Is Dodd Done?

To me it has always seemed Connecticut is an address of convenience for Senator Dodd. He’s from Connecticut the way ships are registered in Liberia and Panama or businesses are incorporated in Delaware and the Cayman’s.

Christopher_Dodd_official_portrait_2-cropped.jpgJust as I was getting set for bed the Twitterverse started going a little nuts with word Senator Christopher Dodd will announce he’s not running for reelection to his Senate seat. The announcement, if true, is a shocker even though I’ve been telling anyone who’d listen he was unelectable.

Unelectable candidates run all the time. They lose. I assume he figured that out.

He’s run and won six times. Thirty years in the Senate. Quite a record. Alas, here in Connecticut the bloom is off the rose.

Every time a sleazy rock is turned over concerning banking or finances there seems to be signs Chris Dodd has been there. His mortgage deal with Countrywide, sweetheart or not, never seemed like the kind of deal I’d get.

In the NY Times Gail Collins wrote of his opportunism and Connecticut’s skepticism:

The trouble began with Dodd’s presidential campaign when he famously attempted to win over the voters in the Iowa caucus by moving his entire family to the state and enrolling his daughter in an Iowa kindergarten. Iowa, you may remember, responded enthusiastically and awarded him nearly 1 percent of the vote. Connecticut was mortified.

Mortified. Exactly.

I’ve only met Chris Dodd three of four times in my 25 years here. At a UCONN basketball victory parade I jumped on the back of a flatbed truck and interviewed Dodd and Joe Lieberman on live TV.

The truck began to move as I was clumsily climbing on. Senator Dodd leaned over and reached out to help. He has the softest hands I have ever felt on a man!

A few years ago I walked into the conference room as Ann Nyberg was getting set to interview him. I looked at the Senator and said, “I’m just a typical American boy from a typical American town.”

Nyberg was confused. She flashed a quizzical look. Too young to understand.

Dodd smiled and continued, “I believe in God and Senator Dodd and keeping old Castro down.”

We were doing lines from Phil Ochs’ “Draft Dodger Rag.” The Senator Dodd in the song was Chris Dodd’s dad, Tom. Being in the Senate was like being in a family business.

To me it has always seemed Connecticut is an address of convenience for Senator Dodd. He’s from Connecticut the way ships are registered in Liberia and Panama or businesses are incorporated in Delaware and the Cayman’s.

427px-Richard_Blumenthal_at_West_Hartford_library_opening.jpgMore than likely this opens the door for Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to run.

For Republicans this is a worst case scenario. Dodd was weak. Blumenthal is strong and well liked. It will be tough to muddy this consumer oriented former Marine.

Dick Blumenthal is a retail politician appearing and pressing the flesh at more events than any three other pols in Connecticut. I suspect more Connecticut residents have had personal contact with the AG than any other elected official. That kind of stuff pays off.

Now I can go to sleep.

When I Am President

I don’t question the motivation for bestowing this honor… but isn’t there something more important the prez could have been doing on this Wednesday afternoon?

When I am President of these United States one thing will change immediately. We’re going to do away with most if not all of the pomp and circumstance.

This afternoon I watched President Obama present the Medal of Freedom to:

16 people who have made a difference in the nation and the world. They come from diverse backgrounds, but have one trait in common. – Voice of America

medal-of-freedom.jpgWonderful. I don’t question the motivation for bestowing this honor… but isn’t there something more important the prez could have been doing on this Wednesday afternoon? Did he have to personally present?

Every time he is up on the dais mentioning a score or more of politicians by name before speaking he is wasting his time, which after all is really my time. He works for me.

Businesses understand this. It’s called productivity. Be productive Mr. President.

Let me be clear–events like yesterday’s Town Hall meeting or a press conference where tough questions are asked and answered–no problem. For this, or any other president, those events serve a purpose.

Maybe we need some official whose only job is to wave and show the flag? Is it too late for America to get a Queen?

Old Photo From Junior High

While I was cleaning this past weekend, I came across a bunch of things I hadn’t seen in a while. That includes the attached photo.

I am not the shortest boy, but pretty close. I am one boy left of center in the front row.

As far as I can remember, I was in the 7th grade a Campbell Junior High School (JHS 218) on Main Street in Flushing, at the time. A teacher at the school, Frank Skala&#185, organized student trips. These were organized by Mr. Skala (back row, farthest left) and weren’t ‘official’ school trips.

This trip was to Cape Cod. It was the first and only time I’ve been to Cape Cod! As you can see by our clothes, it was off-season.

Here’s what I remember from the trip – nothing.

Actually, I take that back. I remember going to McDonalds. That was significant, because it was my first McDonalds and my first ‘fast food restaurant.’

A few things to note:

Look at the hair! What were they thinking.

Whe was the last time you saw that many 7th, 8th or 9th graders dressed in jackets and ties?

Look how few adults there were for this many teens. I was too young, stupid, innocent, to be a problem. I assume I was an exception in that regard.

I wish I could remember anyone shown. I don’t.

I think the guy to the right of Mr. Skala is the bus driver. Another teacher from the school (who wasn’t on the trip) has identified two other teachers pictured. Even after reading their names, I don’t remember them.

I was only in this school two years, still shouldn’t I remember somebody… anybody?

&#185 – If I knew how to get in touch with Frank Skala, I’d send him this photo file. He was very active in the teacher’s union. He’s probably retired now. I know he is a community activist in Bayside, NY. I’m usually good at this, but I can’t find an email address for him or a website for his organization.

Deep Throat Revealed

I woke up this morning , flipped on the TV and saw a ‘breaking news’ banner at the bottom of the screen on CNN. Breaking news doesn’t proffer quite the same importance it once did, but it still got my attention.

Deep throat revealed – that was the gist of the story.

This just might have been the best kept secret in Washington, the identity of Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate source. Only four people knew for sure: Woodward, Bernstein, Ben Bradlee and Deep Throat himself… a claim now raised by W. Mark Felt.

Mark Felt was a high ranking FBI official. AP says he was number two at the bureau, putting him just below J. Edgar Hoover at the time.

His name has been linked to Deep Throat in the past, but he is not a high profile person. A quick Google search of “W. Mark Felt”&#185 shows only 292 hits. Even I’m better represented than that!

Woodward and Bernstein continued to protect their source until a few minutes ago when the Washington Post issued a confirmation. Over the years, as names were tossed out, they neither confirmed or denied what Felt today claimed. Before the confirmation, I was guessing, since this is in Vanity Fair which (in spite of its wimpy name) is very well respected for top notch writing and reportage, it’s true. I would expect this story has been well vetted.

Deep Throat’s tips were what broke open Watergate and finally brought down President Nixon. It is an excellent example of an unnamed source leading to credible journalism. Lately, unnamed sources have been under fire.

It’s funny that even today the White House offers up unnamed sources in a very structured way.

MR. McCORMACK: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the briefing you’ve all been waiting for — all day long. (Laughter and applause.) We have a senior administration official here who is going to be — has a few words to say about the President’s meetings with Prime Minister Singh of India and Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan. And then he’ll take a few questions from you.

With that, I’ll turn it over to our briefer.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi. I’m the senior administration official. The President met with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh this morning at 8:05 a.m. And he met with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at 3:00 p.m. And let me tell you a little bit about those two, and then I’ll take some questions.

That’s from an actual White House briefing as documented on the White House website.

The White House uses unnamed sources for the same reason they’re used elsewhere. Sometimes, people who know news that must get out just don’t have the ability to speak freely. I’d rather they weren’t used without additional attribution, but I believe inside sources… protected unnamed sources… are an important part of journalism.

Now, how the heck did they keep this a secret for so long?

&#185 – By putting my search in quotes, Google limits its results to only those pages with the exact text I’ve entered. Searching for W. Mark Felt without quotation marks yield millions of entries, but most of them aren’t on topic.

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”

Wakodahatchee Wetlands

This is probably going to be my last entry concerning the Florida trip, and the one I least anticipated before I went to visit my folks.

I had played golf Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday, my dad was a little sore (I was too) and he begged off. It was a lazy day – very quiet around the house. By early afternoon my mom had asked if I wanted to go to Wakodahatchee.

Sure… except, what is it?

Wakodahatchee Wetlands&#185 is a man made nature preserve in suburban Palm Beach County. If I understand correctly, it is the product of heavily treated waste water (I’m sure heavily treated and clean are two very different words) which is released into a number of manufactured environments.

The actual wetlands were built to allow for a number of different wet habitats. With no human encroachment, the wildlife is varied and flourishes.

For humans, the treat is the 3/4 mile long boardwalk which winds its way through the preserve. The afternoon we went, it was moderately busy. I would guess there were at least 100 people on the boards.

My luck was stumbling upon a ‘prosumer’ photographer. He had a substantial Nikon film camera with a long lens. He stood and shot, watching two blue herons building a nest high in a tree. I’m not sure I would have notified them had he not been so intense.

I took his cue and pulled out my Fuji S602Z. This is a great camera – the best I’ve ever owned. It can be used as a point and shoot camera, but what a waste. Its manual controls allowed me to preset for the shots I wanted, especially with the herons, where I made sure the shutter speed was fast and that I could burst 5 shots in rapid succession with the lens zoomed in fully.

That afternoon, I took some of the best shots I’ve ever taken. I’ve put together an album in my online gallery.

My recommendation (if you have high speed access); use the slideshow mode for the first 6 or 7 images (at least). The sequence with the heron arriving at his nest is really captured well.

&#185 – The official Wakodahatchee Wetlands website hasn’t been updated in over 2 years. A real shame.

I’m Feeling a Little Guilty

I just took a look. We’ve barely crossed into the new day and temperatures (7 hours before sunrise) already range from 0&#176 to -8&#176 at the ‘official’ reporting stations in Connecticut. I’m positive there are outlying areas already below -15&#176 – and temps will continue to plunge.

So, where am I? Am I dripping water in the kitchen sink? Am I throwing an extra blanket on the bed? Hell no, I’m in Florida with my folks. And, I’m feeling a little bit guilty.

It would be easy to claim I knew it was going to be this bad and planned my vacation accordingly – which would be a lie. It was just dumb luck.

Normally, I visit a place and the newspapers run banner headlines, “COLDEST SOUTH FLORIDA TEMPERATURES EVER” or “LAS VEGAS DELUGE – FLOODING AT RECORD LEVELS.”

I’m like the character William H. Macy plays in the new movie “The Cooler.” Invite me for rain on your parade.

On the other hand, I have lived through my fair share of Northeast winters. I remember the winter of 1968/69. I was a freshman at Emerson College in the Back Bay section of Boston. From my dorm it was a short walk across Storrow Drive to the Charles River.

The winter of 68/69 was brutal. The Charles River froze up early. I was young and a little crazy.

One day, fellow freshman Ed Symkus and I decided to walk to Cambridge… over the frozen river. From Storrow Drive, Cambridge doesn’t look that far away. Trust me, it is.

What you don’t think about as you set out to cross a frozen river is you’re about to walk on a very big ice cube. Your feet are going to get really cold. And, by the time you find out, you’ll be really far away!

We were around halfway across when we heard the voice. It was an MDC (Massachusetts District Commission) policeman, sitting in his warm patrol car, on his P.A. system.

“You two, on the river (he actually said ‘rivah’). Turn around NOW and return to the Boston side.”

It was about that time we realized we might actually fall in… and, we were probably going to get arrested (though in retrospect what would we have been charged with? First Degree Stupid?). We headed back to Boston.

By the time we got back onshore, the policeman had disappeared.

I guess it’s cold enough now, and has been for a long enough time, that the Charles is frozen again. If you know anyone who is thinking about walking to Cambridge, please tell them it’s already been done… and we recommend really warm shoes.

Happy New Year Dick Clark

It’s a family tradition that we don’t go out on New Year’s Eve. There are a few really simple reasons for this. First, I usually work. Second, we don’t drink.

Years ago, the last time we really went out for New Year’s, a drunk guy started making a pass at my wife. In fact (though we laugh about it now) we almost broke up on our first pre-marriage New Year’s Eve together.

This year, we stayed home with Steffie and watched some of the goings on in Times Square. Helaine said she wasn’t, but I was very worried that some masterstroke terrorist act would take place in Times Square while the World watched.

Though we moved back and forth between Fox, MTV and ABC, we mostly stayed with ABC. Sure, I work for an affiliate, but there is also a tradition with Dick Clark. Again this year, for at least the second year in a row, Dick was inside a warm studio above Times Square. I’m sorry. He needs to be outside. And last night, the weather wasn’t all that bad.

I was also upset at the use of Steve Doocey – who represents Fox News Channel’s morning show – as ‘talent.’ This is not to say Steve isn’t good… he is. But, this is another case of cutting your nose to spite your face. Why would ABC want to shine such a bright spotlight on someone who is trying to eat their lunch? Doesn’t anyone in the company realize that using talent from other networks is the equivalent of dumping the Disneyland live shots for Six Flags or Universal?

There was a pretty tough article on Dick Clark in Newsday recently. I’ve attached it to this link.

Maybe because I knew most of this before, or maybe just because it’s becoming more obvious now, I have trouble finding Dick warm and likable. His interaction with others, especially on ‘tosses’ from live shots, or look live taped pieces, is forced and a little too staged.

On the other hand, I’m not ready to cede New Year’s Eve to Ryan Seacrest or the stable of hosts on MTV (none of whom stick out in my mind).

Happy 2004

Continue reading “Happy New Year Dick Clark”

Left hand, meet right hand

It was clear, early on, that Friday had a significant chance for severe weather. I was concerned that the computer models downplayed it somewhat. But Thursday, within a few hours of being run, they had already blown the forecast in Michigan… so the computers weren’t to be totally trusted.

A little activity started on Central New York State toward early afternoon and the Storm Prediction Center threw up a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for the entire state, effective until 8:00 PM.

That was the right call.

A little background. I forecast the weather. The folks I work with forecast the weather. My competitors forecast the weather. But, we all leave watches and warnings to the Weather Service. The idea is to present a coordinated front, so as not to be confusing. In my 20+ years in weather I have heard few dissent from this concept.

After a watch is posted, it is the job of the Taunton, MA National Weather Service Office to put out a ‘redefining’ statement for all of Connecticut (even though they normally only forecast for 3 of the 4 northern counties and none of the shoreline). These are needed because watches are parallelograms and they don’t evenly fit within state or county borders. Without the redefinition, a watch area might include a small sliver of a state or something else equally confusing.

Taunton’s original statement only included their counties.

WWUS61 KBOX 221719

SLSMA

WATCH COUNTY NOTIFICATION FOR WATCH #880

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA

120 PM EDT FRI AUG 22 2003

CTC003-013-015-MAC005-009-011-013-015-017-021-023-025-027-NHC005-011-

RIC001-003-005-007-009-230000-

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH

#880 UNTIL 800 PM EDT FRIDAY EVENING FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS:

IN CONNECTICUT THIS WATCH INCLUDES 3 COUNTIES…

IN NORTHERN CONNECTICUT:

HARTFORD TOLLAND WINDHAM

Then a correction to include the whole state.

WWUS61 KBOX 221744 CCA

SLSMA

BULLETIN – IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED

AREAL OUTLINE FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH NUMBER 880

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA …CORRECTION

143 PM EDT FRI AUG 22 2003

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH NUMBER 880 IN EFFECT UNTIL 800 PM EDT.

CTC001-003-005-007-009-011-013-015-230000-

IN CONNECTICUT THIS WATCH INCLUDES 8 COUNTIES

FAIRFIELD HARTFORD LITCHFIELD MIDDLESEX

NEW HAVEN NEW LONDON TOLLAND WINDHAM

ADJACENT COASTAL WATERS

But, by then the damage had been done. At the TV station our Weather Warn II computer was confused. It put up a Thunderstorm Watch and then alternated text for a “defined area” and mentioned the three original counties. If we would have aired it, it would have looked like the watch was only for three counties.

As I drove in, Kirk Varner, our news director (who reads this, I can’t blast him here), saw what was going on and basically shifted to manual. This system is supposed to work on its own, without intervention. At the moment, it can’t be trusted. But, thankfully, we had the right info on the screen.

Throughout the afternoon we saw scattered thunderstorms. They probably didn’t get to the ‘official’ severe limit, but were close enough to justify the watch box.

Thursday night, this same system had quieted down and then, with the watches expired, fired up. It even spawned tornadoes in Michigan on the ‘rebound.’

Tonight, the system again died down. And then a series of awful human judgment errors.

At 7:10 PM:

CTZ002>004-MAZ002>021-026-NHZ011-012-015-RIZ001>008-230000-

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA

710 PM EDT FRI AUG 22 2003

…PART OF THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT…

THE WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT FOR SOUTHWEST NEW HAMPSHIRE…

WESTERN…CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST MASSACHUSETTS…OR NORTHERN

CONNECTICUT. THUNDERSTORMS HAVE MOVED EAST OF THESE AREAS AND THE

THREAT OF SEVERE WEATHER HAS ENDED.

THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH CONTINUES UNTIL 8 PM FOR RHODE ISLAND.

IT ALSO CONTINUES FOR SUFFOLK…NORFOLK…BRISTOL AND PLYMOUTH

COUNTIES IN EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS.

But, the threat hadn’t ended. All of a sudden, in Southern Windham County, the storms fired up rapidly and ferociously.

CTC015-RIC003-230015-

BULLETIN – EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA

751 PM EDT FRI AUG 22 2003

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR…

WESTERN KENT COUNTY IN RHODE ISLAND

SOUTHEASTERN WINDHAM COUNTY IN NORTHERN CONNECTICUT

INCLUDING PLAINFIELD

* UNTIL 815 PM.

* AT 747 PM…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM OVER PLAINFIELD…MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH.

* THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WILL BE NEAR…

COVENTRY AROUND 810 PM

WEST GREENWICH AROUND 815 PM.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCE LARGE HAIL AND/OR WIND STRONG ENOUGH TO

KNOCK DOWN TREES AND POWER LINES. MOVE INDOORS AND STAY AWAY FROM

WINDOWS.

But, in Connecticut, these storms weren’t just over Windham County. They had crossed the border to New London County. In fact, by the time the warning went up, Northern New London County was seeing more action than Windham.

Windham County gets its warnings from Taunton, MA. New London County gets them from Upton, NY. No warning went up for New London County.

If there was reason for warning Windham County, there was reason for a warning to be issued for New London. This lack of coordination is a problem we face a few times a year, at the least.

At 7:51 PM, the watch and warning configuration in Connecticut was out of whack with what was actually happening. This system is supposed prepare and inform. It was confusing.

Thunderstorms continued, though weaker, until sometime past 10:00. Saturday will be a totally different weather animal – cooler and fresher.

I am not happy with what went on Friday. In many ways, I am powerless to change things unless I start ‘buying out’ of the unified watch and warning scenario.

I don’t think I’m ready for that… but I’m close.

——-

By the way, at 4:21 PM the dew point a Meriden, CT (KMMK) reached an unbelievable 79°! I can’t ever remember seeing a dew point that high in Connecticut.