The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The value of cities

CNBC released a 35-minute documentary earlier this month that fairly discusses the value of cities relative to suburbs and exurbs:

A lot of this is old hat to people who follow Strong Towns or other urbanist sources. It's a good backgrounder for people though.

In related news, California just passed legislation mandating an end to local parking requirements within walking distance of transit stations. It's a start.

Not a perfect queue, but a great queue

Wired examines the art and science of managing an 8-kilometer, 14-hour queue:

At its peak, the queue has snaked 5 miles across the capital, with an estimated 14-hour wait. When it reached capacity and closed on Friday, people defied government advice and formed a separate queue for the queue. Such scenes are remarkable—but they’re not unprecedented. When George VI—Queen Elizabeth II’s father—died in February 1952, 300,000 people filed past his coffin in St. George’s Chapel over the course of three days.

Up to 750,000 people are expected to see the queen over the course of her lying in state. At any one time, 30,000 to 40,000 people could be standing in line, according to crowd safety consultant Andy Hollinson, who worked on other aspects of the plan to honor the queen after her death, called Operation London Bridge, but who was not involved in the lying-in-state element. Such estimates are conservative and based on an orderly queue in which people are standing three abreast. The queue in London is more of an orderly blob than a line. “Nobody’s ever seen a queue as long as this before,” says Hollinson.

But despite the unprecedented nature of the queue, prep work has been ongoing for years. “I can see a lot of similarities with the plans I developed 10 years ago,” says Keith Still, visiting professor in crowd science at the University of Suffolk, who, in 2011, was among those asked by London’s Royal Parks to develop a queueing and security screening system for events like a royal funeral. “Wherever the bottleneck is, you work back from that,” says Still. That, in this instance, is the security screening area at the entry to Westminster Hall.

I cannot think of a single reason I would voluntarily stand in a 14-hour queue. But hey, I've never lost a beloved monarch.

Whither O'Hare parking?

I do love traveling Saturday mid-days, because it's the quietest time at O'Hare. There was no line at the Pre-Check security gate, and I only have a backpack, so it took less than 3 minutes to clear TSA. Wonderful.

Unfortunately, every single economy parking space has a car in it. (I would have taken public transit but I had a meeting run until 12:30, with a 3pm flight. Couldn't risk the 90 minutes or so.)

In any event, my plane is here, it appears to be on time, and the latest weather is VFR the whole way. Next report from North Carolina.

Happy Friday, with its 7pm sunset

It happens every September in the mid-latitudes: one day you've got over 13 hours of daylight and sunsets around 7:30, and two weeks later you wake up in twilight and the sun sets before dinnertime. In fact, Chicago loses 50 minutes of evening daylight and an hour-twenty overall from the 1st to the 30th. We get it all back in March, though. Can't wait.

Speaking of waiting:

Finally, Fareed Zakaria visited Kyiv, Ukraine, to learn the secret of the country's success against Russia.

Notable Friday afternoon stories

Just a few before I take a brick to my laptop for taking a damned half-hour to reformat a JSON file:

Oh, good. My laptop has finished parsing the file. (In fairness it's 400,000 lines of JSON, but still, that's only 22 megabytes uncompressed.) I will now continue with my coding.

Is it Monday?

I took Friday off, so it felt like Saturday. Then Saturday felt like Sunday, Sunday felt like another Saturday, and yesterday was definitely another Sunday. Today does not feel like Tuesday.

Like most Mondays, I had a lot of catching up at the office, including mandatory biennial sexual harassment training (prevention and reporting, I hasten to point out). So despite a 7pm meeting with an Australian client tonight, I hope I find time to read these articles:

Finally, the Hugo Awards were announced in Chicago over the weekend, and now I have a ton more books to buy.

Tinley Park, suburban hellscape

When I visited Hailstorm Brewing in March 2021, I chose not to walk along the sidewalk-free 80th Avenue and instead, after Froggering across the aforementioned stroad, I went through one of the most depressing subdivisions I've ever seen.

I had to repeat that stretch in order to visit Soundgrowler Brewing last Friday. And since Banging Gavel Brews is just over 3 km away (directly, anyway), I decided to walk from one to the other. The walk did not go as planned:

Most of that trip, until well past the 4 km marker, went through treeless, car-centric subdivisions with parks no one would ever want to play in and houses so ugly they would make even Kate Wagner cry. But the truly enraging bit happened around the 1.6 km mark, as you can see here:

My goal, supported by Google Maps and even satellite photos of the area, was to walk straight up Timber Drive to Harlem, without crossing the tracks. But you can see how that didn't work. At the point where I had to turn around and traipse through the (treeless, ugly) parking lot on my way to schlepping through the (treeless, ugly) circular subdivision, the local authorities had put up a roadblock and "no trespassing" signs. I have no idea why. Maybe even Tinley Park has parts so unconscionably ugly they can't bear to show them to anyone? Seems likely.

I took some photos along the way but I'll spare you.

It's possible that I have a particular sensitivity to this right now because I just finished Jeff Speck's Walkable City, a successor to his 2009 book Suburban Nation. I strongly recommend both books to anyone concerned about the environmental and mental destruction that our car-centric culture has wrought.

Cassie wants to go outside

So I'm going to have to postpone reading all of these:

And Cassie, who has not actually had much patience the last few minutes, will now get a walk.

Monday afternoon and the days are shorter

From around now through the middle of October, the days get noticeably shorter, with the sun setting 2 minutes earlier each day around the equinox. Fall is almost here—less than 8 days away, in fact. But that also means cooler weather, lower electricity bills (because of the cooler weather), and lots of rehearsals and performances.

Before any of that happens, though, I'll read these:

Finally, some ace developers at Hyundai secured one model's in-vehicle infotainment system with an encryption key published in a programming example in many online tutorials of how to use that particular kind of encryption.