Shortwave listening in a highrise sucks

Photo of a Sony ICF-SW7600GR shortwave radio on a table. Next to the paperback book size radio are its instruction book, earbud headphones and a map.
My Sony ICF-SW7600GR doesn’t work well in a highrise building mostly made of steel. Photo copyright © L.T.Hanlon

Well, I gave it one last try tonight and shortwave reception in my John Hancock Center apartment is strictly ixnay. I did expect to be able to snag low-power pirate radio stations or clandestine transmissions, but traditionally easy catches like time-station WWV are no-shows.

When I lived in Jefferson Park on Chicago’s Northwest Side, I could get great reception by  throwing a longwire out my third-floor window into a nearby tree. The nearest thing to that tactic here would be dangling a 20- or 30-foot wire out my 54th-floor window … and I can’t do that.

Ah, well.

If you’re interested in the characteristics of small shortwave portables, check out Thomas Witherspoon’s reviews.

What’s the difference between Ruffles and Wavy Lay’s?


I’ve always wondered why Frito-Lay makes two ridged potato chips — but until yesterday never actually compared Ruffles and Wavy Lay’s.

Both taste the same, at least to me, and both target customers who’ll be using the chips to scoop up dip and similar stuff. And both varieties have the same nutritional content.

But there is a difference — and it was staring me right in the face for years: Ruffles has more ridges! See the photo below; the Ruffles chip is on the left.


By the way, the only reason I bought the potato chips was because I made Lipton’s Classic Onion Dip. Never in my entire life have I used the Lipton product to make onion soup. Have you?


A preacher made me take it

Photo of a business card that has the word TRUTH on the front and a Bible passage on the back.

I usually don’t acknowledge people who want to engage with me on Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue. Those who try are most often panhandlers, attractive college kids who want donations for causes, wannabe rappers hustling CDs, and religious types.

I made an exception recently for a proselytizer who stood silently and proffered a small card with the word TRUTH. When I walked over to the guy, all he did was smile and hand me the card.

That’s it.

Stop asking for my opinion


I can’t be the only one who’s sick and tired of being pestered for my opinion. No matter the manner of solicitation — cashier, email, popup window — I’m just not interested.

What especially annoys me is how cashiers have been instructed to plead with you to visit the company website and mention them by name — which they conveniently write on the receipt.

“Please,” they seem to be saying, “please complete this survey or they’ll beat me and put me on permanent detail in the Pain & Laxative aisle!”

Photo from the movie Taxi Driver showing actor Robert De Niro portraying psycho killer Travis Bickle. In this photo Bickle is wearing an Army jacket and his hair is cut in a Mohawk.It’s almost as bad as how the clerks at Radio Shack used to demand your name and address for the retailer’s junk mail program. In my case, all this ever did was ensure that the store’s Tandy Corp. overlords wound up with multiple addresses for “Travis Bickle,” a frequent customer who moved around a lot.

Radio Shack kept grilling you for your data because information about you is valuable. Even when a company goes under.

Maybe surveys are showing up online so much these days because the barrier of entry has been lowered. No longer are companies obliged to engage consultants to set up focus groups, rent hotel meeting rooms, and such. Just entice consumers to click and complete.

For the record, I hold no personal animosity toward ForeSee, which seems to badger me the most in my online travels. ForeSee declares itself “the driving force behind more than 2,000 of the world’s most revered brands that understand the powerful intersection of CX and business impact.”

Too bad these “revered brands” don’t understand how annoying ForeSee’s repeated hectoring for visitors to complete surveys can be.

‘Stargate SG-1’ episode has best prop in TV history

Framegrab from Stargate SG-1 episode Fragile Balance of actor Michael Welch portraying a teenage clone of Richard Dean Anderson. Welch is holding a copy of Cracked magazine, which can be said to be a younger version of Mad magazine.

Michael Welch portrays Richard Dean Anderson with pimples. (Photo copyright © MGM Television.

I didn’t notice this clever prop until viewing the “Stargate SG-1” episode “Fragile Balance” again tonight.

In the story, Col. Jack O’Neill is cloned by a renegade Asgard but something goes wrong and the duplicate is a teenager. Check out this screenshot above showing young O’Neill. Can you spot the genius prop decision here? Welch is holding a copy of Cracked magazine, which can be said to be a younger version of Mad.

Many years ago, I saw some similarly inspired props in an episode of “seaQuest DSV.” In that one, a sniper takes aim through an open window in an office building while in the background we see boxes labeled “BOOKS.”

By the way, 16-year-old guest star Michael Welch pretty much carries the entire “Stargate SG-1” episode. Check out a clip below.