The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

At least he got a new line on his tombstone

Ah, Roland, we hardly knew ye:

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris said today he is open to a Senate ethics investigation into how he got the Senate seat from ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and that he has reached out to a Sangamon County prosecutor who is reviewing Burris' sworn testimony before Illinois lawmakers.

No one in the U.S. can be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, but if someone really, really wants to—say, by babbling to a room full of reporters— he is certainly allowed.

Yes, it's good to be home.

Ah, it's good to be home

You know, after three days on a tropical island and a night in South Miami Beach, I worried I'd have some trouble getting back into the swing of things in Chicago. Nope. I'm definitely back in Illinois:

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris has acknowledged he sought to raise campaign funds for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich at the request of the governor’s brother at the same time he was making a pitch to be appointed to the Senate seat previously held by President Barack Obama.

Burris' latest comments in Peoria Monday night were the first time he has publicly said he was actively trying to raise money for Blagojevich. Previously Burris has left the impression that he always balked at the issue of raising money for the governor because of his interest in the Senate appointment.

In comments to reporters after appearing at a Democratic dinner, the senator several times contradicted his latest under-oath affidavit that he quietly filed with the Illinois House impeachment panel earlier this month. That affidavit was itself an attempt to clean up his live, sworn testimony to the panel Jan. 8, when he omitted his contacts with several Blagojevich insiders.

Fortunately for Burris, he's already surpassed our record for shortest U.S. Senate term set waaay back in 1830 by David Baker (served 29 days, 12 November-11 December 1830). But he is carrying on the honorable tradition of asking, "Where's mine?" and then lying about it.

I'm taking bets on how fast the indictment comes.

And as I was writing this, in what has to be a total conicidence, former Chicago alderman Ardena Troutman was just sentenced to 4 years for mail fraud.

Who says it's hard to get good people into public office?

Long way home

It seems like a month, but it's only two days, 30 km of walking, fewer mojitos than planned (probably a good thing), less sunscreen than required (probably a bad thing) and other lists of things I did right and things I did wrong. Oh, and almost 500 photos taken, three books read, less than €100 spent (never mind how many US dollars), and 2,600 email messages dealt with, of which 1,200 went into the junk folder, 400 more should have, and 290 were status messags from various applications and processes running in the Inner Drive Technology Worldwide Data Center.

I'll be sorting through all of that tomorrow. At the moment, I'm at Princess Juliana Airport in Sint Maarten, waaiting for my plaane to Miaami.

Photos and cetera should start tomorrow.

Out of the office

I was traveling yesterday, which prevented me from commenting on Lincoln's 200th Birthday, Darwin's 200th birthday, and the NAACP centennial. All three events deserved recognition, but fortunately, the other seven million bloggers in the U.S. covered them just fine.

As for the travel, I have only once in my life gone someplace just because it was warmer than Chicago; today, briefly, I'm back in the same place. Tonight I press on to the Mecca (or Bethlehem, or Jerusalem, depending on which monotheistic faith you follow) of aviation; photos and description to follow, I hope next week. Also, I'll be accepting donations of spare livers on Tuesday as I expect mine will need replacing by then. That is, if I ever drink again, which this afternoon seems unlikely.

Right now, though, it's 1°C in Chicago and 27°C here, so I'm going back outside now.

About those records

Yesterday's temperature at O'Hare did tie the previous O'Hare records of 16.1°C. Midway also broke a record, topping off at he same temperature. And the official low temperature also tied the warmest for the date, 6.1°C, set in 1886.

That said, while Midway was (1930s to 1958) and O'Hare now is (since 1958) the official weather station for Chicago, neither matched the 17.1°C record set in 1876—at a weather station that doesn't even exist any more.

Whatever. Yesterday's weather was just fine anyway.

We now return to our regularly-scheduled winter.

Record clarifications

It turns out, I only got half the story about today's weather. The 13.3°C figure is only the high maximum record for O'Hare, whose records only go back to November 1958. But the official record for Chicago goes back to 1871. The offical record high maximum was 17.1°C, set in 1876. O'Hare didn't break that record today, but Midway—where our official weather station was from the 1930s until 1958—might have tied it.

We might, however, get the high minimum temperature tonight. That record, 6.1°C, has lasted since 1886. Last evening's low was 8.9°C, around what tonight's forecast calls for.

WSJ on why you can't donate airline tickets to charity

Quick note, via the Chicago Tribune Daywatch, the Wall Street Journal today has a mildly-interesting article on why you can usually donate frequent-flier miles but not actual tickets. Hint: the miles don't have your name on them:

As much as $2 billion worth of nonrefundable airline tickets expire every year without being used, but those who want to give them to charities rather than throw them away are grounded with only good intentions.

Most airlines make their tickets "nontransferable" to protect their fare structures and maintain control of their inventory. Otherwise, entrepreneurs might hoard cheap tickets and then resell them at higher prices closer to departure. Or big companies might buy up a batch of cheap tickets for frequently traveled routes and then assign them to business travelers when trips are planned.

Travelers can fly later on their unused tickets by applying the value of the ticket to another trip to any destination after deducting change fees. But most airlines require the new ticket to be in the original passenger's name. Alaska Airlines is one notable exception that does allow customers to transfer the dollar value of a ticket to anyone after paying a $100 change fee.

... A spokesman for AMR Corp.'s American Airlines said the carrier thinks [donating tickets to charity is] a great idea, but too complex. "The problem with ticket transfers of any type is the potential for resale of tickets, other types of fraud, and other complex security issues," he said.

Given that many carriers still use the Saabre system, developed by AMR in the 1970s and 1980s, I don't doubt the complexity.

Records today?

Forecasters predicted that Chicago would break its old record high (technically "high maximum") temperature of 13.3°C today. Well, we just hit that temperature, so let's see how high it goes.

For what it's worth, I walked from class to my client today. In many parts of the world that's not extraordinary. In February in Chicago, though...

Update, 11:10 CT: 11 am temperature officially 14.4°C, new record. How high will it fly? (Sorry...)

Update, 12:05 CT: now 15°C, another new record.

Update, 13:00 CT: 15.6°C.