Aug 25, 2017

OTA vs. Cable

Satellite and cable TV companies have massive networks, carrying 100s of channels to millions of customers. To effectively service these customers, they use digital compression technologies to shrink the size of the signal, allowing more channels to fit on the cable. When compressing the signal, some of the original data is lost. The result is the picture on your TV loses sharpness and detail.

We have been accustomed to cable and with no comparison, the picture we see is presumed to be the best that can be put out by our TV screen. Many channels are not even delivered in 1080p as we presume. They are still delivered as 720p. The only reason pictures look better is that the new flat screen TVs are adept at up-scaling the signal to make it look better (even though it is not as good as it could be).

OTA means Over The Air. It is difficult to compare the new TV antennas with the old rabbit ears, because the rabbit ears were analog and the new antennas are digital. Using an antenna to pick up a signal over the air provides an uncompressed signal directly to your TV. The results are significantly noticeable and better than cable. A few friends and I have recently added antennas and comparing the picture is as easy as clicking on the input to go from cable to OTA. In every case on each TV the resulting picture is remarkably better with an antenna.

Incidentally, if your cable package blacks out some sports, pick up an antenna, just for game day. They are cheap and can be easily hung on a wall or in a window with a pin or sticky tape. Also great if you want to watch TV out by the patio or pool, no extra wiring, just drag out your TV and attach an antenna.

Alphabet Facts

The word alphabet is derived from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta. We owe our own alphabet to the Phoenicians. Their 22 letter alphabet had no vowels, but it was used as the basis of the ancient Greek alphabet, which in turn was adapted by the Romans, and is essentially the same as the one we use today.

A sentence that contains all 26 letters of the alphabet is called a pangram.

Ernest Vincent Wright's novel Gadsby: Champion of Youth (1939) - a story of more than 50,000 words in which the letter ‘e’ never appears. George Perec’s novel La Disparition (1969) which doesn’t contain the letter ‘e’. Its English translation, A Void by Gilbert Adair, also avoids using the letter ‘e’ which is the most common letter in both languages.

Wordology, Fulsome

By far, its most common use is in the expression “fulsome praise,” which would seem like a good thing. The word sounds positive, drawing mental associations to “full” and “wholesome.” At one point, this was exactly what the word meant.

Then Samuel Johnson, considered the father of the English dictionary came along. He and Noah Webster thought that the word “fulsome,” which mostly held a positive connotation for hundreds of years (meaning “copious” or “abundant”), drew its roots from the word “foul” and “fulsome” gained its negative connotation. Many have fought and continue to fight for its original use, even as far back as 1868.

The word simultaneously retains both definitions, and even former president Barack Obama used the word in its much older, positive sense. He came under some scrutiny for that and for the fact that he misused “enormity.” It is another word that may create an entirely new definition, because people incorrectly associate it with size.

“Fulsome praise” usually means “disgustingly over-the-top and insincere praise, but some have assumed its meaning to be more positive.

Hispanic vs. Latino

Many people use the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" interchangeably, they actually have different meanings. There is significant overlap between the terms, but their differences may make only one term correct in certain circumstances.

Hispanic and Latino are often mistakenly used to refer to race or color. Instead, these terms actually describe ethnicity.

Hispanic is a term that focuses on language and describes the culture and people of areas formerly ruled by the Spanish Empire. The common thread among Hispanics is the shared common language of Spanish. This would include areas such as Mexico, Central America, and most of South America.

Latino (or Latina for females), on the other hand, focuses on geography and describes people of Latin American descent. This would include countries in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and North America whose people speak Romance languages, such as Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.

Based upon those definitions, it's easy to see how much overlap there is between the terms Hispanic and Latino. To make things more confusing, the term "Hispanic" comes from the Latin word for "Spain," while Latino comes from the Spanish word for "Latin."

To see where the two terms differ, consider the people of Brazilian descent. Since the people of Brazil speak Portuguese rather than Spanish, they would be considered Latino but not Hispanic.

So, the terms have much overlap, but they are not completely interchangeable. Hispanics and Latinos generally choose not to use either term. Instead, most prefer to be referred to simply as Americans or by their family's national origin, such as Mexican-American, Cuban-American, etc.

Today, there are more than 56 million Hispanic and Latino people in the United States, over 17% of the US population.


On stage 'dead' actors involuntarily laughing is such a big problem, that in British theater it is known as 'corpsing'. This has become generalized to any situation where an actor laughs inappropriately; any time you see a reference to an actor "corpsing", it means they ruined the shot by laughing.

Wordology, Terminal Velocity

You close your eyes and jump. You feel yourself in free fall, hurtling toward Earth, open your eyes and see the ground slowly getting closer. You seem to be picking up speed as you fall and soon you hit terminal velocity. It is the velocity at which you stop accelerating. It describes a physical reality based upon Newton's First Law of Motion.

When an object falls freely through a medium, such as water or air, the force of gravity pulls it toward Earth. As the object falls, its velocity increases as it accelerates toward Earth.

Gravity is not the only force working on the object. Air molecules collide with the falling object, pushing it upward against gravity. Scientists call this force air resistance. As the velocity of the falling object increases, so does air resistance.

Eventually, air resistance will equal the weight of the object in free fall. When this occurs, the object reaches terminal velocity. This means the falling object has reached its maximum velocity. The object will continue to fall at the same speed (terminal velocity) for the remainder of its free fall, until it hits Earth or a parachute opens.

Terminal velocity can be affected by a few different factors. For example, a heavier object will generally have a higher terminal velocity and a smaller surface area will have a higher terminal velocity than a larger surface area.

Most skydivers reach a terminal velocity of about 125 miles per hour. Experienced skydivers who streamline their bodies during free fall have reached speeds of over 200 miles per hour.

During October, 2012, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped from a helium balloon in the stratosphere, twenty four miles above Earth. Because the atmosphere at that height is so thin, there is next to no air resistance at the beginning of the free fall. This allows the skydiver to reach a much higher terminal velocity before encountering Earth's normal atmosphere far below.

On Baumgartner's skydive, he reached an estimated top speed of approximately 843.6 miles per hour.

Aug 18, 2017

Happy Friday

If you worry about What Was or What Will Be, you miss What Is.

Get up and decide What Is is time to celebrate a Happy Friday!

Total Solar Eclipse

A total solar eclipse is happening on August 21, 2017, and for the first time in nearly a hundred years, it will be visible from much of the continental US. In the US, the eclipse will appear to move across the country from West to East, with the best view starting around 9:05 a.m. PDT in Lincoln Beach, Oregon, according to NASA, and moving southeast throughout the day to end around Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 pm EDT.

It is true that you should not look directly at it with your naked eyes, because the sun delivers more power than our eyes are designed to handle, and it will damage your retinas. Not likely to make you blind, but could cause serious ongoing problems.
In Dallas, the Partial Eclipse begins Aug 21 at 11:40 am. The moon touches the Sun's edge Maximum Eclipse at 1:09 pm. The moon is closest to the center of the Sun. The Partial Eclipse ends at 2:39 pm.
When the moon passes between Earth and the sun, and scores a bull’s eye by completely blotting out the sunlight, that is a total solar eclipse. The moon casts a shadow on our planet. The total eclipse will last up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds in places. A partial eclipse will be visible along the periphery.

Below are site links to see the eclipse online. In addition to the links below, you can check YouTube, which also promises live viewing.

National Spumoni Day

August 21 is National Spumoni Day in the United States. Go out and eat some great Spumoni ice cream while watching the eclipse. It will make you happy.