,000 steps (and 73 km ) of walking, including a few relatively long ones today. This also takes into account the 10% hit to my counts from moving my Fitbit to my left hand.

The best part of all this is that I can eat more. Like last night, when I consumed Lao's Sze Chuan in mass quantities.

As this may, in fact, be the most interesting thing I can report this weekend, maybe I need to get out more. Or stay in and read more. But I've got at least another 3,000 steps to walk before I get home.

And I'm really hungry.

Saturday 21 March 2015 18:03:15 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Thursday 12 March 2015

The author of 70 books, including the Discworld series, died this morning at his home in the UK:

Pratchett, who had early onset Alzheimer’s disease, leaves his wife, Lyn, and their daughter, Rhianna.

He continued to write and completed his last book, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014 before succumbing to the final stages of the disease.

He was the UK’s bestselling author of the 1990s and sold more than 85m books worldwide.

After his diagnosis, he urged people to “keep things cheerful”, adding: “We are taking it fairly philosophically down here” and predicting he had time for “at least a few more books yet”.

"God moves in extremely mysterious, not to say, circuitous ways. God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time."—Good Omens

Thursday 12 March 2015 12:02:03 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Writing#
Tuesday 10 March 2015

Paul Krugman explains:

[W]hat fitness devices do, at least for me, is make it harder to lie to myself. And that’s crucial. It’s all too easy to convince yourself that you’ve done enough walking, that shuffling around filing books is a pretty good workout, that you only miss exercise once a week or so — OK, maybe twice. But there’s your Fitbit telling you that you only walked 6000 steps and burned 1800 calories yesterday, that you only did serious exercise three days last week.

You might say that the truth will show up on the scale and your waistline eventually; yes, but that’s too future oriented. You need to guilt-trip yourself in the here and now.

Yes. And since I've started counting steps every day, and making decisions that result in even more steps, I've lost 7½ kilos—one stone two, to my UK friends—and brought my resting heart rate down to 60-65. I've also been able to correlate sleep quality with mental performance and diet, which doesn't mean I always sleep well or long enough, but it at least helps me plan my days better.

Oh, and I bought the Fitbit Surge, which is even cooler than the Flex I've been using.

Tuesday 10 March 2015 11:14:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Cool links#
Monday 9 March 2015

Six and half hours at Rockefeller Chapel, a Euchre tournament (my first—middle of the pack), a dinner party, and yet more rehearsals for an April performance all left my weekend kind of full. Somehow I managed to walk Parker enough times and to do laundry.

So, good weekend, full weekend, not exactly the Daily Parker's finest hour.

Regular posting will resume presently.

Monday 9 March 2015 15:14:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Blogs#
Thursday 5 March 2015

Since the middle of August, before I got my Fitbit but after my Android phone started tracking my steps, I've lost 7.6 kg, finally hitting my goal yesterday. This morning I was only slightly above the goal; and also for the last three weeks I've been barely creeping towards it; so I figure this might be permanent.

I only made two adjustments that I'm aware of: one, I pretty much stopped drinking beer in favor of other things; and two, I'm much more likely now to make detours that add walking distance to whatever I'm doing. I might have gotten more disciplined about food, but I don't think so, as the meals I eat now are pretty close to the meals I ate a year ago.

It does make sense that a small change can, over time, have an effect like this. So I think beer and the Fitbit probably did cause the weight loss.

Of course, if it turns out I have some horrible illness instead, I'll be very annoyed. But a 250-gram-per-week loss is more consistent with tweaks to diet and exercise than it is with, say, tapeworm.

Thursday 5 March 2015 11:31:25 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Tuesday 3 March 2015

Yeah, when my friend sent me an email about "Spocking the five" yesterday, I read it a couple of times before giving up, too. But the Bank of Canada has no problem with it:

It turns out there's not a lot of logic in the belief that it's against the law to Vulcanize Sir Wilfrid Laurier's likeness on the $5 bill.

The death of Leonard Nimoy last week inspired people to post photos on social media of marked-up banknotes that show Canada's seventh prime minister transformed to resemble Spock, Nimoy's famous "Star Trek" character.

For years, Canadians have doodled Spock's pointy Vulcan ears, sharp eyebrows and signature bowl haircut on the fiver's image of Laurier, the first francophone PM.

Contrary to popular belief, it's not illegal to deface or even mutilate banknotes, the Bank of Canada said Monday -- although the publication of a banknote's likeness is still prohibited, except under certain conditions.

In other words, you're allowed to do this:

Photo: Tom Bagley, The Canadian Press

LLAP, Canada.

Tuesday 3 March 2015 10:58:04 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | World#
Monday 2 March 2015

Posting might be a bit slower than normal this week given three full rehearsals in advance of our concert at Rockefeller Chapel on Saturday.

Also, we're pretty much sick of the weather here. February tied with 1875 for the coldest ever, at -9.7°C, and third-snowiest, with 681 mm. That last comes with a star as this was one of only 6 Februaries in history in which we had snow on the ground for the whole month.

Oh, and the forecast through our concert calls for significantly below-average temperatures until Sunday, except for Tuesday, when we'll have freezing rain and snow. Yum.

Monday 2 March 2015 09:35:28 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Weather#
Friday 27 February 2015
Friday 27 February 2015 13:33:23 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Monday 23 February 2015

Saturday night I attended the Chicago Symphony's performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto #24 and the Requiem, both pieces I know well. I was disappointed, particularly in Riccardo Muti's direction of the Requiem.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus comprise some of the best musicians in the world. The CSC, in fact, had a reputation for being the best chorus in the world when I was growing up. But Saturday, they seemed robotic. Every note, rhythm, cutoff, dynamic, and pronunciation was perfect; and yet, the performance was boring. It was like watching a 1-0 baseball game that goes into extra innings. Every play might be perfect but the overall effect is "so what?"

Chicago Classical Review writer Lawrence Johnson heard the same thing:

Muti used the traditional Süssmayr completion as well as a now-untraditional full complement of the CSO Chorus. While grand in sonic scale, the chorus sounded top-heavy in this repertory, even with dexterous balancing.

Still, everything was technically in place, tempos well-judged and the orchestral playing as refined and responsive as one would expect, with standout turns by the basset horns of John Bruce Yeh and J. Lawrie Bloom, bassoonist William Buchman and a rich and rounded trombone solo from Michael Mulcahy in the “Tuba mirum.”

Yet the overall effect was of an emotionally cool and expressively straitened performance, lacking intensity, energy and an engagement with the spiritual drama of the mass setting. Everything emerged clearly and forcefully yet the roiling drama and interior introspection were only fitfully evident.

The CSO Chorus, directed by Duain Wolfe, performed with customary polish and corporate cohesion, though here too there was little expressive warmth and too much generalized singing in ensemble passages. Perhaps the performance will fill out over the weekend, but Thursday night it felt very much like a firmly drawn outline of the score rather than a deep and probing account of the drama within.

What would have made it better? Vocal lines that went someplace; a smaller group; and in some parts, quicker tempi.

I texted a friend later on: "Epiphany: Apollo can be a better chorus than CSC." We'll prove it a week from Saturday at our spring concert, too. (Saturday March 7th, 7:30pm, Rockefeller Chapel. Buy tickets now!

Monday 23 February 2015 09:50:16 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink#
Wednesday 11 February 2015

The Times Wellness blog today reports on fitness tracking devices:

Each volunteer was fitted with a pedometer, two accelerometers, several wristband monitors and, in each pocket, a cellphone, one of which ran three iPhone-based fitness-tracking apps and the other of which featured an Android phone running one tracking app.

The volunteers then began walking on treadmills set to a gentle 3 miles-per-hour pace. A researcher stood nearby and manually counted every step each volunteer took until that volunteer had finished first 500 and then, separately, another 1,500 steps.

The upshot, said Dr. Mitesh S. Patel, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania who oversaw the study, is that smartphones could offer “an easy, less expensive, but still accurate” means for people to track their activity.

But my Fitbit is fun. Which brings up an important point buried in the blog post:

But the broader issue, as Dr. Patel and his colleagues pointed out...is that no fitness tracker of any kind has yet proved able to motivate people disinclined to exercise to start moving.

Yup.

I have two hours to get in another 4,500 steps to reach 20,000 today. And now that my Apfelstrudel is mostly digested, I'm motivated.

Wednesday 11 February 2015 21:50:26 CET (UTC+01:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#

Unfortunately, it's my Canon. So even though I promised photos, I'll have to get an old USB cable tomorrow in order to post any.

Fortunately, I have a phone on my camera, so I was able to photograph this Apfelstrudel goodness that I'll be walking off for the rest of the week:

Wednesday 11 February 2015 21:20:28 CET (UTC+01:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Photography#
Friday 6 February 2015

No, the company isn't hiring a celebrity chef; the Times sent one to review the food:

Mr. Zakarian took one bite of his wrap and then looked inside. It seemed mostly tortilla, with some wan strips of chicken and shreds of iceberg lettuce. It was, in a word, tasteless. “Why would anyone come here for this?” he asked. “You can get a much better wrap at Chipotle. McDonald’s should stick to what it does well.”

“Of course, the food could be better,” he said. “All fast food could be better. McDonald’s has been incredibly successful, and you have to respect that. It only has to be incrementally better.” Some easy options might be leaner beef and a better bun, and maybe a higher-priced option “since all these things come at a cost,” he said.

When I shared these thoughts with McDonald’s, it turned out the company has had some of the same ideas. A McDonald’s spokeswoman, Heidi Barker, said that McDonald’s was renovating several hundred outlets a year to focus on better lighting, design and materials. I checked out two of the new prototypes in Manhattan this week, and they are vast improvements over the Third Avenue branch. There are natural wood slats, softer lighting, better acoustics and a soft neutral color scheme (though there are still touches of bright red and yellow).

Even bolder, McDonald’s is testing what it calls “create your taste” programs in a few locations, and hopes to introduce the concept in 2,000 locations by the end of the year. Customers order from flat-screen computers and can choose a toasted bun or roll, three types of cheeses, various sauces and toppings. Then, they take a number and pick a seat. The order is delivered to their table.

In unrelated news, McDonald's same-store sales have dropped precipitously, which led to the company recently sacking its CEO.

Friday 6 February 2015 13:08:57 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Sunday 1 February 2015

A slow-moving winter storm has moved into the Chicago area. Compared with the truly awful storms we've had over the years, it doesn't seem so bad, so far: only 150 mm so far with another 150 mm predicted through tomorrow morning. This comes, of course, with falling temperatures and increasing winds as the low passes to our south, but again, nothing we can't handle.

As usual, Parker enjoys it:

As usual, my car doesn't:

And new this year, but most likely a usual problem in the future, my Fitbit numbers have not looked great. My daily step average went from 11,700 in December to 10,300 in January—265 km vs. 233 km. One bright spot: I lost 2.3 kg from January 1st through today, so I'm doing something right. (Or I'm dehydrated.)

Parker got a 20-minute walk this morning which included some off-leash time at the park. He'll probably get another pair of walks in as we go over to J's Old Lincoln Park for the Superbowl. As mentioned, today is J's last day open, so there will probably be a good number of Euchre players there to wish the owner well. (Of course, we'll probably see him at the next meetup on Wednesday.)

Sunday 1 February 2015 09:59:55 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker | Weather#
Friday 30 January 2015

There have been interesting developments in two stories I've mentioned recently:

Otherwise, it's just work work work. But fun work.

Friday 30 January 2015 10:50:03 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Kitchen Sink | Blogs | Cool links#
Thursday 29 January 2015

I may have time to read these over the weekend. Possibly.

In other news, J's Lincoln Park will close Sunday night, the owner having sold his lease to Bank of America. So our dog-friendly Euchre nights will have to move uptown a bit. I'm happy for the owner, but kind of sad that one of the last dog-friendly bars in my neighborhood is closing.

Back to creating a separate code repository for contractors...and other things...

Thursday 29 January 2015 11:57:16 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Best Bars | Kitchen Sink | US | World | Travel#
Friday 23 January 2015

On Tuesday of this week, Elan Lee, Matthew Inman ("The Oatmeal"), and Shane Small launched a Kickstarter for their new game "Exploding Kittens." As of last night, it's the 22nd-most funded campaign ever with over $3.3m in pledges from over 84,000 backers (including me).

Well done, guys. I'm looking forward to getting my set (with the NSFW pack) sometime this summer.

Inman previously used Kickstarter to fund the Tesla Museum on Long Island. Eat it, Charles Schultz.

Friday 23 January 2015 08:45:33 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Wednesday 14 January 2015

Toystory, a Holstein bull with surprising stamina, died in November. Toystory was

...a titan of artificial insemination who sired an estimated 500,000 offspring in more than 50 countries.

Over nearly a decade, Toystory shattered the record for sales of the slender straws that hold about 1/20th of a teaspoon and are shipped using liquid nitrogen to farmers around the world. A unit fetches anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred.

When he died on Thanksgiving Day, Toystory had surpassed 2.4 million units according to his owner, Genex Cooperative Inc., and had fans from Brazil to Japan. His prowess was celebrated on hats, T-shirts and even his own commemorative semen straws. Recent posts to the Facebook page of Genex included “He was legend” and “Torazo!”—Spanish for super bull.

Nowhere in the Journal article does the author mention how many units are in an average donation. For that we go to Wikipedia, which suggests that a single bull-pull can produce a few hundred to several thousand units. (The article also describes the methods of collection.)

So, hat's off to Toystory, a stud in the truest sense of the word.

Wednesday 14 January 2015 14:45:38 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Tuesday 13 January 2015

One more quick note: despite the cold and rain (and traffic), three of us had dinner last night at The Oval Room in the District. Fantastic. We all would recommend it.

After dinner we walked two blocks to my friend Barry's house:

We didn't knock on the door, but one of my colleagues swears someone waved to her from the North Portico.

Tuesday 13 January 2015 13:23:47 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | US | Travel | Work#
Friday 9 January 2015

I may have more time later today. Maybe.

Back to work.

Friday 9 January 2015 13:19:12 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Security#
Saturday 3 January 2015

At the beginning of 2014, I took a look at some of my personal numbers in the preceding year. I also predicted I'd travel more. Well, here's the update:

  • To last year's 9 trips, this year I took 26 and flew 49 segments, visiting 11 states and 5 countries*. All but the number of states visited is a new record. (I visited 36 states in 1991. That will be tough to beat, ever.)
  • I flew 122,776 km, also a new record.
  • The Daily Parker had 512 posts, so the daily mean dropped to 1.40, a slight decline from 2012 and 2013.
  • I worked 2,112 chargeable hours, which includes vacation, PTO, and holidays. But in my timekeeping system I logged 2,965, which includes a number of other activities that took away free time but were not necessarily work-related (including 138 hours walking Parker).
  • I started 31 books and finished 25. (A few were put away for later reference.) Of them, I'd make the strongest recommendations for Kevin Hearne's Hounded and Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age.
  • I also attended the theater a lot more than last year, but not enough to write home about.

In 2015, I expect much less travel, about the same number of Daily Parker posts, possibly more books, and possibly more live performances.

* Sint Maarten, Canada, the UK, France, Norway; New York, California, Wisconsin, Ohio, Arizona, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Louisiana.

Saturday 3 January 2015 09:21:53 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Friday 2 January 2015

Just passing through Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters after a mini-vacation for the new year...and realizing I haven't posted anything since 2014.

Tomorrow I'll have 2014 end-of-year stats, and possibly one or two other ideas from the 143 unread emails I have in various Outlook folders.

Friday 2 January 2015 15:20:17 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Tuesday 30 December 2014

Vacation. It always makes me a little crazy. I need stuff to do. And even though the temperature has plummeted to -12°C overnight, that means going outside and not sitting at my computer.

When Parker and I get too cold, I'll start reading these articles:

And because my (irritated) Euchre coach demands it, I'll review (one more time) Harvey Lapp's Ten Commandments of Euchre.

Tuesday 30 December 2014 09:36:08 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | US | Weather#
Wednesday 24 December 2014

While we're getting ready to celebrate the birth of Baby X this Xmas, links are once again stacking up in my inbox. Like these:

That might be it for The Daily Parker today.

Wednesday 24 December 2014 10:46:35 PST (UTC-08:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink | US | Cool links | Security#
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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.
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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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