The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

High hopes for tomorrow's game

As of this morning, the Cleveland Indians (my next stop on the 30-park geas ) have dropped their last 9, putting them two games out of next-to-last place in the American League Central. In fairness, four teams (Seattle, Washington, Colorado, and San Diego) are doing worse. Right now, though, the tension mounts: will they drop their 10th today? Will I see them win tomorrow?

Stay tuned.

Oh, right, forgot: the Cubs are still in first place, as they've been since April, and are the second-best in all of baseball right now, after the Red Sox. What a World Series that will be, eh?

Long-term, this is good

I have to go through O'Hare four times in the next three weeks, so this will affect me:

Summer air travelers who use the Blue Line to get to and from O'Hare International Airport will face an inconvenience for most of July.

Beginning Tuesday, Blue Line trains will go no farther than the Rosemont stop, the last one before the airport, because of work on the tracks.

A 24-hour shuttle bus will begin running between the Rosemont station and O'Hare at 3 a.m. Tuesday. Normal train service is scheduled to resume July 28.

Still, having experienced a 90-minute trip from downtown to the airport, I'm glad the CTA is fixing the Blue Line.

Chicago Sunrise Chart

It's time for the semi-annual update of the Chicago sunrise chart. (You can get one for your own location at

Date Significance Sunrise Sunset Daylight
2 Jul 8:30pm sunset 05:20 20:30 15:09
16 Jul 5:30am sunrise 05:30 20:24 14:55
8 Aug 8pm sunset 05:52 20:00 14:08
16 Aug 6am sunrise 06:00 19:49 13:48
28 Aug 7:30pm sunset 06:13 19:30 13:17
15 Sep 6:30am sunrise; 7pm sunset 06:30 19:00 12:29
22 Sep Equinox, 10:44 CDT 06:39 18:48 12:08
25 Sep 12-hour day 06:42 18:42 12:00
2 Oct 6:30pm sunset 06:49 18:30 11:40
12 Oct 7am sunrise 07:00 18:14 11:13
21 Oct 6pm sunset 07:11 18:00 10:48
1 Nov Latest sunrise until 2 Nov. 2010
Latest sunset until Mar 4th
07:24 17:45 10:20
2 Nov Standard time returns
Earliest sunrise until Mar 2nd
06:25 16:43 10:18
6 Nov 6:30am sunrise (again) 06:30 16:39 10:08
15 Nov 4:30pm sunset 06:41 16:30 9:48
2 Dec 7am sunrise 07:01 16:20 9:19
8 Dec Earliest sunset of the year 07:06 16:20 9:13
21 Dec Solstice, 06:04 CST 07:16 16:23 9:07
3 Jan Latest sunrise until Oct. 29th 07:19 16:33 9:14
27 Jan 5pm sunset 07:08 17:00 9:52
4 Feb 7am sunrise 07:00 17:10 10:10
20 Feb 5:30pm sunset 06:39 17:30 10:51
26 Feb 6:30am sunrise 06:30 17:38 11:08
7 Mar Earliest sunrise until April 12th
Earliest sunset until Oct. 25th
06:16 17:49 11:32
8 Mar Daylight savings time begins
Latest sunrise until Oct. 25th
07:14 18:50 11:35
17 Mar 7am sunrise, 7pm sunset
12-hour day
06:59 19:00 12:01
20 Mar Equinox 06:44 CDT 06:54 19:04 12:09
3 Apr 6:30am sunrise (again) 06:30 19:19 12:49
13 Apr 7:30pm sunset 06:13 19:30 13:16
22 Apr 6am sunrise 05:59 19:40 13:40
10 May 8pm sunset 05:36 20:00 14:24
15 May 5:30am sunrise 05:30 20:05 14:34
14 Jun Earliest sunrise of the year 05:15 20:28 15:13
21 Jun Solstice 00:45 CDT
8:30pm sunset
05:16 20:30 15:14
26 Jun Latest sunset of the year 05:17 20:31 15:13

You can get sunrise information for your location at

The geas continues

Just jiggled the 30-Park Geas schedule a little. After discussing with my cousing the pros and cons of visiting Miami in August, we decided to hit two Cubs games in Atlanta, whereupon I'll pop out to San Francisco to see Dad and catch the A's-White Sucks series.

(Sox. White Sox. My mistake. Sorry, I live north of Madison.)

So, with eight parks down, and seven scheduled, we go into the bottom of 2008. National League 9, American 6.

A strange thing happened at City Hall

In Chicago, we have an annual vehicle tax of $75. Many neighborhoods also have restricted parking zones; permits are $25. Both vehicle stickers and parking permits expire on June 30th.

I mention this because I went to renew these things in person this afternoon down at City Hall. Yes, three business days before their expiration, I stood in line. How long? you wonder. This is city government, after all.

Seven minutes.

Chicago really is the city that works.

I even had time to go to the County Assessor's Office to clear up an issue with my property tax. That adventure took—wait for it—no time at all because the receptionist walked me through the process as soon as I entered the office.

City and county services like these make my head spin. Let's review: I walked into the building at 4:15 pm, and walked out at 4:45 with my vehicle sticker, parking permit, and corrected property tax information.

Try that in any other major city in the world. Ha!

And as an added bonus, via Calculated Risk, 75% of Americans blame the Current Occupant (208 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes) for the deteriorating economy. For the record, I'm one of them.

Side note: Chicago is wikitravel's destination of the month.

Meanwhile, back at Wrigley

My cousin and I have a 9-game package at Wrigley Field, game 7 of which was Tuesday night against the Braves. The Cubs won—despite dropping three runs in the first, never a good sign—on a warm but not sticky evening at one of my favorite places in the universe. Here's Fukudome stealing second:

I have to say, though, that not every seat at Wrigley is good. Example: Section 525, any row, seats 1-2, look like this:

Character. It's about character.

Ribfest Chicago

Ah, ribs. Possibly my favorite food. Living in Chicago, there are options. And every year, I get to sample as many of those options as my stomach lets me at the annual Ribfest up at Lincoln and Damen.

The festival is going on this weekend, so yesterday I dragged Parker there. It's a 5 km hike, and it was hot, and despite my assurances that really tasty treats waited for him at the end of the walk, he seemed to think we were heading for Bataan.

When we finally got to the festival, Parker seemed to catch on. He knows what grilling smells like. He knows that crowds of people drop bits of food everywhere. He rallied. And after my third two-bone sampler, and some long rests in the shade, Parker seemed quite a bit happier:

I took my time and took some notes. Cy's, rumored to be the best at the fair, had a spicy Texas-style sauce on slow-cooked ribs that slid off the bone. BBQ Chicago (couldn't find a link or an address—too bad, I was going to try a full slab) had char-grilled bones with some pull and a decent but neutral sauce. Gale St. Inn's sauce was thick and smoky-sweet, with slightly fatty and chewey meat. And the Fireplace Inn, with its tangy sauce and perfectly-cooked bones, deserves a second look.

There were a couple others I tried, but they're not worth mentioning. Life is too short for bad barbecue. And with Parker there, none of it went to waste: where it might take me half a minute to savor a bite of good baby backs, Parker frequently caught scraps before they hit the sidewalk.

One more thing about my guy I'll mention, since astute observers may have noticed it in the photo of Parker above. While I was traveling, apparently he got into a little scrap at the boarding facility:

He's not in any discomfort, though he was for about a day after I got back. I'll have to wait until it heals completely before having the vet take a look at removing the gross flap of skin hanging off his ear. Ew.

One more baseball park, sort of

It had to happen some time. Tonight, though not officially part of my 29-park geas, I attended a, well, that is, I went to, um, you see, I was invited to go to a White Sox game. So, yeah.

If you're not from Chicago, you may have trouble understanding why this felt so odd for me. I grew up on the North Side. I'm a Cubs fan. In 37 years I've never taken the El below Cermak Road. And yet, tonight, I went to the Cell.

The upside: I can now actually go to all 30 parks that Major League Baseball accepts as their own, including the unfortunate one at 35th and State. But let me tell you, it wasn't easy, not least because the home team won.