The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sure, they get a party

Dignitaries and Metra executives celebrated the opening of the Peterson-Ridge station on the UP-North line this past Sunday:

Hopefully West Ridge, Edgewater, and Lincoln Square residents remembered that patience is a virtue, as they waited for more than ten years for Metra's new Peterson/Ridge station, 1780 W. Peterson Ave., to serve their communities. The commuter railroad, elected officials, and neighbors rejoiced over the completion of the Union Pacific North line stop, which opened on May 20, with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning.

The $27.8 million project included a pair of new six-car platforms; heated concrete stairs and wheelchair ramps; a warming house; two shelters; an access drive; and lots of car and bicycle parking. It was bankrolled with $15 million from the state's Rebuild Illinois capital program, with the remainder of the cash coming from the Federal Transit Administration.

The new station was discussed for over a decade, and took more than two-and-a-half years to construct. That was about a year longer than planned, and the project cost roughly $5 million more than expected, according to a Tribune report last month by Sarah Freishtat.

"I'm glad it's finally done!" local alder Andre Vasquez (40th) told Streetsblog this morning. "This was like, I wouldn't say a CTA-level delay, but it's completed, so that's awesome... We kind of showed up on the last leg of it. [Ald. Vasquez took office last year.] During the [Governor Bruce] Rauner era there were funding challenges."

Just 3 km south, the Ravenswood station—my damn station—took more than 12 years to rebuild because of "Rauner era funding challenges." When it finally opened almost a year ago, did we get a fancy ribbon-cutting? No. Did politicians show up and give speeches? Nope. Did anyone even mention it before, one day, they cordoned off the 10-year-old "temporary" platform? Guess again.

Ravenswood, by the way, was the busiest station on the UP-N and the 3rd-busiest overall just before the pandemic. Ridge-Peterson never existed before, though trains used to stop at the Rosehill Cemetery gate two blocks south and at Granville, a block north, until 1958. (A 1955 schedule I saw showed a 40-minute travel time between Ravenswood and the Loop. It's now 16-18 minutes.)

RIP Carmen Sancicada (2007-2024)

I had a dentist appointment up in Hubbard Woods this morning, so I took half a day off and had a relaxing walk through Winnetka. And as on Sunday, I encountered a lot of cicadas.

I found one attached to my bag as I boarded the train back to the Loop:

She* tried wandering off the bag in various directions, which prompted me to help her out from time to time. She could not get a grip, mentally or physically, on the outer surface of my bag, nor on the vinyl seats or metal frame of the train car. By the time we got to downtown Chicago, she had gone about 2,000 times farther than she ever would have gone without bumping into me (unless the wind or an animal gives them a push, cicadas live and die within about 15 meters of where they emerge), and she was thoroughly exhausted. I suspect she was already exhausted when she attached herself to my bag, though.

She finally stopped trying to go somewhere and remained attached to my bag as I got off the train:

Alas, when I stopped to get another selfie with her by the schedule board, she was gone. I infer she jumped or fell off my bag onto the platform, and with all the people getting off the train, I further infer that she remains on the platform still, albeit a lot thinner and a lot less alive.

Poor thing. I hope she at least enjoyed the adventure, and that she died quickly and painlessly. I suspect, however, she spent the last hour of her life completely bewildered.

* Female cicadas have pointy abdomens, while male cicadas have buzzing plates on the thorax. Also, male cicadas tend to buzz when you pick them up; females don't.

Who is buried in Couch's tomb?

I remembered that Chicago used to have a cemetery at what is now the south end of Lincoln Park, near State and North. But I never connected the dots that a small building over there actually had dead people in it:

In 1869 Chicago City Cemetery was taken over by the Lincoln Park Commissioners for conversion to a park. The bodies were transferred to Graceland, Rosehill, and other graveyards. The Catholics also vacated their cemetery, using the land for a new archbishop’s residence.

One story says that the Couch family fought removal of the tomb all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won its case. However, nobody has found any documentary evidence of such a decision. Perhaps the mausoleum is still there because neither the park commissioners nor the Couch family wanted to pay for tearing it down. That’s the kind of explanation that makes sense in Chicago.

After decades of neglect, the park district renovated the Couch tomb in the 1990s. The shrubs were cut down and the limestone structure itself was repaired. Now a spotlight illuminates it at night. The civic embarrassment has become a point of civic pride.

My city has a lot of history, even though the first settler got here so recently his house would be considered "new" in most of Europe.

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!

Was not expecting this

I just beat a hasty retreat from where Cassie and I had spent our warm summer afternoon; see if you can spot why:

In Chicago, if the temperature is above -18°C and you feel cold, you're just not dressed correctly. At 3pm I was dressed correctly; at 3:30pm I was not.

At least we beat the rain:

Looks like it'll pass in a couple of hours, so we'll get one more decent walk in this evening. Tomorrow my plan is to drag her butt to the North Branch Trail so we can see (and hear) some cicadas. Still none in my neighborhood; pity.

Frazzled morning

I started my day with overlapping meetings, a visit from the housekeeping service, more meetings, a visit from an electrician, and just now discovered that a "new" bug report actually relates a bug we introduced on June 20th last year, but only now got reported. Oh, also: it's 25°C and sunny.

At least it's Friday.

And I guess I can read some of these tomorrow morning:

Finally, the Chicago White Sox set a new team record yesterday: 14 losses in a row. They play the Red Sox tonight at home; can they make it 15 straight losses?

Finally get to breathe

But only for a moment. I've spent most of today trying to fix things, or at least trying to figure out what problems need fixing. One of the problems has generated a comment thread on a vendor website, now at 44 comments, and I think after all that work I found the problem in an interaction between my code and Microsoft Azure Functions. If I'm right, the confirmation will come around 3pm.

Naturally, I haven't had time to read any of these:

I wrote the intro to this post around 2:45 and had to pause for a while. It's now 3:25, and I appear to have solved the problem. I will now document the solution and apologize to the vendor. Fun times, fun times.

The good and the bad of east light in the morning

My home office has an unobstructed eastern view, and it sits in a loft above my bedroom. That means my bedroom gets indirect eastern light. The blinds in my office don't block all that light, however, so for three months of the year my bedroom gets awfully bright before 6am. Today, for whatever reason, I didn't sleep through it.

Fortunately the sun rises before 6am only from late April to mid August, so I will get to sleep later eventually. And I do like that the sun sets after 7:30pm from early April to the end of August, so summer has its advantages.

Also, since I got to the office at 7:30 this morning, I won't feel too bad about leaving before 5pm and finding a patio to sit on with Cassie. We don't get this kind of weather all the time.

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.