Mandatory Digital Television. Is the Country Ready? It’s not like an HDTV Upgrade

So February 17. That is the day that the US Government has mandated the digital TV conversion. What does that mean? That means that our whole COUNTRY is supposed to stop using analog (regular) TV and start using digital TV. Do you even know what that means? Most people don’t. Most people in this country are not aware that their regular TV sets are going to stop working and that they are SUPPOSED to have digital TV sets in their house. Yeah right.

There are 300 million people in this country. The Neilsen’s people say there are about 112 milliion television households. The cable industry estimates that about 65 million households have cable. Let’s be generous and say 75 percent of the country has cable TV or Satellite TV or just don’t even watch TV. That leaves 28 million people. Ok let’s review; 300 million people called by the industry 112 households. By the way 99 percent of American households have one ore more TV sets. And that of course is how we need to look at this. 99 percent has one or more sets. I think we can say there are AT LEAST 300 million TV’s out there. My uncle is a pack rat. He has 200 sets. 200.

Now the Government has decided to issue Americans 40 dollar subsidy cards. 2 per household. These cards are supposed to ease the cost of the converter boxes (also known as Set Top Box) that will make your analog set able to handle the digital signal (if you were not either well off enough or prepared enough to buy a digital TV). Here’s the fun part. For some bizarre reason they were sending the cards to people BUT they had 90 day expiration dates. After that the cards were junk. AND you couldn’t apply for a new one. Hi! Welcome! How you doin’! My mother and uncle BOTH missed this deadline.


Most people are just discovering this so now they’re a rush to get these cards, but because of the rush they’re running out. But THAT is the good news. The bad news. The REAL news is that most people don’t really “get” that this changeover is mandatory. It’s not a new feature that’s coming that you can choose not to use, like cable TV or touch tone phone instead of rotary. Your old TV set is not going to work. Now think about the average American. Not the college educated, city dwelling, young, hipster-but regular folks. Nebraska corndogs, Black or Hispanic bus drivers just barely staying above the poverty line, the TONS of old folks. The tons and tons of old folks. Are you thinking about them? Now what do you think the chances are they’re prepared for this? Realistically. How many?

I probably need to talk, at this point, a tiny bit about the technical issues. Check this out; those converter boxes? They don’t work with a lot of TV sets. Surprise! At this point I need to mention that I was an early adopter of High Definition Television. Yeah, well early-ish. I bought a 36 inch HDTV ready set about 5 years ago. So that meant I ALSO had to go out and buy a Set Top Box. An over the air receiver that would convert the digital signal for my HDTV (ready) set. In those days you had to pay EXTRA for the HDTV to have the converter included. Seems crazy now, but the price difference made it an easy decision back then.

And, are you ready for this, I ALSO had to go and buy an 8 foot antenna. That’s not how high it was, that’s how WIDE it was. It was about 10 feet high. And I lived in an apartment. So just for MYSELF. One guy. I had to install an antenna on a roof that I did not own. I had to convince my landlord to LET ME PUT HOLES in the roof and bolt this giant fucking thing on the roof. PLUS (you still there?) PLUS I had to go up there all the time to redirect the antenna. Oh did I mention that? Part of the JOYYYYYY of digital TV is just like in the 1950’s! you have to get your signal from the broadcast location. But unlike analog (regular) TV where not that much data has to reach you, and the system is pretty stable, DIGITAL TV SIGNAL is very erratic. If the wind blow, if it’s overcast, if it’s raining, if there is too much electrical energy in the atmosphere you’re not going to get a good signal. ANNNND if you don’t have a great view of your local broadcaster’s antenna good luck. If a bunch of buildings or trees or mountains are in your line of view you MIGHT not get a signal. And if you live your place that’s encased in thick concrete like a condo; good luck again, it’s going to be tough to get a good signal.

TLC Electric Human is a Story I Can Personally Relate to

I keep thinking I’m done watching these TLC “My Shocking Story” episodes-but I keep coming back. And then I write stories like my Half Man Half Tree story or my Woman with Giant Legs and Man with No Face stories. And I keep thinking I wont write another piece, but here I am! This thing about Electric Humans though really caught my attention because I actually KNOW people with this ability.


SO the first guy they show is Jose Marcus Aiella a young man in Puerto Rico who lives a simple life as a quiet man working at a TV repair shop. Quite simply the guy is super powered; he can conduct electricity, create enough electric heat to burn stuff and even create magnetic fields and store electric energy. But I have to tell you. I’ve seen something like this before.

My grand-uncle (that would be my grandmother’s brother) just had his 83rd birthday about 10 days ago, and he’s been repairing electrical appliances, like radios but especially TV sets, since he was a teenager. He can handle electricity. I’m currently renovated a house (see other parts of this blog) and so on occasion I’ll ask him how to wire or run electricity in the house, he’ll tell me, and guess what? I’ll do it and get my ass shocked! I’ll call him and tell him what happened and he’ll say oh HE can touch this or that thing but I can’t. I’ve seen him handle things a normal person can’t, I’ve seen electricity shoot at him and it not have any effect on him.

Back to Jose. So Jose’s mayor finds out about him and his first reaction is to get some kind of tourist attraction set up. Jose sort of recoils from this idea, but does decide to stage and extremely dangerous demonstration for his neighbors. I say this because I’m currently putting siding on my house and the ONLY section I haven’t done is where the 220 Volts are attached. That 220 (in Jose’s case 244) is pretty much the most lethal juice a normal citizen will have access to, after that you’d have to be in some non-residential location. But Jose survives. The scientists determine that his has essentially trained his body to withstand the juice. So nothing definitive except don’t YOU try it.


The show also features a woman named Debbie in the UK who basically kills or changes things that function on electricity. She calls herself a “slider” a person who does this due to their emotions or state of mind.


Now this story is also close to my heart. I had a girlfriend who knocked electrical things out. She didn’t believe me at first and for some reason interpreted her ability as me putting her down. She felt embarrassed and really tried to deny it, but after numerous situations she had to admit it. I first became aware of her “power” when I changed all her normal light bulbs to the energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs. Those things are supposed to last 7-10 years. But hers started going out. So I brought the bulbs back to my house and they worked in one of the light sockets. When she would visit my place she ALSO began to knock MY light bulbs out, my computers, my TV. I mean clearly things related to me caused a change in her emotions, but more importantly when she would leave my place the devices would start working again. I loaned her my truck to pick her daughter up from college. Truck comes back; headlight blown out. She gets out of my truck, I get in, the headlight comes back on. And so on.

Back to Debbie. They run a test and have her watch video of Jose, and she has an elevated electrical reading due to her excitement in watching Jose. There’s a comic book British superhero named Jenny Sparks that I’m reminded of…


Anyway here is a link to the My Shocking Story British website. WARNING; like some of the photos on this site you will see some hard to digest images. I suppose you could acclimate yourself by first reading my Half Man Half Tree story or my Woman with Giant Legs and Man with No Face stories. Here’s a story I just found last night about facial transplants.


Must be Pledge Time Geoffrey Baer is Back on WTTW with Chicago’s Lakefront

Waaaaay back in March I did this 2 part piece called PBS Television at WTTW Features the Great Hidden Chicago. It was about one of me watching Geoffrey Baer’s program Hidden Chicago. (I also did a piece called Change Your Brain and Change Your Life on PBS and I think they’re running that tonight too). And now Baer is back with Chicago’s Lakefront which is, from what I can tell, a revamped version of a special he did about 10 years ago. But so many things have changed in that time he and his team had to pretty much start from scratch. So what’s it about? Well the lakefront! But it’s good to get these kinds of specials during pledge drive-don’t get me wrong the Suze Orman and Wayne Dryer things are nice, but I like these Chicago centric or mind centric shows a lot.


As you may have noticed, this blog’s title is called Welcome Back Rosenthal (that’s me) and its alluding to the fact that I’m back in town (Chicago for now, but I guess when I move back to LA it’ll be about that..) But that’s just it; I might be a fickle man. I tend to love wherever I live. Except New York. The 9 years I lived in the Manhattan…well I got very accustomed to it and very sophisticated in the ways of the locals and pretty settled in, but I don’t think I enjoyed it. How can I describe my time there? I was really, really deeply rooted with all my local eat shops, friends, college, girlfriends, career, bands, clubs, places to shop, PLACES TO USE THE BATHROOM. All of that. I got really good. Hell I was hanging out in Greenpoint before it was “GREENPOINT,” working for an Italian guy in a Polish neighborhood in a converted warehouse doing carpentry for a general contractor.

I was nearly as rooted in Tokyo and the 100 mile area around Tokyo (you really have to travel a lot as a private English teacher, not to mention my marital art school was totally outside the city). But my 9 years in Los Angeles was different. I think I actually loved it there! I know! It sounds kind of shocking. And it’s a weird thing to admit. But once I sort of quit showbiz and stopped living in the city as a frantic actor running from place to place to place to place for auditions, open calls, agent meetings, casting calls, and tons and tons of shoots I found the city. I mean because of all that running around I learned every nook and cranny of the city, but I wasn’t living there. Just zooming by. But I LIVED in Hollywood. Did you know Hollywood is an actual neighborhood. In fact, other than Santa Monica, it’s one of the few walking neighborhoods where you don’t need a car and can find everything you need on foot. Groceries, post office, movie theaters YMCA, banks, best film school in the country-all the sort of bare bones stuff. As I was leaving a few years ago it got gentrified so now there’s even more crap. But I loved it. LA is a town you can live in without a lot of money. NY and Tokyo it’s not only impossible its not advised to even try.


So, Chicago. Home sweet home. My beautiful Chicago. I had to come back to watch after my family and reconnect with an old girlfriend. THAT part ended in total shit, but being back has been nice. To be here to see the Obama thing and the Governor thing has been weird, but for me, being a South Side guy never far from the lakefront is just easy. It’s a sense of peace I feel driving back and forth on Lake Shore Drive that I can’t put into words. As I start to get North the buildings get bigger and then as I enter the North side I see them. The white people. All jam packed into condos. Out South we just let the lake be the lake. The museums and the beaches. But white people HAVE To Be By the Lake. It’s the same in LA, except with an ocean. So shows like Baer’s show you how and why the city is the way it is. And sometimes you learn stuff. Did you know softball was invented here around 1887? Hmm, weird.