What I’m Working On

Note: I know a lot of people are linking here looking for my fake hurricane photo. You can find it by clicking here. When you’re done, you might enjoy the rest of my blog, starting with today’s entry.

I found a very cool applet called Weathergraph. The idea is to chart a graph of temperature, windchill/heat index, and wind on 4 graphs; daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Because of a graphing database tool call RRD, the database stays the same size even as the graphs ingest more data.

If it were only this easy.

The program required installing a Perl (Perl is an interpereted computer language heavily used in web applications) module call Geo::Metar and RRD Tool. So I won’t become a pain in the butt to my webhost, I decided to install these myself… local to my site. I bet if I knew Perl or even Bash scripting this would have been easier.

Perl modules don’t want to be installed locally, and when they are… they cry.

There’s a concept in Linux (which is what geofffox.com runs on) called ‘superuser’ or su. I don’t have that privilege on this server. That means there are lots of things I can’t do. Many of those would make all of this easier.

I got it done, but please don’t ask me to retrace my steps. I have no idea!

Immediately, I realized I didn’t care as much about windchill/heat index as I did in dew point. No problem. Just rewrite the program.

Again, I don’t know Perl. But, I’ve come to the conclusion that most computer languages are very similar, and with the help of a few books, I think I figured it out.

Unfortunately, every time a graph was plotted, the dew point and temperature were the same. No good.

Back to the program. If you’ve never seen what computer programs look like, here’s a small sample:

$req = new HTTP::Request GET =>

“http://weather.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/mgetmetar.pl?cccc=$site_code”;

$response = $ua->request($req);

if ($response->is_error) {

$failed[$i] = $response->as_string;

sleep(90);

}

}

if ($response->is_error) {

for ( $j = 1; $j <= 5 ; $j++){print $failed[$j];}die;

I’m still not 100% sure (because once this program gets running it takes a significant amount of time before it will actually plot a graph) but it seems like the problem was in the windchill/heat index routines. I had turned all mentions of windchill/heat index into dew point, but didn’t realize the program still wanted to apply the rules of windchill/heat index to the dew point. And tonight, there is no windchill or heat index.

I pulled that section of code from the program.

This may be way beyond me. Who knows? I am nothing more than a 53 year old ‘script kiddie.’

When the graphs go ‘live’, I’ll post an announcement. I expect to have one for each ‘official’ weather station in connecticut and maybe a few others. Each graph will cost me 233 Kbytes of my limited space.

Ivy

I went and saw Ivy in the hospital this afternoon. She was quiet when I came in, laying down in her cage. It is spacious by Westie standards, but it’s still a cage. Ivy had an IV tube taped to her left front leg. She licked me and gobbled down the piece of cheese I brought. But, she also started panting, which isn’t good. The doctors have said she is doing a little better, but she still has shallow breathing. Hopefully, Monday (Labor Day) she’ll have her ultrasound and a plan of treatment can start. This sucks for Ivy. It sucks for us too.

New York City trip – The Producers

Ivy the dog is still in the hospital There was some improvement today, which I’ll get to later. Still, Helaine felt it was best for her to stay home… and she did.

Steffie and I took our three tickets to see The Producers, got in the car around 9:00AM, and headed into New York City. After Dunkin’ Donuts and gas (there’s a joke here somewhere), we hit the open road, convertible top down.

This was actually risky. The mostly cloudy sky turned overcast as we moved west from Bridgeport (In Connecticut, the east-west Connecticut Turnpike is labeled north-south. This makes a geographically challenged adult population even more confused). I expected to have to pull over, under an underpass, at any moment to get the top up. But, by the time we hit the Cross Bronx Expressway, the sun had returned and the air began to get steamy.

The trip to New York, though shared with lots of other cars, was never hampered by traffic.

We followed the CBE to the West Side Highway (following the Last Exit in New York signs) and headed south along the Hudson River. The view to New Jersey was a little hazy. The river itself was pretty empty.

I parked the car ($30, thank you) on West 44th Street, just west of 8th Avenue. I always put up the top when parking, even in attended parking, and that was a good thing, since it later rained.

It was near 11:00 AM and the show wasn’t until 2:00 PM, so we headed into the subway at the corner and went downtown to Canal Street.

For some unknown reason, I thought the IRT #1 train would be the closest (it wasn’t). I mention this, because the subway stairs at 8th and 44th bring you to the 8 Avenue Line IND station with connecting corridors to the IRT (mentioning IND and IRT only helps to show I’m getting older. These labels, a throwback to the era when some subways lines were privately owned, haven’t been used in decades.) It seemed like we were walking to Canal Street as the narrow, tiled, dingy, hot tubes led up and down, left and right, until we were on the downtown platform. We took the express a few stops and then walked across the platform to take the #1 to Canal.

New Yorkers leave the city in droves during the summer, and I’m sure that’s especially true for Labor Day weekend. At the same time tourists pour in. Canal Street was jammed.

Maybe I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m sure Kate Spade, Christian Dior or Louis Vuitton (is there really a Louis Vuitton?) would clutch their collective chests and fall to the ground in cardiac arrest if they ever saw Canal Street. Everything is a knock off… but a nearly perfect knock off.

When a bag says Prada on the outside, it also has Prada on the hardware and Prada “franked” on the leather inside. It’s a pretty thorough job.

Today, I actually stopped as I bought a bottle of Poland Springs water from a vendor, thinking maybe it too wasn’t the real thing. Hey, it’s Canal Street, who knows?

I continue to look, to no avail, for a Breitling combination analog/LCD watch. Obviously, Breitling has them, but that’s a little out of my price range for a watch… maybe not for a car, but for a watch.

Steffie went bag, wallet and shoe shopping. Is it an obsession? Sure. There should be some 12 step program to get her back on the right track. But, at least on Canal Street you can indulge your fantasy. She bought a few things, including some shoes she had been lusting after.

I found a few computer books. One was on Perl, a computer language (which will not make my spell checker happy) used on websites like this one, that I want to learn. The second had to do with Cascading Style Sheets. Again, it’s a concept used on this website and something I had heard about for years without understanding. Like Perl, if I’m going to administer this site, I need to learn at least a little bit about it. Books on Canal Street go for 1/2 retail price or a little less.

A few Canal Street observations. There is a street side display ad for Tag Heuer watches. These watches are sold on Canal Street… they’re just not real. It’s an odd place for an ad like this.

Canal Street is old and tired. There hasn’t been new construction here since the 1930’s or maybe earlier. Little shops are crammed into spaces no larger than a small closet. And, my guess is, this was never an upscale neighborhood, even back in the day. That’s why it was interesting to see beautiful detail work on some of the older industrial buildings.

Finally, even in the midst of urban congestion, people find comfort in things growing. I found this ‘city garden’ on a fire escape. There’s no doubt it’s against fire code, but it is nice to see.

With a 2:00 PM curtain, we headed back into the subway and north to the 42 Street stop on the E train. Up the stairs and, astoundingly enough, we were a half a block from the theater. But, there was a problem. We had Helaine’s ticket!

A try outside the theater yielded nothing. It didn’t seem like the right place to sell it. So, we headed to the TKTS booth in Duffy Square. This is where you’d likely find people looking for tickets, and Producers tickets were always tough to come by.

I walked parallel to the line at TKTS. “Single ticket to The Producers.” Once, twice, three times… and then as I was about to try one more time, Steffie turned me to a woman in line who was interested. She asked how much? I hadn’t thought about it, so asked her to make me an offer. She said half, and the deal was done.

As it turned out, she was Japanese, in New York by herself (though she said she had friends there) and had only come in earlier in the day. She was about to sit dead center in the 6th row, and I was subsidizing 50% of the cost.

The Producers was excellent. It is everything the movie was, though the story has been adapted and simplified for the stage. The current cast is considered “B” next to Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. Even then, like most New Yorkers, some of the biggest players were out-of-town, replaced by stand-ins. Lewis J. Stadlen, the lead, was replaced by John Treacy Egan, which meant Egan was also covered by an understudy.

I would very much like to see the show again, with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. As the originators of Bialystock and Bloom, and with the theatrical clout to be a little ‘over the top’, my guess is they bring the show up a few notches.

The dialog and sensibility of the show was pure Mel Brooks. You could hear his voice in nearly every line. And, in fact, his voice was heard (lip sync’ed by an actor) during Springtime for Hitler; “Don’t be stupid, be a Smarty – sign up with the Nazi Party!” I believe he did this line in the film as well.

Brad Musgrove as the astoundingly gay Carmen Ghia was a hoot. He got the biggest ovation of the non-principals.

After the play broke, we headed away from the car, and back toward Times Square. Steffie wanted a henna tattoo, which we never found.

We did see a few things in Times Square that you only see in Times Square. The most notable is the “Naked Cowboy.” It is, stripped to its essence, a man wearing a cowboy hat, boots and underwear. That’s it. He charges to pose for photos, and does a pretty brisk business.

For the cowboy challenged, there was also Spiderman, available for a price. In the spirit on New York, I doubt any of his take goes to the copyright owner.

What we did find was rain! What had been a sprinkle as we left the theater turned into a downpour. We were near 42nd Street by this point, so we headed to the ESPN Zone. With a 30 minute wait, we turned back up Broadway and ended up at Planet Hollywood.

When in Times Square, Steffie and I eat at Planet Hollywood more often than not. The food was fine, but more importantly, the restaurant was dry. We were soaked when we got in. Luckily, the camera, books, bags, shoes and the like were in plastic bags. Steffie’s purse had been outside, but tonight, it seemed none the worse for water.

We headed back to the car, only to run into the New York City Fire Department. Something was going on above West 44th Street. Four or five pieces of fire rolling stock and at least a dozen, firefighters (each wearing oxygen packs) stood around chatting as a ladder was extended from a truck and two firefighters climbed to the roof of the theater adjacent to the St. James (where The Producers plays).

If there was cause for alarm, it was well hidden. No one was breaknig a sweat. Steffie wanted to stay and watch, which we did for a few minutes. But, as time went on, it became clear that whatever was going on, was going on out of sight… and wasn’t all that dramatic.

By 6:00 we were in the car, turned north on 8th Avenue, and headed home… with the top down.

Ivy the dog

This morning, Helaine asked me if I had noticed that Ivy the dog’s breathing was very shallow and rapid, even when at rest. Unfortunately, I did.

We have a very good vet hospital in the neighborhood, and I called. Helaine took Ivy over before noon.

Ivy has fluid in her lungs, her color is pale and her lymph glands are swollen. They put her on an IV and administered oxygen. They also gave her some medication.

This evening, there is some improvement, but not much.

We are worried, and how could we not be? Ivy is a very important member of the family.

Dr. Gustafson, Ivy’s attending, will be in tomorrow and we will check back.

How I met Rev. Jesse Jackson

I get my hair cut at work. I know. That’s one of the most decadent priveleges my job affords me. In the last 15 years my hair has been cut outside of this building once; on the morning of my daughter’s bat mitzvah,

Today, I was sitting in the men’s dressing room with Francine (Queen of Hair) giving me a little trim.

By the way, if given half the opportunity, Francine would work on my hair for hours at a time, until each individual folicle was where it belonged. But, even when I rush her, she’s unreal.

So, Francine is clipping away and the door is open to the hallway. I tend to look at the mirror and call out to people who are passing by. A tall figure walks by, stops, and sticks his head in.

Jesse Jackson.

So, what do you do when you’re sitting, with a ‘bib’ on, trying to keep hair off your clothes with a woman spraying water on your hair? Is there anything clever to be said at all?

The Reverend Jackson and I do not see eye-to-eye on all issues… in fact, maybe not on most issues. However, I must admit he is a charming man… very approachable and seemingly without pretense (in our short meeting). There is no doubt, he is one of the most recognizable, revered, and reviled, people alive today.

I am astounded by the number of people at the station who say they’ve met him before. He is a person who makes loads of one-on-one contacts. That’s a major strength.

He is tall and a little rumpled in his dress. He was accompanied by, though not surrounded by, a group of tall and large black men.

I’m sure he needs bodyguard protection, he is a controversial figure with a lot of enemies. But his ‘protectors’ were not at all menacing or threatening or even overly cautious here in the television station. But, they were big. I’d feel safer.

I wonder if he’ll remember meeting me? I will remember meeting him.

Talking (recycling) trash

Helaine and I took the trash to the curb a few minutes ago. The town doesn’t pick-up recyclables every week, and we don’t bring them to the curb every time we can, but the scene outside is not to be believed. There are three trash cans, a recycling bin full of bottles six grocery bags full of the New Haven Register and New York Times and assorted cardboard tied with string.

There is more outside our house than used to sit outside the apartment building I grew up in!

To me, what makes this ridiculous is what we recycle; glass and mostly paper. What do they think, this stuff grows on trees? Uhh… forget that.

Trees are an easily renewable resource and glass comes from sand. As far as I know, there’s no shortage of sand in the offing. Here is Connecticut at least, the percentage of forested land is higher now than it’s ever been. Aren’t there things to be recycled which would make more sense?