The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Thanks again, Bruce!

Former Illinois governor Bruce Rauner (R, of course) famously stopped almost all discretionary spending in the state during his term in office by continually vetoing state budgets passed by the Democratically-controlled legislature. His term overlapped with a project to rebuild 11 railroad bridges on the North Side of Chicago, and which included a companion project, partially necessitated by the track reconfigurations required to replace the bridges, to rebuild the Ravenswood Metra station serving Uptown and Lincoln Square.

That's my Metra station.

The project started in 2013 when the railroad opened two temporary platforms north of Lawrence Ave. and removed the inadequate but semi-permanent platforms south of the street. The old platforms had a couple of small shelters; the "temporary" platforms did not.

Nevertheless, the outbound (West-side) platform opened in late 2016, more or less on time. They couldn't open it until the west-side bridges were up, and the outbound track rebuilt, so we all completely understood the delay. The inbound (east-side) platform had the same issue, so when the bridge project finished in 2017, we could all imagine a day just a few months later when we'd have a shiny new platform with end-to-end shelters, a heated waiting area, and other amenities that most other Metra riders get for free.

But because Rauner stopped paying Illinois' portion of the station rebuild, work stopped on the inbound platform until 2020, and when it resumed, it didn't exactly go at full speed. We are now nine years into the project. This morning, I had to wait for fifteen minutes in blowing snow, all because Bruce Rauner (a billionaire) didn't want to release state funds for a project to which the Federal government contributed 75% of its costs:

Rauner now lives in Florida. I guess he got tired of his neighbors—yes, even his rich Winnetka neighbors—telling him to do his fucking job.

If I ever encounter a Djinn, I might wish for all the anti-tax billionaire politicians to spend a year with the consequences of their decisions. In Rauner's case, that would look like having to take underfunded public transit everywhere, with occasional videos of European transit systems to see what it could be.

Fall down go boom

I managed to acquire a few bruises last night walking Cassie. I'm fine; she's fine; but my left hand and elbow are a bit sore.

Yesterday continued our really strange week as the repeating 96-hour cycle of cold and thaw continued:

Starting around 4pm, the warm front pushed just enough moisture ahead of itself to give Chicago a fine mist that instantly coated everything. Even though the air got above freezing later on, the sidewalks did not. Result: most of them got a perfectly smooth, nearly invisible coating of ice about 2mm thick.

Cassie, of course, failed to understand why I insisted on walking at a small fraction of our usual speed. She has four feet, you see, and while one or two of them might slip a bit, the dog remained standing.

I, however, did not. Several times.

And here we go again:

So, Cassie won't get all the walkies she deserves today, but she did get a ride in the car. And my bruises will heal.

Learning new things about my dog

After a lot of struggle trying to get Cassie to stop pulling on her leash, I finally gave up today and got her a prong collar. Dogs don't much like them, and neither do I, but no amount of treats or yanks on her harness worked with her.

As soon as I switched the lead from her harness to her prong collar, Cassie suddenly knew exactly where to walk on a heel, and only pulled enough to make the prong contract before falling right back to my side. We walked about 4 blocks total, and she never pulled enough that I needed to correct her. Amazing.

I realized after about a minute that she's worn a prong collar before. I worried that she would hate it, that we would have to spend a couple of weeks working with it for her to make the connection between pulling and neck irritation, but no. All that pulling for the last 10 months? The harness just doesn't provide enough correction.

In other words, she has always known how to heel, she just hasn't wanted to. Smart dog.

Statistics: 2021

After the whipsaw between 2019 and 2020, I'm happy 2021 came out within a standard deviation of the mean on most measures:

  • In 2020, I flew the fewest air miles ever. In 2021, my 11,868 miles and five segments came in 3rd lowest, ahead of only 2020 and 1999.
  • I only visited one other country (the UK) and two other states (Wisconsin and California) during 2021. What a change from 2014.
  • In 2020, I posted a record 609 times on The Daily Parker; 2021's 537 posts came in about average for the modern era.
  • Cassie got almost 422 hours of walks in 2021, a number I don't think I ever achieved with Parker. And given I only had her for 291 days of 2021, that's an average of 1:27 of walks per day. According to my Garmin, she and I covered over 684 km just on walks that I recorded with my watch. A young, high-energy dog plus working from home most of the time will do that, I suppose.
  • Speaking of walks, in 2021 I got 4,926,000 steps and walked 3,900 km—about the straight-line distance from New York to Seattle. Those numbers came within 2% of 2020 and 4% of 2019. I also hit new personal records for distance and steps when I walked over 51 km on September 3rd. And I hit my step goal 355 times (cf. 359 times in 2020), though not all in a row.
  • I drove 4,242 km in 2021, almost exactly the same amount as in 2020 (4,265 km), but I used a bit more fuel (116 L to 79 L).
  • I spent 1365 hours working from home and 521 in the office in 2021, about the same (1327 and 560) as in 2020. I expect about the same in 2022.
  • Personal software development took up another 184 hours, almost all on the really cool thing I'm going to soft-launch tomorrow.
  • The Apollo Chorus took up 222 hours of my time, including 100 in rehearsals and performances and about the same amount on my duties as president. In 2020, that was 57 and 71 hours respectively, mainly because we didn't have any in-person performances.
  • Finally, I started only 28 books in 2021 and finished 23, after dropping a couple that dogged me for a while. That's more than in my worst-ever year, 2017 (18 and 13), but down a bit from the last two years. That said, my average numbers for the past 10 years are 28.2 and 23.3, making 2021...average. I also watched 51 movies and 48 TV shows, which just means I need to get out more.

So, will 2022 return to normal (-ish)? Or will some of the trends that started in March 2020 continue even after the pandemic has long become something we scare children with?

Boost to the arm

So, 18 hours later, my third Pfizer dose made my arm sore and disrupted my sleep a little. Otherwise, no side effects.

Updates as conditions warrant.

Update: OK, there's quite a bit of fatigue. And a bit of headache. No fever, though; I'm at 36.9°C, which is the high end of normal for me at this time of day. CDC says it's OK to take an ibuprofen after the shot, so I will now do so.

Snow record for us

We almost made it to December 31st without measurable snowfall, which would have broken the record of 290 days. Alas, at day #288...

I snapped that photo with the wind at my back and quarter-sized flakes melting on my coat. It was 1.7°C then, but by the time I sloshed home with the wind in my face and rain soaking through my coat, it was getting just enough warmer to really make the weather really suck dingo balls.

At least I now have my Covid booster. Hurrah. And I now want to take a nap...

Productive Sunday

Even though Cassie really wants to go outside right now, I'm going to make her wait another 10 minutes while I push some code and wait for the continuous integration build to run. She doesn't understand that I need to run with productivity when I have it. The closest she gets to understanding that is running with balls when she has them.

OK, pushing 10 commits. Run, you clever CI, and remember...

Hours and hours for a one-line fix

Last week I posted a bug report on an app I'm developing. I couldn't figure out why a nav bar only appeared for logged-in users. Almost 7½ hours of debugging  over a 10-day stretch later, and I figured it out.

It turns out that the default AddAuthorization service provider options blocked a request somewhere, so removing it allowed all the page components to load, even while keeping the authentication-required bits hidden.

builder.Services.AddAuthorization(options =>
{
	// By default, all incoming requests will be authorized according to the default policy
	//options.FallbackPolicy = options.DefaultPolicy; // Commenting this out fixed it
});

That's the fun part of debugging: it's always the last thing you try.

Dropped

I officially gave up on a couple of books this week, with mixed feelings about both.  Both are massive biographies; both are considered outstanding examples of their craft; and both started putting me to sleep somewhere between page 257 (Ron Chernow's Hamilton) and 632 (Robert Caro's The Power Broker). And man, I really tried with Caro, but seeing that huge book sitting on my bedside table for more than two years with a bookmark just past the half-way point made me sad.

I don't drop books often. I gave up on Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140 after 132 pages and his Blue Mars at about the same point, in both cases because I just kept feeling like they were stuck in first gear. (I liked Robinson's other Mars books, so I'm not sure what happened with those two.) And in no small irony, I shelved Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck because I just didn't give a fuck—and I found his writing style sloppy and facile.

None of them (with the possible exception of Manson's) is bad, exactly; I just got...bored.

I love reading. Just last night I started the 5th Expanse novel only four months after reading the first one. I read four books (including the 4th Expanse novel) on my last trip to the UK. Something about those two biographies, though...

I will probably pick most of them up again at some point, the Caro especially. But for now, my reading list just has too many interesting books on it to struggle with ones that feel like a chore.