Finally, A Better Night

I got about 8.5 hours of sleep last night. It was, however, a fight.

Up until a little after 4:00 AM, I was exhausted. Still, for no apparent reason I woke up at 6:15 AM. I put my head down and tried, successfully, to sleep again.

That wouldn’t be the last time I opened my eyes. I was up two or three more times before finally deciding enough was enough.

Usually a sound sleeper, not only did I wake up those few times, I also had a bad dream and ‘lost’ both my camera and laptop computer! Oh, the humanity. This has to be associated with my bad case of jet lag.

I’m hoping tonight will be simpler – please.

Beware Of Daughters Carrying Laptops

A week ago I got my first inkling something was wrong. Helaine told me Stef had told her “BabyLaps,” her laptop computer, was running really slowly.

I had Steffie load some remote assistance software and attempted to fix things from here. The computer only ran slower!

“Bring it home,” I said. And so, tonight she did.

When I walked into my office, there was the laptop sitting under a note with the sketch of a tearful face and three words, “fix me please.”

For three hours, I’ve been trying just that – and failing. This is so frustrating!

There are no outward signs pointing to the reason the computer has become slovenly. There is definitely something wrong and it’s waiting to be discovered!

OK – that’s the bad news. The good news is, I can get in as the Administrator and run the machine perfectly in safe mode. In other words, there’s no hardware problem and the operating system seems intact.

This will take a long time.

I Am Currently Twiddling

Steffie’s laptop computer had a run-in with some juice earlier this afternoon. It works fine, with the exception of the Enter, space bar, and some other keys.

OK – under those circumstances it might as well be dead.

I need to contact Dell for service, since we have the ‘all hazards’ protection. I thought, with a college student, this was a good idea. Two points for Geoff.

I went to the Dell site looking for support. Buying it was much easier than finding it!

I waited on the phone, but it’s tough to stay on the phone when you’re at work. Instead, I’m trying their on-line chat function.

There’s obviously a lot of estimating going on. At one point it told me I had 5:12 to wait. A few minutes later it was up to 5:44, even though there was one less person in the queue.

On-line chats have many advantages. For instance, I’ll never know if “Chad” or whomever I get to talk to is really in India or closer to home (don’t bet on closer to home).

02/13/2006 08:26:32PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “Thank you for contacting Dell Consumer Hardware Warranty Support Chat. My name is Gaurav. Please give me a minute to review your question.”

He’s here. It’s Gaurav. Where’s Chad?

Chatting for tech support is like living life in slow motion. It’s excruciatingly slow. On the other hand, with my typos from time-to-time, he’s not the only one who is speaking like a foreigner&#185.

02/13/2006 08:38:56PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “I request for a minute more please.”

I’ve just paused while finishing my chat. I am pleasantly surprised. Again, we bought the full, no holds barred coverage.

02/13/2006 08:30:55PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “Well as per you warranty there are two option first to send the system to depot for complete check, it will take 6-8 days.”

02/13/2006 08:31:20PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “Or I will send technician or the key board with proper tolls and lay out to get it replaced.”

02/13/2006 08:32:00PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “Technician will not examine the system completely as it can only be done in depot , he will only replace the keyboard of the system.”

02/13/2006 08:32:14PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “Please let me know what service call should I create .”

I chose Stef’s dorm. Trust me, this is much better than it could have been and certainly easier than taking it or sending it to a depot.

I think Steffie is impressed. I am certainly impressed. I’ll report back when the laptop is fixed.

Oh – if you’re hanging around and run into Gaurav, let him know he made a friend in Connecticut. I just wish he worked here too.

&#185 – Gaurav, as it turns out, is in New Delhi.

Network TV – Home Video

SNL Lazy Sunday Chris Parnell and Adam SambergLast week I wrote about Saturday Night Live’s “Christmastime For The Jews,” but obviously missed the most buzzworthy segment from that show, “Lazy Sunday,” with Chris Parnell and Adam Samberg.

From The New York Times:

Since it was originally broadcast on NBC, “Lazy Sunday” has been downloaded more than 1.2 million times from the video-sharing Web site; it has cracked the upper echelons of the video charts at and the iTunes Music Store; and it has even inspired a line of T-shirts, available at

When it aired, I hit the rewind button to see it again, and I too have watched it on the net. It’s very clever. I’m too old to get all the cultural references, as Steffie was glad to point out.

Today’s Times splashed this story across the front page of the Arts section. Here’s what I learned that impressed me the most:

On the evening of Dec. 12, the four wrote a song about “two guys rapping about very lame, sensitive stuff,” as Mr. Samberg described it. They recorded it the following night in the office Mr. Samberg shares with Mr. Schaffer and Mr. Taccone at “SNL,” using a laptop computer that Mr. Taccone bought on Craigslist.

Then, while their colleagues were rehearsing and rewriting that Saturday’s show, the group spent the morning of Dec. 15 shooting their video with a borrowed camera, using the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Chelsea to stand in for a multiplex cinema and Mr. Taccone’s girlfriend’s sister to play a convenience-store clerk. Mr. Schaffer spent the next night – and morning – editing the video and working with technicians to bring it up to broadcast standards.

In other words, if you have talent, you no longer need the support of a major studio or broadcast network to make something good and powerful. You can shoot and edit your film at home, or in a small office, with off-the-shelf equipment that’s readily available and cheap.

That is a major change from how moving pictures have always been produced.

Yes, Parnell and Samberg needed NBC to get instant publicity and notoriety today. I’m not sure they’ll need that tomorrow.

Post Atlanta Random Thoughts

I can’t believe how exhausted I was coming home from Atlanta. I’m a firm believer that travel is just as exhausting as work – and this is more living proof. From the time I left the hotel until I got home was nearly 8 hours. That includes driving, flying, waiting and even taking the Atlanta Airport subway.

I’m starting to get bugged by the TSA screening at some airports. I’ll use Atlanta as an example. Usually I would take photos to illustrate my points, but the TSA has never shown a warm and fuzzy side to me. To their mind: photo equals full body cavity search.

In order to get to the screening apparatus it is necessary to move through a long circuitous line. I was thinking ‘cattle’ as I walked it, only to hear the woman behind me blurt out just that word!

I never take off my shoes for screening, but was told if I didn’t, I would be searched. My shoes have now been x-rayed and I’ve walked through an airport barefoot. The world’s a safer place.

Exactly what is accomplished by screening everyone? Isn’t it possible to build a system that provides trustworthy people with a modicum of trust? I’ll vouch for my mom.

Why do US Senators need to be hand screened at an airport, as recently occurred? Are we really worried about them? Are we really worried about me or the elderly white haired woman with breathing apparatus and a wheelchair I recently saw being screened at Bradley International?

Maybe it’s just the attitude. There is never a doubt when you deal with some of these screeners that they know they have limitless power over you. Tick them off, pay the price.

I brought a digital camera, laptop computer, cell phone and other wired devices. Do they really know the electronic makeup of these items? Aren’t they better off knowing me – or whomever is being screened?

After arriving in Philadelphia and before boarding my New Haven bound plane, there was a problem. The plane had been ‘overbooked’ and volunteers would be needed.

Each volunteer would receive one round trip ticket for anywhere in USAir’s system plus a ticket on the next available flight – 8:15 tomorrow night, or approximately 27 hours wait.

As we got ready to leave, I noticed the seat next to me and a few others in the plane were empty. What was going on? The flight attendant told me there were weight restrictions.

That seemed very odd. Sometimes in the summer when the air isn’t quite as dense, planes don’t have enough power for takeoff. It was cool today. The wind, which had been gusty earlier, had slacked off. I just don’t get it.

I know a few pilots read my blog. Maybe one of you will explain this to me… better still, explain it to the ‘bumpees.’

On Friday I wrote about being forced to park in a more expensive lot when the long term lot was full. I mentioned this to the cashier tonight and he immediately adjusted the price down to the long term rate. My guess is this had nothing to do with me being on TV (making it an even better find, since it represents a real policy – a smart policy at an airport trying to build a customer base).

Flying from Tweed is a pleasure, and I’m glad that’s how I booked this trip.

Finally, as I left the airport I noted the Sun setting over New Haven Harbor. I drove into a nearby park, but soggy ground prevented me from getting a shot which was totally in the clear. As it turns out, I think the trees in the foreground add nice contrast.

Being Stranded Is Different

Friday, while waiting in Las Vegas for our delayed flight to Hartford, I tracked the plane using my laptop computer. Las Vegas, like many airports has wireless Internet access&#185.

As our 737 made its way from Reno, I wondered how this access to up-to-date knowledge affects the airlines?

Years ago they could, and did, lie about flight status. That was especially true during the days when they were more worried about passengers retreating to another carrier for an earlier departure. With severe penalties for itinerary changes, we can’t do that anymore.

Not only can I find the actual airplane, I can also see the latest aviation weather (forecast and observed) and any air traffic control delays or ground stops.

Today, there’s no need to suffer in silence at the airport. With a PC or cameraphone you can get the word out to the world. I know this as a fact because I’ve just heard from my friend Bob.

Bob is flying to Talahassee, FL from Penn State. Well, he was flying. Awful weather has stranded him, and others, at the Atlanta Airport. He’s not sleeping yet, but his sneakers are off.

Are passsengers forced to sleep on the floor in the terminal? Judge for yourself. The image isn’t the best, but it makes the point.

In case you’re wondering, at 3:30 AM on a night like this with passengers all over the floor of the terminal, the PA announcements still get made, loudly apologizing every twenty minutes that the hotels are sold out!

Of course with wireless Internet access it’s possible to check and make sure they’re not lying about the hotel situation. Sleep tight.

&#185 – Access was free in Hartford and Las Vegas, but $9.95 for the day from “T-Mobile” at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

My Friend Bob

Bob Lacey has been my friend for a long time… a really long time. I met him my first day as a paid broadcaster – a part time, minimum wage position at WSAR in Fall River, MA. “Ahoy there matey, it’s 14-80.”

WSAR was a great place to start. It was a small station in a small market. The studio and transmitter were located in a residential neighborhood at the foot of Home Street in Somerset, MA.

We were top-40 back when stations still actually played forty records. We even had PAMS jingles. If you weren’t in radio back then, this might not makes sense, but PAMS of Dallas was the gold standard of radio station jingles.

WSAR promoted itself as serving the Tri Cities: Fall River, New Bedford and Newport. Yes, they were physically close, but Fall River and New Bedford might as well have been on another planet as far as Newport was concerned!

I met Bob (he was Skippy Ross back then) that first day and we’ve been friends ever since. After Fall River, we also worked together in Charlotte, NC, where Bob has been for over 35 years. How is that even possible?

We don’t see each other as often as we should and we had trouble hooking up on the phone because his hours and mine are as opposite as can be. Bob is the guy half of Bob and Sheri, the nationally syndicated morning radio show.

Obviously I’m biased, but this is a phenomenal morning show. In the parlance of radio, it is female friendly. It’s funny… sometimes even sexual humor… but never smutty or sophomoric.

Bob is a technophobe. There are no two ways about it. If it’s electronic or technical, count him out. I always expected his first laptop computer would be steam powered. That’s why it’s so nice to have him finally sending email. OK – he’s a decade late, but he’s here.

I can’t begin to tell you how good it was to get a message from him, and then a reply to my reply, and another email later. It’s been a while since a good friend has come into the modern era. Email can be a wonderful thing.

There are so many people who feel our constantly connected world is driving people away from human contact. I disagree. A few sentences from a friend is the real power of the Internet, not its weakness.

I’m Not That Nice

A few months ago, Elizabeth McGuire (no Lizzie McGuire jokes, please) asked if she could interview me for Hartford Magazine. Never the shy one, I said yes.

I have just read the article, and can now guarantee, I’m not anywhere as nice as she portrayed me. I am grateful, however, she lied on my behalf.

Only part of the article was on the magazine’s website, so I retyped it to place here on my site. Other than changing the spelling of my daughter’s name, and my length of service at WTNH, I’ve left it as is.

Hartford Magazine / February 2004

WTNH weatherman Geoff Fox doesn’t mind being call a weather geek. In fact, he finds it flattering. Fox loves the scientific process of predicting and forecasting the weather. “I’m the kind of guy who does like to look at lists of numbers, charts and gr4aphs. It’s a different math puzzle every single day, and no matter what you do, you’re presented with another math puzzle the next day,” Fox says.

Day after day for the past 19 years at WTNH-TV, Fox has pored over the maps, graphs and charts; analyzed the data; and then translated the information into “plain English” for his viewers. Fox gets two to three minutes during evening newscasts to tell viewers how the weather on any given day is likely to affect them. Without being asked, he answers dozens of questions such as, “Should I wear a raincoat, start that outdoor project or cancel that backyard picnic?” Fox says many viewers listen critically to his forecasts, and they hold him accountable when he’s wrong. “Believe me, people can be tough if you are wrong – and they should be, because other than the Psychic Friends Network, there aren’t too many people who come on television and predict the future for a living,” Fox explains.

As we sit at the kitchen table in Fox’s spacious Hamden home one recent afternoon, Fox explains to me that advances in computer technology have increased weather forecasters’ ability to develop more accurate forecasts. Suddenly, Fox excuses himself and leaves the room. Moments later he’s back with his laptop computer. There begins my tutorial on weather patterns. A map with curvy lines shows barometric pressure, one with splotches of color shows precipitation, and a pretty blue graph shows, well I’m not sure what that one showed, but it sure is colorful! Though much of what Fox explains is lost on my unscientific mind, his main point isn’t: The mathematical calculations and other technical information computers offer weather forecasters are essential tools of the trade. Like blueprints to contractors, or EKG printouts to doctors, computers make it easier for weather forecasters to be correct more often. “We can get more detailed information about what the atmosphere is doing… why it’s doing it… how it’s doing it…”

But once Fox comes out from behind the computer, he is able to deliver important information in an easy-to-understand, conversational manner. And he just about always throws some humor into his forecasts, often catching his co-anchors off guard. “I’ve always been the guy who told the jokes and made funny little remarks. And I think I have good timing,” says Fox.

Fox honed his timing during his 11 years as a morning-radio personality in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Buffalo. In 1980, Fox became the host of a Buffalo TV magazine show at WGRZ-TV. That’s where he became interested in weather forecasting, applied for a weekend weather position, and got the job. Fox realized meteorology was an area in which he could use his math and science skills. Fox says he was always good in those subjects and was even on the school math team as a kid growing up in Flushing, Queens, NY.

Even though Fox says he scored higher than 700 on the math portion of the SATs, he tells me he was not a very good student, especially in college. “I was in the accelerated dismissal program at Emerson.” he jokes. In fact, he flunked out the first time he attended the Boston college that specializes in communications.

He is now, however, getting straight A’s in his course work to become a certified meteorologist. He’s enrolled in a distance learning program at Mississippi State University. But most of what Fox needs to know to get a degree in meteorology he already knows.

After years of on-the-job training and watching New England weather patterns, Fox has a pretty good track record of predicting the weather. A classic example of getting it right was his forecast for the so-called “Storm of the Century” (as some television promotion departments dubbed it) that took aim at Connecticut the first weekend of March 2001. Most of the computer weather models were indicating the strong possibility of at least three feet of snow with blizzard conditions. But Fox didn’t think they were correct. He had been using a different computer model (maintained by a major university) during the 200-2001 winter season, and it had been extremely accurate. So, Fox was pretty certain the site’s calculations on heights, temperatures and pressures in the atmosphere were reliable. He stuck with his prediction that the storm would bring mostly rain, sleet and perhaps a few inches of snow. “If you’re confident in your abilities, you have to give what you think is best, in spite of the pack,” he says. Fox’s news director at the time questioned the accuracy of his forecast but then decided to trust it. Gov. Rowland, however, put his faith in the blizzard forecasts and practically shut down the state. The “Storm of the Century” never materialized. Fox would later write an Op-Ed piece for the New Haven Register that he was “hurt” by an article in that paper, which led readers to believe that all area forecasters got it wrong.

That’s not to say, however, that Fox gets it right all the time. Even after 20 years in the television business Fox says he is still “incredibly bothered” when his forecasts don’t bear out. “there will be times when I wake up on a Saturday morning and I will be upset that it’s sunny. If I said it’s gonna rain, than a rainy day is much nicer than a sunny day.” Fox has been know to apologize to his viewers on the air when one of his forecasts has proven incorrect.

In the family room of Fox’s house, the fireplace mantel is crowded with pictures of his 16-year-old daughter Stefanie, in various stages of childhood and Fox’s wedding pictures. Fox and his wife Helaine recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. Next to the mantel, behind the glass door of his entertainment center, Fox displays his seven shiny gold Emmy awards – meticulously lined up in a row. He earned those awards for weather and science reporting. Along with his work at WTNH-TV, Fox has hosted a show called “Inside Space” on the SciFi Channel and has been a fill-in weathercaster on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Fox says he would like to do more work for ABC because the experience was “cool.” He’d also like to host a game show but says those jobs would be in addition to his work at WTNH-TV.

When Fox isn’t working, he spends his time with his family, maintains his Web site( with his daily postings and plays Internet Poker. Fox also does charity work, and his favorite charities include the March of Dimes and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Fox sums up his feelings about the charity work and accurate forecasts this way” “Look, I’m not living in a hovel. I’m not driving a ’65 Pinto, and the reason I have whatever success and nice things I have is because of the people of Connecticut, so I feel there’s an obligation to give something back.”