Blast from North Dakota’s stereoscopic past

It all started when I started going through a box of old toys and things that my mom dropped off at the house.  Most of it was old stuff that was in disrepair or otherwise unusable (such as an old Commodore 64 that I can emulate on my PC), and ended up being discarded.  The two items above, however, caught my eye.  Both eyes, actually.

One of them had a disc in it (they were called “reels”), but I didn’t find any other reels.  One of my favorites as a little kid was one about dinosaurs, and I’d sure love to find that one again for old time’s sake.  But I started thinking about this vintage technology and couldn’t help but wonder…are there any North Dakota-related View-Master reels?

It didn’t take long on eBay before I discovered a set of reels from 1956, and of course I had to have them.


This arrived shortly after I fervently clicked Buy It Now – a new, unopened 1956 set of three View-Master slides portraying North Dakota tourist attractions!


The pack contained three reels, an insert describing the the photos portrayed, and a couple of order forms for other Sawyer products.  Sawyer invented the View-Master, and is no longer in business.  The company’s View-Master division has traded hands a few times.


These are the three reels in their protective sleeves.  Even though the paper package has never been opened, the film slides in the reels have a slight bubbling to them.  I’m guessing they’re some sort of acetate film medium that does this sort of thing after sixty years.


The reels are in pretty good shape, although they do have some dust and that sort of thing.  Parts of the reels are slightly bubbled as if they have pimples, and there was some powder in the sleeves, but otherwise they’re totally fine.

Naturally we threw them into a film scanner, although it took some rigging.  Want to see some of my favorites?


Here’s the capitol building, long before the Judicial Wing was constructed (or probably even conceived).  I like the water tower on the east side.  Who knew there were trees on the mall, my favorite frisbee spot?


Here’s an entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  I may try to find this monument and take a current photo.  A friend of mine recently did that with the tree at the nearby entrance to the campground west of Medora, a tree which appeared in a family photo from his childhood.


Here’s a dam photo.  I was just up at the tail race with my kids a week or so ago, and the water was nowhere near this high.  I just looked at the photos from that day and I guess it was closer than I thought, but this is still a high level.  Remember, the dam was only officially completed in the early 1950s and didn’t begin its work as a hydroelectric power plant until 1956 or even 1960, depending on which source you consult.


Back to the capitol.  The Pioneer Family monument no longer has the fence around it, and the marble posts are long gone.  I have a postcard of this somewhere as well.  Again, I love the water tower.


It wouldn’t be North Dakota without a farming photo or two.  The harvesting equipment of today is significantly larger, and of course there’s the GPS and air conditioning.


Here’s another example of things being bigger now: lignite coal mining equipment.  The draglines I’ve done video and photo work on north of here weigh in at up to thirteen million pounds (13,000,000)!  The coal haulers have a 160 ton or greater capacity, too.


Here’s the front of the insert.   Click on the photo for a full size (ie, legible) version.


And, of course, the back.  Click for the readable size image.


And, because I can’t change who I am, I spotted a typo.  I think maybe someone had Fargo on the brain when they wrote the section about “Tiago”.  Hey, at least they didn’t call us South Dakota!


I may post some additional images from these reels down the road, we’ll see.  We only scanned one of each image, it might be interesting to take a crack at scanning both.  What am I talking about?  Well, the View-Master is stereoscopic, meaning that the creators of these reels took photos with two cameras spaced slightly apart.  For each image you see, there’s a left one and a right one.  So you get 3D depth perception as you do in real life.  It’s wonderful.  But I currently lack the ambition to scan both perspectives of each of these images and don’t really have a plan for how I’d combine them into a 3D-viewable digital image anyway.

Certainly some of you have enjoyed View-Master reels?  Feel nostalgic yet?

Don’t sic the NCAA on the Bismarck Tribune for its Hostile and Abusive™ content

bistrib_20160425While reading an article in the Bismarck Tribune today, titled “Power of old bones stops $10 million job”, I came upon the above paragraph and the inconvenient history therein.  Not only do they use a name that dare not be used in collegiate athletics these days, they also betray the myth that everything here in the Buffalo Commons was rainbows, butterflies, and loincloths until the wicked settlers came.

Quite honestly, I’m surprised that anyone is even allowed to speak like this anymore, in the era of “safe spaces” and “hate speech”.  Hopefully the NCAA doesn’t see this!

“Stay Classy, KX News” (ambulance chasing continues at KXMB)

kxmb_sensationalism_1I noticed some outrage on social media yesterday about the fact that KXMB was showing the feet of Bismarck-Mandan’s latest murder victim, pictured at the scene of the crime.  Upon reviewing the news story myself I also noticed a shot that looked like it was a little too Peeping-Tom for my tastes.


kxmb_sensationalism_2It looked as if the KX crew was trying to shoot between pallets and get video of the officers checking out the body.  As KXMB guest anchor Ron Burgundy would say, “Stay Classy, KX News”.


This is no departure from a long legacy of ambulance chasing at KXMB.  I’ve written about it extensively before as one instance of this behavior caused a great deal of pain for my extended family.  How’d you like to find out your son is dead because it was on Channel 12?  The fact of the matter is that to anyone who knew the victim, especially those close to her, those aren’t feet.  They are HER.  DEAD.  Is branding that image into the minds of people who are now grieving the loss of a loved one worth whatever feather KX News feels is placed in its journalistic cap?

The first time I pointed this out got me a call from a former KX news personality who was all lawyered up and demanding that I take any criticism off the Internet (as if anything can be removed from the world wide web).

The second time I pointed this out my blog was removed from the KX Net’s websites, who were syndicating it with my permission.  Apparently they couldn’t take any open scrutiny of their news practices.

When I worked at KFYR-TV the employee manual stated that any sensationalism in the news would not be tolerated.  Nobody had to tell us that; it was a matter of professionalism.  It was reinforced in writing and in detail when an out of state company bought the Meyer Broadcasting stations.  Maybe the out of state company that bought KXMB should put a lid on irresponsible behavior like this.

Why you’re swimming in both kinds of music: country AND western

kbmr_36383This little bugger is known as 1059580, which to the average person is KBMR 1130 AM.  It sits over on East Rosser Avenue, right in the backyards of some Bismarck residents.  And it’s putting out 10,000 watts of your favorite country classics.  Unfortunately it’s putting it in some rather troublesome places.

Anecdote: when I was working at a local TV station years ago, our on-air talent began complaining that they were hearing “country music” in their IFB earpieces.  At first we thought they were nuts (after all, they are broadcasters) but eventually had to switch to wireless earpieces.  One of the station engineers figured out that the offending signal was coming in through the power lines.

I recently came across this situation again with an audio mixer that proved susceptible to this phenomenon.  When I’d adjust the microphone preamps I would be treated to a twangy jam instead of the audio source on the other end of the wire.  I ended up switching to a different mixer to get rid of the result.

I’ve also had instances east of town where I couldn’t leave a microphone cable on the concrete floor without picking up KBMR and had to switch to wireless.  What a joy.

A friend of mine who used to work over by the Coca-Cola plant said he could hook up to his filing cabinet and get his dose of the classic country.  I don’t know if he could feel his teeth tingle, but maybe that’s just reserved for the people who live right next to this tower.

I’m just a layman and possess no engineering or electrical degrees, but I think I know the issue:


kbmr_towerThe image above shows KBMR’s tower, which these days is located behind the studio building, in relation to two big electrical junctions: the Western Area Power Administration and Montana-Dakota Utilities.  Remember how I said the engineer traced the interference to the power coming into the building?  By the way, those are people’s homes in the left edge of the photo.

What I’m wondering out loud is whether it’s a good idea to be throwing 10,000 watts of radio frequency energy into the local electrical grid.   In one of our trucks, if I drive alongside the power lines on the south side of Century Avenue, KBMR even bleeds into KFYR 550 AM.  Not an ideal situation.  It seems as though being adjacent to two substations turns the electrical wires into a giant antenna array.

My understanding is that KBMR’s daytime tower (they go low-power at night) used to be east of Menoken.  When Anderson Broadcasting began building 710 AM KXMR, they moved all operations of KBMR to the in-town stick and used the Menoken tower as part of a directional array for 710.  I can’t find an online paper trail of this using the FCC’s page, because their site and search aren’t very intuitive.  But that’s my foggy recollection.


kbmr_2My contention is that if KBMR’s full-power signal was beaming 10,000 watts on 1130 kHz from this site east of Menoken, people wouldn’t be picking up Merle Haggard in their dental work and houses on 35th Street wouldn’t require filters on their telephones.  But that’s just me… I’m just a simple caveman when it comes to this stuff.  As a video professional, though, I sure wish I didn’t have to chase this signal out of my microphones when recording within the Bismarck city limits.  I grew up listening to classic country & western music with my dad, but there are times I wish it would only come out of my radio and nothing else.

An article the Bismarck Tribune probably doesn’t want you to see…but then again…

tribune_against_guns_2015-0415A couple of days ago the Bismarck Tribune ran an editorial against a bill restoring expanded rights for those of us who are licensed to carry concealed handguns – apparently without even reading the bill in question, by the way.  They make the dubious claim, “Don’t get us wrong, we are strong defenders of the Second Amendment.” while advocating against the rights of legal gun owners.

I’m not the least bit surprised that the birdcage liner newspaper of record here in Bismarck-Mandan would take such a position.  In fact, twenty-two years ago they pulled a stunt on par with the Fargo Forum’s recent attempt to use its front page to “shame” legislators who crossed the homofascists (oops, I did it again) by following the will of their constituents and voting against SB2279.

In this article from December 19th, 1993, the Tribune decided to “out” legally licensed concealed weapons permit holders just like the Forum decided to “out” those legislators.  The article actually listed the name of every concealed weapon permit holder in Burleigh and Morton Counties!

The article has not appeared online as far as I know, until now as I post it.  This is from the Tribune’s own computerized archive.  Sorry for the lack of formatting – apparently that’s a luxury the old computer system couldn’t afford.  I’ve stripped out the list of names.

Nearly 2,000 North Dakotans can legally carry a loaded, hidden handgun. But they're not law officers. These are the state's farmers, legislators, lawyers, service station attendants, salespeople and who, for protection and convenience, accessed the state's admittedly easy concealed weapon permit process. People like David O'Connell, a Democratic state senator from Lansford. ""I was threatened as a House member, a representative. I introduced a bill and I was told to withdraw it,'' he said. ""I had threats against me and my family.'' Since then, at the urging of law officers, a short-barreled .357 Magnum revolver travels with him on the 50,000 miles he logs yearly in District 6. Or Sen. Bob Stenehjem, R-Bismarck, who applied for convenience: His permit lets him take his Smith & Wesson .44 revolver to the field and range without attracting attention from law officers. ""I don't use it so I can walk around Kirkwood (Mall) with a pistol,'' he said. Or Todd Porter, who directs Metro-Area Ambulance Service and also carries a handgun in his vehicle for protection. Or 89-year-old Fred (last name redacted by Bismarck-Mandan Blog) of McClusky, who worked for years with the Sheridan County Sheriff's Department. Now, his permit is insurance. ""When I retired, the sheriff says, "Why don't you get a concealed weapon permit, in case sometime we might need you.' '' Or Paul (last name redacted by Bismarck-Mandan Blog), who said his license allows him to target shoot and keep a handgun in his work van without worrying about the sheriff. His wife and son also have a permit. Or 1,978 others: Men, women and families from Rhame to Pembina, Wahpeton to Williston. ""These people who have concealed weapons permits are law-abiding citizens,'' said Burleigh County Sheriff Bob Harvey. Generally, law officers don't worry about those who legally carry concealed weapons. ""I'm more concerned about the criminals who are carrying guns,'' said Morton County Chief Deputy Ken Helmer. ""It's the unknown out there that we worry about.'' Still, those responsible for issuing permits say requirements should be tightened. Now, 10 open-book test questions and seven shots from seven yards separate the legal from those who'd face a class A misdemeanor if caught hiding a handgun. ""It's not that hard. If you took your hunter safety test, I'm sure you took a tougher test,'' said Bismarck Police Chief Robert Matzke. ""The actual shooting should be more difficult.'' And Bill Broer, director of the state Bureau of Crimimal Investigation, would only say the test ""isn't that difficult.'' Only people convicted of felonies, some violent misdemeanors and those with confirmed mental problems are ineligible. In Bismarck, the sheriff and the police chief must clear the application - by conducting background checks - before it's forwarded to BCI. Local law officers, lacking discretionary powers, admit they've had to uncomfortably approve shady-looking applicants. ""I've had a few of them,'' Morton County Sheriff Leo Snider said. ""There's a lot of people I don't trust with a weapon.'' If they meet legal requirements, Matzke said, all he can do is ask hard questions. ""I question some reasons,'' he said. ""I ask if they really need it. But if they demand it, I really don't have the authority to deny it.'' The shooting test requires the applicant to fire 10 rounds in five minutes at a large target seven yards away, and hit a human silhouette at least seven times.But the test's aim, said a Bismarck firearms instructor, isn't to ensure marksmanship, just competence. ""If the state was looking for accuracy, it would be too easy,'' said Mike Stensrud. ''If the state was looking for proficiency - know how to load the gun, know how to shoot the gun - I think it's adequate.'' So far this year, 42 Bismarck residents have received concealed weapon permits. And recent changes in Washington affecting handguns have at least raised local interest in the permit process. ""There's been more questions,'' Matzke said. ""But nothing to show an increase.'' Applicants list their reason for applying on the application. ""Most people list self-protection, or they want to carry it out for target practice,'' Harvey said. ""And some people just feel better with it.'' But packing a gun for protection isn't always the safest course if a struggle erupts, Harvey said, because sometimes it's pointed in the wrong direction. ""Any person carrying a gun could cause their own harm, could cause their own death. A lot of people have been shot with their own gun.'' Gun owners and target shooters often apply for concealed weapons permits, Matzke said, even when they don't need it. In North Dakota, a handgun is usually legal as long as the handgun isn't tucked under a seat, shoved in a glove box or hidden from view under a coat.

The following fields overflowed:
PUBDATE = Sunday, December 19, 1993

Morton County residents permitted to carry concealed weapons:
(List of names redacted by Bismarck-Mandan Blog)

(Source: Bureau of Criminal Investigation.)

The following fields overflowed:
PUBDATE = Sunday, December 19, 1993

Burleigh County residents permitted to carry concealed weapons: 
(List of names redacted by Bismarck-Mandan Blog)

(Source: Bureau of Criminal Investigation)
The following fields overflowed:
PUBDATE = Sunday, December 19, 1993

I used to think that the Tribune would probably prefer that North Dakotans forget that they ever pulled this childish little stunt, basically publishing a shopping list for gun thieves and possibly putting people’s safety at risk (including mine)…but given another recent display of animosity toward North Dakotans lawfully carrying concealed weapons, after passing the required background checks, I’m inclined to believe that they aren’t ashamed of it at all.

So tell me again how the Tribune staff are “strong defenders” of the Second Amendment?

Fargo Forum group attempts to whitewash sexual activist ban

forum_whitewash1Boy, the sexual activists were angry once sanity prevailed and SB2279 was defeated in the House.  Their social media was replete with f-bombs and the like, and the Fargo Forum group was ready to hop into the action with its inflammatory front page attempting to “shame” legislators who did the right thing.  Well, it didn’t end there.

Apparently a coffee shop in Fargo decided to have its own tantrum and ban legislators who voted against SB2279.  The ironic part is that the same legislators who were banned totally agree with the shop’s right to deny service to whoever they want!  That kinda took the wind out of the sails of the movement and proved the point the opponents of SB2279 are trying to make, so the activists had to do a “we were just kidding” backpedal job.  The Forum was more than happy to oblige.  Too bad for them there’s that Internet.

forum_whitewash2Here’s the original article from April 3rd at 6:48pm.  The link is here.  If they remove it or rewrite it, the PDF is here.  Note that while the idea is referred to as absurd, only to make opposition to SB2279 seem similarly so, there is no mention that the ban is a joke or “mockingly declared”.  The article claims:

Effective immediately, if you’re among those who voted against Senate Bill 2279 you’ll be shut out completely from the Red Raven.

Apparently someone realized that this probably wasn’t going to go well, predictably so.  After the news story about the ban aired on the Forum’s TV stations, someone probably figured out that this wouldn’t bode well for the cause, and an article published online shortly thereafter by the Forum group paints the stunt in an entirely different light:

forum_whitewash3Here’s the article from later that evening at 7:31pm.  The link is here.  If they remove it or rewrite it, the PDF is here.  In it, the ban has now become a ‘ban’, and it is being portrayed as something totally different:

  • “mockingly declared”;
  • “satirical”;
  • “a joke”;
  • a “fake embargo”;
  • a “satirical, political statement”

Right.  Kinda of reminds me of that Seinfeld clip where George quits his job in a spectacular fashion, then realizes that he’s made a mistake. Mr. Costanza acts like nothing ever happened, he was “kidding”, and that he can’t believe that anyone would have thought he was being serious:

So, which was it – coordinated media effort to keep the agenda plodding forward, or simply sloppy reporting from a historically biased media source?  Either the Forum group got it wrong in the first report or they had to help whitewash the ban after that report hit the air.  The timeline leads me to believe that this was intentional.  The person interviewed at the coffee shop made no mention of it being anything other than a serious ban in the original article despite being quoted four times.  The attempt to walk it back came later.

The fact of the matter is that the tiny minority of sexually disoriented persons in North Dakota and their vocal activists do not reflect “North Dakota values” as they proclaim, and in fact want a one-way street of discrimination and intimidation of people who don’t think the way they do or condone their choice of behavior or lifestyle.  Too bad.  They can try to have these little temper tantrums and even get left-wing media to amplify their ranting, but that doesn’t change the fact that individual liberty prevailed this time.

Fargo Forum proves that SB2279 was about intimidation

260748399-The-Forum-Friday-April-3-cover-originalThis is the “objective journalism” we get from the birdcage liner known as the Fargo Forum.  It proves what I’ve been saying all along: SB2279 is about intimidation.  Here they attempt to “shame” legislators who voted against this abomination for their vote to uphold religious liberty.

Rep. Boschee also made a veiled threat during the floor debate in the House chamber today, when he pointed toward the homofascist attacks on Indiana and Arkansas in the wake of religious liberty legislation being passed in those states.  He implied that the same sort of thing would befall North Dakota if they didn’t fall into lockstep with the other states currently being bullied and extorted into catering to 2.3% of the US population.

This is the “love” and “equality” you find from the sexually disoriented.  They talk a good game when they emote their way through committee hearings and even floor discussion, but what it comes down to is unparalleled vindictiveness.  That’s what SB2279 was all about.

So, I hopped into Photoshop to correct the cover of the Forum:

260748399-The-Forum-Friday-April-3-cover-accurateSB2279 had so many problems simply in its mechanics or lack thereof, but the “big picture” really is that this legislation has a well-documented track record as a blunt instrument used to persecute persons of faith.  The proponents tried to make it about “housing and employment”, but this legislation is most prominently used to go after Grandma when the convictions of her faith lead her to decline providing flowers for a homosexual “wedding”.

Stay classy, Fargo Forum.  No wonder you’re a dying breed.

Winter playlist (UPDATED)

I know we all hope there isn’t much winter left, but I finally decided to put together some links to the songs on my current Winter Playlist. Thanks to that lovely Internet, I can share these songs with you either via YouTube or iTunes. If you find a broken link, let me know.

In looking over the list, I realized a couple of things:

  • My tastes over winter tend a little toward the electronic, but not exclusively;
  • I seem to favor a certain style female vocalists in the winter;
  • I tend to choose more ethereal or wistful music.

I figure a lot of this is because it gets dark early during winter, and it’s more a matter of how the darkness affects my mood. Some of these songs, though, have a sentimental attachment from my time working for Mountain Operations for a ski resort out in the Rockies. Snowboarding for a living when you’re in your late teens and early twenties is a real blast if you can pull it off – just make sure you get back to college after your sabbatical!

Anyway, here’s the list. No particular order. If you don’t like one, move on to the next. Feedback appreciated.

UPDATE: I forgot a couple of songs, so I’ve added them to the beginning of the list.

Grouper – “Vessel” (I originally forgot this one) LINK

Spiritualized – “200 Bars” (One more tragic oversight) LINK

Junip – “Far Away” LINK

Kid Loco – “Relaxin’ with Cherry” LINK

Kitchens of Distinction – “Mad As Snow” LINK

Nasty Rox, Inc – “10th Wonder” LINK

Télépopmusik – “Breathe” LINK

The War On Drugs – “Comin’ Through” LINK

One Dove – “Breakdown” LINK

Mac-Talla – “Griogal Cridhe (Beloved Gregor)” LINK

Lost Lander – “Wonderful World” LINK

Minks – “Everything’s Fine” LINK

Lord Huron – “She Lit A Fire” LINK

The Besnard Lakes – “We’re Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time)” LINK

The Sundays – “Here’s Where the Story Ends” LINK

The Nightgowns – “Narwhal Aerobics” LINK

JEFF the Brotherhood – “Heavy Days” LINK

Steve Mason – “All Come Down” LINK

Royksopp – “Remind Me” LINK

Big Spider’s Back – “Terminal Seat” LINK

Big Spider’s Back – “Brigette Bombay” LINK

The Innocence Mission – “That Was Another Country” LINK

Sin Fang Bous – “Melt Down the Knives” LINK

Miko Mission – “How Old Are You” LINK

Lower Dens – “Brains” LINK

Phenomenal Handclap Band – “Following” LINK

Chad Valley – “Fast Challenges” LINK

The Octopus Project – “I Saw the Bright Shinies” LINK

Blue Sky Black Death – “Sleeping Children Are Still Flying” LINK

Lindsey Buckingham – “Trouble” LINK

New Division – “Starfield” LINK

The Lonely Forest – “Coyote” LINK

Pink Floyd – “Learning to Fly (Live version)” LINK

Trentemøller – “Snowflake” LINK

Dapuntobeat – “0 (Dospuntocero)” LINK

When Saints Go Machine – “Fail Forever” LINK

Kruder & Dorfmeister – “The Lick” LINK

Midnight Masses – “Walk on Water” LINK

Pixies – “Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf Mix)” LINK

Iska Dhaaf – “All the Kids” LINK

The Ocean Blue – “The Planetarium Scene” LINK

Yello – “Sometimes” LINK

Mint Royale – “Always Welcome” LINK

Ian Brown – “Northern Lights” LINK

We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Keeping Warm” LINK

Thomas Dolby – “Leipzig is Calling” (Live) LINK

808 State – “Pacific 202” LINK

Suuns – “Up Past the Nursery” LINK

Spiritualized – “I Think I’m in Love” LINK

José González – “Heartbeats” LINK

Nicola Conte – “Bossa Per Due” LINK

Nitzer Ebb – “Let Beauty Loose” LINK

Slowdive – “Rutti” LINK

Rupert Hine – “With One Look” LINK

The Future Sound of London – “Papua New Guinea” LINK

Dreadzone – “A Dream Within A Dream” LINK

Active Child – “I’m In Your Church at Night” LINK

BØRNS – “10,000 Emerald Pools” LINK

So, there ya have it.  That’s what I like to have playing when out driving around looking for photos or hiking in the snow.  Of course, it’s about time to start looking for a Spring playlist!

Why “The LEGO Movie” should have been released on Freedom Friday, not Taco Tuesday (SPOILERS)

lego_movie_1Today was a long awaited day in my house; the LEGO Movie came out on Blu-Ray today! My boys and I had “three dudes time” to see this at the luxurious Grand Theater and were eager to watch it with Mommy. Tonight that dream came true.

Let’s get one thing straight: This is a DAD movie. I knew this from seeing it in the theater, but the point was driven home again tonight…strongly, considering all I’ve gone through lately and the fact that Father’s Day was two days ago.

With that in mind, I’d like to point out why this movie should have been released last Friday, in anticipation of Father’s Day, not today. There are spoilers here, so you’ve been warned to come back after you’ve seen the movie.






. (spoilers below)






lego_movie_2I was surprised when the film switched to live-action, but impressed how they bridged the happenings in the LEGO universe with the play of the young boy. Where the whole point of the movie gets driven home, however, is when the boy’s father appears. We conservatives are used to Hollywood movies having leftist agendas, so when the villain was named Lord Business many people automatically thought it was an indictment of capitalism. No, guys…it’s not. It’s an indictment of dads so wrapped up in work and order that they are no longer capable of playing with their little boys. I’m pretty sensitive about this subject, and I have been since I was a kid, so I caught on right away.


lego_movie_3So did the boy’s father, the instant he found the President Business figure. At an hour and twenty-eight minutes into the movie: denouement. The father gets a heart-wrenching lesson from his boy: it’s important to remember to play. Realizing how he has figured into his little boy’s play world, Will Farrell’s character is convicted in his heart. The loving, contrite way in which he opens up to his boy is a perfect lesson every dad needs to see, and of which we should be reminded regularly.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the structure of our lives and forget how to play. There’s always one more thing to be done, there are always demands at work and at home, and innumerable distractions try to worm their way in between a Daddy and his children. As one of my favorite Grasshopper Takeover songs says, “You can never get it back…you can only let it go.” That, my friends, is the real lesson behind the LEGO Movie, the sweet message that I think too many have completely missed, and the reason why I think it should be a Father’s Day staple from this day forward.

Okay, it’s a little weird getting FOX on “Channel 5” – but it isn’t really 5 anyway (UPDATED)

kfyr_sale_2013A while ago I posted that the local television landscape would be undergoing even more changes as the Hoak Media stations such as KFYR  were being sold again, as was the KNDX cluster or stations owned by Prime Cities.  Then, to complicate things, the company that bought the KFYRs, KVLY, and KSFYs signed a tentative agreement to operate the KNDXs.  Whee.  I bet that’ll make for a busy control room.

Well, tonight I finally decided to watch 24 on KNDX instead of the web (I turned it off halfway through, though, to play a game with my little boy) and noticed that I wasn’t getting 26.1 anymore.  I knew the transition was coming, but I watch so little television these days that I hadn’t rescanned yet.  Sure enough, I picked up FOX on what my television calls “5.2” and no channel 26 could be found.

In case I didn’t mention it here, although I think I did on my blog’s Facebook page, the scuttlebutt I’d heard was for KNDX to move to 5.2, MeTV to eventually move to 26.1, and BEK Communications programming to reside on 26.2 or 26.3.  MeTV is still on 5.3, but I don’t expect that to last long.  The reason is that any TV station like KFYR only gets 6MHz of bandwidth for their TV signal, and the only way to fit more on it is by compressing the signals digitally – decreasing the picture quality.


Analog-vs-Digital-SignalI decided to make this rudimentary graphic (engineers, don’t freak) to give a broad overview of how TV signals are different these days.  On the left is the same old snowy analog signal that we grew up with, and on the right is the new digital DTV signal which provides that high definition picture.  Both use the same 6 MHz of bandwidth, which means the frequency range for their signal to modulate (think vibrate) in.

Note all the ups and downs on the left.  That’s because an analog TV signal was actually three different signals:  You had the picture, which was an AM signal (like the radio in Grandpa’s car, sorta).  This was actually black and white.  Then you have the color subcarrier, which put the color information into the picture, also AM.  Finally, spaced away from the video carrier by a specific offset, was the audio signal – but this is an FM carrier (like the radio the kids used to listen to in the 80’s).

On the right, you simply have one monster signal, going full blast like a fire hose from end to end (Note: engineers, I don’t think the readers want to hear about sideband right now).  What this signal is doing, rather than delivering actual pictures in wavy format, is trying to spew forth as many error-free ones and zeros as possible.  What the TV station does with those ones and zeros, however, is where the magic happens.

Say you’re Prairie Public, for example.  You put four channels on it: 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4.  Or perhaps, like KX, you put up one HD channel and one weather channel. KBMY has recently started doing the same thing.

What KFYR has done up to this point is put out a 1080i HD signal for KFYR and a 480i (standard definition) signal for MeTV.  This makes sense, as the programming on MeTV was produced for a 4×3, standard definition broadcast picture.  But for the time being they now also have a 720p HD signal for KNDX running on the same data stream, meaning that their 6MHz bandwidth has to fit a lot more information on it.  I’m sure they’re eager to get MeTV moved over to 26 as soon as it’s technically feasible.


fcc-tv-queryOne other thing that’s noteworthy about Channel 26 vs. Channel 5 is that it is actually Channel 26.  When the federal government mandated that stations begin broadcasting digitally only and abandon their analog signal, many stations had to change frequencies.  In our area, “Channel 5” is one of these.

As you can see in the FCC table above, stations with frequencies already within the newly defined broadcast TV spectrum such as KXMB, KBMY, and KNDX were able to keep their existing channels.  KBME and KFYR, channels 3 and 5 respectively, weren’t so lucky.

Obviously these stations, and many like them, have spent fifty or sixty years identifying themselves with a channel number, and they’d rather not start from scratch.  No worries, though; they’re allowed to identify themselves as their old channel, even though the radio frrequencies they’re using to broadcast their signal are nowhere near that actual channel number.  As the chart above indicates, KFYR is actually Channel 31 and KBME is actually Channel 22.  You’ll never see them come up on your television that way, however.

The transition from analog television to digital television has been pretty weird.  The economic picture of terrestrially-based broadcasting has been equally spooky, with all these stations combining resources to remain viable while spending millions in capital expenses to adopt the new technology.  Thankfully, all you have to do to continue receiving the signals over the air at this point is to rescan every now and then to pick up any channels you’ve missed or, in rare cases like this, may have moved.

Update:  I’ve been told that there will be no Channel 26 in Bismarck, 24 in Minot.  That means what I’d heard through the grapevine about a MeTV/BEK thing on 26, 24, and the low-power stations in Williston and Dickinson is not happening.  Channel 5 may be a little more crowded, but all three pictures still look great…so I doubt they’re stressing their available bandwidth.