Deb's Monthly Review
bullet January 2000 bullet

Festivals for Travelers, Sites of the Month, Special Feature, Quotes, Opinions, Rants, Praises.
Unless otherwise noted, opinions are solely that of the editor.

Special Quote
"Our Age of Anxiety is, in great
part, the result of trying to do
today's jobs with yesterday's tools."
--Marshall McLuhan
divider To parents, teachers, and other guardians of children:
The Review is a place where adults or kids should be able
to stop by and browse.
But, remember - I have no control over outside links.
For happiest results, please surf the Web with your kids!


The Artsy Site
Of The Month:

Movierama Upcoming Releases
Release dates of upcoming mainstream films.

Personal Home Page
Of The Month:

SarahB's Home Page
Genealogy, farm life, more.

Web Page Design Site
Of The Month:

GIF Animation Archive
Animations for personal pages.

Seasonal Site
Of The Month:

The Albert Schweitzer Page
This January marks the 125th anniversary
of his birth.

Just Fun Site
Of The Month:

Ross Mernyk's Swing Dance Steps
Swing music is back in a big way.

Downright Serious Site
Of The Month:

Yes, it's time again to listen to them all.
View their policies here.

Historical Site
Of The Month:

U.S. Early Radio History
Extensive material on radio's rich past.

January Events
festivals For January Travelers

January 14-23, 2000
Tip-Up Town USA 2000
Houghton Lake, Michigan.
Drag races, music by B.J. Thomas, music by Paul
Revere and the Raiders, snow and ice sculpting contest, horseshoes on the ice, Radar Run
Challenge, softball on the ice, fishing contest, arts and crafts, fireworks, Sock Hop at
Knights of Columbus Hall, scavenger hunt, night parade.
Details: Call 800-248-5253 or 517-366-5644.

January 14-16, 2000
Old Town Jubilee Arts and Crafts Festival
Main Street Plaza, Yuma, Arizona.
Arts and crafts, food, entertainment.
More: Call 520-782-5712.

January 15-16, 2000
Bavarian Ice Fest
Rodeway Inn, Leavenworth, Washington.
Dog sled rides, sled pulling competition, snowshoe races, tug-a-war, colored
ice cube hunt for children, sleigh rides, fireworks.
For More: Call 509-548-7992.

January 15-16, 2000
Florida Keys Renaissance Fest
Sombrero Beach, Marathon, Florida.
10-6 each day.
Admission is charged.
Information: Call 305-743-4386.

January 15-30, 2000
London International Mime Festival
Pleasance Theatre and other venues, London, England.
Juggling, masks, circus mime work and clowning, puppets
dance and more.
For More: Call 44(0)20 7637 5661.

January 22-23, 2000
Yuma Lettuce Days
Main Street, Yuma, Arizona.
Arts and crafts, food, entertainment, lettuce information.
More information: Call 520-782-5712.

January 28-February 5, 2000
Hernando County Fair
County Fairgrounds, Hernando, Florida.
Old-fashioned county fair with livestock, rodeo
events, entertainment and exhibits.
Further details: Call 352-796-4552.

January 27-30, 2000
San Diego Bay Bird Festival
Various locations, San Diego, California.
Trips to look for birds, with a new trip of behind-the-scenes at the
San Diego Wild Animal Park.
More information: Call 877-763-5483.

January 28-February 5, 2000
Malone Winter Carnival
Malone in Franklin County, New York.
Torchlight parade, musical events, casino night.
Further Details: Call 518-483-3760.



Kill Your TV - But Not Just Yet
Part One

A few years ago we began to hear how "digital TV" would be much better than "analog TV". Then the internet explosion began, and while many of us have been staring at our computer monitors, the FCC and other organizations and companies have been quietly getting ready for the "next big thing". HDTV is about to change the way we see television.

By the 1940's, the National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) had developed standards (which were fully adopted by the Federal Communications Commission) regarding the transmission and reception of black and white broadcast television. When technological advances brought color capability, instead of developing a whole new set of standards, (which some network and company executives wanted) the standards for color TV were based on compatibility with existing black and white TV equipment and shows.

RCA had developed a system, which was used as somewhat of a starting point, with other proposals coming and going as ideas were tested. By 1955, we had the basic color TV standards we all go by today, which are still compatible with black and white sets.


Here’s how TV works in the United States and in several other places. The picture appears on your TV’s screen by means of an electron gun and a yoke behind the picture tube. Black and white TV’s have one gun. Color TV’s have three - one for red, one for green, and one for blue. And the yoke is larger on a color TV. Magnetic coils around the yoke cause the electrons to scan across the inside of your TV screen, which is coated with a phosphorescent material that glows. The beam scans back and forth, from top to bottom, doing odd-numbered lines and then even-numbered lines, “painting” a total of 525 horizontal lines across the screen to complete one picture, or “frame”. This happens very rapidly, with about 30 frames being transmitted every second.

You actually see only a portion of the lines which make up the frame. Some of the lines are reserved for other information, such as the horizontal synchronization. (When cable companies want to “scramble” premium channels they simply remove the horizontal synchronization from the signal. That’s why when you look at a scrambled channel you see the funny colored bars bending all over the picture.)

So the actual viewing area of your TV screen ends up being almost (but not quite) square, with the width/height ratio being 4:3. Most movie film has used a width/height ratio of about 16:9, which can be broadcast over the TV airwaves with fairly good results.


Enter something called CinemaScope® from Twentieth Century Fox in 1953, giving us those extra-wide scenes at a width/height ratio of 2.35:1. The only way current TV’s can even begin to do justice to the films shot in this format is by using the letterbox technique, which utilizes fairly well the wide part of your TV screen, but leaves blank areas at the top and bottom.

Let me mention here that there are two other main TV standards in use today throughout the world. In addition to the NTSC standard (525 lines, 30 frames per second) in use in the United States, (and in such places as Canada, Mexico, Japan, and some of South America), there is the Phase Alternating Line (PAL) system (used in Great Britain and some European areas) and the Sequential Color And Memory (SECAM) standard (25 frames per second), used in portions of Europe, including much of the area in the former Soviet Union.

Why several different standards? The United States uses electricity based on a 60-cycle system, while much of the rest of the globe uses 50-cycle. Other factors influencing standards include a wish to be innovative, economic and manufacturing climates, and political pressures.

Video must be converted before being broadcast from an area with one standard to an area with a different standard. (Manufacturers have already begun work on converter boxes for TV’s to help make this easier for the average viewer, and there are some versions of TV’s which can switch from one standard to another.)


In addition to the variations in standards when it comes to lines and frames in our current analog TV’s, there’s the ongoing problem of noise. No, we’re not talking about the kids arguing loudly while you try to enjoy your favorite program. When those color guns we talked about earlier start firing inside your TV set, they are doing so based on a signal from the originating TV station which rises and falls in strength, depending on such things as distance, terrain and weather. This makes it next to impossible to get an ending signal that is the same as the one that left the TV station. When you see “ghosts” or “snow” on your TV, it’s because of “noise” - a degraded end product of the original signal.


So how do we get from this wobbling, snowy, ghost-ridden analog picture to the clarity of digital pictures? If you run out and buy a digital set today, is that the answer? Not quite. Digital TV (DTV) and High Definition TV (HDTV) are not the same animal. And by the way, surprise! Your new (and more expensive) TV set won't really be 100 per cent digital.

Next month: Part Two. We'll try to work through a bit of the hype surrounding the issues.




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