Answer Man

Answer Man: Meteorologist’s career still heating up

Q. What happened to Maria LaRosa, who co-anchored AMHQ with Sam Champion on The Weather Channel at 6 a.m. weekdays? Has Maria moved to another network or to another program? — Dale Crouse, of Swansea

A. The Weather Channel forecast is still bright for LaRosa, although details are a bit cloudy at the moment, TWC publicist Bailey Rogers tells me.

Last month, the network announced that meteorologist and storm tracker Jim Cantore would join Sam Champion as co-host of AMHQ, the channel’s flagship morning show.

“Jim Cantore is The Weather Channel’s strongest and most experienced voice in the field,” Champion said. “There is one stronger force out there — Mother Nature — but we’ve already booked her, too. While Jim will be in the studio regularly for ‘AMHQ,’ the minute severe weather threatens, he will be out in the elements providing his insights and expertise.”

At the same time, meteorologist Jennifer Delgado was introduced as the show’s new female face so that LaRosa could move on to bigger and better things. Looking to extend the channel’s success on weekend mornings, The Weather Channel is giving LaRosa her own show. As of last week, dates and times are still being worked out, but she is slated to be joined by Paul Goodloe.

LaRosa, a 38-year-old mother of three sons, is likely itching to get in front of that camera again.

“I always had a love of math and science, but I didn’t know exactly how to use that interest once it came to choosing a career path,” she says.

“That changed the day I walked into the meteorology department at Penn State my freshman year. I have never seen so many people so excited over anything! I knew I had to be a part of it immediately. The weather community’s passion is special and contagious. I never looked back.”

Well, maybe almost never.

“The most embarrassing moment on air (thus far) had to be my very first day at my very first job (in 1998 at WTVM-TV in Columbus, Ga.),” recalled LaRosa, who immediately may have wondered whether she might have to fall back on her skill as a classical pianist.

“I forgot to turn my mike on, started talking and nothing came out. Once I turned it back on, my nerves were completely shot. My voice was shaking the rest of the show. I was thankful it was early on Thanksgiving morning, so viewership was at a minimum — although there is a VHS copy of it somewhere ... “

But with that day long in the past, it sounds as if it would take one monster storm to quench her sunny disposition.

“All I have to do is look up at the sky. Even on a clear day, I know that all the layers of the atmosphere are in motion, going in different directions, constantly. That right there amazes me. If you take time to look at every facet of nature, from the smallest grain of pollen to the largest cumulonimbus (cloud), you can’t help but be in awe. It’s every day and everywhere.”

Q. Your recent column about the order in which dates are written reminded me of a question I've had for a while. I volunteer at two organizations that use sign-in sheets. I’ve noticed a lot of people use MM-DD-YY. I was taught, and still use, MM/DD/YY. It’s my impression that the slash form was universally used 50-60 years ago. Am I right or is this an instance of Alzheimer's? — Joe Weir, of Swansea

A. Don’t worry — your mind is still sharp as a tack. It’s just that your system of writing dates has become a little outdated because of (as you might guess) the computer.

You’re absolutely right that slashes were the popular method for separating month, day and year in the U.S. when we were still using rotary phones, record players and mimeograph machines. But with the advent of computers, programmers began incorporating the forward and backward slashes into their codes for purposes other than dates. So when it came to entering dates as computer data, they had to find another symbol.

In 1988, the International Organization for Standardization issued a decree known as ISO 8601. It spelled out a simple, clear method for representing dates and times so that anyone anywhere in the world would know what date or time you were talking about. Because slashes could not be used, ISO 8601 prescribed that dates use either hyphens/dashes (YYYY-MM-DD) or no symbols at all (YYYYMMDD). (It also prescribed the rule of largest to smallest: year, month, day.)

So even though we continue to place the year last in writing a date longhand, the computer generation apparently has extended its use of dashes on computers to old-fashioned pen and paper.

Today’s trivia

Where was the first cocktail party held?

Answer to Sunday’s trivia: Did you remember which Oscar-winning film featured the “major” screen debut of actor Richard Dreyfuss? I just want to say two words to you — just two words: “The Graduate.” Although you may have spotted his face in “Valley of the Dolls,” Dreyfuss spoke his first line in “The Graduate.” If you watch the apartment house scene carefully, you’ll see his face peek around Norman Fell before Dreyfuss says, “Shall I get the cops? I’ll get the cops.” Don’t look for his name in the credits, though. It wasn’t included in either film released in late 1967. Seven years later, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his work in “American Graffiti,” and, in 1978, he became the youngest man at the time to win a Best Actor Oscar for his work as the neurotic but sweet Elliot Garfield in “The Goodbye Girl.”