Back Home In Connecticut

I believe I can be arrested for the photo at the top of this entry, snapped as we climbed out out from DCA. It was too good a photo not to take. The White House is hidden just under the wing, but the Capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, Mall, Ellipse and most everything else you can think of for Washington is visible!

I am home. My mom is now in rehab. My dad is supervising my mother’s care.

I usually kvetch about travel days. Not today.

Because of my mom’s condition the reservation wasn’t made until late yesterday. Helaine booked USAirway’s noon flight from West Palm Beach to Washington National then a second flight to Bradley.

Spoiler alert: Everything was on-time!

I fell asleep as we rolled down the runway, woke up 45 minutes later and read Rachel Maddow’s “Drift” until Sully asked me (and everyone else) to turn off my electronic gear. People reading actual books should be compelled to close them too. It’s only fair.

I was in the window seat, 13F. The guy in 13D was reading a book on a tablet too!

We flew the IRONS4 arrival to DCA. This is a standard approach to Runway 4. My right side window was going to have good views today.

It’s a straight shot from Richmond to National flying over the spectacular Virginia countryside. From time-to-time we also flew over interesting off-the-road parcels with huge satellite dishes and radomes. I suspect these are not facilities you can drive up to just to take a peek.

Arrival spectacular, but uneventful.

As I was checking my connecting gate a woman fifteen feet away tripped and fell to the floor. I ran over and helped her to her feet. Still a Boy Scout.

I needed to take the bus connecting the terminals at DCA . As I was walking to the curb the woman ahead of me tripped and fell to the pavement. I helped her up too. I’m a Boy Scout and obviously a bad luck charm!

My second flight was an Embraer 175, an 80 seat jet designed and built in Brazil. Think New York City studio apartment with wings! It does, however, have a huge bathroom for a little plane. Impressive!

I was in my seat kibbitzing with the flight attendant (anyone who doesn’t know how a seatbelt works in 2012 deserves whatever befalls them!) when a voice rang out from the seat behind me.

“Geoff?”

Helaine tells me I have a distinctive voice. It was certainly distinctive enough for Milford Deputy Police Chief Tracy Mooney to recognize me today!

Once the plane was airborne she asked me to pose for a photo with “Flat Stanley!” There is a story. Don’t ask.

Speaking of photos, I believe I can be arrested for the photo at the top of this entry, snapped as we climbed out out from DCA. It was too good a photo not to take. The White House is hidden just under the wing, but the Capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, Mall, Ellipse and most everything else you can think of for Washington is visible!

Anyway, I’m home and back-to-work tomorrow. Glad I went. Glad I’m back.

Bob Ryan – The Weatherman Pushes Back

Moving is never without risk both to the talent and stations. I am happy because for the first time in a few years someone on-the-air in local news has some leverage in contract negotiations.

Bob Ryan is a weather fixture in Washington, DC. He’s been on the NBC owned station for around 30 years. Today he is my hero. On this pre-blizzard day when his station will probably show huge viewership he’s in the news.

From the Washington Post:

A dramatic change may be ahead for Washington’s weather forecasts. And it has nothing to do with Friday’s much anticipated snowstorm.

Bob Ryan, the most-watched television weather forecaster in Washington and a fixture at WRC (Channel 4) for nearly 30 years, is considering leaving the station and jumping to rival WJLA, people familiar with the discussions said Thursday.

bob-ryan-dc.jpgDon’t get me wrong. I am not happy because Bob may be leaving WRC. Moving is never without risk both to the talent and stations. I am happy because for the first time in a few years someone on-the-air in local news has some leverage in contract negotiations.

The trend in my business has been falling salaries, not rising. This is the first I’ve seen where that trend might be bucked!

What boss or owner doesn’t want to buy the same thing for less? Bob’s station is owned by NBC which has been very aggressive in that regard.

Some of the cuts anchors and reporters have were huge. Often they’ve been accompanied by added responsibilities and/or reduced benefits and security. All the cuts have been taken with impunity.

Bob Ryan is pushing back against bosses who’ve forgotten that can happen.

Granted, we’re talking about a guy who should receive no sympathy over compensation. If Bob Ryan isn’t making 7-figures he’s certainly in the high hundreds of thousands per year. As a longtime AFTRA member he’s got a very nice pension plan. This is not about whether his family will eat or not.

There will never be another Bob Ryan in Washington. The kind of following he has, built over years when TV stations had much more commanding audience numbers, just can’t happen today. He knows that. They know that.

I will be very curious how this turns out. So will every other high profile on-air performer. It’s more than idle curiosity.

The Storm’s Over — The Numbers Are In

The dry air was the wild card. Radar showed moderate snow over all of Connecticut for hours-and-hours before anything hit the ground.

snow-shovel-on-the-steps.jpgThe snow has come and gone. There’s never a bullseye, but the forecast was reasonably close. If success is judged by number of complaints, or lack thereof, I’m doing fine. Here are the final DOT numbers. I have also added the Boston and New York NWS snow totals, which include Connecticut, for the Dec 20-21, 2009 storm at the end of this entry.

Not everyone was as lucky. A friend who forecasts in Springfield sent a text message saying he’d received nothing! “Bust of the decade,” he said. Ouch. Been there. I know exactly what he’s going through.

I was right about Southeastern Connecticut getting the most snow followed by the shoreline in general. The snow was fluffy and windblown as predicted. Accumulations were generally in line with my numbers. My call for the Northwest Hills and most of the area directly adjacent to the Massachusetts line was a few inches higher than the actual totals.

I wrote about this last night, but it bears repeating the most unusual and interesting part of this storm was the exceptionally dry air. During the summer we sometimes see 30 grams of water content per square meter. Last night it was around 1 gram per cubic meter!

The dry air was the wild card. Radar showed moderate snow over all of Connecticut for hours-and-hours before anything hit the ground. Once the atmospheric column over any location became saturated light snow turned to heavy snow. I’d never seen a situation quite like this before. It cut inches off all the accumulations.

It’s a shame this storm will impact Christmas shopping. Otherwise we’re lucky it came on a Saturday night when travel is usually light.

And now the dig out begins.

(NWS totals after the jump)

Continue reading “The Storm’s Over — The Numbers Are In”

What I Don’t Understand About Filibustering

The Republicans may not be scared of the Democrats, but aren’t they scared of the voters?

Embedded in the tumult over healthcare insurance reform is the promise if Democrats try to bring a bill to the Senate floor without 60 votes Republicans will filibuster!

Ooooh–filibuster. It’s the boogie man of Roberts Rules. Anyway, we’re not exactly seeing an insta-Congress now.

OK–I’m sort of slow on this. I’m sure I’m missing something. The last filibuster I remember seeing was delivered by Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Good scene. He collapsed convincingly.

I assume the modern version would be a tag-team filibuster with individual Republicans and conservative Democrats taking turns yapping.

Again, I’m sort of slow on this, but why not? Seriously. Why wouldn’t the Democrats want the Republicans to do this?

The latest polls show the vast majority of Americans want insurance reform including a public option. The Republicans may not be scared of the Democrats, but aren’t they scared of the voters? Do they really want to throw a monkey wrench in the works while America stares at them?

A filibuster would open them to all sorts of accusations they currently avoid. It would make them seem smarmy in a much more visible way.

Let them filibuster!

Again, I know I’m missing something here… or maybe everyone else is too damned scared for their own good.

Dental Denial

Forget political policies and promises for a moment. Forget who you supported on the issues. The Swift Boaters managed to convince a significant percentage of Americans John Kerry, a certified war hero, was a coward and George Bush who flew a totally undistinguished and suspect career in the Texas Air National Guard was Rambo!

I’ve been thinking about insurance a lot recently–especially since I got a denial this morning for some dental coverage.

Routine dental exams are covered. Going in an emergency is not… at least it’s not covered when coded as it was for me.

I tried to ask the insurance company’s CSR how it could have been coded to be covered? Seriously, what was I thinking? They are not giving out maps on how to collect. Their job is to pay less, not more.

I’ve asked someone from my company to help and they’re usually very good about this. I suspect at some point the bill will be paid as a covered claim, though there is no guarantee.

Of course this has me thinking more-and-more about the whole national healthcare tumult going on in Washington and at town halls everywhere. There is a huge amount of vitriol and disinformation being spewed.

Here’s why: It works!

As it is in election politics, Swift Boating is an effective method of turning public opinion and convincing people to support policies which are totally against their best interest! Look how effective Swift Boating was against John Kerry.

Forget political policies and promises for a moment. Forget who you supported on the issues. The Swift Boaters managed to convince a significant percentage of Americans John Kerry, a certified war hero, was a coward and George Bush who flew a totally undistinguished and suspect career in the Texas Air National Guard was Rambo!

The healthcare debate is being Swift Boated quite effectively. People are being convinced good is bad, right is wrong. As long as this tactic works (it is totally dependent on convincing the naive whose votes count one-for-one with the informed) it will be used again-and-again.

You may ask, have the perpetrators of Swift Boating no shame? No, they do not. Individual facts are fungible commodities when you’re looking to a achieve a broader goal. That’s why people are screaming against policies they previously supported.

In many ways the healthcare debate is like a parent fighting with a child. The parent takes a long term look at what he’s about to say. The child, however, is willing to slash and burn to get what they want now.

But the bottom line is, as long as this strategy works it will continue to be used.

Is “The American Game” Rigged?

Don’t use me to make your boyfriend jealous.

I am seldom as profoundly affected by an op-ed piece as I was by Frank Rich in Sunday’s NY Times.

What the Great Recession has crystallized is a larger syndrome that Obama tapped into during the campaign. It’s the sinking sensation that the American game is rigged — that, as the president typically put it a month after his inauguration, the system is in hock to “the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few” who have “run Washington far too long.” He promised to smite them.

No president can do that alone, let alone in six months. To make Obama’s goal more quixotic, the ailment that he diagnosed is far bigger than Washington and often beyond politics’ domain. What disturbs Americans of all ideological persuasions is the fear that almost everything, not just government, is fixed or manipulated by some powerful hidden hand, from commercial transactions as trivial as the sales of prime concert tickets to cultural forces as pervasive as the news media.

Though President Obama was elected by appealing to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, liberals are now marginalized on the edge. With no one farther left Obama has shifted farther right knowing we’ve no place else to go.

I understand this move to the center as a strategy, but I am left feeling unclean and used. Don’t use me to make your boyfriend jealous.

It’s not just health care that has me bugged. It’s all sorts of national security issues reaching back to policies of the Bush administration that need to be unwound.

To me liberalism is just another name for idealism. Good deeds should be rewarded. Bad deeds should be punished. Governmental rules should encourage good behavior. We continue to do the opposite.

President Obama was nominated and then elected heavily on the backs of people who feel as I do–and he himself made promises to that effect.

There is no satisfaction in this airing of my angst.