Communications Planning

By Reltney McFee

Reltney McFee has been a commo geek for over 25 years. Beginning as a Fire Department medic, he monitored police dispatch so he could avoid going on scenes he was dispatched to as “sick person” and that the cops got as “shootings.” He earned a Ham license, and recently added GMRS to his options

Selection of your means of communication will be driven by the circumstances you anticipate, the resources you may invest in this mission, and what you intend to accomplish

As I write this, there can be no doubt that consumer electronics are what make the world go round. When we consider our preparations for self-reliance, we can hop aboard the “gee whiz!” train, or carefully deliberate regarding our acquisitions. No gizmo will, of itself, make us safe.

As has been noted by smarter folks than me, owning a gun does not make you a pistolero, any more than owning a piano makes you a musician. Similarly, owning the most toys is not a winning strategy. Selectively acquiring tools may support a strategy that proves successful in enhancing our families’ security. Some of those tools are communication tools, and the degree of thought you devote to their employment may make them an asset, or a liability.

Your selection of communication tools will depend upon several variables. You cannot employ tools that you do not have. Possession of tools does not grant the ability to effectively employ them. Some will, by their employment, reveal your presence, location, or capabilities. Others may be compromised by battery failure, cloudy days (or night time), or cut wires. Worse, you may continue merrily to communicate, unwittingly including adversaries in your conversations as they monitor or eavesdrop on your traffic. Therefore, selection of your means of communication will be driven by the circumstances you anticipate, the resources you may invest in your mission, and what you intend to accomplish.

Selection of which communication options will best serve your needs ought to develop from an assessment of those needs. This assessment will derive from consideration of your mission, the threats to which you are responding, your assets, and your strategic and tactical environment. These reflections will form your tactical and strategic plans.

To summarize: the elements of Communication Planning are:

  • Mission
  • Threat Assessment
  • Assets
  • Strategic Environment
  • Tactical Environment

“Your mission” is a statement of why you are bothering at all to do something worth communicating. Your communication mission will be supporting your overall mission. Once you determine what you are setting out to accomplish, your “communication mission statement” will identify how communications activities will move that project forward.

For example, when I was a rural ER nurse, I carried an amateur (Ham) handheld radio by which I would monitor county fire dispatch, as well as Ham “Skywarn” (weather spotter) nets. My communication mission statement might read as follows:

“My strategic goal is orderly patient care, smooth hospital functioning, staff safety and efficiency. This will be promoted by securing early warning of community events which may impact ER patient numbers or acuity, or pose threats to the functioning of the hospital or the safety of our patients”

You may not be a member of a hospital staff. Your goals may be more personal. Therefore another strategic/tactical mission statement might read:

“My strategic goal is to preclude, identify, respond to, and abort another attempt by the Roog to kidnap my children. Therefore I will effectively communicate with my wife and children regarding the presence of the Roog.”

The first example carries within it the implicit threat assessment as well as resource assessment. My role as a nursing supervisor is implied in this statement. The second exemplar implicitly incorporates an asset assessment, with family as responders of one sort or another. The second mission statement also implies a fire plan, as well as alternate or supporting response plans (e.g.: call 911, take cover, do not answer the door unarmed, etcetera).

You might be able to develop a one-sentence summary of the strategic mission statement. (“Do not surprise the ER nurse”, “Protect my children from the Roog.”) That sort of drill might assist you to keep task focused when you feel overwhelmed. I generally begin to feel overwhelmed as the merde hits the fan.

Your threat assessment will catalog the hazards you anticipate, and ought to rank in order by a mix of likelihood and potential for catastrophe. That is, high likelihood risks ought to be planned for (flat tire or dead battery on your vehicle, illness of some sort, ice dams and roof leak in The Un-Named Fly Over State (TUNFOS), solicitation of your SSN by personnel who do not require it), as well as low percentage/high damage risks (house fire, tornado, prolonged episode of unemployment).

From this ranking of threats, you develop a priority list of which issues to address now, and which later. Easily addressed threats may be countered sooner (do not reveal your SSN to unwarranted personnel), more complex responses are deferred, or built up to (save for/comparison shop for generator to keep frozen foods frozen once power fails, begin to purchase first month of your 12-month-food-storage-plan). This ranking will guide your planning for acquisition of assets. In addition, this sort of contemplation allows for an orderly build up of assets, and prevents unnecessary spending.

Your asset assessment includes personnel (family or colleagues), hardware, planning, resources you may call upon (as a fire department calls for mutual aid from neighboring departments), and collateral benefits and costs of employing each asset. Included are assets you might employ, but do not control.

Personnel assets may include neighbors, family, others in your group, or none of the above. Planning requires some realistic assessment of your personnel, both strengths and weaknesses. Number Two Son is reliable as a first aider, and can keep magazines topped off, but is not of an age (in 2006) where I anticipate his active role in any fire plan. He and his younger brother, on the other hand are able radio communicators.

Hardware assets: Populating this list, and the decision processes leading to that list, are the topics of today’s “homily.” Your planning helps you decide what items are mission essential, which are mission supporting, and which are (to be blunt) toys.

Among the assets you might employ, but do not necessarily control are the public switched telephone network, the cellular telephone services, the local Ham radio repeater, a GMRS repeater to which you subscribe, or the communications of your local public safety professionals. The point of making the use-versus-own distinction, is that you are not in a position to dictate maintenance practices, or the philosophy of redundancy employed by the owner of (say) the Ham repeater, if you do not hold title to the equipment (and the associated costs). Upside: you do not especially care how expensive the damaged equipment is, once it is damaged and out of service. Downside: you have little or no input into planning to avoid the service outage in the first place. Take home message: plan on an alternative. An acquaintance of mine, a ham, spoke of her family’s layered commo plan: cell phone as first layer, Ham repeater as second layer, Amateur (Ham) VHF simplex as option #3. Not perfect, but redundancy is good.

Strategic assessment investigates the larger situation, or longer term. It involves decisions regarding where you want the flow of events to take you. For example, a Jew in Nazi Germany might plan to concoct the disappearance of his family as a strategic response to Kristallnacht. The strategic plan might be to depart Germany altogether, once circumstances had evolved to the point where his family traveling would be less likely to be apprehended. This would interact with the tactical assessment that the Gestapo was going door-to-door in the next town, searching out and arresting Jews, with the implication that this was only the beginning of Very Bad Things.

Your tactical environment assessment describes the actions required to succeed in each engagement. This takes into account the constraints upon each action alternative, the benefits of each alternative, and how each action fits into your other plans. Your fire plan, for example, might specify what actions by hostiles will elicit gunfire, and which will be met by patient expectation of the sheriff’s deputy. In my plan, The Roog may stand outside my door as long as they wish, and explain my shortcomings and character flaws to the nice police officer who arrives to take my trespassing complaint. Once they begin to break in my door, however, I will respond to riotous entry with force.

Thus, tactical assessment and planning is short term, whereas strategic assessment and planning is long term. Tactical thinking gets you and your associates through this engagement, strategic thinking structures engagements so that they develop more to your liking. Strategic: “Things are going to hell in a handbasket, the pace of the handbasket is increasing!” Tactical: “Everybody into the car! Now! (Don’t forget the gasoline and guns).”

A well thought out communication plan will support other elements of your planning. For example, should you elect to employ trip wire triggered flares to communicate the presence of intruders in your perimeter, that might support your defense plan by illuminating your attackers, ideally encouraging them to flee. Alternately, the detonation of the 12 gauge shotgun flares in their midst might spoil your adversaries’ attack tempo as well as deprive them of surprise. In the second-best case, those who did not flee might demonstrate less unit cohesion, plan failure, and (one might hope) fratricidally degraded fire discipline, thus enhancing the effectiveness of your defensive plan.

Once you have decided upon the first mission to plan for, you then can consider how communications will move that mission forward. If you elect to address a weather event as your first threat, then your mission can vary from sheltering in place (mole hole, anyone?), to withdrawal to a neighboring county containing family or friends, to evacuating to another state or nation altogether.

Each strategy has it’s own communication implications. Sheltering in place suggests the utility of being able to monitor National Weather Service broadcasts, as well as Skywarn traffic. Perhaps you will want the ability to monitor fire, EMS and police radio traffic. This might be useful to reveal the scope and nature of the damage your neighbors are experiencing, with implications on several levels for your family’s security and safety. If the entire neighborhood is under water, all the assurances from New Orleans Mayor Nagin that you will be safe begin to ring a bit empty as you wonder where you will retreat to as your attic begins to fill. It likely is superior to determine that sheltering-in-place is a losing strategy, sooner rather than later.

QST, the journal of the ARRL, America’s national Amateur (“HAM”) Radio association, recounted several stories of Ham involvement in rescues of persons trapped by the New Orleans Katrina flood waters. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an alternative to wireline or cellular telephones should your family require emergency assistance? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could be one of those assisting others in need? Wouldn’t you be a considerable community asset if you had these capabilities? Don’t you want to run right out and earn a Ham radio license? It is not likely that you will be able to keep your family materially more safe than your neighbors. Plan to be an asset.

Relocating across the county suggests communications both to ensure that the whole family is together, and for the possibility of assisting in recovery efforts augmented by your personal communication assets. If your relocation is an extemporaneous event, you may require some coordination of efforts. If your plan is wireline telephone, you are assuming both that the Bell network will remain in service, and that it will be available for non-official traffic. These assumptions may not be proven true. Similarly, if you assume that you can contact whomever you need to via cellular telephone, you assume that the network remains in service, and that the tower you are pinning your plans to remains a) standing, b) in service, and c) not saturated by eleven bajillion other folks similarly trusting to others for their communication needs. There are several failure modes that will spoil your plans, and they are not particularly unlikely.

If you anticipate relocating to another state or nation entirely, you have another set of communication opportunities altogether. Depending upon how dramatic of a journey you are considering, your communication needs may be met by a note tacked to the front door (“Gone to Grandma’s: call her house!”), a USPS letter addressed to a friend on the fringes of trouble, or an email/Internet post recounting the particulars of your relocation. Another phase may call for Family Radio Service/CB/Amateur VHF or UHF/GMRS handheld or mobile radios, so that the movements of your convoy may be coordinated and those experiencing mechanical trouble, fuel problems, or other distress do not get left behind. While en route, employing the “release-to-listen” button (and thereby not transmitting) might allow you to overhear useful information deliberately (or accidentally) transmitted in the clear. This might be public safety communications regarding a collision that might alter your routing, or some malefactors plotting some mayhem, that you might be able to avoid.

You might determine that your first priority is to prepare for and respond to a civil disorder sort of event. Your plan might be to relocate in advance of the “festivities” (crisis relocation planning, indeed!), or might be to lay low, counting upon your unobtrusive nature to carry the day. In the one case, you had best not be a day late, and therefore keeping on top of law enforcement, fire, and EMS activity trends will be very important. Sheltering-in-place would require emission control, and might make two way radio transmissions a threat. Such a shelterist might find surplus field telephones to communicate between the garage and the house, or the OP and the shelter, to be a good choice.

Another example might be planning for routine travel in rural areas. Again, as I write this, Northern TUNFOS is (surprise!) snow-covered. For those of us living and working in rural areas, the fact of a lengthy drive to work is not news. Come winter, that drive takes on new dimensions. Baseline planning includes packing a change of warm clothing, a sleeping bag, some MREs (or equivalent), snow shovel, jumper cables, and keeping fluids (including fuel) topped off. Supporting this plan adds considerations of communications in the event of an inextricable snowdrift, collision, or suchlike. In my household, the pocket cell phone is Plan A. My wife has a backup, in-car, cell phone. For all the words I have thus far written on this topic, she does not have a Ham license, and has that avenue closed to her. I am moving forward with GMRS radio, but the Money Tree is not blooming this winter (for some reason…), and therefore this option proceeds at a deliberate pace. The licensure requirements of Amateur radio illustrate one of the tactical considerations of planning: it is likely to be ill advised to transmit on Ham frequencies without licensure. GMRS may prove a solution to this issue, with its household licensure. We all do need to be licensed to operate upon GMRS frequencies. One license per household, however, is exactly what the Federal Communications Commission requires.

You can repeat this process for yourself. Insert the threat you see as the top priority, how you and your family might respond to it, what your options are, and how each response option might work out. Once you have selected what appears to be the optimal response, you may have some confidence in it. You will have tested this proposed response against your mission, the threats you foresee, and the assets you can use. You will have compared the strategic and tactical environments against your plans, and tried to fix those plans so as to account for the facts around you. You will be in a position to invest, thoughtfully, in tools to move your mission forward. You will then be able to integrate these tools into your plan, because you will have a vision of how they will fit into your plans, and accomplish tasks that are mission essential (or, later on in the process, mission promoting). Your thoughtful planning will make it easier for your family to get behind your preparedness preparations. You will have planned to make your family safer. You will have planned to make your neighbors safer.

For More Information


The ARRL will be a source of good information, and their journal QST frequently carries articles regarding survival-related activities (Skywarn) or projects (“ARES Boom Box,” which I posted on this very blog, in order to keep it online) (originally at http://mywebpages.comcast.net/wx2nj/aresbox.html). Hams not infrequently spend time pondering how to “oops-proof” their equipment, homes, or vehicles. Sounds like us, eh?


QRZ.com offers a variety of information regarding Amateur Radio, in terms of both operating, and of obtaining your license. The second link connects you to practice exams, so that with a bit of study, you may be confident of how you will perform of the licensing exam.


This is the web page for an Amateur Radio linked repeater system in the New York/Philadelphia/Atlantic City area. I include this link as an example of what can be accomplished via Amateur Radio, and the sort of non-owned asset that is available.


Coleman’s has a continually evolving catalog of surplus items, including, from time to time, field telephones.

Here are links that I found useful regarding GMRS issues, equipment, and utilization.



The web pages above speak of non amateur radio communication options.



Post From Another Website

This is a post from another website (url: http://mywebpages.comcast.net/wx2nj/aresbox.html), which appears to be a dead link. This is the archived page from Wayback Machine (Internet Archive). I reproduce it here, with ABSOLUTELY NO CLAIM TO OWNERSHIP OF ANY SORT, in order that it may be live presently. If you find it useful, ROWYBS.

If you do NOT find it useful, well, thank you for being tolerant.


Featured in QST, AUGUST 2000

WARNING – This is an Amateur Radio (HAM) Communications device, not a music device. 

Don’t bother writing me to ask for assistance in building a music producing device. I won’t answer you.

A portable communications center featuring a VHF/UHF, 50/35 watt transceiver (Kenwood TM-V7A)

Can also accommodate a Kenwood TM- G707 or TM-261 (same size chassis and Mounting Bracket)

A built-in 12.5 amp switching power supply runs off 120 VAC. Box can also be powered from external DC.

Enclosed 36 amp/hour, (2) 6 volt gel-cells, can power the unit at low (5 watts), intermediate (10 watts) or high power.

The gel-cells are charged when connected to line voltage and external DC. Four voltage LED’s provide battery status.

A cooling fan with two speeds circulates air around hot components and exhausts at the rear.

A 4 inch, front mounted speaker, can be switched off. Two top mounted jacks are provided for headphones or audio out for packet operation.

Basic needs are stored in the top, such as pens, flashlight, spare fuses, adapters and the microphone.

Another recent update is the addition of a self-contained battery desulfator built into the unit which greatly extends the Gel-Cell battery life, especially when being float charged for extended periods of time.

This project was built by WX2NJ in approximately 20 hours. Schematic diagrams are available below.

“Boom Box” upgraded with a Dual Band Kenwood TM-V7A Transceiver

“Boom Box” upgraded with a Dual Band Kenwood TM-G707 Transceiver

Original Box with a Kenwood TM-261 Transceiver

Internals with Kenwood TM-261 Transceiver

Subchassis and Radio Bracket

Kenwood TM-V7A/G707 Transceiver

This is the PCV J-Pole antenna I use with the Boom Box. It is a larger version of the Bicycle Jurassic Duck featured at the bottom of my ARES home page. The PVC antenna sets up in about 10 minutes and is stored, broken down, in the back of my truck for emergency use. Unlike the bicycle antenna, which uses small CPVC plastic pipe, this version is built into an 8 foot length of 1/2 inch PVC pipe. Several sections of 1 1/4 inch PVC, reinforced with a wood center, act as a mast for the J-Pole and are screwed together. The feed line exits via a PVC tee at the base of the J-Pole and is sealed against the elements with RTV sealant. Just connect up a coax feedline to the pigtail at the tee fitting and you’re in business. Overall height is about 22 feet. The tripod stand is bolted to a foldable 1/2 inch plywood base. For windy conditions, the mast can be guyed with synthetic lines and a couple of concrete blocks can be placed on the plywood base.

PVC J-Pole antenna broken down. Note wood supports that overlap threaded connections.

Boom Box Schematic in Word format

Voltage Monitor Schematic in Word format

Desulfator Schematic/Parts List in Word Format


Yellow Tool Box from Home Depot, Work Force #22001


ZAG (Stanley Subsidiary), #22001, 22″ Classic Line, http://www.zag.co.il

Switching Power Supply, Mean Well S-150-12, Jameco # 123422 (800-831-4242), output adjusted to 13.8 VDC

2 – Radio Shack 275-710 DPDT 20A Switch

2 – Radio Shack 275-711 SPDT 20A Switch

2 – Radio Shack 275-603 SPST 5A Switch

1 – Radio Shack 275-609 SPST Momentary PB Switch

Voltage Monitor Board from FAR Circuits, Sept. 1998 QST, Pg 33, Board # 2, $4.50 for just this board

Exhaust Fan, 3.63 x 3.63 x 1.00 inch, 12 vdc, 80 ma

3 – 3.63 inch Metal Grill Guards, Jameco # 123511

Communications Speaker, Radio Shack 21-549, back removed

Chassis Mount Binding Post, Radio Shack 274-718

120 VAC Input Socket, CEE-22, From an old computer power supply

(You can also use the exhaust fan and grill from an old PS)

2 – Gel Cell Batteries, 6 Volt, 36 Amp/Hour, 6 1/2″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide x 6 1/4″ long

(Available from Sure-Way Electric Inc., Phone 973-890-0615, Model PM6360)

NOTE: the 1N3880 Diode is a 6 amp component. Any power diode of 6 amps or greater is acceptable.

2004 update

Also, with the release of Westmountain Products, PowerGate, you can eliminate most of the above switching by installing PowerGate with  PowerPole terminals between the Power Supply and battery. The PowerGate provides charging current to the battery and automatic swap over to battery power with a loss of AC. See http://www.cheapham.com for the best prices.

Questions? Comments? Contact WX2NJ

cats · Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Uncategorized

Kitten Tales, Part VII

So, TINS…. OK, this is not another firehouse/”sea story”. I was lolling around the house one evening, and TDW-Mark II came to me, cradling our petite, mostly white (well, most of the time…) cat, Trixie. Said cat appeared to have settled herself, right side first, into an ash pile.

This was concerning, since when the kittens had first joined our household, four of them had taken to exploring our heatilator style fireplace. Said explorations were made considerably easier (for the kittens) due to the fact that one of the grates, in place specifically to prevent such explorations, had become loose. TDW-Mark II had (a) noticed that the kittens were not accounted for, and, after a frenzied search, (b) had noticed that one of the older cats, Max, had, pointer style, settled in in front of one of the fireplace warm air outlets. When she (TDW) investigated Max’s pointing, she discovered four grimy, meowing, kittens, noses pressed against the grate.

She removed that grate, and extricated the kittens. They were brushed off, and pranced away, none the worse for wear. Since I believe that too much of a good thing is just about enough, we expoxied the offending grate back in place, replaced the unscrewed-so-we-could-extricate-kittens grate, and placed the fireplace screen in a closet, and backed a piece of furniture against the opening for the fireplace, after placing a large sheet of cardboard over the opening.

Remember that cardboard bit.

So, Trixie’s ashen demeanor elicited some concern that other cats might have taken up spelunking. A hurried cat census revealed that everybody was accounted for, and the only problems remaining were cleaning Trixie, and more effectively securing the fireplace.

Inspection revealed that the cardboard had been bowed, producing a kitten sized sort of funnel devolving into the fireplace. Well, THAT was a permanent fix! Worked fine, as well!

Second things first. I retrieved a sheet of plywood (now, kiddies, once upon a time, mere mortals could afford this thing called “lumber”. Indeed it was so inexpensive that folks built entire houses out of the stuff! In a manner similar to the query, how did Californians light their houses prior to using candles? Electricity!) I placed this sheet in front of the fireplace, between the cardboard and the opening, and wedged it in place with that furniture I spoke of 3 paragraphs ago.

TDW-Mark II had determined that Trixie T. Cat had a bath in her future. Golly, I was so, so, soooo looking forward to that!

Fortunately, Trixie had previously decided that she needed to supervise my med passes, as well as my shaving and my tooth brushing. In the process, she would bat at the stream of water coming from the faucet, then licking her paw as if in surprise at that wet stuff appearing thereon. And, repeat. So, the water-running-in-the-sink thing did not concern her. She was even relatively copacetic with the run-warm-water-over-the-kitten part.

Not such a fan of the baby-shampoo-on-the-kitten part. Pro Tip! If you have occasion to bathe a cat, even such a placid cat as Trixie, bathe said cat with DROPLETS of baby shampoo, NOT streams. That latter initiative will lead to a prolonged period of cat rinsing, and, well, cats have a limited desire to play in the water. Particularly when said water is all over them. Trixie rapidly reached the part of our tale wherein she declaimed “Let me the fook out of here! I. AM. DONE. HERE!”

That is the bad news. The good news is that she articulated this complaint with pushing at us with her paws, claws retracted. Good on’er for the retracted part!

Soon, we had rinsed the shampoo from her, and wrapped her up in a bath towel, halfway drying her. Another towel, and she was as dry as we were going to get her.

We released her, and she walked away, pausing from time to time to shake one leg or another, as if to shake the remaining water off. She still looked bedraggled, but considerable less sooty.

By the following morning, between her own cleaning efforts, and grooming from her siblings, she was nearly entirely clean. And dry.


“These are a few of my favorite things!”

Exhibit 1: Cleti seeking work noted excusing them for their call off yesterday. When I did NOT see them, And there is no record of any visit anywhere. And, of course, no symptoms today. (Hangover, anybody?)

Exhibit 2: Jane Doe arrives, reports (complaint). My MA elicits a chief complaint, obtains vital signs, verifies medications, allergies, medical history. Generally, as the MAs with whom I work are smart and on the game, they try to identify what, if anything, Jane Doe has attempted to manage her symptoms with, as well as how long this has afflicted Jane.

Since not uncommonly the interrogatory the MA initiates will get those ol’ neurons a’firing, and other, potentially relevant, information will bubble to the forefront of Jane’s consciousness, I will myself reiterate the allergy-medication-history-symptoms-duration-efforts to remedy these symptoms line of inquiry.

So, when you have twice assured health care professionals that you have NOT employed anything to address your sniffles, for the love of Crom, do NOT interject into my instructions, right after I instruct you to employ any of a dozen over-the-counter nasal steroid sprays, that “I have already tried Flonase!” (or whatever).

It wastes my (indeed, as well as your) time, provides you with the appearance of stupidity, and raises my blood pressure.

Item 3: (Heads Up! This is NOT a ‘sick person’ story!) If any of you have shopped for a vehicle recently, you may have noticed that nearly every vehicle in America that has four wheels and an engine, has a back up camera. My new truck, indeed, does have one.

So, TINS©, there I was at the gas station, looking for a vacant pump. This one fellow pulled away, and I noticed, as I approached the spot that he had vacated, that the woman parked at the next pump behind him had, well, let us say that she had decided to determine how far she could stretch the dispensing hose forward, and still reach her gas inlet.

I pulled in, and backed my full sized truck up, attempting to avoid replicating her hose stretching experiment. Of course, that required that I approach her front bumper closely, a fact that I observed in my (Surprise!) back up camera display. I halted, something like 6-12 inches from her bumper. I exited, and approached the pump to begin my transaction, and she looked me over, and observed, “You got kind of close to my bumper, ya know!”

I smiled, indeed, with a smile that likely even reached my eyes. “Yep. That’s why I have a back up camera, to make sure that I did not get too, too close!”

She looked surprised at that. “You have a back up camera?”

Again, as I started to pump my own gas, “Yep, sure do!”

Uneventfully, she drove away.

(TDW-Mark II observed two things: First, “When she spoke up, I pulled down my visor mirror, so I could keep an armed eye on things”. Secondly, as she and I discussed it later, she observed, “You were nicer than I would have been. I might have observed, ‘Ya know, sweetie, it’s kind of sad that the Rover brought you back here!'”)

Item 4: I have whimsical voices in my head. In this, The Age Of Da Rona, folks seeking entry to our clinic are interviewed. Those who answer affirmatively to any of several inquiries get “drive through” health care. The registrar noted the vehicle, as well as the complaint.

That leads to several whimsical moments. For instance, there is the “GMC sinus” entry. That would be an altogether new variety of sinus affliction.

Then there is the notation of the “Tan Dodge Congestion”. (Hmm. THAT’S a new model name for me!)

Or the “Silver Ram”, leading to the chorus in my head serenading me with

“City sidewalks,

Busy sidewalks,

Dressed in Holiday style,

In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.

Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you’ll hear
Silver RAM
Silver RAM, It’s Christmas time in the city….”

Finally, Item 5: a comment in response to post at Gun Free Zone blog (https://gunfreezone.net/journalists-are-dumbasses-who-think-that-tv-shows-are-reality/)

Christopher Schwehr

APRIL 23, 2021 AT 2:04 PM

It’s known as FOCUS: Fuck Off ‘Cuz U Stupid.


Memorial Day

May you all have a contemplative Memorial Day, full of gratitude for those who gave their last breath, to protect, preserve, and defend this experiment in self government.

Please consider this, a story of one such sacrifice.


“Saving Miriam”, regarding Corpsman Chris Walsh.

I read it, and my damned allergies overcame me.


Self Own (or) EMR follies

It occurred to me that I have been venting, recently, on a tear about my encounters with third parties that, well, are not dazzling me with their brilliance. Perhaps, in the spirit of full disclosure and honesty, I ought to own up to a couple of episodes that tell one and all why my pencils no longer have erasers. Here’s one recent experience.

When I first encountered electronic medical records (EMR), many, many years ago, one of my precepting physicians walked me through his office’s EMR. In the course of his narrative, he observed that, “One of the follies of the EMR is that it will allow you to thoughtlessly chart very stupid stuff, easily and repeatedly. You have to be careful of that, or you will look like an idiot.”

I was reminded of that physician’s wisdom the other day. I had a gentleman in my clinic, seeking care for a sexually transmitted disease (STD). He reported that he had been notified by his paramour that she, the paramour, had been diagnosed with some STD or another, and therefore he would require treatment before another round of Happy Fun Times could be arranged.

Cool. I performed my exam, obtained the specimens required to verify the particular sort of affliction that had been visited upon him, and ordered the appropriate medications. Then I sat down to chart.

In order to save charting time, I have a pre populated template, citing various common or normal findings. I reviewed my template, preparatory to signing off on this chart and moving along to the next patient, and noted my common finding of “post nasal drip”, “runny nose’, and “sore throat”.

I corrected these entries, thinking at the time, “If you have a runny nose, sore throat, and post nasal drip because of your venereal disease, you are likely way, way too sick to be seen by my midlevel self!”