Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Sunday 20 February 2011

ParkerI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 4½-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page almost two years ago, so it's time for a quick update. In the interest of enlightened laziness I'm starting with the most powerful keystroke combination in the universe: Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-leftie by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • Software. I work for Avanade (a company that has no editorial control over this blog and which wants me to make it clear I'm not speaking for them), and I continue to own a micro-sized software company in Chicago. I have some experience writing software, which explains why Avanade continue to tolerate me. I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than ten years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago, the greatest city in North America, and the other ones I visit whenever I can.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma (de rigeur in my opinion).

Another, non-trivial point. Facebook reads the blog's RSS feed, so many people reading this may think I'm just posting notes on Facebook. They would like you to believe this, too. Now, I've reconnected with tons of old friends and classmates through Facebook, I play Scrabble on Facebook, and I eagerly read every advertisement that appears next to its relevant content. But Facebook's terms of use assert ownership of everything that appears on their site, regardless of prior assertions, and despite nearly three centuries of legal precedents. They want you to believe that, too.

Everything that shows up on my Facebook profile gets published on The Daily Paker first, and I own the copyrights to all of it. All the photos I post are completely protected: send me an email if you want to republish one. I publish the blog's text under a Creative Commons attribution-nonderivative-noncommercial license; republication is usually OK for non-commercial purposes, as long as you don't change what I write and you attribute it to me. With apologies to King James and Yaishua ben Miriam, render to Facebook the things that are Facebook's; and to the original authors what is not.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Sunday 20 February 2011 17:49:34 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Parker | Politics | Weather#

Here's a fun task. Let's take the U.S. military budget, and then add up the budgets of the next few countries in the ranked list of spending until we get to the same number. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the U.S. spent $663.2 bn on defense in 2008. Let's start with China, who had the second-biggest military outlay, and keep adding until we get to $663.2 bn:

2. China
3. UK
4. France
5. Russia

OK, we've now got the entire permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council, the four biggest militaries in the world after our own. Done? Nope. Let's keep adding.

6. Germany
7. Japan
8. Saudi Arabia
9. Italy
10. India

Right. Now the list contains all the principal belligerents from World War II, and accounts for nearly half the world's population. (The U.S. has about 5% of the world's people.) We're done, right?

No. Keep going:

11. South Korea
12. Brasil
13. Egypt
14. Canada
15. Australia

Seriously? There's more?

16. Spain
17. Turkey

Whew! We're done. You have to add up the military budgets of the next 16 countries to get to ours.


As you listen to the anti-deficit bloviating of Congressional Republicans over the next few weeks, ask yourself why none of them has brought up this fact. Do Americans really believe that the U.S. should spend 7 times more than China on defense? Or that we should be the only Western country to spend more than 3% of GDP on defense? Or that other countries to win the #1 position on military spending either by GDP or gross expenditures include the USSR and Imperial Rome?

And we're arguing about de-funding public television as a way to balance the budget?


Sunday 20 February 2011 12:58:58 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | US | World#
Saturday 19 February 2011

When I left for New York last Saturday morning, my car still lay under a snowdrift. A few days of unseasonably warm weather later, and voilà:

Saturday 19 February 2011 16:04:03 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

I'm really, really tired, but I just had to post this:

Did I mention how much I love my new camera?

In fairness, my old camera could have done that, too. It's a 200mm lens on a 1.6x digital image chip, ISO-100, f/5.6 at 1/500. My old camera wouldn't have had the detail the new one has, but really, the trick to the shot was the tripod I've had since 1983. (Seriously.)

The moon is actually pretty bright. Its albedo—the amount of light its surface reflects—is about 9%, or about half of an average surface on Earth. So in full sunlight it should read about 50% of the light that it would read at noon here, and, would't you know, it does. In noon sun in the park I would expect about the same exposure. So in reality, the moon is a much duller grey than this photo shows.

OK, I'm off to sleep now. Tomorrow I'll reveal what became of my car while I was in Connecticut.

Friday 18 February 2011 23:55:54 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Photography#
Friday 18 February 2011

When I left Chicago on Saturday morning, we had half a meter of snow on the ground. I hear most of it is gone:

Thursday's 13°C high temperature at O'Hare, a reading 11°C above normal and more typical of late April than February, fell just 2°C shy of a 130-year old record of 16°C. But, at Midway Airport, the home of an uninterrupted 82 year observational record which began in 1928, Thursday's 14°C temperature was a record-breaker. The reading replaced a 1981 record high of 13°C at the South Side site.

That wasn't the only new Chicago temperature record established in Thursday's unseasonably mild air. The morning low of 8°C easily beat a previous record-high minimum of 6°C set 121-years earlier in 1890. The unseasonable warmth finished a 10-day, 53 cm melt-off of one of the area's heaviest February snowcovers in three decades.

I wonder if I'll be able to move my car?

And in unrelated news, Republican Wisconsin governor Scott Walker wants to destroy worker's rights in the state, causing the entire Democratic caucus to pull a Texas and flee the state. It's always fun when hubris meets farce, isn't it?

Friday 18 February 2011 07:47:00 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | US | Weather#

Quick update: A Kindle can disappear from just centimeters from your left elbow, and hotel security didn't see nothin'. And whoever took it now has a nonfunctional brick, albeit one with several decent books on it including the complete works of Shakespeare. Maybe he'll read?

More later.

Thursday 17 February 2011 22:03:25 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Wednesday 16 February 2011

No, I'm not swimming in Long Island Sound; I'm up to here [gesture] analyzing a broken software application for a financial firm outside Norwalk. I'm also fighting to get a good night's sleep in a room with clear sightlines to the Connecticut Turnpike and the Metro North Railroad.

Within the next day or two I'm going to explain why this particular client makes me (and the rest of my team) incredibly happy to work there. One of my teammates already compared it to Nirvana Corp. Now, however, I need to chug this coffee, hibernate the laptop I'm not allowed to use at the client site, and find the rest of my team.

Wednesday 16 February 2011 07:39:31 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Work#
Tuesday 15 February 2011

Apparently, Chicago has had above-freezing temperatures for more than 24 hours. Anyone want to lay odds on whether I can drive my car when I get home?

Monday 14 February 2011 21:29:29 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
Sunday 13 February 2011

I can't decide, if I were to move back to New York (and if I had unlimited funds), whether I'd live in the Village or on the Upper West. I have a hunch the latter would win:

Right now, however, I'm in Stamford, Conn., in a hotel room overlooking I-95, because our client wants us to start work tomorrow at 8am. I used to spend a lot of time in Stamford, so I walked around a bit after checking in. It hasn't changed much. And my favorite Stamford bar is still there—which is where I believe I'll have dinner tonight:

And, super bonus time, Tigín has trivia on Tuesdays, so even though I can't be with my team in Chicago, I can fly the Brown Chicken Brown Cow flag in Connecticut.

Sunday 13 February 2011 17:17:22 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography#

The low-light performance of my new camera astounds me. I took an hour-long hike around Midtown Manhattan right around sunset. Cranking the camera up to ISO-6400 allowed me to do this:

Larger size and more photos at The Daily Parker.

Saturday 12 February 2011 19:21:52 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Photography#
Saturday 12 February 2011

Sometimes you get a happy combination of flight plan, weather, and seating on an airplane. Today, on departure from O'Hare:

To see this full-size, plus two more shots (including one from the approach to LaGuardia), go to The Daily Parker.

Saturday 12 February 2011 17:09:48 EST (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Geography#

I had planned a quick getaway to New York this weekend, one involving a single carry-on, dropping Parker off this morning and picking him up tomorrow afternoon, and putting my new camera through a live-fire exercise in Manhattan.

Then, Thursday evening, I found out I'll spend the next two weeks in southwestern Connecticut. So now I have a checked bag and Parker has almost a week of boarding ahead of him. The client wants us onsite Monday at 8am through 2pm Friday, which few clients ever ask for. This reflects the short duration of the project and the client's level of security (they're a financial firm), the latter characteristic meaning I'll have no email, mobile phone, or (gasp!) Facebook access during the business day. The silver lining from that is we won't be allowed to work on the project after business hours.

So it looks like I'll get to spend more time in my third-favorite[1] city in the world. I'll also get to see a couple more friends, assuming I can get off the client site early enough to have dinner in the city some day this coming week.

Now if the plane taking me to New York weren't delayed for an hour getting out of New Orleans this morning, I might get there sooner...

[1] Chicago and London have the top two spots; New York and San Francisco are tied for third.

Saturday 12 February 2011 10:45:16 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Work#
Friday 11 February 2011

It's snowing again in Chicago. Not a lot. But definitely flurries.

The Tribune predicts our snow cover may melt within two weeks. They also report that 49 states have snow on the ground today; only Florida seems to have missed it. (Hawai'i, don't forget, has a 4,200 m volcano that gets snow occasionally.) And they report that Oklahoma will experience a 55°C swing in temperatures over the next few days, from yesterday morning's -34°C to next week's expected 22°C.

But it's snowing again. Crap.

Friday 11 February 2011 15:00:41 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
All content Copyright ©2015 David Braverman.
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