The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Quick update

The Apollo Chorus performed last night at the Big Foot Arts Festival in Walworth, Wis., so I haven't done a lot of useful things today. I did take a peek at the other weather archive I have lying around, and discovered (a) it has the same schema as the one I'm currently importing into Weather Now 5, and (b) it only goes back to August 2006.

Somewhere I have older archives that I need to find... But if not, NOAA might have some.

Contradictory transit incentives

Two stories this morning seemed oddly juxtaposed. In good news, the City of Chicago announced plans to spend $15 million on 77 km of new bike and pedestrian trails over the next couple of years:

Several of the projects, including plans to convert an old railroad into a trail in Englewood, are still in the planning and design phases. Others, like Sterling Bay’s planned extension of the 606 Bloomingdale Trail into Lincoln Yards, are set to come to fruition through private partnerships. 

The news release lists 12 projects, including several that had been previously announced, that are set to be funded with a $15 million “commitment to jumpstart” the “key projects citywide.” The $15 million comes from a combination of “federal, state and local sources, including general obligation bonds, Tax Increment Financing, and Open Space Impact Fees,” according to a spokesperson for the city’s planning department.

The City also plans to give away 5,000 bicycles to encourage people to get out of their cars. But at the same time, the City announced it would give away 50,000 gas cards to encourage people not to get out of their cars:

The plan, which comes weeks after possible 2023 mayoral candidate Willie Wilson spearheaded several rounds of free gas giveaways, includes gas cards worth $150 each for as many as 50,000 drivers, and transit cards worth $50 each for as many as 100,000 riders. Wilson on Thursday blasted the mayor’s plan and called it a “political stunt.”

Three-quarters of the transit cards would be prioritized for residents in low-income neighborhoods who use the CTA often. The remainder would be distributed throughout the city.

“It will benefit CTA riders across the city, but especially on the South and West sides,” CTA President Dorval Carter said. “Areas that saw the lowest ridership declines during the pandemic, areas where public transit is the best and sometimes the only option.”

Let's pause for just a moment to give political-stunt-incarnate Willie Wilson a golf clap for calling anything a "political stunt."

I get fretting about gasoline prices if you do what you can to save gas and need your car to survive. But on my trip last week, I got passed by idiots in two-ton SUVs who no doubt complain it costs them $100 to fill their tank.

My little Prius got to and from Kentucky on less than $80 of gas, and even with that trip I've still gotten an average of 2.2 liters per 100 km (156 MPG) so far this year. In fact, the second-worst economy I've ever gotten for a tank of gas in this car was on the return trip from Berea, when I got 5.5 L/100 km (43 MPG) over 610 km (400 miles). Of course, since I got back I've averaged 2 L/100 km (140 MPG).

So maybe if people didn't burn as much gasoline, the city wouldn't feel like giving away gasoline was an option? Just a thought.

Two more from Kentucky, and one from Chicago

I took Cassie for a 40-minute walk around Lexington's historic district on the way back from Berea:

The light really wasn't great, so I didn't take a lot of photos. Plus Cassie has a way of adding motion blur to every photo I shoot.

Two weeks ago I attended a conference by the Chicago River, which had dye left over from St Patrick's Day. Add a passing fire boat and it's Christmas in March:

US lurches to ending seasonal clock changes

As if from nowhere, the US Senate yesterday unanimously voted to pass S.623 (the "Sunshine Protection Act of 2021"), which would end daylight saving time by making that the new standard time, effective 5 November 2023. This blew up the Time Zone Committee mailing list, mostly with the implementation problems around time zone abbreviations. One of the maintainers listed four separate options, in fact, including moving everyone to a new time zone (Chicago on EST? New York on AST?), or possibly just redefining what CST and EST mean. Canada has a law that essentially lets the US set standard time zones for Canada, so it gets even more complicated the farther down the rabbit hole you go.

Fun fact: most time zone software running on most computers requires 3-character time zone abbreviations to work correctly. That rules out changing CST to, simply, CT. One maintainer suggested P for Permanent; another suggested A for Always (CAT, EAT, MAT?).

You might think this is funny, but we TZDB maintainers have the power to make your brain hurt this way.

By the way, if you think year-round DST is a good idea within our current time zone boundaries, you may want to consider when the latest sunrise will happen in 2024 if the law passes, in ascending order of orneriness:

Location Sunrise Sunset
Eastport, Maine 8:06 17:00
Miami 8:10 18:50
Chicago 8:19 17:33
New York 8:20 17:41
Salt Lake City 8:52 17:13
Detroit 9:01 18:12
Menominee, Mich. 9:29 18:21

The easternmost point in the U.S., Eastport, will have darker mornings, but still perhaps tolerable. Menominee, which actually lies a little west of Chicago, would not be a fun place to live in January.

To review: There is a reason we change the clocks twice a year, which everyone forgets until it's dark at 8:30 am.

Moreover, wall-clock time is arbitrary. We can get up earlier or later if we choose to. Cassie, for instance, gets up at sunrise, and expects me to do the same, so I actually liked the change last weekend.

We also had a bunch of messages today about Iran, which has decreed that they will no longer change their clocks twice a year, with immediate effect. Now someone in Iran has to tell the authoritarian, anti-technology mullahs why it might take up to a year for their cell phones to reflect the change.

Not quite back to normal yet

We had two incredible performances of Bach's Johannespassion this weekend. (Update: we got a great review!) It's a notoriously difficult work that Bach wrote for his small, amateur church chorus in Leipzig the year he started working there. I can only imagine what rehearsals were like in 1724. I'm also grateful that we didn't include the traditional 90-minute sermon between the 39-minute first part and the 70-minute second part, and that we didn't conclude the work with the equally-traditional pogrom against the Jews of Leipzig.

It's still a magnificent work of music.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world:

Finally, Rachel Feltman lists five myths about Daylight Saving Time. Our annual tradition of questioning it without changing anything will continue, of course.

And it's about 16°C outside, so it's time to take Cassie on her third half-hour walk of the day.

What are the odds?

I surprised a colleague by suggesting that it won't get as cold as it did yesterday for the rest of 2022. The temperature bottomed out at -12°C around 6am (with a wind chill of -21°C), a record low. Plus, the climate normal low only goes below freezing until the 20th.

The upshot? I will now take Cassie on a 20-minute walk and enjoy the above-freezing temperatures as long as they last, which is currently forecast through...October?

High pressure, low temperatures

Even as the East Coast gets bombed by an early-spring cyclone, we have sunny skies and bitter cold. But the -12°C at O'Hare at 6am will likely be the coldest temperature we get in Chicago until 2023. The forecast predicts temperatures above 10°C tomorrow and up to 16°C on Wednesday, with no more below-freezing temperatures predicted as far out as predictions can go.

Meanwhile, I'm about to leave for our first of two Bach Jonannespassion performances this weekend. We still have tickets available for tomorrow's, so come on down!

Lots going on the next two weeks

I'm hard at work on a presentation for my company's annual Tech Forum, which is next week. Meanwhile I've got two performances of Bach's Johannespassion this weekend, with our orchestra rehearsal this evening. Oh, and we change the clocks on Sunday.

So in lieu of anything more interesting, here's a photo I took of Chicago's St Boniface Cemetery on Tuesday morning:

Cassie's DNA

No, I didn't send Cassie's slobber to 78AndWoof.com or anything. Someone brought a DNA-shaped toy to the dog park today, which Cassie found irresistible:

This cattle dog also found the toy irresistible, leading to this irresistible tug-of-war that ranged around the park for a good five minutes: