“They say that ninety percent of TV is junk. But, ninety percent of everything is junk.”

The high today will be 46˚, but the warmth will be lost when the heavy rains start later today. Already we have rain, small small as they say in Ghana. The weatherman has predicted rain all day and into the next two days. Earlier, Henry wasn’t happy waiting for me to let him inside the house. I told him he could come in on his own, but he ignored me and waited in the rain whacking over and over at the dog door cover. He is now upstairs on my bed brooding.

Saturday TV when I was a kid was filled with programs aimed at me, well, not me specifically but me as a kid. I watched cereal commercials, some with cartoon spokesmen, and endless toy commercials. I remember Slinky going down the stairs, and I remember wanting an Easy Bake Oven. Tony the Tiger and Snap, Crackle and Pop were my favorite cereal cartoons.

I used to like westerns back then like Rin, Tin, Tin and, my favorite, The Lone Ranger riding Silver, “A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver….The Lone Ranger.” I thought the theme was written just for the Lone Ranger. I was disappointed when I found out it wasn’t. Sgt. Preston in his red Canadian Mountie uniform patrolled the Yukon with his horse Rex and his faithful dog Yukon King. I think the program opened with a map of the Yukon. I remember how great his uniform looked with leather black gloves against the red, a lanyard around his neck and a wide brim hat.

Captain Midnight was my first taste of TV science fiction. I remember, for some strange reason, that Ovaltine was its sponsor. Gene Autry combined westerns and science fiction. He had his Phantom Empire, a serial moved from the movies to TV. It was so frustrating having to wait another week for the next installment, and patience was not my strong point. I remember the elevator taking Gene down to the underground city of Murania. It was the same sort of elevator you’d see moving up and down on the outside of a building. In hindsight, it looks fake, but I thought it was amazing back then. I thought all of it was amazing.

I have no plans today. Yesterday I swept and mopped the kitchen floor. It was covered from the door to the hall with dog prints. I wish I knew it was going to rain today. That would have saved me from toiling in the kitchen.

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6 Comments on ““They say that ninety percent of TV is junk. But, ninety percent of everything is junk.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Back in the early 1990s the U.S. Weather Service changed aviation weather reports to coincide with the global weather reporting format called METAR (Routine Aviation Weather Report), which is a rough translation from French. A lot of International aviation terms come from the French. I always think they should change to our terms. One of the weather descriptors in a METAR is BR for “Mist”. Obviously, BR is an abbreviation from two French words which I can’t recall nor do I care. When I first had to memorize the changed symbology I remembered BR stands for mist because mist is little droplets or baby rain. 🙂 now I have an iPhone app that automatically decodes the weather. Today we have had cloudy skies with short periods of baby rain. The temperature has been mild in the mid 60° range. More heavy rain is predicted for this evening and tonight.

    The advertisers must have been geniuses back when you and I were kids. We watched to same kind of TV shows and remembered the exact same commercials. I ate a lot of those cereals as a kid and begged my parents for the masculine version of the advertised toys. However, I don’t remember Gene Autry singing or doing science fiction but only western songs. I was a science fiction efficiando as a kid. I was especially interested in the future of space travel rather than the imaginary invasion by aliens from space. I knew that I would live to see men walk on the moon. I also wondered why Captain Midnight was so interested in Ovaltine.

    I rarely have weekend plans and it drives my spouse nuts. Every Friday evening, like clockwork, she asked me the same question about plans for the weekend and I reply with same answer that I don’t have any.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      I didn’t know any of this, and I found it really interesting. As usual, I went hunting to learn more. I found a great explanation, and I get why US aviation terms were changed.


      The rain has stopped for now, and it is warmer than it was during the day, 47˚, but the dampness makes it feel colder. My Google is my weather man every morning. He told me to expect rain tomorrow.

      Gene Autry’s Phantom Empire was originally a movie serial which was played on Saturday’s when I was kid. The scene was Melody Ranch where Autry lived and had a radio show with western songs. I guess your stations probably didn’t show it or you’d remember.

      I don’t remember any alien shows on when I was a kid. Later we had My Favorite Martian, but space exploration shows were mostly what was on back then. Most were just recycled serials from the 30’s and 4o’s.

      I don’t have any weekend plans either.

  2. Bob Says:

    Thanks for digging up the French word for mist. When WWII was ending, the victors formed ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) which is a part of the United Nations. The United Nations was back then the Allies. They held a convention in Chicago to set up the recommendations for civilian aviation in 1944. We didn’t like most of their recommendations and told them to take a long walk off of a short pier. Even today, ICAO is only a recommending agency and each countries’ aviation authority can decide to comply or not. However, as the world has shrunk we in the United States have started to go along with some of their recommendations. Such as switching to METAR weather reports.

    When you and I were young there were only five or six International airports and they were all along the east and west coasts. Today there is International air traffic flying everywhere in the U.S. Who would think that Austin Bergstrom Airport in Austin Texas would have International flight’s other than maybe Mexico? British Airways flies Boeing 777 trips nonstop daily to London Heathrow. Austin is the Silicon Valley of Texas. Our air traffic controllers used to tell an aircraft to, “Taxi Into Position and Hold” on an active runway prior to takeoff. Now we have changed to the ICAO standard, “Line Up and Wait”. I’m sure there was a lot of confusion especially with Asian copilots understanding our radio telephony.

    Just to make things interesting, every country flies using feet for altitudes except China, Russia and the former Soviet Republics. China uses meters and Russia uses meters below the transition altitude and feet above. We set our altimeters to barometric pressure measured in inches of mercury while almost every other country uses Hectopascals. Of course Russia uses millimeters of mercury because they can. Each country publishes their own Aeronautical Information Manual, which International pilots carry with them on international flights.

    One show I watched as a kid was “Flash Gordon”. He had an alien enemy character, Ming from the planet Mong. He looked like a guy dressed up in a devil costume. Possibly “Gene Autry’s Phantom Empire” wasn’t carried on our TV stations when I was a kid. After all, there were only four in those days. 🙂

    • katry Says:

      I went hunting again and found considerable information about the Chicago Convention of 1944, all new to me. I couldn’t find where the US was not a signatory. I did find a list of all signatories now and which countries signed it on December 7, 1944: The US was listed which is confusing me:


      I used to love to go to Logan when I was a kid. You could stand on the railed rooftop and watch the planes. That was one of the reasons I caught my travel bug. Logan was an international airport but its destinations were limited. I remember going to Africa in 1972. I checked my luggage at Logan, flew to La Guardia, took a helicopter to Kennedy and flew from there to Ghana. It took over 24 hours, but the big miracle is my luggage made it despite all the changing of planes.

      I know that the international language of aviation is English. To think a pilot had to learn not only all the intricacies of flight but also aviation English.

      I remember Ming the Magnificent! I also watched all the Flash Gordon episodes.

      That the US doesn’t use the metric system like the rest of the world makes little sense. It just comes down to time and money. I remember traveling in Ghana and having to change kilometers to miles in my head so I could know how long the trip actually was.

      PS. I am learning so much about aviation from you!!

      • Bob Says:

        The U.S. is a signatory of the ICAO Chicago convention of 1944. However, being a signatory doesn’t mean a country has to follow the ICAO rules. They are recommendations. The ICAO five freedoms are what the treaties covered.


        Everyone who is not a native English speaker has to pass an English proficiency test which is administered online. However, understanding aviation terms over the radio at a busy airport can be difficult especially when we weren’t using the ICAO standard phraseology.

        In aviation everyone uses feet for altitude because the metric altitudes don’t work if you want to assign an airplane a nice round number to fly. The Russians switched to feet in cruise airspace but the Chinese didn’t. To make metric altitudes work China had to redefine the meter. They have a published table that converts the assigned metric altitude into feet. Pilots fly the altitude in feet. For example:
        “Climb 11,600 Meters” chart says fly 38,100 ft.

        The table states that while flying an altitude in feet a metric altimeter or avionics could indicate being off by as much as + or -30 meters. Only the Chinese could come up with this system.

      • katry Says:

        I would think that following the same aviation rules would make it safer. I didn’t know about the non-native speakers and testing for English. It is a good thing the choice of language wasn’t based on population.

        That the signatories can choose or not to follow the Convention rules makes little sense to me. Why sign it if you don’t choose to use it?

        Feet is a measurement we all understand. It is like when I changed kilometers to miles when I was traveling in Ghana.

        China is a bit complicated.

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