The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The Mindset List, Class of 2015

Beloit College, just across the Wisconsin line and just outside the Chicago area, puts together a list every year to describe the incoming class of first-years. Last year's list made me cry. This year's list provoked a different emotion, one that I can't quite make out with my age-addled brain:

2. Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents.
12. Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
22. John Wayne Bobbitt has always slept with one eye open.
39. Moderate amounts of red wine and baby aspirin have always been thought good for the heart.
60. Frasier, Sam, Woody and Rebecca have never Cheerfully frequented a bar in Boston during primetime.
75. The New York Times and the Boston Globe have never been rival newspapers.

OK, time for my Geritol...

Not a truck rolling by

Well, that was interesting.

A magnitude-5.9 earthquake just rattled Virginia, and we felt it in our office about 15 minutes later.

According to the USGS, this is the strongest quake since 1897 in Virginia:

The shock was felt severely at Narrows, about 3 kilometers west of Pearisburg. Here, the surface rolled in an undulating motion, water in springs became muddy, and water in some springs ceased to flow. The flow of water in springs also was disturbed in the area of Pearisburg, about 70 kilometers west of Roanoke, and Sugar Run.

Civic-minded nerd that I am, I have filed a report with the USGS. If you felt the thing, you should, too.

Why the U.S. has such awesome beers

Because we have more craft breweries than probably the rest of the world, combined:

Today we have 1,759 brewing facilities—more than the pre-Prohibition high of 1,751. What happened? People got sick of corporate swill and started brewing their own. Some of them got really good at it and started small breweries. The circle of people who enjoy a good beer widened, drawing more good brewers in. And so on.

... At any rate, the explosion in popularity for real beer has been noted been by the giants, which is precisely why they can longer just peddle name brands like Bud and Miller but also have to roll out phony craft beers like Anheuser-Busch's inglorious "Shock Top" line. And as people consume less flagship swill like Bud and Miller, the companies have responded by desperately buying up smaller regional brands in hopes of keeping as many consumers as possible. Hence the rapid consolidation.

I think it may be time to review and amend the brewery crawl a friend and I did in 2009.

Passengers Bill of Rights

Lonely Planet has a lighthearted wish list based on tons of passenger surveys:

Article I: The right to remove shoes
Passengers shall be allowed to remove shoes from their feet, but only if the aforementioned feet don’t stink or present health risks to other passengers. The right of the passenger to go to the lavatory without shoes shall not be infringed, as it is really your own business should you want to stand in the urine of others.

Article II: Freedom from unreasonable aromatic assault
No passenger shall, in the time of flight, be subjected to unreasonable aromas, be it from powerful perfume, foods redolent of onion, or other fragrance wholly unnecessary whilst on an airplane.

They go on to list another 12, plus show the data used to derive them.

First-world problems

I'm getting closer to finalizing plans to blow some frequent-flyer miles this fall. I'm down to three choices, though one city has taken a slight lead:

  • Tokyo. The end of November is supposed to have the best foliage. I can also have enough hotel points for three free nights.
  • Budapest. Colder than the other two top choices, but a very old friend would meet me there for a day or two. Oddly, having to connect through New York gives the trip the longest travel time of the three options.
  • Madrid. Excellent opportunity to practice Spanish. Warmest weather of the three choices. Also the smallest city—which could be relaxing, or not. Also, a nerdy reason: Iberia, which operates the non-stop service from Chicago, flies an Airbus 340 on the route, which would be a pleasant change from the 777s and 767s that I usually take overseas.

What reasons am I overlooking?

I will probably book the trip Saturday.

Still pondering travel

I mentioned yesterday morning needing to blow some frequent-flyer miles this autumn. So far, I've whittled the list down to Scotland, Budapest, Madrid, and Tokyo. (It turns out Canada only costs 30,000 miles round-trip, so I might just go to Montréal for a weekend instead of making a big thing about it.)

Any other places people would strongly recommend for a 4- or 5-day trip in late November or early December?

(If you're wondering why I care about this in July, then obviously you haven't tried to book an international flight on partner airlines using miles before. American has sold out all of its discounted business-class and most discounted economy-class seats to Paris between Thanksgiving and New Year's, for example.)

In an alien country

I'm in Texas for a couple of days on business, on the outskirts of (but still technically within) San Antonio. It's not Chicago:

I did, however, find a sushi restaurant only a few kilometers[1] from the hotel that got great Yelp reviews. Only, I should have called first:

And I didn't write down any of the other listings that had acceptable reviews because, you know, I didn't.

I will now go find something to eat in the depressing strip mall across the street. I can walk a couple of blocks in 36°C heat. I think.

[1] See what I did there?

Today's Darwin award nominee

A motorcyclist died during a ride to protest helmet laws:

State troopers tell The Post-Standard of Syracuse that 55-year-old Philip A. Contos of Parish, N.Y., was driving a 1983 Harley Davidson with a group of bikers who were protesting helmet laws by not wearing helmets.

Troopers say Contos hit his brakes and the motorcycle fishtailed. The bike spun out of control, and Contos toppled over the handlebars. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Troopers say Contos would have likely survived if he had been wearing a helmet.

This, you see, is called irony.