Snow!

We’re supposed to get a lot of snow late Monday night/early Tuesday. They’re actually using the words “destructive,” “crushed,” and “life-threatening travel.” I don’t know if they’ve given it an official name yet, but I’m sure it’s going to be called SNOWOCAPLYPSE OR BLIZZARDARAMA or HELLSNOW 2014 2015. Or maybe in the language of the week we can call it SNOWGATE.

Of course, meteorologists can’t just give us the forecast anymore. They have to take several minutes to talk about the various “computer models” that give 47 different scenarios for what could happen (I think it’s a way of covering their asses if they’re wrong – “hey, it was one of the things we predicted!”) They seem to think the more information they give us the better, and that we’re all interested in jetstreams and polar vortexes. Just tell me if I need an umbrella. One guy says one model shows we’re going to get 29 inches. Another model says we’re going to get 18. Yet another model says we’re going to get around 12.

I’m pretty sure I could have given that same exact forecast, sitting on my couch in my sweatpants drinking tea, looking out the window once in a while. I’m still not convinced the fancy “weather centers” are anymore reliable than the guys who used to do the weather with chalk and weather maps they pulled out of the wall by hand. And they didn’t remind me 5 times every newscast to DOWNLOAD OUR WEATHER APP. But it looks like we will get a good amount. I’m glad the snow and ice is gone from yesterday’s storm. All stocked up with hot cocoa and rock salt – the most important of blizzard provisions – so I’m ready.

Bing, Rosemary, Vera, and Danny are ready too.

And here are five more things about media and technology right now

(Somehow this has become a regular series. Here are part 1 and part 2.)

1. Jeff Jarvis seems like a smart guy, so why does he say so many things that make you scratch your head? In his latest for Medium, he talks about how TV news is broken. Especially local news, and I agree with him (especially about all the non-stop weather coverage, which I’ve talked about here before). So far, so good. But among his many cures for what’s ailing TV news is this:

Picture, if you will, Wolf Blitzer’s gigantic CNN Situation Room video wall filled by Brady Bunch boxes with someone in each square. Imagine that below their faces are their latest tweets, so we can see what each has to say. Now imagine that a host — Wolf perhaps — can point to any of those people so we can hear their views. Or fire Wolf and let the audience take over, deciding who should be heard from next.

Yes, let’s just give all of our news over to people with smart phones. Oh, I’m sorry, CITIZEN JOURNALISTS. Let’s just get rid of journalists completely and replace them with a wall of screens showing people’s tweets. It’s every horrifying vision of the future of media you see in sci-fi stories and comedy movies. And people say Aaron Sorkin was off base in his criticisms of TV news.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to have to rely on people who can’t even hold their phones in landscape mode instead of portrait when they’re shooting video.

2. It reminds me of people who keep saying that they don’t get their news from TV or newspapers any more because they “get all their news from Twitter and Facebook.” Do Twitter and Facebook have their own news divisions? The news and links you’re seeing on social media are going to news organizations and other news outlets. Unless you imagine a utopia where the “news” you’re getting is on blogs that agree with your viewpoints anyway.

3. I’m probably not going to buy an Apple Watch, though I admire the Dick Tracy-ness of it. What I would like to see next from Apple is a series of manual typewriters (in 6 colors!). I don’t mean electronic typewriters or word processors. I mean old-fashioned manual typewriters, designed with quality, built to last, with the Apple logo on each one. Instantly, overnight, manual typewriters would become the new must-have thing.

4. I don’t know what hell looks like, but I’m pretty sure it’s an endless loop of Toyotathon commercials.

5. After reading my essay about social media, someone sent me an e-mail telling me that I shouldn’t quit Twitter. “Don’t you know you’re going to miss a lot?!” she asked.

God, I hope so.

Feed a cold?

I always forget the phrasing of that old saying: is it “feed a cold, starve a fever” or “starve a cold, feed a fever?” Doing a Google search doesn’t immediately help, because it seems a lot of other people are confused too. There must be a trick to remembering it, like the way you can remember which are the donkeys and which are the elephants when it comes to Republicans and Democrats. In that case, the two Ds go together. When it comes to being sick, the two Fs (feed and fever) actually don’t go together. But it’s not even really true – there’s no consensus at all on whether you should eat when you have a cold and not eat when you have a fever. You should eat well and stay hydrated no matter what you have, really.

This is my long-winded way of saying I have a cold. Tonight I’ll be feeding it nachos.

BREAKING NEWS: Man Discovers Books

“I’m excited for my reading challenge. I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”

– Mark Zuckerberg

Next up: print newspapers and magazines. They’re like web sites, only you can’t click on things!

Back to the Present

Wanna feel old?

Back To The Future was on television earlier today. In the movie Marty travels waaaaaaay back in time, 30 years, from 1985 to 1955 and has to make sure his parents get together so he’s born. The 50s were so different than the 80s: the clothing, the music, the cars, the way teens acted! 1985 was so much more modern, and 1955 was such a long, long time ago, wasn’t it? When our parents were young!

It’s now 2015, which means that the year the movie came out – 1985 – is as far from now as 1955 was from 1985. Let that sink in a moment.

Also, the sequel has Marty traveling waaaaaay into the future 30 years. All the way to…2015! Oooooo, so futuristic! We don’t have hoverboards yet (or double neckties for men, thankfully) but they got no-hands video games and TVs on the wall and video chats and holograms and cameras/advertising that are everywhere right. There’s even a scene where Biff pays for a taxi ride by just pressing his thumbprint on a portable device (the Cubs still haven’t won a title though).

Happy New Year! God, it seems like Christmas was a month ago, doesn’t it? Or maybe it’s me, because I didn’t have a tree or decorations and there wasn’t any snow and everything shifted back to normal on, well, December 26th. Last night I did what I do pretty much every night – wrote a bit, watched TV, read a bit – only with a couple of gin and tonics added because it was New Year’s Eve.

The Letter is coming. Since the end of December came quicker than I thought it would I decided to make the next one a January letter, to start off the new year (one of my resolutions is to get The Letter out on time every month). Look for it next week. Thanks!

Merry Christmas, you wonderful old building and loan!

It’s Christmas Eve and I have a lot to do, so this will be short.

Oh, sorry for making you panic for a moment! It’s Christmas Eve for me. We’re doing the celebration tomorrow because various family members have to work and/or travel on the 25th. Went to the supermarket this afternoon for some last minute items, thinking I’d be clever and get there before people got out of work and went shopping. But it seems everybody had that same idea and the store was jam-packed. For a minute there I couldn’t find any canned cranberry sauce at all, but then I found a full display further down the aisle. If I hadn’t found it that just wouldn’t have been acceptable. You can keep your homemade stuff. We like our cranberry sauce with ridges, damn it!

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas (from me and George Bailey).