The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Parker update

I mentioned yesterday that Parker stopped putting weight on one of his legs after hurting himself running up the stairs Saturday night. Turns out, it's pretty bad.

His primary vet says my aging mutt tore his ACL and meniscus, which will require surgery. He's getting X-rays on Monday to confirm the injury but she has very high confidence in the diagnosis. Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday.

He doesn't seem to be in any pain when he's lying down (which, as an old dog, he does 20 hours a day). Walking up and down stairs is not possible, however. (Did I mention he weighs 30 kg?) And he has some discomfort in his usual sitting posture. I've got him on pain meds and a joint supplement, but he's not going to be a happy dog for the next couple of months. No day care, no long walks, and definitely no running, probably until the end of May.

Poor doggie.

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.

Staycation: Day 1

Man, I've needed this for a while.

It's 11:15 on a Monday, after doing nothing of commercial or professional value for an entire weekend, and I'm finally at Inbox Zero for the first time in months.

My to-do list currently has 30 items (plus 6 already finished) ranging in complexity or duration from "set up coffee with so-and-so" to "45,000 steps." Inbox Zero was not on the main list, but my inbox is itself a to-do list, so that counts too. In a few minutes I'll have finished with the physical items on my desk that need sorting, and then...breathe in.

Meanwhile, Parker is still not putting weight on one of his legs. We'll be stopping by the vet this afternoon. His giardia has cleared up (I think; I haven't looked that closely), and despite whatever is wrong with his leg, he's happy to walk on the three that still work properly.

Also, just a little blog housekeeping: the A-to-Z Challenge starts Sunday, so over the next week I might have fewer general posts so I can get a head start on the longer posts for April.

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.

We're #11?

Crain's reported yesterday on the latest business-school rankings from US News and World Report. University of Chicago tied with Harvard at the top spot and Northwestern landed at #6:

The magazine labels its ranking a year in advance, so this is the 2019 list. While it started the rankings in 1990, it has historical data reaching back only to 1994, but it was confident this was the first No. 1 showing for Booth.

“The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business tied for No. 1 this year due to its strong placement data, meaning it had the highest percentage of employed students at graduation and, among the very top ranked schools, the highest percentage of graduates employed three months after graduation,” Robert Morse, the magazine’s chief data strategist, said in a statement. “The mean starting salary and bonus of Booth graduates was one of the highest among top schools.”

Duke dropped to #11 in the full-time rankings, but stayed at #5 in the Executive MBA list.

I expect they care more about this in Durham than I do here in Chicago.

The Caribbean recovers

Climate change, in part, destroyed two of my favorite places in the world last year, but they're recovering slowly. Yesterday, the New York Times reported on the progress of both. First, Sint Maarten:

Passengers arriving at Princess Juliana International Airport, on the Dutch side of the island earlier this month, were directed onto the tarmac, past the battered terminal to a white wedding-style tent for immigration. Outside the parking lot, the Pink Iguana, a tugboat turned dockside bar, remained capsized in the water. Down the road, Maho Village (http://www.mahovillage.com/) was practically a ghost town. Of the roughly 40 bars, shops, restaurants and clubs along its entertainment strip, only a pharmacy, grocery store, real estate office and a few restaurants had reopened. All four of its seaside resorts — Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, Sonesta Ocean Point Resort, the Royal Islander Club La Plage and Royal Islander Club La Terrasse — are undergoing major reconstruction. None are scheduled to open before summer or fall.

Yet with another hurricane season fast approaching, much of the tourist zone is not only rebuilding, but undergoing a multimillion-dollar face-lift. The Maho Group alone is putting more than $50 million into a revamp of the Sonesta Resorts, including overhauling the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, and incorporating a new contemporary design. Sonesta’s Casino Royale, the largest on the island, with more than 21,000 square feet of gaming, plans to reopen this summer with two new bistro-style al fresco restaurants and a rooftop bar and lounge. Shiny new rental cars awaits visitors at the Alamo rental office. The Rainbow Café (http://rainbowcafe.fr/en/home/) in Grand Case has a new whitewashed deck, a reconfigured layout, and chic red-and-white furnishings. “Everything is destroyed, so I tried to do something better,” the owner, Gobert Douglas, said with a French accent. Pointing out that he could have spent less on the renovation, he said, “I prefer to do this, change the floor, all the seating, all the style of the restaurant to make it new.”

I'm glad to see it. When I last visited the island, I spent some time outside the tourist regions and interacting with the people who lived there. It's not an easy life at the best of times. With tourism almost destroyed and their own infrastructure barely usable, it's no wonder both countries on the island have come together to restore what they could. I hope to visit again within the next year.

Vieques, which is part of the United States, also suffered tremendously in the last hurricane season. They've started putting the pieces back together as well:

Locals in frayed T-shirts and dreadlocks rubbed shoulders with people who’d arrived on dinghies from sailboats bobbing in deeper water, and a few other visitors from colder climates. The first one I met, Stephen, from Atlanta, had been a regular visitor since 2000.

“I’ve always thought of Vieques as ‘my’ island,” said Stephen, who was making his second visit since the storms. He’d discovered it when he was living in Boston and spotted a cheap flight to San Juan. “My copy of ‘Let’s Go’ suggested Vieques as a pretty good day trip. So I left my rental car on the ferry dock in Fajardo, figuring I’d be back that night. I ended up staying the whole week.”

Others lured by Vieques’s beauty, lack of pretension and low cost of living, have lived here for decades: In my short stay I ran into a museum director, an academic, artists, a retired nurse and a couple from Colorado, Norm and Deb, who had retired early and moved to the island sight unseen to live, as they put it, “on purpose.” Stephen was staying at El Blok, a Brutalist-style cement hotel at one end of the Malecón. When it opened in 2014 it was hailed as hip, chic and a little fancy, with a menu created by a famous chef — something of an anomaly on Vieques. Now the building has a plywood facade painted with the slogan “Vieques Se Levanta” — Vieques Will Rise. Workers head to the bar after sunset, and the vibe is friendly and a little raucous.

That the rest of the U.S. has made it so difficult for Vieques to rebuild is, I think, criminal. Especially if you put "America First," though those are exactly the people who have prevented restoration funding from flowing to the island.

If you're interested, click through for some of my earlier posts about Vieques and Sint Maarten.

Almae Matres both advance

Duke advanced yesterday to the Sweet 16. Cool, but their 87-62 win over Rhode Island wasn't exactly a fair fight.

Loyola, though. Loyola advanced on a hail-Mary three-pointer with 3 seconds left on the clock:

Loyola did it again with a 63-62 NCAA tournament thriller against No. 3 seed Tennessee to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1985 — the last time the Ramblers were in the tournament.

On Saturday night, it was guard Clayton Custer who delivered a game-winning 15-foot jumper with 3.6 seconds left on the clock. In the first round two nights before, it was senior Donte Ingram who nailed a 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds remaining against No. 6 seed Miami to make Loyola a tournament sweetheart.

If Thursday’s victory goes down in Loyola history as “The Shot,” this one will be known forever as “The Bounce."

Custer’s shot from the right side near the free-throw line ricocheted high off the rim to the top of the backboard before rattling through the basket — stunning the Volunteers and adding to what has been a wild NCAA tournament littered with defeated higher seeds.

Nice work, Ramblers. Nice work. Good luck tomorrow to both teams, with Duke against whoever wins today's Syracuse-Michigan State game, and Loyola set to play the winner of tonight's Nevada-Cincinnati game.

1.5 Gs

As of just a few moments ago, I passed 1.5 billion seconds old.

Yes, this is a thing most people don't really think about, but as someone who works in software, this actually has some significance—and another Y2K problem that will occur just a few months before I get to 2.0 Gigaseconds (Gs) in 2038.

The problem is a thing called the Unix epoch. Computers can only count as high as they have bits to count. Unix computers, which include Macs and most of the infrastructure of the Internet, count time in seconds from 1 January 1970 00:00 UTC, which was (at the moment I'm typing this) 1,521,383,994 seconds ago.

Everyone knows computers can count to awesomely huge numbers. But you need to give them enough bits to do that. Unix time is measured by a 32-bit number, which can count up to 232-1, or 4,294,967,295 (in binary, a 32-item string of 1s), which is enough seconds to count just over 136 years.

But you sometimes want to measure things that happened in the past, so Unix time takes the first bit of the 32-bit number and makes it a sign. If the first bit is 0, the time is in the present. If it's 1, the time is the number of seconds before the beginning of the epoch. So this cuts the measurable period in half, to 68 years. Specifically, Unix time rolls over at 3:14:08 on 19 January 2038.

The fix is simply to use a bigger number. Today, 64-bit numbers are no big deal, and they give you 263-1 (9,223,372,036,854,775,807) seconds to work with in either direction. That's roughly 292 billion years, which is sufficient to measure most human-scale activities.

So, knowing all this, and knowing that I was born in the first year of the Unix epoch, it wasn't difficult to figure out my "epoch" birth moment at 9:12 CDT this morning.

But there's a catch. As I mentioned, computers count by 2s, not by 10s, so this entire post is a lie. I'm not 1.5 Gs old; I'm just over 1,500,000,000 seconds old. 1.5 x 230 (i.e., 1.5 giga anything) is 1,610,612,736, so I won't be 1.5 Gs old until Unix moment 1,631,995,056, which will be 18 September 2021 at 19:57:36 UTC.

So check back in three and a half years. I'm sure I'll have another post about this nonsense then.

(For those of you keeping score at home, I was 1.0 Gs old on 13 September 2004 at 20:09:04 CDT, during a lull in blogging. Else I'm sure I would have mentioned this then.)

What is the plural of "alma mater?"

Two of my almae matres yesterday advanced in the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. One of them, Duke, didn't exactly struggle, so I'll just acknowledge them for now. Another of them, Loyola University Chicago, didn't even expect to get to the tournament, so their win yesterday felt really great:

Donte Ingram’s 3-pointer just before the final buzzer delivered the 11th-seeded Ramblers’ first NCAA tournament victory in 33 years — a 64-62 upset of No. 6 seed Miami.

As the players partied Thursday afternoon, a 98-year-old nun who serves as the team chaplain was pushed onto the corner of the hardwood in her wheelchair. With TV camera crews trained on her, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt folded her hands in her lap and smiled, waiting for an embrace from each player as he exited the court.

“She’s just so special, her spirit,” Ingram said. “She’s just so bright.”

After his divine 3-pointer and celebration, Ingram spotted Sister Jean’s outstretched arm as he ran off the court. The undisputed team MVPs for the day hugged.

Call the duo The Shot and The Prayer.

Don't tell anyone, but I'm considering skipping out for a couple of hours to meet some friends at a local wings place. Duke plays Rhode Island tomorrow afternoon, and Loyola plays Tennessee tomorrow evening. (Here's the official NCAA bracket.)

Hell of a week

In the last seven days, these things have happened:

Meanwhile:

Can't wait to see what the next week will bring...