The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Articles to read while waiting for my next online meeting

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won their respective Illinois primary elections yesterday. And in other news:

Time to write some documentation. Whee.

Stuff I read at the library

I'm leaving Harold Washington in a few minutes, now that I've caught up on some reading:

I also watched a time-lapse video of the Chicago River turning green last year. If you want to see this odd Chicago tradition, go downtown tomorrow at 9.

Hedgehog Highway

Britons, concerned about the decline of one of their most popular (and useful) species, have found a simple helper for them:

Gary Snyder has holes in his garden fence.

That's not normally the kind of oversight you'd find in a well-kept British garden in a market town like Chipping Norton, 75 miles northwest of London. But the holes are there for a reason: hedgehogs.

Snyder's backyard is now one small rest stop on what conservationists hope will be a network of hedgehog superhighways crisscrossing Britain.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has been encouraging people throughout Britain to do the same thing, calling it the Hedgehog Street project. A couple of inches of clearance means that hedgehogs can truck right through suburbia as if it didn't exist.

The NPR article even has a David Attenborough video of hedgehogs mating, if you're curious. Because David Attenborough.

London photos

I've had quite a few tasks on my plate since returning from the Ancestral Homeland Monday night, including preparing for the Messiah performances I've got next weekend. I've finally gotten a quick breather to put up some photos.

First, this guy sat next to me on the Tube from Heathrow:

This is the view from my hotel room (recommended!):

And dinner Sunday was, of course, at my second-favourite pub in the world. Bap with fresh-roasted pork loin, apple sauce, and spicy mustard? Fantastic. Dogs? Five. Beers? These two, which I recommend:

Next trip to London? No idea, but I'm hoping this coming spring.

Yes, I really did pay money for this

I'm in the Ancestral Homeland on a my last-ditch effort to maintain American Airlines Platinum status for 2016. If that sounds bizarre and pointless to you, then you have some empathy for the UK Border Force agent who interviewed me for fifteen minutes this morning.

Usually my UK entry interviews are about ninety seconds. I'm here four times a year, I always go home, and...well, that's basically all they've ever been concerned about. Until today, for the 23 years I've been visiting the UK, I have never had any trouble entering the country.

Today, however, we went several rounds on the theme "wait, you paid money to come here for one day?" Yes. I really did. I needed 6,149 elite-qualifying miles to keep my status, and the round-trip from Chicago to London is 7,906. Plus, it's London, a city I love dearly and would live in if circumstances and HM Customs and Immigration allowed.

So, I'm in, and I have a new note in my Border Force dossier now that includes things like, I have £99 in my pocket, and no official reason to be in the UK other than tourism. This may have an impact on my Registered Traveler application, which may now be rejected. The Border Force website says tourism is a totally valid reason for Registered Traveler status; but the agent in booth 34 this morning disagrees.

It's sad, really, because so far for the last 25 years all I've ever done in the UK is spend money and return home a few days later. Of course, I'll still visit, but who likes being rejected?

More meetings, less reading

More things I haven't read yet:

And a customer technician spent 90 minutes over two days worth of conference calls denying that something obviously his responsibility was not, in fact, his responsibility, until a network tech from his own company said it was.

Familiar-looking airplane at Heathrow

One of the few remaining British Airways Concorde airplanes is parked on the east side of Heathrow, and last Sunday my plane taxied right past it:

I remember, going to school outside New York, watching that thing fly over campus at 9am after leaving London at noon. That was cool.

63 years, 216 days

Today, Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith, has just moments ago become the longest-reigning monarch in British English history:

At exactly what time Her Majesty out-reigns her great-great grandmother is not precise, due to the uncertainty of the timing of the death of her father, George VI, who died in his sleep. But Buckingham Palace has estimated, to be absolutely safe, she will pass Victoria’s 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes at around 5.30pm*. That calculation assumes George VI’s death was around 1am, and factors in extra leap days in the reigns of “Elizabeth the Steadfast”, as she has been described, and the Queen Empress.

There will be no bonfires on Wednesday, however. Palace aides have reminded the press of the sensitivity of the occasion given it owes much to the premature death, at the age of 56, of the Queen’s father. “While she acknowledges it as an historic moment, it’s also for her not a moment she would personally celebrate, which is why she has been keen to convey business as usual and no fuss,” said one.

The only living monarch to out-reign the Queen is Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is two years younger but has reigned for six years longer. However she beats him, and all other contenders, on one matter. According to Guinness World Records, she holds the world record for most currencies featuring the same individual.

* 5:30pm BST is 11:30am CDT, or right about now.

Prince Charles, her heir-apparent, is 66, and also holds the record for being the longest-waiting heir-apparent in English history.