Posts Tagged ‘1998’

Shakedown 1998: How the Neighbors of Sutro Tower Held Digital TV Hostage for Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

Friday, July 21st, 2017

[Feel free to boot up (Shakedown) 1979 by the Smashing Pumpkins while you read – that’s the reference.]

Here it is, noble Sutro Tower, beloved symbol of Frisco. The vertical part in the middle is an add-on – it brought / brings digital TV to the Bay Area.

Well, two decades ago it caused consternation to certain (and certainly now) millionaire homeowners of Midtown Terrace, Forrest Knolls and basically the whole Twin Peaks area what’s located in the “fall zone.” (Uh, that’s in quotes due to the fact that this phrase was made up by some area attorney homeowner back in the day. But it’s center of gravity is like 16 underground, so as long as it stays together as a rigid body (and, you know, it probably will – I’m not promising you anything though), I don’t think it can fall down.

Anyway, noble Sutro. I think this is as close as I’ve ever been to it at an altitude higher than the base, if that makes sense:

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So, just as area attorneys (and USF law students) banded together back in the 1970’s to deprive us of our landmark, area attorneys banded together in the 1990’s to fight the relatively minor addition of a 100-foot long metal “auxiliary antenna” for digital TV broadcast.

All this digital antenna fooforall was ably covered by INTERESTED PARTY the San Francisco Chronicle in 1998. And look:

“The 977-foot Sutro Tower is owned by four television stations: KRON, KTVU, KGO and KPIX. KRON is owned by Chronicle Publishing Co., which also controls The Chronicle.” 

Hello! (The writer properly put fall zone in quote marks. Good.)

Obviously the fretful homeowner lawyers were threatening to sue, but also obviously we now have this auxiliary antenna, so how did that happen? Well, Sutro Tower Inc. (STI) had to fork over some cold hard cash:

“STI agrees to contribute:

a. $3,000.00 per year to the Midtown Terrace Home Owners Association. The initial contribution payable prior to December 31, 2008. Subsequent contributions to be made on or before July 1 of each year

b. $4,500.00 one time contribution to the Twin Peaks Improvement Association for an open space improvement project.

c. $6,000.00 one time contribution to the Forrest Knolls Neighborhood Organization to replace the Forrest Knolls entrance sign.

d. $ 10,000.00 one time contribution for the benefit of the surrounding area to purchase two drinking fountains one each at the walking paths around two area reservoirs. The contribution will be payable only when the fountains are approved by the appropriate agencies and actually purchased.”

The big winner? Well it’s gotta be the MTHOA, which gets three grand every year from here to eternity, paid for by Channels 2, 4,* 5, und 7.** All that’s gotta add up to a couple hundred thou eventually.

Read the rest of the agreement if you want. (You don’t hear so much about the RF concerns anymore – I guess people have other things to worry about these days. And what else, a few people were complaining about red and white lead paint chips falling down and landing in the soil a while back. I haven’t heard about that issue lately either.)

On the up side, the people who live there have benefited from some nice middle class welfare over the years such as mortgage interest deductibility, Prop 13, and massive massive home price appreciation since the 1970s / 1990’s, the times when the yammering was going full tilt.

It’s pretty much a happy ending. Play us out, Wiki:

Despite the initial revulsion of some residents, Sutro Tower is now recognized by many as a Bay Area icon, it appears in local art, television shows, and movies as one of the architectural symbols of the city. The tower is featured in video games, business logos, on clothing, as furniture and even tattoos. The U.S. band Information Society used it on the cover of their album Don’t Be Afraid. A local entertainment guide, SF Station, uses it as a logo, as does the collaborative art game SFZero and the Expose SF art competition.”

And Don’t Be Afraid, Midtown. Your tower is 100% Pure Energy. It brings us our Information Society.***

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And oh, I just came across this:

Sutro Tower: The Origins of an ‘Eyesore’ By Jessica Placzek

Enjoy.

*Which is no longer owned by the Chronic – it’s master is now Nexstar Media Group.

**I can’t host a Super Bowl party when NBC is doing the broadcast, cause I’m a cutter, a cable cutter since like aught-nine. And no Olympics either. 

***Or Vast Wasteland, your pick. When somebody presses the remote button wrong, the digital TV turns on. Like 16 channels – home shopping network, plus Spanish and Chinese language programs.  

Recalling (Again) the Close Call United Flight 863 had with Mount San Bruno Back in 1998

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Here’s an excellent report from the WSJ back in 1999.

And here’s a more better photo than I had in back in aught-nine:

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Same mountain, same antennas, same general direction for the plane (except the 1998 incident occurred at night and with fog/clouds).

Anyway, United Airlines took things seriously and aviation is the better for it…

Death of the Dust Trombone: Canon Replaces Legendary 100-400mm Telephoto Lens – Good-Bye Push-Pull Zoom

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Canon’s aging beast, the Clinton-era EF 100–400mm f/4.5–5.6L IS USM lens is no more – after 16 years of production, it’s being replaced by the EF 100–400mm f/4.5–5.6L IS USM II, a more conventional design. 

Here are some “dust trombones*” right here, back about a decade ago, all extended to the 400mm telephoto setting, the better to see the Blue Angels over Fort Mason, my dear:

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The thing about the old lens is that it offered IMAGE STABILIZATION (IS) plus an “ULTRASONIC” MOTOR (USM) (for fast auto-focus) in the same package. At the time, Nikon couldn’t keep up, so it would make you choose betwixt one feature or the other, if you were lucky. Nikon lost a lot of customers during the Aughts for just this reason.

Read all about it.

I’m sure the updated lens will be better (and of course, lots pricier) in most respects.

Adieu, push-pull lens.

*Pull it in fast enough and you can feel the breeze on your face, since all that air inside needs to go somewhere…

Can Your Aging Mercedes Leave a Trail of Blue Smoke a Hundred Yards Long? Well, THIS One Can!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

[UPDATE: This might be a gasoline-powered 230S, if that’s even possible. My bad. If anybody in town has an unusual euro-only Mercedes, it’s this guy. It might even have a manual transmission.]

Old Mercedes diesels* might be really slow, and they might emit more particulates than a fleet of new cars, and they might get converted to run on french fry grease, but…

The most cartoonish cloud of smoke coming from a car exhaust I’ve ever seen:

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…they will never die. 

And here’s the thing – old diesels are exempt from California’s annual smog check program.

That’s a giant loophole big enough that you could drive a big old honking Mercedes Benz diesel through.

Hurray!

I’ve only been a Benz owner for less than a year now. However, I’m beginning to think that stamping out smoke on these 616s is like trying to rid your yard comletely of dandelions – it’s a fool’s errand.

I’ve had my IP rebuilt, rolled in a new timing chain, and had the valve seals replaced all within the last 6 months. Injectors are also new and the valves were adjusted when the seals were replaced. Fuel filters and fuel lines are also new and all fluids are fresh. The only differences between mine and yours are that I have lower compression and I use perhaps a 1/2 quart of oil in 2,000 miles.

Despite this, I still have some smoke. There’s a hint of whitish smoke on cold idle at start up and a bit of black smoke when I get on the throttle or climb steep hills.

I have another set of injectors that I had rebuilt and will install them in due course. I’ll also rebuild the vacuum pump as a preventative measure. But after that, this game of “whack a mole” has to end.

There is one good thing to come from all this work, however. My engine sounds silky smooth. No knocking, no nailing, and no hicccups. The only underhood sounds you hear are the clickity click of fuel injectors popping and the combustion inside the engine. So long as this continues to be the case and my oil consumption doesn’t increase, I should consider everything else to be inconsequential.”

*Pray that this particular old Mercedes is a diesel. ‘Cause otherwise this rig prolly needs to get oil added on a daily basis…

Hey South San Francisco! Or Should I Say “Baden,” Your Real Name? Stop Trying to be Something You’re Not

Monday, November 8th, 2010

I don’t know, S.S.F. Your real name is Baden, right? So why do you try to attach yourself to San Francisco?

And you’re not even contigulous with us, you’re not connected to us – you’re about five miles south. So, using your absurd naming scheme as inspiration, what’s there to stop Inglewood, CA* from reincorporating as South Beverly Hills or South Bel Air? Wouldn’t that be equally as ridiculous?

How about SFO West as a new name on Sign Hill if you hate Baden so much? (And oh, BTW, Sign Hill is the very same mini-mountain that a United 747 almost crashed into back in 1998 because the Pilot in Command forgot what to do when an engine fails – he tried to compensate by turning with his hands instead of his feet – almost killed a bunch of people.)

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And another thing, Baden, what’s this “THE INDUSTRIAL CITY” stuff? Your average employed resident is in the service sector, non?

Baden Baden Baden!

*Always up to no good.

Recalling the Close Call United Flight 863 had with Mount San Bruno Back in 1998

Monday, July 6th, 2009

There wasn’t all that much coverage of the incident back in the day, so the time that a United Airlines Boeing 747-400 out of SFO with 300 people aboard came super close to crashing into 1,576-foot-high San Bruno Mountain is worth remembering.

Did the pilot at the controls really forget how to steer the plane after one of the engines failed and lots of vibration began? Pretty much. But everybody treated this near miss as if it were an actual accident and procedures for pilot training are now better because of it.

The proper way to clear San Bruno:

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Some of the locals of San Mateo and San Francisco living around the mountain won’t ever forget hearing and feeling that particular flight.

That’s something to think about when you’re out and about near the mountain, huh?