The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Looking for the shoe that could drop...

I just got from the curb to the lounge in 18 minutes. No kidding: my bag check line was empty, and so was the TSA Pre-Check queue. I should point out, no other queues were empty; in fact, it looked like the general security queue is long enough to gestate an elephant.

So, at least for the first hour of my vacation, things completely fail to suck.

Great news! My flight tomorrow got cancelled

I'm serious: I couldn't have planned it better. Remember how I said I booked the early (4:50pm) flight because I wanted to fly on one of British Airways' brand-new 787-10 airplanes, and they swapped it out for one of they're old-ass 777s? Well, I woke up this morning to an email saying that the old-ass 777 won't actually make the trip after all, so they shoved me onto the next available flight on American.

After a not-so-quick call to American Airlines (them, because they issued the original ticket, and long, because British Airways screwed up the rebooking), they got me on the 9:15pm flight on a relatively-new Airbus 380. More to the point, instead of getting in at 6:30 am BST (12:30 am Chicago time), I'm now arriving at the much more humane hour of 11 am BST (5 am Chicago time).

That also puts me much closer to the bag-check time for my flight to Prague, and I'll still have enough time to get out of Heathrow for a bit. I hope.

If not, I have airline status with both American and BA, so the worst case is I cool my heels in the first-class lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3. Not ideal, but not like sitting in genpop with my luggage for 10 hours.

Updates as the situation warrants.

Travel annoyances: forewarned is forearmed?

I haven't even left yet and already I've encountered three noteworthy irritations about the first 12 hours of my vacation, two of them involving British Airways and one involving Transport for London. (This will no doubt shock my readers in the UK.)

First, I chose an early-ish flight out of Chicago because when I booked it, BA planned to fly one of their brand-spanking-new 787-10 airplanes with their brand-spanking-new business class seats. But when I reconfirmed my seat yesterday (not my first time flying BA, you'll note), I learned that they will instead fly one of their old-ass 777s with their old-ass seats—and they put me in an aisle seat, which I did not want. I moved my seat without difficulty, but now I'm getting in to Heathrow at 6:35 am for no bloody reason. And because I used American Airlines miles for the trip, I may not be able to change to the later flight. (I don't know for sure because BA's customer service system is offline and won't be back up for a couple of hours.)

Second, they won't check my bag through to my final destination because my London to Prague flight is a separate booking. So my decision to take a 10-hour layover in London has hit a snag, unless I can somehow check my bag when I arrive. At 6:35 am. BA has helpfully suggested I can pay £209 to take an earlier flight, however. FFS.

But third, that might not even matter, because the Piccadilly Tube is shut down between Heathrow and Acton Town all weekend. If I do get my bag sorted, though, it'll be my chance to try out the new Elizabeth Line. At 7am. Which is 1am Chicago time.

So instead of flying to London on BA's newest airplane, leaving my bag at Heathrow for a few hours while I wander London on a beautiful late-spring morning, then coming back to Terminal 3 on the good ol' Piccadilly Line...I may spend several hours in the Terminal 5 Arrivals lounge waiting for my Prague flight to open for bag check.

Thank you for your assistance in these matters, British Airways. And TfL too! You guys rock!

Foxy babies

A family of red foxes has taken up residence in Millennium Park, Chicago:

The fox family “just walked right in” to the popular downtown park a couple weeks back, said Kathryn Deery, head horticulturalist at the park’s Lurie Garden. The family — two adults and four babies — typically pops out when the park is less crowded in the mornings and evenings.

Deery has watched the “adorable” baby foxes, known as kits, wrestle in the garden and play with food as their parents hunt for rabbits, birds, rodents and plants.

Foxes have been spotted at Lurie Garden over the years, but there’s never been a full family quite like this, Deery said. The garden workers plan to put signs to educate people about the animals and their habitat.

Go to the article for information on foxes, but stay for the photos. They're adorable.

Cicadas this weekend?

The 17- and 13-year cicadas will both emerge next year, together for the first time since 1803. But this year, possibly as early as this weekend, a relatively small number of Magicicada septendecim may come out ahead of schedule:

Love them or hate them, Chicagoans might not have to wait another year to see the blood-red eyes of these polarizing creatures with orange wings. It often happens that a few hundred stragglers get confused and emerge a few years before or after they are supposed to.

Scientists are expecting an early emergence of brood XIII cicadas, which come out every 17 years, and of brood XIX cicadas, which come out every 13 years. The former can be found in northern Illinois, including the Chicago area, as well as in some parts of Iowa and northeastern Indiana. The latter can be found in various southern states, including south portions of Illinois.

“The (stragglers) are numerous enough to be noticeable but they also don’t really survive very long because the periodical cicadas sing during the daytime when birds and other predators are quite active, and they’re relatively obvious insects,” said Phil Nixon, retired entomologist from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

[C]icadas usually come out after a day or two of high temperatures in the low 80s and low temperatures around the 70s, followed by rain that softens the soil. They emerge after soil temperatures exceed 64 degrees.

The Brood XIII emergence due a year from now in the Chicago area is expected to be the largest emergence of cicadas anywhere, with numbers approaching a million insects per hectare.

Perfectly useless Sunday

Cassie got about 4 hours of walks yesterday, plus about 9 additional hours of outdoor time. I got sunburned. So I didn't have any time to post, but I did have time to get side-eye from this girl:

That's Butters, a beagle whose every look is side-eye. It's quite a talent.

"If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live."—Lin Yutang

The roof repairs continue

Today they got through about half of our flat roof which doubles as an upstairs patio. Imagine how much noise all this made:

Note that all the crap on the roof off to my left was at the other end of the balcony while they laid down the material directly under me. They timed it so they had the power saw going exactly when I had a Teams meeting for work. But they did got a lot of it done, and they should reconnect my A/C units just in time for next week's heat wave.

Wednesday afternoon potpourri

On this day in 2000, during that more-innocent time, Beverly Hills 90210 came to an end. (And not a day too soon.) As I contemplate the void in American culture its departure left, I will read these articles:

Finally, a new genetic study suggests that "modern humans descended from at least two populations that coexisted in Africa for a million years before merging in several independent events across the continent." Cool.