At the All-Star break, the Cubs remain in first place, 4½ games out. I'm looking forward to October.
I'll attend tonight's game at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a cheery optimism. As feared, the Indians have dropped their last 10 in a row; what are the odds they'll make it 11? Very slim, right?
Addendum: Cleveland will play Tampa Bay, who are tied with the Cubs at 55 wins, making them the best team in the league right now. Does that change the odds?
As of this morning, the Cleveland Indians (my next stop on the 30-park geas ) have dropped their last 9, putting them two games out of next-to-last place in the American League Central. In fairness, four teams (Seattle, Washington, Colorado, and San Diego) are doing worse. Right now, though, the tension mounts: will they drop their 10th today? Will I see them win tomorrow?
Oh, right, forgot: the Cubs are still in first place, as they've been since April, and are the second-best in all of baseball right now, after the Red Sox. What a World Series that will be, eh?
I have to go through O'Hare four times in the next three weeks, so this will affect me:
Summer air travelers who use the Blue Line to get to and from O'Hare International Airport will face an inconvenience for most of July.
Beginning Tuesday, Blue Line trains will go no farther than the Rosemont stop, the last one before the airport, because of work on the tracks.
A 24-hour shuttle bus will begin running between the Rosemont station and O'Hare at 3 a.m. Tuesday. Normal train service is scheduled to resume July 28.
Still, having experienced a 90-minute trip from downtown to the airport, I'm glad the CTA is fixing the Blue Line.
It's time for the semi-annual update of the Chicago sunrise chart. (You can get one for your own location at http://www.wx-now.com/Sunrise/SunriseChart.aspx.)
||6:30am sunrise; 7pm sunset
||Equinox, 10:44 CDT
||Latest sunrise until 2 Nov. 2010
Latest sunset until Mar 4th
||Standard time returns
Earliest sunrise until Mar 2nd
||6:30am sunrise (again)
||Earliest sunset of the year
||Solstice, 06:04 CST
||Latest sunrise until Oct. 29th
||Earliest sunrise until April 12th
Earliest sunset until Oct. 25th
||Daylight savings time begins
Latest sunrise until Oct. 25th
||7am sunrise, 7pm sunset
||Equinox 06:44 CDT
||6:30am sunrise (again)
||Earliest sunrise of the year
||Solstice 00:45 CDT
||Latest sunset of the year
You can get sunrise information for your location at wx-now.com.
Just jiggled the 30-Park Geas schedule a little. After discussing with my cousing the pros and cons of visiting Miami in August, we decided to hit two Cubs games in Atlanta, whereupon I'll pop out to San Francisco to see Dad and catch the A's-White Sucks series.
(Sox. White Sox. My mistake. Sorry, I live north of Madison.)
So, with eight parks down, and seven scheduled, we go into the bottom of 2008. National League 9, American 6.
In Chicago, we have an annual vehicle tax of $75. Many neighborhoods also have restricted parking zones; permits are $25. Both vehicle stickers and parking permits expire on June 30th.
I mention this because I went to renew these things in person this afternoon down at City Hall. Yes, three business days before their expiration, I stood in line. How long? you wonder. This is city government, after all.
Chicago really is the city that works.
I even had time to go to the County Assessor's Office to clear up an issue with my property tax. That adventure took—wait for it—no time at all because the receptionist walked me through the process as soon as I entered the office.
City and county services like these make my head spin. Let's review: I walked into the building at 4:15 pm, and walked out at 4:45 with my vehicle sticker, parking permit, and corrected property tax information.
Try that in any other major city in the world. Ha!
And as an added bonus, via Calculated Risk, 75% of Americans blame the Current Occupant (208 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes) for the deteriorating economy. For the record, I'm one of them.
Side note: Chicago is wikitravel's destination of the month.
You may have noticed the slowdown in TDP entries over the last month or so. By way of explanation, today I'm finishing everything with my mom's house, and tomorrow I'm formally winding up her estate. She would have enjoyed that the Cubs have the best record in baseball as of this morning (44-25), and tomorrow Parker turns 2.
I hope to return to daily entries in a week or so.
My cousin and I have a 9-game package at Wrigley Field, game 7 of which was Tuesday night against the Braves. The Cubs won—despite dropping three runs in the first, never a good sign—on a warm but not sticky evening at one of my favorite places in the universe. Here's Fukudome stealing second:
I have to say, though, that not every seat at Wrigley is good. Example: Section 525, any row, seats 1-2, look like this:
Character. It's about character.
Ah, ribs. Possibly my favorite food. Living in Chicago, there are options. And every year, I get to sample as many of those options as my stomach lets me at the annual Ribfest up at Lincoln and Damen.
The festival is going on this weekend, so yesterday I dragged Parker there. It's a 5 km hike, and it was hot, and despite my assurances that really tasty treats waited for him at the end of the walk, he seemed to think we were heading for Bataan.
When we finally got to the festival, Parker seemed to catch on. He knows what grilling smells like. He knows that crowds of people drop bits of food everywhere. He rallied. And after my third two-bone sampler, and some long rests in the shade, Parker seemed quite a bit happier:
I took my time and took some notes. Cy's, rumored to be the best at the fair, had a spicy Texas-style sauce on slow-cooked ribs that slid off the bone. BBQ Chicago (couldn't find a link or an address—too bad, I was going to try a full slab) had char-grilled bones with some pull and a decent but neutral sauce. Gale St. Inn's sauce was thick and smoky-sweet, with slightly fatty and chewey meat. And the Fireplace Inn, with its tangy sauce and perfectly-cooked bones, deserves a second look.
There were a couple others I tried, but they're not worth mentioning. Life is too short for bad barbecue. And with Parker there, none of it went to waste: where it might take me half a minute to savor a bite of good baby backs, Parker frequently caught scraps before they hit the sidewalk.
One more thing about my guy I'll mention, since astute observers may have noticed it in the photo of Parker above. While I was traveling, apparently he got into a little scrap at the boarding facility:
He's not in any discomfort, though he was for about a day after I got back. I'll have to wait until it heals completely before having the vet take a look at removing the gross flap of skin hanging off his ear. Ew.