The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

I leave for four days...

...and bison start wandering the Chicago suburbs:

Illinois State Police say four buffalo escaped from a farm in Braidwood and were shot after they blocked morning traffic. The buffalo wandered onto Interstate 55, shutting down the highway in both directions from Illinois Route 29 to Route 113 in the Coal City and Braidwood area.

First we get coyotes in downtown Chicago drink coolers, now this. These guys must think they own the place or something.

Cubs sweep Atlanta

I wrote this post on my flight to Dallas listening to the Indigo Girls. Fitting, because having an extra day to spend in Atlanta, my cousin and I went out to Decatur to have lunch with one of my oldest surviving friends and her wife. As my cousin said while we were poking around the interesting kitsch in Blue Moon (below), "Ah, here's the Community."

My Decatur friend suggested the most appropriate (and, in fact, tastiest) place to have lunch in these circumstances: Watershed, which the Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers co-owns. In for a dime at this point, I put in my dollar by having shrimp grits and a mint julep. I know what my fellow Northerners may think right now: "grits? Ew." But what are grits? Nothing more than pieces of corn pan-fried in butter. Well-prepared grits—at Watershed, they prepared them well—are quite tasty, and these, paired as they were with possibly the best-made mint julep I've ever enjoyed, completely ended any reservations I had about this Southern staple.

From there, my cousin and I got back on the MARTA (Atlanta's cute little ol' light rail) and headed next to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site. Wow. Intense. I've studied the Civil Rights Movement from the distance of 20 years and 1000 km, but standing by the Ebenezer Baptist Church and walking past King's tomb truly moved me:

We wrapped up the day at Turner Field, where we got to watch the Cubs sweep the Braves with 29 runs in two days. The park hardly contained any Braves fans at all; it sounded like a home game at Wrigley, complete with "Let's-Go-Cub-bies!" chants and mocking the Braves' tomahawk chop. Milwaukee also lost last night, increasing the Cubs' first-place lead to 4½ games. This year, the post-season is ours to lose.

It was, I kid you not, NASCAR night at the park, with actual stock cars lekking around the warning track during two inning breaks. Occasionally one of the cars would rev at us, causing some in the crowd to cheer. I really don't have anything against NASCAR, but there is something of a cultural gulf between my crowd and theirs.

I did find the two local-beer vendors, and had some Sweetwater 420 Ale. Good pale ale; I recommend it.

From Dallas I'm on to San Francisco, mostly to see family, but also to visit park #15 on the 30-Park Geas, Oakland's Cisco Field. The As are playing the White Sox, which means rooting for the home team (and wearing a Cubs hat) are doubly enjoyable. That's Sunday; tomorrow, it's beer and curry at Kennedy's. I can't wait.

Atlanta, wishing the Cubs had never come

My cousin and I are in Atlanta, which works well with the 30-Park Geas because we saw the Cubs play. Tuesday's game got rained out so we got to Turner Field for the second half of a double-header. The first game went to Chicago 10-2; ours, 8-0. We're going back again tonight to see what should, by averages, be a 9-1 Cubs victory.

From our seats we had a great view of the field:

Including the gilded dome of the Georgia State Capitol and what the hell is that cow in the baseball hat? Oh. It's a Chik-Fil-A advertisement that does the Braves Chop when, as we found out, any Braves player makes it to any base even if it's a walk.

Brewers over Nats, 7-1

The 30-Park Geas continued yesterday with a trip up to Milwaukee, the charming and colorful city only 90 minutes away from Chicago by train:

All right, it's not that bad everywhere—just in the road-contstruction hell near the Amtrak station that made me walk nearly a mile out of my way. Downtown Milwaukee has improved in the past few years, and even appears to have something like a skyline:

Of course, I've been to Milwaukee many times, and I have even gone to Miller Park. But, because of the rules I put down for myself, and because it's so close (I was gone from home less than 11 hours), I went up yesterday to see the game.

Where Washington has a Presidents Race, Milwaukee has the original Sausage Race:

For those keeping score at home, Polish won yesterday—and so did the home team, which brought them to 3½ games behind the Cubs, which is getting too close for comfort.

Off to Milwaukee

The 30-Park Geas continues this afternoon with Washington at Milwaukee, my second trip to Miller Park but first as part of the geas. Milwaukee is in second place, 4 games behind the Cubs, and has won their last 5 in a row. This game counts, in other words. (Washington is still in last place, and could stay there until the 2015 season.)

Still, it's Milwaukee, and I can never get out of my head the speech a Russian defector gave in an episode of Barney Miller, explaining what the Soviet Union was then like: "Imagine you're in Milwaukee. You walk in any direction, one hundred miles, and you're still in Milwaukee. No matter where you go, you're still in Milwaukee." At which point, Wojo begins screaming.

Milwaukee has changed since then. Really.

Game photos probably tonight, or tomorrow morning.

Northalsted Market Days

Parker and I checked out the annual festival in Boystown, and lasted 45 minutes before both of us suffered serious crowd fatigue. The walk did both of us some good, though my sunscreen, nowhere nearly as effective as the natural stuff he sheds all over the place, seems not to have lasted, so I'll definitely feel the walk longer than he will.

Crowds, though. My goodness. The weather was perfect today—I mean, perfect—so the entire city squeezed itself into four blocks of Halsted Street. Parker got his tail trod upon twice, patted on the head by perhaps a hundred people, and looked at me on the walk home as if to say, "how much farther to Bataan?" Poor guy.

Also, I finished Small Gods, a literary amuse guele before tackling Howard Zinn's People's History of the U.S..


I just finished Paul Johnson's History of the American People, which I started four weeks ago. Well-written as it was, I couldn't help noticing, around when the book got into the Harding administration, that perhaps Mr. Johnson leans farther to the right than I do. He made some good arguments for more-conservative views of modern American history, and I'll think about them, but parts of his discussions of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush père made me snort.

Still, I recommend the book, and I found it a great way to review, essentially, my college degree.

And now, as a palate-cleanser, I will snack on the next Discworld novel (specifically, #13, Small Gods). One's reading mustn't be too heavy all the time, what what!

Biennial flight review

Perfect weather yesterday allowed me to finish my BFR. It almost didn't happen, as my usual flight instructor, Chris, got sick the night before and couldn't fly and the plane I'd scheduled lost its transponder earlier in the day. But, the flight school found a plane and an instructor, so off we went. Next time I see Chris, he'll sign off, and I'm good to fly again.

If you have Google Earth, you can not only see my route of flight, but also the actual plane I flew, sitting in its parking space right there in the Google Earth satellite photo.