Homeward Bound

Yes, I know what’s going on back in Connecticut.

It’s a sunny morning in the Southland. We’re at a hotel down the block from LAX. Helaine just watched a plane fly between two buildings!

Things are fluid. Our flight was scheduled for 12:55 PST. Now it’s scheduled for 2:05 PM.

Yes, I know what’s going on back in Connecticut. There’s freezing rain&#185 falling across much of the state and it’s falling on top of snow.

I’ve checked the computer guidance and temperatures should be mild enough by arrival time tonight. Unfortunately the computers are often too generous in pushing in warmer air under these circumstances.

Our plane stops in Nashville before going on to Bradley. I’d rather not spend the night there.

&#185 – Freezing rain falls when cloud temperatures are warm enough for rain. Drops fall in liquid form, but freeze on contact as they hit the ground, tree limbs, power lines, etc. It’s probably the most dicey weather for any time of travel–worse than snow.

Back On Tech Support

He called out to his high school aged son to see how I was moving the cursor across the screen though I was a time zone away.

My friend Mike called yesterday. It’s a call that often comes with tech problems. This was no exception.

Mike’s computer had been on when the power went off. When it rebooted there was no sound for Skype. There was sound when the computer first fired up, but it quickly and mysteriously went away. Nothing he tried made any difference.

It took about a minute for me to fix the problem. I am not bragging about this skill, just wondering.

I went into the bowels of his Nashville, TN computer–burrowing in with the astounding LogMeIn.com (I am their biggest fan, no doubt). He called out to his high school aged son to look at how I was moving the cursor across the screen though I was a time zone away.

I knew the symptoms and headed to the sound subsection of the Control Panel. A few clicks later everything was fine.

I have no idea how I knew what to do. I just did it.

That’s my quandary. I think I have a computer skill. Oh, hell, I know I have it. I just don’t know what it is or how it got there or what value it has in the real world. Does it actually have a real world value?

Mike’s was a problem I’d never seen before, but I viscerally knew where to go. Maybe I’m the Cole Hamels of PCs?

Saturday Lunch Isn’t Easy

OK–let’s hit pause for a second. In this life the lowest form of low is the person who says, “Don’t you know who I am?”

I’m not sure how to tell this story. I got a call Thursday from my friend Mike. Mike and his wife Patty were coming to Connecticut from Nashville. Would we like to have lunch Saturday? Uh… yeah.

There are lots of reasons to like Mike. Yes, he’s my former boss and the guy who brought me to Connecticut, but that’s not enough. America is littered with guys (and women) who used to be my boss. He’s a really good guy and, in my presence, has always done the right thing.

Mike is gregarious. He laughs spontaneously more than any person I know. I can still close my eyes and hear him cackling after I said something moderately funny on the news. He was also into computers early. I remember his (and my) mid-80s obsession with “Seven Cities of Gold” for the Commodore 64.

Finding a restaurant for Saturday lunch isn’t as easy as it sounds. I called Assaggio in Branford where I’d gone for my birthday. Nope–dinner only on Saturdays. I continued down my list.

As I was finishing my next call the phone rang back. Assaggio. “The chef will be there preparing for the evening. He insists you come,” said the voice on the other end.

OK–let’s hit pause for a second. In this life the lowest form of low is the person who says, “Don’t you know who I am?” I won’t do that. But I understand why this offer was made and that it might not be available to everyone. I get it. So, I was uncomfortable, sure… but this restaurant is so good and they were being so nice.

Our lunch was great. Unfortunately for Mike and Patty they also had dinner plans. I have no idea how they’ll do that without waddling back to Tennessee.

Rest assured–Ryan, our waiter (excellent) got somewhere between a 40 and 50 percent tip.

More From The Tech Support Guy

He sighed the kind of sigh of relief people reserve for hearing the doctor say, “It’s benign.” A burden had been lifted from his shoulders. I smiled.

Stef came home to pick up her laptop. Within an hour of touching it she accomplished something I wasn’t able to–its CPU is running at a constant 100% again! No good. Tonight I will wipe that sucker clean and return it to its factory fresh state. I’ve already backed up her important documents and music.

Not every story ends tragically with a reformatting. I just got off the phone with my friend Mike in Nashville. I would crawl through the desert for Mike. He gave me my job here in Connecticut, but I look upon him the way Larry Sanders looked at Artie (Sorry–cryptic reference. If you haven’t seen the show, don’t worry.).

Mike had a problem with Microsoft Outlook. He couldn’t get at his email and though an error message told him to run scanpst, he couldn’t find that nor did he know what to scan once he did.

Why Microsoft can’t write this utility to be friendlier, maybe even autonomous, is beyond me. MS Office costs a lot of money and has been in development for years. Maybe the Apple commercial with the stacks of money for advertising and development is right?

I used LogMeIn’s phenomenal tech console to enter Mike’s PC. I’d done an entry about them for AppScout, so I have a demo account. You have no idea how much easier tech support is when you can just tell someone to go to a website, enter a pin and -voila- you’re controlling their machine while in pajamas!

After I found the file and rescanned Mike’s mail folder he opened Outlook. His email messages were intact. He sighed the kind of sigh of relief people reserve for hearing the doctor say, “It’s benign.” A burden had been lifted from his shoulders. I smiled.

I tried to relate the story to Stef. Maybe when I retire I’ll become a tech Johnny Appleseed–walking up-and-down Boynton Beach Boulevard fixing PCs for retirees. Nothing.

“Don’t you know the story of Johnny Appleseed,” I asked?

I explained how Johnny walked the roads carrying on his shoulder what, in the Fox house, is known as a “hobo stick.” He’d stop from time-to-time to plant an apple tree before moving on. Today we’d look at him as a strange homeless man and call the police.

That’s where I’m headed.

The Numbers Are In

Nielen ratings are in for last night’s debate

The Nielsen ratings are in for last night’s debate. I’m confused by the list of stations aggregated which doesn’t include Fox News and MSNBC, both of which would add significantly to the final total.

If these overnight numbers stand, the ratings are well below other recent debates.

OK–I’m a little surprised. I thought for sure there would be a lot more interest considering all the buzz.

DMA Rank Market RTG Rank RTG SHR (000) 21 St. Louis 1 52.1 82.0 649 48 Memphis 2 49.5 67.0 330 26 Baltimore 3 47.1 66.0 515 9 Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) 4 44.6 68.0 1030 29 Nashville 5 44.0 66.0 424 46 Greensboro-H.Point-W.Salem 6 42.2 61.0 285 32 Columbus, OH 7 41.5 63.0 377 43 Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws 8 41.4 59.0 298 58 Richmond-Petersburg 9 40.3 55.0 211 18 Denver 10 39.7 65.0 586 24 Charlotte 11 39.3 54.0 426 7 Boston (Manchester) 12 39.3 58.0 944 22 Portland, OR 13 39.0 74.0 450 31 Kansas City 14 37.7 61.0 350 16 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale 15 37.2 52.0 573 38 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 16 36.4 55.0 282 27 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetvlle) 17 36.2 54.0 377 51 Buffalo 18 36.1 54.0 230 25 Indianapolis 19 35.3 59.0 379 53 New Orleans 20 34.8 48 209 11 Detroit 21 34.3 55.0 661 59 Knoxville 22 34.3 51.0 185 61 Tulsa 23 34.1 55.0 178 45 Oklahoma City 24 34.0 55.0 231 40 Birmingham (Ann and Tusc) 25 33.5 48.0 245 52 Providence-New Bedford 26 33.5 50.0 211 15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 27 33.4 59.0 569 19 Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn 28 33.4 52.0 479 62 Ft. Myers-Naples 29 33.3 51.0 164 28 San Diego 30 33.0 59.0 349 50 Louisville 31 33.0 48.0 218 17 Cleveland-Akron (Canton) 32 32.9 55.0 505 37 San Antonio 33 32.9 48.0 261 20 Sacramnto-Stkton-Modesto 34 32.7 55.0 454 4 Philadelphia 35 32.1 51.0 941 44 Albuquerque-Santa Fe 36 32.1 50.0 218 23 Pittsburgh 37 32.1 51.0 371 6 San Francisco-Oak-San Jose 38 32.0 62.0 779 13 Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota) 39 31.7 49.0 569 49 Austin 40 31.6 52.0 201 36 Greenvll-Spart-Ashevll-And 41 31.5 46.0 265 64 Dayton 42 31.4 50.0 161 1 New York 43 31.3 48.0 2317 8 Atlanta 44 30.9 52.0 714 3 Chicago 45 30.7 51.0 1067 14 Seattle-Tacoma 46 30.3 58.0 541 30 Hartford & New Haven 47 30.2 45.0 306 47 Jacksonville 48 30.0 47.0 196 33 Salt Lake City 49 29.9 63.0 261 35 Milwaukee 50 29.2 49.0 262 34 Cincinnati 51 28.3 49.0 256 42 Las Vegas 52 27.9 46.0 196 5 Dallas-Ft. Worth 53 27.7 46.0 671 2 Los Angeles 54 26.4 50.0 1484 12 Phoenix (Prescott) 55 24.8 47.0 448 10 Houston* 56 0.0 0.0 0 Weighted Avg. of 55 markets* 33.2

The Antenna I Can’t Part With

The rumor was, the guy who designed the antenna, an MIT grad student whose name I won’t mention, was really working for the CIA. Having the ability to monitor local radio stations from afar… let’s say Albania from Turkey, for instance, was a valuable tool in the Cold War.

altazimuth_loop.jpgI was just up in the attic a few minutes ago. I was looking for something that was actually right next to me!

While there, I caught sight of the ‘thing’ in the photo to the left. As any fool can plainly see, it’s an NRC DIGFET Altazimuth loop&#185.

OK – what’s that? You’re entitled to know.

When I was growing up… in fact, until the early 70s, I was a BCB DXer. That’s a person who listens to distant stations on a plain AM radio.

I heard the easy ones easily. It was those stations between the stations, the really long hauls with weak signals, that interested me.

There was (actually there still is) a club for these dweeby shut-ins desperately trying to identify what they were hearing: the National Radio Club. Its DX News, published by volunteers pounding on manual typewriters, was my source of knowledge… albeit months old by the time it got to me.

The loop antenna made it possible to eliminate local stations, allowing the distant ones to come right in. I know it sounds impossible, but by turning the antenna to just the right angle, vector math nulled the strong signal.

The rumor was, the guy who designed the antenna, an MIT grad student whose name I won’t mention, was really working for the CIA. Having the ability to monitor local radio stations from afar… let’s say Albania from Turkey, for instance, was a valuable tool in the Cold War.

While working in Charlotte, NC at 50,000 watt WBT, I could turn the antenna to hear KFAB in Omaha. They were both on the same frequency, with KFAB purposely sending very little signal in my direction!

I used that antenna to listen to the Radio Dakar in Senegal on 764 kHz and the BBC on 1214 kHz from my dorm room at Emerson. The signals weren’t great and I didn’t really mind.

In Cleveland in the early 70s, I caught a station ID from KORL 650 kHz in Honolulu while WSM in Nashville was off-the-air for weekly transmitter maintenance. I only heard a few seconds, but they included a jingle for “People Power,” their talk format slogan at the time.

Since I wanted to be in radio, having this amazing antenna allowed me to listen to disk jockeys and radio stations not normally available.

The antenna still works. Until Major League Baseball began streaming games on the Internet, we used it to hear the Phillies on 1210 kHz, even though there’s a station here in Hamden on 1220 kHz!

I really have no use for my ugly antenna anymore. I do nearly no AM listening, and haven’t BCB DX’ed in years.

There’s not a chance I’ll throw it away. You might not understand why. I’m the only one who has to.

&#185 – NRC is National Radio Club. DIGFET is short for “dual inverted gate, field effect transistor.” It’s a low noise amplifier to increase the signal strength. Two were used in a push-pull configuration. Altazimuth referred to the antenna’s ability to turn and tilt in order to find the perfect spot to null out a station.

TV 2.0

I seldom do this, but it’s my blog! This entry is an explanation and expansion of a comment left in the previous entry by Mike Sechrist.


If anyone had any questions about the revolution going on in our business you just answered them. An interesting piece shot on a $30 camcorder and edited with software that can be found on most PC’s. It may say Meteorologist on the resume but you should add VJ underneath. I wish we could have seen the deli.

A little background on Mike. He hired me in New Haven 23 years ago. He was news director then, but later became a TV general manager, running WKRN in Nashville.

Mike is one of the biggest proponents of VJs, or video journalists. The whole VJ concept is based on the assumption technology allows greater productivity in TV without injuring the product. If a crew is one, rather than two, people, you can cover twice as many stories with the same number of people.

Of course, the fear within the universe of TV employees is, you can cover just as many stories with half the number of people… and what business wouldn’t cut their costs like that if they could?

I remember counting heads in the ABC control room, back when I used to fill-in on Good Morning America. There were better than a dozen folks on the payroll in the control room. I walked into our control room in New Haven on Friday night. Three! Technology at work.

I produced my little travelogue with a minimal amount of equipment. It was not broadcast quality, but it wasn’t terrible. And, for a motivated audience, where content is much more important than production values, my $30 camcorder is all that’s needed.

Mike worked hard to unlock the value of technology for his station. Going forward, I think the real value lies elsewhere. VJ type equipment can allow one or two people to produce narrowly focused, very salable content. Think of the show being the end product, not the station.

The example I often use is a fellow employee at the TV station who’s a prolific knitter. She’s got the skills necessary to produce a daily, weekly or even unscheduled video knitting show.

Unlike the conventional TV model, older content stays online forever (How many changes are there in knitting from year-to-year?), using search engines and word of mouth to attract new viewers along the way and providing a library of revenue producing programming. In computing parlance, this evergreen content is called ‘long tail.’

Because the programming would be narrowly focused, each viewer would likely be worth more to an advertiser (knitting needles, yarn, patterns, etc). The whole concept of comparing CPM for an ad buy is turned on its ear because there are so few wasted viewers.

To a certain extent PhotoshopTV is doing this now. So is or-live, which presents surgical procedures live and recorded on demand, on their website.

Programs like Diggnation or Rocketboom, which are more broadly aimed, do not fit my revenue model, even though they are using the technology as I picture it being used.

There is money to be made for specialists who can produce their own material. It could be a show on ham radio or child rearing or golf or any number of topics. Content rules! If there’s an connective interest and someone selling a product your audience might buy, the rest is academic!

Even better, distribution is much easier than TV or cable, since anyone can set up a website instantly&#185 and bandwidth costs continue to drop rapidly.

Startup costs for a TV station are in the millions… often tens of millions of dollars. Start up costs for these web narrowcasts can be in the thousands, though often, hundreds of dollars!

I’ve been toying around with an idea for a web show myself. All I need is a little motivation. I figure a half dozen episodes in the can should get me started. I already have everything I need to produce it at home!

That’s crazy, isn’t it? I already have everything I need at home.

&#185 – How instantly can you set up a site? My boss bought an iPhone and set up a website to go with it! If he’s spent $25 on the website, he’s gone overboard.

Attack Ads – I Hate Them More Than Ever

I understand political attack ads, because they do work. I wish it wasn’t so – it is. However, this election cycle, I’ve become more refined in my distaste for them, because so much of what I see is so obviously ‘half truthiness’ and facts presented way out of context.

I was watching an ad for a local poitico and wondering, if this is the respect shown me in public (I am trying so hard not to let on which politician this was), how much contempt is there in private? Remember, this ad is really targeted at me, not the opponent who seems to be the target!

And, again (repeating, because my prose looks a little convoluted today) this is based on the obvious half truths and out of context statements used to sell their candidacy.

Originally I thought, maybe if politicians were forced to speak on their own behalf while trashing their opponent, that might quell some of this vitriol. Nope. I watched just that scenario transpire yesterday and it was still reprehensible.

TV stations are by-and-large powerless to do much more than collect the money (not that they’re complaining about that). That doesn’t leave them off the hook for getting criticized, as my friend Mike writes is his blog from Nashville (talk about contentious political battles).

What can we do? I don’t want to see free speech thwarted. Candidates should be free to speak their minds, but is there no humanity? Must the singular pursuit of political office be so demeaning?

Here’s my ground rule on this post – comment, but no candidate names or political parties. I have an obligation to my actual employer to remain non-partisan and I will.

What To Do About Comments

I read my friend Mike’s blog&#185 and noticed all the comments he gets, and how he often responds. Usually that’s something I won’t do.

This will sound strange – I wanted to avoid starting a dialog with my readers. Why, you may ask? I’m not 100% sure.

Part of the reason, certainly, was because that makes it easier to disconnect my blog from my work. This blog has nothing to do with my work. Still, people comment from time-to-time and relate their comments to my work.

When people ask questions that relate to work, I’m in a tizzy. Let sleeping dogs lie, is my motto.

There’s also the question of how to respond to comments. If I write a personal note, you don’t see it here in context. If I respond online, I never know if the sender has seen it. There’s really no easy way to do both at once.

Like I said, I saw Mike’s blog, with comments answered, and decided to answer some tonight. We’ll see how it goes from here. There must be a happy medium somewhere.

&#185 – Mike is the general manager of the ABC affiliate in Nashville. He also hired me in Connecticut 22 years ago. We were both in elementary school then.

His blog is amazing because he is in a position of power and still writes entries that are freely spoken. Candor – that’s the word to describe his blog. He speaks with candor. He’s must reading for me.

One Man Television At The Network Level

A few weeks ago I wrote about my trip to Nashville to look into WKRN’s experiment with “Video Journalists.” One person, on his own, uses the latest technology to produce the kind of TV stories usually done by two or more people.

Tonight I’ve seen another example of one man television and it was fascinating. The show is Survivorman on Discovery/Science. This is a niche channel where huge audiences aren’t expected. The economics say programs have to be done on the cheap.

It would be tough to believe there’s anything on TV cheaper to produce than Survivoman!

I picked the show already in progress. The host, Les Stroud, was alone in the swamplands of Georgia’s Altahama River.

It was amazing, because Les really was living off the land. The video was gritty and the camera technique interesting. Instead of fixing a single camera or doing what most nature shows do… bring along an unseen cameraman who is never acknowledged, Les rolled multiple cameras at once.

The close in cameras were shooting very wide, allowing him to move objects into the frame. Other cameras were fixed on longer shots.

During the course of the show I saw Les catch, cook and eat a turtle and a snake. That did gross me out. It also let me more appreciate his real commitment to doing this reality show as a reality!

As the show progressed, Les became grungier. Unlike a ‘forced’ reality show, some problems, like the extreme overnight cold, righted themselves. There was no necessity to have problems build to a crescendo.

To make a real show about survival means being alone, running three to five cameras with all the set ups and tear downs, changing tapes, cleaning lenses, changing batteries and fixing gear ALONG WITH finding enough food and water to survive, building a shelter to protect from hypothermia, building a fire without matches. The camera work takes up about 65 percent of my time and the true survival leaves me filthy, wet, hungry and cold while I try to concentrate on good camera work and storytelling. It’s a heavy combination of tasks.

Considering I grew up in a New York City apartment, the show is a strange fit for me. Still, I’m hooked. The DVR is set to record the next one, Friday night.

HD For Me?

I had a chance to watch some HDTV while in Nashville last weekend. My friend Mike has the DirecTV HD service on a big, beautiful set. It was good, but I wasn’t blown away.

My guess is, in order to fit in all the HD local broadcasts from around the country, DirecTV has to compress the living you know what out of the signal. I don’t know that for sure, but I saw digital artifacts I didn’t expect to see and compression is a reasonable explanation.

The question is, should I upgrade to HDTV at home?

Note to Helaine: This is not a fishing expedition. As you will see, I’m really unsure.

When we bought our new TV for the family room, it came HD compatible. All I need do is get a tuner and voila, high definition. Comcast does provide an HD service… but is there enough on to justify even the small cost?

The big deal would be sports. Most of the other shows we watch are perfectly fine on the low def 4:3 analog world. Sports might be another story… though after yesterday’s Eagles game, a 5″ black and white model might suffice.

Then there’s the question of our DVR. The one we have now puts out ‘normal’ analog video. I checked Comcast’s website and didn’t find an HDTV DVR.

I’m going to have to go to Comcast to return the cable modem I am renting. I’ll ask, but I don’t think it’s time yet.

Why I Went to Nashville – What I Found

I had a great time on my three day trip to Nashville. My hosts were nicer to me than I could ever expect.

There was a reason I went. It was my curiosity about what’s going on at WKRN. It is a Petri dish for a change in local TV news.

As I said before, the most obvious change has been to combine photographer and reporter into a video journalist or VJ. In and of itself, VJs or “one man bands” have been around for a while.

My own boss in Connecticut pointed out he had done this at NY1 sometime late in the last century. Small market stations do it all the time to save money.

Early in his career, one of our anchors in Connecticut was a ‘one man band’ in South Carolina. He didn’t relish doing both jobs because he felt he couldn’t concentrate on reporting if he also had to concentrate on shooting.

Having VJs can increase the body count of cameras on the street. Here’s what Michael Rosenblum, the guru of this technique said in an interview at LostRemote.com.

In a typical TV newsroom, there may be 70-100 employees while fielding 5-6 Betacams. This is as insane as having a newspaper with 70 reporters but only owning 5 pencils. The cameras are the pencils — they are the thing we make TV with. The thing that is actually on the air. When you only field 5 camera crews every day, every story must make air. It makes people very conservative. Very nervous. We can’t take risks. We can’t ever fail. Good journalism requires the ability to take a risk and fail from time to time. Creativity requires the ability to take a risk and fail.

I expected this increase in cameras to be what I noticed first. It wasn’t. The difference in what they’re doing in Nashville that hit me has more to do with reporting technique than anything else… and that was the nuance of this concept I missed from Connecticut. They go out to shoot stories differently and certainly go about the editing process differently.

Michael Rosenblum: In 1988, I was a producer with CBS News. But the more I produced TV news in the conventional way, the more I felt like I was involved in some kind of fraudulent activity. Producer, Reporter, Cameraman, Soundman, Editor. There was no way to get close to any character and no way to spend time on any story. So I quit. I bought a small video camera and went to live with a family in a Palestinian Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip. I stayed there for a month shooting every day. Even though I had been a TV producer for years, I had never touched a video camera before. (Union rules). But it was not hard to learn, and in a few days, I had some pretty good stuff. And by living with the family, 24/7 I got their trust and got a kind of access and intimacy that you just can’t achieve in conventional TV.

I watched 3-4 stories that I know were done by former photographers (one was old enough to be my contemporary!). By and large, they were great. One, about a girl with cancer and her team’s support for her, nearly brought me to tears.

The stories were more personal, more close-up. I was impressed by the better use of natural sound, allowing people to speak their emotions. There was no dropoff in quality from using little DV cameras and laptop edit stations.

I wish I could say I missed the reporter involvement, but I didn’t. I’m not sure one day is enough to make that judgment and high profile reporters can often bring additional weight and credibility to a story.

I didn’t see much hard news done this way and I’m not sure if the technique can work as well. It might be, for harder news, two man crews still offer an advantage.

Watching a few newscasts, I didn’t come off with the feeling that something was different. However, there were differences I would have probably latched onto over time: less repetition and more stories covered from more locations. People complain about repetition and missed coverage now.

Is this the coming trend? Absolutely. There’s no way to hold this back over the long term.

The question will be more how to let it happen. There are unions (I am a member of AFTRA, for instance) and contracts with work rules. No one wants to be squeezed out. No one wants to be marginalized. No one wants to be made less important or earn less money. Certainly no one wants to lose their job.

What is the obligation from company to employee, or employee to company, after a relationship of years or decades?

Though WKRN hasn’t cut back on staff while transitioning to this technology, it has to be something managers and owners look at. Certainly Michael Rosenblum, the force behind all this makes his disdain for our large legacy TV operations known.

This is a trend I will follow with great interest. But, like I said, whether I end up liking it or not, it will come. It can’t be stopped.

Enter The Cable Guy

Last night as I was leaving Nashville, as my laptop, wallet, belt, shoes and other personal belongings were in three plastic trays ready to be x-rayed, my cellphone started ringing&#185. I reached into the machine, pulled out the cellphone and answered.

Helaine was calling. She had just returned from Atlantic City. The cable modem was out, again. Did I have a quick fix?

I couldn’t talk then, but I was so flustered I walked through the magnetometer still holding the phone! Beep!

There was nothing I could tell Helaine that would allow her to regain service. This has become a nagging problem, getting worse by the day. Luckily, the cable guy (how much must they hate Jim Carrey for that movie) was scheduled to be here this morning.

Helaine woke me when he got to the house. He was about 12 (OK – he was in his mid-20s) but seemed knowledgeable and confident. I have yet to meet the first Comcast employee who has disappointed me. That’s why, even though this problem persists, I have not been overly angry.

First stop was upstairs to my office. With Steffie gone, it is the only room in the house that looks like it’s been ransacked.

I fired up the PC and he looked at the diagnostic screens from the cable modem. As with toothaches, having the cable guy scheduled is normally enough to make the problem go away. Our signal was low, though acceptable.

I explained how this was an intermittent problem, seemingly weather related. He looked further. Then he went outside.

When I next saw him, he was up on the pole outside the house, tools in hand, crimping a connector on a piece of RG-8U cable.

The connector on the pole (15 years old) had signs of corrosion. He would replace that and then, run a totally separate line which would only serve my cable modem. He’d need to drill a hole in my basement wall, which was fine with me.

It didn’t take long. Pretty soon we were back upstairs take measurements. There was a huge improvement.

A cable modem is pretty much all or nothing. If it has enough signal, you’re going to get all the speed promised. If you don’t have enough signal, you get nothing.

But, as I said, this was an intermittent problem. The jury is still out.

&#185 – No phone actually rings anymore. Mine plays the ABC Contemporary Network news logo from the 60s and 70s.

Another Perfect Day In Nashville

IF I ever say I want to play golf with you – say no. Do not encourage me.

I’m not sure I want to say anymore, except, in a fair and just society, some law enforcement entity would swoop down on my house, take my clubs and burn them – publicly.

I am not exaggerating. This is not hyperbole. I should not be allowed on a golf course.

‘Nuff said.

The rest of the day was very nice, including a drive around the Nashville ‘burbs. There are a boatload of new, huge, beautiful homes going up. I guess I was surprised to see that.

Tennessee, with no state income tax and labor laws that favor business, has become a mecca for economic growth.

My hosts, Mike and Patty, have been more than nice to me. I called Helaine on the phone and told her, if they keep this up I might try to get myself adopted.

Hey From Nasvhille

I’m bushed. Long day. Saw lots. Will talk about it all… just not right now.

First, a little about the trip. No problem at all getting to the airport. I was early.

As I went through the TSA screening, Tom, the screener recognized me. He gave me the line about being wrong as often as me and still getting paid.

He meant it good naturedly… but he’s the TSA screener. If I would have jabbed back he could have sent me to wherever they do full cavity searches. Tom got a pass from me.

In the terminal there is normally wireless Internet access. I couldn’t find it. I’m guessing it’s my computer, but it doesn’t make any difference. I wanted to check my mail.

I am spoiled, aren’t I?

Having gotten my boarding pass the day before got me into “Group A.” On Southwest, this is a good thing. You board first and pick out your seat. I went for 2D, on the aisle.

It was a good news/bad news seat.

I tried to catch a nap as the plane took off (Hartford – Nashville – Phoenix – Burbank) and slept for a little while, but the woman behind me needed to get up and couldn’t because my seat was back. I never got back to sleep.

I did read the Southwest in-flight magazine. Here’s what I learned in an ad from the Las Vegas Hilton. This is a direct quote from their ad.

Barry Manilow is a registered trademark of Hastings, Clayton and Tucker, Inc.

Uh… shouldn’t Bary Manilow be a registered trademark of Bary Manilow?

I could look into this, but I’m nearly convinced not knowing is more fun than knowing!

Kudos to flight attendant “Duane” (his words – “a thorn among roses”), who seeing I was now awake, came back to my seat to offer me a drink even though he had completed the beverage service.

Southwest, Duane is what you’re all about. I hope you read this.

I said earlier my seat was good and bad. Good because it was so close to the front (I was actually first off the plane), bad because it put me near the screaming kid in 1A!

Obviously, the screaming kid knew how to throw his voice, because it seemed neither of his parents could hear him. God bless Steffie. She was always perfectly behaved in public – even as an infant.