The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Zeta may become first-ever January hurricane

The National Hurricane Center reports this hour that Tropical Storm Zeta, only the second January tropical storm ever recorded, may become a hurricane. It probably won't, but it's already so close as to make the distinction irrelevant to any ships in the area.

I'm putting this in the Politics category as well as the Weather category because I believe it's one more example of the increased tropical activity predicted by the global warming hypothesis and ignored by current U.S. policy.

For those of you dying to know what the next tropical cyclone will be named, the NHC says the naming season begins January 1st, even though the "official" hurricane season begins June 1st. So the next Atlantic tropical storm will be named Alberto, even if it forms tomorrow.

Happy New Year!

Welcome to another year of the Blog.

Anne and I wound up at the Majestic Hotel right in the middle of our old neighborhood, and then we rang in the New Year at a (relatively) new bar on Clark Street, whose name escapes me. Lots of fun. Forgot the Champagne, though.

New Year's Resolution: 1024 x 768 (I'm using my laptop).

Complaints about the weather: None from me. It's 4°C (40°F) right now, which for a Chicago New Year's Day is delightfully warm. However, this guy that I saw on the way home from the El this morning would probably disagree:

Silliest news story of the day: Yesterday, a pack of chihuahuas attacked a cop in Fremont, Calif. The police officer received bite wounds to the ankle. No word on how far the chihuahuas got punted.

Don't forget, the holidays aren't over yet. Tonight is the last night of Chanukkah. Sunset in Chicago tonight is at 4:31pm; you can use the Weather Now calculator to find your city's sunset time. Check back later for a photo of the world's ugliest menorah in full bloom.

Another good article from the Tribune: Barbara Botman writes about New Orleans at New Year's. I recommend it.

The tropical cyclone season without end

A quick check of email showed me a notice from NOAA that the 27th tropical storm of the most active season in recorded history had formed:

...LATE SEASON TROPICAL STORM...THE 27TH OF THE YEAR...FORMS IN THE EASTERN ATLANTIC...
AT 1 PM AST...1700Z...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM ZETA WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 25.0 NORTH... LONGITUDE 36.9 WEST OR ABOUT 1070 MILES...1720 KM... SOUTHWEST OF THE AZORES.

And we thought the season had already ended. Wow. This is truly historic.

Local man amused by morning newspaper

For no reason that I can determine, an unusual number of today's Chicago Tribune headlines tickled my funnybone. (Registration may be required for some of the stories.)

First, the editorial Religion, Science and Civility, which tells us:

...[S]cience and religion—evolution and intelligent design—can exist together; they are not mutually exclusive.

This we call "equivocating." Science and religion can co-exist the same way Capulets and Montagues can co-exist, and when they try to get together in any meaningful way, similar damage results. So I guess you can read anything you want in the editorial, depending on what you think "exist together" means. I, for one, will stick with science to explain the universe, and religion to provide comfort to those who need it. Neither is good at the other's role.

The editorial concludes:

There will always be room for different explanations and beliefs on the origins of life—and important constitutional limits on what can be said in the classroom.

They're right about the last bit. About the first bit, though, I think they've missed the boat. Only one explanation for the origin of life has any possibility of being true and correct: natural selection. Scientists (and many non-scientists) have tested the theory for about 150 years now, without finding any contradictory evidence. Let me repeat that: all of the evidence yet found supports the theory. That's why it's a theory, and not a hypothesis. People who say that some evidence is missing are themselves missing the point. There may be, somewhere, a life form designed by a supernatural being, just as there may be, somewhere, a building you could jump off without falling (as the theory of gravitation predicts), but the likelihood of either is too low to be calculated.

So, if you must say that "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth," you have to put "beginning" about 12 and 4 billion years back, for "heaven" and "earth" respectively, for creation and science to "exist together" in any meaningful way.

That was the first article.

Next we come to a succession of pieces that, for one reason or another, I found amusing:

Group Seeks to Warm Up Milwaukee's Image. This is about faith-based weather reporting: "So the private, nonprofit Spirit of Milwaukee wonders if moving the [official Milwaukee] thermometer further inland—where temperatures at times can be 6°C (10°F) warmer—would give Milwaukee a warmer image."

First, let me just suggest that the lack of visitors to Milwaukee has less to do with its proximity to Lake Michigan, and more to do with its proximity to Milwaukee. Second, wouldn't inflating the temperature make you feel warmer the same way that currency devaluation makes you feel richer? ("Honey! We made 2 million rupees this year! We're rich!")

But OK, I'll bite, and discuss the plan on its merits. It's true, temperatures are often warmer further inland—in the summer. In the winter, though, the Lake keeps downtown warmer. It's a giant heat-sink that keeps things more moderate nearby. Often in Chicago, the "official" temperature at O'Hare reaches up to 30°C (86°F), while downtown it's a pleasant 25°C (77°F).

That aside, it's important to realize the "official" thermometer is a the airport because weather is of vital importance to aviation and of lesser importance to tourists. And finally, there is an official thermometer farther inland: on Timmerman Field, 21 km (14 mi) North-West of downtown.

On to: Judge rules caged kids were abused by parents. No, really? What was his first clue?

Next: Tracks give archeologists foot in door to 18,000 B.C.. What tickled me was the subhead:

Discovery of aboriginal runner's dash and children's wanderings, pressed in ancient Australian mud, are called "the nearest we've got to prehistoric film"

I got hung up on the image of prehistoric parents yelling at their kids to stop tracking mud through the archaeological dig. Poor joke, I know, but when I first read it I laughed.

Right. On with it.

The Tribune has an exclusive today about a new welfare plan for Chicago construction companies: Daley floats stadium plan; Mayor hopes to lure 2nd football team, Olympics to Chicago. Now, for those of you keeping score at home, remember that we just dumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the Soldier Field renovation. Result: happy construction firms, sad architectural critics, indifferent fans.

Finally, this item: Madigan to gas stations: Donate to Red Cross or risk suit:

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says 18 gas stations across the state either can donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross or risk being sued for price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Two things to note. First, this decision actually came from Deborah Hagan, chief of the attorney general's consumer protection division, not from Madigan. Second, a lovely quote from a gas-station owner makes the article worth reading.

So, all right, maybe not as funny a roundup as the Onion, but certainly more unintentionally amusing items than the Tribune usually publishes.

Now I must get back to my vacation.

More Webcam troubles

Sigh.

Astute readers will gather from the preceding post that I am out of the office for a couple of days. And pessimists will agree that, if something were going to go wrong in the office, it would go wrong the day I left. Pessimists: rejoice! The Inner Drive Webcam has decided to add a new page to its history:

Now, as nearly as I can figure it, you're looking there at the back end of the computer that hosts the camera (highlighted below), upside-down. I'll have to review the archives on Saturday to figure out exactly when this happened. And I'll have to review the method I'm using to secure it to the window.

Quick update

There's a lot going on this week as Anne and I prepare for the holidays. I expect to have some really interesting things to report soon. But I don't have them yet.

I will say, -18°C (-2°F) is really quite cold.

One thing of interest: Apparently there's a storm off the Pacific Coast that's generating some heavy surf. I'll be in Carmel, Calif., the day after tomorrow. I hope to have some photos of really big waves by Thursday.

Full sunrise chart for Chicago

Late addition, 26 March 2006: We have a dynamic version of this in beta over at http://beta.wx-now.com/Sunrise/SunriseChart.aspx.


Last week, I posted a short chart of how sunsets are getting later. Today, because I wanted to know for myself, and therefore I can't imagine anyone else not wanting to know also, I've figured out when certain sunrises and sunsets will occur for the next year.

Here is the chart for Evanston, Illinois:

Date Significance Sunrise Sunset Daylight
21 Dec Solstice, 18:35 UTC 07:16 16:22 9:06
30 Dec Latest sunrises start 07:19 16:28 9:09
8 Jan Sunrises get earlier 07:18 16:37 9:18
28 Jan 5pm sunset 07:07 17:00 9:53
4 Feb 7am sunrise 07:00 17:09 10:09
20 Feb 5:30pm sunset 06:41 17:31 10:50
27 Feb 6:30am sunrise 06:30 17:39 11:09
17 Mar 12-hour day 06:00 18:00 12:00
1 Apr Earliest sunrise until May 12th
Earliest sunset until Oct 11th
05:34 18:17 12:43
2 Apr Daylight savings time begins 06:33 19:18 12:45
4 Apr 6:30am sunrise (again) 06:29 19:21 12:51
12 Apr 7:30pm sunset 06:16 19:30 13:13
22 Apr 6am sunrise 06:00 19:41 13:40
10 May 8pm sunset 05:36 20:01 14:24
16 May 5:30am sunrise 05:30 20:07 14:36
9 Jun Earliest sunrises start 05:15 20:27 15:11
16 Jun 8:30pm sunset 05:15 20:30 15:14
21 Jun Solstice, 12:26 UTC;
but sunrises get later
05:16 20:31 15:15
23 Jun Latest sunsets start 05:16 20:32 15:15
1 Jul Sunsets get later 05:19 20:31 15:12
6 Jul 8:30pm sunset 05:22 20:30 15:08
16 Jul 5:30am sunrise 05:30 20:25 14:55
9 Aug 8pm sunset 05:54 19:59 14:05
16 Aug 6am sunrise 06:00 19:51 13:50
9 Aug 7:30pm sunset 06:14 19:30 13:16
14 Sep 6:30am sunrise 06:30 19:03 12:32
16 Sep 7pm sunset 06:33 19:00 12:27
25 Sep 12-hour day 06:42 18:43 12:01
3 Oct 6:30pm sunset 06:51 18:30 11:39
12 Oct 7am sunrise 07:01 18:15 11:14
22 Oct 6pm sunset 07:12 18:00 10:47
28 Oct Latest sunrise until Dec 26th
Latest sunset until Mar 9th
07:19 17:51 10:31
29 Oct Standard time returns
Earliest sunrise until Mar 6th
06:21 16:49 10:28
6 Nov 6:30am sunrise (again) 06:31 16:39 10:08
15 Nov 4:30pm sunset 06:42 16:30 09:48
1 Dec 7am sunrise 07:00 16:21 09:20
3 Dec Earliest sunsets start 07:02 16:20 9:18
15 Dec Sunsets get later 07:13 16:21 9:07
21 Dec Solstice, 00:22 (Dec 22) UTC 07:16 16:23 9:06

You can get sunrise information for your location at wx-now.com.

A brief history of the Inner Drive webcam

For a couple of years, Inner Drive has had a webcam pointing out the window. We've moved twice since the webcam first went online. From time to time, we've adjusted the webcam slightly. And, every so often, the webcam adjusts itself.

For example, the first cam image is from when we left the office last night, and the second from when I woke up this morning:
Webcam image showing actual stuff Webcam image is completely black except for the time stamp
(The images are displayed at half-size, but you can view them at full-size by saving them from your browser. You'll notice that they have timestamps, which are in Universal time.)

The poor webcam was lying on the floor of the office covered by the box upon which it had previously sat. See how it sits precariously in this photo? Imagine it now in a heap under the chair by the window.
Photo of the Inner Drive office

So, since we had to move it anyway, we decided to rotate it south 90 degrees, to this angle:
New webcam image pointing southeast

For those interested in history, here is what the image looked like yesterday during the day, and at 6, 12, and 18 months ago, respectively:
Webcam image from December 2005 Webcam image from June 2005
Webcam image from December 2004 Webcam image from June 2004

And finally, here is what the Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters looked like in October 2004 and October 2003:
Inner Drive office October 2004 Inner Drive office October 2003
(Yes, the image on the right is of my living room.)

Note: I didn't realize when I started this post that today is the second anniversary of the Webcam. As a special bonus, here is the very first Inner Drive Cam picture ever, from 17 December 2003 at 1:28 pm CST (19:28 UTC):
Webcam image from December 2005