I Probably Owe Kevin Hart An Apology

Helaine and I were the lucky tag-a-longs with my cousins the “Original Irvine Foxes™” and our friends Farrell and Vered¹ for a Saturday night grown-up date night. We had Italian at Angelina’s (real Italians from Italy — not an easy find here) then headed to the FIVEPOINTS Amphitheater to see Kevin Hart. The amphitheater is a temporary 12,000 open air venue adjacent to Irvine’s Great Park (the former El Toro Marine Air Station).

If I knew about the Kevin Hart tickets before yesterday that thought was long forgotten by Saturday afternoon.

I was ambivalent. I’d seen him on TV, probably grazed one-or-two of his movies on cable and decided, “Meh.” He was loud and profane and super egotistical. That’s how I judged him. And I was worried a large part of the show would be about a black experience I only know from reading.


Kevin Hart at the FIVEPOINTS Amphitheater, Irvine, CA.

The guy who came up on stage was a father, husband and maker of decisions good and bad. More than that, he was a great storyteller. This was not setup/punchline/repeat. Kevin Hart is a monologist. He took us into his life warts and all. He is a charming, thoughtful, flawed man.

The cursing I worried about was dolloped on heavy. I can see how some (many) people might be put off by this. I heard it from our friends. In the end content trumped shock for me. Your tolerance may very.

Kevin Hart did an hour ten minute set (I’ll have to ask, but I suspect there’s a 10:00 PM curfew for the venue) and was funny for all seventy minutes. Before he left he mentioned how he always made Irvine a part of his tour. He’ll be back. Hopefully me too.

If I would have gone with my gut (and had a choice) I would have passed up this show. I had no choice, luckily.

Additional note: I have never heard better sound in a concert venue. I would recommend this place for any show.

¹ The term is not really trademarked, but my cousins are well known and liked wherever they go.

It Didn’t Snow In Santiago, Chile — Uh Oh!

If I got a snow forecast wrong people knew and were VERY upset. After all, I claim I can predict the future. People would come up to me on the street or at the market and let me know. No one wants to disappoint the people who trust you — certainly not me.

American GFS computer mode – 12Z 10June2018

It’s winter in South America and the forecast in Santiago, Chile called for snow. It didn’t snow. Snow is a rarity in Santiago, Chile. They get snow, not often. It’s a Mediterranean climate — just what we have here in SoCal.

Which brings us to the message I got Monday afternoon from a reporter at Las Últimas Noticias, a national newspaper in Chile.

Hello Geoff.

Thank you for answering.

Last week, all the forecast said it will be a snowfall this Monday morning. Even the schools closed. Most of people took the prediction as something extremely catastrophic. Well, the predictions failed. The TV weather men and women had to give some explanations. There are a lot of complains and jokes on Twitter about this. So here are some questions:

-How difficult is to predict a snowfall?

-What factors do you have to consider make it?

-Is it a matter of technology? The snowfall forecasts in US don’t fail too much?

-Have you made mistakes in situations like this? What do you do next? Is it good or not to try a kind of apologize?

-In Chile, at least, the weather in TV channels is a kind of terrorific issue. A heavy rain prediction, for example, is almost the end of the world, even with a terrorific music in the background. What do you think about that?

-Do the weather sell in TV?

Thank you
Ariel Diéguez
Las Últimas Noticias

I’m not sure how he found me, but of course I answered.

Of all the predictions meteorologist make, snow is arguably the most difficult. It is a multistage forecast. It’s not just how much moisture is in the atmosphere, but the temperature at different levels in the atmosphere. A small change in temperature is the deciding factor between rain and snow, or even sleet (ice pellets) or freezing rain (rain falls as liquid but freeze immediately on contact with trees, power lines, roadways, etc.).

We used to do this all ourselves. Computers have made life much easier because computer models follow the drops as they fall and figure out their state at every stage. Humans can’t do this alone — much too complex.

The technology has gotten much better over time, but snow forecasts are much more complex than most others. Cloud temperatures decided how fluffy snow is. Snow can range from 6 or 7:1 (7 cm snow from 1 cm liquid) to 30:1 or higher! So, how much snow will fall is very difficult to forecast and almost never exactly right.

I was on TV for 30 years in Connecticut, about 100 km northeast of NYC. If I got a snow forecast wrong people knew and were VERY upset. After all, I claim I can predict the future. People would come up to me on the street or at the market and let me know. No one wants to disappoint the people who trust you — certainly not me.

The number of wrong forecasts is definitely a fraction of what it was 30 years ago. No one is happier about that than me!

I have apologized on-the-air. Absolutely. I take responsibility. The forecast is mine, not the computer’s. I ask you to believe me.

Weather is the single most cited reason for people to watch local TV news. People accuse us of hyping storms, or making them scarier than they are. No. No. No. No. There is no upside to being wrong.

One more thing — Chile doesn’t make the forecast easier by sitting alongside the Pacific. Though we now have satellite observations, much of the Pacific has no surface weather observations. This leads to poor initialization of the computer models and garbage in/garbage out.

Ari – let me know if there’s anything else you need.

Glad to help,

A Connecticut Facebook friend in Santiago promises to keep an eye out for the story.

A Few Moments With My Dad

Just got off Facetime with my dad. He’s feeling a little tired today.

We chatted for a few minutes. Nothing important. Roseanne. Politics. Somehow, how surreal it was to think of him as a sailor.

I had never heard this before. He told me what his father said as my 18 year old father left for WWII. His recollection: vivid.

“Don’t kiss any strange girls.” Thank you Grandpa Jack.

In another part of the conversation we were talking… well, does it make a diff the topic because this really works in all situations.

“Geoffrey, I am 92 years old. I have seen stupid people in my life.”

Yes he has.

So Here’s The Plan

A few weeks ago my sister told me the good news. My dad’s doctor said he was healthy enough to fly. We began to make plans to bring him west.

Then reality set in. My sister was never strong on the idea, but didn’t have the heart to stop us. My niece was wary too and told me so.

It led to one of those awkward conversations where father and son sheepishly came to the same sad conclusion. Practicality over fantasy. My dad had permission to fly, but was he prepared to spend a full day traveling then do it again on the way back?

And so the trip was scotched. Of course that’s not the end of the story.

I purchased tickets tonight. Helaine, Stef and I will be heading to Milwaukee for Father’s Day weekend.

“What are we going to do with Doppler?” Helaine worried. We have no one close-by to leave her with. So guess who’s taking her first airplane ride!

My father got the news on Facetime this afternoon. “I’m very excited,” he said. Me too. Us too.

In spite of having grown up in Queens and her husband Jeff in Washington Heights, my sister and brother-in-law have planted their roots in Wisconsin. Three children. Four grandchildren. And, of course, my dad.

Can’t wait to see them all.

And the Phillies will be in town!

The Political Come To Jesus Meeting About To Take Place

I watched cable news this morning as reporters and anchors tried to explain how Michael Cohen’s accepting money from AT&T, Novartis, Korea Aerospace and a billionaire pal of Vladimir Putin’s was probably legal and the job description of loads of Washingtonians. Business as usual!

What I’m saying is we needn’t worry how retired US Senator John Boehner will afford his newly embraced pot love. Selling access in Washington is big business. Boehner’s easy to pick on but it’s Democrats too.

I’m hoping this will open a national dialog about the position of money in government. I’ve used “come to Jesus meeting” in my title with the understanding it means a frank discussion about a very serious problem that needs immediate action. That’s us.

Obviously, AT&T, Novartis and the others who ‘gave at the office’ felt there were real profits to be made by buying Michael Cohen’s time and shaping his opinion. I find that entirely disgusting.

Before the recent tax bill was passed, The Hill reported this tidbit from Congressman Chris Collins of New York.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) had been describing the flurry of lobbying from special interests seeking to protect favored tax provisions when a reporter asked if donors are happy with the tax-reform proposal.

“My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’ ” Collins replied.

Here’s who they are:

Fewer than one in fifty of Collins’ campaign dollars comes from small individuals. Those weren’t little guys asking for this bill.

When you see obviously unpopular legislation (net neutrality and consumer financial rules as two examples) and wonder how could that possibly become law–see above.

If It Looks Like I’m Showing Off…

If it looks like I’m showing off weather maps lately it’s because I am.

It’s pretty amazing how far Greg and I have come. We’re doing something very different, adapting tools made for more scholarly pursuits.

These are not the maps I’d use to prepare a forecast. They’re designed for show and tell — to point at.

This project might be more detailed than even building my studio. I’m certainly learning more.

Greg writes most of the back end code, I handle the stuff you see, mainly written in an arcane macro language called .gs. Each map is hand crafted with all sorts of decisions for look and feel. They’re all similar but different depending on scale, topography or my judgement the moment of creation.

What’s posted here are 800×450 gifs. Internally I use 1920×1080 mp4s. The maps look good.

This would be impossible without Open Source programs like QGIS, ffmpeg, GrADS, NaturalEarth database and even the OpenSans font family! And it all runs on Centos Linux, also Open Source.

About 80 tasks are in the scheduler. Half run every hour 24/7/365, the others four times a day. Each frame in an animation is an individually rendered map. Tens of thousands are produced daily. Most are never be seen before being overwitten.

My box doesn’t do everything yet, but it’s getting closer. Each additional piece makes it easier to code the piece that follows.

It’s good to get excited.

No One Wants To Get This Text

I got that shitty text no one wants to get this morning. Cousin Gary was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December. This morning he died.

It is an awful disease–a cruel killer with no regard for who you are or how good you were. Gary was a good guy. My friend Kevin, taken by pancreatic cancer ten years ago, was a good guy too.

Don’t get a false impression by my ‘cure.’ There is no actual cure for pancreatic cancer. My cancer was found and removed before it spread. That is the only way in 2018.

“Clean margins,” was the surgeon’s verdict after six hours in surgery. It was what we wanted to hear.

Only one in three can get this surgery. Only one in three of those have this result.

People call all the time to talk about pancreatic cancer. It’s a role I’ve taken on willingly. Most of the time I know how things are going to end before we begin.

There is research ongoing, but this is a particularly tough disease. There is no definitive test for pancreatic cancer other than a physical biopsy. It’s not a routine test because it’s surgery.

Though only 3% of all cancers, pancreatic cancer accounts for 7% of deaths. It’s fast and efficient. The five year survival rate for those whose cancer was detected after it began to spread is 3%.

So, we root for smart doctors and the really brave patients who let them experiment on them with trials, so far mainly ineffective. And we remind the families, like my cousins today, how much we love them and how much of their pain is shared deep inside.

It hurts me Gary suffered for one minute. I hate this damn disease.

I’m A Coder… Sort Of

When I mention I’ve been coding most of you have no clue what I’m talking about. A little explanation today. Coding is among the most rewarding and frustrating things I do!

First, an acknowledgment. I have a mentor in Greg Senia from Shelton. The amount of help he’s given me is immeasurable. I’d be dead in the water without him.

Atom text editor handling two files simultaneously. My new favorite text editor.

Coding simply means writing instructions a computer program can read. Each program has its own little language with strict rules. They’re all similar, but all different.

Spelling counts and only 100% passes. Keys you didn’t know existed like “|” and “`” and “{}” and “[]” become critical.

Most of what we do with computers and cellphones is done in real time. We’re in control. The programs I write run autonomously, sometimes without a keyboard or monitor, triggered by a clock. They won’t run years without any intervention, but they’re pretty dependable day-to-day.

My goal is animated maps at HD quality. Some of these short movies contain 120 separate maps. Each map is rendered individually and sandwiched between a basemap and overlay. The mp4 HD movie is made next. Once created it’s scanned to produce the optimum 256 color colortable for the animated gif. Phew.

My code has to communicate with three separate programs and the computer’s Linux operating system. Files and values are passed back and forth as the different programs perform different parts of the process. One of my scripts takes nearly a half hour to run while gobbling up a few gigs of data, writing over 7,000 separate maps and producing more than fifty animated HD movies.

TV stations purchase expensive systems to do this. This seemed like a better idea for me. It’s a ton of work and extremely unforgiving but the payoff is huge.

The programs I’m using, GrADS, ffmpeg and QGIS are all open source and free as is the Linux operating system, the cartography and weather databases and even the “Open_Sans” font family I’m using.

These programs are thinly used. Help is often tough to find. A few weeks ago I spent a full night looking for a problem causing a crash every time a certain program ran. Greg found it within thirty seconds. He’s a lot more experienced. Beyond that, my text editor conspired by breaking up long lines in a way which hid the cause. A true FML night.

Tonight Greg figured out how to label the correct time and time zone on forecast maps, stumbled upon a bug that would have randomly bit us later and showed me how to re-write all my code as a series of modules.

Yeah — rewrite all my code. I’m working toward long term efficiency, but it will cause pain today.

He’s given me some sample code and hints at approaching problems. Now I have to make it happen.

Write once. Run many.

Still to come, radar maps in real time and numbers on my forecast temperature maps. I am very pleased with how this is working out. Take a look at some samples below. The high quality mp4’s have around ten times the resolution!

If You Forward, You’re Responsible

I got another email today about Fabrizio Brambilla. Among people who know nothing about how computers work Fabrizio is a feared man.

Notify your contacts in your messenger list that they do not accept anything from Fabrizio Brambilla. He has a photo with a dog. He is a hacker and he has the system connected to your messenger account, if one of your contacts accepts it you will also be Jackeado , make sure that your contacts know it and paste it. Thanks

I don’t know what Jackeado means, possibly a euphemism for hacked? Whatever.

This message (or a close relative) hits my inbox at least four or five times a month. It’s always from someone who thinks they’re out ahead of a big story and has forwarded it without checking.

You can check these things with Google. Just enter Fabrizio Brambilla. He’s well known.

Though I have a problem with folks sending this stuff, my bigger problem is the lack a responsibility often taken by the senders.

It was sent by a trusted friend & to tell you the truth, I didn’t think about it! I figured better safe than sorry! If I was obligated to check all the garbage I receive I wouldn’t have time for anything. Sorry I sent it to you!

Of course this is BS on its face. This isn’t about what my Facebook friend received. It’s about what she sent.

My guess is I’m a little too tough on people who send these to me… but there are so many… and it’s so obviously a hoax… and the ulterior motive of being first with the news is so obvious.

Meanwhile, as I was wrapping up with this message, in comes…

Hi, I’m Mark Zuckerberg The Director of facebook.

Hello everyone, it seems that all the warnings were real, facebook use will cost money

If you send this string to 18 different from your list, your icon will be blue and it will be free for you.

If you do not believe me tomorrow at 6 pm that facebook will be closed and to open it you will have to pay, this is all by law.

This message is to inform all our users, that our servers have recently been very congested, so we are asking for your help to solve this problem. We require that our active users forward this message to each of the people in your contact list in order to confirm our active facebook users if you do not send this message to all your facebook contacts then your account will remain inactive with the consequence of Lose all your cont the transmission of this message. Your SmartPhone will be updated within the next 24 hours, will have a new design and a new color for the chat. Dear Facebook users, we are going to do an update for facebook from 23:00 p.m. until 05:00 a.m. on this day. If you do not send this to all your contacts the update will be canceled and you will not have the possibility to chat with your facebook messages

Will go to pay rate unless you are a frequent user. If you have at least 10 contacts

Send this sms and the logo will turn red to indicate that you are a user

Confirmed … We finish it for free Tomorrow they start to collect the messages for facebook at 0.37 cents Forward this message to more than 9 people of your contacts and it will be free of life for you to watch and it will turn green the ball of above do it and you will see.to 9 of you

Give me strength!

Connecticut: I Remember Nights Like This

Tuesday night 7:00 pm EST surface analysis. Click the map — it’s immense.

I remember nights like this, staring at my computer screen, hoping the next piece of data would give me confidence. Tonight it won’t. No matter what the computers say at this point it’s too late. No one trusts the output.

It’s not a question of being mostly right. This storm heading toward the Northeast demands forecast perfection. A mile or two misplacement, or degree or two missed forecast, will make the difference between ten inches of snow and zero.

Where the frustration comes in is, it’s not a question of me not working hard enough or missing a sign. Science just isn’t good enough yet.

There will be a storm. It will be an awful day. For folks off the shoreline it will be a day to find a reason to stay inside. Actually, shoreline too. Just awful

Winter is nearly over.

Update: My Buddy Kevin In Scotland Has Disappeared

Kevin Lyon
Just before Christmas I noted I’d lost track of my friend Kevin, a fellow pancreatic cancer patient from Scotland. He and I had the same diagnosis and underwent the same surgery and treatment.

We met via Twitter and chatted a bunch. We understood life in a way others couldn’t.

And then he disappeared.

I got an email this morning about Kevin. It was what I’d feared and expected.

Hi Geoff, hope are you well. This is Claudia – I was the former partner of Kevin Lyon (Scottish).I have seen on you blog that you are looking for Kevin. Unfortunately he passed away on December 6th. He is in heaven resting.
Thank you for your caring – I’m praying for you.

Best regards.


It’s a horrible disease. Stories like Kevin’s remind me how very fortunate I am… how lucky really. I put up with a lot of shit, but I get to live. I am cancer free.

Why me? Why not Kevin? No one knows.

Dear Students – My name is Geoff.

The questions is will it make a difference or are you pissing in the wind? Don’t believe the naysayers. They are scared of you. I come from a time when college and high school student were able to steer our national policy and even drive a president (Johnson, not Nixon) from office.

Moratorium Against the War in Vietnam – October 15, 1969

Dear Students –

My name is Geoff. It’s OK for you to look at me as old. I am.

You’ve gotten a lot of attention for yourselves recently as demonstrated by the amazing pushback by the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, FL. Make no mistake, it’s a movement.

The questions is will it make a difference or are you just pissing into the wind? Don’t believe the naysayers. They are scared of you.

I come from a time when college and high school student were able to steer our national policy and even drive a president (Johnson, not Nixon) from office. The issue was Vietnam and it divided America as we are divided today. I shudder to think what 1968 would have been like with the Internet.

On one side were people who questioned the war and what we were doing there. On the other side were people who wished to follow the course. I thought they were misguided They thought they were patriots. Looking back there are similarities with Second Amendment defenders today.

The pictures at the top of this entry are from “The Moratorium” in 1969 — I was there. I marched on Washington. I protested on The Commons in Boston. And the country began to listen. Support for the Vietnam War turned.

Back then the voting age was 21 (and the drinking age 18 — you got screwed on this trade). We had much less power. Today nearly every college student and many high school can and should vote.

My generation has felt special for the last fifty years because collectively we did something good. It was probably the first time in American history that ‘kids’ became a political force. We had a positive impact. Now it’s your turn.

Go with your conscience, but please understand we made a difference before and you should now.

Because this post has spawned some heated comments I am imposing limits. One comment per person (except I will allow Judy to support her statement). All comments must be directed to me about what I wrote, not another commenter’s thoughts. I welcome comments on all sides, but keep it civil.

His Life Is Full Of What He Can’t Do

My father wants to drink Coke. The doctor says water. My sister stepped up on this one. “He’s ninety two. Let him enjoy something.”

Charlotte and Great Grandpa Harold earlier today
Lots of buzzing today. Family conferences taking place between my sister, me, our dad and LaTonya, his aide.

My dad went to the hospital after his fall, then on to rehab. He has returned to his apartment weakened. Yesterday he got a bag of iron via IV and he’s wearing a cannula for oxygen. He’s stronger Saturday than he was Wednesday.

He’s brain sharp but physically weary. No one is really healthy at ninety two. You’re always on the edge.

The good news is my dad can regain what strength he had. The bad news is that means doing things which are uncomfortable or bothersome including exercise. At ninety two my dad should stand every hour and walk up and down the hall a few times a day. This is at the edge of his abilities.

I’m not sure I could blame him for saying, “Screw this.” He says he wants to get stronger, but sometimes it’s tough to match action to those words.

At ninety two you can get away with a lot of shit. I asked him not to be a schmuck to others. I’m sure it’s frustrating to have physical life become so difficult. He said he understands.

Few of us can know what it’s like to be trapped inside a body that no longer works right. If my dad drops something it might as well be on Mars. He could bend down to pick it up, but he’d never get back up!

Part of today’s conversation centered on drinking more water. That my father’s kidneys work at all is a surprise. Allowing more fluid in his body makes their job easier.

My father wants to drink Coke. The doctor favors water.

My sister stepped up on this one. “He’s ninety two. Let him enjoy something.”

She’s right. Water is better than Coke, but he’ll probably drink more this way which is good.

I texted LaTonya. “I think we need to consider his life is full of what he can’t do.”

And so we’re all agreed. Let him drink Coke!

Please Don’t Embarrass Us

As a true fan Helaine viscerally understands no lead is insurmountable. As a Philadelphian she anticipates the worst. And then came this season. The Eagles did nearly everything right. We’re not used to this. Early on they won against the Giants on an improbable 61 yard field goal kicked by a sub who’d never played as a pro before. Their quarterback, Carson Wentz, became a potential league MVP. Last year’s disappointment, Nelson Agholor, became this year’s find. They won consistently.

Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, pa.
I remember my first Philadelphia Eagles game. My friend Marlene invited me. Her dad, Frank, had a handful of season tickets. Back then, in 1976, a season cost less than a single game today!

It was fall, but it felt like summer with a bright blue sky. The seats were in Section 614 at Veterans Stadium, high on the shady side near the 30 yard line. We walked out of the concourse and into the stands as a field sized American flag was being unfurled. Ten seconds in and I was hooked on the experience.

I ended up buying a pair of tickets from Frank for the remainder of that season and a few afterwards until I left Philly.

My first year the Eagles went 4-10 with me sitting in the stands in December, freezing. I always still stayed until the final gun.

I was a season ticket holder first, then a fan. It was the experience that got me hooked. Caring about the team came second.

And then I met and married Helaine. Her father was a rabid sportsfan. Only child Helaine had little choice. It was she who came into our relationship with a subscription to Sports Illustrated! She’s the most knowledgeable sports fan I know.

Nearly every Sunday for the last 35 years she and I have watched the Eagles… maybe anguished with the Eagles is a better way to put it. As a true fan Helaine viscerally understands no lead is insurmountable. As a Philadelphian she anticipates the worst.

And then came this season. The Eagles did nearly everything right. We’re not used to this.

Early on they won against the Giants on an improbable 61 yard field goal kicked by a sub who’d never played as a pro before. Their quarterback, Carson Wentz, became a potential league MVP. Last year’s disappointment, Nelson Agholor, became this year’s find. They won consistently.

And then, in a most Philadelphia way, Carson Wentz went down. The star was gone for the season. Hope was lost.

Except it wasn’t. The new QB, Nick Foles, started rough but finished strong. The Eagles totally dominated Minnesota in the NFC Championship game. And they’re doing it without real stars. It’s a team of role players with a very smart coach.

So, today is the day. It’s Super Bowl Sunday and the Eagles are in it with a decent chance to win. In true Philly fashion, Helaine says, “I just don’t want them to embarrass themselves.”

Stef is coming by with some friends. Helaine has cooked/baked enough for a small army. We are hoping for a win or at least they don’t embarrass themselves.

The Fruit Trees Will Be Heavily Supervised

I’m on a mission. It’s about my fruit trees. They haven’t produced much fruit. This year I’ll change that… maybe, hopefully.

My concern centers around my potted orange and grapefruit trees and a ground planted plum tree. Of the three, only the plum has produced fruit, four very tasty plums last year and one the year before.

The orange and grapefruit trees have both set fruit, but none has grown bigger than a golf ball. My opinion, the growth has been too spread out. In the end it was more than the trunk could feed.

This year these trees will be heavily supervised as they grow. Energy previously spent on new branches will be redirected to the fruit.

This has meant brutal trimming. Any thin branches from last years growth were chopped. Growth off the main steam has been pinched back where there was congestion. The trees are scarily bare, but very vital.

Since the purge three days ago new growth has exploded on the orange and grapefruit¹ trees. These pre-blossoms are off the main stems and should be more able to get nourishment. My hope is this will serve them well. I can’t be sure.

Should I thin the miniature clusters of orange and grapefruit blossoms now forming? Some of the fruit will naturally fall away while tiny, but can the process be sped up with more benefit to the plant? And how much is the right amount to thin?

I only have a few plants. I’d like them to count.

¹- From past experience the plum tree is a very late bloomer.