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Frequent fliers

Frequent flyers are the bane of EMS systems nationwide. A woman in South Caroliina was just charged with abusing 911 after calling them with bogus medical complaints more than 100 times since 2005, according to deputies. That sounds extreme until you think that this case is not even the average for abusers.

In my first due area, I had a patient (let’s call him Jimmy) that used to call 911 4 or 5 times a week. I once ran on him 5 times in one day. (That is the record for my system: 5 in a day for one patient. The previous record of 4, to a patient we called Miss Cleo because she looked like the celebrity, was also mine.) The reasons for this vary.

In Jimmy’s case, he would call to get a ride to his sister’s house when he was out of money after having spent it all drinking, or he would call 911 to be taken to the ER, where they would give him a sandwich and a Gatorade, and he would walk out.

Miss Cleo was a different story. She had psychiatric problems. The first time I ran a call on her, she was lying on her back trying to do CPR on herself because she couldn’t find her own pulse.

There is Kevin, the homeless guy that just needs a place to sleep. There is Eric, who knows the ED staff will feed him. The list goes on.

The problem is multiplied nationwide. Indianapolis. Also in Washington, DC. In Louisville.

Some measures, like the one in DC help, others won’t. For example, in Houston they are charging a $13 per mile fee. The problem is that this won’t stop the abusers: Medicare and Medicaid won’t pay that rate, and neither will the abusers who won’t pay the ER, either.

EMTALA and legal liability are at the heart of this issue. EMTALA says that everyone has to receive treatment, even if they can’t pay. Legal liability is the fear of being sued of you refuse to transport a person and they turn out to actually be ill. The frequent flyers know how to play the game: feign chest pain, go to the head of the line.

This is a problem that has no easy answers.

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Since Newtown

I have signed up two people for Life memberships, and four people to annual memberships in the NRA. While I don’t agree with everything they do and every stance they take, the NRA is the 800 pound gorilla in the room where gun rights are concerned.
I also have donated to the SAF and to Florida Carry. What have you done to protect your rights? If each gun owner just sent in the cost of what one AR15 magazine is going for, we could raise billions for the cause.

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Success

I finally was able to make my first contacts. Saturday was a contest day, and this meant that there were plenty of HAMs looking for contacts. I worked the 40 meter band for about half an hour and made three contacts.
My antenna is simply a 1:1 balun hooked to an 80 foot long piece of wire that runs out the window and through the trees, and the other side of the balun is hooked to the downspout of the gutter. I made contacts with this in Miami, Bradenton, and New Orleans. I will take what I can get for now.

On the down side, the tuning dial on my rig has a bad encoder after only a week. I bought it at AES, I called them, and they said that I could return it for another.

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Government destroying the auto industry

I was recently looking for a compact pickup truck. Something small. After looking, what I found was that the smallest trucks are what used to be called mid-sized trucks. I wondered why the smaller compact ones were no longer made. It turns out that the answer is: government.

The biggest stumbling block is the chicken tax. Passed in 1963, this law is a protectionist tariff imposed by the U.S. in 1963 after Germany tripled
the duty on frozen U.S. chicken products coming into that country.If a small truck is imported into the US, it is subject to a 25% tax. This has a big effect on not only “foreign” car makers, but the domestics as well. Why? Because it is a tax based on where the truck is MADE, not where the company is based. (After all, Toyota USA is a domestic company.)

One is Ford Motor Co.’s Transit Connect small van, which the firm builds in Turkey and wants to sell in the US. Another is a compact diesel pickup truck that Indian manufacturer Mahindra wants to offer U.S. buyers. The problem is that small vehicles that are subject to this tax cannot compete with larger, midsized trucks, because a $12,000 truck when imported becomes a $15,000 truck, and is now in the price range of the midsized trucks. 

The tax started in a classic trade war between nations but now is a
powerful protectionist tool for U.S. interests. The hefty levy forced
Honda, Nissan and Toyota to build trucks here, but Ford and Mahindra
have other ideas until they can prove the market is ready for their
products.

But what about building them here? Well, you can thank CAFE for that.  CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) came as a
result of the 1973 oil embargo, as a means to mandate fuel economy
targets for cars and light trucks. Over the last four decades, the
standards have evolved, with the latest iteration being the targets set
for fuel economy in the year 2025. The 2025 targets were released this
summer, and comprise 1,944 pages
full of legalese.

One of CAFEs biggest impacts in recent times has manifested itself in
how auto makers classify products. Under CAFE, vehicles can be labeled
“passenger cars” or “light trucks”, with the latter category required to
meet less stringent standards for fuel economy and CO2 emissions. A
decade ago, the Chrysler PT Cruiser was the most egregious example of
this. The PT
Cruiser was designed to meet NHTSA standards for classification as a
light truck, for the express purpose of raising Chrysler’s light truck
average fuel economy. At the time, the minimum fleet average for
passenger cars was 27.5 mpg CAFE, while for light trucks it was 20.7 mpg
CAFE. A small, four-cylinder vehicle like the PT Cruiser was
effectively a “ringer” for Chrysler’s fleet average. The year 2000 CAFE
targets discussed above translate to 21 mpg IRL for passenger cars and
15 mpg IRL for light trucks.  A “light truck” like the PT would
obviously have no trouble surpassing these standards.

 On the surface, the footprint requirements can be viewed as logical; a
compact, fuel-efficient car like the Honda Fit, should be able to hit
tougher targets, by virtue of its small size, aerodynamic profile and
powertrain choices. It manages a respectable 28/35 mpg. The Ford F-150 has a
very different mission; it must be large, durable, powerful and able to
meet the needs of a full-size pickup, and will naturally be less
conducive to achieving the kind of fuel economy that a Fit can.

Unfortunately, the footprint method has the opposite effect; rather than
encouraging auto makers to strive for unprecedented fuel economy in
their passenger car offerings, it has incentivized auto makers to build
larger cars, in particular, more car-based crossovers that can be
classified as “trucks” as used to skew fleet average figures. Compact trucks have become nearly extinct as a result.

 Because of these regulations and taxes, it costs $1 billion at minimum to design and test a new model. So this is why we get so few new cars that are truly new. What we mostly get is minor changes to existing designs, and they slap a new name on it. So the small truck has either been taxed or regulated out of existence. Now you know…

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Sigh

High frequency on this HAM set is turning out to be more problematic and frustrating than I counted on. I have had this rig for a week, and still haven’t made my first HF contact. I tried to use a G5RV antenna, but all of the bands seemed dead. Then I figured the problem was that the antenna wasn’t optimal, so I looked for another solution.

I ran a coax to a 1:1 balun, and ran a piece of wire from that to the aluminum downspout outside of my window, and connected it with a sheet metal screw. The spout runs some 35 feet from the ground to the roof, where it connects to about 60 linear feet of horizontal gutter. Now, I receive some stations, but most of the bands are dead most of the time. Last night, I was receiving some traffic on the 18 meter band, but no one could apparently hear me.

So here I sit, trying to figure out what to do next.

I’m moving from this apartment in three weeks, and back into my house. I will have a bit of flexibility there. Maybe I will try to erect my Cushcraft R7 vertical there.

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Foolish opinion of armed citizens

Many anti gun people claim that there is no way that an armed citizen could resist the modern US military, armed with fighter jets, machine guns, and armored vehicles. Of course, they are right. It would be foolish for a solitary gun owner to “take on a platoon of Marines.” However, to think that this is how it would go down is to be ignorant of history.

In 1776, the British Army was large, well equipped, and had not been beaten on the field of battle in generations. The Colonists were a guerrilla force of lightly armed farmers and shop keepers. How, then did this group of shopkeepers win a war when they were so outmatched?

They changed the rules. At the time, the rules of war were such that shooting officers was deliberately avoided when firing weapons. The theory of the say was that the men were savages, and the officers were gentlemanly enough to prevent a greater slaughter by keeping the men under control. The targeting of officers was just not done. The colonist militia men hid from incoming fire, and deliberately targeted the officers.

On top of that, Washington raised a navy of privateers (legalized pirates) that raided incoming British supplies.

Thus, by attacking the British where they were weak, and avoiding them where they were strong, they managed to hand the British army and navy a stunning defeat, and win their independence in the process.

This is the question that any citizen militia that is trying to win freedom against a larger, better equipped force must answer: Where is the enemy the weakest, and where are our strengths?

The citizen militia’s strength lies in the fact  that the government cannot possibly know who they all are, and will have problems rounding them up. The government in this case will attempt to identify and cull the ringleaders. The militia would be foolish indeed to muster on the battlefield and open themselves up to attack by the larger, well equipped force.

Instead, the wise militia commander will attack weak points: Leaders, the factory workers where equipment is made, electric distribution that powers factories, the political masters, and other soft targets. This accomplishes a few objectives:
– It causes the larger force to devote a portion of their own military forces to security operations, and cuts the size of operational forces.
– Attrition of supplies. If the factory that makes the oil filter that your armored vehicles’ engines require is burned down, the tanks become stationary pill boxes.
– Demoralizes the leadership. If you are a despotic ruler, and you and your cabinet are facing possible attacks, you tend to be a bit more circumspect when moving forces around.

History is full of examples of one motivated individual changing the course of a nation, armed only with a personal weapon. To think that technology makes this impossible is to be foolishly arrogant.

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Pensions

A second post in answer to Dan’s comments. This one:

Ah, I see — so it’s an attempt to remove pensions in favor of something
a bit more modern. Pensions are an anachronism, and public employee
pensions are pretty much screwing the states and localities that are
holding on to them. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. As long as the
pensions aren’t just tossed out — that is, that no money is put into
the 401(k)s or 403(b)s of the public sector employees, it seems
perfectly reasonable.

Death benefits aren’t normally part of a
retirement fund — that’s what life insurance is for. Any organization
that gets rid of the pensions will no doubt need to replace the death
benefits with some form of life insurance if they want to attract and
keep their employees.

The problem here is that pensions, at least for fire personnel, I cannot speak for others, were intended as a bargain made to firefighters in lieu of pay. The problem is that the average hourly wage for a starting firefighter in Florida is somewhere around $13 an hour. It costs about 20% of payroll to supply a pension. This raises effective pay to about $15.60.Similar professions with similar education requirements get over $30 an hour.

To those out there who claim that firefighters should be treated the same as everyone else, I agree. You can eliminate pensions and go to a 401(k), OK. But what about the fact that firefighters are exempt from overtime requirements under the FLSA, and do not get overtime until they hit 56 hours of work in a week?

Now that the bill is coming due for the pensions that were promised, they don’t want to pay up, and I for one grew tired of hearing how my pay wasn’t like everyone else’s pay when it came to pension, but no one cared when it came to a firefighter working 54 hours a week for straight time.

My last employer started me at $8.23 an hour in 1997. When I retired in 2011, I was making $19.27 an hour. Adjusted for inflation, this was equal to $10.79 in 1990.  

The reason why they want to eliminate pensions is to get out of paying us the money they promised us if we agreed to pay cuts and no raises back in the late 80s and 90s. Now that they are supposed to pay up, they are refusing to do so.

and the threats and cuts to pensions is why so many of us are leaving.

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Ask for it…

Dan asked for copies of bills that eliminate death benefits for public employees in a comment to a recent post, so here it is:

HB7011 eliminates the pension plan for all employees hired after January 1, 2013. This includes death and disability benefits to cops, firefighters, and EMTs that are disabled or killed in the line of duty. From this article:

Closing the current pension plan would also end benefits such as life
insurance or death benefits if employees are hurt or killed in the line
of duty. Rainey said death benefits of a newly hired firefighter killed
in the line of duty under the 401(k) plan could offer his or her
family less than $1,000.

Here is the FOPs opposition letter to HB7011 (pdf warning)

Not only that, but the system as is requires no tax increase, but switching to a 401(k) system will force the state to contribute money to the system to fund the pensions of those already retired, which will require tax increases.

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L&R Armory

I am writing this post about a local gun store, the L&R Armory in Kissimmee, Florida. I had a friend that was in search of an AR-15. The store’s Facebook page claimed that they had some in stock, so we went down there. I discovered why they had them in stock. They were selling stripped lowers at $900 each. Not complete ARs, just the stripped lowers. We walked out.
Yesterday, they put up a post on Facebook, announcing that they had received a case of PMC .223 ammunition, and urging people to come on down to buy it before it was gone. The first commenter asked what the price was, and I replied: “If the $900 they are asking for a stripped lower is any guide, I would bring a credit card with a high limit.” My comment was deleted, and I was banned from commenting on the page.
Well, fuck you L&R Armory. You are the one that chose to jack your prices up, and there are better ways to respond to that. I am about over the poor attitude and general jack assery from gun stores. The only reason you get away with poor customer service and high prices is that the government requires that we use your services. That is why so many gun store owners support universal background checks: monopoly.
As for L&R Armory, I will remember you.
It seems that the only decent gun store in Central Florida is an hour away from me…

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HAM geekery

So I got me a new rig: A Yaesu 897D. I put an autotuner on this thing, and I am using a G5RV jr antenna for the high frequency side. It took about 2 hours to get everything rigged up, and I was slowed down by some rain, so I have only been playing with it for about the past hour. With that said, I got it to tune up on 40, 15, 12, 10, and 6 meters. I am happy with it. Now to see if I can make a few contacts.

(I am getting the HF beacon in Atlanta at 50.065 mHz with it.)