It's been 153 days since the State of Illinois instituted an emergency shutdown of the economy. Friday March 20th was the last "normal" day in the state; since then, we've lived with lockdowns, social distancing, and all the other fun bits of our pandemic response.
I mention this because January 20th is 153 days away.
We'll get there.
Today is former president Bill Clinton's 74th birthday. Last night, he spoke at the Democratic National Convention, where the party formally nominated former vice president Joe Biden to be president.
In other news:
And finally, in about half an hour, Parker will get a much-needed bath. He has no idea this will happen. I'll let him sleep another 10 minutes before the horror begins...
Block Club Chicago has a kind article about my friend:
In opening Heirloom Books, Chelsea Carr Rectanus created a community, a place where people could come and hold weighty discussions or hear from prospective politicians.
But that community was abruptly upended last week. Rectanus, 32, died “peacefully but unexpectedly” Aug. 7 of a long-standing illness she battled, Earl Rectanus, Chelsea’s father, said on Heirloom’s Facebook page.
Now Rectanus’ friends and family are working to ensure what she created in Edgewater continues on, and serves as a testament to her impact on the neighborhood.
“It’s more than a book shop,” said Emily Carter Alexander, Rectanus’ friend. “It’s a place anyone can go. I was [at Heirloom] Monday, and it was hard not to see Chelsea bopping around and being her quirky, happy self.”
Chelsea's sister has set up a virtual memorial service next Sunday at 1pm Central.
I'm taking a day off, so I'm choosing not to read all the articles that have piled up on my desktop:
- Tropical Storm Josephine has formed east of the windward islands, becoming the earliest 10th named storm on record. The National Hurricane Center promises an "extremely active" season.
- By tracking excess deaths in addition to reported Covid-19 deaths, the New York Times has concluded we've already surpassed 200,000 and could hit half a million by the end of the year.
- The General Accounting Office, a non-partisan Congressional watchdog, says Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli are not legally qualified for their current positions, throwing into doubt all DHS actions under their leadership.
- CityLab sees parallels between Chicago's response to looting in the past few months and its response to the Lager Beer Riot of 1855.
- Has the European Central Bank "found a way around the lower bound on interest rates?"
- John Scalzi declaims, "Fuck you, I'm voting." ("You," in this case, means the Trump Administration, in case there was any doubt.)
- A former Google security engineer earned $50,000 for helping "a guy" get $300,000 in Bitcoin out of an old Zip file, thanks to advances in computing power and a flaw in the Zip implementation.
Finally, a "mania" set Stravinsky's Rite of Spring to Teletubbies footage, and it's horrifying.
I just spent 90 minutes driving to and from two different Drivers Services facilities because I wanted to renew my drivers license with a Real ID version. At both places the lines stretched into the next time zone. Since I can renew online, and I have another Real ID available, I'm just not going to bother.
I'm surprised—not very, but still—that Drivers Services still doesn't understand queuing theory. Or they just don't care. Illinois used to handle this much better, but after four years of Bruce Rauner cutting funding to the entire state, I guess it'll take some time to fix. (The pandemic didn't help, with more than half of the county's facilities temporarily closed.)
Update: Renewing online took less than a minute, and just in case I don't receive my renewed license before the current one expires, they let me print out a temporary. So if I have to take a domestic flight, I'll just bring my passport card.
The head of the Illinois Restaurant Association looks to ski towns for inspiration:
Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said the trade group has been having conversations with the city and state about extending street closures and using tents, heaters, blankets and plastic domes to give restaurants more seating capacity as COVID-19 restrictions continue.
“We have about six weeks,” Toia said Wednesday during a virtual speech to the City Club of Chicago. “We need to start thinking outside the box right now. … Because we could be in this for the next six months and we want to be ahead of the curve.”
Outdoor dining has been a saving grace for restaurants with the space for it, and the city has reduced sidewalk fees, streamlined the process for getting an outdoor seating permit and blocked off some streets to allow tables to be set up there.
When the weather no longer cooperates, “we could really be in trouble,” Toia said. He urged local officials to take a page from Toronto, Paris and Colorado ski towns to make outdoor dining feasible into winter.
He's right to worry. Our Covid-19 numbers get just a tiny bit worse every day, though we're still under the line to remain in Phase 4.
Welcome to stop #30 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Spiteful Brewing, 2024 W Balmoral Ave., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific North, Ravenswood (Also CTA Brown Line, Damen)
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (Zone B)
Distance from station: 1.6 km (1.5 km from CTA)
Spiteful and Half Acre Balmoral occupy the same block, so cheating on distance (over 1,500 m from Metra) for one means cheating for both. I've gone to both for years, though, and they deserve the extra two blocks of walking.
During Covid-19, entry is first-come, first-served, with an hour from seating to last call and a strict, 90-minute time limit overall. They also don't allow dogs right now, but once the pandemic recedes you can expect about a 1:2 ratio of people to dogs on any given day.
Last Saturday afternoon I walked up there with David Litt's Democracy in One Book or Less to have a couple of pints and catch up on reading. At 2:30 pm I snagged a table by the window and ordered a Spite Lite IPA (4%) to start. It had a really crisp, light body, full of hops and citra flavor, and a clean finish. I followed that up with their flagship Spiteful IPA (6.2%), one of my go-tos for years. It's hop-forward with a full body, crisp flavor, long finish, and great hop balance.
Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? Suspended during the pandemic
Serves food? Vitners chips and Chef Martin brats, plus BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
The National Weather Service has confirmed that Monday's storm spawned 7 tornadoes over Northern Illinois, including one that skipped through the far-North Side neighborhood Rogers Park:
Local news site Block Club Chicago reports:
The tornado saw estimated peak winds of 175 km/h, according to the weather service. It formed at about 4 p.m. Monday and traveled about 5 km, traveling roughly from Touhy Avenue near Lincoln Avenue and traveling eastbound to Lake Michigan.
The storm toppled dozens of large trees along Jarvis, crushing cars and leaving roads impassable well into Tuesday. Street lights and power lines were also downed along Jarvis, with numerous cars totaled and houses damaged from the falling debris.
Damage was spotted along Jarvis Avenue from about Western Avenue to the lakefront, said Ald. Maria Hadden (49th). Multiple trees were downed along a four-block stretch of Jarvis from Paulina Avenue to the lakefront. At least two city blocks were impassable due to fallen debris.
No major injuries have been reported from the storm, Hadden said.
The National Weather Service estimated the path:
They also published a montage of radar images of the derecho at one-hour intervals:
And about a block away from me, this already-dying maple finally gave up the ghost yesterday afternoon, to the detriment of an old Toyota and anyone trying to drive down the street:
A derecho blasted through Iowa and Illinois yesterday, blasting 120 km/h winds through Chicago and spawning at least one tornado two neighborhoods over from me:
Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, meteorologists said it’s possible a tornado touched down in Rogers Park on the Far North Side, before heading out over Lake Michigan, where the funnel became a waterspout.
The derecho blew in from Iowa, where winds surpassed 100 mph. It swept east across Illinois and into Indiana, with winds of 65 to 115 km/h, with some gusts as high as 145 km/h, the weather service reported, but the Chicago area mostly dodged the direst warnings as no deaths or serious injuries were reported, forecasters said.
The storm continued across Lake Michigan until finally dissipating over eastern Michigan.
In my neighborhood we had lots of tree limbs down but apparently not so much property damage. We have some ailing ash trees nearby that fared particularly poorly:
Sixteen hours later, the weather is delightful, and predicted to stay that way for a couple of days.
Josh Marshall has a good summary of why things suck for parents, kids, and teachers right now:
But the plan [New York] city and most of [New York] state has come up with shows how limited this can be and how much we’ve made a fetish of in-school instruction. There are two big reasons to have in-school instruction. The first and most important is the educational, social and emotional development and well-being of children. The second is the impact on the economy. Many parents can’t work if their children aren’t in school and to the extent they can their children’s remote learning lacks the support it needs.
I think there is a real question whether in-school instruction on these terms is even worth it. At best kids will be in school 1/3 of the time – and it may be less – and under such straightened and perhaps nerve-wracking conditions that most of the educational and social benefit is actually lost. Watching the process as a journalist and a parent it seems to me that the school system and political authorities have been so focused on the absolute necessity of ‘reopening’ the schools that they’ve ended up with something that is not obviously better than full remote learning and called it success.
The truth is that we’re in a horrible situation. We have failed as a country to control the virus and because of that we’re forced into no-win situations and choices which are all bad. As much as anything we simply lack the kind of information that allows us to make informed, smart decisions. And yet September is less than four weeks away.
Meanwhile, Downtown Chicago suffered a coordinated attack of looters last night for no apparent reason, though police returning fire from a suspect and injuring him yesterday afternoon may have been the excuse. Since the looting took place across town and the looters came with U-Haul trucks I can't say I have any sympathy for them on this occasion. If it turns out that any of the looters were right-wing agitators, I will be disappointed but not surprised.
Oh, and the government of Lebanon resigned.