The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Looking forward to Arsenal v Lincoln Yards

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has announced a joint venture with Sterling Bay, the developer building on the former Finkl Steel site in Lincoln Park (mentioned here last week), to bring professional soccer back to Chicago:

Sterling Bay will develop and own the stadium, and will keep an ownership stake in the USL franchise it bought last year. Ricketts will be the team’s majority owner.

The Tribune in October reported that Sterling Bay was proposing a stadium on the site, as part of its effort to bring Amazon or another large corporation to the mixed-use development as an office tenant.

Chicago’s USL team is expected to begin playing in 2021.

The stadium and training facility will be available to youth and professional athletes, and also will have community and cultural events, according to the news release.

The stadium is planned along the west side of the river.

I'm looking forward to the Lincoln Yards development. The Finkl Steel plant, though an economic powerhouse for decades in Chicago, was also a huge, ugly, and polluting bunion at the foot of the Lincoln Park community area. Like other former industrial areas near to downtown (including, or perhaps especially, the New East Side), almost any mixed-use commercial/residential development is preferable at this stage of Chicago's life.

Also, I think an English Premier League vs. Chicago football match would be loads of fun.

Odd little personal milestone

No, this isn't one of the two Daily Parker milestones we'll see this month. It's trivial and personal.

On this day in 1988, 30 years ago, I bought my first CD. It was an almost-new technology—the first CDs were commercially available in 1981—and it sounded a lot better than scratchy old vinyl records.

Just looking back at what I posted 10 years ago confirms I haven't bought that many CDs lately. I don't have the number in front of me, but I believe I've now got 940 of them, meaning I've bought an average of 12 a year since 2008. That's slightly fewer than the 12 a month I bought in 1990.

For historical context, when I bought my first CD, Ronald Reagan was president, it looked like (but wasn't certain) that Michael Dukakis and George H.W. Bush would be the candidates to replace him, and our arch-rival for world domination was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. A Toyota Corolla cost $10,000, a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk cost 96c, and you could buy a 3-bedroom house in my home town for $200,000. (The same house is now close to $750,000.)

6,000

This month will see two important Daily Parker milestones. This is the first one: the 6,000th post since braverman.org launched as a pure blog in November 2005. The 5,000th post was back in March 2016, and the 4,000th in March 2014, so I'm trucking along at just about 500 a year, as this chart shows:

Almost exactly four years ago I predicted the 6,000th post would go up in September. I'm glad the rate has picked up a bit. (New predictions: 7,000 in May 2020 and 10,000 in April 2026.)

Once again, thanks for reading. And keep your eyes peeled for another significant Daily Parker milestone in a little less than two weeks.

Happy February 68th!

It's the 99th day of 2018, and I'm looking out my office window at 25 mm of snow on the ground. It was -7°C on Saturday and -6°C last night. This isn't April; it's February. Come on, Chicago.

The Cubs' home opener originally scheduled for today will be played tomorrow. This is the second time in my memory that the home opener got snowed out. I didn't have tickets to today's game, but I did have tickets to the game on 15 April 1994, which also got snowed out.

(Cubs official photo.)

Because it's Chicago. (Actually, there's a blocking mass of warm air to the east of us causing a bulge in the polar jet stream and pushing cool Canadian air down into the U.S. That sort of thing feels really nice in July; not so much in April.)

Canine User Experience

Yesterday, the Nielsen Norman Group released groundbreaking research on user interface design for dogs:

There are several key usability guidelines that help dogs to have the most usable experience on modern websites and apps, particularly on mobile, tablet, and other touch-based interfaces:

  • Consistency is critical. While consistency in any user experience is important, with dogs, it’s even more so. Experienced dog trainers will tell you that, for dogs to learn proper behavior, consistency in enforcing routines, expectations, and commands is critical. Some common UI culprits that provide extra difficulty for dogs are swipe ambiguity, gestures without signifiers, tap uncertainty for flat UI elements like ghost buttons, and unusual placement of common elements like navigation and search.
  • Tap targets must be large. We recommend 1cm2 for human tap targets, but paws (whether belonging to cats or dogs) require larger tap sizes (of at least 3-4cm2, or even larger for Labradors and Great Danes).
  • Gestures must be ergonomic for dog physiology. While many wearable interfaces now involve gestures such as swiping left or right to dismiss notifications or switch apps, these need to be modified for more ergonomic canine movements (such as “shake”). Dogs have a greater ability to move paws with precision up and down, but dogs’ range of motion along the horizontal axis is limited and relatively imprecise, so all gestures must account for this limitation.

They also give special guidance on the risks of using hamburger menus and pie charts.

The Thick of It is now

In a column last summer, UC Berkeley professor Ned Resnikoff saw Armando Ianucci's British sitcom The Thick of It as a warning:

As scathing as The Thick of It can be in its depiction of craven, self-interested political behavior, it’s difficult to imagine any of its protagonists engaging in criminality on a scale equal to what Trump’s inner circle may have committed.

Nor can The Thick of It capture the dizzying instability of American politics in 2017, though it has occasionally gotten close. The conventions of the sitcom genre usually demand that, for all the frantic activity in one episode or another, very little ever really changes; the prime minister might get ousted and the opposition may become the governing party, but the political system itself remains static. It’s barely five years later that we understand just how fragile that apparent stasis was all along.

Indeed, one can imagine a contemporary version of The Thick of It in which its starring hacks cross the murky boundary between unethical behavior and blatantly illegal acts,the usual unprincipled goons suddenly finding themselves locked into a partnership of convenience with committed racists; and in which the collateral damage they wreak has expanded to institutional and geopolitical dimensions. While that show does not yet exist, one can see the seeds of proto-Trumpian government-as-PR-crisis in old Thick of It episodes, like a warning we all failed to heed.

Yes. We're longing for the halcyon days of Malcolm Tucker. Welcome to the Trump Administration.

Whisyfest 2018 summary

I mentioned physical items on my desk that needed sorting. My tasting notes from Whiskyfest comprise some of them.

I'm not going to go into details about the whiskies I tasted; here, instead, is a summary table:

Distillery Expression Verdict
Ardbeg 10 year Drink
Ardbeg An Oa Buy
Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release Buy
Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Release Drink
Ardbeg Grooves Committee Release Drink
Balvenie 21 year portwood Buy
Balvenie Peat Week Drink
BenRiach 10 year Buy
BenRiach 10 year Curiositas Drink
BenRiach 21 year Drink
BenRiach 21 year Temporis Buy
BenRiach 12 year Triple-Distilled Horizons Drink
BenRiach Cask Strength Batch 2 Drink
BenRiach 2005 Peated Port Single Cask #2683 Buy
Bowmore 18 year Manzanilla Buy
Bowmore 25 year Buy
Four Roses 2017 Limited Edition Small Batch Skip
Glenmorangie Spios Rye Cask (2018 private edition) Buy
Lagavulin Distiller's Edition 2001 Buy
Laphroaig 25 year Buy
Laphroaig 27 year Buy
Linkwood 19 year cask strength Skip
Maker's Mark Cask Strength Skip
Maker's Mark Private Select Skip
Oban Distiller's Edition Buy
Old Rip Van Winkle Pappy 20 year Skip
Old Rip Van Winkle Pappy 23 year Skip
The Tyrconnell 15 year Madeira cask Buy
The Tyrconnell 7 year Drink
The Tyrconnell Madeira cask (no age) Drink
The Tyrconnell Sherry cask Skip
The Tyrconnell Port cask Skip

It's important to note that while I tasted all of these whiskies, but I did not drink all of these whiskies. I went with a friend, and we shared tastes; the pours were generally very small; and we went to seminars for three distilleries, spreading those tastings out over 45 minutes each. The whole event lasted four hours.

Also, Whiskyfest provides a metric shit ton (a shite tonne) of food. Good food. Heavy, fatty food.

But now you have more context for why I did nothing of commercial or professional value over the weekend.

And yeah, as much as I want to buy some of these, I'm not likely to shell out the $1,000 for the Laphroaig 27 next time I'm at Binny's.

Quick update

Whiskyfest was Friday evening, so I spent yesterday doing quiet things around the house, including starting some projects for an upcoming staycation.

Today will be a little more running around, including possibly a vet visit since Parker has been staying off his right hind leg completely since yesterday evening. He had trouble getting up the stairs after his evening walk, but he doesn't seem to be in any active pain and the leg has full range of motion. I gave him an NSAID; we'll see if that helps.

In other news, Loyola advanced to the NCAA Final Four yesterday, and Duke plays Kansas tonight for the possibility.

As time permits today I'll have updates on Whiksyfest (i.e., which whiskies I'll be looking for), Duke, and Parker.

Elite Eight for Loyola

My #2 alma mater Loyola University Chicago's men's basketball team has done something for the first time in my life:

This marks the first time since 1963’s NCAA championship team that Loyola has remained alive this deep into the season. Wearing their championship rings, Jerry Harkness and several of his teammates sat in the front row at Philips Arena to cheer for the 2018 team.

The program hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1985’s Sweet 16 squad. Now, the Ramblers will face Kansas State, a 61-58 victor over Kentucky, on Saturday in the NCAA South regional final.

Meanwhile, my #3 alma mater, Duke, plays Syracuse tonight.

Tuesday link round-up

Late afternoon on Tuesday, with so much to do before the end of the week, I can only hope actually to read these articles that have passed through my inbox today:

And now for something completely different tonight: Improv and Arias. Which is why I wonder whether I'll actually get to read all of the articles I just posted about.