The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Vrooooom

Since I learned how to drive a car, I've wanted to pick up a BMW in Munich. The European Delivery program allowed Americans to buy a made-to-order car at their local dealer, pick it up in Munich, drive it around Europe for up to 6 months, drop it off at an Atlantic port (Antwerp, I think), and drive it home from your local dealer about 12 weeks after that. Because of tax incentives from the German government and other factors, the purchase price of the car and delivery to your local dealer cost almost exactly what it would cost without picking it up here.

Sadly, it appears that program has ended, in part because of the pandemic, but also because BMW now builds most of its North American cars in North America. You can always go to Spartanburg, S.C., I suppose, but that isn't quite the same thing.

If I ever get a huge bonus or win the lottery, I'd buy a BMW anyway; specifically, the 330eX, their 4-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid. I'm sure my Prius Prime gets much better efficiency (and costs about half what the 330eX would), but having owned two BMWs before, I can assure you a BMW is much more fun to drive.

So with no way to buy a BMW this weekend, I at least got to the source:

And continuing a theme of this weekend, I got there on a fast, quiet, modern subway train:

Unrelated to anything transportation-related, I have an update on Cassie and her friend Butters from the latter's humans. Both girls like food:

And they both like naps:

Now that I've had a quick lunch of Schweinswurst, Käse, Oliven, und ein Shoko-croissant, I am going to take a walk through the Isarvorstadt neighborhood just to my southwest.

Updates, on dogs, trains, and walks, as conditions warrant.

Still chilly, but not like 1985

My socials today have a lot of chatter about the weather, understandably as we're now in our fourth day below -15°C. And yet I have vivid memories of 20 January 1985 when we hit the coldest temperature ever recorded in Chicago, -32°C. The fact that winters have gotten noticeably milder since the 1970s doesn't really matter during our annual Arctic blast. Sure, we had the coldest winter ever just 10 years ago, but the 3rd and 5th coldest were 1977-78 and 1978-79, respectively. I remember the snow coming up to my chin those years, and the never-ending below-freezing temperatures (like the 43 days from 28 December 1976 to 8 February 1977).

That said, I completely support the Chicago Public Schools closing today and tomorrow. And that they smoothed out all the streets since I was younger, so kids don't have to walk uphill both ways in the snow. But given the wind-chill advisory in effect until tomorrow morning, none of us wanted to go into the office either.

So instead of commuting, I'll have some time to read these as I shiver in my home office:

Finally, should I get an induction burner? I've been using my electric teakettle to pre-boil water for pasta, which saves a ton of time. The Post looked into the benefits of induction vs natural gas, principally around air quality. Looks like it's worth $120 to reduce my gas use. Of course, since I have gas furnaces, it might not do a lot for me this week.

BiXi Beer

Welcome to stop #93 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: BiXi 鼻息 Beer, 2515 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Train line: CTA Blue Line, Logan Square
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m

Yesterday I brought a friend along to visit three Logan Square breweries, starting with BiXi (pronounced "bee she") and ending with the granddaddy of the region, Revolution. We planned well, because BiXi has really great beer but also very tasty food. Plus, it's got a cozy vibe where I can imagine hanging out for a while.

Because we joined forces, we could try twice as many beers—plus some delicious Szechuan peanuts (very spicy!), pot stickers, and mushroom egg rolls.

From my notes and their menu:

  • Nectar 7G Nectaron IPA (6.5%): "This collaboration with Pipeworks Brewing features a tropical juicy twist brewed with Nectaron Hops from New Zealand." Really good, excellent balance, clean finish, would take home.
  • Unicorns in the Mirror hazy IPA (8%): "Packs 7 different types of hops including cryo citra, citra, mosaic, idaho 7, amarillo, simcoe, and columbus as well as tropical fruits, smooth sweetness, and low bitterness." Banana, apple, long finish, really good.
  • BiXi Bitter Kölsch (4.5%): "A classic style extra lagered brew with a silky smooth brilliantly bitter bite." Light, crisp, malty, hoppier than a regular Kolsch.

My friend adds: "Jeju island Mandarin witbier (4.6%): the Mandarin gave it a punchier flavor than a typical witbier, but the banana aroma that typifies a wit still stood out the most. Well balanced, good representation of the style, wouldn't order it again because it's not my preferred style of beer."

Our favorite was the Unicorns in the Mirror. Since neither of us really likes amber ales, and since we had two other breweries to visit, we skipped the Broken Walk-In Amber Lager (5.3%).

I'm already making plans to go back with some other friends who live in Logan Square.

Beer garden? No
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Two, avoidable
Serves food? Yes
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Saturday morning miscellaneous reads

I don't usually do link round-ups on Saturday mornings, but I got stuff to do today:

  • Josh Marshall is enjoying the "comical rake-stomp opera" of Nikki Haley's (R-SC) primary campaign.
  • The Economist pokes around the "city" of Rosemont, Ill., a family-owned fiefdom less than 10 km from Inner Drive Technology World HQ.
  • The New York Times highlights the most informative charts they published in 2023.
  • The Chicago Tribune lists some of the new Illinois laws taking effect on Monday. My favorite: Illinois will no longer bar marriage licenses for out-of-state same-sex couples whose home jurisdiction prohibits same-sex marriages.
  • The CTA plans to build out 10 blocks (2 km) of "community space" under the new Red/Purple Line trestle under construction in Uptown and Edgewater.

Finally, two restaurants in Chicago—well, one restaurant and one infamous hot-dog stand—have joined forces to create the Chicago Croissant, which "features a char-dog rolled into a pastry lined with mustard, relish and onions. Definitely no ketchup. It’s topped with poppy seeds and celery salt and garnished with a tomato, pepper and pickle." This, they claim, is a breakfast food.

Winter in the air

We officially had our first freeze last night as the temperature at O'Hare dipped to -1°C. At Inner Drive Technology World HQ it only got down to 0.1°C, barely above freezing, but still cold enough to put on ear muffs and gloves taking Cassie to day camp this morning. It'll warm up a bit this weekend, though.

Meanwhile, I'm writing a longer post about propaganda, which I may post today or tomorrow. And that's not the only fun thing happening in the world, either:

  • Ukraine has had a lot of success blowing up $2 million Russian tanks with $400 drones. Good.
  • The XPOTUS keeps making fun of the President's age, which, like everything else he does and says, turns out to have a pretty large element of projection. (Remember: to figure out what the XPOTUS wants to do, listen to what he says our lot are doing.) Bad.
  • Chicago house prices have risen faster than in any other major US city lately, but only because they still lag almost every other US city. Mixed.
  • BlueTriton, the parent company of Poland Springs-brand bottled water, not only sells one of the worst products for degrading our natural environment, but also has engaged in ballsy corruption to "persuade" the Maine legislature to let it continue doing so. Bad.
  • HackRead reports a 587% increase in "quishing" attacks, where bad guys get you to scan bogus QR codes to steal your credentials. Very bad.
  • Paleontologists have published evidence that the dust layer kicked up by the Chicxulub impact 66 million years ago may have persisted for 15 years, shutting down photosynthesis entirely for up to 24 months. Bad for the dinosaurs, good for the paleontologists.

Finally, as you sniffle and snort this winter, it might not comfort you to know that you have two noses that can get congested and runny. Bad.

Chicken soup with rice

Last weekend I made approximately 5 liters of chicken soup due to an unfortunate decision midway through the process to add more salt. Given the saltiness of the soup I put in mason jars, I recommend a 3:2 ratio of soup to water, meaning I effectively made 8 liters of soup. Most of it is in my freezer now, in convenient 250 mL jars, one serving apiece.

Suffice it to say I have had chicken soup for lunch 3 times this week. It is, however, very delicious. Except for over-salting it (which is easily corrected and preventable in future), I know what I'm doing.

Elsewhere in the world, things are not so delicious:

Finally, today is the 50th anniversary of both the Sydney Opera House opening and Nixon's (and Bork's) Saturday Night Massacre. One of those things endures. The other does too, but not in a good way.

But for me, it was Tuesday

Another Tuesday, another collection of head-shaking news stories one might expect in the waning days of an empire:

Closer to home, the old candy-making laboratory on the 13th floor of the historic Marshal Field building has come back to life, 24 years after the the last Frango mint was produced there. (Note to readers who speak Portuguese: no one checked a Portuguese dictionary before naming the candy.)

More productive than expected

Three hours later, I've got Weather Now's Netatmo code integrated with the Function App that controls all of the automated background functions of the application. I now have to move the adobo to phases two and three (browning, starting the slow cook), then take Cassie out.

I might actually deploy this today. Except that I discovered that a decision I made about how the site would store weather at the start of the re-write in 2020 means the simplest thing that works requires me to change Netatmo's data into a METAR. Not difficult, but also not the most elegant solution.

Someday I might even import the entire gazetteer into Weather Now 5, too...

Side-gig day

I have three goals today, to take advantage of the gray rainy weather. First, another stab at adobo, this time with a little less vinegar, fewer peppercorns, and a skosh* more sugar. It's marinating right now, so in about three hours, I'll brown the pork belly and then slow-cook it in my Instapot for another three hours or so.

Goal #2: Finish coding and deploy the update to Weather Now to use data from my Netatmo devices. Finally, I'll have actual IDTWHQ weather!

Goal #3: See if it's possible to build an Azure pipeline to deploy a 16-year-old .NET 4.8 application to an App Service. This is the first of several steps to get a very old client application to stay alive for another five or so years after Microsoft kills Cloud Services (classic) next August. Because the UI uses ASP.NET Web Forms, I can't upgrade it to .NET 7, which means I may have to write custom code to do things that .NET 7 provides out of the box. There is a possibility that I may even have to re-write the UI in Blazor, which no one—not me, not the client, not the users—wants at all.

All righty then, time to get coding. And in 6½ hours, adobo!

* TIL how the word is actually spelled, and why.

Other events of the day

I didn't only read about leaf blowers today. In other news:

  • For reasons no one can fathom, there seems to be a relationship between how much scrutiny the individual Justices of the United States have gotten over their conflicts of interest with billionaires and their rejection of outside ethical oversight. Oh, and the two most defiant happen to be the two most ideologically Republican. Hard to figure out why.
  • Paul Krugman tries to figure out why inflation has dropped to 3%—not that he's complaining!
  • Luis Rubiales, Spain's top soccer official who forcibly kissed player Jennifer Hermoso after the Spanish women's team defeated England in August, finally resigned, though he still doesn't understand what he did wrong.
  • If your city needs to resurface a road, encourage them to narrow it, which would save money now, save money in the future, and improve safety all around.
  • The Times shares what we know about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's armored train, and why he doesn't want to fly.
  • Allison Davis mourns the loss of her adult friendships caused, it would seem, by the "adorable little detonators" her friends gave birth to. (I’ve learned to hide my real reaction to a new pregnancy — nobody wants their joyous announcement to be met with “Oh my God, not another one.”)

Finally, tire-manufacturer Michelin has started expanding its restaurant guide to new cities, and charging the cities for the privilege. Fortunately they haven't decided to charge the restaurants for inclusion in the Guide.