The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

More Germany photos (and one that isn't Germany)

I went through the photos I took on my trip to Germany last week and put a couple of them through Lightroom.

Getting coffee in Viktualienmarkt:

A very practical car for city life in post-war Germany, the 1955 BMW Isetta:

The Trödelmarktinsel, Nürnberg:

A better edit of my earlier photo of the main gate at Dachau:

And finally, I had a really great view of the New York metro area on the flight home:

Leapin' lizards

Stories for the last day of winter, this year on the quadrennial day when your Facebook Memories have the fewest entries and, apparently, you can't pay for gas in New Zealand:

Finally, Economist editor Steve Coll got access to hundreds of hours of Saddam Hussein's taped strategy meetings. He concluded that both the CIA and Hussein had no understanding at all about what the other was thinking.

Also, the temperature at IDTWHQ bottomed out at -5.3°C just after 7am and has kept climbing since then. The first day of spring should get it up into the high teens, with 20°C possible on Sunday. Weird, but quite enjoyable.

Getting warmer?

The temperature at Inner Drive Technology World HQ bottomed out this morning, hitting -4.8°C at 10:41 am, and it may even end the day above freezing. So this mercifully-short cold snap won't keep us out of the record books, just as predicted. It's still the warmest winter in Chicago history. (Let's hope we don't set the same record for spring or summer.)

Meanwhile, the record continues to clog up with all kinds of fun stories elsewhere:

  • Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has led his party in the Senate since the Cretaceous, announced he will step down from leadership in November, handing some other schmuck clean-up duties after the electoral disaster likely to befall the party on the 5th of that month.
  • After the unhinged ruling on embryo "personhood" the Alabama Supreme Court handed down last week, Republicans across the country have fallen over themselves saying they want to protect IVF treatment while they vote against protecting IVF treatment. Jamelle Bouie runs down some of the dumbass things Republicans have said on the ruling, with a cameo from the dumb-as-rocks junior US Senator from Alabama, who sounded more like Nigel Tufnel than usual.
  • Aaron Blake pointedly contradicts the usual "bad for Biden" story line by putting President Biden's Michigan-primary win last night in perspective.
  • Bruce Schneier looks at the difficulties insuring against cyber crime, one of the problems we're also solving at my day job.
  • New York prosecutors said the Art Institute of Chicago exhibited "willful blindness" in 1966 when it acquired art looted by the Nazis, an accusation the museum denies.
  • Harry Windsor, the Duke of Sussex, lost his case against the UK Home Office, in which he sued to keep his publicly-funded security detail the same size as it was when he actually did his job as the Royal Spare. The high court (the rough equivalent of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in this case) ruled that the relevant agency had made a perfectly rational decision as the Duke now lives in California, doesn't do bugger-all for the UK, and is a whiny prat to boot.

Finally, Chicago Transit Authority president Dorval Carter took a—gasp!—CTA train to a city council hearing, at which he promised the CTA could be the best transit system in the world if only the State of Illinois would give it more funding. The very last thing I did in Munich on Sunday was to take the S-Bahn to the airport at 7am, so I can assure you money isn't the CTA's only impediment to achieving that lofty goal.

(Also, I just realized that This Is Spinal Tap turns 40 on Saturday. Wow.)

Easy connection in Charlotte

My flight from Munich landed at Charlotte about 40 minutes early, and I got through customs and back through TSA in 34 minutes. Sweet!

And now I'm watching the plane that will take me to Chicago pull into my gate. Sweet!

Really, I just want to hug my dog and get 10 hours of sleep tonight. I have a feeling one of those things will happen and the other won't.

Nürnberg

As planned, I took a day trip to Nürnberg, which required a 70-minute high-speed train that cost more than I'd planned. In fact, if I'd planned which trains to take, and bought the tickets last week, I could have saved about $50. Of course I had no way to predict today's amazing weather.

First, about that train. In Europe, a 244 km/h train is bog-standard:

From Munich to Ingolstadt it tools along at a leisurely 160 km/h, but after Ingolstadt, they put the hammer down, as you can see in the GPS readout in the upper-left corner.

And I am glad I took the trip, because Nürnberg is gorgeous:

It's also where Johannes Pachelbel committed his musical atrocities just over 400 years ago:

True story: at my wedding many eons ago, I hired a string quartet, and told them they would not get paid if they played anything by that guy. They stuck with Mozart, Haydn, and some Satie at one point, if memory serves.

Morgen!

The sky looks different this morning:

I'm about to head to Nuremberg, depending on the price of train tickets. They seem to vary quite a bit every time I check online. But on a day like this, I'm sure I can find something fun to do nearby.

Walk around the neighborhood

Finally recovered from jet lag, our hero takes a 6-kilometer walk along the Isar and through Glockenbachviertel:

As the sun set, it found a gap in the clouds which I hope means tomorrow it'll come out for a while. You can see a little bit of it here on the Paulaner Brewery:

(I didn't stop in; any Brews & Choos stops on this trip will come tomorrow, in Nuremburg.)

The Theresien-Gymnasium:

And back at Marienplatz just as twilight became night:

Now, off to find a beer.

Vrooooom

Since I learned how to drive a car, I've wanted to pick up a BMW in Munich. The European Delivery program allowed Americans to buy a made-to-order car at their local dealer, pick it up in Munich, drive it around Europe for up to 6 months, drop it off at an Atlantic port (Antwerp, I think), and drive it home from your local dealer about 12 weeks after that. Because of tax incentives from the German government and other factors, the purchase price of the car and delivery to your local dealer cost almost exactly what it would cost without picking it up here.

Sadly, it appears that program has ended, in part because of the pandemic, but also because BMW now builds most of its North American cars in North America. You can always go to Spartanburg, S.C., I suppose, but that isn't quite the same thing.

If I ever get a huge bonus or win the lottery, I'd buy a BMW anyway; specifically, the 330eX, their 4-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid. I'm sure my Prius Prime gets much better efficiency (and costs about half what the 330eX would), but having owned two BMWs before, I can assure you a BMW is much more fun to drive.

So with no way to buy a BMW this weekend, I at least got to the source:

And continuing a theme of this weekend, I got there on a fast, quiet, modern subway train:

Unrelated to anything transportation-related, I have an update on Cassie and her friend Butters from the latter's humans. Both girls like food:

And they both like naps:

Now that I've had a quick lunch of Schweinswurst, Käse, Oliven, und ein Shoko-croissant, I am going to take a walk through the Isarvorstadt neighborhood just to my southwest.

Updates, on dogs, trains, and walks, as conditions warrant.

Metra to dip toe into early-2000s technology

Before I even took off from Chicago on Wednesday morning, I snarked a bit on the widening gulf between US and European technology, particularly in public transport. I don't think Chicago's regional heavy-rail agency, Metra, heard me specifically, but it seems they have committed to introducing electric trains on one currently-Diesel route before the end of the decade:

Metra plans to buy battery-powered trains that could hit the rails as early as 2027 on the Rock Island line, potentially fast-tracking a move to greener and more frequent off-peak service.

The commuter rail agency’s board voted Wednesday to pay $154 million for eight two-car, zero-emission trains from Stadler U.S., of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The trains, unveiled by the Stadler U.S.’ Swiss parent company last year, are a significant departure from Metra’s well-known diesel locomotives and cars.

The Stadler trains have low-level boarding and ADA-compliant lifts. Each two-car powered train seats 112 people, with trailer cars seating about 46. The cars are connected by open gangways. Half of the trailer cars would include ADA-accessible bathrooms.

In its statement, Metra said the new trains could help achieve its vision of providing more frequent all-day service. The first sets are expected to be delivered in 2027 or 2028, Metra said.

So, the Rock Island line gets Saturday and Sunday electric trains only half a century after the all-electric S-Bahn opened here in Munich.

Which reminds me, on Tuesday coming home from work I discovered that the 13-year project to construct a single goddamn Metra station officially concluded with the opening of the inbound Leland Avenue ramp at Ravenswood, almost 7 months after the rest of the station opened:

But hey, the Metra Rock Island District will get eight two-car electric trainsets—made by a Swiss company—within the next four years.