The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Evening news stories

A cold front pushed its way through Chicago this afternoon, making it feel much more like autumn than we've experienced so far. And it got pretty chilly in Washington, where Senate Republicans began the first day of hearings into the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court:

And much farther from home, Mars will be in opposition tomorrow night, coincidentally during the new moon, meaning we'll get a really good look at it.

I feel for Julie Nolke

Let's start with the good news: Julie Nolke has a new video.

OK, ready for everything else?

And finally, today would have been John Lennon's 80th birthday.

First Tuesday in October

Starting in March, this year has seemed like a weird anthology TV show, with each month written and directed by a different team. We haven't had Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme yet; I'm hoping that'll be the season finale in February. This month we seem to have Armando Iannucci running the show, as the President's antics over the weekend suggest.

So here's how I'm spending lunch:

Tomorrow night will be the vice-presidential debate, which I will again live-blog. I can't wait.

The return of Allie Brosh

The cartoonist and author behind Hyperbole and a Half has returned with a new book, which I should receive tomorrow. This news offsets pretty much all the other news from today:

I'm sure there's more, but I'm done for the day.

Slow news day? In 2020? Ha!

Just a few of the things that crossed my desktop this morning:

And last night, Cubs pitcher Alec Mills threw the club's 16th no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers. In the history of Major League Baseball, there have only been 315 no-hitters. The last time the Cubs won a no-hitter was 51 years ago.

Home stretch?

With 58 days until the election, the noise keeps increasing. Here's some of it:

Finally, The Smithsonian describes how Greg Priore managed to steal priceless documents from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, because he was in charge of security for those items.

Afternoon round-up

There's a lot going on today, what with the Republican National Convention celebrating the apocalypse they desperately want, but a few things outside of that also happened:

Finally, only a few blocks from my house my neighbors have set up a Wee Free Library...of sticks...for dogs.

I didn't realize they were doing it on purpose

Conductors on the heavy-rail line I take downtown twice a week haven't asked me for my ticket all summer. Apparently they're pissed at Metra, the agency that runs our commuter trains:

Metra, which is struggling financially during the pandemic, said Union Pacific’s refusal to send conductors into the train cars is costing the commuter rail system $1 million a month in lost ticket revenue.

Union Pacific, which operates the UP North, Northwest and West lines, is not allowing conductors back into the aisles to punch tickets, citing coronavirus safety concerns. That has created a “no fare” policy, Metra said, essentially giving passengers on those lines a free ride for the foreseeable future.

“Because UP conductors are neither selling tickets nor validating fares, most riders on their trains have been riding for free, which is hurting the system financially and is not fair to riders on the other lines who are being asked to show their fares,” Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said Tuesday.

Metra and Union Pacific have been in negotiations since last fall to either extend their service agreement or create a new one. One option on the table would be for Metra to take over operations of the commuter trains using its own employees, Gillis said.

For what it's worth, I've "burned" an electronic ticket most times I've ridden on the train. It seems like the right thing to do. But it also seems like the conductors need to do their jobs.

Also, I want to know why, after five years, we still don't have a new inbound station at my stop. They've built all the bridges, and only a couple weeks ago they started laying new track, but at an incredibly slow pace. One morning I see a few dozen ties (sleepers); later in the week, a few more. Then the following week, they plop a single rail down on a few of them. It's maddening, especially as we're going to have yet another winter without shelter on the inbound side.

Above target, not in a good way

Chicago's key Covid-19 metric, the 7-day rolling average positivity rate, ticked above 5% yesterday, as it's been near the 5% threshold for a couple of weeks. It rose from 4% to 5% between July 19th and 30th, suggesting that relaxed discipline has led to more infections.

Today Governor JB Pritzker announced stricter policies requiring masks to protect restaurant workers:

[The] new statewide restaurant and bar policy requiring all patrons to wear a mask while interacting with waitstaff and other employees, when food and beverages are brought to the table and when picking up carryout orders.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike admonished people to “stop wearing your face covering incorrectly. You’re literally contributing to infection transmission by doing so.”

Meanwhile, public health officials warn that this year's flu season could make the Covid-19 pandemic worse, and have asked everyone who's able to get a flu shot.

Meanwhile, speakers at the Republican National Convention said everything's all right, so don't worry about the virus.

Wasted time

I just spent 90 minutes driving to and from two different Drivers Services facilities because I wanted to renew my drivers license with a Real ID version. At both places the lines stretched into the next time zone. Since I can renew online, and I have another Real ID available, I'm just not going to bother.

I'm surprised—not very, but still—that Drivers Services still doesn't understand queuing theory. Or they just don't care. Illinois used to handle this much better, but after four years of Bruce Rauner cutting funding to the entire state, I guess it'll take some time to fix. (The pandemic didn't help, with more than half of the county's facilities temporarily closed.)

Update: Renewing online took less than a minute, and just in case I don't receive my renewed license before the current one expires, they let me print out a temporary. So if I have to take a domestic flight, I'll just bring my passport card.