Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Why I fear shopping ... editorial from a colleague

No, it’s not what you think. This isn’t about terrorism; this is about situational awareness.  A surprise incident can happen to any of us, even when we are being diligent about our surroundings.  For me, as I wait for that wonderful call saying, “Tobin, we’d like to hire you to help our program,” I spend little time out and about (I didn’t use the Canadian spelling), except for things like grocery shopping.  So, the morning after Christmas I hit the local grocer for provisions. 

They have a large parking area and it was active with those trying to refill their larders from seasonal gluttony. I selected a distant parking spot (a choice I made years ago so I didn’t have to fight crazy ‘my spot’ drivers or truckers who don’t care if they take out your side panel as they drive away…and besides, it forces me to walk).  Just as I turn I notice a black object on the ground and immediately suspect the worst—a box cutter the night stocking crew must have dropped, fully open, and dangerous to kids, people’s pets and the occasional balding tire.  So, in my typical socially responsible way, I rush over to pick it up before anyone gets sliced. I’m looking for traffic as I retrieve it (they will run you over for a nice spot) and don’t notice what it is until it’s half way off the ground.  Expletive deleted…several…for now I am holding a long-blade, spring-loaded stiletto knife.  What to do?  What are my options?

1. Put it back down and back away.  Bad idea.  Still a threat and I can’t shut the blade without risking cutting off a finger.  I’ve seen what happens when you mishandle one of these (please don’t ask how I know…I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks). And, if I’m seen putting it back, or even moving it to the side, I can be reported as the owner who dumped it.  I can’t see blood on the blade, but what if it had been used in a violent crime? My prints are now on it.

 2.  Call the police and tell them who I am and what I found.  On the day after Christmas?  Not good. They’re still working case files for the drunks from the night before…and the speeders rushing back from granny’s place or their mistress’s house before the hubby’s plane gets back that was stuck in the snowstorm in Denver.  No, they won’t have time to deal with my silly problem. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention I forgot to take my cell phone with me.  I hear you laughing. Stop that!

 3. Walk right into the store, with the blade open, and go to the help desk.  Way bad. People are on high alert already from terrorist attacks.  I’m wearing a hoodie because it is cold and rainy…and I look…well…somewhat Middle Eastern (oh, the curse of the Black Irish complexion and nose).  You go into a store like that in Texas and you might wake up in the local ER with buckshot being pulled out of your chest.  So what to do?

My answer was to call out to the nearest store employee gathering up loose carts and tell him to get the store manager. I told him what I had found in HIS parking lot, and that the store had responsibility to handle it.  I also carried the knife away from me, at arm’s length, blade down, with two fingers.  He got the message and told me to meet the manager in the front of the store.  That was good, because I had no intention of actually entering a Texas place of business filled with shoppers upset about their cheesy gifts for Christmas.  Believe me, a dozen or more people getting carts to go in and coming out scanned me as I waited patiently off to the side.  It was fascinating which kind of shoppers consistently ignored a potential threat and those who noticed it immediately and walked far away.  Then a manager came, after fifteen minutes of waiting.  I was getting that awful feeling they had called the local LEO and now I was going to be in a tough situation.

The manager saw the knife and immediately accepted it from me when I told him where I found it and why I had brought it to him. He was surprised, but did inform me I wouldn’t believe the things they found in the parking lots.  I’ve seen plenty, also, but not weapons.  I was relieved as I entered and started to shop.  Later, in the store, I bumped into him and the overall store manager, who knew me from a nearby health club.  The first manager informed him I was the one.  He laughed and said, “I should have known it would be Tobin.” I hope that was meant as a compliment.  We joked about both having our prints on it now, but he thought the owner might ask for it back. I told him no, as ownership of that knife in most states is illegal (I though a felony…but found out, a misdemeanor).  But who needs a misdemeanor at Christmas? 

Yeah, I fear shopping…stuff just happens to me like this.  So if you see me standing in a line at McDonald’s, don’t expect me to yell back at you that your order is ready.  Not after what happened this last weekend.

Moral of story Never let your grasp exceed your reach.

Editor's note:  He left out the Oklahoma solution:  "Put the item in the car, secure it, go on about the daily routine".   

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

So Jesus was not born on December 25.  The date was set by Julius 1 and some churches celebrate in January

The Holiday ... even the word comes to us from Old English and means Holy Day ... comes to mean so much because of tradition from the Norse and Roman traditions.

Yet, the first century Church did not celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Rather, the first Church would have celebrated His Birth, Death, and Resurrection all at once, probably daily and from house to house.

Christmas cards?  Singing carols?  Christmas trees?  All are traditions born from the Pagans, a word which originally meant civilian.  Even some of the early colonists in America did not celebrate Christmas, as we know it today, and at one point, there was a ban in place.

So what does this mean?  How about having Christmas ALL year long?  If we acted Christ-like, wouldn't the world be a better place?  If we honored the Birth of our King, wouldn't the lines at Walmart be shorter?  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Do you use 10 meters? #ARRL #hamradio #tweko

Where is 10 meters open now?

Ten Meters is one of my favorite bands. Even when it's not "open", it's frequently open. With the sunspots on the rise, so should the activity on the band increase.

Have you found yet? Nets listed there will help determine if the band is open. If you look at, one will see a search box that lets you know which nets are in operation. or will also give you DX Cluster spots, just for 10 meters.

At, one can get email alerts when six meters is open. If SIX is open, it's almost a given that TEN is open. also offers a map of openings AND the ability to post spots all in one place. a map and paths band openings over a 24-hour time period. The site lists the stations and who heard who over PSK.

Another propagation tool is one will find forecast for six- and ten-meters.

There's a number of 10 meter software defined radios that one can use to see where's the band is open. Two are dedicated to the "Beacon Band". is a list of beacons on Ten. Tune here to see where the band is open, even when it's not.

Ten Meters is one of my favorite bands. Thankfully, there's plenty of tools to take some of the Magic out of the Band.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Automatic Packet Reporting Net sends "Help Wanted" Message #ARRL #hamradio

Quick reminder that the statewide APRS net is coming up this Saturday, December 12th at 1 PM.  Net control will be KD5NJR.

We will be conducting the net from the TDRC presentation on APRS and UZ7HO soundcard modem at the Broken Arrow Central Library at 300 W. Broadway in Broken Arrow.  If you have never used APRS, this is an excellent opportunity to see someone in person running a portable APRS station and soundcard modem combination.  Scott will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

To assist the net in having maximum coverage, we are asking for "associate net control" stations in the following locations:

OKC Metro, within 30 miles of W5LHG IGATE.
Guymon, within 50 miles of KB5IIM-15 IGATE.
Enid, within 30 miles of  K0WHN IGATE.
Bartlesville, within 30 miles of KE9XB IGATE.
McAlester, within 30 miles of W5CUQ-10 IGATE (believe it is still an IGATE).
Buffalo, within 50 miles of WL7II IGATE.
Altus, within 50 miles of N5VX-10 IGATE.

You main job will be sending out an APRS bulletin announcing the net and directing check-ins to the KD5NJR net control station.  Not every location is served by bi-directional I-gates, so this will be a way to serve the outlying areas and insure the net control message is making it to those areas.  If you are interested in being an associate net control for one of these locations, please email me at ae5me at yahoo dot com and I will provide you more details.

Thanks to Jeff AE5ME for this message

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

NOAA's Winter Safety Campaign lauches #WRN #Skywarn #OKwx

Some parts of the country have already experienced winter weather and we hope you have been able to use our Winter Preparedness page.

And now you can take full advantage of our Winter Safety campaign with a wide array of resources...from template blog narratives to social media posts.  Help us build a Weather-Ready Nation this winter by engaging your employees on the hazards in your area and promote to your stakeholders.  Together we can encourage communities, businesses, and individuals to know their risks, take action, and be an example to others.

Access the Winter Safety Campaign where you can find material in our Outreach Toolkit for your use on the right side of the site.  You can use these resources throughout the winter season. One easy contribution we encourage you to make is posting safety messages on your social media platforms.  At the bottom of this email are posts for Facebook, Twitter (use the hashtag #WinterSafety), and Instagram.

Want to learn more about preparing for a winter storm during the holidays?  Join NOAA speakers during FEMA's "'Tis the Season: Preparing for a Winter Storm and the Holidays" webinar next Thursday, December 10, 2015 from 2:00-3:00pm EST.  You can register for the webinar at:

Note: This webinar will offer closed captioning.


 Matthew Lyttle, from the FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Division, will discuss 

America's PrepareAthon! and ways to prepare for a winter storm.

 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service will present on 

the winter seasonal outlook, El NiƱo, Winter Weather Safety Campaign and driving safety.

 Judy Comoletti, from the National Fire Protection Association, will present on holiday safety and 

the risk of Christmas tree and cooking fires.

 Sandy Facinoli, from the FEMA U.S. Fire Administration, will present on holiday safety, the risk 

of electrical and candle fires, the danger of New Year's fireworks and heating safety.

And here are the sample social media posts...

December 1 marks the beginning of meteorological winter. Frigid temperatures, heavy snow, icy roads, strong winds, flooding and more can make winter particularly dangerous. Make sure you and your loved ones are prepared for the hazardous weather this winter will bring by checking out the National Weather Service's Winter Safety website! #WinterSafety

Get ready for winter weather hazards by visiting our Winter Safety website! #WinterSafety



Thank you for connecting with the
Weather-Ready Nation Team
"Be a Force of Nature"

Monday, December 07, 2015

At the USS Oklahoma memorial

Recently, an emergency management volunteer ventured out to Hawaii, probably to avoid the Oklahoma Weather.

This particular volunteer knows of my interest in "All Things Oklahoma" and sent back this photo.

The USS Oklahoma memorial in Hawaii
@Shannon Clary Photo

Of course, in Oklahoma, there is a memorial for the Oklahoma with an amateur radio club to support it.

Please take a moment to remember the crew that died, today, in 1941.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Don't forget to #FightTheFlu

Flu News You Can Use

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), winter is the typical season for influenza activity, but outbreaks can happen as early as October. Flu symptoms can include: a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and fatigue.
Fever is another symptom of the flu, but the CDC notes that not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
While anyone can get the flu, some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications. People who are at high risk include young children, pregnant women, people age 65 years and older, and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease).
The CDC recommends the flu vaccine as the best way to prevent this illness. There are several vaccine options, including the flu shot and nasal spray. If you are sick with the flu, avoid spreading it by:
  • Covering your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze;
  • Washing your hands often with soap and warm water; and
  • Staying home.
For more information about the upcoming flu season and how to avoid spreading this illness, take a look at this CDC resource guide.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Altus Update #OKwx recovery edition

Well, the weather this weekend promises to be nice.  Maybe a passing rain shower Saturday afternoon.  It won't be enough to get us out of the drought.  The little dip in the temperature is expected to rebound to around 60 next Tuesday.

Our friends at FEMA who have been working in the area for our Spring Storm recovery report they are leaving for two weeks on the 18th.  They will be back after New Years.  Please wish they safe travels to their respective homes for Christmas.

The Baptist Disaster phones listed earlier have been overwhelmed.  They ask that we use
to register those who need help.  Please refer your neighbors to this service or, better yet, you have the power so use it to register your friend.

Don't forget to be a good neighbor.  If you have elderly or infirm folks, can you please out to them to help them with their debris?
Attorney General Pruitt suggests the following tips for choosing a proper contractor or repair service:
  • Ask for referrals from people you trust;
  • Try to do business with local companies;
  • Request to see proof of certification and insurance;
  • Check out the repair service with the AG's Consumer Protection Unit, the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board, and the Better Business Bureau;
  • Ask for customer references;
  • Get written estimates from several companies;
  • Don't do business without a written contract;
  • Get all guarantees, warranties and promises in writing;
  • Agree on start and completion dates, and have them in the contract.
Attorney General Pruitt also said Oklahoma's Emergency Price Stabilization Act is now in effect for all 77 Oklahoma counties after Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency on Sunday due to the winter storm and flooding.
Oklahoma's price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services during a state of emergency and for 30 days thereafter, the Attorney General said. The act additionally is in effect for another 180 days for prices to repairs, remodeling and construction.
Oklahomans who suspect fraud related to storm-damage cleanup or repairs, or who experience price gouging, should contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029 or (918) 581-2885.

From the Medical Emergency Response Center:

We will be conducting a WebEOC, EMResource and RMRS Awareness training on January 8, 2016, at the Great Plains Technology Center in Lawton, Building 600. We have scheduled two classes.  The morning class will be conducted from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and the afternoon class will be conducted from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. 

If you are interested in sending someone to attend this class, please email me at or call me at (580) 581-3423 (I am here only in the morning) to sign up.  I will need the name of the individual, what facility they are from, their email address and their contact phone number.

Did you notice I can not quit talking about Drought?  From our Regional Office:

Even though the heaviest rain fell east of where the abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions have been reported, it appears unlikely right now that the drought will expand for Oklahoma during the first half of December as these areas have still received rainfall recently.

From our friends at the Oklahoma Emergency Management Agency:

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Rose State College are partnering to deliver a new higher education program for emergency management. The program is expected to begin in the fall of 2016. However, students can get a head start by enrolling in the pilot program beginning in January.

Certificate in Emergency Preparedness and Planning is available by completing eight emergency management courses for a total of 24 credit hours. An Associate of Science in Emergency Management degree will be available by completing a total of 62 credit hours, to include 24 hours of emergency management courses and 38 hours of general education courses.

The certificate and associate degree will include the following eight courses:
·      Preparedness- Leadership and Management
·      Response- Exercise Design and Evaluation
·      Recovery- History and Future of Emergency Management
·      Mitigation- Capstone Course with field work

Students may choose classroom and/or online delivery for all emergency management courses. Both options will include reading assignments, group participation, research projects, and self-checks throughout the course.

For classroom delivery, emergency management courses will be offered at Rose State College in Midwest City. Each course will feature two 75-minute classes per week through the semester. Class size is limited to 25 students. Online courses will be available through Interactive Video Teleconference sessions every four weeks for a total of four sessions per course during a semester. Online courses are limited to 15 students.

OEM and Rose State College are currently accepting applications for the pilot of the first two class offerings—EMGT: 1313 Emergency Management Preparedness and EMGT 1413: Emergency Management Response in both classroom and online delivery.

The cost for each 3-credit hour course is approximately $400 with no additional charges for course materials. Advance enrollment is open to current emergency managers until December 18. After that date, enrollment will be open to the public.

Students may apply for tuition assistance for the emergency management courses, to be paid upon successful completion of the courses.  The assistance will be available for as many as 20 applicants each semester and will be good for up to 50 percent of the tuition fee. For more information on enrollment or scholarships, contact Jackie Wright at Additional tuition assistance may be available for general education and elective courses through the Rose State College Office of Student Financial Aid. 

This just in from the FBI:

Recent FBI investigations reveal a trend in criminal actors conducting
social engineering scams targeting phone and email service providers
to target government officials and corporate executives. In such a
scenario, a criminal actor conducts a reverse look up on a phone
number to determine the provider. The actor can then pose as an
employee of that provider and request account details. Using these
details, this person can then call the email service provider, provide
answers to security questions, request a password reset, and gain
access to the victim's email account.

Trust your friends but remember friends get accounts hacked.  

Be safe out there tomorrow for  "International Day of Disabled Persons"

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Altus Update for debris #OKice #AltusOK

Altus --- Insurance is the first place to look for help with storm debris removal, according to area emergency management officials.

"Many insurance policies have a provision for debris caused by winter storms and high winds," said Lloyd Colston, Altus Emergency Management director.

"It is important to know what is included in your insurance," echoed Wayne Cain, Jackson County Emergency Management director.

Colston also stressed that homeowners who hire the work done should use reputable vendors.  Those companies know they are responsible for removing the trees they cut down.

The Governor of Oklahoma has declared an emergency for the winter weather.  The declaration covers all 77 counties in the State.

Area residents who are unable to remove their own debris could call or text a hotline at (202) 569-8260.  Please leave a message with the address, name, and a callback number.  Also, Colston asked residents to use that number to report how many hours has spent in debris work on their property or helping a neighbor.

Residents may also call (405) 443-7583, (405) 388-6912, or (405) 415-5261 for the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief group.  
Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are going all over the state to help remove the fallen tree branches that have damaged resident's property. They give priority to the elderly, people with access and functional needs, single mothers and also how severe the damage is.
Altus Power Acting Superintendent Mike Villareal reported the power outages in the Altus area were caused by tree limbs coming in contact with electric lines.
This is a common problem, according to Colston.  "It can be remedied if property owners will keep their trees trimmed."
For more information about emergency management, residents may call Cain at 580.482.0229 or call 580.481.2260 for Colston.  At area residents may find other information.

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