This recipe (with slight modifications) is from page 188 of the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts, a marvelous book with easy-to-understand instructions and wonderful pictures. This recipe is for a 10” pie pan. For a 12” pan, increase everything by 50%. I feel that the crust is a bit thick, so that can be decreased some, which, of course, makes room for more of the filling. The 10” pie serves 8. It is really easy–and fast–to make.
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ cup plus 3 Tbs Sugar
1 cup Whipping or Heavy Cream
2 large Egg yolks
1¼ cups All purpose Flour (not sifted)
¼ tsp Salt
¾ stick Butter (softened)
2 29oz cans Sliced pears (or peaches). It really needs a can plus about 2-3 more halves. With peaches, I use 2½ of the small cans.
10” pie pan
Pre-heat the oven to 400°.
In medium bowl, with fork, mix the flour, salt, 3 Tbs sugar and then cut in the butter (I use two knives) until it resembles course crumbs.
Optionally spray the pan with some Pam
By hand, press the flour mixture into the glass pie plate, on the bottom and up the sides. Bring it to at least ¼” of the top as the pie will get that high. Take care that the bottom of the sides is not too thick as you won’t have enough flour mixture for the bottom of the pan.
Mix the cinnamon and ½ cup of the sugar (not the last 3 Tbs)
Separately, beat the cream with the egg yolks
If you have pear halves take the drained AND DRIED slices and cover the bottom of the pan. Sometimes the slices have to be cut to fit properly. Do it in concentric circles. Evenly cover them with the cinnamon-sugar combination. If it is not even, a portion of the sugar will glaze but the rest will need more time! With sliced peaches it will take two circles. NOTE: Don’t fill in all the spaces with fruit or the custard will not all fit in.
Bake for 7+ minutes (it might take a few minutes more) until the cinnamon-sugar mixture is caramelized.
Pour the cream mixture over the pears and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or mostly so). A 9” pan takes about 22 mins; a 10” pan about 27 mins. NOTE: do not overcook
Cool the tart over a wire rack ~2 hours and then refrigerate if not using immediately. Don’t cover with wrap until it is totally cooled (another 2 hours).
John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age. (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)
It is that time of year. The colorful leaves are falling from the trees, the sun is setting early, there is a raw, chilly wind, and the golf course is closing. I have ceased my exercise routine, begun overeating, rapidly put on 15 pounds, and have a constant desire to nap. Either I am suffering a bout of fall melancholy or a long dormant urge to hibernate is about to erupt.
While recently lounging on my living room couch, trying to decide whether to make a black and white frappe or take a nap, I clicked on Netflix and was confronted with a promo for The Kominsky Method, a new sit-com created by Chuck Lorre. Now Mr. Lorre’s creations have been serving as my antidepressant ever since 1997 when I discovered Dharma and Greg, his fourth TV series. That was followed by Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, and Mom. I also feel Chuck and I have a special connection through a mutual friend, though that connection is somewhat attenuated. In 1986, during Lorre’s guitar playing and songwriting phase, he wrote Deborah Harry’s hit single “French Kissin” for her Rockbird album. By an unbelievable coincidence, twenty years earlier, when I was a student at Lafayette College and Debbie was at nearby Centenary Junior College, she dated one of my fraternity brothers and we hung out together. That means there is only one degree of separation between Chuck Lorre and me. He is almost a friend of mine.
The Kominsky Method started streaming on Netflix on Nov. 16. The series co-stars Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin as two aging friends in their “later years,” dealing with the rapidly changing world of Los Angeles while their own respective lives, bodies, and minds are deteriorating. Douglas plays Sandy Kominsky, a washed-up actor but skilled acting teacher, and Arkin plays Norman Neulander, a successful talent agent and Kominsky’s long-time friend. Surprisingly, Douglas and Arkin had never met or worked together before, but Lorre brought them together, and the two Oscar-winning actors, proven masters of their craft, fit together perfectly. They are a pair of “buddies” to rival Newman and Redford, Lemmon and Matthau or the more recent Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin of Frankie and Grace.
The Kominsky supporting cast is also superb. Nancy Travis, whom I have admired since Three Men and a Baby, is Douglas’s slightly younger (but, at 57, still “mature” ) love interest; Susan Sullivan, the veteran star of Falcon Crest, plays the ghost of Norman’s deceased wife; Lisa Edelstein, recently a regular on House, plays Norman’s drug addicted daughter; and Ann-Margret is cast as a lonely widow with her eye on Norman. For me, the high point of the first season was Danny DeVito’s brilliant portrayal of Sandy and Norman’s effervescent urologist.
Many of the subjects dealt with in Kominsky are dark or sad, which is not unexpected in a show about the “twilight years,” but the humor and honesty pervading the writing and the acting enable the viewer to easily get through the tough spots without trivializing the real issues.
I binge watched all eight episodes in one weekend and was again left with a void in my life, but one that was easily filled. There have been several successful Lorre series I had missed completely, so I used the power of Xfinity’s “on demand” function and found all 87 episodes of Cybill, Lorre’s third series creation which aired during the four years preceding Dharma and Greg. The show starred Cybill Shephard, who I remembered only as the stunning, naked teenager who dived into the swimming pool in The Last Picture Show. In the Cybill series she plays a struggling 40ish actress with two likeable but contrasting ex-husbands, two daughters and an acerbic best friend, played by the brilliant Christine Baranski, who earned an Emmy for her Cybill role. Baranski more recently starred as Diane Lockhart in The Good Wife, and currently appears as Leonard Hofsteder’s mother on the Big Bang Theory.
Last night, as I watched the first two episodes of Cybill, I realized why I so enjoy Chuck Lorre creations. Though he got his start writing for Roseanne, he left quickly, citing “creative differences,” and from then on, all of his characters (except maybe Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men) have been fundamentally nice, decent people. Lorre understands flawed characters involved in complex human interactions and enables us to see the humor in it all.
But most importantly, Lorre “gets” friendship. The relationships portrayed by Douglas and Arkin in Kominsky, Shepherd and Baranski in Cybill, the entire cast of The Big Bang Theory, and Allison Janney, Anna Faris and the support group on Mom all are uplifting and just make the viewer feel good. This isn’t a brilliant insight on my part. Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld clearly showcased the appeal and entertainment value of friendship in their hugely successful sit-com, and to make sure none of us missed the point, they named it Friends.
Not only does Lorre create wonderful friendships on screen, but he also seems adept at forming them in real life. The number of actors who seem to reappear in his work suggests that he forms lasting relationships with the talented people he encounters. Actors he met on Roseanne decades ago, like John Galecki, Sara Gilbert and Laurie Metcalf, as well as more recent discoveries like Christine Baranski, appear in his projects today. I suspect Chuck Lorre would be a good guy to hang out with.
My depression is over, and I’m again ready to face the trials of late middle age. Cheer yourself up and binge watch The Kominsky Method, or watch the series more patiently if you are so inclined, and extend the enjoyment. It’s “Friends” for our generation.
Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie. He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since. More recently, he’s been exercising his writing muscles–in the Writers Guild and as a member of the “BOLLI Journal” staff.
The prompt–in 50 words or less, share a Thanksgiving thought. As always, our thoughts tend to cover quite a range…
Why I Don’t Cook Thanksgiving Dinner Anymore
by Donna Johns
Family was coming in three hours.
Turkey was going in to roast.
Oven door fell off.
Duct tape didn’t work.
Gave thanks for Ken’s Steak House
And prime rib for Thanksgiving.
IN THE SOUP
by Betsey Ansin
Several friends know to save the turkey carcasses for me. Bedded atop marrow bones, stock, veggies, and herbs to suit any culture, a soup is born. Thanksgiving is frozen in time. And, like memories, can be recalled as needed.
Turkey carcass proud
The family feast simmers
If a cook stirs.
from Marjorie Roemer
This mandated time of giving thanks. Massachusetts vying with Virginia for its origin. Presidents changing the date, claiming each for a different cause. Still, it’s turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin pie that linger in the mind, the bounty of this American feast. It’s families and plenty, having enough and sharing it.
Two-Part Haiku by Dennis Greene
The walk to football,
With my neighbors and my friends,
Felt warm…I belonged.
I hope that our young
Can experience that warmth
On this Thanksgiving.
from Steve Goldfinger
In a memoir, Teddy White describes his older brother, a recent immigrant, at a school play reenacting Thanksgiving. Dressed as an Indian, the brother is handed food. His hilarious response: “Vos is dos traif?”
I wonder if recent immigrants like White’s brother are “traif” to some in America today.
Every Year, They Make Me More Nervous
Thanksgiving Haiku by Sue Wurster
The wild turkeys in my yard
Are toting pitchforks…
by Lydia Bogar
Bride’s First Thanksgiving
Her turkey roasts as snow falls–
The power stays on!
and from Larry Schwirian
I’m thankful to live in a country that is still perceived by many to be a beacon of hope in a state that values truth, justice, and the rule of law–and in a community that embraces racial, social, and religious diversity.
Fear is perhaps the most primal of all human instincts…we are, all of us, brought into this world pre-programed to react to perceived threats by fleeing or fighting. Our initial response to a perceived threat might mean the difference between success or failure or even life or death. Fortunately, in this modern-age, many threats are not so immediate that our health and well-being are in instant jeopardy. But that does not mean dangers that are more protracted or abstruse should be regarded as any less menacing. Fortunately or unfortunately, fear itself can be used by those who brandish power to bend the will of their followers for practical benefit or protracted harm.
Consider and contrast the presidencies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Donald J. Trump. In March of 1933, in his first inaugural address, President Roosevelt sought to assure the nation that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This was at a time when the USA was experiencing an unemployment rate of roughly 25% during the heart of the Depression. Over the next seven years, with the help of the New Deal, the unemployment rate would continue to decline until the US entered World War II in December 1941 when unemployment became a non-issue. In contrast, Donald J. Trump, in a campaign event in Texas, recently sought to instill fear into his loyal base by lying to his constituency that there were many middle-easterners, terrorists, MS-13 gang members, drug dealers, and rapists in a migrant caravan now making its way from southern Mexico to the US border. This at a time when the unemployment rate in the United States is at a historic low and migrant workers are needed in many parts of the country.
Clearly, Mr. Trump’s comments were intended to energize his base and not meant to unify the country, by pacifying disparate raging political dialog. The recent bombing attempts of Trump opponents by an ardent Trump supporter as well as the recent mass murders at a Jewish Temple in Pittsburgh are clear examples of how crude, baseless remarks meant to generate “fear and hatred” can result in real-life tragedy. This current president is the antithesis of FDR; his methods and objectives are more in keeping with historical precedents set by unscrupulous demagogues like Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.
My greatest fear is that our democracy is slipping away…that those who believe in compromise that results in positive change will not be sufficient in number or have the force of will to rise up to confront those who fight to maintain the status quo and who believe that winning is everything…even if it stands for nothing. I, for one, plan to fight and to keep fighting until I am too weak to fight any longer.
Architect Larry Schwirian has been an active BOLLI member for nearly three years–taking a variety of classes, leading architecture courses with his wife Caroline, co-leading the Writers Guild, and serving on BOLLI’s Journal committee.
I am very proud that my hometown of Worcester is host to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Green Hill Park.
The Place of Flags, at the entrance to the Memorial, hosts the American flag, the flag of the Commonwealth, and, of course, the black and white Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag that has become a universal symbol of the wounds and strife of the twenty years that our troops were in Southeast Asia. 1955 to 1975.
The Place of Names, in the deepest section of the Memorial, is surrounded by a wall that can serve as seating for the young and old who come to this sacred place. The names of the dead and missing are first listed on “The Wall” in Washington before they are accepted onto these local granite guardians next to the flags and words.
The Place of Words is the most powerful on these four acres. Etched into these gray monoliths are letters written from thirteen service members to their mothers and fathers, girlfriends, and younger brothers. You must see these words yourself; I could never do justice to them in this small space.
One thousand five hundred forty-seven Americans.
One thousand five hundred forty-six men from Massachusetts who died in combat or later from their combat injuries.
One woman, Second Lt. Pamela Donovon, R.N. from Brighton MA.
Nor should we forget the two hundred thirty-five thousand service members from Massachusetts who came home from that conflict. Do they walk these paths? Do the parents and siblings come to this hallowed place, or does it continue to be too difficult to bear?
Construction cost: One point four million dollars.
Dedicated: June 9, 2002.
On September 18, 2011, the War Dog Monument was dedicated to the four thousand dogs–search dogs, guard dogs, tunnel dogs, bomb dogs–who served between 1965 and 1975.
“HE IS YOUR FRIEND, YOUR PARTNER, YOUR DEFENDER, YOUR DOG. YOU ARE HIS LIFE, HIS LOVE, HIS LEADER. HE WILL BE YOURS, FAITHFUL AND TRUE, TO THE LAST BEAT OF HIS HEART.
YOU OWE IT TO HIM TO BE WORTHY OF SUCH DEVOTION.”
These dogs were classified as equipment and were routinely euthanized or left behind when our troops came home. It is a conservative estimate that these canine warriors saved over ten thousand lives during their ten years of service. When federal law changed seventeen years ago, retired military dogs could be adopted by law enforcement agencies. The first civilian adoption took place in Massachusetts in 2002.
I’ve used numerals only for dates in this piece. I have written out the numbers representing our fellow Americans, the casualties of that conflict, who should never be considered just numbers.
When things are going great and I feel smugly pleased with myself, I try to remember the famous words of Golda Meir: Don’t be so humble–you are not that great.
And, because I save stuff, I have the documentary evidence to remind me just how not great I am.
In 1969, five years after compiling an abysmal academic record at Lafayette College, I decided to stop being a mediocre engineer and become a lawyer. I took the LSAT, did reasonably well, and applied to most of the best law schools in the country. Two of these schools, Harvard and Columbia, each required a recommendation from the applicant’s undergraduate institution. I had no contacts at Lafayette who might remember me favorably, but I nevertheless forwarded the forms to Dean Chase with a letter acknowledging that he might not remember me but nevertheless requesting that he complete and return the required recommendation forms. I had been one of only seven students in my class on the Dean’s List in our first semester, and I hoped that he would notice that and overlook that, later, I was on both academic and disciplinary probation. But nothing slipped by Dean Chase, and he replied as follows:
Contrary to the first paragraph in your letter, I do indeed remember you. In fact, I remember writing to you a letter, perhaps it was prior to your sophomore year, explaining why it was not wise for a student to have an automobile. I believe I pointed out that academic difficulties often arose when this became the case.
In light of what happened to your academic record at Lafayette afterwards, I am appalled at my success as a prophet. While I am sorry I was accurate in your case, I can only wish that my track record were as good with everybody else.
These somewhat garbled comments were followed by rejections from Harvard and Columbia. I also received rejection letters from Stanford, Penn, NYU, Berkeley, and Michigan. The Stanford letter, received only weeks after my application had been submitted, was the most crushing.
I am aware that we have not yet received all the documents required to complete your application…. however, the Admissions Committee… acts on applications whenever in its judgement the information available is sufficient to permit a decision to be made.
I had received an “early decision” rejection years before such actions became routine.
Happily (and luckily), I was admitted to BU Law School, but just barely. My application for financial aid was denied. When I met with the Dean of Admissions to discuss this decision, he informed me, with little warmth, that I should feel fortunate to have been admitted at all, as I had the lowest undergraduate GPA of any student who had applied that year. He then repeated, with emphasis: I don’t mean the lowest who was admitted, I mean the lowest of anyone who applied.
I asked if I could defer admission for a year so that I could earn enough to pay tuition, and he coldly informed me that he would not recommend it. I would be required to re-apply, and the way the BU applicant pool was improving, my board scores might not be enough to gain me admittance again.
I accepted admission in the class of 1973 and figured out how to make it work. I finished the first year near the top of my class, worked hard, got some breaks, and have had a wonderful life, so far. But I might just as easily have ended up spending my life scraping the barnacles off the hulls of rich people’s sailboats.
I’m not that great.
Whether it’s pop culture, sci fi, memoir, or whatever is on his mind at the moment, Dennis provides us with his own blend of humble humor–which is, of course, great!
“A miracle is a violation of nature,” wrote David Hume, the dour 18th century Scot philosopher. He virtually demolished the possibility of a miracle ever happening by posing the following question double-edged question. Which is more likely–that the event took place, or that the testimony describing it was fallacious?
It is easy to dismiss Jonah and the whale, but it may not be so easy to dismiss the Hanukah story of an oil lamp of burning for eight days rather than one. But if archeologists could somehow recover a like oil, give it to scientists who could then identify an ingredient that increased burning longevity, would we still think of it as a miracle? I don’t know.
Anyway, I began to think about Hume’s argument, asking whether his logic was too dismissive of those who believe in divine intervention, too oblivious of the realm of faith and hope in our lives.This was all occasioned by learning of a recent experience of a close friend.
Late in life, she struggled with advanced renal failure, the possibility of going on hemodialysis hinging on a blood test drawn each week. Then, completely unexpectably, a donor kidney became available, one that was extremely well-matched to her immune system.
Following its engraftment within her body, a couple of remarkable things happened. Her high blood pressure–which had required five drugs, around the clock, to obtain some semblance of control–settled into the normal range without any. But the second remarkable thing, the one that defied belief, was this: her hair–which had long been colored by a beautician–began to grow out in its natural shade. Yes, there it was–as auburn as when she was in her twenties!
No one could explain it. Experts in developmental biology, immunology, dermatology and all other relevant fields were at a loss. Nor, I discovered, had such a phenomenon ever been observed by others.
So, as banal as her hair story might be when compared to Jonah and the whale, was this a miracle? Did my eyes deceive me when I sat across from her at dinner? Did she really sneak off to her colorist on the sly after she had her new kidney? Am I, in writing this, giving false testimony? I know her well and cannot believe she would do such a thing.
When she and her husband describe the blessing that has enfolded for them during the past few months, they are not loathe to speak of a miracle in their lives. No, not the hair. The successful transplant, the avoidance of impending dialysis, the cure of her hypertension.
So where does this leave David Hume?
In the 18th century, in musty philosophy books, and in my own ruminations.
Since joining BOLLI two years ago, after a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side. He has been active in both the Writers Guild and CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) as well as the Book Group.
Special Exhibition: A Disability History of the United States at the Charles River Museum of Industry November 16 at 10:30 AM
Stay tuned for a very special collaboration in November between the BOLLI Social Change Working Group and Waltham Matters. On November 16 (third Friday), we will meet at the Charles River Museum for a guided tour of a special exhibit put together by students at Gann Academy, a private high school in Waltham, after extensive research. Alex Green, former chair of the Waltham Historical Commission as well as a teacher at Gann, will be our guide, and we hope we will also meet some of the students who were involved in devising this project. Waltham Matters is very pleased to co-sponsor this presentation, and we extend thanks to Cindy Wentz, BOLLI’s Equity, Inclusion and Disability Liaison, for her support.
Parking for the museum is ONLY at the Embassy movie theater parking lot at the foot of Cooper Street. Follow the signs and cross the river at the footbridge; bear right, and follow the road to the museum entrance. There is a small parking fee (free if you have purchased a parking pass at the Stanley Senior Center on Main Street). The museum charges a nominal $5 admission for Seniors..
Waltham Matters planning team has put together a monthly lecture or walking tour on (usually) the fourth Fridays since April, working from suggestions offered by you, our BOLLI Waltham Matters participants. So far we have paid attention to local history and historic sites, as well as art and a walk along the Charles River led by the director of the Waltham Land Trust. We are a collaborative and participatory group with wide ranging interests. I encourage you to help expand our reach with suggestions and ideas and join in making interesting events happen. Future programs may include a look at theater in town, a talk by the director of Africano, a talk with local education leaders, a conversation with the director of the Senior Center/Council on Aging. What would you like to see? Perhaps you’d like to launch a project to catalogue the outdoor art around campus? Let me know!
Spread the word–and join us on November 16.
Long-time Waltham resident Sue is active in Chaplains on the Way,Connections for Healthy Aging, Neighbors Who Care, and the League of Women Voters. Semi-retired from the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program and the Access Project, in her spare time, she–wait–there’s no spare time! But she divvies up what there is among her husband Ron, kids, grandkids, and one great-grand. Life is full and good.
I am guilty of putting up a variety of false fronts. I spend lots of time with my golf buddies talking Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins. I know the scores and the stats, and after a round, I usually join them in a beer, even though I would prefer to go to J.P. Licks and have a chocolate ice cream soda with vanilla ice cream. I try to act like a guy’s guy.
Each week, I attend the New Yorker magazine discussion group. I read the chosen item carefully and attempt to make insightful comments. I try to appear as an erudite student of literature, but I know my unfamiliarity with authors like Alice Munro or Richard Ford gives me away. My literary false front isn’t very convincing.
This term, I am enrolled in a class about the incomprehensible workings of our universe. We are learning about Einstein’s General and Special Theories of Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and the relationship of time, space, mass, light, and energy. I try to act as if I am interested in understanding these mind stretching subjects, but it is another pose. I just want to understand what Sheldon Cooper is talking about on The Big Bang Theory.
I am a closet TV sit-com nerd, and after 10 years, I feel compelled to speak out. The “Me Too” movement focused my attention on our society’s treatment of women, and I have long been aware of yet another area where they are treated unjustly. For the past decade, I have noted the accolades heaped on Jim Parsons for his role of Sheldon Cooper, while Kaley Cuoco, who, as Penny, carried the show from the start, has received little professional recognition. Until two other female actors joined the cast, Penny was on screen almost full time with one or the other of the three male leads, and she carried them all. Sure, she earns lots of money but no individual Emmy nominations. To add insult to injury, since Mayim Bialik joined the cast, she has been nominated for the Emmy almost every year. Not to say Mayim doesn’t do an excellent job, but she joined an established hit and already had celebrity from her prior success as Blossom, while Kaley made The Big Bang Theory a hit. The lack of recognition received by extraordinary women actors in successful sit-coms (ok, Tina Fey, Julia Louis Dreyfus, and Chloris Leachman aside) is inexcusable. And this trend seems to be continuing.
Recently, I saw an episode of Young Sheldon, a prequel showcasing Dr. Sheldon Cooper in his youth. Ian Armitage, the young actor playing the nine -year-old Sheldon, is masterful in capturing Sheldon’s mannerisms, quirks, and idiosyncrasies and is already a frequent guest on TV talk shows and late night TV. It is likely that he will be as celebrated as Jim Parsons was in the role. But, in this pop culture geek’s humble opinion, the best characters on the show are Sheldon’s Meemaw, played by Annie Potts, and Sheldon’s twin sister Missy. Annie Potts dominates every scene she is in. She did the same thing in the movie Ghost Busters 34 years ago. While Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase went on to become household names, Annie Potts–despite her success on Designing Women–remains relatively unknown. And I have noticed little fanfare for Raegan Revard, the spunky and talented young actor who, as Missy, is the perfect foil for young Sheldon.
As a recently motivated, male geek feminist, I would like to call for an end to this injustice to women in TV sit-coms by showing some love and an Emmy nomination groundswell for Young Sheldon’s Meemaw, Annie Potts.
Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie. He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since.
Red Sox, lobsta, Vineyard v. Nantucket, chowdah…and weather! Topics we New Englanders love to talk about—with the weather and its local propensity to change every ten minutes coming in at the top of the list.
This summer, we have seen a heat index of 106 degrees. So, will we see a wind chill of 18 degrees below zero this winter?
On Monday October 22nd, we will hear from a self-professed weather geek, Rob Macedo, Amateur Radio Coordinator for the National Weather Service Boston/Norton SKYWARN program.
Rob has always had an interest in weather, a passion that peaked when his father gave him an Amateur Radio when he was 8 years old. His uncle was an Amateur Radio Operator, and when Ron was in high school—with the support of both his dad and his uncle–he earned his Amateur Radio license. During his years at UMass Dartmouth, Rob wove a fabric of electronics, algorithms, graphs, and meteorology into a degree in electrical engineering technology. Since graduation, he has been employed at EMC/Dell.
Ron was SKYWARN trained in 1996. “It’s amazing to be trusted by the National Weather Service to teach SKYWARN to the general public,” he says. “I feel that technology and weather can be very complementary.” He goes on to say that “Collecting valuable weather and damage reports is a data science problem that can be solved through technology–and the work of good people. I would say, some weeks, my time commitment to SKYWARN is just a few hours, but in stormy periods, it can be up to 30 hours.” But, he reports, “The stormy times are always the most interesting!”
There are over 7000 SKYWARN Spotters in the NWS Boston/Norton coverage area. One-third are also Amateur Radio Operators.
Rob prefers not to comment on the veracity of the Farmer’s Almanac and continues to be amazed by the mechanics of the National Hurricane Center.
He would like to go storm chasing in the future, but for right now, he’s busy working with a global team on advanced data storage issues in the EMC division of Dell Technologies. In his not-so-spare time, in anticipation of upcoming snowfall totals, Rob collects damage reports and rainfall totals from across the state.