The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Statistics: 2023

Last year continued the trend of getting back to normal after 2020, and with one nice exception came a lot closer to long-term bog standard normal than 2022.

  • I posted 500 times on The Daily Parker, 13 more than in 2022 and only 6 below the long-term median. January, May, and August had the most posts (45) and February, as usual, the least (37). The mean of 41.67 was actually slightly higher than the long-term mean (41.23), with a standard deviation of 2.54, which may be the lowest (i.e., most consistent posting schedule) since I started the blog in 1998.
  • Flights went up slightly, to 12 segments and 20,541 flight miles (up from 10 and 16,138), the most of either since 2018:
  • I visited 5 countries (the UK, Czechia, Austria, Slovakia, and Germany) and 5 US states (California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Indiana, and Michigan). Total time traveling: 156 hours (up from 107).
  • Cassie had more fun last year than 2022 as my team went from 2 to 3 days in-office (meaning more time at day camp). She got 372 hours of walks (up from 369) and at least that many hours of couch time.
  • Total steps for 2023: 4,619,407 steps and 3,948 km (average: 12,655 per day), up from 4.54m steps and 3,693 km in 2022. I hit my step goal 341 times (327 in 2022), which wasn't bad at all. I also did my longest walk ever on September 1st, 44.45 km.
  • Driving? I did several trips to Michigan in the summer, but still only drove 5,009 km (down from 5,925) on 87 L of gasoline (down from 144), averaging 1.7 L/100 km (136 MPG). That's the best fuel economy I've ever gotten with any car for a full year. I last filled up July 30th, and could conceivably go through January on what I've got left in the tank, but it's always best to keep your tank full in super-cold weather.
  • Total time at work: 1,905 hours at my real job (up from 1,894) and 73 hours on consulting and side projects, including 640 hours in the office (up from 580), but not including the 91 hours I spent commuting (down from 103). How did I add 60 hours in the office while cutting 12 hours off my commute, I hear you ask? Simple: I live closer to the Metra than I used to, and the 6-10 minutes a day adds up.
  • The Apollo Chorus consumed 247 hours in 2023, with 166 hours rehearsing and performing (cf. 220 hours just on the music in 2022). We had fewer performances and an easier fall season, which made a huge difference.
  • As for media consumption, I'll leave that to its own post tomorrow.

In all, not a bad year. I hope the trends continue for 2024, though I do expect a few more blog posts this autumn...

Erev Christmas Eve evening roundup

As I wait for my rice to cook and my adobo to finish cooking, I'm plunging through an unusually large number of very small changes to a codebase recommended by one of my tools. And while waiting for the CI to run just now, I lined these up for tomorrow morning:

Finally, the CBC has an extended 3-episode miniseries version of the movie BlackBerry available online. I may have to watch that this week.

Not all of California is pretty

I just got back from a 35-minute walk around downtown San Jose, Calif., including a 1-km stretch of the Guadalupe River trail. My Garmin track gives you hints about how it went, particularly the 300 meters or so along the river under multiple overpasses including the California 87 freeway. And in fairness, it's sunny and 13°C, which doesn't suck for the first day of winter.

That said, this is the place where I joined the trail:

And this is the 87 underpass:

Not shown above, the homeless man launching large rocks onto the bike path, who only stopped when he finally made eye contact with me, which I didn't break until a support column broke it for me. And let me tell you, that eye contact had behind it every single one of my 30+ years of living in New York City and Chicago.

I mean, there are worse places to be homeless than in the Bay Area. But my 30-minute walk through multiple homeless encampments and god-awful car-centric urban infrastructure brought clarity to arguments I've read about California's housing and property-tax policies. For the most progressive state in the union, California has the worst land use. The Bay Area has a huge homeless population only in small part due to the weather. I walked past a 3-bedroom, 163 m² house 25 minutes from downtown San Jose last night, for sale at $1.8 million. A comparable house in my neighborhood would cost about $900k, and it's a 15-minute train ride to the Loop in one of the most walkable places in the world. (The $1.8-million house is just not walkable.)

One more thing. My Clipper Card has $3.05 on it, down from $20 yesterday because it took two trains to get from SFO Airport to San Jose (still much better than renting a car!). But I thought ahead, and set to auto-reload when it goes below $10. Did you know that it takes at least 24 hours to reload a Clipper Card? So I must ask the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, what the hell is the point of the auto-reload feature if it allows the Clipper Card to bottom out, forcing you to reload at a kiosk while waiting for the f****g auto-reload?

The MTC claims "[i]f you set up Auto-Reload for cash value, when your balance falls below $10, Clipper will automatically reload you card when you pay your next fare," but will it happen today? I guess I'll find out when I go to lunch later.

Unrelated: My Garmin watch said I got eight hours of "poor, non-restorative" sleep last night, and "you may feel more tired or irritable today." Nah, I'm fine.

Flying out tomorrow

Tomorrow I have a quick trip to the Bay Area to see family. I expect I will not only continue posting normally, but I will also research at least two Brews & Choos Special Stops while there. Exciting stuff.

And because we live in exciting times:

Finally, if you're in Chicago tonight around 6pm, tune into WFMT 98.7 FM. They're putting the Apollo Chorus performance at Holy Name Cathedral in their holiday preview. Cool! (And tickets are still available.)

Four medium walks = one big walk

As planned, my urban-hiking friend and I walked just under 21 km for four beers. She timed the entire trip, and I timed each segment, so we know that the total was 3:24:55 over 20.73 km, just about where we expected to be:

(Note that she uses the obsolete Imperial system of measurements and I use the International system, so the lap markers on her track are miles. Ugh.)

Her Garmin course isn't public, but mine are:

We had a really good day. The temperature stayed right around 10°C, so it felt a little cooler when the sun went down, but by that point we'd just arrived at Temperance.

If Metropolitan were staying open, and if Alarmist were anywhere near a train station, I'd rate them both "Would Go Back" in the Brews & Choos List. Alas.

Metropolitan has a beautiful taproom and patio right on the river:

And Alarmist has some delicious beers:

For part of the trip we walked along the Weber Spur Trail, a relatively recent and not-yet-improved former rail line through the Sauganash neighborhood:

Today I felt a bit tired, but in a good way. We did have one extra beer at Sketchbook, but we got 10-ounce pours where available, and we shared the flight pictured above (and the extra 5-ounce pour not shown).

So what's next? Holidays, unfortunately. But we're hoping for a very mild El Niño winter this year, so we might do another beer hike sooner than one might think.

Sunny Sunday walking

This may be the last warm (enough) weekend of 2023, so once more, I'm planning to go for a long walk. This time we plan to start at Metropolitan Brewing, which will close for good in 5 weeks. We then proceed up the river to Burning Bush, thence 8.5 km northwest to Alarmist, thence 7.5 km northeast to Temperance in Evanston. At that point we'll either head north to Double Clutch (2.4 km), or east to Sketchbook (2.7 km). Both Double Clutch and Sketchbook are along the Metra line that goes right past my house, so that's easy enough.

None of these will get a new Brews & Choos review, though. Even if Metropolitan weren't closing, it's too far from a train station (1.8 km from Belmont); so is Alarmist (2.7 km from Forest Glen). Sketchbook and Burning Bush are both on my Top 10 list, and Temperance and Double Clutch already have "would go back" ratings. But my walking buddy hasn't been to any of them except Sketchbook. So I'm game to go back.

I plan to get a couple of Brews & Choos visits over the next two weekends: next Friday or Saturday in Chicago, and the following week in the Bay Area.

Walk highlights and photos tomorrow or Tuesday. New reviews soon.

Nice battery life

My Garmin Venu 3 continues to impress me. First, its navigation accuracy averages  within less than 2 meters, meaning you can see on my activity tracks when I dip into an alley to drop off Cassie's latest offering. 

Second, its battery life rocks. I'm charging it right now after it last got to 100% around noon last Friday. When I connected its charger 45 minutes ago it had dwindled to 7%. That equates to just over 15 percentage points per day, or a full discharge in 6½ days. My old Venu 2 could barely manage 48 hours towards the end. This is with full GPS/Glonass/Galileo tracking on walks and pulse O2 measurement overnight. I'll do a long (20 km) walk soon to see how much it burns when tracking activities.

Perhaps that'll be this weekend. Saturday, weather permitting, I plan to take the special Heritage Corridor Brewery Train (not making this up) to visit the two breweries in Lockport. Sunday, weather permitting, I plan to do nothing of value.

Birthday present

My 3+-year-old Garmin Venu 2 Plus has about 40 hours of battery life and doesn't have a host of features that Garmin has developed since I got it. So, voilà, a Garmin Venu 3 appeared yesterday:

I'm still testing it out, but so far it's demonstrably better than the 2 Plus. For one thing, it came out of the box last night at 80% battery, and 20 hours later it's at...70%. And overnight, it analyzed a lot more about my sleep than the older watch ever could.

Possibly next I will get a Fenix. I understand there's a new navigation chipset coming out next spring...

Third marathon walk (in 4 attempts)

I did it again:

Of my three attempts to do this (2020, 2021, and 2022), this was 3rd best. Considering that last year I didn't even make it out of Evanston, it wasn't really that bad:

So even though yesterday's marathon time was 21 minutes longer than 2020 and 25 minutes longer than 2021, at least I finished. But why so slow (other than I'm getting older)?

Some clues: in 2020 and 2021, I got about 8¼ hours of sleep the night before; yesterday I woke up after only 7¼ hours of sleep. In 2020 and 2021, I started the day with Garmin Body Battery scores of 93 and 84 respectively; in 2022, it was 49, and yesterday, 67. More relevantly, as my walking partner (who does Ironman races and so never crested a heart rate of 125) pointed out, in 2020 and 2021 I actually trained for it.

Another trivium. I have a 3-year-old Garmin Venu 2, and my walking partner wore an newer Garmin Forerunner 265S and an older Forerunner 935. The 935 uses GPS only. The 265 has a dual-band chip that "intelligently" switches between GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS. My Venu 2 can use any of the three navigation satellite systems, but I had it set to GPS+GLONASS. We walked the same course at the same pace, and except for a few minutes when our watches were all paused, we were never more than 2 meters from each other, and we recorded total course times within a few seconds entirely attributable to imprecision in starting the timers.

Yet somehow, my Venu 2 logged 44.45 km (27.63 mi) for the entire walk, while hers got 43.80 km (27.22 mi) and 43.73 km (27.18 mi) respectively. There is no possibility that I walked 725 meters—almost four Chicago city blocks—farther than she did. So later this weekend, we're going to dig into the track files to figure out where I got the extra half-mile.

Regardless, the weather was about the same this year as in 2020, meaning really gorgeous:

Yes, I'm going to do it again next September. But I'll also do a few other walks next summer to prepare. And my walking partner and I plan a hike on the North Branch Trail in Ocotober that ends not with a brewery but with pizza.