The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Wrigley renovations

Having the second-oldest ball park may give Chicago its largest outdoor party 88 days every summer, but I can't deny that other parks have better amenities. The steel troughs in the men's rooms, for example: ew. Now that Wrigley has a new owner, there's talk of expansion and renovation ahead of its centennial in 2014:

The project will be called "Wrigley 20-14" and include construction projects during the season so the Cubs can use it "for another 100 years," according to President Crane Kenney.

The focal point of the massive restructuring will be the long-talked-about "triangle building" to the west, a project that will include knocking down the outer wall on the third-base side to form a large open-air courtyard that would include concession areas and shops.

In the end, all of the concourse will be widened and include expanded restrooms, some of which will be completed for this season. It also means construction will be ongoing during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

I think that will help make the games more enjoyable. Now all we need is a Marlins-style team of unknowns who play well together (instead of being the team where former stars go to die), and we might actually break the 101-year drought.

Friday afternoon potpourri


Really. January.

Three months forward in two hours

As "Chicagoans gaze out at a cover of snow for the 21st consecutive day" today, I'm once again in Raleigh, where snow fell once a few weeks ago but decided not to stay the night. It's already 9°C, going up to a predicted 16°C this afternoon. I plan to walk as far as my legs will take me (or Parker's will take him) later on.

That's the problem, of course: in Chicago, we get maybe three days like this between November and March, so I'm a little giddy about it. On the other hand, Chicagoans do get a lot of work done in the winter. Probably because we have no opportunities to play.

Things that make you say "WTF?"

Thousands dead, a country devastated, and this clown blames the devil? Seriously:

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," [Televangelist Pat Robertson] said on Christian Broadcasting Network's "The 700 Club." "They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal."

Assuming for a moment that Robertson isn't an ignorant, medieval, superstitious, wretched man, and that Haiti did make a pact with Satan, one must ask where Robertson came by this information. Possibly he was in the queue behind Haiti, waiting for his turn at the deal window?

No, that's just mean. Neither Robertson nor Haiti made a pact with the devil, and neither Robertson nor Haiti deserves what they have right now. Haiti doesn't deserve the suffering, the death, the destruction, the French colonial history, the dictators who took power, the poor soil, the lack of rainfall, or anything else that has led to where they are this evening. Robertson, for his part, doesn't deserve his money, his power, his influence, or anything else that has allowed this latest public utterance of such far-reaching and anti-Christian stupidity the audience it got.

Anyway, the devil, if he existed, wouldn't work through earthquakes. He'd work through televangelists.

I feel the warmth

Apparently I got back to Chicago just in time for a heat wave:

Arctic air's grip on Chicago's weather enters its 19th day Tuesday. But far-reaching changes in critical upper level steering winds taking place on a continental scale are to undermine the frigid air's dominance. The break in arctic-level temperatures may span much of the coming two weeks. Not until month's end may bitter winds of arctic origin return brutally cold air to the metro area.

Coming days will offer winter weary Chicago area residents a noticeable respite from the bitter air at the heart of January's 13.9-degrees average temperature to date--a reading more than 5°C below normal. But the "warming" predicted which is to include the city's first above freezing afternoon readings since Christmas (Dec. 25), may occur a bit more slowly than many might hope.

Today the temperature at one reporting station (Waukegan) did, in fact, go all the way up to 0.6°C, but alas the city's official high today looks like 0°C on the nose.

Bonus: A propos of nothing, here's a set of outtakes from ABC's Better Off Ted (NSFW). Worth a chuckle.

Sod this 'winter wonderland' bollocks

Via several sites, a NASA photo of Great Britain from Thursday noontime:

The U.K. doesn't usually get a snow cover at all, let alone one this thorough. The U.K. Met Office has an explanation:

In most winters, and certainly those in the last 20 years or so, our winds normally come from the south-west. This means air travels over the relatively warm Atlantic and we get mild conditions in the UK. However, over the past three weeks the Atlantic air has been ‘blocked’ and cold air has been flowing down from the Arctic or the cold winter landmass of Europe.

Is your computer backed up?

Software entrepreneur Joel Spolsky says that's a good start, but only part of it:

[L]et’s stop talking about “backups.” Doing a backup is too low a bar. Any experienced system administrator will tell you that they have a great backup plan, the trouble comes when you have to restore.

And that’s when you discover that:

  • The backed-up files were encrypted with a cryptographically-secure key, the only copy of which was on the machine that was lost
  • The server had enormous amounts of configuration information stored in the IIS metabase which wasn’t backed up
  • The backup files were being copied to a FAT partition and were silently being truncated to 2GB
  • Your backups were on an LTO drive which was lost with the data center, and you can’t get another LTO drive for three days
  • And a million other things that can go wrong even when you “have” “backups.”

The minimum bar for a reliable service is not that you have done a backup, but that you have done a restore.

As someone who's got reliable, clockwork backups running, and has had them fail for one of the reasons Spolsky listed (and others that he didn't), I think this is tremendously good advice.