The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Late autumn in Chicago

Sunday morning, after Saturday's snowstorm:

Last night, making mini turkey pot pies for tomorrow:

That's all from scratch. Inside a rosemary-sage crust, from the bottom we've got turkey, pinot noir-reduction gravy, stuffing with organic Italian sausage, and cranberry sauce made with cranberries, orange, honey, and a secret ingredient that makes them amazing.

I think I'm going to gain three kilos this weekend.

Things to read

A couple of articles floated through my awareness today:

Happy reading.


Craft Brewery Central

By one measure, Chicago is the Craft Beer Capital of the U.S.:

Craft brewers in the Chicago area occupy an estimated 1.6 million square feet of commercial real estate, more than any other metro area in the country, according to a report from Seattle-based brokerage Colliers International. The area also has the second-most craft breweries with 144, behind only Portland, Ore.'s 196.

And craft beer—defined as being made by small, independent brewers—is still growing here. Just four U.S. markets have more breweries in the planning stages than the 39 in Chicago. (This was Colliers' first report on the subject, making comparisons to past years difficult.)

Never has Chicago had so many breweries. The last peak was around the start of the 20th century, when the city had about 60 small breweries that combined to produce about 100 million gallons of beer a year (compared with 12.4 million in 2014). Prohibition wiped out most of them. The few that survived into the middle of the century were either purchased by rivals or shut down, victims of national beer brands that gobbled up much of the market by selling less-expensive beer in cans.

I have expressed concern about the big guys buying up the craft guys, but this new statistic warms my heart. We might still have craft beer in Chicago come 2050...

Missing my Fitbit numbers

For the last couple of days, I've missed my 10,000-step goal by 100 to 500 steps. This is why:

Yesterday Chicago got its biggest November snowfall in 120 years; today it's well below freezing. Walking is treacherous at best for bipeds and uncomfortable for quadrupeds. So today might also be a miss.

I haven't missed three days in a row since March 5th-7th—when, not coincidentally, we had a miserable, snowy week. Winter is hard on fitness.

If I had a month off

I might follow this map. Explanation:

Community beer and brewery review site RateBeer puts out a list every year of the top 100 breweries in the world, “according to reviews taken last year and weighted by performance within and outside of style, balanced by indicators of depth.” From this year's list, 72 of the breweries are based in the United States.

Randal Olson found a pretty good solution using genetic algorithms and the Google Maps API. He computed an optimal road trip to visit a historical landmark in each state.

Forget that though. I want beer. Tasty beer. I applied Olson's solution to breweries to get the order in which to visit them in the least miles possible.

The trip to see just the 70 breweries on Yau's list takes 197 hours over 19,789 km. He thinks he can do it in 8 days. Or he can stop at any of the 1,414 other breweries in between and extend the trip to a month.

On the other hand, given the same amount of time off, I might rather do a oneworld explorer fare.

Lottery, anyone?

Whoops (10 years, plus a few days)

I missed an important anniversary last Friday, probably because I was traveling and got distracted.

The Daily Parker is now ten years (and six days) old. I launched it officially on 13 November 2005, from Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters in Evanston, Ill.

In the 10 years ending last Thursday night, I posted 4,842 entries, averaging 40 per month, or one every 32 hours or so. Not a bad record.

Any odds the blog will be around another 10 years?

Good, bad, and ugly, episode 314

The good: A new study shows that drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day has measurable health benefits.

The bad: A black resident of Santa Monica, Calif., got hauled out of her apartment at gunpoint by 19 police officers after a white neighbor reported someone trying to break in.

The ugly: Yale law student Omar Aziz writes about the soul of a Jihadist.

And the neutral, which could be ugly: forecasters predict 15-30 cm of snow in Chicago tomorrow night into Saturday morning.

My junior U.S. senator turns out to be a pandering bigot

Well, maybe Mark Kirk isn't really the narrow-minded tool he seems to be, but a letter his office sent to the President sure makes him look like one. He's yet another Republican calling for us to exclude Syrian refugees on the grounds that a few of their countrymen are extremist criminals.

Here's my response, which I sent to his office just now:


The letter you sent to President Obama about not admitting Syrian refugees "unless the U.S. government can guarantee, with 100 percent assurance, that they are not members [of ISIS]" did not represent my views, nor the views of many of your constituents. In fact, it demonstrated not only an immoral conflation of the plight of refugees with terrorists, and not only a surprising lack of historical understanding (recall the Jewish refugees we turned away in 1938 and 1939), but also a total misunderstanding of the goals of ISIS that played right into their plans for their terror operations.

One of ISIS' strategic goals is to goad the US and its allies into knee-jerk overreaction. Vilifying the tens of thousands of Syrians who are just trying to get to safety from their war-torn country because a handful of criminals committed violent acts against one of our allies horrifies me.

We need to do everything we can to help Syrians get out of the killing zones in their countries. We also want people to immigrate here, as the US was built by people looking for opportunity and to get away from war. You know Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian immigrant, don't you? Imagine if someone had excluded his father from the US.

I think you need to explain to the people of Illinois why we should in any way change our tradition of accepting those who seek a better life in our state, just because some of their countrymen are deranged, religious nuts. We have plenty of deranged, religious nuts in Illinois already, and we're still safe.

Thank you for your time.

We need to stop doing exactly what these guys want us to do. Every time we overreact, or blame entire religions or nations for the crimes of a few people, or invade Iraq, we're helping the extremists. Why is this so hard to grasp?

American changing frequent-flyer program to be like Delta, sort of

American's A'Advantage program will change in January to accrue miles based on how much a ticket costs. The formula is pretty simple: members will get X dollars per flight mile based on their elite status, though elite status qualification will still be based on segments or miles actually flown (though not on a third "points" option currently in force).

Everyone who watches these things knew this was coming. And it won't make that much difference to most people. For example, my mileage run this weekend netted me 10,490 base miles and 5,245 elite-qualifying miles (EQMs). Under the new formula, it would still net me 5,245 EQMs but only 3,640 base miles, because of the fare. So fie on them. Even the last business trip I took would earn fewer base miles: 7,384 under the current regime, but only 2,208 under the new plan. (Again, though, EQMs would not have changed.)

This new structure clearly benefits the airline, and business travelers. Those times in the past when I took full-fare flights, or even business class, would really have done well under the new plan. Last November I had to go to Oslo for three days. (It wasn't that glamorous.) Current plan: 21,406 base miles, 9,354 EQMs; new plan: a whopping 63,976 base miles, because it was a last-minute business-class fare.

Basically, the airline is trying not to bleed through its frequent-flyer program. And we knew this was coming. And as long as they keep EQMs the same, I'm OK with it.