A Treatise on Media

You know, there’s been a bit of a dust up lately over media in central Illinois, from the fact that the Springfield paper is dying on the vine, to changes in electronic media. I was going to address some of that, but instead I thought I’d look into Lee’s crystal ball so some of the younger of you can see what’s on the horizon.

Regarding print media:  It’s a dinosaur. The day of having the newspaper delivered to your porch or picking one up at an “honor box” is almost over. Without naming names, take a look at your local paper. It probably has been gobbled up into a conglomerate. There may be some local reporters left, a few ad sales representatives, and maybe a photographer or two, but much of the work is being done elsewhere. The internet and other electronic file transfer has made it possible to consolidate the production. With a chain of newspapers in the company, the editing of stories for multiple papers may be done in one city and electronically transfer the files for printing in another. Oh, the ads? Laid out and produced in India. Could this be?  Yep.

After the presses are done printing that “oldspaper” (remember, by the time it’s written, edited and printed, it’s not new anymore. It’s been on the internet for hours,) and the trucks have hauled the bundles of newspapers to their towns, eventually it winds up on your porch. If you have a personal attachment to holding that paper in your hands, you should begin to wean  yourself from it. I doubt there will be many hard copy newspapers around 5 years from now. These “print” companies are trying to make the shift to an internet delivery platform, but it may be too little, too late. I’m just glad our household doesn’t have a bird. Whatever would we line the bird cage with?

Electronic media: Those of you who will be alive 25 years from now will see a whole new landscape. Literally. Those TV and radio towers with their cold, snapping strobe lights, or warm blinking red marker beacons will be gone. Most of them, anyway. Delivery of radio and TV will no longer be through a transmitter and antenna. Already, you’re seeing video and sound delivery by the internet. In the not too distant future, broadcasters will be able to eliminate expensive transmitters (and the electricity to run them) tower maintenance, and everything associated with that.  Instead, their programming will be delivered by some different vehicle. Internet?  Maybe. Or more likely, there will be a different way which will be developed and become low cost and popular virtually overnight.

What’s this mean? Bedroom broadcasting. As I sit here pontificating in my man cave, I have a laptop with enough music and adequate software to output a stream that you’d swear was a radio station. A little money, some significant knowledge, and the will to put in the time, and just about anyone is up and running with their own “live” radio station. Podcasts on demand are even easier, and already commonplace. Again, no need for a licensed transmitter or tower.

But what about TV? Same story. If you have the wherewithal, you can be a TV broadcaster over the internet…and in 20 years who knows what platform. You can shoot some video of the kids singing in the living room, upload it to your favorite social media site, and be an “on demand” broadcaster right now. If you have the knowledge, you can do it live. You just need to know how, have the hardware and software, and…and this is a big “and,” have the CONTENT.  Chances are that the general viewing public doesn’t care about watching little Gretel and Hansel singing in the living room.

But what about something that has no copyright which might be of interest?  Let’s say for sake of example, a speech on the steps of the state capitol. IF you know how and have an iPad which can connect to the internet with a fast enough connection, there you go. Your constraints on quality are limited by your finances and desire.

Maybe if you’re out storm spotting, and can get a fast enough internet connection, you can show it live on your own website. If you have the right software, for less than $500 you can have a multi camera, HD, shoot which will rival the 40 foot production trailers that cost tens of thousands of dollars to rent for a day.  All right there out of your own SUV, or basement studio.

The TV stations know this, and they’re bringing out content on their secondary channels.  When the demand for “live” streaming on the internet (or whatever future platform) is sufficient, and the bandwidth is available, the sky is the limit.

The era of the “citizen broadcaster” is here. It’s just not widespread. Mostly because of demand. But here’s an idea…maybe uncle Ed has an iPad that links to the internet, and he could shoot your wedding and stream it live for folks who can’t make the trip from Piety Hill to the wedding venue. Already, we’re seeing a way to utilize broadband as a “citizen broadcaster.”

Great idea. And as with all great ideas, I’m sure the government will figure out a way to regulate and TAX it, because anything worth having or doing is worth taxing.

OH, you might be interested in some tornado tips. http://centralilwx.com/tornado

Just sayin’ for now.


In Like a Lion

It’s the first of March. The snow started in Springfield late Saturday afternoon, and was tapering off this morning. As of around noon it looked like we’re about done. At 9 p.m. Saturday, I measured 2″ of snow in my driveway and on my sidewalks. I had forecast 4″ by morning, 6″ total for the snow event. While I didn’t say it, I was thinking there would be isolated areas of 7″ in Springfield. Possibly a little more in east central Illinois.

It looks like that may indeed be the case. I haven’t been out to measure yet, but when I fire up the snow blower this afternoon, I’ll take my measuring tape along and catch some measurements. The technique for measurement is to find 3 representative areas, free from drifting and from being blown away. You measure those 3 areas, and take the average. Measurement by “eyeball” from inside the house looks like around 7″ here.

Here’s a bit of good news: Temperatures look like they’ll be warming on Tuesday. The forecast models are hinting upper 40’s, but I think they’re failing to include the fact that some of that radiation will be going to melting the snow instead of heating the air. So, at this point I’m thinking 40-42 for the highs. The problem is, there’s more precip in the forecast and it looks to me like most of it will be in the form of rain which will freeze against the cold surfaces. Then it goes cold again with Tuesday night’s low dipping down into the low single digits. Will this never end?

Yes!  It will!

Once we get past Thursday, the cold pattern breaks and we’ll get a few days of highs into the 40’s! Overnight lows still will drop below freezing, but the daytime highs will feel almost balmy compared to what we’ve been dealing with.

And it’s NEXT Saturday night (technically 2 a.m. Sunday,) we turn our clocks ahead one hour for daylight saving time…until next November. I was going to do a rant on global climate change, but I think I’ll give my blood pressure a little rest today.

Stay warm!

Mid Winter Thoughts

You may or may not know that I taught Introduction to Weather and Climate at Lincoln Land Community College in 2014. Spring semester I had Tuesday & Thursday evening classes, and in the fall it was Tuesday & Thursday afternoon classes. Two hours per class meeting. I found it fun to teach “real world” weather to students who weren’t planning to major in meteorology. It was kind of cool that although adjunct faculty, I was accorded the courtesy of being called “professor.” I’ve also been told by some friends with doctorates, who teach/have taught at the university level, the courtesy title of “professor” is kind of like “coach.”  You get called professor even after you’re no longer teaching. Cool.

I think I enjoyed teaching spring semester more than fall. I don’t know whether it was because spring was my first semester teaching, because it was evening as opposed to day, or whether the makeup of the students in the evening was different from daytime.

Fall semester (Tues-Thurs 2-3:50pm) seemed to be more traditional college students. I started with 22 students which rapidly became 18, then toward mid-term 14. I guess they thought they weren’t going to have to actually LEARN material. Some of them took earth science in high school, and I think they felt they knew everything they needed to pass a college course. High school is pretty much learning facts and parroting them back. College is about critical thinking and being analytical. At the end of the semester, I had one student who had not attended class since October, did not take the final exam or hand in any assignments, and did not withdraw from the class despite my encouragement that he withdraw. He was awarded four hours of “F” for his lack of effort. Truly disappointing to me.

Also disappointing was these students’ lack of work ethic. I think there were only a few who actually read their book. On Thursday, I’d give an assignment for the next Tuesday which looked like: “Read, understand, and be prepared to discuss the content in chapter ##.” When I picked up on the fact they weren’t doing their reading, I started giving pop quizzes on Tuesdays. They didn’t like me much for doing that. I didn’t like it much that I was doing more preparation for class than they did.

I’m not teaching this (spring 2015) semester. They didn’t have a section they needed me to teach. I don’t know how I’ll react if they need me for fall. The pay certainly isn’t very much, so that’s not a factor. Being a slave to the college calendar really cut back on our 2014 trips to Florida.

I’m liking being retired.

“Professor” Davis

Yes, it’s been a while.

I just wanted to make a comment about one station’s promotion of the fact that they have been rated the most accurate weather forecasting in this television market. I don’t doubt that the statement is true, but there’s a “back story” you should know.

In the two preceding years, WAND StormCenter 17 was named by that same rating agency as the most accurate. The rating is something which the company must purchase the rights to in order to be able to promote that fact. TWO years. Most accurate. The problem was, WAND declined to purchase (very expensive) the right to use that rating.

I’m not trying to say that because I’ve retired, WAND no longer is the most accurate. What I’m saying is…and I don’t know how that company functions in their sales of the rating…If I were dealing with a situation such as this, and the most accurate station two years in a row would not buy my service, I think it’s possible to assume that I no longer would have them in the realm of contention and instead only rate the stations who possibly would buy my service.

I am NOT saying this is how that rating company works. In fact, I don’t know how they work. I’m just speculating how I might handle that situation.

I’m proud of the work I did and the work the people in my department did. But I’m glad to be retired.


You Trippin’?

   If you’re considering some sort of vacation this summer & don’t have a location in mind, you might consider southwest Florida. Yes, it will be hot then. But the breeze off the Gulf of Mexico will make it more comfortable, and the water temperature should be pleasant, as well. Now, I’m not selling something. I don’t work for the tourism board, I’m just offering some info to my blog readers in the event you’re looking for a good deal.
   Allegiant Airlines is running a special right now, flying out of Springfield (free parking) into Punta Gorda, Florida, which is about 20 miles or so north of Fort Myers. You’ll need a rental car, which I suggest packaging with your airfare. It’s a considerable savings.
   I picked a couple of random dates in August and found round trip airfare, taxes & fees for TWO at about $306. Makes for cheap travel. Now, keep in mind that Allegiant charges $50 EACH WAY for your checked suitcase…and that’s only up to 40 pounds. Here’s the catch…you also have to pay for a “carry on.” Personal item which goes under the seat is free. They also charge you to choose your seat in advance. I think it’s like $17 per seat, per flight. Now we’re talking some add-on. But if that doesn’t matter to you, skip that part. It’s also cheaper to pay for your baggage when you book, rather than at check-in.
   Even with one bag at $50 each way…$406 for two people round trip is a pretty good price. Add to that the fact that you get in the airplane at Springfield, and in about 2 hours & 20 minutes, you’re in Punta Gorda. 
   There’s lots to do in SWFL and I’m sure the tourism sites will point you the right way. Also, you don’t have to stay at a beach hotel. You can find more economical places away from the beach, and just drive there. Oh, and there are plenty of great bars for happy hour, and more.
   Just a tip, in the event you’re looking for something in the way of a fun getaway this summer. Oh, and if you fall in love with SWFL, I can give you the name of a Ft. Myers Beach Realtor who’d be glad to sell you a permanent residence. Just send me a private e-mail and I’ll give you the name.


A week after I retired, we took a little trip to Florida. Spent a couple of nights at Ft. Myers Beach, then off to Key West for an airshow with the US Navy Blue Angels. After that, back to Ft. Myers and home.

It was a great way to celebrate my retirement. While we were having the complimentary continental breakfast at one of the places we stayed, I overheard this guy who was obviously out of work, complaining to no end. Now, this place was about $90 a night, so he must have some sort of income stream.

While he was talking about work, he told the couple at the table with him that he’d love to be a teacher. Now, I think teachers are overworked and underpaid. In many schools, they’re even disrespected and abused by the parents of student…not everywhere, but in many schools. Teachers work hard to get their teaching certificate, and have to keep up with continuing education.

Now comes the source of my frustration. Here’s this guy who aspires to teach. What stood out was his comments about the lack of assurance of employment. His quote, “…then, I seen it don’t guarantee you no job.”

Is it no wonder this guy isn’t working? When I spoke to kids on careers, I used to tell them, no matter what they’re planning to do with their lives, LEARN TO PROPERLY USE THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. It will serve you well all your life.

Thank you for putting up with this rant.


Sleeping in on day 1 of retirement

A normal work day had my alarm waking me at 7 a.m. to be at work by 9:30. Keeping in mind my 45 minute commute to Decatur.

So this morning, no alarm…I woke up at 5:45. I promised myself I’d blog something mindless and I guess this qualifies. It’s almost 10, I’ve done some social networking stuff like a couple of Tweets and Facebooking…not to mention all the texts coming out of my phone, and I need to get busy on the things to accomplish for day 1.

Tell all your friends to check me out on FB & Twitter. They can find me easily by hitting my home page:  leedavis.net


Welcome! Cast off your links to any of my old blogs, you’ve found the right spot!

We’ll get the party rolling as soon as I recover from becoming a “civilian” and no longer a broadcaster. Check back often.

March 7, 2013

The inception…this is the first post on my personal blog. I hope it gets more attention than my previous blogs have.

My intention is to blog something on a regular basis. Probably not every day, but fairly regular.