The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Black Hammer Brewing, San Francisco

Welcome to an extra stop on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Black Hammer Brewing, 544 Bryant St., San Francisco
Train line: Caltrain, San Francisco terminal
Time from Chicago: about 4½ hours by air
Distance from station: 600 m

I spent most of Monday in Palo Alto, Calif., one of the few places in California that has an actual commuter rail station. Caltrain's northern terminus, at 4th and King, is only three blocks from an actual brewery, so naturally I stopped in.

My $20 flight started with the Jaded River ESB (5%), a West Coast interpretation of English bitter ale that tasted good to me but had a stronger hop concentration than any Real Ale I've had over there. Next I tried their flagship Western IPA, the Kaleido APA (6%), which had a big flavor for something billed as an APA, with lots of hops and just the right amount of malt. I'm sure you can pick out the Cuddle Puddle NEIPA (6.1%), with all that hazy, Citra goodness, that actually tasted a lot lighter than I expected. I finished with the Vesuvio DIPA (8.1%), a huge beer that sneaks up on you before you get a small explosion of grapefruit, orange, and what I can only describe as Humboldt County mother nature.

Special mention goes out to this guy:

Growler—and what a name for a brewery dog—kept flirting with me before deciding that I didn't have any treats on me, even though my coat pocket smelled just like the bacon nibbles I carry for Cassie. So after someone put him on the barstool across from me, he stared. And stared. And willed me to bring him a treat. Because he knew that the bartender had a whole box of them, and at some point, I would crack and bring him one.

He was absolutely right.

Beer garden? Sidewalk, covered
Dogs OK? Clearly
Televisions? Two, avoidable
Serves food? BYO
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Beautiful day in San Francisco

Unfortunately, though, I'm already at the airport, staring out at blue skies and sunny...airplanes. I'm looking forward to getting home, though, and to picking up Cassie tomorrow morning after her bath. (She was already overdue, but after 4 days with her pack, she'll need it even more.)

I've got a couple of Brews & Choos from yesterday as well as a few photos from the weekend coming later this week. Stay tuned.

Let's acknowledge this is weird

I just got an alert that the outside temperature at my house went above 10°C:

It's mid-January, and my house in Chicago is only 2°C cooler than San Francisco. (O'Hare is only 1°C cooler.)

Maybe I have the wrong attitude. Chicago will likely have its 2nd or 3rd warmest January in history, followed by a warm and lovely spring, with flowers and sunshine for all. So I should just enjoy it. Cassie sure is.

I keep saying that the decently-governed city whose winters have gotten remarkably better in my lifetime next to the largest source of fresh water in the country will, as I've predicted for years, become a pretty good place to live in a 2°C-warmer environment. After all, a 10°C HVAC delta between inside and outside in July is less costly than a 40°C delta in February. (Seriously, if you like the idea of having unlimited fresh water to drink and only a few days a year with weather that can kill you, move to Chicago.)

And yet, I'm solidly Generation X. We learned from a young age that when things seem way better than we expected, they'll average out with a vengeance soon enough.

Sure, Chicago has a better chance of success than any other city its size over the next 100 years. But tens of millions will die worldwide and hundreds of millions will have to move after the first pulse. Then we'll have another pulse. Then a third. When my nephews' grandchildren explore the world, they'll volunteer on farms in Greenland and surf beaches outside Raleigh, and they might be the last people who taste real maple syrup.

If I found a djinn, my first wish might be that people worldwide understand that, if we continue to deny how much we're affecting the world, we'll only have a few places (like Chicago) that people will want to live in. If only that were enough. 

Statistics: 2022

We've now got two full years between us and 2020, and it does look like 2022 got mostly back to normal.

  • The Daily Parker got 487 posts in 2022, 51 fewer than in 2021 and 25 below median. As usual, I posted the most in January (46) and fewest in November (37), creating a very tight statistical distribution with a standard deviation of 3.45. In other words: posting was pretty consistent month to month, but down overall from previous years.
  • I flew 10 segments and 16,138 flight miles in 2022, low for the 21st century but about average for my lifetime.
  • Once again, I visited only one other country (the UK, of course), but 8 other states: North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin, California, Texas, and Michigan. In 2023, I plan to visit a bunch of new countries, but we'll see. Altogether I spent 107 hours traveling.
  • I walked Cassie for a little more than 369 hours, somewhat fewer than in 2021 (422) but still an average of over an hour a day. It's about half as much as she wanted.
  • I got 4,537,290 steps for 3,693 km of walking, a little below 2021 but about average overall. I only hit my step goal 327 times, though, due to no longer getting worked up about missing it in bad weather. I still averaged 12,393 a day, which doesn't suck.
  • I drove 5,925 km on 144 L of gasoline, for an average of 2.4 L/100 km (96.4 MPG). The last four months of the year I used only 4 L of gas over 1,179 km, meaning I'm heading into 2023 with a nearly-full tank I last filled on August 21st. I do love living in the city!
  • I worked 1,894 hours for my real job, including 1,260 from home and 580 in the office. The remainder went to conferences and work events. Plus, I spent 103 hours commuting, all of it by public transit (see above re: gasoline use).
  • My commitment to the Apollo Chorus went up by a third this year, with 318 hours overall split between rehearsing and performing (220 hours) and my responsibilities as president (98 hours). Last year I spent 57 hours on rehearsals and performances and 71 hours on board stuff, but the first half of 2021 we were still virtual. In the last full year before the pandemic, 2019, I spent 200 hours overall (27 for the Board, 144 on rehearsals and performances, 29 for the fundraiser), so we really did do more this year than in years past.
  • Finally, reading stayed the same, with 27 books started (cf. 28 in 2021) and 24 finished (cf. 23 in 2021)—both numbers exactly at median for me. But I watched a whopping (for me) 56 movies and 50 TV show seasons or miniseries. Yeek.

So, yeah, except for the permanent, post-pandemic shift to working from home 2/3 of the time, 2022 really did get back to normal in most ways. I'll take it. Here's to continued normal in 2023!

A glimmer of hope on a muddy Thursday

I broke away from my last day of work in 2022 around 2:15 to take Cassie on a 3½-kilometer walk. It's 14°C (!!!) right now so almost every snowflake has melted into a thin layer of mud over the entire city. No problems, so far; I keep old towels by the front door and Cassie expects me to wipe her paws when we come in.

Today I learned that I need to close the gate at the top of my stairs whenever we go outside on a day like this. I learned this while chasing Cassie up the stairs and through the living room while shouting "NO!", which, of course, made her run faster to her happy place; i.e., the living room sofa. Fortunately I keep the sofa covered in a $7 Target blanket because of her. Unfortunately, I had just washed it.

Cassie and I have forgiven each other but not before I carried her downstairs and put her in the bathtub. The floors only took about 15 minutes to clean up and the blanket went back into the washing machine whence it came this morning.

Dogs.

I did catch this in Mother Jones, though, and it took the edge off wiping muddy pawprints from several floors and a staircase. It seems that finally, finally!, more cities understand that parking minimums waste land, gas, and money:

California will become the first state to enact a ban on parking minimums [in January], halting their use in areas with public transport in a move that Gov. Gavin Newsom called a “win-win” for reducing planet-heating emissions from cars, as well as helping alleviate the lack of affordable housing in a state that has lagged in building new dwellings.

Several cities across the country are now rushing doing the same, with Anchorage, Alaska, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Nashville, Tennessee, all recently loosening or scrapping requirements for developers to build new parking lots. “These parking minimums have helped kill cities,” said Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at Columbia Business School who accused political leaders of making downtowns “look like bombs hit them” by filling them with parking lots.

Climate campaigners and public transport advocates have seized upon the previously esoteric issue of parking minimums, posting aerial pictures on social media demonstrating the vast swathes of prime urban land given over to parking lots and pushing city councils to foster denser communities with more opportunities to walk, cycle or catch buses and trains rather than simply drive.

Cities such as Buffalo, New York, and Fayetteville, Arkansas, scaled back parking minimums a few years ago and have reported a surge in activity to transform previously derelict buildings into shops, apartments and restaurant. Developers previously saw as such work as unviable due to the requirement to build plots of car parking, in many cases several times larger than the building itself.

Just look at this aerial view of downtown Kansas City, Mo., after MODOT destroyed it with one road. Or these photos of empty mall parking lots on Black Friday, the day traffic engineers use to set parking minimums.

I hope that I live long enough to see North America correct the planning mistakes of the 1960s and 1970s, and get at least to the point Europe achieved ten years ago.

The worst of it is over

The temperature here at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters peaked at -5°C, the warmest we've had since 2:30pm on Thursday. Next Thursday it'll hit 10°C, which is 32°C (57°F) warmer than Saturday's overnight low. Welcome to Chicago in the era of rapid climate change.

I hope we don't get any more really horrific cold snaps this winter, but I expect we will. For now, though, I'm going to take Cassie on the longest walk she's had in almost a week.

Actually, I did remember what this feels like

The Arctic air mass has arrived:

We didn't actually get that much snow, though:

On her evening walk last night, Cassie wanted to run around in the snow in circles for a bit, so I let her. But even with her double coat, after 4 minutes she was shivering, so we had to go in. She will not enjoy today at all.

One other thing of note. I got myself one of the coolest and geekiest toys I could ever have imagined:

That shows the location of every CTA train running right now. I might have to get one for London, too. And in a couple of days, it might become a practical toy, when the weather gets warm enough to go outside and ride the CTA again.

Glad I planned to stay in Chicago this weekend

This looks fun:

WGN fleshes out the forecast's bones:

  • Snow develops Thursday – beginning in far western sections (west of Interstate-39) during the morning and spreading east with deteriorating conditions across the area by early-mid afternoon
  • Blizzard conditions possible, particularly late Thursday night through Friday afternoon (heavy blinding blowing snow with visibility under a quarter mile or less for at least 3 consecutive hours). Very difficult and dangerous travel conditions.
  • Wind gusts to 90 km/h may cause power outages. Winds shifting to the W/NW area-wide by Thursday afternoon with initial gusts 50-60 km/h, peak gusts 90 km/h+ later Thursday night and early Friday.
  • Dangerous life threatening wind chills, falling temps Thursday afternoon. Sub-zero [Fahrenheit] wind chills possible by late afternoon and early evening Thursday. Increasing winds and falling temps could eventually result in wind chills of -28°C to -37°C by Friday/Friday night with wind chills well below -18°C continuing through the weekend.

So, I had planned to work downtown tomorrow, which will still happen, just for a much shorter interval. And I had planned to let Cassie hang out with her friends at day camp all day, because my darling middle-aged dog has the energy of a whippet puppy if she doesn't get many hours of play a week.

And, as I mentioned yesterday, I also had planned to review a couple of breweries Friday afternoon. That will also have to wait.

As long as I don't lose electricity, Cassie and I will ride it out at home Friday. And if the power goes out, at least I have a gas fireplace and a warm dog.

Second day of sun, fading fast

What a delight to wake up for the second day in a row and see the sun. After 13 consecutive days of blah, even the -11°C cold that encouraged Cassie and me to get her to day care at a trot didn't bother me too much.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast says a blizzard will (probably) hit us next weekend, so I guess I'll have time to read all of these stories sitting on the couch with my dog:

Finally, one of my college music professors died this month. Herbert Deutsch co-created the Moog synthesizer and taught at Hofstra University for 40-plus years.