The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

One World Trade takes the title

Just about an hour ago, crews lowered the last piece onto the 124 m spire topping One World Trade Center, making it the tallest building in the hemisphere:

The 18-piece silver spire will top out the tower at a symbolic 1,776 feet (541 m), a nod to the year America signed the Declaration of Independence. The new building is just north of the original towers, now the hallowed ground known as Ground Zero.

"This really is a symbolic moment because this building really represents the resiliency of this country," Port Authority Vice Chair Scott Rechler told [NBC's] Matt Lauer, who earlier had made his way up the 104 floors to witness the process. "These people, the thousand men and women who have worked here tirelessly, really as a tribute for the people that perished on 9-11 right on this site."

This also bumps Chicago to second place. Until this morning, the 442 m Willis Tower was the tallest building in the U.S., and had been for 40 years.

More night events at Wrigley

The Chicago City Council could ratify a proposal allowing 46 night games as early as next month:

The proposal also would permit the Cubs to host four concerts and to make changes to its schedule as soon as next month. It allows for six Friday afternoon games starting at 3:05 instead of the traditional 1:20. The Cubs would like to move back some Friday afternoon games this season if the City Council approves the night-game plan.

The changes are consistent with a tentative agreement struck last month involving Emanuel, Tunney and the Cubs. The introduction of the night-game ordinance is the first legislative step in a process to renovate historic Wrigley Field.

Cubs' ownership has proposed spending $500 million to make extensive renovations to the ballpark and develop surrounding property in the North Side neighborhood. But before the Ricketts family, owners of the team and Wrigley Field, makes the financial commitment, it asked the city to ease regulations that limit night games and advertising signage in the ballpark. The family says more night games and signage would allow the team to generate more revenue that would be used to pay for the park restoration and field a more competitive team.

I would, of course, go to more games if the ordinance passes. I used to live three blocks from Wrigley, though, so I understand the deleterious effects more night games could have on the neighborhood. Still, if Ricketts' improvements actually help the Cubs win games, I'm in.

A year and a half without Hyperbole and a Half

Allie Brosh has returned after an 18-month absence with a new post:

[T]hat's the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn't always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn't even something — it's nothing. And you can't combat nothing. You can't fill it up. You can't cover it. It's just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.

It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.

It's scary stuff. It's also a view of depression that more people need to understand.

I've missed Brosh ALOT a lot. Wow, what a sucky year she's had. I'm glad she's writing again, and I sincerely hope she's turned the corner on her illness.

But still not allowed at Wrigley Field

The Tribune reports this morning that some groundskeeping duties at O'Hare will soon get turned over to a herd of goats:

The city's Department of Aviation is expected to announce Wednesday that it has awarded a contract to Central Commissary Holdings LLC — operator of Lincoln Park restaurant Butcher & The Burger — to bring about 25 goats onto airport property, helping the airport launch its pilot vegetation-management program.

Joseph Arnold, partner at Butcher & The Burger, said the goats now live on a farm in Barrington Hills and will make "the perfect lawn mowers" for the city's largest airport.

In about a month, Arnold said, the goats will be delivered to O'Hare and begin their task of munching away at overgrown greenery. According to the city's request for bids last fall, the animals will be expected to clear about 23 square meters of vegetation per day.

Apparently the goats can go up and down embankments a lot easier than the lawnmowers they currently use.

Time to drop by Butcher & the Burger.

Yes, I've noticed

Pollen levels in Chicago have exploded in the past week:

The area’s pollen values surged Tuesday to the highest levels of the year, the latest development in a allergy season which has brought misery to many across the Chicago area. Dr. Joseph Leija, allergist at Loyola Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and provider of this area’s pollen counts, lamented in his daily report that the slow pace of spring warming has combined with the season’s huge rain tallies to bring high tree counts at the same time high grass and weed levels are present. The result, says Dr. Leija, has been to make allergy sufferers miserable despite the lovely weather of late. Swollen and itchy eyes were among the reasons many patients visited his office as well as the need for medication adjustments

Tree, grass and weed pollen were ALL reported as “high” Tuesday. Tree pollen reached 1,000 grains per cubic yard—just 500 below the “alert level” of 1,500.

This is just tree pollen; the mold, grass, and ragweed maps have pretty colors over Illinois also:

I've been sneezing and coughing for three days now. I'm really looking forward to the plants finishing up their orgy of...well, orgies.

Illinois GOP continues eating its young

Illinois Republican Party chair Pat Brady has quit:

With same-sex marriage legislation pending in the Illinois legislature, Brady this year voiced his support for the proposal despite a plank in the state GOP platform that said marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman. Brady said he made the endorsement personally, not as Republican chairman, but conservatives in the top echelon of the GOP party quickly complained.

Though Brady survived immediate attempts to dump him, a meeting of the Republican State Central Committee in Tinley Park last month made clear his fate. GOP leaders agreed to put together a succession plan, allowing Brady, of St. Charles, an exit strategy that made clear his days were numbered as they began a search for a new chairman.

Meanwhile, Minnesota today passed marriage equality in the State Senate, clearing the way for the state to become the 11th to enact such a law, possibly as early as Friday. Illinois will almost certainly pass the legislation this term as well.

The Illinois GOP is on the wrong side of this, as Brady well knows. I'm sorry they're following Jim Oberweis into legislative irrelevance. A healthy democracy needs a healthy opposition, to keep the majority from over-reaching. We don't have that in Illinois right now, largely because the state GOP has become a rigid, ideologically-hidebound caricature of itself. And we're all suffering for it.

O Apostrophe, thou art but a backwards open quote

Unfortunately, as Paul Lukas points out, people have forgotten the difference:

Here's the deal: Virtually any software that includes a typography function (whether for word processing, desktop publishing, graphic design, or whatever) now employs something called "smart quotes." The idea behind smart quotes is that the software recognizes when there's a blank space immediately before or after a quotation mark and adds the appropriate curvature to the mark, creating open-quotes and close-quotes. That way you end up with nicely curved quotation marks instead of straight or "neutered" marks (like the ones you see on most of this page).

This all works fine unless you have a word or term that begins with an apostrophe, like ’til or ’em (as in "Bring ’em on"). Since the keystroke for an apostrophe is the same as the one for a single quote mark, the software improperly interprets the space and the keystroke as the start of a quotation and imparts the wrong curvature to the mark. There's a way to override the smart quotes and impose a proper apostrophe in these situations (on a Mac, you type option-shift-close-bracket), but an increasing number of writers, editors, and designers either aren't bothering to do so, don't feel it's necessary, or don't even realize it's necessary. The result is a cascade of improperly oriented apostrophes on signs, on billboards, in TV commercials, in the names of businesses, and even on mainstream media web sites. Call it the apostrophe catastrophe.

To the extent I have pet peeves, it's a big one of mine. For example, there's a coffee shop at the corner of Webster and Sheffield called Jam 'n Honey—or, rather, Jam ‘n Honey—with a half-meter-high open quote where an apostrophe should be.

Actually, they're a two-fer. They're also missing a second apostrophe, as ’n’ drops off both the a and d from "and." What the typography-challenged proprietors have there is "jam an honey," which is just stupid.

This is how civilization crashes: simple acts of negligence.

Not-so-crafty Goose Island

Since its purchase by InBev (Anheuser Busch) two years ago, Goose Island Brewing Co. has increased production significantly by brewing beer in other states. While this does allow them to produce more beer and to sell it nationwide, it has also changed the beer. Green Line Pale Ale now comes from Baldwinsville, N.Y., which I'm pretty sure doesn't have an El. Flagship 312 Urban Wheat Ale comes from Baldwinsville (area code 315) and Fort Collins, Colo. (area code 970). Since water is the principal ingredient of beer, I wonder how this could fail to change the formula.

Goose Island CEO Andrew Goler says it doesn't:

“Anheuser-Busch is letting us do our own thing,” says [Goeler], who took over as Goose Island's CEO on Jan. 1, replacing founder John Hall. “I'm not getting directives.”

When Belgium's Anheuser-Busch InBev swallowed Goose Island for $38.8 million in 2011, it provided a relief valve for an overwhelmed brewing facility. (The companies were intertwined in 2006 when Goose Island signed a distribution deal with Anheuser-Busch.)

Moving production for three of Goose Island's most popular beers out of Chicago, a decision that enthusiasts worried was the beginning of the end for the craft brand, solved a long-standing problem of pent-up demand. Top sellers are now brewed at Anheuser-Busch InBev facilities in Fort Collins, Colo., and Baldwinsville, N.Y., an expansion that allows Goose Island bottles to be carried in all 50 states.

"I think there were some irrational doubts about what's going to happen to Goose Island," says Greg Hall, 47, Goose Island's former brewmaster and son of its founder. "It's not like they're trying to make India Pale Ale and Bud Light comes out."

No, but it's no longer the same IPA, either.

Large corporations tend to digest smaller acquisitions. And Goose Island is no longer part of the Craft Brewers Association, because it's no longer a craft brew. We'll see how long Goose Island retains its independence.