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Thursday, July 17, 2014

We Interrupt This Message for a "We Interrupt This Message" Message

Today's edition of "Tube Talk Thursday" is undergoing technical difficulties.

No, seriously, it's undergoing technical difficulties.

Oh, wait.  Let me reword that.  This entry is all ABOUT technical difficulties.  And the subject behind this blog was inspired by two separate things.

The first?  Let's just say that when it came down to posting yesterday's blog, for whatever reason the video refused to post.  It took me a total of what seemed like twenty-four hours when in actuality it took me twenty-four minutes to get the video posted.  Normally this would be a "whatever" moment, but since this video was a huge part of yesterday's blog, I was concerned that I would have to post one of these in place of yesterday's blog.

Fortunately it all worked out, but was frustrating.

And the second reason behind the topic choice is simply due to time constraints.  I don't have a lot of it to spare, so I decided to do a topic that was simple, yet efficient. 

Which, I realize is a really ironic description given that the subject is all about what happens when technical difficulties prevent you from enjoying your favourite shows on television, but hey, let's go with it.

These days, it's really uncommon to see the familiar "Please Stand By" message on television screens.  I think the last time I ever remembered seeing one was during the 9/11 attacks when a fair chunk of New York based television stations were knocked off the air (many of the broadcast antennas were located in the World Trade Center).

But back in the days in which I was a little kid, and the magical world of cable television was only affordable for the very rich, I used to see this message appear a lot more frequently.

And I remember being quite annoyed by it too!

(Mind you, I also got a little bit annoyed whenever Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw, or Peter Jennings broke into programming to issue presidential bulletins or reporting on the latest global conflict - but again, I was just a child back then.)

I guess it was just disappointing because it seemed as though whenever I would see a "We're experiencing technical difficulties" message on television, it always happened when I wanted to watch something on television.  I still remember getting all hyped up to watch a movie on television (which admittedly I don't even remember what movie it was), and being absolutely upset that the television station had been off the air for the better part of the whole day.  The movie that I wanted to watch was permanently pre-empted, and I didn't understand why.  

As a kid, the "Please Stand By" message was a bad thing.  Because this meant that you had to come up with your own fun and do your own thing.  Luckily, I was a rather creative and imaginative child, so I never stayed bored for long.  In fact, I would say that it was probably a good thing that I never did develop too much of a dependence on it.  Sure, I watched a lot of television as a kid, but I also read a lot, I wrote a lot, I did art projects, I played outside...looking back on my childhood, I was a fairly well-rounded child. 

I wonder if that's what caused me to become so creative as an adult?  I suppose that could be considered a part of it.

Anyway, as a kid, I was completely unable to understand the reasons why the television stations would occasionally go off the air.  It never really crossed my mind that the people who were running the television stations could possibly have technical issues themselves that would prevent them from getting a show's broadcast on the air.  Certainly I ran into issues with yesterday's blog that prevented me from posting it when I wanted to post it, and certainly anyone who has ever done a blog or an essay, or something that has to do with writing knows how frustrating it can be when you forget to back up your document and you end up losing the whole entry that you spent the last three hours typing up.

(Yes. That has happened to me before as well.)

So, what sorts of events could have caused the message "Please Stand By" to appear?  Well, I've compiled a list.

- Thunderstorms or electrical storms
- Winter storms or ice storms (a big issue in my area circa '98)
- Space junk taking out satellites in space
- People falling asleep at the control booth in television stations
- Fire damaging the television station
- Power outages
- Someone gets sick on air
- Someone dies on air (have never seen this, but is possible)
- Space aliens invade Earth (again, have never seen this)
- Antenna gets damaged
- Car drives through television station (never seen it happen)

So, there are a lot of things that can go wrong.  Mind you, some of these are quite farfetched, but I can totally understand why some stations need to go off the air.  They have to try to do everything they can to fix the problem.  Sometimes they have to call in a crew from outside of the broadcast area to try and get the signals fixed, or they will try to fix the problem themselves.  So, when trying to look at it from that perspective, I guess I can understand the need to inform viewers that the repairs could take a while.

And besides...some of the images that some of the networks used were kind of fun to look at...for the first ten minutes at least.

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