It was a lovely afternoon for a concert. We performed selections from Händel's Messiah, Rachmaninoff's Aleko, and Bach's St John Passion in the gorgeous St Michael Catholic Church in Old Town, Chicago:
Inside, just before the concert:
Our next performances will be with Chicago Opera Theater on the 14th, 16th, and 17th. Then some of us will be back at St Michael for Messiah on December 6th.
It's going to be a hectic couple of months.
This is The Daily Parker's 7,000th post since 13 May 1998 (but only #6,804 since the "modern era" began in November 2005). When I started posting jokes on braverman.org back in 1998, none of the predictions I could make about the world on the verge of the 2020s would have been correct. The Cubs winning the World Series? A powerful computer in every pocket? Donald Trump being anywhere near the nuclear codes?
And here we are. A thousand posts since December 2017, two thousand since October 2015...that's a lot of writing.
And a lot of reading. Thanks for hanging in there.
Yesterday was my fifth anniversary using Fitbit products. Since 24 October 2014, I've walked 24,814,427 steps over 21,129.14 km and climbed 32,002 floors. In those 1,828 days I've hit 5,000 steps 1,825 times and 10,000 steps 1,631 times (and 193 days in a row as of yesterday).
So, barring injury, I should hit 25 million steps in about 11 days. Cool.
My 5-year-old Microsoft Surface, which I use at work to keep personal and client concerns physically separated, has died. I thought it was the power supply, but it seems there is something even more wrong with it. Otherwise I would have posted earlier.
This means I have to make an expensive field trip tonight. Regular posting should resume tomorrow.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation is sponsoring its annual Chicago Open House this weekend, so I visited a place I'd wondered about for years. I give you the Garfield-Clarendon Model Railroad:
They're celebrating their 70th anniversary, meaning the direct-train control, wireless throttles, and digital boards probably weren't original parts of the layout.
I had a model railroad for a few years as a kid. It looked nothing like this.
The WTO approved a set of tariffs that the US can levy against the EU recently in retaliation for subsidies from EU governments to Airbus Industrie. These tariffs will now affect me personally, and I am displeased:
[W]ith the Oct. 31 deadline for Brexit fast approaching, the Trump administration imposed 25 percent tariffs on a menu of goods including French wine, Italian cheese and — in a move that could drive a Scotsman to drink — single malt whisky.
Whisky underpins the economy of Islay and much of Scotland. Kilchoman and eight rival Scotch whisky distilleries have flourished here in the past decade. Tourists from the United States, Europe and Japan come to wonder at Islay’s coastal beauty, take pictures of hillsides filled with sheep and hairy Highland cattle that look as if they’ve had vigorous blow dries, and soak up the pricey local spirits.
Annual exports of Scotch whisky are worth £4.7 billion, or about $5.9 billion, accounting for 70 percent of Scotland’s food and drink exports and 21 percent of Britain’s.
Karen Betts, the chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said the Trump administration’s decision to apply tariffs only to single malts was likely to hit smaller producers harder.
By "smaller producers" they mean some of the best in Scotland, including Kilchoman on Islay. And even if Brexit happens in two weeks, the tariffs may stay in place.
What I did on my autumn vacation:
About once a year the Apollo Chorus does a day-trip to somewhere nearby. Yesterday we went to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Champaign, Ill., on the University of Illinois campus. Fun but exhausting.
"You'll never guess where I am," he said archly.
As I mentioned yesterday, I'm here to see the last team on my list play a home game. More on that tomorrow, as I probably won't blog about it after the game tonight.
I'm killing time and not wandering the streets of a city I don't really like in 33°C heat. Downtown St Louis has very little life that I can see. As I walked from the train to the hotel, I kept thinking it was Saturday afternoon, explaining why no one was around. Nope; no one was around because the city ripped itself apart after World War II and flung all its people into the suburbs.
On the train from Chicago I read all but the last two pages of Michael Lewis's most recent book, The Fifth Risk. The book examines what happens when the people in charge of the largest organization in the world have no idea how it works, starting with the 2016 election and going through last summer. To do that, Lewis explains what that organization actually does, from predicting the weather to making sure we don't all die of smallpox.
From the lack of any transition planning to an all-out effort to obscure the missions of vital government departments for profit, Lewis describes details of the Trump Administration's fleecing of American taxpayers that have probably eluded most people. By putting AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers in control of the National Weather Service, for example, Trump gave the keys to petabytes of data collected at taxpayer expense and available for free to everyone on earth to the guy who wants you to pay for it. Along the way, Lewis introduces us to people like DJ Patil, the United States' first Chief Data Scientist and the guy who found and put online for everyone those petabytes of weather data:
"The NOAA webpage used to have a link to weather forecasts," [Patil] said. "It was highly, highly popular. I saw it had been buried. And I asked: Now, why would they bury that?" Then he realized: the man Trump nominated to run NOAA thought that people who wanted a weather forecast should pay him for it. There was a rift in American life that was now coursing through American government. It wasn't between Democrats and Republicans. It was between the people who were in it for the mission, and the people who were in it for the money. (190-191)
I recommend this book almost as much as I recommend not coming to St Louis when it's this hot. Go buy it.
Not only is today the anniversary of Abbey Road, it's also the anniversary of two other culturally-significant events.
Also 50 years ago this month, the Cubs entered September 1969 with a solid first-place 83-52-1 record and before dropping 17 games (including a two-week 2-14 streak) to end the month out of contention at 91-69-1.
I mention this because tomorrow I head to St Louis to see the Cubs play at Busch Stadium. Two weeks ago, the first-place Cardinals were only 4 games ahead of the second-place Cubs, who had the third-best record in the league. Yesterday, the Cubs got eliminated, having fallen to 7.5 games back on an 8-game losing streak. This seems eerily familiar in light of the 1969 season.
Tomorrow's game will be important, as the Cardinals need to hang on to first place against the Brewers, and also because it will complete the 30-Park Geas. It would be nice if the Cubs won for both reasons.
The other anniversary of note is the debut of The West Wing 20 years ago. The Atlantic's Megan Garber argues that Allison Janney's character CJ Cregg "was the heart of the Aaron Sorkin drama." This weekend might be a good time to re-watch a few classic episodes.
If you haven't checked out the Apollo Chorus of Chicago's season this year, now's the time. Our first concert, on November 3rd at St Michael's Church in Old Town, is totally free and will showcase our entire season.
Right now I'm entering all of our just-accepted new members into the official member database. Looks like we have some really good singers joining tomorrow.