So far, this April ranks as the 2nd coldest in Chicago history. We had snow this past weekend, and we expect to have snow tonight—on April 18th.
So it may come as a surprise to people who confuse "weather" and "climate" that, worldwide, things are pretty hot:
The warm air to our north and east has blocked the cold air now parked over the midwestern U.S. Europe, meanwhile, feels like August. And Antarctica feels like...well, Antarctica, but unusually warm.
Note that the temperature anomalies at the bottom of the image above are based on the 1980-2010 climate normal period, which was warmer than any previous 30-year period. In other words, the poles may be 3-5°C warmer than normal now and also 4-7°C warmer than any point in recorded history.
At least, historically, a cold spring means a cool summer here. Lake Michigan is a very cold 5°C today, a few degrees below normal for this time of year, and a huge sink for summer heat later on. Here's hoping, anyway.
A couple stories of interest:
OK, back to being really too busy to breathe this week...
Two weeks ago I started writing my A-to-Z posts and got all the way to today's before my life became nuts—as I knew it would—with 4 chorus-related events and a huge increase in my work responsibilities. And with the Apollo After Hours benefit this coming Friday, this weekend will be pretty full as well.
I use my email inbox as a to-do list, and right now it has 35 messages, 30 of which relate to the benefit. I'm very glad the A-to-Z Challenge gives us Sundays off, because I don't know how I'm going to get another week ahead by tomorrow night.
The performances were worth it, though.
We had an absolutely beautiful day in Chicago yesterday. I ate lunch outside after going for a walk to obtain it. Birds sang. Trees started budding. The sun shone.
And then, suddenly, the sun didn't shine anymore:
Chicago lies in the transition zone between cold air to the north and mild, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and where the boundary passes a point in its gradual southward push, the temperature drop is remarkable. On Thursday afternoon the boundary, actually a sharp cold front, pushed across downtown Chicago, and the temperature plunged from 22°C at 2:43 pm to 10°C at 2:53 pm — a 12°C drop in 10 minutes.
Yeah, that's my city. Today the weather will be gray and cool, then wet and cold tomorrow, and then Sunday we could have snow. In bloody April.
The irony? The cold weather in Chicago is actually a predicted effect of global warming. Warm polar air and a warm air mass off the east coast of North America have trapped a cold air mass over the prairie provinces and northern Quebec. The world as a whole is warmer than normal today. If you're in Europe, for example, you're having a really nice evening.
Eddie Lampert's reign of terror against Sears continued today when the chain announced the closing of their very last store in Chicago:
Sears, founded in Chicago and facing mounting troubles, is closing its last store in the city.
Employees at the store at Six Corners in the Old Irving Park neighborhood were told of the closure Thursday morning, spokesman Howard Riefs said in an email. The store will close in mid-July after a liquidation sale set to begin April 27. The Sears Auto Center will close in mid-May.
The store was one of 265 properties sold to Seritage Growth Properties in a 2015 sale-leaseback deal.
“For more than 120 years, Sears has called Illinois home and that is not changing,” Riefs said. “Although we are disappointed by this last store closure in Chicago, by no means does this change our commitment to our customers and presence to Chicago’s residents.”
Of course it doesn't change their commitment to Chicago; they haven't had one since 2005.
Howard, Eddie: I'm thinking of a phrase that ends with "...and the horse you rode in on."
Edward McClelland essays on the decline of the white blue-collar Midwest, as expressed linguistically:
The “classic Chicago” accent, with its elongated vowels and its tendency to substitute “dese, dem, and dose” for “these, them, and those,” or “chree” for “three,” was the voice of the city’s white working class. “Dese, Dem, and Dose Guy,” in fact, is a term for a certain type of down-to-earth Chicagoan, usually from a white South Side neighborhood or an inner-ring suburb.
The classic accent was most widespread during the city’s industrial heyday. Blue-collar work and strong regional speech are closely connected: If you were white and graduated high school in the 1960s, you didn’t need to go to college, or even leave your neighborhood, to get a good job, and once you got that job, you didn’t have to talk to anyone outside your house, your factory, or your tavern. A regular-joe accent was a sign of masculinity and local cred, bonding forces important for the teamwork of industrial labor.
The classic Chicago accent is heard less often these days because the white working class is less numerous, and less influential, than it was in the 20th century. It has been pushed to the margins of city life, both figuratively and geographically, by white flight, multiculturalism and globalization: The accent is most prevalent in blue-collar suburbs and predominantly white neighborhoods in the northwest and southwest corners of the city, now heavily populated by city workers whose families have lived in Chicago for generations.
There’s a conception that television leveled local accents, by bringing so-called “broadcaster English” into every home. I don’t think this is true. No one watched more television than the Baby Boomers, but their accents are much stronger than those of their children, the Millennials.
What’s really killing the local accent is education and geographicmobility, which became economic necessities for young Rust Belters after the mills closed down. But as blue-collar jobs have faded, so has some of our linguistic diversity.
McClelland adapted his CityLab essay from his 2016 book How to Speak Midwestern, which is obviously now on my Amazon wish list.
For the first time in the institution's 229 years, a sitting U.S. Senator—from my own state, no less—has given birth:
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) gave birth Monday to a baby girl, the first time a sitting senator has delivered a child and one of just 10 female lawmakers to bear a child while serving in Congress.
Duckworth, 50, and her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, named their daughter Maile Pearl Bowlsbey after Bowlsbey’s great aunt. Pearl Bowlseby Johnson was an Army nurse during World War II. Duckworth is a double amputee from her service in the Iraq War as an Army helicopter pilot, getting shot down in 2006. The senator said that she and her husband consulted with former senator Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii, who died last week, about the choice of name, just as they did with the birth of their first daughter, Abigail, four years ago.
Wait, she's 50? Wow. I can't decide which is more impressive, her age or her first-ever record. Either way, it's pretty cool.
It's the 99th day of 2018, and I'm looking out my office window at 25 mm of snow on the ground. It was -7°C on Saturday and -6°C last night. This isn't April; it's February. Come on, Chicago.
The Cubs' home opener originally scheduled for today will be played tomorrow. This is the second time in my memory that the home opener got snowed out. I didn't have tickets to today's game, but I did have tickets to the game on 15 April 1994, which also got snowed out.
(Cubs official photo.)
Because it's Chicago. (Actually, there's a blocking mass of warm air to the east of us causing a bulge in the polar jet stream and pushing cool Canadian air down into the U.S. That sort of thing feels really nice in July; not so much in April.)
No, not the Dunning of Kruger fame; Dunning, the community area on the far northwest side of Chicago.
Workers building a new school in the neighborhood discovered that not only was it the former site of a poor house, but also that 38,000 people may be buried there:
“There can be and there have been bodies found all over the place,” said Barry Fleig, a genealogist and cemetery researcher who began investigating the site in 1989. “It’s a spooky, scary place.”
Workers have until April 27 to excavate and clear the site, remediate the soil and relocate an existing sewer line. The school is scheduled to open in time for the 2019-20 academic year, though a spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools would not say what type of school it will be.
Fleig said he’s “nearly certain” there are no intact caskets buried underneath the proposed school grounds — bodies were primarily buried in two formal cemeteries, though scattered human remains have been discovered during previous construction projects near the campus.
In 1854, the county opened a poorhouse and farm and gradually added an insane asylum, infirmary and tuberculosis hospital to the property. At its peak, a thousand people were buried on the grounds each year.
The state took over in 1912 and changed the official name to Chicago State Hospital. Buildings were shuttered in 1970 and operations moved west of Oak Park Avenue to what is now Chicago-Read Mental Health Center.
In 1854, the site would have been a few hours' ride from the city. So I'm glad to see that the American tradition of dumping the poor in places where they can't possible thrive was as strong then as now. I'm a little shocked that a pauper's cemetery acquired so many corpses in sixty years, though.
The Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved a massive package to restore O'Hare to its former glory as the busiest airport in the world:
With legal approvals in hand and O'Hare's tenant airlines scheduled to formally sign new lease deals later today, the path appears clear to implementing a plan that, if all goes as scheduled, will add 3 million square feet of terminal space and 30 to 35 additional gates for planes to load passengers, up from 185 now, by 2026.
City aviation officials say doing so will attract an additional 20 million passengers a year to O'Hare (up a quarter from today), many of them arriving on lucrative international flights, an area in which O'Hare has fallen behind competitors such as Los Angeles International and Atlanta's Hartsfield. And if those targets are reached, the plan sets the stage for further terminals in the future.
With American Airlines having dropped its earlier opposition to the deal, the last potential obstacle melted away when African-American and Latino aldermen agreed to set up a working group, or commission, that will regularly monitor activity and report back to aldermen on whether minority businesses and workers are receiving an adequate piece of construction and related legal and financial contracts.
The gate expansion follows a decade in which O'Hare added or lengthened several runways and converted many of them from a diagonal configuration to six east-west parallel runways. Most of that work already has been completed, with more expected soon.
O'Hare's mostly-complete runway project vastly increased the number of operations (takeoffs and landings) the airport could handle, well beyond the capacity of the terminals. The new terminals and gates should alleviate that.
Passengers will also finally have the ability to change from international arrivals to domestic departures without collecting their luggage, which right now makes O'Hare a real pain in the ass for inbound international travelers.