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.

Rand McSteffie

Steffie’s college roommate is back at school for some summer classes. Steffie thought it might be nice to bring her their shared television and some other things we’d stored here in Connecticut. So yesterday afternoon, with her friend Sam in tow, Steffie set out for Long Island.

It’s really not a difficult trip and before long they were there.

Flash forward to departure time. By this time Sam, suffering from a headache, dozes off in the front seat. Steffie hops onto the Meadowbrook and heads home.

Everything was going so well, so smoothly until she got to the Cross Island Parkway. That’s how Helaine and I get to the Throgs Neck Bridge. The problem is, just at the point you exit to the Cross Island there’s a sign beckoning you to a different exit for the Throgs Neck!

Confused, Steffie followed the sign… and so began her great adventure through the boroughs!

Instead of heading north, into the Bronx, she was heading west toward Manhattan. Somehow she got on the Long Island Expressway, driving past the apartment where I grew up, past Queens College and the New York World’s Fair site.

Her exact route isn’t certain. She doesn’t totally remember and probably had no way of knowing anyway. I am reconstructing it from a conversation we had a little after 1:00 AM.

“You know that tunnel,” Steffie asked?

“Did you go up on a very high section of roadway with a great view of Manhattan?”

Holy crap! Steffie had made her way to Long Island City and was heading into the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

“It went on forever and was really narrow,” she said.

She’s right. The twin tubes of the Midtown Tunnel run around 1¼ miles. The lanes are narrow and the tunnel does curve. Even worse, as you leave you’re faced with three choices, “Uptown, Midtown and Downtown,” none of which would make any sense to Steffie!

She remembers Lexington Avenue and seeing Times Square on her right. She was totally lost.

“You know the glass building?”

Glass building? I looked at my toes – where all answers emanate. Glass building… uh… “You mean the Javits Center?”

It was around this time in the conversation that Steffie admitted that she knew she’d drive in Manhattan at some point, but had hope she’d wait until she was around 40.

Back in the car she pulled into a parking lot, hoping to find an attendant. No dice there. She yelled across at a taxicab stopped at a light. As he explained, the light turned green.

The time between a green light and horn honk in Manhattan is measured in milliseconds.

The were signs for the Holland Tunnel. She knew she didn’t want to be there. There were also signs pointing toward the George Washington Bridge. That sounded more familiar.

She didn’t know it at the time, but she was now heading north on the West Side Highway.

On family trips, we often make a decision as we approach the George Washington Bridge. If there’s heavy traffic on the bridge heading into the Bronx, we continue north and wind our way through the Bronx and Westchester. If the coast’s clear, we take the easy way – I-95, the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Steffie looked at the bridge and decided to continue. It’s lucky for her she did, because as it turns out, she would have taken the GWB. She would have headed across the Hudson into New Jersey!

Heading north, the West Side Highway becomes the Henry Hudson Parkway. She drove through the toll, over the Henry Hudson Bridge and into the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

Now nothing looked familiar! Exits came and went, but no names she recognized… until Mosholu Parkway.

Unfortunately for Steffie, she knew the name because we’d had brunch at the Mosholu, a boat moored on the Delaware River in Philadelphia. She took the Mosholu anyway.

Even with a map, it’s tough to reconstruct her trip from here. She did panic a little when she saw signs pointing to Albany. A little after that, a sign for the Hutchinson River Parkway.

Steffie headed north on the “Hutch,” finally breathing a sigh of relief as she passed the “Entering Greenwich” sign. She was back in Connecticut.

The 100 minute trip had taken her four hours. She had visited Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx and was within a few hundred yards of Brooklyn.

Steffie probably expected Helaine or me to get angry. We didn’t.

Do I wish she would have called me at some point? Of course.

It’s a great story we’ll have forever… one of those family fables grandparents will someday tell grandchildren about their mother.

Ever Been Followed Into The Men’s Room? I Have!

This story starts a long time ago – nearly twenty years ago. Helaine was pregnant with Stefanie. It was fall, as I remember, and we were on our way to the North Haven Fair.

We wanted dinner, so we stopped at Danny’s on Route 5 near I-91. I’m not sure if it’s still called Danny’s, but it was a nice family style Italian restaurant.

We were seated, ordered, and then I got up to go to the men’s room.

So, there I am, in the men’s room, standing (as men do), when in walked two small kids. “Are you Geoff Fox,” they wanted to know?

OK – that’s the weirdest place I’ve ever been asked. And, as far as I know, the only time I’d ever been followed into the men’s room.

It’s a good story, and I retell it from time-to-time. In fact, I told it to Steffie last week.

Flash forward to this week – Tuesday night, to be specific. I’m again out to dinner, this time with two co-workers from the station. A nicely dressed man walked up to me and asked, “Do you remember Danny’s in North Haven?”

“Uh… yeah.”

It was the guy whose sons had followed me to the men’s room! He had pictures. They’ve grown. Both are in the Air Force – one a pilot the other a navigator.

Here’s the strange part. He said he and his family had told the story recently too!


Recently, I had an email conversation with my Statistical Climatology teaching assistant (quite an important person, as she controls my grades!). We talked about Innumeracy, the book by John Allen Paulos.

His, unfortunate, conclusion is that most people are mathematically challenged. Not knowing math leaves them less capable of dealing with the world around them.

Out of curiosity, I asked some folks at work to tell me the relationship between a million and a billion. Not many knew it was 1:1,000.

Since our government is now throwing billions and even trillions around (a trillion is 1,000 billion or a million million) it seems like this is something we should know.

Flash forward to this past weekend. My friend Bob called me on IM and sent a link to an article in Time Magazine about America’s problems with weight and obesity. On the first page was a chart which said Americans eat “600 Billion Big Macs a year.”

Wow. That’s a lot… something like 2,000 apiece per year. Obviously, we’ve got a problem here. That number’s wrong.

Dear Mr. Fox:

Thanks for writing to us about TIME’s Oct. 20 cover story and the figure of how many Big Macs are consumed by Americans each year. It appears in the online version as 600 billion, but that’s not accurate. The correct figure of 600 million appears in the print edition of the magazine.

We appreciated hearing from you. Sorry for any confusion.

TIME letters

Don’t be sorry to me. Feel sorry for all the people who looked at that stat, wrong as it was, and never realized what that number meant.