Monday, May 25, 2009

A drive to Salina

Sorry, no pictures to go with today’s entry. My adventures from two days ago didn’t involve tower hunting. (There likely won’t be any of that until I get my truck into the mechanic--it needs a little attention.)

Saturday. The first 24-hour installment of a long holiday weekend. And what am I doing? Heading to Salina for some retail activity. Yes, it’s shopping, but since I’m by myself this day I get to do the male version of capitalism. In short: Go find what I need, pay for it, get outta there. None of this standing and staring silently for five minutes, then asking “does this make me look fat?”

Sorry, that’s the offshoot of being the only male member of my household, not to mention having two sisters and no brothers. So don’t get to thinking I’m lonely on this trip--rather just the opposite. Plus the drive helps rid me of some of my nervous energy.

As over-the-air TV broadcasting is heading into its final days of analog transmissions (maybe), I wanted to take the laptop and DTV stick with me and see what’s on (and off) the air.

First stop: a rest area on I-70 just east of Russell. And I wasn’t disappointed with this break in the driving. A little background before I share the reception info. Based on my research from TV Fool and the FCC CDBS database I knew that KSNC-DT and KOOD-DT should come in clear as a bell. The one I was curious about is KOCW, licensed to nearby Hoisington. The FCC documents indicate their intent to discontinue analog broadcasting as of March 17. Yet there is another document in the public file showing it will terminate analog broadcasting on June 12, late morning. Hmmm, I wonder which one is correct? (As an aside, KOCW has no companion digital channel as they were licensed after the DTV channel allocations. They will have to flash-cut to digital.)

After scanning, KSNC and KOOD showed with good signals. No KOCW, though. Switch over to analog, do another scan. Question answered: KOCW is still on analog so it appears their plan to flash-cut on June 12 appears in place. They aren’t even operating on reduced power right now (like so many analog channels do before they switch off for good). In fact their analog signal came through as one of the best I’ve ever received. Real clear, no static, no snow.

Pack up, now it’s on to Salina (for those of you outside the state, it is the largest city in the area and the location of the nearest Sam’s Club, Kohls, and Lowes). It’s also home to Hickory Hut, great barbecue. I was under orders from Geogal to bring back some smoked meat, beef and pork preferred. I also did the necessary shopping (new polo shirts as the tie-required dress code at my workplace is suspended between Memorial Day and Labor Day). And since I’m here of course I’ll fire up the computer again. KAAS-DT was the only discernible signal on the digital side, the analog gave me KAAS’s analog version and a translator of Wichita’s KAKE.

In my entry regarding the DTV signal of KWNB, Hayes Center, Nebraska, I pointed out that its PSIP identified it as the parent station. Same thing with KAAS-DT. KAAS (and the aforementioned KOCW) are full-power satellites of Wichita’s KSAS, branded as Fox Kansas. KAAS was showing as KSAS-24 on the PSIP. Interesting, I thought all full-power stations had to use their original analog channel assignments as the PSIP identifying channel. Maybe not. Or perhaps there is an exception for satellites which fully repeat the on-air programming of the parent channel. I’m sure this doesn’t matter to most folks, and certainly not in the long run. I believe the channel identifying numbers used by digital stations will soon be irrelevant, but that’s another blog entry. Still, I thought this oddity deserved mention.

Shopping done, I head toward home. Decided to go a different way, north on US 81 then turn left on the 2-lane highway for a far piece. Still, it’s nice to drive another way as I enjoy variety. This is definitely one advantage Kansas has over Arizona. To drive differently in the Grand Canyon State sometimes requires going many extra miles. (If an alternate drive is feasible at all!) And this time of year even western Kansas is a nice shade of green.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thoughts come together in the oddest way (sometimes)

Yesterday morning, before little Geoana and I left for school and work (respectively) she asked me if I knew of a baseball player named "Big Apfel" who played for the Red Sox. I said the name sure wasn't familiar to me and asked where she heard it. Turns out she was reading (Geoana is a voracious reader) a book titled Fudge-A-Mania by Judy Blume and this player was referred to by one of the characters.

Then I started to think some more. What Red Sox players do quickly jump to my mind? First is the obvious one, Ted Williams, even though he was way before my time. Who else? Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk. And that's about it. I'm thinking of players that will be associated with the Red Sox and no other team. That leaves out all of the current and just-recently-retired superstars.

And no, I will not make this entry a rant about how there is no team loyalty anymore, blah, blah, blah. Times have changed and I accept that.

But back to my mental wheels turning. I then thought about the 1975 World Series which led to images of Carlton Fisk's game-winning home run in Game 6. You know the one I mean--the famous footage of him waving his arms as if to coax the ball to "stay fair." If you haven't seen it, go here (the video clip link is on the lower right side of the page).

Then I recall having met the guy who threw Fisk the pitch, Pat Darcy. (This was years ago at a work-related event for my wife's then-employer.) I shared with him my being an Astros fan and he answered that he played for that very club before being traded to the Reds. I'll never forget his comment: "I went from a poorly-run team to a very well-managed one."

I can't argue that point, but having teammates such as Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Ken Griffey probably didn't hurt, either.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And the winner was???

Remember last post, where I was trying to decide which Mel Brooks flick featuring Dom DeLuise to watch? So which one won out? Here's a hint:

"You'll be surprised, you're doing the French Mistake, viola!"

I confess, I just used the DVD menu to watch the part referenced above. Hey, it was late and I was tired!


As the media (print and broadcast) continues to bleed red ink, maybe this piece will help explain why newspapers and journalists in general are mistrusted by the general public. News gathering appears to be a dying art.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A tough choice

To honor Dom DeLuise a day after his passing, do I watch Blazing Saddles or Spaceballs?

(Don't suggest Smokey and the Bandit II or Cannonball Run--I don't have those in my DVD collection.)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Quick notes

1) I'm enjoying the spring thaw. Mild winter? Not for me, it wasn't.

2) Barely a month into baseball season and all of my favorite teams are stinking up the place. (That's the Diamondbacks, Astros, and Angels in case you were wondering.)

3) Little girl now knows how to ride a bike. As I said to Geogal: "Now we've really lost her forever."

4) There is rhubarb growing in our backyard. Evidently a delayed housewarming gift from the previous owners.

5) Little Geoana only has two and a half weeks of school left and I don't know who's more excited, her or me.

6) I have to learn to cherish this time of year. The evenings are not hot, humid, and mosquito-infested, and they aren't bitterly cold, either. As Goldilocks herself might say: "Just right."

7) Learning how to balance my evening routine to get some blogging time in remains a challenge. By the time I figure it out everything will change!

8) Those home improvement shows on HGTV are addictive.

9) Long, sunlit days rule!

10) And finally, I am developing my list of the "Top Ten Science Fiction Movies That Are Not Star Wars Or Star Trek Related." (I think "Independence Day" might be near the top.)