In descending order of pissed-off-making:
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called making Election Day a holiday "a power grab," because more people voting does in fact take power away from the Republican Party. (We used to call this sort of thing a gaffe.)
- US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) criticized adolescent Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert for exactly the things The Daily Parker has criticized him for all along. "It appears that you have enriched yourself while driving the company into bankruptcy," said Warren. No kidding. (She didn't annoy me; Lampert did.)
- Restaurants have gotten so loud even restaurant critics have noticed: "Those beautiful, minimalist spaces that are so in vogue reflect sounds, making it hard to hear your dining companions."
- The tolerant, thoughtful guys over at Immigration and Customs Enforcement set up a fake university to find and deport people committing immigration fraud through student visa abuse. (I'm not as much annoyed as concerned when law enforcement uses blatant deception to catch people, but I agree that policing student visas is appropriate.)
- Lack of sleep has become a national health crisis. (I almost forgot to add that I've averaged 6½ hours for the first 30 nights of 2019, getting 7 hours only 9 times this year, according to my Fitbit.)
And with that last one, I may now go take a nap.
I'm happy to announce that I started a new role on the 14th at Rally Health, a software company wholly owned by United Health Group. I'll have more to say later (still figuring out the social media policies), but for now I can say, look at the view:
And here's the view from the north:
Today, by the way, is the first day since I started that we've had anything approaching full sunlight. Of course, it's frighteningly cold out, but hey: nice view.
(I'll update Facebook and LinkedIn over the weekend, for those of you who care about those things.)
In the month I've owned my Prius, I've driven 439 km and used 8.8 L of fuel. That's a fuel economy of 0.5 L/100 km. My old BMW got around 12 L/100 km, for comparison. Most of the time I don't even use gasoline, because she can run about 35 km on battery power, and I rarely drive farther than that in a day.
I also haven't named her yet—until now. I'm going with Hana (はな or 初夏), which means "early summer." Fitting for a car meant to help prevent global warming.
She's still this pretty:
I missed posting two days in a row because I've just been swamped. I'll have more details later. For now, here's my new office view:
One of my smartass friends, who lives in Los Angeles, asked what that white stuff was. It's character, kid. It's character.
In the last half 2018, I made a number of changes in my life that I had put off for years. I moved, got a new car, repaired my dog, and made a couple of changes in my personal life to clear a solid path for next year. What that will bring overall, I have no idea.
Every year at this time I post some statistics for comparison with previous years. In 2018:
- Travel was way, way down; in fact, I traveled less in 2018 than in any year since 1998, with the longest gap between trips (221 days) in my entire life. Overall, I took the fewest trips (7) on the fewest flights (11) to the fewest other countries (1) and states (7) than in any year since 1995. I did beat 2017's total flight miles (44,680 km this year against 31,042 km last year), but only because of three trips to London. (Side note: the Republican party shut down the US government during two of those trips.)
- I posted 518 times on The Daily Parker, up 62 from last year and 59 from 2016, and the best showing since 2013 (537). The A-to-Z challenge helped.
- Parker only got 133 hours of walks, significantly less than last year, principally because of his leg injury. Not to mention he's 12½, slowing down, and wants a nap, dammit.
- Fitbit steps didn't change much: 5,262,521 for the year, up 2% from last year. It was, however, my best year for steps since getting my first Fitbit in 2014. It also had my biggest stepping day ever.
- Reading went up just a tiny bit, from 17 to 24. One of my friends read over 100; I'm not going to be there until I take a year off from work. (I predict that will happen in the 2040s.)
The only resolution I have for 2019 is to bring all of these numbers up, but only slightly.
After an amazing dinner at One Aldwych this evening, I grabbed a book from my room* and headed down to my own hotel's bar. Between the two places I met people from Italy, Spain, Cape Verde (via Portugal), Germany, Russia, Poland, Sardinia (yes, a part of Italy), and Wales (yes, a part of the UK).
London has made itself over the past two decades into this kind of mixed, cosmopolitan, vibrant city. I hope it continues; Brexit could kill it. So I'm glad I'm visiting now while it's at peak international. (The $1.27-to-£1 exchange rate doesn't hurt either.)
More photos. First, it was the best of Thames, it was the worst of Thames (compare with this one):
Second, the other side of St Pauls, along with yours truly and a pint of Beavertown Brewery Neck Oil Session IPA, at Founder's Arms on the Queen's Walk:
Finally, one of the greatest cultural centers in modern Europe, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden:
And now, as my body thinks it's just coming up on 4pm, I will take yet another walk. London is a beautiful city; there's little I like more than just exploring it.
*An excellent and personally-relevant history of urban "renewal" in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago called The Battle for Lincoln Park.
Just a quick post of articles I want to load up on my Surface at O'Hare:
Off to take Parker to boarding. Thence the Land of UK.
Yesterday was a bit busy. I spent my morning getting this:
I haven't named it yet. Current thoughts are Hinata (一陽), Hana (初夏), and Asahi (旦陽). (The new car was built in Naguro, Japan; thus, a Japanese name.)
The new Prius replaces Magdalena (built in Munich), the BMW 335iX that I got in 2012. Poor Lena, she was so old and decrepit she just couldn't go on much longer. She was burning 13.9 L/100 km, which is just awful. The new car, so far, hasn't burned any gasoline at all—it's only run off batteries.
Then I photographed a wedding. Two of my friends got married in what they called a "rogue ceremony" at a public building in Chicago. It was intimate, fun, and exactly right. Now I just have to process 450 shots...by next week...
This afternoon, I'm flying to my Ancestral Homeland via Atlanta. Tomorrow, St. Paul's. So it'll be a busy week.
Update: We had about 10 minutes of sun this morning, so I got a better photo of the car:
It's been a busy week with lots of Händel.
Last Saturday the Apollo Chorus performed Messiah with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, which involved a 3-hour bus ride each way and enough downtime for a long game of Cards Against Humanity.
Monday we had a regular rehearsal. Tuesday some of us sang in a local retirement community's Messiah sing-along. Wednesday, caroling at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park. Thursday, dress rehearsal with orchestra. Today at 7pm and tomorrow at 2pm, full performances at Harris Theater. Wednesday, another rehearsal. Friday, finally, another Messiah performance, with some of us joining the choir at St Michael's Church in Old Town.
If you're in Chicago, should hear one of our performances.
Research (and life experience) suggest strongly that kids who get straight As in school may not actually have the best preparation for real life:
The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance. (Of course, it must be said that if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google.)
In a classic 1962 study, a team of psychologists tracked down America’s most creative architects and compared them with their technically skilled but less original peers. One of the factors that distinguished the creative architects was a record of spiky grades. “In college our creative architects earned about a B average,” Donald MacKinnon wrote. “In work and courses which caught their interest they could turn in an A performance, but in courses that failed to strike their imagination, they were quite willing to do no work at all.” They paid attention to their curiosity and prioritized activities that they found intrinsically motivating — which ultimately served them well in their careers.
Straight-A students also miss out socially. More time studying in the library means less time to start lifelong friendships, join new clubs or volunteer. I know from experience. I didn’t meet my 4.0 goal; I graduated with a 3.78. (This is the first time I’ve shared my G.P.A. since applying to graduate school 16 years ago. Really, no one cares.) Looking back, I don’t wish my grades had been higher. If I could do it over again, I’d study less. The hours I wasted memorizing the inner workings of the eye would have been better spent trying out improv comedy and having more midnight conversations about the meaning of life.
I've known all of this since first grade, when I realized that getting straight As would require me to do hundreds of pointless math problems every night for six months. Around that time I encountered the Terrible Trivium in The Phantom Tollbooth and the pieces fell into place. (For the record, I do arithmetic on paper just fine—and I also have Microsoft Excel to do it for me.)