The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Eat, bubbe! Eat!

One of my oldest friends—I mean, 5th-grade-old—opened a restaurant this past fall: Mint Julep Bistro, 53 W. Slade St., Palatine, +1 (847) 934-3000. The Chicago Tribune has now reviewed it:

Without reservations on a recent Saturday, we waited in the intimate lounge where, to management's credit, nobody pushed apps or booze on us. But we wanted both, and it fortunately didn't take long to fill our order. There's plenty of bourbon and a lovely wine list by the glass/bottle. We bypassed the bourbon (we’ll be back for that) and ordered a glass of French viognier ($6.25) and a winter white ale ($4.25) to accompany an order of three scrumptious, sizable crab cakes ($10.50). Fall-apart tender and made with the prime meat from the claw, the cakes were further enhanced with the well-balanced remoulade sauce.

But don't fill up too much. The menu is big, with one tempting entree after another starring seafood, beef, poultry and a vegetarian platter. (We heard a grateful remark from a nearby diner, who hadn't expected that.) I opted for seafood, and the menu’s plainly titled Shrimp 'n Grits ($16) belied a far more evocative entree: Six firecracker shrimp elegantly plated with a trio of perfectly fried, crunchy-tender grit cakes in a velvety bourbon cream sauce. Rich and almost over the top. My companion’s butcher’s cut steak ($22), a grilled-to-order cut from meat above the filet, arrived with melt-in-your-mouth acorn squash and potato-andouille hash that offered a fresh departure from plain mashed spuds.

Both chefs made appearances throughout their restaurant, stopping at tables and chatting with the clientele. Nice touch.

It's a long haul from the city, but some of us have plans to go back up there again soon. Rich, the aforementioned friend, has a smoker, and the pulled pork is worth the trip.

At least he got a new line on his tombstone

Ah, Roland, we hardly knew ye:

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris said today he is open to a Senate ethics investigation into how he got the Senate seat from ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and that he has reached out to a Sangamon County prosecutor who is reviewing Burris' sworn testimony before Illinois lawmakers.

No one in the U.S. can be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, but if someone really, really wants to—say, by babbling to a room full of reporters— he is certainly allowed.

Yes, it's good to be home.

Ah, it's good to be home

You know, after three days on a tropical island and a night in South Miami Beach, I worried I'd have some trouble getting back into the swing of things in Chicago. Nope. I'm definitely back in Illinois:

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris has acknowledged he sought to raise campaign funds for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich at the request of the governor’s brother at the same time he was making a pitch to be appointed to the Senate seat previously held by President Barack Obama.

Burris' latest comments in Peoria Monday night were the first time he has publicly said he was actively trying to raise money for Blagojevich. Previously Burris has left the impression that he always balked at the issue of raising money for the governor because of his interest in the Senate appointment.

In comments to reporters after appearing at a Democratic dinner, the senator several times contradicted his latest under-oath affidavit that he quietly filed with the Illinois House impeachment panel earlier this month. That affidavit was itself an attempt to clean up his live, sworn testimony to the panel Jan. 8, when he omitted his contacts with several Blagojevich insiders.

Fortunately for Burris, he's already surpassed our record for shortest U.S. Senate term set waaay back in 1830 by David Baker (served 29 days, 12 November-11 December 1830). But he is carrying on the honorable tradition of asking, "Where's mine?" and then lying about it.

I'm taking bets on how fast the indictment comes.

And as I was writing this, in what has to be a total conicidence, former Chicago alderman Ardena Troutman was just sentenced to 4 years for mail fraud.

Who says it's hard to get good people into public office?

Out of the office

I was traveling yesterday, which prevented me from commenting on Lincoln's 200th Birthday, Darwin's 200th birthday, and the NAACP centennial. All three events deserved recognition, but fortunately, the other seven million bloggers in the U.S. covered them just fine.

As for the travel, I have only once in my life gone someplace just because it was warmer than Chicago; today, briefly, I'm back in the same place. Tonight I press on to the Mecca (or Bethlehem, or Jerusalem, depending on which monotheistic faith you follow) of aviation; photos and description to follow, I hope next week. Also, I'll be accepting donations of spare livers on Tuesday as I expect mine will need replacing by then. That is, if I ever drink again, which this afternoon seems unlikely.

Right now, though, it's 1°C in Chicago and 27°C here, so I'm going back outside now.

About those records

Yesterday's temperature at O'Hare did tie the previous O'Hare records of 16.1°C. Midway also broke a record, topping off at he same temperature. And the official low temperature also tied the warmest for the date, 6.1°C, set in 1886.

That said, while Midway was (1930s to 1958) and O'Hare now is (since 1958) the official weather station for Chicago, neither matched the 17.1°C record set in 1876—at a weather station that doesn't even exist any more.

Whatever. Yesterday's weather was just fine anyway.

We now return to our regularly-scheduled winter.

Record clarifications

It turns out, I only got half the story about today's weather. The 13.3°C figure is only the high maximum record for O'Hare, whose records only go back to November 1958. But the official record for Chicago goes back to 1871. The offical record high maximum was 17.1°C, set in 1876. O'Hare didn't break that record today, but Midway—where our official weather station was from the 1930s until 1958—might have tied it.

We might, however, get the high minimum temperature tonight. That record, 6.1°C, has lasted since 1886. Last evening's low was 8.9°C, around what tonight's forecast calls for.

Records today?

Forecasters predicted that Chicago would break its old record high (technically "high maximum") temperature of 13.3°C today. Well, we just hit that temperature, so let's see how high it goes.

For what it's worth, I walked from class to my client today. In many parts of the world that's not extraordinary. In February in Chicago, though...

Update, 11:10 CT: 11 am temperature officially 14.4°C, new record. How high will it fly? (Sorry...)

Update, 12:05 CT: now 15°C, another new record.

Update, 13:00 CT: 15.6°C.

President's first homecoming: flight restrictions

The President will visit Chicago Friday for the first time since taking office. As I've speculated before, he brings with him a temporary flight restriction (TFR) affecting the second-busiest airspace in the world:

ALL AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS WITHIN THE 10 NMR AREA LISTED ABOVE, KNOWN AS THE INNER CORE, ARE PROHIBITED EXCEPT FOR: APPROVED LAW ENFORCEMENT, MILITARY AIRCRAFT DIRECTLY SUPPORTING THE UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE (USSS) AND THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, APPROVED AIR AMBULANCE FLIGHTS, AND REGULARLY SCHEDULED COMMERCIAL PASSENGER...FLIGHTS....

(The shouting capitals come free from the FAA.)

Notice, on the map below, that Midway Airport is within the 10-mile circle, and my home airport, Chicago Executive (and O'Hare) is within the 30-mile ring:

The TFR prohibits flight training within the 30-mile ring, too, but planes can depart on a discrete transponder code and fly to another airport to practice landings.

Welcome home, Mr. President. I'm glad I'm not flying this weekend.