The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Ukrainian engineering

With the news this morning that Ukraine has disabled yet another Russian ship, incapacitating fully one-third of the Russian Black Sea fleet, it has become apparent that Ukraine is better at making Russian submarines than the Murmansk shipyards. Russia could, of course, stop their own massive military losses—so far they've lost 90% of their army as well—simply by pulling back to the pre-2014 border, but we all know they won't do that.

In other news of small-minded people continuing to do wastefully stupid things:

Finally, a reader who knows my perennial frustration at ever-lengthening copyright durations sent me a story from last March about who benefits from composer Maurice Ravel's estate. Ravel died in 1937, so his music will remain under copyright protection until 1 January 2034, providing royalties to his brother’s wife’s masseuse’s husband’s second wife’s daughter. Please think of her the next time you hear "Bolero."

Skipped right to April

I had a dentist appointment this morning, which allowed me to take some extra time walking Cassie and her houseguest to doggy day care, and then another half-hour to walk from my dentist's office (just 200 m from one train station) to the next station to get back. It helps that this morning had sun and warmth more like April than February:

Alas, a cold front will make its way across the area later today, brining some showers and possibly a "light" thunderstorm. I did enjoy the morning, though. And if I can time the dogs' return from day care properly, I should get another good walk in later today.

Waiting for the build before walking two dogs

Another sprint has ended. My hope for a boring release has hit two snags: first, it looks like one of the test artifacts in the production environment that our build pipeline depends on has disappeared (easily fixed); and second, my doctor's treatment for this icky bronchitis I've had the past two weeks works great at the (temporary) expense of normal cognition. (Probably the cough syrup.)

Plus, Cassie and I have a houseguest:

But like my head, the rest of the world keeps spinning:

And now, my production test pipeline has concluded successfully, so I will indeed have a boring release.

Over-zealous PEAs

A few months ago a Chicago Parking Enforcement Agent (PEA) tried to give me a ticket while I was paying for the parking spot online. I kept calm and polite, but I firmly explained that writing a ticket before I'd even finished entering the parking zone in the payment app might not survive the appeal.

Yesterday I got another parking ticket at 9:02pm in a spot that has free parking from 9pm to 9am. The ticket actually said "parking expired and driver not walking back from meter." Note that the parking app won't let you pay for parking beyond 9pm in that spot. Because, again, it's free after 9pm. That didn't stop the PEA, so now I actually will appeal, and I'll win. But it's a real pain.

Again, I thank Mayor Daley for jamming through the worst public financial deal in the history of the United States.

Meanwhile, I didn't have time to read all of these at lunch today:

  • Almost as shocking as the realization that privatizing parking meters games the system in favor of private interests against the general public, it turns out so do traffic impact studies.
  • The Illinois Board of Elections voted unanimously to reject an effort to keep the XPOTUS off the Republican Party primary ballot, citing an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that excludes the Board from constitutional questions.
  • Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley (R) won't win the Republican nomination for president this year, but she will make the XPOTUS froth at the mouth.
  • Of course, she and others in her party persist in trying to make their own voters froth at the mouth, mostly by lying to them about the state of the economy, cities, and other things that have gone pretty well since 2021.
  • Of course, perhaps the Republican Party lies so much to cover their demonstrable incompetence at governing?
  • Christopher Elmensdorf warns that the clean energy bill winding through the Democratic offices on Capitol Hill will lead to endless NIMBYism—not to mention bad-faith blockage by fossil-fuel companies.
  • For only $120,000 a year, this consultant will get your kid into Harvard.
  • Helmut Jahn's new building at 1000 S. Michigan Ave. looks super cool.

I will now go back to work. Tonight, I will schedule my parking appeal. Updates as conditions warrant.

El Niño plays with the excess energy

We talk about anthropogenic climate change in human-centric terms: the planet is getting warmer very quickly relative to the historical baseline of 1800 CE. But heat just means energy. A plane flying from Taipei to Los Angeles got some kinetic energy from the warmer Pacific waters this week:

China Airlines Flight 5116 rocketed to a speed of 1,329 km/h as it bolted eastward across the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, potentially breaking informal records for passenger travel. The commercial flight, which departed from Taipei, landed more than an hour early in Los Angeles, propelled by exceptionally strong tailwinds.

A roaring Pacific jet stream, supercharged by the El Niño climate pattern and moving at more than 400 km/h, gave the flight a boost.

China Airlines 5116 flew its route of 11,593 km in just 10 hours 18 minutes, which rounds to an average speed of 1,126 km/h! That’s including takeoff, landing and all the slower points in the journey. (Working against the jet stream, an average westbound flight from Los Angeles to Taipei is usually scheduled for 14 hours 40 minutes.)

That wasn't the only record: Washington DC hit 27°C on Friday, the warmest temperature ever observed there in January.

Unfortunately the same hemispheric weather system making planes go fast and giving the East Coast June-like weather has kept most of the central US in thick fog:

Since Tuesday, record amounts of fog have blanketed the Lower 48 states, lowering visibility, disrupting flights, causing vehicle accidents and even delaying schools.

On Thursday morning, dense fog advisories affected nearly a third of the United States population (more than 100 million people) and parts of 27 states. These advisories covered the entirety of Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee and portions of many other states from Texas to New York.

Advection fog is the cause. Unlike radiation fog, which typically forms overnight when skies are clear and winds are calm in the spring and fall, advection fog develops when warm, moist air is transported over a layer of cold air near the ground.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings set records for the number of dense fog advisories nationally, according to Daryl Herzmann, a systems analyst who manages a weather hazard database at Iowa State University. Each day surpassed the record set the day before. The fog advisory database dates back to January 2005.

I can confirm it is still foggy in Chicago:

Update: This is all quite a change from 10 years ago today, when the polar vortex visited Chicago with -31°C wind chills.

You don't need sunscreen in Chicago in January

A weather pattern has set up shop near Chicago that threatens to occlude the sun for the next week, in exchange for temperatures approaching 15°C the first weekend of February. We've already had 43 days with above-normal temperatures this winter, and just 12 below normal during the cold snap from January 13th through the 22nd. By February 2nd, 84% of our days will have had above-normal temperatures since December 1st.

Thank you, El Niño. Though I'm not sure the gloominess is a fair exchange for it.

Elsewhere:

Finally, Minnesota-based wildlife photographer Benjamin Olson discovered that a mouse had moved into his car. So naturally, he set up a photo trap. And naturally, it's totes adorbs.

Busy weekend

I grabbed a friend for a couple of Brews & Choos visits yesterday, and through judicious moderation (8-10 oz of beer per person at each stop), we managed to get the entire West Fulton Corridor cluster done in six hours. So in a few minutes I'll start writing four B&C reviews, which will come out over the next three days.

Before I start, though, I'm going to read all these stories that have piled up since Friday:

Finally, the Roscoe Rat (really a squirrel) Hole got its own NPR story this morning. And in my social media I saw a photo of someone proposing to her boyfriend at the rat hole. Color me bemused.

Cold snapped

Around 7 this morning, the official Chicago temperature at O'Hare went above -15°C for the first time in 81 hours, the longest such cold snap since February 1996:

In the 1996 stretch, O’Hare recorded highs of -20.6°C on Feb. 2 and 3, and of -16.7°C on Feb. 4, according to NWS meteorologist Casey Sullivan.

Sullivan said the longest stretch of temps below -15°C in the area was a period of five days in the 1880s, according to NWS records, which go back to 1871.

“It doesn’t look like we’re going to do that, but it’s unusual, not unheard of,” Sullivan said of the cold streak.

There may be some — albeit slight — relief from the extreme cold on the way in the coming days. High temperatures Wednesday should climb to a high of around -8°C, the NWS said.

Thursday’s high temps could end up near -5°C, and Friday’s high is expected to be near -9°C.

As of 1pm we've gotten up to -9°C, but the sun is out, and we have brisk west-southwest winds, both of which should help. As long as it stays above -10°C I can walk Cassie home from day camp. (I had to drive her yesterday and today.)

The National Climate Prediction Center says the Arctic Vortex will get back to where it once belonged next week:

I sure hope so. And if Cassie understood "future" as a concept, so would she.

Gross weather day

Looking out my 30th-floor office window this afternoon doesn't cheer me. It's gray and snowy, but too warm for accumulation, so it just felt like rain when I sprinted across the street to get my burrito bowl for lunch.

I do have a boring deployment coming up in about an hour, requiring only that I show the business what we've built and then click "Run pipeline" twice. As a reward for getting ahead on development, I have time to read some of these absolutely horrifying news stories:

Finally, Cranky Flier examines American Airlines' European operations and singles out its heavy dependence on Heathrow as a key reason why its fares trans-Atlantic are lower than other US carriers. Since I am using one of those really low fares to visit Germany next month, I'm OK with American keeping their fares low.