Saturday, March 23, 2013
My father was a big time college basketball fan. The sun rose and set upon the Kansas Jayhawk Empire for him, but he was always up for watching a good game on television.
He really came into his own during March Madness when I had a 4DTV C and Ku Band satellite system. You know, the huge dish that had a motor to move it across the sky to receive different satellites. He always claimed not to know "how to run the damn thing" and usually made me switch satellites to find whatever it was he wanted to watch. The 4DTV had one of the first interactive program guides on it, and it worked quite well.
But when I was off at work, he had no choice but to learn, and he did. At the time, one could purchase a package that showed all the games, but the kicker was that you had to pay. Or you could surf the "wild feeds" for the games. Wild feeds were usually dedicated to syndicated programming - they'd broadcast the Jerry Springer Show at a certain time each day on a certain channel for local stations to receive and record for their own broadcasts. However, the major networks also used them for programming like March Madness, where just a couple channels for east and west weren't enough. When they had several games going on at once, they had to find a way to send out the signal for each game so the local affiliates could broadcast the game they wanted to show. However, at the time, they weren't scrambled - they were "in the clear" meaning all you needed was a standard receiver to watch.
But the networks weren't completely altruistic. You would think you had the game tuned in and all of a sudden, the picture would go snowy. They'd switched to another channel, usually on a different satellite. Of course all the affiliates had a schedule of the proper channels and the times to switch, but us consumers were purposely left in the dark.
After a couple days, Dad had 'em figured out. If I happened to be at home watching a game with him, all at once he might reach for the remote and tune to a different channel. Sure enough, there would be the game we were watching. He never even wrote any of this down, like I'd surely had to do.
He passed away before the networks finally locked it all down and scrambled all their feeds, period. I was highly impressed with his memory and his ability to learn a new to him technology so well in so short a time. He wanted to know, so he learned. Before, he had me to mess with it. When I wasn't around to do it for him, he figured it out.
I cannot help but wryly note that this is the same man who "forgot" all his promises with regards to my transportation - like fixing up the old pickup he had purchased for me, or the promise that he'd buy something a little better. Yep, forgot all about it, and should I remind him, I got yelled at and my name was mud for the rest of the day and perhaps a week. It was ok for him to spend thousands on his hobby - model airplanes, but that largess didn't expand to me or any other members of the family.
And we're closing in on the fifteen anniversary of his death in April of 1998. I most definitely miss him, and I loved him dearly. But Lawdy, was he ever a pain in the ass, and he wasn't even trying.