The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Chilling at home

Our company has Martin Luther King, Jr. Day off, which will allow me to get a bit of rest after my lightning trip to Seattle. And to celebrate, I've broken out the Arran sweater and long-johns, because wow is it cold:

The National Weather Service reported extreme cold and a wind chill of minus 40 in Aurora on Sunday morning and issued a wind chill warning through noon Monday.

Weather service senior meteorologist Brett Borchardt said Chicago narrowly missed breaking the record — 1 degree — for the lowest maximum temperature for Jan. 14. The temperature at O’Hare was 3 degrees “for a few minutes” after midnight Sunday before falling below zero, he said.

“But the air temperature has been below zero [Fahrenheit] during daylight hours today, so I would call that unusual,” Borchardt said.

Sunday night’s low of minus 15 will be the coldest since the polar vortex of 2019.

The official low yesterday was -23.3°C. At last report O'Hare had -22.2°C with a wind chill of -32.3°C, while IDTWHQ reported -19.1°C.

Walking down the jet bridge from the plane to the terminal at O'Hare gave me just a little taste of the cold; walking Cassie this morning gave both of us a full serving. She lasted 4 minutes before pulling towards the house. I don't think she'll get her usual hour of walkies today, and I don't expect to get my usual 11,000 steps. But it should get much warmer on Wednesday—maybe even up to -8°C! So we might get them later in the week.

Now to offload all the crap that accumulated on my phone over the week...

Enjoying the lounge a lot more than expected

Welp. My 10:00 flight has become a 3:00 flight:

But at least when I get on board the plane, I'll have a good seat:

Obviously if they had predicted the delay more accurately, I'd have slept longer, left later, and probably not dropped Cassie off with my friends until this morning. She seems to be settling in just fine, though:

Hooray for air travel in January. My guess is that if the original crew had flown on to Seattle, they'd have timed out. So they probably moved my plane's crew to a shorter flight, and the next available crew that won't time out can't get to O'Hare until 2pm or so. These things happen when a winter storm hits Chicago.

In fact, if memory serves, it happened 13 years ago yesterday. Maybe I need to reconsider flying mid-January?

The joys of traveling from Chicago in January

I have enough travel experience to know that a winter storm doesn't totally shut down O'Hare. I mean, isn't it pretty?

It does, however, cause some disruptions:

But knowing that my flight has a 2+ hour delay means I can take a leisurely bus trip for $3.25 (including transfer), which is way better than a $60 Lyft that would take almost as long. The bus got up to 20 km/h at one point! Look at us zoom through Lincoln Square:

And along the route, a little bit of good news from the airline!

So only two hours after leaving home, I finally got through security and sat down in the lounge with a view sure to warm the heart of any frequent air traveler:

I also have to hand it to the ground crews. They have a conga line of plows pushing the snow into the snow-melter-thingy right below where I'm sitting.

American reports that my plane has left Dallas, so I've only got about 90 minutes to chill, get more coffee, and watch a cool dozen snowplows in a row clearing runway 10C so planes can keep landing. And NWS says this crap will end before noon. I might actually get to Seattle before dinner!

Updates as events warrant.

What every traveler wants to see the day before flying

We knew this was coming eventually:

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Chicago IL
243 PM CST Thu Jan 11 2024

ILZ006-103-104-120445-
/O.CON.KLOT.WS.W.0002.240112T0900Z-240113T1800Z/
Lake IL-Northern Cook-Central Cook-
Including the cities of Waukegan, Buffalo Grove, Mundelein,
Gurnee, Evanston, Des Plaines, Schaumburg, Palatine, Northbrook,
Chicago, Cicero, Oak Lawn, Oak Park, and La Grange
243 PM CST Thu Jan 11 2024

...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 3 AM FRIDAY TO NOON CST
SATURDAY...

* WHAT...Heavy snow, strong winds, and dangerous travel
  conditions expected. Total snow accumulations in excess of 8
  inches and wind gusts up to 45 mph expected, with the highest
  snow accumulations away from Lake Michigan.

* WHERE...Lake IL, Northern Cook, and Central Cook Counties.

* WHEN...From 3 AM Friday to noon CST Saturday.

* IMPACTS...Travel could be very difficult to impossible. Areas
  of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The
  hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening
  commute.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Snow will mix with rain near Lake Michigan
  and limit snow accumulations after mid Friday morning.
  Elsewhere, snow rates may exceed 1 inch per hour at times.
  Westerly wind gusts up to 45 mph are expected primarily Friday
  evening and may lead to areas of blowing snow and very low
  visibility.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in
your vehicle in case of an emergency.

I fully expect American Airlines will have an extra flashlight and water, but I'm never sure about the extra food.

The flight is scheduled to leave at 10 am. I estimate less than a 50% chance that we'll actually board the plane before then, let alone leave within that hour. But I have had pleasant surprises before.

Revolution Taproom

Welcome to stop #95 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Revolution Brewery & Taproom, 3340 N. Kezie Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Belmont
Time from Chicago: 18 minutes
Distance from station: 700 m

Revolution's main brewing facility and taproom is the granddaddy of independent Chicago breweries. I've already reviewed their brewpub (about 2½ km from the taproom), and longtime readers know I like their beer a lot. So this Brews & Choos stop was more about checking in at an old favorite than trying new beers.

I had a Hazy Hero IPA (7.3%), one of my favorites and one of their best-sellers, and I think the same one I had when I reviewed the brewpub. My friend, however, ordered the Ryeway to Heaven barrel-aged rye wine (15%) along with one of their less-deadly beers. Wow. I would love to try that again, but only in small doses. So much flavor!

I only have one complaint, that the area around Belmont and Kedzie isn't really fun to walk through. The taproom is only a ten-minute walk from the Belmont Blue Line stop, though, so unless you're buying cases of beer, you don't need to drive there.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? None
Serves food? Snack menu
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Winter may finally arrive

Chicago had its 4th-warmest December in history last month, with temperatures averaging about 4°C above normal. The trend has continued this month as well. That won't completely end tonight, though we may see some snow:

The first “significant” winter storm to impact the Chicago region is scheduled to start Monday night, with meteorologists predicting two to five inches of snow accumulation and wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour across portions of central and northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana.

A winter weather advisory goes into effect at 8 p.m. until noon Tuesday in the Chicago metro area as well as parts of DuPage, Will and Lake counties.

The storm will likely be split into two rounds, according to the NWS. The first will arrive this evening starting around 8 p.m., with much of the snow accumulating in a brief window from 1 to 5 a.m., just before the early morning commute.

Lovely. But a few centimeters of snow won't bother either Cassie or me tomorrow morning, especially if the temperature stays freezing, as forecast.

Next weekend, though, looks like it might feel more like Real Chicago Winter, with temperatures dropping to -13°C overnight Saturday. I, however, will be in the Pacific Northwest, where...dammit. Temperatures will drop to -6°C overnight Saturday. (I thought Seattle was supposed to be warmer than Chicago?)

Sigh:

I have to remember that the normal temperature curve for Chicago bottoms out from January 17th to 23rd. So it will get colder this winter. I'll take the win for December and just remind myself that our winters build character.

Hopewell Brewing

Welcome to stop #94 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Hopewell Brewing, 2760 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Logan Square
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m

The second stop on the "research expedition" my friend and I took on Saturday didn't excite us as much as BiXi or Revolution. My friend decided that Hopewell is what you get when you tell an AI to design a Logan Square taproom. She's not wrong.

We tried six beers—well, I tried five, because I really don't like göse—and compared notes:

  • Lightbeam hazy IPA (6.3%): nice, light, fruity, good finish; my favorite
  • As If West Coast DIPA (7.5%: Pow! Huge hops, big flavor, a little banana, clean finish
  • Long Shadows winter IPA (7.5%): a little syrupy, a bit heavy, not our favorite
  • Ride or Die pale (5.5%): good balance, nice acidity, very drinkable; my friend's favorite
  • Going Places IPA (6.8%): Lager, malty, syrupy, apricot, very good
  • Table Salt göse (4.5%): A hint of saltiness, and the cardamom gives it a unique flavor

So, it's not bad, but it's not someplace either of us particularly felt like seeing again. At one point I mused that it would be much more welcoming if they lined the ceiling with anechoic tiles, but loud is in vogue these days. On to the next stop.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? None
Serves food? No, BYOF
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? Maybe
Would go back? Maybe

BiXi Beer

Welcome to stop #93 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: BiXi 鼻息 Beer, 2515 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Logan Square
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m

Yesterday I brought a friend along to visit three Logan Square breweries, starting with BiXi (pronounced "bee she") and ending with the granddaddy of the region, Revolution. We planned well, because BiXi has really great beer but also very tasty food. Plus, it's got a cozy vibe where I can imagine hanging out for a while.

Because we joined forces, we could try twice as many beers—plus some delicious Szechuan peanuts (very spicy!), pot stickers, and mushroom egg rolls.

From my notes and their menu:

  • Nectar 7G Nectaron IPA (6.5%): "This collaboration with Pipeworks Brewing features a tropical juicy twist brewed with Nectaron Hops from New Zealand." Really good, excellent balance, clean finish, would take home.
  • Unicorns in the Mirror hazy IPA (8%): "Packs 7 different types of hops including cryo citra, citra, mosaic, idaho 7, amarillo, simcoe, and columbus as well as tropical fruits, smooth sweetness, and low bitterness." Banana, apple, long finish, really good.
  • BiXi Bitter Kölsch (4.5%): "A classic style extra lagered brew with a silky smooth brilliantly bitter bite." Light, crisp, malty, hoppier than a regular Kolsch.

My friend adds: "Jeju island Mandarin witbier (4.6%): the Mandarin gave it a punchier flavor than a typical witbier, but the banana aroma that typifies a wit still stood out the most. Well balanced, good representation of the style, wouldn't order it again because it's not my preferred style of beer."

Our favorite was the Unicorns in the Mirror. Since neither of us really likes amber ales, and since we had two other breweries to visit, we skipped the Broken Walk-In Amber Lager (5.3%).

I'm already making plans to go back with some other friends who live in Logan Square.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Two, avoidable
Serves food? Yes
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Overnight snowfall

We got about 50 mm of snow overnight, even though the temperature barely got below freezing at O'Hare and never got below freezing at IDTWHQ. I expect most of it will melt today, but this morning it looked pretty:

On the other hand, most of the models predict a huge winter storm next weekend. If I get supremely lucky, the worst of it will hit while I'm away. If my luck runs as usual, I'll spend a lot more time at O'Hare than I'd prefer.

At least sunrises have finally started to get earlier

Non-political news stories of the day

A small collection:

Finally, in her column on December 31st, Jennifer Rubin suggested people get some perspective on history to understand that the past was much worse than today.

Update: A friend sent this security-cam photo of the first Yellow Line pulling into the Dempster station after service resumed: