Our Busy Weekend

We found out his Mac notebook doesn’t have a VGA out port. He couldn’t plug in to the projector. Seriously–no VGA plug? I am surprised even though my friends with Mac always tell me how much they like their machines and how frustrated they are by some tasks they can’t perform or programs they can’t run.

For the Foxes this was a busy weekend. We had events Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday evening was spent with Harvey and Sandy in Woodbridge. They have an annual Chanukah party. We’ve been going most years for as long as I can remember. Ages ranged from 11 weeks to too old to gracefully ask.

We get to Wodbridge totally on smaller secondary roads. At one point we take a narrow 2-lane road twisting along the shore of a reservoir. There’s water on one side and a fence on the other. Saturday evening was extremely foogy. No fun driving in that.

menorahs-w250-h250.jpgDuring Chanukah Jewish families light the menorah each night at sundown. The tradition at Harvey and Sandy’s party is all the families bring their own menorahs and light them at once–which was great because the party used to be early in Chanukah.

Saturday each family lit seven candles plus an additional ‘helper’ candle. Helaine and I discussed standing by with 9-1 dialed on the cellphone. The dining room was noticably warmed by all those candles.

We look forward to the “pigs in blankets” served each year. As we walked in someone was carrying them to the basement. That’s where the kids usually hang out. Did we go downstairs just for the pigs? I’ll never tell.

Harvey always has fun toys to play with. This time he had X-Plane installed. Running on his Mac with a flight yoke and pedals it was amazingly fun to fly. It was impossible for me to easily control.

One of their three grown, daughters&#185 was home. She works in New York as a production assistant on some Bravo productions. Both Helaine and Stef were impressed she was working on Top Chef, which they enjoy and I’ve never seen.

Sunday the occasion was totally different. It was my friend Farrell’s mother’s 90th birthday. Being 90 is a difficult job. Ruth is equal to the task.

I wrote about Ruth in August 2005. She was about to get caught up in one of the biggest news stories of the decade.

I just got off the phone with my friend’s mom in New Orleans.

We’ve never met in person, but she knows me. I’ve fixed her computer by remote control. She’s seen me on TV while visiting her daughter in Connecticut. I’ve known her son for over 25 years and he’s a trusted friend.

She understands I’m looking out for her.

“Leave,” I said. “Leave now.”

ruth_meisel.jpgRuth lives in Connecticut now, near her daughter. Her home was flooded and destroyed in Katrina’s aftermath.

A few days ago Farrell sent me an email, looking for a way to make a slideshow of family photographs. I suggested Animoto. Farrell came with the slideshow in his laptop…his Mac laptop.

That’s when we found out his Mac notebook doesn’t have a VGA out port. He couldn’t plug in to the projector. Seriously–no VGA plug? I am surprised even though my friends with Mac always tell me how much they like their machines and how frustrated they are by some tasks they can’t perform or programs they can’t run.

I found a way to convert the slideshow video to an m4v file (never heard of it before) which was somehow compatible with another laptop–a Dell. We used ‘sneaker net’ in the form of a USB stick to move it. The slideshow did go on.

At age 90 you get a note from your congressman (Rep. Rosa DeLauro) and a proclamation from the governor declaring your birthday as Ruth Meisel Day in Connecticut.

Ruth wore a crown. It’s good to be Queen.

&#185 – Sandy went to the hospital to give birth to their second child. It was only after the delivery they discovered there was one more child in there. Really.

From Your Christmas Doofus

The weather here is awful. We’ve been warming for 15 or 16 hours, it’s raining and there’s slushy snow everywhere. Rain de-fluffs snow!

santa-hat.jpgI follow “PhotoJeff” on Twitter. Jeff, whom I don’t know, is with Microsoft. He just wrote:

“PhotoJeff: …here’s a holiday fashion tip for men. Stop wearing the Santa hats! They look cute on girls and women, but make you look like a doofus…”

Great–like I’m not already guilt ridden. I’m wearing the hat on TV today anyway. Jeff lives in Seattle. He won’t see it.

I used to wince “tracking Santa” with the NORAD animations. Who knows why, but a few years ago it started seeming like more fun and I’ve embraced it. So tonight, in my doofus hat, I’ll be tracking Santa.

I’ve had parents tell me how their kids enjoy the Santa tracking, but the happiest of all are our producers who are working with a skeleton staff and happy to get a full serving of “Newscast Helper!”

The weather here is awful. We’ve been warming for 15 or 16 hours, it’s raining and there’s slushy snow everywhere. Rain de-fluffs snow!

On top of that, last night’s performance from Darlene Love was a disappointment. It wasn’t Darlene as much as it was HDTV! What always seemed like a huge and glittery production on Letterman looked more like a high school pageant on the wider and more highly resolved LCD screen. The studio looked old and worn. Then the show ran long, meaning my recordings (yeah–two) were snipped at the very end.

I’m sure my mood will brighten later. The folks who work Christmas are always in a good mood. Honest. I’m not sure how that works, but they are.

Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah.

Lewis Black Comes To Connecticut

I am so excited. For Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa, Helaine gave me tickets to see Lewis Black at what was the Oakdale, and is now the Chevrolet Theater.

When I tell people we’re going to see Lewis Black there are two reactions:

1) I love him. He’s so funny.

2) Who?

Helaine is in the twos. I’m with the ones. Hopefully she’ll be converted Saturday night.

Lewis is a writer/comedian who’s been around for years. Hell, he’s even older than me!

His weekly appearances on The Daily Show have greatly increased his visibility. On top of that, Jon Stewart treats him with total deference… treatment befitting a comedy god, if you will.

I’m trying to think of a way to describe him for you ‘group two’s’ reading this. He’s witty. He’s biting. He is manic in his movement and speech. He does a lot of finger pointing and thrusting. He sees the absurdity in most of life.

He’s also a little tough on meteorologists. That includes one rant that had me on the floor laughing.

The thought crossed my mind – I’m TVboy. I know people at The Chevy. Maybe Lewis is having a meet and greet and I could wangle an invite?

No such luck. No one will be met.

Now that I’ve thought it through, a meet and greet would be totally contrary to Lewis’ persona. I’m strangely happier he won’t be having one! Anyway, my friend Howard, a successful Hollywood talent manager, says you should never meet those you admire. They’re always a disappointment.

I look forward to seeing Lewis from the audience, where I belong.

Best Christmas Gift – Guaranteed

What are you getting for Christmas (or Chanukah)? No matter what it is, I’ll bet I can tell you about someone who getting something better. It’s my friend Kevin.

Kevin was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in early July. It came out of the blue. He has been undergoing vigorous chemotherapy treatment, but this is a terrible cancer – maybe the worst.

The one thing that struck me about Kevin is, he has remained positive. I don’t think I could pull that off. His determination and his spirit have not wavered one iota.

The opening rounds of chemo were ineffective. The cancer continued to spread from his pancreas to his liver.

You’ve got to figure, after two failed chemo formulations things were pretty bleak. After all, the ‘best’ drugs are administered first.

Then on the third go ’round, Kevin wrote…

Busy Sunday

Another beautiful winter’s day in Connecticut.

Sure it’s Sunday, but it’s also the third night of Chanukah&#185 – the Jewish Festival of Lights.

It is not ‘our Christmas’ – though I sense the hoopla over this lesser holiday is our defense mechanism. It’s tough to compete with Christmas.

Trust me – growing up Stef never objected to eight nights of gifts. She probably still doesn’t!

Every year around this time, our friends Harvey and Sandy throw a Chanukah party. We weren’t able to go to the last few, but said yes tonight.

Then we saw the calendar. The Eagles would be playing the Giants in a meaningful game right as the party was getting underway.

Hey, a commitment is a commitment. We went and had a great time.

There’s a special tradition that goes with this party, though we only knew a few of the 50 or so adults and children there. Along with the people and the food and the being incredibly jealous of whatever new adult toys Harvey has acquired in the past year, there is the lighting of the menorahs.

Each night during Chanukah, at sunset, one additional candle is lit on the menorah (One the first night, two the second, and so on), accompanied by a few Hebrew prayers. I’m not particularly religious, but this is tradition worth keeping, especially with all the kids this year.

Before we left our house, Helaine and I decided we’d record the football game and then try and avoid any mention of it. But seriously, how could a Giants game be ignored here in Giant’s territory?

As it turned out, no one said a word about the game. We were stunned. Does this speak to the athleticism of Jews, or Harvey and Sandy’s friends, or did we just luck out and avoid discussions that were ongoing, but out of earshot?

When it was time to go home, we headed out with the radio off. By the time we picked up this 4:00 o’clock game, it was nearly 9:00PM.

If you’re a football fan, you already know, the Eagles won. If you’re not a football fan, you don’t care. This entry will no game details.

There is one observation I must make. Helaine and I were surprised… no, astounded, to see the Eagles win. This was especially true, since they were their own worst enemy with stupid penalties at crucial times. The Giants didn’t take advantage and the Eagles didn’t quit.

I believe this Sunday was a total success.

&#185 – Chanukah, being a Hebrew word, is only approximated in English. This spelling is one of many. I am of the personal opinion that if you say it right, people near you will get wet.

Learning To Tell Time (Again)

When Steffie was younger and went to elementary school, one of her teachers told us an interesting ‘fact’. There were problems in the school getting kids to read the analog clocks on the wall and use the dial telephones (there in case of emergency) in every classroom.

Both are very foreign concepts to kids of Steffie’s generation. We have neither a dial phone nor round faced clock here at home.

We talk about dialing someone’s number… but a dial no longer enters into the equation.

binary digital watchNow I have to learn to tell time yet another way. As a Christmas/Chanukah gift, Helaine bought me a new watch. I am obsessed with watches. This one is very different in that it’s a binary readout watch!

You probably hid when they taught this in school, but let me try to explain binary. It is a system based on two numbers, zero and one. Right now everything we do is based on a system with ten numbers, zero through nine.

It would be the perfect way to count if someone cut off eight of your fingers and you grew up reading Hebrew. You read the numbers right to left!

Each successive light adds the power of 2 to the value. So it’s 1,2,4,8,16 and 32.

The readout you isee n the photo was taken at 1:49 PM. The rightmost LED is lit on the top row, corresponding with the number 1. The bottom row has the 1, 16 and 32 LEDs lit, meaning 49.

Last night I was worried the watch was keeping poor time. No – I was just misreading it. In fact, much of the time, I can’t read the watch before the lights are extinguished!

In the meantime, it’s very cool in a geeky way. More importantly, Helaine thought about what I would enjoy and succeeded.