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Mary Robinson is all about real-world information on the switch to digital television signals. The success of the DTV switch will depend on regular folks understanding new technology and getting it running in their homes. Ms. Robinson is weighing in on those nitty-gritty details, sharing her enthusiasm for TV-signal technology with those who are less technically inclined. She’s developed an expertise through years of hands-on experimentation, pulling in signals from the rooftop of her Texas home. Now she’s a resource for consumers struggling with the digital switch. We discovered Mary right here on TVWeek.com, where she reliably dispensed information in the comments section of this story, First Digital TV Converter Box Wins Government Approval about the digital switch. Let’s keep the conversation rolling!

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Picking Up the Pieces After Ike

September 23, 2008 2:59 PM

I have been in Tyler, Texas, for 10 days now seeking refuge from Hurricane Ike. After eight days without power back home, where it got hammered by Ike, I called my house and got the answering machine, so I know that I have gotten power back to my home. For that, I am grateful.

My sister and brother-in-law just called and said they were at my house, and other than a lot of tree limbs down, there was not much damage to my house. For that, I am eternally grateful.

That was not the case after Hurricane Rita in 2005. I had a large oak tree on my house and the electrical meter and breaker box was lying in the driveway. It took three months to get the electricity hooked back up, and six months to move back in.

I did, however, lose my antenna this time. The mast is bent over, and the antenna is resting against the roof. Oh well, that is easily replaced compared with those who lost their homes and everything else they own.

I wanted to move it anyway. I want to go from the ground and attach it in two places near the peak of the gable. That will make it a bit sturdier to handle the brunt of forceful winds of future tropical cyclones—I hope, anyway. It did survive Hurricane Humberto, and tropical storm Edouard. It was just no match for Ike.

For my neighbors who were not protected by the sea-wall levy system, it has been a nightmare. Of the 3,500 homes in the Bridge City, Texas, area, only six did not have wind or water damage, or both.

I even heard that the people who evacuated from Orange, Texas, by bus, and left their cars in the parking lot of Lamar State College-Orange had water up to the rooftops of their vehicles.

The hurricane knocked all three of our full-power major network television stations off the air for a time. KFDM and KBMT were back on after a few days, and KBTV came back on Friday. I don't have any information about either of the low-power analog or digital Fox affiliate channels or the full-power TBN affiliate station. I will try to get that information when I get home.

Once again, I would like to thank the people of Tyler for being so helpful and gracious to the thousands of us who found ourselves seeking shelter from the storm. Your compassion for those of us leaving our homes and belongings does not go unnoticed. We thank you, and although we wish there was some way to repay you for your generosity, we do hope you never have such a tragedy to which we would have to repay that debt of gratitude.

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Comments (1)

mary... the cat lady:

Well, I got back and had a chance to inspect the antenna. I lost 5 elements off the back end of the antenna, so I will probably scrap it and go with a high gain Channel Master antenna sometime in the near future. There was nothing "wrong" with the Radio Shack VU-190, it just got slammed into the roof, which broke the elements.
I don't get much with it lying on the roof below the roofline, but I am still able to watch Jeopardy at 6:30 PM off of KVHP in Lake Charles, so that is something to smile about. I don't get home from work in time to watch it on our local station at 4:00 PM. The picture is fuzzy, but watchable.
I will need to beef up the antenna mast a bit too. I have a friend who has some real pipe (schedule 80?) that I can probably get my hands on if I were to ask for it real nice. I am thinking maybe about 20 feet total. Maybe a couple of sticks of pipe so that one could fit inside the other so that I could lower it if need be. I will have to wait and see. I wish I could strengthen it with guy wires, but it would infringe on my neighbors yard, so I don't think that will be an option.
My best friend's brother's antenna (also a RS VU-190) survived Ike. As I have mentioned before, his is up about 36 feet, but has guy wires. It came through with flying colors.

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