The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Ribfest 2013 regurgitation

Oh, yummy ribs. Yesterday, Parker and I hiked up to Lincoln and Damen as planned, and tried out a different set of bone samplers than in years past.

  • Mrs. Murphy's Irish Bistro (pictured above) started the ribanalia, and led the pack—for a moment. Once again, they had fall-off-the-bone, lightly smoked meat with a tangy, spicy sauce. 3½ stars.
  • Second was a newcomer, Wrigley BBQ, which actually surpassed Mrs. Murphy. They had flavorful, smoked meat, with a spicy dry rub, just a hint of a sweet Memphis sauce, and just the right tug off the bone. 4 stars.
  • Corner 41 was good. Not great, but good. They have a smoky, fall-off-the-bone meat, with good spice and flavor, but they get a half-point off for presenting the smallest sampler I've ever encountered at Gibfest. 2½ stars.
  • Uncle Bub's had the longest line at the festival, possibly because they had the largest stall. They had smoky, tug-off-the-bone ribs with a really great crispiness. They also provided branded moist towlettes which, when you think about it, every vendor should hand out. 3 stars.
  • Sadly, last was least: Real Urban BBQ from Highland Park. Their tug-off-the-bone meat tasted almost processed (though I know it wasn't), too chewy and salty, on which they put an indifferent sort of sauce. I'll have to skip them next time. 2 stars.

Over the next few months, I'm going to have proper rib dinners at my five-year favorites: Mrs. Murphy's, Wrigley BBQ, and Smoke Daddy, plus my cousin Matt's favorite Fat Willy's.

Parker, as usual, had less fun at the festival than I did:

Maybe I should have tried this? No; there's no way Parker would stay on the wagon:

As for our traditional stop on the way home, SoPo: it no longer exists; it's boarded up now. Before we discovered that, however, we came upon a new place, A.J. Hudson's. Great beer list, friendly staff, and dogs. New tradition!

Off to Ribfest 2013

I follow few traditions. That said, walking up to Ribfest Chicago on the first weekend of June has become one. In just a little bit, Parker and I will head out into the crystal-clear, 19°C, late-Spring weather, and get us some ribs.

Before we go, a recap. This will be our 5th Ribfest in six years. Before we started our hike I thought it would help me to remember which vendors I've tried in years past:

2012:

2011:

2010: We didn't go to Ribfest because of my sister's wedding. A fair trade, I think.

2009:

2008:

The 5.1 km walk should take us a little over an hour. On the way back I'll probably continue the tradition established in 2008 by grabbing a beer on SoPo's dog-friendly patio. This also helps by stretching the return walk out to 6 km, in order to work off more ribs.

I may not eat more than a few lentils for the next two days, though...

Comedy of Errors photo shoot

Yesterday I had a fun but abbreviated time at Jarvis Beach doing publicity stills for Spectralia Theater's Comedy of Errors. The play goes up this summer at several Chicago Park District parks as part of the Bard in the Parks program.

I've just finished the first batch of shots, so I haven't got clearance from the production to publish any yet. I can, however, post a shot of the least helpful photo assistant on the planet, here lying down next to Spectralia member Don Johnson:

Daily Parker bait

Maps? Check. Dogs? Check. New York? Check. I give you, Dogs of NYC:

If you own a dog in New York City, odds are it’s a mutt named Max.

The city’s dog licensing records show that out of almost 100,000 registered dogs, this is the most common breed and name in town. WNYC obtained the complete list from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which runs the dog licensing program.

The first thing you notice is the names. The most popular ones in the city hew pretty close to the most popular names across all English-speaking countries: Max, Bella, Lucky, etc. But this is New York, so there have to be some named Jeter (40 dogs) and Carmelo (7). In a town also known for its fashion, that explains the prevalence of dogs named Chanel (44), and Dolce (39). There are 83 dogs named Gucci. We've come a long way from Rover.

And if I want, I can get a custom T-Shirt that tells everyone "Parker is a mixed-breed dog, like the 23,185 registered in New York City."

Evolution at IDTWHQ

Last night I continued reducing local computing costs by turning off my home desktop PC. The old PC has a ton of space and a lot of applications that my laptop doesn't have, plus a nifty dual-DVI video card. But a couple of things have changed since 2008.

First, my current laptop, a Dell Latitude E6420, has a faster processor, the same amount of RAM, and a solid-state drive, making it about twice as fast as the desktop. Second, Dell has a new, upgraded docking station that will drive two big monitors easily. (Sadly, though the docking station can drive two DVIs, my laptop's video chip can only do one DVI and one VGA.) Third, the laptop uses buttloads less power than the desktop. Fourth, portable terabyte drives are a lot less expensive today than in 2008—and a lot smaller. And finally, I take my laptop to and from work, meaning I have a minor hassle keeping it synchronized with my desktop.

Here's my office about three years ago (January 2010):

A few months later I got a second 24-inch monitor (November 2010 photo):

Notice the printer has moved to make room for the second monitor, but otherwise the setup remains the same. The monitors connect to the desktop under the desk to the left, while the laptop has its own cradle to the right.

Now this afternoon:

The printer has landed on the floor directly under where it used to sit (I print about 3 pages per month, so this isn't the inconvenience it seems), the laptop has moved over to the printer's old spot (and has connected to the monitors), and the old desktop machine sits quietly consuming 225 fewer Watts per hour. I also replaced the 10-year-old, no-longer-functioning 2+1 speaker set with a more compact set. The round thing between the keyboard and the laptop near the center of the photo is a speakerphone that I use with Skype.

I think everyone knows the dog under the desk by now, too. He's not happy that I rearranged his favorite sleeping cave, so I might get a couple of weeks without mounds of dog hair under my desk until he decides the printer is harmless.

So far today I have been unusually productive, whether because of the novelty or because I have a fire-under-the-ass deadline at work. So back to it.

Coming up for air

So far this month, I've worked about 110 hours (no exaggeration), in part preparing for a pair of software demos on Monday. Normal blogging will likely return tomorrow or Monday.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of Parker:

That's from six years ago this week. Everyone together, now: "Awwwwwwww."

End of the heat wave? Maybe not

This weekend's weather forecast in Chicago predicts the coolest weekend since May 12, 14 weeks ago. Through Sunday temperatures should be 3°C below normal (days in the low 20s, lows in the low teens), with sunny skies and cool northeast breezes. September, in other words.

The Tribune points out:

Only 6 of past 142 years have produced Aug. 18 overnight lows cooler than those expected by Saturday morning.

Not only will daytime readings be cooler than typical for mid August, nighttime lows will be cooler than normal as well, particularly in areas farthest from the city and Lake Michigan---both of which temper early season cool spells by adding heat.

Friday night/Saturday morning's predicted 12°C low would become Chicago's chilliest minimum temperature in over two months and would qualify as one of the six coolest early season readings for the date since 1871.

It will warm up mid-week, though not to the temperatures we suffered through in the warmest July in history last month. I've got the windows open, and I'll probably be able to keep them open until Wednesday.

Parker likes having the windows open as well, but he's not used to hearing the neighbors—in particular, the neighbors' dogs. I hope he figures it out, because the random, single woofs at 2am are really aggravating.

The Daily Parker...in the cloud

Sometimes things just work.

Last weekend, I wrote about moving my last four web applications out of my living room the Inner Drive Technology International Data Center and into the cloud via a Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine.

Well, if you're reading this blog entry, then I've succeeded in moving The Daily Parker. Except for transferring files (the blog comprises 302 megabytes over 13,700 files), which happened in the background while I did other things, it only took me about 45 minutes to configure the new installation and make the necessary changes to DNS.

Despite the enormous volume of data, this was the easiest of the four. DasBlog has no dependencies on outside services or data, which means I could move it all in one huge block. The three remaining applications will take much more configuration, and will also require data and worker services.

I'm still surprised and pleased with the smoothness of the transfer. If the other three migrations go anywhere nearly as easily as this (taking into consideration their complexities), I'll be an Azure Evangelist for years.