The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Ribfest 2011

I love the first weekend of June in Chicago, because I love ribs. Once again, Parker and I walked up to Lincoln and Irving Park. And once again, we got some ribs.

I only got four samplers this year. It's too bad I don't have time to go back today, because I'd love to try a few others. Of the ones I did try:

  • Mrs. Murphy's Irish Bistro, at 3925 N. Lincoln Ave., once again topped my list. The sauce has some tang, some heat, and something else (I think it's Guinness). The ribs were fall-off-the-bone but not mushy, grilled to perfection. They won "best of show" last year. For four years now I've said I need to go there for a full slab. So, once again, I need to go there for a full slab.
  • The Piggery, 1625 W. Irving Park Rd., had tender fall-off-the-bone lean ribs with a sweet-tangy sauce. They weren't my favorites, but they were worth having. I'll check them out at some point, too.
  • Pitchfork, which apparently won "best of show" in 2009, had the least meat and sauce of any I tried. They had a good smoked flavor, with a little tug off the bone, and a thin vinegar-based sauce over a spicy dry rub. At the time I didn't think they were that good, but I think the lack of meat made the difference. The bones are wider at one end of the rib cage than the other, you see.
  • The itinerant Chicago BBQ Co. had pretty good smoked ribs, with a spicy sauce over a decent dry rub. Their ribs were also kind of bony, but tasty. These guys go from ribfest to ribfest all over the midwest, so I expect I'll have another opportunity to try them in July.

Parker didn't have the best time, though. I didn't give him much meat because I'm already stressing his digestive system by introducing a new dog food. (It turns out, Whole Foods turkey and rice formula is about half the cost of the Canine ID he's been eating, and apparently his cranky stomach can deal with it just fine.) This, after working more than 5 km there (plus almost 6 km to get back—but he wasn't thinking about that). To add insult, much of Parker's experience of Ribfest looked like this:

At least only one person stepped on him, but in my defense the woman, who wasn't watching where she was going, bumped into me first.

Well, we did ask for cooler weather

In the last 24 hours, Chicago's temperature has plunged from an asphalt-melting 35°C to a shiver-inducing 12°C:

(The chart shows degrees Celsius along the left and local time along the bottom.)

The drop right before 9am caught me by surprise. When I left the house (and it was 19°C outside), the polo and jeans I have on seemed appropriate. Three hours later, with Weather Bug reporting 10°C at the nearest station and O'Hare reporting 12°C, I really wish I'd brought a jacket to work.

WGN points out that the last three days comprise the hottest early-season heat wave since 1933.

Glad that's over...

Update, 12:39 CT: Weather Bug now reports 9°C at the Latin School, but O'Hare is holding steady at 12°C.

Civil Illinois

Civil unions became legal today in Illinois, with the first ceremonies scheduled for tomorrow. The Cook County Clerk's office has a FAQ on Civil Unions for anyone interested in the procedure:

Illinois will begin offering Civil Union licenses at county clerk offices on Wednesday, June 1. The Cook County Clerk’s office will open its downtown office early to mark the momentous occasion. “I’m thrilled this day has finally come,” Clerk David Orr said. “This will be a joyous day for all couples – gay and straight – who want to make history as part of the inaugural group of civil unions.”

Illinois is now the 10th state-level jurisdiction, including the District of Columbia, to allow gay marriage or same-sex civil unions.

No, you're not imagining being damp

We'll know for sure in the next couple of hours when yet another line of storms comes through, but at the moment it looks like Chicago will break its May rainfall record today:

[T]he approach of yet another vigorous weather system spells more storms - possibly severe - for waterlogged northeast Illinois. Only 10.4 mm of additional rain will catapult this May's rainfall, currently 182.6 mm, to 193 mm and the wettest May in Chicago weather history.

Squish, squish, squish.

Photo of the Day

This won't actually show off my work or entice you to buy a magnificent image for your commercial advertising campaign at a surprisingly reasonable price. No, this merely shows a place Parker and I both enjoy for precisely the same reasons (sitting outside with popcorn and good beer). Four Farthings has their patio set up, and after I get back from a short bike ride, the dog and I are heading over:

Coat? Check. Goves? Check. Hat? Check. Must be May.

A strong storm system just to the south of Chicago is drawing cooler air into the city from the northeast and the lake. At the moment we have some truly delightful weather: winds north-northeast at 35 km/h with gusts up to 62 km/h, visibility 5 km in mist, temperature 7°C with a windchill of 2°C.

Says WGN's Tom Skilling:

The last time it was even close to this cool on a May 26 was a half century ago in 1961 when a high of 9°C occurred. The average high this time of the year is 22°C which puts the day's predicted 7°C high some 16°C below the long-time average. By contrast, temperatures on this date a year ago hit 31°C—a level 23°C warmer.

In short, it's crappy outside.

Summer comes out for the weekend

This morning we had weather about as perfect as a human could hope for, 26°C and sunny by the lake, with a gentle breeze out of the southwest. I hopped on my bike for an actual workout, complete with heart-rate monitor, for the first time in a couple of years, then came back, grabbed my camera, and walked the dog. Some results:

ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/640, 225mm

ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/500, 55mm

As I continue to evaluate Adobe Lightroom, I'm trying to figure out how best to use it. Since about 2000, I've kept the raw copies of everything my various digital cameras produced, making copies of almost all of them with names and metadata. Lightroom obviates that step, because it saves metadata and editing steps separately from the image files, preserving the raw camera output. If I need a JPEG version of a photo, I can simply export it—edited, and with all the relevant metadata.

This changes everything. I'm just now sure how. For my first step, I've set my camera to shoot only photos in raw (Canon .cr2) format. They're a lot bigger—25 MB vs. 5 MB for JPEG—but so what? Hard drive space is around $100 per terabyte, which works out to 0.24¢ per photo. (It adds up, though; I took 4,635 photos and videos in 2010 and I've taken 2,351 so far this year, and their combined 24.1 GB use up a whopping $2.35 of hard drive space.)

As I write this, dark clouds have rolled in and radar shows thunderstorms just about on top of us. I feel like I took good advantage of the excellent weather. I even remembered sunscreen today, and had the foresight yesterday to install my air conditioners. Now I've got some real work to do, though. Sounds like it's time to go to my Remote Office...