What Are You So Mad About?

I haven’t posted a blog entry since all of the chaos started in the country. I didn’t (and honestly still don’t) have the words to truly express all of the things that it has made me feel. I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter though, basically in astonishment at how many people are willfully ignorant, blatantly lying, or a combination of both… and from all sides of the issue. Emotions and tensions are higher than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, so I understand that people will initially be speaking mostly with their anger. But anger can’t be an indefinite excuse for spreading false information, false narratives, and generally trying to make things worse rather than better.

My frustration comes from most people digging their feet in when it comes to their own personal take, and they won’t even listen to anything that doesn’t fit their narrative, let alone acknowledge and learn from any of it. It would be one thing if it was just random Twitter assholes, but I’m also talking about politicians and people in power who are acting the same way. Tom Cotton says “The riots have nothing to do with the death of George Floyd.”Β It doesn’t seem like the best idea to dismiss the pain and rage of those rioters who have obviously gone too far, but who are still upset with police abuse.

It’s amazing to see how many people who don’t want to be generalized or lumped together into one group, how they feel totally justified in doing that to people who aren’t on their side. “All cops are corrupt, murderous assholes!” “All protesters are violent, thieving arsonists!” Many people can’t or won’t admit that there are differences between peaceful protesters, the rowdy-but-non-criminal activists, the looters, the vandals, the people causing physical harm. It’s just easier for people to label them all as rioters so they can dismiss them as not worthy of being heard.

And then of course there’s a huge amount of people on the opposite side who can’t or won’t acknowledge that there are many different types of cops within law enforcement, including naive / optimistic officers seeking change, cops that just see it as a 9 to 5 job, officers who are on a power trip, ones who absolutely abuse their power, and then ones that can calmly kill detained suspects. And I’d think the one thing that both “sides” could agree on, is that we’re seeing far too many examples of the worst at both ends of the spectrum – and all it does is damage the message that they want to be heard. Yeah, everyone is mad, but if you take it too far then people are just gonna roll their eyes.

The second most widely spread bullshit take when it comes to this stuff, is that “If you aren’t breaking the law then you don’t have anything to worry about.” First of all, this is demonstrably untrue… and even if someone is breaking a law, are we as a society ready for law enforcement to commit physical violence in realtime for those offenses? What would those people think is a “fair punishment” for crimes such as stepping off of a sidewalk, being out 15 minutes past curfew, walking near people who are causing a disturbance, flipping off or cussing out a cop? Do we really want law enforcement to be able to kick, punch, drag, or choke people for those things? How about tear gas, rubber bullets, flash bang grenades, pepper spray projectiles? All of that is fine? If you’re only gonna watch one video on this page, make it this one – and put yourself or one of your children in the place of any of the folks who are taking the abuse…

And on Twitter, some chuckle fuck would immediately reply with “Well it wouldn’t be me or my kids in their shoes because we wouldn’t be participating in that!” And to that, I say… participating in what? Exercising your first amendment rights because you’re angry that police keep killing people without consequence? How about the people that are simply walking near someone who’s causing trouble? You could never be one of those people either? Those folks need to spare us all from their bullshit “it could never be me” crap.

One of the worst things that I’ve seen was in Austin TX. A college kid was shot in the back of the head with a “non lethal” projectile while cracked his skull and caused brain damage. The cops wouldn’t help him “in the street” and told people to take him to the police station. And when those people carried that critically injured man to the police department, they were immediately shot multiple times with pepper spray balls. And yeah, I’m being more hard on the police in this blog entry… because we should be able to expect more from the police. The people who vandalize, loot, start fires, etc… of course they should be arrested, charged, and prosecuted. But when cops act like criminals, that’s when “all” starts to get lost.

President Obama gave a wonderful speech yesterday, and among the things he said – he sent out a message to the mayors of every city across our nation, challenging them to review their “use of force” policies when it comes to the police departments and other law enforcement that they’re in control of. But then Donald Trump almost immediately issued a statement on Twitter, distancing himself from the idea of law enforcement reform – and instead saying the only thing he has in common with Obama is that they both fired the same army general. (Because Trump was being salty about being called out by that general, and that’s more important than the safety of every citizen in the country.)

At least national sentiment does seem to be finally turning against Donald Trump. He has never acknowledged the reason that people are protesting, and instead keeps doubling down with increased law enforcement presence, calling in military troops and vehicles, and threatening to send them to every state in order to “dominate” with force. Talk about lack of self-awareness. Hundreds of thousands of people are protesting against abusive law enforcement, and Trump’s response is essentially… “You wanna see abusive law enforcement?” I mean, his troops were using violence and pepper spray to clear the streets of humans as Donald Trump was giving a speech just yards away, claiming to be this amazing ally to peaceful protesters.

He knows that everyone knows he’s full of shit. He also knows that while plenty of people will call him out and be rightfully upset by his actions, he knows that there’s a massive number of people who simply won’t care that he’s a violent, self-serving liar, threatening the country with his military dominance. (I’d swear that a lot of people want to be him in that instance.) The same vibe that the abusive cops give… DO AS I SAY OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES, NO MATTER WHAT YOU’VE ACTUALLY DONE OR NOT DONE IN REGARDS TO THE LAW.

Okay, I better start wrapping it up, because I could obviously go on and on and on about it. But my take on this doesn’t feel like it should be controversial or objectionable, but boy is it to a lot of folks. George Floyd was murdered by those cops, and they should be charged and prosecuted accordingly. I absolutely support the protests. Everyone should be outraged, not just POC or people who are more likely to experience police brutality. I’m not even upset when those protesters break curfew, block roads, or protest in “scary voices” right in the face of law enforcement. If cops react to those actions with violence instead of simply arresting folks, then it just makes it that much easier to see which ones are the bad ones, and which ones will stand by and do nothing as the bad ones inflict pain and suffering on US citizens.

Yeah, I’m fucking heated about this stuff… and for the same reason as a million other people. The folks in power know what the protests are about, but they’d rather dismiss everyone as vandals, trouble makers, criminals – so that way they don’t have to acknowledge the problem of law enforcement abusing their power. The way the cops seem to be increasing their abuse, it appears that they’re scared of losing that power. Same thing with the political leaders. If law enforcement no longer has its knee on the neck of society, that makes the sketchy people in power really fucking nervous.

Politicians, police unions, etc have been praising many police departments for the way they’ve “shown amazing restraint” during all of this. And yeah, in a lot of instances that’s probably true. Shooting people “only” with rubber bullets, knee knockers, pepper balls, tear gas canisters… instead of live ammunition. But I hope the people offering that praise to the cops… I hope they realize that the people on the other side have been showing remarkable restraint as well. How many days in a row will our society watch innocent people getting the shit kicked out of them by out of control law enforcement officers? How long will they be okay with Donald Trump unilaterally deploying the United States fucking military into the streets to control us all? Yeah, there’s a lot of restraint all around, but I wouldn’t count on that lasting a whole lot longer…

Longest Ramble In A While…

I’m not gonna link to either of them, but yesterday evening when I was catching up on the news on Twitter, I came across two different things that really bothered me. 😟 Both of them were in Michigan, and both were part of a protest against the physical distancing / stay at home orders that have been put in place due to Michigan being one of the most affected states in regards to coronavirus / COVID-19.

I wanna start by saying that I do get why people are frustrated and want to be heard. πŸ₯Ί In fact, they’re more frustrated than I can even empathize with because they’ve been off work, losing their jobs, their businesses going under, and that’s obviously gonna take a toll on people. πŸ™ I know that I have days where it even gets to me more than I’d expect it to, so when people are unable to pay their bills, their rent, medical bills, etc.

But the first part of the protest that caught my eye were the hundreds of people who forced their way into one of the government buildings. I’m not sure if it was the state house, but it’s where the politicians were trying to do their jobs while protesters were shouting and screaming at law enforcement, banging on doors and walls, demanding that they bet let in. 😳 I think most people would expect a protest like that eventually, but this one went further – because many of the protesters were also dressed up like militia and were carrying loaded semi-automatic rifles. 😧

When you look at the video footage, I hate to say it, but those people looked and acted like you’d expect those kinds of folks to look and act… meaning, people who show up with guns when there’s no apparent reason to do so. πŸ˜’ And the ones who didn’t have guns, it’s not like they were discouraging the ones who did. Common sense says they brought their guns with them so they would be more intimidating, but I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the only protests they’ve really paid attention to are ones regarding gun control issues, where it would sorta make sense to “bear arms” while protesting… and maybe that made them think that all protests require dozens of armed people. πŸ™„πŸ˜ 

But yeah, you can look it up if you wanna see or read more about it. But with the way tensions were, I think they’re very lucky that there wasn’t even an accidental discharge of a weapon – which would have lit the very short fuse on that powder keg. It’s just sad, the smug look that you could see on some of their faces as they stood with their rifles, in the area above where the politicians worked. πŸ˜” And if their goal was truly to be heard, their stunt backfired… because all that people are talking about are the “white guys with guns” who occupied that building without so much as a ticket for ignoring social distancing rules, and questioning what may have happened if that group had been young black men instead. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

I don’t like doing those “what if” scenarios normally, but the way all those folks chose to act… πŸ˜’ oh, and because of something that I saw in the second topic that caught my eye. For another part of the protest there was a stage set up where people were speaking against the current rules, talking about the damage that it has done… understandable stuff. But then they had a performance by a couple of girls who looked as if they couldn’t have even been teenagers, wearing skimpy little dance outfits and halloween type masks. πŸ€” One of them being of a black man with exaggerated features. (Looks like they could have been Trump & Obama masks.)

They were doing a dance routine to the old song “Candy Man” but it sounded as if the lyrics had been changed to comment on the current situation. That’s unfortunate enough, where children are essentially being used by their parents to make political statements… but as these little girls were dancing, you could hear men and women in the crowd hooting and hollering as if it were some kind of burlesque show – with people even shouting “TAKE IT OFF!” as these poor little kids did their routine. 😧πŸ₯ΊπŸ˜”

It honestly made me sick to my stomach. 😟 Not just because the kids were being used in that manner, or that gross people were shouting sexual things at them, but also because nobody else in the crowd said anything, stuck up for them, or did anything to show their disapproval. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ (At least not in the clips that I saw.) I understand that people can start “thinking as a group” when caught in a moment, but even when it comes to something as disgusting as that? It’s not a good look for whatever message you were trying to send. 😠

If you’d ask a bunch of those first folks why they felt the need to bring rifles to a peaceful protest and dress in camo… the answers would probably be of the “bEcAUsE wE CAn!” variety. 😐 But that display with the girls, I wonder if any protesters would try to defend or normalize that as well. It makes me feel bad for the “normal” citizens of Michigan, because it makes the state look pretty awful – and I know they’ve got to be angry and embarrassed by all of it, the way it makes their citizens look to the rest of the country. πŸ˜”πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

One might ask why I allow myself get caught up in “news” like this. I ask that of myself too, honestly. 😏 But I dunno… I do try to limit my exposure in general, since 99% of what gets reported seems to be negative, but I guess I just feel like everyone should try to keep up on the more important things – especially if they want to have an opinion and have conversations with others about any of it. 🀨 So with things being as wacky as they’ve been over the past four years, even just “normal” news can trigger someone’s anxiety… and stumbling across “extra” stuff on Twitter, like the topics in this entry, is almost unavoidable. πŸ˜•

But I look back on old news articles and broadcasts from when Mom and Dad were young, and I see different protests, via different methods, at different locations, for different reasons… and I can’t remember learning about any of them and thinking, “Good grief… those people were idiots.” πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I’m sure “dumb” protests did happen, so maybe the news was just less interested in covering sensationalism back then? πŸ€” But hell… Today? I don’t think a day passes where I don’t read about or see something that makes me grumble, “Good grief, those people are idiots.” I think they were also lucky back then, getting their news (and only a couple hours each day) from either ABC, NBC, or CBS – and that was it. 😯 Not enough “room” to cover the stupids. Thanks to the internet though, we now have an endless supply that we have to work to avoid.

Vicarious Eavesdropping

That little nap yesterday afternoon…Β πŸ˜’Β screwed up my entire night. Didn’t fall asleep until about 3am, and I was up and down almost every hour on the hour from then on out. I don’t know if I was dreaming, since I was watching a huge storm front going through Illinois and Indiana as I was getting sleepy, but it was either that or I just barely slept through what sounded like a huge downpour. πŸŒ§οΈβ›ˆοΈπŸ‘πŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ§οΈΒ As if someone was spraying a hose against the side of my house. (Probably just my imagination.)Β Meh… now I’m just tired and grumpy and have a friggin’ neck / headache again, but hey… at least it’s Saturday. πŸ™‚πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Took my morning meds and some Aleve, so I’ll be feeling better soon. Also, I’ve got a package on the way. 😯 And how can you be in a shit mood when you’ve got a package coming? 😁 Before bed each night, I usually spend a while listening to the scanner, and relaying any interesting bits to Amy, my night-time / insomnia texting wife. 😏 We use that term jokingly, of course… but everyone (if they’re married) has a real spouse, but then you often have a “work wife”, an “internet wife”, a “texting wife”, etc. Anyway, the scanner is great, but I’m far enough from town that reception is sometimes a problem. πŸ€¨πŸ“»

So I found a cheap, wide-band, glass mount antenna with the bitty SMA connector that my Uniden HomePatrol 1 uses – and it’s supposed to arrive today. Hopefully by one of their delivery people that has the GPS system where it’ll pop up a little map, showing where they are, and how many stops until they reach you. πŸ€“πŸ§­πŸšš Gonna tuck the antenna behind the curtain on the picture window, which somewhat faces towards town, so hopefully it’ll give me just enough boost that I’ll stop getting garbled transmissions.

At this point, $20 was about the limit that I was willing to throw at a possible solution, but I did also consider that my metal awnings could possibly used with a magnet mount ground plane antenna. But not only does that start to get outside of my wheelhouse when it comes to antenna knowledge, but they’re also more expensive, and I don’t have an easy way to run the connecting cable into the house. Besdies, I’m not sure I care enough about “perfect reception” to bother doing whatever I’d need to do to get it perfect. 😏 Most services in the area have gone to digital broadcasting anyway, so I imagine it’s only a matter of time before they start using encryption as well – which would make my receiver useless. πŸ˜• Gone are the days of getting a $20 “Bearcat” scanner at a yard sale that would give you access to almost everything you’d wanna listen to.

Okay, enough rambling… just wanted to bang out an entry to help me wake up and get my day started. I doubt I’m gonna be out of the house much over the next couple of days, having no appointments or obligations (and also wanting to avoid the bizarre 90 degree “fall” weather), so that gives me even more reason to anxiously await the arrival of that antenna for one of my toys. πŸ€“πŸ˜Œ It’s honestly too cheap, so I’m not expecting much, but if it gives me just enough gain re: these two specific channels it’ll have been worth it.

Makes me wish for a “Fall Hamvention” … but I probably wouldn’t go to that one either. πŸ˜…Β I miss Hara Arena.

Usually Goes Unnoticed

Was listening to the police scanner last night, after Amy sent me a message saying that she was in town and was seeing a lot more police activity than normal. 😯 I imagine these will both be things that are at least mentioned on the news today, but with the way the LEOs in town use their in-car terminals as much as they use their radios, it was hard to really tell what was going on at the time.

One of the incidents apparently involved an older man… from what I’ve heard, he used to be a doctor or dentist or something… but I guess he’s kinda older and frail now, and is allegedly suffering from some mental issues and possibly some dementia. 😟 But from a short video I’ve seen of the police responding, it sounds like he had a gun and actually fired a shot at the ground as the cops were responding. 😳 People are assuming he was wanting the LEOs to shoot him… but you have to be careful with assumptions. But the video does then show him coming down off his porch, surrounded by cops, getting down on his knees and putting his hands behind his back… and then one of the responding officers comes from behind and kicks him in the back to put him face down on the sidewalk. 😧

It’s a hard thing to watch, because you can put yourself in each person’s shoes. If someone was depressed, so much so that he wanted to die but couldn’t do it himself, that’s sad in itself. Then putting the police, people who are just trying to put in their hours and go home safe each night, in the position where they were probably this close to firing on this guy… you hate to see something that looks like excessive force, especially on someone who may be mentally unstable, but when that unstable person has already fired at least one shot, and could have another weapon in his waistband, you do understand why they may have felt that force was needed. πŸ˜” Sure would have been better to push him to the ground rather than kicking him in the middle of the back like he was a door that was being kicked open though.

The second big incident was an accident on Sheridan involving a motorcycle and two vehicles. The guy on the bike apparently went left of center for some reason, and ran head-on into a vehicle coming in the opposite direction… and then that vehicle went off the road and hit someone in a car in their driveway. πŸ™ The guy on the motorcycle wasn’t wearing a helmet, and unfortunately didn’t make it. But it was even more crappy because Amy told me about it, I was listening on the scanner, she was reading stuff on Facebook… all without knowing who was involved, and it actually turned out to be a friend of Amy’s husband. πŸ˜ͺ

When you listen to “this and that” going down on the scanner, it lacks that teeny bit of “real” since you aren’t hearing everything, you don’t know exactly what’s going on, so you usually end up listening to it as just “stuff going on” in town… but it sure takes on a whole different feeling, especially after the fact, when you were previously somewhat casually listening to everything – only to discover that it involved someone that you actually knew.

But yeah, I didn’t sleep for shit last night, so I slept in until around noon… and grabbing my phone, those were the first things I saw being talked about when I opened my news feed. πŸ₯Ί I was already starting the day without much wind in my sails, but that sad stuff – on a day where everyone else was just having a normal “meh” day or complaining about this or that, while even sadder things like that were happening – it just definitely puts a pin in theΒ “It could always be worse.”Β thought, when I might be feeling a little too sorry for myself about my aches and pains and depression and whatever.

It’s easy to forget that when I’m having a crappy day, that the same day was actually a life-changing day for people that I’ll likely never even know about. I guess the life-changing could be in good ways just as easily as in bad ways like I described above… but yeah, sometimes you unexpectedly get pushed out of your bubble and can’t avoid noticing and feeling it. πŸ˜’

3am Check-In

I’m having one of those nights where I find myself wide awake at 3am, so I came over here to barf out a blog entry… but now that I’ve done so, I realize that I don’t really have anything to talk about. πŸ˜’ Hmm… the night before last, I heard an incident on the police scanner where someone’s couch was set on fire and they were stabbed, and they even had to have a medical helicopter airlift them to a hospital in Columbus. 😳 And that was about all the info that they gave – which was sort of a tease… but of course I hope the d00d is okay.

I dunno… today was just kinda shitty, and this up-all-night crap isn’t going to help me in regards to tomorrow. I’m not going to count on tomorrow sucking though… but I am preparing myself just in case it does. I think that whenever I wake up, I should be able to shake it off and hit the reset button for the beginning of the week. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈΒ We’ll see…

Alright… gonna go time-lapse the night sky again and see how that goes. πŸ€“

EDIT: I think what I need to do, is to just go ahead and say “Okay, you fucked up… tomorrow’s probably gonna be a write off.” and not stress myself out too much about trying to make tomorrow “count” – if I know that it’s just not gonna take. So, if I’m able to be productive or do the things I want tomorrow? Great. If not, then I’ll just cross my fingers, take some Tylenol PMs at a “normal” bedtime hour, and just try again the next day.

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 RadioReference.com

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…)

I Vaguely Remember Hobbies

Accidentally allowed myself to feel a little too good yesterday. 😏 As a result I spent a good chunk of the afternoon and evening talking at length with Jim, Amy, Genesee, Ric… and here it is almost 7am the next day and I’m still wide awake. πŸ˜’ Not a big deal, I guess, since I already dealt with the pressing phone calls yesterday. I suppose I’ll just see how long I can stay up, take a nap for a couple of hours, and then hopefully get myself back onto a normal sleep schedule tonight. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ If not… meh.

I ran into Ric (online) as I was watching the Logan Police Department’s live stream. We were catching up with each others’ hobbies, or lack thereof, when he asked me if I had looked into software based radio devices. πŸ€”πŸ€“ I remember Dad talking about being able to buy cards or external devices for amateur radio use, which could be controlled by a GUI on a PC… but I realized that I never looked into it any further than that.

Well, I guess the current “big thing” is police scanners that operate in that same fashion. A few years ago, when many of the LEOs and EMTs started going to trunked or digital systems, the only real games in town were Radio Shack or Uniden police scanners that could easily run in the $300 to $400 range. 😬 But as Hong Kong has a habit of doing, there are now $25 devices (USB? Other?) that you can hook up to a PC that can do the same thing as those scanners (and more) once you find the appropriate software. πŸ˜ƒ

So yeah, that definitely perked my ears… and after I get some rest today I’ll probably get back on the laptop and start doing a little research on those things. The info comes at just the right time too, as my portable scanner is starting to show its age. I’ll update further if I end up pulling the trigger.