The Future That Never Was

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georgejetson I live in the future, and things are not as I was promised.

Back in the 1960’s, when I was Space Cadet Jimmie Joe, there were certain things that we simply knew would exist, off in the far distant future of the 21st Century. The big one, of course, was the flying car. The Jetsons‘ of 1962 got that wrong. Back To The Future of 1985 got it wrong, too. Space Cadet Jimmie Joe has never quite forgiven any of them for that.

The Jetsons‘ had big screen televisions and video phones, which we’ve pretty well matched. We get our dinners from a magic box we call a microwave oven, which is a pretty good substitute for dinner sliding out of the wall on a conveyor belt. And, of course, the Internet. Of all the future tech people wrote about in my childhood, nobody really thought of that one. So much for prognostication.

The future I live in has interesting quirks, some rather depressing. We have 400 channels of television, and nothing much worth watching. We have satellite radio, also with hundreds of channels.  The FM and AM radio bands are filled with screaming DJs, or drivel-filled talk shows that cater to conspiracy theories and “fake news”.

While the future is not quite Blade Runner, neither is it Star Trek.

I ran into one quirk this morning. It turns out that in the 21st century, if the computer goes down the fast food joint can’t serve anything. Nobody knows how to do anything without the computer adjudicating it first.

The grill was still hot. The french fryer still bubbling. The soda machine could still dispense a Coke. But without the computer, nothing happens.

Nobody knows how to take an order, write it down, add up the price, figure out the sales tax, and make a sale. Business comes to a screeching halt, all because the computer crashed.

I suppose that’s all so very futuristic of them, but it sure seems like we missed the boat (flying car) somewhere.

Oh. And my Congressman is suing a cow. A fake cow. For being mean to him.

Welcome to the 21st Century, Space Cadet Jimmie Joe.

 

Devin Nunes is suing a cow.

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devincow  So a fake cow said mean things about Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), and he’s suing.

Twitter parody account @DevinCow had about 1,000 followers Saturday night. Monday morning the news hit that Nunes, former head of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and now ranking member, was suing Twitter, the person behind an account called “DevinsMom” (since removed because Nunes’ real mother complained to Twitter), and the cow*.

Twitter users immediately dumped a skip-loader’s worth of cow-pie scorn on him. Parody accounts flourished, all taking him to task for attacking an account that had only about a thousand followers before Monday. Twitter users flocked to follow the herd, and cow jokes have been thicker than flies around a sump pond. Steven Colbert even set up a one-Tweet parody page, Devin’s Skin. It’s message? “Still Thin”.

By Wednesday, @DevinCow had surpassed the 398,000 followers on Nunes‘ personal account, and as of this writing has 608,000. Nunes’ official Congressional Twitter account has only 32,000 followers, and is rarely used by the California Republican.

You’d think a dairyman would know how NOT to step in a pile of cow shit, but since it’s been a long time since Devin has actually worked on, or owned any interest in, a dairy, perhaps he’s forgotten. Maybe he became used to the muck in Washington, D.C., and this all just seems very normal to him.

So… he’s suing Twitter. Devin says he’s due $250,000,000 for all the pain, suffering, mental anguish, and damage to his reputation (because, see, he *almost* lost the last election. Too many of his constituents must be too easily swayed by that low-down, no-good, scurrilous cow and her mean Tweets!).

This is the same Devin Nunes that told C-SPAN in 2010 that he had no problem with people saying demeaning, rude, or hostile things to government officials.

This is the same Devin Nunes that is a co-sponsor on a bill to prevent frivolous lawsuits.

My, how times have changed!

*ok, he’s not suing a real cow. He’s going after whoever runs that account. Legal observers say it’s udder-ly crazy for him to expect to win. 1st Amendment, you know.

Oh, and I’m still blocked from his personal account. I’m assuming it’s something I said.

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.)

 

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