Dinner In Southington With The Teachers

I squeezed a lot of women while we took photos. Few people get the chance to be a little flirtatious for a living!

cas dinner crowd at aqua turf.jpgI spent an evening with teachers tonight at the Connecticut Association of Schools annual Elementary School Program Recognition Dinner. They’ve got to shorten that name. This was my fifteenth year.

When I started my daughter was in elementary school. Now she’s a college grad ready to set out on her own.

Along with my emceeing I also do a full evening’s worth of weathercasts. That’s the nerve wracking part, because they are happening simultaneously. The people in Southington seems forgiving. I hope what came through on-the-air didn’t need to be forgiven.

I do a lot of schmoozing at events like this. Tonight I went to every table and said hello. It’s what I do. It’s what I think I should do.

I hugged and squeezed a lot of women while we took photos. Few people get the chance to be a little flirtatious for a living! A few women told me their husbands think they have a thing for me. Flattering… and innocent.

aqua turf prime rib.jpgThe Aqua-Turf in Southington is an interesting venue. It’s family owned, but decidedly not mom-and-pop. The place is beautifully functional and hasn’t aged or tarnished during my time in Connecticut.

The A-T also serves the world’s largest prime rib. Now, with a reasonably good camera in my pocket with the iPhone, I’ve got a chance to share a photo on a typical serving. Crazy.

Is A Flaw In The Ballot Connecticut’s Butterfly?

It’s likely with all the elections going on in the state someone’s getting jobbed by this. I hope not, but I’m a realist. People vote without reading.

I voted today, but I’m not totally happy about the process. There’s a flaw in the ballot which will leave some people with the wrong impression and others just confused. It’s possible votes will be miscast or candidates deprived of potential votes.

This isn’t the kind of thing which benefits one party over the other, but it does penalize anyone with the bad luck to be placed over or under a candidate with good name recognition.

Is this another butterfly ballot debacle? Maybe. I think it is significant.

hamden ballot 2009.jpgIn my town an example is the vote for members of the School Board. Eight candidates presented in two rows and four columns. It seems logical that if you vote for one candidate in a column you shouldn’t be able to vote for the other–but you can!

Yes, there’s an instruction to vote for any four candidates, but I think the history of voting for just one candidate in a column trumps anything written. That’s reinforced by the candidates being ‘numbered’ as 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, etc. And, since this is now a paper ballot using an optical scanner there’s no longer the reassurance of seeing if the lever will pull.

This is just plain bad. There has to be a better solution, though I don’t know what it is.

It’s likely with all the elections going on in the state someone’s getting jobbed by this. I hope not, but I’m a realist. People vote without reading.

That last sentence originally read “Lots of people vote without reading,” but my polling place was an invitation only crowd. Such a shame. I don’t think I’ve missed a single election since 1972.

sixth grade bakesale.jpgIn other election news… the sixth grade class at the elementary school where I vote has taken to holding an election day bake school. Smart kids! They get a captive audience hungry or guilty or possibly both.

Soon they’ll come to school in a Lexus school bus.

Our Lives Documented

Stef, your life is well documented. These can definitely be used for blackmail, so always be nice to your parents. We’ll consider this insurance.

We’re straightening up at home. Helaine has thrown some things out. Lots of organizing is still to come. It was VHS tape day today. Good grief we’ve got them by the dozens.

We have a VHS to DVD dub machine in the family room. I’ve only used it as a dubber a few times. It’s time to really put it to the test now!

I threw some unlabeled tapes in the machine. Helaine’s the only organized one of the three of us so they’re not hers.

Stef had recorded a few MTV shows. I came across an episode of the Osborne’s and a Rosie O’Donnell aircheck. I was represented with a TV story about the day I appeared on ABC’s “All My Children.”

There were lots of unlabeled family videos too. In one I am pushing Stef down our snowy though barely sloped driveway as she lies on a Flexible Flyer sled. She pulls the sled back to me while refering to it as “Sleddie.”

Somewhere, not found yet, there is a tape of Stef sledding on the Quinnipiac University campus. I’ll find it. This is a definite “America’s Funniest Home Videos” winner! As Stef pulls the sled to the top of the hill she falls and they both slide to the bottom. This happens three or four times–gracefully and always at the proper instant for perfect comedic timing.

We’ve also got plays from elementary school and her Bat Mitzvah. We were big with the camcorder.

Stef, your life is well documented. These can definitely be used for blackmail, so always be nice to your parents. We’ll consider this insurance.

Deep in the pile there was also a tape of Helaine and my wedding! We didn’t have the guts to watch it today. In fact Helaine has only seen parts of it and then only once. She stopped when her tears were too much to take.

As you might imagine there will be lots of dead people in this 25 year old tape, It’s possible it will be transferred to DVD sight unseen.

Left Behind

The article says phone sex is gone because it’s been replaced by texting and IMs. I plead ignorance, but can text be as erotic as the spoken word?

When Stef was in elementary school we heard stories of kids who couldn’t read the ‘old school’ analog wall clocks, nor operate the rotary dial telephones in the nurse’s office and classrooms. These are lost skills.

I know Morse Code. In fact, I’m very good at it. Morse Code is outmoded. My skill is virtually worthless.

Same thing with my abilities as a radio actor. Even when I was doing it, in the late sixties, I was behind the times.

In today’s Washington Post there’s a list of more in our lives which has been left behind.

  • Truly ‘Blind’ Dates
  • Mix Tapes
  • Land Lines
  • Short Basketball Shorts
  • Cigarettes
  • Phone Sex
  • Getting Lost
  • Cash
  • Having the Blues

I don’t agree with all of these, but they’re pretty interesting. When was the last time you had contact with someone new and didn’t go to Google to see who it was? Mix tapes, land lines and basketball shorts all make sense too.

Cigarettes? Maybe they’re not extinct, but smoking inside anywhere is!

When I first came to work in New Haven, as a smoker, we smoked at our desks. That seems so weird now. We used to use film cannisters as ashtrays.

The article says phone sex is gone because it’s been replaced by texting and IM. I plead ignorance, but can text be as erotic as the spoken word?

Voting On Super Tuesday

I do not like this system at all. I felt no privacy.

Voting at West Woods School

Originally uploaded by Geoff Fox

I voted in the Super Tuesday primary in the lunchroom of Stef’s old elementary school. This is my second time with the optically scanned paper ballots.

I do not like this system at all. I felt no privacy. I will explain more thoroughly later.

Meanwhile, I have no clue how today’s voting will turn out. If there’s a national trend among the Democrats, I don’t see it.

My Job’s Nearly Done

I didn’t get home until 2:30 this morning. I spent the extra time at my desk, working on the new ‘look’ for our weather graphics.

It was a whole lot easier to do what I wanted to do once everyone else had left. Is that a good thing? At my age, shouldn’t I be able to work with a little distraction?

Working through tumult is a great skill to have. It’s even better than being able to fall asleep before the airplane has taxied from the gate!

Stef went to an elementary school with open classrooms. To me, it seemed like she was learning in a bus terminal. There was always noise. There were always distractions.

I’ll have to ask if she thinks this training under fire was helpful? Is she better prepared to work in the midst of a construction zone than I am?

My project is nearly done now. Unfortunately, the last 10% of a job can take 90% of the time. Exceptions are very difficult to process and need more individual attention.

If it’s any solace, I’m pleased by how things look. I wish it was possible to quantify what difference, if any, it will make.


Ken Melech just left the house. He’s a photographer at the station, someone I’ve known over 20 years.

With no cell service in my neighborhood, he stopped by to use the phone.

He’s up here because of a bear sighting. Really. No joke. It’s been seen in the vicinity of the elementary school Steffie attended.

So far there’s no video and I’ve certainly got no still photos, but it’s a pretty curious situation. Who would have thought I live in bear country?

Geoff Who?

I went to add an entry to the blog earlier today. As is usually the case, I clicked a bookmark in my web browser. Because there’s a ‘cookie’ set, I don’t have to offer up my username and password every day.

The username and password screen appeared. Uh oh.

I entered the requested data and… same screen, except there were red letters telling me my name and password were unknown. This is not the kind of red letter day anyone wants!

I tried again… and again… and again. Each time the result was the same.

Maybe I had forgotten which of the myriad of passwords I use was assigned to geofffox.com? I hit the page which is supposed to email my password to me.

Please enter the maiden name of the street your elementary school was on when you got your first pet, it asked?

“User unknown.”

Beads of sweat were beginning to glisten on my brow.

I went to the website of the company that writes this blogging software. Certainly someone else had experience this fate?

One of the hints was to check the database which serves as the nerve center for the blog. I did and found no databases. This was starting to look serious.

If you’re technologically savvy, you can skip the next two paragraphs.

For everyone else, geofffox.com is on a computer with dozens of other websites. It’s similar to the computer you’re using now, except for some specialized webhosting software.

Geofffox.com sits in a ‘server farm’ near Chicago. I control a very small part of this computer. Anything serious demands a user with more privileges than I have – someone who works for the hosting company I contract with.

I spent around 20 minutes chatting with Jason in tech support. It was a simple problem, he said. But he couldn’t fix it.

He asked me to send an email which he’d kick up to Level 3 tech support. Jason was admitting there were support guys even geekier than he! More importantly, they had even more privileges on my server than he had.

As you can see the problem did get solved.


this issue has now been repaired. Mysql should be fully functional.


John F.

It was a ‘simple’ permissions problem.

Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?

I asked John F. if it was something I had done… something I needed to avoid in the future. Nope, It was just a sh*t happens kinda thing.

For much of the afternoon, all I could think of was the grief I’d experience if I had to redo the entire site. There are thousands of entries and nearly as many photos and images.

As it is, I stay 5-6 versions behind with my blogging software because I’m afraid I’ll ruin some precarious balance of nature and crash the whole thing should I go current.

I’m beholden to the Jasons and John F’s of this world. Without them, our modern society would surely grind to a halt.

I’m sure it’s difficult for them to convince women of that.

What To Do About Comments

I read my friend Mike’s blog&#185 and noticed all the comments he gets, and how he often responds. Usually that’s something I won’t do.

This will sound strange – I wanted to avoid starting a dialog with my readers. Why, you may ask? I’m not 100% sure.

Part of the reason, certainly, was because that makes it easier to disconnect my blog from my work. This blog has nothing to do with my work. Still, people comment from time-to-time and relate their comments to my work.

When people ask questions that relate to work, I’m in a tizzy. Let sleeping dogs lie, is my motto.

There’s also the question of how to respond to comments. If I write a personal note, you don’t see it here in context. If I respond online, I never know if the sender has seen it. There’s really no easy way to do both at once.

Like I said, I saw Mike’s blog, with comments answered, and decided to answer some tonight. We’ll see how it goes from here. There must be a happy medium somewhere.

&#185 – Mike is the general manager of the ABC affiliate in Nashville. He also hired me in Connecticut 22 years ago. We were both in elementary school then.

His blog is amazing because he is in a position of power and still writes entries that are freely spoken. Candor – that’s the word to describe his blog. He speaks with candor. He’s must reading for me.

Shmoozing With The Teachers

Tonight was the annual dinner for the Connecticut Assocation of Schools. Me and nearly 600 teachers and administrators at Aqua Turf. This was my 12th consecutive appearance.

I know I wrote about it yesterday. Let me add a little more.

Live performance is like a drug for me. When it goes well it’s the most astounding buzz. When you crack a joke and people laugh – wow. It was that kind of night. I’m not saying it was perfect, but it was pretty good.

I see some of you with cards saying you’re getting the vegetarian meal. That’s like going to Italy for the Chinese food.

OK – I’m no Seinfeld, but it worked with this crowd.

It’s funny how the perception of elementary school teachers changes from your own grade school days to adulthood. They’re real people. When I was in school they were not.

I posed for lots of pictures and schmoozed with anyone who’d let me. I’m a big believer in personal contact, but it also feeds my sickness… the same one that gets me buzzed with live performances.

Observations From Prospect

I was in Prospect, CT last night at their annual D.A.R.E. graduation. I’ve been to 13 now. It’s my tradition as well as theirs.

I enjoy going because I like Prospect. It really does have a neat, small town feel. Going to Community School has got to be a different experience than going to P.S. 163&#185 in Flushing, Queens.

Some small things have changed. All the kids’ speeches are written and printed on computer. When I first came, they were hand written. The slide show at the end is now a PowerPoint presentation.

I made a point last night to observe the kids closely. It’s been a while since Steffie was 11, so there are things I’ve forgotten. Even then I couldn’t really be a dispassionate observer.

Being 11 is definitely being in transition. You are obviously still a kid in every way, but you’re getting set to begin fending for yourself and actually making some decisions on your own.

It is a physically awkward time. When the kids came up on stage to receive their certificates shake some hands, many didn’t know which hand to use. The vast majority, though not all, avoided eye contact – not just to me, but to all the adults on the stage.

I found that odd.

I have a terrible habit when I look at someone younger than me. I tend to mentally age them. So, now I know what all these kids will look like in their fifties and sixties. Some will be pleased. Many will not.

I know – it’s weird. I do it to nearly everyone young, wherever I am.

Some of the kids won an essay contest and read theirs aloud. How tough is that when you’re 11? I was a few feet behind them and could see nearly every one quivering. Though a few inches from the microphone, most were still too quiet to be heard.

I would guess the anticipation of this public performance must be nerve wracking when you’re 11. I’m sure I couldn’t have done it.

In a few years their writing will mature. Right now, most of it is reading back what others have said. I don’t know when individual creativity kicks in, but by-and-large it’s not in 5th grade.

I believe I was a real piece of work in the 5th grade, back in Mrs. McEnroe’s class at P.S. 163. I too would have squirmed while in the presence of non-family adults.

Our school never did anything to bring the parents and kids together at school, as this night in Prospect did. Looking back, that’s my loss.

&#185 – I was surprised to find this page, which rates my old elementary school, and rates it highly. Is there anything still the same since I left in the early 60s?

If I read correctly, it’s now 66% Asian. When I went, the school was totally white, except for two black brothers, Hubert and Herbert. There were no Hispanic or Asian students.

It was a school with a library the size of a Manhattan kitchen and a multipurpose ‘gym’ which never saw a sport or game played.

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.

School Days

I went to speak to a local elementary school today. I don’t usually speak to schools. My appearances are mostly associated with charity work.

In this case, my next door neighbors children go to this school. How could I resist.

This was an older school. Though a parochial school, it reminded me of PS 163Q where I “served” second through sixth grade. Don’t confuse ‘older school’ with ‘old style’ school . They are different terms.

However, this school was both! I don’t consider that to be bad.

The kids were very attentive and asked good questions. They weren’t scared to participate. I liked that.

There was one kid in the front who needed to be tied down for his own (OK – for my own) good. There’s at least one in every class. I was it in my school.

When I do these school talks, we always suck eggs into Snapple bottles. The kids love it. They like it even better when a teacher, Sister Pia in this case, holds the bottle.

We never had fun people stop by when I was in elementary school. We had a dentist… once. He told us you needed to use ‘elbow grease’ when you cleaned your teeth. One girl (I remember her name but won’t put it here) raised her hand and asked where elbow grease could be bought.

Quick Trip To Help

Christina DeFranco, who used to be a reporter at the TV station, gave me a call, asking if I’d help with a fund raiser for her kid’s school – Pine Grove Elementary in Avon. Their auction, silent and live, was scheduled for this evening at the Avon Old Farms Hotel.

First impression. This was the best dressed, best put together group of parents I had ever seen.

Considering it was for an elementary school, this was a huge turnout and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Hopefully, they raised a lot of money. There certainly were more items than I’m used to seeing for a silent auction.

So, you might ask… what did I do there? My best explanation is, I play the part that, in the Catskills, was called “tummler&#185”.

Actually, it’s something I enjoy doing. I go around from auction table to auction table, trying to get people into the spirit of the event, trying to get more bids, trying to get higher bids.

Tonight, the microphone wasn’t really working well, which made it tougher. Still we got through it all. Especially since EBay, people wait around, trying to get their bid in at the very last moment. I try and move them along.

The only problem tonight was the distance. This was a 45 minute drive in each direction with only the time between shows available to me.

I’m glad I was able to go.

&#185 – tumm

My Trashy Story

Every week, on Friday, our trash goes to the curb. Every other week it’s supposed to be accompanied by recycling. It doesn’t work that way in our household.

Whether it’s our distance from the curb or the amount of recycled newspapers we have (we subscribe to both the New Haven Register or New York Times) or maybe all the boxes we get because of online shopping, going to the curb bi-weekly doesn’t work. So all of this recyclable material piles up in the garage. A few times a year we stuff it into the SUV and I drive it to the transfer station.

Transfer station, what a lovely phrase. It’s so much more genteel than town dump.

I drove up to the transfer station this morning only to find the new policy – no newspapers. I had an SUV full of recyclables, and of course, the supermarket bags of newspapers were on top!

I unloaded the 20 or so bags of newspapers to get to the cardboard and other material underneath. At this point the transfer station folks took pity on me and found a place… a transfer station loophole if you will… that allowed me to drop the papers off. From now on it’s newspapers to the street, I suppose.

I want to be a good citizen, but it is increasingly difficult to follow the rules. In fact, it would be much easier to hide the newspapers and cardboard and bottles with our weekly trash. I’m sure a lot of people do just that. It also always strikes me as a little ironic that the two most talked about recycled products are made from sand (glass) or grow on trees (paper).

I know this is supposed to be good for the environment, and I’m for that. But, is it really? Is this just a feel good exercise with no payoff… or negative payoff?

From “Recycling Is Garbage” – New York Times Magazine, June 30, 1996:

Every time a sanitation department crew picks up a load of bottles and cans from the curb, New York City loses money. The recycling program consumes resources. It requires extra administrators and a continual public relations campaign explaining what to do with dozens of different products — recycle milk jugs but not milk cartons, index cards but not construction paper. (Most New Yorkers still don’t know the rules.) It requires enforcement agents to inspect garbage and issue tickets. Most of all, it requires extra collection crews and trucks. Collecting a ton of recyclable items is three times more expensive than collecting a ton of garbage because the crews pick up less material at each stop. For every ton of glass, plastic and metal that the truck delivers to a private recycler, the city currently spends $200 more than it would spend to bury the material in a landfill.

I don’t know what to think. I want to do what’s right, but I am really not sure. Until I know otherwise, I will follow the rules.

In the meantime, part of our recycling life at home will have to change. Newspapers to the curb. I can hardly wait for the first really big rain on a Thursday night.

Continue reading “My Trashy Story”