The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Taking a day to catch up

Between my overflowing PTO balance and getting two "floating" holidays every year, I decided I have enough free time to extend my vacation by a day to get stuff done. I'm glad I did. Cassie provided her vet with a really good sample of...things that her day care needs to know about, I've done 3 loads of laundry and queued up a 4th, I've gone through the important receipts from the trip, and I've loaded all 740 photos up into Lightroom. I've also done some Apollo-related stuff, so some of today went to other people.

I still have stuff to do, so I'm not going to get to the photos today. Probably not until Friday or Saturday, truth be told. And I've got a freelance project for a local non-profit that I'd hoped to start on the flight to London but somehow didn't find time to do.

did finish four really good books, including The Rise of the Warrior Cop by police reporter Radley Balko; There Is No Antimemetics Division by British author and programmer Sam "qntm" Hughes based in party on some of his articles for the SCP Foundation (which you should absolutely start reading whenever you want to lose yourself in some fun and cool shit); techno-thriller Daemon by Peter Suarez; and Death of the Great Man by Peter Kramer. I recommend all of them, especially the last two.

I will now...waste some time on the Internet, and then go walk Cassie.

Longest vacation in years

I'm finally at Heathrow about 10 minutes from boarding. Whew. I've got loads of photos to go through, and hours of sleep to catch up on. I am ready to be home.

Tonight I'm going to spend as much time as possible on the couch with Cassie. I've got a lot of pats for her.

The Elizabeth Line, a year on

The billion-pound London rail project called "Crossrail" when it began opened a year ago as the Elizabeth Line. I rode it for the first time to West Ealing last Sunday, and thought it absolutely the slickest, cleanest train in the UK. (I'll ride it again tomorrow thanks to industrial action and construction on the Piccadilly Line.)

British Airways pilot Mark Vanhoenacker takes it every time he comes home from a trip, and loves how it connects the city in all new ways:

Running from Reading and Heathrow Airport in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, the Elizabeth line brings an additional 1.5 million people within 45 minutes of the capital’s busiest districts; eases congestion on older lines; and makes London more accessible to all, as wheelchair users can reach its platforms from street level. As a pilot who commutes to Heathrow — I fly the Boeing 787 for British Airways — I’m often among its 600,000 weekday riders. The line, which runs alongside the Heathrow Express, offers another comfortable way to get to work.

[T]he line empowers travelers to leave behind the familiarities of Zone 1 — the often tourist-clogged core of the city’s transport network — and embark on fast, inexpensive journeys to fascinating outer-London destinations.

On the line’s northeastern branch lies the market town of Romford. Start at the Havering Museum, whose exhibits include a model of the long-gone Havering Palace, where Queen Elizabeth I occasionally stayed. You’ll also learn about Romford’s link to William Kempe, an actor in several of Shakespeare’s original productions, who morris danced around 100 miles from London to Norwich in 1600, and about the weights and measures that once set standards in Romford’s market.

It’s fitting, then, that the first station beyond [the eastern Thames] tunnels is Woolwich, where armaments were manufactured for around three centuries, including by one Henry Shrapnel. Woolwich was also renowned for music — its Royal Artillery Band, Britain’s first formal military band, was organized in 1762 — and for football: Arsenal, based today in Islington and still nicknamed “the Gunners,” was founded here in 1886 as a team for armaments workers.

Between my arrival this afternoon and my departure tomorrow afternoon I'll be in the UK only 23 hours, many of them in my hotel room asleep, so I won't have time to explore the places Vanhoenacker describes. But I have a hunch I'll return to the London before too long.

Jsem v Praze

I'm in a European-sized hotel room in a European-sized city. I'm also exhausted. But I did get out of Heathrow for about an hour and a quarter, and walked around Ealing a bit:

And now I'm here:

More tomorrow. I'm pooped.

Looking for the shoe that could drop...

I just got from the curb to the lounge in 18 minutes. No kidding: my bag check line was empty, and so was the TSA Pre-Check queue. I should point out, no other queues were empty; in fact, it looked like the general security queue is long enough to gestate an elephant.

So, at least for the first hour of my vacation, things completely fail to suck.

Great news! My flight tomorrow got cancelled

I'm serious: I couldn't have planned it better. Remember how I said I booked the early (4:50pm) flight because I wanted to fly on one of British Airways' brand-new 787-10 airplanes, and they swapped it out for one of they're old-ass 777s? Well, I woke up this morning to an email saying that the old-ass 777 won't actually make the trip after all, so they shoved me onto the next available flight on American.

After a not-so-quick call to American Airlines (them, because they issued the original ticket, and long, because British Airways screwed up the rebooking), they got me on the 9:15pm flight on a relatively-new Airbus 380. More to the point, instead of getting in at 6:30 am BST (12:30 am Chicago time), I'm now arriving at the much more humane hour of 11 am BST (5 am Chicago time).

That also puts me much closer to the bag-check time for my flight to Prague, and I'll still have enough time to get out of Heathrow for a bit. I hope.

If not, I have airline status with both American and BA, so the worst case is I cool my heels in the first-class lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3. Not ideal, but not like sitting in genpop with my luggage for 10 hours.

Updates as the situation warrants.

Taking a break from heads-down coding

I spent the morning going over an API for standards and style, which will result in an uncomfortably large commit before I leave the office today. I prefer smaller, more focused commits, but this kind of polishing task makes small code changes all over the place, and touches lots of files.

So while I have my (late) lunch, I'm taking a break to read some news:

Finally, the Securities and Exchange Commission has fined the Mormon Church $5m for failing to disclose its holdings as required by law. As the Church has some $32 billion in holdings worldwide, that $5m fine will sure sting.

Lunch links

My burn-up chart for the current sprint has a "completed" line that nicely intersects the sprint guideline, so I can take a moment this Monday morning to eat lunch and read some news stories:

And closer to home—like, less than a kilometer away—the City of Chicago has made some recommendations to improve a stretch of Clark Street that could be a model for other streets in the city.

Long but productive day

I finished a couple of big stories for my day job today that let us throw away a whole bunch of code from early 2020. I also spent 40 minutes writing a bug report for the third time because not everyone diligently reads attachments. (That sentence went through several drafts, just so you know.)

While waiting for several builds to complete today, I happened upon these stories:

Finally, a school district food service director ordered more than 11,000 cases of chicken wings worth $1.5m over the last three years, which the State's Attorney says never got to the kids.

And now, since the temperature has risen from this morning's -17°C all the way up to...uh...-11.4°C, I will now walk the adorable creature who keeps nosing me in the arm as I type this.