A Review of the Radio Shack Pro-404 Handheld Scanner

So, I had been interested in radio electronics since toddlerhood, but the interest didn’t come to fruition until the age of fourteen.

Likewise, I had been interested in trains since infancy, but somehow the interest became dormant until the age of seventeen, when I was walking around Schriever, Louisiana, and saw a train up close for the first time. This was in the Spring of 2004. I began downloading pictures of trains and trying to listen to them on my scanner but had very limited success with the latter. Then in June of 2004, I had a mental breakdown and was to be medicated for the rest of my life. The medication I took exacerbated my anhedonia, which is the inability to have interests or feel any kind of pleasure. I suffered from this until January of 2006 when I was prescribed a much better medication known as Geodon. By that time my train interest sadly went dormant again. It was so dormant that I rode on a train in June of 2006 and didn’t think much of it, whereas most people who love trains as I have felt at certain times in my life would have felt a state of euphoria just below that of worshipping God in Spirit and Truth and being overcome by His presence just from seeing a train, much less getting to ride on one. But I didn’t think much of it. It would be this way until some time in 2010 when I was attending a church near a mainline railroad and spending a considerable amount of time near the same mainline as well. In September of 2011, I quit my job, mostly due to my hours being drastically cut, a demotion from a position where I performed better than anyone else on-site, and just the toxic environment I worked in. I was able to live well enough off of my disability income in addition to my then-wife-now-ex-wife’s disability income.

It was during this time that my interest in trains came back in full force and stronger than ever before.

I planned to purchase a cheap scanner to take with me whilst foaming and decided on a Radio Shack Pro-404 and that is what this piece will be a review thereof. I had watched several YouTube videos that my fellow foamers created either reviewing this scanner or using it trackside. It seemed to be the perfect scanner for foaming. In those days and still, very much today though sadly changing, one only needs an entry-level scanner to listen to railroad traffic. I know times are changing, though, with this wretched Nexedge being slowly adopted as the new communication standard for railroads and therefore needing a top-tier model scanner to decode such transmissions. That was a factor in my decision to start listening to marine communications which I began in October of 2015 and still do to the present. Watching boats had sadly now taken priority over watching trains although I still think trains are much cooler and likely always will.

In mid-December of 2011, a friend owed me some money which I used to purchase a Radio Shack Pro-404. From December 2011 until March 2014, this was my EDC scanner and I had it until it died on me in July of 2014.

The Radio Shack Pro-404 was the first scanner that I dedicated to my foaming hobby. But I also used it for listening to fire departments and business band users among other things.

The one frequency I wanted to listen to most was 160.290 MHz (AAR Channel 12) which is assigned to BNSF’s Lafayette Subdivision. I also listened to other railroad frequencies on it such as 160.515 MHz (AAR Channel 27) which is heavily used in Louisiana and system-wide by Union Pacific, 160.920 MHz (AAR Channel 54), and 161.190 MHz (AAR Channel 72) which are used by Canadian National DBA Illinois Central in Southeast Louisiana and 160.260 MHZ (AAR Channel 10) which is used by Kansas City Southern on their mainline from Shreveport to New Orleans.

Sadly the particular unit I bought was defective and I didn’t fully realize this until it was out of warranty. The only railroad channel it received with any consistency was 160.260 MHz even most of the time I was 40 miles away from the dispatch tower. In those days BNSF’s Lafayette Subdivision mainline was my favorite railroad line mostly because it is and was the closest mainline railroad to me and because it is an ex-Southern Pacific line. When I became a full-blown foamer in 2011 and learned about the Southern Pacific and how it was split between Union Pacific and BNSF after merging with Union Pacific, I was angry because I had developed a tremendously strong prejudice in favor of the old Espee. I was married at the time, but as my marriage started to deteriorate, I had vowed not to ever date a young lady who was born on or after September 11, 1996-the date of Southern Pacific’s death. I pretty much stayed true to this vow, although in late 2020 and early 2021, there was one very brief online relationship with a young lady born several months after that date. So even though I resented BNSF for taking that former Southern Pacific mainline, I still wanted to tune them in and this scanner just could barely pull anything in on the required frequency. I even tried high-performance antennas but to no such avail. Union Pacific’s frequency came in but I had to be closer to one of their mainlines than I usually was and voice transmission on that frequency was so sporadic due to the heavy use of Centralized Traffic Control. I don’t remember how well this scanner performed on the CN DBA IC channels I programmed for it. In July of 2013, I traveled to Texas for the first time. The trip was with my now ex-in-laws and I didn’t have to pay anything. I did a little bit of foaming in San Antonio, and this scanner performed slightly better, to the point that I was disappointed when I had to go back to Louisiana.

My then-wife and I would make frequent trips to the New Orleans area to go shopping and of course, I would use my Radio Shack Pro-404 to tune in railroad traffic. It performed better in the New Orleans area and maybe even better in Texas. Still, for the one frequency, I wanted to hear most it wouldn’t even stop on but my other scanners would.

By the Fall of 2013, I could tell that this scanner was not as great as I expected it to be or as great as the ones I saw on YouTube. I had assumed that all Radio Shack Pro-404 scanners were like this but was wrong to assume this. I was an immature Christian in the early 2010s though I had been born again for almost a decade. I also did not consider the possibility of spiritual attacks, especially those on the personal possessions of Christians. I still had some superstitions and assumed that this scanner was cursed, which maybe I was partially correct, but not cursed entirely in the way I was thinking back then.

As obsessed as I can be with trains I know that my interest in them never was an idol but, rather it brought me closer to my God. Case in point, I was in Sunday School back when I attended a church near the aforementioned BNSF mainline. My then-Pastor-Teacher was speaking to the class and mentioned how so many people are not in church on Sundays and instead are engaging in worldly pleasures. At that moment a train passed through town and I heard it loud and clear and I felt spiritually vindicated in that moment, knowing I was in church. My then wife smiled approvingly at me but on the flip side of that, she would curse me lower than a dog because I liked trains so much. I think she is a borderline narcissist because she hated everything that brought me happiness anything besides her that made me happy was a threat to her ego. But I truly believe God approves of my train hobby because it is good, clean, wholesome, and harmless fun and every time God allows me to enjoy this hobby my heart is filled with pure gratitude and delight towards Him. And I know for a fact that God is glorified by such. So this could explain why this particular scanner was under spiritual attack. Furthermore, the friend who owed me the money which I used to purchase this scanner would also take me out drinking even though I was a married man. As a Christian, I felt so out of place in a bar room, although the food was delicious and the beer tasted wonderful at the time. I no longer think beer or any other strong drink tastes wonderful and praise God in Jesus’ Name because he delivered me from such desires! But because of the less than noble means by which I acquired this scanner, I can see it not working properly when trying to use it for a godly hobby and I now chalk it up to spiritual attacks.

To further add weight to this testimony, sometime after Hurricane Ida, I saw another Radio Shack Pro-404 for sale on eBay, and feeling nostalgic for those times when I was a full-blown foamer, I purchased it. When I used this new one, it worked very well. I remember taking it on a camping trip that the men from my current church had done and it was pulling in Aircraft, Marine, and dare I say even Railroad Traffic beautifully. While the campsite was close to an airport and a major waterway it was further from any railroad lines than my usual listening posts. I still have this newer unit and while I don’t EDC it, I still use it from time to time, especially if I want to hear Air Traffic because that is where this is a winner!

I will say that GRE made much better scanners than their successor company Whistler, but that is something for a different blog piece.

Below is a list of the features and specifications of the Radio Shack Pro-404 along with my commentary:

200 Memory Channels in 10 Banks-More than enough for anyone who wishes to use this for any sort of logistics listening hobby. Along with many memory spaces to spare for other listening interests.

Automatic AM/FM Selection-I wish there was a choice between AM or FM for any frequency but this is symptomatic of an entry-level scanner.

PC Programming/Cloning Jack-The cable needed for PC programming is not included and the software only supports Windows-not cool!

Specific Area Message Encoding for Weather Alerts-This could be helpful if used by a Skywarn Volunteer or storm chaser or just someone who needs access to reliable weather information whilst outdoors and on the go.

1 Priority Channel-I never saw this as a useful feature on any scanner because it interrupts reception on all other channels.

Signal Stalker (GRE’s Spectrum Sweeper)-very helpful for detecting unlisted nearby frequencies. This feature alone has lent tremendous aid to the scanning hobby in general.

Orange Backlight for Display Reading in Low or No Light conditions-This is another great feature but I wish it could be toggled on or off instead of pressing the light button and activating the light for only a few seconds.

Earphone Jack for Discrete Listening-this is a standard feature on just about every scanner I’ve handled.

Frequency Coverage:
29 MHz-54 MHz FM-I wish this could go down to 25 MHz and receive AM as well.
108 MHz-136.9875 MHz AM-The reception on this band is great but now partially obsolete because this band has narrowed down to 8.33 kHz steps as opposed to 12.5 kHz steps.
137 MHz-174 MHz FM-I wish the lower portions of this band (137-150) could also do AM because of some military and amateur radio users. It is also partially obsolete for railroad traffic because of the 5 kHz steps as opposed to the new 7.5 kHz steps and Nexedge.
380 MHz-512 MHz FM-The 380-420 “Feds and Military” portion is mostly obsolete on this scanner because most of the traffic there is either digital or trunked or both. But that wasn’t as much the case from 2008 to 2013 when this scanner was on the market. Also, this band goes in 12.5 kHz steps which made it partially obsolete in 2018.

5 Pre-Programmed Service Searches-This feature originated on the Radio Shack Pro-82/Pro-2018/Pro-2054 and was carried down to their successor models, the Pro-404 being the direct descendant of the Pro-82.

These service searches are accessed by dedicated keys for each one:
A key with a ship icon indicating VHF Marine.
A key with a flame icon indicating Public Safety.
A key with an airplane icon indicating Civil Aviation.
A key with an antenna indicating Amateur Radio Operators.
A key with a cloud and lightning bolt indicating Weather Band.

I think there should also be a key with a $ icon to indicate Business Band, a key with an eagle icon to indicate Federal Government and Military, and, of course, a key with a RR crossing icon to indicate Railroad.

Fun fact, the original ancestor of Pro-404 is the Radio Shack Pro-32 from 1987, which was the first handheld [Radio Shack] scanner to have 200 Memory Channels and the same frequency coverage.

I get that many scanner listeners want to hear Public Safety and Government communications but typically a premium scanner is required to do so. However, with a Radio Shack Pro-404 and any of its current successors, one can still hear things like many local business and retail operations (very interesting stuff, especially on the itinerant business frequencies), fire and EMS dispatch calls ( very similar to what is heard on Emergency! and Chicago Fire, and is still overwhelmingly in the clear. In real life, the Chicago Fire Department’s dispatch calls are encrypted but Los Angeles County Fire Departments are still in the clear!) almost all civilian aircraft traffic, Amateur Radio operators in FM mode on 70 centimeters, 2 meters, 6 meters, and some of the 10 meters bands (this is quite interesting at Ham Fests.) Civil aviation is also available and that is where this scanner performs best! Then there are my two favorites: Railroad and Marine. I’ve been defaulting more to Marine in recent years because not only are the days of railroad traffic in the clear numbered but there’s also the advent of Positive Train Control which may do away with railroad voice communications on the 160-161 MHz band altogether. Whereas VHF Marine will still be in the clear for years maybe even decades to come.

If it were between 2008 and 2013 and there was no demonic assignment on my first Radio Shack Pro-404, I could give it a solid four out of five stars simply because there are no additional dedicated searches and the scanner itself isn’t as compact as its competitor Uniden’s counterparts from the same era. The second one I purchased works very well even in 2022 and while it isn’t my main scanner, I still have some use for it, at least as a backup.

I guess this, therefore, concludes my review of the Radio Shack Pro-404 Handheld Scanner.

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

May God richly bless you as He has blessed me!

Back to “Product Reviews”

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.

Back to “Articles I have Written”

A Sorrowful February

So, here is my explanation of the featured image on this post: It is a picture of me taken around the time I had the dream that inspired this story.

This story indeed came to me in a dream I had in February of 2003. It was on a Sunday morning, quite possibly was February 9th. This dream was likely the catalyst that made me want to pursue writing some two months and one day later. It also inspired my “Dystopian Affection” story, which I began in 2011. I do have very vivid dreams and I am very grateful for them, because they inspire my writings.

Without further ado, here it is:

It was a brisk Saturday afternoon in February; there we were, two soul mates; young, in love and on the run. We were an illegally wed couple lived under a Totalitarian government where corruption ran rampant. Despite the miserable life in our city, we found true love and happiness in each other. Hand in hand we walked the streets so much in love. We couldn’t keep our hands off of each other, despite all public displays of affection being strongly frowned upon by the cruel customs of our dystopian society. I could not stop touching her and she could not stop kissing me.  We were looking for a place to consummate our love and found an abandoned warehouse near the busy railroad yard.  We smashed a window, then climbed in. The interior was dark and damp, but our raging hormones overpowered and impaired our better judgement. We commenced our lovemaking with exceeding passions, then cuddled into the night under a discarded tarpaulin.  Blissfully, we slept in each others’ arms.  Under the light of a full moon, angry lawmen in S.W.A.T. gear stormed the building and arrested us. These hateful men also planted narcotics in our clothing-possession of which carried a penalty of death.  The horrible officers cuffed us and we were transported to the police headquarters building.  They housed us in separate cells.  Every time we tried to talk to each other, we were flogged with batons.  We learned that we were to be executed at dawn.  Deep anxiety filled our hearts and minds like never before.  At least we shared the joy of fully knowing each other and no one could take that away from us.  We were then ordered to be silent. Suddenly but, miraculously the building collapsed.  My lover was injured internally, but unbeknownst to her as a result.

When the dust settled, I found her trembling with fear, but overjoyed to see me.

“Take my hand, baby, ’cause we’re walking out of here,” I told her, assuredly.

She nodded, then hugged me with great strength and we headed out.
We began walking parallel to the train tracks, hoping to leave this wretched city once and for all.
Feeling victorious, we held each other closely and we walked into the early morning hours.

Suddenly, at dawn, my lover collapsed in the grass along the right of way. I tried to revive her but couldn’t. I listened for her heartbeat, but heard nothing.  She was dead. I stayed by her body weeping bitterly.
It was now sunrise and the train master saw us.  He offered me his phone to call her family.

I called them and then waited, filled with matchless sadness and unparalleled anguish.

In time, they arrived in a blue pickup and placed her body in the truck bed.  I laid next to her with great sorrow.

Days later, at her memorial service, I walked up to her open casket with a pistol in hand and blew my brains out.

Suddenly, I woke up, all alone in my bed. It was a dreary Sunday morning.
I walked to the family computer and began to write while listening to music.

Back to “Works of Fiction”

Synopsis to “Dystopian Affection”

On the morning of February 9, 2003, I was dreaming a dream that would have a tremendous impact on my life.

I believe it was that dream that was one of the catalysts which caused me to decide to take up writing.

The dream took place in the Greater New Orleans area and it appeared to be some time in the dystopian future.

I think I can credit that dream to two factors:

  1. I had frequented the New Orleans area more than usual.
  2. The high school I was attending assigned a great deal of dystopian fiction for us to read. (Not complaining at all.)

I had just made sixteen at the time and in the dream, I was with an uknown teenaged girl, who had become my lover.

We were trying to run away, likely to get out of this dystopian civilization and be more free.

However, drugs were planted on us (and the penalty for drug posession was death and apparently without due process.)

We were subsequently arrested and held in seperate cells, awaiting execution.

I was miraculously able to summon superhuman strength and broke the handcuffs off of me and off of my lover.

The building then collapsed and we escaped.

I borrowed a line from the song, “The Space Between” by Dave Matthews and told my lover, “take my hand, cause we’re walking out of here!”

A female cop then performs our wedding on a street corner, then we begin walking out of the city.

Suddenly my lover collapses in my arms.

She is dead.

I am able to get in contact with her family.

They come in a Blue, single cab 2001 Chevrolet Silverado and lay her body in the bed of it.

I ride with her but end up taking my life and waking up.

Over eight years later, I had the idea to turn this dream into a story, which this piece will be a synopsis thereof.

The story begins on a Monday Morning with eighteen year old Josiah Adler, playing on the school library computers before class begins. He is playing video games until the librarian demands that he do something more productive. He notices another student, eighteen year old Kaela Blum, who suggests that they read together. They are also mutually crushing on each other. She presents to him the works of a blogger who was a New Orleans resident prior to the Second Civil War. To avoid military service, he fled the city and wound up on the West Coast. His blog is targeted to the citizens of Nazi Orleans (which is one of the fragmented American City-States that were formed at the conclusion of the Second Civil War) and consists of current Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish between the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchitrain. As its name suggests, it is controlled by a Neo Nazi styled government. This blogger consistently condemns the practices of this new government and writes about bygone times. As they read the bloggers work, Josiah asks Kaela to imagine if they lived in those bygone times and fell in love. Kaela replied she could but also she could even see it happening in the present, to which she subsequently kisses him. They decide to meet together again at lunch time. The morning bell rings and they share a hug.

Josiah’s first class is communications and it teaches how industrial workers communicate on a system known as Tuff Talk, civillians use Pocket Packet and Screen Link, and government workers use Tac Talk. The teachers gave the details but Josiah was more interested in what he and Kaela would do at lunch. Then there was math, then science and then citizenship class and the lesson of the day was obeying the NOPD blindly. It went on to teach how marriages are arranged by a supercomputer known as the LoveMatc1933. Josiah became depressed because he knew that he couldn’t marry Kaela because of this. The next class was English, which he and Kaela had together. They got in trouble for talking and were forced to reenact the first kiss scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and share a kiss at the conclusion. The whole class applauds, but the teacher pops them in the mouth, then lectures the class that falling in love is detrimental to society. Kaela rebuffs, commenting that love is wonderful and should be expressed by everyone. The teacher threatens Kaela that she will call the S. R. O. on her if she questions her or the City doctrines again. Part of that scene was inspired by The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, I won’t lie.

Then comes the lunch period and Kaela and Josiah find a secluded area of the campus to spend the period. Kaela cradles Josiah’s head in her lap and they begin to talk.

She asks Josiah where he works during the weekends, to which he replies that he pushes shopping carts for a grocer on Stealth Bomber Highway. She points out that the grocer used to be known as Schwegmann’s and Stealth Bomber Highway was formerly known as Airline Highway. She goes on to explain how she works as a kitchen aid at a teaching hospital and that in bygone times anyone could get medical attention regardless of ability to pay.

He then tells her what he learned about the supercomputer in citizenship class and how he has feelings for her.

She tells him that she feels the same way and that since they feel that way they can defect from the city and other refugees will come to their assistance.

She goes on to say how there is a railroad interlocking tower across the river and out of the city’s jurisdiction where they can stay until a refugee train takes them to the West Coast.

Josiah expresses his opinion about being caught to which Kaela replies it is better to die in freedom than to live in oppression.

She eventually convinces him to run away with her, to which they begin to make plans.

The bell rang and the rest of the day dragged on.

When the bell rang, Josiah asked Kaela if he could walk her home and meet her family.

She happily agrees and goes on to say that her parents and sister are also followers of the blogger.

They walk to her home.

Kaela’s older sister Casey greets them and briefly grills Josiah, but then realizes that he is of pure intentions, then explains that she has to go to work.

Kaela asks her to drive them across the river on Saturday night, so they can do whatever they please.

Casey grills Josiah further, but agrees to bring them.

Kaela’s parents Mark and Katherine Blum soon arrive home and she introduces them to Josiah.

They go on to say how they disagree with the city government’s practices, but that he hacked the LoveMatic1933 in order for it to match them together.

They then prepare dinner as Josiah and Kaela do their homework and spend time late into the night until Josiah realizes his mom might be worried. He messages her through the Pocket Packet and tells her he is all right and about to come home.

When he arrives home, his mom is working and he eats a quick meal, showers then goes to bed.

The next day in citizenship class the teacher is instructing the students on how a free press hindered the operations of the city, so it was done away with. A fellow student was then struck for not paying attention.

Then came English and the teacher was explaining how Juliet ought to have married Paris as her family commanded and how nowadays weddings are carried out much more efficiently.

At lunch Kaela and Josiah go to their secluded location and she reveals to him that she is sick but her parents insurance won’t cover the treatments because it is a pre-existing condition. She goes on to say that there are cysts on her ovaries and they keep growing and any kind of physical trauma can cause her to hemorrhage. She goes on to say that she can be treated for free on the West Coast, to which Josiah further fomented his commitment to running away with her. They spend the rest of the lunch period holding each other in a semi peaceful silence as those thoughts raced through Josiah’s mind.

They headed back to class after the bell rang. The rest of the day, Josiah was riddled with anxiety of the health and welfare of Kaela.

They met in the hallway after the dismissal bell and shared to kiss to which their English teacher slapped them.

Kaela told Josiah to message her on the Screen Link later in the night.

Josiah went home and completed his homework.

He then messaged Kaela.

She messaged that she was sorry she got them slapped but not sorry for kissing him and went on to say that there are no consequences to public displays of affection on the West Coast.

They then began to vide chat.

Josiah was wearing a tee shirt and school pants. Kaela was wearing an oversized tee shirt and panty.

Josiah is aroused, but then overcome with anxiety and Kaela asks him about it because she can see the expression on his face.

Josiah says how he is worried about her sickness and doesn’t want her to die.

Kaela replies that if she must die she wants it to be in his arms.

Josiah said how he couldn’t go on without her.

They on on to plan their escape from the city.

Their English teacher who could not see their messages but still knew they were communicating reprimanded them.

Josiah messaged the teacher and said that Kaela might be dying, to which the teacher replied how she better do it quicker so they don’t have to spend money to euthanize her.

Josiah screen shot those messages, then went to sleep.

The next day in citizenship class, the teacher was explaining how the criminal justice procedures of the past were inefficient and how those former civil liberties were wasteful. Rights to not being detained indefinitely, bail and to not be tortured used to exist, but now they don’t. Josiah became immensly angry at how broken this system truly was.

He was still angry come English class and put his head down in protest. The teacher lashed him with a strap.

Kaela cried for her not to hurt him.

The teacher called the S. R. O. over the Tac Talk.

In a short spell he stormed into the room, began yelling at Josiah and Kaela, then popped them in the mouth. He raised his hat to the teacher to which she saluted him.

At lunch Josiah and Kaela went to their secluded area and he begged her to stay off of everyone’s RADAR so she doesn’t incur injury. Reluctantly, Kaela agreed.

Kaela then motioned Josiah to lay in her lap to which he, happily did.

Seconds later she flipped her skirt over his head and held him under their for about a minute saying it is a preview of Saturday night.

She then demanded a kiss to which they became lost in the moment of virginal foreplay until the bell rang.

That evening they messaged each other lovingly not realizing that the NOPD was monitoring their communications.

The next day in citizenship class, the teacher was explaining how disability and free health care for the disabled and low income were wasteful ideas and now anyone declared disabled is put to death. Josiah was even more angry at learning this and but kept his cool knowing he would soon be out of the sewerage hole known as Nazi Orleans.

In English, they were assigned to write an essay on why falling in love is troublesome and obsolete.

Kaela messaged Josiah and said how they should write the opposite instead, since they will be leaving the city anyway.

At lunch period, they cuddled in the grass. Kaela told Josiah to come to her house that evening and they will write their essays.

At the end of the day, they went to Kaela’s home and wrote that pure love brings happiness and how happy workers are more productive. They continued that a worker who loves his or her spouse will want to be a good provider, therefore a productive worker. Their final point was that a couple in love will raise children in an ideal environment and that those children will be productive workers instead of troubled citizens. Finally they said that love is not obsolete and the doctrines of the fascist hell hole of Nazi Orleans are dead wrong.

It was now late in the evening, so Josiah kissed Kaela good night and tucked her in bed then went home.

The next morning Kaela messaged Josiah and asked if he wanted to watch her get ready.

Josiah happily agreed.

They began to video chat and Kaela lifted her nightgown revealing her panty. She then further lifted it and showed him her breasts, then dressed in on camera for him.

When they arrived at school, they went to the secluded location.

Kaela lay on top of Josiah then she sat on his chest to which he could clearly see up her skirt. He put his arms around her and pulled her closer to him, until she was sitting on his face and all went dark. They stayed in that position until the morning bell rang.

In citizenship class the teacher was ranting and raving how Nazi Orleans is the highest power. The students were given an allegiance card to sign over the weekened. Some signed it right away. Josiah planned to burn his. The teacher then allowed the remainder of the period to be free, to which Josiah went to sleep.

In English the teacher began to rant and rave about the blogger and how he is actually one of her former students. She went on to say that he is a coward and a terrorist, who helps traitors and cowards. Finally she said anyone caught reading his work will be fined and delayed in graduation.

After the last class of the day, Josiah and Kaela went to her family’s house.

Her sister Casey was getting ready for work, to which Kaela reminded her to bring them across the river Saturday evening.

She basically asks if they are defecting to which they admit they are.

Josiah then says he wants to make sure Kaela gets medical attention and if she dies he wants to die as well.

Casey then goes to work, agreeing to bring them.

Josiah and Kaela are about to deflower each other when Kaela’s parents arrive.

They stay up talking until Josiah realizes he needs to go home and pack.

The next morning, Josiah packs a bag then places it in his work assigned locker. He then diligently pushes shopping carts until his shift is over.

He cashes his paycheck and clocks out.

Casey pulls up with Kaela in a blue pickup truck, then drives them across the River without incident, then goes home.

They arrive in the old Avondale railroad yard and are given supplies for their journey by other defectors.

Subsequently, they go into the interlocking tower and fall asleep together.

At nightfall they become intimate and Josiah is startled by the blood, to which Kaela reassures him that it was normal.

After much lovemaking, they fall asleep in a sea of blankets.

On Sunday morning they woke up and secured their belongings preparing to board the train.

There was a knock at the door and the knocker claimed to be the train conductor.

No sooner was the door opened, the NOPD SWAT team headed by the S. R. O. came in and extradicted them.

They had also massacred all of the other defectors seeking refuge in the train yard.

Kaela and Josiah are bound, placed in a wagon and taken back to the city.

Kaela said how the city might take away their freedom but cannot take their love away.

Josiah replied how the city may destroy their bodies but cannot destroy what is between them.

They are housed in seperate cells of the police station.

Their English teacher says how she read their essays and will see to it that they are charged with sedition.

The S. R. O. begins to interrogate Kaela and hooks up a stun gun to her genitals when she doesn’t comply.

After she is incapacitated he attempts to rape her, but Josiah yells that he falsely has his gun and will shoot.

A female cop enters, catching the S. R. O. in the act and shoots him dead.

She then unbinds Josiah and Kaela and explains that she read their essays and they opened her eyes and how she is quitting the force.

Kaela asks her to perform their marriage ceremony as her final duty to which she agrees.

Their marriage is performed on a street corner where a church was formerly located.

She then began to walk Josiah and Kaela out of the city until Kaela began bleeding profusely and collapsed.

The female officer checks Kaela for a pulse and announces that she is dead and they need to notify her family.

Josiah takes his broken Pocket Packet and removes the memory card, to which the female officer places in her Tac Talk device.

Casey comes in her truck and Kaela’s body is laid in the bed. Josiah lays next to her body.

The next day a memorial is held for Kaela.

At some point later, Josiah writes the whole account saves it onto memory cards places them on Kaela’s grave, then blows his brains out with a revolver, concluding the story…

Back to “Works of Fiction”

A Review of the Realistic (Radio Shack®) Pro-59 Programmable Scanner Radio

For the record, I do not own the featured image on this page.

I must give credit where credit is due and I cropped it out of the 1992 Radio Shack Catalog.

Since the age of fifteen going on sixteen (September 2002) I had been listening to scanners.

I didn’t know such a device existed until the Summer of 2001 when I first read about them on

https://howstuffworks.com

Specifically:

https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/radio-scanner.htm

I had wanted one ever since, but at the time I was a no income fourteen-year-old with fiscally conservative and technology ignorant parents.

There was no way I could own one, not even an entry-level model.

Without getting too political, I believe that the prices of firearms and scanners are deliberately jacked up in order to discourage ownership of them.

Governments likely demand this but it also represents pure profit for the manufacturers of these ever so controversial instruments.

I will stand by this belief until I am unequivocally proven otherwise.

And by the way, if I can be proven totally incorrect; I will be more than happy to recant this statement.

…Anyway, enough of that…

Scanners are expensive there is no doubt about that.

And since I am living on a disability pension, I cannot afford the latest and greatest scanner really not even an entry-level scanner.

Then why do I own so many of them?

Well, it’s simple, I either buy older models at a very significant discount or people who no longer use them due to their obsolescence or perceived obsolescence give them to me and I always find a use for them.

In the late Summer of 2019, a friend of mine, gave me a Realistic (Radio Shack®) Pro-59 and is what this piece will be a review of.

It is not the oldest scanner that I own.

However, it is indeed the oldest scanner that I use.

This particular unit came off the assembly line in July of 1991 and while it may not pick up what most scanner owners want to hear (police traffic) it still picks up almost everything I want to hear. I believe it is an aftermarket rebadged Uniden made for Radio Shack, but I’m not totally sure.

It may be totally obsolete for the overwhelming majority of scanner users.

While I don’t have a very detailed list of the technical specs, I know most of them right off the bat and will give them:

Frequency Range:
137-174 MHz FM
406-512 MHz FM

So, it does not Aircraft or 700/800/900 MHz and that’s understandable. But it doesn’t get VHF Low Band either and that seems like a mistake on the designers’ parts, especially since there were a lot more VHF Low Band users in the early 1990s then there are now. But I get it, this was a budget-friendly entry-level model that had a price tag of $99.95 in the 1992 Radio Shack Catalog. By the way that is $184.45 in 2019 Dollars! The only users on VHF Low Band in my immediate area anyway are some cheaper baby monitors and my local electric utility cooperative. I have other scanners to listen to those transmissions, anyway.

There are only eight memory channels and it does not have a full frequency display. However, it can recall the frequency assigned to any channel but will do it one digit at a time. But since there are only eight available channel memories, it shouldn’t be too hard to remember what frequency was programmed on each channel.

However, it has a dedicated Weather Band Search at the push of a button and it does indeed get all seven Weather frequencies. That is a pretty big deal since not all stand-alone weather radios made in 1991-1992 actually received all seven weather frequencies!

You, the reader, may think that this scanner is a piece of junk by today’s standards, but I am about to tell you why that is not the case.

It may indeed seem very limited both in 2020 as well as 1992 but the receiver sensitivity is where this model beats all of my other scanners. I have a ~12 Inch aftermarket telescoping antenna connected to the BNC terminal on the back, but it pulls in signals loud and clear that all of my newer scanners don’t even stop on. And some of my newer scanners have better antennas as well!

I cannot seem to get a listing of this receiver’s sensitivity as rated in microvolts, but it must be very sensitive.

And that makes this perfect for what I listen to most namely, railroad and marine traffic.

I keep this scanner on my kitchen counter and run it most of my waking hours.

It is running as I speak, but I am in my bedroom at the moment.

There are several navigable waterways within a few miles of my residence and this wonderful scanner pulls in all nearby transmissions on VHF Marine Inland Waterway Channel (156.650 MHz.) It also pulls in the Coast Guard transmissions on the International VHF Marine Distress Channel (156.800 MHz), some fifty miles away in New Orleans. There is a railroad line about ten miles away and it pulls in the dispatcher clear as day and sometimes the engineer’s side as well. I have a local amateur radio repeater that I listen to programmed in there and it works fine as usual. Finally, I have the Fire Dispatch Channel for all of Terrebonne Parish, the Fire Dispatch Channel for Lafourche Parish Fire District 1 (where a good bit of my family resides) and I have two Fire Tactical channels, one for my local fire department and the other for a neighboring fire department. Almost everything this radio picks up, comes in clear as day. And the other times, the signal is still intelligible. One advantage I have is that I live on the second floor. I specifically asked for a second-floor unit so I could get better television and scanner reception!

So, yes, to most this scanner would be a dust collector, given to a thrift store or perish the thought recycled for parts.

However, I have given it a new purpose and I use it daily.

Despite its age of almost twenty-nine years at the time of writing this, it still keeps me informed and entertained on a daily basis.

It even has helped me maintain my sanity during this quarantine!

Most people my age that have to stay home are likely watching various streaming services.

I, on the other hand, listen to scanners, which may have a considerable startup cost, but are free to use. Well aside from the electric bill and the cost of batteries.

My biggest question is:
Will any of the scanners made in 2020 still be operating without issue twenty-nine years in the future?

I guess this, therefore, concludes my review of The Realistic (Radio Shack®) Pro-59.

And yes, I give this product a rating of 5 out of 5 stars because it performs so well and does everything it is supposed to do!

Hopefully, you, the reader, have been informed and entertained.

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

How God Stopped Me from Converting to Wicca

This piece is a testimony of a saving work that God my Savior did in my life.

He didn’t have to do it, but He did and today I am exceedingly thankful that He did.

In this piece, I will share the story of how God prevented me from forsaking Christianity and converting to Wicca.

At the time I was a severely backslidden Christian. I got saved not even two years before this so, therefore, I was an immature believer, and several people caused me to stumble in the months between getting saved and this event.

It was in late January of 2006.

I was nineteen years old and a senior in high school.

I slept on the sofa in my parents’ living room every night and this night was no different.

A few months before this I had decided to keep a flashlight on me at all times, to the point of even sleeping with one in my pants pocket.

During my late teen years, before and after getting saved, I had an increasing interest in Wicca.

It seemed like a fun, peaceful, romantic and tolerant way of life, whereas Christianity still appeared abusive and controlling to me.

The enemy of my soul put those delusions in my head with great craftiness and malice.

If that wasn’t enough, I also had the assumption that there were lots of ample-sized women and girls who were practitioners of Wicca and this was a chance for me to meet some. Everyone who knows anything about me knows how I strongly gravitate towards bigger females and back then was no different.

Earlier, that very day, I had announced to my immediate family about how I was considering becoming a Wiccan.

My Dad was the most upset, but the others didn’t have much reaction.

I went to sleep excited about my decision.

As I slept on that sofa, a severe thunderstorm developed during the night.

Lightning or wind had damaged some grid infrastructure and knocked off the current.

I was woken up by wind, lightning, and thunder.

The house was pitch black, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.

So, I reached in my pants pocket for my flashlight, but it wasn’t there.

I knew it had fallen into the sofa, so I began to feel for it in the total darkness.

At that exact moment, a freight train was passing on the outskirts of my community.

My location was 3-4 miles south of the railroad line and normally the only way to hear a train was to be outside.

However, a North wind was blowing which carried and amplified the rumbling sound of the freight train.

As much as I am obsessed with trains, I didn’t think it was a train.

I sincerely thought it was a tornado and headed straight for me.

Think about it, there was a severe thunderstorm going on which was powerful enough to knock out the electricity. I always knew that severe thunderstorms can spawn tornadoes and late January is a frequent time for tornadoes in Louisiana. And not only that, I was always told that a tornado sounds like a freight train.

I was utterly terrified, probably more than I had ever been in my life.

The thoughts of how just hours ago I was planning on abandoning my Christian faith for Wicca haunted my heart and mind.

In the pitch darkness, I tried in vain to get to my parents’ bedroom and warn them of what I thought was a tornado but bumped and tripped all over the furniture.

In complete desperation, I called on God.

A split second later, the engineer of that train sounded the whistle.

I still panicked at first, because I thought it was warning sirens, not realizing that the Parish I was living in doesn’t have warning sirens.

God then sternly told me it was just a train and afterward, He asked me if I still wanted to become a Wiccan.

About that time my Mom and Dad woke up and saw that I was up as well.

I don’t remember the words we all exchanged but we soon went back to sleep.

At daybreak, the electricity was back on.

I also located my flashlight that was deep in the sofa and even thanked God for helping me find it.

I then got ready for school.

I still would take me a few years to completely return to God, but I pretty much gave up on converting to Wicca after what had happened that night.

If you are running from God, stop this instant and do a total 180 Degree turn. He will lovingly take you back into His arms, no questions asked.

Please, don’t run from God as long as I did, because if you do, the enemy of your soul will rob you of everything good and pure…

Back to “Matters of Faith”

An Awesome Junk Food Combination

I do indeed enjoy junk food, which is to be exact almost any food that is highly palatable and energy-dense.

I like it so much, that it may be a contributing factor to my weight problem.

There is specifically one junk food combination that I like though I cannot have it anymore, due to developing a peanut allergy.

If I didn’t have this wretched peanut allergy, I would still be enjoying this combination of junk food.

It is a Mister Goodbar paired with a 13 fluid ounce bottle of Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino. All I can say is that the taste is amazing! It also results in a very pleasant and mood-boosting sugar rush. The mixture of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, peanuts, and milk all at once will make your taste buds dance and sing!

I first discovered this awesome combination in late May of 2014. I was buying some fuel, snacks, and drinks at the Prospect Truck Plaza which is located on the Northeastern outskirts of Houma, Louisiana.

This truck stop serves somewhat of a logistics hub, not only for trucking freight operations in the area but also for aviation and marine operations working in conjunction with trucking freight. It is in very close proximity to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway as well as the Houma-Terrebonne Airport. There are also some very busy oil and gas pipeline operations in this area. Finally, there is a casino housed at this truck stop, which attracts people from all over.

The whole amazingly reminds me of one of my favorite video games from childhood, namely Blast Corps, because of all the heavy equipment. I do currently reside just slightly to the North of here and rent but would be thrilled to own a house in on Coteau Road between Highway 182 and Prospect Boulevard Extension. I have even had dreams of a railroad being built in this area, which in my humble but honest opinion would do a world of good, economics wise. By the way, the railroad in my dream connected from the BNSF mainline at Raceland to a currently-nonexistent transload facility on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Village East via Eagle Island. I’ve also had a couple of dreams about another railroad that ties in with it but also goes to Schriever running between Bayou Blue Ridge and Coteau Ridge

I moved to this area in May of 2018 and until this peanut allergy got bad enough, I was a frequent customer in this truck stop. I would usually purchase the Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino along with a Mister Goodbar of varying sizes, depending on how much money or credit I had. Then I would sit in the dining section of that truck stop eating and drinking my purchases whilst listening to truck and barge traffic on my scanner. I had good food, good drink, and good entertainment. I also got to interact with workers and customers. I miss doing this, so if anyone could think of another decent snack to go with the bottle of Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino (preferably something chocolate), I’m open to ideas. Of course, I won’t attempt to do this until the Coronavirus lockdown is over.

I had always enjoyed peanuts and peanut products growing up but I had developed an allergy to them over time. It started in my late teens or early twenties with a pick in my throat, every time I ate any peanut product but by my early thirties I would break out in rashes. My peanut allergy is not fatal, at least not yet, but one day potentially could be.

Yes, I am disabled, but I wish I could have a job, any sort of job in the transportation industry. I like everything about it, the cool machinery, the traveling all kinds of places, and the communications aspect, of course. I like it to the point where working those crazy hours would bother me one bit.

If you work in the transportation sector and are reading this, let me say thank you for keeping the country and the world going, but also might I suggest that you try this combination. I think it is perfect for anyone working in the transportation sector.

Why?

Well, I can give at least three reasons:

It tastes delicious, which means it will make you feel better and possibly be a source of comfort and might mitigate some of the loneliness your job entails.

It is a great source of energy, which will help your job performance.

It is a rich source of caffeine, and this means it will make your job safer in addition to making everyone around you safe by keeping you awake and alert.

Do try this combination out, even if you don’t work in the transportation sector, I don’t as much as I would want to.

Likely it could be a hit amongst those in the public safety and medical sectors as well, but I don’t work in these either.

I’m just a blogger on a pension, but I know what I like.

I would want to write some more about this, but my back is starting to hurt. However, I think I have gotten my point across.

So, this, therefore, concludes my piece and I hope you, the reader, have been informed and maybe entertained!

Thank you for reading…

Back to “Articles I Have Written”

A Review of the Uniden BC72XLT Handheld Programmable Scanner Radio

For the record, I do not own the featured image. I downloaded it from Radio Reference.

I have been listening to scanner radios since September of 2002, when I was fifteen going on sixteen.

In those days, I wanted to listen to police traffic, because I was a rebellious teenager and I felt very empowered when I did so.

At the age of twenty-two, I was seeing a new psychiatrist and she advised me that I shouldn’t listen to police traffic because it was too stimulating.

By that time, I was interested in listening to other stuff.

Since 2003 or so, I’ve been listening to retail, security and janitorial frequencies.

In 2011, I began listening to railroad traffic and was actually taught by others to understand what was being said.

Also 2011 was when I became a full blown foamer.

I say full blown because, since infancy I had harbored an interest in trains, but in late 2011 at the age of twenty-four going on twenty-five, I finally had the time to dedicate to my railroad hobby.

In 2015, after learning that railroads will eventually go to Nexedge, I was inspired by a dream in 2015 to start listening to marine traffic.

I had been through several different scanners which I used specifically for my railroad and later my marine hobbies:
From December of 2011 until March of 2014; I used a Radio Shack Pro-404, it died on me in July of 2014, but always had receiver issues.
From March of 2014 until August of 2016; I used a Uniden BC75XLT, it worked great until the display failed-more on that in a bit.
From August of 2016 until October of 2018 and February of 2019 to present; I used a Uniden BC72XLT, which this piece will be a review of.

In August of 2016, the display on my Uniden BC75XLT had begun to malfunction. I was strapped for cash at the time and couldn’t afford a new one, so I looked on eBay and found a gently used Uniden BC72XLT for around $50. I purchased it and it came in the mail a few days later.

It was definitely a downgrade from the previous Uniden I had purchased.

For example:

It could only hold 100 memory channels whereas the BC75XLT could hold 300 channels.

It wasn’t narrowband capable like the BC75XLT.

It did not have a dedicated railroad search function.

It couldn’t be charged with USB.

Despite all of this, I find it was built more ruggedly and it was slightly more compact-excellent for when foaming or gongoozling on foot.

While it doesn’t have a dedicated railroad search, it does have dedicated service searches for conventional police, fire/medical, civilian aircraft, 10m/6m/2m/70cm FM amateur radio, VHF marine and weather radio.

This scanner can accept most frequencies between the ranges of 25-54 MHz, 108-174 MHz and 406-512 MHz.

It also has ten custom searches that can be programmed to search between those aforementioned bands.

There is a Uniden Close Call™ RF Capture Technology, which allows the user to detect nearby frequencies in use. This is especially useful for listening to retail or janitorial frequencies.

There is an orange backlit display for reading in low light conditions.

It has a generous runtime on 2 AA batteries.

From 2016 onward I had taken this scanner on just about every railfanning trip I’d been on and it pulls the signals in nicely and it does so even with just the stock antenna. The speaker has decent, crisp audio reproduction.

This scanner has assisted me watching trains in places like Raceland, Louisiana, (almost daily from August 2016 to January 2018), Des Allemands, Louisiana (every Sunday from August 2016 to January 2018), Schriever, Louisiana, (frequently between 2016 and 2018), Lafayette, Louisiana, (October 2016, January 2017, Ferbruary 2017, January 2018, February 2018, March 2018) Lake Charles, Louisiana, (February 2017, February 2018), Livonia, Louisiana, (December 2016), Plaquemine, Louisiana, (April 2016, December 2016, April 2018), Alexandria, Louisiana, (October 2016, January 2017, January 2018, April 2018), Oakdale, Louisiana, (October 2016), Meridian, Mississippi, (November 2016, November 2017), Baton Rouge, (December 2016, April 2018), New Orleans (multiple times starting in 2016), Dallas (January 2017 and 2018), Shreveport (January 2017 and 2018), Little Rock (August 2018), Beaumount (February 2018), and Houston (February 2017.)

As for marine listening, this scanner has helped me in places like Houma, Louisiana, Amelia, Louisiana, Morgan City, Louisiana, Bourg, Louisiana, Bayou Blue, Louisiana, Lockport, Louisiana, Larose, Louisiana, Plaquemine, Louisiana, Tallulah, Louisiana, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Baytown, Vicksburg.

Most of the fire dispatch voice pagers are still in analog FM and I do have their frequencies stored in this scanner.

Usually, I have it in a special slot of the console of my Buick Century and it keeps me informed and entertained.

So, even though it is 2019, there is still a good bit of stuff to hear on a budget friendly, entry level scanner.

In October of 2018, I had sold mine in order to have some extra spending cash.

However in February of 2019, I had ordered another one for about $60. Iinitially, I wanted it because I had planned to take it with me whilst fishing. However, I hadn’t been able to go fishing like I wanted to, but it is still frequently carried by me.

In fact, it is sitting on my computer stand in front of me as I am typing this review.

Even though narrowbanding to 6.25 KHz steps was mandated for 2018, many radio users are still using 15 KHz or 25 KHz steps in FM mode, including the railroads in 2019. They come in loud and clear in most cases. As for marine traffic, they will still be in 25 KHz steps for years maybe even decades to come, since VHF Marine is internationally implemented and regulated. This means that for listening to VHF Marine, this scanner is perfect and will be for a good while.

This scanner came on the market in 2004 and I believe was sold brand new until about 2011 or 2012. In the mid to late 2000s decade, this scanner was common among volunteer firefighters as a cheaper alternative to a voice pager. It was usually clipped to their belts next to the badge and a red Mini Maglite in its Nylon holster. It is now quite common on eBay, usually still in good condition.

I really enjoy this scanner, even though it was never top of the line.

I do give it a 4.85 out of 5 stars because it didn’t come with a dedicated railroad search and it didn’t cover 800 MHz, but other than that it is an awesome scanner radio.

This therefore concludes my review of the Uniden BC72XLT…

Back to “Product Reviews”

Donald John Trump: A Polarizing Figure

This is something I’ve noticed for years, but finally, I think the time is right to post what I see going on:

By the way, I have no agenda to push, I have no narrative to forward nor am I trying to sway anyone’s political views.

This is simply a casual observation of mine.

For the record, I am a fierce Moderate.

This means I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but my one-man party takes what I perceive as the good from both Democrats and Republicans, alike, and rejects what I perceive as the garbage from those two parties.

Without further ado, here I go:

It’s no secret, Donald Trump is a very polarizing figure.

He is someone whom you either revile or draw inspiration from.

There really isn’t any in between.

By the way, it has been like this for him long before he got into politics.

I’ll give examples of how he is both reviled, yet inspiring:

First, I’ll point out how he is reviled:

I have noticed that Hollywood for years has been hating on Donald Trump.

These years date long before he decided to get into politics.

The biggest example I can think of is back in 1990 when NBC aired a made for television movie known as, “The Great Los Angeles Earthquake.” I first saw this movie in 2008 when I purchased it on DVD. My ex-wife now, unfortunately, has that DVD, but she can keep it. I’m glad to part with it and all my other stuff she got when we split up if it means I don’t have to interact with her.

It is one of my favorite movies, actually, because, I think Los Angeles is a really neat city and would very much like to visit it one day, but also I like the movie for several other reasons: One of my favorite flashlights ever made has a cameo in that movie, the Eveready Commander No. 5122. There is footage of the now defunct railroad Southern Pacific, which is my favorite former railroad. Also, I am highly interested in technology from the late 1980s and early 1990s and there is a good bit of the then current computer, cellular phone and other technologies featured in that movie. I also like seeing all of the now vintage cars and trucks in that movie.

The arch villain in that said movie, Wendell Kaetes, or however his name is spelled, I believe is heavily inspired by Donald Trump. I mean, he resembles Trump physically. He is a real estate developer. He is a shrewd businessman with a quick temper. And there is a line in the movie where he is referred to as “The Donald Trump of the West Coast.” He meets his demise by falling out of his office window of the high rise building he owns when one of the quakes occur. The character has Donald Trump written all over it.

While Hollywood may be hating on him, other entities draw on him for inspiration.

This too has been going on long before he got into politics.

The biggest example I can find is in the Radio Shack Catalogs.

By the way, I do not own the featured image on this page, Radio Shack does-it is straight from their 1996 catalog.

From 1996 until 2001, in order to sell Business Band radios, Radio Shack featured a picture that entailed a businessman in a suit and tie supervising a construction project and giving out commands over a Radio Shack Business Band radio. The model in the suit and tie is obviously a reference to Donald Trump, which I would have never realized had I not seen that aforementioned movie. On one side of him there is a black lady holding the building plans and on the other side, there is a hispanic man going over a checklist. The ironic part is that these two models on the sides of him come from ethnicities of people whom the media vehemently tries to put Donald Trump at odds with.

The reason why I say that the model in the suit and tie is an obvious reference to Donald Trump is that he definitely resembles him physically, he is in charge of a construction project. He appears to be barking orders over the radio. And he is dressed like a businessman. If he isn’t the owner of the construction project going on, he is likely an executive in charge of it.

So, basically, my theory is Radio Shack likely capitalized on Trump’s image and likeness in order to sell their rebadged Motorola and other manufacturer’s Business Band radios.

I’m not sure of their success though, because I don’t have access to their sales data.

For whatever reason though, in about 2004 or 2005, Radio Shack quit selling Business Band radios and this was a huge mistake in my opinion.

This mistake probably was a factor in them going under in the mid to late 2010s.

My biggest question behind all of this is:

Has anyone else noticed these things or am I the only one?

By the way, prior to me watching that earthquake movie, the only time I had ever heard of Donald Trump was on the rapper Nelly’s album Country Grammar. This may come as a shock to just about all of you and I’ve only realized it in the past few minutes, but the lyrics in that said album subconsciously inspired parts of my infamous “Grocer and Writer” stories!

If there is anything to be learned from all of this it is that controversy sells and the juicier any content is, the more profitable it becomes…

As a writer, I am well aware of this, though I have yet to earn a single red cent on anything I’ve written. However, when I write something controversial, I know that is what attracts my readers more than anything else.

I hope, you, the reader, find me informative and entertaining…

Back to “Articles I Have Written”

ASDF Movie Questions and Speculations

Since about 2011, I have been a fan of the ASDF Movies.

I had seen some kids watching them and when I saw the “I Like Trains Kid” character, I could only think to myself and eventually be public about it, “No fair, I liked trains before it was cool to even like trains.”

I even commented that on YouTube.

Of course, then someone called me a “hipster.”

Anyway, I could still watch these ASDF Movies over and over again and laugh myself silly.

At some point in 2014, someone whom I will refer to as my “bestest buddy” and myself wrote down most of these questions and speculations we came up with about some of the characters in the said cartoon.

Here they are without further ado:

Desmond the Moon Bear:
He was sent him to the moon because he was very smart and knew how to speak English. Since he spoke English, he was launched into space by the USA and not the USSR/CCCP. His memories of being in the rockets were probably wiped out somehow.

The Girl Who Wanted to go to the Moon:
We thought she would miss the moon and/or other planets but went into the sun and burned up. She might not have made it through Earth’s atmosphere and fell back down. Then we wondered if the moon talked to her like he talked to the couple on the hill when he wanted them to kiss. This could be why she and Desmond never met. Also, when she was leaving the earth did he talk to her like he told goodbye to the guy who blew his brains out?

Stegosaurus and The Mine Turtle:
How did the stegosaurs learn how to speak English to the guy who traveled back in time? How does the stegosaurus step on the mine turtle and survive?

The I Like Trains Kid (my personal favorite):
Does the train just hurt whom the I Like Trains Kid wants to hit or does it hurt everyone nearby? Does he have some kind of power to guide the train to his target? Does he get hit? In one scene he does get it, or at least it looks like it. Maybe it is because he had no target that time. If only I myself had the power to summon a train simply by saying, “I Like Trains.” Of course, I wouldn’t use the train as a weapon, unless my life or the life of someone whom I care about was in danger.

The Die Potato: When the potato was about to be smashed but his assailant was rolled over by the train; was the potato also smashed by the train? Who taught the potato how to handle a firearm?

The Boy that Turned into a Pie:
Maybe he baked a pie and hid. Maybe he turned into the pie, by baking himself, but then the pie might taste like steak. How would he have turned into a perfectly shaped pie, like the pie flavored pie? Could the baby on fire be trying to bake into a pie by his mother, since she wanted more jewelry? Maybe she wanted to have a bake sale?

Child Arrested for Doing Homework:
Maybe this takes place in a dystopian society where any types of learning are forbidden. Maybe there was a free-thinking teacher who assigned the student to read some forbidden book and do a report on it, hence that it the homework the child was arrested for.

That’s all I have for the moment.

Hopefully, in the not to distant future, I can further elaborate on this.

Also, I am willing to accept input on your thoughts if you yourself also watch ASDF Movies…