The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

More coyotes in cities

Via reader DB, a report of a coyote captured in downtown Boston:

At about 3 p.m., the 40-pound animal was finally located by Animal Rescue League workers. It was found cowering next to a downtown building near the corner of Lincoln and Summer streets, surrounded by a crowd of curious onlookers and police. Using teamwork, a large net, and a catchpole, the rescue workers were able to catch it.

[A Boston Animal Rescue League spokesman] suspected that the animal most likely was able to enter the city by following train tracks, but couldn’t find its way back. He said this happens a few times a year and that coyotes are much easier to catch than deer.

We've had coyotes in Chicago news a few times in the past couple of years. I've seen them as well, the last time right by the Whole Foods in Lincoln Park. I love how they've learned to adapt to us—and what they're doing to the rabbit and Canada goose populations. (Sorry, Bugs, you're just a long-eared rat.)

Romney the Robot

The New Yorker takes a look at why Mitt Romney seems so out of touch:

in the nineteen-seventies and eighties consultants tended to figure employees as simply part of a firm’s costs. In the whirlwind of creative destruction, employees are subject to the “churn”—the turnover that is an inevitable by-product of the struggle among firms to compete.

[O]f the approximately one hundred deals that Bain Capital made during Romney’s tenure there either lost money or only broke even, the successful deals were astronomically successful. Bain invested about two hundred and sixty million dollars in ten major deals under Romney’s direction, and it made nearly three billion. Annual return to investors was eighty-eight per cent.

And that, of course, is the goal of a private-equity business: maximizing the return on investment. Jobs may be “created” in the process—although sometimes jobs are lost, a company goes broke, and the private-equity firm still makes money. But a firm like Bain is concerned exclusively with buying low and selling high. Any other outcome it might pursue at the expense of that concern cheats its investors. This is why talk of job creation or job destruction in the companies Bain invested in is beside the point. Bain was not about jobs.

This is the guy most likely running against the President this fall. Does Mitt Romney care about you or your concerns? To him, the question itself doesn't even make sense.

Yet another post on our record-smashing weather

The hits just keep on coming as Chicago hits yet another new heat record (28°C):

In Chicago...prior to this year there had only been 10 days in March with highs in the 80s [Fahrenheit, 26.7°C], which means on average, Chicago only sees an 80 degree high in March once about every 14 years. Already this month, there have been seven [now eight—db] days at or above 80. Including the [eight] days at or above 80 this March, there have now been a total of [18] March days at or above 80 in Chicago. This means about one third of one percent of all March days have been in the 80s in Chicago.

The last time Chicago saw an 80 degree temperature during the month of March (prior to this year) was over 22 years ago back on March 12, 1990, when the high temperature was 81.

Here's the updated table:

Date Old record New record
March 14 25.0°C, 1995 27.2°C
March 15 23.3°C, 1995 27.2°C
March 16 25.6°C, 1945 27.8°C
March 17 23.3°C, 1894, 2009 27.8°C
March 18 23.3°C, 1903, 1918, 1969 27.2°C
March 19 25.6°C, 1921 25.6°C (tie)
March 20 24.3°C, 1921 29.3°C
March 21 25.0°C, 1938 30.6°C
March 22 26.3°C, 1938 27.8°C as of 1:51pm

No, no global warming here, you can go about your business...

Sunset at the bottom of the world

Researchers at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station have been watching the sun set for weeks. At the poles, the sun traces an excruciatingly slow corkscrew between equinoxes, first spiraling up to a point 23° above the horizon (only about as high as the sun gets in Chicago around 10am on December 21st) on the solstice, then slowly spiraling back down to the horizon over the next three months.

In about an hour from now, the last limb of the sun will slip below the south polar horizon, the twilight gradually fading for another three weeks. The sun won't appear again until September 20th.

Fourteen people will spend the next five months at Amundsen-Scott, with no possibility of leaving until the end of August.

Two more from France

First, just a nod to the eighth record temperature in a row that Chicago just set. Tom Skilling's blog entry this morning maps out the carnage, including record pollen levels, the hottest lake temperature readings ever for this time of year, and a forecast for above-average temperatures going into April. Let me tell you how thrilled I am that we've skipped spring and gone straight to July. As my servers start to melt and I lose sleep because the house is too hot, I find myself wishing for autumn the day after the March equinox.

It's not that warm in Paris. Here's another view of the Pont Neuf, which I like a little better than the one I posted Sunday:

And thank you, Eurostar, for making this all possible:

Other things of note

I don't want to lose these things:

That is all. More UK and France photos later today.

Record number of records keeps growing

Happy Spring. The equinox happened less than 11 hours ago, which usually means Chicago has another six weeks of cold and damp weather. Not this time. Trees have buds and flowers, insects have started buzzing around, and as of about an hour ago, we've broken (or tied) our seventh consecutive heat record. This, by the way, is also a record (greatest number of temperature records broken consecutively), breaking the record set...yesterday.

Here are the temperature records we've set so far this month:

Date Old record New record
March 14 25.0°C, 1995 27.2°C
March 15 23.3°C, 1995 27.2°C
March 16 25.6°C, 1945 27.8°C
March 17 23.3°C, 1894, 2009 27.8°C
March 18 23.3°C, 1903, 1918, 1969 27.2°C
March 19 25.6°C, 1921 25.6°C (tie)
March 20 24.3°C, 1921 25.0°C as of 10:53am

Today's forecast high would make it feel more like mid-June than mid-March.

Meanwhile, it's snowing in Arizona...

Update: O'Hare temperature is 28.9°C at 13:51.

How I spent my afternoon in Paris

Mostly, I walked, from Gare du Nord to the Pont Neuf and thence Châtelet. I also stopped at the Musée du Louvre, unfortunately only about an hour and a quarter before closing time. Fortunately, it wasn't that crowded. Apparently on a busy day I'd never have gotten to see this:

Oh, wait, that's the wrong angle. I mean, this:

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great painting. But if you look at the top photo, you'll notice it's not the only painting in the museum. I think this is a fascinating phenomenon: going to see something because it's something to be seen. Well, I've now seen the actual Joconde—from two meters away, with a few score of my best friends—but I really feel I should spend some time seeing the rest of the museum.

On the other hand, I'd never been in the building before, so I just had to see the thing. I think it's a good start from a promising young painter. I can't wait to see what else he does.

Movement on the Bloomingdale Trail

I'll have more weekend photos later today (but probably not another post on our record heat wave. Before that, I just found out some great news about Chicago's next major park:

[Chicago mayor Rahm] Emanuel said [at a press conference last week that] initial funding had come together for the $100 million project, which is expected to begin construction later this year and be completed by 2014. Designed by Arup, Ross Barney Architects and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the new park will have benches and foliage on either side of a two-way path.

It looks in renderings much like New York City's High Line, but will be nearly twice as long and with gentle curves and dips. It will also allow bike traffic and include several green space access points at ground level.

Besides offering expansive views across several Chicago neighborhoods, the new park will improve local transport links. The multi-use trail will connect the west side to areas near the lake and the Loop, and the anchor parks will link the trail to L train stations and major bus stops.

The Chicago & Pacific Railroad originally built this 4300 m stretch of rail line at ground level in 1872. After a series of accidents involving pedestrians, the tracks were elevated about a century ago, but have been out of use since the mid-1990s. Within a couple years, the determined and the curious will no longer be forced to slip through fences to use the space and enjoy the view.

I've been looking forward to the project getting off the ground moving forward for years. I haven't taken Parker up there yet, because it's (a) trespassing and (b) covered in broken glass, but possibly in the next week or two I'll go up there with my camera.

For more background, the Chicago Reader had a long article about the trail a couple years ago.

Too many records broken to count

Apparently I've missed some unprecedented weather back home this weekend:

Saturday's high temperature at Chicago's official O'Hare International Airport observing site hit 28°C—the unprecedented fourth consecutive day in the 80s [Fahrenheit]. Sunday's anticipated 29°C high will make it a record 5 straight 80-degree days. Weather records dating back to 1871 should continue to fall as Chicagoans experience a stretch of warm temperatures never before observed in March. Sunday will mark the 6th straight day of 70-degrees or higher, eclipsing the previous record 5-day run on March 12-16, 1995.

The other shoe will drop mid-May or early in June. After the previous 5-day record in 1995, we experienced the hottest summer on record. The lake never froze over this year, and right now it's 6°C warmer than usual, so it won't hold off the summer heat effectively.

I'm afraid. I'm very afraid.