The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Glad that's over, now on to autumn

Spot the cold front:

I took Cassie for her final walk at 10pm, during the steepest part of that second cliff. The temperature dropped 0.5°C during the 7 minutes it took us to walk around the block. The dewpoint eased off as well, making it actually tolerable for the first time in two days.

In a post this morning, the National Weather Service explained how bad we had it for those two days:

  • 8/23 saw the first 80°F dew point observed in Chicago since 7/30/1999 and only the 7th calendar day on record where an 80+°F dew point was recorded in Chicago.
  • 8/24 saw the first 100°F temperature recorded in Chicago since 7/6/2012 and became tied as the 5th latest calendar day to see a 100°F temperature recorded in Chicago.
  • The heat index of 120°F on 8/24 is the highest ever observed at Chicago's official climate observation site.
  • Chicago logged two days in a row with peak heat indices greater than 115°F, which was the first time that this occurred since the deadly heat wave of July 1995.

Not all that moisture got pushed south by the cold front last night, so we have a low overcast to go with our otherwise pleasant temperatures (22°C but with a 19.4°C dewpoint). Today's forecast has us warming up only slightly today while dew points continue to drop. Tomorrow should be absolutely lovely, so Cassie should have some long walks in the cool air.

This by you is cooling off?

The National Weather Service reported earlier today that we did, in fact, have some historic weather:

Here at IDTWHQ, things have cooled off in the last hour...but not by much:

Fortunately the AQI is only 59, though ozone levels are going up with the heat. Unfortunately, the dewpoint to go with that 34.5°C (now down to 34.0°C!) is 26°C, giving us a heat index of 43.9°C (110.9°F to the philistines out there). Cassie got a 47-minute, 4.4-kilometer walk this morning and 12 minutes at lunch, but I doubt she'll get another 10 for the rest of the day. I'm not confident she'll get even that much time outside tomorrow.

Officially at O'Hare it hit 36.7°C (98.1°F) around 4pm with a heat index of 44.0°C (111.3°F), breaking the record for August 23rd and, in fact, for any day this late in the season. Lewis University in Romeo, Ill. (about 42 km from IDTWHQ and the headquarters of the National Weather Service in Chicago) reported a heat index of 51.1°C (123.9°F) a few minutes ago, which I can scarcely fathom.

But it's -35°C at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, so clearly global warming is a myth.

Plotzed pup & Ribfest ARR

Cassie got almost 4¼ hours of walkies yesterday, going to the Horner Park DFA, Ribfest, and elsewhere around the neighborhood. Then, just when she thought she could relax at home, I dragged her fuzzy butt into the bathtub. I did warn her, when she rolled in whatever that was at the dog park, that her day would end in a bath, but she didn't believe me.

The highlight for me, of course, was Ribfest. And I can now present my After Rib Report for 2023.

This year I got to try 9—count 'em, 9—samplers (total: 28 bones) from 8 rib vendors, a tremendous improvement on last year. Plus, the ribs were better all around. In the order that I tried them:

  • Aussom Aussie: tug-off-the-bone, smoky, meaty ribs, with a good sauce. Winner of 2nd Place in both the Critics Choice and Audience cagegories. 3 stars.
  • Mrs Murphy's Irish Bistro: This year's People's Choice winner for the 9th year running, which makes me think the fix is in. My ribs were over-boiled and kind of disintegrated, but they didn't have a lot of flavor. I like their sauce, though. 2½ stars.
  • Ogre Eats: The 3-bone sampler I got Friday might have been the most perfect ribs I had at any Ribfest. They came right off the grill onto my plate, with great caramelization and just the right smoke and tug. (Cassie did not like standing next to the smoker while we waited in line, though.) But then on Sunday they gave me 2 bones for the same price, which were really good but not nearly as epic as Friday's. I wish I could give them the 4 stars they earned on Friday but I can only give them 3 stars overall.

  • Big Joe's: The Critics Choice winner this year, beating Aussom Aussie by one point. They had super-meaty ribs with an amazing sauce. I want more! 4 stars.
  • Chicago BBQ: Good as always. Meaty, smoky ribs, a nice char, and two tasty sauces to choose. 3½ stars.
  • Armadillo's: Huge meaty bones with great flavor. Not greasy at all; nice sauce. And they gave me an extra bone! 3½ stars.
  • Blazin' Bronco: Excellent, smoky, meaty bones. 4 stars.
  • Robinson's: Another lagniappe! And huge, huge bones with unfortunately too much sauce. 3 stars.

A couple of things to note. First, every one of the vendors, except for Robinson's, is itinerant or a catering company. Once again, Ribfest failed to attract Chicago Q, Smoque, The Smoke Daddy, or any of the other ribberies here in Chicago that have amazing BBQ. It's a shame, because I would love to get a full slab from Blazin' Bronco or Big Joe's sometime.

Second, they all charged different prices for samplers, which I didn't factor into my ratings but probably should have. The $8 sampler from Mrs Murphy's was probably worth it, but the $14 sampler from one of the vendors I didn't try probably wasn't.

I'm glad Ribfest found its footing again, though. And the weather cooperated: temperatures kept in the mid-20s with not a drop of precipitation, though dewpoints hovered around 20°C making everything a bit sticky. Can't wait for next year!

Come sail away

We may stop at Ribfest one more time today, after we hike over to Horner Park to meet some friends. (This may also include a quick stop to cool off at Burning Bush.)

Yesterday, Cassie got a chance to nap during the day while I spent some time a few kilometers off shore in Lake Michigan:

Not a bad view, despite the Canadian wildfire smoke:

After I got home, Cassie and I went back over to Ribfest for three more samplers before ending the evening at Beygle again. But the poor girl really needed another nap, not least because we've gotten over 5 hours of walkies since Friday morning. If you've ever seen a 5-year-old two hours past bedtime, you have an idea. I had to take her to the far end of the patio after she decided she really wanted another dog's bully stick, even though she doesn't really like bully sticks.

And yet, just look at this punim:

We're heading out to the dog park in about 90 minutes. I'll let her nap until then.

Preliminary rib report

I am happy to share that this year's Ribfest improved on last year's so far. Cassie and I walked over there a bit before the dinner rush and got three samplers. Then on the walk home we discovered that Begyle Brewing has partially rescinded the no-dog policy they instituted in the pandemic: they now allow dogs on the patio, though they're still verboten inside (except to order).

I'll have a full After Action Report on Sunday or Monday. Today I'm aiming for three more samplers for dinner, and possibly sailing with friends on Lake Michigan this afternoon.

Happy Friday

I'm about to take Cassie on her noon peregrination, which will be shorter than usual as we're heading over to North Center Ribfest tonight in perfect weather. Last year's Ribfest disappointed me (but not Cassie). I hope this year's is better than last year's. (Hard to believe I took Parker to our first Ribfest over 15 years ago...)

Chicago street festivals are having trouble raising money, however. When a festival takes over a public street, they're not allowed to charge an entry fee, though they can ask for donations. I'll be sure to make my $10 donation this evening.

While I wipe the drool off my keyboard thinking about ribs, I'll be reading these:

  • The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch for Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial Counties in California, plus Catalina Island, as Hurricane Hilary drifts towards being the first tropical storm to hit SoCal since the 1930s.
  • US Senator Joe Manchin's (RD-WV) strategy of bollixing up the President's agenda seems to have backfired.
  • Credit-card issuer Discover swears up and down it didn't fire its CEO last week over regulatory matters. Nope, he's accused of compliance problems.
  • The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning may recommend that Chicago-area transit agencies merge their fare systems to encourage more people to take trains and buses. (I've been mulling a long post about the problems with transit in the US in general.)
  • What's with all the kids selling candy on the streets of New York (and Chicago)?
  • Getting a "technical brush-off" when asking your city to make a change to a roadway? Strong Towns has a strategy for you.

Finally, National Geographic describes the reconstruction of a murder victim in Sweden—from 700 years ago. Crime tip: Don't try to hide a dead body in a peat bog. Someone will find it eventually.

A bit toasty in the Pacific Northwest

Many cities in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho hit all-time record high temperatures yesterday, including 43.3°C in Dallesport, Wash., and 40.6°C in Boise, Idaho. Even Portland, on the ocean side of the Cascades and usually lovely this time of year, hit 39.4°C.

Chicago right now is a decent 27°C, with the moisture from this morning's storms adding a bit of bleck around the Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters. And the roofing contractor had to disconnect one of my A/C units this morning because they mismeasured the placement of a privacy screen, so I might have to sleep on the couch with Cassie tonight. The forecast says 15°C and north-northwest winds, so maybe it'll cool off enough to open windows upstairs. We'll see.

Note to my future self

This is why I won't get 10,000 steps today:

I'm still at 84,000 steps over the past 7 days, though.

Still, even though it's cool enough to have all the windows open, and none of the rain seems to be blowing in, I'd still rather have gotten all my steps today. Cassie, for her part, got over 4 hours of walks this past weekend, so she seems fine with it. She doesn't like the rain any more than I do.

Maybe tomorrow.

Lots of walking

My phone, watch, and dog are all recharging right now after Cassie and I walked 9.5 km to the Horner Park DFA and back.

Right now it's officially 30°C with the occasional wind gust at O'Hare, but here in Ravenswood we've got 26°C with a light breeze. So once my watch has fully charged we're going back outside.

And hey, we might see this guy again:

Several people have identified this as a Cooper's Hawk, one of the more common raptors in the Illinois prairies, and I hope a more common visitor to my rabbit-infested neighborhood. Plenty to eat here!

Temperature 26, dewpoint 22

I just got back from walking Cassie for about half an hour, and I'm a bit sticky. The dog days of summer in Chicago tend to have high dewpoints hanging out for weeks on end, making today pretty typical.

Our sprint ends Tuesday and I still have 3 points left on the board, so I may not have time to give these more than a cursory read:

Finally, Andrew Sullivan adapts a column he wrote in August 2001 asking, "why can't Americans take a vacation?" One reason, I believe: all the time and money we spend in and on our cars.