Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Saturday 25 October 2014

The Nag's Head, Angel:

Coincidentally, this pub has the same name as my go-to pub when I lived in Hoboken, N.J., 15 years ago.

Saturday 25 October 2014 12:11:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Best Bars | London | Photography#
Friday 24 October 2014

I'm a little busy today, preparing for three different projects even though I can only actually do 1.5 of them. So as is common on days like this, I have a list of things I don't have time to read:

I really would have liked another week in London...

Friday 24 October 2014 12:59:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Kitchen Sink | US#
Thursday 23 October 2014

Cranky Flier, a nerd after my own heart, sees so much missed potential with the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, an airplane that makes its last commercial passenger flight this weekend:

This week marks the final commercial flight of the last of the Douglas widebody aircraft. When KLM flight 672 from Montreal touches down in Amsterdam at 635a on Sunday, the era of the trijet in airline service will officially end. I’ll miss the MD-11, but today I’m going to focus on the negative. The MD-11 was a symbol of failure for McDonnell Douglas, and there are lessons to be learned.

Sure, McDonnell Douglas had its chances. In the early 1970s, the company began floating the idea of a DC-10 Twin with, obviously, only 2 engines. Boeing’s 767 wouldn’t fly for another decade. And though Airbus was about to fly the A300 for the first time, it would be years before anyone would take that manufacturer seriously. McDonnell Douglas punted, and the idea never went anywhere.

Instead, the company lumbered along by tweaking its existing products. By 1986, the writing was on the wall for the DC-10. Airbus officially named its updated version of the A300 the A330. It had been developing that for a decade. Meanwhile, Boeing’s 767 was picking up steam and the company was working on ways to expand its size and reach while still retaining only two engines. A couple years later, those efforts would become the 777. What did McDonnell Douglas do? Just before the end of the year, it opted to just stretch the DC-10 into the MD-11.

As far as I know, I last flew on a DC-10/MD-11 in August 1997, from Newark to LAX. I wish I'd known at the time, because the very first time I flew at all was in a DC-10. But Cranky is right: the plane never kept up with Airbus and Boeing models, and deserves to be retired.

Thursday 23 October 2014 11:41:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#

The total lunar eclipse two weeks ago required getting up early in the morning and trying to find the moon through trees and Chicago street lights. Late this afternoon, Chicago (and most of North America to the west) will get a much better show from the moon as it partially obscures the sun.

Starting around 16:35 CDT this afternoon, the moon will creep in front of the sun, reaching maximum eclipse right at sunset (17:59 CDT).

Of course, this being Chicago, and despite the crystal-clear blue skies above the city right now, the forecast for this afternoon calls for increasing clouds and showers. Because we won't actually see the eclipse, that just means it will get dark and gloomy an hour before sunset.

And look at that sunset time. That's right, last night was the first sunset since March 8th to occur before 6pm.

Ah, well. If you live west of Chicago, you'll get a good show from the moon this afternoon, with less gloom and more astronomical coolness. Enjoy.

Thursday 23 October 2014 08:33:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Astronomy#
Wednesday 22 October 2014

This is pretty alarming:

A gunman has been shot and killed inside Parliament Hill’s Centre Block and police are swarming over downtown Ottawa hunting for other possible suspects after several shootings Wednesday morning — including one at the War Memorial that wounded a soldier and another near the Rideau Centre mall.

The War Memorial shooting occurred just before 10 a.m., and the shooter then apparently drove to the gates of Parliament Hill and ran inside the buildings. A witness also reported that another man headed east, potentially in the direction of the Rideau Centre.

The Parliament Hill incident and this week’s fatal hit-and-run comes as Canada prepares to joint a U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State (ISIL) forces in Iraq. The group has publicly called on supporters to kill military personnel and civilians in Canada and other countries — including by running them over with cars. In a video published last month, a senior leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant called on supporters to kill people from countries participating in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIL. That included Canadians as well as Americans, Europeans and.

Not good. Also weird, targeting Canada. But they are our closest allies this side of the U.K., to which perhaps the crazies are catching on.

Wednesday 22 October 2014 11:15:13 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | #
Tuesday 21 October 2014

After getting pounded by Uber and Lyft, Hailo has pulled out of its North American markets:

Tom Barr, co-chief executive and president, said Hailo would concentrate on markets in Europe and Asia and enhanced products such as payment technology and a "concierge" service.

"In the next phase of our growth, we have decided to put all of our energy and resources into these areas," Barr said in a statement to AFP on Wednesday.

"We have therefore decided to end our operations in North America, where the astronomical marketing spend required to compete is making profitability for any one player almost impossible."

On the ground, it appeared that Hailo simply wasn't very helpful. The few times I've used it in Chicago, I've had long waits as 3, 4, or more drivers refused (or ignored) the hail and about the same number of empty cabs went by after someone accepted.

In a note to subscribers, Hailo said its last day of operations in Chicago will be Saturday.

I have now downloaded Uber to my phone...

Tuesday 21 October 2014 13:33:34 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Business | Travel#
Monday 20 October 2014

Waiting at Heathrow for the flight home has only one consolation: the lounge and its open bar. Still, I've just spent four days doing essentially all of my favorite things to do in London, so it's a little melancholic being back at the airport.

I also didn't take a lot of photos. Once I'm back in Chicago and can tell what time of day it is (tomorrow, most likely), I'll extract them from my phone.

Regular blog postings should resume in the morning.

Monday 20 October 2014 15:52:49 BST (UTC+01:00)  |  | London | Travel#
Sunday 19 October 2014

And still in London. Postings should resume tomorrow.

Sunday 19 October 2014 14:11:04 BST (UTC+01:00)  |  | London | Travel#
Thursday 16 October 2014

This is only my 7th time at O'Hare in the past month, but since two of those times were yesterday and the day before, it feels like I just never left. Today, though, I'm going to the Ancestral Homeland. That makes it all better.

Well, almost. I mean, it's still O'Hare. And Heathrow isn't exactly the jewel in the British crown, either. And so far this week I've flown the equivalent of a trans-Atlantic trip already.

No matter. Boarding in 20 minutes; dinner in London tonight. Mustn't grumble.

Thursday 16 October 2014 08:06:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | London | Travel#
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Belated London photo #1
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Ode to the MD-11
Partial solar eclipse this evening
Shooting at Canadian parliament building
Hailo retreats from the U.S.
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Still alive
O'Hare again, this time for fun
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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