The Future Is Now

It’s been a long time coming, but all of the public service agencies in my area have finally switched out their radios, and are now using digital transmitting/receiving rather than the old analog systems that had been in place and unchanged ever since I was a teenager. πŸ‘΄πŸ» So the old police scanners that nearly everyone in Lancaster has… they’re essentially worthless now, at least when it comes to monitoring all of the action in town.

I’m not sure if it was a financial or transparency-based decision, but while they’ve upgraded to a fully digital system, they’ve decided against using encryption. The easiest thing to compare it to is the way that television broadcasts have changed over the past 10 or 20 years. No more analog signals, but if you have a digital cable box or digital tuner you can easily pick up the new transmissions. It’s the same thing with the public service radios… it’s just a different means of broadcasting. πŸ€“ If they went with encrypted systems though, it would be similar to how wireless phones use digital signals, but they’re also encrypted so that nobody but the caller and recipient are able to hear what’s being said. 🀨

The bad news? While you used to be able to buy a $40 scanner to listen to police, fire, and rescue… digital scanners are significantly more expensive. So much so that many people can’t or won’t want to make the upgrade to continue following the activity. πŸ™ And, at least here in Lancaster, an always-running police scanner has been about as common in homes as a stove, fridge, or washing machine. 😏

I had actually been considering getting a new scanner myself, going so far as to have “shopped them out” online so that I knew what I would get if the cost didn’t make me cringe so hard… and while I made the decision then that it was too expensive, hitting that little jackpot at Hollywood the other day has changed my tune. πŸ€— Oh, I still cringed when I loaded up the page of the one I wanted, but I went ahead and ordered it anyway.

The Homepatrol-1 units are basically “Digital Scanners for Dummies.” Where most other next-gen scanners are more computer than radio (with endless programming options and tweaks accordingly) the Homepatrol-1 is more about an easy listening/monitoring experience. It has built-in memory with a database that covers the entire United States, and it is updated weekly by the manufacturer – based off of frequency information provided by the users and staff at

So, with the way our local departments are still going through changes, as the current frequency information is discovered and updated on the site – all I’ll have to do (in theory) is punch up my zip code in the scanner… and all of the agencies and radio options will automagically appear before my eyes. πŸ˜€ So, along with it being one of the cheaper scanners,Β that’sΒ what actually sold me on it. The ability to start using it as soon as I get it, without having to spend hours figuring it out and programming it. It does have many advanced options though, especially through the included Sentinel software that is used for easier/quicker programming… so yeah, it’ll still be something to challenge my nerd brain as well.

I’m sure it probably seems like a frivolous purchase to a lot of people… but living by myself, outside of the city limits, away from the humans… having a scanner running gives me the sense of “staying connected” with a community that I still consider to be home, even if I’m not in the heart of it. (Plus there’s all kinds of other stuff to search for and listen to on top of that…)


You’re Not Supposed To Do That

I needed something like this to occupy my brain, to get my mind off of many of the things that have been weighing heavy on me lately – where I could just let my nerd flag fly and dig in to this project to see what I could figure out. πŸ€“ It all started when I was preparing to update the OS in my car, which got me to thinking…

I moved the entire contents of my car’s “brain” over to my laptop, originally because I just wanted to locate any default images or videos that the system uses – in case I ever decide that I want to replace those images or videos with ones of my own. But as I went through the various directories I began to see that many of the files were saved in ASCII format, no encryption, no hex code… and easily viewable with Notepad. 😧

I found things regarding navigation, flash files that make up components of the UI, buttloads of icons for the nav system (which my car doesn’t even have (yet?)), a library of text-to-speech phrases… I mean, you can see in the screenshots above. All sorts of files like that, and in multiple languages as well.

But not only does changing the default images and videos interest me, but now that I’ve found the default phrases that the system uses for various things… it’s got me wondering if it’s as simple as changing those phrases in the text file to get her to say whatever I want. πŸ˜„ Of course I haven’t changed any of it yet, and honestly I’m not likely to… not unless I talk to someone who’s discovered the same things as me, and has done it successfully.

There are a few really short animations that are displayed when opening the doors, starting the ignition, and then turning the car off. They’re just regular logo videos with a little bit of movement, but I’ve already started mucking around with ideas for replacement videos that I could use to create new, brief personalized animations for me. πŸ˜€ I used some free service, so I’d have to crop out their watermark, but the resolution on the car’s videos are so low that it shouldn’t be a problem to crop yet retain enough detail in the video. So… still debating what to do next… 😏

Well, That Was Strange

I’m only writing about this now because I think I can feel it ending. 😳 But this past week, this has been one of the better weeks in recent memory, when it comes to my mood and my ability to human and all that. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I’ve done quite a bit more socializing on Facebook and through messages than usual, and for some reason it didn’t cause me to get twitchy like it often can. So that was a nice gift from my brain.

I suppose it was allowed out of a bit of necessity though… I mean, that’s how my brain may have been looking at it… because, at least visually, I’ve been snowed in here at the house for the past few days. 😬 The same d00d that mows my lawn drove by, saw that my front yard showed not even a hint of a driveway, and messaged me to see if I wanted him to plow a way out for me and I happily accepted. πŸ€— So of course it then snowed again today, although not enough to really make a difference when it comes to getting my car in and out. πŸ€” At least I don’t think it is… I haven’t actually tried it yet. πŸš—β›„

Oh, speaking of my car… I’m getting ready to install an upgrade to the current version of my car’s OS. πŸ€“ It is a package that technically hasn’t been released to the public, but after reading the reviews of everyone that have done it themselves – there seems to be almost zero problems when it comes to installation or use. So I’m gonna do that here in a bit, and I’m also going to attempt to customize some of the different screen backgrounds, just to have a different look than what I’ve been staring at for the past couple of years. 😡 Wish me luck.

Physically? I’ve been feeling miserable. With some moments that were on par with the pain that I was experiencing before I even had my surgery. πŸ˜–πŸ˜’ Thankfully it still comes and goes, so I just have to deal with it until it goes. And speaking of that disability… I finally received a date and time for the upcoming workers comp trial. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš–οΈ It’s still a month away, so that leaves time to huddle with the lawyers, or for them to get a continuance yet again for whatever reason they come up with this time.

So yeah, just wanted to pop in here real quick and report back that this has been one of the most “normal” feeling weeks for me in a long time. πŸ™‚ But like I said, I do feel something changing… not sure if it’s because the 3-day weekend is ending or what, but I’ve been feeling increasingly bleh as the hours click off today. πŸ˜• Gonna try to do some stuff around the house this evening so I feel somewhat productive, since that usually helps.

Okay, But You Gotta Go Now

Now that Cassi lives farther away from me, we’re probably not going to be hanging out as much. 😐 I mean, we didn’t see each other a whole hell of a lot in the first place, but having that extra distance between us now will change how we do things a bit. Like, I just took her back home yesterday after having her stay for a couple nights… sort of glomming what would have been “a few little visits” together into one big visit, something we’ll probably do once or twice a month at the most. πŸ€” Especially when the weather is cold and shitty.

But it’s nice – a mini-vacation for her, and essentially the same for me… since while she’s here it lets all of the other stuff that I’d normally be thinking about stay buried in the back of my brain, un-accessed during the time that I’ve got company. ☺ But getting her back home yesterday was necessary due to the winter storm that was due to blow in. 😯 And boy did it. We got nearly a half-foot of snow overnight in some areas around here.

I’m already stocked up on supplies, so I don’t have any real reason to leave the house for the next several days – but there’s still a bit of twitchiness that comes when I look out the front window and can’t see even a hint of a driveway. 😬 I don’t wanna go anywhere, but I want to be able to if I want to. πŸ˜… Like I was telling Amy a bit ago, if some shmuck comes to my door today, offering plow service, I’d probably take him or her up on it. β˜ƒ I think the result would be better than my “put it in reverse, gun it, and hope for the best” method of backing out of the driveway would be.


‘Twas The Night…

A little bit of down time here on the evening before Christmas, so I figured I’d go ahead and throw up a blog entry. I’ve currently got “Twas the Night Before Christmas” playing via YouTube on the TV (Frosty is next) and Cassi is napping in the recliner next to me. πŸ˜‹ Surprisingly I don’t have that one on DVD, so I’m stuck with the slightly sped-up, angle skewed version here… but it’s one of my “must play” shows, so I’ll take what I can get with only a few hours left until Christmas.

Having company wasn’t in the original plan, but it’s nice to have her here. While I’ve been able to help out with their move and then run back home away from the stress, she’s basically been stuck in it… so Athena decided to spend time with her boyfriend, Leona went to stay with her mom, and I went to pick up Cassi so she could spend time with me and vice versa. πŸ™‚ I’m hoping the current nap status isn’t a reflection on me, but rather just relief of getting away from the chaos for a while.

It’s nice to have someone in my bubble for today and tomorrow, because like the past several years – I’ve just been struggling to grab hold of any Christmas spirit. I don’t feel awful or even bad… I just miss how I used to feel, but I suppose the older everyone gets the harder it is to hang on to the feeling we had as kids. πŸ€” In fact, I’m probably lucky to have held onto it as long as I did – probably longer than most, because I think my Christmas experiences as a kid were better than most. πŸ˜€ Yes, I’m probably biased, but they really did it right when I was little. πŸŽ„πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘¦

It’s been difficult this year to listen to our traditional family holiday music. I still haven’t figured out how to not let it make me sad… sad that things are so dramatically different than when I was a kid… but the way it goes is a) listen to old carols, b) feel good for a few seconds, remembering, then c) feeling shitty because this isn’t how everything was supposed to end up. Yes, everyone in the family is getting older, and getting older brings various forms and levels of suck – and it’s something that should be expected and therefore able to be prepared for, but yeah… that’s not how it goes for me. 😟

It’s okay though… like I said, I’m not miserable… I’ve got surprise company that I’m glad to have with me, and Genesee made sure that Santa didn’t forget me and Maven when it comes to having some little surprises on Christmas morning. Things could be a whole lot worse, and I have to remember that. 😌 I don’t wanna seem ungrateful for what I’ve got, but it’s hard not to feel selfish when I think about the things I wish were better/different. But at least I’ve got lots of “good” to be sitting here missing, eh?

Merry Christmas everyone… make the best of it.

This Used To Be My Playground

I had to go in town earlier to work on some annuity claim paperwork that Dad needs, then after I left the bank I went and hosed off the car. Rather than heading straight back home, I decided to ride around town for a minute… something that I actually haven’t done for a while now.

I’m noticing more than ever that this town feels like a different place to me now. I think it’s because I’ve seen too much of the negative of Lancaster, not only through various groups on Facebook but in person as well. The Lancaster of 2017 is nothing like the Lancaster from when I was a kid. (said every old person ever)Β  The difference here is that the younger generations see that the town is turning to shit as well, so it’s not just my nostalgic brain playing tricks on me.

It really wasn’t even that long ago that the town still felt like it was mine. I doubt that there’s a road in this town that hasn’t been touched by my cousin Jim and I on our bikes back in the day. Then once we learned to drive, it was “fox hunting” on the CB… which took us to the edges of town and onward. Everything about this city was familiar to us, and that feeling lasted a long time…

But now, the memories don’t immediately pop up anymore. I could probably sit here and give you a memory for any street that you’d care to name, but when I’m out driving on those same roads now… that’s all they are, just roads. Just roads in a crappy, poor, crumbling, drug-addicted town. Nothing about it feels familiar. I think I’ll try harder to get the feeling back though, at least in part, before time wins and erases it all.