The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Winter is here

Meteorological winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere today. In Chicago right now we have sunny skies and a normal-for-December 2°C. And any day above freezing between December 1st and March 1st works for me.

Meanwhile:

Finally, on a whim I looked back at my posts from 10 years ago, and I came across this painful memory of debugging an Azure 1.8 deployment. And 15 years ago we got our first snowfall of the season. Ah, memories.

Spring, fall, winter...Chicago?

It's 14°C right now, going down to -3°C tonight. Then it's back up to 8°C on Friday. Because why wouldn't the beginning of winter feel like April?

While you ponder that, read this:

Finally, Whisky Advocate has a good explainer taking the water of life from barrels in Scotland to the glass in your American kitchen.

Still a "good" landing

A pilot crashed his Mooney M20J into power lines in suburban Maryland last night, but everyone got out of the plane alive:

A pilot and a passenger were rescued from a small plane that had crashed into a power line tower and power lines in Maryland after an hours-long ordeal that saw power cut to nearly 100,000 homes and businesses, led to school cancellations and plunged rescuers into a complex effort to safely remove the people aboard.

The first victim, a woman, was pulled from the plane at 12:25 a.m. Residents who’d spent hours watching the incident play out clapped as she was lowered down in a bucket. The second occupant, a man, came down about 11 minutes later.

The Sunday evening crash occurred at a Pepco transmission line near Rothbury Drive and Goshen Road in the Gaithersburg/Montgomery Village area, according to utility and rescue officials. The plane became entangled in high-voltage power lines in the Montgomery Village-Gaithersburg area about 5:40 p.m.

Unfortunately for the pilot, he won't be able to use the plane again, so it's not an "excellent" landing. And once the NTSB gets through with him, he probably won't ever fly again (he's 65).

I can't remember another accident where the airplane hit power lines and the occupants all survived. Weather around the crash time and place shows low instrument conditions: overcast ceiling at 60 meters (200 ft) with visibility around 2 km (1¼ mi) in mist. This suggests visual flight into instrument conditions, but a probable cause finding from the NTSB will likely take a year or so.

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.

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...

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!)

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?)

Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded

Last night while packing I caught this interview with Rebecca Jennings, whose recent trip to Positano, Italy, taught her something important about travel in the Instagram era:

Positano is blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate and a proximity to luxury and wealth; it is home to one of the most famous and majestic hotels in the world and provided the backdrop for Diane Lane’s whirlwind romance in Under the Tuscan Sun. Twenty years later, the town has become synonymous with the grandest of influencer travelscapes, clogging Instagram with photos of beautiful people on boats, staring back in wonder at the skyline behind them.

It is also the most unpleasant place I have ever been.

The problem of travel at this particular moment is not too many people traveling in general, it is too many people wanting to experience the exact same thing because they all went to the same websites and read the same reviews. It’s created the idea that if you do not go to this specific bar or stay in this exact neighborhood, all the money and time you spent on being here has been wasted, and you have settled for something that is not as perfect as it could have been.

A vacation is not, or at least shouldn’t be, a to-do list, something to be optimized with meticulously timed reservations months in advance, though increasingly this is what travel is: Unless you’ve secured a reserved time slot, the must-see museums of Florence and “you have to eat here” pasta spots in Rome are inaccessible for those unwilling to spend hours in line or so cramped that being there is no longer enjoyable.

I agree with Jennings, but she hasn't exactly gone to uncharted journalistic territory here. This sort of column or essay comes up all the time: a young person discovers something that has always existed, attributes this to a new technology or something unique to her generation, and gets accolades from her cohort. I have once or twice followed the herd while traveling, but usually only because I got to the museum too late to see the interesting bits.

Why do you think I prefer to go to Europe in March and October?

Monday afternoon links

Busy day today, but I finished a major task at work just now. As I'm waiting for the CI system to finish compiling and pushing out a test build, I'm going to read these:

Finally, we got our first official (trace) snow of the season this morning, even as forecasters predict temperatures over 21°C this weekend. While I'm packing. All day.