Another New Year’s Eve

Helaine has headed to bed. Steffie’s upstairs, watching TV by herself. New Year’s Eve has ended at the Fox house.

We were together at the stroke of midnight. Helaine and I kissed. She always gets choked up at New Year’s. It’s actually very sweet.

The three of us sat together and grazed the TV dial as the new year approached. Everyone station seems to be doing something special tonight.

Tony Orlando was performing in Atlantic City and it was live on Fox News Channel. Good lord – he’s the size of two houses! He and the band looked like poster children for ‘going through the motions.’

In his defense, how many times could you sing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” before going postal?

On NBC, Carson Daly was holding down the fort. Years ago, he was very nice to Steffie. I, in turn, will be nice to Carson. He’s very thin and I’m jealous.

MTV looked like a community access channel, albeit with good lighting. I have no idea who their acts were. I have less idea who their hosts were, except Steffie pointed to one and said, “That’s Perez Hilton.”

Oh, that’s what he looks like.

On ABC, Dick Clark was supported by Ryan Seacrest. You can see Dick’s mind is sharp, and he looks good, but it’s still painful to hear him speak.

Approaching midnight, he had trouble keeping up with the countdown to the ball drop. He actually dropped a number to get back in sync.

He has to have worked hard to get back to where he is. The problem is with me. I need to be more understanding. This is my weakness.

New Year’s Eve is a bittersweet night for Helaine and me. Most years we stayed at home, quietly spending the time together. One year, just after arriving in Connecticut, we went to a party and a former co-worker began to hit on my wife!

Our first New Year’s Eve together, back in Buffalo, we went to a party at our friend Phil’s apartment. Who knows why, but we had a fight. Neither of us remember the specifics. It was twenty four years ago tonight, and it was the closest we ever came to splitting up.

I like New Year’s Eve at home better.


On-the-air a few days ago, I followed a story about Senator Joe Lieberman. Somehow it seemed right, so I talked about myself and “Geoffmentum,” as opposed to his “Joementum.”

Flash forward to yesterday evening. I was walking through Downtown New Haven with a co-worker when he spied Senator Lieberman and his wife Hadassah, walking across the street.

“Do you want to meet him,” I asked? We crossed over and, like a couple of stalkers, approached from behind.

I yelled, “Joe.” The Liebermans turned around.

It was a nice evening and a pleasant conversation. Twice, young couples came up to offer their support of his candidacy. The praise was effusive and I was a little surprised. For a candidate, these were dream encounters.

After a few minutes of chatting, Senator Lieberman looked at me sternly. “You know,” he said, “I have “Joementum” protected. You’ll be hearing from my attorney.”

And then he grinned.

I’m not sure how often he can say this anymore, after all, he is in the midst of the fight of his political life, but last night it was good to be Joe Lieberman.

Gee Geoff, You Must Love This Stuff

It happens with every snow storm and every severe weather outbreak. Someone will come to me and say, “You must really enjoy this wild weather.” No. The simple answer is no.

I’m not sure why it happens. Would someone go to their doctor and say, “Boy, you must really love it when someone gets sick?” I hope not.

The truth is, though most weather is harmless… even most severe weather… some is not. A call came in a few minutes ago from a co-worker telling me about all the tree limbs down in his part of the state.

“Was it a microburst,” he wanted to know?

Sometimes lightning strikes. Sometimes bigs winds do blow things down, damaging property, hurting people. Snow storms cost money too, as well as having the potential to hurt you.

There are lots of people who do what I do because they grew up enjoying storms. I can’t blame them for that interest. But, as an adult, it’s time to look at this with perspective.

Last night I watched a lecture in one of my meteorology courses. The professor was practically frothing at the mouth as he talked about the setup for a possible tornadic outbreak. He used phrases like, “what you want,” while talking about what we actually don’t want.

I found it disturbing. I was getting angry as I viewed the DVD.

I’m sure he meant no harm and wouldn’t want people injured or property destroyed. That was, however, what he was excited about. He seemed unable to separate his fascination with storms from their reality.

I read things like this on a weather related bulletin board I frequent too. These don’t seem to be rare instances.

Maybe I don’t get it because I came upon weather later in life. It was originally a way of working inside during Buffalo winters. It wasn’t my passion as a child.

Whatever the reason, I find it distasteful.

Comcast High Speed Internet Hosed

Steffie called earlier this evening to tell me the “Internet was down.”

There are many possible failure points before leaving our house, but a quick check of some user forums shows the problem was Comcast’s and not limited to Connecticut. There are some angry subscribers out there tonight.


General Outage – Resolved at 4/7/2005 6:40:38 PM EDT

(Connection to the Internet is currently unavailable. Our technicians are aware of the situation and are working to resolve the issue. This outage was logged at : 4/1/2005 6:14:00 PM EDT.)

General Outage

(Connection to the Internet is currently unavailable. Our technicians are aware of the situation and are working to resolve the issue. This outage was logged at : 4/7/2005 5:32:00 PM EDT.)

Could that have been written to be any more confusing? I think it means it’s out… it’s still out.

This is related to their DNS servers, the Comcast computers that tell your computers where to find other computers, were down or slowed or otherwise impaired. So, when you type, your computer is never told that corresponds to There are rumors, which I can’t confirm, that this is some sort of organized attack on the Comcast DNS to route users to infected websites.

There are some simple fixes for users. I talked the husband of a co-worker through the procedure in about 90 seconds. Hopefully that won’t be necessary too much longer.

Now that Internet access is being used for everything, including phone service, it’s time it became as dependable as a public utility.

On Being Judgemental

I learned a little something from Stefanie tonight. Maybe it was something I knew in parts, but I’d never added up.

I had come home from work, and Stef was on the floor in her room watching TV. I’m not sure why, but she has become fascinated with a cheesy jewelry infomercial that runs late at night.

She was making fun of the awful looking jewelery and how the host, with a southern accent thick enough to insulate a house, would start off each item by giving some ridiculous price no one would ever consider paying. It was a lot of fun because Steffie has a sharp wit, great powers of observation and comedic timing.

She will admit to none of these things, though they are true.

We talked a little more and, finally, I got around to telling her I had talked about her at work.

Stefanie has just begun knitting. I had told our anchor Ann Nyberg, who is knitting obsessed, about a scarf Stef had begun. Ann became enthused. “Stefanie should come in,” she said, and then she went on to tell me some knitting technique she wanted to show Steffie.

When I told Steffie about the conversation, she became a little defensive. She had only begun knitting a few days ago. Why would this person care?

That’s when my light bulb came on.

The younger you are, the more conscious you are of how what you do fits in. Steffie expected to be judged on how her knitting stacked up.

I never played ball as a kid because I was awful at it. I was worried what the other kids would think. It’s the same thing. When I should have been having fun, I was instead concentrating on my low skill level.

Adults don’t work that way. The older you get, the less judgmental you become. In this case, my co-worker is thrilled Steffie’s knitting. Stef’s general expertise in the hobby is a non-factor.

To see this transition to non-judgmental thinking at its extreme, go to Florida where my parents live. There, anyone can do anything they want. As long as they want to do it, regardless of their skill level, everyone around them is supportive.

It’s why I can play golf with anyone there, though I am truly horrible at golf. No one cares. All they know is, I want to do it.

There are many bad sides to growing up… getting older. This is an upside. It is part of the true gentility of age. It is a shortcut to being happier.

Imagine how much easier growing up would have been had you not been concerned with what everyone else thought.

Scrabble – Obsessing Again

In 1978 I moved to Center City Philadelphia, on Rodman Street between 11th and 12th. After years of living in homogenized apartment complexes in the suburbs, I moved into an older building on a street so narrow there was only room for one car to pass with no parking at the curb! I moved into an apartment one floor above my friend Neal’s.

Center City Philadelphia was great. I could walk out my front door to get the paper or have a bite to eat. No car was necessary in the neighborhood and almost anything you wanted was in the neighborhood.

One day, early on, I found Neal played Scrabble and I asked if he wanted a game. That began a Scrabble obsession.

We played that first game and I immediately realized Neal operated on a different Scrabble level from me. He put down “ani” and “zygote.” My jaw fell. How could I compete when I didn’t know “aa” was a Hawaiian volcanic rock?

Of the first 20 games we played, I lost 19. Actually, I lost 19 in a row before winning one, and that was probably because of incredibly lucky tile selection.

People who don’t play it think poker is a game of luck, not skill. They don’t realize that Scrabble has many of the same elements of skill versus chance… yet no one thinks of Scrabble as a game of luck. After 19 losses I certainly didn’t.

I played Neal enough to get better, though certainly never anywhere near as good as he was.

When I moved from Philadelphia to Buffalo, the Scrabble playing ended. With Neal I had the willing partner and convenience that I’d never find again.

My going away gifts included a Scrabble dictionary with this inscription:

To my protege –

May your Neilson ratings never fall as low as our first game. May your future be a seven letter word with a triple word score.


When I first got on the Internet in the late 80s&#185 I found a server (in Toronto I think) which hosted Scrabble games. I played for a while, but as the net developed and there were other things to see, I lost interest.

A few nights ago I watched a Scrabble documentary on the Times/Discovery Channel. All of a sudden I was motivated to play again.

After a few minutes of searching I found a site which hosts free online Scrabble games. I know the Scrabble trademark is incredibly well protected, so the only reason this site survives probably has to do with the fact that it’s in Romania.

I downloaded the software and started to play Thursday. By Friday I had 5 games under my belt (4 losses, though the last was only by 2 points).

Since the site records all your games and understands the competition you’re playing against, it ranks you as a player. Now I will have a goal, improve my ranking.

As with online poker, it is not too difficult to cheat while playing. I am hoping that the others I play against, who have sworn not to cheat, uphold their end of the bargain.

In the meantime, I wonder if Neal knows about this? Before long I could be losing to him again!

&#185 – When I first got on the Internet (thanks to a co-worker who was able to get me an account from his university) it was a very different place. Web browsing was done in a non-graphical way. Information was found on Gophers and Archie servers. It was totally non-commercial.

Sneaky Stuff On Route 40

Every night, on my way home from work, I head north on I-91 and then cut west for a few miles on State Route 40. Route 40 is a beautiful little gem of a road. As it wends its way between North Haven and Hamden, you pass by hundreds of yards of exposed rock face. The geological history of Connecticut is out in the open, and to a non-geologist like me, picturesque. At least once or twice a year students come by bus or van, stand by the side of the road, and examine the rocks to help their classroom work.

It is a wide road with nice shoulders, large separation between opposing traffic and very few cars. In my 13 years of traveling this road I have never seen a police officer with radar or laser gun… until last night.

As I crested a hill, approaching another car in the right lane, I saw a darkened car on the right shoulder. Moving closer, I noticed what looked like a roof rack. I tapped my brakes. At that very instant my radar detectopr went off. That’s about the time the car I had been approaching noticed. Too late for him. Twenty seconds later he and a State Tropper were on the grass.

One of my co-worker, passing by a few minutes later, was sure it was me. He’s seen me pass him by loads of times.

There’s really a larger problem here. This is a beautiful road, built for speed, with an unreasonably low speed limit. It’s never higher than 55 mph, and drops to 35 mph before the road ends at a traffic light. That 35 mph limit is lower than the non-divided highway you’re forced on!

How do roads get speed limits? I have no clue. It just seems that this one is inappropriately low.

I feel bad for the guy who (probably) got a ticket. I’ll be going slower and keeping my eyes open wider tonight.

Computer Speed – No Big Deal

A friend, whose company was upgrading its laptops, got me an old PII 300 model. In this gigahertz era, that’s awfully slow. The street value is probably a few hundred bucks, if that much.

Because it was from his business, I agreed to wipe the hard drive clean and then reinstalled Windows 98, its original operating system. After plugging in a wireless network card and adding the drivers, it was time to go to Microsoft’s site to get all the updates and security fixes.

Whose kidding whom? There’s no possible way dial-up users are keeping their software up-to-date. And, the vast majority of high speed at home users are there too.

I downloaded all the Microsoft stuff, Real player, OpenOffice, Spybot Search and Destroy, Dimension4 to keep the clock on time, favoritesync to keep my bookmarks aligned between computers, iespell and’s client.

They’re all free… though pokerstars can cost you in the long run.

Then I went to the Navas Cable Modem/DSL Tuning Guide and got the registry hack to speed up my broadband access. Finally, I moved the virtual memory to a small disk partition and specified the exact size, which keeps it from fragmenting.

The computer is a champ. There’s little it’s doing that’s not fast enough. I suspect an upgrade from 64 to 128mb of memory will make a some difference, and I have ordered a stick for under $30.

I can’t begin to tell you how often a friend or co-worker will come to me (because I seem to be tech support for most of my friends – except those who are tech support to me) and ask for advice because their computer isn’t fast enough.

Usually, it is fast enough and they’re about to piss away money.

The CPU speed is certainly important, but nowhere as important as most people think. Most Pentium class PCs are totally usable, if you have enough memory (usually very cheap), the right video driver (crucial – and free) and get rid of spyware, malware and the other junk that’s leeching off your limited resources.

So, as I type this up on the ‘big machine’, I’m playing poker on the laptop. Life is good.