The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Hottest weather ever recorded

May was the 13th month in a row that had record heat globally; June will likely be the 14th. In fact, the entire continental U.S. had above-average temperatures last month, which is a first:

If last month, while excreting rivulets of moisture like a ham in the oven, you found yourself thinking, This is crazy hotyou weren’t wrong. It was the warmest June in the U.S. since records began in the late 1800s, surpassing 2015’s historically scorching June and perhaps adding to the world’s never-before-recorded streak of incredible heat.

The 22.1°C average temperature for the Lower 48 was more than 2°C above the historic norm, according to NOAA. It beat out the previous record-holder of 22.0°C in 1933, and made 2016’s year-to-date temperature the third-warmest in known U.S. history.

Aside from being alarmingly hot, June also marked the month in which 31 major U.S. scientific institutions warned Congress in a consensus letter that “climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary drive.”

And here we go, whistling past the graveyard...

All kinds of PRs

Yesterday's walk had a number of consequences, including some discomfort that has persisted until today. But I also blew away my Fitbit personal records. Yesterday's results:

Which makes my top 5 now look like this:

2016 Jun 16 40,748
2016 Jun 8 32,315
2015 Apr 26 30,496
2016 Mar 8 29,775
2015 Jun 15 28,455

Yesterday's weather worked out, too. It was almost completely overcast, until I hit the heavily-wooded sections of the trail up in Glencoe and Highland Park. And it was cool; I don't think it got above 20°C. So I didn't sweat too much and I was able to keep a fairly brisk pace.

I will now limp to my lunch appointment. And I'll post Parker's birthday photo later this afternoon.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll walk there tomorrow

Yes, I'm a little obsessed with finding out how far I can walk in one day, but you won't have to read about it much longer. Tomorrow's forecast looks perfect: sunny skies, 24°C, and some good breezes to keep the air clear and me cool.

And even as I'm contemplating walking 30 km or so, I have to stop and just be awed by British marathoner Sara Hall's Fitbit data from her 2 hour 30 minute running of this year's London Marathon. Her average pace (3'35" per kilometer) is roughly three times faster than I'll go tomorrow. And given that she only took 28,914 steps to cover a marathon, her stride was a full 144 cm—just a few shorter than I am tall.

Also, don't worry about Parker. He's not coming on a five-hour walk with me. He'll be at doggy day camp.

Long walk off a short weather report

The weather forecast for today doesn't look great, so I'm putting off my long walk until Thursday. Today we're expecting thunderstorms from 11am onward, and it's going to be a warm and sticky 26°C; Thursday's forecast is for partly sunny skies, dry 22°C air.

I've met people who do athletic things in all conditions, and I don't understand why. I want to enjoy the walk. So, it's no big deal to postpone it until there's a much higher likelihood of good weather.

Tomorrow: how far can I walk?

FOr a variety of reasons, I've set aside tomorrow to take a hike in Chicago, from home north along one of our Metra lines as far as I can go before saying "to hell with this." My guess is I'll get pretty far. Unfortunately, the weather forecast along the route looks iffy, so I might postpone it until Thursday.

My goal is to go on one walk that exceeds my personal record for distance/steps in one day, 27.08 km in 32,315 steps. I figure that will get me from my house to one of my childhood favorite restaurants, Walker Bros. Original Pancake House. In fact, it will take me past the one I grew up with (in Wilmette) on my way to one of the newer ones (in Highland Park).

Of course, it could rain. Or I could get tired. Or any number of things could happen. Which is why I'm going to walk along the Metra line that passes closest to my house, so I can bail.

We'll see. I think I'll make it all the way up there. But I'll be watching the weather carefully, and may go Thursday instead.

Ribfest 2016: Day two

Oy.

OK, I am completely ribbed out. Yesterday I had 14 bones, today 12, which I think exceeds a full slab by a few.

Five of those bones (two yesterday, three today) were from The Piggery, because they were my favorites yesterday. Today they had a tiny bit less magic. Still 3½ stars, but not the 4 from before. They're still my favorites from this year, though.

I also sampled:

  • Austin's Texas Lightning, who had a meaty tug-off-the-bone sample with some nice char. 3 stars.
  • BBQ King Smokehouse gave me a better-than-expected sample with a tangy sauce and smoked meat that fell right off the bone. 3½ stars.
  • Celtic Crown had a decent showing, but nothing that would drag me out there. Decent meat, but very sweet sauce, otherwise just OK. 2½ stars.

It's also 29°C with a gross dewpoint, and it was even hotter at the festival. That might have affected my scoring today. It was hot yesterday, too, but it didn't feel as sticky.

It turns out there are more ribs in my future, even this month. But I think I'll skip the fest tomorrow and have some light salads and fruit instead.

Bit of a hike

The weather today is the kind that we only get about 15 or 20 days of the year in Chicago. It's 19°C and totally sunny with a light breeze from the east. And I'm actually able to take advantage of it today.

That's why Parker and I just got back from a 2½ hour, 14.5 km walk.

Yes. We walked that far. He's now out cold, and I'm having a spot of lunch. And shortly a shower.

The total damage was 14.51 km in 2:24:57 (not including two stops at Starbucks along the way), for a pace of 9' 59" per kilometer—just a shade faster than 16 minutes per mile.

My Fitbit tells me I kept my heart rate between 115 and 125 the whole way, burned 1,289 calories, and took 17,429 steps. The last two kilometers were actually faster than the first two, because Parker always needs to get things out of his system in the first few minutes of a walk, and that takes time.

I don't think I'll make him walk any farther today, except to the front lawn.

We also got our first walk on The 606, Chicago's answer to the New York Highline:

So long, Miami Beach

As the election gets closer, we need to remember that climate change is real and will affect hundreds of millions of people in the next few decades—despite what one of the candidates seems to think. Here's an article from The New Yorker back in December that puts the issue in stark relief:

To cope with its recurrent flooding, Miami Beach has already spent something like a hundred million dollars. It is planning on spending several hundred million more. Such efforts are, in [University of Miami's Geological Sciences chair Hal] Wanless’s view, so much money down the drain. Sooner or later—and probably sooner—the city will have too much water to deal with. Even before that happens, Wanless believes, insurers will stop selling policies on the luxury condos that line Biscayne Bay. Banks will stop writing mortgages.

The latest data from the Arctic, gathered by a pair of exquisitely sensitive satellites, show that in the past decade Greenland has been losing more ice each year. In August, NASA announced that, to supplement the satellites, it was launching a new monitoring program called—provocatively—Oceans Melting Greenland, or O.M.G. In November, researchers reported that, owing to the loss of an ice shelf off northeastern Greenland, a new “floodgate” on the ice sheet had opened. All told, Greenland’s ice holds enough water to raise global sea levels by twenty feet.

Against this backdrop, South Florida still stands out. The region has been called “ground zero when it comes to sea-level rise.” It has also been described as “the poster child for the impacts of climate change,” the “epicenter for studying the effects of sea-level rise,” a “disaster scenario,” and “the New Atlantis.” Of all the world’s cities, Miami ranks second in terms of assets vulnerable to rising seas—No. 1 is Guangzhou—and in terms of population it ranks fourth, after Guangzhou, Mumbai, and Shanghai. A recent report on storm surges in the United States listed four Florida cities among the eight most at risk. (On that list, Tampa came in at No. 1.) For the past several years, the daily high-water mark in the Miami area has been racing up at the rate of almost an inch a year, nearly ten times the rate of average global sea-level rise. It’s unclear exactly why this is happening, but it’s been speculated that it has to do with changes in ocean currents which are causing water to pile up along the coast. Talking about climate change in the Everglades this past Earth Day, President Obama said, “Nowhere is it going to have a bigger impact than here in South Florida.”

An interactive map the New York Times produced in 2012 should scare the bathing suits off Floridians, too.

Chicago weather sometimes works

We had perfect weather this weekend, including for last night's performance of Mahler's 2nd, and it's still pretty epic, which is why I haven't posted a lot. Except for a brief interval to do a stupid task in my office, and after catching up on Game of Thrones, it's time to take a walk. Not sure when I'll be back.

I haven't hit 25,000 steps since March 8th, and I've only hit 30,000 steps once. I don't think I'll hit either today, but if I do, I'll blog about it.

Climate outlook: normal precipitation, warm weather

The National Climate Prediction Center has released its outlooks for the next few months, and they look mixed for Chicago:

For the summer months of June, July, and August, the outlook for Illinois is [equal chances] for rainfall and an increased chance of being above-normal on temperatures. It is a rare combination in Illinois to have a warmer than normal summer without being drier than normal as well.

For September, October, November, southern Illinois has an increased chance of being drier than normal. This is part of a larger area of drier conditions in the South and Southwest. The rest of Illinois is EC. All of Illinois, and almost all of the US has an increased chance of being warmer than normal in the fall.

I haven't gone back to look at earlier predictions, but I think they've been pretty close this year.