With the news this morning that Ukraine has disabled yet another Russian ship, incapacitating fully one-third of the Russian Black Sea fleet, it has become apparent that Ukraine is better at making Russian submarines than the Murmansk shipyards. Russia could, of course, stop their own massive military losses—so far they've lost 90% of their army as well—simply by pulling back to the pre-2014 border, but we all know they won't do that.
In other news of small-minded people continuing to do wastefully stupid things:
- The House of Representatives voted 214-213 to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for, it turns out, no good reason, since it's the House Republican majority's failure to advance the Senate immigration bill that has Immigration and Customs Enforcement mulling a mass release of detained immigrants.
- While that vote took place, the New York 3rd Congressional District elected Democrat Tom Suozzi 58-42 to flip the seat held by defenestrated former Representative George Santos (R). This is the 4th consecutive special-election win by Democrats since the 118th Congress began last year, so of course news organizations have to explain why Suozzi's win is bad for us.
- Neuroscientist Charan Ranganth patiently explains how President Biden has normal age-related recall issues, which are not indicative of failing health or mental acuity, and are manifestly not the same thing as the serious memory issues that would be.
- Closer to home, the Chicago Transit Authority released preliminary plans to expand the Addison Red Line stop adjacent to Wrigley Field as part of the phase of its Red-Purple Modernization project starting in 2026.
- February is, and will almost certainly wind up, the 11th consecutive month of above-normal temperatures in Chicago, averaging 7.2°C (13.1°F) above normal so far, with continued warmth predicted after a weekend cool-down to the end of the month.
- Bill Post, who invented Pop-Tarts, has died.
Finally, a reader who knows my perennial frustration at ever-lengthening copyright durations sent me a story from last March about who benefits from composer Maurice Ravel's estate. Ravel died in 1937, so his music will remain under copyright protection until 1 January 2034, providing royalties to his brother’s wife’s masseuse’s husband’s second wife’s daughter. Please think of her the next time you hear "Bolero."
After posting this morning about all the injured and lame e-Divvy bikes around Chicago, a Daily Parker reader just sent me this story from last November, reporting that Divvy planned to (and presumably did) switch its maintenance subcontractor on February 1st of this year:
Periodically we do a [Request for Proposals]," the Lyft staffer said. "We want the best operations and service delivery for our city partners and customers. Motivate's contract was running out on February 1, so we held a competitive procurement process. Both Motivate and Shift were interested in the new contract. Shift runs bike-share systems in Toronoto, Detroit, and Portland, Oregon." Shift also currently operates Divvy's electric scooter fleet.
There's evidence this management switch could be good news for Divvy riders. The system's recent challenges with out-of-service bikes and ineffective rebalancing are well-documented. And then there was the embarrassing July 2022 spotting of a massive number of dysfunctional Divvies sitting in a vacant lot across the alley from the bike-share system's service warehouse at 2132 W. Hubbard St. in West Town. That was definitely not a good look for Motivate, which was managing Divvy's bike maintenance operations at the time.
While the machinations going on right now at Divvy are a little complex, there's no reason to believe they'll be bad for customers or employees.
I mean, except for the transition period, one supposes...
Divvy, Chicago's bike-share program, seems to have some issues lately. For about two weeks now, almost no electric bikes have shown up on the app. This one, for example, clearly needs some TLC, and it's invisible online:
I counted half a dozen in my neighborhood that have dead batteries. My friends in other neighborhoods describe similarly grim situations, or worse: one rack in Lakeview had nothing but broken bikes, and showed 0 available on the app.
Divvy's Twitter feed doesn't provide much insight, either. They can only repeat "we'll have our Operations Team check it out!" so many times before it becomes self-parody.
On top of the subscription price increase that took effect last week, I and other users have gotten a bit annoyed. Divvy, what gives?
I had a dentist appointment this morning, which allowed me to take some extra time walking Cassie and her houseguest to doggy day care, and then another half-hour to walk from my dentist's office (just 200 m from one train station) to the next station to get back. It helps that this morning had sun and warmth more like April than February:
Alas, a cold front will make its way across the area later today, brining some showers and possibly a "light" thunderstorm. I did enjoy the morning, though. And if I can time the dogs' return from day care properly, I should get another good walk in later today.
Another sprint has ended. My hope for a boring release has hit two snags: first, it looks like one of the test artifacts in the production environment that our build pipeline depends on has disappeared (easily fixed); and second, my doctor's treatment for this icky bronchitis I've had the past two weeks works great at the (temporary) expense of normal cognition. (Probably the cough syrup.)
Plus, Cassie and I have a houseguest:
But like my head, the rest of the world keeps spinning:
- A 3-judge panel on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that presidents do not have blanket immunity from prosecution, which the XPOTUS has vowed to appeal en banc and then to his hand-picked Supreme Court.
- The Republican Party got the border deal they asked for, but they refuse to pass it because the XPOTUS needs border chaos for his re-election campaign. Greg Sargent has even more about their own-goal.
- Los Angeles experienced record rainfall yesterday, with a whopping 104 mm of rain recorded downtown, smashing the old record of 65 mm set in 1927.
- Here in Chicago, we expect above-average temperatures to hang out for the rest of winter, possibly even hitting 16°C later this week.
- That means we won't get to see the winners of this year's snowplow-naming contest: Skilling It, CTRL-SALT-DELETE, Casimir Plowaski, Ernie Snowbanks, Mies van der Snow, and Bad, Bad Leroy Plow.
- Speaking of roads, the Sun-Times ran an essay today outlining the history of Chicago expressways (motorways), and what we lost when we built them.
And now, my production test pipeline has concluded successfully, so I will indeed have a boring release.
The current work sprint ends tomorrow. Throughout, I've had several moments of "wow, I actually did that right three years ago" as I've extended or improved existing features for the next release. I've even added a couple of extra stories that didn't take me long to do.
Meanwhile, I'm starting to get the sense of what it might be like when I'm 80, coughing so much that for the first time in years I'll actually miss rehearsal tonight. Which explains this post's headline: the cemetery is usually where the coffin stops.
Ah, ha ha.
I'm also reminded that, five years ago, we had some weird weather. We have some weird weather today, too, but in the opposite direction.
Anyway, if I can get this coughing under control, and get some sleep tonight, I should have more creative things to say tomorrow.
Welcome to stop #101 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Eris Brewery & Cider House, 4240 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Irving Park (Zone 2) (also CTA Blue Line, Irving Park)
Time from Chicago: 13 minutes
Distance from station: 300 m
Built out of a former Masonic temple in the Old Irving neighborhood, Eris has really good food and really good cider. At this writing, though, they're still working on their beer game. On top of some of the best cheese curds and French fries I've had at a brewpub, I tried two 120-mL pours and had a of sip of one selection from my friends' "pepper" flight.
The Pedestrian cider (5.9%) was nice & dry, with crisp apple flavor, better than its name suggests. Would love to sit outside with this in the summer. The Waka Waka hazy IPA (6.8%) didn't work for me, though. Perhaps because I started with the cider, it had none of the fruit flavor that I'd expect from a Citra-hazy ale. My friend really liked the pepper flight, so I had a sip of the Hot Chaos pepper cider (6.3%) with árbol chile, and will not be having more. But I can see the appeal.
We'll be back, in the summer, with the dogs.
Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Many, avoidable
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
I first visited Ravinia Brewing early in the Brews & Choos Project, and liked it. In fact I have gone back several times, most recently a week ago Friday. I haven't yet visited their Logan Square taproom though, and because of the way trademarks and contracts work in the US, I may never:
In October, Ravinia Festival, the Highland Park outdoor concert venue known for its summer music series, sued the craft brewery for trademark infringement, court records show.
The brewery was born out of the Ravinia District of Highland Park in 2017 and opened its original location there in 2018.
In 2018, the brewery signed an agreement that allowed both parties to use the name, as long as the brewery complied with guidelines to ensure consumers understood there was no relationship between the two organizations.
The lawsuit alleges the brewery violated that agreement.
Brewery co-owners Jeff Hoobler and Kris Walker have called the lawsuit unjust and said the business is rapidly losing money because of legal expenses. They warned the business could close if the company keeps bleeding financially.
I've just read RBC's answer to RF's complaint, which includes the allegations in the complaint as per local rules. As with any lawsuit, we don't know the full story, and as this will probably never go to trial, we probably never will. It looks like the brewery and the Festival have some bad blood between them, for sure. But if the brewery's answer is accurate, this has all the feeling of trying to crack a walnut with a sledgehammer.
I hope the Festival and the brewery can come to a compromise here. I like them both.
Welcome to stop #100 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Illuminated Brew Works, 6186 N. Northwest Hwy., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Norwood Park (Zone 2)
Time from Chicago: 22 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m
It only took four years and a pandemic to get to the 100th Brews & Choos stop. When I stopped at Macushla in Glenview almost exactly four years ago, I thought I'd knock out all 90 or so breweries and distilleries in about 18 months. We all know what happened a month later...
Here we are at stop #100, and I'm happy to report it garnered a "would go back" rating.
Illuminated Brew Works has a bit of fun with its namesake, even calling its mailing list a "cult." They make really good beer, and they allow dogs, but fortunately no one tried to convert me to Belgian sour ales.
In fact, as I have a touch of bronchitis, I didn't drink much at all. The 120-mL pours I had were excellent. The Brony DDH DIPA (7.5%) was really smooth, and didn't taste at all like the strong beer the menu says it is. And the Millennial Munchies stout (13.5%), which I shared, was complex, sweet but not cloying, with malty coconut and chocolate notes.
I also had a sips of my friend's beers. The CULT stout (10%), which had real complexity but not a lot of sweetness, and the guajillo chiles they brewed it with really smacked me in the end. I didn't feel I could evaluate the Cherry Brainwash sour (7%) and Orange Sunshine Saison (5.4%), as I'm not a fan of those styles, but my friend assured me they were excellent, and particularly liked the cherry sour.
They have a quirky, no-fucks-given vibe that we particularly liked. We may have to bring Cassie and Butters here when it gets warmer.
Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? One, avoidable
Serves food? Snacks; BYOF encouraged
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
Metra's new fare structure took effect this morning, along with the planned closure of every ticket window that still existed. It was therefore crucially important that the Ventra app (now the only way to pay for tickets) updated properly overnight. Alas:
Commuters faced an extra headache Thursday as the Ventra app crashed on the first day of new Metra procedures and prices, including the closure of ticket windows.
An alert on the Metra website informs riders that the app is down and technical crews are working to solve the issue.
“It’s not the way we would have liked it to go,” Metra spokesperson Meg Reile said.
Metra is working with Cubic, the company that runs the app, to get it up and running as soon as possible, Reile said.
On my train this morning, the conductor announced that he knew the app was down, so we should enjoy the ride. I expect they lost tens of thousands in revenue today.
As of this writing, the app appears to be working! And I have just purchased my monthly ticket for February.
I'll update the Brews & Choos page later today.