Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
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Sunday 14 December 2014

I was a bit overloaded yesterday, so I didn't have time to absorb these articles thoroughly:

Even though I thought the 10 km walk Parker and I took two weeks ago was going to be our last really long one of the year, I didn't predict today's 9°C temperature forecast, so off we go on another one.

Sunday 14 December 2014 08:40:57 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Parker | US#
Sunday 30 November 2014

Knowing that winter is coming later today motivated me to take Parker on his biggest walk since we went hiking in mid-September: an hour and three quarters, 10 km, 11,000 FitBit steps (which translates to about 60,000 Parker steps).

The 11°C out my door can't last, though. Rockford is down to 1°C; Burlington, Wisc., about an hour northwest of O'Hare, is already below freezing.

With 13,000 steps already behind me today, and being only 7,000 steps away from a 1-day total over 20,000 and a 7-day total over 100,000, I see more walking before day's end...

Sunday 30 November 2014 11:36:18 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#

As reported yesterday, an Arctic high pressure area is moving south into the United States, bringing freezing temperatures with it. The latest surface analysis looks like this:

It's 9°C in Chicago but 3°C in Rockford, just 145 km away.

Conclusion? It's time to take Parker on his long walk of the day. Now.

Sunday 30 November 2014 09:13:40 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#
Saturday 29 November 2014

It looks like the temperature will get up to 11°C this afternoon, and the sun is still visible. Meteorological autumn ends tomorrow, and apparently so does this weather. The forecast calls for an unseasonably warm evening followed by a cold-front passage tomorrow late morning and temperatures falling to 1°C by noon and -6°C overnight.

This is a long way of saying that Parker and I need to go for another walk pretty much ASAP. We walked about 5 km so far today. Let's see if we can squeeze in another 5 before sundown.

Saturday 29 November 2014 14:57:56 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#
Monday 10 November 2014

Lots more travel this weekend, including Parker and me spending two days in a place without Internet. (My phone at least had a little from time to time.)

Now back home, I have to figure out the rest of my day before rehearsal. Parker, for his part, is sleeping on his own bed right now for the first time in more than a week.

Monday 10 November 2014 10:38:28 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Parker | Travel | Work#
Sunday 26 October 2014

Following a friend's example, I got a FitBit this week. The same friend has challenged me for the weekend, getting 15,300 steps to my 14,000 yesterday, and going hiking this afternoon. Ah, but I have a dog, you see. And the weather is perfect. So far today I've walked 15,400 steps (11.6 km), almost all of it with Parker, and we're about to go out for another walk.

Here's walk #1, this morning, in Lincoln Park:

And walk #2, at lunchtime, down the Lakefront Path:

I got my 15,000-step badge on Friday, my first full day with the thing. Today I'm aiming for 20,000. My friend is too. This will be close, I'm guessing...

Sunday 26 October 2014 15:36:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Saturday 11 October 2014

It's sunny and cool, and I have no remaining responsibilities that I know of for the afternoon. So Parker and I are going for a long walk.

Oh, and: Go Giants.

Saturday 11 October 2014 13:55:03 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | San Francisco | Weather#
Monday 15 September 2014

We had spectacular weather across the region Saturday and yesterday. For our hike Saturday we had partly-cloudy skies, low humidity, and 14°C—nearly perfect. Here's Parker at the top of the trail, refusing to look at the camera:

Then, yesterday, I had my final Apollo audition up at Millar Chapel in Evanston. Again, perfect weather:

It's a little cloudy today, but otherwise cool and October-like. As far as I'm concerned, it can stay October-like for the next six months. Walking is good for you.

Also, can I just point out that the 16-megapixel camera that's just an add-on to my phone takes better photos than any even serious Pro-Am cameras from five years ago? Yikes.

Monday 15 September 2014 12:09:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Travel | Weather#
Saturday 13 September 2014

We have near-record cool temperatures predicted today, possibly no warmer than 14°C today. It's also sunny, and neither I nor Parker has any responsibilities that can't shift to tomorrow.

In short, we're going to take a hike. Literally; in Wisconsin. And possibly bring back some beer.

Saturday 13 September 2014 09:15:51 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Monday 1 September 2014

Good morning. It's the 1st day of September, 2014, and meteorological summer is over. School is back, Labor Day is upon us (but only in the U.S., where it doesn't remind anyone of actual labor struggles), and I've had Parker for 8 full years. (The annual Parker Day photo will have to wait until he and I are both back home. I know, this is the second year running that I've missed the day itself. I hope he forgives me.)

On the whole, summer wasn't bad. Autumn should be fine as well: I'm attending a dear friend's wedding this month, going to London next month, and in between, aiming to walk Parker as much as our legs can carry us. Cleveland will be involved as well, though to what extent, I don't yet know.

Still, I'm not sure where summer actually went. May doesn't seem that long ago.

Monday 1 September 2014 07:20:28 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Parker | Travel | Weather | Astronomy#
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#
Monday 16 June 2014

It's a pity that he has to be boarded on his birthday, but as a dog, he probably doesn't think a whole lot about birthdays. At least he wasn't on the way to the car this morning:

For comparison, here's Parker at 13 weeks:

Monday 16 June 2014 10:11:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Tuesday 20 May 2014

Good advice:

Rule 1: You probably shouldn't approach a stranger's dog. Well, ok, that's not exactly true. But you should never simply approach a stranger's dog without asking - from a distance - if it's ok. Some people don't want their dogs to interact with people they come across on the street. Some dogs look well-behaved but when they get around a human that is not their owner, they freak out. Even the most well-behaved dog is still an animal that acts on instinct and could flip out and attack if scared. Keep that in mind.

Rule 2: If you must approach a stranger's dog and the owner gives you permission, you shouldn't simply start petting it. Some dogs are picky about where they like to be touched.

Fortunately for people, Parker is a pushover and likes pats. Unfortunately for people, Parker does not like it when other dogs approach while he's on-leash. And yet stupid people let their dogs pull them towards us while yelling "Can he say hi?" No, he may not say hi, unless you want to pay both vet bills.

So pat Parker, but be careful of strange dogs you meet on the street.

Tuesday 20 May 2014 12:09:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Monday 19 May 2014

I've had a few minutes to go through the Spectralia photos from earlier today. We attempted to get Parker in them, to play Crab, the dog, but he is the sourest-natured dog that lives. Observe:

Yet did not this cruel-hearted cur shed one tear.

Eventually we got a couple good shots with him. Eventually.

Sunday 18 May 2014 22:29:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Photography#
Tuesday 22 April 2014

We've bred wolves for 40,000 years to have social intelligence, which makes them better than chimps and cats at understanding us:

[Duke Canine Center student Evan] MacLean stands near a wall with the dog on a slack leash, while a female graduate student sits on a chair in the center of the room. She sets two opaque red cups upside down on the floor, one on each side of her. Then, as [the dog] Napoleon watches intently, a third graduate student enters the room. She places the dog’s tennis ball under one of the cups and pretends to place it under the other, obscuring her motions with a small black board so the terrier isn’t sure which cup contains the ball. If this were a shell game, the dog would have a fifty-fifty shot of picking the right cup. But the seated graduate student gives him a hand, or, more precisely, a finger. She points to the cup on her right, and when MacLean lets go of the leash, Napoleon runs over to it and retrieves his ball. Over several trials, the dog always goes for the cup that is pointed out. Even when the seated student merely gazes at the correct cup, Napoleon gets the message.

This may seem like a simple test, and, indeed, even one-year-old children pass it. But our closest relatives, chimpanzees, fail miserably. They ignore the human helper, pick cups at random, and rarely score above chance. Brian Hare’s lab has become famous for spotting this difference. Napoleon has performed more than just a neat cognitive trick. He has displayed a more complex skill related to the development of theory of mind in children. He wasn’t just clued into the pointing student’s attention; he had shown behavior consistent with understanding her intention. He showed that he realized that the student wanted to show him something, that she had a desire.

It may not have taken 40,000 years for dogs to develop this skill, by the way. The Russian silver foxes are only a few dozen generations away from wild foxes, and they also have similar cognitive characteristics.

Tuesday 22 April 2014 10:42:10 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Wednesday 5 March 2014

First-term Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza introduced an ordinance last month that would require pet stores to get dogs and cats from city pounds and shelters. The council will vote on it today:

“This ordinance cuts off the pipeline of animals coming into our city from the horrendous puppy mill industry and opens up a new opportunity for animals already in shelters who need a loving home to be adopted into,” Mendoza said.

It would, however, affect 16 businesses across the city, including Pocket Puppies in Lincoln Park, which sells small dogs at $850 to $4,000 a pup. Store owner Lane Boron said the ordinance would put him out of business or force him into the suburbs, but not curtail the operation of inhumane puppy mills.

“I opened my business, because I knew there were abuses in my business, eight years ago,” said Boron, who said he has sold puppies to celebrities and aldermen. “I wanted to make sure that my dogs were humanely sourced.”

In one of life's coincidences, I went to high school and college with Lane, and we served on the Student Judiciary Board together. I don't wish him ill, and I sympathize that the ordinance would affect his business negatively, to say the least.

That said, I fully support the ordinance. I generally oppose dog breeding, especially for designer dogs like Lane sells, when so many mutts need homes. The ordinance may not be the way to fix the problem of unwanted dogs and cats, either. But it might help.

Update: The ordinance passed 49-1.

Wednesday 5 March 2014 11:26:09 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Politics#
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 1 February 2014

Today we got our 33rd day of measurable snowfall this winter, the day after we ended the third snowiest and third coldest January on record. (Did I mention I'm done with this winter?)

At least someone likes the weather:

Saturday 1 February 2014 10:46:25 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#
Monday 25 November 2013

Wow, this weekend was busier than I anticipated.

You know what's coming. Links!

Only a few more hours before I leave for the weekend. Time to jam on the billables...

Monday 25 November 2013 12:13:48 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker | US#
Sunday 13 October 2013

This is one of the best parts of living in Lincoln Park:

After watching one group of runners go up Stockton Drive, I can catch them going the other way down Clark. Even Parker gets into the action—sort of:

We had perfect running weather today, 12°C with light winds and plenty of sun. Kenyan Dennis Kimetto set a new course record at 2:03:45, which is just about 3 minutes per kilometer.

Sunday 13 October 2013 11:43:59 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker#
Sunday 8 September 2013

I adopted Parker on 1 September 2006, seven years (and one week) ago. Since I wasn't in Chicago last Sunday, I didn't make a note of Parker Day at the time.

Here, then, is Parker's annual portrait, complete with a blade of grass on his nose:

And here, also, is hoping for at least seven more years with the fuzzy dude.

Sunday 8 September 2013 14:15:41 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Sunday 25 August 2013

After lunch I thought Parker and I could pop around to my second-favorite bar in Chicago, Bucktown Pub, which is about 3 km away. It's a little warm (31°C), so by the time we got there, I was looking forward to cooling off with air conditioning and a gin & tonic.

We left home around 1:15 and got there at 2.

They open at 3.

Oops.

I will now take a shower, and Parker has installed himself directly below the air conditioner.

Sunday 25 August 2013 15:15:55 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker#
Tuesday 6 August 2013

The journalist and blogger's beagle Daisy died today at the age of 15. I'm getting sniffly just posting this:

This was not like waiting for someone to die; it was a positive act to end a life – out of mercy and kindness, to be sure – but nonetheless a positive act to end a life so intensely dear to me for a decade and a half. That’s still sinking in. The power of it. But as we laid her on the table for the final injection, she appeared as serene as she has ever been. I crouched down to look in her cloudy eyes and talk to her, and suddenly, her little head jolted a little, and it was over.

I couldn’t leave her. But equally the sight of her inert and lifeless – for some reason the tongue hanging far out of her mouth disfigured her for me – was too much to bear. I kissed her and stroked her, buried my face in her shoulders, and Aaron wept over her. And then we walked home, hand in hand. As we reached the front door, we could hear Eddy howling inside.

Her bed is still there; and the bowl; and the diapers – pointless now. I hung her collar up on the wall and looked out at the bay. The room is strange. She has been in it every day for fifteen and a half years, waiting for me.

Now, I wait, emptied, for her.

Read the whole thread. Make sure you have tissue handy.

Monday 5 August 2013 19:22:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Blogs#
Tuesday 2 July 2013

I love my dogsitters, but sometimes they send the oddest messages. I received this email yesterday morning:

ALL DOGS must wear a collar around their neck with a name tag and contact information on that tag. Harnesses are not what we need, we need to have collars. It's a City Ordinance, like most laws, the City is starting to enforce them and any customer found not with a collar risks a $500 fine for both the customer and facility. We'll be happy to sell Dogs without collars and name tags one and charge your account accordingly. We have several dogs that look alike, 12 black labs in a room gets confusing and we need to make sure we are aware of each dog and correctly identify each of them.

Re-read that penultimate sentence: "We'll be happy to sell Dogs without collars and name tags one and charge your account accordingly."

Seriously, I had to read that three times before I saw the word "one." Good thing Parker has a collar, though; I'd hate him to be sold. (Wait...that's not right either.)

As the joke goes: "I'm a linguist, so I like ambiguity more than most people."

Tuesday 2 July 2013 09:18:17 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Monday 17 June 2013

My poor sick dog didn't completely destroy my rugs, but Eli Peer has a job on his hands. Even without the, uh, contributions from Parker last week, the six years of accumulated dog hair mitigated in favor of a good deep cleaning as well. Eli recommends cleaning rugs every couple of years, so mine were long overdue anyway. Judging by the portion covered by the bookshelves in the photo below—a portion without dog hair, dirt, and innumerable other insults—they looked pretty dire. Here's the room in 2008:

Here it is on Saturday:

And in case you don't recognize the line, here's one of its funnier instances.

Monday 17 June 2013 09:47:55 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Sunday 16 June 2013

And here is his annual birthday photo:

For comparison, here is last year's.

Sunday 16 June 2013 15:58:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Friday 14 June 2013

The vet visit went well. Parker has no fever, no giardia or crypto, and probably no really bad diseases. He just has gastroenteritis. Good; I'm glad it's not serious.

But let's examine the damage:

  • Vet bill: $275
  • Rug cleaning estimate: $225
  • Hotel reservation cancelled: $75
  • Billable hours lost: 3

At least I'll have all that extra time to do billable work this weekend, right? Silver linings.

Parker is asleep under my desk now. Tonight he gets boiled chicken. (But how long do I boil it?)

Friday 14 June 2013 16:48:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#

Poor parker.

I came home yesterday evening to a pile of something on one of my mom's antique rugs. Overnight three more piles appeared, two on that rug and one on a different antique rug. Plus there was another pile from the other end of the dog on a patch of hardwood floor this morning.

He didn't eat dinner last night, and he didn't eat the rice I gave him for breakfast. And on his walk this morning, he created a neon-green patch on the sidewalk that prompted a call to the vet when we got home.

I'm not alarmed—yet—because he's alert and happy to go for walks. I've rolled up the carpets, which apparently will cost $225 to clean professionally, so they're out of danger.

My guess is that he ate something yesterday or Wednesday, so I expect the vet will poke him and take X-rays that show nothing of consequence. This happens to dogs sometimes.

Unfortunately, I had planned to take him on a road trip this weekend to see where he came from. I've traced his origins to three possible places in downstate Illinois, about six hours away. Well, that's off now; no way he'll want to go for a six-hour car ride to a strange place and then sleep on a hotel floor.

I hope he feels better. Poor fuzzy dude.

Friday 14 June 2013 13:05:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Sunday 9 June 2013

Oh, yummy ribs. Yesterday, Parker and I hiked up to Lincoln and Damen as planned, and tried out a different set of bone samplers than in years past.

  • Mrs. Murphy's Irish Bistro (pictured above) started the ribanalia, and led the pack—for a moment. Once again, they had fall-off-the-bone, lightly smoked meat with a tangy, spicy sauce. 3½ stars.
  • Second was a newcomer, Wrigley BBQ, which actually surpassed Mrs. Murphy. They had flavorful, smoked meat, with a spicy dry rub, just a hint of a sweet Memphis sauce, and just the right tug off the bone. 4 stars.
  • Corner 41 was good. Not great, but good. They have a smoky, fall-off-the-bone meat, with good spice and flavor, but they get a half-point off for presenting the smallest sampler I've ever encountered at Gibfest. 2½ stars.
  • Uncle Bub's had the longest line at the festival, possibly because they had the largest stall. They had smoky, tug-off-the-bone ribs with a really great crispiness. They also provided branded moist towlettes which, when you think about it, every vendor should hand out. 3 stars.
  • Sadly, last was least: Real Urban BBQ from Highland Park. Their tug-off-the-bone meat tasted almost processed (though I know it wasn't), too chewy and salty, on which they put an indifferent sort of sauce. I'll have to skip them next time. 2 stars.

Over the next few months, I'm going to have proper rib dinners at my five-year favorites: Mrs. Murphy's, Wrigley BBQ, and Smoke Daddy, plus my cousin Matt's favorite Fat Willy's.

Parker, as usual, had less fun at the festival than I did:

Maybe I should have tried this? No; there's no way Parker would stay on the wagon:

As for our traditional stop on the way home, SoPo: it no longer exists; it's boarded up now. Before we discovered that, however, we came upon a new place, A.J. Hudson's. Great beer list, friendly staff, and dogs. New tradition!

Sunday 9 June 2013 10:29:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Saturday 8 June 2013

I follow few traditions. That said, walking up to Ribfest Chicago on the first weekend of June has become one. In just a little bit, Parker and I will head out into the crystal-clear, 19°C, late-Spring weather, and get us some ribs.

Before we go, a recap. This will be our 5th Ribfest in six years. Before we started our hike I thought it would help me to remember which vendors I've tried in years past:

2012:

2011:

2010: We didn't go to Ribfest because of my sister's wedding. A fair trade, I think.

2009:

2008:

The 5.1 km walk should take us a little over an hour. On the way back I'll probably continue the tradition established in 2008 by grabbing a beer on SoPo's dog-friendly patio. This also helps by stretching the return walk out to 6 km, in order to work off more ribs.

I may not eat more than a few lentils for the next two days, though...

Saturday 8 June 2013 11:35:27 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Sunday 2 June 2013

Yesterday I had a fun but abbreviated time at Jarvis Beach doing publicity stills for Spectralia Theater's Comedy of Errors. The play goes up this summer at several Chicago Park District parks as part of the Bard in the Parks program.

I've just finished the first batch of shots, so I haven't got clearance from the production to publish any yet. I can, however, post a shot of the least helpful photo assistant on the planet, here lying down next to Spectralia member Don Johnson:

Sunday 2 June 2013 11:46:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Thursday 24 January 2013

Maps? Check. Dogs? Check. New York? Check. I give you, Dogs of NYC:

If you own a dog in New York City, odds are it’s a mutt named Max.

The city’s dog licensing records show that out of almost 100,000 registered dogs, this is the most common breed and name in town. WNYC obtained the complete list from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which runs the dog licensing program.

The first thing you notice is the names. The most popular ones in the city hew pretty close to the most popular names across all English-speaking countries: Max, Bella, Lucky, etc. But this is New York, so there have to be some named Jeter (40 dogs) and Carmelo (7). In a town also known for its fashion, that explains the prevalence of dogs named Chanel (44), and Dolce (39). There are 83 dogs named Gucci. We've come a long way from Rover.

And if I want, I can get a custom T-Shirt that tells everyone "Parker is a mixed-breed dog, like the 23,185 registered in New York City."

Thursday 24 January 2013 17:11:07 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Parker | Travel#
Thursday 13 December 2012

Last night I continued reducing local computing costs by turning off my home desktop PC. The old PC has a ton of space and a lot of applications that my laptop doesn't have, plus a nifty dual-DVI video card. But a couple of things have changed since 2008.

First, my current laptop, a Dell Latitude E6420, has a faster processor, the same amount of RAM, and a solid-state drive, making it about twice as fast as the desktop. Second, Dell has a new, upgraded docking station that will drive two big monitors easily. (Sadly, though the docking station can drive two DVIs, my laptop's video chip can only do one DVI and one VGA.) Third, the laptop uses buttloads less power than the desktop. Fourth, portable terabyte drives are a lot less expensive today than in 2008—and a lot smaller. And finally, I take my laptop to and from work, meaning I have a minor hassle keeping it synchronized with my desktop.

Here's my office about three years ago (January 2010):

A few months later I got a second 24-inch monitor (November 2010 photo):

Notice the printer has moved to make room for the second monitor, but otherwise the setup remains the same. The monitors connect to the desktop under the desk to the left, while the laptop has its own cradle to the right.

Now this afternoon:

The printer has landed on the floor directly under where it used to sit (I print about 3 pages per month, so this isn't the inconvenience it seems), the laptop has moved over to the printer's old spot (and has connected to the monitors), and the old desktop machine sits quietly consuming 225 fewer Watts per hour. I also replaced the 10-year-old, no-longer-functioning 2+1 speaker set with a more compact set. The round thing between the keyboard and the laptop near the center of the photo is a speakerphone that I use with Skype.

I think everyone knows the dog under the desk by now, too. He's not happy that I rearranged his favorite sleeping cave, so I might get a couple of weeks without mounds of dog hair under my desk until he decides the printer is harmless.

So far today I have been unusually productive, whether because of the novelty or because I have a fire-under-the-ass deadline at work. So back to it.

Thursday 13 December 2012 13:58:53 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Parker | Business#
Thursday 22 November 2012

We probably won't hit the record November 22 temperature (21°C, set in 1913), but we'll get awfully close. It's already 15°C at O'Hare, with a forecast of 18°C—followed by a cold front and 0°C by morning.

Parker and I will therefore now go for a long walk.

Thursday 22 November 2012 11:11:49 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#
Saturday 13 October 2012

So far this month, I've worked about 110 hours (no exaggeration), in part preparing for a pair of software demos on Monday. Normal blogging will likely return tomorrow or Monday.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of Parker:

That's from six years ago this week. Everyone together, now: "Awwwwwwww."

Saturday 13 October 2012 13:06:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Saturday 1 September 2012

Parker came home with me six years ago today. Here he is a few minutes ago, wondering why we were outside but not walking anywhere:

And, of course, here he his six years ago:

Saturday 1 September 2012 10:41:34 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Friday 17 August 2012

This weekend's weather forecast in Chicago predicts the coolest weekend since May 12, 14 weeks ago. Through Sunday temperatures should be 3°C below normal (days in the low 20s, lows in the low teens), with sunny skies and cool northeast breezes. September, in other words.

The Tribune points out:

Only 6 of past 142 years have produced Aug. 18 overnight lows cooler than those expected by Saturday morning.

Not only will daytime readings be cooler than typical for mid August, nighttime lows will be cooler than normal as well, particularly in areas farthest from the city and Lake Michigan---both of which temper early season cool spells by adding heat.

Friday night/Saturday morning's predicted 12°C low would become Chicago's chilliest minimum temperature in over two months and would qualify as one of the six coolest early season readings for the date since 1871.

It will warm up mid-week, though not to the temperatures we suffered through in the warmest July in history last month. I've got the windows open, and I'll probably be able to keep them open until Wednesday.

Parker likes having the windows open as well, but he's not used to hearing the neighbors—in particular, the neighbors' dogs. I hope he figures it out, because the random, single woofs at 2am are really aggravating.

Friday 17 August 2012 10:13:28 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#
Wednesday 18 July 2012

A couple of days ago I discovered a new behavior in Parker. While listening to Martha Berner's song "A Town Called Happiness," which has an extensive harmonica part, Parker started to howl. Not in pain, though: he stayed in the room, and even got closer to the noise, tail wagging.

Apparently this is common dog behavior, and it really does mean he's just singing along.

So I dug out my dad's old harmonica and, yes, he sang along with that, too. In the upper ranges he really put his heart into it, too.

I know the behavior came out of those ancient days when wolves roamed free and men cowered at their howls...but this is Parker, and it's freaking adorable.

Wednesday 18 July 2012 17:10:58 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Sunday 1 July 2012

Yes, I just said I was taking Parker out for a walk, but I cut it short after five minutes. Here's why:

Just as we got back home the gust front hit. Trees are now moving in ways that trees probably shouldn't. This should be a lot of fun to watch.

...but Parker is sulking. Tant pis, mon bête noir.

Update, 1:25 pm: Huh. The storm just missed us, though reports have come in of 145 km/h gusts in Elmhust and Lombard, which "looks like a war zone" according to the Tribune.

Sunday 1 July 2012 12:53:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Weather#
Saturday 23 June 2012

To readers who couldn't care less about my Exchange migration post, here is Parker reacting to the cleaning service's vacuums:

They're about to vacuum under my desk, which will make him a very unhappy dog for a few minutes. He'll survive.

Saturday 23 June 2012 09:53:11 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Sunday 17 June 2012

As promised, Parker's birthday photo from yesterday:

1/250 at f/5.6, ISO-3200, 116mm

Sunday 17 June 2012 08:49:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Photography#
Saturday 16 June 2012

Parker turns six today:

That was then (September 2006, when he was about 11 weeks old). The "now" picture will come tomorrow.

Saturday 16 June 2012 14:09:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Sunday 10 June 2012

Parker never really likes the walk up to Ribfest. It's about 5 km, and yesterday the temperature hit 33°C, making him a very hot dog. He did, however, get a few bits of ribs, and when we stopped in the Urban Pooch booth, two entire elk jerky sticks he stole from the display case.

This year's results:

  • Mrs. Murphy's Irish Bistro, again my favorite;
  • Itinerant Chicago BBQ, again my second-favorite;
  • Corner 41, who had a good, hot vinegar sauce and fall-off-the-bone ribs (with a little too much fat, though); and
  • Perennial Chicago fixture Smoke Daddy ("Ribs so good you'll slap your pappy!"), whose ribs had the smokiest flavor and also the most fat.

Smoke Daddy gave Parker a free pig's ear, so they get points for that.

All of the ribs this year fell off the bone, with no tug, which disappointed me a little. I might have to go back this evening to find some tug-off-the-bone ribs, maybe with a nice, thick tomato-based tangy sauce...yeah...

Sunday 10 June 2012 11:46:22 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Parker#
Tuesday 5 June 2012

Because they improved downtown L.A. immensely:

In 1999, Los Angeles passed its Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, making it easier and cheaper for real estate developers to convert old offices to new housing. While the ordinance arguably jump-started the revitalization of downtown L.A., a key (though overlooked) element was pet-friendly policies in these newly converted lofts.

Walking dogs drove residents out of their homes and into the street at least twice each day. Elsewhere in Los Angeles, where single-family homes predominate, dog owners often have the luxury of sending Fido out to the yard to do his business. But downtown, dogs and their owners have become a crucial component of the rebounding neighborhood's culture.

Of course, if the office dog poops on the CEO's carpet, he'll still get fired.

Tuesday 5 June 2012 12:27:13 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Parker | Business#
Sunday 3 June 2012

As feared, Chicago is experiencing a weekend of perfect weather. As a consequence, Parker and I just finished an hour-and-three-quarters walk that had to include time at Noethling Park (aka "Wiggly Field"). We're recovering for a moment before heading outside again for another one.

Regular updates will resume when the crisis concludes.

(Note: Ordinarily I would have linked to the Chicago Park District's official page on one of its parks, but apparently they forgot to pay the Internet bill, so at this writing their site dead-ends at Network Solutions. Nice work, guys.)

Sunday 3 June 2012 13:15:56 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Weather#
Friday 11 May 2012

And the office dog is doing what he does best:

Friday 11 May 2012 16:09:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Monday 7 May 2012

Even if Parker hadn't gotten fired two weeks ago, it looks like the building would have stopped him coming in anyway. We got this email earlier today, forwarded by the landlord:

We received a complaint about one of your tenants having a dog in the building. This was discovered by persons on the 5th floor hearing barking on the 4th floor. Hopefully I'm not confusing your unit with another but per the building rules and regulations policy that's attached to the Easement and Operating Agreement, only seeing eye dogs are permitted in the building.

Some people just don't like dogs. Their lives must be so sad.

Monday 7 May 2012 11:11:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Work#
Thursday 26 April 2012

He lasted less than four weeks as office dog.

Workplace tip: when you greet the boss first thing in the morning, do not immediately thereafter poop on his carpet.

Thursday 26 April 2012 17:32:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
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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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