The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Heads-down research and development today

I usually spend the first day or two of a sprint researching and testing out approaches before I start the real coding effort. Since one of my stories this sprint requires me to refactor a fairly important feature—an effort I think will take me all of next week—I decided to read up on something today and have wound up in a rabbit hole.

Naturally, that means a few interesting stories have piled up:

Finally, Lagunitas Brewing will move its brewing operations back to Petaluma, Calif., (which is a million times better than Megaluma!) and close its Chicago taproom this summer, so I suppose the Brews & Choos Project should get its ass over there pronto.

Heading for another boring deployment

Today my real job wraps up Sprint 109, an unexciting milestone that I hope has an unexciting deployment. I think in 109 sprints we've only had 3 or 4 exciting deployments, not counting the first production deployment, which always terrifies the dev team and always reminds them of what they left out of the Runbook.

The staging pipelines have already started churning, and if they uncover anything, the Dev pipelines might also run, so I've lined up a collection of stories from the last 24 hours to keep me calm (ah, ha ha, ha):

  • James Fallows, himself a former speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, digs into President Biden's commencement address yesterday at Morehouse College, saying: "It showed care in craftsmanship and construction. Its phrasing matched Biden’s own style and diction. It navigated the political difficulties of the moment. And it represented Biden’s attempt to place those difficulties in a larger perspective."
  • Economist Paul Krugman explains the insignificance (to most people's lives) of the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 40,000 last week, and how the news nicely illustrates "he gap between what we know about the actual state of our economy and the way [the XPOTUS] and his allies describe it."
  • Speaking of the stock market, Ivan Boesky, one of the greediest people ever to walk the earth, died last week at the age of 87.
  • Speaking of economics, Bill McBride takes us through the history of paying off the national debt, or increasing it as tends to happen under Republican presidents. He lists 8 events from 2000 to 2021 that significantly increased it, only two of which Democratic administrations oversaw.
  • Speaking of debt, Crain's scoops up the Oberweis Dairy bankruptcy case, and how it appears that a failson (actually a failgrandson in this case) killed it, as sometimes happens with inherited wealth.
  • Speaking of things falling abruptly, a Singapore Airlines B777-312ER encountered severe turbulence over the Andaman Sea near Bangkok yesterday, and a 73-year-old British passenger died of what appears to be heart failure. Other passengers and crew suffered head injuries. This is why you need to keep your seatbelt on at all times in an airplane.

Finally, Block Club Chicago readers have sent in cicada photos from the south and west sides of the area. Still none in my neighborhood, though a colleague in Wilmette said she saw a couple yesterday. I want to see the bugs!

Demo Brewing

Welcome to stop #104 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Demo Brewing, 1763 W. Berteau Ave., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific North, Ravenswood. (Also CTA Brown Line, Irving Park)
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (zone 2)
Distance from station: 1.1 km (400 m from CTA)

The newest brewery on Malt Row opened March 29th just 2 km from Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters and less than 500 meters from the CTA. I had a lot going on in April so I didn't get to check it out until last weekend. Cassie came with and met a couple of friends while my friends and I tried some of their beers.

For a variety of reasons, including Cassie wanting to meet every other dog in the place and the humans wanting to, you know, talk to each other, I didn't take detailed tasting notes. I had a pint of the Brunch Goblin Brut IPA (7%, 32 IBU), which I found refreshing and light, despite its strength. Given its proximity to my house, and its open-door policy to dogs, Cassie and I will return probably over Memorial Day weekend when I'll try a few other beers.

It won't replace Spiteful as my third place, but Cassie and I will put it in rotation along the south end of Malt Row with Dovetail and Begyle.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? No
Serves food? No, BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

MobCraft Brewing

Welcome to stop #103 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: MobCraft Brewing, 101 N. Johnson St., Woodstock
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Woodstock
Time from Chicago: 91 minutes (zone 4)
Distance from station: 200 m

Between the perfect weather, the really good beer, and the view of the Woodstock Town Square, my Brews buddy and I really enjoyed our visit to MobCraft last weekend. I mean, doesn't this just make you want to sing "The Pennsylvania Polka?":

But back to the beer. We tried two flights, again, this time with no overlaps:

  • Crush: Tropic Wave fruit beer (6%): Not my favorite at all, even after one sip. She: "This tastes like what you give to your high school girlfriend who's too classy for White Claw." (To clarify, in this scenario, you're both in high school, she wants to make clear.)
  • First Time in a Long Time copper lager (4.8%): Not a big impression. A decent basic lager, good malt, crisp enough for summer.
  • Juni-perfect Saison (6.5%): Beautiful scent, quite tart, she didn't expect to like it and did, I had the reverse experience and just wrote "NOPE!" in my notebook. (This is why we review these together.)
  • Out of Office light hopped ale (4.5%): Decent, drinkable, neutral palate, "nice on a hot summer day," would buy.
  • Squeezin' Juice IPA (6.7%): I liked the good Citra hoppiness, nice finish, and drinkability; she wasn't a big fan and said "tastes like Daisy Cutter." Nonetheless we bought some for the 90-minute train trip back to Clybourn.
  • Vanilla Wafer Porter (7%): Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, really smooth, not too sweet or strong. She: "That's good, I like that!"

The brewery has two taprooms, one upstairs with smaller rooms off the main bar and lighter beers, and one downstairs with jail cells and darker beers. (The building used to be the sherriff's annex to the historic town hall next door.) It looks like it would be cozy in the wintertime, especially if you're trapped for 10,000 days in Woodstock on February 2nd.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Yes, avoidable
Serves food? Bar snacks, but allows BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Healthy, happy dog once again

Cassie and I just got back from her vet, with a good 2 km walk in each direction and treats at both ends. The semi-annual wellness check was only $88, and pronounced Cassie in perfect health. Even her weight (25 kg) is exactly what it should be, so I can start adding a little kibble to her meals if we walk a lot.

Of course, the heartworm pills were $230 and the fecal test was $107, so not everything about the checkup was great. Le sigh.

Also, it's warm today: 27°C for both walks, which is more like June 14th than May 13th (normal high: 20.9°C). I even had the air on last night. But I can see a cold front approaching from the west, with an expected temperature crash around 6pm and temperatures barely above 10°C (March 24th!) tomorrow. I'm glad we got our walks in already—looks like the first thunderstorm could hit before 3pm.

And check back tomorrow and Wednesday for two more Brews & Choos reviews from this past weekend, including a brand-new brewery that just opened 2 km from my front door.

Holzlager Brewing

Welcome to stop #102 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Holzlager Brewing, 150F S. Eastwood Dr., Woodstock
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Woodstock
Time from Chicago: 91 minutes (zone 4)
Distance from station: 1 km

Woodstock isn't the farthest Metra station from downtown Chicago; that honor goes to Harvard, which is almost 20 minutes farther out. But getting to Woodstock by train on a weekend takes about 2 hours when you have to change trains at Clybourn. And no small irony, the train taking me the one stop from home to Clybourn was 30 minutes late, cutting our overall travel time by that amount.

My frequent Brews buddy and I went to the town, made famous in the 1993 film Groundhog Day, and spent a few hours wandering around and drinking beer. We stopped first at the farthest (walkable) brewery, Holzager, which turned out to be at the end of a strip mall off a stroad just outside the historic section of town.

At least they have an outdoor space, which we found pleasant despite the traffic noise. And they make pretty decent beer. We each got a flight of four 150 mL pours, and tried 7 beers total (we both had Clown Hammer):

  • Agrarian Pale Ale (5.4%, 36 IBU): lots of hops, nice finish, some malt.
  • Clown Hammer AIPA (7.6%, 63 IBU): big hops, big malt, big flavor, maybe some banana and apricot notes. The brewery's #1 seller.
  • Fruit Warmer: the fruit rounds out the hop bitterness; big pineapple and apricot notes.
  • Let Go My Belgo Pale (6%, 26 IBU): "I love the name. It tastes like it's designed like a Belgian but lacking the complexity."
  • Malina Raspberry Ale (5.7%, 14 IBU): Uncomplicated, and tastes like real raspberry.
  • Moostache Milk Stout (5.7%, 18 IBU): Burnt notes, with coffee and a little chocolate, but thinner texture than expected. My friend added, "it's like an Imperial stout, but where's the ABV?"
  • Wooly Haggis Scotch Ale (10.1%, 26 IBU): very malty at first but changed after the initial few moments, with a very long finish. Again, some banana notes, which we pretty consistently tasted in all their beers.

We both want to explore Woodstock a bit more, but probably not this summer. And probably not in the beginning of February, either. Cute town, passable first brewery.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? Yes
Serves food? Bar snacks, but allows BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Maybe

New Brews & Choos reviews soon

My frequent Brews buddy and I trekked out to Woodstock, Ill., yesterday, and visited the two breweries in town, then took Cassie to the newest brewery in my own neighborhood. I'll be going through notes and photos later today, so expect the reviews up tomorrow through Wednesday.

Meanwhile, for some reason, Minnesota unfurled a new state flag yesterday:

Minnesota's new flag went into official use Saturday, which has many wondering why the state adopted a new flag. The controversial replacement of the old flag requires an explanation of that emblem's history.

The legislature established the State Emblems Redesign Commission during the 2023 session to redesign Minnesota's flag and seal.

The reason for the change, according to state officials, was twofold. Primarily, officials were concerned with the scene depicted on the old flag, which many found offensive. First adopted in 1957, the flag showed a White settler tilling land as an Indigenous man rides horseback. Indigenous members of the State Emblem Redesign Commission said it was harmful to their communities and promoted the "erasure" of their people from the land.

Here's the flag. Enjoy:

Watching for Air Force One

The President arrived in Chicago a little while ago, but sadly I haven't seen either his airplane or his helicopter. Apparently he's just a couple of blocks from me. I'll wave if I see him.

Meanwhile:

Finally, London houseboats, which one could pick up for under £40,000 just a few years ago, now go for £500,000 plus thousands in costs, pricing out the lower-income folks who used to live on them. They seem pretty cool, but good luck finding a mooring.

When opponents become cartoon villains

If South Dakota governor and unapologetic puppy-killer Kristi Noem (R, obviously) becomes the XPOTUS's running mate this year, the GOP will have outdone its own Doctor Evil mindset. And yet, that is not the worst thing happening in the world today:

  • A California judge has ruled a recent state law requiring municipalities to undo discriminatory zoning laws unconstitutional, though it's not clear how long that ruling will stand.
  • Do you own a GM car made in this decade? It may be spying on you, and sharing your driving history with your insurance company without your consent.
  • After a non-profit group suggested merging the CTA, Metra, and Pace, the Illinois House has started the legislative process to do just that.
  • Ezra Klein takes us through the history of the infamous Noe Valley public toilet in San Francisco, which took years to get through the planning process, increasing its cost at every step.
  • Remember: public policy led to the proliferation of trucks masquerading as cars that endanger pedestrians, pollute neighborhoods, and generally look ugly.

Finally, Josh Marshall points out that while he (and I) support the basic aim of student protests against the Gaza war—Israel must stop killing people in Gaza—we do not support the groups organizing those protests at Columbia and other universities, almost all of which call for the destruction of the Jewish state. I'm also somewhat anxious about the normal propensity of young people to demand easy answers to complex questions becoming a democracy-ending problem later this year. I mean, if you think students are always on the right side of history, I need to direct your attention to China in 1966 and one or two other examples. Children don't do nuance.

The rise of Global Tetrahedron

The satirical newspaper The Onion just got bought by a newly-formed LLC called, yes, Global Tetrahedron. Longtime Onion readers will probably recognize the name; I had to remind myself.

Other events in the past day or so:

Time to fetch Cassie from school.