The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Spring, fall, winter...Chicago?

It's 14°C right now, going down to -3°C tonight. Then it's back up to 8°C on Friday. Because why wouldn't the beginning of winter feel like April?

While you ponder that, read this:

Finally, Whisky Advocate has a good explainer taking the water of life from barrels in Scotland to the glass in your American kitchen.

Foomp

In the last couple of days, I've observed a phenomenon I don't remember seeing in years past, perhaps because the city has a different mix of tree species around my new place. It looks like all the silver maples in Ravenswood dropped their leaves just in the past 72 hours:

All the other trees in the neighborhood took their time over the warm, dry fall we've had, but the silver maples hung on like a 6-year-old holding his breath.

Researching this post, I learned that the city requires property owners to limit Norway and silver maples to 5% of the total population of trees they plant. Maples account for 38% of Chicago's trees (as of 2013), so the city recommends planting London planetrees, Chicago Blues black locusts, and Chicagoland hackberries, among a few others.

It shouldn't have surprised me that Chicago itself has become a specific ecological niche with its own local plant species. I can't wait to see rattus norvegicus chicagoensis lurking in my alley...but I'd bet they're out there.

How my weekend is going

Remember the stew I made Wednesday? It turned out one of my best:

And I had a lot of leftovers:

Remember Cassie getting a long walk to the big dog park Thursday? We did the same thing yesterday:

And after dinner, I got this rare (inverted for your convenience) photo of Cassie getting a belly rub:

Today, however, it's rainy and cold, so we will have less walking—but possibly more couch/belly-rub time.

Above freezing and clear

With only about a week of autumn left officially, we have some great weather today. Cassie is with her pack at day care and I'm inside my downtown office looking at the sun and (relative) warmth outside, but the weather should continue through Friday.

What else is going on?

Finally, I hate to tell you, we will never find any real evidence to support the existence of Noah's Ark.

Warm lake + cold air + high winds = ...?

No matter where you find yourself today, at least you're not in Western New York:

The lake-effect snowstorm keeps pounding the Southtowns, with major highways and some roads closed.

A travel ban has been reinstituted for the City of Buffalo from William Street downtown to the Town of Cheektowaga line and everything south, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday the Thruway from Rochester to the Pennsylvania border was closed to commercial traffic, although tractor trailers could be seen on the Thruway in Hamburg this morning. The governor also announced a state of emergency Thursday for the area.

The storm that dumped nearly 2 feet of snow in Hamburg and other parts of the Southtowns overnight will shift slightly north Friday morning, as the lake-effect storm continues to pound Western New York and the Buffalo metro area.

Parts of the Buffalo, N.Y., region have already gotten over 1,200 mm of snow, with another 600 mm expected over the next day or so. And yet, Niagara Falls, just 60 km northwest of the city—but crucially, downwind of Ontario, not Lake Erie—got just 25 mm of snow over the last 48 hours.

What fun.

Poor, neglected dog

Between my actual full-time job and the full-time job I've got this week preparing for King Roger, Cassie hasn't gotten nearly the time outdoors that she wants. The snow, rain, and 2°C we have today didn't help. (She doesn't mind the weather as much as I do.)

Words cannot describe how less disappointed I am that I will have to miss the XPOTUS announcing his third attempt to grift the American People, coming as it does just a few hours after US Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) announced his bid for Senate Minority Leader. Sad dog, sad turtle, sad party.

Now to walk the dog, pack the bag, and head to the Sitzprobe. But man, my sitz already feels probed.

It was going to happen at some point

Tonight's forecast calls for the S-word:

The first real snow of the season could hit as soon as Monday night — and more snowflakes could fall throughout the week.

Chicago’s set to have a snowy, chilly week, with most days seeing temperatures [below freezing], according to the National Weather Service.

Monday will be partly sunny and could warm up to 5°C, according to the National Weather Service. There’s a 50 percent chance for snow overnight, mostly after 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Snow is expected to fall throughout Tuesday morning, with it turning into a mix of snow and rain after noon, according to the National Weather Service. Ultimately, there could be less than 12 mm of snow accumulating. The day could see a high temperature of 4°C. The snow and rain could continue overnight, as well.

It happens every year, usually right around mid-November, so we knew it would come eventually. But we can still complain about it.

Count me among the Standard Time "stans"

The Daylight Saving Time arguments that crop up twice a year encapsulate American decision-making so well. People argue for one position or another based on what works best for them; people predict doom and gloom if their view doesn't prevail; Congress makes a change that everyone hates (and, as in 1975, they have to repeal); and not a lot changes. It also has nuances that most people don't understand (or care to) and stems from a social construct completely within our control that people think is a fixed law of the universe (i.e., clock time).

Because I live just east of my time zone's standard meridian, and at a latitude that sees a six-hour daylight difference between solstices, I believe year-round standard time would be best. Katherine Wu agrees:

I gotta say, the science (pushes glasses up nose) largely backs me and my fellow standardians up. Several organizations, including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, have for years wanted to do away with DST for good. “Standard time is a more natural cycle,” Pelayo told me. “In nature we fall asleep to darkness and we wake up to light.” When people spend most of their year out of sync with these rhythms, “it reduces sleep duration and quality,” says Carleara Weiss, a behavioral-sleep-medicine expert at the University at Buffalo. The onset of DST has been linked to a bump in heart attacks and strokes, and Denise Rodriguez Esquivel, a psychologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, told me that our bodies may never fully adjust to DST. We’re just off-kilter for eight months.

For years, some researchers have argued that perma-DST would cut down on other societal woes: crimetraffic accidentsenergy costs, even deer collisions. But research on the matter has produced mixed or contested results, showing that several of those benefits are modest or perhaps even nonexistent. And although sticking with DST might boost late-afternoon commerce, people might hate the shift more than they think. In the 1970s, the U.S. did a trial run of year-round DST … and it flopped.

We could also redraw the time zone boundaries to move more people closer to the center meridians, but that would involve even more nuance and recognition that these things are human constructs we can change.

(Also: I wonder if Michigan is so weird because so much of the state is in the wrong time zone?)

Fun weather today

So far I've managed to avoid getting soaked running lots of errands, but the cold front descending upon us has stirred things up anyway. Right now, O'Hare reports 48 km/h winds with gusts up to 65 km/h and a peak wind just before noon of 92 km/h from the south—directly across all 6 main runways there. Whee!

I sincerely hope no one tried to land in that.