Monthly Archives: December 2013

Simpsons Sunday – The Sound Affects

Hi all. This Sunday’s Simpsons related post is on the sounds we hear during the show. It’s not the most in depth discussion but it is a start.
As you watch The Simpsons you will notice that all the cartoony sounds are not present during the show itself. It actually works for it because of the setting and how real it is, compared to a show such as The Flintstones or other animated shows before them, which are set in other periods of time or have an anthropamorphic character in a main roll in said show.
The character’s voices are not as cartoony as other show’s like that either and that also plays into its own hands and has helped the show stand on its own.
One thing I have noticed while listening to the audio of the show is that during the seen’s at home and at school, you hear birds singing. Nobody has explained it to me and I have never thought to ask why but I like it. It reminds me of my favourite time of year, when the weather is much warmer then it is now.
On the other hand, there are some sounds that are cartoonish during Itchie And Scratchy because, after all it is a kids show within The Simpsons. I like the concept of a show within a show because it takes you with the kids to their room and they are watching the show along with you.
Well, that’s all I got for this post. I could probably try and say more on this topic but I can’t.

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PROGRAMMING YOUR WEATHER RADIO – PART 2 OF 3

Hi all. It’s not only Christmas Day, but it is also Weather Wednesday. In the last Weather Wednesday post, we talked about basic tone alert radios, compared to the newer SAME radios. We also discussed the difference between a weather watch and weather warning. In this post, we will talk about programming your SAME radio, focusing on 2 popular desktop models.
If you are looking for a new SAME radio there are many that now incorporate the SAME technology, that is, will program only for the counties you want and for the type of alerts you want. Some of the names are: Midland, Oregon Scientific, First Alert, Reecom, Sangean, and several others. The Midland WR-300, and the Reecom R-1630 both have all the SAME features most people prefer. Plus, they have external antenna jacks and a jack for a flashing strobe light or bed shaker, to get your attention if the siren is turned off – or you are hard of hearing.
Setting up a SAME Radio requires three main things you have to consider. Where the WX station in the 162 MHz range is (channels 1-7) from which your radio will consistently receive a strong signal? From which counties covered by that strong station do you want to monitor alerts? Which alerts do you want to block?
If you live in Barrie Ontario, there are two Weatheradio Canada stations that you can receive reasonably good signals from there. They are within the cities of Collingwood, and Orillia. They are on two different frequencies but they are broadcasting the same WX information as repeater stations to each other. The Collingwood station (XMJ316) is at 162.475 MHz and the Orillia station (VBV562) is at 162.400 MHZ. The Buffalo (KEB98) and Little Valley (WWG32) stations are also identical to each other.
The WR-300 and the R-1630 WX Radios require you to manually select the WX channel and the county-specific FIPS or CLC codes. Then, go to the NOAA or Weatheradio Canada Webpage and look up all the information about which stations cover which counties and a list of the FIPS or CLC codes, the six-letter county-specific codes – for your area.
For the two radios you are given a choice of ALL, SINGLE, or MULTIPLE. ALL is the default when you manually select your channel. This provides all alerts within about a 50-mile or 60 kilometre radius. This is NOT normally what most people want. For example, if you have manually selected the Weatheradio station in Toronto, Ontario XMJ225), and you leave the radio set to ALL (counties), you get alerts from 11 counties, one of them just North of the Greater Toronto Area in Orangeville, and the city of Hamilton to the west.
They both also have a single mode, to receive alerts from only one county. If you set the single county as your home county, you miss all the alerts from adjoining counties where your upcoming weather is no doubt developing.
Finally, there is a selection for MULTIPLE. Here you can enter only those counties that you think might affect you. In the case of people who live in the region of Niagara in Ontario, you could program the radio for either: “St. Catharines, Grimsby (northern Niagara Region)”, “Niagara Falls, Welland (Southern Niagara Region)”, or the entire region in the Single county setting, just in case a storm rolls in from Western New York.
It is best to go to the NOAA or Weatheradio Canada Web pages and make sure that the counties from which you want to hear alerts are broadcast from the transmitter you select. The NOAA lists show you the frequency in MHz, the location of the transmitter, and its call sign and power output. You can read all of the counties for which alerts are broadcast by the station you chose. In Canada you will get the stations city and county coverage but if you want the call sign you can go to
http://www.dxinfocentre.com .
If you want to block unwanted alerts on the Reecom R-1630 or the Midland WR-300, you go into the blocking menu and scroll down to an alert and click a button to block it and move on to the next one.
Disabling the unwanted alerts is simple, and there are choices of alerts using a siren, voice announcements, or just LEDs on the panel. Four AA batteries will keep the WX radio going for a while during a power outage. There is also an AM/FM radio built in, as well as a clock with an alarm feature in the WR-300. The R-1630 from Reecom doesn’t have the AM/FM radio but the R-1650 also from Reecom does. Both the W-R300 and R-1630 have the alarm clock feature. The Reecom unit has 2 alarms; whereas the Midland WR-300 has one alarm.
On the R1630 and the Midland WR-300, if you have blocked an audible alert, that alert will still show up as an LED alert and the type of alert scrolls across the screen in large letters. Red is a Warning, Orange is a Watch, and Yellow is an Advisory. So, if you see the LED is Orange, you can walk over to see what kind of Watch is being broadcast – or punch a button and listen to the alert message. Both menus are understandable. The Midland W-r300 is easier to navigate through the menus and menu names and functions are easier to understand.
If you find the alert tones on the Midland WR-300 and the Reecom R-1630 too loud, look in the manual and it clearly tells how to set the volume level of the Alerts and Voice messages to Hi or Low for both radios. The W-r300 has just a high and low volume level for the alarm, where as the R-1630 has 16 levels of alarm volume. This is one more feature to look for in the radio you eventually buy.
In the next post, we will talk about SAME WX Radios that do not allow the blocking of alerts, and we will discuss some of the latest portable WX SAME Radios out there.

Simpsons Sunday : The Weather 

Hi folks. It’s Simpsons Sunday and since it is winter, I thought I would talk about the show’s take on weather.
Weather is a nearly universal subject among humans. It is talked about in many ways and this includes satire. The Simpsons is no stranger to doing episodes on weather events in Springfield. These have included: a hurricane named Barbara in the episode “Hurricane Neddy” , blizzards in the episodes “Bart Gets An F” , “Mr. Plow” and “Skinner’s Sense Of Snow” , an avalanche in the episodes “Mr. Plow” , “Mountain Of Madness” and “The Simpsons Movie” (2007) and a tornado in the episode “Changing Of The Guardian” . There are of course many places to find out about the episodes that have been aired on the internet and even the scripts are available.
The Simpsons have been picked up for a 26th season. Who knows what may happen. Another weather event maybe? Maybe? It could happen some time. I’m sure there are many story lines that have been pitched. Maybe just maybe another snow or wind event or two to give Bart another snow day.

TRAVELING AND TALKING ON THE RADIO

Hi all. It is Thursday and I am happy to be here at home, before the weather is forecasted to get nasty. The weather man says there could be the potential for an ice storm in some parts of Southern Ontario. That would really suck just before Christmas.
Anyway, I like to travel when I can and I usually travel short distances on account I don’t have that much cash to go around with every month.
As a ham and a Weather Radio listener I like to take my radios with me and both listen and talk on repeater systems outside my local area. It’s the greatest thrill to be able to talk to someone, without having to worry about long distance charges. The only thing to worry about is the reception but a good antenna can fix that problem.
Anyway, that’s all I got for today.

Programming Your Weather Radio, Part 1 of 3

Hello all. It is Weather Wednesday and todays post is a 3 part post about programming a Weather Radio.This three part article is mainly for the beginner to Weather Radio, but there may be some seasoned listeners who may not fully understand how Weather Radios evolved from basic 3 channel units to 7 channels and as a multi function device. We will focus on programming the radio but we will briefly discuss the evolution of Weather Radios over the years.
There are many ways to access Weather Radio information these days and we touched on many of them in the last post. They have evolved from being 3 channel units that take a 9 volt battery for backup to 7 channel models with an ac plug or adapter and a 9 volt or AA batteries for back up. Most of them had an alert function but it was only the 1050 Hz tone alert until the nineteen nineties when the newer radios with a more sophisticated alert function were released to the public.
These new Weather radio Receivers use SAME technology, (Specific Area Message Encoding), which was discussed in detail in the last post. Some receivers have the capability to select which alerts you want to hear. However some alerts cannot be disabled audibly, such as a Tornado Warning.
Not all Weather Radios handle SAME technology identically. You should be able to at least program in the SAME six-digit FIPS or CLC county code for your county and adjacent counties, and on some receivers disable the siren or voice announcement for alerts that aren’t important to you. Some radios scan automatically for the strongest local reception from a NOAA Weather radio or Weatheradio Canada transmitter. We recommend that you download an instruction manual before you buy a Weather Radio to make sure it will do exactly what you want. NOAA now sends bulletins from the U.S. Emergency Alert System and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These additional bulletins might include, for example, “Biological Hazard warning,” “Chemical Hazard warning,” and fire warnings.” In recent years, Amber Alerts have been added to the codes. In Canada, the warnings are issued by Environment Canada. The Weatheradio Canada network currently issues weather warnings at this time.
Some Weather Radios say they have NOAA WX coverage and WX “alerts.” If the radio does not use the SAME technology, your radio may alert on EVERY possible type of weather “watch” and “warning” if you live in The United States. However if you live in Canada, your radio will only receive the 1050 Hz. tone for: “severe thunderstorm warning”, “tornado warning”, “required monthly test” (RMT), and “administrative message” (ADR) when the watchdog kicks in.
Some “tone alert” radios have a function where a light comes on when there is an alert. If you just want to be able to tune in to the NOAA or Environment Canada weather reports on demand, you don’t necessarily need a SAME-enabled radio. You can get an inexpensive radio, scanner, or receive the broadcasts on various VHF radios. Some car manufacturers have even made radios that have the 7 weather channels, along with the standard AM and FM broadcast frequencies.
You should also understand the difference between weather “watches” and “warnings.” A “watch” means that conditions are “favorable” for an event. Many “thunderstorm watches” never result in actual thunderstorms, but most “Winter storm watches “result in either a “Winter storm warning” or one of the following: “snowfall warning”, “freezing rain warning,” or “Blizzard warning.” A “Warning” means that the actual event has been observed by a valid CANWARN/SKYWARN trained weather-watcher in the reporting area or there is strong evidence from weather radar that the event is occurring.
For the spring/summer severe weather season in Canada, a “severe thunderstorm watch” has a lead time of as much as 6 hours and a “severe thunderstorm warning” has an hour. A “tornado watch” has 3 hours and a “tornado warning” has 30 minutes or less. In the case of a winter weather event such as the ones mentioned above, there may be a lead time of as much as 36 hours for a watch and 18 hours or less for a warning. In the United States, these lead times may be similar to the above mentioned target times for watches and warnings in Canada.
Some people block Weather Watches because they may not want to hear the alarm unless there is a warning, especially if it is issued in the evening or late at night. For example, if you lived in Windsor Ontario during the evening of June 5th and the early morning of June 6, 2010, there were a few nocturnal weather events that happened in the area including severe thunderstorms and tornados. Remember, a Watch only means that conditions are “favorable” for a weather event to happen.
Next week, we will go into detail about programming your SAME enabled radio, using two popular WX radios as examples.

I THINK WINTER SUCKS

Hi all. It’s a cold Tuesday in Toronto and I am not looking forward to the next few months. Yes, my name is Gord and I think winter sucks.
I don’t like having to add layers of clothing before going outside. I would much prefer wearing the shorts and T-shirt combo, rather than a winter jacket and boots with gloves. I actually started wearing t-shirt”s all year round while inside anyway, just because it happened that way.
The other bother is the snow. It may look nice but if you are blind or disabled in any way, it is less than pleasant to be in. I never enjoyed: sliding, slipping, falling or anything on snow or ice as a kid.
On the other hand, the only pleasure I get is to have my weather radio go off with a warning about severe winter weather in my area. Yes, I hate it but I laugh at those who are crazy enough to go outside and chance not getting hurt or killed during a winter storm, with snow, ice and or winds causing a hazard to either walking or driving. I don’t like it when people die but I don’t think you should be forgiven for taking a chance on your life, if bad weather is forecasted to hit your local area. I am the same way with summer severe weather too. I like thunderstorms but I don’t go outside when they are occurring because of the dangers involved. I’ll get into that in another post during Weather Wednesday.
Anyway, if you have to go out today and bad weather is in your area, be very careful of the snow and ice under your wheels or your feet.

MY TOP 5 CD’S OF 2013

Hi all. It’s Monday. Need I say more? No? okay, so we’re clear on that?
It’s almost the end of 2013 and all the usual year end lists are coming out and people will be making their new years resolutions and stuff. I don’t do the latter because I don’t know if I will break them or not. I do like to keep track of my favourite things throughout the year and count them down in an order I put them in.
I have been counting down the top 5 CD’s I bought each year for the past 10 years or so. I have this years list and there is no real reason for why they fit where they do but here it goes.
5. Sevendust Black Out The Sun is a CD that came outin March and I thought was another worthy return for the band. Unfortunately they aren’t as well known here in Canada as they should be.
4. Avenged Sevenfold Hail To The King is another good CD from a band who are still developing and have recovered from the death of their previous drummer.
3. Five Finger Death Punch The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell is another great highlight from this year. It was released in 2 parts and they can either stand together or on their own.
2. Stone Sour House Of Golden Bones Part 2 is a stunning follow up to House Of Golden Bones Part 1. It is a great listen from start to Finish and is highly recommended.
1. Black Sabbath 13 is the come-back CD of the year. It went on the Billboard chart at No. 1 and they are touring right now. Everyone sounds great, despite all the years of drug use and other traps the guys have fallen into over the years.
That is a brief summary of my top 5 CD’s of 2013.