The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Tragedy and farce

We're all set to perform Handel's Messiah tomorrow and Sunday, which got noticed by both the local news service and local TV station. Otherwise, the week just keeps getting odder:

And to cap all that off, the National Weather Service has announced a Hazardous Weather Outlook for tonight that includes...tornados? I hope the weather gets better before our performance.

Not the pub crawl anyone expected

A group of pub-goers in Yorkshire got trapped with an Oasis cover band after freak snowfall made the area impassible:

Dozens of people, mostly strangers, spent the weekend snowed in together at the remote pub after heavy snowfall blocked the exits.

The Tan Hill Inn, which calls itself the U.K.'s highest pub, was hosting the band Noasis when snowfall made leaving the area dangerous for staff, musicians and pub-goers.

So they stayed — and stayed and stayed — all weekend, waiting for the danger to pass.

The band was trapped at the pub as well, causing them to miss their next gig in Essex. "We're very sorry to announce that we are stranded in Yorkshire, snowed in at the venue after last night's gig at The Tan Hill Inn," the band wrote on Facebook.

I mean, I guess there are worse places to be trapped. At least they had food and beer.

Hampshire and Gospel Oak

 Lunch yesterday, at the Iron Duke in Hampshire:

The place is so named because it's on the Duke of Wellington's estate. The current Duke lives just a few kilometers away in a somewhat modest house (at least according to Queen Victoria) whose driveway is 5 km long.

Walking to and from lunch looked like this:

I ended the day at the Southampton Arms as I typically do at least once when visiting the UK. Shortly after arriving and opening a packet of crisps, Marty here came over to investigate:

His attitude toward me shifted a bit when I wouldn't give him any:

I'm flying home this afternoon to my own dog and my own bed, two things I really miss.

Cashless

Just a quick observation: since I last visited London two years ago, almost every business I've encountered has gone cashless. Coffee shops, pubs, the Transport Museum, all cards-only. In 2019, most of the smaller places preferred cash.

No real consequences, other than not needing to withdraw Sterling so far this trip. When I get home and sync up Quicken, I expect I'll have a little work, but again, not a biggie.

It's alive! It's alive!

Just in time for my visit this week, a new report declares the River Thames no longer dead:

In 1858, sewage clogging London's Thames River caused a "Great Stink." A century later, parts of the famed waterway were declared biologically dead.

But the latest report on "The State of the Thames" is sounding a surprisingly optimistic note.

The river today is "home to myriad wildlife as diverse as London itself," Andrew Terry, the director of conservation and policy at the Zoological Society of London, writes in a forward to the report published Wednesday. Terry points to "reductions in pressures and improvements in key species and habitats."

The report highlights several promising trends. But it also cautions that work still needs to be done in other areas, and warns of the negative impact of climate change on the river, which is a major source of water for the city.

There is a possible fix on the horizon. London is currently building a "super sewer" project, which is called the Thames Tideway Tunnel and is due for completion in 2025.

"Once operational it will capture and store most of the millions of tonnes of raw sewage that currently overflow into the estuary," the report says.

I will not, however, go for a swim in the Thames on this trip.

The last bit interests me. In many ways, Europe surged ahead of the US technologically and socially in the last 50 years. Apparently, though, London is just now working on the equivalent of Chicago's Deep Tunnel, which we started in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, back home, Chicago resident Jarrett Knize caught a 33.9 kg carp in the Humboldt Park Lagoon on Sunday, which if certified will be the biggest carp ever caught in Illinois. The Humboldt Park Lagoon is about the size of the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park, and about as urban. No word from the possibly decade-old carp about how it got into the lagoon in the first place.

Back in the Ancestral Homeland

Oh, hello. I think we've met:

That's why I try to sit on the right side of the plane coming into London. This morning, it worked out well.

After getting to my hotel I crashed for more than two hours, so by the time I got outside again it had gotten gloomy and a bit chilly. Perfect London weather! And really interesting light on St Mary Le Strand:

And just off to the right of the church, Somerset House has built a skating rink for the winter:

I'll re-edit the photos when I get home. Phones aren't the best platforms for photo editing.

On the road again

I'm leaving the country today, for the first time in almost exactly two years, and I couldn't be happier. I miss my Ancestral Homeland. And the list of Covid-related travel requirements, while annoying, make sense to me. In fact, because I return Sunday, I timed my (£39 FFS!) UK 2-day test to double as my US 3-day test.

Before I take off, and consign poor Cassie to 103 hours of desperate loneliness (albeit with her entire daycare pack), I want to comment on two news stories.

First, the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society has temporarily waived adoption fees because adoptions have declined 33% in the past three months. "The rescue organization is housing and caring for more than 420 animals and has 140 animals in foster care," Block Club Chicago reports. I foresaw this at the beginning of the pandemic: people feeling lonely and isolated adopting pets that they wouldn't want when the pandemic started to wane. It really pisses me off, but after all, we live in a selfish, consumerist society that views dogs and cats as disposable.

Second, the New York Times reported Monday on how President Biden's infrastructure bill will help Chicago's West Side—but thanks to conservatives in the party scything away hunks of it, it won't help enough:

[T]he protracted negotiations over both spending packages have forced Democrats to cut several initiatives partly or entirely: tuition-free community college, a clean energy standard to combat climate change, billions of dollars for affordable housing assistance and measures to lower the price of prescription drugs.

Places like the West Side may still receive record amounts of federal assistance. But the tug of war leading up to Friday’s passage of the infrastructure bill — and still looming as Congress awaits a vote on the $1.85 trillion social-safety-net package — has delayed the party from what may be an even bigger challenge: selling the investments to voters.

Another issue being closely watched by Chicago community groups, an initiative to replace lead service lines that can cause toxic drinking water, will receive $15 billion in the infrastructure bill and could get another $10 billion in the social-safety-net package, according to environmental groups that have negotiated with lawmakers. That is well short of the $60 billion sought by industry experts and the $45 billion Mr. Biden originally proposed.

I get that legislation takes time, and when your party has a majority of exactly one—and that one is the Vice President—you won't get everything you want. But if Republicans would remember that they represent Americans and not just other Republicans, maybe we could have done better.

All right. Off to the longest doggie day care Cassie has ever experienced...

Nice bit of news from the UK

The Department of Health and Social Care now allows visitors to the UK to satisfy their testing requirement with a £22 lateral-flow test, rather than the more expensive (and invasive) PCR test:

Eligible fully vaccinated passengers arriving in England from countries not on the UK’s red list can take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a PCR from today (24 October 2021).

Lateral flow tests must be taken as soon as possible on the day of arrival in England or at the latest before the end of a passenger’s second day and can now be purchased from the list of private providers on GOV.UK from as little as £22 – significantly cheaper than PCR tests.

Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which can be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants. PCR tests can be accessed free of charge by ordering in the usual way through NHS Test and Trace – via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.  Test providers will be expected to advise people to self-isolate and direct people towards the NHS Test and Trace booking page.

This also means I can pick up a test from a provider and take it back in my hotel room, rather than schedule an hour-long interruption in my day.