The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Why office dogs are awesome, cont'd

Because they improved downtown L.A. immensely:

In 1999, Los Angeles passed its Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, making it easier and cheaper for real estate developers to convert old offices to new housing. While the ordinance arguably jump-started the revitalization of downtown L.A., a key (though overlooked) element was pet-friendly policies in these newly converted lofts.

Walking dogs drove residents out of their homes and into the street at least twice each day. Elsewhere in Los Angeles, where single-family homes predominate, dog owners often have the luxury of sending Fido out to the yard to do his business. But downtown, dogs and their owners have become a crucial component of the rebounding neighborhood's culture.

Of course, if the office dog poops on the CEO's carpet, he'll still get fired.

Pigs, lipstick, and reactionary right-wing governors

Assuming the polls are correct, the contest in Wisconsin today will be close. Whatever the result, Scott Walker can hardly claim a mandate with somewhere around half the state wanting to take the unprecedented (for Wisconsin) step of yanking him from office. This is not trivial: voters have to overcome their natural disinclination to end a governor's term early, and then they have to select someone who lost an election just two years ago.

I look forward to the results.

I'm not the only one

Apparently it's more common than I thought to gag on raw tomatoes even while having no problem with tomato sauce:

People like me just lack certain key taste receptors, preventing us from appreciating the rich, sweet, meaty flavor of raw tomatoes that the rest of you are always rhapsodizing about. The problem is that tomatoes have something on the order of 400 volatile compounds and who knows which one of those (or combination thereof) might be responsible for the harsh reaction many of us experience in response to raw tomatoes?

Frankly, the scientific community has been sadly remiss in getting to the bottom of the mystery of why raw tomatoes make some of us gag, despite a few scattered flavor studies. But they’re hot on the case of cilantro, an even more polarizing herb. I love cilantro. To me, it tastes fresh and citrusy with just a tinge of an herbal edge to it. But to some people, it just tastes like soap. Or worse. They have as strong a visceral reaction to cilantro as I have to fresh raw tomatoes.

Of course, it could be the gloppy, lumpen nature of tomatoes that makes us gag, too. I'll stick with purée.

Slow blog day

As feared, Chicago is experiencing a weekend of perfect weather. As a consequence, Parker and I just finished an hour-and-three-quarters walk that had to include time at Noethling Park (aka "Wiggly Field"). We're recovering for a moment before heading outside again for another one.

Regular updates will resume when the crisis concludes.

(Note: Ordinarily I would have linked to the Chicago Park District's official page on one of its parks, but apparently they forgot to pay the Internet bill, so at this writing their site dead-ends at Network Solutions. Nice work, guys.)

Enjoying it while it lasts

After logging the warmest spring and third-mildest winter in Chicago history, we have a huge likelihood of a warmer-than-normal summer. Yesterday, though, we had one of those perfect days Chicagoans can count on two hands every year: sunny, dry, and 24°C, the kind of day that Parker and I spend entirely outside.

It turns out, a relatively unusual weather pattern could give us more than a week of this sort of thing:

[C]omputer models indicate what is meteorologically-termed an upper-level "Omega Blocking" pattern will establish itself over the United States for the remainder of the workweek. With a trough of low pressure over the east and west coasts and a high pressure ridge over the central plains. This will establish an extensive low-level cool high pressure air mass over eastern Canada into the northeastern and north-central U.S. For Chicago, situated in the southwestern quadrant of the high pressure, it in turn means an extended period of east to southeasterly flow, relatively dry conditions and daily temperatures around normal levels, except cooler readings along the lakefront and beaches.

The official forecast calls for temperatures around 20°C (after 26°C today) and sunny skies through Saturday.

It's all very confusing to us here, all this nearly-perfect weather. We'll just have to muddle through...

Groupon shares decline to saner levels

As just about everyone who watches these things predicted, Groupon's shares declined 9% just as soon as insiders were able to start trading them:

Friday marked the end of the company's lock-up period, which prevented insiders from unloading their Groupon stock. Groupon went public in November with a small float. The expiration of the lock-up period puts into play 600 million shares, amounting to 93 percent of the company's total outstanding shares. About one-third of those shares will not be sold, as they are in the hands of co-founders Andrew Mason, Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell. Mason, who is also chief executive, said last month that the trio had no intention of selling their holdings.

Analysts had said they expected downward pressure on Groupon's shares as a result of the lock-up expiration but that many insiders -- a group that includes current and former senior executives, board members and early investors -- would hang onto their stock to wait for a rebound in the price. While Groupon's shares rebounded last month after the company reported first-quarter earnings, they remained well below their IPO price of $20.

Why did Groupon even have an IPO? Probably for the same reason Facebook did: to enrich the VCs and founders. That's easy. But why did anyone buy Groupon at $20 or Facebook at $38? Because math class is tough, but history is tougher, apparently.

Officially warmest

As I mentioned yesterday, Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel has certified that March 1 to May 31 was the warmest spring in Illinois history:

This year the statewide average temperature for spring in Illinois was 15.1°C. That makes it the warmest spring on record for Illinois. The statewide records go back to 1895. The [three] warmest springs in Illinois were:

2012 with 15.1°C
1977 with 14.1°C
1921 with 13.3°C

It was also Illinois' fifth-warmest May ever. And so far, it's the warmest year ever in Illinois (since January 1). Interestingly, Angel points out, "of the top five warmest January-May periods, three have occurred in the last 15 years."