Friday, October 31, 2014

More Television Stuff

I've wondered for some time when color television was developed. More importantly, when did it become commonplace and when did my family get our first color TV?

I think the first time I ever saw a color TV was in the mid '60s at a J.C. Penney's in Santa Ana, CA. I remember walking by it and my mom pointing at it and saying, "I want one of those". Funny thing is, I don't recall being as baffled by that TV as I've been over other tech developments. And I can't remember when we bought the first one.

Another funny thing is I remember watching what were likely black and white TV shows as if they were in color- the Ed Sullivan Show being an exception. I still remember seeing The Beatles on that show the first time in black and white. But other shows- The Monkees being one that comes to mind- I remember in color, even though someone pointed out here a while back that show was probably in black and white at the time. Maybe because of reruns that were colorized?

We might have got our first color TV in the mid- 60s when we lived in Tustin, or maybe we bought it a bit later when we lived in Irvine. My memory on that is confused as I'm pretty sure I saw some black and white shows when we lived in Irvine in the early '70s.

I was surprised to read on Wikepedia that color TV was actually developed in the '50s although not being widely sold until the mid- 60s. Maybe we did get our first one in the '60s but I remember watching black and white TV shows long after that. In fact, I still have my small, black and white, portable broadcast TV that I used for years after I moved up here (similar to the picture). I was watching black and white on that into the early '80s, I believe.
I've also wondered when we first got cable TV? Seems to me I remember adjusting the antennas on the TV we had in Irvine. That, and placing a fork or spoon on just the right spot on the top of the set to optimize reception. I don't know if we ever had cable while we lived there, but it would seem in a new development, as Irvine was then, we might have been among the first to get such a thing.

Wikipedia says cable TV first became available in this country in 1948(wtf?), with the first commercial systems being developed in the '50s.

I believe the first time I subscribed to cable was in the early '80s when I lived on Trinity Street in Myrtletown. It was Cox Cable back then and was probably around $18.00 a month. Still black and white, though, as I only had a black and white TV.
Then there's the Video Cassette Recorder, now on its way to the dustbin of history if not already there (although we still have a VHS recorder hooked up to our TV). Wikipedia tells us those were developed in the mid '50s. That doesn't surprise me.

I was surprised, though, when I started seeing those "instant replays" on sports shows. I'd be baffled. How the hell can they do that, I'd be wondering? Up until then you had to make a movie, take it to be developed and then run it through a projector. I had no idea how you could replay something right away as they'd learned how to do.

That was probably in the late '70s. Not long after that the first commercial VCRs started becoming available but they were pricey. I had a friend at work who was a big TV fan. He bought himself one right away for around $700.00- a sizable amount of money at the time. It didn't take long, though, for the prices to come down. Not six months after that I ended up buying my first VCR.  

I was living in Myrtletown at the time. I watched a fair amount of TV but some things I wanted to watch just weren't on when I wasn't working. I'd seen the old movie Clash of the Titans advertised but it was never on when I had a chance to watch it. I decided just for the heck of it to rent a VCR just to record and watch that movie. Just seemed like a fun thing to do. I'd make a party out of it.

On Myrtle Avenue and McFarland where those two domes are, that used to be the Video Connection. They rented Beta video tapes and machines. I wasn't planning on buying one right then, just renting. I went down there and noticed they had a couple machines for sale at around $250.00. Still a bit pricey, but a lot less than my friend paid for his.

I got to thinking and realized I could pay off that machine in a month or two. I went ahead and bought it, thus beginning a rather fun run of recording and watching videos with that VCR. I paid that off real fast and my TV loving friend was still trying to pay off the one he bought for a lot more.

Funny thing about that VCR, in thinking back about it. I had no problem hooking it up to my old TV after I bought it. Simple stuff that took less than five minutes. Nowadays, I'm totally lost in trying to hook up a DVR to our TV. Had to have a nephew come over and hook it up for us last time. Maybe it's an age thing?

Sheriff John's Lunch Brigade

A downside to the Winchell- Mahoney Show was it didn't start until school was over each day. That left me bored to tears the many times I stayed home from school faking illness, or the handful of times I really was. 

Nothing on TV at all, at least for a kid, except for Sheriff John's Lunch Brigade. I'd go nuts having to wait for his show to start. But start it did around lunchtime if memory serves. I always thought it weird seeing a Sheriff without a gun. Then again, Andy of Mayberry rarely carried a gun, either. 

Good cartoon show. Only wished it was on twice as long. Why I'd fake being sick to stay home from school for an hour or so of Sheriff John is still beyond me. I was too young to get into the soap operas.

Interesting info from Sheriff John's Wikipedia entry: The guy who played Sheriff John, John Rovick, came up with the idea for the show himself. He was also a radio operator and gunner in bombers during World War 2. He survived 50 missions, something few men did. He died in Boise, Idaho in October 2012.

It's Winchell-Mahoney Time!

Hooray! Hurrah! It's Winchell- Mahoney Time. It's Winchell- Mahoney Time! It's time for fun!

Only you older folks likely remember that. It was the theme song for the Winchell- Mahoney Show. Something on TV the other night reminded me of it. It was a cartoon show I watched back in the '60s. You had the ventriloquist, Paul Winchell, and his two dummies Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff (I always thought it was Smith). 

They did the show before a live audience of young kids- my age or younger. There would be some slapstick back and forth between Winchell, Mahoney and Smiff, but I watched it for the cartoons. Even back then I think I found ventriloquist dummies creepy. 

I hadn't realized until I read Paul Winchell's Wikipedia entry what a career he'd had. I only knew of him as the guy who made those creepy dummies talk. I had no idea he was also an inventor and invented the first mechanical artificial heart. He died in Los Angeles in June 2005.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Colorado: Legal Pot Catching Up With Illegal?

Reason magazine takes a look at the competition between legal and black market pot dealers in Colorado. Their conclusion seems to be that legal dealers are becoming so much more efficient and cost effective, that they'll soon be able to compete with the still existing black market.

I'm skeptical. I still feel government (and people in general) won't be able to resist taxing marijuana as high as they can, just as they do with tobacco, alcohol and pretty much everything else. I would think the black market will always be able to beat that, never mind being able to grow your own.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mad River Union: NO on P

The Mad River Union published their recommendations for the November election. They're only recommending in the Arcata City Council race and Measures P and Z.

I liked the way they put together their NO recommendation on P.  About the only problem I see is they used a lot of words to pretty much write what I already have about the measure: It's a solution in search of a problem. Still, the extra words were a fun read.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Sun Caused Outage?

Most of us have heard of the communications outage of last night that affected cell phones and internet, among other things. Latest word is it's being blamed on a cell tower problem. It didn't seem to bother us at our house

What we have had problems with lately is satellite TV. For at least the last week, maybe longer, we've had intermittent interruptions of some TV shows on Dish Network. Jeopardy was the most noticeable. All of the sudden it would freeze up for a few seconds. Kinda like when you're watching a video online and it just stops, except the picture would eventually get all broken up.

Last night it seemed to come to a head, strangely enough when the other outages were happening. At least two channels went black. Eventually a message showed up saying they were aware of the problem and were working on it. 

I wondered earlier on if it might have something to do with solar flares, or something along that line? After reading about this big sunspot and its resulting solar flares, I'm wondering if maybe it did have something to do with the sun? Anybody else have problems with satellite TV lately?

Monday, October 27, 2014

An Eyewitness Accuses

From the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat: A 24 year old man from Sonoma County has been released from jail and charges of kidnapping and rape dismissed. He was facing a potential life sentence. His cellphone records proved the victim/ accuser made up the story of him raping her. She had actually set up the meeting, apparently with sex in mind. Whether she'll be prosecuted, who knows?

Here's the story of the original arrest with Disqus comments included. There's a few "Oak tree, rope" type comments but most seem pretty mild compared to what I usually see when anyone is arrested on sex related charges.

You have to wonder how many similar situations and accusations have resulted in convictions when the "suspect" either didn't have cellphone records to back up his story, or didn't have the means to have his case investigated thoroughly? If it wasn't for this guy's cellphone records, he probably would have been convicted on the accuser's testimony and the physical evidence.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Craigslist Political Blogging

I've always been amused at some of the postings I've seen in the Craigslist local Politics and Local News and Views sections. As of late, though, it looks like those sections are giving our local bloggers a run for their money as far as hard- hitting commentary goes.

This one, posted Sunday, claims the Lost Coast Outpost is giving the Sheriff's Office the IP addresses of those making comments. He(?) claims Sheriff's deputies visited him after he made a negative comment about their anti- pot activities.

This one, posted Monday, claims city council candidates Chet Albin and Mike Newman are in cahoots with low life, ambulance chaser Jason Singleton of disability lawsuit infamy. They want to shut down more Eureka businesses.

He seems to really dislike local blogger, John Chiv. He goes after John Chiv in this second post from Monday. 

He doesn't like Rex Bohn either, according to this post, especially if he's in the company of John Chiv.

And from today's post, we find out the Lost Coast Outpost has aligned with Humboldt Citizens for Property Rights in a conspiracy to keep tourists away.

The ones above were from Local News and Views. He cross posted some of those to the Politics section, but this original one from Wednesday exposes the Lost Coast Outpost as a front for conservative voices including local "conservative"(?), Alan Dolllson.

Hard to compete with that sort of stuff, huh? He keeps this up he might run the rest of us local bloggers out of business (gulp!).

Obamacare Renewed

I wrote earlier this week about receiving notice from Anthem/ Blue Cross that it was time to renew my Covered California (Obamacare) health insurance plan. I had two main concerns: Why do I need to renew and what happens if I don't? Also, their cover letter seemed to suggest my monthly payment had been raised from $71.01 to $116.00. Are they really raising it that high so quickly?

I got another letter in the mail a couple days ago from Covered California. Basically it also said it was time to renew but, after giving all sorts of facts and figures, said if I didn't go to their web site and renew I'd automatically be renewed anyway. Naturally, I couldn't just let that go. I had to go see what the renewal process was if for nothing more than curiosity.

I went to the Covered California web site this morning only to find the same poorly done (imo) web page I experienced signing up at the beginning of the year. Tables overlaid over explanatory text and confusing navigation instructions, but I logged in and found my way in spite of that. After going back and forth a few times, checking a few boxes confirming one thing or another and signing with my digital signature, I guess I renewed my plan. No confirmation e-mail yet.

About the only thing of interest I found was one place where it gave a general description of my health care plan plus my monthly premium and the subsidy. The listed my monthly premium as $61 and change- about $10.00 less than I've been paying. Will I be paying the $61 next year, or the $116 that was mentioned in the Anthem/ Blue Cross letter? Only time will tell.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

CalPers Can't Understand?

Reason magazine reports how folks at the California Public Employee Retirement System are baffled that some aren't happy with their latest manipulation of public employee pay. Governor Brown attempted earlier on to at least slow down pension spiking- the practice of adding any number of various bonuses and such to their total pay thus giving the employee more for retirement. 

CalPers rose to the occasion by categorizing the bonuses and other perks as base pay so they could continue to use them to count towards their pensions. Goes to show relief for underfunded pensions doesn't seem anywhere in sight, especially since the state legislature doesn't want to touch the issue.

Interesting factoid in the article:

"The Times notes that pension contributions from the state and municipal governments within California have jumped from $1.9 billion to $8.1 billion in 10 years. That’s not even getting into the massive problem of growing health care costs for government employees."

Fullerton's Minimum Wage Plan

I see John Fullerton sent his alternative plan for a minimum wage increase in as a letter to the editor of the North Coast Journal. Good to see I'm not giving away any secrets. I saw it earlier on the No On Measure R Facebook page.

Here is his plan for a "responsible" local minimum wage increase. My comments follow:

1) Any increase MUST be countywide and not discriminate against any one city. 

 2) My plan would have two rates. The lower one would be the rate mandated by the State of Calif (currently $9 per hour). That rate would be for the following groups; A) Workers under age 21. This would help them get their first job. B) Tipped employees. Ex; waiters and waitresses, most of whom make more in tips than in salaries. C) Employees in their first six months on the job. This helps employers train new employees. 

3) The higher rate will be for everybody else and be phased in. $ 10 per hour starting January 1st, 2015 $ 11 per hour starting January 1st 2016 $ 12 per hour starting January 1st 2017 This will give the local economy time to adjust and not cost so many job losses. 

4) Finally I would give employers a credit for their cost of any health insurance or retirement plans they give employees. This would help encourage employers to offer health insurance & retirement plans to employees and doesn't that help everybody ? 

It is certainly better thought out than Measure R, but I'm not onboard and wouldn't support it. Just a few reasons:

#1. Even some opposed to Measure R say they'd support it if it applied countywide and not just in Eureka. As far as I'm concerned the objections to Measure R still stand if applied to the entire county. Humboldt County as a whole is a depressed area. I see nothing good in dragging the whole county down instead of just Eureka. 

#2. I like that he has a two tiered wage that recognizes minimum wage jobs as entry level positions. Having the option for a lower minimum for those new to the workforce makes it easier for younger folks to get that first job.

However, it doesn't take into account older, less skilled folks like myself that might need a job to make ends meet when we're no longer able to continue what we've been doing. That makes it harder to find a job if you're over 21, especially so if you're in your 50s or older.

Oh, and there seems to be no accommodation for non- profits which often rely heavily on minimum wage workers. Probably just an oversight?

#3. Whatever, although I maintain the state already raised the minimum wage this year and will raise it again January 1. That should suffice.

#4. The idea of employer credits is a good one regardless of, and even without, any minimum wage increases.

Fullerton finished by saying we need to defeat Measure R first, then work on getting a county wide measure. I agree with defeating Measure R, but I'll vote against a county wide measure as well. 

I do appreciate that he stepped up to the plate and offered an alternative after being challenged by Measure R supporters for one.