The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Lovely weather, innit?

Just now, at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters:

(Compare with four years ago, when I bought the thermometer while sojourning in North Carolina.)

The official temperature at O'Hare is -27°C, breaking the previous record of -25°C set in 1988. We might even break the record low maximum temperature—the coldest high temperature ever on this date—of -18°C set in 1912.

I have not gone outside today, and until I take Parker out after he gets back from day care, I have not plans to do so.

At least the cold snap will be brief; they're forecasting above-freezing temperatures by Friday.

Still coming down

The snow has fallen for about 20 hours straight. We're still enjoying it, mostly, because it's Sunday morning and not everyone has put pants on yet. (Parker insists I put pants on every morning by 8. He still hasn't learned how to put on his own leash.)

So it's still kind of pretty:

As I sit in my (eerily quiet) apartment Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters, watching the snow swirling around out there, I am very glad I replaced my windows and have a washer and dryer inside. I'm not pleased that my favorite boots have started to leak. And I'm not looking forward to tomorrow's weather.

The IDTIDC is no more

Right before Christmas I removed the four dormant servers from the Inner Drive Technology International Data Center (IDTIDC), vowing to complete the job posthaste. Well, haste was Wednesday, so now, post that, I've finally finished.

There are no more servers in my apartment. The only computers running right now are my laptop and the new NAS. (The old switch, hidden under a chair, still has a whirring fan. I may replace it with a smaller, non-fanned switch at some point.)

Here's before:

And here's the after:

Notice that Parker doesn't seem too freaked out by the change, though he did seem uncomfortable while things were actually changing. He's resilient, though.

Fully 18 months ago I started moving all my stuff to Microsoft Azure. Today, the project is completely done. My apartment is oddly quiet, and seems oddly larger. I can get used to this.

Here it comes...

We proudly welcome the oncoming polar vortex tomorrow evening:

The polar vortex is an area of cold low pressure that typically circulates around the Arctic during the winter, spreading tentacles of cold southward into Europe, Asia, and North America at times. Except this time, it’s not a small section of the vortex, but what one forecaster, Ryan Maue of WeatherBELL Analytics, called “more like the whole enchilada” [that's visiting the eastern U.S.]

The Chicago Weather Center predicts starting Sunday night “a non-stop 60 hour stretch of temperatures which fail to break above 0-degrees” – the longest such period of the past 18 years.

The core of the cold reaches the Ohio Valley and East Coast Monday night into Tuesday, when temperatures drop 20 to 40+ degrees below normal.

The cold air will slowly begin retreating Wednesday.

Here are the temperature, wind, and precipitation probability graphs for the next 48 hours (click for full size):

The next 48 hours look almost as bleak, with the temperature line staying below -18°C until around midnight Wednesday. Strangely enough, it just keeps going up from there, hitting the freezing mark on Friday morning.

So: two days of the coldest air anyone has experienced in Chicago since the 66 hour stretch we had in February 1996.

Can't wait.

Josh Barro takes on a homophobe

Via Sullivan, writer Josh Barro responded to someone upset by his Duck Dynasty comments. It's worth reading in full:

"Do you dislike women because of your mother or some other woman?"

I like women just fine; I just don't want to have sex with them. I don't think my lack of sexual attraction to women has anything to do with my mother or any woman in particular.

"Have you ever had sex with a woman?"

No. I am not at all sexually attracted to women but I'd like to have sex with a woman someday, out of pure curiosity.

It's about as clear and straightforward a set of responses to these kinds of questions as one can read, with an amusing conclusion.

Sunny and warm

At least, it's sunny and warm in my office. Outside it's sunny and -18°C. I experienced what may be characterized as a "brisk" walk from the bus this morning.

This, believe it or not, will lead to a brief respite from the winter we didn't really expect. The Tribune reports this morning that the 50 hours of snowfall we had earlier this week put down more snow than any other storm since February 2011. It gets better:

There’s plenty of snow to blow around. The 620 mm on the books to date for the 2013-14 Chicago snow season is the heaviest tally this early in 13 years. What’s more, the 50 hours of “on and off” snowfall, which began Tuesday (New Year’s Eve) afternoon, had by late Thursday produced the biggest accumulation of snow here since the February Ground Hog’s Day Blizzard in 2011.

Midway Airport was home to a 312 mm storm total the past 3 days while O’Hare checked in with 277 mm. Amounts were even more impressive north and west of the city. There, as much as 450 mm fell at Arlington Heights and Gurnee....

Oh, but wait for it:

Bitterly cold air is to come crashing southward into the Lower 48 over the weekend, producing wind chills as low as -60°C in northern Minnesota by Sunday morning. That level of chill is occurring as a brutally cold air mass proceeds south from Canada, breaking a host of temp record records on the way, and producing a non-stop 60 hour stretch of temperatures which fail to break above 0-degrees. That would be the longest sub-zero [Fahrenheit] period of the past 18 years.

Monday's forecast calls for a high around -22°C and a low around -27°C outside the city and -24°C overnight.

For some reason, the Climate Prediction Center believes we'll have above-normal temperatures shortly after that. One can dream...

Why people don't visit the U.S.

Andrew Sullivan, commenting on evidence that requiring visas keeps tourists away, explains why arriving in America generally sucks for most people:

This may seem trivial, but it isn’t with respect to American soft power. Most [of my readers] are American citizens, so they don’t fully see what it is like to enter the US as a non-citizen. It’s a grueling, off-putting, frightening, and often brutal process. Compared with entering a European country, it’s like entering a police state. When you add the sheer difficulty of getting a visa, the brusque, rude and contemptuous treatment you routinely get from immigration officials at the border, the sense that all visitors are criminals and potential terrorists unless proven otherwise, the US remains one of the most unpleasant places for anyone in the world to try and get access to.

And this, of course, is a function not only of a vast and all-powerful bureaucracy. It’s a function of this country’s paranoia and increasing insularity. It’s a thoroughly democratic decision to keep foreigners out as much as possible. And it’s getting worse and worse.

Even for returning U.S. citizens, our border can be a pain in the ass. This is why I am overjoyed to have a Global Entry endorsement. But even though I've seen the lines, I've never experienced coming here as a foreigner. My experiences in most other countries—Russia being the most memorable exception—have been completely benign. Plus, only a dozen or so countries require me to get a visa before arriving. Only Norwegians can visit more countries visa-free than we can.

Has anyone out there had a negative experience at our border?

Commuting in a winter wonderland

My walk to the bus this morning, through a park path that I forgot they don't shovel:

I could have taken a Divvy bike but...well, for some reason they're closed today:

The good news is, it's stopped snowing for now. The bad news is, we're heading down to -17°C tonight.

I texted some friends in Atlanta and Houston with the top photo. For some reason they don't want to visit Chicago just now.

Shutting it all down

Right before Christmas I removed all the long-dormant servers from the Inner Drive Technology Worldwide Data Center. Today I'd planned to shut off the last two live devices, my domain controller and my TeraStation network attached storage (NAS) appliance, replacing the first with nothing and the second with a new NAS.

(The NAS is the little black box on the floor to the right; the domain controller is the thin rack-mounted server at the top.)

It turns out, today was a good day to shut down the old NAS. When I logged into its UI, I discovered that one of its disks had failed, cutting its capacity by a third. Fortunately, I configured the device with 4 x 256 GB drives in RAID 5. This meant that when one of the drives failed, the other three kept the data alive just fine, but the array lost 128 GB of space and a whole lot of speed.

The new NAS cost $200 and has 4 TB of space—almost 6 times more than the old, ailing NAS. I'll have a photo of it when I put it in its permanent home next weekend. (Right now there's a server rack in the way, and right now it's busy getting completely loaded.)

For perspective: the TeraStation cost $900 in May 2006. It's run nearly continuously since then, which means three of the drives lasted about 67,000 hours, with an amortized cost of 32c per day.

I'll discuss how much damage to a network killing the domain causes once I'm done cleaning up the debris.