M.C.F.A.T. Volume XXVIII Answers

Last week I posted the TWENTY-EIGHTH batch of the M.C.F.A.T., or Mysterious Cloaked Figure's Astonishing Test questions. Here are the answers you came up with:


And here are my answers:

1) How has the forced transition to digital television affected you?
There are definitely some flaws in the system, and most of the champions of the switch are people who were already paying a monthly fee to watch television via Cable or some other pay service. The way a digital box works is that it translates the signal coming to an antenna so a regular television can pick up digital broadcasts. Changing the channel on a TV or VCR is now pointless, as they must be set to either 3 or 4 while the box is set to your desired station. Since the VCR can't change what the box is set to, programming shows is now impossible. You can set it to tape channel 3 or 4 at the desired time, but you need to manually set the box to the channel you want to be taping. This means that the only way to watch one channel while taping another is to have two boxes and split the coaxial cable leading to the roof antenna, so one box goes to the television while the other goes to the VCR.

I've also noticed that digital signals are weaker than analog. Our television in the living room only picks up about a 22% signal, and while most of the stations are crisp, CBS occasionally breaks into squares and I've yet to get NBC at all. Oddly enough, the smaller television in my parents' bedroom does get NBC and about 5 or 6 other channels that the living room TV does not, even though both are connected to the same antenna. My dad's theory is that the cable leading to that television may be shorter, and there's less resistance. I tried switching the boxes, since I had an Insignia in the living room and an RCA in the bedroom, but both locations still got the same channels. It's not the brand; it's the location(or the television). I left the Insignia on the bedroom TV since I had another Insignia on my VCR in the living room that kept picking up the remote signal for the Insignia attached to the television. The only other thing left to try is to rotate the antenna, which I found to be very tightly bolted to our chimney. There are a lot of tall trees in our neighborhood and it doesn't take much to interfere with a digital signal.

Ultimately, I don't see it as an improvement. I'm not opposed to paying for a service if I want all those extra channels, but on principle it doesn't seem fair for the government to make free television so unreliable that it forces people to get Cable whether they want to or not. Television was always free; that's why there were so many commercials. Advertisers paid for the programming. I'm going to look into other options for recording shows as well. I know some require Cable or a subscription service like TiVo, but I've been trying to figure out if a DVR exists that will work like a VCR, picking up the shows through an antenna and just saving them to a hard drive rather than a cassette, which is a dated technology. I'm wondering how the millions of Americans who either can't afford or don't understand this switch are managing. We're adjusting, but there's nothing I really watch during the Summer so I think it's going to hit me a lot harder in the Fall, especially if I can't watch NBC unless I use my folks' television. I miss analog. Sure, we didn't have subchannels that broadcast weather or traffic cameras 24/7, but I'd trade all the dash-2, dash-3, and dash-4's for a television that got the basic stations I wanted.

2) If you could wield any fictional weapon for one day, what would you choose?
If it's only for one day, then it has to be the Infinity Gauntlet, which would make me the supreme master of time, space, mind, soul, power and reality. With the Reality gem I could make my life as good as my dreams, while the Time gem would be the key in stretching out that one day to an eternity of happiness. I'd probably use the Mind gem to move my memories of that day deep into my subconscious, so the transition back to ordinary life would be more bearable, but I'd have an inexplicable feeling of content deep down.

3) Do you ever lose focus and “crash”, and how do you regain productivity and momentum?
I was hoping for some advice here. There are some days when I just can't focus on my work, and find myself checking my e-mail, reading blogs, or playing a game. I'll go back to what I'm supposed to be doing, work for a bit, and then my low attention span kicks back in. Early in my career I had days where I could sit in front of a computer for eight hours straight, skipping lunch, and get a ton of stuff done. I guess it helped that we didn't have internet access at my first job. I think part of the problem is that I've been in a bit of a slow season. I know I have time to slack off and will still get my work done. When I'm under pressure and have a lot more projects going, I tend to focus more. Of course, when I have TOO MANY projects the same thing can happen when I have too few, and I'll get sidetracked until I make a list and just start tackling things one at a time. I guess as the brain ages, it needs more variety. Maybe the key is to take smaller breaks and time myself, allow five minutes to check my e-mail or talk to a coworker, then go back to my tasks. I can probably vary my work as well, when I feel my attention slipping from one flyer, move it aside to work on another flyer, or an envelope, or something else that needs to be done. Basically, I need to take a planned “channel surfing” approach to my day.

4) What was your favorite made-up or modified childhood game?
When we played “tag”, we played it on our bicycles. And you didn't have to touch the other person if you were “it”; you had to hit them or their bike with a tennis ball. We very quickly upgraded that model and switched to using a frisbee, shades of Tron, and I never had a better time than I did when I was playing that game, even the time I flew over my handlebars when my front tire hit a root while I was flinging the frisbee and not hanging on with my hands. I hit the pavement palms first, skinning my hands, and my bike ended up landing on me. But I hit my target, and I was happy.

SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: What late comic book editor maintained an unprecedented knowledge continuity among his company's vast assortment of titles?
I was referring to Mark Gruenwald, an editor with an encyclopedic knowledge of his company's history. In his own writing and that of the writers he oversaw, Marvel enjoyed the greatest sense of a shared universe. Past stories and characters were remembered and integrated seamlessly into new ones, and events in one book affected plots in others. You didn't have to read every comic they made each month, outside of crossover events, but it made for a much richer tapestry if you did. Since Gruenwald's demise, Marvel's bankruptcy, and subsequent rise thanks to renewed interest in the medium due to their film projects, some of that continuity has been lost. From what I've read, companywide arcs like Dark Reign and others have begun tying the Marvel Universe back together the way it was in Gruenwald's prime.



Blogger b13 said...

I have no pity... you have no idea what you are missing with a FiOS connection. Well worth the monthly fee and about time you treat your parents (and yourself) to high def.

6/20/2009 12:36 AM  
Blogger b13 said...

Ok, maybe a little pity ;)

You'll have to check it out next time you come bye.

6/20/2009 12:37 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

It's television; I don't see how "pity" should even be a factor. As it is, I schedule enough of my life around something as trivial as entertainment and there are some nights, particularly Mondays and Thursdays, that I spend four hours or more in front of the thing(before spending another 2 or 3 watching a DVD or doing internet stuff like blogging).

I don't need more channels. I just need channels to work the way they always did without extra fees or devices.

6/20/2009 9:24 PM  
Blogger b13 said...

But they are so crisp and sharp and pretty!

6/21/2009 9:52 AM  

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