27 February 2011

It's Academy Awards Time - The Technical Aspects, That Is

Time for a little break from the happenings going on in the great State of Florida and our increasingly unpopular governor, Rick Scott, who recently threw 25,000 potential jobs down the drain by rejecting high speed rail which we desperately need. Not only that, Rick Scott wants to do away with the unions that represent state employees.

Well, the 83rd version of the Academy Awards telecast is just around the corner! If you are a movie buff or just want to get a piece of the Oscars action on TV, the action starts when the announcer intones: Live from Los Angeles! The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents the 83rd Annual Academy Awards!

Over the past several years the Academy Awards telecast had some great announcers over the years: Don LaFontaine (aka the voice of God), Les Marshak, Gina Tuttle and Randi Thomas. From what I understand another voice over superstar who did the announcing duties for the Oscars telecast in 2006 and 2008, Tom Kane, is going to be the announcer for Oscar telecast No. 83.

OK. Now how does the announcer’s voice such as Tom Kane travel from the announcer’s booth at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles to your television set here in St. Petersburg connected to Bright House Networks? After all, as the voice over announcer from 10 News (WTSP-TV) says, Bright House is the home of free HD – and I got to agree many more. So, let’s step through the process from Point A to Point B.

I think of the typical Academy Awards telecast as an Amtrak Silver Star train going out of Tampa. The telecast announcer is like the engineer driving the train (with the Oscar telecast’s script supervisor sitting right next to the announcer), while the telecast producer is the conductor and the host is the chief of on board services. The presenters are the on board personnel that take care of you, the celebrity that is either there for the ceremony or a nominee anxiously waiting to see if you get to go on stage to claim your Oscar statuette. Attending an actual Academy Awards ceremony at the Kodak Theatre is strictly invitation only; your ticket is the invitation.

All right. Let’s get on with the technical aspects of getting the announcer’s voice – let’s say Tom Kane from the 83rd Academy Awards telecast – speaking this line when the telecast cuts to a local commercial break: The 83rd Annual Academy Awards will return in a moment here on ABC.

Let’s start from the moment Tom utters this line into the microphone in the announcer booth over at the Kodak Theatre. From that moment the pathway from Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles to my townhome in St. Petersburg is analogous to an Amtrak Silver Star train going through a series of switches to get to a main line to the destination, then another series of switches just before your destination. And you know what, I think I threw you a curve when I compared the typical Academy Awards telecast as an Amtrak Silver Star train as far as the technical aspect is involved. And I like to, for very good reason.

The microphone picks up Tom’s voice and it is converted into a digital audio signal, as is the case with microphones of the professional broadcast type. From this point forward Tom’s voice – now a digitized audio signal – is sent from the announcer’s booth to a central master control located somewhere in the Theatre. Tom’s digitized audio signal is multiplexed with the associated video (usually a view of the Oscar statuette when cutting to a commercial break) and is steered by the telecast’s engineers onto a live feed that connects the raw audio and video to ABC Television Network’s master control in Los Angeles. Now Tom’s voice has begun the long trip from Los Angeles to St. Petersburg.

At ABC Master Control in Los Angeles, Tom’s digitized audio signal goes from the raw feed from the Kodak Theatre for a 44,000 mile ride to ABC Master Control in New York City. The audio and video signal is transmitted from a satellite dish for the 22,000 mile ride to the satellite hovering high over the Equator somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. At the satellite Tom’s voice is bounced back for another 22,000 mile trip to ABC Master Control in New York City.

By the way, the fun just got started. The feed from Los Angeles to New York City is commonly known as a raw east coast feed, and the east coast means cities in the Eastern and Central Time Zones. At ABC Master Control in New York this is the point where the national commercials for the Academy Awards telecast are inserted.

(By the way, ABC Master Control in Los Angeles does the same thing as ABC Master Control in New York, except this is the west coast feed which includes cities in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones. If it’s 5 PM at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, it’s 8 PM in St. Petersburg!)

At ABC Master Control in New York, Tom Kane’s digitized audio voice is passed through again through a set of switching equipment, much like Amtrak’s Silver Star when it passes through the Neve Wye for the reverse move into Tampa’s Union Station. Now we’re ready for another 44,000 mile trip – this time, on the ABC Television Network’s east coast distribution feed, which distributes the ready to broadcast Academy Awards telecast to ABC affiliates on the east coast of the United States.

Leaving New York, Tom’s digitized audio signal is placed on the transmit – or uplink – feed for the 22,000 mile trip to the satellite hovering high over the Pacific Ocean on the Equator. Tom’s digitized voice is relayed by the satellite and is bounced back - or downlinked - to the ABC affiliate in Tampa (which is part of the Tampa/St. Petersburg Television Market, No. 14 in the USA), WFTS-TV Channel 28, known to us Tampa Bay television viewers as ABC Action News.

WFTS’ studio is located on 4045 North Himes Avenue in Tampa just across from Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The composite ABC east coast feed containing the Academy Awards telecast – which contains Tom Kane’s digitized voice – is picked up by WFTS’ receiving satellite dish and immediately sent to WFTS master control.

At any typical network television affiliate, master control consists of three items: The network feed, the live feed from the news studio, and another internal feed for programs that may be originated from the television station itself. As WFTS is an ABC affiliate (since 1994 when the great Tampa Bay affiliate switch took place), its master control processes the Academy Awards telecast containing Tom Kane’s voice and is sent out for transmission to the Tampa Bay area.

Traditionally, the signal is routed from master control to the studio to transmitter microwave link which beams the Academy Awards telecast from WFTS’ studio on Himes Avenue to the transmitter tower in Riverview. Once in Riverview the Academy Awards telecast is pulled off the microwave signal and is placed on WFTS’ regular broadcast signal for distribution to everyone in the Tampa Bay area receiving the Academy Awards telecast by traditional means.

However, I am listening to Tom Kane’s voice on a HDTV set in St. Petersburg connected to Bright House Networks. More and more network affiliates, especially in the major cities, relay their signal directly to cable companies for distribution to their customers, which helps preserve the signal as much as possible. So, at WFTS master control the Academy Awards telecast that has Tom’s voice is steered onto a special cable feed which connects WFTS with the nearest Bright House Networks signal gathering facility somewhere in Tampa, known as a cable television headend.

Once the Academy Awards telecast is at the Bright House Networks headend, it will be switched over to a series of trunk cables which will take the Academy Awards telecast – and Tom Kane’s voice – across Tampa Bay on Interstate 275 over the Howard Frankland Bridge through a dedicated utility conduit over to Bright House Networks’ St. Petersburg headend.

Once at the St. Petersburg headend the telecast is switched over for its final time to the local Bright House Networks distribution grid which will take it underground and overhead (not to mention the power boosters the signal goes through) to my place. The signal is received by the digital converter box and it translates Tom Kane’s voice from a broadcast signal to a signal that my HDTV set can understand.

Once at my HDTV set electronic brains located deep within the set itself finally convert the Academy Awards telecast – and Tom Kane’s voice – to what went into the microphone at the announcer’s booth over at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. The end result: You hear Tom Kane’s voice just like if you were there at the Academy Awards ceremony.

Total distance traveled from Los Angeles to St. Petersburg: 88,000 miles, give or take a few extra when the signal arrives at WFTS’ studios in Tampa.

Time delay of Tom Kane’s voice from the Academy Awards telecast to my HDTV set here in St. Petersburg: About 11 seconds, give or take.

And one more thing I forgot to mention is the mandatory delay imposed by the ABC Television Network. This is needed so that if in the event a curse word was ever uttered at the Academy Awards, ABC would catch it just in time before it is allowed to be distributed to its affiliates. After all, one curse word on a major awards telecast such as the Academy Awards that is actually aired can cause ABC’s many affiliates to be hit with substantial FCC fines for broadcast of obscene or indecent material.

So, I gave you a rundown on the technical aspects of how the Academy Awards announcer’s voice travels from Los Angeles to St. Petersburg. Depending on where you live and how you receive your local ABC affiliate, the path is practically the same.

Now if you have watched the 83rd Annual Academy Awards telecast, if you got a rant about the telecast please feel free to leave a comment. Just keep the comments clean.

24 February 2011

Rick Scott: A Major Embarassment to the State of Florida

By now you may have read reports on the Tampa Bay area news media outlets that high speed rail is gone, according to this Bay News 9 story.

What Rick Scott is doing is devastating, if not damaging as well as a major disgrace to the State of Florida and its residents. We have unemployment running at an all time high and we have people out of work that need work - and the paycheck that goes with it - to put food on the table. Besides, if and when the economy recovers we are going to have a state that is embroiled in major gridlock, especially our state's metropolitan areas such as Tampa/St. Petersburg, Ft. Lauderdale/Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville. Furthermore, Rick Scott's rejection of high speed rail, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, is a slap in the face not only to us Floridians but the federal government as well.

The construction of high speed rail would have brought jobs - 25,000 from what I understand - jobs that Floridians out of work need. Also, the construction of high speed rail would have been the jolt that sends our state's economy on the way to recovery. Rick Scott does not care about us Floridians not one bit.

Another benefit of high speed rail is it would have brought Tampa and Orlando closer. It would have opened up the job markets of Tampa and Orlando to job seekers on the Interstate 4 corridor. Speaking of Interstate 4, when the major improvements were built that transformed Interstate 4 from an overcrowded and dangerous four lane highway to the six lane interstate highway we know today, there is ample space in the median which was built with high speed rail in mind.

Realize for a moment that the State of Florida spent billions of dollars in transforming Interstate 4 from a dangerous highway to a safer highway with high speed rail in mind. Now Rick Scott - the crook and thief running the State of Florida from the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee - decided to go ahead and destroy it all.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we Floridians need to do something to save our state from irreparable ruin. We need to get HJR 785 passed and an amendment placed onto the Constitution of the State of Florida so that we can get Rick Scott recalled from office.

If you think Rick Scott is damaging the State of Florida at every turn, here's another byproduct of Rick Scott: Turning public property into private property.

This recently happened at a Polk County School Board meeting where someone was protesting the start of their meetings with an invocation was arrested for disorderly conduct, according to this article on 10 News (WTSP-TV).

Here is the comment that I left on the article, as Ellenbeth Wachs - who was with John Kieffer at the school board meeting - was taking pictures and was declared a second class citizen by the Bartow Police Department on the orders of the Polk County School District by having a trespass warning issued:

Ellenbeth Wachs being given a trespass warning for taking pictures at a school board meeting? Just a great example of Rick Scott turning public property into private property by having government meetings held in private. However, I don't condone what John Kieffer did by disrupting the meeting in the first place.

Just goes on to show you that by the way things are going, Rick Scott is Florida's #1 Section 810.09 trespass warning king. And the Polk County School District will do anything to turn ordinary citizens into second class citizens by using trespass warnings against anyone for any reason.

And yes, Rick Scott will do anything to intimidate Floridians by the use of these trespass warnings as a tool of repression against the people. That way, government meetings such as school board meetings can be held in private in clear violation of the Sunshine Law which mandates that most government meetings such as school board meetings, city council meetings and county commission meetings be held in open session with very few exceptions. All Ellenbeth Wachs was doing at the Polk County School Board meeting was taking pictures - she did not do anything wrong from what I understand.

Moreover, we can't forget Rick Scott's mantra of no government interference in private business. The Orlando area theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida are the biggest purveyors of trespass warnings; with theme park security standing ready to turn ordinary law abiding people into second class citizens by inventing an incident to justify a trespass warning banning the person for life. Additonally, private business - especially the retail sector such as shopping malls (like International Plaza in Tampa and Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg) and retail stores (like Wal-Mart, Sweetbay Supermarket, Winn-Dixie and 7-Eleven) - will do anything to turn a law abiding customer into a second class citizen by inventing an incident and have a trespass warning issued banning the customer for life.

After all, there is no appeal to a trespass warning issued - it is permanent. Trespass warnings issued in Florida are convictions for trespassing without the benefit of due process and trial.

Again, we Floridians need to take back our state. We need to do something now before it's too late.

21 February 2011

Can it happen here in Florida?

By now you may have been watching developments unfold from Madison, which is Wisconsin's equivalent of Tallahassee. Wisconsin's newly elected governor, Scott Walker, has declared all out war on workers in the state. The plan is to eliminate the rights of workers such as teachers, health care workers and much more to organize a union and bargain for better working conditions including decent pay and benefits among a few things.

In response, thousands upon thousands of people marched to the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison protesting Governor Scott Walker's plan. The result: Scott Walker has threatened to turn the Wisconsin National Guard against the people, much like demonstrations across the Atlantic which have so far toppled authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.

Can it happen here in Florida? Potentially, the answer is yes. The potential is there for our newly elected crook and thief in the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee, Governor Rick Scott, to unleash the Florida National Guard as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other law enforcement agencies against the people of this great state. With the recent uproar on Rick Scott's rejection of high speed rail and the rejection of other federal monies that would benefit Floridians such as unemployment, the potential exists for a Madison-style protest in Tallahassee.

OK. Now how did both Rick Scott and Scott Walker get elected in Florida and Wisconsin? It's simple: Governor's Offices were bought for millions. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker was elected governor of that state thanks to partial financing by the infamous billionaire Koch Brothers. The objective in Wisconsin: The worker's unions are a nuisance.

Since 9/11/01 the mantra of law enforcement and private security companies has been this: The people are our enemy. Now with governors that are out of touch with the people, that statement is getting more true than ever. Even private businesses are getting into the act too: Private businesses - especially in the retail and amusement sectors - have tools in their arsenal to intimidate their customers, and one of the major tools in private business' toolkit is the use of trespass warnings for no reason. In Florida, trespass warnings are very easy to issue and you don't need a reason.

So, can the events that have transpired in Madison happen in Tallahassee? Potentially yes.

Remember to contact your Florida state representative and show your support for HJR 785 which would allow for the recall of Florida's high ranking officials including the governor.

19 February 2011


I received this reply from a fellow Blogger user who replied to my latest blog entry on Florida Governor Rick Scott about a web site in operation which is an initiative to have Florida's 45th Governor, Rick Scott, recalled from office. The web site is recallrickscott.net.

Unfortunately, the process of recalling a Governor of the State of Florida from office is not defined. Florida has a recall process, but it only applies to local officials within Florida. A bill in the Florida House of Representatives authored by Florida State Representative Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg - HJR 785 - will call for an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Florida to allow for recall of the Governor and other high ranking Florida officials from office. Only the passage of HJR 785 and the eventual approval of the amendment by the voters of this great state will get this recall process going.

We need to get HJR 785 passed and this constitutional amendment passed as soon as possible, not in 2012 when Rick Scott will more than likely have done a substantial amount of damage to Florida's economy.

In the meantime, here's what you need to do as a Floridian to bring back government to the people, not to Corporate America and Corporate Florida:

Here is a link to a list of representatives in the
Florida House of Representatives. What you need to do is to write your state representative expressing your support for HJR 785. Now you are asking yourself, how do I know who my state representative is?

It's very simple: Look on your voter information card that your county's Supervisor of Elections sent you. It will have the district number of your state representative printed on it. If you are not sure you can always telephone your county's supervisor of elections or visit their web site.

Pinellas County:
http://www.votepinellas.com/ or (727) 464-6788
Hillsborough County:
http://www.votehillsborough.org/ or (813) 744-5900
For other Florida counties:
Link to Florida Department of State's Division of Elections list of county Supervisors of Elections page

The staff of your county's Supervisor of Elections office will help you in determining who your Florida state representative is. When you call or write your state representative, tell them that you support HJR 785 in order to make our state officials such as our Governor accountable to the people of this great state. If you would like to write a letter to your elected representative and you don't know how to begin writing, here's a sample letter from the recallrickscott.net website shown below (of course, you can edit it as you like):

I’m writing to let you know that because I am deeply disappointed in the recent actions of our new Governor, and because I support the right of a state’s citizens to hold our elected officials accountable, I am urging you to give HJR785 your full support.

Rick Scott is bad news for Florida — legislators from both parties agree that his decision to scratch the long-awaited high-speed rail project was ill-advised, indefensible and unconscionable, especially considering Florida’s current unemployment rate and the fact that 25% of our revenue comes from the tourism industry.

I hope you will support not only HJR785, but any further actions aimed at the recall of Gov. Scott.

Please let your Florida state representative know today - we Floridians have a chance to save our state from major economic ruin so much that we cannot pick up the pieces. And if you have already contacted your representative, you are more than welcome to report your contact to your Florida representative simply by posting a reply.

And thanks to genepool3 for sending me the link!

11 February 2011

Rick Scott Fallout - Part Two

We’re just a month into Rick Scott’s reign as the 45th Governor of the State of Florida. Already, his campaign promises plus what I mentioned in a previous blog entry when Rick Scott was elected back in November 2010 I feel are coming to fruition. As a reference, I’ll go ahead and list for you again of what to look forward to, now that Rick Scott is in command of the State of Florida:

Our homeowners insurance rates going up.
Our property values continuing to slide.
Foreclosures at an alarming rate (and the homelessness that results).
Our civil liberties being eroded.
The State of Florida being sold to private enterprise.
Turning public property into private property.
No prospect of the economy making a comeback in Florida.
Unemployment at an all time high with no prospect of relief.
Support for oil drilling in the Gulf.
The demise of Florida's number one industry: Tourism.
Law enforcement being turned against the people.
No meaningful education anymore in Florida’s public schools.

And I need to add one more item of concern to the above list:

Health care reform denied to Florida residents.

If you think the above list is alarming, it should be. Consider the recent budget that Rick Scott is proposing: This involves major cuts to specific areas which are crucial if the State of Florida is going to survive through this major economic mess, according to this St. Petersburg Times article.

One of them is the state’s Office of Homelessness, and Rick Scott’s proposed budget closes this office completely. This is going to endanger the many Floridians that are already homeless and are in need of a place to live. Furthermore, there are many more Floridians who are in danger of becoming homeless by reason of foreclosure on their homes, thanks to those greedy banks who took the risk and lost their money when the real estate market imploded.

You know who’s cheering Rick Scott on doing away with helping the homeless? Private business, of course! The same private businesses that chase away not only the homeless but minorities and the handicapped (including the mentally handicapped) by turning them into second class citizens by using trespass warnings on them, thanks to the help of law enforcement. After all, in this day and age in Florida being homeless, a minority or handicapped can make one vulnerable.

Another facet of the proposed state budget is Florida’s Coastal Clean-Up Trust Fund, which Rick Scott wants to do away with. Just add Rick Scott’s support for oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico very close to Florida’s coast and we are indeed going to see Florida’s number one industry – tourism – spiral downward so bad that it will be the demise as we see it.

So far, Rick Scott is slowly selling the State of Florida to private enterprise. This budget proposal is a great example.

Next, Rick Scott wants to do damage to Floridians who are collecting unemployment due to being out of work: Reduce benefits. In this St. Petersburg Times article the federal government wants to give states like Florida more time to repay monies that had to be borrowed to pay the vast amount of unemployment benefits. The federal government’s plan is to let Florida hang on to about $500 million; however, Rick Scott – in a nutshell – is telling President Obama no thanks.

Already Floridians who are unemployed face plenty of obstacles in their quest to regain meaningful employment. In fact, I am seeing horror stories of companies who trespass unemployed individuals – if you are unemployed, don’t bother to apply with us. I used the term trespass in a way that an unemployed individual looking for a job finds something that matches his or her experience and goes to the company looking to fill out an application. Instead, because of the person’s unemployed status he or she is shown the door and told never to return under threat of arrest rather than legitimately going to put in an application. It’s basically like a store manager banishing someone from a store for life for no reason, and in Florida you don’t need one.

So, this is Rick Scott’s ultimate plan for dealing with the unemployed: Trespass them out of the State of Florida for life.

OK. Let’s move on to another topic while we’re on the subject of Rick Scott: Health care reform. I found this blog entry by Melinda Gibson of Health Care for America Now that is quite interesting and I would like to share it with you.

Remember that as the former CEO of Columbia/HCA, Rick Scott exploited patients as well as the federal government for his own financial gain. Since the recent passage of the federal Affordable Care Act several states – including Florida – are doing everything in their power to make sure that this federal law does not apply in their state, short of a repeal which won’t happen in Congress.

After all, the Affordable Care Act provides protections against the abuses perpetrated by the health insurance industry including, among other things, imposing lifetime maximums and denying care to those who need it. A lot of the abuses at the hands of these health insurance companies have drove countless numbers of people straight into bankruptcy. Remember the Michael Moore movie SiCKO?

All Rick Scott is doing is defying the federal government by not implementing the Affordable Care Act; his main reason is for the people of Florida. What kind of hogwash! All Rick Scott is doing is pleasing his health insurance cronies so that control of health care goes back to them.

OK. Here’s another topic we need to cover briefly while we’re still on the subject of Rick Scott: The erosion of our civil liberties and the turning of law enforcement against the people. That is being done by the passing of an Arizona-style law that will bring a meaning to the phrase “your papers, please”. I won’t go into a long discussion on this topic but it is already covered in my prior blog entry on America becoming a police state and secession.

We Floridians need to put the brakes on this reckless and out of control leadership by Rick Scott. The way it is going right now, Rick Scott is going to run the State of Florida right into the ground, so much it will be next to impossible to pick up the pieces. The way we Floridians can do this is to get an initiative going to recall Rick Scott from office. After all, in 2003 Californians had enough of their Governor, Gray Davis, and he got recalled by California voters in a special recall election. In fact, when I visited the Los Angeles area back in 2003 for an ER-themed convention that did not happen, the recall effort was well underway.

Just remember who we elected as the 45th chief executive of the State of Florida in the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee: Someone that stole from patients and the federal government for his own personal gain and benefit. Furthermore, Rick Scott is using his elected position as Governor of the State of Florida for his own personal benefit while at the same time making private enterprise happier than ever.