The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

First post-Azure electric bill

On March 10th, I completed moving Weather Now to Windows Azure, and shut down the Inner Drive Technology International Data Center. I had already received my lowest electric bill ever for this location, thanks to a 25% rate reduction negotiated by the City.

Earlier this week I got my March electric bill, for my electricity use between March 8th and April 7th. Take a look:

My electricity use in March 2013 was just 26% of my March 2012 use (243 kw/h in 2013 against 933 kw/h in 2012). The bill was 80% lower, too.

My telecommunications bill also went down considerably. After I have complete data of these cost differences mid-May, I'll post a full rundown of how much moving to Azure saves me every month.

Stealing first base

It can happen, if the fielders get complacent after a run-down:

When Braun and Segura both wound up at second base, Segura, as the leading runner, had the right to the bag, so Braun was out when he was tagged by Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena even though he was standing on the base. However, Valbuenna, though he tagged Segura twice, never tagged him off the base (if you pause the video on the second tag you can clearly see Segura’s left toe on the base), so Segura was able to retreat safely to first base, though he needn’t have done so. He was safe on second.

SI has the video.

The Cubs still lost, because as bad as their fielding was, their hitting was worse. Oh, and manager Dale Sveum got thrown out of the game, too. Awesome.

Was the Boston lockdown appropriate?

Via Schneier, a good argument against this week's lockdown in Boston:

[K]eeping citizens off the street meant that 99% of the eyes and brains that might solve a crime were being wasted. Eric S Raymond famously said that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow". It was thousands of citizen photographs that helped break this case, and it was a citizen who found the second bomber. Yes, that's right – it wasn't until the stupid lock-down was ended that a citizen found the second murderer:

The boat’s owners, a couple, spent Friday hunkered down under the stay-at-home order. When it was lifted early in the evening, they ventured outside for some fresh air and the man noticed the tarp on his boat blowing in the wind, according to their his son, Robert Duffy.

The cords securing it had been cut and there was blood near the straps.

We had thousands of police going door-to-door, searching houses…and yet not one of them saw the evidence that a citizen did just minutes after the lock-down ended.

Schneier himself disagrees, to some extent. But then there's this: "Law enforcement asked Dunkin' Donuts to keep restaurants open in locked-down communities to to police...including in Watertown, the focus of the search for the bombing suspect."

When will we have the conversation about whether all of this is worthwhile?

Floating down LaSalle Street

For five whole days of the past seven, I saw sunlight. Not a little; I saw tons of it. There were rumors of clouds, but mostly, just sunlight.

Since I returned home Tuesday night we've not had any. Instead, we've had this:

Storm totals in just the last 14 hours have gotten up to 125 mm in places, flooding highways and making life a wet hell:

The first expressway closures occurred around 5 a.m. The Edens Expressway was closed between Foster and Touhy avenues and between Winnetka and Willow roads, and the Eisenhower Expressway was shut down in both directions between North Avenue and York Road and westbound at Mannheim Road, Illinois State Police said. The southbound Kennedy Expressway was closed at Addison Street, police said.

As of 9:30 a.m., the Kennedy was open in both directions, though some standing water remained. The Edens was closed in both directions between Lake Street and Dundee Road in the north suburbs, and the northbound Edens was closed at Montrose; the westbound ramp from Interstate 290 to Interstate 88 was shut down, westbound 290 was closed at St. Charles Road, and eastbound 290 was closed at York Road; two lanes were closed on the Bishop Ford northbound between 130th Street and the Beaubien Woods.

Travel times during the morning rush ran at least two hours or longer in some areas.

For my part, both last night and this morning I misjudged approaching squall lines and got a bit damp. Parker, for his part, missed them both completely.

It seems the rain has moved off to the east now as a warm front pushes up through the area. (It's 10°C at O'Hare but 19°C in Valparaiso, 70 km southeast.) The warm front will depart the area later today, just to keep variety going, dragging more rain and cold back through overnight.

We may get drier, warmer weather someday. Someday.

People living near airports might hear airplanes

The Chicago Tribune reported this morning that, 8 years into the O'Hare Modernization Project, some nearby residents are horrified to learn they might get more noise:

Residents of Edgebrook, Sauganash, Forest Glen, North Park and other Northwest Side Chicago communities are up in arms over the impending increases in noise pollution, which were forecast in Chicago Department of Aviation environmental impact documents in 2005, the same year the Federal Aviation Administration approved the city's O'Hare runway expansion plan.

In addition to the impact on city residents, some suburban neighborhoods that have been spared from low-altitude jet noise are in store for louder environs.

A major shift in airplane noise patterns, known as noise contours, will take place beginning Oct. 17 when the next new runway — 10 Center/28 Center, located south of the passenger terminals — opens as part of the O'Hare Modernization Program. The addition of the runway will trigger a shift to a mostly eastbound and westbound flow of planes approaching and departing O'Hare, accompanied by reduced use of three diagonally aligned crosswind runways, the FAA said.

Uh, yeah. Airplanes will fly over houses 3 km from O'Hare, just as they have for, oh, 70 years. However, airplanes today are much quieter than even 10 years ago, so the noise footprints have gotten a lot smaller since the environmental study came out in 2005.

Still, airport noise complaints baffle me. No one living under the runway 28 departure path at O'Hare suffers more noise pollution now than in 2003, when the O'Hare Modernization Program kicked off. Why are they just complaining now?

American Airlines computer systems crash

Yesterday American's scheduling and ticketing systems went offline around 11:00 CDT. By noon CDT, the Dallas Morning News had this:

“American’s reservation and booking tool, Sabre, is offline,” American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said at midday. “We’re working to resolve the issue as quickly as we can. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience.” (American subsequently absolved Sabre of any blame. ”We apologize to Sabre & customers for confusion.”)

She confirmed that the problem is causing some delays of American flights.

Shortly after, American grounded all of its flights for about three hours before getting its networks talking to each other around 3pm CDT.

I found out about this crash while stepping off the BART at SFO. My dad texted, "Are you affected by the AA ground halt?" Talk about a WTF? moment.

I was affected, but I'm happy to report that (a) I got to SFO shortly before American resolved the problem, and (b) American's gate agents had their crap together and got everyone out as quickly as possible. I was only 30 minutes late arriving at O'Hare.

American hasn't explained what happened yet; the Dallas Morning News has a theory...

Wrigley field renovations agreed

For months, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, and 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney have wrestled over the scope and manner of making necessary renovations to 99-year-old Wrigley Field. They appear to have reached a deal:

The city and Mr. Tunney have agreed to allow the Cubs to erect a video screen in left field, as well as a right field advertising sign "in the style" of the existing Toyota sign that currently sits in left field. The Cubs will work with the city on placement of both signs "to minimize impact on nearby rooftops to the extent consistent with the needs of the team," according to a statement from the Cubs.

The Cubs will be allowed to hold 40 night games per season — up from the current maximum of 30, capped by a 2004 neighborhood protection plan — under a new special City Council ordinance that will allow for additional night games when required by Major League Baseball's national TV contract. The 40 night games do not include playoffs or other games that are not counted under the current ordinance. The Cubs will also be allowed to start six games at 3:05 p.m. on Fridays (unlike the usual 1:20 p.m. starts).

They'll also extend beer sales, build a hotel across Clark St., and put up more advertising.

Now if only they'd renovate the pitching staff, and possibly the hitting.