The time since March 2021 has both dragged and flown. But I would have had a much worse time without this lovely mutt in it:
She adapted to her new situation well: I took this photo about half an hour after she came home.
I'm hoping for at least 10 more years.
To paraphrase Hemingway, the pandemic began gradually, then suddenly. Three years ago today, we started March 12th with some trepidation and ended it by closing the world.
What a strange three years we've had.
After my work conference this week, and flying home yesterday, I had a rehearsal this morning and I've got a performance tomorrow. I'll try to catch up on some posts tomorrow morning.
My company distributes each employee's paid time off (PTO) by distributing a certain number of hours of per half-month pay period. The hours accumulate in a bank that the employee can tap into at any time. Salaried employees can spend it in half-day increments, making it a straightforward arithmetic problem to see how much time off one has available.
There is, of course, a catch: At some point, you hit your maximum number of PTO hours, and it stops accruing. I will be at that point on the 31st of this month.
So, today, I'm taking a day off, and will use it to perform necessary research for the Brews & Choos Project.
There is, of course, a catch:
Yeah. That crap is slowly moving northeast and looks likely to hit Chicago in a couple of hours.
Well, I'll be on trains for a while, and the places I'm visiting are pretty close to the stations. And I can always adjust the plan on the fly. But it does look like I'll get a bit of snow.
Anyway, look for a couple of Brews & Choos entries this weekend.
A couple of updates. First, Paul Vallas picked up a key endorsement, which may bring over some of Lori Lightfoot's voters:
Newly-retired Jesse White, the first African-American elected as Illinois Secretary of State, is endorsing Paul Vallas, giving Vallas a leg up in his quest to claim the 20% share of the Black vote he needs to win the April 4 mayoral runoff against Brandon Johnson.
White, 88, retired in January after a record six terms as secretary of state. In four of those elections, he was the leading vote-getter statewide. He endorsed City Clerk Anna Valencia as his replacement, but she lost handily to former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.
Vallas can only hope White’s endorsement in the mayoral runoff has more weight — and gives other establishment Black elected officials sanction to join him, starting with White’s political protégé, Ald. Walter Burnett (27th).
Block Club Chicago maps out how that might work:
If you’re a local politics geek like us, you’re probably poring over the data to see who won big where, how Chicagoans voted — and what exactly could happen during that runoff.
We pulled together maps and charts to help you understand this latest election...
And Charles Blow sees Lori Lightfoot's decline and fall as typical of other Black mayors, but concedes that her personality probably had a lot to do with it:
[T]wo things can be true simultaneously: There can be legitimate concerns about rising crime, and crime can be used as a political wedge issue, particularly against elected officials of color, which has happened often.
In this moment, when the country has still not come to grips with the wide-ranging societal trauma that the pandemic exacerbated and unleashed, mayors are being held responsible for that crime. If all politics is local, crime and safety are the most local. And when the perception of crime collides with ingrained societal concepts of race and gender, politicians, particularly Black women, can pay the price.
I disagree with Blow; I know crime in Chicago has fallen by more than half since I lived here in the 1990s, and that Lightfoot doesn't have much responsibility for its uptick in the pandemic. I voted for Brandon Johnson because I thought Lightfoot was a bad administrator and didn't know how to get things done without bullying.
We'll see what happens on April 4th.
At my day job, we just ended our 80th sprint on the project, with a lot of small but useful features that will make our side of the app easier to maintain. I like productive days like this. I even voted! And now I will rest on my laurels for a bit and read these stories:
Finally, the European Space Agency wants to establish a standard time zone for the moon. Since one day on the moon is 29.4 days here, I don't quite know what that will look like.
The most accomplished former President of the past century has decided to spend his last few days at home in Georgia:
Former President Jimmy Carter, who at 98 is the longest living president in American history, has decided to forgo further medical treatment and will enter hospice care at his home in Georgia, the Carter Center announced on Saturday.
“After a series of short hospital stays, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention,” the center said in a statement posted on Twitter. “He has the full support of his family and his medical team. The Carter family asks for privacy during this time and is grateful for the concern shown by his many admirers.”
The center did not elaborate on what conditions had prompted the recent hospital visits or his decision to enter hospice care. Mr. Carter has survived a series of health crises in recent years, including a bout with the skin cancer melanoma, which spread to his liver and brain, as well as repeated falls.
The former president lives with his wife, Rosalynn Carter, 95, in a modest ranch house that the couple built in Plains, Ga., in 1961.
Mr. Carter has defied illness and death for years, outlasting two presidents who followed him as well as his own vice president. He became the longest-living president in March 2019 when he passed former President George H.W. Bush, who died the previous November.
I met him once, at university, literally bumping into him as he came out of the library with his security detail. The USSS seemed amused, and let me walk next to him for about a hundred meters before I peeled off. I did get him to sign a note card for me, and later I got to ask him a question—the one I'd written on the note card he signed—at the speech he gave later that day.
He's a mensch. I'm sorry to see him go.
I just got an automated note from HR saying my PTO bank will overflow next month, so look for new Brews & Choos reviews to pop up after March 3rd. We're just that busy on my team.
But that isn't the most interesting thing that happened today. No, that honor goes to waking up to hear that Nicola Sturgeon resigned this morning:
Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed she is resigning as Scotland's first minister after more than eight years in the role.
The Scottish National Party leader said she knew "in my head and in my heart" this was the right time to step down.
Ms Sturgeon said she would remain in office until her successor was elected.
She is the longest-serving first minister and the first woman to hold the position.
The Guardian has more:
Her resignation, which many had suspected could happen nearer the next Holyrood election in 2026, triggered speculation about her successor. Bookmakers quickly tipped Angus Robertson, the SNP’s former Westminster leader and now Sturgeon’s cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, as the lead candidate.
The SNP leader has had a series of political setbacks recently, including the UK supreme court defeat of her plans for a fresh independence referendum and a damaging row over a double rapist being sent to a female jail after announcing she was a trans woman.
There had been growing speculation that Sturgeon was preparing to stand down at the next Scottish parliamentary election, but not so abruptly. She had repeatedly told reporters she had no plans to quit and intended to lead the Scottish government and SNP into the Holyrood elections in 2026.
Yet a series of opinion polls have shown popular support for Sturgeon personally and for the SNP and independence has fallen in recent weeks, partly fuelled by the intense controversy over the rapist Isla Bryson.
A poll by the Sunday Times at the weekend showed 42% of voters wanted Sturgeon to immediately resign, while 45% said she should remain in post until the next Holyrood election and 13% did not know.
The poll found 15% of those who voted SNP at the 2019 general election wanted her to quit, as did 19% of those who voted yes at the 2014 independence referendum. However, 76% of SNP voters and 72% of yes voters wanted her to remain.
Maybe Sturgeon got a note from HR too?
Yesterday, Cassie and I walked about 11 km and ended the day sitting outside at Spiteful Brewery. In February. Today the weather looks about the same (right now it's 12°C at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters), but between work and rehearsal tonight I can't just sit on my porch reading. Dang.
The forecast predicts it'll stay below freezing from Thursday night until Saturday lunchtime, but hey, it's still February. One March-like day during this stretch of April weather doesn't bother me.
Here we have a typical mid-March temperature profile for Chicago:
Of course, that's not from mid-March, that's today. It got up to 9.1°C at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters, without a cloud in the sky, and it looks likely to do the same tomorrow. Cassie got a 5 km walk earlier today and I plan to do 7 km tomorrow.
Consequently I won't spend a lot of time banging away at my keyboard this afternoon. Probably not much tomorrow, either.