The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Forgot to post this

As London continues to suffer with perfect weather this weekend, I'm taking a moment to get in from the cool sunny breezes and small cumulus clouds obscuring almost 10% of the sky. Yesterday the temperature soared to an unimaginable 24°C, causing Londoners to seek solace by standing outside pubs in groups drinking lagers. Today things have cooled off to more realistic levels (19°C right now), but the sun continues to make Londoners miserable and wait the restoration of normal weather.

Anyway, I've been meaning to post this map, which shows the U.S. population by race—one dot per person. Here's Chicago:

The yellow area south and west of the Loop are mostly African-Americans; you can see the abrupt change where the Austin neighborhood meets Oak Park on the west side. White people are blue dots, so purple-ish areas are well-integrated, while bluer areas are not.

Other parts of the country have different stories. Play with the map and take a look.

Back in the land of my forebears

Actually, that's not true. I don't even have one bear. *rimshot*

I've arrived at Heathrow, taking advantage of another benefit from using frequent-flyer miles: the arrivals lounge. Shower, breakfast, tea, checking email. Also my second experience in two days of a government adequately staffing their immigration and customs checkpoints to get us through in just a few minutes. Thank you Canada, thank you UK.

All right: now to London.

Unbelievably stupid Windows thing

Fortunately, I'm in an airport with lots of power outlets. Because my laptop just warned me that it was down to its last few milliamps, even though ordinarily the 90 W/h battery I lug around can last about 8 hours. What happened? Windows Search decided that consuming 50% of my CPU (i.e., two entire cores) was a good idea while running on battery.

So since I have an hour before boarding, and since I'm now plugged in (which means I don't have any worries about driving my portable HDD), here is a lovely picture of Montréal from earlier today:

Great news in tax law

The IRS has (correctly, I believe) ruled that legally-married couples get to file joint returns. All legally-married couples:

All legally married same-sex couples will now be recognized for U.S. federal tax purposes the same way as their heterosexual counterparts, the Obama administration said on Thursday.

As expected after a landmark Supreme Court ruling in June, the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service said:

“The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.”

I believe there was no other possible result under the Internal Revenue Code now that DOMA is dead, but I'm glad that the IRS saw fit to underscore the point.

Pausing in Montréal

When I booked this trip, American Airlines insisted (probably because I used miles) that I connect through somewhere, preferably Montréal. They also allowed me to book a 10-hour layover in the city, so, alors, je suis dans un café à la rue St-Antoine. (Click the location bug at the bottom of this post.)

A couple of observations:

  • This trundled by just now: a food truck serving what appears to be fish and chips made with fish that was swimming only a few minutes before being cooked. It seems like a great idea.
  • On the plane I read an article in the Economist's Intelligent Life supplement about Berlin's Stolpersteine. I now have another reason to visit Germany.
  • For only C$9 you can ride all of Montréal's public transit for a day, including an express bus from the airport (cleverly given the route designation 747).

That's it for now. I'm going to wander around France-in-America for a few hours.


I'm just about 18 hours from leaving the country. I'm at that stage where I have nothing to do regarding the trip, but it's close enough to make concentrating on software development a little iffy. It didn't help that my day got broken in half by a regular medical checkup that stretched to unusual lengths because my doctor has a new computer system.

Gotta finish this code, though...

Oh, and: ...ation.

Ground broken on Bloomingdale Trail

Chicago's answer to the New York Highline is the Bloomingdale Trail (now renamed the 606, a 5 km stretch of abandoned railroad on Chicago's near-west side. After much delay, the city broke ground yesterday:

Complete with shovels and dirt, the ceremony took place 16-feet above the ground, on the section of the trail adjacent to ''Park 567'' at 1805 N. Milwaukee Ave., just north of Milwaukee Avenue and Leavitt Street in Bucktown.

The park is one of five ground-level neighborhood parks that will link up to the 2.7-mile, multi-use path, which is named for Bloomingdale Avenue, the street the path runs along between Ridgeway and Ashland avenues.

The Bloomingdale Trail will serve as the centerpiece to a larger system that organizers have coined ''The 606'' due to the first three numerals of the zip code all Chicago residents share.

The 606 is scheduled to open next fall.

Two years for law school

Former law professor Barack Obama makes the case:

“This is probably controversial to say, but what the heck, I’m in my second term so I can say it,” Obama said during a stop at the State University of New York at Binghamton. “I believe, for example, that law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years because [….] in the first two years young people are learning in the classroom.”

In the third year, he said, “they’d be better off clerking or practicing in a firm, even if they weren’t getting paid that much. But that step alone would reduce the cost for the student.”

He continued: “Now, the question is, ‘Can law schools maintain quality and keep good professors and sustain themselves without that third year?’ My suspicion is, is that if they thought creatively about it, they probably could.”

The remarks apparently were made off-the-cuff, and no further details were available from the White House. But experts said the notion – although not new itself, as American law schools were two-year endeavors through the 19th century – is gaining traction.

Wow, I wish there had been a two-year plan when I was a law student. For one thing, 1998 would have been a lot more fun for me. I found some of my third-year courses interesting, and in a couple of cases (Wills, Copyright) genuinely useful. But I'd already decided by third year that I had no intention of practicing.

If I'd actually wanted to practice law after earning my JD, then my third year would have been worse than useless. I may have made other choices—clinics instead of content courses, for example—but I'd still have spent a lot of money without gaining a lot of practical experience.

Hanselman's Azure Glossary for the Confused

Microsoft's Scott Hanselman has published one:


Infrastructure as a Service. This means, I want the computers in my closet to go away. All that infrastructure, boxes, network switches, even software licenses are a headache. I want to put them somewhere where I can't see them (we'll call it, The Cloud) and I'll pay pennies an hours. Worst case, it costs me about the same but it's less trouble. Best case, it can scale (get bigger) if some company gets popular and it will cost less than it does now.

IAAS is Virtual Machines, Networking and Storage in the cloud. Software you wrote that runs locally now will run the same up there. If you want to scale it, you'll usually scale up.


Platform as a Service. This means Web Servers in the cloud, SQL Servers in the cloud, and more. If you like Ruby on Rails, for example, you might write software against Engine Yard's platform and run it on Azure. Or you might write iOS apps and have them talk to back end Mobile Services. Those services are your platform and will scale as you grow. Platform as a service usually hides the underlying OS from you. Lower level infrastructure and networking, load balancing and some aspects of security is abstracted away.

If you're interested in Cloud or Azure development, or you want to understand more about what I do for a living, take a look.