The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Notable Friday afternoon stories

Just a few before I take a brick to my laptop for taking a damned half-hour to reformat a JSON file:

Oh, good. My laptop has finished parsing the file. (In fairness it's 400,000 lines of JSON, but still, that's only 22 megabytes uncompressed.) I will now continue with my coding.

Writing to alderman and newspaper gets results

Every time I commute to work from the Ravenswood Metra station, I get annoyed. Metra has yet to finish the inbound platform after almost 10 years of delays. So I emailed the alderman to ask why, and CC:d Block Club Chicago, the local news outlet. Reporter Alex Hernandez called me the next morning, and ran this story today:

The Ravenswood Metra station overhaul that began more than a decade ago is hitting yet another bump. 

The $30 million project to renovate 11 bridges along Metra’s Union Pacific North line was announced in 2010. Construction of the western side of the Ravenswood station, 4800 N. Ravenswood Ave., was completed in 2015 — but the rest of the project is ongoing.

Previous delays to the project were caused in part by a polar vortex in 2014 and cuts in funding to Metra in 2010. The work was fully funded in 2020, and officials planned to begin the final phase of the eastern portion of the station in the spring.

But now it’s supply chain issues that are delaying work, Metra spokesperson Meg Reile said. 

“It’s still up in the air because of supply chain issues,” Reile said. “That’s what’s holding up the end of this project.” 

Reile did not provide specifics about what items crews are waiting for, but she said the goal is to complete the eastern side of the Ravenswood station by the end of the year.

Good to know. My conversations with Hernandez Wednesday and yesterday were enlightening to both of us. And today, I actually saw someone in a hard hat and vest working on the platform, though I have no idea what he was doing.

Will the platform open by year's end? Will the Cubs lose 95 games this season? Will any former presidents get indicted this fall? No one can yet know the answer to any of those questions.

Is it Monday?

I took Friday off, so it felt like Saturday. Then Saturday felt like Sunday, Sunday felt like another Saturday, and yesterday was definitely another Sunday. Today does not feel like Tuesday.

Like most Mondays, I had a lot of catching up at the office, including mandatory biennial sexual harassment training (prevention and reporting, I hasten to point out). So despite a 7pm meeting with an Australian client tonight, I hope I find time to read these articles:

Finally, the Hugo Awards were announced in Chicago over the weekend, and now I have a ton more books to buy.

A 43% marathon?

As I feared, yesterday my body really did not want to walk a full 42.2 km marathon. In fact, around 14 km, I decided to turn around and get a beer:

I maintained a great pace, though: 8'54" per kilometer (14'24" per mile). But wow, it was exhausting:

I sense a nap in my future...

Maybe not such a long walk today

As I did the Friday before my birthday in 2020 and 2021, I planned today to walk a marathon (42.2 km). Alas, my body doesn't seem as into it as it was before.

I did everything right, I thought: lots of sleep all week, no alcohol at all for a few days, keeping active but not too strenuous. That worked well in 2020:

And in 2021:

But last night, not so restful:

In the week before the 2020 walk my BB averaged 70, and 72 in 2021. As of today, my 7-day average is 47, even though my 7-day sleep average is 8:06 (cf. 8:08 in 2020 and 7:41 in 2021).

The X factor seems to be this year's allergies, which are really not fun. Ragweed and mold levels are through the roof this week, or more precisely the allergens are through the windows, and I've woken up congested every morning since last week. Also, I didn't really take any long walks this summer just for exercise; in fact, I haven't taken a 10 km walk since last September.

So, I'm still going to take a long walk today, but I'll adjust my expectations by aiming for a half-marathon. So, no PRs today, and I don't expect to hit 60,000 steps. Full report this evening.

Bog-standard August

Despite record temperatures in late spring, Illinois had a perfectly average August, which the state climatologist for some reason refers to as "mild:"

May kicked off summer early in Illinois with a very unusual heat wave. Then came a very warm June that had this winter lover wishing for sweater weather. Fortunately, a slightly cooler July was followed by a very mild August.

August average temperatures ranged from the low 70s [F] in northern Illinois to the high 70s in southern Illinois, within 1 degree [Fahrenheit] of normal statewide. The warmest place in the state last month was Bean Ridge in Alexander County with an average August temperature of 25.6°C. The coolest place in the state–other than my house–was Shabbona in DeKalb County with an average August temperature of 20.6°C.

Overall, the preliminary statewide average August temperature was 23.2°C, 0.1°C above the 1991–2020 average and the 58th warmest on record going back to 1895.

I'll take it. August felt just fine to me, and the forecast for this coming weekend looks pretty good, too.

The last post of the summer

Meteorological summer ends in just a few hours here in Chicago. Pity; it's been a decent one (for us; not so much for the Western US). I have a couple of things to read this afternoon while waiting for endless test sessions to complete on my work laptop:

And via Bruce Schneier, a group of local Chicago high schoolers will never give you up and never let you down.

Storms came early

A line of thunderstorms just blew past my office about 3 hours ahead of schedule, which means I might get home at a reasonable hour without drowning. Of course, we might get more storms:

Scott Lincoln, a National Weather Service meteorologist. The first storms are expected to hit Chicago as early as 1 p.m., but that could vary — and more storms will be possible throughout the afternoon, he said.

Some parts of the city could get 1-2 inches of rain or more if they’re hit by strong storms, while other parts will see less than 1 inch, Lincoln said. In general, the Chicago area will get .5 to 1 inch of rain, he said.

“Summertime storms are very variable with rain amounts,” Lincoln said. “All depends who lucks out and who ends up getting a storm.”

The entire world has serious problems with water, though. Most troubling, a new study found that Greenland will lose 110 trillion tons of ice regardless of what climate mitigations we put in place, raising sea levels 30 cm:

The predictions are more dire than other forecasts, though they use different assumptions. While the study did not specify a time frame for the melting and sea-level rise, the authors suggested much of it can play out between now and the year 2100.

“The point is, we need to plan for that ice as if it weren’t on the ice sheet in the near future, within a century or so,” William Colgan, a study co-author who studies the ice sheet from its surface with his colleagues at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said in a video interview.

“Every study has bigger numbers than the last. It’s always faster than forecast,” Colgan said.

And in the southwestern US, the drought looks worse and worse every day:

The Colorado River, which supplies water to more than 40 million Americans and supports food production for the rest of the country, is in imminent peril. The levels in the nation’s largest freshwater reservoir, Lake Mead, behind the Hoover Dam and a fulcrum of the Colorado River basin, have dropped to around 25% of capacity. The Bureau of Reclamation, which governs lakes Mead and Powell and water distribution for the southern end of the river, has issued an ultimatum: The seven states that draw from the Colorado must find ways to cut their consumption — by as much as 40% — or the federal government will do it for them. Last week those states failed to agree on new conservation measures by deadline. Meanwhile, next door, California, which draws from the Colorado, faces its own additional crises, with snowpack and water levels in both its reservoirs and aquifers all experiencing a steady, historic and climate-driven decline. It’s a national emergency, but not a surprise, as scientists and leaders have been warning for a generation that warming plus overuse of water in a fast-growing West would lead those states to run out.

Everyone thought anthropogenic climate change would happen slowly, giving us plenty of time to adapt. It seems even the pessimists underestimated how quickly the shit hit the fan.

Banging Gavel Brews, Tinley Park

Welcome to stop #77 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Banging Gavel Brews, 6811 Hickory St., Tinley Park
Train line: Rock Island District, Tinley Park
Time from Chicago: 35 minutes (Zone E)
Distance from station: 100 m

The owners of Banging Gavel Brews opened a beer garden at the historic Vogt House in Tinley Park to get people interested in their beers while they restore the house. Since they have an abbreviated beer list at the moment, and they expect to open the brewpub proper next spring, I have an abbreviated review, and will revisit the place since it doesn't require walking through suburban hell. (More on that later this week.)

I had only one of their beers, the Prop 65 West Coast IPA (6%). The joke, if you haven't seen it before, is that California's Proposition 65 requires a warning when the environment contains cancer-causing chemicals. Whether this beer causes cancer I can't know for sure, but I thought it was OK, if a bit thin.

Regardless of what I think of Tinley Park (at least the suburban hellscape west of Harlem Ave.), they have a decent train station just a few meters from the brewery.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? No
Serves food? Partners with the place next door
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes, when they open the full brewpub

Soundgrowler Brewing, Tinley Park

Welcome to stop #76 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Soundgrowler Brewing, 8201 W. 183rd St., Tinley Park
Train line: Rock Island District, Tinley/80th
Time from Chicago: 37 minutes (Zone E)
Distance from station: 1.4 km

When I visited Hailstorm Brewing in March 2021, I really should have gone to Soundgrowler next, as they're just a short walk from each other and I'd never have to go to their industrial park in Tinley Park again. They're both great in their own ways, don't get me wrong; but now that I've visited and walked through the west part of Tinley Park twice, I'm in no hurry to return. More on that in a future post (or if you prefer, one from 18 months ago).

Soundgrowler bills itself as "Beer, Tacos, Metal," which I can confirm from my visit. To the mellifluous strains of Thou's "Inward" and other much-beloved death-metal ditties, I had a flight of excellent beer and two satisfying tacos.

I started with the Small Poems Vienna lager (5%): smooth, malty, with a clean finish; well-done. The Jaguar Elixir APA (5%) had a hazy, light-straw color, lots of hop but not overwhelming amounts, and a refreshing finish. I'd drink that one on a hot day. The excellent Orange Haze West Coast IPA (7%), their flagship beer, burst out with fruity hops, and lingered with a long, malty, citrusy finish. I ended with their limited-release Bending Blades West Coast Imperial IPA (8%) and its big-ass hops and a citrus-without-Citra flavor. I'd get any of them again.

I'll go back at some point, possibly if I ever need to visit the south suburbs for some other reason, and I'll get more delicious $3 tacos.

Beer garden? Seasonal
Dogs OK? Outside
Televisions? No
Serves food? Tacos and other Mexican food
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes