The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Foomp

In the last couple of days, I've observed a phenomenon I don't remember seeing in years past, perhaps because the city has a different mix of tree species around my new place. It looks like all the silver maples in Ravenswood dropped their leaves just in the past 72 hours:

All the other trees in the neighborhood took their time over the warm, dry fall we've had, but the silver maples hung on like a 6-year-old holding his breath.

Researching this post, I learned that the city requires property owners to limit Norway and silver maples to 5% of the total population of trees they plant. Maples account for 38% of Chicago's trees (as of 2013), so the city recommends planting London planetrees, Chicago Blues black locusts, and Chicagoland hackberries, among a few others.

It shouldn't have surprised me that Chicago itself has become a specific ecological niche with its own local plant species. I can't wait to see rattus norvegicus chicagoensis lurking in my alley...but I'd bet they're out there.

Above freezing and clear

With only about a week of autumn left officially, we have some great weather today. Cassie is with her pack at day care and I'm inside my downtown office looking at the sun and (relative) warmth outside, but the weather should continue through Friday.

What else is going on?

Finally, I hate to tell you, we will never find any real evidence to support the existence of Noah's Ark.

Bigger, better (?) O'Hare coming

Despite coming in "later and cost[ing] more than originally expected," construction on a new Terminal 2 and revamped Terminal 1 will start soon:

Under the latest plan, two new remote satellite terminals will be the first to open, in 2027 and 2028, off the existing Terminal 1, where most United Airlines flights are located.

Once that is done, full-scale work will begin on the centerpiece of the project: the demolition and reconstruction of Terminal 2, which will be converted into a combination domestic and international terminal. That will locate customs and related facilities at the center of the airport, and not at the exiting, somewhat remote Terminal 5, as is the case now.

Officials had estimated the project's estimated cost at $8.5 billion—but that's in 2018 dollars, when the plan was unveiled and approved by the City Council under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In August, the city had new estimates, with the original $8.5 billion plan projected to cost $9.8 billion. Along with other previously approved and additional projects, the total for O'Hare's overhaul was slated to cost $12.1 billion.

Fortunately, Federal money—not my city property taxes—will pay for it.

I just hope it takes less time to build than the railway platform by my house.

Warm lake + cold air + high winds = ...?

No matter where you find yourself today, at least you're not in Western New York:

The lake-effect snowstorm keeps pounding the Southtowns, with major highways and some roads closed.

A travel ban has been reinstituted for the City of Buffalo from William Street downtown to the Town of Cheektowaga line and everything south, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday the Thruway from Rochester to the Pennsylvania border was closed to commercial traffic, although tractor trailers could be seen on the Thruway in Hamburg this morning. The governor also announced a state of emergency Thursday for the area.

The storm that dumped nearly 2 feet of snow in Hamburg and other parts of the Southtowns overnight will shift slightly north Friday morning, as the lake-effect storm continues to pound Western New York and the Buffalo metro area.

Parts of the Buffalo, N.Y., region have already gotten over 1,200 mm of snow, with another 600 mm expected over the next day or so. And yet, Niagara Falls, just 60 km northwest of the city—but crucially, downwind of Ontario, not Lake Erie—got just 25 mm of snow over the last 48 hours.

What fun.

Scary deployment today

I'm just finishing up a very large push to our dev/test environment, with 38 commits (including 2 commits fixing unrelated bugs) going back to last Tuesday. I do not like large pushes like this, because they tend to be exciting. So, to mitigate that, I'm running all 546 unit tests locally before the CI service does the same. This happens when you change the basic architecture of an entire feature set. (And I just marked 6 tests with "Ignore: broken by story X, to be rewritten in story Y." Not the best solution but story Y won't work if I don't push this code up.)

So while I'm waiting for all these unit tests to run, I've queued all this up:

Finally, one of Chicago's last vinyl record stores, Dave's in Lincoln Park, will close at the end of this month. The building's owner wants to tear it down, no doubt to build more condos, so Dave has decided to "go out in a blaze of glory."

All right...all my tests passed locally. Here we go...

Stories to roll your eyes to

I mean, why? Just why?

  • The XPOTUS, as predicted, announced his run for the 2024 election, despite looking like a total loser in the 2022 election. But narcissists gonna narcise.
  • The Illinois Worker Rights Amendment passed, and will now become part of the state constitution. I think this will have a bunch of unintended consequences not beneficial to workers, so I voted against it. We're stuck with it now.
  • Boomer Kathleen Parker spends her column today tut-tutting Boomers for not understanding Millennial jobs, picking "influencer" as just one example. I'm an X-er who completely understands "influencer" (i.e., children monetizing their own narcissism) and "change manager" (i.e., operations flunky) just fine, and suggests that the problem lies not with the Boomer parents but with the Boomer executives. (Longer post, maybe?)
  • Pushwoosh, a Russian software company that writes spyware has pretended to be an American company, for reasons left as an exercise to the reader. About 8,000 apps use their stuff. As Bruce Schneier has said, supply-chain security is "an insurmountably hard problem."
  • Bloomberg laments that "the wrong Americans are buying electric cars."
  • Julia Ioffe cautions that Ukraine's re-taking of Kherson could lead to dangerous overreach as the war goes on—and a difficult diplomatic situation for the US.

Finally, the Missouri Department of Transportation proudly announced the 50th anniversary of their engineers killing downtown Kansas City, and the Internet let them have it.

Good morning, US Senate!

US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) held her seat, as did Mark Kelly (D-AZ), meaning the Democratic Party has held the Senate:

[W]ith Ms. Cortez Masto’s victory in Nevada, Democrats have nailed down the 50 seats they need to retain control of the upper chamber, a major feat considering that voters typically punish the president’s party during the midterms.

The Democratic victory will bolster Mr. Biden’s political capital as he moves toward a possible bid for a second term. Even if Republicans do take the House, he will be able to stock the judiciary with his nominees and will be insulated from politically freighted G.O.P. legislation. And Democrats will be free to mount their own investigations to counter the threatened onslaught from a Republican-controlled lower chamber.

A Democratic Senate will be invaluable to Mr. Biden, even if Republicans narrowly secure control of the House. In addition to having two more years to confirm judges, the president will have more control over personnel in his government with the confirmation of nominees under the guidance of Mr. Schumer.

There was fist-pumping at my table last night at Rachael Yamagata's concert. I don't know if Yamagata knew the result during her set, but I'd like to think I saw an extra bit of optimism in her eyes.

It does look like we will lose the House, but I do love these two bits:

  • Democrats picked up a seat in the 3rd congressional district in Washington state, a district that had been held by a Republican, Jamie Herrera Beutler. But she voted for former President Trump's impeachment and was ousted by the right in the primary. There's an irony in the fact that she was ousted because she voted to impeach Trump and, now, a Democrat has taken over that seat. It's indicative of the broader message in this election.
  • One of the other races with a razor-thin margin is Rep. Lauren Boebert's seat. The conservative lightning rod had been trailing in this right-leaning district on Election Night, but is now up by just over 1,000 votes. The race appears to be trending in her direction. But it's a result that is far closer than what was expected.

On Boebert's race, keep in mind she beat a sitting Republican 55-45 in the June 2020 primary and went on to win 52-45 in the general by running as a MAGA extremist. Will she feel any contrition? Probably not. But she hasn't said anything since Tuesday, so we know she's rattled.

Fifteen minutes of voting

Even with Chicago's 1,642 judges on the ballot ("Shall NERDLY McSNOOD be retained as a circuit court judge in Cook County?"), I still got in and out of my polling place in about 15 minutes. It helped that the various bar associations only gave "not recommended" marks to two of them, which still left 1,640 little "yes" ovals to fill in.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world...

Finally, Chicago gets a new brewery taproom on Thursday when Hop Butcher to the World opens in Half Acre's former Lincoln Avenue space, just over 2 km from my house. Cassie and I might find out on Saturday whether they let dogs in, assuming the forecast holds. (And there it is: a post that literally checks all the boxes for Daily Parker categories!)

Between a demo and a 5-point feature

I'm running all 538 unit tests in my real job's application right now after updating all the NuGet packages. This is why I like automated testing: if one of the updated packages broke anything, tests will fail, and I can fix the affected code. (So far they've all passed.)

This comes after a major demo this morning, and a new feature that will consume the rest of the sprint, which ends next Monday. Oh, and I have two opera rehearsals this week. Plus I have to vote tomorrow, which could take 15 minutes or two hours.

So it's not likely I'll have time to read all of these:

Regardless, I'm setting an alarm for just past 4am to see the total lunar eclipse tonight. NOAA predicts 17% sky cover, so I should get a good view of it. Unless I go back to sleep.

Count me among the Standard Time "stans"

The Daylight Saving Time arguments that crop up twice a year encapsulate American decision-making so well. People argue for one position or another based on what works best for them; people predict doom and gloom if their view doesn't prevail; Congress makes a change that everyone hates (and, as in 1975, they have to repeal); and not a lot changes. It also has nuances that most people don't understand (or care to) and stems from a social construct completely within our control that people think is a fixed law of the universe (i.e., clock time).

Because I live just east of my time zone's standard meridian, and at a latitude that sees a six-hour daylight difference between solstices, I believe year-round standard time would be best. Katherine Wu agrees:

I gotta say, the science (pushes glasses up nose) largely backs me and my fellow standardians up. Several organizations, including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, have for years wanted to do away with DST for good. “Standard time is a more natural cycle,” Pelayo told me. “In nature we fall asleep to darkness and we wake up to light.” When people spend most of their year out of sync with these rhythms, “it reduces sleep duration and quality,” says Carleara Weiss, a behavioral-sleep-medicine expert at the University at Buffalo. The onset of DST has been linked to a bump in heart attacks and strokes, and Denise Rodriguez Esquivel, a psychologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, told me that our bodies may never fully adjust to DST. We’re just off-kilter for eight months.

For years, some researchers have argued that perma-DST would cut down on other societal woes: crimetraffic accidentsenergy costs, even deer collisions. But research on the matter has produced mixed or contested results, showing that several of those benefits are modest or perhaps even nonexistent. And although sticking with DST might boost late-afternoon commerce, people might hate the shift more than they think. In the 1970s, the U.S. did a trial run of year-round DST … and it flopped.

We could also redraw the time zone boundaries to move more people closer to the center meridians, but that would involve even more nuance and recognition that these things are human constructs we can change.

(Also: I wonder if Michigan is so weird because so much of the state is in the wrong time zone?)