The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Odds and ends

Just a couple passing stories this afternoon:

Finally, Merck and Johnson & Johnson announced a plan to combine production of Covid-19 vaccines, an "unprecedented" collaboration between competitors.

Light posting this weekend

I've already done 8 km of walks this morning, and tomorrow I'm doing another 9. (Tomorrow's will end at Sketchbook Brewing, so I'll be even more motivated.) After being cooped up at home and forced to get my daily steps bundled up like the Michelin Man for a few weeks, I feel a bit liberated. The sidewalks are almost all clear (except for a few buildings whose owners suck, like the Cagan Management-run apartments near me), it's already 8°C outside, and the sky is crystal-clear. Tomorrow we might get a little rain before 9am but the afternoon looks absolutely gorgeous.

Spring hasn't officially begun yet, but it sure feels like it.

"Don't call me stupid"

I read the news today, oh boy. And one of the stories reminded me of this movie:

See if you can guess which one.

Finally, Chicago managed 58 hours of above-freezing temperatures (from 1pm Monday until 11pm yesterday) leaving us with only 15 cm of snow on the ground and a chance it'll all be gone by this time tomorrow. The forecast calls for daytime highs above freezing every day through next week, possibly hitting 10°C over the weekend. Spring!

Yet more spring-like

Spring in Chicago tends to produce lots of mud. We can already tell this year will produce epic amounts.

The temperature has stayed above freezing for 30 hours now, hitting 8°C just after noon. So far (at O'Hare, anyway) 12½ cm of snow has melted, and will continue to melt until the temperature goes below freezing again tomorrow night.

The water has to go somewhere. The city helpfully creates massive ice dams where sidewalks meet roads, so most of it just pools there. (I'll have photos maybe tomorrow.) Eventually it gets to Lake Michigan, which is nearly half a meter below its record-setting levels from last February, so it's got room.

I'm just glad to have a full day above freezing. We've needed it.

We're out of the freeze

Yesterday's official high at O'Hare, 3°C, was the first since February 4th above freezing. And yet I'm still not satisfied. I think the 45 cm of snow still on the ground may have something to do with it. Or maybe that yesterday morning it was -8°C.

But really, I think the fact that we haven't had 24 straight hours above freezing since January 7th (day's low: 1°C) might also add to the annoyance.

(I'll have more interesting things to post later today.)

Today could be the day

We last had a temperature above freezing in Chicago at 7pm on February 4th, 16 days and some hours ago. Yesterday afternoon it got all the way up to -2°C before sodding off to bed. Close enough to give us oceans of meltwater on dark-colored streets and sidewalks, but still not, you know, above freezing.

Today, though, the National Weather Service predicts the temperature will just crest freezing around 2pm, and hover there for about 12 hours. This won't get rid of the meters-high snowdrifts in our parking lots and minor-league ballparks, but it will remind us that spring begins a week from tomorrow.

Meanwhile, at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, their autumn has gotten a bit chilly, with today's noon temperature hitting -50°C with a wind-chill of -65°C.

More winter photos

If the forecast holds, today will be the 15th of 16 straight days of below-freezing temperatures, and the 19th consecutive day with 30+ centimeters of snow on the ground. On Sunday, though the temperature will just barely break the freezing point (1°C predicted), this winter will move from 5th to 4th place in history on that last statistic. Officially O'Hare has 46 cm of snow right now, and until Tuesday's predicted mostly-sunny 6°C, not a lot of that will melt. (The last time we had this much snow on the ground for three weeks was the 25-day period ending 12 January 2001, which sounds impressive until you realize I remember very clearly the 46-day stretch of 30+ centimeters of snow that ended 28 February 1979.)

It has some aesthetic appeal, though:

And then we have this, along the north wall of my apartment building (and thus never to get direct sunlight), the result of 40 centimeters of snow on the roof:

So, if you do a little math, 40 cm of snow * 102 square meters of roof served by that downspout = 41 cubic meters of snow, which at 10:1 water content makes 4.1 cubic meters (yes, that's 4.1 tons, or 4,100 liters). If only one centimeter of snow melts, 410 liters of water will cascade off the roof, and if it's -19°C, it'll re-freeze on its way down. Multiply this times all the roofs in Chicago and you get more than a few collapses. (This is our biennial reminder that the developer who converted our building into condos back in 1996 may have skimped a little on insulation between the top-floor units and the roof.)

And I hate Ted Cruz

The junior US Senator from Texas, Republican Ted Cruz, has demonstrated a particular unfitness for office this week:

Nero fiddled while Rome burned; Ted Cruz jetted to Cancún. And although the emperor was at least ensconced in a lavish, louche palace, the senator from Texas was stuck in economy class with the peasantry.

Cruz’s appeal as a politician, such as it is, has never been about being lovable or relatable, but the latest incident is embarrassing even by his standards. He was spotted on a flight to Mexico yesterday, amid a catastrophic storm that has left Texans without power, heat, and sometimes water, huddled in freezing homes and community centers as the state’s electrical grid verges on collapse. More than a dozen of his constituents have already died. Cruz is headed home today—if not necessarily chastened, at least eager to control the damage. In a statement, he said he took the trip at his daughters’ behest. Blaming your children is a curious tack for an embattled politician, but he doesn’t have much else to work with.

It is tempting to turn the “hypocrite” label on Cruz, but his sin is worse. Every politician is a hypocrite at some point. Cruz’s error is not that he was shirking a duty he knew he should have been performing. It’s that he couldn’t think of any way he could use his power as a U.S. senator to help Texans in need. That’s a failure of imagination and of political ideology.

Cruz’s callousness about his constituents’ suffering is not just morally appalling. It is also—and this probably weighs more heavily on Cruz—politically dangerous. There’s growing evidence that even Republicans drifted toward a larger role for government in the Donald Trump era.

In related news, former US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) reports on Facebook that his "And I Hate Ted Cruz" coffee mugs are flying off the shelves today.