The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Lots and lots of steps

Yesterday I did, in fact, get a butt-load of steps—and so did Parker. He and I walked over 16 km together, bringing my totals to 26,144 steps and 21.6 km overall. That's only my 5th 25k day (out of the 584 since I got a Fitbit), the last one being on March 8th.


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.

Neither spire nor park shall be

What was to be the tallest building in the hemisphere, the Chicago Spire, now can't seem even to become a proper park because of the bickering:

When plans for the twisting downtown skyscraper known as the Spire died, so, too, did the project to turn a weedy nearby lakefront lot into a park named for Chicago's first non-native settler, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable.

And there doesn't seem to be a timeline for developing the 3-acre stretch on the north side of the Chicago River where it feeds into Lake Michigan into DuSable Park, as has been the plan for nearly three decades. The land has been designated as DuSable Park but is waiting to be developed into green space, a Chicago Park District spokeswoman said.

For years the park was linked to the Spire development, which would have used the park site as a temporary construction staging area while the skyscraper was built. But neither the Spire nor the park got developed.

Ah, well. Chicago was great once, and will be again. Just not yet.

Understanding music graphically

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has created brilliant listening guides for audiences:

Hannah Chan-Hartley is the managing editor and musicologist at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO). She oversees the production of the orchestra’s various printed programmes, from designing layouts and writing and editing content, to the creation of its intriguing ‘listening guides’ with graphic designer Gareth Fowler.

A deft mix of text and graphics, the guides can be read while listening to the performance, their layout visualising the thematic progression of the music, indicating the keys in use, what instruments feature and, using morse code-like notation, their duration.

Check out the graphics themselves on the Creative Review or percussionist Chester Englander's Twitter feed.

That said, since childhood I've really enjoyed Peter Schickele's approach:

Mahler's 2nd this weekend

Tonight and Sunday evening I'll be performing Mahler's 2nd Symphony with the Apollo Chorus and the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, University Chorale, and Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble.

If you've never heard this piece, you have to come to one of the performances. Tonight's 7:30 p.m. performance, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on the Northwestern University campus, will have the best sound. But Sunday's 6:30 pm performance, at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago will be free. Also, the weather forecast for Sunday night looks great.

Based on Wednesday's orchestra rehearsal at Pick-Staiger, I think this will be one of the most exciting performances of my career. Here's a performance with Claudio Abbado; skip to 1:09:18 to hear the choral portion:

New technology does away with sales manuals

Crain's this morning profiles Ryan Leavitt and Vishal Shah, who have launched a company to revolutionize sales training:

LearnCore has moved sales training materials online and taken advantage of webcams to allow salespeople to do virtual role-playing. Using screen-capture technology, the company also can record how salespeople explain and demonstrate products for customers. The training can be delivered virtually when it's convenient for the user. It's also easier to track employee progress and completion online than on paper.

Shipping company C.H. Robinson uses LearnCore in Chicago, where it has a sales force of about 500, for training programs that last four weeks to six months. “New employees are able to sell faster than we'd seen in the past, because they get so much more practice,” says Carmen Smith, a human resources manager at the company. The cost per user—Learncore licenses its software for $4 to $34 per user per month—“is about what we'd typically pay for a two-day in-person training class.”

Ill be interested to see where they take the company.

Stay-at-home Millennials

For the first time since 1880, more young people are living with their parents than with each other:

Adults between 18 and 34 are more likely to live with a parent than to get married or move in with a romantic partner, according to an analysis of Census data by the Pew Research Center. The researchers note that it's the first time in more than 130 years in which young adults have chosen their parents' homes over living on their own in a relationship.

In 2014, 32.1 percent of young adults were living with a parent, while 31.6 percent were living in what Pew calls a romantic relationship — either with a spouse or a partner.

In a separate recent report titled "Missing Young Adult Households," the National Association of Home Builders attributes a lack of demand for single-family homes to millennials living with mothers and fathers after graduating from college or high school. That study said 20 percent of people born 1981 to 1996 were living with parents.

The two organizations found a number of factors leading to these outcomes. In time this will reverse—assuming young people actually have enough families of their own.