The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Update on the Ravenswood Metra station

The local alderman's office sent me an update this afternoon on Metra's and the Union Pacific Railroad's stupefying 9-year mission to construct a single station platform that thousands of commuters per day would like to start using:

I spoke to the foreman this week who, unfortunately, informed me of further delays on this project. The project is still awaiting a delivery of tiles from the manufacturer who, due to one person catching Covid recently, has informed them that the tiles won't be ready until the end of the year. This is on par which many of the delays on this project, which have been due to supply chain issues.

This pushes final completion of the project closer to March of next year. We are in communication with Metra to see if they might be able to reopen a portion of the station to commuters before that date, as most of it is complete by now.

Yes, of course: the tiles. It took me a moment to realize that the foreman meant the tiles that will cover the walls of the stairwells and ramps from the street to the platform, which I expect will reduce maintenance costs. All things equal, tiles are probably easier to clean than concrete.

Looking across Lawrence Avenue at the yet-to-open platform, though, I would say it just needs guardrails so people don't fall onto the street below.

But when I'm standing on the "temporary" 10-year-old platform across the street in a snowstorm some Monday morning this winter, I'll comfort myself knowing I'm doing it for the tiles.

Anthony's Song

I'm movin' out. A lovely young couple have offered to buy Inner Drive World Headquarters v5.0, and the rest of the place along with it. I've already gotten through the attorney-review period for IDTWHQ v6.0, so this means I'm now more likely than not to move house next month.

Which means I have even less time to read stuff like this:

Finally, American Airlines plans to get rid of its First Class offerings, replacing them with high-tech Business Class and more premium coach seats. I'd better use my miles soon.

Where to go in cooler weather

Go hiking!

It’s not “purple mountains majesty” for hiking, Jason King knows, but Illinois, Indiana and southern Wisconsin, are not without charm — they’re free, they’re close, their trails are uncongested and they offer a solace and beauty all their own.

“I love Illinois, I’ve lived here all my life. If you like simplicity, if you like the feel of the wind blowing through the trees … there’s no place better,” King said.

One of King’s favorite solo hikes to “get the world behind me” is about 90 minutes away from Chicago near Gary, Indiana, in the little-used western part of Indiana Dunes National Park. The Paul H. Douglas center is currently closed but the namesake trail (1) winds through Miller Woods and across the Grand Calumet River. It was named after the Illinois senator who helped make the Dunes a national park. It’s a moderately challenging 3.5 miles out and back, partly through sand dunes — which make it a workout.

King identified 19 other trails near Chicago that reporter Zachary Nauth listed in the article. Maybe next weekend? Cassie would probably love all of them.

Bueller? Bueller?

I love this, but I have to ask: why did the Post do this, and not the Tribune or Block Club Chicago?

As an adopted Chicagoan and longtime John Hughes devotee, I’ve always wondered whether it’s possible to do everything Ferris accomplished as he dodges school in the 1986 film. He knocks out a trip to the top of the Sears Tower, the Chicago Board of Trade, a fancy French lunch, a Cubs game, the Art Institute, the Von Steuben Day parade and the beach, then races on foot through his North Shore suburb to get home by 6 p.m. Even with the help of movie magic, it seems like a stretch.

Given real-life time constraints and logistics, we had to make tweaks to fit every activity. First, it’s nearly impossible to find a parade and a home game for the Cubs on a weekday, but on Saturday, Sept. 10, we found both a game and the actual parade from the movie.

Just because Ferris never looks rushed in the movie doesn’t mean this is a leisurely day. If you want to see everything on his list, you’ve got to keep up the pace. At the same time, you should remember to take a minute to appreciate what you’re experiencing. After all, as our hooky-playing hero says: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Too bad they didn't have a Ferrari.

Whither O'Hare parking?

I do love traveling Saturday mid-days, because it's the quietest time at O'Hare. There was no line at the Pre-Check security gate, and I only have a backpack, so it took less than 3 minutes to clear TSA. Wonderful.

Unfortunately, every single economy parking space has a car in it. (I would have taken public transit but I had a meeting run until 12:30, with a 3pm flight. Couldn't risk the 90 minutes or so.)

In any event, my plane is here, it appears to be on time, and the latest weather is VFR the whole way. Next report from North Carolina.

Happy Friday, with its 7pm sunset

It happens every September in the mid-latitudes: one day you've got over 13 hours of daylight and sunsets around 7:30, and two weeks later you wake up in twilight and the sun sets before dinnertime. In fact, Chicago loses 50 minutes of evening daylight and an hour-twenty overall from the 1st to the 30th. We get it all back in March, though. Can't wait.

Speaking of waiting:

Finally, Fareed Zakaria visited Kyiv, Ukraine, to learn the secret of the country's success against Russia.

Good thing there's an El

My commute to work Friday might get a little longer, as Metra has announced that 9 out of its 11 lines (including mine) would likely not operate if railroad engineers and conductors go on strike Friday. Amtrak has already started cancelling trains so they won't get stranded mid-route should the strike happen.

In other news:

  • Cook County tax bills won't come out until late autumn, according to the County President, meaning no one knows how much cash they have to escrow when they sell real estate.
  • The Post has an interactive map showing everywhere in the US that hit a record high temperature this summer.
  • US Rep. Marjorie Taylor "Still Smarter than Lauren Boebert" Greene (R-GA) has come up with a climate-change theory so dumb it actually seems smart.
  • US Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), another intellectual giant of the 117th Congress, proposed a Federal abortion ban, demonstrating a keen command of how most people in the United States view the issue.
  • Robert Wright explores "why we're so clueless about Putin."
  • Block Club Chicago explains why my neighborhood and a few others experienced massive geysers coming out of storm drains during Sunday's flooding rains.

Finally, right-wing lawyer Kenneth Starr died at age 76. No reaction yet from Monica Lewinsky.

Today I learned...

...that street flooding in Chicago is a feature, not a bug:

Chicago’s sewer network has an “inlet control valve system” that intentionally limits water intake during heavy rainfall events so as to not overwhelm the wastewater system, with the streets acting as a temporary holding area.

For that reason, the street flooding is normal, [Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th)] said. But residents who are experiencing over-the-curb basement flooding should file a ticket with 311 and reach out to local officials to report the issues, according to a city news release.

“If it’s flooding on the street, that’s intentional. If there’s flooding in the basement, submit the request so the Department of Water Management can follow up once the rain stops,” Vasquez said. 

To help avoid flooding, residents should also avoid running their dishwasher or washing machine during the storm and disconnect downspout connections from the sewer system and redirect water flow to areas with permeable surfaces where stormwater can be absorbed, officials said.

We got a few centimeters of water in our storage area, but fortunately most of us have our stuff up on pallets, and we have a shop vac. Cassie isn't getting a lot of walks today, though.