The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

About this blog (v. 4.1.6)

I'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 5-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in February, but some things have changed. In the interest of enlightened laziness I'm starting with the most powerful keystroke combination in the universe: Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V.

Twice. Thus, the "point one" in the title.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until a few months ago when I got the first digital camera I've ever had that rivals a film camera. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than ten years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago, the greatest city in North America, and the other ones I visit whenever I can.

I've deprecated the Software category, but only because I don't post much about it here. That said, I write a lot of software. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got about 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Another, non-trivial point. Facebook reads the blog's RSS feed, so many people reading this may think I'm just posting notes on Facebook. Facebook's lawyers would like you to believe this, too. Now, I've reconnected with tons of old friends and classmates through Facebook, I play Scrabble on Facebook, and I eagerly read every advertisement that appears next to its relevant content. But Facebook's terms of use assert ownership of everything that appears on their site, regardless of prior claims, which contravenes four centuries of law.

Everything that shows up on my Facebook profile gets published on The Daily Paker first, and I own the copyrights to all of it (unless otherwise disclosed). I publish the blog's text under a Creative Commons attribution-nonderivative-noncommercial license; republication is usually OK for non-commercial purposes, as long as you don't change what I write and you attribute it to me. My photos, however, are published under strict copyright, with no republication license, even if I upload them to other public websites. If you want to republish one of my photos, just let me know and we'll work something out.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

She also has a penetrating wit

A friend drove through the squall line that hit the East Coast yesterday and got extremely lucky, when you think about it:

She's fine, and so is her car, though she had to have the windshield replaced in the dark because of the widespread power outages out there.

Then there's the heat. Cities all up and down the East Coast hit record high temperatures over the weekend, including 38°C in Raleigh, 41°C in Richmond, and 37°C in Washington.

North Carolina 13th

As I checked email for one last time before going to bed, I found out who won the Republican primary in North Carolina's 13th district, in which I've spent considerable time this year. Meet Bill Randall, who will challenge incumbent Representative Brad Miller (D) on November 2nd:

As Talking Points Memo said last week, "But surprisingly, as oil poured into the gulf and Obama threw resources and rhetoric at the problem, the 'it's all a giant conspiracy' theory didn't catch on."

Perhaps when people talk about "tea parties" they refer to a different kind of tea than they serve at Starbucks? Just a thought.

Finally, a reminder to all my friends in the district: please, don't take it for granted Brad Miller will get re-elected. Sanity still needs your vote in November.

Anchor Brewing sold

Via reader MB, one of the best beers in the world has been sold to a pair of beer-loving entrepreneurs:

Fritz Maytag, the washing machine heir who launched the microbrewery movement, has sold Anchor Brewing Co. in San Francisco to a pair of Bay Area entrepreneurs who plan to preserve and expand the iconic brand.

No terms were disclosed for the sale of the 70-person Mariposa Street brewery and distillery that traces its roots to the Gold Rush, when local brewers produced a heady elixir known as steam beer.

In 45 years at the helm of Anchor Brewing, Maytag helped spark a revival in the craft of making beer by hand and inspired thousands of entrepreneurs to follow him in creating small, artisanal breweries.

Judging by the reactions of people in my class to a case we read on the Boston Beer Co., it's likely that overseas readers don't appreciate what Maytag did for beer lovers. Within a few hours of Chicago there are dozens of craft breweries, including Tyranena and, of course, Goose Island, two of the best in the world. Only Japan has anything like the American craft-brew culture, but sadly they don't export it. Neither do most of the craft brewers; their batches are too small even to ship farther than the next state over. So, in Chicago, I get to have a Mad Hatter, and in Raleigh I get to have a Angry Angel; but throughout this fine, beer-loving nation, we'll still have Anchor Steam.

Worst. Pollen. Ever.

It turns out, all that pollen covering my car happened in part because of the really pleasant winter we had in Raleigh this year. Really:

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Air Quality Division measured a sample of air Wednesday that had 3,524 pollen grains per cubic meter at its Raleigh office.

The count normally falls between 1,000 and 1,500 in the spring. The previous peak was on March 27, 2007, when air quality staff over at DENR measured 2,925 pollen grains per cubic meter.

The jump in pollen has made this a stuffy, sneezy, eye-itching spring for pollen-allergic Triangle residents.

Be grateful, however, you're not in Winston-Salem. The pollen count there was measured at 9,632 grains per cubic meter on Tuesday, according to DENR.

Despite the predicted thunderstorms tonight, predicted pollen levels remain "very high" (only because "OMFG" isn't an official pollen level).

Apparently, though, it's worse elsewhere:

As a-pollen as a cheap pun

This greeted me on my return to Raleigh today:

This is from pine pollen, which forecasters predict will be miserable for a couple of weeks. It covers everything, all over, everywhere down here. Another view of my formerly-silver car:

I wish those trees would stop having sex on my car.


That's the code for "frontal passage" on aviation meteorological reports. Apparently yesterday while I was on my way to O'Hare I missed a big one:

While temperatures began dropping across the far northern suburbs as early as mid-afternoon, the city was invaded by 30+ mph gusts late in the evening rush hour, initiating a thermal tailspin. In a single hour's time, readings at the Harrison-Dever Crib, three miles off Chicago's shoreline, dove from 62°F to 42°F—a 20°F pullback—between 6 and 7 p.m. The same period saw readings at Northerly Island on the city's lakefront plunge from 64°F to 47°F. A minute-by-minute temperature analysis off a Weather Bug sensor on the South Side at the Dumas Elementary School indicated readings there plunged 15°F in only 12 minutes—from 62°F at 6:39 p.m. to 47°F at 6:51. By late evening, North Shore readings were uniformly up to 25°F off the 60°F levels of only hours before.

Yikes. Here's the art:

Today's forecast is for sunny skies and 26°C.

Oh, sorry. That's my forecast. Back in Chicago they've got snow and freezing temperatures. Sorry.

Brewery tour

A friend and I toured the Big Boss Brewing Co. in Raleigh yesterday. Possibly owing to the gorgeous weather, or a widespread spirit of scientific inquiry, or—long shot here—the $1 33 cL beer samples, yesterday's tour seemed awfully popular:

Brewmaster Brad Wynn dragged all 642 of us around the tiny brewery, entertainingly explaining their brewing process quickly enough for us to get more of the aforementioned $1 beers:

Great fun. They're having a party on Wednesday which I'll have to miss, but their tap room is open Monday through Saturday. I'm looking forward to more Angry Angel, their crisp and hoppy Kölsch-style ale. It really is better right from the tap.

Next up: The Daily Parker hits a major milestone. Stay tuned.

El Niño hace la nieva

A winter storm off the coast of North Carolina has brought snow to both Chicago and Raleigh:

25 mm of snow had fallen at O'Hare by 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, with snow still coming down hard. That was enough to push the city's official seasonal snow tally above 127 cm for the third consecutive year. There's been only one other string of three consecutive 50+ inch seasons in 125 years of snow measurements here and it occurred between 1976 to 1979.

Lake effect snows occur in especially cold environments which, because of the efficiency of ice crystal formation at low temperatures, frequently produce larger than typical accumulations from the limited amount of water vapor available. This leads to snowflakes which exhibit maximum "fluff". Estimates of Wednesday's snow puts snow/water ratios at 30 to 1---indicating the system's snowflakes had almost three times the volume of those which come down in more typical 10 to 1 ratio snow events. One witness, in describing the rate of snowfall in Evanston, compared the scene to a "snow globe." Another described "pure whiteout conditions with snow coming in horizontally" and still another characterized the snowfall intensity at its height Wednesday evening as "this season's heaviest."

In North Carolina the snow is causing the same kinds of disruptions as in Chicago—slow traffic, nervous parents, confused dogs—but...well, it's not quite as much snow:

But I have to agree with my friend Jamie, who, when I mentioned the comparison, said "you picked a good winter to stay in North Carolina." I'm thinking she's right.

Commuting home to work

I'm splitting my time between Chicago and Raleigh lately, and it looks like I'll continue to do so for quite a while. This causes one minor inconvenience: my car doesn't fit in the overhead compartment on a CRJ. (For that matter, an anorexic gerbil won't fit in the overhead compartment on one of those things, but that's another issue.)

Chicago, however, is a major city with an extensive public transportation system (no snickering from natives, please). Chicago also has Zipcars, a by-the-hour car-rental cooperative, with six cars stationed less than four blocks from my house. Four blocks—800 m—seems to suburbanites like a very long walk to get a car, but actually, I'm lucky if I get to park my own car that close most days. So this is an improvement.

iGo, which costs a little less and works in partnership with the CTA, is another option. Unfortunately they don't have any cars within 1500 m of my house. Walking around the block to get the Zipcar suddenly seems more attractive. Walking eight blocks to get a car is less so.

Zipcars also has the advantage of national reach. Given how often I travel (especially to San Francisco), this has tremendous appeal.

Now if only Chicago had a puppy-rental service for those times when I miss Parker...