Did someone get trapped in a closed time loop on Sunday? Did I? Because this week just brought all kinds of insanity:
Well, one of those is good news...
A coyote (or coyotes, but maybe just one) has had enough of humanity in Chicago:
Another coyote attack was reported Wednesday night when a man walked into a hospital with a wound on his buttocks that he says came from a coyote.
The 32-year-old man showed up at Northwestern Memorial Hospital with a scratch on his behind, according to Chicago police.
He told officers that on Wednesday evening a coyote attacked him from behind and bit him in the buttocks while he walked on a sidewalk in the 700 block of North Fairbanks Court, police said.
Earlier that afternoon, a 5-year-old boy was bitten in the head by a coyote on Wednesday afternoon outside a nature museum in Lincoln Park.
This coyote (or coyotes) is not behaving normally. First, they're primarily nocturnal animals. Second, while they have acclimated to humans, they do not typically approach humans. According to local Animal Care and Control officials, however, the increased aggression may come from simple hunger, as food supplies dwindle during the winter.
If you see a coyote, "making loud noises, or using a whistle, is a good way to spook a coyote into leaving. Waving your hands and jumping up and down can also work, according to experts."
About 4,500 coyotes live in Cook County, with about 2,000 of those in Chicago. Longtime readers of The Daily Parker will remember that the cemeteries north and south of my apartment have multiple dens, and also that AC&C officials pulled a coyote out of a drinks cooler in downtown Chicago about 12 years ago.
More on coyotes from the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
Of all the things in the New York Times today, the fact that a census found 2,373 squirrels in Central Park made my day. Parker's too, no doubt, though he has trouble comprehending numbers larger than 2.
Not that anything has happened lately...
Finally, the New York Times had a feature yesterday on new architecture for Antarctic research stations. Cool stuff (ah ha ha).
Every part of the world has now entered the '20s. There is a "UTC-12" time zone for ships at sea traveling between 172°30'W and the International Date Line (180°E/W), which as you might imagine is 12 hours behind UTC. So at noon UTC on January 1st, it's midnight UTC-12, and the whole world has the new year on their calendars.
The last inhabited places to get here were the Hawai'ian Islands two hours ago.
As I've done several years running, I'm taking a look at my statistics for the past year:
- I flew the fewest air miles since 1999 (14,462 against 1999's 11,326), and took only 9 trips out of town (up 1 from 2018). As in 2018, I took 11 flights, but because I took two road trips I wound up visiting 9 states (Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Colorado) and 2 foreign countries (UK and Ontario, Canada) to 2018's 8 and 1, respectively.
- I posted 551 times on The Daily Parker, up 33 from last year and a new all-time annual record! (The previous record was 541 in 2009.)
- Parker got 187 hours of walks, up 54 hours and 40% from last year.
- I got 5,135,518 Fitbit steps and walked 4,630 km, down 2½% from last year. But I went 207 days in a row, from April 15th to November 7th, hitting my 10,000-a-day step goal, which I did 352 times overall. Also during the year I passed 25,000,000 lifetime steps and 20,000 lifetime kilometers.
- Reading jumped a lot. I started 36 books in 2019 and finished 33, up 50% from 2018, and my best showing since 2010 (when I spent several days on airplanes and read 51 books). With at least three trips to Europe planned for 2020, both my flying and my reading should improve.
Let's see what 2020 brings. I'm especially bummed that my Fitbit numbers declined, even though Parker got 40% more walk time. (But he walks 40% more slowly than last year, so...)
Specifically, it's 2020 in the UTC+14 zone occupied by Kiribati and Kiritimati, the latter being somewhat to the east of Hawai'i (UTC-10). So begins the 24-hour period where some part of the world goes from 2019 to 2020 every hour (or, in the case of India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Newfoundland, and a couple of other places, at the half- or quarter-hour).
So welcome to the '20s, Kiribati.
- The Chicago Tribune has a rundown of the 100 best news photos they published in the last 10 years.
- The New York Times has satellite photos of various spots around the country showing human-engineered changes from 2009 to 2019.
Take a few minutes this afternoon to go through them. They're worth it.
Actually, Christmas Island crabs, which migrate around Christmas, and were the subject of an NPR story yesterday:
Palm fronds, turquoise lagoons and a clattering army of crustaceans making their way from the island's forest to the beaches. Christmas Island red crabs - 50 million of them. Jahna Luke works for Christmas Island's tourism association and lives there. She says everyone has a hand in the crabs' journey.
JAHNA LUKE: We have all these measures in place to keep the crabs safe while they make their migration down to the ocean. Even cars on the island - we all have rakes in our cars so that on our way to work or wherever it is we need to go, we - we're out raking the crabs off the road to clear our way.
It's a real thing, and not just because NPR talked about it:
So if you feel crabby this week, imagine being on Christmas Island, which should not be confused with Kiritimati. We'll return to Kiritimati in about a week, as they will be the first place on earth to enter the 2020s. Meanwhile, enjoy the crabs.
(Say it with me: "Under where?")
Australia just hit a record temperature—for the whole country:
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) reports preliminary data showing that for Dec. 18, the nationally averaged maximum temperature was 41.9°C. This beat the old record of 40.9°C, which had been set the day before. Before this heat event, the country’s hottest day was Jan. 7, 2013, which had an average high temperature of 40.3°C.
Human-caused global climate change is making heat waves such as this one more likely to occur, more severe and longer-lasting. An early analysis of the ongoing heat event shows that climate change may have made the Australian national heat record at least 20 percent more likely to occur now than in a climate that had not been influenced by human emissions of greenhouse gases. It’s possible that forthcoming research will show that this event could not have occurred without human-caused global warming, as previous analyses of other events have found.
That's insane. Not to mention the extensive brush fires—including the largest ever recorded in Australia—that have rendered Sydney almost uninhabitable.