The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Last hot weekend of 2023, I hope

The temperature has crept up towards 34°C all day after staying at a comfortable 28°C yesterday and 25°C Friday. It's officially 33°C at O'Hare but just a scoshe above 31°C at IDTWHQ. Also, I still feel...uncomfortable in certain places closely associated with walking. All of which explains why I'm jotting down a bunch of news stories to read instead of walking Cassie.

  • First, if you have tomorrow off for Labor Day, you can thank Chicago workers. (Of course, if you have May 1st off for Labor Day, you can also thank us on the actual day that they intended.)
  • A new study suggests 84% of the general population want to experience an orchestral concert, though it didn't get into how much they want to pay for such a thing. (You can hear Händel's complete Messiah on December 9th at Holy Name Cathedral or December 10th at Millar Chapel for just $50!)
  • An FBI whistleblower claims Russian intelligence co-opted Rudy Giuliani in the run-up to the 2020 election—not as a Russian agent, mind you, just as a "useful idiot."
  • Rapper Eminem has told Republican presidential (*cough*) candidate Vivek Ramaswamy—who Michelle Goldberg calls "very annoying"—to stop using his music in his political campaign.
  • The government of Chile has promised to investigate the 3000 or so disappearances that happened under dictator Agosto Pinochet, though they acknowledge that it might be hard to find the ones thrown out of helicopters into the sea, or dropped down mine shafts. And with most of the murderers already dead of old age, it's about time.
  • Julia Ioffe wonders when the next putsch attempt will get close to Moscow, now that Prigozhin seems to be dead.
  • About 70,000 people continue to squelch through ankle-deep mud at Black Rock City after torrential rains at Burning Man this weekend. (I can't wait to see the moop map...)
  • University of Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley had a cogent explanation of why pharmaceutical companies don't want to negotiate drug prices with Medicare. (Hint: record profits.)
  • Switching Chicago's pre-World War II bungalows from gas to electric heating could cut the city's GHG emissions by 14%.
  • Molly White's weekly newsletter starts off with some truly clueless and entitled behavior from Sam Bankman-Fried and gets weirder.
  • Zoning laws, plus the inability of the Portland, Ore., government to allow variances in any useful fashion, has condemned an entire high school to send its kids an hour away by bus while the building gets repaired, rather than just across the street to the community college many of them attend in the evenings. (Guess what skin color the kids have. Go on, guess.)
  • A group of hackers compromised a Portuguese-language "stalkerware" company and deleted all the data the company's spyware had downloaded, as well as the keys to the compromised phones it came from, then posted the company's customer data online. "Because fuck stalkerware," they said.
  • Traffic engineers, please don't confuse people by turning their small-town streets into stroads. It causes accidents. Which you, not they, have caused.
  • Illinois had a mild and dry summer, ending just before our ferociously hot Labor Day weekend.
  • James Fallows talks about college rankings, "which are marginally more encouraging than the current chaos of College Football."

Finally, I'll just leave this Tweet from former labor secretary Robert Reich as its own little monument to the New Gilded Age we now inhabit:

Third marathon walk (in 4 attempts)

I did it again:

Of my three attempts to do this (2020, 2021, and 2022), this was 3rd best. Considering that last year I didn't even make it out of Evanston, it wasn't really that bad:

So even though yesterday's marathon time was 21 minutes longer than 2020 and 25 minutes longer than 2021, at least I finished. But why so slow (other than I'm getting older)?

Some clues: in 2020 and 2021, I got about 8¼ hours of sleep the night before; yesterday I woke up after only 7¼ hours of sleep. In 2020 and 2021, I started the day with Garmin Body Battery scores of 93 and 84 respectively; in 2022, it was 49, and yesterday, 67. More relevantly, as my walking partner (who does Ironman races and so never crested a heart rate of 125) pointed out, in 2020 and 2021 I actually trained for it.

Another trivium. I have a 3-year-old Garmin Venu 2, and my walking partner wore an newer Garmin Forerunner 265S and an older Forerunner 935. The 935 uses GPS only. The 265 has a dual-band chip that "intelligently" switches between GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS. My Venu 2 can use any of the three navigation satellite systems, but I had it set to GPS+GLONASS. We walked the same course at the same pace, and except for a few minutes when our watches were all paused, we were never more than 2 meters from each other, and we recorded total course times within a few seconds entirely attributable to imprecision in starting the timers.

Yet somehow, my Venu 2 logged 44.45 km (27.63 mi) for the entire walk, while hers got 43.80 km (27.22 mi) and 43.73 km (27.18 mi) respectively. There is no possibility that I walked 725 meters—almost four Chicago city blocks—farther than she did. So later this weekend, we're going to dig into the track files to figure out where I got the extra half-mile.

Regardless, the weather was about the same this year as in 2020, meaning really gorgeous:

Yes, I'm going to do it again next September. But I'll also do a few other walks next summer to prepare. And my walking partner and I plan a hike on the North Branch Trail in Ocotober that ends not with a brewery but with pizza.

Last day of summer

Meteorological autumn begins at midnight local time, even though today's autumn-like temperatures will give way to summer heat for a few days starting Saturday. Tomorrow I will once again attempt the 42-kilometer walk from Cassie's daycare to Lake Bluff. Will I go 3-for-4 or .500? Tune in Saturday morning to find out.

Meanwhile:

  1. Quinta Jurecic foresees some problems with the overlapping XPOTUS criminal trials next year, not least of which is looking for a judicial solution to a political problem.
  2. Even though I prefer them to rabbits, even I can see that Chicago has a rat problem.
  3. Pilot Patrick Smith laments the endless noise in most airport terminals, but praises Schiphol for its quiet. (Yet another reason to emigrate?)

Finally, it seems like anyone with a valid credit card number (their own or someone else's) can track the owner of that credit card on the New York City subway. I wonder how the MTA will plug that particular hole?

Worth the time

I tried something different yesterday after watching Uncle Roger's stab at adobo:

Ng's basic outline worked really well, and I got close to what I had hoped on the first attempt. Next time I'll use less liquid, a bit more sugar, a bit less vinegar, and a bit more time simmering. Still, dinner last night was pretty tasty.

Much of the news today, however, is not:

  • US District Judge Tanya Chutkan set the XPOTUS's Federal criminal trial for next March 4th, two years earlier than he wanted it.
  • Writing for The Guardian, Margaret Sullivan blasts Republican presidential wannabe Vivek Ramaswamy as "a demagogue in waiting," and a distressing preview of Millennial politicians.
  • The MiG pilot who ejected during an airshow on August 13th blamed the non-flying observer in the back seat for pulling the ejection cord on his own.
  • Chicago has struggled for 15 or more years to get critical repairs to our international dock on the South Side.
  • Elizabeth Spiers has a pretty good idea why Michael Oher, subject of Michael Lewis's 2006 book The Blind Side and the 2009 film of the same name, is pissed off at the white family that didn't actually adopt him.

Finally, via Bruce Schneier, a couple of kids with $30 worth of radio equipment managed to stop 20 trains in Poland by exploiting a mind-boggling weakness in Polish train dispatching equipment. Despite some media sources calling this a "cyber attack," it was nothing of the sort. The instructions for how to do this have existed for decades.

A+ summer weather! Perfect score (in Fahrenheit)

Chicago just hit the magical 38.3°C (100°F) that we have avoided for over 11 years, and with the 25.6°C dewpoint it feels like 48.1°C (118.6°F):

Here at IDTWHQ it got 0.2°C warmer than yesterday but it seems to have peaked:

Our little weather station also has a similar dewpoint, giving us a heat index just a scoche lower at 44°C (111°F). It turns out, the Midwest has some really uncomfortable dewpoints right now because we raise crops nearby. Evapotranspiration from the thousands of hectares of soybean and feed corn crops near Chicago increases the moisture in the atmosphere to uncomfortable levels every August. The annual cicadas love it; I don't.

You may also notice that it didn't really cool off last night. Cassie and I went for our long walk of the day at 6:45am, right in the middle of that trough when it felt like swimming through the Persian Gulf (temperature 28.3°C dewpoint 25°C, heat index 33.3°C/92.0°F). Cassie spent the next hour next to the AC vent in the coolest room in the house while I took a shower.

Nevertheless, a cold front continues to ease in from the north, and should pass over Chicago between 7pm and 11pm, dropping the temperature down to 22°C by midnight and keeping it under 24°C tomorrow. At least, by the Lake. I plan to visit a couple of breweries in Lake County where it might get up to 27°C.

But I might open the windows Saturday as the blocking high behind the cold front moves over Chicago and gives us even cooler temperatures—and lower dewpoints. And let's not forget: autumn officially starts a week from tomorrow.

This by you is cooling off?

The National Weather Service reported earlier today that we did, in fact, have some historic weather:

Here at IDTWHQ, things have cooled off in the last hour...but not by much:

Fortunately the AQI is only 59, though ozone levels are going up with the heat. Unfortunately, the dewpoint to go with that 34.5°C (now down to 34.0°C!) is 26°C, giving us a heat index of 43.9°C (110.9°F to the philistines out there). Cassie got a 47-minute, 4.4-kilometer walk this morning and 12 minutes at lunch, but I doubt she'll get another 10 for the rest of the day. I'm not confident she'll get even that much time outside tomorrow.

Officially at O'Hare it hit 36.7°C (98.1°F) around 4pm with a heat index of 44.0°C (111.3°F), breaking the record for August 23rd and, in fact, for any day this late in the season. Lewis University in Romeo, Ill. (about 42 km from IDTWHQ and the headquarters of the National Weather Service in Chicago) reported a heat index of 51.1°C (123.9°F) a few minutes ago, which I can scarcely fathom.

But it's -35°C at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, so clearly global warming is a myth.

Plotzed pup & Ribfest ARR

Cassie got almost 4¼ hours of walkies yesterday, going to the Horner Park DFA, Ribfest, and elsewhere around the neighborhood. Then, just when she thought she could relax at home, I dragged her fuzzy butt into the bathtub. I did warn her, when she rolled in whatever that was at the dog park, that her day would end in a bath, but she didn't believe me.

The highlight for me, of course, was Ribfest. And I can now present my After Rib Report for 2023.

This year I got to try 9—count 'em, 9—samplers (total: 28 bones) from 8 rib vendors, a tremendous improvement on last year. Plus, the ribs were better all around. In the order that I tried them:

  • Aussom Aussie: tug-off-the-bone, smoky, meaty ribs, with a good sauce. Winner of 2nd Place in both the Critics Choice and Audience cagegories. 3 stars.
  • Mrs Murphy's Irish Bistro: This year's People's Choice winner for the 9th year running, which makes me think the fix is in. My ribs were over-boiled and kind of disintegrated, but they didn't have a lot of flavor. I like their sauce, though. 2½ stars.
  • Ogre Eats: The 3-bone sampler I got Friday might have been the most perfect ribs I had at any Ribfest. They came right off the grill onto my plate, with great caramelization and just the right smoke and tug. (Cassie did not like standing next to the smoker while we waited in line, though.) But then on Sunday they gave me 2 bones for the same price, which were really good but not nearly as epic as Friday's. I wish I could give them the 4 stars they earned on Friday but I can only give them 3 stars overall.

  • Big Joe's: The Critics Choice winner this year, beating Aussom Aussie by one point. They had super-meaty ribs with an amazing sauce. I want more! 4 stars.
  • Chicago BBQ: Good as always. Meaty, smoky ribs, a nice char, and two tasty sauces to choose. 3½ stars.
  • Armadillo's: Huge meaty bones with great flavor. Not greasy at all; nice sauce. And they gave me an extra bone! 3½ stars.
  • Blazin' Bronco: Excellent, smoky, meaty bones. 4 stars.
  • Robinson's: Another lagniappe! And huge, huge bones with unfortunately too much sauce. 3 stars.

A couple of things to note. First, every one of the vendors, except for Robinson's, is itinerant or a catering company. Once again, Ribfest failed to attract Chicago Q, Smoque, The Smoke Daddy, or any of the other ribberies here in Chicago that have amazing BBQ. It's a shame, because I would love to get a full slab from Blazin' Bronco or Big Joe's sometime.

Second, they all charged different prices for samplers, which I didn't factor into my ratings but probably should have. The $8 sampler from Mrs Murphy's was probably worth it, but the $14 sampler from one of the vendors I didn't try probably wasn't.

I'm glad Ribfest found its footing again, though. And the weather cooperated: temperatures kept in the mid-20s with not a drop of precipitation, though dewpoints hovered around 20°C making everything a bit sticky. Can't wait for next year!

Come sail away

We may stop at Ribfest one more time today, after we hike over to Horner Park to meet some friends. (This may also include a quick stop to cool off at Burning Bush.)

Yesterday, Cassie got a chance to nap during the day while I spent some time a few kilometers off shore in Lake Michigan:

Not a bad view, despite the Canadian wildfire smoke:

After I got home, Cassie and I went back over to Ribfest for three more samplers before ending the evening at Beygle again. But the poor girl really needed another nap, not least because we've gotten over 5 hours of walkies since Friday morning. If you've ever seen a 5-year-old two hours past bedtime, you have an idea. I had to take her to the far end of the patio after she decided she really wanted another dog's bully stick, even though she doesn't really like bully sticks.

And yet, just look at this punim:

We're heading out to the dog park in about 90 minutes. I'll let her nap until then.

Note to my future self

This is why I won't get 10,000 steps today:

I'm still at 84,000 steps over the past 7 days, though.

Still, even though it's cool enough to have all the windows open, and none of the rain seems to be blowing in, I'd still rather have gotten all my steps today. Cassie, for her part, got over 4 hours of walks this past weekend, so she seems fine with it. She doesn't like the rain any more than I do.

Maybe tomorrow.

A pandemic project comes all the way around

On my drive to a day-trip in Michigan yesterday I played Pomplamoose's Best of 2019 EP, in my catalog as #960, purchased 12 June 2020. This was the first album I bought after I began listening to each CD (or digital album) I own in order, a project I began in May 2020.

The catalog ends at #981, the 1979 Broadway recording of Sweeney Todd, that I got last week. But the project technically ended yesterday, even though I'll listen to the last 21 again, since I've only listened to the most recent acquisitions once or twice.

I really thought this would take me less than 3 years. But, then again, I thought the pandemic wouldn't last this long, either...