Ever Been To The Register?

Publishing a newspaper is still a dirty, noisy job with little that is anything less than immense.

Ever Been To The Register? That was the subject of an email received last night from Tom Powers. Tom often comments on the blog and we’ve run into each other over the years. He works at the New Haven Register, keeping its mechanical plant working.


I would guess if you are anything like me you want to go home after work. But, I have to go back to the Register late tonight as we are starting some new equipment that puts those little sticky notes on the front of the paper.

If you are up to it and have never seen the insides of the paper, the press run starts at around midnight. I hope to be out by 1 or 2.

This is the kind of invitation I can’t resist. If 50 years younger, I would have been the right kid to give that DVD with nothing but construction equipment at work!

I showed up just before midnight and Tom began to take me around. I’d been to the Register before a few times. When I first visited, the paper was being put together with the help of X-ACTO blades and paste.

I’ve written before about print journalism and my undying love for it. We really do need newspapers, or at least someone to do what newspapers do (the Internet does not). Every day newspapers print some things that interest a tiny percentage of their readers–a handful of people. It’s important to document these little bits of minutiae, though most readers simply turn the page and go on.

Last night’s trip was more about mechanics than journalism. Publishing a newspaper is still a dirty, noisy job with every piece of gear immense. The colored ink comes in cylindrical man sized tubs. The black ink is stored in a silo. Rolls of paper, handled by forklifts with mechanical pincers, are piled high in a warehouse. They are transported to the presses with a sub-floor railway in much the same way your car is pulled through the car wash.

It’s all done with machinery that seems “antique technomodern.” Just like those 1930s movies, spools of paper unwind into the presses while fully assembled newspapers fly overhead in a mechanized march to the delivery trucks.

Tom’s installation worked well. This morning’s newspaper was delivered with a little sticker affixed to the front page.

About The Car

A few weeks ago I wrote about our desire for a new car. We have it now, a brand new Toyota 4Runner.

A few readers were kind enough to offer advice, including Jim McGuire who wrote about FightingChance.com. It’s a service, providing ‘real’ prices and a buying strategy.

The strategy didn’t work exactly as anticipated. We faxed over 20 dealers and heard back from five or six.

That being said, we had enough info to get what we consider a pretty good deal at thousands off the sticker price and 0% financing. Plus, we got exactly the car we wanted.

I was going to write about it sooner, but I wanted the car to be a surprise when we visited Stef earlier today. School will be over in a few weeks and we drove to her dorm to pick up a few things including the back seats from her smaller SUV.

We headed out at 10:45 AM hitting little traffic through Connecticut and into New York. As we pulled onto campus, I called Stef so she would meet as at her car.

And then it happened.

About twenty seconds from our destination… a few hundred yards away at best… a large bird with a bad stomach decided to let loose. Oh the humanity! A white bomb exploded across the hood, splattering onto the window.

The car only had about 350 miles on the odometer. I am now personally committed to putting him on the endangered species list. How could this fowl be so foul?

Steffie and a friend showed up, ready for seat removal and lunch. Lunch would have to wait. We were heading to the car wash. It was a little dusty anyway.

Speaking of lunch – we headed to the Cheesecake Factory. I am currently doing “Atkins,’ so food is always a challenge. I had a shrimp and crab salad which was as good as it was oversized.

I wans’t going to have dessert until I saw “6 Carb Cheesecake.” Is that even possible? And, if it was, what would the cheesecake taste like?

I was amazed when a real sized piece of cheesecake came to the table. Sweetened with Splenda and not sugar, it was sweet and tasty with real cheesecake texture and taste. I liked it enough to buy a full cake to bring home!

And, the car is clean.

In Praise of Good Weather

I was thinking of dropping the top as I drove to work today. I only decided against that because I was heading to the car wash.

I should have dropped the top.

Car washing seemed Connecticut’s most popular avocation today. The line was as long as I’d ever seen.

I’m no psychologist, but my amateur sense of sanity says human behavior is heavily influenced by the weather. Keep it cloudy for a week… keep it extra cool for a month… people get surly. And they have been more than a little surly recently.

Luckily, all it takes is a day or two of sunshine and cooler heads prevail.

Getting back to the car wash for a moment: A few years ago I stopped at another car wash on a bright, sunny day. The girl behind the counter said her dad, a large and somewhat threatening presence, was upset with me.

I’m used to hearing that, and it’s usually a joke from someone who wants to complain to me about the weather – as if I had something to do with what was going to happen.

I walked toward the office and this guy was really pissed! Then he started to let me have it about the extended forecast (5 days worth back then).

“There’s always rain in the forecast,” he complained. And, of course, he was right. It’s tough to go five days in Connecticut without at least some shower activity.

“If there’s rain,” he continued “no one gets their car washed.” Then he told me, I shouldn’t have an extended forecast. This was not a gentle man.

As I said, he was a physically imposing presence. I got out of there and have never been back. But I think about him whenever the Sopranos are on!

As I was saying, the weather will sparkle over the next few days. The car wash man will be very pleased, I’m sure… though I won’t ask him personally.

Another Nice Mention in the Day

I spoke to Rick Koster at the New London Day yesterday. He was writing a story about weathermen and comments their viewers make, and asked me to participate. I’m always scared I might say something I’ll later regret. This one came out very nicely.

I’ve attached the story to the link below

Snow Rage?

Just Blame It On The Weathermen, They’re Used To It

�There will be no school tomorrow. At least I’ll be a hero to kids.� – Geoff Fox, WTNH Channel 8 weatherman

Day Staff Columnist, Arts & Entertainment
Published on 3/1/2005

Something irritating this way comes.

It was Monday afternoon and the clouds were the opaque gray of a killer’s eyes. The Nor’easter was roaring up the Atlantic Coast and forecasters were describing a weather system that would utilize the Connecticut shore as a sort of tightrope between heavy rain and snow, or both.

Among area meteorologists, the mood was a cross between the excitement wrought of any storm and the anxiety that comes with predicting tough and complex systems. After all, at this point in the season, the citizenry can be a bit testy � and need someone to blame the weather on.

�It’s the nature of the game,� said Matt Scott, a meteorologist at WTNH in New Haven who called the impending Nor’easter �a complicated one.�

�This is a troublesome storm,� he said. �This is the first storm of the winter where I think we could see some power outages.�

That would certainly increase the potential for public dissatisfaction.

�Well, we’ve had a lot of snow � more than average � and when we’re a little off the mark some folks get agitated,� Scott said.

Geoff Fox, one of Scott’s meteorological colleagues at WTNH, who has worked in the area for 20 years, is more than familiar with irate weather-followers blaming the messenger. He remembered several years ago when a tourist board in Cape Cod was upset with him because members thought Fox’s long-range forecasts, which in this part of the country usually included a day of rain, were affecting business. They theorized Connecticut residents would not make the trip to the Cape if Fox suggested inclement weather.

Another time: �I was collared by a guy who owned a car wash where I used to take my car,� Fox remembered. �He didn’t like weather forecasts that could hurt his business. I tried to kid around, but he had no sense of humor and I came to believe, in his case, that he had some connections and could actually hurt me. So I get my car washed somewhere else now.�

Fox will presumably not worry about the aesthetics of his car over the next few days. He said Monday afternoon that the Nor’easter was pushing farther and farther to the east. Since snow systems have a relative warm and cold side � the cold is to the west � each turn to the east increases the likelihood that southeastern Connecticut will get more snow.

�There will be no school tomorrow,� Fox said. �At least I’ll be a hero to kids.�

Today’s technology makes it easier for viewers to convey their irritation with meteorologists.

�E-mails are easy to fire off; there are no faces or identities attached,� said Bruce DePrest, chief meteorologist at WFSB in Hartford. �The sender might even be mad at a forecast from another station, but any weatherman will do. Anything can trigger it, too � the timing of a storm, calling for snow and getting rain. … A lot of things make people mad, and sometimes they just want to be annoying because it’s easy to do.�

Michael Thomas, a meteorologist for the Connecticut Weather Center in Danbury, can perhaps understand the concept of what might be called �snow rage� even if he’d never heard the phrase. He said, �I think southeastern Connecticut is looking at five to eight inches of snow with this storm. I was already tired of (snow) last month. Now I hate it.�

Meteorologists say they take their forecasts seriously.

�People should understand that a storm like the one headed our way is my Super Bowl or my Oscars,� Fox said. �It’s really important to us to get it right. There is no upside to making an inaccurate forecast. This is where we make friends or enemies.�

Perhaps it’s possible to do both.

Last week, after several more inches of snow, Fox and his boss received �incredibly irate� e-mails from a viewer in Gales Ferry. The guy was mad because, after the station’s forecast called for snow, his caf� lost business and his son’s wrestling practice was canceled.

�I wrote back and said I didn’t cause the snow,� Fox said. �In the meantime, my boss, who never throws an e-mail away, remembered the guy’s name from an earlier communication and sent a return e-mail: �I’m really surprised to hear from you since you wrote in 2002 and said you’d never watch us again. So it’s good to have you back.’ �

The Change in the Air

We’re getting our first tastes of spring… and it tastes really good. Since the beginning of February, the strangle hold of winter has diminished. Precipitation has been sparse. Temperatures have gotten warmer.

A few days ago, moments after stepping out of the shower and while still in a towel, Helaine called me to the front door. She beckoned me outside to experience a mild day. It was great. And, she didn’t even lock the door behind me.

This morning, on the front steps, I looked down to see the first plants of the new season poking through the still frigid ground. Most of the snow on our lawn is gone, though not all. Within the next few weeks the leaves should start budding on the trees.

Meanwhile, down in Florida, they played baseball today. I heard a partial Mets score on WCBS while taking my shower.

The biggest difference in our local environment is in the sunshine. There are more hours to enjoy it – significantly more. The Sun itself shines from a higher angle in the sky, cutting through less of the atmosphere, producing a somewhat different color than winter’s illumination.

When Ivy was alive, she’d look forward to this time of year and the corresponding solar position in the fall. As the day went on, she’d chase the sunshine, which warmed patches of carpet and marble. During the summer the sun was too high and didn’t come in through the windows. During the winter, when the Sun was significantly lower, it was blocked and of no use to her.

I looked at my car this afternoon and wanted to take it to the car wash. That’s a warm weather reaction.

I thought of taking down the top and riding in the fresh air. When I first got a convertible, I did that in December. The ‘actual’ temperature got the better of me today, so it stayed down. But with the heat blasting, and seat warmers turned on, I might give it a shot next week.

There is still the threat of snow. Helaine reminds me of the April when we paid Frank to do the Spring cleanup in our yard and plow – all in the same week.

Right now there’s no snow in our future that I can see. A few more weeks and we’ll be home free.

I love the Spring.