UConn versus Army

There are more photos available from this blog entry by clicking here

I wasn’t going to let a sore toe stop me (actually, I would have, but the toe is getting a little better day-by-day). This was my day to shoot pictures at the UConn – Army game.

I left the house around 10:30 and drove to Rentschler Field in East Hartford. I knew where the field was, sort of. I had printed out directions off the computer, but chose to listen to the DOT’s radio station on 1610 kHz to get me where I was going.

Any time I’ve listened to DOT’s network of low power highway stations I’ve been disappointed. Usually, there was no usable timely info at all! Adding insult to injury, the broadcast is sometimes padded with time killers, moving you farther from the content you really want to hear. And the signal strength and audio quality are awful

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

This time was different. The station repeated a recording of simple directions to the field from all the major access roads. This is exactly what should be on.

I turned past the Pratt and Whitney property and followed the cars. If had no idea where to go with my parking pass, but the attendants along the way saw it and waved me in the right direction. I parked about 4-5 minutes walk from the stadium on what looked like well manicured grass.

Thank heavens it wasn’t raining! In fact it was partly cloudy and well into the 70s. In other words, perfect.

I met John Pierson, our sports reporter and Kevin Frederick (who normally shoots video for sports, but was at the game as a ‘civilian,’). I’m glad I ran into John because I don’t think I would have known where to go or what to do once I got into the stadium.

We made our way down to the field level. Both teams were on the field warming up. The stands were 25% full. By game time the teams would have left and returned for their official introductions and the stands would have filled closer to capacity&#185.

I carried my Canon Digital Rebel with the Sigma 70-300 mm lens attached. Over my shoulder was a small camera bag with an 18-125 mm lens, a spare battery and two extra compact flash cards.

By the end of the game… actually before the end of the game, all three cards were filled. That’s over 1 gigabyte of photos! The final count was 317 actual. That’s fewer shots than I anticipated by nearly a hundred. I’m not sure why this particular shoot created such big files.

If there’s one thing I learned at the game, it’s that I need one more card. The prices are down. I’ll order one later today.

John took me to the end zone section adjacent to where the Huskies would enter. He introduced me to four girls, including quarterback Dan Orlovsky’s sister. Then we went and met Dan’s father who has better seats than his daughter!

Dan Sr. and I chatted for a few minutes. Not knowing him, but knowing who his son is, I addressed him as Mr. Orlovsky. Respect under these circumstances is appropriate and fair.

I later found out he’s two years younger than me. Maybe the mister part wasn’t necessary?

There’s an interesting observation to be made here. I have often equated hurricane watching to seeing a car accident in slow motion. Watching Dan Orlovsky is like watching a Lotto winner in slow motion. You know it’s just a matter of time before he’s worth millions of dollars from the NFL. He’s got to know that too. He’s that good – probably a first round pick.

I was afforded an incredible amount of access and freedom on the field. Back a few feet from the out of bounds line and end zone was another line – a dashed line. As long as I stayed behind it, I was fine. It gave me an amazing view of the field.

I started shooting on the first play and soon learned it was very difficult to follow the action on a pass play with a lens. Following with a TV camera is one thing, but my still camera rewards someone who can anticipate where the ball will be in the fraction of a second it takes for the mirror in the camera to flip and the shutter to open.

Often, I’d have my camera at the ready as a play would start, but I’d never get anything to shoot. Other times the player would be turned away from me or blocked by someone else. Sometimes my camera, which is supposed to continually focus while shooting sports action, just wouldn’t focus quickly enough or would focus on something other than what I was tracking.

You can be the judge. I’ve taken forty of the best shots and put them in my gallery. The thumbnails don’t give you a sense of what was shot, so please click for larger versions.

At halftime I went under the stands to a small room for the on-field media. It was surprising to see a number of newspaper photographers downloading their shots onto laptops and sending them on their way. At least one photographer (New Haven Register, I think) was using Photoshop – processing and cropping her shots before an editor even saw them.

As I expected, I saw a lot of much faster lenses – big lenses with wide openings. One of the photographers had a humongously telephoto lens with f1.8 speed. He’s getting 8 times as much light as I am, giving him a great deal of latitude. On the other hand, I can still buy food, something I wouldn’t be able to do as the owner of that lens.

Most of these big lenses demand a monopod. They are too heavy to hand hold for long. The monopod is actually attached to the lens and not the camera body itself.

As the second half was starting I walked by the UConn bench and said hello to Jeff Fox, one of the players. I’m not sure if he got what I was trying to say… that we both had the same name (though one of us spells it incorrectly).

It is cool to have a player with the same name as me. He can’t be related though. None of my relatives, or their families, have any athletic ability at all!

By the time I was finished shooting the stands were back to being 25% full. UConn had cut through the Army like a hot knife through butter. It wasn’t a contest.

This was fun. I’d like to try again. I’m not sure I can quantify what I’ve learned from this, but I’d look back at my shots and try and figure out what worked and why and how I can do it again.

There are more photos available from this game. Just click here

&#185 – The game was a sellout, though that doesn’t mean everyone attended. There were plenty of empty seats.

Ending Year One

This blog started on July 4, 2003. Here’s the original entry. Not a very strong beginning, is it?

I wasn’t sure what a blog was supposed to be. As you read the first entry, it’s almost as if I started in the middle of a thought. There was no, “here’s what I’m doing,” type declaration. I’m still not sure what this is all about, but what I’ve written about has definitely evolved.

Since I’m a statistics oriented type of person, let me throw out a few numbers. There is a counter on each blog page. It currently reads 146,954. I was hoping for 150,000 page reads by now, so I’m a few percentage below my goal.

This blog has a little over 500 individual entries. Most are short essays about what’s going on in my life. It’s geofffox.com – I make no apologies that it’s about me. Actually, much of the time my family appreciates that I try and keep them out of it.

There is a huge collection of photos in my gallery. I think that number is over 1,000, but it’s tough to easily tell.

There have been 2,189,931 ‘hits’ recorded. Any time a file is called, it’s another hit. Each image on this page is a hit. So is the call to the database to get the text. I know some hits were forgotten when my web host lost 2 weeks worth of entries in a crash with no backup. Hits aren’t really important, but I like seeing I’ve been responsible for 2 million of something.

If you took all the individual bits and bytes that this site has spit out, they would fill 6 DVDs. The site itself sits in 304 MB of hard drive. I admit there are orphan files and directories that no longer serve any purpose other than taking up space. I’d delete them if I knew what they were and where they were.

Roughly 400 people come here every day. Some viewers actually do come every day. Most though are occasional readers, returning every once in a while and then reading what they’ve missed until they’re bored.

This framework of this blog is provided by Moveabletype. Their software, which was available to me free of charge, is easily customized. That’s why, even though most blogs are self similar, they’re all different.

My spelling is atrocious. I have learned that because often I type entries on a computer without easy spell checking ability (since this is written on-line, spell checkers like those in Word or OpenOffice don’t work here). Writing this much has opened up some interesting theories on how we translate thinking the typing.

We seem to think in words (phonetically) as opposed to thinking in images or concepts. I see that because my weirdest spelling mistakes are phonetic replacements. On other words, I’ve misspelled to another word that sounds similar – not a derivative of the word I got wrong.

I use iespell for spell checking. It is wonderful, and I am grateful.

The blog could probably use an editor too. There is little written, here or elsewhere, that wouldn’t be better if it were only shorter, more to the point and focused. Even with rewriting (and every page on this blog is rewritten – often more than once), self editing isn’t as good as a dispassionate outsider with a sharp pencil.

Over the last year I have become serious enough about this to actually shoot ‘stock photos’ to go along with blog entries. If you look closely, you’ll see some pictures that no one would ever take – except to illustrate a point.

I like the blog much better when there are pictures to illustrate the entries. Too much type on its own seems to bog down the look.

If you read the blog on a dial-up connection, God bless you. It wasn’t until recently that I ran the site through some software which told me how huge a task it is to download my home page. If this were a commercial site, it would be a death wish to bloat the pages as I do. I have chosen aesthetics and content over speed.

Do I say too much, revealing too much about my personal life? Maybe it’s the opposite. It’s hard to believe I’ve somehow struck the magic balance. There is no perfect solution.

I wonder if it’s a good idea to say as much as I’ve said about playing poker? Certainly it worries my mother, who occasionally reads this. It can become obsessive and costly… not just monetarily. I have continued to stay in the plus category (up around $900 since we started last August), so no harm, no foul.

One of the goals in starting a blog was to write every day. I haven’t been 100% with that, but I’ve been pretty close. There have been times when I’ve fudged an entry time to move something I wrote back to the day it should have appeared. There are only a handful of days without any entry.

My friend Diane says I now have enough writer’s discipline to write a book. I toy with that idea, but for now the blog will have to do.

So, there it is – imperfect in so many ways yet so fulfilling to me. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading what has been written and will stick around for year two – coming up next on most of this same blog.

Rick Springfield in Cromwell

As a married man, I understand there are certain things I should do for my wife (just as there are certain things she should do for me). A marriage is a partnership and you want your partner happy.

That’s why I scheduled a vacation day for Thursday, the date of the WTIC-FM Second Chance Prom. It’s not that either of us wanted to go to a prom (neither of us did the first time around – though only one of us was a social misfit while in high school… guess which of us it was). It had more to do with the entertainment – Rick Springfield.

If you’re a regular reader of the blog you know Helaine is a bit obsessed (though in a perfectly fine way) with him. A fan for 30 years, she is the leader of his New York City Area Street Team – a grassroots promotional organization that’s probably more responsible than any paid promotion for whatever success his latest CD and single have had.

I consider Rick Springfield a dot-com success story. With little airplay or promotion he is still able to sell out midsized venues across the country. His fan websites, run by the fans themselves, have an incredibly loyal base of users. Many of them think nothing of driving hundreds of miles to see him again and again.

From my perspective, it’s fascinating. And, it’s a method of success (and make no mistake about it – he is a success today) that didn’t exist until the advent of the Internet.

As long as I was going, and to make my wife a little happier, I offered to produce a story for the station. We’ll run on our Sunday morning news show which has a slot for celebrity interviews. Of course I was upfront in my reasons for wanting to do the story.

Thursday afternoon, Helaine, Steffie and I headed out to the Radisson in Cromwell (nice hotel – good sized room – plenty of towels). Since the prom was 21+, and Steffie is 17+, we got a room and checked in. I met up with Ronnie, Rick’s road manager, setting up the specifics of the interview. In many ways, Ronnie reminds me of Arthur (Rip Torn’s character) from the Larry Sanders Show.

By 3:30 PM Andy, my photographer, had arrived. We scouted out a vacant meeting room, borrowed a few balloon arrangements from the prom, and set up. The background wouldn’t look so sparse with the balloons.

Rick came down and we were ready to go. We talked about 15 minutes. I tried to avoid asking him about Jessie’s Girl – only because I had heard it asked every time I’d heard him interviewed… and every interviewer misunderstood the actual meaning of the song – how he wished that he had Jessie’s girl. But we talked about the Internet fans and Street Team and his new CD.

The interview went well. He opened up and answered thoughtfully. I couldn’t have asked for more.

As we got up to walk into the main room for the sound check, Helaine turned to Rick and recounted a story about how, while working in radio in 1981, she had picked up his dinner tab and he had told her the next dinner was on him. Though the statute of limitations on dinner had surely run out, Ronnie asked us to join their group for dinner.

I’m sure I’ve been to band sound checks before, but I never really thought about the tedium for the band. Each room is different. Often, a different city means different equipment. It always means different acoustics. But a sound check isn’t really music as much as it’s repetitive note playing.

Dinner was nice. The band was like any bunch of guys, on the road, away from home. Helaine sat between Rick and me. He and I spoke through most of dinner. We talked politics and Iraq. He told us about his sons, one a recent high school graduate on his way to college. Steffie soaked up the conversation. Helaine was in heaven.

We went upstairs and changed to our evening wear. Everything went fine, except putting on the studs! I’m not sure who designed them but they were murder to get in place. Of course without them, the shirt was buttonless – there was no choice.

We made the prom around 7:30 PM. I knew some of the folks from WTIC-FM and said hello. Rick came on at 8:30.

Of course a significant portion of the audience was his loyal supporters – and they crowded the stage. But, I sensed the people who were there as prom attendees were also getting into it. Yes, he was a soap opera pretty boy – but that doesn’t mean he can’t play.

The concert was as loud as any I’ve ever heard. The fact that we were inches from the speakers probably didn’t help.

He played the hits, and the new stuff and we went upstairs happy.

Tonight, I finished my end of the deal. I screened, wrote and then voiced the Sunday morning package. Later today an editor will look at my notes and try and cut it as I wrote it. I’ll see it the first time Sunday at about 8:50 AM.

It’s An Addiction – I’m Not Alone

Katie Haffner had an interesting story about blogging in this moring’s New York Times. I always thought (and Helaine will confirm) I’d gone off the deep end with blogging, but this article makes it seem like I’m not so bad. There are others who have been bitten far worse.

Thanks God for small favors.

Continue reading “It’s An Addiction – I’m Not Alone”

An Incredible Gift

Tonight was the New Haven Advocate’s “Best of” awards. There were thunderstorms on the radar, so I took a quick trip to The Annex (eastern portion of New Haven) to say hello and thank you (and nosh on a little smoked salmon). I only stayed for 15 minutes, and didn’t even get my award. I got something even better.

Josh Mamis, publisher of the Fairfield County Weekly and former editor of The New Haven Advocate, said he had a gift for me. So, we headed out to his car and he proceeded to open the trunk. As soon as I saw the orange/yellow color of the sweatshirt, I knew.

It was a WMCA Good Guys Sweathirt!

I won one when my name was called on the radio, about 40 years ago. Not that it was a major deal, but I still remember: “Geoff Fox, name it and claim it. Call PLaza 2-9944.”

Somewhere along the way my smiley faced sweatshirt disappeared – probably outgrown or worn out. Looking back, I should have treated my sweatshirt with the same reverence a Barry Bonds home run ball would get. It was something valuable, not to be judged by its physical appearance as much as its place in history.

I Need An Editor

Here’s something I’ve noticed after all these months of writing. No matter how hard you like, how much you try, you can’t get all the errors off a page. I envy those who write and have an editor.

Each entry here is written and rewritten and then run through a spell checker. Then, usually, I read it again (the exception is when I write at my desk at work where I don’t have a spell checker that can be used on this site). I always find, and correct, errors.

Yet when I go back in time and look at something that’s been online for months, I can usually find more errors!

There is one thing I’m curious about, having seen itself manifested dozens of times. It would seem our brain thinks in sounds and not spelled words. For instance, in the paragraph above I had originally used ‘town’ where I meant ‘time.’ These are two words that are similar in sound.

There’s probably already research germane to my discovery – but to me it’s a revelation.

Maybe there’s a good freelance business for someone who will proofread and edit the online work of others?

I Wish I Had Known Jerry Nachman

Jerry Nachman died overnight last night at his home in Hoboken, NJ. If the name isn’t familiar, you might remember seeing him on MSNBC. Nachman was a large man physically and a giant in the business. He was 57, but could have passed for older.

I didn’t know Jerry Nachman. – only met him briefly one night here at the TV station. I had some minimal contact with him while he was editor of The New York Post.

It was a major holiday – probably Easter – at least 10 years ago. Helaine, Steffie and I had driven to Philadelphia to visit Helaine’s parents. On the way back, we waited an eternity to cross the George Washington Bridge. As we approached the toll plaza, I saw some of the booths (on this incredibly busy travel night) weren’t open. I asked, and the toll booth operator offered up, not enough people had been scheduled. The seemed very uncaring on the part of the Port Authority, who runs the bridge.

This was costing people untold hours, and costing businesses money. It wasn’t a story for my station, but it did seem like something for the Post. I wrote Jerry – and he responded. It felt like he was listening, interested and involved… and all because he took 10 seconds and put pen to paper.

I know of Jerry Nachman because of his reputation. He was a radio newsman, TV newsman and manager, newspaper editor, writer… you get the idea. If you look at all of his jobs, you get the feeling that people met him, realized he was really smart, and knew he could do whatever he set out to do.

There is a story that I’ve heard more than a few times. He was news director at WNBC-TV. There was a break in a big story, but no reporter to cover it. Jerry was in an off-the-air position – a management position. But, he told the crew to stop by his apartment on the way, pick him up, and he would report. It’s tough not to respect that.

Nachman seemed like the kind of guy you’d want to work for. Aggressive in his approach to the business, as if it were sport to him. Smart enough not be threatened. Skilled enough to command respect because he knew how to do his job… and your job too.

He was not a coiffed pretty boy with a ‘ripped’ body. In fact, his face had taken on the shape of a canned ham – not uncommon when you’re physically immense. He was all skill and little glitter. He died too soon.

Who Came Here in 2003

I don’t have an incredibly long history as a webmaster. So, for me, it’s often confusing and at the same time interesting to peek at the inner workings of this site. I have owned the domain name geofffox.com for a few years, but it’s only been since late July that I’ve mounted this blog and photo gallery.

My webserver is actually located in Chicago, and run by hostforweb.com. It is shared with other small websites. I have access to most of the server’s guts through shell programs.

In order for you to see what you’re reading now, I have to upload all the files and images and programs from home. There are a number of programs, like the one that produces the weather forecast meteograms that run on clocks and execute a few times a day. I had to write the scripts to do that too.

Running this website has forced me to learn a little about a bunch of computer disciplines, like php, Perl, bash shell scripts, html and a veritable alphabet soup of minutiae. It’s been challenging and like Blanche Du Bois, I am often dependent on the kindness of strangers. The more I learn about computers, the less I realize I know.

With the year over in less than four hours, I though I’d summarize a little of what’s gone through this site in 2003. Since it was only born in July, the stats are (hopefully) less than what I’ll get to publish in 2004.

7.76 GB That’s the total amount of data I’ve spit out. It melts down to 10 CDROM’s worth… or a few DVD’s. The majority of my hits go to the United States, but most of Europe and the Pacific Rim are represented as well.

271.69 MB That’s what Google slurped up. Loads of spiders and crawlers moved through the site, picking up the data that goes into search engines. Google took down nearly 5 times as much data as the next biggest search engine and was responsible for 6711 page views by users. I have chronicled elsewhere my rise in the Google rankings – a feat which both intrigues and fascinates me.

Giblet gravy That’s the most used search engine phrase that sent people to the site. They must have been disappointed because I used the phrase to illustrate a point that had nothing to do with cooking. The next most requested phrase was Scotty Crowe, John Mayer’s road manager.

Thanks to everyone who’s written to ask me for John’s email address. Even if I had it, I couldn’t give it out. You will be glad to know your admiration is not misplaced. There’s a whole lot to admire about John. I don’t think he’ll be spoiled by success.

I’m not sure how or why, but people searching for dangerous Internet cafes in las vegas nv and she had to remove her shoes airport ended up being sent to geofffox.com.

My cousin Michael and his wife Melissa in Sunny Southern California became blog readers. More than anyone, Michael made me realize I could use an editor from time-to-time. I try to spell and grammar check, but you need a dispassionate eye too.

My dad reads the blog every day. That pleases me more than he’ll ever know.

From time to time I’ve looked at my logs, seeing where readers are coming from. There’s someone at NBC in NY who reads pretty regularly, same at the vendor of our station’s weather equipment and Mississippi State University, where I’m taking courses. Most readers are connecting through residential addresses, but I’m amazed by all the different companies and universities that are listed.

Once, I made reference to probes of my home computer by a virus ensconced in a PC at a San Fransisco Honda dealer. I made an analogy that used the word ‘doorknob’. A few days later a computer at a doorknob manufacturer downloaded a significant portion of this site. They’ll be as surprised as the giblet gravy crowd.

In 2003 approximately 17,000 separate viewers came calling to this site. Collectively you visited 30,000 times, downloading 872,000 files. My page counter now sits just north of 60,000.

Every word I write is read, re-read, edited, punched up and perused again before it goes online. One of the more pleasant surprises of blogging is how challenging and how much fun it is to write. I never felt that way about writing before.

Often it is a cathartic experience, allowing me to get something off my chest. Other times it’s fun to let you in on something I observed and want to share.

My family puts up with this to a point. I reveal a lot in this blog, but not everything. A friend wrote to tell me he was surprised to see this ‘warts and all’ self assessment. If there are warts here, they are a small portion of my own personal wart colony. Like most people, I keep a few skeletons in my closet.

Thanks for reading. It really means a lot to me. Really.