Quinnipiac Builds The Perfect Place For Photography (With Proof)

Sleeping Giant panorama

Is there any place beautiful as Connecticut? Sometimes the weather sucks, but the scenery is always awesome.

Today wasn’t just a beautiful Saturday, it was a photo beautiful Saturday!

Humidity was low. Skies were blue. There were scattered clouds! Clouds are necessary for beauty shots because they add contrast and highlights to the otherwise homogeneous blue.

I threw some lenses into my small bag, dropped the top on my car and headed to the York Hill Campus at Quinnipiac University. QU built this addition a few years ago. It has amazing views!

In the past I drove behind the TD Bank Sports Center and looked south. Not today. Alan Chaniewski, a incredibly skillful photographer who shoots for the Courant every day and obviously enjoys his time with a camera in his hands, suggested the top of the parking garage.

Damn! The place was totally deserted, there’s easy access and unlimited vistas. The garage is meant for photography.

I picked a few landmarks and calculated distance. Otis Tower in Bristol–19 miles. There were distant mountains behind it. I’d like to bring a tripod and photograph lightning when there are thunderstorms around Hartford or farther north. It would be amazing from there.

The New Haven skyline–8 miles. It dominates the southern view.

Among the things I created today was the Photosynth panorama you see below. If you zoom in you will see the image in very high detail.

We live less than five minutes from where these photos were shot. I understand how lucky I am.

My best eight shots follow.









We Walked In North Haven Today

We had around three thousand people today. It was as full as it’s ever been! It’s worth clicking on the streetview shot to see.

Today was the annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk to Cure Diabetes. It’s held in North Haven on Quinnipiac University’s campus. It’s pretty much the perfect spot.

Helaine and I got there around 9:00. The place was already filling up.

I’ve told the story before. Basically, I was introduced to JDRF and it resonated with me. I help publicize it when I can. FoxCT/WCCT ran a public service announcement for this event this year. That was very nice of my station and I’m proud to have helped make it happen.

On the day of the walk my job is to be your host, shmooze and mingle. We had around three thousand people today. It was as full as it’s ever been! It’s worth clicking on the streetview shot to see.

I try and say hello to as many people as I can. I’m like a pol running for office. When people ask I’ll pose for pictures. Whatever you want.

I also make the announcements from the stage. Johnny Rozz at Sound Spectrum comes with a full deejay setup. That makes it a lot easier.

I know a lot of people are bothered by crowds. Maybe it’s just something you get used to? Large groups don’t intimidate me.

Though the walk is three times around the campus most people do it just once. No one is checking. Everyone gives the full amount pledged. Don’t tell.

A number of people came to me this morning and said they missed me. That either means either they don’t know about my tumultuous winter or they haven’t switched.

Excuse me. Shameless plug follows.

All I ask is watch once. Take a test drive. FoxCT delivers a better assembled, more thoughtful newscast. We’re on at 10p and 11p every night.

If you can make the walk next year, I’d love to see you.

Super Moon Over Connecticut (Photos)

I turned to the east at 7:23 and right on schedule…. nothing. That’s not right. The Moon is always on time!

I would have written this a few minutes ago, but I wanted to wait until the feeling returned to my fingers! Spring may be under 24 hours away, but winter isn’t done yet. It was windy and cold as I made my way to Quinnipiac University’s York Hill Campus.

Tonight is the night of the “Super Moon.” The Moon is full while it and Earth are at their closest point. It’s unusual for both those things to happen simultaneously.

I know enough to know it wasn’t going to be spectacular, but it would be nice.

Moonrise was scheduled for 7:23 PM. “What are you waiting for,” Helaine asked a few minutes before 7:00?

It only takes five minutes to get from here to there. Within the first thirty seconds I knew what I’d been waiting for–warmth.

I first stopped behind the fieldhouse to take a few twilight shots of New Haven. A security officer showed up thirty seconds later. He’d noticed me driving beyond the “No Vehicles…” sign.

I’m lucky. He was nice about it. I got to take my shots before moving on.

There were a few other people waiting at the top of QU’s hill as I crossed from the parking lot to the easternmost overlook on this new campus. I could see other folks even higher up near Quinnipiac’s Windspire Wind Farm.

Yes, electricity was being produced tonight. Lots of electricity.

With a few minutes still to pass I turned toward Lockwood Farm down in the valley below. The silo… it’s a cell tower! Is nothing sacred?

I turned to the east at 7:23 and right on schedule…. nothing. That’s not right. The Moon is always on time!

I waited. Still nothing. Maybe the Moon was behind Sleeping Giant Mountain?

As it turned out though we had no clouds overhead there were a few on the horizon. The Moon began to poke through around 7:30.

It’s a little larger. It’s a little brighter. It’s still the full moon. If no one would have talked about it being oversized tonight you wouldn’t have known it!

I, on the other hand, am thinking of soaking in a hot tub. It’s still winter!

What’s On Top Of York Hill?

Meanwhile, as I drove to the top of their beautiful hill I found what I thought was a wind sculpture. That’s only part of the story.

I took a little time to go to Quinnipiac University’s new York Hill Campus for some ‘broad sky’ time lapse tonight. I’m processing my shots, but I think it was a bust. Bad choices on my part.

Meanwhile, as I drove to the top of their beautiful hill I found what I thought was a wind sculpture. That’s only part of the story.

From Quinnipiac University: The 250-acre York Hill Campus will feature two major initiatives that use renewable energy sources to produce electricity and make the campus more sustainable. A wind garden composed of 42 vertical-axis wind turbines will generate about 84,000 kilowatt hours per year. These wind turbines, each approximately 40 feet high, will be built into a garden area complete with stone benches that will provide an area for student gathering and reflection.

Juvenile Diabetes Walk To Cure 2009

The day was a success. JDRF raised a lot of money. My family was together. Roxie charmed (and licked) everyone she saw.


Today was the annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk to Cure Diabetes. For the past few years it’s been held at Quinnipiac University in North Haven (what was once Blue Cross/Blue Shield)–a beautiful tree-lined campus which is perfect for the walk.

IMG_4881.jpgHelaine came as she has the past few years. So did Stef.

OK–as a father I will admit I’m pretty damned thrilled my 22-year old daughter (she has said she’s 21 for the past three years, but that’s another story for another day) wanted to join us. Most of Stef’s motivation was to be good at a good cause, but she also wanted to show off Roxie. Fine. No problem there.

As it turns out bringing dogs to events like this is the norm and adds to the fun feel.

We set out for North Haven a little before 9:00 AM. With a quick stop at “Dunks” and two wrong turns on my part we were on site by 9:20 AM.

IMG_4862.jpgSunday was a perfect day–the exact opposite of Saturday. The Sun was out. It was comfortably mild. The crowd was large. I have no expertise in crowd estimation (I’d be perfect for Fox News) so let’s just say impressively large–certainly a few thousand.

My job is to act as the emcee and speak to the crowd. Before the walk I promote the hell out of it. There’s no part of this that doesn’t make me feel good. JDRF is a worthy cause served by a well run charity.

Individuals, usually friends and relatives of a diabetic child, form walking teams as a method to collect donations. Each team wears their own personalized shirts. The vibe is great.

The day was a success. JDRF raised a lot of money. My family was together. Roxie charmed (and licked) everyone she saw.

I always hope a dollar I’ve helped collect will be the one that buys the research that finds the cure.


Because of the distance I was forced to go with my 70-300mm lens–the lowest quality lens in my bag. It being dark and all this would be a true test.

This evening, being the 4th of July, I wanted to go and photograph fireworks. The nearest, nicest fireworks are in New Haven.

It’s a fifteen minute drive, but the area around the harbor is pretty crowded. A few weeks ago two guards from Quinnipiac University told me about a vantage point from QU’s new field house. It’s high on a hill a few minutes away from here with a commanding view of New Haven seven miles away.

I loaded my camera, lenses and tripod and headed out. It’s a top-down night with low humidity and cool temperatures.

I was curious if it would be a buggy night… and it was! With our recent rain and a duck filled pond a few dozen yards away the area was thick with flying, biting insects.

The tripod and camera set up quickly in a nice vantage point with a view south. Because of the distance I was forced to go with my 70-300mm lens–the lowest quality lens in my bag. It being dark and all this would be a true test.


I never could find the exact focus point. I was close, but that’s not good enough. Beyond that my long exposure shots were too much for my lightweight tripod. Even after instructing the camera to flip the mirror long before the shutter opens (cutting vibration way down) there was still too much shake.

We’ll call these an experiment even though there’s a 365 day wait until the next practice session.







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.

My Unexpected Detour

There was an unexpected detour on my way home from work tonight. I was on the phone with my mom, a nearly nightly occurrence.

“Gotta go,” I said.

Three girls, probably Quinnipiac University students, were walking down Whitney Avenue. Two were in the road. I couldn’t believe it.

Over the past few years one girl has died and others have been struck walking past darkened shops and stores on this poorly lit 4-lane suburban road.

I saw them early and slowed well behind them. There was a car in the left lane. I had to stop while he passed and then pull left. Up ahead I saw a police car pulling into a convenience store’s parking lot. I headed toward the car.

I stopped the young cop as he was walking into the store. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” I told him. “All I can think of is my daughter.”

It’s true. All I could think of was Stef at college.

To his credit the officer turned from the store, got in his car and headed across the road to the girls. That’s where I lost sight of him.

I’m guessing these QU girls aren’t reading my blog, but if they were… I didn’t want to be a grumpy old man and I hope I didn’t slow down your fun. It’s a dad thing. This is what we do. We can’t help ourselves.

The Trail Changes With The Weather

For the first time in my life I have become very conscious of a natural place and how it changes with its environment. The trail now reacts differently to water and wind. Less rain means larger and longer lasting puddles.

I heard some noise early (for me) and was out of bed and downstairs around 9:30. With rain on the way Helaine and I took the opportunity to head to Sleeping Giant Mountain.

There’s no charge for weekend parking this time of year. The word hasn’t gotten out as there was a line of cars parked along Mount Carmel Avenue across from the Quinnipiac University campus.

The trees are going bare. The change from full color to bare branches happens quickly–a few weeks at best. It’s an interesting transition–slightly different for each species of tree and then each individual tree within that species based on location and neighbors. Most lose their leaves fully, though some trees will sadly hold their dead and shriveled foliage all winter.

“It’s like walking through a minefield,” Helaine said. She was cautiously looking down as we worked our way up.

The trail is covered in leaf litter which means the toaster sized rocks that poke a few inches above the surface were mainly hidden. Catch one of those rocks with your foot while in mid-stride and you’re on your way down! Helaine and I have both taken headers this season even though the rocks were easily seen. Helaine was really cut-up and is justifiably skittish.

After seven months of up-and-down. parts of the trail looks different enough that I don’t know where I am! What a strange feeling to be somewhere you’ve been dozens of times and see nothing familiar. All of a sudden there are vistas where there were trees.

Last night’s rain left the leaves wet and slippery. Every once in a while I’d step but not plant firmly–like a car tire spinning on gravel. Our trip to the top was a full minute slower than our recent ‘goal’.

OK–it’s my goal, not Helaine’s. She looks at me when I click my watch like I’m some sort of alien. I like the competitive feel of knowing my time and having a reason to maintain a faster pace.

For the first time in my life I have become very conscious of a natural place and how it changes with its environment. The trail now reacts differently to water and wind. Less rain is needed for larger and longer lasting puddles. It’s becoming more obvious we won’t be able to walk it all winter–maybe not even on the unseasonably warm days.

That’s sad. No piece of equipment will replace our walks. It’s a full hour alone with Helaine in a place of spectacular beauty. I like that.

It’s another reason to hate winter.

We’re Just Like Lewis And Clark

Helaine said, “Don’t say anything.”

“What class is this,” I asked?

lews_and_clark.jpgIt poured this morning. It was enough to wake me.

I’ve come to a strange place in life. As I laid in bed, hoping to quickly fall back to sleep, I thought “medium sized drops.” During the summer we often get super sized giant drops. This storm was different. It made up for drop size with drop quantity.

I did all that rain thinking with my eyes closed. Weird. I’m obviously much too attuned to weather. I have no doubt my sightless observation was correct.

Early this afternoon we headed to the Sleeping Giant Tower Trail for our every-other-day hike up the mountain. As we approached the trail head I heard running water. A stream was moving swiftly throwing white water over rocks. In our five plus months on the mountain we’d never seen this stream run!

“Maybe we shouldn’t go today,” Helaine offered.

“We’re just like Lewis and Clark,” I said, trying to keep my footing on the wet leaves that are beginning to cover the trail. We walked a few minutes before coming upon a cluster of a dozen college students.

Helaine said, “Don’t say anything.”

“What class is this,” I asked?

I know. Helaine wants to be unobtrusive. My asking the group of strangers what they’re doing there is more than a little dweeby. I couldn’t be held back.

It was a biology class doing some field work. Quinnipiac University is a few minutes walk from the trail. What a great classroom. I suspect they don’t get that aspect yet.

We continued upward. It was quickly obvious we’d be behind our normal pace to the top. Footing was bad and from time-to-time water rushed across the trail. I was upset “Clicky” wasn’t along for the ride. Some of these ad hoc waterfalls were really beautiful. I’m not sure when I’ll see them again.

About 2/3 of the way to the top the trail levels for 150 feet or so. It’s the only flat portion of the 1.6 mile trip. There were four large puddles to be forded.

The last few minutes of walking saw no running water. There were gullies that were wet, but no flow. At this time of year, running water near the top doesn’t last long. As the ground gets saturated and colder that will be less of a problem.

This little mountain never ceases to amaze me. It is constantly changing. The trail is never boring–always a little different. It’s just five minutes from the house. I kick myself we waited 18 years before getting started.

Today reminded me the seasons are changing. It’s becoming clear the trail will be more difficult as we move to colder weather. I’m not sure it’s going to let us hike for all 12 months. Damn shame.

Hockey In The Neighborhood

The TD Banknorth Sports Center is a twin facility, with large venues for hockey and basketball. Hockey sits 3,300 and basketball around 3,800. Tonight’s game, SRO, checked in around 4,000.

PIC-0011For the past few years some serious construction has been going on within minutes of my house. Quinnipiac University has been building a field house.

Tonight, we carried the QU/Yale hockey game on one of our TV stations, and my fellow anchors and I drove up during dinner to take a look see.

The TD Banknorth Sports Center is a twin facility, with large venues for hockey and basketball. In separate arenas, Hockey sits 3,300 and basketball 3,800. Tonight’s game, SRO, checked in around 4,000.

This is a thoroughly modern, substantial, sports facility. Even from my perch way up in the press box, the game was well seen.

I’ve been invited to come back for the grand tour, and I’m sure I will.

Quinnipiac is working hard to become a major university. They acquired the University of Bridgeport’s law school and are already succeeding in sports. The campus, snuggled in the shadow of Sleeping Giant Mountain, is as pretty a campus as I’ve ever seen.

I wished they paid taxes at the same rate I do.

Tonight’s game was won by QU 5-1.

Lewis Black At The Oakdale

As already established, Santa got us two tickets for Lewis Black. Last night was date night.

We went to a local ‘roadhouse’ for a quick dinner. What we didn’t realize is, it’s Alumni Weekend at Quinnipiac University, the rapidly expanding school in our little town.

The restaurant was jammed. The music (Sirius Channel 21) was very loud. I’m really not that old – it was that loud! Dinner took much too long to arrive.

Luckily, Oakdale&#185 is only a few minutes away. Though the theater seats a few thousand, the vast majority come via the Wilbur Cross Parkway (CT Route 15). We come the back way, through neighborhoods in Hamden, Cheshire and Wallingford, and breeze in without traffic.

Helaine Santa ordered our tickets the moment they went on sale. We were in the 4th row, on the aisle. We sat behind some people who were seemingly show biz connected and in front of a couple who actually bought their seats on a whim, ten minutes before show time.

I was surprised to see an opening act, and not Lewis Black, pop on stage at 8:15. I’d never heard of John Bowman.

He is short, thin, middle aged and had one button too many buttoned on his sport coat. He took quick, small sips of his bottle of water, rapidly replacing and re-screwing the top.

He said he was a friend of Lewis’ and had spent the last three years traveling with him by bus&#178. And then he enumerated how stressfully difficult and emotionally trying, that was.

Within the first few seconds, a heckler from the back yelled something out. John took him on with a riff showing the the idiocy of trying to be funny when you’ve paid to see a professional comedian.

The audience was won over. From there on, Bowman could do no wrong.

It is tougher for an opening act to succeed. Everyone paid to see the headliner. The opening act is in the way.

As with Lewis Black who would follow, John Bowman is an observational comic. They weren’t jokes as much as they were observations – and they were very funny.

Bowman ended by bringing his dog on stage – a sure way to win over Helaine. Does Rita Rudner get a royalty?

After a fifteen minute intermission Lewis Black came on. His hair is lighter colored than it seems on TV. His paunch is more pronounced than would be implied as he sits at the desk on The Daily Show. He was more mellow, generally.

Maybe that’s a misstatement. TV is a close-up medium. When you’re bigger on screen than real life, everything else is exaggerated as well. That certainly includes emotional intensity.

The fact that Lewis seemed so laid back just added to the effect when he did ramp up his intensity. And he did!

He would bend his elbows and thrust his fingers as his eyes seemingly popped from his head. I’m not sure if he turned beet red, but that wouldn’t have been out of character.

Lewis Black goes through life looking at everything and wondering why. Why it’s done? Why we take it? Why individuals are looked upon as idiots from those who manage or rule?

He claims he used to do a full hour on weather, but now there are a lot of politics. It’s not just Bush bashing.

Again, as with John Bowman, these weren’t jokes but observations. And they were hysterical.

I can’t remember laughing so much at two comedians – individually and collectively.

Lewis Black is in his late fifties. He’s always made money, but now he’s achieved incredible success. I wonder if there was ever a time he pondered giving up what is often a young man’s game?

I hope his success is satisfying – even though he’d never let on that it is.

&#185 – Though officially known as the Chevrolet Theater, everyone I know still refers to it as The Oakdale. After all, it had that name for over 50 years.

Just as New Yorkers still call “Avenue of the Americas” by its old name, “6th Avenue,” this is not done to be disrespectful. These historical names just help establish our bona fides as locals.

&#178 – Sure enough, when we left, there was a tour bus outside the stage door. It seems odd that two guys on tour would travel this way, but they do.

Best of New Haven

OK – it’s not the Oscar for Best Picture, but this is the ground on which I compete. I was thrilled to, again, win the “Best of” readers’ poll from the New Haven Advocate in the “Local TV Personality” category.

Best Local TV Personality

Geoff Fox

WTNH-TV, 8 Elm St., New Haven, (203) 784-8888

It’s raining, it’s pouring, Geoff Fox is winning the “Best Of” award for

Local TV Personality again. And why not? He’s been “local” for two

decades. He’s on TV, and he’s so damned personable. Whenever he walks

into a room, people want to chat with him, and not just about the

weather. Maybe about his incessant poker-playing, or his wife’s

obsession with soap-rocker Rick Springfield, or the computer he built

himself, or how he looks like he’s lost weight (He has–15 pounds, with

the goal of dropping 10 more).

Most of the time, Fox is the one starting the conversations, and he’s

out and about constantly–at charity events, school programs or holiday

gatherings. “I’ve probably spoken individually to every schoolchild in

Connecticut,” he grins. And they constantly come up to him to remind him

of those fleeting, yet important, encounters. Amid all this, he still

finds time to report the weather on Channel 8 weekdays at 5, 6, 10 and

11 p.m. , which makes his nice-guy-ness all the more amazing. (He

doesn’t go to bed until 3 or 4 a.m.)

This month marks Fox’s 20th anniversary with Channel 8. Before that he

worked in Buffalo, N.Y. a market where it’s pretty easy to predict the

weather, at least in the winter: SNOW. Geoff Fox is a guy who just keeps

shining and is never partly cloudy.

2nd: Dr. Mel (WTNH-TV)

8 Elm St., New Haven, (203) 784-8888

3rd: Ann Nyberg (WTNH-TV)

8 Elm St., New Haven, (203) 784-8888

Before anyone who was passed over, in any category, gets bent out of shape, let me point out that Quinnipiac University beat out Yale University for “Best Local 4-Year College.”

Blogger’s note: I am now down about 23.5 pounds and hoping to lose another 5 or 6 by July.

Cingular Teases Me

We had been told that a new Cingular GSM cell tower was being installed at Quinnipiac University. Judging from some topographic maps I downloaded online, there was a significant chance we’d be blocked by Sleeping Giant.

After speaking to the guys at Cingular (it’s actually American Cellular d/b/a as Cingular, but that’s another story) I felt better. A few of them had driven up to my neighborhood, phone in hand, and saw loads of signal. Cingular has a sweet looking, really small, LG-G4010 GSM phone available. Life was good.

Wednesday, I went to the Cingular store and took a phone for a 15 day trial in anticipation of signing up for new service. It worked fine going to work – even in places I had previously had trouble. It worked fine coming home.

And then, I got to the hill leading to our house.

As soon as I started to climb the hill, cell service ceased. I was in the middle of a call, and it ended abruptly.

At the house, no service, until…. voil

The Phone Saga Continues

A few weeks ago the antenna to my Motorola V60t cellular phone snapped off. It was under warranty… or so I thought. When Motorola opened the phone up, they found evidence of water on the circuit board. Of course, that was no part of the antenna problem. Still, they decided not to fix the phone and to declare it out of warranty.

Since that time, I have been using an older Motorola Startac. It’s actually a nice phone, but analog. So, there’s always a fair amount of static as I drive along. And, analog phones suck down battery power very quickly.

I had the snapped antenna from the digital phone on my desk, so today I tried a little experiment. With some crazy glue, I reattached the antenna housing to the housing of the phone. Guess what – it works!

Back to the Cingular store, where they re-enabled the digital phone, and I’m again, good to go.

I continue to hope there will be GSM reception at my house now that a new site has been turned on at Quinnipiac University, not very far away. Hopefully, within the next week or so, I’ll find out.

I should be able to get a better plan with a new phone and more minutes for less money. Is this a great country or what?