The Numbers Are In

Nielen ratings are in for last night’s debate

The Nielsen ratings are in for last night’s debate. I’m confused by the list of stations aggregated which doesn’t include Fox News and MSNBC, both of which would add significantly to the final total.

If these overnight numbers stand, the ratings are well below other recent debates.

OK–I’m a little surprised. I thought for sure there would be a lot more interest considering all the buzz.

DMA Rank Market RTG Rank RTG SHR (000) 21 St. Louis 1 52.1 82.0 649 48 Memphis 2 49.5 67.0 330 26 Baltimore 3 47.1 66.0 515 9 Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) 4 44.6 68.0 1030 29 Nashville 5 44.0 66.0 424 46 Greensboro-H.Point-W.Salem 6 42.2 61.0 285 32 Columbus, OH 7 41.5 63.0 377 43 Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws 8 41.4 59.0 298 58 Richmond-Petersburg 9 40.3 55.0 211 18 Denver 10 39.7 65.0 586 24 Charlotte 11 39.3 54.0 426 7 Boston (Manchester) 12 39.3 58.0 944 22 Portland, OR 13 39.0 74.0 450 31 Kansas City 14 37.7 61.0 350 16 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale 15 37.2 52.0 573 38 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 16 36.4 55.0 282 27 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetvlle) 17 36.2 54.0 377 51 Buffalo 18 36.1 54.0 230 25 Indianapolis 19 35.3 59.0 379 53 New Orleans 20 34.8 48 209 11 Detroit 21 34.3 55.0 661 59 Knoxville 22 34.3 51.0 185 61 Tulsa 23 34.1 55.0 178 45 Oklahoma City 24 34.0 55.0 231 40 Birmingham (Ann and Tusc) 25 33.5 48.0 245 52 Providence-New Bedford 26 33.5 50.0 211 15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 27 33.4 59.0 569 19 Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn 28 33.4 52.0 479 62 Ft. Myers-Naples 29 33.3 51.0 164 28 San Diego 30 33.0 59.0 349 50 Louisville 31 33.0 48.0 218 17 Cleveland-Akron (Canton) 32 32.9 55.0 505 37 San Antonio 33 32.9 48.0 261 20 Sacramnto-Stkton-Modesto 34 32.7 55.0 454 4 Philadelphia 35 32.1 51.0 941 44 Albuquerque-Santa Fe 36 32.1 50.0 218 23 Pittsburgh 37 32.1 51.0 371 6 San Francisco-Oak-San Jose 38 32.0 62.0 779 13 Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota) 39 31.7 49.0 569 49 Austin 40 31.6 52.0 201 36 Greenvll-Spart-Ashevll-And 41 31.5 46.0 265 64 Dayton 42 31.4 50.0 161 1 New York 43 31.3 48.0 2317 8 Atlanta 44 30.9 52.0 714 3 Chicago 45 30.7 51.0 1067 14 Seattle-Tacoma 46 30.3 58.0 541 30 Hartford & New Haven 47 30.2 45.0 306 47 Jacksonville 48 30.0 47.0 196 33 Salt Lake City 49 29.9 63.0 261 35 Milwaukee 50 29.2 49.0 262 34 Cincinnati 51 28.3 49.0 256 42 Las Vegas 52 27.9 46.0 196 5 Dallas-Ft. Worth 53 27.7 46.0 671 2 Los Angeles 54 26.4 50.0 1484 12 Phoenix (Prescott) 55 24.8 47.0 448 10 Houston* 56 0.0 0.0 0 Weighted Avg. of 55 markets* 33.2

I Stalk Myself

We’re talking 1970-71. Is there really someone out who knows my career details from 35 plus years ago? Wow!

It’s true, I stalk myself. Google searches for me across the Internet and when it finds a new listing it sends me an email with the link. Thanks Sergey and Larry.

I don’t get that many hits, but every once in a while it’s something juicy. People forget they’re speaking in public. They don’t realize Google reads sparsely traveled boards.

This was posted around a month ago. It was part of a conversation about West Palm Beach radio.

Before that it was WGMW a rock station, co-owned by Tom Kegel (sp) ex of WIRK. He brought over Geoff Fox ex WIRK, WQXT, WMUM and now a TV weatherman in CT. The odd thing was that they had a night time talk show with an older ex-NY radio guy known as Half beard. Apparently in his early days his stunt had been to shave 1/2 his face

We’re talking 1970-71. This guy has just correctly named four stations I worked at. Is there really someone out who knows my career details from 35 plus years ago? Wow!

The guy with the, then, clean shaven face was Mitch Sandler. He had been Professor Half Beard in an earlier incarnation. I don’t remember his air style, except he was older, smart and very liberal. There were a lot of very liberal people back then. Mitch passed away a long time ago.

This was an interesting station. Physically, we had glassed in studios at a failed mall with little traffic in Riviera Beach, Florida. We were automated, meaning tapes and cartridges fired in sequence or by timer. I designed the format and it was impossible to tell we weren’t live. It was a mostly (not totally) dependable system from Shaffer, who served mostly beautiful music stations back then.

To save money, the owners had me do the morning show, but work all-night. Then, they’d forget to saunter in until 9:30 or 10:00 O’clock. Maybe some day I’ll forget that treatment.

Tonight’s other Google tip was for a more recent post by someone who calls himself “TheNews”

“WTNH’s Geoff Fox Out?,” “His bio is off the WTNH site. It would be sad he’s been there since 1984!”

It would, wouldn’t it? This was a screw-up at the station. They redesigned a webpage and left me off. It happens.

“His pic is still on the storm team 8 banner on top. And other graphics. I never really cared for Geoff Fox. At least at Channel 3 when Hilton left they gave him a be party at the end of the newscast and everything,” – Ken.

For those skimming, Ken didn’t care for me. Hilton is Hilton Kaderli, formerly of WFSB in Hartford and an icon in this market. I’m glad to have him as a friend.

I would be lying if I said Ken’s opinion of me doesn’t make me cringe a little. It’s part of my job and I accept it–but grudgingly.

On the other hand, there’s stuff like this from “oldschooltv”

“I think he was on vacation last week (see his blog: Personally, I like Geoff. Forecasting in Connecticut is not easy with all the various micro-climates we have due to the hills, valleys, inland, shoreline, etc. He knows our area well and has been around for a long time. They’d be crazy to ever get rid of him.”

This is eavesdropping, right?

At the moment, I’m wondering how many of my co-workers and contemporaries do the same thing with Google? I have no clue. I wonder if Hilton will see this?

My First Car Reappears

Back in 1969, while I was living in a dorm at Emerson College (it would be unfair to Emerson to claim I was attending school), I bought a car. It cost $400, a big investment for me.

Today, I was pulling into the parking lot at Dunkin’ Donuts when I spied this 1960 oxidized green VW Beetle. That’s exactly what I owned!

OK – it wasn’t originally oxidized green, but that’s what it evolved to.

The 1960 Volkswagen was a tiny death trap with no safety features. There are no seat belts. The dashboard is metal. The gas tank is under the hood in the front, where the crumple zone is today. With thin tires, any wind pushed it back and forth across the road.

Its six volt positive electrical system (today’s cars are 12 volt negative) made getting parts a chore. It also had headlights with the power of birthday candles and a three speed manual transmission.

With no radiator (it was air cooled) the heating and defrosting systems were pretty close to worthless. Air conditioning… you rolled down the window – by hand.

I loved this car. You just have no idea. It was liberating.

I once got my VW to 62 mph, but that was on a long, flat, deserted stretch of Military Trail in West Palm Beach. Going up hills, it often had trouble sustaining 50 mph.

The owner of the car pictured below runs a garage restoring old VWs. I have seen him driving around in classic Beetles before, but never in my car.

The back story is, this particular car was owned by a woman who kept it in storage for thirty years.

It will be its old self soon. This guy knows what he’s doing.




Back To The Sunshine State

I’m writing this while on my way to Florida – again. This time it’s with Helaine and Stef, and this time it’s a more pleasant occasion – my mom’s birthday.

Because of where Steffie goes to school and because you can fly to West Palm Beach non-stop, we’ve opted to fly from Islip’s MacArthur Airport on Lawn Guyland.

This is an interesting airport in an interesting place. It is hemmed in on all sides by the sprawl that Long Island’s become. In that way, there are similarities to Midway Airport in Chicago.

We found our way to the remote long term parking, right on the airport grounds, and waited no more than a minute for the shuttle. The terminal was another minute or two away.

From a distance the terminal looked large. That perspective remained as we pulled up, except now it reminded me of the airport in Rockford, IL.

Stick with me on this.

In Rockford, the airport is large, but usage is not. Same here. Judging by the TV screens, nearly all the flights are operated by Southwest. The few USAir and Delta flights smelled of commuter plane routes. This is an airport where 737’s share the taxiways with Cessna 150s.

As we pulled away from the gate, I saw all six Terminal A gates and jetways. They were all vacant. It’s a shame (though nearby Islip residents might not agree with me on that).

Our flight headed southwest down Runway 24, took off and turned east. We flew over the center of Long Island. Off to the south was Fire Island. North was Long Island Sound and Connecticut.

I don’t know that much about Long Island landmarks, but I was able to pick out Brookhaven Airport, an abandoned Naval airfield and Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach before we turned south, heading over the Atlantic in the general direction of Florida.

The flight was a non-event until the last few minutes. With towering thunderstorm clouds on either side of the plane, the pilot came on the PA. The rest of the flight was going to be “very bumpy.”


On went the seatbelt signs. The flight attendants were asked to take their seats. We headed down.

It wasn’t as bad as the pilot let on. It wasn’t too smooth either. We landed 15 minutes early.

It’s nice to see my folks, even though it’s only been a few days since I last saw them. Florida, as it turns out, has changed. It’s much more humid. Much.

For dinner tonight, we headed south to Boca Raton and a place called Stir Crazy. I forgot to bring “Clicky.” A shame, because this was a very photogenic place.

Basically, you choose your protein and vegetables and then watch as your dinner is stir fried while you stand and watch. Pretty cool. Very tasty.

I’m bushed.

The Return Trip

I’m typing from seat 3A aboard Southwest Flight 616. It’s a direct, as opposed to non-stop, flight from West Palm Beach to Hartford via Baltimore. All the passengers, save four, thought Baltimore was far enough.

This afternoon I couldn’t help but think of my first commercial flight. It was on a Lockheed Electra L188, a second section flight on the Eastern Shuttle&#185. I was on my way to a college interview in Boston. That was 40 years ago. A lot has changed in flying.

Back then I could have asked to see the cockpit without being arrested.

I remember looking out the window during that flight, much as I looked out the window on this one. I was fascinated by the countryside of Connecticut and Rhode Island as we flew from LaGuardia to Logan. Today I was fascinated by the clouds that floated above Florida and the adjacent Atlantic.

We headed pretty far east before heading north today. The pilot did a good job avoiding the towering thunderheads. I wonder if anyone else on board knew how bumpy it might have been?

I don’t remember the flight attendants from that first trip, though they probably would have been puzzled by the term “flight attendant.” They were stewardesses, mainly young, probably pretty. To me, a seventeen year old unaccustomed to any of their world, they were glamorous and sophisticated.

None of my flights for this trip have been full. From what I read, that’s unusual. No one sat in the middle seat between me and the strangers with whom I’ve shared the row. Nowadays, that’s a luxury.

Being an early boarder from Southwest’s Group “A”, I had my my choice of seats. On the way down it was on the aisle. Now I’m at the left window, chosen for its access to a view of sunset. I try to sit forward of the wing, where first class is on other airlines, the better to snap a few shots.

I watched a PHP tutorial video on the computer, ate an unbelievably expensive sandwich I bought in the terminal, took some photos, loosened, then removed, my sneakers and fidgeted. Helaine should be glad she wasn’t here. My fidgeting would have driven her nuts.

I just looked down to see a dense lattice of streets. I didn’t recognize it at first, but it was Brooklyn. In the distance, Manhattan was underwhelming. I made it out by its shape more than its lights.

I did catch the lights from Shea Stadium and the Tennis Center, but mostly everything under me is nondescript. Anything I recognize from here in will be because I’ve lived there.

I’ll be flying this route again Wednesday. This trip was a last minute deal because of my dad’s hospitalization. Next week it’s my mom’s birthday.

Actually, this turned out to be a pleasure trip, didn’t it?

&#185 – Back then, if the plane was filled, another would be rolled out for the remaining passengers. Though the scheduled flight was on a jet, an old prop plane served as the backup.

Steffie Finds Photos

It’s good to be a college student. Well, it wasn’t good when I was a college student, but it’s obviously good now.

No sooner did Steffie return from our Pacific cruise than she was on a plane (actually two) heading to Florida. Though she just told me on the phone it was “overcast,” it’s also currently 70&#176. I’ll save my pity.

Do I have to tell you how glad I am she enjoys spending time with my folks? I think she appreciates their company on two levels. First, of course, it’s just them. Second, she enjoys being an observer in their “seniors on steroids” life.

Even as a baby, she enjoyed observing. We used to joke how she’d sit in the back seat of the car, becoming part of the seat, so she could listen to adult conversations unnoticed.

My parents live a very active life in a community with a full social calendar and lots of facilities.

The thing seniors do, which I envy most, is their ability to be totally non-judgmental. It is as if everyone in their complex is living life as karaoke, and everyone else is applauding each song.

If you live there and want to learn to use a computer… even though you’re 70, maybe 80 years into life and have never touched one – hooray for you! And if you want to be a computer teacher – boom – you’re Bill Gates.

No one judges. Only your desire and effort is applauded. My dad becomes Mr. Tech Support for Banyon Springs! The condo complexes newspaper writes about him.

Back to Steffie. I get too carried away with peripheral thoughts.

Last night, as she sat with my parents, my cellphone rang – not with calls, but text messages and photos. Steffie was going through old pictures and snapping shots of the most interesting ones.

First came this photo of me as an infant. My mother said people would stop her to say I looked like the Gerber baby. Probably not, but it was nice to say.

When I showed this to a few people at work, the first two (without pausing a beat) said my hair looked the same. That’s weird, isn’t it?

The second one is more interesting, only because I remember a lot about it.

It was probably 1970 and I was living 15 or so miles from where my parents live now, in West Palm Beach. A friend of a friend introduced me to a photographer. He seemed much older then, so maybe he was in his late 20s or 30s.

He had developed a technique in developing photos. In many ways it looks like the mosaic filtering Photoshop (and other photo software) perform. Back then, this was nothing less than an amazing technique – and if there were others who could perform it, there was little way to know.

I thought the picture made me look too sullen, but others liked it, so I sent it along to my folks (back then, living in Flushing, NY). I can’t believe they saved it all these years, especially considering the limited space they had in that tiny Flushing apartment.

When it was taken, I never imagined a child of mine would see it and maybe get some insight into her father. In fact, I would have never suspected having a child was in my future.

There are so many reasons I’m glad Steffie is spending time with my folks. Sharing photos is just one.

Katrina And My Sleep Schedule

We’ve got a little coverage problem at work. I’ve been asked to work Sunday morning – airtime: 6:00 AM! So, I’ve napped a bit this evening and will try and catch a few more hours of sleep before then.

In essence, I’m trying to put myself on ‘jet lag’.

As long as I’m up, another look at the hurricane progress. Since leaving Florida, Hurricane Katrina has been left alone in the open Gulf of Mexico. She’s intensified, but not as much as I would have thought. Still, the official number at this hour is 115 mph – that’s a wickedly powerful storm.

The forecast path is still a worst case scenario for New Orleans&#185

A common hurricane misconception is that its winds are only affected by the outside environment. Is there warm water? Are the feeders and outflow unimpeded? Is the hurricane being dragged near rough terrain, like mountains on an island? Things like that.

Often missed is the eyewall cycle. Hurricanes are constantly reforming their eyewall, shedding the old one for a new one. During this cycle, the strength of the hurricane’s winds are temporarily reduced, only to spring right back up. If this happens as a storm approaches land, you’ve dodged a bullet… or at least lowered the caliber.

That’s what’s being talked about in this discussion from the Hurricane Center:


At the home page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, there is no new news – none! The website seems to be untouched since Saturday morning, or more likely Friday night. I can’t believe that, under these critical circumstances, but it’s true.

WWL-TV is up-to-date, including information on “contraflow.” Some interstates and other highways now have all their lanes heading north! It works moderately well, but it’s confusing.

New Orleans needs to empty out now. There is no longer enough time to consider the forecast might be wrong. People staying in New Orleans, or much of the rest of Southern Louisiana, do so at their own peril.

&#185 – When meteorologists talk weather, they often abbreviate, using the airport identifier. Bradley International is BDL, Kennedy in New York is JFK, West Palm Beach is PBI. Some are non-intuitive. New Orleans is MSY. I cannot think of New Orleans without MSY popping into my head.

Heading South

Today, I started getting ready for a quick trip to Atlanta. My friend Jeff, who used to work here but is now at The Weather Channel, is marrying Lauren. I’m looking forward to this because I like them both.

Jeff is the first of my friends to have met his wife-to-be online. If Lauren represents potential spouses on the Internet, a lot of people are going to be running to find their mate on the net. She’s a knockout.

I haven’t been to Atlanta in about a zillion years. The first time I was there was in the early 70s. I was flying to Charlotte, NC from West Palm Beach, FL. Charlotte got snowed in! Eastern Airlines paid to put me up in a motel. I met a girl from my flight and spent most of the evening with her… though less of the evening than I anticipated.

There won’t be much time to poke around, but a friend at CNN will give me the 50&#162 tour and the groom-to-be is taking me to The Weather Channel (though I still can’t figure out where he’ll find the time).

Part of the fun of this trip is the fact that I can leave and return through New Haven’s little airport. Though Atlanta’s dominant carrier, Delta, now flies to HVN, I’m going on USAir via Philadelphia. My first leg is on an 18 seat prop plane – something I don’t mind… though I know many do.

The advantage of Tweed-New Haven Airport is its tiny size. No crowds… or few crowds and easy access. The disadvantage is the number of flights and choice of non-stop destinations – two, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

Coming Home From Florida

On my way down to Florida I became a Song fan. On my way home, that feeling diminished.

My parents live 20 minutes from the airport so I thought leaving at 12:20 for a 3:05 flight would be fine… and it was. I had my doubts when we ran into bumper-to-bumper stop and go traffic in Lantana, two towns south of West Palm Beach.

After the traffic cleared, I took the new ramp directly from the highway into the airport. When I lived in West Palm 35 years ago this was a little airport where your bags were delivered to you outside the terminal. With all the tourist traffic, this airport is larger than what would conventionally be found in a market this size.

As you approach, a sign directs you to the red or blue terminal. Unfortunately, the signs are reversed! The first one ends with the words “all other airlines.” That’s strange.

An overly anxious skycap met our car at the curb and took my suitcase and golf bags. I carried my camera and computer into the building.

In this post 9/11 world, my carry on bags resemble the accessories counter at Circuit City. I have wires and adapters of all sorts. I also carry a laptop and digital camera. For some reason I usually escape the probing eye of the TSA. Not today.

After removing my sneakers and heading through the magnetometer, I glanced over to see the person running the X-ray machine saying something to the inspector at the end of the line. “Is this bag yours?” It was the computer bag.

My computer bag has lots of pockets, some zippered, others sealed with Velcro. He was going through every one. I offered up if he’d empty it, I’d be glad to put everything back. He looked at me with a scowl that could only be interpreted as, “Do you want to have to take your clothes off?” I took one step back and stared at the floor.

Finally he found his prey. He had been looking for a mini tripod, unidentifiable with X-ray. It was something I packed and never used.

The flight left from Gate C-1. Though that sounds convenient… and I guess it is… the first gate ends up thrusting lots of people who want to be on early, and don’t want to wait in a line, to move into the middle of the hall. That’s where everyone else is walking to the gate.

I should know. I was part of that throng.

Delta/Song uses a zone system. So your boarding pass has a designation of zone one through five. In was assigned row six on the plane and that meant zone two.

Our 757 boarded through a door somewhere around row 10. I turned left, toward the cockpit, while most people turned right.

I sat down and looked out the window. It’s good to leave when it’s gray and rainy. I also marveled at all the rolling stock airlines keep – mostly idle. I’ve never been to an airport that didn’t look like a used car lot for baggage carts, stubby tugs and flight stairs.

As the boarding progressed, a flight attendant on the PA system kept saying which side you could find seats A,B and C or D, E and F. She was right… except for those of us who had turned and walked toward the front!

What makes Song so much more enjoyable than a conventional flight is the satellite TV system. With 24 channels, there’s a lot to watch. The problems with the TV began as soon as it was turned on.

Before I get to the specifics, the system does have a few inherent faults. Song gives out earpieces that are so cheap, they literally tell you to take them home. They are the least comfortable things I have ever put in my ears.

Even with 24 channels, Song has coverage holes. They have NBC, but not ABC, CBS, PBS, or the other lesser over-the-air networks. I flew home with satellite TV during the Jets/Steelers NFL playoff game, but the game wasn’t available to me. NBC has no football.

As the satellite system came on, we were flying through a thick bank of clouds. Satellite TV suffers from rain fade and we were in the midst of clouds droplets. Reception problems were to be expected.

The picture would appear for a few seconds before tearing or distorting or just plain going to black. Sometimes an error message would pop up from the satellite receivers. Though the message buttons said to press for help or more info, and we had touch screens, they weren’t addressable from the seats, making them a source of frustration.

We cleared the clouds, but the TV system still didn’t lock in. The problems affected different channels differently – but affected them all.

After a while the flight attendant came on to tell us there was a continuing problem and she was going to reset the system. She did. It fixed nothing.

I tried to watch but it was tough to stay with a program when it would lock up. Digital lockup is worse that analog since there are no signs if things are getting better or worse.

This would be all I’d write about the TV system, except one more weird thing which happened just before the end of the flight.

I was doing something else, not paying attention to the screen, when it caught my eye. Text was scrolling across the seat back display. I was watching a computer reboot!

This did not happen with either of the two seats adjacent to me. I don’t know if there’s a computer for each display or individual computers for the different services you could be watching (there’s more than just TV to be seen).

Whatever it was, it was happening… and the computer was booting into Linux! I wish I knew which ‘flavor,’ though that scrolled by before I got my wits about me.

The rest of the flight was uneventful and I’d give Song a pass, but they did one thing at the airport that really upset me.

After around 10 minutes of waiting at the carousel, the buzzer buzzed, the carousel started moving and about a dozen bags came off. Then the carousel stopped.

There was no announcement, no excuse. We waited for another 20 minutes until the bags began to come out again.

I think I know what happened because it has happened to me before.

Airplanes don’t come and go, spread out over the day, but come and go in bunches. There were enough baggage handlers for all the flights, but not enough to keep up with the bunches. When it came time to make the decision: get an airplane out on time or get the passengers out on time – the plane won.

So, now I’m home. I’m rested. Later today I’m back to work.

As I write this, it’s snowing here in Connecticut. In Florida it will be in the upper 60s and low 70s this week. Reality never waits.

Let’s Talk Weather

I am not home. I am not on TV. I have not been compiling or presenting the forecast. Is that perfectly clear?


FormName: Geoff Fox, Storm Team 8

Name: Gil *****

Subject: nice call

EmailAddress: *******

City: New Hartford

State: CT

Zip Code: 06057

Comments: Great call yesterday on the 60 degrees and windy.

It’s high noon here, 36 degrees, and dead calm.

So, how do you respond to that? I’m not sure myself. It is an interesting part of my job I never expected. Here’s a guy who is p.o.’ed at my for a forecast I never laid my eyes on.

That damn Geoff!

As long as we’re talking weather, Florida has been phenomenal. There have been a few brief sprinkles, and today was mainly cloudy, but it’s been warm with acceptable levels of humidity.

I lived here 35 years ago. Back then people would laugh at the northerners when we’d see their winter weather predicaments. After this past hurricane season there is no more laughing at other people’s climatological misfortunes.

This hurricane season was a rude awakening. There are few who live near here who remember the last time a hurricane actually struck. It’s not the kind of thing you ever forget.

Back when I lived in the West Palm Beach area, I was friendly with another radio disk jockey. His name was John Matthews. He’s a few years older, but our careers were on a similar path.

Back then I was hopping from station to station. John was doing mornings at WEAT, a station owned by eccentric gazillionaire John D. MacArthur&#185. We were both out-of-towners in a strange and, at that time, small southern city. We hung together.

John was neat, organized and mature. I was sloppy, disorganized and immature. In his apartment, everything was in its place. In my apartment everything was all over the place. Little has changed.

I remember John as a talented amateur cartoon artist. He would send letters back home to his family in the suburbs of Detroit. The entire envelope would be a flowing, interconnected cartoon. Sometimes, even the stamp was incorporated into his drawing.

As John grew up, he became a TV weatherman. He did it first, long before I figured out it was a pretty good gig. He left West Palm Beach for a while and headed back to Detroit… and came back.

I told John I was in town and this afternoon headed up to WPEC Channel 12, where he works. They’re the CBS station.

We talked a while. I tried to show him some tricks on his weather graphics computer (it is 2 versions behind the current version, so what I tried didn’t work).

Before long I was showing him pictures of my family and he showed me pictures of his. This one small act would have been so foreign to us in 1970, yet now it is so appropriate. We are family men – me in spite of myself.

I’m glad to see John doing well. Glad to see that just because he’s older, he doesn’t have to look old.

I don’t get to see John every single time I’m here, but I try to. This was a good way to spend the afternoon.

&#185 – If you’ve watched PBS and seen shows underwritten by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation – that’s him. He made his big money owning Bankers Life and Casualty of Des Moines.

Google On Sixty Minutes

Tonight on Sixty Minutes I watched Leslie Stahl’s two part piece on Google&#185. I didn’t learn anything new, and was pleased to see many of the good things I had heard being reinforced.

There is one part missing from that story… something I had never seen touched upon.

In order to do what it does, Google must cache the entire Internet. So, if Google says it can search 8,058,044,651 pages (as it does right now), those pages must be stored (possibly more than once) in Google’s server farms.

I would hope they have a sophisticated way of compressing the data for fast indexing and easy storage – still that’s more than a daunting task. And Microsoft, Yahoo and a few others do much the same.

Last year, when my webhost had a server crash and lost a few weeks of data, Google’s cache allowed me to go back and reconstruct nearly everything I had lost. And if they do it with my site, they’re doing it with every site, whether the info is good, bad, useful or useless.

&#185 – The piece was produced by Rome Hartman, who probably doesn’t remember me. Back in the early 70s I worked for his father, also Rome Hartman, at a radio station in West Palm Beach, Florida. On the weekends, we sometimes went out in the station’s boat as he did fishing reports. He’s done well for himself in spite of having known me.

What a Hurricane Looks Like to the Atmosphere

Among the little goodies I have on this website (and really never mention or link to) is Weather Plotter. Every hour, 24/7, this program goes out and gets the current conditions from all the official reporting spots in Connecticut and other areas of interest to me.

Weather Plotter does just what its name implies. To website visitors, it’s pretty versatile. You can set the time span and parameter you want plotted.

Since West Palm Beach is one of the cities I archive data for, it is possible to plot the barometric pressure over the last few days and see Hurricane Frances. A hurricane is an area of very low pressure and Frances shows in the plot.

What’s even more impressive is to see the hurricane in the context of a month.

Tonight’s Last Look At Frances

One last look… one final peek at the computer guidance before bedtime. It is troubling.

The gfdl is continuing to call for the track of Hurricane Frances to move just north of West Palm Beach and then over Lake Okeechobee, through the center of the state, and into the Gulf of Mexico via Tampa Bay. This is well south of the official Hurricane Center forecast.

The cross state portion of the trip should take nearly 24 hours. Even that number doesn’t take into account all the hours of tumult, just the hours the eye is over land.

Miami radar is continuing to show the eye over the Bahamas. It still doesn’t look like it’s moving to me. That’s a bad sign. Slow moving storms mean more rain. If the storm is capable of 2-3″ of rain per hour, the enemy becomes time. More hours equal more rain.

On this radar screen&#185 the eye should look like the hole on the end of a drinking straw. Instead it looks like a manhole cover – huge.

That eye would really have to shrink… and quickly… for the storm to intensify. The gfdl thinks it will. There is plenty of warm, open water west of its current position. I won’t even venture a guess. I think this storm is beginning to become very unpredictable.

The gfdl anticipate landfall for the eye late Saturday evening. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it still offshore Sunday at daybreak.

Moving slowly like this hurricane Frances doesn’t have to be a Category 3 or 4 storm to do real damage. It will wear its opponents down over time.

&#185 – The link is ‘live’, meaning clicking gets you the latest view which is not necessarily going to resemble what I’m seeing at 3:43 AM EDT.

Don’t See This Every Day

Check out the observer’s comments from the latest West Palm Beach weather observation:


So, it looks like the last plane has already left PBI.

Return of Humidity

The past week has been unreal – truly. New England in the summer is hot and sticky, sunshine is limited, rainfall is never far away. This past week was some sort of San Diego dream sequence.

Reality has returned. I haven’t checked the numbers, but sitting here in my pajamas, with the window open, I estimate the dew point as 66&#176&#185. It’s certainly high enough for me to consider turning on the air conditioner as soon as I finish typing this – certainly before I hit the shower.

Even with this sultry return, the summer is winding down. Acorns, actually smashed acorns, now litter the end of my driveway near the garage. No leaves have fallen yet, but I have gotten my first email asking when the leaves will change.

As spring is my favorite season, fall might be the opposite. Winter is more harsh, but fall is the writing on the wall. Nature says, “Hey, we’re shutting down for the winter – see ya’.”

Soon, geese will return to this area on their way to warmer weather. Over the next few weeks it will become common to see them flying in their “V” shaped formations. I’m not sure why, but I always seem to spot them, in the air, over Interstate 91. Maybe they follow the road south?

The summer can be brutal. Winter is worse.

I have been in some very cold places, including the top of Mount Washington in February. The coldest I can ever remember is waiting outside, in line, to go ice skating inside at Flushing Meadow Park. I think it was before the New York City World’s Fair, making it pre-1964. The fact that my mom was there also implies early ’60s.

The cold was so awful I remember it 40 years later.

In 90 days snow will be here. In 120 days the bleakest of the cabin fever days of mid-winter will arrive. Every year, facing this weather gets tougher.

Thirty five years ago I lived in West Palm Beach, Florida. Shouldn’t there have been a competency test before I was allowed to move on?

&#185 – OK, shoot me. I couldn’t not check. The dew point is officially 68&#176 at Tweed/New Haven Airport. It’s probably a degree or two lower here, nearly 10 miles inland.