This is a bit of good news for my weekend getaway:
Long-running weekend strikes on London's Night Tube have been suspended after the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union accepted a concession from London Underground about rotas.
The bodies have agreed to have a minimum number of drivers who prefer to work overnight on each line.
The RMT stressed the dispute was not resolved, and the situation would be reviewed in three months at the latest.
Ongoing weekend strike action began in January and was planned until December.
The union said the industrial action had been taken to "prevent the ripping up of staffing arrangements that would wreck the work-life balance of drivers".
The strikes have affected the Central, Jubilee, Northern, and Victoria lines, two of which figure prominently in my plans this week as I'm staying in Holborn and spending time in Gospel Oak/Camden Town.
I'm working a half-day in my company's London office to catch up on some things and to ensure my team back home get the current sprint off to a good start. But the weather is absolutely perfect, so I might not make it past my 3pm meeting...
Contra Daniel Burnham, I made only small plans. Tonight I'm returning to a friend's old haunts in Earls Court to give her an update. Tomorrow I'm having lunch with a colleague at an historic Greenwich pub, then either going for a (10-kilometer) walk or popping round a museum. Saturday will see another walk that ends, conveniently, at my favorite pub in London.
Updates as the situation warrants. Photos next week.
With an 8:30 international flight and great uncertainty in airport/airline operations these days, I thought it prudent to haul my ass out to a hotel by the airport last night.
Well, it worked, in that I got through O'Hare security less than an hour after waking up. I have plenty of time to sort through my email and load my Surface with some news.
On the other hand, I couldn't find a combination of pillows that I could tolerate, and only slept a bit more than 6 hours, so I can't call it a decisive win.
It looks like there are a lot of empty seats on the plane, so at least I didn't feel the need to check my bag. Depending on how I flex my strong dollars (£1 = $1.197 at this writing), I might have to check it on the way back, though.
Next report from my Ancestral Homeland in about 11 hours, if all goes well.
In just a few minutes I will take Cassie to boarding, then head up to Northwestern for a rehearsal (I'm in the chorus at Ravinia's upcoming performances of La Clemenza di Tito.) I'll then have to pack when I get home from rehearsal, then head to a hotel by O'Hare. Ah, how much fun is an 8:30 international flight!
As I'll have some time at the airport in the morning, and no time now, I want to queue these up for myself:
All right, I'm off. After I pack.
The Met Office has provisionally recorded the UK's first-ever above-40°C (104°F) temperature:
Heathrow's 12:50 BST report to ICAO put the temperature at 39°C, with a heat index of 37.1°C (98.9°F). Meanwhile, the city of Abadan, Iran, has hit 51°C (123.8°F), which I can scarcely imagine.
And yet, the forecast for my trip this week looks perfect: highs in the mid-20s, with possible sprinkles Friday morning.
The Met Office has declared that Gogerddan, Wales, has reached 35.3°C (95.5°F), the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country. Meanwhile, the London Broil continues:
Met Office Chief Meteorologist Neil Armstrong, said “The extreme temperatures that we have been forecasting are now beginning to build and it is likely that today we will see values reach into the high 30s, possibly challenging the UK record of 38.7°C set in July 2019.
“Even higher maximum temperatures will develop tomorrow with a 70% chance of somewhere in England exceeding 40°C. A value of this level would exceed the current UK record by 1.3°C or more. This is akin to a marathon runner shaving 20 minutes off of the current record.
“Nights are also likely to be exceptionally warm, especially in urban areas. This is likely to lead to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure. Therefore, it is important people plan for the heat and consider changing their routines. This level of heat can have adverse health effects.”
This is the first time we have forecast 40°C in the UK. The current record high temperature in the UK is 38.7°C, which was reached at Cambridge Botanic Garden on 25 July in 2019.
Weather forecast models are run numerous times to help us quantify the likelihood of a particular event occurring and estimate the uncertainty which is always present in weather forecasting to some degree. Some models are now producing a 70% chance of maximum temperatures in excess of 40°C in isolated parts of the UK for the start of next week. Mid, to high, 30s Celsius will be seen more widely with a 95% chance we will exceed the current record.
At this writing, Heathrow and London City both report 36.0°C (96.8°F). They still have more livable weather than the world's hot spot right now: Abadan, Iran, reports 50°C (122°F), but its 6°C dewpoint and 8% humidity make it feel like a much cooler 45.6°C (114.7°F).
I arrive around 22:15 BST Wednesday, when temperatures should be closer to 22°C (74°F), which is still a very warm summer day in London.
Ordinance Survey, the UK's equivalent to our US Geological Survey, recently discovered that 77% of Brits can't read a map:
Just how far is it to the pub? Three-quarters of UK adults are in danger of never finding out, according to a poll commissioned by Ordnance Survey to mark National Map Reading Week (11-17 July). It found that 77% of respondents couldn’t recognise the most basic OS map symbols, such as viewpoints and pubs. (The latter is marked with a classic pint “jug” glass with handle, so could the ignorance be down to the switch to straight beer glasses?)
Of the 2,000 adults surveyed, more than half (56%) admitted they’d got lost because they couldn’t use a map or follow a phone app correctly, with 39% resorting to calling friends and family, 26% flagging down help, and 10% calling mountain rescue to get home.
Even when they’re not actually getting lost, 31% said they were worried they might. Many adults (46%) said they were happier walking with someone else.
Meanwhile, the Met Office has declared its first Red Weather Warning as they expect temperatures to hit 40°C in London on Monday and Tuesday:
Fortunately for me, they expect cooler weather Wednesday and beyond.
The euro has fallen below parity with the dollar for the first time since 2003:
Sterling has fallen to $1.18, just days before I fly there. The pound dipped down to this level briefly just as the pandemic hit in March 2020, but you have to go back to 1985 to see it at those levels.
I may have to stock up while I'm there. Euros too.
Twenty-five years ago today, an unknown author published a short novel about wizards, witches, flying broomsticks, and the return of a once-defeated monstrous evil. Jo Rowling has gone on to become one of the most loved and most hated authors in the modern world, and the series that started with a print run of just 500 copies on 26 June 1997 has sold over a half-billion books.
Happy birthday to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Time for a re-read.
A lot has happened in the past day or so:
- The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 down partisan lines that everyone can carry a gun anywhere they want to, because they had guns in 1791 and so we have to live by 230-year-old rules. (Fun fact: a well-trained militiaman in 1791 could fire four aimed musket shots in a minute! Another fun fact: in 1791, bullets didn't yet exist!)
- That will surely comfort the parents of Uvalde, Texas, about as much as the news that the school police chief finally got suspended in light of the abject incompetence of everyone he supervised.
- Josh Marshall thinks the Justice Department may, actually, prosecute some of the January 6th insurrection leaders—including, perhaps, the XPOTUS.
- Microsoft's president and vice chair Brad Smith explains how Microsoft has fought the cyberwar in Ukraine.
- Robert Wright (sub.req.) argues in favor of a negotiated peace in Ukraine, and that American foreign policy over the past 25 years has made the benefit of standing on principle less than it could have been.
- Philosopher Slavoj Žižek responds that pacifism is the wrong response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- Walter Shapiro shakes his head at how badly we (the West) squandered the "lost weekend" of 1989 to 2001.
- After investing $50m in the Republican primary election Illinois has next Tuesday, Ken Griffin has decided to up sticks to Florida. He will not be missed.
- Just four weeks before I visit my ancestral homeland, three transit-related industrial actions (strikes) have either started or will start soon, affecting the national railways, the London Underground, and Heathrow's ground staff. It's a good thing that the only modes of transit I typically use in the UK are planes, trains, and the Tube!
- The US Food and Drug Administration has halted sales of Juul e-cigarette products.
Finally, let's all congratulate Trumpet, the bloodhound who won the Westminster Kennel Club's dog show last night. Who's a good boy!