I've got an open research problem that's a bit hard to define, so I'm exploring a few different avenues of it. I hope reading these count:
Since none of these has anything at all to do with my research project, I should get back to work.
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.
Just in time for spring, the City of Chicago has just announced the winning names for seven of our beloved snowplows:
- Da Plow
- Holy Plow!
- Jean Baptiste Point du Shovel
- Mrs O'Leary's Plow
- Salter Payton
- Sears Plower
- Sleet Home Chicago
From the Chicago Tribune:
Nearly 7,000 potential names were submitted in 17,000 suggestions from Chicago residents. Initially, the city planned to name six snowplows — one for each snow district — in its fleet of almost 300 baby-blue “Snow Fighting Trucks.” (During a major snowfall in Chicago, a pool of up to 675 motor-truck drivers can be dispatched.) Another was added due to a close vote.
Each of the snowplows will be trackable in real-time on the city’s plow tracker — and the name will be added to the vehicles too.
Since we've gotten less than half of our normal snowfall this year, we haven't seen the plows much. The Climate Prediction Center mid-term forecast doesn't look good for snow, either:
Not that anyone's complaining!
Next year, though, I'll watch out for Da Plow.
Update: Mount Washington, N.H., had some weather last night, too. The weather station there may have recorded the lowest wind chill temperature in US history shortly before 11pm. With sustained 167 km/h winds gusting to 189 km/h and an ambient air temperature of -43°C, the weather station had a wind chill of -76.6°C (-106°F)—colder than the surface of Mars. At this writing the station has a much more moderate wind chill of -61.4°C (-78.6°F). Bundle up.
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.)
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.
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.
Just a pre-weekend rundown of stuff you might want to read:
- The US Supreme Court's investigation into the leak of Justice Samuel Alito's (R) Dobbs opinion failed to identify Ginny Thomas as the source. Since the Marshal of the Court only investigated employees, and not the Justices themselves, one somehow does not feel that the matter is settled.
- Paul Krugman advises sane people not to give in to threats about the debt ceiling. I would like to see the President just ignore it on the grounds that Article 1, Section 8, Article VI, and the 14th Amendment make the debt ceiling unconstitutional in the first place.
- In other idiotic Republican economics (redundant, I know), Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) has proposed a 30% national sales tax to replace all income and capital-gains taxes that I really hope the House passes just so the Senate can laugh at it while campaigning against it.
- Amazon has decided to terminate its Smile program, the performative-charity program that (as just one example) helped the Apollo Chorus raise almost $100 of its $250,000 budget last year. Whatever will we do to make up the shortfall?
- How do you know when you're on a stroad? Hint: when you really don't want to be.
- Emma Collins does not like SSRIs.
- New York Times science writer Matt Richtel would like people to stop calling every little snowfall a "bomb cyclone." So would I.
- Slack's former Chief Purple People Eater Officer Nadia Rawlinson ponders the massive tech layoffs this week. (Fun fact: the companies with the most layoffs made hundreds of billions in profits last year even as market capitalization declined! I wonder what all these layoffs mean to the shareholders? Hmm.)
- Amtrak plans to buy a bunch of new rail cars to replace the 40-year-old rolling stock on their long-distance routes. Lots of "ifs" in there, though. I still hope that, before I die of old age, the US will have a rail travel that rivals anything Europe had in 1999.
- The guy who went to jail over his fraudulent and incompetent planning of the Fyre Festival a couple of years ago wants to try again, now that he's out.
Finally, Monica Lewinsky ruminates on the 25 years since her name popped up on a news alert outing her relationship with President Clinton. One thing she realized:
The Tonight Show With Jay Leno died in 2014. For me, not a day too soon. At the end of Leno’s run, the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University analyzed the 44,000 jokes he told over the course of his time at the helm. While President Clinton was his top target, I was the only one in the top 10 who had not specifically chosen to be a public person.
If you don't follow her on social media, you're missing out. She's smart, literate, and consistently funny.
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.
In a form of enlightened laziness, I often go into my company's downtown Chicago office on Friday and the following Monday, avoiding the inconvenience of taking my laptop home. It helps also that Fridays and Mondays have become the quietest days of the week, with most return-to-office workers heading in Tuesdays through Thursdays.
And after a productive morning, I have a few things to read at lunch:
Finally, National Geographic digs down to find explanations for the disappearances of five ancient cities, and what that might tell us about our own culture.