You Don’t Write About Roxie Anymore

We’ve all given blood to Roxie–never in anger.


“You don’t write about Roxie anymore,” was Stef’s complaint to me yesterday. I hadn’t realized until then I’m the Roxie beat writer.

Last week Helaine noticed Roxie was missing a tooth. Just like a child the first baby teeth to fall are the front teeth.

She is still a puppy. She is still teething and biting everything, though less than before. We’ve all given blood to Roxie–never in anger.

Roxie sleeps with Stef now. The puppy is about the same temperature as a small nuclear reactor. She will come in handy during the winter!

I’ve Just Gone Over Two Million Page Reads

It’s taken 2243 days, a little over 6 years, to reach this milestone. It’s an amazing number to me. No one expects to put a personal site on and hit numbers like that.

blog-counter.jpgIt’s tough to read large numbers without commas. Here: 2,000,008. That’s two million and eight. I just took the number on the screenshot off my website.

It’s taken 2243 days, a little over 6 years, to reach this milestone. It’s an amazing number to me. No one expects to put a personal site on and hit numbers like that.

The counter is triggered by some simple javascript. That means it only counts humans and not the myriad robotic crawlers who hit websites hoping to glean some content they can turn into cash. Javascript slows them down so they turn it off.

It’s not 100% accurate. Nothing is. That’s a surprising part of running a website. Everything is digital, yet this counter shows many fewer hits than a tracker from Google I also use. Anyway, this is the one I’ve traditionally chosen to follow.

This blog has never been promoted except on the Internet. I have never mentioned it on TV. That’s not to say I don’t do things to maximize the impressions–I do. It’s not a business and it’s not run like one.

It’s been mentioned by me a million times, but this blog turned me into a writer. I’d never enjoyed writing and had never found the discipline to do something on a daily basis.

I like rewriting. I constantly rewrite. No blog entry is as it was the first time I typed it. Often, if I reread an entry, I’ll go back and punch up the prose. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was posted.

Thank you for reading my stuff.

Happy Anniversary To This

We are now 3604 entries, 5074 comments and nearly 2-million page reads later!

Six years ago today, July 4, 2003, this blog first appeared. With the help of Peter Sachs (oh, hell, Peter did it all) an early version of Movable Type was loaded on a Hostforweb server and off we went. This blog replaced my rather unstructured ‘last century’ website.

We are now 3604 entries, 5074 comments and nearly 2-million page reads later!

Those numbers are staggering to me. In the history of the world how many others have gotten the opportunity to make so many impressions? I appreciate every page read and every comment.

The last time I missed a day was a few years ago when I was on-the-road and really sick. I couldn’t lift my head much less write in the blog.

Writing this blog has made me a better writer. More importantly I’ve learned to enjoy writing–or more accurately enjoy rewriting. As I’ve said more than once, rewriting is where it all comes together. That was a major discovery.

The blog has forced me to be a disciplined writer. I force myself to write daily. As a mainly unstructured person that discipline might be the most surprising part of blogging.

All My Geoff Foxes

This isn’t my first run-in with another Geoff Fox. There’s a writer in Brooklyn. The guy who started Fox Racing is also Geoff Fox. Then there are the professors who share my name (or maybe it’s the other way around).

Helaine and I were leaving the movie theater Saturday when I looked down at my phone and saw I’d gotten email from Geoff Fox. That’s not unusual. There are a number of warning services associated with this website and some weather data that comes with me as the return address.

When I came home and looked it was obviously not me–though it was from Geoff Fox!

Just found your web site, and thought I would say hello (from England)

Geoff Fox

GeoffFox-uk.jpgThis isn’t my first run-in with another Geoff Fox. There’s a writer in Brooklyn. The guy who started Fox Racing is also Geoff Fox. Then there are the professors who share my name (or maybe it’s the other way around).

In each case I feel a little inadequate. The Geoff’s I know of are all accomplished. The English Geoff is no different.

I run a renewable energy company called SolarUK. We design, manufacturer and install solar thermal collectors.

I used to run a software house in the City of London, but 10 years ago got fed up with London and started again.

We are currently building our second factory (which we have recycled) which will be a 17 sided R&D centre in Battle (near Hasting 1066 and all that)

In what little spare time I have, my wife (Sabine) and I have built a new house on our 50 acre farm near Ashdown Forest. The old house in the background has now been knocked down.

We have 1 dog (Joule), 2 cats, 7 horses and 1 helicopter. I have been flying my own helicopter for about 16 years, and never get enough time.

DSC00847.JPGYeah–he’s green, he’s tech and he flies a chopper he built himself!

Geoff suggested a Geoff Fox convention. Wouldn’t that be cool? I wonder if we have anything in common besides our name. Growing up I thought it was an unusual name and assumed I was the only one. How wrong I was.

On the other hand, I’m glad I bought while it was available and apologize for being the first Geoff Fox you get in Google. OK–maybe not.

Air Force One-Marine One: Two Docs On NatGeo Discovery

There is a little footage from President Obama’s first flight included. It seemed like he too was overwhelmed by the service. There’s nothing in the real world that even comes close or could prepare you.

746px-Air_Force_One_over_Mt__Rushmore-w250-h250.jpgI just watched the National Geographic Discovery Channel docs on Air Force One and Marine One. The former was much better than the latter. They were both enjoyable.

I am astounded by the scope and size of the presidential flying fleet. I felt uncomfortable seeing the Patrician service on-board Air Force One. At some point, even for POTUS, it can go over the top.

There is a little footage from President Obama’s first flight included. It seemed like he too was overwhelmed by the service. There’s nothing in the real world that even comes close or could prepare you.

The Marine One doc was less compelling because the mission is less compelling. The writer tried to add a touch of reality TV by making a story line of one wannabe pilot’s pursuit of the job. I suspect by the time he was chosen to train, he was chosen. You know what I mean?

If Air Force One is the show, Marine One is the Franklin Shuttle.

I am left pondering whether the president really has to live this lifestyle? I’m not saying the President of the United States isn’t the most powerful person in the world. It’s just what I saw just doesn’t seem appropriate in a nation where the leader is freely elected from the people.

We don’t have royalty here. We don’t need royal treatment.

Two Stops On A Busy Day In New York City

I’ve been writing for’s websites since May. My only contact has been through email and phone calls. They know I’m alive because I cash their checks!

I am not from the morning people! Unfortunately, the only way to spend the day in New York City is to wake up and leave early. I was up by eight–don’t laugh that’s early for me. I was on the 9:30 AM quasi-express (local to Stamford then express 125 Street) from New Haven’s Union Station.

nh-train-station-underground-tube.jpgAround 20 years ago the underground passageway to the New Haven platforms was turned into a tube of aluminum foil. I took two photos before someone from the New Haven Parking Authority told me to stop. “Homeland Security,” he said. Right.

Just last week the National Press Photographers Association wrote Amtrak (Union Station is theirs) about this very same problem saying, “As far as we can determine, there are no pertinent laws, rules, or regulations specifically prohibiting photography nor any Amtrak rules or regulations establishing a permit scheme.”

metro-north-trains.jpgI stopped taking pictures, though the inner Geoff was screaming at me to press the point.

It is nearly two hours from New Haven to GCT. I reverted to my 12-year old self and stood at the front window looking down the tracks. There’s a lot of rail traffic on this line and a lot of maintenance work being performed.

I wish Metro-North washed their train windows more often.

NYCTA-subway-car.jpgI snapped a few shots in the terminal than headed down into the subway for the trip to PC Magazine. I know many out-of-towners dismiss the the subway but it’s the best way to get around by far! The trip to 28th Street took around ten minutes. My destination was a block away.

I’ve been writing for’s websites since May. My only contact has been through email and phone calls. They know I’m alive because I cash their checks!

I cleared security and headed to the 11th floor. Carol Mangis, my editor, was waiting there. I like referring to her as “my editor.” It makes me feel like a real writer.

She’s very nice. Of course I’d already figured that out. This was just on-the-ground confirmation.

We walked around the office and I got to put faces on the names I’ve been reading–some for years. And again, as with Carol, they seemed very nice.

pc-magazine-lab.jpgOK–an admission. I have a weakness for writers. They are my rock stars. The writer’s skill set is one I value greatly. That they allow me into their fraternity scares me. If they’re letting me in, maybe it’s not as cool as I thought?

There’s a lot to be said for the PC Magazine offices. As you enter the first thing you see is the lab. There is row after row of test benches. One line had laptops. Another row had desktops. There were techie toys all over the place.

pj.jpgI finally got to see an OLPC in the flesh. Small. Toylike. Disappointing. It’s probably why we are seeing so many netbooks today. Like the first generation of PCs the OLPCs real purpose seems to be to spur innovation from others.

I visited PJ Jacobowitz in the photo lab. The new Canon 5D Mark II was sitting on a table with a 28-70mm f4 IS lens affixed. I looked for something weighty to knock PJ unconscious so I could make off with the camera. Too much security… though it was tempting.

carol-mangis.jpgCarol and I headed to lunch at an Indian restaurant. She said the neighborhood is now known for its huge Indian contingent. A line of taxis stood parked on the street. Probably Indian ex-pat drivers getting their lunch.

I could describe what I had, but I have no idea. There was some sort of chicken and some variety of bread and cauliflower in a spicy sauce. It was good. Isn’t that enough detail?

I spent a little more time at the PC Magazine offices before heading downtown. Again it was a very easy subway trip taking the local to Union Square then the express to Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

I didn’t realize until yesterday how secure and isolated the NYSE has become. Wall Street is no longer a vehicular thoroughfare–just foot traffic. The NYSE’s building itself is cordoned off from the street. They’d probably build a moat if they could.

wendie-and-geoff.jpgNightly Business Report, the daily business show on PBS, was celebrating its thirtieth anniversary. They were at the NYSE to ring the closing bell then broadcast the show from the trading floor.

My friend Wendie is the executive producer. That’s why I was there. I was also the semi-official behind-the-scenes photographer.

Getting into the Stock Exchange is no small task. If you’re on the list you enter from a canopied area at Broad and Wall. Inside you pass through a metal detector then get shuttled to the sixth floor.

I can’t remember the last time I rode in an elevator with an elevator operator!

Wendie and the others were working on the show. It sounds glamorous to be broadcasting from this storied location, but any time you’re away from home base there are a variety of obstacles to overcome. It’s never as easy as being in the studio.

nyse-board-room.jpgToday the problem was Internet access. There were three laptops on a large table, but I never saw more than one working at the same time! And the particular one that did work would change from time-to-time.

After a while we headed into the boardroom for a presentation. It is exactly what you’d expect–a huge table with embedded microphones. The walls had large portraits of past NYSE chairmen. There was intricate gold work on the the walls with more elaborate trim where they met the ceiling.

It didn’t just reek of money. It reeked of old money–very old money.

nyse-trading-floor.jpgOne of the exchange’s PR people caught sight of me. I was wearing an untucked shirt and jeans. Maybe, I could wear the jeans on the floor, but I’d need a coat. Luckily there was a closet full of them! They’d had this problem before.

As the Nightly Business crew moved up to the balcony from which they’d sound the closing bell I headed to the floor. IMG_6094.jpgOMFG! I’d had an experience like this before when I walked into Mission Control in Houston. Here was a place I’d seen a million times on TV and it was larger than life.

There wasn’t the frantic yelling and gesturing you’ve seen in movies, but there was plenty of noise and plenty going on.

The stock exchange floor is a room within a room. If you look up you can see the old high ceiling. Beneath that is a metal superstructure which makes the de facto ceiling today. There are clusters of computer monitors flanking the trading stations.

nyse-no-photo-sign.jpgI saw the little workspace reserved for Fox Business Network. It’s the size of a New York apartment’s half bathroom. That gives you an idea of the value of space in this place.

Considering all the times you’ve seen this place on the tube it was funny to see signs warning about photography! I wasn’t alone with a camera. There were crews from the various financial channels roaming the aisles and a house photographer who hung with us.

I photograph all signs that say no photography.

nbr-on-air.jpgWe headed back to the sixth floor to finish working on the show then back down around six. Now the elevator was without an operator. The trading floor was quiet. It was still very impressive.

The Nightly Business News crew had already moved in two cameras, lights, TelePrompters and everything else you need for a show. There were glitches with audio and some glare to be taken care of, but nothing more than any other night on any other show. There was no reason to panic.

paul-and-susie.jpgFrom 6:30 until 7:00 the show aired flawlessly. If there were problems they certainly weren’t noticed at home.

I gave Wendie a hug and a kiss and headed home.

The long trip from Connecticut to New York City seems even longer when going home. I easily made the 7:37 from Grand Central and was home before 10:00 PM.


You Get What You Pay For–News Version

Helluva scoop if it were only true.

The big buzz in media (all media, not just TV) is user created content. It’s free–what’s not to like?

From CNN’s iReport–“Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable.”

Helluva scoop if it were only true. I’ll let a professional writer pick it up. This is from the Washington Post.

A false Internet report that Apple’s Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack briefly slammed his company’s stock and raised fresh questions about the delicate relationship between traditional and new media.

The posting on — a citizen journalist site owned by Time Warner’s CNN — is the most recent incident in which a faulty online report created brief, but wrenching, confusion among investors.

Apple quickly denied the report about its chief executive, but not before its stock dropped more than 2 percent, hitting a 17-month low of $94.65. It later recovered, climbing as much as 4 percent, before closing at $97.07, down 3 percent for the day.

CNN has tried to distance itself from the iReport site and its ‘reporters’. That’s going to be tough. It’s CNN’s cred that keeps the site active. In the last month CNN used nearly 1,300 iReport submissions which encourages even more participation.

Having journalism performed by actual journalists doesn’t guarantee accuracy, but it seems to be a step in the right direction when you supervise the reporter and he/she is answerable. Citizen journalists are not. Actually, that’s not totally true as the Steve Jobs heart attack citizen journalist might be answerable to the SEC.

Last September I wrote about my upset with Fox News ‘assigning’ a story to viewers. I didn’t say it was FNC but why hide it.

[T]oday I also watched an instance of what I don’t want to see with cellphone video. I’m not going to say which cable network it was, because I can’t find anything about it on their website, and it just might be ‘freelancing’ by a producer or anchor.

The anchor showed a still from an air show, mentioned where one was taking place today, and asked for viewer video. Uh… isn’t that why they have reporters and camera crews?

I understand getting video of spot news, unanticipated events, from viewers. This is totally different. This is an assignment. I’m not even sure a business can legally ask people to work for free, can they?

Regardless, it bothers me.

It still bothers me.

Five Years – Three Thousand Entries

Today is my blog’s fifth anniversary. It started 7/4/2003 with a very short entry about fireworks. I had no clue what to write or where the blog would go.

Three thousand entries later, I’m a better writer. I take great pride in that. It’s an accomplishment. I’ve also learned to love writing. That’s totally unexpected.

As I type this, the blog has served 1,704,812 pages! Who knew? I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks.

Writer’s Block

This is deep seated, like a puppy who shies away from a newspaper.

Short note:

I have a news story to write for work. In fact, I finished a draft a few minutes ago.

I don’t do news stories very often, but when I do, I always have writer’s block, letting anything stand between me and my task.

What I don’t get is, why? I like writing.

This is deep seated, like a puppy who shies away from a newspaper.

Who Is Missing?

Tonight, they ran the graphic pictured above, promoting their coverage. Where are Obama and Clinton? Aren’t they what the debate is all about?

debate-still.jpgI have been following the 2008 presidential campaign with a great deal of interest. Obviously, the Republican side is all but decided.

The Democrats, living up to Will Roger’s expectations&#185, are still fighting it out. At the moment, that’s a figurative expression, but it could become literal!

Tuesday night is the last of the internecine Democratic debates, this time in Cleveland. It will be carried by MSNBC.

Tonight, they ran the graphic pictured above, promoting their coverage. Where are Obama and Clinton? Aren’t they what the debate is all about?

Far be it for me to criticize “hey look at me” journalism. Still, we’re electing a president. Maybe for this one night, the four horsemen could take a back seat?

By the way, I originally saw this graphic with just Brian Williams and Tim Russert. I wonder if there’s any backstory with the addition of Olbermann and Matthews?

&#185 – Back in the mid-1930s, humorist, writer, movie star Will Rogers wrote, “I don’t belong to any organized party. I’m a Democrat.”

New Year’s Eve On TV

Helaine and I did some intensive TV watching, waiting for the ball to drop. Here are a few observations from the evening.

Does everyone now have a New Year’s Eve show from Times Square… and why? It looked like Fox News, CNN and CNBC were there for longform live shows. Is there that much demand for their … especially when ABC and MTV are also there?

With all the networks and their non-interlocking musical acts, are the bands actually amplified enough to hear or are their outdoor performances a sham for TV? Times Square isn’t big enough to have multiple musical acts performing at the same time without acoustic mayhem.

As it is, it looked like the acts were facing away from their audience. That shot works for TV, allowing a wide expanse of humanity to be on the screen. It’s not very appealing for the people watching in the cold.

Tila Tequila – what’s the deal? I have this fascination with Asian women, but I’m going to draw the line somewhere on this side of her.

At one point a musician picked her up. Dude – wash your hands.

Kid Rock looked like he was dressing to be a sideman in Funkadelic.

How did Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve get a pass from the Writer’s Guild? Dick Clark Productions is a member of the producers organization. This show was scripted. Other DCP shows, like the People’s Choice Awards, have been affected.

Poor Dick himself still sounds terrible and it is painful to watch. I know – that’s my problem. I’m probably wrong for being judgmental in this way.

It should be noted, Dick was able to keep up with the countdown numbers. A few years ago, he was not.

Every year Helaine asks why anyone would go to Times Square. I watch, half expecting to see some act of terrorism. How can it not be a ‘soft’ target?

Why does anyone go? Is anyone there over the age of 25?

As I got set to turn the TV off, I saw Anderson Cooper on CNN with Kathy Grifffin. That’s TVs new odd couple, right? I am sorry I missed them.

It’s Not The Camera

I am a photographer. That’s my hobby.

I’m a good photographer. I’ve seen the work of great photographers. Their best shots are better than my best shots. I’m OK with that.

I take a lot of care with the mechanics of my photography. I try and think through shutter speed, aperture, lens focal length and film speed (it’s still called that) before I press the shutter. I don’t always get it right, but at least I think about it.

As a photographer there is a question I’m asked all the time. In fact, I received this yesterday:

Hey Geoff,

I just saw the most recent batch of pictures you had on your site, and they’re amazing. I was just curious, what kind of camera do you use? I’m sure you have said it before on your site, but I don’t recall. I really want to get into photography and your camera seems to take really great pictures. Any info would be great. Thanks!

Let me repeat the operative part: your camera seems to take really great pictures.

I know the writer meant well. I would guess every photographer gets asked this question from time-to-time. It misses the point. It used to bother me. Oh hell, it still bothers me, but I’ve gotten used to it.

There is an excellent shot of Helaine, Steffie and me, taken a few years ago in Newport, RI. The sky had turned blood red at sunset. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I set the camera and handed it to a passerby. His shot was great, but it’s really my shot. If he would have just pointed and shot, the effect wouldn’t have been as vivid. I took the picture!

My camera is a Canon Digital Rebel. It’s the original 300D. I usually carry 4 lenses which go from 10 to 300mm.

It takes better pictures than when I first got it.

Writing For Print

My friend Harold is Chief Operating Officer of the American Radio Relay League – the national organization of ham radio operators. Recently, he asked if I’d write an article for QST, the League’s monthly magazine.

The article is a non-technical look at antennas for Field Day. From Wikipedia:

Field Day is an annual amateur radio exercise sponsored by the American Radio Relay League which encourages emergency communications preparedness.

I like to write. This will give me a chance to write against deadline. I have a week.

This afternoon, I sent a note to some possible interviewees. By tonight the ball should be rolling.

I’ve blogged about this because I know some of you reading this are hams and might have Field Day experience. If you’d like to participate, please drop me a note.

In the meantime, isn’t that writer’s block I see making a left onto my street?

Thanks For A Great Year

Thank you so much for visiting my website in 2006. I would have forgotten to write this had Helaine not reminded me.

I enjoy writing. The blog helped me discover that. It has also made me a better writer and re-writer. Rewriting has been my biggest surprise, because that’s when the entries really come together.

Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying quantifying your presence.

Here are some ‘back of the envelope’ calculations (really – I used an envelope). It looks like my daily traffic is up approximately 30% over last year. I must have posted a lot more multimedia files, because at the same time I’m using 40% more bandwidth.

In 2006 this site served over 118 gigabytes of stuff. That’s ridiculous. It’s more than you could fit on a couple dozen DVDs!

For a simple blog, this site does well. That people have found it is somewhat organic. As far as I know, it’s only been mentioned once on TV, and that by an fill-in anchor who didn’t realize she really shouldn’t.

Some of my traffic comes from new readers of my home page. People come and go all the time.

Some traffic also comes simply because there is so much more indexed by the search engines. There are at least 500 pages on this site that weren’t here a year ago and each has been seen by Google, Yahoo!, MSN and their brethern.

My home page has a Google page rank of 5. has a 6. The New Haven Register has a 4. Sorry Register.

I keep saying I’m going to move the blog from its current host, but the process seems so daunting, I just leave it where it is. It’s also running out-of-date software.

Maybe this year? Probably not. I am very good at procrastination.

Thanks also to those of you who left comments. Often they are thought provoking. I never know whether to respond or not. If I’ve left you hanging, I apologize.

Geez – look at the time. Even I need to get to bed at some point.

Scams – Why Spelling Counts

Remember when you were in school? Ever ask if spelling counts? It does.

Yes, I judge the writer of emails received by sentence structure and spelling. Who knew the Internet would make ‘written skills’ so much more necessary?

Of course, if you’re in business, proper usage can make you look professional… or not.

This email just came from “PayPal”… not! I’ll turn off the spell checker for a moment. The subject was: “IMPORTANT NOTICE: Dear Paypal Member Last 72 Hours For Uptade Your Billing Information.”

Security Center

Military Grade Encryption is Only Start

At PayPal, we want to increase your security and comfort level with every transaction. From our Buyer and Seller Protection Policies to out Verification and Reputation systems, we`ll help to keep you safe.

* We Recently noticed one or more attempts to log in to your PayPal account from foreign IP adress and we have reasons to believe that your account was hijacked by a third party without your authorization

* If you recently noticed one or more attempts your account while traveling, the unusual log in attempts may have been initiated by you. However, if your are rightful holder of the account, click on the link below to log into your account and fallow the intrusctions.

* If you choose to ignore our request, you leave us no choise but not temporaly suspend account.

* We ask that you fallow at least 72 hours for the case to be investigated and we strongly recomanded to verify your account in that time.

* If you recived this notice and you are not the authorized account holder, please be aware that it is in violation of PayPal policy to represent oneself as another PayPal user.Such action may also be in violation of local, national, and/or international law. Paypal is misappropriate at the request of law enforment agencies to ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

* Thanks for your patiance as we work togheter to protect your account.

* Sincerly,

* PayPal Account Review Department

* PayPal, an ebay Company

* Please do not respond to this e-mail adress as your reply will not be recived

* Paypal E-mail ID – #98754

I’ve reread it a few times. Forget the obvious misspellings. Look at what else is wrong. The sentences are missing articles, like ‘the’.

Using your best Boris Badinov imitation, say “Military Grade Encryption is Only Start.” It works. Russia is a perfect candidate for the native language of this sender, though others work too.

Some sad sack is going to believe this and sign on, giving up their username and password. You can’t thwart stupidity!

What I don’t understand is why these phishing expeditions aren’t combated by PayPal, or whomever the attack targets, seeding the phisher with identifiable usernames and passwords? They can then immediately tag who is using this info and where they are.

It seems so simple. I must be missing something?

How many highly publicized arrests need there be before this would stop? As it is now, have you ever heard of anyone being caught for doing this?