20 inches and still snowing

A brief peek out of the window tells me Chicago is closed.

The internet confirms it–school closings, road closings, and the usual hyperbole from the usual bunch of lightweights who freak out and run away at the first sign of a snowflake.  Yes, Lake Shore Drive is closed, but the other expressways are open.  Yes, there is snow, but it’s 19 degrees above zero, not 40 below like where I grew up. Yes, cars are getting stuck, and the side streets have not been plowed, but when I was a kid we walked to school through the snowbanks.  And we were told how soft we had it by our teachers and parents who could tell us exactly how many miles they walked to school through the snow when they were kids.

So now the dance begins.


Riding the storm out

The weather outside is frightful: Blizzard Warning, Lakeshore Flood Warning, US Severe Weather Warning, and Active Notice Local Storm Report.

A couple of hours ago, the wind started gusting strong enough to shake the windows and create a draft through the double panes. Usually I’m very toasty in my front room overlooking the street, but tonight the wind has changed from its usual westerly direction, and is coming from the northeast.

My landlady went shopping earlier today, so we have plenty of Provisions in anticipation of the storm. It’s a Polish neighborhood (except for the Mexicans, Greeks, Arabs, blacks, and me) so she was able to get some nice Polish Krakus ham. Unfortunately I’m out of Australian port and have also sipped the last of the Courvoisier, so I will either have to concoct something with spiced rum or just drink milk.

There’s no moon, but you can see by the street light the snow is coming down heavier and heavier as the evening wears on.

Above the kitchen sink, the snow clings to the window.

No cheery fireplace, but for appointments I have adopted the black leather upholstery and overflowing books that made my undergraduate mentor’s place so comfortable, thrown in the textiles and lamps of Inara’s shuttlecraft on the Serenity (Arabic style instead of Chinese), and scrounged a large pillowy thing to prop up my broken foot.

All I need now is a little Vanhal music, and I’ll be ready to say “Let it snow”.

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No Little Plans II

We dream of an economically vibrant and environmentally healthy region; one whose concentrated areas of activity enable people of complementary talents to achieve high levels of creativity and productivity; a region where all persons have ready access to jobs; to housing near their jobs, and to good schools and job training; a region in which people are enabled and encouraged to find nourishment in a diversity and complexity of persons, interests, and tastes, and to enjoy an exciting array of cultural, recreational, and intellectual opportunities; and, most important, a region that undergirds strong neighborhoods, communities, and families so that they are enabled to nurture the intellectual, moral, and social development of children.
Chicago Metropolis 2020

Chicago Metropolis 2020 is the successor to Daniel Burnham’s 1906 Plan of Chicago.  (see No Little Plans I) Both were sponsored by the Commercial Club of Chicago. But contrast the above statement to Burnham’s famous “Make no little plans, they have no power to stir men’s blood,” and you will start to understand how they are different—and how they are similar.

The above quotation sounds like it was written by committee. It was. Six committees actually, within the club, informed by innumerable other committees, companies, policy groups, etc, that take three more pages to list in the acknowledgments. Such is our diverse urban life these days. (BTW, there is an online version of the document as well, quite different.)

Burnham, in his day only had to worry about stirring the blood of men, and you can bet they were all white men as well, property owners and from western Europe. I doubt that the hoards of immigrants pouring in from Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, and a dozen other countries that fueled the engines of industry were asked what they thought, although they were very much supposed to be the beneficiaries of Burnham’s concern about green space and slums.

And who is supposed to be stirred by our contemporary committees?  Leafing through the book gives a quick impression.

Lots of cute little kids. The study addresses the issues of “public education and child care, transportation, land use and housing, governance and taxation, and economic well-being”, but it’s pretty clear the intended audience is a diverse one.

Here’s an idea of the type of graphics used.  Quite different from the uniform pastels of the Burnham Plan.

And what about Burnham’s encircling parks and green spaces? In the back of the book, almost as an afterthought, is a five page description of how an “intermodal village center” might work in the Chicago suburbs, based on the protected “green heart” area in the middle of four major Dutch cities. I always like these conceptual drawings in the back of urban planning books, they seem like they might spur much creative thought.

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Stopping by woods

…on snowy morning.

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Tucked up warm

Sooner or later I will have to go outside, but for now I am content to view the aftermath of the midwest snowstorm from my toasty aerie.

Borrowing a little bandwidth from the nearby elementary school, I glean from Google all I need to know about the weather. The temperature is 22 °F. There is no wind. So far, in December we have had 0.45in of snow, although areas in nearby Indiana have had as much as 6 inches.

I have always thought Chicagoans to be a bit wimpish about weather. Here, -17°F is a record cold, but where I grew up, it has to get down to 30 or 40 below before anyone is impressed.  And the snowbanks have to be above the cars.  Also, it may be a local cliche, but I did walk a mile to school through blizzards.
Two squirrels, one on the wire and one on a branch, frolic in the sunshine.

The downstairs neighbor cleans the windshield of her van.  Perhaps she is wondering why she ever left Mexico.

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Not just any port in a storm

Australian port. Reminds me of apple orchards.

I tried Portuguese port once when I couldn’t find Australian. Never again.

But which is better, the Willowglen or the Whiskers Blake? Must taste further…

Inappropriate Content

From time to time I run my computer from the unsecured router at the local school. The advantage is that it is cheap and I don’t have to go outdoors or spend money on transportation to get to a place that has free WIFI. The disadvantage is that the nannyware censors nearly everything—YouTube, Facebook, Urban Dictionary. Sometimes even the ads on Yahoo will set off a piercing siren.

Here is a typical warning message in Google Reader:

But my blog is not censored…yet. Hmmm, I wonder if I’m doing something wrong. Oh, well, at least I’m censored in Turkey.

You can see the school here, in this photo taken from the window of my aerie. It’s the red brick building in the background. (The fire–not a serious one–was not at my place.) The amazing machine that is capable of connecting at that distance is a 10 inch Asus Eee PC netbook. I bought it as a toy, but it has turned out to be a workhorse.

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