Southwest VISA card

Our Southwest Airlines VISA credit card, from First USA, has become a royal pain in the ass. The problems started almost immediately when we got the card in March. We were ‘declined’ more than once for security purposes and now because our magnetic stripe wasn’t read correctly (2 different cards in 2 separate readers) declined again.

Even in cases where First USA knew they would ‘decline’ our next transaction, they never called, leaving that responsibility to the gas station attendant or grocery store clerk.

What service does my yearly service fee buy me?

Today we received a letter saying that a $5,000 payment by check had been returned to them, account closed. I immediately went to the computer, checked the account, and it’s fine. This being Saturday, there’s no one at the bank to speak to. The woman at First USA was incredibly rude and made it clear that First USA is too big to service it’s customers on a personal basis.

This will be fixed, but I am steamed.

Emmy judging

I am a 7-time Emmy Award winner (OK – it’s the local rectangular base version, not that nice round national one – shoot me), so I have some sort of obligation to NATAS and will try and fulfill that by hosting an Emmy judging party for the St. Louis region next Saturday.

I found an email from the NWS in Taunton, MA and took all the email addresses from there. Hopefully, I didn’t miss too many people.

A long time ago, Helaine and I attended a judging session held at Channel 8. Good God! It is scary to think this is how it’s done. People were inattentive and we hardly ever got through an entire tape.

I hope to live up to that high standard at this session.

Here’s the letter I sent:

Hi (Insert Name Here),

I’m writing this extremely personal note on behalf of the Boston/New England Chapter of NATAS and the annual Emmy awards. As you may know, each year entries from our area are judged by our peers in other markets, where it doesn’t rain every day during the month of August and the dew point doesn’t stay above 70 for- – – oh sorry – – – I haven’t taken my medication yet.

Anyway, as we are judged, we are called upon to judge others. This year, it’s your chance to steal good lines and map drawing techniques as we watch the weather people from St. Louis, MO and environs.

Would you be willing to help judge? I have volunteered my house in Hamden, CT to host a judging session next Saturday (8-16) at noon. Pizza and soft drinks will be provided. Ivy the dog will be there for one-on-one petting sessions.

It’s your chance to meet some of your fellow weather people, tell us how awful your station’s owners and management are, and trash everything you see from St. Louis. You’ll get a better understanding why the Emmy always seems to go to some no talent… sorry… again no medication yet.

As an incentive to you in other states, many Connecticut State Police officers have pledged to write no tickets to anyone traveling below the current temperature (Celsius only). You folks in Boston should remember we schlep there every year for the actual Emmy ceremonies, so don’t kvetch.

Please let me know if you can attend. Detailed directions will be provided.

Your name and email address was actually plucked off an email from Glenn Field at NWS. If you’re now out of the business, selling cars, please excuse the intrusion.

All the best,

Geoff Fox

WTNH News Channel 8

ps – You know, most people read the “ps” before they read the letter.

Deer – on my front lawn

When we moved into our house, in the summer of ’90, I planted a few fruit trees, in the mistaken belief that I’d take care of them and one day eat the (pardon me) fruits of my labor.


Well, I never really touched the trees and they’ve grown, but never produced edible fruit.

This year seems to be different. Maybe it’s our awful summer weather, or maybe the horrendously brutal winter (it can’t be the spring as we didn’t seem to have one), but whatever the reason, the peaches are very nice… albeit small.

My plum tree has loads of fruit, though nowhere near ripe yet.

Yesterday, Helaine said she had seen a deer near the fruit trees. Tonight, as I was getting ready to take Ivy for a walk, the deer was back with two babies.

Steffie yelled for me to get the camera, and I ran upstairs in that uncoordinated way that makes my walk so easy to parody. The batteries were in the charger, so I pulled them out, dropped the charger to the ground and tried to race downstairs without killing myself.

TV Weatherman Succumbs to Deer Related Death – – I didn’t want to see that.

There wasn’t a whole lot of light, but enough for me to get a few decent pictures.

The funny thing is, most times of the year, deer are pests. They eat our flowers in the spring (when we get one) and, if I had planned on eating the fruit, they’d still be eating it.

Arnold for Governor

It has been speculated for a while now that this evening on The Tonight Show, Arnold Schwarzenegger would announce he was NOT going to run for Governor of California. In fact, Matt Drudge made a big deal out of it.

No one told Arnold. He appeared with Leno and announced his candidacy.

With loads of people now running to be California’s governor, and with the election rules such as they are, it is possible that Gray Davis will be removed and replaced with someone who has less popularity than he!

Even the NY Times feels my pain


From the New York Times op-ed page (during a very rainy summer)

August 5, 2003

And the Forecast Is . . .

By MICHAEL RUBINER

Wednesday in New York : Rain. Heavy at times. Followed by periods of precipitation.

Thursday : Lingering showers throughout the day. Chance of rain 800 percent.

Friday : Moist. Damp. Sodden.

Saturday : Rainish. Showery. Precipitacious.

Sunday : Light rain followed by heavy rain followed by pouring.

Monday : Unseasonably rainy in the morning. Uncharitably rainy in the afternoon. Unconscionably rainy in the evening.

Tuesday : Endless showers broken up by occasional flooding.

Wednesday : Remember “Waterworld”? Like that, only with more rain.

Thursday : Not sunny. The opposite of sunny. Just forget about sunny, O.K.?

Friday : Clearing just long enough for you to make weekend plans. Followed by obscene amounts of rain.

Saturday : Take a wild guess.

Sunday : Incessant, spirit-crushing rain. The kind of rain that makes it futile to get out of bed in the morning. The kind of rain that seems as if it will never end. And guess what? It never will. Ever. Do you understand?

Monday : Please go away.

Tuesday : Ample, brilliant sunshine throughout the day. Wait

Annual photo day

Every year, around her birthday, Steffie has a picture taken, which Helaine and I then hang in the hallway leading to our bedroom. Over the past few years we have started going to the mall photographer, with pretty good results.

Over the past few years we’ve also started bringing Ivy along, which causes some logistics problems. Malls aren’t exactly dog friendly.

Helaine made the appointment and we brought Ivy and Steffie in just before the mall opened and before the photographer was jammed with screaming little kids.

Once again, it’s a really nice photo.

He’s back

Just when we thought it was over, “Elden” returned, tapping, smearing, touching up. I have no idea what’s going on on my steps.

Meanwhile, Helaine and Steffie are leaving in a few minutes to see the first of two Rick Springfield concerts, this one in Westbury, NY. They are taking my Fuji S602z camera. I gave Helaine and Steffie some very brief lessons, but we’ll see. With a camera like this, it’s possible to take incredibly great shots… or touch a button and prevent you from shooting anything usable.

My friend Steve told me his DSL installation kit has arrived. I’ll probably help getting everything running. I’ve been tech support to most of the people I know, except the others I know who also do tech support. Helaine figures when I retire I’ll go door-to-door fixing computers and support myself that way. Why not? I enjoy doing it.

I forecast increasing clouds today… which have not yet arrived. I hate waiting. It’s weird having to have the limited perspective of hoping for deteriorating conditions just because I forecast them.

Front steps revisited

Yesterday, when “Elden” left, the stairs were draped with a tarp. So, we left it there and avoided all step contact. During the day, the tarp blew paritally off… guess what? The steps were complete! Oops.

He didn’t come back tonight (it’s his tarp).

Now all we need is the painter and paver to come back and finish the small parts of their jobs that didn’t go right the first time.

My front steps

A few months ago we refinanced the house and then used the proceeds to do some house repair. Nothing major… painting, new kitchen counter tops, more painting, a little roof work.

As it was ending, I noticed some cracks in the mortar on our front steps. We called in a man who had done some work for a neighbor. so far, it has taken as long as painting the inside of the house and it’s quickly approaching the length of the outside painting too.

Remember Elden from Murphy Brown!

Here’s what my beautiful, little, brick steps and landing look like today.

Bob Hope – dead at 100

Bob Hope died last night at age 100. It was announced early today.

Over the past few years it has been sad to watch the Hope family milk Bob’s memory. It’s not like they don’t have all the money in the world already.

It’s been pretty well known that Bob was in sad shape for the last few years. Still, on the occasion of his 100th birthday the family attributed a pretty good ‘ad lib’ to him. Even in his prime Bob was written for. At this moment, who would believe he wrote the line at all? Why not let him live in dignity, without making up things to make him seem even larger.

As far as I’m concerned the true judge of Hope’s stature was his treatment on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (I’ll use the show’s full name). Bob could walk in, at any moment, while any guest was on the air, and Doc and the band would play “Thanks for the Memories”, and Bob would sit down. And the other guest… too bad.

When Bob was done, he’d get up and leave. And he could do this anytime he wanted to.

That’s an achievement.

Publishing with Movabltype

I’m not so sure what was so difficult about it, but at 2:30 in the morning, whispering on the telephone to Peter Sachs, I got Movabletype configured on my server! Now, I can run a blog for me and a blog for the WTNH Weather Department. The same install will handle both separately. Best of all, it’s all free.

This program is very powerful with lots of customizations. Of course, I worry I’ll customize it into not working!

As it turns out, my original formatting, with photos two across, caused the blog to be out of format with a screen resolution of 1024×768 or less. It’s fixed now… I think.

Good news Bad news

I went and picked my parents up at the airport. They’ll be watching Steffie. It was a good trip from West Palm Beach and an easy drive up and back from the airport.

Once I got home, Helaine wanted me to move some things in and out of our safe, including retrieving cash for the trip. I closed the safe, locked it, and then was told I had forgotten to put something in. When I came back, the safe wouldn’t open! It seems like the lever and bolt action are no longer connected. Oops. Luckily, it’s an e-ticket trip and I removed the cash.

Is this a good omen or bad?