The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Lazy Sunday

Butters Poochface has gone home, Cassie and I have taken about an hour of walks so far, and the temperature hasn't yet cracked 25°C.

I'm about to upend Cassie's life, though. It's bath time. Even one night boarding can create an awful smell.

Wish me luck. Last time I bathed her, Cassie accepted her fate with grace and humility. The time before that she...didn't.

Gonna be a hot one

I've got a performance this evening that requires being on-site at the venue for most of the day. So in a few minutes I'll take two dogs to boarding (the houseguest is another performer's dog), get packed, an start heading to a hockey rink in another city. Fun! If I'm supremely lucky, I'll get back home before the storm.

Since I also have to travel to the venue, I'll have time to read a few of these:

Finally, the Post examined a Social Security Administration dataset yesterday that shows how baby names have converged on a few patterns in the last decade. If you think there are a lot of names ending in -son lately (Jason, Jackson, Mason, Grayson, Failson...), you're not wrong.

Heat addles your brain

First, let me just say how lovely it was to wake up to this today, especially as we're mere minutes from the earliest solstice since the Washington administration:

My windows are open, and I no longer hate the world. Which, it turns out, is a perfectly normal response to high heat:

It turns out even young, healthy college students are affected by high temperatures. During the hottest days, the students in the un-air-conditioned dorms, where nighttime temperatures averaged [27°C], performed significantly worse on the tests they took every morning than the students with A.C., whose rooms stayed a pleasant [21°C].

R. Jisung Park, an environmental and labor economist at the University of Pennsylvania, looked at high school standardized test scores and found that they fell 0.2 percent for every degree above 72 Fahrenheit. That might not sound like a lot, but it can add up for students taking an exam in an un-air-conditioned room during a [32°C] heat wave.

Researchers don’t know why heat affects our cognition and emotions, but there are a couple of theories.

One is that the brain’s resources are being diverted to keep you cool, leaving less energy for everything else. “If you’re allocating all of the blood and all the glucose to parts of your brain that are focused on thermoregulation, it seems like it’s very plausible that you just wouldn’t have enough left for some of these kind of higher cognitive functions,” Dr. [Kimberly Meidenbauer, an assistant professor of psychology at Washington State University,] said.

Yesterday it was still above 31°C when I took Cassie for her last walk. Air conditioning plus a shower helped immensely.

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.

Definitely summer in Chicago

Cassie and I just got back from a short walk around the block. We did a 45-minute walk at 7:15, when we both could still tolerate the temperature, but just now my backyard thermometer shows a temperature of 33.1°C with a dewpoint of 23.3°C, which gives us a heat index of 38.5°C (101.4°F). Honestly, I prefer winter to this.

The National Weather Service predicts the heat wave could extend through the week.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world:

Finally, author Edward Robert McClelland visited all 77 community areas in Chicago, and lived to write about it.

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.

Long, loud walk

Cassie and I took two long walks yesterday. We drove up to the Skokie Lagoons before lunchtime and took a 7.25 km stroll along the north loop. The weather cooperated:

I wanted to go up there in part because a 100-year-old forest had a higher probability of cicadas than anywhere near my house. We were not disappointed. Cassie and I both had passengers at various points in the walk:

And wow, were they loud. I forgot how loud they got during the 2007 outbreak. Even at the points on the walk closest to the Edens Expressway, the cicadas were often louder than the hightway:

On Saturday we're heading out to a friend's house in Wheaton, and we'll take our dogs around that neighborhood. My friend complained that the cicadas have taken over her backyard. Can't wait!