How the FCC tracks radio signals

Ringway Manchester does a great job of explaining how, since the dawn of broadcasting, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has been tracking radio transmissions by using direction-finding installations in remote, rural areas.

Many employ a unique antenna known as a Wullenweber array that looks sort of like a wireframe Stonehenge. Viewed from above, some of these circular setups could pass for center-pivot irrigation systems.

7Up’s inscrutable freshness date

I like Sugar Free 7Up but its freshness date is a challenge to decipher.

I only worry about soft drink freshness dates when buying diet soda, since artifical sweeteners often have a shelf life half as long as their full-suagar siblings. Coke and Pepsi typically display month, day, and year on all their soft drinks. 7Up, however, doesn’t make it easy.

Recently, I contacted 7Up’s corporate entity, Keurig Dr Pepper, for help figuring out the freshness date on the bottom of a can of Zero Sugar 7Up. Here’s their response.

Dear Leigh

Thank you for contacting us about 7UP.  We’re always excited to hear from our consumers. Your comments give us valuable input about our brands and how they are enjoyed. 

According to your message let me explain the appropriate way to read your code, 20:03 2299 NL3

The first part with the first 4 digits is the production military time; 20:03

To find out when your product was made, use the second part with the 4 digits of the code, 2299.

2 = Year (0 = 2020, 9 = 2019, 1 – 2021, 2 – 2022)
299 = Julian Date  (299rd Day of the year, or October 26th)

The date provided indicates that the product was manufactured on October 26th, 2022.  This product has a 3 months shelf life.​

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us, Leigh. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to reply to this email or contact us by phone at (800) 696-5891.  We appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback and experience.


Consumer Relations

I wrote back and thanked Keurig Dr Pepper for enlightening me and suggested it would be simpler to stamp “Best by Jan. 26, 2023” instead. I haven’t heard back from them yet.

Coke beats Pepsi for Christmas

I prefer Pepsi-Cola to Coca-Cola but when it comes to Christmas, the soda pop from Atlanta beats Pepsi cold.

When you think of Coke, your mind fills with images of Santa Claus, Christmas trees, polar bears, and homecomings. And it doesn’t stop there. Coke also rides the coattails of the Fourth of July, free enterprise, youthful idealism, and, above all, of America the beautiful.

What do you get from Pepsi? Memories of a day at the beach, a Russian tailgunner brandishing a Pepsi bottle from his perch on a Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear” bomber, and Joan Crawford.

‘Skyjacked’ still flies high

Screenshot from the main title of the 1972 movie Skyjacked shows a Boeing 707-373C airliner gracefully banking to the right above a cloud bank.
A Boeing 707-373C receives screen credit in the “Skyjacked” main title.

I watched “Skyjacked” last night for the first time since I saw the film in 1972 — and it holds up amazingly well. The aerial cinematography almost puts it in the same league as “Strategic Air Command.” Indeed, the Boeing 707 pretty much is the film’s co-star, its soaring shape ideally suited to the wide Panavision aspect ratio.

“Skyjacked” shuns effects shots, except for a few rear-projection setups. As a result, its overall feel is much more realistic than even the original “Airport,” which suffered from comedically obvious aircraft miniatures made painfully apparent in 70mm Todd-AO.

National Guard F-100s in Russian paintjobs fill in for MiGs.