The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Nürnberg

As planned, I took a day trip to Nürnberg, which required a 70-minute high-speed train that cost more than I'd planned. In fact, if I'd planned which trains to take, and bought the tickets last week, I could have saved about $50. Of course I had no way to predict today's amazing weather.

First, about that train. In Europe, a 244 km/h train is bog-standard:

From Munich to Ingolstadt it tools along at a leisurely 160 km/h, but after Ingolstadt, they put the hammer down, as you can see in the GPS readout in the upper-left corner.

And I am glad I took the trip, because Nürnberg is gorgeous:

It's also where Johannes Pachelbel committed his musical atrocities just over 400 years ago:

True story: at my wedding many eons ago, I hired a string quartet, and told them they would not get paid if they played anything by that guy. They stuck with Mozart, Haydn, and some Satie at one point, if memory serves.

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.

Quiet afternoon, then party

Tonight is the 17th Presidents Day Bash, a tradition that began in 1995 at a friend's apartment in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City. He hosted the first 10 Bashes on Sunday nights back when people still got Presidents Day off from work, because (a) there aren't a lot of parties in February, (b) there aren't a lot of parties on Sunday night, (c) it's far enough along from New Year's Eve that people want a party, and (d) why not?

The old gang has scattered across the globe since the last NYC Bash in 2004. That didn't stop me from resurrecting it for Presidents Day 2015. (Call it a franchise.) This will be the 17th Bash because I didn't host it all in 2021 (pandemic) and only had a small gathering in 2022 (pandemic hangover).

That made last year's the Lincoln Bash, and this year's the Andrew Johnson Bash. The 17th POTUS ranked dead-last in many historians' league tables until the new champion goat got crowned in 2017. As I wrote on the official event page, "This year, the Bash won't so much pay homage as it will sigh and shake its head sadly at [Lincoln's] successor, the dumb-as-dung Andrew Johnson, who tried so hard to undo Lincoln's successes that he wound up being the first—and for most of the 235 years we've had presidents, only—president ever impeached."

No, we don't dress up as presidents, nor does the Bash have an overtly political theme. It's just a way to chase out the last bits of winter with a couple dozen people.

In any event, I spent the morning cooking and shopping, so now I will nap.

Fun international work meeting

I learned this morning that I have a meeting at 6am Wednesday, because the participants will be in four time zones across four continents. Since I'm traveling to Munich later that day, I'll just comfort myself by remembering it's 1pm Central Europe time.

I'm already queuing up some things to read on the flights. I'll probably finish all of these later today, though:

  • Jennifer Rubin highlights four ways in which the XPOTUS has demonstrated his electoral weakness in the past few weeks.
  • Republican pollster Frank Luntz agrees, warning the MAGA Republican extremists to stop screwing around lest the party suffer an historic ass-kicking in November. (For my part, I don't think they will stop, and the ass-kicking is long overdue.)
  • Sean Wilentz warns that the Supreme Court abdicating its responsibility to evaluate the XPOTUS in light of the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause will lead to worse problems later on.
  • James Fallows chastises the Times in particular for creating the controversy about President Biden's age they claimed simply to report on.
  • Ian Bogost moans about the ever-deepening problems of carrying baggage onto planes. (I will be checking my bag through to Munich, for what it's worth, but I may carry it on for the return flight to avoid customs delays changing planes at Charlotte.)

Finally, John Scalzi erupts at the 2023 Hugo Awards administrators for outright fraud and unforgivable cowardice following a report on Chinese political interference in the awards selection process last summer.

Ukrainian engineering

With the news this morning that Ukraine has disabled yet another Russian ship, incapacitating fully one-third of the Russian Black Sea fleet, it has become apparent that Ukraine is better at making Russian submarines than the Murmansk shipyards. Russia could, of course, stop their own massive military losses—so far they've lost 90% of their army as well—simply by pulling back to the pre-2014 border, but we all know they won't do that.

In other news of small-minded people continuing to do wastefully stupid things:

Finally, a reader who knows my perennial frustration at ever-lengthening copyright durations sent me a story from last March about who benefits from composer Maurice Ravel's estate. Ravel died in 1937, so his music will remain under copyright protection until 1 January 2034, providing royalties to his brother’s wife’s masseuse’s husband’s second wife’s daughter. Please think of her the next time you hear "Bolero."

Oh, baby, you are so talented...

Fifty years ago today, Mel Brooks inflicted upon the world a comedic masterpiece that no one will ever surpass: Blazing Saddles.

No one will ever surpass it, of course, because most of the funniest jokes in the movie shock and offend people even more today than when it came out. But that was the point: Brooks and co-writer Richard Pryor skewered everyone in the film. Even the jokes that got mangled by the studio (the "it's twoo" scene originally ended with Bart saying, "baby, that's my elbow") still worked.

Still, 50 years. Wow.

I'd watch it right now except I'm in my downtown office. HR would definitely want a word with me.

Eris Brewery and Cider House

Welcome to stop #101 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Eris Brewery & Cider House, 4240 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Irving Park (Zone 2) (also CTA Blue Line, Irving Park)
Time from Chicago: 13 minutes
Distance from station: 300 m

Built out of a former Masonic temple in the Old Irving neighborhood, Eris has really good food and really good cider. At this writing, though, they're still working on their beer game. On top of some of the best cheese curds and French fries I've had at a brewpub, I tried two 120-mL pours and had a of sip of one selection from my friends' "pepper" flight.

The Pedestrian cider (5.9%) was nice & dry, with crisp apple flavor, better than its name suggests. Would love to sit outside with this in the summer. The Waka Waka hazy IPA (6.8%) didn't work for me, though. Perhaps because I started with the cider, it had none of the fruit flavor that I'd expect from a Citra-hazy ale. My friend really liked the pepper flight, so I had a sip of the Hot Chaos pepper cider (6.3%) with árbol chile, and will not be having more. But I can see the appeal.

We'll be back, in the summer, with the dogs.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Many, avoidable
Serves food? Full menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Ravinia Brewing vs Ravinia Festival

I first visited Ravinia Brewing early in the Brews & Choos Project, and liked it. In fact I have gone back several times, most recently a week ago Friday. I haven't yet visited their Logan Square taproom though, and because of the way trademarks and contracts work in the US, I may never:

In October, Ravinia Festival, the Highland Park outdoor concert venue known for its summer music series, sued the craft brewery for trademark infringement, court records show.

The brewery was born out of the Ravinia District of Highland Park in 2017 and opened its original location there in 2018.

In 2018, the brewery signed an agreement that allowed both parties to use the name, as long as the brewery complied with guidelines to ensure consumers understood there was no relationship between the two organizations.

The lawsuit alleges the brewery violated that agreement.

Brewery co-owners Jeff Hoobler and Kris Walker have called the lawsuit unjust and said the business is rapidly losing money because of legal expenses. They warned the business could close if the company keeps bleeding financially.

I've just read RBC's answer to RF's complaint, which includes the allegations in the complaint as per local rules. As with any lawsuit, we don't know the full story, and as this will probably never go to trial, we probably never will. It looks like the brewery and the Festival have some bad blood between them, for sure. But if the brewery's answer is accurate, this has all the feeling of trying to crack a walnut with a sledgehammer.

I hope the Festival and the brewery can come to a compromise here. I like them both.

Illuminated Brew Works

Welcome to stop #100 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Illuminated Brew Works, 6186 N. Northwest Hwy., Chicago
Train line: Union Pacific Northwest, Norwood Park (Zone 2)
Time from Chicago: 22 minutes
Distance from station: 400 m

It only took four years and a pandemic to get to the 100th Brews & Choos stop. When I stopped at Macushla in Glenview almost exactly four years ago, I thought I'd knock out all 90 or so breweries and distilleries in about 18 months. We all know what happened a month later...

Here we are at stop #100, and I'm happy to report it garnered a "would go back" rating.

Illuminated Brew Works has a bit of fun with its namesake, even calling its mailing list a "cult." They make really good beer, and they allow dogs, but fortunately no one tried to convert me to Belgian sour ales.

In fact, as I have a touch of bronchitis, I didn't drink much at all. The 120-mL pours I had were excellent. The Brony DDH DIPA (7.5%) was really smooth, and didn't taste at all like the strong beer the menu says it is. And the Millennial Munchies stout (13.5%), which I shared, was complex, sweet but not cloying, with malty coconut and chocolate notes.

I also had a sips of my friend's beers. The CULT stout (10%), which had real complexity but not a lot of sweetness, and the guajillo chiles they brewed it with really smacked me in the end. I didn't feel I could evaluate the Cherry Brainwash sour (7%) and Orange Sunshine Saison (5.4%), as I'm not a fan of those styles, but my friend assured me they were excellent, and particularly liked the cherry sour.

They have a quirky, no-fucks-given vibe that we particularly liked. We may have to bring Cassie and Butters here when it gets warmer.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? One, avoidable
Serves food? Snacks; BYOF encouraged
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

You don't need sunscreen in Chicago in January

A weather pattern has set up shop near Chicago that threatens to occlude the sun for the next week, in exchange for temperatures approaching 15°C the first weekend of February. We've already had 43 days with above-normal temperatures this winter, and just 12 below normal during the cold snap from January 13th through the 22nd. By February 2nd, 84% of our days will have had above-normal temperatures since December 1st.

Thank you, El Niño. Though I'm not sure the gloominess is a fair exchange for it.

Elsewhere:

Finally, Minnesota-based wildlife photographer Benjamin Olson discovered that a mouse had moved into his car. So naturally, he set up a photo trap. And naturally, it's totes adorbs.