The Advantage Of Not Forecasting On-The-Air

I’m watching the Pats/Broncos and remembering winter. They’re not pleasant memories.

If I was still forecasting in Connecticut, I’d have been talking about Wednesday’s potential storm for days already. Fellow forecasters, I feel your pain. The forecast has vacillated like a bride-to-be on “Say Yes To The Dress.”

Even today no one knows for sure. I certainly don’t.

However, the models have begun to stabilize. The forecast solution has become more consistent run-to-run.

Wednesday looks like rain all across the East Coast. In fact, it looks like rain most of the way from Canada to Florida! Early Thursday the rain turns to snow, but by that time the storm’s moisture should be mostly spent.

In New York City the potential is there for enough wind to keep the balloons grounded Thanksgiving Day. No one wants that.

Here in SoCal it’s temps near 70&#176 and a slight chance for rain Thursday and Friday. Slight.

They’re Stoned In Halifax

Halifax, your city says, “We know the weather can stink. We’re here to stay. We build in stone.”

I’m still looking through my Canadian cruise photos. Today, Halifax. We were there last Thursday. It was gloomy and cool with sprinkles.

Halifax gets pretty days but this is more the norm. It’s OK because the city is designed that way. It’s a nasty weather city. Halifax doesn’t run from its environment. It laughs squarely in its face!

Halifax, your city says, “We know the weather can stink. We’re here to stay. We build in stone.”

Halifax is full of stone buildings. They are substantial. They are muscular. They are impervious.

Here’s a small sample. They seemed so appropriate.

Brokaw/NBC Operation Yellow Ribbon Re-Airs

A local official stood in the front and said, “If there’s anything you need, anything at all, just ask and you will be taken care of.”

Helaine and I are watching the rerun of “Operation Yellow Ribbon,” the Tom Brokaw NBC documentary about the 7,000 passengers stranded when their planes were forced down in Gander, Newfoundland on September 11, 2001. I wrote about this earlier when we stumbled upon its first broadcast during the Olympics. Back then we were well into watching before we realized what we were watching. Not so this time.

We cried again. It was just as poignant, just as sweet as the first time.

The people of Gander showed the kindness you hope mankind is always capable of. In one scene, as the passengers were being shuttled from the airport on a school bus (driven by a striking driver who came back because of the emergency) a local official stood in the front and said,

“If there’s anything you need, anything at all, just ask and you will be taken care of.”

As a passenger later added,

“There’s not one person we’ve come across that hasn’t offered to help us. It’s overwhelming.”

Since my blog was one of the few places this program was originally mentioned I’ve heard from some of those involved including Bev Bass a stranded 777 pilot, Diane and Nick the transatlantic couple who met in Gander and Shirley Brooks-Jones.

Shirley has set up a scholarship fund for students at the Lewisporte Collegiate School where many passengers stayed. As soon as I get the proper contact info I’ll post it here.

University of Quebec’s One Take Music Video–Wow!

Here’s a music video put together by University of Quebec students. What you need to remember: It was done in one take!

Here’s a music video put together by University of Quebec students. What you need to remember: It was done in one take!

This LipDub has been produced during the integration week of UQAM (Quebec, Canada) with 172 communication students. Made on September 10th 2009 in 2h15min.

The Only Time French Has Sounded Less Elegant Than English

Bite Size Treat! The perfect treat for reward training

Bite Size Treat!

The perfect treat for reward training

roxie's-tongue-and-treats.jpgWhen Roxie takes care of business she is rewarded. They’re little “moist treats” in a resealable pouch.

I guess “Trainer’s Choice” is sold in Canada as well as the US because all the words are in English, then French. Translation isn’t always a good thing.

On Roxie’s treats “Bacon Flavor” becomes “Parfum de Lard.”

Thanks. I’ll pass.

Hurricane Bill–Wide Right!

The surf will be angry. The beaches will be empty of bathers.


Hurricane Bill is down to Category 1 at the moment. I can see that in the satellite shot. The eye has become ratty. Convection is missing from much of the western side. Most importantly, it looks like dry air is getting in toward the center.


Earlier tonight on Facebook Craig Allen posted some personal observations from Jones Beach on Long Island&#185 which was disappearing under the tidal surge.

Just got back from Jones. Not Jones Beach; Jones Ocean. THERE WAS NO BEACH! All the sand was COMPLETELY submerged under the ocean from West End to Field 6. The ocean continued under the boardwalk, splashing up from between the slats and flooded the g…olf course. Only the top 2 feet of the basketball hoops were visible. The bandshell was under 3 feet of water. Only the dunes prevented it from flooding the parkway. – Craig Allen, meteorologist

Without Long Island we’d be susceptible to all that Bill’s got. Of course that’s academic. Thanks for taking one for the team Long Island!

Offshore, NOAA’s buoys continue to see large swells even in areas without strong winds!

There will be plenty of video later today from Massachusetts. The surf will be angry. The beaches will be empty of bathers.

Close but no cigar for Bill. Connecticut gets a pass. He will be Canada’s problem now. We are happy to see him depart.

&#185 – Actually Jones Beach is south of Long Island on a barrier island called Jones Beach Island. This is one of those cases where what is true and what is commonly believed are at odds.

Like Chalk On A Blackboard

To Helaine these two interrogatories have become like chalk on a blackboard.

If you see me out and about (or if I’m in Canada maybe you’ll see me oot and aboot) listen carefully. There are two words I want you to listen for. Stop me if you hear them used as one word queries.


To Helaine these two interrogatories have become like chalk on a blackboard.

She cured me of BECAUSE? a few years ago. Now she’s working on REALLY?.

Men marry women for who they are. Women marry men for their potential to become something else. Really!

It’s acceptable as a statement.

My Friend Lucy and Cottage Country

Her family owned an island in Canada. Woodmere Island is right off of Tobin’s island on Lake Rosseau in the Muskoka lakes. It is close to Port Carling. The island itself had been passed down through a few generations. Alas, it is no long in the family.

lucy_hauserman.jpgOne of the cool things about Facebook is coming across old friends. Recently I stumbled into Mary Lucy Hauserman. I met Lucy nearly 30 years ago in Philadelphia. I was a disk jockey back then.

Lucy was a teenager who wanted to get into radio. She made herself well known in the business and stuck with it. She is the production manager for a large cluster of stations in Philadelphia.

By the summer of ’81 I was in Buffalo. These were pre-email and cheap long distance days, but Lucy and I kept in touch.

Her family owned an island in Canada–Woodmere Island. Lucy tells me it’s right off of Tobin’s island on Lake Rosseau in the Muskoka lakes. It is close to Port Carling. That’s a nice way of saying it’s way out in the boonies.

The island itself had been passed down through a few generations. It is no longer in the family.

This area of Ontario north of Toronto is often referred to as “cottage country.” It’s quite a drive from Buffalo, but doable.

When invited to spend the weekend on Woodmere Island I jumped at the chance. Lucy’s entire family was going to be there and I was looking forward to meeting them. Who knew there would be blogs by now–no notes. There are some parts of the weekend I still remember vividly.

Going to Canada from Buffalo wasn’t out-of-the-ordinary. Canada was where you went for Chinese food! I drove along for a few hours then stopped for a bite. I ordered a sandwich and Coke, handed the clerk a US $20 and received $22 Canadian in change! What a country.

By the time I arrived at the lakefront it was well after dark. The Hauserman’s were already there and settled in. The night was mild and calm. An beautiful classic wooden boat–I think mahogany–was waiting at the dock. I got on and Lucy gunned it!

I’ll let her pick up the story.

“I remember you screaming STOP we’re gonna hit Rocks or an otter or something! But you knew I knew the islands silhouettes like the back of my hand….I knew where all the buoy were too! So Funny!”

The island itself was beautiful. It was pristine and rustic. There were a few buildings as I remember. Nothing was fancy but everything was substantial. The lake water was very cold. Too cold for me.

I was only there once. Lucy was there every summer.

“I loved our lodge with the big tables and the wonderful fireplace. the boathouse , the beach, the cabins, the walkways with the hand made lights. Water skiing off the dock, hanging out with my family, the sound the water made when it lapped against the dock, the smell of the pine needles in the sun as you rounded the path towards the boathouse….It was incredibly special to me.”

I remember Lucy’s folks being very nice to me. I immediately felt I was part of the family.

On Saturday Lucy’s mom told me of the family’s plans for Sunday church. She said I could sleep in, but I asked if I could come along?

Sunday morning we all piled into the beautiful wooden boat and went to church. Though I am Jewish I found the whole experience as warm as it was foreign to me. Not to play down the religious aspect, but all I could see was how sweet this family was.

“That little church was so amazing on top of the rocky hill….and our antique boats that took us everywhere! What in incredible gift ! I am so happy to have shared it with you, for there are not many that I can speak to… that can understand the incredibleness of Muskoka and Woodmere Island.

I am very lucky to have a friend like Lucy. Don’t think I don’t know it.

Where’s Global Warming?

The unusual part, 95% of Canada is sub-zero Fahrenheit. Quoting Bob, “Even for Canada, that’s impressive before “winter” begins.

I can’t stay more than a moment. Snow about to begin. Long day gets started.

My friend Bob just sent me this map from his website, It’s temperatures across North America. The unusual part, 95% of Canada is sub-zero Fahrenheit. Quoting Bob, “Even for Canada, that’s impressive before “winter” begins.”

Economics And Oil

As I write this, a little after 2:00 AM, I am concerned… no, I’m petrified the U.S. financial markets will follow the rest of the world and plummet at today’s opening.

The global economy is totally interconnected. International markets fell Monday, while our stock exchange was closed. They’re falling again right now. The Dow could be down multiple hundreds of points right at the opening.

A full fledged crash is certainly possible, though I’d rather not think about it.

That’s really not what I wanted to write about, but since this will be about the international economy and oil, I thought I should acknowledge what’s going on.

Yesterday, I saw a story (in many places) about Israel’s commitment to build an electric car. Here in the states a fully electric vehicle will be out from GM in just a few years. These are fully electric cars, not hybrids.

It makes a lot of sense, because at $100 a barrel, alternative fuels become competitive with oil. Except, $100 a barrel is a totally artificial price.

Yes, there’s some supply and demand at work, but oil’s price is steered by a cartel. They control the supply to control the demand to control the price.

OPEC is not a monolith. The oil producing nations aren’t exactly in lock step. They’re close enough.

That being said, the actual cost to produce a barrel of oil is a lot less than the selling price. What it costs differs by location, but here’s what the Energy Information Administration, a US government agency, says.

In 2006, average production costs (or “lifting” costs, the cost to bring a barrel of oil to the surface) ranged from about $4 per barrel (excluding taxes) in Africa to about $8.30 per barrel in Canada; the average for the U.S. was $6.83/barrel (an increase of 23% over the $5.56/barrel cost in 2005). Besides the direct costs associated with removing the oil from the ground, substantial costs are incurred to explore for and develop oil fields (called “finding” costs), and these also vary substantially by region. Averaged over 2004, 2005 and 2006, finding costs ranged from about $5.26/barrel in the Middle East1 to $63.71/barrel for U.S. offshore.

Forget the $63.71 figure, because it represents a small portion of what’s being produced. By and large, most of the world’s oil is found and removed at $10-$20 per barrel. Obviously, the oil exporting nations are getting rich and their selling price has little to do with their actual cost.

However, in the face of competition from alternative energy (think electric cars) they can and will reevaluate their price, settling for less in the short run to guarantee a continuing market for their products.

Oil exporters don’t want coal, solar, nuclear, or whatever else can be thought up, to kill their business. That leaves us with tough decisions.

Do we want energy independence and, if so, at what cost?

My feeling is, we need to be independent and must be willing to make short term economic sacrifices to establish an energy beachhead. In the long term, an economically weakened OPEC, which can no longer run roughshod over energy prices, is in our best interest.

It won’t be easy. At some point, whether through consumer persistence or governmental subsidy, we’re going to have to endure short term pain in order to free ourselves. OPEC will do their best to temp us by cutting their prices. And, as has always been the case, more oil will be found to quench the world’s growing thirst.

Will we continue to look to alternatives if oil returns to a ‘reasonable’ price? There’s certainly lots of fudge factor in what they’re getting now.

I hope we can resist their temptation.

Oh Canada (Computer Model)

Over the course of the hurricane season I’ll see lots of different computer projections. Hurricanes are notoriously difficult to forecast – especially before they form.

With that in mind, here’s the scenario presented by the Canadian CMC computer model. It builds a tropical system near the Dominican Republic, then streams it north, hitting Connecticut late Monday.

The color shading shows sea surface temperatures, which cool rapidly north of Cape Hatteras. Under this scenario, the storm would be extratropical by the time it got to New England. For all intents and purposes, that’s a minor factor.

Can it happen? Sure. Will it happen? Probably not.

Unfortunately, no one (certainly not me) is happy with a ‘probably not’ level of confidence. This will bear watching. More than likely it will be one of the dozens of false alarms I see every season.

It’s still scary to see.

Silly Bill Gates

I want to write to Bill Gates. This has nothing to do with Microsoft.

Recently, Gates was in Ottawa, Canada&#185. As Reuters reports, He was asked about his children and their use of computers.

“She could spend two or three hours a day on this Viva Pinata, because it’s kind of engaging and fun.”

Gates said he and his wife Melinda decided to set a limit of 45 minutes a day of total screen time for games and an hour a day on weekends, plus what time she needs for homework.

“Up to some age, to be determined, it’s very appropriate for a parent to get a sense of what they’re seeing out there and be able to have conversations about it,” he said.

“My son said, ‘Am I going to have limits like this my whole life?’, and I said, ‘No, when you move away you can set your own screen limits’,” Gates recounted, to audience laughter.”

Bill Gates, you’re so silly. Sure, you’re the richest man in the world, but controlling your children… C’mon Bill, no one’s got that much pull!

I am told, when Steffie was very small, I claimed I’d never say “no” to her. I’d find a way to discuss and explain. I don’t remember saying that, though I don’t deny it.

What was I smoking?

You see Bill, the problem is we teach them to speak. We teach them to reason. They hear us dispute others in our conversations. Somehow, they feel they should have a free mind and free will.

I know, it sounded awfully heavy handed to me too. Why should a 9 or 13 or 19 year old child have any input when I make a decision? And yet, over time, they wear you out. They push and push and push some more until, finally, you are powerless to stop them.

Bill, it’s going to be tougher in your situation, because you’re surrounded by an army of sycophants who only know yes. They will be outweighed by your children who will only know “no.” Unfortunately, Children can’t be fired or outsourced to Bangalore.

Here’s my biggest revelation as a parent. You can’t teach experience! Your child will have to do everything you know is wrong or foolish or against their own best interests, just the way you did. From time-to-time, you will just have to sit back and watch them screw up.

I know you’re still a little naive. I’ve heard you talk about the incredible stability and security of the Windows platform. Fixing children is much more difficult. And this time, you’ve got to do it in “version 1.0”.

&#185 – When I first visited Ottawa in the late 70s, my friend Howard drove by the US Embassy and said, “That’s where the landlord lives.”

Since When So Cautious?

Back sometime in the late 80s, I flew to Ottawa, Canada to spend some time with my friend Howard. We were late on the way back to the airport and Howard gunned it through the snowy Canadian capitol.

I was white knuckling it, though Howard claimed he was in control.

Nearly 30 years have elapsed since that day. I guarantee Howard, now safely ensconced in Encino, California, doesn’t drive that way on his frequent business trips to the Great White North!

I thought about this as I drove to work today. I lived in Buffalo. I lived in Boston. I lived in Cleveland. I have lived in Connecticut over 20 years. I have lots of winter driving experience.

On I-91, everyone was passing me. I was driving with lots of caution. There was concern as I crossed over a large expanse of sleet to get off at Exit 4.

Where was my winter driving bravado? Aren’t I the guy who used to fishtail just a little in snow, because it was fun?

Maybe it was because of how slippery my driveway was as I pulled out of the garage? Maybe it was the ineffectiveness of the salt/sand that had been applied to the street around my house and even the main roads? Whatever it was, those days of sliding through turns to get to the airport are over.

How long until I worry about breaking a hip?

Is This Really January?

I just spoke with a reporter for the New Haven Register. He called to find out about our unseasonably warm weather. We didn’t just break records today – they were pulverized.

       old          2007







(as of 3:00pm EST)

Right now it’s warmer in Connecticut than Los Angeles… and much warmer here than Las Vegas!

Even I, global warming skeptic that I am, am impressed with this departure from the norm. I’ve never seen a winter like this. Still, you can’t jump to conclusions and attach one specific cause to one specific weather anomaly. Weather is not climate and the atmosphere is astoundingly complex.

One thing I did mention on the phone, and which I thought through in some detail, is how this early season weather will affect the rest of winter. At some point the past can affect the future.

With no snow over New York or much of Southern Canada, airmasses from the north will modify before reaching Connecticut. That hints at a more difficult to achieve scenario in order to bring really cold temperatures.

What I mean is, airmasses that in a normal winter might reach us at 15 degrees could instead come in at 20. Don’t dwell on those specific numbers, it’s the general concept I’m getting at.

There are hints it will be chillier… maybe even downright cold… by midweek. There’s no joy in that for me.

In a year when oil is so pricey and electric bills have skyrocketed, maybe this lack of winter isn’t such a terrible thing?

I Hope This Is True – Diabetes Cure

Don’t bother reading the boxed text unless you’re a physician. Even then you might skip it. It’s from the journal “Cell.”

In type 1 diabetes, T cell-mediated death of pancreatic β cells produces insulin deficiency. However, what attracts or restricts broadly autoreactive lymphocyte pools to the pancreas remains unclear. We report that TRPV1+ pancreatic sensory neurons control islet inflammation and insulin resistance. Eliminating these neurons in diabetes-prone NOD mice prevents insulitis and diabetes, despite systemic persistence of pathogenic T cell pools. Insulin resistance and β cell stress of prediabetic NOD mice are prevented when TRPV1+ neurons are eliminated. TRPV1NOD, localized to the Idd4.1 diabetes-risk locus, is a hypofunctional mutant, mediating depressed neurogenic inflammation. Delivering the neuropeptide substance P by intra-arterial injection into the NOD pancreas reverses abnormal insulin resistance, insulitis, and diabetes for weeks. Concordantly, insulin sensitivity is enhanced in trpv1−/− mice, whereas insulitis/diabetes-resistant NODxB6Idd4-congenic mice, carrying wild-type TRPV1, show restored TRPV1 function and insulin sensitivity. Our data uncover a fundamental role for insulin-responsive TRPV1+ sensory neurons in β cell function and diabetes pathoetiology.

What that exercise in ‘academic speak’ says is, Canadian scientists might have found a cure for diabetes. If true, this is amazing news.

In a more human friendly article from Canada’s National Post:

In a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body’s nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.

Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

Operative words: “healthy overnight.” For families of diabetics, that little phrase is the answer to years of prayers.

You probably know I’m involved in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I am touched by the stories of the families affected by diabetes. It’s no less tragic when it’s Type 2, or adult onset diabetes.

Children with diabetes have a life span more than ten years shorter than non-diabetic kids. And then there’s the daily trouble and worries that come with being diabetic.

Each year I say, “I hope this is my last JDRF Walk.” Maybe I’ve already walked it!

I sent the article and a brief note to Mary Kessler, who runs the local JDRF chapter.

We are all very excited-thanks for sending it on to me.

Try not to get too excited about it yet, we have had these miracles before and they did not translate to humans-but I am keeping my fingers crossed.

She’s right. Some exciting progress, using stem cell research, fizzled only a few months ago. What looked very good at the outset was just an empty promise.

Still, if there’s going to be a cure, it’s likely to start with an announcement like this one. My fingers are crossed.