The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Meanwhile, back on vacation

It hardly feels like eleven days have gone by since we passed through Como on our way to Milan. Como seemed like an Italian lake town with a heavy tourist population, which, it turns out, it is. But there were a couple of nooks:

Then there was Milan. I didn't have a great impression of the city when I visited in 2007, and this sign, glimpsed on the way to drop off our rental car at the airport, didn't inspire confidence:

Translation: "For about 10 years, this road will suck. Sorry." And suck it did.

Tomorrow I'll show how my opinion of the city changed, like night and day.

Well, that could have gone better

When the movers arrived at the former Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters yesterday morning, they remarked that it looked like I had everything organized well and they would hit their estimate. Mother Nature disagreed, giving us drenching rains that halted loading the truck for half an hour, and following up with this when we unloaded:

[T]he weather service issued a tornado warning for parts of central Cook County, activating sirens throughout Chicago, but no touchdowns were reported. That warning expired at 5:15 p.m. after the storm moved over Hillside and Westchester and weakened as it moved east.

A spotter at Midway International Airport reported seeing a funnel cloud about a mile east of the airport, heading east. There also was a report of a funnel cloud forming south of Millennium Park about 5:20 p.m., according to weather service meteorologist Bill Nelson.

I may have video at some point, and I still have some Italy photos to put up. And today, of course, is Parker's birthday, so I'll try to get a birthday portrait this evening.

Now I have to catch up on work.

Possession is not occupation

This is my past night in the place I've lived for more than seven years, and it's a disaster area.

I take legal possession of my new place in a little more than three hours, but all my stuff is not magically being transported there. I've spent the better part of today packing, using Cleveland Indians Duck tape to mark which drawers and closets are empty (file under "moving randomness"), so now every time I need something I realize it's in one of these boxes. Bollocks.

Under the heading, "This, By You, Is A Problem?", I've already transferred my Internet connection to the new place, so I can't even stream a movie. Of course, I can update my blog from my phone, so it's still the future.

Transitions are good. Transitions are growth. The process of transition sucks.

Next update from Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters 4.0, sometime tomorrow or Monday.


One step in the Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters move this weekend was to get my Internet connection turned on at my new place. Unfortunately this meant moving the modem from the old place, so I will have only a little bit of Internet this weekend, if any. I still have a bunch of photos to post.

Meanwhile, I wanted to post some context. Here is the map of where Google thought my phone was last week; it's remarkably accurate:

Here's the same data constrained to Wednesday through Friday:

I have a few thoughts about Google Location Services, but none that I'm going to share as I'm trying to leave the office right now to get to Ribfest. And to pick up my dog, who's with his new pack.

All of this comes after getting a major project moved from "nice to have" to "must have by Monday." Because why wouldn't I want to create a major policy document over the weekend I'm moving when I'll have almost no Internet connectivity?


Today I'm going to get a salad from Whole Foods Market. But last Thursday, at Ristorante Arté al Lago in Lugano, Switzerland, I had this:

That is a venison tortellini in a broth that must have taken them two days to cook. The only pasta I have ever had in my life that topped it was the peacock ravioli I ate at Mistral the night before.

Why did we go hiking so much? So we could fit into the clothes we brought with us, of course.

Seven billion dollars for nothing

Security guru Bruce Schneier, writing for CNN, is not surprised that TSA screeners missed 95% of guns in a recent drill:

For those of us who have been watching the TSA, the 95% number wasn't that much of a surprise. The TSA has been failing these sorts of tests since its inception: failures in 2003, a 91% failure rate at Newark Liberty International in 2006, a 75% failure rate at Los Angeles International in 2007, more failures in 2008. And those are just the public test results; I'm sure there are many more similarly damning reports the TSA has kept secret out of embarrassment.

The TSA is failing to defend us against the threat of terrorism. The only reason they've been able to get away with the scam for so long is that there isn't much of a threat of terrorism to defend against.

Even with all these actual and potential failures, there have been no successful terrorist attacks against airplanes since 9/11. If there were lots of terrorists just waiting for us to let our guard down to destroy American planes, we would have seen attacks -- attempted or successful -- after all these years of screening failures. No one has hijacked a plane with a knife or a gun since 9/11. Not a single plane has blown up due to terrorism.

Of course, what American politician would ever vote to reduce security spending? The incentives on the individual representatives are too strongly skewed in favor of an ever-ratcheting security state. This is one of the things that did in Rome.

That said, Italy is a lovely country these days...

Hiking in Dosso del Liro

Part of the reason one stays in an Agriturismo is to go hiking. This is a state highway (scala provincale) near the closest village:

Despite being as far north (46°27') as Quebec City and Portland, Ore., Dosso del Liro is surprisingly warm and dry, the perfect environment for these guys, which we saw all over:

These guys (common Italian wall lizards) are about 8 cm nose to tail, and very fast. We didn't even try to catch them. But they're also hard to photograph; I got lucky and moved very slowly for this shot.

Mistral, Bellagio

Last Wednesday we had one of the best dinners of our lives at Mistral, in Bellagio, Italy. I don't have the ability at the moment to describe it, except to say that I will never look at a peacock again without salivating. We had 8 courses each, one set of molecular-gastronomy dishes and the other more traditional, ending with a batch of vanilla gelato made with eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and liquid nitrogen.

Oh, and we had a view:

Someday, I will have better words to describe the food. I think it was better than the other Michelin-starred restaurants I've been to, but I'm not sure. More field investigation is required.