The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Not a bad place to spend the winter

It turns out, Raleigh isn't that cold. All my life I've just accepted that Chicago winters build character. But I'm not sure anymore, especially after three sunny, 5°C days here while temperatures back home have skulked around -12°C. Then, today, this:

A winter storm warning will be in effect across the Chicago area from this evening through Friday morning.

By the end of that warning, anywhere from 15 to 30 cm of a fairly fluffy snow will have come down, according to the National Weather Service. The heaviest snows are expected near the lakefront.

... The heaviest snowfall will occur between noon and 6 p.m. Thursday, with snow falling at about an inch an hour, [said Charles Mott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service].

Forecasters predict snow in Raleigh tonight, too: about 1 cm or so. Of course, that amount could halt all commerce in North Carolina, so we'll be stocking up on bottled water later.

Seriously, though, Raleigh averages 19 cm of snow annually; Chicago, 98 cm. Then there are the normal temperatures of both cities. I'll say nothing else right now except that the average January daily high temperature in Chicago is the average January daily low temperature in Raleigh.

Let's see how I like Raliegh in July. But today, it's fine.

About that Israeli airport security

I mentioned a few days ago that security at Israel's Ben Gurion airport seems to be both stronger and more convenient than U.S. airport security. Bruce Schneier reminds us about the problem:

[N]o matter how safe or how wonderful the flying experience on El Al, it is TINY airline by U.S. standards, with only 38 aircraft, 46 destinations, and fewer than two million passengers in 2008. ... In 2008, Ben Gurion served 11.1 million international passengers and 470,000 domestic passengers, roughly comparable to the 10 million total served at Sacramento.... Amsterdam served 47.4 million total, and Detroit served 35.1 million total in 2008.

By American standards, in terms of passengers served, Ben Gurion is a busy regional airport.

Simply put, the Israeli airport security model does not scale. Period.

The question I have is: why can't we have a rational debate about the costs of security?

Raleigh, N.C., sunrise chart for 2010

Since I'm spending so much time here, I thought I should do a Raleigh sunrise chart to complement the one for Chicago. (You can get one for your own location at

An interesting note about 2010: the sunset on November 6th will be the latest sunrise for most places in the U.S. (7:43 am in Raliegh) until 2021.

Date Significance Sunrise Sunset Daylight
6 Jan Latest sunrise until Mar. 14th 07:26 17:17 9:50
20 Jan 5:30pm sunset 07:23 17:30 10:07
17 Feb 7am sunrise 07:00 17:59 10:59
18 Feb 6pm sunset 06:59 18:00 11:00
12 Mar 6:30am sunrise 06:30 18:20 11:49
13 Mar Earliest sunrise until Apr. 26th
Earliest sunset until Oct. 31st
06:29 18:21 11:52
14 Mar Daylight savings time begins
Latest sunrise until Oct. 22nd
Earliest sunset until Sept. 16th
07:28 19:22 11:54
17 Mar 12-hour day 07:24 19:25 12:01
20 Mar Equinox 13:32 EDT 07:19 19:27 12:08
23 Mar 7:30pm sunset 07:15 19:30 12:15
3 Apr 7am sunrise 06:59 19:39 12:40
25 Apr 6:30am sunrise 06:30 19:57 13:27
28 Apr 8pm sunset 06:27 20:00 13:33
3 Jun 6am sunrise 06:00 20:27 14:27
7 Jun 8:30pm sunset 05:59 20:30 14:31
12 Jun Earliest sunrise of the year 05:58 20:33 14:34
21 Jun Solstice 07:28 EDT 05:59 20:35 14:35
24 Jun 6am sunrise 06:00 20:35 14:35
28 Jun Latest sunset of the year 06:01 20:36 14:34
19 Jul 8:30pm sunset 06:13 20:30 14:16
10 Aug 6:30am sunrise 06:30 20:11 13:39
20 Aug 8pm sunset 06:38 20:00 13:21
10 Sep 7:30pm sunset 06:54 19:30 12:36
18 Sep 7am sunrise 07:00 19:18 12:18
22 Sep Equinox, 23:09 EDT 07:03 19:13 12:10
26 Sep 12-hour day 07:07 19:07 12:00
1 Oct 7pm sunset 07:10 18:59 11:48
23 Oct 6:30pm sunset 07:29 18:30 11:00
24 Oct 7:30am sunrise 07:30 18:29 10:58
6 Nov Latest sunrise until 6 Nov 2021
Latest sunset until Mar 7th
07:43 18:15 10:32
7 Nov Standard time returns
Earliest sunrise until Mar 3rd
06:44 17:14 10:30
23 Nov 7am sunrise 07:00 17:04 10:04
5 Dec Earliest sunset of the year 07:11 17:02 9:51
21 Dec Solstice, 18:38 EST 07:22 17:05 9:43

You can get sunrise information for your location at

Better security at airports? Look at Israel

Not only does Ben Gurion Airport have, by every measure, more effective security than at U.S. airports, but they move passengers through more quickly, too:

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," [Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy] said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

In other words, more emphasis on people, less on technology. Will body scanners protect us against the next idiot who tries to blow up an airplane? Maybe; but watching people is probably more effective. Says Sela:

"First, [Israeli security is] fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

That's the process — six layers, four hard, two soft. The goal at Ben-Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in a maximum of 25 minutes.

Instead, we're investing in body scanners, which have created a completely different kind of idiocy:

We're willing to ethnically profile, do all sorts extra-judicial surveillance, maintain massive databases of hundreds of thousands of people who have some vague relationship to extremism, torture captives, condemn people to hours unable to go the bathroom on planes, even launch various foreign military adventures, but when it comes to submitting to a quick scan that might show a vague outline of boobs or penises (almost certainly no more than is exposed in most bathing suits), that's a bridge too far.

Something about that doesn't compute to me. And what I like about this is that there's no clear partisan division on this one. Everyone seems to agree. It just tells me that at some level we're not really serious about this.

No, we're not really serious about this. It's theater. And it will continue until enough people care more about security than silliness.

Stopped moving for now

After five visits to O'Hare in 8 days, I'm going to stay in one spot for at least a week. Yesterday's 9:45 flight took off at noon, getting me home two hours before I'd planned (even the CTA cooperated), and except for having to get up at an obscenely early time this morning, everything went well.

Still, I have space for one more gratuitous photo of Half Moon Bay, which is a wonderful place to visit:

Once more into the air dear friends, once more

I'm leaving this:

For this:


At least I'll get there earlier than planned. I tried to get on the 11:30, but because the 7:30 had left at 9:30, and the 9:45 was delayed, they put me on the 9:45 which actually leaves (we hope) at 11. So instead of 7 hours at home before traveling again tomorrow, I get 9. I hope.

Update: Well, the 9:45 actually now leaves at 1pm, in theory, leaving me almost exactly no better off than the original plan. We'll see.

Dodging snowstorms

You know the truly fun part about traveling through O'Hare five times in one week in December? Not knowing when that will happen:

Delta [says] it is about to issue a weather bulletin allow passengers in 10 states to change tickets without penalty starting today through Dec. 27th. Those states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota. They are encouraging folks to try to change travel plans to get out ahead of any storms if possible. Delta has hubs in Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

No one has started pre-canceling any flights yet – but stay tuned. That may happen tomorrow.

At least, if either of my next two flights gets[1] delayed, I'll be stuck in one of my two favorite cities in North America. Sigh.

[1] Note to the grammar police (you know who you are): "either...gets" is correct because "either" is a singular pronoun.

'Tis the season to be flying

Once again in Reagan National Airport, our hero pauses to reflect on the great pile of snow that landed on the city three days earlier. I have to say, it really is pretty:

Another view, around back:

We even got delayed for 15 minutes by a motorcade: not the President's, the Vice-President's. Still, I feel like I've had the full D.C. experience.

Forty minutes until boarding...then I get to pass through O'Hare for the third time in five days.

Killing time at O'Hare

By this time next Sunday, I'll have gone through O'Hare five times in eight days. I actually don't mind—yet—possibly because this is only my second visit of the week. The flight to DC isn't horribly delayed, and I've got a good perch to watch the planes:

Gotta run. Time to wait on the plane instead of in the club...

As predictable as the weather

Original plan: Fly to Chicago tomorrow, then change at O'Hare for D.C. New plan: Fly to Chicago tomorrow, twiddle my thumbs at home, and fly to D.C. Sunday morning. Why? Because no one is flying to D.C. tomorrow:

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the entire [Washington] area, starting midnight Friday and lasting through 6 a.m. Sunday.

ABC 7 Meteorologist Chris Naille says the most of the region can expect 10 to 15 inches of snow, with up to 20 inches in spots along and east of I-95.

Parts of western and central Virginia could get up to 18 inches.

What fun. Fortunately, American Airlines has already gone into emergency mode, so when I called to see what my options were, they said "any plane Sunday."

So, I'll see everyone on Sunday.