The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Average is good sometimes

I did not win theEuchre tournament yesterday, nor did I exactly lose. I did screw up once, losing 3 points unnecessarily, but my overall score of 52 was slightly above average. The 3rd, 2nd, and winning totals were 61, 62, and 75, so overall the bell curve had very high kurtosis.

Today, Cassie and I took a 10½-kilometer walk in an hour and 47 minutes, about 3x faster than a specific portly beagle but not the fastest she's ever walked. We had a lovely late-May morning and early afternoon that is gradually becoming mid-April again:

Not exactly a pneumonia front, is it? Plus it feels quite nice right now, and will continue down to some really good sleeping weather (around 12°C).

I've got a lot going on the next three weeks, including four performances, plus another performance mid-May. The posting slow-down might continue for a bit.

Heading home soon

American Airlines says my flight home has a 45-minute delay at the moment (though of course that could get worse). So I just spent 35 minutes walking in a big circle around the southwest corner of downtown San Diego. I don't think I'd ever live here, but I do enjoy the weather.

Meanwhile, as if I don't have too many things on my to-be-read shelf already, the New York Times book editor has released a list of the 22 funniest novels since Catch-22. Maybe someday I'll get to a few of them?

Anyway, I should be home with Cassie in about 11 hours. If she understood English and had any concept of "future," she'd be excited too.

Cassie had a good day

What a lucky dog. For her Gotcha Day, after she got a ride in the car to the grocery store (always fun!), she got some grilled chicken from my salad and some belly rubs. She had no idea that I got a lot of grilled chicken, but that's for later.

We then walked 5 km to Horner Park DFA, where she got half an hour of off-leash time:

Another 5 km walk took us to Spiteful Brewing, where she found a 15-centimeter bully stick that some other dog had apparently lost:

Altogether she got almost 3 hours of walks, the previously-mentioned grilled chicken for dinner, lots of pats, belly rubs, and new friends at the dog park and at Spiteful. She is now passed out on the couch, dreaming of unexpected bully sticks.

Mentally exhausting day, high body battery?

My Garmin watch thinks I've had a relaxing day, with an average stress level of 21 (out of 100). My four-week average is 32, so this counts as a low-stress day in the Garmin universe.

At least, today was nothing like 13 March 2020, when the world ended. Hard to believe that was four years ago. So when I go to the polls on November 5th, and I ask myself, "Am I better off than 4 years ago?", I have a pretty easy answer.

I spent most of today either in meetings or having an interesting (i.e., not boring) production deployment, so I'm going to take the next 45 minutes or so to read everything I haven't had time to read yet:

All righty then. I'll wrap up here in a few minutes and head home, where I plan to pat Cassie a lot and read a book.

Home before sunset!

I do love this aspect of Daylight Saving Time: for the first time since November 2nd—131 days ago—my normal commute and walking Cassie home from day care got me home before sunset.

This happens every March, but it still feels revelatory. Barring a late night at the office I won't walk Cassie home after sunset until around October 21st, 223 days from now.

It's a little thing, but I enjoy it.

Bruckner's 200th

We're just a few hours away from our Choral Classics concert celebrating the 200th anniversary of Anton Bruckner's birth. Tickets are still available! But I've got a lot to do before then, not least of which is making sure that Cassie and I get enough walkies today. (Lots of standing and sitting at concerts, if you're performing.)

But before I take a nap continue preparing for the concert, I want to point out that people finally have come around to the idea that English isn't Latin:

Late last month, Merriam-Webster shared the news on Instagram that it’s OK to end a sentence with a preposition. Hats off to them, sincerely. But it is hard to convey how bizarre, to an almost comical degree, such a decree seems in terms of how language actually works. It is rather like announcing that it is now permissible for cats to meow.

The first person on record to declare opposition to ending sentences with a preposition was the poet John Dryden in the 17th century. ... [E]ven grammarians like Lowth stipulated that keeping prepositions away from the end of sentences was most important in formal rather than casual language. But the question is why it is necessary there, since it usually sounds stuffy even in formal contexts.

The answer is: Latin. Scholars of Lowth’s period were in thrall to the idea that Latin and Ancient Greek were the quintessence of language. England was taking its place as a world power starting in the 17th century, and English was being spoken by ever more people and used in a widening range of literary genres. This spawned a crop of grammarians dedicated to sprucing the language up for its new prominence, and the assumption was that a real and important language should be as much like Latin as possible. And in Latin, as it happens, one did not end sentences with a preposition. “To whom are you speaking?” was how one put it in Latin; to phrase it as “Who are you speaking to?” would have sounded like Martian.

A friend recently started quoting from a grammar book they had borrowed from my downstairs library, leading me to ask, "What did you bring that book that I didn't want to be read to out of up for?" (Take that, John Dryden.)

We did not get Uncle Fluffy last night

I didn't expect to watch President Biden's State of the Union Address to Congress last night, so instead of live-blogging here, I live-commented on Facebook. Some highlights, with annotations as needed:

  • MTG didn't even let him get to the podium before snarking at him. She's the Nobby Nobbs of the House
  • Sweden's PM is sitting to Jill Biden's left. Wow. That's a message about NATO
  • Wow, someone ate his Wheaties today. "Many of you were here [on January 6th]. ... But they failed! Democracy prevailed!"
  • "You can't love your country only when you win."
  • Mike Johnson looks like he needs to change his diaper
  • "My predecessor failed the most basic duty, the duty to care." Cue first Republican outburst
  • Despite my best efforts, Cassie appears disappointingly nonpartisan:
  • Somebody get Mike Johnson a Pepto-Bismol
  • "The state of our Union is strong and getting stronger!" (Four more years!)
  • Seriously, did Mike Johnson take a large gummie before the speech? He looks like he's dissociating...
  • "America is safer than 4 years ago... Violent crime fell to the lowest level in 50 years" (And an incoherent protestor is escorted from the gallery?)
  • "The only real solution is a two-state solution. ... There is no other path that guarantees peace between Israel and all of its neighbors."

Of course, many more-qualified people also had reactions. Here are just a few:

  • Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post fact checker: "Biden’s job record in his first three years certainly tops Trump’s performance. ... The U.S. inflation rate is much better than the OECD average of 5.7 percent. But other G-7 members such as Japan, Italy and Germany had lower inflation rates as of January. ... A Rand study published last month, using 2022 data, concluded that across all drugs, U.S. prices were 2.78 times higher than prices in 33 other countries that are part of the OECD."
  • Josh Marshall: "I thought this was a strong speech."
  • Assorted New York Times columnists, starting with Gail Collins: "For Biden, the speech was a real rouser."
  • Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times: "Biden’s speech set the stage for the reset he needs on the Israel-Hamas war."
  • Michael Tomasky: "[President Biden] threw punches—and he landed almost all of them. But let’s not talk about Biden. Let’s talk instead about that little guy in the chair over the president’s left shoulder. House Speaker Mike Johnson showed, in his histrionic facial expressions, everything that’s wrong and idiotic and dangerous and even treasonous about the Republican Party."

As for the official opposition response that US Senator Katie Britt (R-AL) delivered, I could barely watch. Her entire demeanor and manner made my skin crawl. It was like watching a high-school junior work up fake outrage in a campaign speech for class secretary, except Tracy Flick probably wouldn't have worked in all the comments about rape and murder.

Michael Bender and Kayla Guo summed it up best: "With a sunny, inviting smile, Senator Katie Britt of Alabama welcomed Americans into her kitchen on Thursday night. Many soon backed away nervously." Monica Hesse also got a little skeeved out: "Somehow, despite also being a White 42-year-old mom who watched the State of the Union from my own kitchen, I did not feel I was her target audience."

One of my friends posted "Katie Britt proves it’s hard to find normal people in Alabama not on a football scholarship," at which I reminded him that, looked at one way, she is on a football scholarship.

I enjoyed this SOTU a lot. And I'm very much looking forward to hearing President Biden's Second Inaugural in 10 months.

Long day and long week

For Reasons, we have the dress rehearsal for our Saturday performance on Saturday. That means poor Cassie will likely go ten hours crossing her paws between the time I have to leave and when I'm likely to get back. Fortunately, she should be exhausted by then. Tonight's dress rehearsal for our Sunday performance won't put her out as much, thanks to Dog Delivery from my doggy day care. Still, I'd rather have a quiet evening at home than a 3-hour rehearsal and an hour-long car trip home...

Meanwhile, in the world of things that appear to matter more but actually will matter less in a year...

Finally, perhaps the reason the Chicago Transit Authority has so many problems is that its governing board has only one member who actually understands public transit? (Welcome to Chicago: where the head of the CTA has a chauffeured car, and the head of the Chicago Teacher's Union sends her kids to private school.)

Winter ending with bizarre weather

The cold front we expected passed over my house around 8:15 last night. I wouldn't call it subtle, either:

Even that doesn't get to the truly unsubtle aspects of this frontal passage. The radar image might, though:

Not shown: the 60 km/h winds, lashing rain, brilliant lightning show, 5-10 mm hailstones, tornadoes to the northwest and southeast, and a mildly alarmed dog getting pats on the couch.

And it keeps getting better this morning. Right now I'm in a Loop high rise gently swaying in the 45 km/h winds, with the temperature continuing to drop outside:

June to January in 12 hours! Whee!

And what's the forecast for spring's first weekend? Sunny and 17°C. In fact, the weather for this week could best be summed up thus: June on Monday and Tuesday; January today; early March tomorrow followed by late March on the first day of spring; then late May/early June through the weekend with a chance of April by Tuesday.

Lunch today will be from the Chipotle across the street. Lunch yesterday involved a 30-minute break outside. Welcome to Chicago in the last days of an El Niño winter.

(Or maybe this is happening because today is Tom Skilling's last day at WGN?)