Friday, March 17, 2006

Is It Possible to Have Nostalgia...

... for something that only happened six months ago?

Seems like a LOT longer than that, but it was just September of last year that I went to Mississipi.

Many thanks again to Rivrdog, for posting my observations about the trip back when I hadn't committed to running my own blog. Also for the really nice things he said about me back then :)

Shortly after that trip, I started thinking seriously about looking for a position in FEMA that I was qualified for. See, I LIKE helping people, and if I could have a job where I was being PAID to help people, that would just rock.

Well, I'm not a college graduate, and apparently (according to FEMA), only college graduates are qualified to help others. So I never applied for a job with them.

This is probably a Very Good Thing(tm).

See, here's the thing... With a very, very few exceptions, PEOPLE and PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS (whether they be private charities, or corporations) are better at DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING than the FedGov is.

Charity is most definately NOT one of those few exceptions.

I'm going to keep my good-paying IT job, not go to work for the government. I'm going to keep vacation time on the books, so I can take time off when I decide I should. I'm going to keep good ties to friends, family, and private charitable organizations. I'm going to keep money in the bank. I'm going to look after my family FIRST.

And next time a disaster like Katrina hits, I'm going to talk about it with Lisa, and if we agree, I (or we) will take time off work, let friends and family and local charities know what we're doing and ask for their support, buy anything needed to fill the gaps, and then take as much as possible to where it's needed.

We acted WAY too slow after Katrina. We waited to hear from my brother-in-law, Donnie, who was in the disaster area, and comm networks prevented communication for TOO LONG.

Next time, we'll act on comms from news (preferably bloggers, not the MSM) and other charitable organiziations like Red Cross and Salvation Army, to move with what's needed, and move QUICKLY.

I fully expect to beat FEMA to the local scene. I'll be proud if I can beat Wal-Mart and FedEx. Again, showcasing how individuals and private organizations are better at ALMOST EVERYTHING than the FedGov is.

Support your local charities, take care of people around you, support missions to help those further away, and tell the FedGov to go piss up a rope.

And in this post, I'm not even going to address the gov't proclivity to theft and perjory... that one has me seeing red too much to write coherently yet.

6 Comments:

Blogger Rivrdog said...

Couple of things to help you keep up with the disaster as it happens:

Comm receivers. If you can budget for both, you're better off. First get a good portable short-wave receiver, to get the hams that are doing the long-distance DX on Single Side-Band. The SW receiver will also stand you in very good stead for global news.

Then budget for a trunking scanner. They are down to about $200 now. Put your local public safety agencies in, and try to get the FEMA channels somewhere.

Of course, this all goes with your previous equipment purchases of FRS-GMRS tranceivers, CB and Marine if you contemplate being near the Gulf. It's quite a load to care for and transport, especially keeping up with all the battery requirements, but just having the complete suite make you the man of the hour when no one else does.

Then, talk up some common relief plans. A cheapie long-distance card is the only requirement here. Make interlocking relief plans with relatives, church members, co-workers and anyone who you feel you can include in your circle.

It might be well to discuss these plans with your boss, assuming you are on good terms. If the boss has approved in advance, it's less stressful for both of you when it's time to ask for the time off.

Another thing to look into might be one of the major cell services high speed data-over-phone cards. You buy the card for your laptop, and rent the service. You can have a cheapie plan and not use it much, then bump it up to full-time when the disaster hits.

There will always be 1X, the old 20-40Kbaud system. The newer 3G or EV-DO system is fast, 300-600Kbaud, but might not be where you want to go, and might be the first thing down in a storm anyway. The other possibility, and I did this until just recently, is to have an old PCS phone with a serial or USB data cable, and just keep it around on a minimum plan for data. Mine limped along at 12K, but it was 100% there, everywhere, and I used my "night & weekend minutes" to actually blog at those slow speeds (don't even try to load a photo though!).

Anyway, some comm ideas. Maybe I ought to put this on Paratus?

10:50 PM  
Blogger Aaron Neal said...

Ugh.

Rivrdog, congratulations. You've done something no one else has done in comments on my blog so far.

I thought I had a decent understanding of common, modern communications - but about 60% of your comment had me saying "WTF is he talking about? I've never heard of that!".

Given that I'm an IT geek, with a side interest in communications, and your comment left me in the dust, I'd have to say "Yes, this is DEFINATELY worth a very comprehensive post on Paratus".

You just left a techno-geek bewildered on a technical subject. I'd say that's an indication that this topic is ripe for a significant amount of explanation/teaching to those of us wanting to be fully prepared.

I look forward to reading, learning, and then equipping.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Rivrdog said...

Well Aaron, us comm freaks can't really do without you IT geeks anymore. Most comm has become permanently welded to the PC computer, but the important thing is what the computer can do for you WHEN IT IS CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET. Sorry to shout, but that is the key here. You can have a slick laptop that speeds along at better than advertised processing speeds, but if you can't use it to communicate with or aid your communication, it's just excess baggage when the S.H.T.F.

What do we find whenever we knock over an Al-Qaeda honcho's hideout?

Laptops and Sat Phones, maybe a cell phone or two. That's how you know you have gotten to Bin Laden's Inner Circle.

Now, I'm just guessing here, you're the IT dude, but there is probably a way to stream data in up-and-downlink via a Sat Phone. I KNOW SUCH CAPABILITY EXISTS FOR SHORTWAVE. In fact, anyone can get a Marine Radio license (no exam), and license not only the well-known VHF 25-watt tranceivers, but a 200-watt Single-Sideband tranceiver as well. When you have this license, you can comm with ships (or stations) all over the globe through the internet. One such service ($200/year) is called SailMail, but there are several of them. To use them, you use your own email program to send an email (no attachments, though, it runs at 300 baud) to the addressee, and you use the addressee's FCC call sign followed by "@sailmail.com". The Sailmail site gets the email, and their server is programmed to send it on to whichever world base station has the best chance of reaching the boat you are calling. I guess the server keeps rough track of which ocean you're in.

With the right outdoor antenna, you could receive SailMail on any good comm receiver hooked up to a text interface (another $300-500). You can only send it via the internet or out via a short-wave transmitter though.

Bin Laden's satellite-phone network is only slightly better than that, and satellite equipment is line of sight, so mountains can interfere. SSB is pretty much everywhere, but you have to maintain a "clean" radio environment without ignition noise or RFI from flourescent lights and other equipment.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Aaron Neal said...

Comment spammers:

Quit wasting your time and mine.

12:02 PM  

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