90 days? Ha! How about 15 years!

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opportunity_goodbye

NASA and JPL have closed the books on the Mars Opportunity rover. Designed for a 90 day mission, the little explorer-that-could made it almost 15 years. The last transmission from the rover has been translated into something a bit anthropomorphic and pensive, and variations on the above image have become Internet memes.  Someday someone will find it sitting forlornly in a pile of Martian dust, and at that point we’ll have to decide whether to bring it back to be displayed in the Smithsonian, or to create a permanent historical park on Mars.

Good job, Opportunity (you, too, Spirit and Sojourner). Rest easy, we’ll find you someday.

When is a zero not a zero?

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no-zeroWhen is a zero not a zero? Turns out, when it’s an ‘o’.

For almost 25 years, I’ve been a 9-1-1/law enforcement dispatcher. One task of many in dispatching is to check DMV, DOJ, and national databases for registration and stolen status on vehicles. These checks are usually done by the license plate number, but sometime we have to use the Vehicle Identification Number, also known as the VIN.

From day one of my training, way back in 1994, I was told there are two characters never used in VINs. The letter ‘o’, and the letter ‘i’. This is because they are generally indistinguishable from zeros and ones, especially on VIN plates located on vehicle dashboards or engines. Simple. Every time you see 0 or 1 in a VIN, they are numbers, not letters.

Until yesterday.

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I wonder if they’re trying to tell me something…

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error   404 Not Found

That’s what happens when I click on the bookmark that takes me to the log-in page to my community blog, Alternating Currents, hosted on the Visalia Times Delta‘s site.  I’ve been posting there since at least 2010, but Gannett’s latest redesign of their papers pages seems to have broken something on the ‘back end’.

A couple of emails to the Visalia Times Delta’s staff has resulted in responses that a repair ticket would be started, and another that the status would be checked, but late November of last year was the last time I could post anything.

I’m hoping it’s just a case of too much work for too few IT people, and that it will eventually be fixed. Crossing fingers, and such.

I really enjoy having the platform to express myself. Occasionally, things get interesting, like the time I posted about chickens and pygmy goats. That generated a bit of a tempest, to put it mildly. You should have seen the Facebook comments! Even had people trying to get the Times Delta to ban me from their site.

But if someone has decided they don’t *really* want community bloggers, or they just don’t want *this* one, I’ve always got this page to fall back on. Maybe I should just start posting things here, instead.

Decisions, decisions.

God’s minions spread The Word: I can give up lesbianism!

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goodgodbook

So these packages arrived in today’s mail. One is addressed to me, by name, and the other to “the guy with the truck”, referring, I assume, to my cousin who lives with me and drives a truck.

The return address is a mailbox/shipping/copy store, so I have no clue who sent me these missives. I also don’t know why they know my name, but not my cousin’s. Mysteries I’ll probably never solve.

Someone spent some money to spread “God’s word”, and took some effort to get them mailed. But they’re not brave enough to step up and be known. I wonder if they get full heaven points for that, or if they only get half-points?

I haven’t read the book yet, but here’s what the Internet has to say about it:

I used to be a lesbian.”
 
In Gay Girl, Good God, author Jackie Hill Perry shares her own story, offering practical tools that helped her in the process of finding wholeness. Jackie grew up fatherless and experienced gender confusion. She embraced masculinity and homosexuality with every fiber of her being. She knew that Christians had a lot to say about all of the above. But was she supposed to change herself? How was she supposed to stop loving women, when homosexuality felt more natural to her than heterosexuality ever could?

So I guess I should read the book, and work on giving up my lesbian ways.

I wonder if it has dawned on whoever sent me this that if I give up women, I’ll be…

a homosexual man.

Maybe I better get to reading this book, quick!

Where I chat with Los Angeles Police Department Communications on Twitter

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lapd01

lapd02

So today on my Twitter feed, @KC6YRU, this popped up from the Communications Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. In case the font is a bit difficult to read, here’s a recap:

Poll: On average, how long does it take to fully train a new Police Service Representative (Public Safety Dispatcher) at ?”

Choices are 12 weeks, 24 weeks, or 46 weeks. Most respondents got the correct response, 46 weeks.

The next Tweet is what caught my eye.

Great job and thanks for answering our poll. It takes nearly a full year to train a new PSR (46 weeks average). The training is two phases: Dispatcher (RTO) then Call-taker (EBO). The training consists of classroom, simulations and hands-on.

It was interesting to me that LAPD trains on radio first, then on phones. That’s the reverse at what we do at our agency. I Tweeted at LAPDCD:

“You train radio first? That’s interesting. We do phones and CLETS first, radio after.”

They replied moments later (somebody’s working on a weekend):

We do. The PSR position must be able to perform both functions; radio and phones. Historically, radio has been the more difficult of the two, so we train on that first.”

That’s true for us, as well. The radio will kick your ass. It did mine, and I already knew the area, radio codes, and was an experienced ham radio operator, so I did not experience “mic fright” (a very real thing for new dispatchers). It’s even more difficult for folks who have to learn all of that stuff from scratch.

Our training program has evolved since I was a newbie (24 years ago), from three months of combined radio/phones to a much longer process. Now, we train on phones and paperwork first (there’s a ton of “paperwork” these days, even if most of it is on the computer), then radio. As I was thinking about it, it seemed to me that by doing it this way, we build up the confidence of the trainee that they really can handle whatever gets thrown at them. By the time they get to radio training, they’ve handled a ton of 9-1-1 calls, not to mention the endless routine phone traffic.

LAPD has one of the largest communications divisions in the country, so they know what they’re doing. I wonder what their wash-out rate is, and how long they keep new hires?

My interest in law enforcement dispatching undoubtedly stems from endless reruns of Adam-12 in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s.

“Adam-12, see the man, a 415 in progress. Adam-12, handle code-2”

And of course the opening credits:

“Adam-12, a 211 in progress. Adam-12, handle code-3”

(they never did say where the 211 was located, but the good ole’ Adam-12 car was shown rolling code-3… somewhere.)

 

What to do… what to do?

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nfl_knee

Decisions, decisions. I’ve been seeing more talk from NFL fans that they’re going to boycott watching the games because of the players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality. Now that the NFL has taken steps to ban the practice, by threatening to fine the players, some folks I’ve seen on social media are fully supportive of the move. They also say they’re not going to watch any NFL games if players continue to kneel.

Now I’ve got a tough choice.

I support the players who engage in this peaceful, non-disruptive protest. I don’t at all think it’s disrespectful to the flag, veterans, or the United States. It’s full on 1st Amendment in all it’s glory.

But I find football particularly uninteresting to watch. I already don’t watch NFL, so now, to support the players, does this mean I have to start watching??

I don’t know if I’m strong enough to do that. American football is just really boring, and visually unappealing.

Such a conundrum.

July 4 – Civil War

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alexjones

I must have missed the memo. To where do I report for the July 4 Civil War that’s going to be started by us liberals? Is my BB gun weapon enough? It looks like a 9mm hand gun, but I don’t even have any BBs at the moment. I hope the stores haven’t sold out, I’m sure there must have been a run on them by now.

Alex Jones says we liberals are going to launch a civil war this Wednesday. Totally coincidentally, Jones sells lots of survivalist gear on his site, so after you watch his war warnings, you can go buy all the stuff you’ll need to survive this holocaust. Best choose the “overnight shipping” option, though.

I suppose my best contribution will be in the communications/radio tent. I can dispatch the hell out of this war, but I’ll need all the secret codes and unit designators so I know who I’m talking to and what I’m telling them. I’d hate to get something wrong, and have Bravo Unit attack a Starbucks, rather than the Walmart.

Image: Alex Jones Twitter

(I usually don’t cross post, but this one is too funny not to make fun of in as many places as possible.)

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