Certain parts of Houma, Louisiana, remind me of “Blast Corps”

Yes, I had been fascinated by radio electronics since toddlerhood, but around the age of eleven, I had begun to cultivate an interest in video gaming. And it would be that way from the ages of eleven to about fourteen. From the ages of eleven to fourteen, most of my free time and a good bit of my spending money was allocated to video games. My two favorite gaming systems were the Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy Pocket/Game Boy Color. I also would download lots of free computer games and save them on floppy disks. In the Summer of 2001, I had discovered console emulators and ROM files for more vintage games. During this time of my life, video games had priority over all my other interests, dare I say, including flashlights.

I lived with my nuclear family in Raceland, Louisiana, but we spent a lot of time in Houma, Louisiana, especially going swimming at the Bayouland YMCA.

In the process of the commute between Raceland and the part of Houma in which the Y is located, one would have to travel through the Northeastern Outskirts of Houma, through suburbs such as Bayou Blue and the neighborhood of Coteau. Traveling through these areas, reminded me of my second favorite Nintendo 64 game, Blast Corps. I had posted maybe once before on how I thought that the Northeastern outskirts of Houma, Louisiana, had always reminded me of that said game but in this piece, I intend to do a detailed and in-depth reporting of that.

Blast Corps was released by Rare Ware in 1997 for the Nintendo 64.

Other games that I enjoyed were 007 Goldeneye (my all-time favorite video game) and Jet Force Gemini was also created by Rare Ware.

I first played a rented copy of Blast Corps in the Summer of 1998 and loved every aspect of the game, especially the parts with trains and canal boats.

On the rented copy, most of the levels had been beaten and I would simply play the levels with trains and canal boats so I could operate them for fun.

I was not into playing [most] video games for their main objectives, but rather for either shooting/fighting enemies or operating cool machines. For the record, I did not “foam” in Mario Kart as the MEME suggests, but I would watch either my friend, Joshua Vinet, or my brother Devin Monier, play all the games for the objectives, and then I would do the other stuff that which I considered fun. This is probably why I outgrew video games at the age of fifteen and went back to my radio electronics hobby and later discovered writing. Finally, at the age of eighteen, I got fully back into flashlights.

Now there are no longer any railroads in Houma. There haven’t been since 1991.

However, there are several busy navigable waterways and there is also some heavy machinery in use either for oilfield support operations, highway maintenance, shipbuilding, or agriculture.

Sadly there are no giant robot suits (Thunderfist, Cyclone Suit, and J-Bomb), dune buggies (Skyfall or rocket cars that fire missiles (Ballista) as of yet. Maybe if America became more dystopian I can see heavily militarized SWAT units deploying such machinery.

Also, the Sideswipe seems like a pointless vehicle, but I digress.

And given the current situation at the time of writing this piece (March 2022), I don’t think the nuclear deterrent warfare arsenal will be reduced anytime soon, much unlike the entire theme of Blast Corps. And if the nuclear arsenal is to be reduced, I highly doubt that the nuclear weapons will not be carried to a safe detonation site on automatic vehicles that cannot be stopped or have any obstacle or obstruction lest they detonate upon any impact. Again that is the main theme of Blast Corps.

From the ages of 31 (when I left my now ex-wife) until 34 (when my apartment was destroyed by a wicked woman named Ida), I lived in an apartment on the northeastern outskirts of Houma, Louisiana in a community known as Bayou Blue. I did well there aside from having one or two Karens as neighbors.

As one leaves the City of Houma on New Orleans Boulevard then it transitions into a two-lane highway there are some tank farms situated on the right side of Highway 182 FKA Highway 90. These tank farms are in between that Highway and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway which at this point is also taking a northeasterly course. I do remember in certain levels of Blast Corps some similar tanks filled with flammable fluids that were situated along the canals in Blast Corps. I also, in the latter parts of 2018, wrote a very short story about a terrorist blowing up these tank farms. There are also some shipyards nearby, though some are currently vacant as of now. I don’t recall any shipyards in Blast Corps (that would have been cool if there were) but some of the equipment used in shipyards (such as cranes) was there.

There was a glitch in the game where a car bearing the American flag had a Dixie horn. That could be potentially offensive to some players. Another car was a hot rod inspired by Starsky and Hutch. There was also an A-Team van whose horn would say, “outta my way” in Mister T’s voice. My brother affectionately called this vehicle the “Mister T Van.” There was also a police car that was modeled after the Crown Victoria from the 1960s, such as on Adam 12.

As a very young child, I played a lot with Matchbox cars and now I have a modest collection.

Moving on. There used to be a traffic signal that the intersection of Highway 182 and Williams Avenue Extension/Hollywood Road, but now it has been converted to a traffic circle or roundabout. I believe this was a foolish idea on the part of all involved. On a slightly related note, there is a gentleman who is faithfully dedicated to the cause of Christ and he is working with churches in my area across all denominational lines he requested that certain churches pray for certain gates around the City of Houma. He considers this roundabout to be the “Restoration Gate” and has assigned my church to pray for the restoration of Christians to the joy of their Salvation and restoration to everyone else of all that was lost due to Hurricane Ida, especially when we travel through this junction. I respect this gentleman tremendously for his Kingdom work and am totally on board with praying for this. While passing through this intersection the shipyards and tank farms give way to wilderness, then one comes to a junction with Coteau Road AKA Highway 660. For those of you who are wondering, Coteau is French for “Ridge” and yes, this area of land is on a ridge. It is quite high and therefore flood resistant. And because of that, even modes properties in this area come at a premium price. Making a left on Coteau Road, one will come to a business known as “FrogCo.” This company rents out heavy amphibious equipment, mainly for use in marshes. These machines are so obtuse that when transported, they require “Wide Load” clearance and also an escort from a state trooper. These state troopers love doing this job because it is easy, safe, and pays much better than their normal wages. These machines remind me of some of the machines featured in Blast Corps, like the “Backlash”, but bigger and bulkier. Continuing west on Coteau Road would eventually bring the driver back to civilization, so I’ll instead talk about going back to Highway 182 and instead of going East on Coteau Road. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway also makes a turn to the East in this area, so Coteau Road runs a course parallel to that said canal. If facing east, there are some houses, actually some nice quaint houses, and a fire station on the left-hand side of the road. I don’t recall any fire apparatus in Blast Corps, but the game would have been even cooler had it included these. On the right-hand side of the road, if facing eastbound, there are more tank farms with even bigger dome-shaped tanks filled with oil and gas, and there are also heavy industries including more shipyards situated on the GICW. This is mostly the case until Coteau Road terminates with Bayou Blue Road AKA Highway 316.

So let’s go back to our junction between Coteau Road and Highway 182 and continue northeast on Highway 182.

For a few blocks, it is mostly wilderness, when one crosses the Saint Louis Bayou, which used to be navigable and quite busy in bygone times. I’m talking before there were railroads and highways and it is from canals such as these that people from the rest of The States assumed children in South Louisiana commuted to school on a boat. This Bayou can still be traveled on a very small boat but nothing else. I remember one time in that Summer of 2020, I a friend and former neighbor of mine was hanging out by this bayou fishing. I was testing out my then-new tactical flashlight, a NiteCore i4000R, and shining it at that bayou on high-powered mode. There suddenly was a reflection from the water and it was moving a quite swiftly-the eye of an alligator! And that eye had a very much intimidating appearance that all I could do was stand, frozen in time, and stare at it until it swam away. In 2010 some teenagers met their demise in that bayou when the driver of their truck fell asleep at the wheel and veered off the highway and plunged into the water and they drowned. This was a tremendously heartbreaking moment for the City of Houma and surrounding communities. Immediately after Saint Louis Bayou, there is a huge scrapyard where the automobiles and other items containing considerable amounts of metal from days gone by are broken apart and sold for scrap. And at this point, we come upon the community of Bayou Blue, which is named after a body of water that traveled from Bayou Lafourche to the GICW and possibly even to the Gulf of Mexico at one point. Now though, it is more like a really big ditch and doesn’t cover as much mileage as it once did. For most of its current course, Bayou Blue runs parallel to Highway 316 AKA Bayou Blue Road. I remember being thirteen and for the past four prior years memorizing road maps. I also happened to be a fan of the World Wrestling Federation. So, while traveling to the YMCA with my dad and brother, I remember crossing this highway many times. There was a certain reference to the wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin and, while I now know this is potential blasphemy, there used to be a slogan tied to that wrestler called Austin 3:16. So, jokingly I would call Bayou Blue Road, “The Stone Cold Highway.” This went on during the Summer of 2000. I think my dad attempted to explain the real meaning of 3:16 as in John 3:16 a time or two but my heart wasn’t ready for it yet. Four years later, though, it was ready and I did indeed surrender to Jesus Christ! Bayou Blue, Louisiana is also on a ridge and comparable to Coteau at that, but somehow, land and house prices in Bayou Blue are much more reasonable. I would only go east on Bayou Blue Road, not west because it is only in the eastbound direction and far down there at that where I see some similarities with Blast Corps. So turning east onto Bayou Blue Road from Highway 182 are many residences (including my former apartment) a few shops and several churches including the one I currently attend and love it there! There are also at least two fire stations and in Bayou Blue, the fire trucks are painted blue! Some also have blue lights in addition to their red lights. Bayou Blue Road then intersects with Prospect Boulevard Extension AKA Highway 3087. There used to be some pipeline compressor stations in this area and while I don’t recall pipelines or pipeline compressors in Blast Corps, they would have maybe been a neat addition. Most of these compressor stations were removed after the oilfield downturn of 2016. Bayou Blue road continues traveling a southeasterly course, then crosses the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. There is a cool pontoon swing bridge that carries Bayou Blue Road over the GICW and there are many heavy industries in this area. To me, I wish there was a place to hang out with a scanner and listen to marine traffic and all the supporting operations and not be mistook for a terrorist. These dockyards have cranes for loading and unloading barges. Other heavy equipment is here as well, some of which is loaded onto barges from here. There were machines loaded onto barges that were similar in appearance to the “Ramdozer”. There are yet some more shipyards in the area. Highway 316 then runs a course parallel to the Barataria and Lafourche Company Canal (another waterway that predates the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway by over 100 years) and terminates with Highway 24 in Bourg Louisiana. My childhood friend Joshua Vinet was employed in these shipyards sometimes providing security and sometimes wiring the electronic equipment on the ships until he became stricken with seizures. I plan on buying a vehicle very soon, so I plan to visit him. I haven’t seen him in approximately two years and that is due to this wretched virus that has plagued humanity. If you, the reader, are wondering about my brother (the other one of whom I watched play video games) he is doing very well and recently had a son with his wife.

Let’s go back to our junction between Bayou Blue Road and Highway 182. From there let’s continue Northeast on Highway 182 for about a half-mile Highway 182 continues through the community of Bayou Blue. It is mostly commercialized here, though these businesses have been hit very hard by Hurricane Ida. Then we cross The Hollywood Canal, which, as Saint Louis Bayou, used to be heavily traveled before the advent of railroads and highways. Timber from the forests near Schriever and Thibodaux was loaded onto barges and shipped down to the Houma area via this waterway. How it now only sees small personal boats. I’ve heard on my scanner that there is a slip for this canal in its convergence with the GICW known as Hollywood Slip. The Hollywood Canal is no longer navigable. Shortly after this crossing Highway 182 becomes a four-lane highway and travels northeast towards Raceland. Just before its junction with the new Highway 90, there is a shooting range owned by the Lafourche Parish Sherriff’s Office but open to the public, so there are several police cars (either Crown Victorias or Explorers, both made by Ford) there and there is also a garbage dump nearby in which some garbage trucks travel in and out of. It would have been cool to have garbage trucks in Blast Corps.

This is all of the geographic areas that I wish to cover because it would take you into Raceland, Louisiana, and it does not remind me of Blast Corps save the extreme northern parts of the community where the BNSF Railway Lafayette Subdivision mainline traverses and most of that area is off-limits to the public.

I get it that some levels in Blast Corps had trains but most of the levels with trains were located in mountainous terrain and South Louisiana is as flat as the summer day is long.

Had I not outgrown video games at age 15, I probably could have come up with more examples of actual places that remind me of Blast Corps levels.

But I don’t necessarily regret outgrowing video games and graduating to radio electronics, especially scanners. With scanners, I can tune in many times what the operators of such heavy equipment are saying to each other, although I have yet to hear someone say, “Time to get moving!”

A favorite past time of mine is to bring a scanner or two and take up a position either by a railroad mainline or navigable waterway and tune in the communications of either trains or boats, respectively. I also would like to take a receiver that is capable of tuning in CB Radio transmissions and tuning in the truckers, especially if I am near a main highway. Due to the disabilities that I and stricken with, I cannot qualify for any job in the transportation of people or freight and operating of heavy equipment sectors and that breaks my heart. But I have tremendous respect for those employed in such jobs and I like to tune them in on my scanners. I have a little cousin who is highly fascinated by all sorts of machinery and I cannot wait to teach him about scanners and tuning in truck drivers, boat, and train crews, that is if they are still usable or legal by the time he comes of age.

I hope this piece has been amusing because I have desired to write it since some point in 2020, but it was from some comments in a Facebook group I belong to about the Nintendo 64 gaming console that was the catalyst for me writing this.

Those of you who are familiar the area I described will appreciate this post more than most and those of you who are familiar with the said area and appreciate the game Blast Corps will appreciate this post even more.

I guess this concludes the piece, so may God richly bless you.

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I Wish I had more Examples of People EDCing Weather Radios

I had known about Weather Radios since July of 1997, though I didn’t know much about them.

I wouldn’t actually own a Weather Radio until December of 2001. It was an Oregon Scientific WR-8000 and I had it until some point in 2003.

I didn’t EDC a dedicated Weather Radio permanently until June of 2015, but in my teen years, I frequently EDCed an FRS transceiver.

The model of FRS transceiver that was my favorite during my teen years was a Motorola Talkabout T6250 and it had a built-in Weather Radio with a Standby Alert function.

I used this radio very frequently to get Weather Alerts whilst on the go.

One event that stands out took place in the Spring of 2004. This was about a month before I became stricken with my disability, so I was volunteering as the camera guy for my high school football team. It was an overcast day and I had my Motorola Talkabout in my pocket with the Standby Weather Alert feature activated. I was also standing on top of the press box of my high school’s football stadium. The Weather Alert feature worked flawlessly and I was notified of a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. I took shelter inside the press box and continued recording, but was subsequently chewed out by the head coach over my fear of lightning. However, I felt vindicated when the school’s lightning detector sounded and practice was temporarily called off.

In this piece I wanted to document accounts from other people who may have EDCed a Weather Radio.

My initial focus was to interview members of Generation X and the oldest of Millennials, former latch key kids who walked to school.

Of course I would have also appreciated any input from any coach/athlete (especially golfers), mariner, farmer, aviator, or anyone else who is engaged in outdoor activities

The reason why I am singling out those two generational cohorts is that dedicated, pocket sized Weather Radios were not marketed to the consumers until the early 1970s. They are still marketed now in 2022, even with the advent of smart devices. And I’ve noticed from watching YouTube that there is a plethora of teens and early twenty somethings (Generation Z) who are highly fascinated by Weather Radio and radio electronics in general. When my generation (Millennials) was that age, very few were interested in radio electronics, except for those that used them for hunting and fishing. I was the exception to the rule and I, for some time, have felt that I should have been born ten years later. All in all, in the 1970s until about the early to mid 2000s, the most practical way to get instant, almost on demand weather data whilst on the go was to use a Weather Radio. So, I have figured that maybe there were some latch key kids from that time period who listened on pocket portable Weather Radio in order to be better prepared for their foot commute to and from school or wherever else they went. Unfortunately, just about everyone I asked didn’t reply. I’m not sure if it’s that they personally didn’t EDC a Weather Radio or if they don’t like the somtimes controversial nature of this blog. I wish I could have received some input to make this piece better than what it currently is.

By the way, the Weather Radio that which I am currently EDCing for commuting on foot is a Kaito KA-210, which also receives AM and FM. I had used it extensively when I was living close to my church and would commute there on stormy Wednesday afternoons. I have also been known to EDC a Midland HH50B, but more or less for long distance traveling, because of its automatic scan feature.

I do wish I could get some input for this this piece, maybe if not from former latch key kids, but from others who spent considerable time outdoors for either work or play.

I know that Weather Radios are typically associated with affluent white people and up until recently were almost seen as a status symbol.

Maybe this is why latch key kids didn’t use them to walk to school and thus the reason why I couldn’t get any data.

For coaches, unless they are college or professional coaches, they likely do not make much money if any money at all. But maybe the local school board or recereation districts could have furnished them with a weather radio of some sort, I mean for their safety not to mention the childrens’ safety. I have seen tabletop or permanently installed Weather Radios deployed in the building of government entities quite a bit. Actually about thirty years ago (at the time of writing this), before I wanted to be a writer or knew that there was such a device as a weather radio, I had envisioned a school teacher who walked to and from his job and carried a radio (let’s assume AM/FM) every day for weather related information. As for professional golfers, I know many of them EDCed Weather Radios, because the lightning danger that goes hand in hand with golf. And since golf and Weather Radios are both considered status symbols, the two likely go hand in hand.

For mariners, those that are indoors have a fixed mount VHF Marine Radio and those that are outdoors, such as deckhands riding on barges, have a portable, waterproof VHF Marine Radio and I know that Weather Radio comes standard on just about ever VHF Marine Radio.

I have read about farmers using Radio Shack Weather Cubes, probably because they were simple and cheap, but not easily EDCed. They likely though had them in their barns or coops. They probably had Weather Radio available on their mobile CB transceivers or on other two way radios installed on farm machinery with cabs. I know that in modern times, Midland Micro Mobile GMRS radios are very popular with farmers and they have Weather Radio receive capability. Since a good portion of the VHF Low Band is not used, I think there should be a license free FM two way radio service that is used for rural areas. I’m thinking it could be on 49 MHz with a five watt output and be allowed any type of antenna that one wishes to use.

For aviators, maybe they had a Weather Radio in their flight bags (especially those that fly smaller planes) but there was also weather forecasts broadcast in AM on longwave non directional aviation beacons. This service is probably totally phased out by now.

So, I don’t think I am the only one who regularly EDCs a Weather Radio, but I wish I would be able to find examples of others who do or at least did back in the day.

I know there are some who want to do away with Weather Radio, which would disappoint many people, especially those Zoomers on YouTube and myself.

However, I think it is very much needed, at least as a means for just about anyone to receive vital, sometimes life saving weather data and for free.

If you are reading this link and know of any situation you were personally involved in where EDCing a Weather Radio proved beneficial, please drop me a line and I will either include it in this piece or a subsequent piece.

I wish there was more content for me to provide on this subject by I hope that you, the reader, have been informed, enlightened and entertained, at least to some degree.

May God richly bless you!

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Weather Radios and Travel

I definitely like to travel and I wish I could do so more often.

Furthermore,

I probably think about Weather Radios more than most though probably not as much as some of these younger people on YouTube.

By the way, my hat definitely goes off to these youngsters. When I was their age, I was indeed experiementing with electronics but I was the only one my age who was doing so.

The furthest any of my peers went with electronics experimentation was installing CB radios in their trucks during the latter parts of high school. Unfortunately this fad was very short lived.

I still think that I should have been born ten years later, but then maybe life would have been so great for me that I would not have realized my desperate need for Christ!

Still it is very refreshing and encouraging to see young people interested in radio electronics!

Anyway back to the subject at hand:

So far the past few months I had been thinking about Weather Radios, and specifically their application with travel, be it a short commute on foot, an Inter City/Inter State trip or anything in between.

I initially wanted to interview some Generation X former latch key kids who walked to and from school and see if any of them carried pocket sized weather radios for their travels. I wanted to document their experiences with this and post it in a blog piece. Unfortunately no one was willing to participate and for now, this project is sadly on the back burner and will likely be scrapped which is a disappointment to me.

Since I now have access to a reliable computer again, I am able to transcribe my thoughts and share them with the world in detail.

This is a real blessing to me.

Since 2016, (not counting childhood and adolescence) I have gone on quite a few road trips, either with friends or with now ex in laws.

For the majority of these trips I had carried some form of a Weather Radio and since 2015, I have also augmented this Weather Radio use with an app known as Midland Weather Center, which is truly a God send! If any executives at Midland and/or Google are reading this piece, please consider making the Weather Center app once again available on Google Play. It is a pain in the rear end to have to search for the APK every time I buy a new Android device. And if it is no longer available on iTunes, please reinstate it there as well. I prefer Android over iOS and actually cannot see myself ever purchase an iOS device, but I digress.

Before my time there used to be a Traveler’s Forecast features on most Weather Radio stations. I’ve been listening to Weather Radio for a little over twenty years and don’t ever recall hearing it. In fact, I discovered it by listening to vintage recordings of Weather Radio broadcasts. So, I know I have been reaching up to those in high places, but if any bureacrats in the government are reading this piece, please consider bringing back the Traveler’s Forecast!

While I am at it, I also want to reach out to the manufacturers of automobile electronics:
Very seldomly do I see Weather Radios featured in automobiles and I think that is foolish. Radio Shack made one years ago and some mobile CB transceivers feature Weather Radio, but why can’t Weather Band come standard on cars? It would not be that hard, plus there is the potential to save lives!

Look at me, I am on my soap box though I serious doubt that my suggestions are considered.

It was late January of 2017 and a friend and myself were traveling back home from Plano, Texas. We were in Northwest Louisiana between Shreveport and Alexandria when we had learned through the assistance of my trusty Midland HH50B that there was a tornado nearby. Through use of my Midland Weather Center app, I was able to determine are more precise location of the tornado and all I will say is Thank God that He kept it away from Interstate 49. Days earlier, on our way to Plano, my friend and myself were traveling West on the Interstate 20 corridor between Shreveport and Dallas when my Dad called concerned that there were tornadoes near us. I explained to him that the sun was shining and the weather was very pleasant. Apparently the weather he was concerned about made it way later than expected. I even checked on my personal Weather Radio to see if there was any tornadic threat and there was none at that moment.

Since the repetitiveness and computerized voices on modern Weather Radio broadcasts irritate some drivers, I keep my listening in the car to a minimum. However, every time we step out the car for any kind of stop I take my weather radio from my pocket or backpack and search for the nearest broadcast to have a listen. This is one of my traveling rituals. Fun fact: Another travel ritual of mine is to shave the instant I arrive in my hotel or motel room. And yet another travel ritual if I have money at least is to purchase a flashlight or calculator from at least one truck stop or travel center. Well I would also like some coffee, I definitely enjoy truck stop coffee and since once again I am living near a truck stop, I frequent purchase cups of coffee from there. Well lately it is been hot chocolate too, because it is the dead of winter at the time I am writing this piece. For the past thirty out of thirty five years of my life I always appreciated eating doughnuts while traveling and this dates back to the Summer of 1992 when the housekeeper at a motel gave me a pack of miniature doughnuts to eat. Another food item I like to purchase while traveling is a foot long hot dog, especially one where I can customize the toppings and prepare it myself. My favorite type of hot dog, of course is Chicago Style.

All of these thoughts have been cycling through my head for the past few weeks and a female friend of mine suggested I should write all of this down. I wanted to anyway, as most of you would probably have alread guessed…

Because my apartment was ruined by a wicked woman namde Ida, my government eventually set me up with a camper-trailer for residence. I thank God every day for this trailer because it is very nice and well furnished. I do have a weather radio contantly on standby next to my bed. It is a Midland WR-120EZ, my first one was destroyed by Hurricane Ida but I have since purchased a replacement. And, praise God, the Weather Radio signal makes it into my trailer perfectly fine!

Of course I also have one in my EDC backpack and a 1997 Radio Shack Weather Cube on my dining table, my first one was also destroyed by Ida (and Nicholas) and this too is a replacement. As one of the two birthday presents to myself, I purchased an Eton FRX1, the L. L. Bean Edition. It tunes in the Weather Band fairly well.

I think the next time a Hurricane threatens my area I will leave no matter what. I rode out Hurricane Ida and I should probably write a dedicated piece on those awful experiences. Of course, evacuating naturally means traveling and as this piece suggests, traveling and Weather Radios go hand in hand. Because of that, I will pack a more weather radios than what I usually carry anyway.

I appreciate how some rest areas and welcome centers have a Weather Radio feed available at the push of a button. That is usually the first thing I look for at one of these facilities unless I need to urgently answer nature’s call.

To encourage others to use Weather Radios with their travels, I think pocket sized models (especially the Midland HH50B) should be sold at truck stops, tourist gift shops, RV parts dealers and maybe even motel lobbies! There are a few other models I could think of and actually, I wrote a piece describing what I think would be the perfect EDC Weather Radio.

The highway I am near is planned to become an Interstate at some point in the future but the stretch of it near me is already built to Interstate standards. I’ve noticed that the cooler truck stops are located mostly near Interstate highway corridors. When I say cool, I specifically mean that they have a wide selection of gadgets to sell and all kinds of good food and drink. There are three truck stops within a few miles of me and one is even in walking distance but they are no where near as some of these that are located near “real” established Interstate highways.

While I have admitted that digital broadcast televsion significantly outferforms its former analog counterpart, there was one advantage analog had and that was it could be successfully received while in motion. In those days, many storm chasers would have analog televisions in their vehicles to get weather information from their local television meterologists. This was before the advent of smartphones and while most of us use technology to evade this sort of of weather if at all possible, storm chasers use this technology to chase this foul weather. They definitely carry weather radios when they travel although, while I carry them for safety and preparedness, they carry them to locate severe storms that will likely spawn tornadoes.

I know a lot of these aforementioned youngster who collect and display their weather radios on YouTube also carry them when traveling. I wish I could get more besides myself, them and a few others to carry weather radios, but only a few pay attention to my suggestions no matter how wise they may be.

I plan to continue to use a weather radio whether (no pun intended) traveling or not.

My biggest desire considering weather radio at the moment is to bring back the traveler’s forecast among other things.

Real human voices would also be nice, but I won’t hold my breath.

Weather is constantly changing and when traveling, the local environment is also constantly changing.

That’s two or more constantly changing variables.

But easy, free and relevant weather information avaialable whilst on the go mitigates some of the potential trouble and danger, provided one actually carries a Weather Radio.

I think I am running out of things to say.

Well it is late, actually now early.

It’s good to be blogging again though and I hope to be cranking out even more material.

I hope that you, the reader, have found this piece informative, enlightening and maybe even entertaining.

Thank you for taking the time to read and may God richly bless you!

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Hurricane Katrina Ruined Radio Broadcasting in New Orleans

I was always interested in radio.

Starting at the age of eight going on nine, I listened to the radio regularly. From that age until the age of fifteen or sixteen, I mostly listened to stations that played Top 40 music.

Starting at age 15, I began to become interested in talk radio, though I didn’t start to listen to it on the regular until the Summer of 2003 at the age of sixteen and a half.

Part of this was a desire to experiment with AM radio and the other part of this, was that I was starting to think politically.

By the Fall of 2003, I was listening to talk radio more than music radio. I was then sixteen going on seventeen.

Because of many policies of the Second Bush Administration (2001-2009), I remember commenting in my World History Class that America had become “a police state.” I was simply echoing what former Libertarian Presidential Candidate Harry Browne, God rest his soul, stated on his talk radio show. The teacher barked back that I “listen to too much talk radio.” He was right about me listening to too much talk radio, but, America during the Second Bush Administration had become very much like a Fascist police state. Do me a favor and Google the 14 Points of Fascism to see for yourself. Another time, this same teacher, who, for now, shall remain nameless, personally went up to my desk and referred to the French as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” because they refused to participate in the Iraq War. He durn well knew that the nationality of my surname is Metropolitan French and he frequently made fun of it. He made other inappropriate comments about certain disabilities. For the record, I was by no means an angel in his class, but I stand by my position that he said things that should not have been said by an educator.

Okay, I may seem off topic but I’m going somewhere with this.

Between the time I started listening to talk radio in 2003 until late August of 2005, there was a lot of awesome talk radio content to choose from in the New Orleans market and even in adjoining markets.

A very wicked woman named Katrina ruined all of this and many other things. Some things have rebuilt themselves out of the ruins, but unfortunately, talk radio in New Orleans has not. Even most of the current content on WWL is pretty boring for someone like me.

In this piece, I will try to list the stations in the New Orleans market that were once very entertaining and informative but have since either gone dark or were converted to something boring.

I think the best way to do this is to list by frequency. I will be going mostly by memory but I do have the assistance of good ole Wikipedia. Some stations are still in operation, but during that time I didn’t listen to them. Keep in mind that the period I am referencing for these stations is between June of 2003 and late August/early September 2005.

Here we go:

600 kHz WVOG-So I didn’t listen to this station until after I came to Christ in July of 2004. Afterward, I listened to it quite a bit until I began to backslide for the first time in March of 2005.

690 kHz WTIX/WIST (now WQNO)-I discovered this station in October of 2003 and it was carrying a show hosted by former Libertarian Presidential Candidate Harry Browne. The station had a feed from a radio network that carried other interesting shows. I wish I could remember the name of that network. Harry Browne came on every Saturday night at 10:00 PM Central Time. Before Harry Browne came on, there was a show about astronomy that I would tune in while waiting for Harry Browne to come on. I almost began to cultivate an interest in astronomy just from listening to that show. At the top of every hour, there was a news broadcast from CNN Radio and at the time CNN was more moderate, very much unlike today. In April or May of 2004, the station became more conservative, which I was opposed to conservative values mostly because I had not yet come to Christ and I was young. Furthermore, I was staunchly against blindly following those in authority just because they were indeed in authority. It seems that so many around me blindly supported George W. Bush, no matter what, and I was appalled. The station began playing news broadcasts on the hour from Fox News, which I eschewed. Another thing I eschewed was so much dedication to sports on that station. There were still some talk programs but they only aired while I was in school. One program that stayed on until maybe Katrina was a local show hosted by Gerry McCann who was an electronics technician in the New Orleans area. Seriously why can’t there be more shows like these? By the time Katrina did her evil deeds, I didn’t listen to this station. 690 kHz used to put out 20,000 Watts but now puts out less than 10,000 during the day and even less power at night. I’m not complaining at all because the station now carries catholic community radio and also some feeds from ewtn. I cannot endorse anything catholic anymore and maintain a clear conscience.

750 kHz KKNO-I received this station a couple of times whilst trying to receive WSB out of Atlanta, which is on the same channel.

800 kHz WSHO-I didn’t listen to this station until after coming back to Christ in late 2008, so I cannot comment much on what it was like pre-Katrina. I know now that I enjoy Christian music and some of the Bible studies aired on this station.

870 kHz WWL-my Dad listened to this station a lot all while I was growing up, especially during sporting events and whenever preparing for a hurricane. I discovered “Newswatch Magazine” hosted by David J. Smith on this station in the Summer of 2003 but didn’t listen to his show on the regular until the Spring of 2004. That show was a contributing factor in me having a mental breakdown in June of 2004 but that mental breakdown was also a major factor in making me realize that I am a sinner and therefore my need for Christ. I finally came to Christ in July of 2004. I always thought there was way too much sports programming on WWL and of course, I think sports are boring. This station was very helpful though in relaying information during and in the aftermath of Katrina. While I was with my family in Bossier City, Louisiana, they were wondering if they could find out what was going on in New Orleans. So after sunset, I was able to tune in to WWL and they were all amazed.

940 kHz WYLD-I never really listened to this station for any lengthy amount of time.

990 kHz WGSO-I could only catch this station sometimes and only on higher-end radios such as a car radio. I remember it being a business format. I also remember it carried the audio feed to WWL-TV newscasts.

1010 kHz WCKW-I never really listened to this station during that time and it was many times difficult to catch anyway.

1060 kHz WLNO-I did listen to this station quite a bit after coming to Christ in July 2004. In fact, it was on this station at some point in the Fall of 2004 that I was listening to Irwin Baxter’s program about the end times and it was through his program that the roman catholic church was exposed. He stated that the roman catholic church is indeed the great harlot mentioned in the 17th Chapter of Revelation. I didn’t take this too well since I was going to a catholic school at the time and because of my young and inexperienced Christian faith, this was a factor in my backsliding.

1230 kHz WBOK-I don’t ever recall listening to this station during that time, nor do I think the radios I had were sensitive enough to receive it.

1280 kHz WODT-I never had any reason to listen to this station at the time because it was a sports station and as I’ve mentioned before I think sports are boring.

1350 kHz WSMB (now WWWL)-I listened to this station extensively starting in the Spring of 2004 until some time in 2005. Besides WTIX/WIST I think this station was most adversely affected by Katrina. I initially started by listening to Coast to Coast AM on this station. Then I had a mental breakdown in June of 2004. I started listening to the radio again in the Fall of 2004. I remember shows such as “Dig In” with Chef Duke (the theme song was cool and catchy), The Phil Hendrie Show, and others. I listened to this station the most in April and May of 2005, then later secured my first job and didn’t have as much time for radio.

1400 kHz WFPR-I don’t recall even knowing about this station until I was doing my research for this piece.

1540 kHz KGLA (now WFNO)-I don’t speak or understand Spanish, so I never listened to this station.

1560 kHz WSLA-I’ve only caught this a handful of times during this period and when I did, it was almost always sports, so I quickly lost interest.

I could also list the FM stations but they change formats much more frequently than their AM counterparts. In my mid to late teens, I was more interested in talk radio than music radio because while Pop and Punk/Indie music was pretty good back then, there weren’t too many stations in my area that would play it. Most of the stations in my area that were supposed to play Top 40 music (including Pop and Punk/Indie) instead were playing more Rap music. And Rap music got stupid some time around late 2003 or early 2004. Amazingly around this time, Country music was pretty good, but I would listen to that genre on a station closer to me. Unfortunately now, and since about 2013, Country music has become stupid. The only current Pop artist that I am even remotely familiar with is Billie Eilish and while she’s very genuine, she can be weird at times, but maybe I am no longer into what is considered trendy. I never really was. In the late 2000s and throughout the 2010s decade Punk/Indie music was awesome but I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not familiar with any of their current hits. Rap, these days, is sometimes stupid yet some of it is funny too. I am most familiar with Contemporary Christian Music these days and I do indeed like it, which is amazing because there was a time I didn’t like it, yes even after becoming a Christian and years afterward. The genre of music that I liked most in my mid to late teen years was New Age because it did indeed help me early on as a writer. I have recently stopped listening to it because I am a Christian and such music hinders my relationship with Christ.

Okay, enough about my music tastes, this piece is supposed to be about how radio broadcasting in New Orleans was ruined after Katrina and has not recovered at all.

I wish there were some stations in the New Orleans market that carried talk shows about politics, history, science, technology, culture, the arts, literature, health, and other intelligent topics. And have them from diverse viewpoints, not just one. Sure there is WWNO which carries NPR for most of its broadcast cycle, but NPR is way too biased these days, unfortunately. I wish there were more stations to choose from. And I wish there weren’t so many sports stations, especially since there is hardly any other type of programming. New Orleans is a very culture-rich city and is the perfect home for visual artists, musicians, writers, and thinkers. The City is also a wonderful place for those in the medical and technology sectors. So I think the broadcasters owe good radio content to the people of New Orleans and those in the surrounding communities. I will admit that a lot of people do indeed love The New Orleans Saints and I certainly would want those people to have a medium for all topics concerning their team. We all know that there is a whole lot more to New Orleans than just sports. While I think sports are boring and pointless, I get that they make many people happy. Of course, these same people become irate if a bad call is made or their team does poorly, so I don’t see exactly how it makes them so happy. However, I’m all for the policy of to each his/her own. That’s the former Libertarian in me talking, I’ll admit that I still espouse many Libertarian ideals but since about 2019, I have been fiercely Moderate. And I’ve been all over the political spectrum throughout my life. I will also say that Christ not only helps form my current political views but He trumps all of my political views. With all that being said, I think that those like me ought to have a broadcast medium to cover our interests, I mean we once did in the days before Katrina, at least to some degree. Why can’t we have it again?

I know that I’m not that important but maybe there is a reader of this blog who will see this piece. And maybe he or she has plenty of influence and will use that influence to change the way radio broadcasting is done, not only in New Orleans but in all markets or at least the ones that are lacking.

It definitely would be nice to have the programming that was on par with that of WTIX-AM circa 2003.

I won’t hold my breath for it though.

I know that Internet Radio and streaming, in general, has probably taken a good bit of revenue from analog terrestrial radio, but I don’t see how programming on the latter in New Orleans has not yet recovered from Katrina when so many aspects of life in that City things have. I know there are others out there like myself, albeit somewhat few and far between. And it just seems we cannot band together.

For now, I have found other ways to enrich my mind and learn about what interests me. Unfortunately, it is rarely through local radio.

I guess this, therefore, concludes my piece on how radio broadcasting in New Orleans was ruined by Hurricane Katrina.

I hope that you, the reader, have been informed, enlightened, and maybe even entertained.

May God richly bless you.

Back to “Articles”

My Idea for the Perfect EDC Weather Radio

Here is my idea for the perfect EDC Weather Radio:

Does anyone besides me remember the Motorola i530?

For those who don’t remember, it was a rugged clamshell phone used on the Nextel System and maybe other iDEN networks.

I’m just realizing that some might not remember Nextel or iDEN.

Just Google it, because I have bigger fish to fry.

All in all, the Motorola i530 was partially inspiring for me to come up with this idea.

Due to writing the description in a video I posted to Youtube, I was discussing how I should design the perfect weather radio that would be used for travel and EDC. It could also be used for monitoring the progress of severe weather from a safe room.

Such a weather radio that I am envisioning doesn’t currently exist, but maybe a product designer is reading this blog and could apply my idea. I would be super thrilled!

I would want a weather radio that could run on either 3 AAA Alkaline/Lithium Primary batteries or have a proprietary Lithium-Ion battery that could be internally charged. The proprietary battery pack should have a charging port that features a USB-C or Micro USB connector. The charging port should NOT be located on the radio

The radio should be around the height and width of the Motorola i530 times 1.5. However, it should be more in a rectangle instead of a rounded shape. it should be able to easily and solidly stand up on a flat surface. The radio should be waterproof and buoyant. It would probably need to be thicker. And just for the record, it would be in a candy bar form factor, not a clamshell, like the Motorola i530.

The radio’s cabinet should be constructed of that same or very similar plastic that Glock pistols are constructed of. It should be all yellow except for the speaker, volume knob, channel selector knob and, power/listen/standby alert knob (more on those details in a bit.)

The battery door should be sealed, slide on, held on by a flat non-removable screw and, locked tightly.

The speaker should be front-firing and occupy the entire front side of the radio. The loudness should be comparable to other weather radios of a similar size and power source.

Another USB-C or Mirco USB port could be placed behind the battery for listening on line current or vehicle power.

The antenna design should also be proprietary and maybe feature two different antennas:
A removable stubby antenna for ease of carrying and durability. It should be properly tuned to quarter-wave in a coil to the weather band and housed in a hard plastic casing.

A removable telescopic antenna for extended range. It should be the same height as the stubby antenna when retracted but maybe ideally to a height of 18 inches when extended (quarter-wave on the weather band.)

The antenna connection to the radio should be female SMA with all appropriate gaskets to keep moisture and dust out.

All control knobs must be situated at the top of the radio and sealed, especially the volume knob.

There would be a knob to select between”Off” “Listen” and “Standby”

Off would of course be to save power when not in use.
Listen would be to hear whichever channel the radio is tuned to.
Standby would be to keep the radio silent until the 1050 Hz tone is broadcast, to which the user would turn the Listen setting.

The channel selector knob should be able to turn to all 7 channels, plus have an 8th position to scan automatically for the strongest signal available (perfect for traveling.) The name of the function maybe could be known as “Travel.”

To pay homage to the history of weather radios, I believe it should use the channel plan of:
1. 162.550
2. 162.400
3. 162.475
4. 162.425
5. 162.450
6. 162.500
7. 162.525
8. Travel Scan

There should be a loud click any time the channel selector knob is turned or the power/listen/standby knob is turned.

The channel numbers and their corresponding frequencies should be stamped or molded on the back of the radio, quite possibly on the battery door.

All other marks and labels on the radio should also be stamped or molded in, not painted. This includes the serial number and date of manufacture, which should be on the back of the radio, possibly behind the battery door.

The brand logo, model number, and NOAA logo could also be stamped on the front by the speaker

The alert sound should feature something like an air raid siren or a series of loud piercing and shrill beeps to get the user’s attention.

As far as the circuitry of the radio, to save space, it should be PLL tuned instead of crystal controlled. There should be some type of amplifier to allow decent reception at 40-50 miles from a transmitter. There should also be either an atmospheric noise limiter circuit or a noise blanker circuit.

This could be marketed to people from all walks of life.

It would be especially popular with those employed in the transportation sector.

I could also see coaches, farmers, teachers, hunters, fishers, campers, or anyone who commutes a considerable distance to work getting some serious use out of this.

Finally, it could be a perfect solution for anyone going on vacation within The US, Canada, Mexico, or Bermuda.

I would be thrilled to see this device come to fruition.

Back to “Articles I have Written”

A Stormy Louisiana Monday

The alarm clock rings. A forty-five-year-old gentleman slowly wakes up.

He kisses his thirty-nine-year-old disabled wife good morning then gets ready for the day.

He brews some Community Breakfast Blend Coffee and drinks it mixed with half milk and half cream.

He also fries four eggs sunny side up and also toasts two slices of Evangeline Maid Wite Bread on his natural gas-powered range.

He slides his four eggs onto a plate and spreads some Clover Valley Strawberry Preserves on his two slices of toast.

Finally, he pours a tall glass of V8 juice and, says Grace sits down for breakfast.

He enjoys his breakfast then goes into the bathroom and freshens up in his washbasin, scrubbing his body with a bar of Dial soap.

He then shaves his face and splashes on some Aqua Velva.

Finally, he puts on RightGuard deodorant then gets dressed.

He dons a white Hane’s tee shirt with a left breast pocket, some Navy Blue Dickie’s work pants, a brown Dickie’s leather belt some white Fruit of the Loom crew socks and some brown Brahma work boots.

From his bedroom night table, he retrieves a SwissGear RFID shielded wallet, which he places in his left-back pants pocket, a Leatherman Surge multi-tool which he places in his right pocket and a Streamlight SL-20 LED flashlight which he secures in its belt holster. And he takes his Motorola smartphone secured in an Otterbox and places it in his left pants pocket. He places a bag of Clover Valley Cherry Sours in his breast pocket.

His wife prepares him two Creole tomato sandwiches with Rouse’s Mayonaise and Mustard and black pepper, then a Yeti Mug filled with Black Cherry Kool-Aid and places them in his Igloo Playmate Cooler and hands it to him.

They share a sweet hug and kiss, then she smacks his backside.

She then gets their young daughter ready for school.

Finally, he gets his keys and leaves his house, locking the doors behind him.

The skies are overcast and the wind is blowing as he steps onto his carport and opens the door to his 1993 Dodge Dakota.

He sits down cranks his engine and heads to work.

During his commute, he tunes in the Weather Band on his Midland CB Radio. He learns that the entire listening area is under a Tornado Watch and that a squall line is also due for their area this day.

He cusses under his breath, then asks God for forgiveness and places a couple of Cherry Sours in his mouth. Subsequently, he petitions God to protect his wife and daughter in addition to himself.

The sky is dark as he arrives at the local elementary school where he is employed as the facility engineer.

A bolt of lightning lights up the sky as he walks into the office.

He punches in and listens briefly as the principal’s radio is tuned to the local NPR affiliate.

He then walks to the boiler room and checks his work email on his Motorola Smartphone.

The cooler in the cafeteria needs to be tended to, so he retrieves his required tools and walks over.

There is a smell of bread rolls baking as well as red beans and rice along with smoked sausage being cooked. The aroma is very satisfying.

As the cafeteria staff continues to prepare the students’ lunch, the gentleman services the cooler. In due time he has the compressor pumping again.

One of the cooks attempts to flirt with him, but he replies, “Back off; I love my wife!”

The cafeteria manager warns her to respect his wishes and that he is a good man but a married man and not to mess with him again.

The buses are now dropping off the children.

He sees his young daughter stepping off the bus. She runs up to him and hugs him. He kisses her forehead then escorts her to her classroom.

He checks his work emails again and sees that the new light fixtures for the administration building have arrived and how he is assigned to install them.

He goes to the boiler room and secures a hand truck then walks to the receiving area to pick up the new light fixtures. He loads the boxes on the hand truck then transports them to the administration building along with his tools.

He steps into the administration building just as it begins to pour down rain.

NPR is still playing on the principal’s radio.

Morning Edition is interrupted with a Tornado Warning.

Immediately he assists the faculty and administration round up the children into the halls.

Just as the last student is in the hall, the electricity goes out.

He turns on his Streamlight SL-20 LED and lights up the dark school.

His daughter has an Olight I3E EOS on her lanyard next to her school ID. She also lights up her immediate area.

He stands next to her and begins to attempt to comfort the other students by telling them stories.

Suddenly his phone rings. It is his wife calling.

“I have to take this call,” He says, then quickly answers the phone.

On the other end, she frantically says, “It’s dark as night here bae. I think there’s a tornado nearby. Are you all right?”

“Yes. I am fine. I’m with all the students and my coworkers in the hall.”

“Is our little girl okay?”

“Yes. She has that little flashlight I bought her a while back on her lanyard and she is lighting up the hallways just like me.”

“That’s our girl! We’re blessed with a wonderful child!”

“Like mother, like daughter!”

“You’re so sweet!”

“Now baby, I’m not sure where the tornado is, but please go in the bathtub and cover yourself with a thick blanket!”

“Okay, I will. Do I have to let you go?”

“No. Stay on the line with me, at least until the warning expires. But if the call drops, just know that I love you.”

“I love you too and I won’t be at ease until you and our daughter are home and safe in my arms!”

“I love you, Mommy!” Their little girl called out.

Suddenly a horrible roaring sound was heard…

Now the middle aged man in this story seems to be what both a Christian and a non Christian alike would consider to be a good man.  After all, he works diligently, he loves his wife and is completely faithful to her.  He also loves his daughter.  He even cares about the students and coworkers.  I believe he is a shining example of someone who possesses a much Greater Love and it is because of this Love is the reason why he is so well equipped to be what most would consider a good man.  The Good News is that This Greater Love is available to anyone who accepts it.  Furthermore it does not have the stringent conditions and prerequisites that carnal or communal love tends to associate itself with.  Notice he is not totally perfect, but he is still in perfect possession of that Love!

Back to “Works of Fiction”

A Review of The Sony ICF-P26 AM/FM Portable Radio

Just so we’re all clear, I do not own the featured image on this page and I give credit to whomsoever credit is due.

I always enjoyed listening to the radio growing up.

The style of radio that I enjoy most are those that resemble the transistor radios made from the 1950s through the 1980s. There is just something about that style.

By the way, such a style is getting rarer and rarer as time goes by.

I believe it was some time in 2015 when I discovered the Sony ICF-P26 and, fun fact, it was through a MEME I saw on social media.

I finally bought one in March of 2017 and so I have owned one of these radios for almost your years.

That radio by the way is what this piece will be a review thereof.

In reality, I had been wanting to write this review since July of 2018, when I started writing product reviews, but there have been numerous distractions that hindered me from doing so.

In March of 2017, I had a little bit extra money, so I ordered a Sony ICF-P26 on eBay.

It came in a few days later and I began to use it extensively. It even gained a spot for a few years in my EDC backpack.

I was thoroughly impressed by the clear and generous sound, the tuning accuracy, the reception range (especially on AM, but FM as well), and the overall solid feel when handling this radio.

On every trip I took, it was a frequent companion, allowing me to hear local radio stations. One of my rituals is while traveling I wash my face, then shave as soon as I enter the hotel or motel room. For some reason traveling in a car for an extended period, even with the windows up makes my face ultra dirty. I also like to be clean-shaven when going out and about anywhere, so after washing my face, I shave, then apply the Aqua Velva. Usually while shaving in a place besides home, I listen to a local music station. One particular memory I have about carrying out this ritual is being in Texas and hearing Jim Ed Brown sing “Pop a Top” on a local AM station. Music sounds so much richer when played on AM and Jim Ed Brown already had a very rich voice, so it was a very pleasant experience. When not traveling, I used to listen to NPR whilst I was doing my laundry.

I did keep this radio when my ex-wife and I split up the community property and I left her a Sangean DT-200VX because she always liked it and I was trying to make the divorce as painless as possible. She and I are on much better terms now but I am 100% sure that we are not compatible as husband and wife. I just wish I would have realized this before the relationship became too serious. Well, she clearly stated that she wanted to marry me six days after meeting me. At the time, I was thrilled, because I didn’t see the red flags yet.

Speaking of red flags, my one gripe about this radio is that it lacks an AFC circuit. This wasn’t an issue at my previous residences but is very much an issue at my current residence since I am only a few blocks away from an FM transmitter. That station’s signal bleeds all over my FM dial and drowns out almost all other FM stations that would normally be available. So I upgraded (and I use that term loosely) to a cheap, unbranded radio, that has a phase lock loop synthesized oscillator, for most of my portable FM listening. It also gets AM (mediocre) and Weather (quite well, actually), but isn’t as solidly built as my Sony. Although it is as small as an MP3 player and I do have a dedicated pocket for it in my EDC backpack. However, on some nights I will still use this Sony for AM listening, both local and long-distance. If I’m not in my neighborhood and have it with me, I will also use my Sony for FM listening.

A few evenings ago when Winter Storm Uri was wreaking havoc across the country, our local governments and our electric utility companies were advising us to conserve power until 10:00 PM. So, I unplugged all of my grid-powered electronics, set my central heater (which is electric) to 68 Degrees Fahrenheit and I even turned off the lights. To be able to see, I used a highly efficient battery-powered LED lantern. My previous product review was about that very lantern. And for entertainment, I listened to the AM band on my Sony radio. I did some AM DXing until finally, I decided to listen to WSB out of Atlanta. There is a local show on there that I have listened to a time or two prior. It is a good, wholesome, and even Christian show. They were talking about Rush Limbaugh’s passing. I listened until the signal faded out. By that point, it was past Ten O’Clock, so I resumed my “normal” nighttime activities. The AM ferrite bar antenna on this radio isn’t very big, so it’s not the best radio for AM DXing, but, in my location, it will catch most of the clear channel AM stations between The Rockies and Appalachians after dark.

A very wise feature on this radio is that it isn’t turned off or on by the volume potentiometer, but rather a three-position sliding switch “OFF” “AM” “FM.” There is a volume potentiometer and after almost four years of use and three years of carrying in my EDC backpack, it needs to be dusted out. To tune the radio, a knob is connected to a slide rule indicator. For FM listening, there is a telescopic antenna that can be changed out if it is ever damaged. Why can’t all radios be made this way?

There is also a removable nylon lanyard.

Two other features on this radio include a green LED, whose brightness indicates how much battery power is left and a red LED which indicates that the radio is locked on a station’s signal.

For power, it runs on two AA batteries. I always used Alkalines and always had generous run times. I think the run time is rated at 35 or so hours on a set of batteries but I’m not 100% sure.

Currently, I have my Sony radio on a night table in my living room, but if I were to have to travel, especially to evacuate from a hurricane, it will be coming with me.

If anyone is interested in purchasing one of these, they are widely available online and even in some brick-and-mortar establishments.

I give it a 4.85 out of 5 stars and this rating is subjective to where one uses it. Had it been manufactured with an AFC circuit, I would have given it the full 5 stars.

Sony is a reputable brand and they make some fine radios, so why couldn’t they have installed an AFC circuit and made this radio even better?

I’ve mentioned on social media in the past how I wish all FM radios would have an AFC circuit, but terrestrial analog radio is gradually dying out, much to my dismay.

In the event of an emergency remember KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid! The simpler a communications system is, the less chance there is for failure and typically the cheaper the equipment. Analog terrestrial radio should remain in use, at least as a means of communicating important information to the public, especially in the event of an emergency!

I’ll get either one or another response for this statement and it is:

You’re preaching to the choir (from those who think like me.)

OR

Change is inevitable (from those who don’t realize what I realize.)

Currently, I am thinking of buying a Bluetooth-capable radio very soon so I can pair it with my tablet and Stream online radio stations. The model I am looking at is sold at The Ruble, I mean, The Dollar General and if it is like its predecessor model, then it will have an AFC circuit, which is the other reason for me to consider purchasing it.

So, yes I do embrace new technology, but I also have a prepper mindset, not to mention I hold a General Class Amateur Radio license, and therefore am very much aware of how older simpler technology is more reliable, especially as a means of mass communications.

Well, look at this, I’ve turned a product review into a lecture.

My apologies.

I hope you, the reader, have been informed and maybe even entertained.

I guess this concludes my review of the Sony ICF-P26.

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

A Review of the Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro Calculator

Just for the record, I do not own the featured image on this page. I must need give credit whereupon credit is due and the featured image is property of Texas Instruments, inc.

For almost as long as I had been fascinated by flashlights, I too have been fascinated by calculators. Similar to my fascination with flashlights, my fascination with calculators has waxed and waned throughout my childhood and adolescence, but they are both very strong in my adult years.

My two favorite brands of calculators are Casio and Texas Instruments and I like the latter a little more than the former.

I had begun permanently carrying a calculator in the latter parts of 2012, namely a TI-12 Math Explorer (the 1997 version.) In the following months afterward, I also had begun to carry with it a TI-30XA (the current version.)

In March of 2014, my writing had started to evolve, as did my experience in repairing or souping up computers had increased. I had also begun to start doing research more extensively on calculators. Soon, I had realized there was a Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro that was put on the market some three years before that. It wasn’t long before I wanted one. In June of 2014, I had spent my spending money on a flashlight that I still carry to this day. However, a family member had gifted me $20 from a sum of money he had won at a casino. I didn’t split that money with my then-wife, now ex-wife, because after all, she has a major hang-up about gambling. So, I was free to use that money however I had pleased. We were babysitting two of her nephews that following day and I took them to ride with me to the Houma suburb of Bayou Cane, so I could secretly purchase that said calculator. They kept the secret safe with me and goofed off with me for the entire ride. I stopped at an Office Depot because I knew that was the only store that stocked it locally year-round. Sadly it was out of stock. However, after talking to the sales associate and later the manager, I had learned that I could have it shipped to my residence at no extra charge. Happily, I went with that option, paying the first $20 in cash and the remaining amount after sales tax with my debit card. A brand new TI-36 X Pro arrived on my doorstep a few days later, via UPS. And that said calculator is what this piece will be a review thereof.

As soon as it arrived on my doorstep, I opened it up, then used it to convert one unit used to measure barometric pressure into another unit used to measure barometric pressure. The weather was changing that day, as in quite frequent in Louisiana. I was amazed at the accuracy and precision with which it carried out the conversion. I began carrying it in a dedicated pouch of my EDC backpack along with the Mini Maglite I had purchased earlier that month.

Yes, I will admit that there are plenty of features on this calculator that I will probably never need, nor do I understand what they represent. While I am pretty proficient at arithmetic, I am terrible at almost all other higher level Mathematics. Still, there are certain features on this machine that I frequently use, especially when doing unit conversions or even just simply writing out my monthly budget. There are even base-n calculations such as converting between decimal, hexadecimal and octal, which come in handy with programming higher level scanner radios or if I ever needed to assist a computer programmer or coder.

And not only that, I believe this is the best looking scientific calculator that is currently on the [common] market. Change my mind!

In the days and weeks after purchasing this calculator, I went on to write some pretty wonderful stories and the one that stands out most is my “Grocer and Writer” stories. Maybe the tremendous pleasure I associated with finally owning this calculator created the ideal mental state and electrochemistry to be creative? Of course in the hours before beginning those stories, I took a trip to the New Orleans area.

I have since purchased spare units, but I keep my original TI-36 X Pro in a safe undisclosed location because it does have sentimental value.  It has sentimental value because certain items of mine cause me to have a connection with someone whom I had known in my childhood (January-July of 1991) but since lost all contact with. This calculator and flashlight somehow have that connection. I now think that this girl I had briefly known in my childhood may have been an angel because I spent years searching for her but with no success. She would now be in her mid-to-late thirties, assuming she was born between 1984 and 1987. During most of the year of 2014, which was the beginning of the end of my faulty former marriage, I had begun to desire to find this now young lady again, so I strongly associate the year 2014 in general with her. Before I met my ex-wife and even after to an extent, this girl from my childhood was the inspiration for my writing and was the unknown driving force to cause me to pursue writing. In the latter parts of 2018 until December 4/5 2019, I was in a very loving relationship with a young lady, who in many ways reminded me of the girl from my childhood and was even born in the year in which she and I were, for lack of a better word, together. If you, the reader, poke around in the fiction section of this blog, you will see some of the stories where I have derived my inspiration from this girl I once knew.

My first one came off the assembly line somewhere in China in February of 2014. My current unit, which I still EDC, came of the assembly line somewhere in The Philippines in April of 2017. I’m wondering if the updated units in the Philippines have corrected the software bug that plagued the earlier models?…

All in all, I will now list some of the features and specifications that the TI-36 X Pro has to offer:

By the way, I’ve obtained this information from the company website, but I also added my commentary…

Four-line display-very clear too!

One- and two-variable statistics-I would likely never use this feature, but who knows.

MultiView™ display shows multiple calculations at the same time on screen-Excellent for writing a budget or balancing a checking account!

Select degrees/radians, floating/fix, number format modes-Very useful with navigating with a GPS or several different GPS units!

Choose from three solvers: numeric equation, polynomial and system of linear equations-This would have been nice in high school, but probably would have landed me in trouble! This particular model came on the market five years after I graduated high school anyway.

Display a defined function in a tabular form-The best way to show a function without an actual graph!

Determine the numeric derivative and integral for real functions.
Perform vectors and matrices using a vector and matrix entry window.

The last two features involve high-level mathematics that goes way above my head, but maybe one day, I’ll try to learn it.

The TI-36 X Pro is recommended for the following STEM-related courses:
Algebra I and II-Probably forbidden or at least frowned upon because of its built-in equation solver.
Geometry-Overkill and again probably frowned upon.
Trigonometry-A Graphing model would be of more use.
Statistics-Never took this course, but I can imagine its usefulness.
Calculus-There are features that would come in handy for this course, though I never took it.
Biology-Probably overkill.
Chemistry-Probably is forbidden or at the very least frowned upon because of the permanently stored constants.
Physics-As with chemistry, it’s probably forbidden or frowned upon, for the same reasons, though I never took physics.
Computer science-Could be very useful, especially with those learning programming.
College math-Actually we were required a TI-84.
College science-Never took these courses, but I see where the store constants may be of great use.
College engineering-Never took any of these courses either, but I know this calculator is popular with all engineering.

According to the company website, here is a more detailed list of the functions, some of which I had already commented on:
Review and edit previous entries via a scrollable home screen
Paste inputs or outputs into new calculations
MathPrint™ feature entry and output mode for viewing calculations in math notation, including answers in terms of pi, square roots and fraction
Three solvers: numeric equation, polynomial and system of linear equations
Numeric derivative and integral for real functions
Vectors and Matrices
Symbolic notation of π
Toggle key to change the form of answers between exact and decimal approximation
Stacked Fractions and Fraction functions
Fraction/decimal/percent conversions
Change between improper fractions and mixed numbers
Automatic simplification of fractions
Random number and random integer generator
Central MODE menu for selecting calculator mode settings
Menu settings
Functions accessed directly through keys or through pull-down menus
Negation key
One constant operator feature
Combinations and permutations
Trigonometry
Hyperbolics
Logs and antilogs
Convert angles from degrees to radians to grads
%, x², ¹/x, yˆx, π, x!
Fixed decimal capability
(x,y) Table feature with Auto and Ask-x options
Basic Data/List Editor with three lists
List Formulas
One- and two-variable statistics with permanent stat variable input storage
EOS (Equation Operating System)
Nine physical constants
Eighteen metric/English conversions
Up to eight pending operations
Up to 23 levels of parentheses
Error recovery capability
Quick/easy reset of calculator via two-key press or menu for exam purposes
Eight memory variables (x, y, z, t, a, b, c, d)
Scientific and engineering notation

And here are some of the physical characteristics:
Four-line × 16-character, easier-to-read LCD display
Battery powered with solar cell assistance to lengthen battery life
Auto Power Off
Hard plastic, color-coded keys
Non-skid rubber feet
Impact-resistant cover with quick-reference card
Snap-on protective hard case

Even though, as I had mentioned before, there are some features on this calculator that go way above my head, it is still one of my favorites if not my favorite calculators ever made.

I carry it in a dedicated compartment of my EDC backpack where I store the rest of my tool that which I use to repair or soup up computers. Like most other Texas Instruments devices, it is built very ruggedly and will last, likely way past its obsolescence where it will then be a cool collector’s item.

While I have owned one of these is some way shape or form since June of 2014 and it is December of 2020 at the time I am writing this, I still thoroughly enjoy this device and give it a 4.85 out of 5 stars, only because of the software bug concerning fractions involving Pi.

This, therefore, concludes my review of the Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro. I hope you, the reader, have been informed, entertained, and maybe even enlightened!

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

Why would I EDC a Weather Radio?

I get different reactions when I show off the items I EDC.

While, like most, I usually carry a tactical flashlight and some sort of metal tool or knife along with my keys, wallet, smartphone, and a wristwatch. My psychiatrist refuses to clear me for a concealed weapon carrying permit, but one day I might open carry my Ruger LCP. Without getting too political, I am absolutely 100% opposed to any and all forms of gun control!

As a Christian, I also carry a copy of God’s Holy Word, namely, the Bible. For doing so I get kudos from fellow believers and mockery or even hostility from worldly or lost people, but that is totally expected.

I frequently carry a scanner radio, but no one really bats an eye about that. In public, I am frequently mistook for a firefighter when I carry it.

There are two items I carry that frequently raise questions from others in the EDC community.

One item is a calculator which I can easily explain and most will accept the answer. After all, I’ve been fascinated by calculators almost as long as I have been fascinated by flashlights and that is since infancy. As a high school math teacher, my Mom EDCs a calculator or two for work, though in reality, she eschews them. However, she is the reason why I became fascinated by calculators. My Dad was a banking executive when I was born and I don’t know if he ever carried a calculator or not, because he was laid off from the bank a few months after my birth. He then switched careers and eventually became a special education teacher. Even though my Dad was a sporting goods salesman for a couple years during the career change, he isn’t into EDC at all. His Dad, my Paw Paw, was into EDC at least to some degree, although he only owned extremely budget-friendly items. My Maw Maw also carried a flashlight in her purse for as long as I knew her, until she became a shut in and passed on December 28, 2019. At one point I’m almost sure she had an old school Pelican MityLite 1900! There were always calculators around though while I was growing up and I had been carrying one on and off since the age of eight. So, even though I am fascinated by calculators, when asked why I carry them, I can quickly justify and have done so.

Another item that I continuously EDC is a pocket-sized weather radio. While no one has directly questioned my motives as to why I do so, I’m sure I at least get eye rolls when I post pictures of mine or pull it out and listen.

In this piece, I am going to give a testimony on why I personally carry a weather radio and while I don’t expect you, the reader, to follow suit, maybe my reasons for doing so will be better understood.

Let’s go back to the Summer of 1990. I was three and a half and my brother and sister were a few months old. My Mom was off from teaching school, but my Dad was at work, working as a sporting goods salesman. There had been some storms going on all day. My Mom had baked home-made biscuits earlier in the day. It’s something, I can fry chicken almost identical to Colonel Sanders Original Recipe and my Mom can bake biscuits almost identical to Popeye’s Buttermilk Biscuits. I taught myself how to fry chicken that way, mostly through trial and error but also by God’s Grace. However, my Mom got her biscuit recipe from an old Catholic monk. The storms had gotten progressively worse during the day, then our electricity was disrupted. At some point, it became dark as night though it was only midday. My Mom gathered us into the center of the house and we sat there by the light of an Eveready Commander 6 Volt Lantern. The model number was 5122.

Though I was always afraid of the weather, I don’t remember being too frightened. I think it was because I was holding a flashlight and even back then I was fascinated by flashlights. I stood in the hall eating a biscuit.

We had no idea if there was actually a tornado present because we had no weather radio.

There was a Sears transistorized AM/FM radio that was put away, but I guess my Mom was probably more focused on getting all of us to safety rather than looking for that radio.

Even if my Mom would have been able to locate that transistor radio, the battery could have very well been dead. There was no way of us to know when the Tornado Warning, if any, had expired.

At some point, the sky lightened up and the electricity came back on and I guess we took this as the all-clear.

Looking back, this probably had an impact on me and is most likely was caused me to have a compelling desire to be accurately informed.

As I am writing this, I am reminded that back in the day, weather radios were somewhat of a status symbol, associated only with the affluent. I mean they were heavily marketed to golfers, of which playing golf during a thunderstorm is quite risky, so a golfer would desperately need one. I wonder if Donald Trump ever carried a weather radio in his younger days whilst playing golf. To further back up my claim that weather radios once were and maybe still are a status symbol now, at least to some degree is that, I’ve only seen upper-middle-class and wealthy people in possession of one. I’ve never once seen anyone from the lower socio-economic positions to ever be in possession of a weather radio. I have even read an article or two about how the white upper class are almost the only ones who purchase weather radios and that poorer whites, as well as most minorities, don’t even bother purchasing one.

While at the time, my family was lower middle class and stayed there until between 1997 and 2000. Now they are almost upper-middle class.

I didn’t know there was such a device as a weather radio until the summer of 1997 when I was reading some hurricane preparedness literature.

I wouldn’t actually own a weather radio of my own until late December 2001. It was an Oregon Scientific WR-8000. Unfortunately, it killed on me in less than two years, but I did EDC it when I could.

I myself as an individual would be considered impoverished by most standards.

Yes, I’ll admit that fully.

The only reason I am able to afford a weather radio (and I do own several) is that I either purchase them on clearance as new old stock, a friend gives one to me or I buy one in gently used condition for a fraction of the cost.

Between December of 2001 and April of 2015, I had gone through a few portable weather radios, many of which killed on me, unfortunately.

I guess it is poor quality control because I did not abuse these radios by any means.

Since the Spring of 2006, I had wanted a Midland HH50B, but it would be over nine more years before I would actually purchase one.

I had some desktop models that were on constant standby as well as a Radio Shack Weather Cube as a backup.

Then one day in late April of 2015, my area was experiencing some severe weather. This weather resulted in the one and only train derailment on the Huey Pierce Long Bridge near New Orleans. The said bridge was about eighty years old at the time.

My standby models had alerted me to a Tornado Watch in advance.

Then there were quite a few Severe Thunderstorm Warnings issued.

My then-wife, now ex-wife, as usual, was watching television.

However, I told her to get dressed in case we would need to move quickly.

The amazing thing is, she actually listened to me, though this was one of the very few times she did listen to me.

A few minutes later we received a Tornado Warning for our Parish.

The sky, though again around midday, became dark as night.

My apartment manager invited the second-floor tenants to her unit which was downstairs.

My now ex wife and I left with the clothes on our back, though I had a Mini Maglite LED in my pants pocket and I also had an Energizer Weatheready 6 Volt LED Lantern in my hand.

We made our way down the stairs and across the parking lot as lightning fiercely flashed.

The sky was still dark as night.

Several of us stood in the manager’s downstairs unit, anxiously waiting for the weather to pass.

Minutes crawled by, but, then, finally, conditions began improving.

The cell service was in and out that day, so none of us could rely on our phones, for weather data though at the time I didn’t even own a smartphone. I would though, a couple days later.

Several young women were wondering when the Tornado Warning would expire.

Eventually, I walked back up to my apartment and retrieved my Weather Cube, which while battery-powered, is still basically impossible to EDC.

I stood and listened to the weather report then when the Tornado Warning expired, I let everyone know and we all went back to our units and resumed our daily activities.

That day made me realize that I should own a weather radio that I could EDC in my backpack and even in my pocket if necessary.

I knew I was going to bite the bullet and soon purchase a Midland HH50B.

A little over a month later, I was able to score one brand new with batteries for ~$10 and free shipping. Thank God for eBay! I had been wanting one for years, so I gladly purchased it with my spending money.

At the time, I was also a new smartphone user and when my new weather radio came in, there was some literature enclosed in the packaging about downloading Midland Weather Center for Apple and Android devices.

I did just that and subsequently downloaded it on almost every smartphone I have owned since.

Granted this app is unfortunately no longer available on Google Play, but it can still be downloaded and installed on Android devices if you know what you are doing.

As for the Midland HH50B, I EDCed it from June of 2015 until December of 2017 when my then-wife now ex-wife broke it in a fit of anger.

However, I liked it so much that I quickly ordered a new one and it arrived on my doorstep a few days later.

I still EDC it in my backpack everywhere I go. And if I can’t have my backpack with me but I know I will be away from home or outdoors for any given time, I will have it in my right pants pocket next to my EDC flashlight.

It has come in handy numerous times either for stand by alerts for severe weather when I am not home or for sheltering in place during severe weather and monitoring the progress thereof.

The times it has been most handy is when I go on road trips and I am the passenger. I use it in conjunction with my Midland Weather Center app and use the weather intelligence gained to assist the driver in avoiding severe storms. I’ve even used it to confirm that there were no tornadoes nearby when my Dad called and thought there were. That was on January 20, 2017 and I was traveling with a friend between Shreveport and Dallas. A day later, though, while heading back home I used my weather radio to keep track of tornado near Nacitoches, Louisiana.

EDCing a weather radio has been very beneficial and never once detrimental, so I plan to do it indefinitely

I don’t know if these reasons will convince you, the reader, whether to also EDC a weather radio or not, but I hope this piece at least validates my reason to do so.

I guess this, therefore, concludes my piece and I hope you, the reader, have been informed and maybe even a little entertained.

Thank you for reading!

Back to “Articles I have Written”

A Review of the Oregon Scientific WR601N Handheld Weather Radio with S.A.M.E.

For the record, I do not own the featured image on this page, rather I downloaded it from eBay and I give credit to whomever credit is due.

As you, the reader, can probably tell, I have an strong interest in Weather Radios.

I first read about a NOAA Weather Radio in the Summer of 1997 at the age of ten and a half whilst reading a hurricane preparedness pamphlet.

I wouldn’t actually own a NOAA Weather Radio until December of 2001 at the age of fourteen going on fifteen.

However, once I owned one, I would be completely fascinated.

My parents thought there was something wrong with me because of it.

Well technically there is something wrong with me, but when I was a teen, I was the only teen I knew of that was interested in radio electronics.

Nowadays, there are plenty of teens who are interested in radio electronics, especially weather radio, and sites like YouTube are living proof.

Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong generation and should have been born ten to fifteen years later.

It was in my mid-twenties that I began to collect weather radios.

Now at the age of thirty-two-going-on-thirty-three, I am frequently visiting thrift stores, flea markets, antique shops, and hamfests to purchase gently-used vintage weather radios.

On November 2, 2019, I had some cash on me and went to my local GoodWill.

It was as if God Himself was telling me to go there because I would find a weather radio.

And in the electronics/appliances section, I found an Oregon Scientific WR601N in very good condition, but selling for only $1.97+tax.

I had been wanting one of these for a couple years but didn’t want to pay the MSRP.

This piece will be a review of that aforementioned weather radio.

What I purchased at GoodWill only included the radio, battery door, and lanyard. There was no manual, cradle or AC adaptor.

Still, for $1.97+tax, I’m not going to complain.

Performance-wise, this radio is a true winner:
The size is very compact and can be carried on your person or in a backpack without weighing the user down.

The antenna is short and stubby, but is rugged and pulls in the Weather Radio broadcast very well, even from forty miles away!

The speaker audio is clear and crisp but can be annoying when there is noise in the signal.

The radio runs on 3 AA batteries and the runtime seems generous.

There are a clock and calendar which I must say keeps time very accurately, like +/-1 second in a week!

There are two separate alarm times that can be set and the alarm is loud enough.

The radio receives all seven weather radio channels.

The radio is equipped with S.A.M.E. technology and can store up to six administrative divisions or monitor all six.

The blue backlight lights up the display brightly and evenly. It is activated by pressing the snooze button.

The housing seems to be built very well and could probably survive a few drops.

Also, the face of the radio is yellow, meaning it can be easily found in a dark room or cluttered baggage.

There is an external speaker jack.

The display can be expressed in English, French or Spanish.

There are only three real [albeit minor] complaints I have and they are:
The radio can be a bit tricky to program and operate and takes some getting used to.

The radio also has trouble standing by itself, even on a flat surface.

The radio should have better noise limiting circuitry since it will not work well near any source of electrical noise.

However, at the price I paid, I’m not going to make any case about the complaints.

Even though I didn’t buy it brand new and I don’t have all the right accessories, I have been EDCing this radio for the past week and I am totally satisfied.

While Midland is my favorite brand of Weather Radios, I’ll admit they could learn plenty from this model.

What I like most are the rugged and compact build and clear crisp reception.

It is good to have S.A.M.E., but I could take it or leave it since I would use this for traveling or outdoor activities, where S.A.M.E. isn’t always necessary.

Like other compact portable models, the WR601N would be well suited for an EDC bag, a bug out/bailout bag, or a safe room, all for monitoring the progress of the weather, without needing line current.

I’m really impressed all in all and this is a vast improvement over the Oregon Scientific WR-8000, which actually was the first weather radio I had ever owned.

I give this product a 4.7 out of 5 stars!

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