The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

That'll show him!

Her Majesty the Queen has punished the unspeakably foul dictator who has ruined Zimbabwe and thrown millions into starving poverty, by stripping him of his knighthood. This, on top of her government's ongoing finger-wagging and tut-tutting, will no doubt shame Robert Mugabe into better behaviour. Morgan Tsvangerai, you can go home now.

Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama have finally spoken up, though. They are probably the two most influential people in the world on this matter, so perhaps—just perhaps—things may start to change.

A strange thing happened at City Hall

In Chicago, we have an annual vehicle tax of $75. Many neighborhoods also have restricted parking zones; permits are $25. Both vehicle stickers and parking permits expire on June 30th.

I mention this because I went to renew these things in person this afternoon down at City Hall. Yes, three business days before their expiration, I stood in line. How long? you wonder. This is city government, after all.

Seven minutes.

Chicago really is the city that works.

I even had time to go to the County Assessor's Office to clear up an issue with my property tax. That adventure took—wait for it—no time at all because the receptionist walked me through the process as soon as I entered the office.

City and county services like these make my head spin. Let's review: I walked into the building at 4:15 pm, and walked out at 4:45 with my vehicle sticker, parking permit, and corrected property tax information.

Try that in any other major city in the world. Ha!

And as an added bonus, via Calculated Risk, 75% of Americans blame the Current Occupant (208 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes) for the deteriorating economy. For the record, I'm one of them.

Side note: Chicago is wikitravel's destination of the month.

I'm back

I have returned from my latest travels, patted Parker, had a good night of sleep, and am offloading several hundred photos from two digital cameras. This, plus restocking my fridge, will take a little bit, so in the meantime: Paul Krguman explains why speculators have nothing to do with oil prices right now:

Imagine that Joe Shmoe and Harriet Who, neither of whom has any direct involvement in the production of oil, make a bet: Joe says oil is going to $150, Harriet says it won't. What direct effect does this have on the spot price of oil — the actual price people pay to have a barrel of black gunk delivered?

The answer, surely, is none.

Yes, he's 14 in dog years

Parker is two years old today. As is tradition, we all say: "awwww!"

Also, this lovely armoire separates into four sections. The largest weighs two tonnes. I know this because a friend and I moved it yesterday. My doctor now knows this also. I haven't heard from my friend, so I can only assume he paid more attention to stretching and correct lifting techniques than I did.

Meanwhile, back at Wrigley

My cousin and I have a 9-game package at Wrigley Field, game 7 of which was Tuesday night against the Braves. The Cubs won—despite dropping three runs in the first, never a good sign—on a warm but not sticky evening at one of my favorite places in the universe. Here's Fukudome stealing second:

I have to say, though, that not every seat at Wrigley is good. Example: Section 525, any row, seats 1-2, look like this:

Character. It's about character.

Ribfest Chicago

Ah, ribs. Possibly my favorite food. Living in Chicago, there are options. And every year, I get to sample as many of those options as my stomach lets me at the annual Ribfest up at Lincoln and Damen.

The festival is going on this weekend, so yesterday I dragged Parker there. It's a 5 km hike, and it was hot, and despite my assurances that really tasty treats waited for him at the end of the walk, he seemed to think we were heading for Bataan.

When we finally got to the festival, Parker seemed to catch on. He knows what grilling smells like. He knows that crowds of people drop bits of food everywhere. He rallied. And after my third two-bone sampler, and some long rests in the shade, Parker seemed quite a bit happier:

I took my time and took some notes. Cy's, rumored to be the best at the fair, had a spicy Texas-style sauce on slow-cooked ribs that slid off the bone. BBQ Chicago (couldn't find a link or an address—too bad, I was going to try a full slab) had char-grilled bones with some pull and a decent but neutral sauce. Gale St. Inn's sauce was thick and smoky-sweet, with slightly fatty and chewey meat. And the Fireplace Inn, with its tangy sauce and perfectly-cooked bones, deserves a second look.

There were a couple others I tried, but they're not worth mentioning. Life is too short for bad barbecue. And with Parker there, none of it went to waste: where it might take me half a minute to savor a bite of good baby backs, Parker frequently caught scraps before they hit the sidewalk.

One more thing about my guy I'll mention, since astute observers may have noticed it in the photo of Parker above. While I was traveling, apparently he got into a little scrap at the boarding facility:

He's not in any discomfort, though he was for about a day after I got back. I'll have to wait until it heals completely before having the vet take a look at removing the gross flap of skin hanging off his ear. Ew.

The score so far

Here's my current progress through the 30-park geas:

City Team Park First visit Last visit Next visit
Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field 1977 Jul ? 2009 Sep 14  
Los Angeles Dodgers Dodger Stadium 1980 Jul ? 2001 May 12 [3]  
New York Mets Shea Stadium
Citi Field [4]
1988 Sep ? [1] 1997 Apr 19 [3]
2011 Season
Houston Astros Enron Field
Minute Maid Park [2]
2001 May 9 [3]  
2009 Apr 7 [1]
Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park 2006 Jul 29 [3] 2008 Aug 11  
Kansas City Royals Kauffman Stadium 2008 May 28 2008 May 28  
San Francisco Giants AT&T Park 2008 May 31 2008 May 31  
Chicago White Sox U.S. Cellular Field 2008 Jun 6 2008 Jun 6  
Cleveland Indians Progressive Field 2008 Jul 10 2008 Jul 10  
Baltimore Orioles Camden Yards 2008 Jul 26 2008 Jul 26  
Philadelphia Phillies Citizens Bank Park 2008 Jul 27 2008 Jul 27  
New York Yankees Yankee Stadium 2008 Jul 28 2008 Jul 28  
Washington Nationals Nationals Park 2008 Jul 29 2008 Jul 29  
Atlanta Braves Turner Field 2008 Aug 13 [1] 2008 Aug 14 [1]  
Oakland Athletics Oakland Coliseum 2009 Apr 25 2009 Apr 25  
Detroit Tigers Comerica Park 2009 Jun 24 [1] 2009 Jun 24 [1]  
Boston Red Sox Fenway Park 2010 Aug 21 2010 Aug 21

[1] vs. Cubs
[2] Renamed Minute Maid Park in 2004
[3] I've decided not to count parks I visited before the 2008 season in this quest
[4] Shea demolished in 2009; Citi Field opened 13 April 2009

Last edited: 24 April 2011