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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

01-03-2023 - The Past Year in Review, a Football Wrap Up, and I Brag a Little

Closing the Book on 2022

An excellent summary of 2022 from a political, economic and international standpoint appeared in the December 30 message included in Boston College Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s daily ‘Letters from an American,’ to which I subscribe.  (It’s free, unless one wishes to make and share comments on it.)  She puts everything into perspective much better than I could do on my best day!  Please check it out at https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/december-30-2022

or by JUST CLICKING HERE.  It should inspire all of us for 2023.

Before you do anything else today, please try to find a couple of minutes to read it.


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Football Wrap Up

No predictions as to who will win the college football playoff championship next weekend … but the finalists got there by what looks like basketball scores.  Georgia topped Ohio State (42 to 41) and Texas Christian topped Michigan (51-45).

These obscenely high scores indicated that the overwhelming offensive lines of all four teams allowed their quarterbacks plenty of time to throw passes and provided their running backs with plenty of openings to speed through for significant yardage. Interceptions also helped boost the scores, but primarily it was the offensive lines that opened up these wild games.  Top teams now concentrate on building cadres of strong, large, offensive linemen to make their plays work.  (See the following remarks on the ‘transfer portal.’)

But now that college football bowl games are about finished for the season, let’s take a trip down memory lane when there were just a few bowl games.  The main ones were the Rose, Orange, Cotton, and Sugar Bowls, with a few peripheral bowls such as the Tangerine, Peach, Fiesta, and Sun Bowls also tacked on, usually by local civic boosters.   

Nowadays, even the ‘big four’ mentioned above, and all the minor bowls (there must be at least a dozen more besides those mentioned above, most of which are poorly attended and would not even survive were it not for the ravenous appetites of TV) have business sponsors whose advertisements are plastered all over the field and their TV broadcasts.  That is the way it is nowadays and that’s the way it will continue to be.

What I am waiting for is the sponsorship of a major bowl game to be taken over by American Standard or Kohler, both solid, long standing, well-known American companies.  At least that would provide a good laugh every time it would be mentioned on TV.  We all know what these two firms manufacture. 

And that imagined, yet-to-come, bowl game, more or less would describe what is happening to college football.   So here is a final word as we wrap up that sport till next September.                 

As I’ve said before, college football’s ‘transfer portal,’ enabling players to switch schools, usually to one which provides a better steppingstone to a lucrative professional NFL contract, is destroying the sport at the collegiate level. (The same thing is even happening at the high school level where parents actually relocate to better enable their kids to play for a team more likely to draw the attention of scholarship-bearing college scouts.)

While this may be profitable for a few talented athletes, it is unhealthy for the sport at both high school and college levels. It turns it into what amounts to the gridiron equivalent of professional baseball’s minor leagues rather than just after-class competitive athletic activities at supposed educational institutions. The best players drift to the best teams, to keep them on top, and everyone else suffers. There is no loyalty to ‘alma mater.’

Watching the bowl games, I was dismayed to find that the University of Oklahoma’s star quarterback, Dillon Gabriel, was the same ‘student’ who had led the University of Central Florida’s Knights to gridiron prominence a few years earlier.  That’s where the ‘transfer portal’ is leading college football, so if American Standard or Kohler step in and sponsor a bowl game, it would be quite appropriate. All one needs to do is to push down upon the handle to start the process going. 



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A Long Story Leaving Me with Something About Which to Brag

A Trip to Radio Land:  Once upon a time, I enjoyed listening to classical music on the local West Palm Beach National Public Radio FM station, WXEL.  It broadcast classical music for several hours every day.  About a dozen years ago, its owners sold its FM radio frequency license to a religious broadcasting organization.  That was the end of NPR radio based in Palm Beach County.

But I could still listen to the Miami-based NPR FM station, WLRN.  It could be heard in Palm Beach County, but they concentrated on news, conversation features, and some folk music and jazz, but did not broadcast any classical music.  Of course, classical music is available streamed via the internet through various devices, or if one buys into the SiriusRadio application, but that isn’t the same as having it readily available by radio, at home, or in one’s automobile, for free, over the publicly owned airwaves.

A remedy to this problem came with the innovation known as HD radio, which enabled an FM station, like WLRN in Miami, to ‘piggyback’ additional broadcast signals on its existing FM frequency.  The catch was that one had to have a special HD radio to receive such ‘piggybacked’ HD signals.  

You'll never get an HD signal
on one of these
.  Maybe not
even FM.
While few people purchase them for home use, most automobile radios in cars manufactured over the past few years, like my 2019 model, fortunately have such a capability.

WLRN took advantage of this innovation, so in addition to its primary FM signal at 93.1 mg, it introduced two ‘piggybacked’ HD signals, 93.1 HD1 and 93.1 HD2 for reception by those with HD radios. WLRN’s HD1 signal was a clone of whatever the regular 93.1 frequency was carrying and could be readily heard throughout Miam-Dade, Broward and most of Palm Beach Counties on HD receivers.  WLRN’s HD2 signal, however, broadcasting classical music twenty-four hours a day, became weak in Palm Beach County, with occasional ‘dead’ areas (about 15% of the time) starting north of Delray Beach and ultimately disappearing entirely from the airwaves as one went further north.  For listeners in those 'dead' areas, including me, getting an HD radio for home use, therefore, was not practical. 

Car radios were a different story, however, with the classical music on WLRN’s HD2 channel, being generally available unimpeded once a car was out of those ‘dead areas.’  This was a partial, but acceptable solution for me if I wanted to listen to classical music when I was driving, enabling me to access it at least most of the time in my car in my immediate area, and all the time when I drove even a little bit southward, which I often do.

Typical Dashboard Screen
Most newer model cars have a dashboard messaging screen which can indicate the audio options in use, and they include, as I mentioned, the ability to receive such HD signals.  (They also are on the market for cars that do not include them as original equipment.)  On those screens, when WLRN HD2 was tuned in, the screen simply read ‘WLRN Classical 24.’  On very rare occasions, however, I noted that the message went further and identified what was being played, reading, for example, ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphony No. 41.’  But this very desirable and educational kind of information seemed to be a transitory thing, and after a while, even its rare appearances stopped entirely.

Taking the bull by the horns, I emailed WLRN, suggesting that such identifying information be made a permanent part of the transmission.  The station’s reply was that the 24 hours of classical music on WLRN’s HD2 channel was provided by an outside vendor and WLRN had no control over its content and could not make such a modification.

Not accepting this excuse, and by judicious use of the internet, I was able to figure out that the outside vendor was American Public Media, and the music itself was that music being broadcast over an NPR group of stations, collectively labeled Minnesota Public Radio.  Checking the ‘playlists’ of America Public Media, Minnesota Public Radio, and ‘WLRN Classical 24’ on the internet showed them to be identical.

The hosts on the programs presenting classical music there seemed to be intelligent and easy to talk to, so I emailed one of them at Minnesota Public Radio, explaining the problem.  Receptive to my request, she agreed to contact the folks at American Public Media, to see what could be done.  I knew this would be easy because both entities had the same street  address in St. Paul, MN, and were probably housed in the same offices, with overlapping personnel.

Victory at Last:  Within a few weeks, the identification of the classical music being played on WLRN’s HD2 channel started appearing on the dashboard messaging screens of many thousands of listeners to car radios in Miami-Dade, Broward, and parts of Palm Beach Counties. No longer did they have to wait to catch their radio hosts’ brief announcements to learn the name and the composer of the classical music to which they were listening.  Permit me the luxury of a bit of bragging.  They owe this to my personal efforts, my refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer!

In a brief email, laced with just a bit of sarcasm, I thanked the people at WLRN for getting this done, hinting that my involvement might have helped. The WLRN executive who had originally said it wasn’t possible replied saying that he was ‘glad that the issue was rectified’ and thanked me for my correspondence ‘if that might have had anything to do with it.’  Of course, it had everything to do with it.

(I am a sustaining subscriber to Miami’s WLRN. You might consider becoming one to help continue its excellent free NPR programming, including the classical music described above.)



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 Three Items of Interest:

·       Email AlertsIf you are NOT receiving emails from me alerting you each time there is a new posting on Jackspotpourri, just send me your email address and we’ll see that you do.  And if you are forwarding a posting to someone, you might suggest that they do the same, so they will be similarly alerted. 

         You can pass those email addresses to me by email at            jacklippman18@gmail.com .

·       PaintingsRecently added to the blog is a feature showing one of my paintings.  (Besides writing, I also paint with acrylics for recreation.)  Right now, it features one of my recent paintings, but it will be periodically revised to show earlier ones as well.  You can find it off to the right on your desktop or tablet. 

 :  Forwarding Postings: please forward this posting to anyone you think might benefit from reading it.  The place to send them is:  https://jackspotpourri.blogspot.com

Google Blogspot, the platform on which Jackspotpourri is  prepared, has revised its forwarding abilities.  If you click on the little envelope with the arrow at the conclusion of every posting, (it looks like this: ), you will have the opportunity to list as many email addresses as you wish, along with a comment from you, each of which will receive a link to the full blog that you now are reading, with all of its bells and whistles.  This is a great advance from the very basic format Google Blogspot originally provided when they forwarded something for you.  It might take a few minutes longer for your message to be transmitted but this method of forwarding offers the advantage of being able to forward jackspotpourri to many addresses simultaneously. Try it. 

Either way will work, sending them the link above or clicking on the little envelope at the bottom of this posting. 


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