The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Adapting to hot days

Inner Drive Technology World HQ has cooled off slightly to 32.6°C (heat index 36.8°C) after maxing out this afternoon at 33.3°C. Not that the 7/10ths of a degree makes that much difference. I have a nearly-constant headache and I don't want to go outside. Plus, I've already drunk about 3½ liters of water today.

To avoid the heat and to make sure Cassie and I both got enough exercise, we took a 6 km walk before 7am. The temperature still got up to 26.5°C before too long, prompting me to fill Cassie's bowl with ice water and get myself to the shower even before having breakfast.

Not much else to report, except that I plan to eat the last of the leftover rice I've got in the fridge tonight, well within the New York Times recommended storage interval. That's if the heat doesn't kill my appetite entirely...

Sushi, sushi, everywhere, and most goes in the dump

Heat makes me cranky. Even though I have good air conditioning, I also don't want to overdo it, so my home office is 25°C right now. Not too hot, but not what I would call super-comfortable. Still, it's cooler than the 37°C heat index that Cassie and I just spent 12 minutes walking in. Adding to the misery: both Chicago airports hit record high temperatures (36°C) yesterday.

The heat wave should break tomorrow night. Until then I'll continue slamming back water during the day and tonics with lime (minus the gin) in the evening. That's right: it's so damn hot, I don't even want a proper G&T. Maybe when it gets below 30°C.

Two things I read today dovetailed unexpectedly. The first, a speech Bruce Schneier gave to the RSA conference on 25 April 2023 and just posted this morning, suggests new ways of thinking about how democracy and AI can work together. A few minutes into the speech, Schneier sets up this critique of market economies:

[T]he cost of our market economy is enormous. For example, $780 billion is spent world-wide annually on advertising. Many more billions are wasted on ventures that fail. And that’s just a fraction of the total resources lost in a competitive market environment. And there are other collateral damages, which are spread non-uniformly across people.

We have accepted these costs of capitalism—and democracy—because the inefficiency of central planning was considered to be worse. That might not be true anymore. The costs of conflict have increased. And the costs of coordination have decreased. Corporations demonstrate that large centrally planned economic units can compete in today’s society. Think of Walmart or Amazon. If you compare GDP to market cap, Apple would be the eighth largest country on the planet. Microsoft would be the tenth.

Shortly after, I came across a BBC article rolling up just how much sushi gets wasted in Japan every day:

Every year on Setsubun, stores across the country stock a holiday sushi roll called ehomaki. At the end of the night, hundreds of thousands of these rolls wind up in the garbage. "Shops always provide what customers want, which means their shelves have to always be stocked," [Riko Morinaga, a recent high school graduate in Tokyo,] says. "This contributes to the food loss problem."

The exact size of the problem is difficult to quantify, because convenience store companies usually are not transparent about their losses. Representatives from 7-Eleven Japan and Lawson, two major chains, told BBC.com that they do not disclose the amount of food waste generated by their stores. Representatives from FamilyMart, another major chain, did not respond to interview requests, but the company indicates on its website that its stores generate 56,367 tonnes of food waste per day. In 2020, the Japan Fair Trade Commission estimated that Japan's major convenience store chains throw away on average 4.68m yen ($30,000; £24,000) of food per shop per year – equating to an approximate annual loss of more than 260bn yen (1.7bn; £1.3bn) in total.

Those numbers may seem fishy, but they represent a huge problem, not just in Japan, but everywhere that retailers feel they need to over-stock perishable food items.

I have a bunch more things queued up from earlier today that I'll link to in a bit. But first I have to stick my head in a bucked of ice water.

Truly a dog's life

Yesterday Cassie got to sample whatever she found on the ground at Ribfest, but she hoped for so much more:

And today, we spent an hour walking around St James Farm out in Suburbistan with one of her friends:

We're just about to head back to Ribfest for Day 2. I may not get to all the vendors this year, but I think I'll get to the good ones.

Wind shift, anyone?

We got up to an uncomfortably humid 32°C yesterday, but with a forecast of a much milder 23°C today. It got a bit warmer than that, topping out at 26°C, but got quite a bit cooler just as Cassie and I returned from our lunchtime walk:

This evening, we will go on another walk to...RIBFEST. I might have to put on jeans, but we will have ribs tonight! And tomorrow night, and probably Sunday for lunch. Because ribs.

Another boring release

Every other Tuesday we release software, so that's what I just did. It was so boring we even pushed the bits yesterday evening. In theory we always have a code-freeze the night before a release, but in fact we sometimes have just one more thing to do before we commit this last bit of code...

And yet, the world outside keeps becoming less boring:

Finally, one of Chicago's oldest and most popular Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, Angelic Organics, announced this season would be their last. I used to have a subscription, which resulted in a lot more kale than I ever wanted, but also some of the freshest produce I've ever had. They'll be missed.

Lovely Sunday, pretty warm Monday

The last three days—i.e., the first three days of Summer—have shown us most of the weather we can expect this season. It rained most of Saturday, yesterday we had cool, sunny, and eminently walkable weather, and today it's hot and sticky with thunderstorms on the way. At least Cassie and I got to spend most of yesterday outside.

In other news:

Finally, a really fun video from Berlin setting an old German tongue-twister to a beat has garnered more TikTok views than Beyoncé. Apparently Germans, especially those named Barbara, really love their rhubarb pies.

Hoping not to get rained on this afternoon

A whole knot of miserable weather is sneaking across the Mississippi River right now, on its way to Chicago. It looks like, maybe, just maybe, it'll get here after 6pm. So if I take the 4:32 instead of the 5:32, maybe I'll beat it home and not have a wet dog next to me on the couch later.

To that end I'm punting most of these stories until this evening:

Finally, if you have an extra $500 lying around and want to buy a nice steak with it, Crain's has options ranging from 170 grams of Chateau Uenae rib-eye steak (and a glass of water) at RPM on down to a happy hour of rib-eye steak frites for eight at El Che. The txuleton at Asador Bastian for $83 seems like a good deal to me, even without three other people or a bottle of wine to bring the bill up to $500. But the Wagyu? Maybe if I get a bonus next year. A guy can dream.

Chicago's Near North Side will never smell as sweet

The Blommer Chocolate factory, just outside Chicago's Loop, routinely flooded the Near North Side with the delicious odor of chocolate several times per week until environmental laws required them to install scrubbers in their exhaust stacks. Still, every so often, one could smell cocoa cooking when the wind blew just right.

Sadly, that era will end very soon:

The chocolate supplier today announced it will close its manufacturing plant at 600 W. Kinzie St. and relocate its headquarters and local research and development operation to the Merchandise Mart, according to a statement from the company. The production facility, well known for spreading the scent of cocoa throughout parts of the River West neighborhood, debuted as Blommer's original manufacturing plant in 1939.

The move not only marks the end of Blommer's long history on the site, but it also raises the prospect of the 5.5-acre property being sold for redevelopment. The company's plans for the facility are not clear, and a spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Blommer is the largest cocoa processor in North America and has more than 900 employees, according to the company.

Who knows, though? Marshall Field's manufactured Frango Mints on the 9th floor of its State Street store from 1929 to 1999, when Marshall Field's moved production to Pennsylvania. But Federated Department Stores, who bought Marshall Field's and Macy's in 2005, brought production back to the city in 2009. So Blommer's may rise again—just not on a small lot worth at least $5.5 million that has local developers drooling all over themselves for the confection.

Monday afternoon with no rehearsal

We always take a week off after our Choral Classics concert, which saves everyone's sanity. I in fact do have a chorus obligation today, but it's easy and relatively fun: I'm walking through the space where we'll have our annual Benefit Cabaret, Apollo After Hours, and presumably having dinner with the benefit committee. I'll be home early enough to have couch time with Cassie and get a full night's sleep.

Meanwhile:

  • Former presidential speechwriter James Fallows annotates President Biden's State of the Union Address.
  • Today's TPM Morning Memo blows up US Senator Katie Bush's (R-AL) response to the SOTU, but really I think Scarlett Johansen did it best:
  • Jennifer Rubin throws cold water on the belief that the United States is "polarized," given that one party wants to, you know, govern, while the other party wants to prevent that from happening so they can take power and therefore preserve the status quo ante from the 1850s: "America is divided not by some free-floating condition of “polarization” but by one party going off the deep end. And that’s a threat to all of us."
  • Greg Sargent points out the fundamental and ugly scam right-wingers like the XPOTUS perpetrate when they blather on about "border security:" it has a lot more to do with demographics (see, e.g., "great replacement theory") than crime.
  • Charles Marohn warns that blaming drivers for buying bigger cars shifts the blame from planning departments to individuals, where your state's DOT would prefer people put it.
  • Kensington Palace has apologized for sending out an obviously-edited photo of Princess Catherine with her children, causing the family some embarrassment, and distracting for a moment from any questions about why the people of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland continue to pay for Kensington Palace.
  • Seattle police impounded the oldest newsstand in the city after the landlord complained, repeatedly, over the course of three years.
  • If you have a couple of extra bucks lying around and you want a cool place to live, Block Club Chicago has a list of seven historical buildings you can live in, from a $318,000 condo in Marina City on up to the $3 million Edwin J Mosser House in Buena Park.

Finally, Crain's slices into the six best thin-crust pizzas in Chicago, a list that includes three I've personally tried (Bungalow by Middle Brow, Michael's, and Jimmy's), and three that I now need to try soon. (I have some Michael's in my freezer, in fact, which I'm planning to eat for dinner tomorrow.) I would add Barnaby's in Northbrook and Flapjack Brewery in Berwyn, by the way.