Ticket And Tow Hearing Awaits

This is like Alice’s Restaurant. I have photos and copies of state regulations

Tomorrow is my hearing day, so I’m a little frazzled. I will present my evidence that New Haven improperly marked a no parking zone and so illegally towed my car.

This is like Alice’s Restaurant. I have photos and copies of state regulations. Helaine is going along so she can kiss me goodbye should they decide to take me away in shackles. My friend Peter, an attorney, is coming for moral support though not as my attorney.

The city offered to drop the ticket if I paid the tow. Pretty smart on their part. It’s a tough choice–double or nothing.

I will report back on the outcome.

Are Forecasters Liable?

Drudge has linked to an article from a Central Florida TV station that’s interesting and worrisome.

Hotel Mogul Threatens Lawsuit Over Hurricane Expert’s Gloomy Forecasts

Rosen: Fla. Lost Billions Of Dollars Because Of Incorrect Storm Outlook

I’m a non-believer in seasonal forecasts because I think, by and large, they’re awful – aka, inaccurate. By the way, the same goes for all the Global Warming hype.

Here’s what I wrote to a viewer earlier tdoay:

Viewer: I’m just wondering what the outlook is for the 2007-08 winter season. A lot of snow, not much but colder. I heard we arent’ going to get much snow. Please advise. Thanks.

Geoff: I don’t believe in them. We don’t currently have the skill. Most long range forecasts end in embarrassment for the forecaster.

Should there be a monetary downside to a bad prediction? Neither Gray nor anyone other forecaster claims divine insight and 100% accuracy. He used the best techniques known to science.

More importantly, I don’t think anyone expects 100% accuracy.

I tend to think Harris Rosen’s rhetoric is bluster and no more… but who knows? Maybe he does have a case. I’m sure there’s a lawyer willing to help him.

But why go after Dr. Gray? There are other seasonal hurricane forecasts from forecasters with deeper pockets. AccuWeather comes to mind, though there are probably others.

I’ve got a dollar that says the attorney won’t forecast the outcome nor guarantee it.

Continue reading “Are Forecasters Liable?”

When Customers Attack

Writing here in the past, and in emails to friends, I have often wondered about the new power of the consumer. For the first time ever, a disgruntled customer can get his hands on a ‘printing press’ in the form of a website.

I’m saying this after reading the full text of Lowes-sucks.com! Lowes is not pleased.

In this case, it seems to be Lowes misfortune to have underperformed for someone already inclined to be a gadfly. To say this guy’s prose reads like a rant is an understatement.

On the other hand, based on his side of the story, he was wronged. True or not, and with Lowes not addressing his gripes, his online attitude shows he thinks they have a lot more to lose than he does&#185.

There is already a loser here: Lowes. This guy’s beef is $2,500, but it has to have already cost Lowes more than that in bad will and negative publicity.

Forget the always powerful steamroller that is geofffox.com. The story has been posted on Consumerist – a reasonably well traveled site of whiners (that I visit a few times a day). Lowes-sucks.com is undoubtedly getting traffic.

A former friend of mine… an attorney who held another business-sucks website… told me in no uncertain terms: it’s protected speech to mount a ‘sucks’ site.

So, let’s revisit my original thought. Does business disregard this new consumer power at its own peril? Is it fair to give this much power to a consumer… even a wacko consumer?

These are questions that are now being asked on a daily basis by corporate officers not used to worrying about individual consumers. I’m not unhappy about that.

&#185 – I’m a firm believer, in a pissing contest everyone gets wet

I’m Bushed

I’m bushed. I’m on the sofa, my feet are up on a table and I’m bushed. I’m home from a day of negotiating.

At work, I am represented by a union. For over twenty years I have been part of the union’s negotiating committee. The members of the committee have changed over time. Currently, there are three of us, plus a union rep from Boston.

The company sends an outside labor attorney and a high level company manager. I’ve been sitting opposite the attorney for at least ten years.

Obviously, I can’t (and won’t) talk about what’s going on, except to say I like having the members negotiate. We have an obligation both to the members as employees and to make sure we’re working at a thriving business.

Everything the members get, the company has given up. Everything the company gets, the members have given up. That’s the difficulty.

We meet again tomorrow morning. Hopefully, we’ll reach agreement and be done with it for a few more years. I can’t take too many days like this.

I wish unions didn’t have such a bad rep, because they really can accomplish good things without being too restrictive and costly. And, if they had a better rep, I wouldn’t have to explain my involvement to friends.

Too Much Bluetooth

I wear a Bluetooth earpiece and I love it. There’s really a difference when I’m driving in my car, yapping on the phone, and both hands are on the wheel.

On the other hand, I think there are some places where Bluetooth might not be appropriate. Last night in church, a man walked to the front of the congregation and addressed us all. He was wearing an earpiece and I felt uncomfortable.

Tonight, on TV, another bad Bluetooth moment. Attorney Robert Shapiro was on Countdown with Keith Olbermann wearing a very large Bluetooth earpiece. He has a microphone pinned to his suit, so I haven’t confused a necessary TV accessory with cellphone technology.

Will he ask the TV audience to wait while he takes a call? Maybe there’s a hidden confederate feeding him answers, ala William Hurt and Holly Hunter in Broadcast News?

Am I behind the times? Is this where we’re really headed? Say it isn’t so.

Here’s the fullscreen capture, if you’re so inclined.

New Trial For Julie Amaro

I turned on the noon news to see a live report from Norwich.

Julie Amero, a substitute teacher convicted after pornographic images appeared on a classroom computer, was granted a new trial today. Amero’s lawyer says there is new evidence casting doubt on her conviction.

Outside court Amero, 40, was simply relieved, relieved because Judge Hillary Strackbein granted her attorney’s motion for a new trial. William Dow, III says new evidence discovered by state police investigators after the trial discredits information presented in her trial.

I don’t know whether she is guilty or not, but this obscure story about a Connecticut substitute teacher became a major cause c

Digg And The HD-DVD Crack

Among the geekier sites I visit on a daily basis is Digg. Most of its users are younger, smarter and more computer savvy than I am. Hanging out there is like being in the world’s nerdiest club.

All of Digg’s content is submitted by its users. Mainly you see links to other sites and attached comments from Digg users.

The site name comes from its modus operandi. An entry’s popularity (and hence its position on the site) is decided by how many registered users “Digg” it.

Right now Digg’s home page is a shambles. Digg’s users are in the midst of a protest. The site has been rendered worthless.

What’s going on maybe a harbinger of the anarchy ahead within Internet ‘communities’.

It started this way. Someone cracked the digital rights management key that protects HD-DVDs. Though HD-DVDs were designed to change encryption schema under just such an occasion, this discovery is so deep within the process, it pretty much leaves these disks (the disk makers actually) defenseless.

Though worthless to me, having this little string of numbers will allow a skilled programmer to do anything he wants with these disks.

Digg’s users, propeller heads that they are, posted the story and the magic number on the site. That in turn brought on a takedown letter from the attorney’s representing the HD-DVD alliance (here’s a similar one that went to Google).

What was Digg to do? Leaving the number up opened the site to legal action under the federal DMCA. On the other hand, once the secret was on the Internet, it was public knowledge. There’s no way to protect the key anymore.

Digg acquiesced and its users went nuts!

Now, every story on Digg’s home page contains the number! Some of the entries have the number hidden in plain site while others make no pretenses about what is being posted. Some of the posts are cleverly sophomoric. All are worthless to regular Digg users.

Digg’s real content has been buried. That’s what an online protest can do.

I have no idea how this will turn out – right now it’s ugly.

Are there different rules for the Internet? Does information really yearn to be free? Can Digg’s owners regain their website?

Right now at least, there are no answers.

Blogger’s addendum: This is big enough that it’s now made the front page at Drudge. On top of that, the Digg site seems to be down. This story has not ended.

Update @ 2:47 AM – Normally I’d create a second entry to continue this story, but I want to keep these together. Kevin Rose, the guy behind Digg, has posted this on the Digg blog:

Manipulating Mother Nature

I was just sent a tear sheet from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper. It’s a real letter to the editor from last week.

There’s not much I can say except, read it. You might need to read it again.

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two.

This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they?

Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.

Connie M. Meskimen

Hot Springs


Blogger’s addendum: Jim, in Truckee, CA pointed out something I didn’t realize. The letter to the editor is probably heavily tongue in cheek by an attorney known for this sort of thing.

Since some of you don’t read the comments, and what Jim said is important to understanding (better than I obviously did) the story, I’ll include it here:

There’s even more to this ‘true’ story. Snopes.com (Urban Legends, etc.) says this guys is known for writing sarcastic and humorous letters to the editor.

See: Snopes.com

Quick Prediction

There is a story bubbling beneath the surface on the Internet that I expect will break through as a very large story over the next few days. It will be a partisan story and I’d like to not get involved in that part here on the blog.

Here’s the setup. Whenever you send mail, it goes through a server. Usually that’s an SMTP or Simple Mail Transport Protocol server.

Many companies and government agencies keep copies of all the messages flowing through their SMTP servers. That’s how lawyers can later reconstruct paper trails during the discovery phase of lawsuits.

So far, so good.

Let’s say you wanted to send mail but not have it tracked. You could route it through a different SMTP server. In fact, mail from (as an example) geofffox.com and my other domains are usually sent through other servers as a matter of convenience. When I send mail for work from home, it also goes through these generic servers.

If my boss was tracking my work emails (which he is probably entitled to do) he wouldn’t have a copy of those.

It’s probably no big deal if I send mail that way. It is a big deal if government employees… White House employees… use other servers and therefore keep their emails out of the normal archive process.

From TrustMe.com:

…documents made public in the course of the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal reveal that key Administration figures used such email addresses ending with “gwb43.com.”

As Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) notes:

CREW has learned that to fulfill its statutory obligations under the PRA, the White House email system automatically copies all messages created by staff and sends them to the White House Office of Records Management for archiving. It appears that the White House deliberately bypassed the automatic archiving function of its own email system that was designed to ensure compliance with the PRA.

I don’t know who or what side of the political spectrum CREW or TrustMe.com represent. I assume neither has a conservative bent.

Sometimes these things take a few days gain traction. As it is, TrustMe.com posted this three days ago. Or, maybe this is just some little thing blown way out of proportion and as a geek I’ve latched on to its ‘evil tech’ implications.

I’d like to think you heard it here first. Let me know, in the comments section, if this is already ‘a story’ and I just missed it?

Move Over O.J.

Helaine will be the first to tell you – My all time favorite TV show was the O.J. Simpson trial! I couldn’t get enough.

What a cast. There was Johnny Cochran, Marcia Clark, Judge Ito… I’m sure you know them all.

The civil trial with the Goldman and Brown families wasn’t televised. Darn! I felt cheated.

Now it looks like there will be a new series of trials for me to follow… and it’s a major surprise because I stumbled upon “Act 1” as I got out of the shower and turned the TV on.

It’s just the first in a series of Anna Nicole Smith related court appearances. Be still my heart.

Today, live from Florida, the hearing attempted to decide Anna Nicole’s final resting place. Let the games begin. These people will agree on nothing.

There was the boyfriend/attorney/possible father… the unfortunately named, Howard K. Stern. Also appearing was Anna Nicole’s estranged mother, Virgie Arthur. There were attorneys of every shape and size. And, there was the judge, The Honorable Larry Seidlin.

Circuit Judge Seidlin is straight out of central casting. He is tan with an even tanner (is that a word?) bald head. Where Lance Ito was reserved and proper, Larry Seidlin is auditioning for his own courtroom show!

I don’t mean to make light of Anna Nicole’s death. However, her life was such a circus, it seems unlikely anything will be agreed to by all parties. That means guaranteed good TV watching for me.

Still to come, custody of the daughter and possible control of the fortune… if there is a fortune. That’s to be decided too.

This is the mother’s milk of the cable news networks daytime programming. Don’t look for a whole lot of restraint on their part. The participants… they don’t even know what restraint means!


On-the-air a few days ago, I followed a story about Senator Joe Lieberman. Somehow it seemed right, so I talked about myself and “Geoffmentum,” as opposed to his “Joementum.”

Flash forward to yesterday evening. I was walking through Downtown New Haven with a co-worker when he spied Senator Lieberman and his wife Hadassah, walking across the street.

“Do you want to meet him,” I asked? We crossed over and, like a couple of stalkers, approached from behind.

I yelled, “Joe.” The Liebermans turned around.

It was a nice evening and a pleasant conversation. Twice, young couples came up to offer their support of his candidacy. The praise was effusive and I was a little surprised. For a candidate, these were dream encounters.

After a few minutes of chatting, Senator Lieberman looked at me sternly. “You know,” he said, “I have “Joementum” protected. You’ll be hearing from my attorney.”

And then he grinned.

I’m not sure how often he can say this anymore, after all, he is in the midst of the fight of his political life, but last night it was good to be Joe Lieberman.

Not Welcome In Boulder

from TVNewser:

John Ramsey’s attorney says the “media onslaught” is “worse than it’s ever been.” The AP reports: “The intense coverage has Ramsey considering a move out of the country…”

A few weeks after JonBenet Ramsey was killed, I was in Boulder, CO with a full TV crew. We were there to tape interviews and produce ‘ins and outs’ for Inside Space, the show I hosted on SciFi.

With the university’s research into planetary science and space in general, and government facilities like NIST, Boulder was a perfect trip for our show.

Boulder was beautiful; reminiscent of what my friends in the late 60s would have envisioned for the future. The city was clean. Downtown was thriving with restaurants and shops&#185. Every parking meter was also a bike rack (and some residents even rode their bikes in the snow).

Strangers often asked why we were asked why were there? When we answered, almost uniformly we were told how intrusive and awful it was to have the crews there and how Boulder didn’t want or need this publicity.

It’s not that the other crews were rowdy or disrespectful. They were just there and the story they reported was tawdry, reflecting poorly on what Boulder was trying to be… what it actually was.

I can only imagine how Boulder will react this time. Cable TV news and tabloids were nothing then compared to today. The pressure is greater. The crews will be more visible. The reporters will be more aggressive.

I don’t know what will come of the ‘suspect’ being flown in today from Thailand. All I know is, Boulder wishes it were already over.

&#185 – One night we ate at a downtown brewpub. Though I don’t drink, I was proofed! Being in my forties, I liked that. I also had Jamaican Jerk Chicken so good, I can still taste it.

Mother And Child Reunion

I left work late last night – around 1:00 AM EDT. We went on after the NBA Championship game.

You know those annoying folks who are always chatting on their cellphones as they drive? That’s me! At 1:00 AM I called my California cousins. How could I have known what a good time it was to call? There was a story to tell.

My Cousin Michael is married to a great woman, Melissa. The family did well when Melissa became part of it.

When she was 11, Melissa first discovered she was adopted. As an adult, she’s been looking for her birth mother.

As I listened to the story that would unfold, I realized how little I knew or could understand about this part of Melissa’s life.

Finding someone who, at least at the time, didn’t want to be found is tough. You have to connect the very few dots there are and make assumptions which may or may not be true. The search might lead to your parents… or not. They might be glad to hear from you… or not.

There can be no expectation, because you really know nothing. It’s is the unknown in the truest sense.

Yesterday, after finally being told who her birth mother was, Melissa made the call. The first time her mom wasn’t there. The second time she was.

Melissa began the call in her best lawyerly fashion. She was an attorney, calling from Southern California. Was this… and she gave the woman’s name. Was your father… then his name.

I can’t remember exactly what Melissa said next, but after both questions had been answered in the affirmative, I think it was, “Oh my.” Then, she told the woman on the other end why she was calling.

As I said, this call could have gone in any number of directions. It went well. It went very well.

Within minutes of making the phone call, Melissa found out who she was in the context of her birth – something she’d never known before. She had two half brothers – very tall brothers. Her mother found out she had another grandson.

Melissa was ecstatic to find her mother and based on what she’s told me, her mother was relieved and happy to find Melissa.

While they chatted on the phone, emails started flying. Photos went back and forth between California and the Rockies. I’ve seen them. You can see the strong family resemblance.

She spoke with her mom. She spoke with her brothers.

I would assume the next step is for them to meet. Though blood kin, they really are strangers. It’s tough to know how this will all come out. It’s just as tough to understand how this has changed Melissa.

The discovery took an instant. The implications will span her lifetime.

Going On The Radio

Every once in a while I appear on a radio show. That’s always enjoyable. My roots, rotted as they are, are in radio.

Monday morning, however, will be different. Monday I’ll be on the radio as a sub as opposed to a guest. I’ll be attempting to do what Ray Dunaway does on WTIC.

Among the guests booked for the show are Senator Joe Lieberman, Attorney Gerry Spence (he’s the homespun guy from Wyoming who wear a suede leather vest all the time) and Barbara Walters (not yet confirmed).

I know I’m a weatherman, but I don’t want to be a pushover to those who are used to answering tough questions and have perfect the dart and weave.

I won’t be alone. I’ll be co-hosting with Ray’s regular co-host, Diane Smith.

I’ve known Diane since I came to Connecticut. Before radio, she was an anchor with us on the TV station. I have referred to her, with reverence, as the Ambassador from Gracious Living and our Ambassador to Fairfield County. Take your pick.

Diane is classy everywhere I’m crude – which is nearly everywhere.

Doing this early morning show; being at the radio station before 6:00 AM is actually better and easier than going somewhere for the midday shift. I know I can be home by 11:00 and catch a nap before my real work begins.

Radio’s in my blood.

Michael Ross

Here in Connecticut we are going through the painful process that accompanies the first state execution about 40 years. The prisoner is Michael Ross, a man so despicable, whose crimes are so heinous, it’s tough for death penalty advocates or opponents to use him in their arguments.

He has asked that his execution go forward.

Whether this execution, or any execution, is right or wrong will be left for another day. I don’t know, and my gut feeling says there are better places to debate the issue&#185.

What has become astoundingly clear is the cost in time and human effort to bring this to a conclusion. Ross has received stays, all of which have been vacated. In the meantime, each successive question becomes a life and death question and demands a coterie of lawyers, judges and staff.

All the major issues involved in this case have been settled. All the hearings and considerations now concentrate on issues apart from his actual crimes. This morning another technicality has delayed the execution until, at least, Monday evening.

From the New York Times:

One of Mr. Ross’s lawyers, T. R. Paulding, said early this morning that “a question has been raised about a conflict of interest about my continued representation of Michael Ross. I feel it is imperative to address this before his execution can proceed.”

If that seems cryptic, it is. Attorney Paulding didn’t explain what the actual conflict was.

I have heard how expensive it is to execute a prisoner, and now I better understand why. In order to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ the process becomes laborious. In some cases, it seems as if the minutiae has trumped the larger points.

In 1977, Gary Gilmore, condemned to die before Utah’s firing squad, attempted suicide. He was nursed to health before he was shot and killed. It’s all quite strange.

Here in Connecticut, I am sad because I feel so ambivalent toward Michael Ross. Instead of an opinion on whether he should live or die, I have concern because of how the system works… or maybe doesn’t work.

&#185 – For that reason, open comment will not be allowed on this entry. I invite you to email me if this entry hits a responsive chord – but it will be an email we two share alone.