One More Christmas Eve Forecast Revision

There’s just enough time for one more look at the Christmas Eve forecast. It’s a tough one because I expect different outcomes in different places!

Most everyone will see some snow, though if you’re on the shoreline east of New Haven don’t blink or you’ll miss it! In most spots the snow will be mixed with rain or sleet from time-to-time. No one is getting a lot!

The precipitation should begin sliding into the state from the south around 8’ish. Mist or sprinkles are most likely at the start.

By 10 or 11 there should be a turnover to snow moving from the southwest to northeast. The farther south or east you are the less turnover to snow you’ll see. Later, as some warm air mixes in from the south even inland areas that had seen a little accumulating snow, will go to light rain or mixed precipitation.

A few days ago I wrote about a snowy looking coverage on grassy areas that’s slushy to the touch. That’s the most likely outcome off the shore. I’m not sure the shoreline will end up with any white accumulation at all.

In any event this is a quickly moving, lightly producing, storm. Hopefully it’s pretty in photos!

Over the past few decades I’ve been with you on Christmas Eve tracking Santa. I’ll miss wearing my Santa hat and watching his sleigh fly around the world tonight. I might be the only person you know who looked forward to working Christmas Eve.

Being Jewish I always felt excluded on Christmas. No more. I’ve grown to understand and embrace the spirit of this season. Christmas was your gift to me. Thank you.

Merry Christmas to all from this guy in pajamas.

Best Day For Bad News

When a company or governmental agency wants to bury some information they release it late on Friday. It then enters some netherworld where it’s exists, but quietly. If the news is exceptionally bad it gets released on or just before Christmas Eve! It’s Christmas. People’s minds are elsewhere.

When a company or governmental agency wants to bury some information they release it late on Friday. It then enters some netherworld where it exists–but quietly. If the news is exceptionally bad it gets released on or just before Christmas Eve! It’s Christmas. People’s minds are elsewhere.

With this in mind two stories that should be heard but were released to be buried:

From – “Wal-Mart Stores has settled 63 wage and class-action lawsuits, and just in time for Christmas.

The company expects the settlement to costs between $352.0 million and $640.0 million. “

The suits had to do with employees being required to work when they were “off-the-clock.”

Wal-Mart is fiercely anti-union. It closed one Canadian tire center when its employees voted to organize. Wal-Mart is not looking forward to the Obama administration.

Our other under-the-rug story centers on Yale University. You could shoot a cannon across campus the day this story hit–the 23rd.

From Yale Daily News – “Yale has agreed to pay $7.6 million for allegedly making false claims on federal research grants, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Haven said Tuesday, concluding a two-year investigation of Yale’s grant administration. ”

I’m sure there are other similar stories, but there’s just so much holiday cheer one guy can spread.

Christmas With A Cold

My cold continues to blossom. Last night I felt it make its first move, escaping from my throat. Today, I’m sneezing.

I took some Sudafed this morning, which made a difference for a while. Tonight, it was capped with Alka Seltzer cold tablets. The jury’s out on how those work.

Originally, it was going to be an easy day. Sit. Relax. Forget about work. That was not to be.

We’re very short at the TV station. One of our meteorologists is out of town. Another was injured jumping out of a second story window in a fire (Mostly bruised, he’ll be back shortly)!

I’m in, again, tonight. I’ll be in, again, tomorrow too! I’ll be working 13 in a row and 20 of 21, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Don’t cry for me. It’s not as if I don’t like my job.

PIC-0175Between shows I went with Helaine and Stef to a little pre-Christmas get together at our neighbors’. The tree is up and the house is decorated. It’s really pretty. Dinner was served on Christmas plates.

Yeah, we’re jealous. Having a tree and all the accouterments of the holiday is very appealing.

People always ask, “Why don’t you just get a tree?” It wouldn’t be right. It’s not our holiday. We still enjoy celebrating with our friends.

Our neighbors have the two best behaved, most polite, boys I’ve ever seen. They’re almost Stepford like. I’ve known both these kids since they were born and they both call me Mr. Fox.

They were brought up like that. Respect is a lost art for most 21st Century kids.

Amazingly enough, the younger one, now in the 4th grade, was the bartender! I’m not talking about pulling a beer from the cooler or pouring wine. He had a handwritten set of instructions and was measuring out some pretty fancy concoctions. Martini glasses were frosted and filled.

Maybe it would be wrong under different circumstances, but not here. He was helping his parents and doing a pretty good job of it! This was all about being a team player. It had nothing at all to do with the liquor.

Mr. Fox did not imbibe.

Twentieth Anniversary

Sometime over the next few days, we mark an anniversary in my family. Twenty years ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Had this been in her mother’s time, or even earlier in her own life, my mom would have died. It is a medical miracle that my mom and so many other women are breast cancer survivors&#185.

That’s not to say it was easy or not without consequences. This was a life changing experience for her. But, twenty years later, my mom is healthy and happy and incredibly active.

I will be forever grateful to the medical community that developed these miracles of modern science – because they really are nothing short of miracles.

It was an emotional time for us for a number of reasons. My parents had just moved to Connecticut from Queens. They were strangers out of their comfort zone in a life threatening situation. And, Helaine was pregnant, expecting in June.

The surgery had been successfully performed a few days earlier, but my mom was still at Yale/New Haven Hospital around this time, the week before Christmas.

Christmas is a quiet week in the hospital. Most elective surgery is postponed. If you’re there, you’re there because time is of the essence.

One night, while my mom was still recuperating, Helaine and I headed to the hospital to visit. While we were there, our friend and neighbor Ron Feinberg walked into the room.

He was finishing his medical training at Yale, and he too was stuck in the hospital on Christmas Eve (along with every other berg, stein, man and witz).

Things were quiet and he had an offer. Would we like to take a peek at our child? This was about the last possible thing we could have expected, but Helaine and I were game, so we followed Ron through the nearly deserted hospital and into an examining room.

As Ron passed the ultrasound transducer over Helaine’s belly, a video screen showed random noise… and then… Oh my God, it was a child.

We both stared at the screen silently.

Most people look at an ultrasound picture and try to figure out whether their child will be a boy or a girl. Silently, we did too… except Steffie’s body ended at the waist. Whether she had her legs tucked under her, or was in some contorted position, all we could see was we had a “stump baby!”

We actually both came to that conclusion independently, but never told Ron. He looked at the video as an OB/GYN, not a parent, and pronounced our unborn child healthy. And, she was.

Seeing our child for the first time, even with the less than perfect imagery of an ultrasound machine, was an amazing experience we’ll never forget. Getting that sneak peek and realizing my mom would live to cherish her grandchild, made it the most amazing gift ever.

In early June, Steffie was born right there at Yale/New Haven. She was not a stump.

&#185 Because the breast is composed of identical tissues in males and females, breast cancer can also occur in males, although cases of male breast cancer account for less than one percent of the total.

Asteroid 2004 MN4 – Who Invited Him?

Forget Hubble and all the other fancy astronomical hardware. Sometimes the most interesting finds come from more pedestrian equipment. Take the case of Asteroid 2004 MN4, discovered in June at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.

The find was made by astronomers from the University of Hawaii taking part in an asteroid survey. That they found it was luck. Like most other minor space discoveries, the information was dissemenated and filed away. Then, on December 18, another spotting from Australia. After that dozens of other observations were made.

Now with multiple sightings it was possible to figure out the orbit of this chunk of space rock… a flying mountain if you will. It looked like it could cross the Earth’s orbit and it was assigned a probability, a mathematical chance, it would hit the Earth.

Excuse me? Hit the Earth? No, really. In fact, it was possible to come up with a date: April 13, 2029

That’s the bad news. The good news was the probability was only one chance in 233. NASA said that’s “unusual enough to merit special monitoring by astronomers, but should not be of public concern.”

Then a day or two later, with more observations and number crunching, the probability changed. Now it was one chance in 63. Interesting, but not alarming for an event 25 years in the future&#185.

It’s changed again.

On Christmas Eve a little gift from NASA scientists. Now it’s one chance in 45… a 97.8% chance of missing… or for my fellow pessimists, a 2.2% chance that April 2029 might be a really good time to run up your VISA with no intention of paying it off.

On the Torino scale of 1-10, this little gem has suddenly gone to a 4. It’s the first object to even make it to two!

A close encounter, with 1% or greater chance of a collision capable of causing regional devastation.

We’re talking about an object estimated to have a 1,250 foot diameter weighing 1.5 billion pounds&#187. When it hits the atmosphere it will be traveling at 27,000 miles per hour. That would create an explosion equivalent to 1,400 million tons of TNT!

For comparison, the nuclear bomb “Little Boy,” dropped by the United States on Hiroshima, Japan, had a yield of only about 0.013 megatons. The impacts which created the Barringer Meteor Crater or caused the Tunguska event in Siberia are estimated to be in the 10-20 megaton range. The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa was the equivalent of roughly 200 megatons.

So, we’re talking large, but this is not the magnitude of the event that took out the dinosaurs. It would still be devastating. Certainly it would reshape any land it impacted. A water impact would cause tsunamis of epic proportion.

Again, this is 25 years away and the calculations are likely to change. Still, if this is the first you’re hearing about it, aren’t you surprised there hasn’t been more play in the mainstream press?

The way this works is, someone, somewhere with the power to influence other news budgets (NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, etc.) will run it and this story will pick up some traction. Until then, you heard it here first.

&#185 – I believe I have already scheduled teeth cleaning for that day.

&#178 – My conversion from 7.5e+10 kg to pounds is shaky at best. I’ll be glad to entertain corrections. No rush – we’ve got a few decades.

Working Christmas Eve

I have been in broadcasting 35 years. This is probably the 33rd or 34th I’ve worked Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. This is my choice. I have top seniority in the newsroom and get first choice on any day off.

In radio it was pretty awful. Usually I was living alone, away from home. Christmas isn’t a good time to be alone.

I remember one Christmas morning tracking Christmas albums. During the Christmas season you can play the ‘hits’, but when you’re playing wall to wall Christmas songs there are lots of inside tracks from old Jackie Gleason and Andy Williams albums that get played.

Now, in TV, we make more of an effort. I was surprised to find a full compliment of producers this afternoon when I walked in. They will have their hands full because there really isn’t a lot of news today (an explosion in Baghdad will get more play than it normally would). Politicians and even criminals (sometimes one and the same) are home with their families.

I always get requests to track Satna. This year I’m using very cool animations from Analytical Graphics. These are folks who normally create visualizations of missile launches or space probes. They’ve really done a nice job on Santa and his sleigh.

I’ll be working tomorrow, Christmas Day, as well. It was a scheduled day off but Gil (our weekend nighttime meteorologist) wanted to go to North Carolina to spend some time with a friend… a marine… who is shipping out.

I normally feel good about letting co-workers spend time with loved ones. This year I’m very glad Gil got to go to see his friend. Isn’t that the spirit of Christmas?