Roxie And Stef Are On The Way

Roxie took a pill and a half which hasn’t taken effect yet. Uh oh.

Helaine spoke to Stef a little while ago. They were on their way to the airport. Roxie took a pill and a half which hasn’t taken effect yet. Uh oh. Earlier Helaine saw Stef’s Chicago flight was the continuation of a Sydney/Los Angeles.

“It’s running an hour early,” she said.

It’s not quite that simple, because other than the flight number these seem like two totally separate flights. The Sydney/Los Angeles leg is aboard a 747. Los Angeles to Chicago is on an A320.

Why does United present it this way? Is it so they can claim ‘direct’ Australia/Chicago service? I don’t know.

In the meantime I’m hoping Roxie sleeps coast-to-coast.

The Nicest Star I Ever Met

Of course I wasn’t the first. He was a big deal. He knew that. It didn’t matter. He wanted to be nice right back and worked hard to make sure he was.

I’ve met a lot of famous people. That was especially true when I used to fill-in on Good Morning America&#185. Stars–real stars–were coming through that studio every day.

They were working. I was working. Often we’d just pass in the hallway or when they were placed in my area waiting to go on. I was the fill-in weatherman, not exactly a major player.

“Are those children’s drawings?” A short trim man with a deep Texas accent asked that one morning while looking over my shoulder.

“No Mr. Perot. They’re weather maps.”

Any respect I had for H. Ross Perot disappeared in that one instant! He was in the studio promoting a book he surely didn’t write.

I’ve already chronicled my biggest celebrity disappointment. I might as well tell you who was best.

First though, honorable mention to Ron Howard. Holy crap I watched this man my (and his) whole life. He could not have been nicer. He was promoting Apollo 13 and I’d just been with him two days earlier in Houston at the Space Center.

Under any other circumstances he’d be number one. He’s nice and a Renaissance man.

dennis franz.jpgThe winner is Dennis Franz. Remember him from NYPD Blue?

I can’t even remember what Franz was promoting, but he was walking down the hall near Spencer Christian’s dressing room (which became mine for the day) as I walked out.

He was paunchy and rumpled–just like TV! His accent screamed Chicago.

I introduced myself and told him how much I enjoyed watching him on TV. He thanked me for my kind words, but it wasn’t just a thank you. He was speaking as if I was the first person ever to say something nice to him. His response dripped of humility and sincerity.

Of course I wasn’t the first. He was already a big deal. He knew that. It didn’t matter. He wanted to be nice right back and worked hard to make sure he was.

I have never forgotten that short meeting. It is still vivid in my mind.

I’m sure I have been short with people who come up to me asking for an autograph or photo or just wanting to say hello. No one is perfect–certainly not me. But I always try and remember Dennis Franz and use him as my guide in how to be when someone has taken the time to give me a compliment.

It was a little tiny thing which took so little effort on his part and yet it was so meaningful.

Hey Dennis–I hope you get to see this. Believe me, the pleasure was all mine. I meant every kind word then and now.

&#185 – Still available. A decade between appearances isn’t that much.

Restyling The Blog Continues

I have no training in this. It’s all self taught… incompletely self taught!

2010-blog-screencap.jpgIt was 5:30 AM by the time I got to bed this morning. Helaine’s extra unencumbered sleep was courtesy of my blog redesign. I hit a problem around 3:45 AM. If left alone my worry was I’d never be able to unravel it.

I have no training in this. It’s all self taught… incompletely self taught! Every time I code I find more I don’t know.

My goal is cleaner and bolder. Over time websites deteriorate and lose their tightness&#185. This one has.

There are many similarities between the new and old look. I suppose that’s unavoidable. At the same time there are lots of differences. Some are visible, but many lie in the invisible way the blog functions… how it’s feed if you will.

The new look runs on WordPress using a theme based on “Byty,” itself a child theme which runs under the Thematic framework. That last sentence was just to show how meticulously detailed and arcane the whole process is.

Nothing is straightforward. Nothing is where I expect it to be. Here’s a link to the home page with some bells and whistles revealed.

I threw up my hands and spent some quality time on the phone with Gary Choronzy. Gary often serves as my website guru since those things I lost sleep over Gary can do in his sleep!

Most (not all) of the styling is done. Even Gary was surprised how far I’d come already. Now I enter the phase where the loose ends get tidied up. Of course there will be loose ends that slip by regardless of my diligence.

When the switch gets thrown everything changes at once. The website moves from Chicago to the suburbs of Philadelphia. Some pieces will untestable until that moment. There is little chance to go back.

It’s all exciting and simultaneously daunting.

If you’d like to take a sneak peek it’s temporarily visible here. Comments welcome.

&#185 – Around a year ago I went to Karl Rove’s website while following a news story. Rove is not my cup of tea, but his website was really well done. No more. It is a perfect example of how tightness goes away with time. Pieces have been added that don’t fit.

It’s tough to look at the site and think I once used it as a model of what I wanted.

I’m Getting Set To Change My Blog

Each of these steps is tiny, but none of them is particularly well documented. If anything’s been left out I won’t know until it’s failed!

blog backend screencap.jpgWithout getting too terribly geeky my blog runs on Movabletype. That’s a software package which puts my typed words into the visual format you see. Moveabletype has served me well, but the trend in blogs (and other similar sites) is toward WordPress.

Simply put WP is supported by a huge community of developers and MT is not. That means WordPress can do lots of tricks this blog can’t do right now. In a Twitter, Facebook, search engine optimized age some of the tricks are pretty important.

There is a feature in WordPress to actually import a Movabletype blog like this one…. hold on… I’m laughing hysterically. You really don’t think it’s that easy, do you? I mean there is that feature. It almost works!

Others have blazed this path before me and dropped breadcrumbs along the way. I’ve been in arcane files located on a distant server changing “\n” to “\n \n.” I’ve created files to remind my server which version of software it needs to run.

Each of these steps is tiny, but none of them is particularly well documented. If anything’s been left out I won’t know until it’s failed!

The blog’s server will move too. Right now it’s hosted by a company in Chicago. It will probably reside on the Pennsylvania servers of a German company when I’m through. That should be invisible to you.

With all this the look of the blog will change. Though it has to change a little it’ll probably change a lot. There may be fewer full stories on the home page but more summaries and links. Maybe a better way to show photos? I’m mulling the decisions.

It needs to look nice while not pissing you (my readers) off.

I’m thinking of designing the theme myself from scratch. The more I look the more that seems doable. Most folks choose to use a pre-designed theme.

More than I can chew? Possibly.

I’m fixated on typography. Some blogs look so pretty because of the way they use type–how it’s spaced and formatted for headlines, quotes and lists. I’ve been searching for advice on this particular nuance but have come up short so far.

I’m open to suggestions. It’s like a fresh sheet of paper has been laid before me. It’s geekily exciting.

The process should take a few days… by which I mean a few weeks… so probably by late March… 2011.

The Guy Who Deiced Our Plane

Have I just become a bleeding heart liberal with a nanny complex?

the-guy-hwo-deiced-the-plane.jpgThis is a story about changing expectations. Today we expect everyone to be protected from nearly every hazard. That’s why what Helaine and I saw at Midway Airport in Chicago stood out.

The guy spraying the deicing solution on our airplane is our problem child. He’s wearing goggles (or glasses–it’s tough to say for sure), but breathing in the deicing mist&#185!

The American Chemical Society says:

“aircraft deicing fluids are aqueous solutions of a glycol, or mixture of glycols, along with proprietary additives. Depending on the formulation required, the additives might include a surfactant, polymer thickening agent, pH buffer, corrosion inhibitor, flame retardant, or dye.”

Why is anyone breathing in this stuff? Shouldn’t he have some sort of protection, or have I just become a bleeding heart liberal with a nanny complex?

&#185 – As always, click the photo for a larger, clearer picture.

On Our Way Home From Los Angeles.

As I type a woman is sitting next to me living her life via Nextel Direct Connect… at full volume! Good grief. It would be better if she had more interesting stories.

lax-gate-three.jpgI’m writing from Gate 3 at LAX. It’s sunny. It’s warm. It’s not a happy departure. We came as three. We leave as two.

Stef’s reasonably set up. Her furniture is assembled. The TV is working. She and her roommate, who also just moved in, still have unpacking to do but it’s under control.

Helaine is profoundly affected, but she’s showing strength. This is our only child. Stef and she have been as close as parent and child can be.

Stefanie was very apprehensive up until two or three days ago. As things started to fall into place she began to relax.

As I type a woman is sitting next to me living her life via Nextel Direct Connect… at full volume! Good grief. It would be better if she had more interesting stories.

I’m in a row of comfortable chairs with electrical outlets and USB ports. I like that.

We stopped to get some lunch before heading down the concourse. As I sat at a table waiting for Helaine I noticed a tall, slender Asian woman. OK–I know, I notice all tall, slender Asian women.

Back to the woman. She was wearing porn shoes! I don’t know how else to describe them. They were high stiletto heels with the sole hiked a few more inches up on a platform.

Maybe she was slender and not tall? Tough to say now that I think of it.

We’re flying home through Chicago today. The weather should cooperate. There are some flurries expected at Midway, but nothing worse.

By the time we land at Bradley we’ll have lost a good fifty degrees. A good fifty? No–the best fifty!

The Long Trip Home

I’m normally a huge Southwest fan, but they failed on this. No announcement was made when they moved the gate.

I’m home. Google says if I drove it it would have taken 43 hours covering 2,885 miles. I’ll keep that in mind as I look back on the 12 hour door-to-door trip.

My secretive friend called “Super Shuttle” to take me to LAX. He told them the flight, scheduled for 12:25 PM, and they offered a 9:15-9:25 AM pickup. That sounded awful early for a drive that normally clocks in under a half hour. I was at LAX two and a half hours before my flight.

I checked my bag at the curb. The skycap wrote Gate 14 on my boarding pass and pointed me in the right direction. The departure area was busy, but I found a seat.

LAX isn’t particularly WiFi friendly. There are few electric outlets. The WiFi service is “pay-per-byte.” I pulled out my BlackBerry and played around. I was in my own world as flights came and left.

Around 12:10 a young man came and asked me if I was on the Chicago flight? He was wondering why it wasn’t on the board at the gate and why it hadn’t been called. Good question. We went to another gate where we were told it wasn’t at Gate 14 it was at 4A.

I’m normally a huge Southwest fan, but they failed on this. No announcement was made when they moved the gate. It’s probable the move was made shortly after I headed there… maybe while I was heading there. There were a handful of us waiting in the wrong place! Without this lucky questioner I surely would have missed the flight–something I’ve never done in 40+ years of flying.

Southwest compounded their failure by not having information monitors. We had to wait in line and see a person to get the gate info.

Though I had an “A” boarding pass by the time I got to the gate the waiting area was empty. Nearly everyone else was on. I walked back to the only non-middle seat left. It was 20F in the non-reclining last row. On the aisle was a man who looked to be around 30. In his lap, Randy.

I’m a dad. I understand you can’t control small children–you wouldn’t want to. What follows is observation more than kvetching.

At 10,000 feet the first ding rang over the PA and Randy, nearly two years old, was moved to the middle seat. He was mostly quiet but squirmy. Me too. I pulled out my horse collar and tried to fall asleep.

I’m not sure how long I was unconscious when the pounding began. Randy was getting me with his feet and his hands. He meant no harm. In fact, he probably didn’t understand what he was doing. This continued intermittently for the next four hours or so. He did a little yelping as well.

Delayed Southwest flightWe landed at Chicago’s Midway Airport, waited a few minutes for a free gate and pulled in. I had about an hour between flights… well it was scheduled as an hour. The sign at the gate said otherwise.

Though I criticized Southwest for the earlier gate debacle they get a pass on this. Our flight to Hartford, last of the day, was being held for incoming passengers. I have been on the receiving end of this act of airline kindness in the past.

It was a bumpy ride as we passed over the disturbed weather that’s raining on Connecticut today. At one point the pilot asked the flight attendants to be seated and phone the cockpit when they were! Nice touch, but probably overly cautious. Let them err on the side of safety.

We landed in Hartford behind a Southwest plane from Las Vegas. Their bags came off first. That gave me the opportunity to run into and talk with my friend Harold and his wife Karen who were coming home from their daughter’s graduation (PhD, thank you) in Santa Cruz.

My drive home was uneventful though I was beginning to drag. I walked into my darkened house around midnight.

“Feels like you’ve been gone three weeks, doesn’t it?” Helaine asked this morning. Yup. Why is sitting in a seat so exhausting?

About That Last Entry

Today we also experienced our first funny TSA agent. His name tag said “Wallace” and he was at McCarren in Las Vegas

I could have sworn I entered text in on the last entry! I used my Blackberry which might not be the optimal solution to blog posting–obvi.

More on the trip over the next few days. A few quick words about Southwest Airlines. We are such huge fans. If you think it’s some cramped, cattle call thing you’ve never been aboard.

Today’s flights were no exception to the usual Southwest experience with flight attendants having such a good time it made us have a good time. Our plane change in Chicago was painless and, even adding this stop, took around two hours longer than the coveted non-stop.

Today we also experienced our first funny TSA agent. His name tag said “Wallace” and he was at McCarren in Las Vegas. As we were removing our shoes and loading our stuff onto the X-ray machine he was humming tunes. He asked Helaine to step into “the aquarium,” that glass lined sniffer machine used to make sure my wife isn’t a terrorist.

I asked if I could take photos so you’d know what I was tlaking about. You’ll notice there is no photo.

We’re home now and exhausted.

Midway Is Part Way To Vegas

It’s so nice not to have to find a powered wall to sit near (usually on-the-floor).

midway-power-plug.jpgWe are on-the-ground at Chicago’s Midway Airport. As we taxied to our gate it was easy to see how shoehorned in this airport is. There were row homes just feet beyond the airport’s fence. The runways here are about half as long as nearby O’Hare.

Our gate has more of those big chairs from Bradley. These, however, do have power plugs. It’s so nice not to have to find a powered wall to sit near (usually on-the-floor).

No free Wi-Fi at this airport. I’m using my cellphone as a modem. It’s perfect for short stretches like this. No Bluetooth in this laptop either (who knew) so I’m wired up through a USB port.

I just checked on Stef’s flight. She’s crossing the border into Ohio, doing 407 knots at 36,000 feet. My folks are 32,000 feet above Tallahassee cruising at 380 knots. They should get to Vegas on-time or close.

The incoming leg of our next flight is behind schedule from Norfolk. We’ll be a little late to McCarren.

Not Yet To Bed

I was relaxed about what I was doing. Helaine and her family looked like they were on their way to a firing squad. All the pressure is with the bride.

I’d like to think I’ve remembered everything. I just went downstairs and signed a few anniversary cards. That’s important. I think everything I’m responsible for is packed. God–I hope so.

I have packed too much gear. I’ve got my camera, plus five lenses and a tripod. I wish I knew how to cut back. On top of that there are all these wall wart items that need a discrete one-of-a-kind plug. Phone, camera, computer, GPS–there’s a small bag full of electronics.

For the past few years we’ve been bringing a strip plug extension when we’re on-the-road. I told my mother–bringing one too! When do hotels start adding on electricity surcharges?

I’m trying to remember back 25 years ago. This night before our wedding was reasonably quiet. There had been a beautifully fluffy early season snow which quickly melted away. I was relaxed about what I was doing. Helaine and her family looked like they were on their way to a firing squad. All the pressure is with the bride.

There’s an immense amount of coordination taking place today. We should land in Las Vegas about the same time as Stef, who is flying non-stop from JFK. My parents get in a little earlier, non-stop from Ft. Lauderdale. Our California cousins have an early morning court date (they’re attorneys) then drive through the desert.

We have to get a car, check-in at the hotel (if they let us check-in early), freshen up, then drive to the chapel. As the Sun goes down we’ll be getting re-married.

Our weather looks quiet until Las Vegas where rain is expected. We are changing planes at Chicago/Midway–always a wild card, though we’ll be early and the weather non-threatening.

I Cried

“Never,” was my father’s answer tonight when asked if he ever thought he’d live to see a black man in the White House.

I cried. I cried when John McCain spoke from Phoenix. He was gracious, eloquent and uncharacteristically warm as he conceded defeat.

I cried some more when Barack Obama spoke from Chicago a few minutes ago. It was an inspiring speech. When his wife came out and they embraced, I read her lips as she said, “I love you.”

What a wonderful night to be an American. What a transformational moment.

“Never,” was my father’s answer tonight when asked if he ever thought he’d live to see a black man in the White House. Never is a strong word. It’s a long way from never to where we are today.

I remember, probably when I was around ten, walking past the F.W. Woolworths in a little strip shopping center at Parsons and Jewel-a block from where I grew up. There were men walking in a circle, carrying signs. I didn’t understand at the time, but it was a picket line. The protest had to do with the Woolworths lunch counters in the south that would not serve ‘colored.” It was the beginning of the civil rights movement. It’s a long way from those pickets to where we are today.

We face immense challenges. Obama comes in off-the-bench with the team down a few touchdowns and time running out. I don’t know if he, or anyone, can get us out of our dilemma. We are in so deep.

Tonight, at least, there is hope.

The Numbers Are In

Nielen ratings are in for last night’s debate

The Nielsen ratings are in for last night’s debate. I’m confused by the list of stations aggregated which doesn’t include Fox News and MSNBC, both of which would add significantly to the final total.

If these overnight numbers stand, the ratings are well below other recent debates.

OK–I’m a little surprised. I thought for sure there would be a lot more interest considering all the buzz.

DMA Rank Market RTG Rank RTG SHR (000) 21 St. Louis 1 52.1 82.0 649 48 Memphis 2 49.5 67.0 330 26 Baltimore 3 47.1 66.0 515 9 Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) 4 44.6 68.0 1030 29 Nashville 5 44.0 66.0 424 46 Greensboro-H.Point-W.Salem 6 42.2 61.0 285 32 Columbus, OH 7 41.5 63.0 377 43 Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws 8 41.4 59.0 298 58 Richmond-Petersburg 9 40.3 55.0 211 18 Denver 10 39.7 65.0 586 24 Charlotte 11 39.3 54.0 426 7 Boston (Manchester) 12 39.3 58.0 944 22 Portland, OR 13 39.0 74.0 450 31 Kansas City 14 37.7 61.0 350 16 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale 15 37.2 52.0 573 38 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 16 36.4 55.0 282 27 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetvlle) 17 36.2 54.0 377 51 Buffalo 18 36.1 54.0 230 25 Indianapolis 19 35.3 59.0 379 53 New Orleans 20 34.8 48 209 11 Detroit 21 34.3 55.0 661 59 Knoxville 22 34.3 51.0 185 61 Tulsa 23 34.1 55.0 178 45 Oklahoma City 24 34.0 55.0 231 40 Birmingham (Ann and Tusc) 25 33.5 48.0 245 52 Providence-New Bedford 26 33.5 50.0 211 15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 27 33.4 59.0 569 19 Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn 28 33.4 52.0 479 62 Ft. Myers-Naples 29 33.3 51.0 164 28 San Diego 30 33.0 59.0 349 50 Louisville 31 33.0 48.0 218 17 Cleveland-Akron (Canton) 32 32.9 55.0 505 37 San Antonio 33 32.9 48.0 261 20 Sacramnto-Stkton-Modesto 34 32.7 55.0 454 4 Philadelphia 35 32.1 51.0 941 44 Albuquerque-Santa Fe 36 32.1 50.0 218 23 Pittsburgh 37 32.1 51.0 371 6 San Francisco-Oak-San Jose 38 32.0 62.0 779 13 Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota) 39 31.7 49.0 569 49 Austin 40 31.6 52.0 201 36 Greenvll-Spart-Ashevll-And 41 31.5 46.0 265 64 Dayton 42 31.4 50.0 161 1 New York 43 31.3 48.0 2317 8 Atlanta 44 30.9 52.0 714 3 Chicago 45 30.7 51.0 1067 14 Seattle-Tacoma 46 30.3 58.0 541 30 Hartford & New Haven 47 30.2 45.0 306 47 Jacksonville 48 30.0 47.0 196 33 Salt Lake City 49 29.9 63.0 261 35 Milwaukee 50 29.2 49.0 262 34 Cincinnati 51 28.3 49.0 256 42 Las Vegas 52 27.9 46.0 196 5 Dallas-Ft. Worth 53 27.7 46.0 671 2 Los Angeles 54 26.4 50.0 1484 12 Phoenix (Prescott) 55 24.8 47.0 448 10 Houston* 56 0.0 0.0 0 Weighted Avg. of 55 markets* 33.2

What Is Journalism?

It’s probably a good time to delve into this because there are two interesting journalism stories.

Who is a journalist? What is journalism? It’s probably a good time to delve into this because there are two interesting journalism stories unfolding today.

Who broke the John Edwards affair? The National Enquirer. Ouch, mainstream media. How’d you let that one slip away? And the Enquirer has been all over this story for a while. They also broke the Monica Lewinsky story. This is not your father’s, “Elvis Spotted At K-Mart” Enquirer.

I heard Steve Plamann, senior executive editor of the National Enquirer interviewed on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” today. He gladly admitted the paper’s sensationalist bent. They are after all, by his admission, a supermarket tabloid. But, does that disqualify them from being taken seriously or breaking stories?

Should the NY Times follow the Enquirer as they certainly do the Wall Street Journal or Washington Post? Do you disregard them at your own risk? I’ll answer my own question. They disregarded the Edwards story and it doesn’t reflect well on them.

Is the National Enquirer journalism? I think they are, but who makes this judgement?

The second journalistic fork in the road has to do with CNN’s decision to rely on more “one-man-bands” populating single person bureaus. Here’s how TVNewser reported it:

“Yesterday CNN announced it was expanding its domestic presence by opening bureaus in 10 U.S. cities. The press release called it a doubling of U.S. newsgathering. But when a 28-year-old company expands you can bet there will be changes to existing personnel too. And that is the case with CNN.

TVNewser has learned that after the announcement of the new bureaus and soon to be added “all-platform journalists,” nine CNN staffers were told their jobs were going to be redefined. We’re told the staffers are not being laid off, but being offered positions in the new structure.

The staffers work in cities including Chicago, San Francisco and Miami. As NPR’s David Folkenflik reported this morning, “let’s be clear [CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein] is only really talking about adding a handful of new staffers. Others will be redeployed in less-covered places like Columbus, Ohio, Orlando and Seattle.””

Is it less journalistcally pure when a single person covers a story instead of a crew? Is there something lost when a reporter also has to concentrate of his/her equipment during the time they used to be concentrating on the person speaking?

Video gear has become smaller, cheaper and easier to operate. I certainly could report and produce a news story on my own, but would that story suffer? I have colleagues who will argue the story will suffer and other friends, like Mike Sechrist, who truly believes we’re foolish to not take advantage of this technology.

There are a lot of constituencies involved here beyond the public who consumes this journalistic product. I am curious to see how this will shake out. This is a time when journalistic traditions might change rapidly.

The Geekiest Thing I’ve Ever Done

We received a yellow pay envelope every week with tax info written on the outside and your salary, in dollar bills and coins, on the inside.

Have you ever had an idea pop into your head for no apparent reason? I’m talking some totally disjointed event that has nothing to do with anything and just moved itself into your conscious brain. It just happened to me. I just remembered the geekiest thing I ever did. Ever!

My first job working with adults was at Sears Roebuck in Flushing. New York isn’t a particularly “Sears” type of place. The store was small and ill suited for Downtown Flushing&#185. Sears has no stores this size anymore. The store was designated 4524, a B3a class store.

We received a yellow pay envelope every week with tax info written on the outside and your salary, in dollar bills and coins, on the inside.

I worked at the credit desk, catalog sales and customer service. One summer I ran shipping. That was fun. A few times I answered the switchboard.

It was an old timey switchboard with Bakelight switches and rubbery cords covered in fabric. In the forward right corner was a dial without a phone. The operator wore a headset with large earpiece and heavy duty microphone. This was pre-miniaturization.

“Good afternoon, Sears. May I help you?” Back then, to me, a switchboard was an iPhone. Savvy?

Long distance was expensive. No problem for me. I had no need for toll calls since I didn’t know anyone outside New York City, or more accurately, Brooklyn and Queens. Still, I had a desire to make a call somewhere.

Sears had a national network of tie-lines, linking various regional headquarters together. My guess was, it was flat-rate so it wasn’t closely monitored for use. I started looking at the internal company phone book.

It turned out you could dial a routing code and, voila, you were in Chicago or Boston or some other center. You’d hear “click,” and then their dialtone. I know. I tried. You could even dial-9 and get an outside line in Chicago or wherever.

My goal was to dial from one regional office to another and then another, ad nauseum. I’d go as far as Sears would take me. That’s how one afternoon with nothing better to do, I called myself.

From Flushing, I called North Jersey, where our credit accounts were held, then routed myself to Chicago then Detroit. I don’t remember the rest except it was a long list. As each additional leg was added, the sound quality became more watery It was all one call, but taking a ridiculous route through mechanical switches and low grade analog voice lines.

It took a few tries. A few times unidentified lines in the center of my call would drop, forcing me to start over. Still, I achieved my goal. By late afternoon I’d made my other line ring from a call that traveled the entire country and then some.

My wife and daughter will undoubtedly not be impressed. Back then, this was quite the geeky achievement. I’m still kinda’ proud.

I have no idea why it came to me tonight.

&#185 – The Flushing Main Street subway station is consistently the busiest outside Manhattan. It is a thriving downtown, teaming with mostly Asian immigrants and virtually indistinguishable from Bangkok or Hanoi.

Tweed/New Haven Airport Is Not A Happy Place

Airlines are desperately trying to cut costs to survive, not expand to small cities like New Haven.

Tweed New Haven Airport USAir Express takeoffI opened the editorial page of Friday’s New Haven Register and was unhappy to read: “Tweed’s prospects fade for new airline.”

In this case, Tweed is Tweed/New Haven Airport. It’s big enough for 737s and DC9s, but the only service nowadays are puddle jumpers to Philly and back.

There was a time when a bunch of airlines flew to New Haven. In the last decade we’ve had non-stop service to Chicago, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh (though not at the same time). Each time one of them pulled out, the word from within was, the service was doing fine, but the airline wanted to be elsewhere.

It is by far the most convenient airport I’ve ever flown from. The terminal is small and steps from the parking lot. There is a jetway, but it hasn’t been used for scheduled service in years and I’d be surprised if it’s full functional.

My sadness comes from the closing paragraph:

The reality for Tweed is that even with the necessary safety and runway improvements, its ability to attract new air service is severely hampered by the state of the airline industry. Airlines are desperately trying to cut costs to survive, not expand to small cities like New Haven.

I’m sad because it’s true.

The level of airline service says something about a community. Not having it says something too. For the foreseeable future, Tweed has no future.