The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Early-morning walks

When I go anywhere for only a couple of days, I try not to shift my body clock. It prevents jet lag, mostly.

This weekend I'm at my folks' house outside San Francisco, which has a two-hour time difference from Chicago. That is why I woke up at 5am and walked to the local Peet's Coffee, as I usually do.

This trip I may allow my clock to drift westward, though. I'm going to Tuesday night's Cubs game at AT&T Park at 7:05pm—9:05pm Central time—and would like to see the whole game. The Cubs might even win. I mean, they have a 1-in-3 shot, right?

I do like getting to the Peet's this early, though. First, the just-before-dawn walk is quiet and even a little spooky down the local bike trail, but today I got a tremendous view of the crescent Moon and Venus, which are passing just 2° from each other this morning. I'm never up this early at home unless I'm still up, which hasn't happened in years anyway.

Second, the Peet's is quiet right now. In two hours it'll be packed with families and locals (the fishermen who stay here for hours at a time most mornings are more colorful than any of the characters at the Alibi Room). Time to write for a bit, and wait for the rest of my family to wake up.

March here, July in San Francisco?

Last night the temperature here got down to 5°C, which feels more like early March than mid-May. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, yesterday got up to 33°C, which to them feels like the pit of hell. In fact, even in the hottest part of the year (early October), San Francisco rarely gets that warm. The Tribune explains:

The North American jet stream pattern, a key driver of the country’s weather, has taken on the same incredibly “wavy”—or, as meteorologists say —“meridional”—configuration which has so often dominated the winter and spring. This sort of pattern leads to temperature extremes across the content.

Pools of unseasonably warm air are in place on each coast while unseasonably cool air is sandwiched between and dominates Chicago and Midwestern weather.

It’s within this slow-moving pool of chilly, unstable (i.e. cloud and precip-generating) air that Chicago resides—a situation likely to continue into Saturday. This is to keep extensive cloudiness and the potential for sporadic showers going over that period of time.

In other words, the forecast for this weekend is continued March with a possibility of April by Monday.

Boxing day links for you

Check these out:

More later, including, I expect, more photos of the ocean. Why? Because ocean.

Update: Speaking of the ocean, via George Takei's Facebook feed comes this gem. Just read the product reviews.

Don't they know it's Christmas?

Not when they're 13 months old. And not when the weather looks like this.

And not when someone needs a nap:

Yes, these are the privations and suffering that my 13-month-old nephew must endure:

A little earlier, he was chasing what my sister calls "California snow:"

For those who care, it's a very un-Christmaslike 21°C here. I can see the appeal.

Favorite pubs in the world

The question just came up in an email exchange with a friend's friend's sister: what are my favorite pubs in the world?

After a couple minutes' thought, I got here:

1. Duke of Perth, Chicago. Obviously; it has been my remote office off and on for over 20 years.

2. Southampton Arms, London. If I ever live in the UK, this may switch places with the Duke. It's just hard to say a place is my favorite when it's 6,000 kilometers away and I only go there twice a year.

3. Tommy Nevin's, Evanston, Ill., my former remote office.

4. Nag's Head, Hoboken, N.J. Another that used to be my remote office—but in the days before Wi-Fi and ubiquitous laptops. I still visit if I have time while I'm in New York.

5. Guthrie's Tavern, Chicago. Since the Duke of Perth is halfway between my house and Guthrie's, I don't get there as often as I used to. But it's worth the trip.

Some honorable mentions:

  • Bucktown Pub, Chicago. I'm starting to warm to the place, especially after many trivia nights there. Unfortunately, I don't live in Bucktown.
  • Peddler's Daughter, Nashua, N.H. (A former temporary remote office.)
  • The Bridge, Amberley, England. A real, live English country pub.
  • Kennedy's, San Francisco. By day, on its patio, it's wonderful. At night, it gets a little too loud and crowded, and there are too many TVs. Still, I almost always stop in when I'm out there.
  • Tigin, Stamford, Conn. My then-girlfriend lived right around the corner.

And some that are no more, and missed: Abbey Tavern, New York, where I hung out weekly from 1997 to 2000; closed in 2006. And The King's Head, Earls Court, London—which was really great before the new owners turned it into a trendy gastro-pub.

I'm always looking for suggestions.

Cooling off, maybe

Chicago has experienced its first big heat wave of the year, with temperatures above 32°C every day this week. Yesterday, 46 of the lower 48 states reported temperatures in that range, with only North Dakota and Minnesota spared.

A friend who lives in San Francisco posted this with the caption, "Summer hits the Bay Area:"

It cooled down last night, so it's now just about 26°C...here. Only I'm going to New York in a few hours, where today will not only get to 35°C, but will have violent thunderstorms and buckets of rain. Good weekend to visit.

Two "oh, dear" aviation stories just now

First, a Boeing 787 caught fire at Heathrow this afternoon; fortunately, no one was aboard:

Video footage showed the plane surrounded by foam used to quell the flames. The airport said in a statement that it was an on-board internal fire, but didn’t offer more details. It said the plane was empty, parked in a remote area and there were no reported injuries. All flights in and out were temporarily suspended Friday afternoon -- a standard procedure if fire crews are called out.

Ethiopian Airlines said smoke was detected coming from the aircraft after it had been parked at Heathrow for more than eight hours.

You can bet that Chicago-based Boeing will watch this story very, very carefully. Their shares dropped 7% on the news, for one thing.

In other unfortunate aviation news, the San Francisco Police have confirmed that one of the two victims of the Asiana 214 crash got run over by a fire truck, but they don't know yet whether she was alive when this happened:

Medical examiners will not release autopsy results for “at least two or three weeks,” San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault told NBC Bay Area on Sunday. Coroner’s officials are working to determine how 16-year-old Ye Mengtuan died.

Police officials confirmed that the girl was hit by the truck in the chaos that followed the deadly crash, which also killed her classmate and travel companion, identified by the airline as 16-year-old Wang Linjia.

The girl was blanketed in white foam emergency crews sprayed to douse the flames billowing out of the Boeing 777, police said. She was discovered in the tire track of the fire truck, police spokesman Albie Esparza told NBC News.

Not a good week for aviation.

Fatal accident at SFO

Yesterday, an Asiana 777 crashed on approach to San Francisco airport:

Two people were killed and 49 seriously hurt when Flight 214 crashed at 11:27 a.m. But the rest of the 307 passengers and crew members escaped either unscathed or with lesser injuries, Doug Yakel, an SFO spokesman, said at an evening news conference.

The plane came to rest on the side of Runway 28L, one of four runways at SFO, said Lynn Lunsford, a spokeswoman with the Federal Aviation Administration. The jetliner appeared to hit short of the runway and then slowly turn as it careened across the ground - losing its tail and leaving a trail of debris.

(Photo: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Initial reports suggest the plane had a higher-than-normal angle of attack on an otherwise normal approach, and its tail struck the seawall at the end of 28L—the runway my Alaska 737 landed on last Saturday. It also seems from the reports that the pilots attempted a go-around immediately before the tail strike, which would explain the higher angle of attack and the reports of the plane "bouncing up" and "putting on the gas" from passengers.

I'll be following this story closely. This is the first-ever fatal accident for the Boeing 777, and the first fatal heavy airplane accident since 12 November 2001.