The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Squishy sigh.

So far in 2011, Chicago has not only experienced its wettest year ever, but we've almost reached our annual normal rainfall total:

With the record (283 mm) July rains adding on to already above-normal precipitation prior to this month, Chicago's official total for 2011 has reached 858 mm - or 351 mm above normal at this point in the season. Chicago's official rain gage at the O'Hare International Airport observing site has now registered 93 percent of the normal annual 921 mm.

Today, however, it's sunny and clear, and not quite as hot as it has been recently.

Two out of three is a career in baseball

Like most American citizens, I have three representatives in Congress: one in the House, and two in the Senate. My representative is Mike Quigley; the Senate Majority Leader, Dick Durbin; and the other guy, Mark Kirk. I've given money to everyone who's run against Kirk in the last six years, and voted for one of them[1], and I've given money to and voted for my other Senator and my Congressman every time I've been able. Thus, I'm batting .667, which isn't bad.

And why do I want Kirk to retire? Why do I think he completely fails to represent the interests of the State of Illinois, and more specifically, my interests? In part because he says dumb crap like this:

In a potential missile combat scenario between NATO and Iran, Russia is thoroughly irrelevant. So Russian concerns about what we do and not do about the Iranian threat are interesting but largely irrelevant.

O RLY? Does Senator Kirk know that Iran borders Russia, that Russia considers Iran within its sphere of influence, that Russia has sold weapons to Iran, and all that aside, that Russia has just as many missiles as NATO?

Kirk's latest polysyllabic fart, by the way, came in response to a remark the Russian Ambassador's made about him yesterday:

Today in the Senate, I met with Senators Jon Kyl and Mark Kirk. The meeting is very useful because it shows that the alternative to Barack Obama is a collapse of all the programs of cooperation with Russia. Today, I had the impression that I was transported in a time machine back several decades, and in front of me sat two monsters of the Cold War, who looked at me not through pupils, but targeting sights.

Hyperbole aside, I think Ambassador Rogozin is correct: Kirk's politics are an unholy blend of 1963 and 1850, not what either Illinois or the country needs right now.

[1] Kirk represented the 10th District for 9 years, and I supported his opponent Dan Seals twice. However, I live in the 5th District, so I couldn't vote for Seals. Pity; both elections were close.

(Corrected typo, and length of Kirk's time in the House.)

A decision has been decided


Two things about this of interest to travelers: First, because it's a frequent-flyer miles purchase, I can hold the reservation without fully committing for a week. So, if something changes before the 3rd, I'm not out anything. Second: as much as the Congressional Republicans boggle my mind, and as much as I wish they'd shut up for ten seconds and reauthorize the FAA, their idiocy is my gain. Instead of the usual expensive tax I'd have to pay to the US for a premium frequent-flyer ticket, I only have to pay Japanese taxes of about $50.

Arigato gozaimas, Congress.

First-world problems

I'm getting closer to finalizing plans to blow some frequent-flyer miles this fall. I'm down to three choices, though one city has taken a slight lead:

  • Tokyo. The end of November is supposed to have the best foliage. I can also have enough hotel points for three free nights.
  • Budapest. Colder than the other two top choices, but a very old friend would meet me there for a day or two. Oddly, having to connect through New York gives the trip the longest travel time of the three options.
  • Madrid. Excellent opportunity to practice Spanish. Warmest weather of the three choices. Also the smallest city—which could be relaxing, or not. Also, a nerdy reason: Iberia, which operates the non-stop service from Chicago, flies an Airbus 340 on the route, which would be a pleasant change from the 777s and 767s that I usually take overseas.

What reasons am I overlooking?

I will probably book the trip Saturday.

We did it!

Remember Tuesday, when we were only 13 mm away from having the wettest July in history? Thanks to a storm that dumped a squishy 259 mm of rain on nearby Dubuque, Iowa, Chicago's rainfall this month reached 248 mm, beating the old record of 243 mm set in 1889.

Today's forecast calls for even bloody more rain:

Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 32°C. Heat index values as high as 37°C. Southwest wind between 10 and 15 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between 5 and 7.5 mm possible.

At 7am, the temperature of 23°C comes with a dewpoint temperature of 22°C, which is the scientific way of saying it's warm and sticky.

Let's see...warmer summers, more extreme weather, much more moisture in the atmosphere...saw that one coming.

Yes, it's still raining

Chicago is still experiencing weather more suited for the jungles of Cambodia:

For a 12th consecutive day Wednesday, Chicago's lows have registered 22°C or higher—the first time that's happened in 12 years and only the fourth time such a long string of warm nighttime lows has been observed at Midway Airport since 1928.

And it's still raining: another 111 mm fell on parts of the area this morning.

A weekend in Canada starts to look very appealing...

Not only wet, but hot too

Chicago this year has not only gotten almost enough rain to hit a new record, but it's also gotten more than enough heat:

July's 230 mm of rain at O'Hare places the month only 13 mm away from July's 122 year old record of 243 mm recorded in 1889. A more typical July would have a rainfall tally closer to 67 mm by now—just a third as much as has fallen this month. ...

July's opening 26 days are averaging 26.2°C. That makes the month the warmest at O'Hare since weather readings were first archived at the site beginning in 1959. The 26.2°C average ranks as the 4th warmest July 1-26's over the full term of Chicago weather records spanning 141 years and taken at 12 different sites in the city since 1871.

Hot and wet: my favorite. (There's a joke in there somewhere...) When is October?

Still pondering travel

I mentioned yesterday morning needing to blow some frequent-flyer miles this autumn. So far, I've whittled the list down to Scotland, Budapest, Madrid, and Tokyo. (It turns out Canada only costs 30,000 miles round-trip, so I might just go to Montréal for a weekend instead of making a big thing about it.)

Any other places people would strongly recommend for a 4- or 5-day trip in late November or early December?

(If you're wondering why I care about this in July, then obviously you haven't tried to book an international flight on partner airlines using miles before. American has sold out all of its discounted business-class and most discounted economy-class seats to Paris between Thanksgiving and New Year's, for example.)

Chicago Sunrise Chart, 2011-12

Welcome to the semi-annual update of the Chicago sunrise chart. (You can get one for your own location at

Date Significance Sunrise Sunset Daylight
3 Jul 8:30pm sunset 05:20 20:30 15:09
17 Jul 5:30am sunrise 05:30 20:24 14:53
9 Aug 8pm sunset 05:53 20:00 14:06
17 Aug 6am sunrise 06:00 19:48 13:48
29 Aug 7:30pm sunset 06:13 19:30 13:16
15 Sep 6:30am sunrise 06:30 19:01 12:30
16 Sep 7pm sunset 06:32 18:59 12:27
23 Sep Equinox, 03:05 CDT 06:39 18:49 12:10
26 Sep 12-hour day 06:42 18:42 12:00
3 Oct 6:30pm sunset 06:50 18:30 11:39
13 Oct 7am sunrise 07:01 18:13 11:12
22 Oct 6pm sunset 07:11 17:59 10:48
5 Nov Latest sunrise until 5 Nov 2016
Latest sunset until Feb 29th
07:28 17:40 10:12
6 Nov Standard time returns
6:30am sunrise
Earliest sunrise until Feb 28th
06:29 16:39 10:10
16 Nov 4:30pm sunset 06:41 16:30 9:47
2 Dec 7am sunrise 07:00 16:21 9:20
8 Dec Earliest sunset of the year 07:06 16:20 9:14
21 Dec Solstice, 23:30 CST 07:15 16:23 9:08
3 Jan Latest sunrise until Nov. 14th 07:19 16:32 9:13
28 Jan 5pm sunset 07:07 17:00 9:52
5 Feb 7am sunrise 07:00 17:11 10:10
21 Feb 5:30pm sunset 06:39 17:31 10:52
27 Feb 6:30am sunrise 06:30 17:38 11:08
10 Mar Earliest sunrise until Apr. 15th
Earliest sunset until Oct. 27th
06:10 17:52 11:42
11 Mar Daylight savings time begins
Latest sunrise until Oct. 21st
Earliest sunset until Sept. 20th
07:09 18:53 11:45
16 Mar 7am sunrise, 7pm sunset
12-hour day
07:00 18:59 11:59
20 Mar Equinox 00:14 CDT 06:53 19:04 12:10
3 Apr 6:30am sunrise (again) 06:29 19:19 12:50
13 Apr 7:30pm sunset 06:13 19:30 13:17
21 Apr 6am sunrise 06:00 19:39 13:39
10 May 8pm sunset 05:35 20:00 14:24
15 May 5:30am sunrise 05:30 20:05 14:35
14 Jun Earliest sunrise of the year 05:15 20:28 15:13
20 Jun Solstice 18:09 CDT
8:30pm sunset
05:16 20:30 15:14
26 Jun Latest sunset of the year 05:17 20:31 15:13

You can get sunrise information for your location at