The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

New use for old sirens

So I'm walking home at 8:15 pm, and I hear Civil Defense sirens. I'm just old enough to find the sound chilling. When I was a kid, CD sirens meant "tornado" or "Soviet missile attack." They sounded for about two full minutes, which I thought was gratuitious.

See, Evanston, Ill., sounded their CD sirens tonight to tell everyone to move their cars, just in case people missed the 20 cm of snow on the ground (parking restrictions take effect after 5 cm of snow).

I also found out, this storm has dropped more snow on Chicago than any other since I returned here in March 2000. As I walked home in my long underwear, thich Irish sweater, ski gloves, fleece scarf, snow boots, and heavy jacket, I thought, "you know, it's not so bad..." Not to mention, Parker is having a grand old time, though it did pain me to see him try to do his business with snow all the way to his chin.

This weather builds character, after all.

Late update: The Chicago Tribune has picked up the story.

Karmic balance?

The Bears going to the Superbowl has caused a ripple effect through Chicago karma.

I first noticed it on the train this morning. Ordinarily, an express train picks up almost a full load of people at the stop right before mine, then whisks them to the Loop, allowing the local train that follows three minutes later to pick all of us up without making us sit on each others' laps. Today, the express train apparently followed the local train, so by the time the local got to me, we were sitting on each others' laps. (It's not as fun as it sounds, actually.)

Then, it turns out I am in total agreement with a well-written statement by—wait for it—Pam Anderson:

Anderson, a staunch animal-rights activist and a vocal member of PETA, has blasted KFC for its treatment of chickens and has been part of a long-standing campaign on behalf of the feathered critters. “Honoring a man whose legacy involves breaking animals’ bones and scalding animals to death in defeathering tanks is contrary to the values of most compassionate citizens, and I hope that you’ll deny KFC’s request,” Anderson wrote in a letter to Postmaster General John E. Potter. “How about another Elvis stamp instead?”

I hope the Postmaster General agrees as well.

I'll be looking for other karmic re-balancing today, which means I'll probably find it. And I'm wondering what will happen if the Bears win on February 4th?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Today's Chicago Tribune asks, "Who needs Florida?":

Balmier days are forecast to continue in Illinois over the next few days, a result of warmer air masses flowing in from the west and southwest and the effects of an El Nino year.
While no records are being broken—back in 1876 it was 65°F (18°C) on Jan. 2—temperatures in coming days are expected to remain mercifully above the historic average high of about 30°F (-1°C).

I find this funny because I'm sitting in shorts and a polo shirt by a pool surrounded by palm trees, a light 24°C (75°F) breeze cooling my sandal-clad feet, looking at Chicago's weather report, which tells me it's 1°C (33°F) back home—with a wind chill of -4°C (25°F).

I really can't answer the question "who needs Florida," but I can say the weather's a lot better here than in Chicago.

Before there was Parker...

...there was Eliza:

I got my first camera in June 1983. Now, more than 23 years later, I'm scanning all the old slides and negatives. It's a little trippy. I keep finding things like this photo of the pet gerbil I had back then.

I've also found a whole bunch of documentary shots around Northbrook, Ill., where I grew up. I'll re-shoot some of these at some point and post some then-and-now views. Here's a preview: the LP stacks at the Northbrook Public Library. They were still about two years from their first CD player.

Internship for the donor's kid

I haven't really formed an opinion on Sen. Obama's office giving an internship to the son of a guy who gave $10,000 to the 2004 campaign. I'm not really surprised, nor do I really think it's a big deal. I've got a sort-of meta-concern about it, because I think it presages the kinds of stories we'll have to read every week after Obama announces he's running for President.

Perhaps I've just got a typical native Chicagoan's indifference to petty nepotism. I'm wondering if this hints at a deeper connection with Rezko that will come out closer to the primaries next Winter. Or if, as it appears from the pro-Obama camp, this looks more like Rezko trying to get in with Obama, who in turn sensed the danger and kept Rezko at arm's length.

I'm sure we'll hear more about it over the summer.

Today's Daily Parker

This morning Parker hit a couple of huge milestones. First, as of today we've had Parker for three months. That's, what, almost two dog years? And my how he's grown:

And then, almost in celebration of the anniversary, Parker's universe changed overnight, causing at first some consternation, then glee. This morning Parker saw snow for the first time:

Anne reported that he first wouldn't go near it, then he probed it with his paw. At that moment there was a thunderclap, which rattled him. But after only a minute or two, he decided that it was kind of like the beach, and besides, he really had to go, so in he went.

All of this comes about because the first major snowstorm of the season has hit Chicago. By 6:00 CT (1200 UTC) we had 51 mm (2 in) of snow on the ground; now we have about 100 mm (4 in), and the storm still has more to dump on us. Here's the most recent radar image, clearly showing the center of the low off to our east, which means we've got stiff (30 km/h, 18 mph) north winds blowing snow down our necks:

Those of us old enough to remember the snowstorm of 1 December 1978 feel a little apprehensive. That day we got about 150 mm (6 in) of snow, followed by another 2.3 meters (90 in) over the next three months. The shopping center near my house had snowpiles as late as May 1st. This winter could easily be like 1978-79, because all the same conditions could exist: warmth, moisture, and a jet stream that stays just south of us.

In any event, Parker and the few stalwarts (Dexter, Louie, and Key) who showed up to the park this morning will have a lot of fun this winter. Anne and I will be picking up some extra gloves and long underwear just as soon as we shovel the car out.

Update: Anne, who quite justifiably is working from home today, just reported that Parker not only got to see snow for the first time today, but now he's seeing fire for the first time. Perhaps she'll send a photo?

Bridge to nowhere

The CTA is replacing a 102-year-old viaduct in Evanston this weekend. I think the process is kind of cool. They started Friday evening and they'll finish Monday early in the morning, in time for the Purple Line to take people to work. I suppose it helps that they have an extra hour to work tonight.

This is the result of their first 15 hours or work:

And here's the "before" picture (from mid-August):

I always get a little nervous when the bridge is held up by chicken-wire.