CT To CA — We’re In Elkhart

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Indiana wants me, Lord I can’t go back there (This is the police. You are surrounded. Give yourself up) – R. Dean Taylor 1970

We are in Elkhart, Indiana, the RV Capital of the World! We actually passed the RV/MH Hall of Fame while cruising down I-80. No warning. No billboards. We waved and drove on.

Since leaving Hamden we’ve clocked 757 miles, including 519 miles today. We were on the road about nine hours (including stops), meaning we averaged 57.6 mph. We’ll do much better going forward.

We began the day in Danville, PA. No rush. We were on the road around 11:30.

Pennsylvania was very pretty. Lots of hills and valleys. Very green.

I-80 is mostly 2-lanes per side. They need more.

We stopped for gas at Snappy’s in Du Bois (pronounced dew boyz). As we exited the Interstate we noticed a long line of vehicles standing on the exit ramp. Construction past the exit had created a tiny town traffic tragedy!

One lane was closed Flagmen were controlling traffic. They were alternating the flow every ten minutes or so.

Ten minutes doesn’t sound long now, but it seemed endless then.

We crossed the state line where I-80 transitions to the Ohio Turnpike. The nominal speed limit is 70 mph, but for at least half the trip the left lane was closed and the limit was 50. Frustrating.

Ohio is mainly flat, though there are some small rises and dips in the east. Approaching the western border things flattened out. We’ve seen lots of farms with irrigation rigs hundreds of feet long.

Better luck found us in Indiana. Fewer construction zones and a higher speed limit. It’s 70 mph here. I’ve been keeping the cruise control around 79. So far, no friends with party lights on their vehicle.

We found another Red Roof Inn, chosen for their dog policy. This one’s a little more worn, but good for our purposes.

Tomorrow we’ll try for Nebraska. That’s a stretch and I might be forced to scale back as we progress, especially because of the threat for severe storms, but that’s the goal.

Midway Is Part Way To Vegas

It’s so nice not to have to find a powered wall to sit near (usually on-the-floor).

midway-power-plug.jpgWe are on-the-ground at Chicago’s Midway Airport. As we taxied to our gate it was easy to see how shoehorned in this airport is. There were row homes just feet beyond the airport’s fence. The runways here are about half as long as nearby O’Hare.

Our gate has more of those big chairs from Bradley. These, however, do have power plugs. It’s so nice not to have to find a powered wall to sit near (usually on-the-floor).

No free Wi-Fi at this airport. I’m using my cellphone as a modem. It’s perfect for short stretches like this. No Bluetooth in this laptop either (who knew) so I’m wired up through a USB port.

I just checked on Stef’s flight. She’s crossing the border into Ohio, doing 407 knots at 36,000 feet. My folks are 32,000 feet above Tallahassee cruising at 380 knots. They should get to Vegas on-time or close.

The incoming leg of our next flight is behind schedule from Norfolk. We’ll be a little late to McCarren.

What Is Journalism?

It’s probably a good time to delve into this because there are two interesting journalism stories.

Who is a journalist? What is journalism? It’s probably a good time to delve into this because there are two interesting journalism stories unfolding today.

Who broke the John Edwards affair? The National Enquirer. Ouch, mainstream media. How’d you let that one slip away? And the Enquirer has been all over this story for a while. They also broke the Monica Lewinsky story. This is not your father’s, “Elvis Spotted At K-Mart” Enquirer.

I heard Steve Plamann, senior executive editor of the National Enquirer interviewed on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” today. He gladly admitted the paper’s sensationalist bent. They are after all, by his admission, a supermarket tabloid. But, does that disqualify them from being taken seriously or breaking stories?

Should the NY Times follow the Enquirer as they certainly do the Wall Street Journal or Washington Post? Do you disregard them at your own risk? I’ll answer my own question. They disregarded the Edwards story and it doesn’t reflect well on them.

Is the National Enquirer journalism? I think they are, but who makes this judgement?

The second journalistic fork in the road has to do with CNN’s decision to rely on more “one-man-bands” populating single person bureaus. Here’s how TVNewser reported it:

“Yesterday CNN announced it was expanding its domestic presence by opening bureaus in 10 U.S. cities. The press release called it a doubling of U.S. newsgathering. But when a 28-year-old company expands you can bet there will be changes to existing personnel too. And that is the case with CNN.

TVNewser has learned that after the announcement of the new bureaus and soon to be added “all-platform journalists,” nine CNN staffers were told their jobs were going to be redefined. We’re told the staffers are not being laid off, but being offered positions in the new structure.

The staffers work in cities including Chicago, San Francisco and Miami. As NPR’s David Folkenflik reported this morning, “let’s be clear [CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein] is only really talking about adding a handful of new staffers. Others will be redeployed in less-covered places like Columbus, Ohio, Orlando and Seattle.””

Is it less journalistcally pure when a single person covers a story instead of a crew? Is there something lost when a reporter also has to concentrate of his/her equipment during the time they used to be concentrating on the person speaking?

Video gear has become smaller, cheaper and easier to operate. I certainly could report and produce a news story on my own, but would that story suffer? I have colleagues who will argue the story will suffer and other friends, like Mike Sechrist, who truly believes we’re foolish to not take advantage of this technology.

There are a lot of constituencies involved here beyond the public who consumes this journalistic product. I am curious to see how this will shake out. This is a time when journalistic traditions might change rapidly.

Make The World Go Away

I was working at WGAR, Cleveland and living in an apartment in North Olmsted, OH. The era was pre-Internet, pre-VCR, pre-cellphone.

It was 1973 or ’74. I was working at WGAR, Cleveland and living in an apartment in North Olmsted, OH. The era was pre-Internet, pre-VCR, pre-cellphone.

I used to turn on the TV when I’d get home from work. Then as now, the hours after midnight were a wasteland of programs with lower production values and cheaper commercial time.

Late night Cleveland television provided my my introduction to Eddy Arnold. We hardly played him on the radio, and I wasn’t watching any on-screen concerts. Eddy Arnold is my first remembrance of a two minute ‘per inquiry’ record ad.

You see them all the time now. They have mainly moved from single artists to genre compilations, but the concept’s the same. Music by artists who no longer sell albums is sold to consumers who no longer buys albums.

Often, the TV station or cable network is paid a commission for each item sold. There’s no guarantee the station will get anything. So, these ads are only seen in time periods where conventional ads can’t be sold.

“Make the world (long pause) go away,” Eddy would sing as the ad began. Then for the next 115 seconds, the pitch would proceed.

How deeply is this ad burned in my pschye? Indelibly! I still remember where you sent your money: Eddy, 1030 Terminal Tower, Cleveland… that’s Eddy, 1030 Terminal Tower, Cleveland.

Eddy Arnold died today, and with him a piece of TV history. He probably didn’t even know.

I wonder if the album was any good?

Where You’re From

Helaine started it with a couch conversation Sunday evening. She wondered, as I had in the past, where were you while you were reading this blog? The numbers are in, and I’m a little surprised.

About 100 of you have left a note on my website over the past few days, telling me where you are. Since I average over 1,000 page reads a day, it’s a significant, though not overpowering percentage of my readers. 59 of that group are reading in Connecticut.

That Connecticut number is a stunner, because website stat programs paint a very different picture. I tried to address this a few days ago and was a little confusing. Two of you responded, though it seems my poor choice of words let you miss the point.

Most ‘regular’ readers come in through the home page (or read my most recent entries through my RSS feed using Yahoo!, Google or an installed feed reader). Most out-of-state readers are probably here after following a search engine link which brought them to an older entry. They never saw my home page or my request.

Most of you (not all of you) know me from my job on TV. I’m not sure how that will affect my writing going forward… if it affects it at all. I already parse my words, remaining ever alert that what I say on my private website can reflect on my very public life.

A number of the respondents left their web address. That gave me a chance to take a peek at them.

Marko in Dayton, Ohio also has a blog – though no entries since April. He has built some pretty cool Pinewood Derby race cars with his son, referred to as “#2.”

Doug Harris is also a blogger and also stopped blogging in April. Did something happen in April I didn’t hear about?

Mike, in Arlington, VA has a website with a cool name: RadioMojo. His home page explains he’ll no longer be doing whatever it was RadioMojo did. Its date: April 25th.

You can’t make this stuff up.

A reader name Mumbles linked to his photos on Flickr. There’s a lot to like here. I enjoy looking at other photographers work, trying to find ways to improve mine.

I wonder if Mumbles knew I’d look at his work… or guessed I’d tell you to look? He probably wanted me to look at them. Mission accomplished.

Chuck Schultz sent his photo link too. He’s into racing cars and dogs. You can tell a lot about a person by their photos. Dogs are very photogenic. They never mind posing nor care if you take too many photos.

I wonder if there was a downside to growing up as Charles Schultz… but not ‘the’ Charles Schultz.

Chuck is a ham operator. There are a bunch of them here. I wrote an article recently in the national ham radio magazine, QST. I’m sure that brought some of them to my site.

Jeff in Muncie, Indiana is a ham too, with a blog and a podcast. That’s an undertaking. I listened to some of his latest entry about Hiram Percy Maxim, in many ways the father of ham radio. The podcast sounds like the kind of first class radio production you often hear on NPR.

Jeff has links on his blog… though none to me. I like links.

Am I boring you? You don’t have to read this if I’m boring you.

My father left a message. My sister left a message. My cousin left a message.

Meredith has put much of her life online in a free form way. That’s how this website started, but I found it too difficult to be free form on the web, which cries out for structure.

John, from “The new and exciting Bridgeport, CT” linked to his family’s website. I like this idea a lot, but I like reading “Christmas letters”.

My friend Kevin’s family just put up a family blog with my help. With four girls out in the world, often away from their Connecticut roots, their blog promises to keep the family closer.

Adam left a link for his blog. It is the antithesis of this one in that I have long entries while Adam is often satisfied with a few words or a sentence.

I like his reference to your worst hair decision ever.

When I was a kid, a new barber-in-training cut my hair so short that even pre-teen Geoff knew he was in trouble. I’m still cringing over that. The guy who owned the shop told me to come back in a few days and the hair would have grown back enough to repair the damage.

More recently, a news director sent me to her hair stylist, who proceeded to make me look like Lyle Lovett. Even Lyle Lovett doesn’t want to look like Lyle Lovett. And, I still had to wear the hair on-the-air. Mortifying!

Damon Scott checked in from Lubbock, TX. I’ve written about Lubbock a lot recently, because of the TV Guide Channel reality show about a Lubbock newsroom. They seem to be in reruns, because the DVR hasn’t recorded anything the last two weeks.

Damon is a jock, doing afternoon drive on Mix100. His photo is nowhere to be found on the station’s website. I looked. I always look for disk jockey photos.

When I was a disk jockey, I used to answer the ‘hitline’ trying to pick up girls who were calling to request songs. My first day in radio (really) I got a call from Jeanine, who told me about the sexual failings of a station’s newsman.

There is a medical term to describe his unfortunate haste. Jeanine was a little more blunt.

Damon – don’t pick up hitline chicks.

Actually, maybe they email photos first now? Damon, use your best judgment.

McD is another blogger who wrote back. His home page has a very nice line drawing of him (I think) in the upper left corner.

There’s something very folksy about the sketch. If it’s possible to make a web page folksy, it’s mission accomplished by virtue of this little sketch.

You told me where you were and you told me from all over the United States. Most responses came from people I don’t know, though there are many readers who I count in my extended group of friends.

Seamus. Ireland. Cool. Thanks. I even know how to properly pronounce it! You are are token foreigner,

As long as you’ve read this far, I’ll let you in on something. I really enjoy knowing you read this.

Though smaller, by far, than the audience I reach on television, this is a much more personal medium. I try to speak my mind and hope you will still think kindly of me even as I reveal myself as a guy lots of faults and insecurities.

I worry you’ll tire of me, or I’ll become boring to you. I want to stay fresh and write meaningful things, but is that possible when you force yourself to compose at the keyboard every single day? I don’t know.

More than one a friend in LA has picked up on something trivial I’ve written about and said, “no one wants to know you ate corn last night.” We depend on our friends for life’s true wisdom.

At the bottom of this screen and on every computer I use on a regular basis, there is a counter. Every 15 or 20 minutes it tallies the page hits to my website. I look at it all the time.

At 3:00 AM EDT it resets to zero. I don’t like that part.

Akron’s Fine For Speeding

It looks like Akron, Ohio has put in automated speed enforcement equipment. Hey, this stuff works like crazy!

Here’s part of what Akron and the vendor said as the program began:

William B. Danzell, Chairman of Nestor traffic systems, stated, “We are excited to partner with the City of Akron on such an important safety initiative. We believe that the unique ability of PoliscanSpeed to capture violations on limited sight roads makes it the most effective system for Akron’s automated enforcement program. This technology, coupled with our turnkey processing services will allow the City to provide consistent enforcement without burdening City resources.”

Strongly supporting Akron’s implementation of the Automated Mobile Speed Enforcement System, Mayor Donald Plusquellic quoted, “Nestor’s PoliscanSpeed System is another tool that we can use to let our community know that speed limits will be enforced and that we are serious about ensuring safety in our neighborhoods.”

And here’s the proof in the numbers from the Akron Beacon Journal:

Here’s a look at the first 19 days of work, all weekdays, for the automated speeding ticket machines:

Total drivers fined: 2,676

Amount of fines: $451,500

Amount vendor to receive ($19 each): $50,844

Remainder to city: $400,656

The worst offender was going 29 mph over the limit (54 in a 25 mph zone).

Forty percent of those fined $150 were going 10 mph or less over the posted limit.

More than half of the violations were in 25 mph zones, with the average violator going 37 mph.

The Copley Road area near Erie Island Elementary School yielded the most fines, followed by the 400 block of Darrow Road near Betty Jane Elementary School.

In many cases, the cameras wrote more than a ticket a minute. On Nov. 7 at Copley Road, a camera ticketed five people at 3:16 p.m., then caught seven more at 3:51 p.m.

It’s no secret, if you scrupulously enforce traffic laws, you will find violators. There’s one highway I take home from work every night where I’ve exceeded the speed limit by a factor or two or more! I’m sure I’m above the limit more than I’m below it. Who isn’t?

Maybe I’m going too fast, by a little. Definitely, the posted limits are too low by a lot.

I’ve never quite understood how speed limits are derived, but they’ve never made sense. As I exit a two lane divided highway with broad shoulders, its speed limit is lower than the city street with no shoulders I’m entering.

Is speed enforcement a matter of safety or income? I would hope it’s the former. It’s extremely tempting to make it the latter. Look at the incentive for Akron. Look at the incentive for the vendor.

Of course a speeding ticket (or any moving violation) has secondary implications. Your insurance company knows and you’re likely to see them extract an additional premium on your policy.

If we’re going to have this more stringent enforcement policy, isn’t it time to revisit the speed limits themselves? If they are too low or unrealistic, do they become a form of entrapment – enticing me to break the law?

Storm Prediction Center Gets Scared

I usually take a casual look at the maps from the Storm Prediction Center. In this day of weather specialization, these guys watch for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

In the past I have been critical of their work in the Northeast where severe weather responds to different stimuli than in the Plains. They do a good job in giving people like me a ‘heads up.’ We’re much better off with them, than without them. More flexibility in issuing watches here would be helpful.

I’ve watched with great interest over the past few days as they’ve posted a high risk outlook for severe weather over a large area. ‘High risk’ and ‘large area’ are rare and usually mutually exclusive.


WOUS40 KWNS 151652




1052 AM CST TUE NOV 15 2005

VALID 151652Z - 160045Z























The operative words are “strong” and “long track.” That’s the recipe for disaster.

So far, there’s been one report of 65+ knot wind in Southwest Missouri. The day is young.

This weather system gets to us in Connecticut tomorrow. To quote Dorothy, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” There will probably be storms, just not as intense or with as much damage.

Meanwhile, if I were in the bullseye on the SPC map, I’d be sweating bullets today. Someone’s going to get hurt, or worse.

John Bolton

What is going on here? This was the ultimate “us” versus “them” appointment by the Bush administration. John Bolton, their designee to be United Nations Ambassador, is a man reviled by Democrats with a well documented career and strong opinions (including some spoken in front of rolling camera, now distributed by liberal groups).

But what could the Democrats do? They are a true minority party and have virtually no power on Capitol Hill at the moment.

Then, last night, a Republican senator started getting cold feet. From FoxNews.com:

Tuesday’s meeting came to a surprising halt when Sen. George Voinovich (search), R-Ohio, suggested he wasn’t “comfortable” voting for Bolton in light of new allegations that some members said they hadn’t had time to investigate.

“I’ve heard enough today that I don’t feel comfortable voting for Mr. Bolton. I think one’s interpersonal skills and their relationships with their fellow man is a very important ingredient [in] anyone that works for me,” Voinovich said.

I won’t discuss the merits of Bolton’s nomination. I don’t want partisan politics here on my blog. My interest is the process, not the merits of the appointment.

However, this is a stunning turn of events. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out, as it has become more than a simple nomination. This is now a test of the mettle of the Bush administration and their ability to rally, maybe even control, other Republicans.

There is no chance anyone could have predicted this nomination would end up in political limbo. Stay tuned.

More Of The Firesign Theater Now Makes Sense

In the late 60s, one of my favorite pastimes was listening to albums from the Firesign Theater. I’m not sure how to explain them… nor if it’s possible.

My Cousin Michael just told me he tried to play one of their albums for his wife, Melissa. She took to them the way most woman become Three Stooges fans. It was painful.

Sometimes their routines were peppered with what I thought was nonsense words. For instance, from “How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All?”

DC: It wasn’t always like that . . .

JOE: No. First they had to come from towns with strange names like . . .

EDDIE: Smegma!

Dc: Spasmodic!

EDDIE: Frog!

JOE: And the far-flung Isles of Langerhans.

I had not thought of the far-flung Isles of Langerhans for twenty years… maybe more. And then, it all came rushing back at me, like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist.

Sorry – that’s their line, from Nick Danger.

From the New York Times:

Dr. Paul E. Lacy, a pathologist who was known as the father of islet cell transplants, an experimental treatment for Type 1 diabetes, died Tuesday in Zanesville, Ohio. He was 81.

The cause was pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung disease, said his son Paul E. Lacy Jr.

Dr. Lacy was among the first scientists to observe how beta cells, which reside in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, make insulin.

You’re kidding! I can’t believe they worked pathology into their albums. These guys were good.

Aurora Borealis

The phone rang this afternoon. It was a woman who had been spending some time on spaceweather.com. She said they had reported tonight might be a good night to see the Aurora Borealis. There had been a CME, a coronal mass ejection, from the surface of the Sun. That would interact with the Earth’s magnetic field causing an eerie glow.

A few times a year I’ll let people know the aurora might make an appearance and I am mostly wrong. Auroras are more likely to come when I say nothing! Obviously, they are very difficult to predict. I wish that wasn’t so.

I have only seen a strong aurora once. It was sometime in the early 70s. I was living in North Olmsted, Ohio and working in Cleveland at WGAR radio. I remember my friend Joel (who is now the copter guy in Detroit) was visiting from Pittsburgh.

When we first saw the luminescent curtain in the northern sky, I thought it was neat. As time went on, I got worried. The truth is, there’s no danger from an aurora and I knew that, even then. But the curtain of light was so weird, so unusual, you couldn’t help taking pause. And, over time, it looked like it was undulating toward us. Probably an optical illusion of some sort.

There’s a theory I have that we didn’t see the aurora earlier tonight because I was so well equipped to show it – some sort of Murphy’s Law for television. We had four cameras on distant rooftops to point and the chopper was flying in the cloudless skies over Hartford.

Maybe next time. Maybe later tonight. You never know.


It’s 11:32 PM. I have no idea which way the election is going. It does seem that much of the polling was worthless – and some of the rest is probably only correct by luck.

Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio – who knows? This is so exciting and so frustrating.

Why Drudge Isn’t Like Real News

I check back with Drudgreport.com a number of times ever day. There are good links – interesting stuff. But there is a difference between Matt Drudge and a mainstream news site. Here’s an example.

It started with this headline in bold type: KERRY CAMPAIGN FINDS COMFORT IN FIRST BATCH OF EXIT POLLS, accompanied by this text:

Election 2004 has been rocked with first wave of exit polls which show Kerry competitive in key states, campaign and media sources tell DRUDGE…. National Election Pool — representing six major news organization — shows Kerry in striking distance — with small lead — in Florida and Ohio.. MORE…

Later, a little meat was added to the first statements.

Election 2004 has been rocked with first wave of morning exit polls which show Kerry competitive in key states, campaign and media sources tell DRUDGE…. National Election Pool — representing six major news organization — shows Kerry in striking distance — with small lead — in Florida and Ohio.. MORE…


Kerry 45 48 42 51 52 60 52 51 51 50 58 52 49 57

-Bush 55 51 57 48 48 40 48 48 47 48 40 43 49 41

Those numbers were pretty unbelievable for the Kerry camp and very different from the closing polls. Still, as I had speculated earlier, there were variables that might have made the polls untrustworthy. So, maybe this turnaround was true.

Instead, it seems Drudge was untrustworthy

Exit poll mania spread through media and campaign circles Tuesday afternoon after first wave of morning data showed Kerry competitive in key states…. National Election Pool — representing six major news organization — shows Kerry in striking distance — with small 1% lead — in Florida and Ohio, sources tell DRUDGE… [But early 2000 exit polls showed Gore +3 in Florida]… Senate races: Thune +4 Castor +3 Burr +6 Bunning +6 Coburn +6 Demint +4 Salazar +4…

So, what’s right, what’s wrong? I still don’t know. But I do know that Drudge’s rush to ‘print’ muddied the waters for a while.

And, while I’ve been typing, he’s changed it again!

Exit poll mania spread through media and campaign circles Tuesday afternoon after first wave of morning data showed Kerry competitive in key states…. National Election Pool — representing six major news organization — shows Kerry in striking distance — with small 1% lead — in Florida and Ohio, sources tell DRUDGE… [But early 2000 exit polls showed Gore +3 in Florida; showed Gore-Bush even in CO [Bush won by 9], exits showed Gore +4 in AZ [Bush won by 6]… Exits Senate races: Thune +4 Castor +3 Burr +6 Bunning +6 Coburn +6 Demint +4 Salazar +4…

Maybe instant news isn’t a good idea?

It Could Happen Again

I am a math guy, so I spend time every day looking at the numbers in the presidential polls. This election is, among other things, fascinating by its mathematical complexity.

Most, not all, polls currently show President Bush with a small lead among likely voters. There’s some question how well the concept of ‘likely voters’ will hold up if this is an election with a very large turnout. Forget that for a moment.

Let’s just say the polls are right, and President Bush takes home a majority of the popular vote. I’m not sure he’ll win. In fact, it is conceivable that Senator Kerry could win the majority of electoral votes without a popular vote plurality.

That would be the Democrats accomplishing the unlikely feat that the Republicans pulled off four years ago. Probability has no memory. Rare events can happen back-to-back.

For the first time tonight, that fact (is fact the right word when all of this is really guesswork piled upon more guesswork?) is headlined on Slate.com&#185. Slate’s home page says:

If America Voted Today – Kerry 276, Bush 262

I’ve been seeing similar numbers when I view statewide polls. Florida is very close – probably too close. But, Pennsylvania looks to be ‘blue’ and now Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan are also leaning that way.

As a kid, I remember the Kennedy – Nixon election of 1960. We went to sleep late at night not knowing who won. It is my earliest remembrance of an election. I figured they’d all be that way, but none were… until 2000.

All night? Hell, we waited weeks to find out what was going on.

Remember hanging chads in Florida? People claimed they meant to vote for Al Gore, but voted for Patrick Buchannon by mistake.

I’m not sure how that was read by the rest of the world, but it probably didn’t show our best side. It could happen again.

In the meantime, watching national polls is now worthless. Watch the individual battleground states because that’s where the election will be won or lost. This is the site I go to most often. It might not be the best, but it’s got lots of numbers. I like numbers.

&#185 – I am saddened to see Slate use a photo of a smiling John Kerry next to a picture of a scowling George Bush. At this point, a news site should be even handed in every way. This is not.

Phantom Lightning

As the power failure/blackout story progresses, the Canadian power authority has begun to blame a lightning strike in Northern New York State.

This would be a subject I have some expertise in. So, take my word. There was no lightning strike in Upstate New York this afternoon that might have set off the blackout. Period. End of story.

Continue reading “Phantom Lightning”