The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Hot time in the city, again

It turns out, 2021 wasn't the hottest on record for the planet, nor were the most records set, nor was Arctic sea ice at its lowest level, or rainfall at its highest. But 2021 was the 7th year of a 7-year run of the hottest years ever:

In 2021, global temperatures were between 1.1 and 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial average, according to new data from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Berkeley Earth.

Despite a La Niña weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which tends to cool the planet, 2021 was roughly tied for sixth-hottest year ever observed, scientists say. All of the seven hottest years on record have happened in the last seven years.

The year 2021 was the seventh in a row in which global temperatures were more than 1 degree Celsius above the preindustrial average. It’s unlikely anyone alive will see the world’s temperature drop below that 1-degree benchmark again.

The United States endured at least 20 weather disasters costing $1 billion or more last year, the second most on record, NOAA announced this week. Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and floods — almost all of them made worse by climate change — killed at least 688 people and caused at least $145 billion in damage.

I meant to post about this yesterday when I read it. After all, we stand a pretty good chance of having one of the 8 hottest years on record this year.

Winter in Chicago

The temperature bottomed out at -14.4°C around 1:30 am, and has climbed ever so slowly since then to -0.3°:

Will we get above freezing? The forecast says yes, any moment now. But the sun will set in about 5 minutes. Anyway, a guy can dream, right?

Meanwhile, Chicago's teachers and schools have agreed to let the kids back tomorrow, even as the mayor herself tested positive for Covid. And the Art Institute's workforce has formed a union, which will operate under AFSCME.

And that's not all:

And finally, just as no one could have predicted that more guns leads to more gun violence, the same people could not have predicted that the NFT craze would lead to NFT fraud.

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.

Quick links

The temperature at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters bottomed out at -16.5°C around 8am today, colder than any time since February 15th. It's up to -8.6°C now, with a forecast for continued wild gyrations over the next week (2°C tomorrow, -17°C on Monday, 3°C on Wednesday). Pity Cassie, who hasn't gotten nearly enough walks because of the cold, and won't next week as her day care shut down for the weekend due to sick staff.

Speaking of sick staff, New Republic asks a pointed question about the Chicago Public Schools: why should their teachers be responsible for making life normal again?

The Washinigton Post asks, what will people do with the millions of dogs they adopted when they (the people, not the dogs) go back to work?

The lawyers for Cyber Ninjas ask, who's going to pay their fees after the grift-based organization shut down abruptly?

And North Michigan Avenue asks, will any more pieces of the Hancock Center fall off the building?

And I ask, will Cassie ever let me sleep past 7am?

Winter, CPS, CTU, and THC

Every so often in the winter, a cold front pushes in overnight, giving us the warmest temperature of the day at midnight. Welcome to my morning:

The sun actually came out a few minutes ago—right around the time the temperature started dropping faster.

The forecast says temperatures will continue falling to about -12°C by 3pm, rise ever so slightly overnight and tomorrow, then slide on down to -17° from 3pm tomorrow to 6am Friday. And, because it's Chicago, and because the circumpolar jet stream looks like Charlie Brown's shirt right now, between 6am Friday and 9pm Saturday the temperature will steadily rise more than 20°C (that's 36°F to the luddites out there), peaking at 3°C around 9pm Saturday.

Before the cold front hit last night, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to halt in-person teaching, citing alarming Covid numbers. The Chicago Public Schools promptly locked them out of virtual teaching, giving about 100,000 nothing to do and nowhere to go. (Some CPS staff have at least opened the school buildings so kids can get lunches and stay warm, but the SEIU won't cross what it sees as a picket line, so...)

Since most of the area's colleges and universities have moved back to virtual instruction for the next two weeks, I have trouble understanding the CPS position here, or why CPS locked the teachers out. Sure, the teachers may lose a day's pay, but the kids will suffer more harm than either organization.

Chicago's public health officials say the schools are safe, with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot complaining that "There’s no reason to shut down the entire system, particularly given the catastrophic consequences that will flow." But the CTU didn't call a work stoppage; they called for virtual classes, something CPS has done for almost two years. That leaves me with the impression that Lightfoot and CPS want to stand up to the CTU more than they want to find a solution.

Frankly, both sides look bad here. And again: the kids get the worst of it.

Hard to imagine why Illinois recreational marijuana sales doubled to $1.38 billion in 2021.

Weather Now 5 soft launch

After 15 months of on-and-off work, I'm finally ready to show off Weather Now v5.0, currently in development.

I started building the API and UI projects on top of the core and automation features around Thanksgiving, spending about 45 hours over the past 5 weeks on it. Overall, I've worked about 200 hours to get it to this point, starting with an empty Visual Studio solution file and an empty Microsoft Azure subscription.

Since about 99% of what you can't see already exists, I don't expect it will take me another 15 months to build the stuff you can see. In fact, I only have 21 more JIRA cases (out of 187 so far) to bring it to production. Adding an existing v4 feature to v5 just requires creating the Blazor page, API method, and glue code, which shouldn't take more than 2-3 hours per item, including testing.

Check in frequently. I push updates a few times a week at this point, so you should see pretty rapid changes until I launch the production release (I hope) before the end of March.

A little discomfort now, a lot more comfort later

Despite the forecast of 200+ mm of snow overnight, we got about 50 over here. O'Hare reported 100 mm of snow on the ground at 6am, which again didn't even come close to the dire warnings we got Friday night.

Still, the sidewalks by my house have snow, slush, and salt all over them, which Cassie discovered (mostly to her delight) first thing this morning. Within 10 minutes, she'd gotten ice and salt lodged into one of her pads and had to hop the last 20 meters to the door.

I have a solution for that: dog boots. Parker's old boots just fit Cassie, though she expressed a bit of skepticism mixed with heartbreaking trust as I got them over her paws:

And just like Parker the first time he wore those same boots, Cassie figured out pretty quickly that they had benefits. We just did a 2-kilometer rectangle around the neighborhood with her bouncing through the snow and not getting salt in her pads.

Bonus photo from yesterday morning:

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...

The kind of weather record we can all enjoy

If, as expected, Chicago gets no measurable snow by 6pm tonight, we will set a new record for the latest measurable snowfall of the cold season (July 1st to June 30th, believe it or not), and the second-longest stretch without snow in recorded history:

On Monday...Chicago tied the record, which dates back to Dec. 20, 2012.

There is no snow in the forecast until possibly well beyond Christmas.

There has been some snow so far this season. But instead of having the first typical snowfall earlier in the fall, there have only been traces.

To be measurable, there must be at least [2.5 mm]. Since November, there have been such amounts in the area, but not at O’Hare International Airport, which is the official weather recording station for Chicago.

We last had measurable snowfall on March 15th, 280 days ago. The longest period—which the 10-day forecast suggests we might tie or break—ran from 4 March to 19 December 2012, comprising 290 days.

That said, through December 21st last year we only had 18 mm of snowfall at O'Hare, before getting over a meter of snow through the end of February.

Personally, though, I'm happy with our mild and snow-free December.

Glorious Solstice to All, too.

Your year in weather disasters

The Washington Post breezes in with a month-by-month interactive feature:

[E]vidence increasingly shows that historic heat waves, monster rain events and ultra-intense storms are exacerbated by the warmer air and water of our overheating planet.

“The only two truisms when it comes to extremes in climate change are that almost everywhere: The hot hots are getting hotter and more frequent, and the wet wets are getting wetter and more frequent,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA who specializes in the relationship between climate change and weather.

The year began with what Swain might call a “wetter wet” against the backdrop of a year-long drought, and it just got weirder from there.

Enjoy, and here's to more climate-change craziness in 2022!