The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

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.

At the end of the day, these clichés suck

The UK Independent's Jon Rantoul won't be using clichés any time soon:

Normally, though, politicians are the worst offenders. It is not clear how much they themselves are to blame, or how much they are simply overwhelmed by the substandard drafting of civil servants and speech writers. Perhaps they lack the time to put a pen through it and rewrite it themselves. It is a national scandal that the Civil Service provides such ghastly drafting of official documents, full of turgid abstractions that are intended, perhaps unconsciously, to conceal the thinness of the content. As for speeches, what do politicians pay their speech writers for?

The Prime Minister's speech on NHS reform last week was a shocker for clichés: "pillar to post; in the driving seat; frontline; level playing field; cherry picking; one-size-fits-all; reinvent the wheel; let me be absolutely clear; no ifs or buts". If each of those were not on the List [of banned clichés] before, they are now.

The Daily Parker has adopted the list, effective immediately.

Ribfest 2011

I love the first weekend of June in Chicago, because I love ribs. Once again, Parker and I walked up to Lincoln and Irving Park. And once again, we got some ribs.

I only got four samplers this year. It's too bad I don't have time to go back today, because I'd love to try a few others. Of the ones I did try:

  • Mrs. Murphy's Irish Bistro, at 3925 N. Lincoln Ave., once again topped my list. The sauce has some tang, some heat, and something else (I think it's Guinness). The ribs were fall-off-the-bone but not mushy, grilled to perfection. They won "best of show" last year. For four years now I've said I need to go there for a full slab. So, once again, I need to go there for a full slab.
  • The Piggery, 1625 W. Irving Park Rd., had tender fall-off-the-bone lean ribs with a sweet-tangy sauce. They weren't my favorites, but they were worth having. I'll check them out at some point, too.
  • Pitchfork, which apparently won "best of show" in 2009, had the least meat and sauce of any I tried. They had a good smoked flavor, with a little tug off the bone, and a thin vinegar-based sauce over a spicy dry rub. At the time I didn't think they were that good, but I think the lack of meat made the difference. The bones are wider at one end of the rib cage than the other, you see.
  • The itinerant Chicago BBQ Co. had pretty good smoked ribs, with a spicy sauce over a decent dry rub. Their ribs were also kind of bony, but tasty. These guys go from ribfest to ribfest all over the midwest, so I expect I'll have another opportunity to try them in July.

Parker didn't have the best time, though. I didn't give him much meat because I'm already stressing his digestive system by introducing a new dog food. (It turns out, Whole Foods turkey and rice formula is about half the cost of the Canine ID he's been eating, and apparently his cranky stomach can deal with it just fine.) This, after working more than 5 km there (plus almost 6 km to get back—but he wasn't thinking about that). To add insult, much of Parker's experience of Ribfest looked like this:

At least only one person stepped on him, but in my defense the woman, who wasn't watching where she was going, bumped into me first.