NOTHING BUT TV AND MIRRORS
the early years of this century, it occurred to me that it made
little economic sense for businessmen from Chicago, Boston, and San
Diego to board three separate flights and travel to Fresno just so
they could all sit around someone's conference table for an hour.
not construct a standardized TV studio in each of those cities,
hooking them up to form a virtual conference table? My
proposal is this month's 100 Moons article.
course, in the 16 years since I dreamed up this concept, broadband
Internet has eliminated the need for it. Now those businessmen
can hold virtual face-to-face meetings on their laptops.
participated in such a conference myself. Most of it worked.
the concept of simulating presence with mirrors has been finding
some success in the field of entertainment, resurrecting deceased
singers via on-stage holograms
that aren't actually holograms in the technical sense.
there's a half-transparent mirror suspended at an angle over the
orchestra pit. It should be very unobtrusive, but I've outlined
it here in red.
the floor of that pit, hidden from the audience, CGI footage of the
performer is displayed. It may come from a projector overhead,
tinted here in green. Then the mirror reflects the image toward
the audience so the performer appears to be standing on the darkened
portion of the stage.
an update of basic Pepper's Ghost theater magic that was
developed in the 19th century.
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE HORIZON
I'm using my computer I never doze off, because I'm constantly
typing or mousing.
a different story while I'm passively watching TV. Often,
after half an hour or so, I'll begin closing my eyes and just
listening. Before I know it, I'm asleep.
doesn't happen if I'm really interested in how the story turns
out. A fictional murder mystery usually won't do it for me, but
being technologically minded, I am fascinated by those hour-long
programs probing airplane crashes. What happened? Was
icing a problem? Where are the black-box recorders?
a combination of factors turns out to be at fault. But before
the investigators isolate the true causes, they must rule out a
number of red herrings. Was it wind shear? Did the
spoiler actuators fail? Is there a glitch in the autopilot
software? Did the ground crew load 8,000 pounds of fuel instead
of 8,000 kilograms? Was there poor communication between the
pilot and the co-pilot? (Some of this reminds me of problems we
have inside a TV production truck.)
example, when an American-built airliner flipped upside down and
fell out of the sky, part of the mystery's solution turned out to be
the artificial horizon or Attitude
Indicator. While flying through clouds, the distracted
Russian-trained pilot must have glanced at his instruments and
misinterpreted the AI.
a plane is slowly banking more and more to the right, as seen from
someone following along behind the plane, a Russian pilot would
expect his AI to depict that view.
on a Western aircraft, the AI simulates what the pilot would see
through his windshield if there were no clouds. The black
airplane symbol doesn't rotate; instead, the blue-and-brown horizon
Russian pilot glancing at the bottom AI, where the black symbol
remains level, might instinctively think that his actual plane is
still in straight and level flight.
of these TV programs eventually tells what corrective actions have
been taken to prevent future crashes. Aircraft manufacturers,
standardize your instruments! Airlines, train your pilots
better! (Or, in many cases, go out of business.) But
those fixes are only revealed in the final 30 seconds, during the credits.
just run across a copy of a letter I wrote exactly 45 years ago, in
which I reported that I enjoy watching Nova on PBS
because of the rapidity with which the viewer can follow through an
investigation. The program presents a puzzle, such as how do
homing pigeons home, and then shows a series of experiments that have
the puzzle mostly solved by the end of the show. Very satisfying.
other programs don't hold my attention like that. Therefore, I
have other tricks to stay awake.
example, below and to the left of my main TV I have two smaller
screens that can show different channels. During dull spots or
commercials, I check them out. I can even channel-surf each of
them independently from the main screen. At least I'm doing
something, even though it's only pushing a button on the remote.
recently I've discovered that I will pay closer attention if I mute
the sound. To tell what's going on, I must read the closed captioning.
extra task keeps me glued to the screen, eyes wide open, all the way
to the end.
16, 2020 MEMORIES
Jennings is now officially the greatest Jeopardy! player
ever, having won the recently-completed tournament on ABC-TV against
two other celebrated champions.
I've never met Ken in person, he once sent me an autographed copy of
his first book. (Best of luck in all your trivial
pursuits was the inscription. There was a slight
additional fee for this service, of course.)
also listen to him with John Roderick on their Omnibus
podcast, where it's obvious that Ken has a very quick mind. But
he's 45 years old now, and that quickness is beginning to fade!
of the reasons why I really wanted to enjoy this Greatest Of All
Time tournament is because I don't think I have that many left.
I'm starting to see that I'm 15 years older than when I went on Jeopardy!
My recall is not quite as good as it was. I find myself not
being able to remember names as fast as I used to. And Alex, he
wants an answer now. He'll give you a couple seconds, but then,
he's not going to wait for you.
almost 30 years older than Ken, and my ability to recall names is
also starting to slip. Not long ago I had to ask a colleague
for the last name of a long-time local newspaper sports columnist,
white hair, humorous, first name Gene. Collier was
the answer. I have no trouble remembering it now. My
brain has created an additional link to allow me to access it, as
it's the same as the name of a township out near the airport.
week I briefly encountered the name of a late actor but then lost it
again. All I could recall was that there was a D in there
somewhere. Finally I pulled out my phone and said four words to
Google Assistant: Cast members The Munsters.
Immediately the Assistant mentioned a couple, one of whom was Fred
Gwynne. Aha! Now if I want to recall his name I simply
remember that his first name ends with D, and the rest of the letters
going to have to keep my Assistant handy from now on.
DO YOU SEE WINGS ON ME?
is a friendly young man with an unusual problem. He's too
kind. For some reason, he's perceived to be a miracle-worker.
Elroy meets a new person, the stranger sometimes thinks he's an
angel of the Lord or even the Lord Himself!
tells his story in Elroy
YOU ARE CORRECT, SIR
ago when I was a freshman in college, if someone agreed with a
statement they would often say This is true. But
nowadays I keep hearing You are not wrong.
can't keep up with all these trendy changes to our language!
Whatever happened to I concur? Or True
dat? Or Yes indeedy?
THROWBACK SHORT-COURT SPORT
I attended high school in Richwood, Ohio, our parquet basketball
floor measured only 76 feet between the walls at either end.
That's eight feet less than a regulation high-school court.
After a basket, a red line
temporarily shortened the layout to 70 feet so that an inbounding
player would have room to stand. His teammates, needing to
cross the ten-second line,
were required to bring the ball forward merely 31 feet a
42-foot maneuver elsewhere.
I wrote earlier, our
team got accustomed to the tiny backcourt. When we had to go
on the road and play on a full-size floor, it was tough to bring the
ball all the way up across the midcourt line. If the other team
played a pressing defense, they could force the Tigers into a lot of
backcourt turnovers. Conversely, when Indian Lake High School
visited our little gym, they ate it up. They scored over a
hundred points on us that night: two quick passes and a shot,
again and again.
soon as I graduated in 1965, my school was consolidated into the new
North Union district. Before long our Tigers (now the Wildcats)
had a new building with a full-size gym.
forward to the present day. The North Union head coach, Brian
Terrill, has a favorite sports movie: Hoosiers. In
scenes filmed in 1985 at Hinkle Field House in Indianapolis (where I
once worked a telecast
for CBS), the fictional Hickory H.S. Huskers play for the state championship.
their small-town home court is represented by a tiny gym in
Knightstown, Indiana. Actual high school games were played
there from 1921 to 1966, but the court is four feet shorter than
Richwood's! There's so little room on the sidelines that the
team benches are located beneath the backboards.
Terrill noted that the Hoosier
Gym is available for rental and hosts 80 high school basketball
games every year. Yearning to coach there, he persuaded a
nearby Union County rival to move their scheduled game into the next state.
High School opted to make the 150-mile bus trip on Saturday morning,
December 28. They played the game that afternoon and returned
home the same evening.
with classes not in session for the holidays, North Union decided to
turn the adventure into a whole weekend. They traveled Friday,
stayed two nights, and returned on Sunday.
to Tim Miller of the Marysville Journal-Tribune, The
Wildcats have become more of a defensive pressing squad than in
previous campaigns under Terrill. We've been
experimenting with different presses and seeing how they work against
different breakers, he said. We've got the
quickness and the depth to do that.
photos by Sam Dillon, MJT
the first half, Fairbanks (in white) had little trouble breaking the
press. But eventually North Union wore down the opposition.
Union's pressing defense began to cause a lot of problems for its
southern county rival. Fairbanks had trouble maintaining
possession of the ball, and NU converted those miscues into
quoted Fairbanks coach Justin George: North Union played
big and physical, especially during the second half, on a more
compact floor. That gave them the advantage with their press.
Union won 52-31, improving its record to 6-0. Preston Crabtree
and Zach Vernon combined for half of the Wildcats' scoring.
5, 2015 GOOGLE
the early days of Internet search engines, users vied to find a
phrase that returned one and only one hit.
done it! If you take the last two words of my post
from New Years Day (enclosed in quotes to specify that the
words have to appear consecutively) and Google that phrase, you get a
single result. Im the only one in the world whos
ever put those words together!
JANE A., JANE E., & ANOTHER A.
the Little Women movie appeared recently, I was surprised to
learn that it begins in New England during the Civil War. It's
based on a book which I had assumed was set in Olde England
during an earlier social milieu.
what did I know? I'm
a guy. Never having read any 19th-century novels by female
authors, not even Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818), I can't
keep their fiction straight.
had confused these three:
Charlotte Brontë (1847)
Louisa May Alcott
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