The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Why KC?

I have a little time before I go off in search of a slab of ribs to explain why I'm in Kansas City.

One of my friends decries people who say "I've always wanted to [insert relatively accessible activity here]..." but who haven't actually done [activity]. For example, on more than one inauspicious first date the guy has said, "You lived in Europe? I've always wanted to go there!" Since she's dating single men who are over 30 and over the poverty line, "always wanted" is obviously not true, becuase they would have gone already.

To honor that, I will say I've not always wanted to see a baseball game in every major-league (and American League ;) park—but I've always mused about it.

Therefore, as a single man over 30 and over the poverty line, I've decided to do it. Since I've already been to five (in order: Wrigley, Dodger Stadium, Shea, Enron Field, and Miller Park), this gives me almost three full seasons to get the last 25 before I turn 40. Here are the rules:

  1. Spend as little as possible on the quest. This means, among other things, bunching games up geographically and looking for the cheapest airfares available.
  2. In any park other than U.S. Cellular Field, if the Cubs are not playing, root for the home team.
  3. In any park where the Cubs are not playing, when a hat must be worn, wear a Cubs hat to American League parks and a Red Sox hat to National League parks, on the theory that the hat would therefore be neutral.
  4. If the Cubs are playing, wear a Cubs hat and root for the Cubs, obviously.

Which brings me back to Kansas City. I'm here because I had a previously-scheduled trip to San Francisco anyway, and this was the least-expensive option.

Photos to follow. Now, I'm going to get some sizzlin' baby backs.

Why Parker won't swim in the Pacific this summer

(I mean, other than because he loathes water.)

No, it's about gasoline.

I'm taking a summer vacation this year for the first time since 1992, and I had planned to load Parker and his smelly blanket into my Volkswagen and drive to San Francisco with him. Only, I just filled up my car this morning, and for the first time ever I crested $50. For gasoline. In my bleeding Volkswagen. Which caused me to whip out a spreadsheet and determine conclusively whether driving with Parker out to California makes any sense at all.

It does not.

In fairness to the car, (a) this is Chicago, home of the highest gasoline prices in the country, and (b) the car, a GTI, has a high-compression engine that requires premium gas. But premium gas is only 20¢ more per gallon than regular, as it's always been, so that is no longer the differential expense it used to be.

To crack this nut, I did two calculations. Here's the estimate for driving. Distance comes from Google Maps; fuel economy comes from actual data with this car; fuel cost is an educated guess:

Now compare flying (airfare from American Airlines—I'm a frequent-flyer so I don't have a bag fee—using flexible dates, best price ORD to SFO in July):

Except, driving is worse than that, because owning a car entails other expenses. Over the life of my car, it has cost me 18.4¢ per mile to operate. Note that this includes those halcyon days of $1.25 gasoline, and does not include car insurance or the cost of actually buying the car, so it actually has cost me more than 18.4¢ per mile. Even with those obvious shortcomings, a more realistic calculation of driving to San Francisco looks like this:

Now the difference is $553, almost half the cost of the trip. And it gets even better if you consider that I have a big wad of unused frequent-flyer miles that can, if I choose, bring the airfare down to $5. Yes, five dollars (plus 25,000 air miles), making the difference between driving and flying $828—enough to do the trip again by air and still save significant cash over driving.

(Someone should calculate the CO2 costs, too. How much CO2 am I putting out by flying instead of driving? I think it may be a wash, but I'm not sure.)

I could take him in an airplane, but this really stresses dogs out, so I don't consider that a realistic option.

In any event, as fun as it might be to watch Parker run along a beach in California, it's just not going to happen.

Today's Daily Parker

Another one from Ninth Street, Durham:

This was, of course, from Wednesday, not today. Wednesday it was warm; this morning it was below freezing. Apparently it does get cold in Durham, though "cold" here isn't "cold" back home.

Jamie mentioned several times that the weather in Durham is much preferable to the weather in Chicago, because apparently she has forgotten last August. I guess it depends whether you prefer warm or cold weather.

Tomorrow we're heading back to Chicago. Straight through. Twelve hours. Whee.

Parker on the move

I didn't know it until last week, but most Motels 6 (is that the plural? Has to be) allow dogs. I'm travelling for the holiday, so this made a huge difference. Parker, however, has no idea that absent the liberal pro-dog policy of the chain he'd be in perpetual day-care this week. I even brought his bed for him:

He also didn't know that his crate is portable, which he didn't like to learn:

It must be somewhat bewildering for him. I picked him up right from the gooming salon, having packed the car while he was getting a bath. So one moment he's hopping into the back seat thinking he'll be home in five minutes, next moment he's heading out of town. I'm proud of him, too: 1,440 km and almost 14 hours in a car, and not one incident of mess destruction.

Today while the weather is good we'll explore the environs. Stay tuned.

Cooler weather, just not on camera

Useless fact: Today was the first time since April 6th that my walk to work was below freezing.

Not useless fact: the Inner Drive Webcam was temporarily off-line overnight, as I'm making some infrastructure changes and the computer it's attached to is being decommissioned. (It's back up now.) Apparently people noticed:

I don't do business with you because I don't need to, however, I do look at your live camera every day to see the weather and get a look at Evanston, the town in which I was born and raised. My grandfather lived in the North Shore Hotel in the '50s and I visited there often. Your bottom line may not get any bigger if you continue with the camera but there may be people like myself that will miss getting a glimpse of a portion of the city. I hope that you will not let your new infrastructure cancel out the continuation of the camera.

—John in Craddockville, Va.



I look out at Chicago Ave almost every morning that I am not home in Evanston—just to 'check in'. I think it is the only Webcam in the town. Please keep it up! I love it!

—Bernard, writing from Los Angeles

I had no idea.

The technical issue is simple. Right now the camera runs on an ancient (6-year-old) server running Windows 2000. It's essentially Inner Drive's backup server, sort of the Prince Charles of the office. All it does with its 200 watts is run the Webcam and wait for another server to die.

Here's a photo. The Webcam is hooked into the server on the bottom. (One wag called it "Paul McServer" and called the other one "Server Wonder," but in the office we call them McHenry and Bulle. Bulle is so old it reflects the obsolete naming scheme we haven't used in years.)

Well, server prices having fallen, and efficiencies having risen, and rack-mounting being generally preferable to floor-mounting, we're replacing it with a Dell 860. But the new server will have a Xeon processor, which means we'll be running the 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003, which means (finally) our Webcam software won't run on the new server.

When we get the new server running (probably the first week of December), I may take an old, decrepit laptop and hook that into the Webcam. In any event, given the outpouring of support for it, I'll do what I can to keep it running.