Yesterday, the majority of weather models forecast a major winter storm over Chicago that was going to snarl traffic, ground airplanes, and make life a living hell for several friends of mine. One of the models had a slightly different prediction, however. Looks like the minority opinion was right:
The northbound storm driving Chicago’s Christmas Eve 2014 rainfall is going to have a hard time producing the kind of cooling which would support big snow accumulations. It’s been clear from the range of forecasts covering aspects of the storms development and movement that this system’s ability to generate snow may well be limited by the warm environment in which it springs to life. While bursts of wet snowflakes may well wind up in Wed afternoon and evening’s precipitation mix, it’s hard to see how snowfall of an intensity to do more than just dust the warm ground or produce minor transitory accumulations, expecting more of this storm will be a tough sell.
Because the system part of an environment awash in mild air, Wednesday’s Christmas Eve storm is in a position in which it must generate its own cold air through storm dynamics (i.e. the ascension and resultant cooling of air brought on by the storm’s intensification). Such cooling may well happen to Chicago’s east from sections of Indiana near Valparaiso north into Michigan City, Benton Harbor, Muskegon, etc–regions likely to sit beneath the storm’s strongest dynamics and, therefore, the area most likely to experience the kind of cooling which may take rain over to snow long enough to produce more than the dusting to 2″ accumulations predicted by our team to occur in the greater Chicago area.
In other words, Chicago will be wet and cold, but not snowy. Life goes on.
Of course, none of this would affect me today, because I'm back here for the holiday:
Today it's misty and damp on the peninsula, so I might not hit my Fitbit goal today. But I'm still warmer than I'd be back home.
My vacation officially began at 12:20 this afternoon when I turned in my laptop and badge to West Monroe. I have exactly one day of vacation more than required to burn down PTO until the end of the year, plus I have some final Christmas shopping to do, so I have returned to my old remote office for a moment:
In reality, I'm not going to do nothing on my vacation. Someday I'll have two weeks off with pay and no responsibilities, but starting a job as CTO isn't like starting other jobs. I'm already working with my staff and CEO to start 2015 at full throttle. At least with the holidays, and going out to see the nephews, and a 2½-day week leading up to New Year's Eve, I can warm up behind the pace car before gunning it on the 5th.
I'm still formulating my 2015 resolutions. That said, the forecast out by the P's this week lets me state one goal out loud: 25,000 Fitbit steps Wednesday or Thursday. And a ton of food.
I like traveling to Europe because it reminds me that technology can combine with public services in ways we will not see in the U.S. for 30 years. Yesterday it was a magic button that made a taxi appear in seconds. Today it was a bit of wasted time that led to two discoveries, one of which was that I wasted time.
My business colleague and I, used to very long lines to get paper train tickets as well as some predictions about our cognitive abilities at 5:15 tomorrow morning, decided to swing by the local train station to get our airport express tickets. It turns out, they don't use them. You simply swipe your credit card at a small kiosk and—bam—you have a ticket good for six months.
In other words, we could have simply walked to the train station tomorrow morning, swiped our cards, and climbed aboard, without waiting in line and without getting a paper ticket.
My colleague, having noticed that coming in from the airport no one challenged us for our tickets, asked, "how does that even work?"
I thought about it and realized that in Norway, very few people steal public services. Also the conductors have handheld computers that can read credit cards and match them with pre-payments.
Imagine if Metra did that. It might be convenient. Or if Metra and the CTA could get their asses moving on making Ventra cards good for both. It might wind up being something like the Clipper Card in San Francisco, a transit card that works on most public transport.
The basic point is, how much lost productivity do we have in the U.S. because we under-fund public services to the point where they can't invest in cost-saving technology? And what will it take to get Americans to stop voting for people like Bruce Rauner, who is guaranteed to try starving Chicago-area public transport for four more years?
It's sunny and cool, and I have no remaining responsibilities that I know of for the afternoon. So Parker and I are going for a long walk.
Oh, and: Go Giants.
I walked about 17 km yesterday, including through here:
Yes, Northern California has its good bits.
When I visit my folks in northern California for short visits, I use the same trick to ward off jet lag that I use in London: I stay on Chicago time. This means, however, that I get up around 5:30 and hike over to the Peet's to work until everyone else wakes up.
Combine that with this being the end of August and it really brings home how short the days are getting. At home I've already noticed how gloomy it is at 6:30; here, I'm leaving the house at 5:45, almost an hour before sunrise. The last time I visited California, in May, I walked to the coffee shop at dawn. Today I thought it prudent to bring a flashlight.
Chicago has lost 74 minutes of daylight since August 1st, and will lose another 100 minutes by the end of September.
We'll also get cooler weather, changing leaves, sweaters, and longer walks with Parker, so it's not all bad.
Mainly, since I'm going there soon, I should have mentioned the 6.1 earthquake in Napa yesterday morning.
Also, a few blocks from where I'm sitting, Chicago is building a new river walk for $100 million.
Anyone else looking forward to Rick Perry's next political campaign? It should be fun.
Oh, and I went with the REI duffel.
I appreciate my friends getting 5th-row seats at AT&T park tonight. And yet, the Cubs still lost.
To clarify: I was legitimately surprised that my friends got such awesome seats. I was not surprised that, having won yesterday, the Cubs lost tonight.
I enjoy a healthy dose of randomness when traveling, because it means sometimes you get a hotel room with this view:
It's hard to see, but I'm looking directly at AT&T Park, where the Cubs are playing in about two hours. Since they won last night, I fully expect they've used up their allotted runs for the rest of May, but it will still be fun to see a baseball game.
Another gratuitous ocean photo: