That’s a wrap!

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25 years, 3 weeks, 12 hours.

That’s how long I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office.

Friday was my last day.  Here’s my signoff on the radio.

Here’s the text:

Calling all cars, calling all cars, and units and stations
copy BOL

(break)

Visalia one continuing,

After 25 years, 3 weeks, and 12 hours, “Radio, Jim” is officially 10-42 at 1800 hours.
It’s been my pleasure and honor to be one of the voices on the other end of this radio and the phone for that time.

Being able to support you, and serve the citizens of Tulare County as part of the team here in dispatch, has been at times nerve wracking, infuriating, suspenseful, frequently amusing, but always rewarding. I can’t imagine having done anything else as a career. (well, astronaut, maybe, but NASA never seemed interested)

My time here has seen three sheriffs, six dispatch supervisors, and various shift supervisors. Sometimes I wonder how many deputies and officer’s voices have come across my headset? There’s been a bunch, and sometimes it seemed like they were all trying to talk at once!

Being a dispatcher means being part of a team, and I want to compliment all of the dispatchers I’ve worked with over the years. The comeraderie and support for each other is what makes this place operate so well. I feel fortunate to have been a part of that.

So now I hang up my headset for the last time, and head off into retirement. Thank you for putting up with me, and for allowing me to be part of this family and team. Stay safe, be nice to the dispatchers, and know that from time to time I’ll be listening.

Visalia 1, Dispatcher Reeves, clear at (time)

Now, time to relax, reflect, take some bike rides and country drives, and cogitate on what comes next.

Straight Pride Parade? Really? I get a visit.

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straightpride

Last month, if you’ll remember, I wrote about setting up a conference call with the gods, pleading for good weather at PrideVisalia 2019. Despite weather forecasts predicting rain, it was sunny and warm that day. The gods were disposed to grant my request, and held the downpour until the next day. Man, did it rain then! My eternal thanks to all of them for cooperating.

I had thought that would be the end of that, at least until next year, but this morning I learned an important lesson.

Once you become known as a contact point for a group, you’re stuck with it, for better or worse.

This morning, just before dawn, in that in-between time when stories have the spirits at their most active, I got dragged up from a pleasant dream to find I was not alone in my bedroom.

In fact, there was quite the crowd. They were standing around the bed, and they did not look pleased. Normally, this kind of thing would elicit a panicked response on my part, but for some reason I felt fairly calm. I must have been thinking “this is a new dream. Dang, that other one was more fun”, because I just kind of sat there, wondering why these folks were in my bedroom.

One of them, a woman, spoke up. “Jimmie, what in the hell is this thing about a straight pride parade in Boston?” I squinted at her in the dim morning light, trying to figure out who she was. “We were happy to hold the rain off for PrideVisalia, good job on that, by the way, I popped down and visited incognito, had a wonderful time, the Mom Hugs were a fantastic idea. Now we’re hearing that Boston is holding a straight pride? What the hell??” she said.

As the sleep was fading from my brain, I recognized the voice from the conference call.

“Tempestas, so nice to meet you in person,” I said. I thought I heard a thunderclap and rumble off in the distance. I remember thinking, “there’s no storms predicted for Visalia today…”

Another one of them spoke up, “Hey, answer the question! What’s up with this straight pride nonsense?!” I recognized that voice, too. “Ishkur, boy, that graphic artist got you spot on!”

The thunder got a bit louder, and I realized it was not coming from outside.

“uh, guys…  don’t sweat it,” I said. “A group of lonely straight guys, who apparently can’t get laid, have decided they need a pride parade to prove they’re just as cool as the gays. They’ll probably have a few dozen people show up, they’ll have some really lousy music, someone will give a speech that will be roundly ridiculed on social media, and it will be a lot of smoke and noise, and nothing else.”

Tempestas was still glaring at me, and said “I’m thinking of sending a hurricane to Boston that day. They haven’t had one since 1991, and I think they’re due for another, if they let this nonsense go on!”  The rest of the crowd murmured in agreement, and I knew I had to do something, quick. (that god time thing, again. For them, August 31, the planned day of the “parade” might as well be right now)

I asked them not to ruin Boston’s day just for a few nutcases, even if they are jerks.

“Is that Fryer back there?” I asked. “My thanks to you and Odin, and all the others, for granting my request for PrideVisalia. We really had a wonderful time.” The figure standing back in the growing light just nodded, and waved his hand at Tempestas and Ishkur, who had apparently been appointed to speak for the group. I turned my attention back to them.

“Really, please. It’s no big deal. They’ve been laughed at since the news broke that they were applying for a parade permit. Boston, as you all know, is about as progressive a place as there is in the United States, and they really can’t say no to this application, no matter how idiotic it may be. Let them have their straight pride parade, (there’s that rumble again, it’s getting louder… where is it coming from?) and we can forevermore hold it up to those who scream ‘why is there no straight pride!?!?’, and say there you go, you got one. After all, we’ve always told them if they felt they needed a parade, to organize one, and it looks like they finally took our advice.”

Tempestas was still glaring, and Ishkur had little lightning bolts flickering between his fingers as I spoke, and I remember a stray thought that I hoped those sparks wouldn’t damage my phone, sitting on the night stand next to where he was standing. Several others still grouped around the foot of my bed were looking a bit more calm, though, so I was hoping things were looking up. I really didn’t want to feel responsible if Boston got clobbered by a storm that day. Was that Indra standing next to my dresser?

Ishkur snapped his fingers, and the room was briefly brighter than I ever remember anything being, and he pointed at Tempestas. “Pay attention!” he thundered.

“Really,” I said, “don’t worry about it. This will be a one-time thing, and it won’t be all that much at that. Everyone will see this for what it is, another cheap slap at the LGBT community by incels that really feel powerless in their own lives. They’ll make a bit of noise, snarl traffic, and generate more hostility towards their ‘movement’. The difference between their little ‘parade’ and Boston’s Pride parade couldn’t be more stark, and they’ll do more damage to their cause than a hurricane would do to the region. Please, just let it go.”

By this time, the room had cleared out, it was just me, Tempestas and Ishkur remaining. From that I presumed that the other gods were willing to go along with ignoring straight pride, and all I had to do was seal the deal with those two.

“So, are we good?” I asked. “Boston is a really nice place, I hope to visit it one day, and these morons are just background noise. Let it pass, and let them fade into the obscurity they deserve.” I was crossing my fingers behind my back.

Ishkur looked at Tempestas, who appeared to be deep in thought.

“OK,” she said. “I can’t guarantee that there won’t be rain, or even a hurricane on that day, these things generally run on autopilot with very little input or notice by me. What I won’t do is deliberately “rain on their parade”, so to speak.” A small grin appeared, she clearly thought her pun was clever. I was not inclined to disagree, or give any sign of my internal groan.

“Thank you,” I said, as I bowed slightly, still sitting in bed. “You are a most gracious and kind goddess.” I was going to say more, but I got the distinct impression she wouldn’t have appreciated further groveling, and I thought I heard a rumble from Ishkur that implied I should stop while I was ahead. A wink from him as he faded from sight encouraged that idea.

Tempestas winked too, and was gone. I sat there for a bit, and thought to myself “that’s the last time I have chocolate chip mint ice cream right before bed.”  My next thought was as I was waking up several hours later, “what a wild dream. That’ll make a great blog post! What’s that rumbling noise?…”

 

 

 

 

The story can now be told – why it didn’t rain on PrideVisalia 2019

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storm_god

Ishkur, Mesopotamian god of storms

Despite a week of weather forecasts predicting rain on Saturday, the day of PrideVisalia 2019 was sunny, clear, and warm. How did that happen? Well, now the story can be told.

The very first PrideVisalia hosted by The Source LGBT+ Center was in June 2017, and the summer gods were out in full force. 105 degrees in the shade (40 for those of you who are on the Celsius thermometer), with relentless solar radiation made for a sweaty and uncomfortable festival. The powers-that-be decided that it’s difficult to be gay (or lesbian, or bi, or trans, or pan, or anything else for that matter) under such conditions, so the festival for 2018 was moved to the end of May. Cooler weather usually prevails, and the festival can be truly festive. It did and it was.

As PrideVisalia 2019 approached, our weather apps began giving us ominous warnings. Thunderstorms, rain, and warm temperatures were threatening to make the festival a muggy, wet, sodden affair. Nerves were on edge, a brave face was put on by organizers, and extra awnings were put on standby.

Why didn’t it rain? I simply asked for a favor.

Yep, I set up a conference call, and got all the gods on one hookup. You wouldn’t believe how difficult that was to arrange! Some of these characters really don’t like each other. Some kept insisting none of the others even existed! I finally appealed to their better natures (for some their vanity, but that’s another story) and got them all on the line.

I managed to snare the major players: Zeus, Ishkur, Tlaloc, Indra, Fryer, Odin (who, like some of the other major players, insisted on being included even though he doesn’t usually handle weather himself), and Tempestas (who you would think from her name wouldn’t be a easy sell, but she was a joy to talk with). Some native American weather spirits joined in, especially those of the local tribes here in the valley, and of course Allah and Yahweh. (I tried to get Lucifer on the call, just to keep some balance, but he was unavailable. Apparently he’s on vacation. In Los Angeles. Odd.)

After some small talk that seemed to last an eternity (God time is very different from human time, it seems) we got down to the issue at hand.

I was prepared for a long, hard fought battle to convince them to hold the rain off for a day, but it was amazingly easy.

Seems the gods are really fond of their LGBTQ+ children, and were eager to grant such a request. They also love a party, and once I described what was going on, they were all on board with very little convincing required. I think the drag queens and the Ballet Folklorico dancers of Mexico Moderno really put it over the top.

I got a bit of flack from Yahweh about my being an atheist and all, but I’m pretty sure he was just ribbing me. (see what I did there?) He, of course, loves all the rainbow gear at Pride. Allah was silent for most of it all, but I’m pretty sure I heard a نعم فعلا from him.

So there you have it. One conference call, some friendly chatting, a bit of ego stroking for the more vain characters, and they all agreed to push the rain to the next day. Sunny and warm, with a slight breeze prevailed for PrideVisalia 2019.

I’m a little concerned what they might require of me as payment for granting my favor. A couple of them were putting on an ominous tone, but I’m pretty sure they were just teasing. Fairly sure. Oh boy… what have I done! Whatever the reality of that is, I’ll deal with it at some future date. A very far-off in the future date. Maybe they’ll forget. One can hope.

Oh, and you’re welcome!

P.S.

PrideVisalia2019_weather

I’m not so sure

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prediction03272019

Maybe I’m just on the ‘wrong’ weather channel. Ten minutes to go, we’ll see if something sneaks in on a zephyr.

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

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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.

The Best Christmas, Ever

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xmasbike71crop

Time for my annual Christmas story.

Best Christmas Ever – 1971
I wrote this back in 2007, for my personal blog on MySpace.
******
We were telling Christmas stories at work the other day, and I told my “best Christmas ever” story.  After I told it, I thought it might make a good blog, so here it is.

The location: Visalia California, the house on Divisadero Street, just down the block from the junior high I attended (now called a “Middle School” for reasons known only to the bureaucracy of schools).

The year:  1971   8th grade  Jim is 14 and knows Santa’s secret identity.
Top item on the Christmas wish list:  A 10-speed bike.

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I went “Over The Edge”!

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0drp-1dv1-14rb1-xa

Today was the day…  I rappelled from the eighth floor of the Visalia Marriott Hotel, in a fundraising drive for The Source LGBT+ Center. Joining dozens of other participants, we raised over $90,500 (and counting), for Tulare and Kings Counties only LGBT center.

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