The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Cubs sweep Atlanta

I wrote this post on my flight to Dallas listening to the Indigo Girls. Fitting, because having an extra day to spend in Atlanta, my cousin and I went out to Decatur to have lunch with one of my oldest surviving friends and her wife. As my cousin said while we were poking around the interesting kitsch in Blue Moon (below), "Ah, here's the Community."

My Decatur friend suggested the most appropriate (and, in fact, tastiest) place to have lunch in these circumstances: Watershed, which the Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers co-owns. In for a dime at this point, I put in my dollar by having shrimp grits and a mint julep. I know what my fellow Northerners may think right now: "grits? Ew." But what are grits? Nothing more than pieces of corn pan-fried in butter. Well-prepared grits—at Watershed, they prepared them well—are quite tasty, and these, paired as they were with possibly the best-made mint julep I've ever enjoyed, completely ended any reservations I had about this Southern staple.

From there, my cousin and I got back on the MARTA (Atlanta's cute little ol' light rail) and headed next to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site. Wow. Intense. I've studied the Civil Rights Movement from the distance of 20 years and 1000 km, but standing by the Ebenezer Baptist Church and walking past King's tomb truly moved me:

We wrapped up the day at Turner Field, where we got to watch the Cubs sweep the Braves with 29 runs in two days. The park hardly contained any Braves fans at all; it sounded like a home game at Wrigley, complete with "Let's-Go-Cub-bies!" chants and mocking the Braves' tomahawk chop. Milwaukee also lost last night, increasing the Cubs' first-place lead to 4½ games. This year, the post-season is ours to lose.

It was, I kid you not, NASCAR night at the park, with actual stock cars lekking around the warning track during two inning breaks. Occasionally one of the cars would rev at us, causing some in the crowd to cheer. I really don't have anything against NASCAR, but there is something of a cultural gulf between my crowd and theirs.

I did find the two local-beer vendors, and had some Sweetwater 420 Ale. Good pale ale; I recommend it.

From Dallas I'm on to San Francisco, mostly to see family, but also to visit park #15 on the 30-Park Geas, Oakland's Cisco Field. The As are playing the White Sox, which means rooting for the home team (and wearing a Cubs hat) are doubly enjoyable. That's Sunday; tomorrow, it's beer and curry at Kennedy's. I can't wait.

Biennial flight review

Perfect weather yesterday allowed me to finish my BFR. It almost didn't happen, as my usual flight instructor, Chris, got sick the night before and couldn't fly and the plane I'd scheduled lost its transponder earlier in the day. But, the flight school found a plane and an instructor, so off we went. Next time I see Chris, he'll sign off, and I'm good to fly again.

If you have Google Earth, you can not only see my route of flight, but also the actual plane I flew, sitting in its parking space right there in the Google Earth satellite photo.

Landing practice

I still need to do some high-altitude maneuvers (clouds were about 2800 ft, too low for slow turns and stall practice), but I finished much of my biennial flight review today. Interested people who have Google Earth can download the KML file.

What to do in perfect weather...

We get about 30 days a year like this in Chicago: 24°C, perfectly clear, light breeze. As much as I'd have preferred this weather yesterday (I had a flight scheduled but had to cancel because of low ceilings), today Parker and I took advantage of it and walked to Whole Foods. Round trip: 5 ½ km.

Actually, it's all about work. See, I've got a ton of work to do tomorrow, so this way, Parker is all pooped out and sleeps all day. So it's not about goofing off on a summer day, it's about hard work, which in turn is all about preparation.

Major sabotage to San Francisco city computers

Via Dad, it seems a network administrator for the City of San Francisco has locked out all the other administrators:

A disgruntled city computer engineer has virtually commandeered San Francisco's new multimillion-dollar computer network, altering it to deny access to top administrators even as he sits in jail on $5 million bail, authorities said Monday.

Terry Childs, a 43-year-old computer network administrator who lives in Pittsburg, has been charged with four counts of computer tampering and is scheduled to be arraigned today.

...

Childs created a password that granted him exclusive access to the system, authorities said. He initially gave pass codes to police, but they didn't work. When pressed, Childs refused to divulge the real code even when threatened with arrest, they said.

He was taken into custody Sunday. City officials said late Monday that they had made some headway into cracking his pass codes and regaining access to the system.

He's about to find out that you can sit in jail on a contempt of court charge for, well, ever.

Slow news day? IATA codes make headlines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), in conjunction with national aviation authorities like our FAA, maintains the master list of three-letter airport designations throughout the world. (Another group, the International Civil Aviation Organization, maintains a parallel set of four-letter codes that pilots use. For example, the IATA code for London's Heathrow is LHR, but the ICAO code is EGLL.)

The Chicago Tribune has a story today about unexpected and unusual IATA codes:

The good people of Sioux City, Iowa, just don't get any respect.

For more than a century, the city was best known for an omnipresent smell, an unpleasant byproduct of the massive stockyards that drove the local economy. Meat packers would tell their children, "That's the smell of money."

David Letterman used to joke about the town, back in the days when the local CBS television station was not carrying "The Late Show." Letterman would introduce his Top 10 list, saying it had just arrived "from the home office in Sioux City, Iowa."

And then there was -- and still is -- the Sioux Gateway Airport's ignominious three-letter identifying code: SUX. For decades, city fathers have moaned about the label. In 2002, the mayor labeled it "an embarrassment."

Dave Bernstein has heard all the jokes during his 42 years in Sioux City. But, unlike some other residents, he has taken to heart the old adage about what to do when life hands you lemons. He's making T-shirts -- emblazoned with two words: "Fly SUX."

And let's not forget Fukuoka, Japan....

First flight

I finally found the box containing my mother's journals and appointment calendars from 1971 to 1976, 1980 to 1982, and 1990 to 2004. I already had 2005 and 2006, so this fills in a lot. (She stopped writing in late 2006 because she could no longer hold a pen.) Somewhere there's one more box, I hope, but this is by no means certain.

The contents are mostly mundane. One interesting nugget: I finally found the date I first took an airplane flight. On 19 April 1974, at age 3½, I flew from Chicago to Los Angeles with my dad. I'll have to do the math later, but it looks like I've spent about 11 months of my life in L.A. altogether, which is about what I figured.

More later. It's hot, and I'm running late for dinner.

Park #7

Since my dad lives outside San Francisco, I took him to the second park on my 30-baseball-park geas[1]. He hasn't been to a professional baseball game in years, despite working walking distance from AT&T Park. Something about preferring football. I have no idea why.

So, yesterday, I dragged him kicking and screaming to see the Padres play the Giants.

San Diego won 5-1, which is the sort of thing that happens when the visiting team goes through the entire lineup in the first inning. Pat Misch pitched the whole game, mainly because after his horrible first inning he actually held the Padres off until the 9th:

I liked the park. And I had local food: one of the concessions serves Chinese, so I had some orange chicken on rice. First time I ever ate anything with chopsticks at a baseball game. AT&T Park also had some very good local (or at least California) beers, including Lagunitas IPA and Mendocino Brewing Co. Red Tail ale.

Next up, U.S. Cellular Field back home. I had thought of visiting all 29 other parks and calling the quest complete, as living my entire life without ever seeing the White Sox in person sounded like a good idea. However, a business associate invited me to his company party at the Cell next Friday, so at least I can live my entire life without paying for a White Sox ticket. (If you don't live in Chicago, you may not understand that I'm only half-kidding.)

[1] I visited five parks before making plans to see all of them.

Could have been worse

I started my 30-baseball-park geas with Kansas City, which definitely fits the model of saving the best for last.

First, there's beautiful (ahem) Kauffman Stadium, on the outskirts of the city, surrounded by picturesque fields of asphalt and dandelions. My sense of foreboding, stoked by checking the previous day's standings, increased when I saw the lines outside the box-office windows:

Actually, the game was kind of fun. As they went into the 9th inning, the Royals were up by 5, everyone in the park (except the Twins fans) was happy, the weather was just fine, and I looked forward to going to sleep before 11pm. Then the Twins rolled through almost their entire lineup, sending five guys home in the process to tie it up. Not fatal, but surprising. Then the Royals went through every pitcher they had and only six of their batters while the Twins added another run in the 10th. Final score? Oy:

Inauspicious beginning? I'm not bothered. It takes a certain kind of ball club to drop 10 games in a row. Since Wednesday's loss the Royals have dropped yet two more games, making them a very certain kind of ball club. Plus, what did I expect for my—wait for it—first American League game ever. Yes, that's right, I've never seen a designated hitter before, in person. Odd sort of creature, I must say.

I'm in San Francisco now, and yes, my dad and I are going to a Giants game. They're in 3rd place, playing the 4th-place Padres, so it may be a closely-fought match. I'm looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, once again I have to suffer through this sort of thing: