My burn-up chart for the current sprint has a "completed" line that nicely intersects the sprint guideline, so I can take a moment this Monday morning to eat lunch and read some news stories:
And closer to home—like, less than a kilometer away—the City of Chicago has made some recommendations to improve a stretch of Clark Street that could be a model for other streets in the city.
I finished a couple of big stories for my day job today that let us throw away a whole bunch of code from early 2020. I also spent 40 minutes writing a bug report for the third time because not everyone diligently reads attachments. (That sentence went through several drafts, just so you know.)
While waiting for several builds to complete today, I happened upon these stories:
Finally, a school district food service director ordered more than 11,000 cases of chicken wings worth $1.5m over the last three years, which the State's Attorney says never got to the kids.
And now, since the temperature has risen from this morning's -17°C all the way up to...uh...-11.4°C, I will now walk the adorable creature who keeps nosing me in the arm as I type this.
It got practically tropical this afternoon, at least compared with yesterday:
Cassie and I took advantage of the no-longer-deadly temperatures right at the top point of that curve to take a 40-minute, 4.3 km walk. Tomorrow should stay as warm, at least until the next cold front comes in and pushes temperatures down to -18°C for a few hours Thursday night.
I'm heading off to pub quiz in a few minutes, so I'll read these stories tomorrow morning:
OK, off to empty the dog, refill the dog, and scoot over to Sketchbook Skokie for a shellacking. (Our sports person can't make it tonight.)
The sun finally came out around 3:30 this afternoon, as a high overcast layer slid slowly southeast. Of course, the temperature has fallen to -11°C and will keep sliding to -18°C overnight, but at least the gloom has receded! January will still end as the gloomiest ever, however, with around 18% of possible sunshine all month, plus whatever we get tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I want to come back to these articles later:
Finally, looking back a little farther (about 13 billion years), the James Webb Space Telescope has picked out some of the oldest galaxies in the universe. And they're really weird.
I've written before about urban highways, never favorably. Ploughing massive roads through dense urban areas has done incalculable damage to North American cities that tearing them down or burying them has only just started to fix—but usually with an order of magnitude more cost than their initial construction.
Today I got an innocent little email listing houses for sale around Chicago, both because I'm interested to see what's out there, and also because I've been too lazy to turn it off since I last moved. But one house stood out today: a beautiful, 4-bedroom Victorian built in 1898 with a lovely wraparound porch, tons of light and air, steps from everything.
I would love to live in a house just like this. In fact, there are similar houses near me, with price tags around $2-$3 million.
This stately lady in Old Irving Park can be yours for only $750,000. And that jaw-dropping difference in value is entirely due to its location.
You see, even though this house is steps from everything—only four blocks to the Metra, three blocks to the El, close to the shops in the historic commercial corridor along Elston—it's also just 200 meters from the 10-lane I-90/94 expressway:
I mean, holy hell. Getting to the El or to the Metra stations at Mayfair or Irving Park requires crossing all those lanes of traffic. I've done it; the Montrose and Irving Park bridges are soul-crushing for pedestrians. Worse, the Keeler underpass (which you'd take to the Irving Park station) requires you to cross two entrance and exit ramps on either side of a half-block-long underpass.
I'm not even going to talk about how loud the 10 lanes of traffic must be.
In short, this beautiful house, "the second built in the area," can't get anywhere near the price it would had the city not destroyed the neighborhood in the 1950s.
In other news:
And finally, a glimmer of hope that the 10-year project to build one damn railroad station near my house might finally finish in the next few weeks.
I love this chart from Twitter user Jay Cuda:
If you don't want to click through to Twitter, here's Jay's chart:
The chart doesn't tell the whole story, does it? For example, both Chicago teams, both New York teams, Boston, DC, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Oakland are all about the same distance from downtown, but easily accessible by train. (Chicago's are both on the same El line, in fact.) Atlanta's and LA's parks, by contrast, are approximately the same distance but completely inaccessible by any form of public transit. (Atlanta's new park even appears deliberately located to prevent those people from getting there.)
I speak from personal experience, as long-time Daily Parker readers know: I've been to every one of them, except the new Atlanta park, which I refuse to visit because of its anti-democratic location.
Chicago Transit Authority president Dorval Carter, Jr., blamed "extremely higher-than-normal call-offs" (i.e., a blue flu) for the New Year's Eve failures that left The Daily Parker waiting on a platform 35 minutes for the El:
It’s not unusual for CTA workers to “call off” on holidays, but the CTA has in the past been ready to replace them. But this year, with a shortage of train operators in the ranks, the CTA couldn’t deliver the number of free trains it promised.
The CTA promoted increased service on the Blue and Red lines on New Year’s Eve, advertising free train rides sponsored by Miller Lite. Carter did not say how many workers called off, and CTA officials did not provide a number after Friday’s meeting.
CTA worker unions, represented by Local 308 and Local 241, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Carter said he would work with the unions and employees to come up with better ways to incentivize staff to come to work. Disciplinary measures could only go so far, considering the worker shortage, he said.
“We are operating very close to the margins,” Carter said. “I am trying to both put out a level of service that is within the constraints of the workforce that I have, but recognizing that in order for that to work, my workforce has to show up.”
One factor possibly limiting the available workforce: wages that have not kept up with inflation. If you want more people to work for you, pay more; QED. But even Chicago, with one of the best transport networks in the world, still struggles to see public transit as a public service rather than a profit-making enterprise. So who should pay more for the CTA? All of us in Chicago, perhaps by taking back some of the Federal money we send to Oklahoma for their useless freeway projects.
At least I didn't get too cold on the Brown Line platform on New Year's Eve. I still would have liked to see my friends earlier than I did.
I'm on hold with my bank trying to sort out a transaction they seem to have deleted. I've also just sorted through a hundred or so stories in our project backlog, so while I'm mulling over the next 6 months of product development, I will read these:
And my bank's customer service finally got back to me with the sad news that the thing I wanted them to fix was, and we are so sorry, it turns out, your fault. Fie.
I got a lot done today, mostly a bunch of smaller tasks I put off for a while. I also put off reading all of this, which I will do now while my rice cooks:
- The EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service determined that 2022 was the fifth-hottest year on record, once again making the last 8 years the hottest on record. As North America sees record warmth and record-low snowfall this winter, we can guess how 2023 will end up.
- In no small irony, Illinois was actually cooler than normal last year. I've said before, Chicago will look better and better as the world looks worse and worse.
- Loathsome creep Andrew Tate lost all four of his appeals to Romania's appellate court, so will remain in the country until his trial for human trafficking.
- A report by INRIX Research put London and Chicago at the top of the list of cities with the worst car traffic. Oddly, in a related study, London also ranked 10th and Chicago ranked 20th of cities with the best public transit.
- Delta Airlines' "free" wi-fi reminds passengers of the adage, when someone else pays, you're the product, not the customer.
Finally, I've mentioned heading to San Francisco this coming weekend, has gotten some rain. By "some" I mean over 350 mm of rain in the past 15 days, making it the rainiest two weeks since 1866. The weekend forecast does not look encouraging: rain likely, highs around 12, lows around 9, and yet more rain likely. I have never taken an umbrella to California before. First time for everything, I guess.
And now my rice is done.