The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Unfortunate computer issues this morning

The Federal Aviation Administration halted all takeoffs from US airports for about an hour this morning after the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system failed. Planes have resumed flying, but the ripples from this morning's ground stop could take a day or two to resolve. Good thing I'm not flying until Saturday.

Also this morning, Chicago's transit agencies released a new real-time train tracker that finally allows commuters to see where (many) of Metra's trains actually think they are. I tested the site on the Metra line I use most frequently only to find that it appeared stuck—until I discovered that, no, the trains had stopped, because one of them hit a pedestrian in Lakeview, just south of me.

I'm glad Metra finally discovered the Global Positioning System just in time for the service's 45th birthday. If only we funded our transit systems the way we fund highways...if only...

Maps and trees

New York City has a huge online map of every tree they manage, and they just updated their UI:

Near the Tennis House in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park grows a magnificent white oak that stands out for its impressive stature, with a trunk that’s nearly four feet wide. But the massive tree does more than leave visitors in awe. It also provides a slew of ecological benefits, absorbing some 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide and intercepting nearly 9,000 gallons of stormwater each year, according to city data. It also removes pollutants from the air and help the the city conserve enough energy to power a one- or two-bedroom apartment for roughly two months.

In economic terms, just that one tree contributes more than $550 each year.

Such fine-grained information is now available for more than 150,000 trees in parks managed by NYC Parks and Recreation via a new living tree guide from the agency. The New York City Tree Map, launched Thursday, is an expansion of the city’s existing street tree map, which since 2016 has enabled New Yorkers to get up close and personal with the 650,000-some trees that line their neighborhood sidewalks.

Hey, Chicago: when do we get one of these?

Census story maps

James Fallows loves the new data visualizations from the Census Bureau:

Through its existence the Census has been an irreplaceable trove of data. A minor illustration: this past April it released a searchable database of individual records from the 1950 Census, rendered in touchingly precise hand-written form. You can look up the name of anyone included in that Census here — as I did for my mother and father.1 Why the 1950 Census? Because by law personally identifiable Census records are kept private for 72 years after the Census date. Thus the 2020 Census details are scheduled for release in 2092.

A few days ago the Census Bureau put some of its data to work in a very different fashion. This was in a fascinating “Story Map” about the shift in American settlement patterns since the late 1700s.

Story Maps are a narrative and explanatory tool for “geo-journalism,” which we’ve mentioned many times, including here. The technology was developed by our long-time friends at the digital mapping company Esri. A few weeks ago Deb Fallows and Michelle Ellia did a story map about the sea-turtle hatchlings of the Florida coastline—tiny creatures scrambling out of their nests in beachfront sand, along the very same coastline that has been pounded by Hurricane Ian this week.

The new story map from the Census Bureau uses a combination of historical narrative, map-based data, and overlays of economic, ethnic, and other information. Its purpose is to demonstrate how America’s population centers have changed, as the population has steadily grown.

I'll be playing with this a bit today. Because maps! and history!

Future heat

James Fallows highlights a new US government website that maps how bad the climate will get in your town:

Let me give just a few illustrations from the first such climate-based public map the White House has released, HEAT.gov. The main points about all this and related “digital dashboards” (like the one for Covid) and maps:

  • They are customizable. You can see your immediate neighborhood, or the entire world.
  • They are configurable. You can see the “real” weather as of 2020, and the projected weather as of many decades from now.
  • They can be combined. You can overlay a map of likely future flood zones, with areas of greatest economic and social vulnerabilities.

First, a map showing the priority list of communities most at risk from heat stress some decades from now. This is based on an overlay of likely future temperatures, with current resources and vulnerabilities, and other factors and trends.

Number one on this future vulnerability list is in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Number ten is in Arkansas. In between, at number seven, is my own home county in California. You can tune the map to your own interests here. It is meant to serve as a guide for preparation, avoidance, and resilience.

Pretty cool stuff. At the moment, Chicago's weather seems pretty reasonable for July, but the forecast calls for hot and awful weather later this week. And that will keep happening as climate change keeps pushing more energy into the atmosphere.

Stuff to read tomorrow morning

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.

Waiting for the cold front

It's mid-July today, at least until around 8pm, when late April should return. The Tribune reported this morning that our spring has had nearly three times the rain as last spring, but actually hasn't gotten much wetter than normal.

Meanwhile:

Finally, via The Onion, Google Maps now shows you shortcuts through people's houses when they're not home.

Small victories

I just finished upgrading an old, old, old Windows service to .NET 6 and a completely different back end. It took 6.4 hours, soup to nuts, and now the .NET 6 service is happily communicating with Azure and the old .NET Framework 4.6 service is off.

Meanwhile, the Post published a map (using a pretty lazy algorithm) describing county-by-county what sunrise times will look like in January 2024 if daylight saving time becomes permanent. I'd have actually used a curve tool but, hey, the jagged edges look much more "data-driven." (They used the center point of each county.)

Now it's 22:45 (daylight saving time), and I need to empty Cassie and go to bed. But I'm pretty jazzed by how I spent a rainy afternoon on PTO. It was definitely more rewarding than tramping out in the rain to a couple of breweries for the Brews & Choos project, which had been Plan A.

Mid-afternoon roundup

Before heading into three Zoom meetings that will round out my day, I have a minute to flip through these:

  • US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) made a bold grab for the Dumbest Person in Congress award yesterday when she warned OAN viewers about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's "gazpacho police." Let the memes begin.
  • The Economist has an update to the Democratic Freedoms Map, and things do not look good—unless you live in Norway.
  • Along similar lines, WBEZ reports on the Urban Institute's findings that Cook County, Illinois, which contains Chicago, has some extraordinary wealth gaps.
  • 99% Invisible explains how the "future" office historically looks a lot like the past.
  • Arthur C Brooks advises singles to look for complementary, rather than similar, characteristics in potential mates.
  • The Pullman House Project here in Chicago will soon offer tours of the Thomas Dunbar House in the Pullman National Historic Site.

Finally, Tesla has some impressive software in its cars, but it still has a few (very frightening) bugs.

Short-term license agreements

Today is the 50th anniversary of DB Cooper jumping out of a hijacked airplane into the wilds of Washington State. It's also the day I will try to get a Covid-19 booster shot, since I have nothing scheduled for tomorrow that I'd have to cancel if I wind up sleeping all day while my immune system tries to beat the crap out of some spike proteins in my arm.

Meanwhile, for reasons passing understanding (at least if you have a good grasp of economics), President Biden's approval ratings have declined even though last week had fewer new unemployment claims than any week in my lifetime. (He's still more popular than the last guy, though.)

In other news:

Any moment now, my third DevOps build in the last hour will complete. I've had to run all three builds with full tests because I don't always write perfect code the first time. But this is exactly why I have a DevOps build pipeline with lots of tests.

Sure Happy It's Thursday

So many things to read at lunchtime today:

Finally, a year ago today I made some predictions about what could happen in the 2020 election. Turns out, "Option C" is true, and we're still waiting to see on a few others.