The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Plug-in hybrid car + city living

Many people, particularly in the US, have suffered recently because of their choices to live in places without meaningful alternatives to driving, their neighbors' choices not to fund meaningful alternatives to driving, and a war in Eastern Europe that has directly and indirectly raised worldwide oil prices to real values not seen since 1973.

I feel a bit of smugness coming on. See, my house has a Walk Score of 95 and a transit score of 81. I live within 1500 meters (about a mile*) of two rapid-transit train lines and a heavy-rail line, not to mention nine bus routes, three of which operate 24 hours a day. I live within a short walk of multiple grocery stores, bars, restaurants, my Alderman's office, a Target, and basically everything I need.

Also, when my last car gave up the ghost 3½ years ago, I decided to get a plug-in hybrid. It can go about 40 km (25 miles) on a charge, so I hardly ever have to use its gasoline engine when I run ordinary errands.

So yesterday, when I drove to Bloomington, Ill., and back (round-trip: 466 km, 291 mi), I had to fill up for the first time since March 25th. Over the 100 days I went without buying gasoline, I drove 1,400 km (900 mi) and burned 34 L (9 gal) of gas, for an average economy of 2.4 L/100 km (97.9 MPG). In 3½ years I've driven 20,000 km (12,300 mi) and spent $395 on gasoline.

I know many people can't make the same choices I've made, but as a nation, we could make better transit and regulatory choices so that my experience is much more common.

* I'm going to translate everything into American** measurements for the benefit of readers who need to think about these concepts.

** Sure, they're technically "Imperial" measurements, but as that Empire no longer exists, and its remaining bits use the International System (SI), really the only people who need translations live in the United States.

Lazy holiday weekend

I'm spending today finishing a couple of books and season 3 of The Umbrella Academy on either side of hauling down to Bloomington, Ill., for a friend's birthday/housewarming. Tomorrow I intend to continue doing nothing creative, though the holiday may give me cause to contemplate the future of our nation.

Regular posting should resume Tuesday.

One good thing about Texas

I did enjoy the barbecue:

That's a bit of brisket and accoutrements from Stiles Switch BBQ, and it was so good. We also got some from Black's BBQ, which might have actually been better. Of course, even if I ever go back to Austin, I'll have to try one of the other 42,167 BBQ places.

I also stopped by the Home for Developmentally-Disabled Adults and their Democratic Caretakers:

About three meters to my right, which I chose not to photograph, was a giant monument to "The Horrible Men Who Murdered for Slavery," which got mistranslated into "The Brave Men Who Died for States' Rights" by the Texas Lege when they erected it in the 1890s.

Once I got home and collected her from boarding, it took Cassie about ten minutes before she just passed out. This is a happy dog:

American's Austin ground ops

My flight into Austin on Monday took two extra hours after landing—not counting the 45 minutes returning to the airport to get my bag—thanks in part to piss-poor ground operations. Yesterday, we sat at the gate for nearly an hour waiting for fuel.

Apparently the fuel truck has a minor maintenance thing going on, so we had to wait for someone to fix it so they could finish fueling the plane. But once they finished, just past 2pm, we had to wait another 10 minutes because of the shift change.

Please don't make me go to Texas again.

BBQ and Beer

I mean, when in Rome, right? My company offered four options for this afternoon. I didn't even need to read past "BBQ and Brewery Tour" to sign up. Totally worth it! I'll have more to say over the weekend when I have more time to say it, but I do like Texas BBQ, and the two beers I had were quite good.

Home tomorrow, just in time for our own heat wave. Yay.

Fun travel experience!

I mentioned earlier today that my flight to Austin did not go smoothly. The plane actually took off on time and landed a few minutes ahead of schedule, and then...stopped. We wound up sitting on the apron for over two hours because of lightning near the airport. (Apparently the ground crew didn't want to get electrocuted. Seems legit.) Even after we got off the plane, our bags didn't for several hours.

Just look at this fun excerpt from the FlightAware track log:

But, as Cranky Flier reports, flying kind of sucks all over these days:

We are just about a month into the summer, and so it’s time to do a little temperature check. How are things going? The answer is… not well. Yes, there are delays and cancellations during any summer, and there’s plenty of labor vs management mudslinging as well. But the numbers themselves show that things are much worse than even a normally-frustrating summer.

I’ve tried to think of the best way put this into context, so let me put it this way. Across these 9 airlines, 3.1% of flights have been canceled from June 1 – 27. If we look at June 2019, the rate was 2.02%. That doesn’t sound like a lot, so let’s make it more tangible.

These nine airlines canceled 18,508 flights in the first 27 days of June. If they had “only” canceled 2.02% of flights as they did in June 2019, then 13,120 flights would have been canceled. In other words, the airlines have canceled more than 40 percent more flights this June simply because they couldn’t run an operation as well as they did in June 2019. And “well” was already a misnomer back then.

The question is… what the hell is going on to make this such a miserable experience for so many people? And the answer is… it’s all going bad.

Boy, I just can't wait to fly home Thursday...

Thursday afternoon round-up

A lot has happened in the past day or so:

Finally, let's all congratulate Trumpet, the bloodhound who won the Westminster Kennel Club's dog show last night. Who's a good boy!

Hottest day in 10 years–almost

Chicago's official temperature last hit 38°C (100°F) on 6 July 2022, almost 10 years ago. As of 4pm O'Hare reported steady at 37°C (98°F) with the likelihood of breaking the record diminishing by the minute. At Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters, we have 37.2°C, still climbing, but leveling off.

In other hotness around the world:

Finally, Florida Fish and Wildlife Officials captured a 95-kilogram, 5.4-meter Burmese python, the largest ever discovered in the state. Apparently it had recently dined on a deer. So far they have found over 15,000 of the snakes, none of them quite so large.

Update: Not that I'm complaining, but after holding just under 37°C for three hours, the temperature finally started to drop. At 6pm O'Hare reported 36°C. So no record.

Day 2 of isolation

Even though I feel like I have a moderate cold (stuffy, sneezy, and an occasional cough), I recognize that Covid-19 poses a real danger to people who haven't gotten vaccinations or who have other comorbidities. So I'm staying home today except to walk Cassie. It's 18°C and perfectly sunny, so Cassie might get a lot of walks.

Meanwhile, I have a couple of things to occupy my time:

Finally, today is the 210th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the 207th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.